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WWW.IHEARTAU.COM

MARCH 2011 LESS SPINE, MORE BACKBONE

MUSIC & REVIEWS

CURRENT AFFAIRS

GIGS & EVENTS

ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT

FREE

- featuring -

THE NEW AU

Wizards of Oz

NI COMEDY A look at Northern Ireland’s stand-up underground – warts and all Screendeath The County Down teenager going toe-to-toe with the big boys Post Secret How publishing the secrets of strangers took over one man’s life Cork Scene Report Uncovering the Republic’s second city

Kilimanjaro

Climbing Africa’s highest mountain – and living to tell the tale

Rival Schools What took you so long, Walter?

LYKKE LI | JAMES BLAKE | CABBAGE | WIRE | CHALLENGER | NO LOGO | FLORRIE | HALVES | T13 | THE GO! TEAM | TWO DOOR CINEMA CLUB


ex cl us ive 80 bands • 5 stages • 3 days

plus Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly, InMe and many more acts to be confirmed available from

visit www.larkinthepark-ni.com

tickets

online: www.hmvtickets.com call centre: 0843 221 0100 in person: from selected hmv stores 2 AU71


MAGAZINE ISSUE 71 | CONTENTS EDITORIAL Hello! Welcome to the new look, extra sexy, smells great, puts out, all-singing, all-dancing, downright awesome AU. We’ve decided to make some changes to the mag this year, and we literally could not be happier with how it has turned out. The first thing you’ll notice is that we’ve switched the paper that the mag is printed on. It’s now on a lovely uncoated, matt finish. We think it’s more stylish and in keeping with the AU ethos. Oh, and we’ve dropped the spine. There’s a recession on, in case you haven’t noticed. The next thing you’ll notice is that the mag has undergone a total redesign. We reckon it looks great, and if it was a person rather than a publication we’d totally have sex with it. Humungous thanks to Tim Farrell for the truly excellent design work. The last thing you’ll notice is the developments we’ve made to the content. While we’re still focussed on music, we’ve placed more emphasis on the broader cultural content of AU. There’s now even more meaty goodness to get your teeth into. We hope you enjoy the evolution of the magazine – get in touch with any feedback via info@iheartau.com, we like knowing what you think.

UP FRONT – News and views from the world of AU

REVIEWS – Albums, gigs movies and games: The AU Verdict Page 47 – Album Reviews Page 53 – Young Blood Page 54 – Live Reviews

ROLL CALL Publisher / Editor-in-Chief – Jonny Tiernan Editor – Chris Jones Business Manager – Andrew Scott Contributing Editors – Francis Jones, Ross Thompson Album Reviews Sub-editor – Patrick Conboy Design – Tim Farrell Illustration – Mark Reihill Photography – Alan Maguire, Gary McCall, Gabe Murphy, Will Neill, Loreana Rushe Contributors Josh Baines, Jonathan Bradley, Niall Byrne, Patrick Conboy, Brian Coney, Neill Dougan, Patrick Fennelly, John Freeman, James Hendicott, Andrew Johnston, Adam Lacey, Catherine Maguire, Ailbhe Malone, Kirstie May, Darragh McCausland, Karl McDonald, Mike McGrath-Bryan, Louise McHenry, Sarah Millar, Lauren Murphy, Deirdre O’Brien, Shannon Delores O’Neill, Steven Rainey, Eamonn Seoige, Jeremy Shields.

STUPID THINGS SAID THIS MONTH You can’t be a walking exclamation mark. Or can you? Are curtains expensive? What are you gonna give me, the gift of your imaginary willy? I could write this song. At work. On my teabreak. Music’s pretty good like isn’t it? I really let my freak flag fly. That was a depraved day. I had to shave my legs with sparkling water. It’s like it’s fisting the magazine.

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Going Out or Staying In

Page 8 – Hot Topic: NI Comedy Page 10 – Scene Spirit: Cork Page 11 – Mouthing Off Page 12 – Screendeath Page 13 – Season’s Eatings Page 14 – T13 / Halves Page 16 – Florrie / Games Preview Page 17 – Red Bull Bedroom Jam / Band Maths Page 18 – Cut O’ Ye! Page 19 – My First Band: The Go! Team Page 20 – Unknown Pleasures / Kristin Hersh Page 21 – Label Profile: Planet Mu Page 22 – Back Of The Net Page 24 – Incoming: Yuck / Vessels / Chapel Club / Austra

Oh my actual shit. Never fat, just full of biscuits.

55 Movie & Game Reviews

REWIND – AU rolls back the years Page 56 – Flashback: The Challenger Space Shuttle Disaster Page 57 – Classic Book: No Logo Page 58 – History Lessons: Wire Page 60 – In Pictures: The Digital Socket Awards / Green Velvet

FE FEATURES

If you’d like to stock AU in your business, or you live in an area where AU isn’t currently stocked, but you’d like to see it available, then drop info@iheartau.com a line. We’ll sort you out. To advertise in AU Magazine contact the sales team Tel: 028 9032 4888 or via email: andrew@iheartau.com The opinions expressed in this magazine are not necessarily those of the editor or the publisher. Copyright remains with the author / photographer / designer. Send demos / mail / material to: AU Magazine, 2nd Floor, 21 Ormeau Avenue, Belfast, BT2 8HD For more info contact: info@iheartau.com For all general and editorial enquiries call: 028 9032 4455 AU Magazine graciously acknowledges funding support from the Arts Council Of Northern Ireland

26 A to Z of Love Page 30 – Lykke Li Page 32 – Post Secret Page 34 – Rival Schools Page 36 – Cut Copy Page 42 – Kilimanjaro Or Bust

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62 The Last Word: Deerhoof


GOING OUT...

• CHOICE PRIZE • EVENT

So we think it’s a pretty good time for Irish music, yes? Well, on Thursday March 3 it’s time to celebrate it, as the Choice Music Prize gets handed out to the best Irish album of 2010, as chosen by a 12-strong panel of journos. The award is generally held to be the Irish equivalent of the Mercury Prize (although Irish albums are also eligible for that one), and past winners have included The Divine Comedy, Jape and last year’s champ Adrian Crowley. This year’s nominees range from Imelda May, whose album Mayhem reached number one in Ireland and number seven in the UK, and Cathy Davey, who also nabbed the Irish number one spot with The Nameless, to the rather more obscure likes of folk act O Emperor and The Cast of Cheers, whose album Chariot has never even been released physically. On the night, you can expect a bit of slebspotting (if you get excited by Irish musicians and meeja personalities…) and live performances from nominees Adebisi Shank, The Cast of Cheers, Fight Like Apes, Halves, James Vincent McMorrow, O Emperor and Villagers. No Imelda May, Cathy Davey or Two Door Cinema Club (pictured) then. Shame. But that’s plenty to be going on with. Tickets are a bargain €22 including booking fee – sounds like a no-brainer to us. The Choice Music Prize ceremony takes place at Vicar Street, Dublin on March 3. Tickets from ticketmaster.ie

HIP-HOP MOVIES

FESTIVAL

GIG

• Bloody Brilliant •

• Beat It •

• Team Players •

While Lafaro, Not Squares, Mojo Fury and General Fiasco are busy recording or touring these islands and ASIWYFA and Two Door Cinema Club are off conquering the world, the time has come for the next generation of Northern Irish bands to stand up and be counted. And there’s no better place to do it than the Limelight complex in Belfast, which is being taken over on Sunday February 20 by over 20 young whippersnappers, including The Wonder Villains (pictured), with their eyes on the prize. The title, appropriately, is New Blood. We need it.

Belfast hip-hop heads will do well to write off the weekend of March 18-20, because they are likely to be spending most of it at the Queen’s Film Theatre for the Beat Generation series of films. The big news is the Irish premiere of The Rise And Fall Of Sesnational, a self-explanatory documentary about “part rapper, part genius and part extraterrestrial” Sensational (aka Colin Julius Bobb). There’s also a chance to see the hip-hop history lesson Scratch, as well as the Michel Gondry-directed Dave Chapelle’s Block Party and more.

The Go! Team got our year off to a hell of a swoonpopping, block-rocking start with their excellent third album Rolling Blackouts. Ian Parton’s cutand-paste crew know how to bring it live too, as proven many times in the past, not least their Electric Picnic performance in 2007, when they completely packed out the Electric Arena on the last night of the festival, giving thousands of people (including your correspondent, who was dancing outside) the time of their lives. When Ninja and co hit the stage, the power is well and truly on.

New Blood is at the Limelight complex, Belfast, February 20. Doors at 4pm, tickets £5.

Full details of all the showings at www.queensfilmtheatre.com

The Go! Team play the Black Box, Galway on March 3 and the Olympia, Dublin on March 5.

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AU’S PICKS OF THE BEST GIGS, CLUBS AND EVENTS

CLUB

PADDY’S NIGHT

THEATRE

• SDC Got Rhythm •

• Monster, Monster •

• A Herculean Task •

Basic Rhythm might just be the most exciting thing to happen to Belfast’s nightlife in some time. Curated and promoted by Jack Hamill (aka R&S Records’ Space Dimension Controller), the first night saw Glasgow’s Jackmaster join his namesake on the decks, and the next two nights look special too. On February 25 another Glaswegian, Warp Records’ Hudson Mohawke (pictured), takes the trip over to be supported by our own Boxcutter, and on March 4 Detroit prodigy Kyle Hall is the special guest, joined by SDC himself. There’s a bespoke cocktail on offer each night (e.g. the HudMojito, geddit?) as well. A must.

Ever thought you’d love to take in a West End show without having to fork out for a weekend in London? Well now… National Theatre Live can help out, as cinemas all over the UK screen shows live from London. All you have to do is pootle down to one of eight venues in the Republic or the QFT in Belfast, hand over not a lot of cash, and enjoy, for example, Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller in Danny Boyle’s version of Frankenstein. For all the details, venues, listings etc, check www.nationaltheatre.org.uk

When you head out on Paddy’s Night, you don’t want green-topped Guinness, leprechaun outfits and other assorted paddywhackery. You want a proper party. And who better to provide it than Andy Butler and friends, aka Hercules and Love Affair. When last we saw them, they were all discofied and glittery, but new album Blue Songs is a tougher, purer house record, which leaves us wondering what the live show will sound like now. Find out at the Button Factory on the big night.

Two separate performances of Frankenstein will be screened, on March 17 and March 24.

Hercules and Love Affair play the Button Factory, Dublin on March 17.

www.myspace.com/spacedimensioncontroller

GIG

GIG

COMEDY

• Big Fat Gypsy-Punks •

• Kiwi Fruits •

• The Key, The Secret •

Late last year, Gogol Bordello’s Dublin and Belfast shows were scuppered by that pesky Icelandic volcano. However, the gigs were hastily rescheduled for March, so we can finally welcome the Ukrainian/American gypsy-punks to our shores, off the back of their fifth studio album Trans-Continental Hustle. The name and much of the music was inspired by Eugene Hutz’s relocation to Brazil, spicing up the band’s heady cocktail of influences even further. Expect mayhem.

Every year needs its big, summery weirdo-pop band – think MGMT, Passion Pit, Two Door Cinema Club – and this year’s most-likely-tos are New Zealanders The Naked And Famous. Already stars at home where their debut single and album both went to number one, it’s now the rest of the world’s turn. They were featured on the BBC’s Sound of 2011 list alongside The Vaccines, James Blake and Anna Calvi, and they hit Ireland in March. Set faces to grin.

If you stumbled across the return of Alan Partridge last year in the form of digital radio show Mid Morning Matters, you’ll have noticed Sidekick Simon, played by one Tim Key. A seasoned poet and playwright, Key is an Edinburgh Fringe veteran, scooping the festival’s Comedy Award for his show The Slutcracker in 2009. Combining stand-up, theatre and poetry, this is one of the more eccentric performances you’ll encounter this year.

Gogol Bordello play the Olympia, Dublin on March 15 and Mandela Hall, Belfast on March 16.

The Naked And Famous play the Stiff Kitten, Belfast on March 4 and the Button Factory, Dublin on March 5

Tim Key plays Dublin’s Project Arts Centre on March 22 and 23.

ALSO WORTH CATCHING… Glasser (Crawdaddy, Dublin, Feb 24), Jazzsteppa, Kab Driver (Black Box, Belfast, Feb 26), Derrick Carter (Stiff Kitten, Belfast, Feb 26), The Decemberists w/Wye Oak (Vicar St, Dublin, Mar 4), Laetitia Sadier (Menagerie, Belfast, Mar 12), Animal Disco (various gigs @ Auntie Annie’s, Belfast – check Facebook for listings), Raekwon (Button Factory, Dublin, Mar 15), 2ManyDJs (Academy, Dublin, Mar 16; Royal Theatre, Castlebar, Mar 18), Deerhunter (Button Factory, Dublin, Mar 25; Black Box, Belfast, Mar 26), Elbow w/Villagers (O2, Dublin, Mar 31), Dum Dum Girls (Whelan’s, Dublin, Apr 1; Black Box, Belfast, Apr 2)

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STAYING IN... THE ALBUM

THE STROKES ANGLES So, now we’ve all heard the first single and – for the most part it seems – been reassured and rather impressed, attention turns to what the rest of The Strokes’ fourth album might be like. We don’t think we’re stretching the boundaries of imagination by predicting more of the same. If the single is anything to go by, the band have got their creative wanderlust out of their respective systems during their years apart, and it’s back to basics. More tunes like ‘Under Cover Of The Night’ and everyone will be happy. Not least the bank manager. CJ WWW.THESTROKES.COM

THE SOCIAL NETWORK THE DVD

However factual it may or not be, David Fincher’s exploration of the shady origins of Facebook remains a triumph of contemporary filmmaking. Essentially, The Social Network is the tale of the little geek who could, but the way in which it shape-shifts from college drama to courtroom showdown is sublime. Jesse Eisenberg has won most of the bouquets for his turn as twitchy, deluded Mark Zuckerberg, but Andrew Garfield fares equally well as the roommate who is ditched for the millions of virtual ‘friends’ out there in cyberspace. Fincher wove gold by combining an independent spirit with a no-limit Hollywood budget, and deserves to win as many Oscars as are available. RT The Social Network is out now on DVD and Blu-Ray.

Dead Space 2 THE GAME

The original Dead Space was a masterpiece of sustained tension, welltimed shocks and body horror. Proving that videogames can shred the nerves with as much panache as classic scary cinema, this mutated stepchild of Resident Evil and The Thing instantly spawned a back-story which is rich for plumbing. The much anticipated sequel reveals that engineer Isaac Clarke survived the killer twist in the first game’s closing moments, albeit with his sanity in a less than healthy state. Clarke arrives at The Sprawl, a hulking space installation now overrun by yet more grotesque human/alien hybrids. It’s fair to say that comedy hi-jinks do not ensue… RT Dead Space 2 is out now on PC, PS3 & Xbox 360.

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Fancy a night cocooned at home? This lot should keep you busy…

True Grit THE MOVIE

Sony Ericsson Xperia Play

As The Coen Brothers’ quest to be crowned kings of all film genres continues, they’ve brought out their take on John Wayne’s classic True Grit. Naturally, their version is ‘closer to the book’. Sigh. But don’t let the worthiness deter you. While the shinier 1969 effort bagged The Duke an Oscar, this is a much, ahem, grittier affair. You can almost smell Jeff Bridges as curmudgeonly lush Rooster Cogburn, while Hailee Steinfeld, as lil’ Mattie Ross, is an eloquent revelation. Yee haw. AL

THE GADGET

Sony Ericsson’s new handheld gadget might sound like Professor Frankenstein has grafted together the best design features of the PSP and an iPhone but it’s a slick looking piece of kit. Plus there’s some pretty impressive spec running underneath the hood. It offers downloadable games and runs the Android OS so the user can watch movies, tweet, surf and all that cal. Whether it becomes a success on such an overcrowded pitch remains to be seen but we’re willing to lend it our digits to find out. RT

True Grit is in cinemas now.

The Sony Ericsson Xperia Play is available at the end of April.

Sucker Punch: The Art Of The Film

Tyler, The Creator – Yonkers

If the trailer is anything to go by, Zack Snyder’s forthcoming movie Sucker Punch looks set to be madder than a box of golden poison frogs. As a taster for the film’s gonzoid style Titan Books have put together another of their expansive hardback companion books. Packed full of glossy film stills, sketches and production stills, Sucker Punch: The Art Of The Film has been collated with the care and attention to detail you would expect from the mighty publishing house. RT

Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill ‘Em All have been getting all sorts of love from the online music community in the last year or so. Leading the OFWGKTA pack is multi-talented 19-year-old Tyler, The Creator, who handles nearly every release from the collective. His new video for ‘Yonkers’, a track from upcoming solo album Goblin (rumoured to be getting a release on XL), is typically delightful Odd Future fare, featuring cockroach-eating, vomiting and a suicide. What’s not to like? AL

THE BOOK

THE VIDEO Sucker Punch: The Art Of The Film is available now from Titan Books

WATCh THE VIDEO AT BIT.LY/TYLERYONKERS

Sky Atlantic

THE TV CHANNEL

It’s rare that we would recommend an entire channel’s worth of programming but the recently launched Sky Atlantic is just too good to pass up. Branding itself as “the home of world class television”, the tagline isn’t too far from the mark. For starters, top notch shows such as Boardwalk Empire (pictured), Battlestar Galactica  and  Mad Men have washed up on the channel. Then there’s the small matter of Atlantic owning the rights to HBO’s entire canon, which means that we can watch series like  Big Love,  The Sopranos  and  Six Feet Under  right from the start. Television well worth making an indelible dent in your sofa for. RT Sky Atlantic is free to Sky customers on channel 108.

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STAND UP & BE COUNTED After years of mediocrity, something is afoot in Northern Ireland’s comedy grass roots. AU scours the bars to report on a scene reborn. Words by Andrew Johnston Illustration by Mark Reihill

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Patrick Kielty. Give My Head Peace. Our Jimmy. No, wait, come back… Northern Irish comedy may not have scaled the heights of, well, every other corner of the UK and Ireland, but don’t write us off yet. Although Ulster folk are renowned for our gallows humour – though heckle us at your peril – we have not yet been able to parlay this into a nationally successful, world-class stand-up. Sure, Nineties favourite Kielty is a mainstream figure in Britain, but more for his TV and radio work these days, while Portstewart legend Jimeoin made his name in Australia. Old hands like Kevin McAleer, Tim McGarry and Colin Murphy are still plugging away, but their fame is limited outside Ireland. Thank Carlin, then, for a new breed of comics honing their chops in comedy clubs across the north. Larne man Graeme Watson runs Big Laughs At The Big House every other Monday at Belfast’s Pavilion Bar. The amateurs night – it’s open mic, but performers need to pre-book a slot – is home to a seemingly endless supply of fresh faces, each eager to tread the boards with schtick ranging from the good to the bad to the downright ugly. Graeme – a college research officer by day – had dabbled in stand-up while at university, but was put off by the realisation that the only comedy gigs were in “big, daunting venues that would only have you on about once every six months if you were lucky”. In 2008, he met Marcus Keeley, who organises the Voicebox Comedy night in the Safehouse Art Gallery in Belfast’s Cathedral Quarter, and Liam Watson, who had set up the Big Laughs Belfast collective. When Liam stepped down, Graeme and MC George Quinn took over. “When we started out, we were faced with two basic challenges,” explains Graeme, “finding actually talented stand-up comedians, and an audience willing to tolerate a lot of bad stand-up comedians for that to happen.” Graeme and George are now in their third year at the Pavilion, and also promote a monthly ‘prestige gig’ at Belfast’s Black Box, with established headliners and the best of the rest. “Making open mic comedy consistently enjoyable for the average punter is the challenge for us now, without making it too much like throwing Christians to the lions in Ancient Rome,” says Graeme. “We’re beginning to see a boom in amateur comedy. Whether this will evolve into something more professional remains to be seen.” As with music, there are dozens of styles of stand-up – political, observational, deadpan, slapstick, oneliners… In Northern Ireland, acts range from the artful clowning of Paul Currie to the impassioned diatribes of Ruaidhrí Ward. “The previous generation all tended to focus on The Troubles,” groans Graeme. “This generation don’t feel the need to address that. The darkness seems to have gone. Global popular culture is what this generation is responding to rather than anything local – the influence of Facebook and YouTube.” For newcomers considering giving stand-up a go, Graeme’s advice is simple: “Just do it. A lot of people spend months writing what they think is funny

material, but find out that in front of an audience it isn’t funny at all. Stand-up comedy tends to be written halfway between the page and the stage, so you need to have constant contact with both to really develop an act. The biggest misconception is that you make it all up on the spot, and that if you’re the funny guy in the pub you’re going to be funny onstage. “The risk with stand-up is that you could make a giant tit of yourself, but if you’re thinking of being a stand-up there’s a fair chance you’ve been subjected to a lot of humiliation in your life anyway. Crashing and burning can be as exhilarating as winning.” Hotrod McCaughan, the host of Hotrod’s Hot Rod Of Comedy on BBC Radio 1’s Introducing programme, agrees: “It’s all about honing your craft. Everyone has to have a bad gig at some point, to keep them on their toes. There’s nothing more cringeworthy than watching someone who’s been told by their mates that they’re hilarious, going through the motions with gags they’ve nicked off Sickipedia or crap stories with no punchline about someone passing out with their arse on show.” One newcomer is 23-year-old Catherine Bowman – a rarity in that as well as being a woman in an often male-dominated field, she is a woman who makes jokes about incest, rape and murder. “In context, it isn’t that offensive,” Catherine insists. “It’s not my intention to offend anyone, but I think with all the crap that goes on it’s good to make light of the serious stuff in life. I don’t say anything I wouldn’t say in front of my nanny. It helps that she has Alzheimer’s, though.” Catherine made her debut in January, at the Pavilion. “I was drunk late one night and applied to do it,” she reveals. “My biggest fear was that no one would laugh, but everyone made me feel really welcome. I go to a lot of stand-up gigs and I’ve always seen a fair few girls at them. I think when guys see a girl doing stand-up they expect to hear about menstrual cycles and changes in the breast tissue.” With gigs springing up everywhere from Warrenpoint to Portrush – not to mention Derry’s well-established King Of Comedy Promotions – Catherine should have no shortage of future bookings. The outlook is healthier than it has been for years, and Graeme is justly proud – though he isn’t waiting for the next Peter Kay. “Some people might want to be the Shakira of stand-up,” the comedy godfather smiles. “But I’m more interested in whatever the stand-up equivalent is of NoMeansNo.” Big Laughs At The Big House takes place every other Monday at The Pavilion, Belfast. Ruaidhrí Ward plays Big Laughs At The Black Box, Belfast on February 9. www.nicomedy.com AND THERE’S MORE! Grass roots comedy is all well and good, but you’ll want your fix of established stars too, and this is where the Queen’s Comedy Club comes in. Compered by Colin Murphy and now in its 18th year, upcoming attractions include Michael Redmond (Father Ted, Brass Eye), surrealist Dan Antopolski and Geordie Gavin Webster. www.queenscomedyclub.com

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Five To Watch

Laugh it up with this little lot Morgan Hearst Age: 37 Bio: Like Jim Jeffries gone to seed, the Carrickfergus man is the go-to guy for confessional rants. He has been performing since the tender age of 36 and says he “will always look back”. Sample gag: “Not to say that things are going badly for me, but Amazon’s top recommendation to me is a guide to suicide prevention.” Shane Horan Age: 30 (“but can pass for 25 in a really dark club”) Bio: Erstwhile AU scribe Shane decided he’d rather be telling jokes about his racist granny and suicidal poets than reviewing Not Squares or Two Door Cinema Club. Sample gag: “I was 15 years old before I realised that David Bowie wasn’t a creation of Jim Henson’s Creature Shop.” Lauren Kerr Age: 19 Bio: Not even 20 and already Lauren has supported Lucy Porter and, er, The Dangerfields. The journalism student was voted best new act at last year’s Belfast Fringe Festival. Sample gag: “My granny has joined Facebook and she’s doing pretty well for friends. She has around 50 now – although we have had an exceptionally cold winter here, so that has probably fallen to around 20.” Adam Laughlin Age: 27 Bio: Buried beneath a beard that is half Zach Galifianakis, half Derry tramp, lurks a quirky gagmeister with a penchant for the surreal. Sample gag: “Me and my girlfriend went out for dinner, and the waiter was taking our order when he asked me, ‘How would you like your steak?’ ‘How do you mean?’ I replied. ‘Well, would you like it medium…?’ ‘Oh, I’ll have a large one please.’” Ruaidhrí Ward Age: 33 Bio: Already headlining his own shows and dabbling in TV, the West Belfastian with the hard-tospell name is a powerhouse mix of Henry Rollins, Bill Hicks and that scary guy down the pub. Sample gag: “I drink too much. I know this because the security buzzer to the door of my local off licence goes off when I walk past it.”


SCENE SPIRIT: CORK In the first of our regular reports from around Ireland, DropD.ie editor and AU scribe Mike McGrath-Bryan digs under the fingernails of his home city, Cork.

I’LL EAT YOUR FACE

Outside the glare of ‘the industry’, Cork’s music is free to grow and expand in varying, adventurous directions. Artists of all genres, venues, journalists and the local record shop work together, giving the scene an incomparable vitality and community. Scene stalwarts: Historically, Cork is known for Rory Gallagher, who grew up there, and post-punk (as documented on the legendary Kaught At The Kampus compilation), alongside The Frank and Walters and The Sultans of Ping. Today, it’s home to everything from electro to black metal. Grunge heroes Hope Is Noise have been going for over a decade, winning a devoted following and recording two must-have albums. Super-grinding laser-pals I’ll Eat Your Face have earned a huge cross-section of fans owing to their healthy mash-up of beer, eejitry, and a wall of noise scarcely thought possible from a duo. For Ruin are the jewel in the city’s metal crown, and thrashers Sirocco are well established, having supported Megadeth among others; while veterans [r]evolution of a sun have returned with a new album. ‘Heavy pop’ trio Elk never disappoint, and My Evil Ex are the business, their rock’n’roll possessing a bluesy edge. Ladydoll continue to intrigue, a dark, playfully maudlin proposition, and supergroup Slow Motion Heroes reveal Cork’s

mellower side. Doom maintains a presence in the city, with Altar Of Plagues having toured Europe and the US, with stops at Roadburn Fest, while People Of The Monolith have done nothing but amaze since the release of their debut EP. Newcomers: Emerging in 2007, Versives have put out a stream of quality music in the run-up to their debut LP. Though you could hardly call them newcomers, KVX are among a slew of young indie bands to have emerged of late, along with Time Is A Thief and Zombie Computer. Slugbait have, in less than a year, become a staple of Cork music, gigging incessantly, and Brains’ black‘n’blues caught everyone by the skull this past year… Electromesser Laserface has generated much goodwill with his Ctrl-Alt-Delete nights, while Toby Kaar, Narwhals and Fear Stalks The Land! continue in different, but equally important, directions. Venues and clubs: The Quad is, hands down, the epicentre of Cork music, playing host to everyone from Adebisi Shank to Wormrot. Never ceasing to accommodate new, exciting music, it hosts regular showcases for new bands. Cyprus Avenue is an award-winning venue that is a touring stop to an astounding array of acts right across the board... An Cruiscin Lan has a place all its own in metal folklore, while Fred Zeppelin’s walls echo with rock ‘n’ roll swagger. The Roundy has garnered a rep for quality noise and drone, while An Realt Dearg’s eclectic lineup, including resident noisemongers Mersk, makes

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it a favourite. The Crane Lane, a former burlesque house, has seen it all, from acid rock to a grindcore wedding, while Black Sun is an institution, showcasing avant-garde music, literature and cinema in an explorative, relaxed atmosphere. Of course, no look at Cork would be complete without Freakscene, Ireland’s longest-running indie night, with 17 years of alternative tunes under its belt, and no signs of slowing. They’ve even introducing a number of themed nights, including the famous New Year’s Masquerade. Places to go: Any self-respecting muso in Cork makes a point of heading to PLUGD Records. Run by the evermercurial Jim and Albert, PLUGD specialises in independent music, on CD, vinyl and cassette, serving as the heart of Cork music. Vibes And Scribes on Bridge St. is a treasure trove, while Crowley’s is a must for Rory fans. Vegetarian delights abound at Café Paradiso, while those seeking simpler eats will love Tribes. Numerous art spaces, like the Camden Palace Hotel, are vital for local visual and installation art. Upcoming releases to look out for: [r]evolution of a sun - hell Versives - Prussian Blushes Hope is Noise - new EP Elk - new album Slow Motion Heroes - new album Various - Kaught at the Kampus (reissue)


MOUTHING OFF Andrew Johnston vents his considerable spleen for your pleasure

Erstwhile Iron Maiden frontman Paul Di’Anno is facing prison – and some would say not before time. The 52-year-old self-proclaimed “wildest man in rock” has been trampling the early Maiden catalogue into the dirt for decades, with stroppy performances and vocals like a wounded rhino. But the addled mind behind such primal metal classics as ‘Running Free’, ‘Phantom Of The Opera’ and ‘Wrathchild’, recorded during his stint with the band between 1978 and 1981, is not being sent down for crimes against music. Di’Anno has been found guilty of defrauding a total of £45,479 in incapacity benefit, housing benefit and council tax payments between 2002 and 2008. The bald, bloated bellower had claimed he was suffering from nerve damage to his back, when in fact he had been touring the world – and, dumbly, posting the videos on YouTube. He even released a new album in 2006. Clearly, Di’Anno isn’t the sharpest stud in the wristband, but then most Maiden fans, who have had to endure 30 years of cancelled gigs, shoddy solo projects and bitter outbursts

against his by-all-accounts dead-on former bandmates, know that already - as does anyone unfortunate enough to have read his horrible, ranting autobiography, The Beast. No doubt Di’Anno, the kind of man who believes someone else is always to blame for his life’s woes, will moan that if the public hadn’t been illegally downloading his tunes, he wouldn’t have had to fiddle the system. It’s probably more to do with the fact he sold his share of the publishing rights to the early Maiden songs – many of which are still played by the metal legends – years ago for fuck all. Forty-five grand may be small change to most bankers, and indeed to the current Iron Maiden line-up, but exploiting and discrediting a system designed for people who genuinely need the state’s help due to disability are quite simply the actions of a bastard. “You should prepare yourself for a prison sentence,” the judge told Di’Anno this month. He should also prepare himself for even less people than usual giving a damn about his squandered career after he gets out.


STAR OF THE COUNTY DOWN Donaghadee teenager Screendeath is the toast of electro’s big guns

Two years ago, Ryan Thompson was a normal 17-year-old schoolkid from a small seaside town in County Down. Since then, he has started producing tunes in his bedroom, been picked up by Norman Cook’s Southern Fried Records, released the Packback EP and had tracks played by Fake Blood, Diplo and Foamo among others. Electro royalty, in other words. “It’s beyond surprised me!” enthuses the 19-yearold, who combines Screendeath duties with being a student in Belfast. “When the Packback EP was released I genuinely didn’t expect the response to be as good as it was. It’s taken me off-guard for sure.” Thompson’s tunes are immediately thrilling, but not in such a way as to blast you into submission with a barrage of beats and bleeps and no subtlety. The guy knows how to build a groove. His signature tune, ‘Packback’, shuffles into view nonchalantly before unleashing the mother of all maddening, whirring leadlines. It’s what got him noticed and it will doubtless remain a key track for some time. And yet, until a friend played him Justice’s album two

years ago, he had no real interest in electronic music at all, never mind making and DJing it. “When I found out it was mainly done on a computer I couldn’t believe it!” he says. From there he started using Garageband on his school computers before having a go at home. And then… “I started sending tracks to the likes of Foamo and Fake Blood through MySpace and Soundcloud about a year ago, not really expecting to hear anything back, so when some of the responses were positive, I was over the moon,” he recalls. “Southern Fried got in touch after I uploaded a snippet of ‘Packback’ saying they were keen to hear the full track so I sent it over and they replied saying they wanted to sign it. That was definitely one of the most surreal moments to date as I’d been listening to their releases since I got into electronic music! My first Belfast gig came about two or three weeks after ‘Packback’ got played on BBC Ulster’s Across The Line show, at which point the Stiff Kitten offered me an opening slot for The Japanese Popstars. I couldn’t have been more excited.” It hasn’t all been good news so far for Thompson, however, as one particularly disastrous trip proves… “My last London gig, anything that could have gone wrong went wrong on my end,” he cringes. “I missed my flight, got my passport, coat, money

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and driving licence stolen and then to top it off my laptop got damaged on the plane so I didn’t even get to play. Worse than that, the airport on the way over were out of sausages and mash. Not good! The promoters were without a doubt the most understanding people on the planet however, such good guys. I ended up getting a train to Glasgow the next day so I could get the ferry home, I think it might have been the worst 48 hours of my life!” It’s unlikely to be the young producer’s last trip to the Big Smoke, however, because at home the big bookings are piling up. He supported Simian Mobile Disco in Belfast at the end of January and he has a date lined up with 2ManyDJs and Alex Metric in March, while production of new tunes gathers pace. “EP two has just about been finished, so I’ll be getting that out as soon as possible, then hopefully another couple before the year is out. I’ve got some other things I’m not allowed to talk about yet and I’m excited to see how those pan out. On the side of those, just keep gigging and see what happens!” Chris Jones Screendeath plays Shine at Queen’s University, Belfast on March 19 with 2ManyDJs, Alex Metric and Sketchy DJs www.soundcloud.com/screendeath


SEASON’S EATINGS In the first of our regular food features, Darragh McCausland celebrates the wonder of cabbage. Yes, cabbage. T.S. Eliot once moaned that April was the cruellest month. He was talking shite. Mean, miserly February and March are the worst months – sat in a drafty gap between winter and spring, feeding us nowt but cabbage and parsnips. For the seasonal foodie, this is the toughest time of the year where dinner times becomes a never-ending game of tart-the-parsnip (they make great shepherd’s pie topping btw), or pimp-the-cabbage. But weary not, food friends, for there are still incredible, hearty things you can make this time of year; and without resorting to peeling the cellophane off asparagus that’s seen more of the world than an annoying gap year student.

In this regular column, I’m going to describe a tried and tested seasonal recipe (objectively tested, in that friends have eaten it and said it was delicious to, um, my face). Each recipe will have a focus ingredient, and this issue’s is cabbage. Wait. Before you all attempt to run away making ‘I hate cabbage’ faces, don’t worry, this is nothing like school dinner or Mammy cabbage – the flaccid grey slime of childhood memory. Treated right, cabbage is vibrant, savoury and one of the true kings of the vegetable family. Cabbage is our friend.

SAVOY CABBAGE AND ITALIAN BEAN SOUP This recipe is incredibly hearty. It’s almost a main course, and the soup is so thick with goodies you could probably stand on it. In Tuscany, they serve dishes like this reheated the next day, and call it ‘La Ribollita’. I use savoy cabbage, but york should work just as well. Don’t use white cabbage (aka Mammy cabbage). Serves 2-3 2tbsp olive oil A couple of chopped rashers of bacon 1 medium onion (chopped finely) 1 stick of celery (chopped finely) 3 cloves of garlic, bashed/minced/ roughly chopped/abused A sprig of rosemary

A 400g tin of Italian beans (cannellini are fine, but any sort would do) A litre of good stock (chicken or veg) 200g of cabbage roughly chopped into fine strips Salt & pepper

In a heavy, large pot, add the oil and fry your chopped rashers until they go golden. Add your celery onion and garlic and sweat until soft (this should smell lovely). Drain the beans, throw them into the pot, followed by the stock and the sprig of rosemary. Stir everything, then simmer for 25 minutes. Now pull out the soggy rosemary sprig, chop the leaves finely and toss them in. At this stage you can thicken the soup by mashing it lightly (you don’t want paste – leave around half of them in good shape). Now add your shredded cabbage, return the entire thing to a low boil and cook for a further 6 or 7 minutes (never, ever, ever, overcook cabbage. It’s like feeding a gremlin after midnight).

PHOTO BY LOREANA RUSHE

You can serve this with crusty bread and even grate parmesan over the individual bowls and grill them for that extra Tuscan flourish. Now tuck in, close your eyes and escape from the season’s chill grip, even if just for a while.

THERE’S THIS LITTLE PLACE...

Lee’s Charming Noodles 105 Parnell Street, Dublin 1

Phone: +353 (0)1 872-9340 Website: none

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Dublin’s Parnell Street has so many welcoming little Asian restaurants that choosing one for a quiet bite can be a nerve-wracking experience (what if it’s the one next door that serves the perfect duck?). But if it’s noodles you’re after, there’s only one clear choice. Lee’s Charming Noodles is excellent value and serves noodles any which way you like in bowls as big as buckets. Try the hot and sour braised beef noodles - huge slippery noodles and unctuously rendered meat swimming in an wonderful chili, coriander, and soy broth.


PHOTO BY GARY MCCALL

NO HALF MEASURES Halves’ Brian Cash on their Choice-nominated debut album.

SKATE TO THE TOP new urban sports complex takes off in belfast If you took a random wee drive around the Titanic Quarter in Belfast, what you’d mainly see would be an expanse of wasteland, some big buildings under construction, the almighty H&W cranes, and some industrial sized office space and factories. You might also spy a huge T13 sign on a behemoth of a tin shed. If you were brave enough to venture up the door, beyond it you would find the largest alternative playground in Ireland. Now, when we say ‘playground’ we don’t mean swings and roundabouts. We’re talking about a 12,000 sq ft bike jump room, Europe’s first bike assault course and a street-style skate park. The sheer size and scale of this place really needs to be witnessed with your own eyes – when AU first stepped into the room, the urge to grab a skateboard, hurtle around the place (and probably break a bone) was nigh on unstoppable. If we hadn’t been wearing office shoes then we’d have been right in there (that’s our excuse and we’re sticking to it). T13 founder Liam Lynch (no, not the ‘Whatever…’ guy) explains the idea behind it: “We believe the time is right to represent the vibe on the street. There is an energy in the air and we wanted our self-styled counter-culture movement to have a HQ.”

Arguably, skateboarding in Belfast was at the height of its popularity in Belfast before the space in front of St Anne’s Cathedral was renovated (i.e. flattened) to become Writer’s Square in 2002. Up to then, it was a skater’s dream of ledges and steps. Every dry day of the year, hordes of skaters would congregate at the spot, creating a community, and inspiring many others to get involved in not only this urban sport, but also rollerblading and BMX. With the demise of St Anne’s, Belfast skateboarding was driven a little more underground, but the scene never died. Over the years there have been a number attempts to get skateparks off the ground in Northern Ireland, but nothing has managed to stand the test of time. With the arrival of T13, there is a real chance that this could be the new home that Belfast urban culture has been deprived of for so long. “T13 is what Belfast was already thinking – most people will say that it’s about time a place like this existed,” says Lynch. “We feel T13 is a family of cool where everyone is welcome and that it represents everything that’s great about the new Northern Ireland.” Jonny Tiernan For more information check out www.t13.tv

Being able to claim that Efrim Menuck from Godspeed You! Black Emperor recorded your album and that Stars and Broken Social Scene vocalist Amy Millan was delighted to add her contribution to it are no mean feats for an Irish indie band; especially for a debut LP. But Dublin-based Halves have done all of the above and the fruit of their labour, It Goes, It Goes {Forever & Ever}, was released before Christmas on their own label, Hate Is The Enemy Records. With the record receiving rave reviews and being placed on many Best of 2010 lists, Halves began 2011 with more good news. For starters they have been confirmed to play SXSW and Canadian Music Week in March. Before this, they are playing their first major tour of Ireland, while the band also received Choice Music Prize and Digital Socket Awards nominations. Frontman Brian Cash’s reaction to this recognition is characteristically humble. “It’s funny, we’ve never thought about that end of things so to be nominated for the Choice is just amazing. It’s so nice to see the record being acknowledged like that... Of course we don’t expect to win but the nomination will hopefully get the songs out there.” Halves were born four years ago when long time friends Brian Cash, Tim Czerniak and Dave Scanlon saw the demise of their former band. Instead of sitting on their laurels, they regrouped the following day to talk about the kind of band that they all wanted to be in. Tim’s younger brother Elis joined the

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ranks soon after. To this day, the strength of Halves has always been the unity between the members, their open-door policy for other talented musicians, the perfectionism and drive they put behind everything to do with the band and the chances they have taken to make the band the best it can be. “If you’re basically going to spend three nights a week, every weekend and all your money on something, there’s no point doing a half-assed job,” says Cash. When the time came to decide where to record their debut album, Halves chose the celebrated Hotel2Tango studio, located in Montreal and owned by Godspeed You! Black Emperor. “The studio used to be this alarm factory in an industrial park,” says Cash. “It’s just this huge room full of all this antique equipment – including a contrebasse, a Hammond organ, a theremin and a harp – all of which feature on the record.” Recorded over a two-week period by Efrim Menuck, produced by Halves and featuring the vocal talents of Stars and Broken Social Scene’s Amy Millan and Katie Kim among others, it’s a record that has taken its sweet time for flawlessness and got there with ease. Deirdre O’Brien It Goes, It Goes {Forever & Ever} is out now on Hate is the Enemy Records. Halves play Galway, Sligo, Dublin, Limerick and Cork in February and March. www.ahomeforhalves.com


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GAMES: WHAT’S IN STORE?

BATMAN: ARKHAM CITY

FLORRIE OF ACTIVITY Girls Aloud drummer-turned-solo artist Florrie heads to Ireland She’s the face of Nina Ricci, Girls Aloud’s drummer, and has Fred Falke on speed-dial. Her name’s Florrie Arnold, and she’s the Next Big Thing. Fresh off supporting Two Door Cinema Club on their French tour, she’s due in Belfast and Dublin at the end of February. Having turned down numerous offers from major labels in the past year, in order to better focus on refining and defining her sound, 21-year-old Bristol girl Arnold prefers to release music for free on the internet – such as November’s Introduction EP. “I think it’s really important to have that contact with fans and for them to be able to buy into your world or you as a person without any pressure from a corporation,” she philosophises in an interview with Ponystep. “It’s a better way of doing it because people can feel like they discovered you as opposed to a major label. I want my fans to feel like they have some sort of ownership.” It’s a canny approach to an industry which finds itself more confused about online music as each year goes by. And it’s no surprise that Arnold’s nous comes from years working behind the mic – as a member of the Xenomania (Girls Aloud, Sugababes, Kylie Minogue) house band. Spotted by Gabriella Cilmi’s manager, Arnold

upped sticks and moved from London to Kent. Thrown straight into the deep end (the first track she played on was Girls Aloud’s ‘The Promise’), Arnold soon began demoing her own songs, and one thing lead to another – including collaborators such as Fred Falke, and a Nina Ricci ad campaign – Arnold is the face of Nina L’Elixir perfume. Refreshingly candid about her plans for the future, Arnold has a separate section on her website entitled ‘My Plans And Why I Haven’t Signed Yet’. Alongside promising a new EP for March 2011, she promises that, “I’ve learnt so much already, and I keep trying to push my creative abilities higher and higher. I’m sure at some point next year I’ll be ready to sign a deal. Hopefully, my efforts will produce a company that really believes in me as a musician, singer, writer and performer. I will do everything I can between now and then (and for evermore!) to convince as many of you guys (fans of music!) as possible, that I am worth following and believing in.” There’s no reason to believe that she won’t. From the sounds of things, Florrie Arnold has the industry around her little finger – and that’s exactly where it ought to be. Ailbhe Malone Florrie plays the Stiff Kitten, Belfast on February 25 and Academy 2, Dublin on February 26. www.florrie.com

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GEARS OF WAR 3

With so many quality titles in the pipeline, 2011 looks set to be another tough year on the wallets of gamers everywhere. Here are some of the releases definitely worth forking out for... If you love the smell of napalm in the morning you’ll be in hog heaven with Gears Of War 3  (autumn, multiformat), which promises to crank the chainsaws and boomsticks up to eleven for a hyperbolic finale. Equally chest-beating is  Bulletstorm  (Feb 25, multi), a deliberately juvenile, ultraviolent first person shooter with kill combos with names such as ‘Rear Entry’ and ‘Gag Reflex’. Such puerility will be nothing compared to the return of big daddy  Duke Nukem (May 3, multi) after a 13-year development nightmare. Those who prefer their violence just a midge more subtle will lap up  Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception  (Nov 1, PS3). Naughty Dog’s brilliant series brings gamers all the best bits of the  Indiana Jones movies without the crystal aliens or gibbering monkeys. Rocksteady’s first stab at  Batman  was a fantastic  Metroidvania  mixture of exploration and action, a game which actually did the licence

DUKE NUKEM FOREVER justice, so the sequel Batman: Arkham City  (autumn, multi) is a very tasty prospect indeed. Villains Two-Face, The Riddler and Catwoman are all said to be hamming it up this time around. The Wii gets a break from all the shovelware with the return of Link and Zelda in  Skyward Sword  this winter, but chances are that will slip till next year. Finally,  Tomb Raider is reinvented with the as yet unnamed reboot (autumn, multi), a much darker origin story with Lara Croft being marooned on a remote island in the Far East. Elsewhere, gamers are currently salivating Pavlov-style at the imminent release of the 3DS (March 25), Nintendo’s latest update to the million-selling handheld. Puzzle fans can look forward to  Portal 2  (April 20, PC / 360), Valve’s follow-up to a surprise hit originally included as a bonus on The Orange Box, and a tag team between professional smartasses  Professor Layton and  Ace Attorney  (winter, 3DS). The most game hours, however, are likely to be guzzled by  Skyrim  (November 11, multi), Bethesda’s new instalment in the long-running  Elder Scrolls  series, and a direct sequel to  Oblivion. Goodbye free time, student loan and anything resembling a normal life. Ross Thompson


PUMP UP THE JAM Red Bull offering bands the opportunity to step out of their bedrooms and onto the big stage.

life. They retire to desk jobs, grinding the rest of their existence out in the 9-5 world and crying themselves to sleep at night. Or maybe that just our experience, I fear we have revealed too much…

As a reader of this mag, there is a very high probability that you know someone who is in a band – your brother or sister, next-door neighbour, mate, person you stalk and follow home, whateva. There is also a good chance that you might be in a band yourself. If this is the case, then the following will be right up your street. Most new bands spend the majority of their time practicing in their bedroom or garage, dreaming of the day when they get big enough to be gracing festival stages and going on tour. The majority of the time young acts don’t get further than the local pub, at best. Sometimes they don’t even get this far, instead they fall out over ‘artistic differences’ (or, more likely, they fell out over a girl). A lifetime of bitterness and self-hatred ensues, filled with woe about the career that could have been, the fame that they could have tasted, and how their rock ‘n’ roll dream was crushed by

Red Bull to the rescue. They’re giving bands the opportunity to use their own bedroom sessions as a springboard that can take them out of their houses and onto the stages of some of the biggest festivals in the UK, plus the prospect of a tour and the opportunity to record their material in the Red Bull Studio in London. The first part is dead easy. Right now, bands are able to upload their videos to the Red Bull Bedroom Jam website. From there, the band and video will be eligible for the Bedroom Jam Buzz Chart. This basically measures how popular the acts are, by using video views and comments, plus social media activity such as YouTube, MySpace, Twitter and Facebook. We thought it also measured how much blood, sweat and tears the band excreted to get to their place in the chart, but alas, we were disappointed. Using this Buzz Chart and the Buzz Radar system (we know, it sounds like some sort of bee canvassing equipment), 15 bands will be selected and filmed playing live from their bedrooms. Kicking off on

February 21, they will then be broadcast to the world, via the interweb, every Monday at 5pm. At the next stage, eight bands will be selected by a panel of expert judges including Andy Copping, the Vive President of Live Nation, Darren Taylor, the Editor of Rocksound and Beckie Sugden of The Agency Group. These eight bands will actually get to go and play major festivals like Download and T In The Park. At the end of the festival season, the judges will choose three finalists. These finalists will then go head-to-head in a public vote to see who walks away the Red Bull Bedroom Jam Champion. As Champion, they will win the opportunity to support an established band on tour, record in a studio, and some sweet gold and jewel encrusted crowns (actually, they won’t get crowns, but that would be pretty class). The whole concept is a bit different than your usual battle of the bands nonsense, which tend to rely on getting as many of your mates as possible to fill a venue and make money for some unscrupulous promoter. This way bands can make it from their own bedrooms, more or less on their own terms. If the whole concept sounds like something you, or a band you know, would be up for, then head over to www.redbullbedroomjam. com for more info. Jonny Tiernan

BAND BAND MATHS MATHS NO.7: NO.1: Gorillaz U2 41% - Damon’s God complex 26% - Starfucking 20% - Pretty colours 8% - Hand-wringing environmentalism 5% - Bobby fucking Womack!

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Cut O’ Ye! AU singles out the stylish for pictures and probing

Name: Catherine Occupation: Student Favourite shop: Charity and vintage shops Personal fashion disaster: “A cat jumper from eBay.” We like cats, but this sounds a bit ‘granny’ so fair play.

Name: Catherine A Occupation: Student Favourite shop: Urban Outfitters Personal fashion disaster: “A Nike hoodie.” Ah, the spide phase. Well done for owning up.

Name: Sean Occupation: PR for Love & Death Inc. bar and restaurant Favourite shop: Cult Personal fashion disaster: “Basketball jersey.” Yeah, keep it for the court mate.

Name: Lucy Occupation: Eyebrow specialist Favourite shop: Topshop Personal fashion disaster: “Neon colours.” The Klaxons and CSS weren’t really the fashion icons you thought they were in 2006, were they?

Names: Sarah and Junior Occupation: Hairdresser/student Favourite shop: Topshop (Sarah) Personal fashion disaster: “I’ve never put a foot wrong.” Anyone with incriminating photos of Junior, you know what to do!

Name: Michael Occupation: Student Favourite shop: eBay Personal Fashion disaster: “A black shirt with embroidered dragon on the back.” Are you the Karate Kid, Michael?

Photos by Will Neill. Words by Catherine Maguire and Sarah Millar.

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Red Roof presents MY FIRST BAND

Florrie Fri 25th February The Stiff Kitten

The Naked & Famous Cloud Control Fri 4th March, The Stiff Kitten

Gogol Bordello Wed 16th March Mandela Hall

With Ian Parton from The Go! Team Band Name: Riot Sister Influences: My Bloody Valentine, The Telescopes, Chapterhouse, Slowdive Age: 16/17 We were strangely ahead of our time, actually! We had detuned guitars and stuff. My Bloody Valentine were our big influence. In Reading at the time we had Chapterhouse and there

We put on our own gig in our school hall and it was like fucking D-Day when it came. We were really nervous and I never thought I could get up on stage and play drums. We made our own posters, flyered around… it was a massive deal to us, this little gig in a school hall. I remember going for it so much on the drums that I saw these girls in the front row laughing. You know the drummer from MBV,

“The vibrations from the bass amp made all the crockery on my mum’s cabinet fall off and smash.” were the shoegazers like Slowdive so we were quite influenced by that. We had suitably ethereal song titles like ‘Edelweiss’, ‘Clementine 69’… but some of the songs were actually alright! I remember making a demo in my front room and the vibrations from the bass amp made all the crockery on my mum’s cabinet fall off and smash, so we glued them back together again. It was 10 years before my mum realised!

he really twatted it and I was trying to go for a bit of that but I think I got a bit carried away. We broke up when we went to university. One of the other guys is Head of Year at a secondary school in Manchester, one is a lawyer and one works on a computer helpdesk in Reading. I’m the only one still rockin’!

The View Tues 12th April Mandela Hall

Peter Doherty Sun 29th May Mandela Hall

3OH!3 InnerPartySystem Fri 3rd June, Mandela Hall

Tickets for all shows available from www.ticketmaster.ie


UNKNOWN PLEASURES Niall Byrne digs deep to uncover the freshest new music

DIRTY BEACHES

Blog Buzz – Dirty Beaches It’s about time someone realised that Suicide didn’t have a monopoly on malevolent, pulsing synth noise and had a go themselves. Enter Taiwanborn, Montreal-based Alex Zhang Hungtai whose solo project Dirty Beaches often pushes in the druggy vintage rock ‘n’ roll jam direction. No sooner than you get locked into his unsettling noise, he’ll surprise you with a really rather sweet pianoled night-time serenade like ‘Lord Knows Best’. Look out for his fulllength Badlands in late March. - myspace.com/dirtybeaches

Compilation – Pop Massacre What would happen if you took pop hits old and new and turned them loose on a group of leftfield electronic artists? That was the proposition that LA-based label Friends of Friends label approached the likes of Daedelus, DNTEL, Shlomo and more. The result sees songs from Abba, Katy Perry, Spice Girls, Prince and Soulja Boy chopped and screwed into weird and irregular shapes. - bit.lypopmassacre WWW.NIALLER9.COM

Free EPs – Computer Magic Brooklyn’s Danielle Johnson only started making music about 12 months ago but her assured and uplifting synth-pop numbers sound so fully formed, that seems like a hard stat to swallow. Two seriously good free EPs are available from her website and the quality of the tunes suggests there’s plenty more magic to come. - thecomputermagic.com 7” - Zoo Kid If Jamie T had a younger brother who refused to come out of his room, sang a bit like Billy Bragg and played lone reverbed guitar riffs, he would be 16-year-old Londoner Zoo Kid. A former student of the Brit School (where Adele, Amy Winehouse and Bashy cut their musical teeth), Archy Marshall’s angsty, boisterous vocal and freeform dark ballads mark him out from that pop alumni and establish him as a unique prospect. Any kid that describes his music as “darkwave dub psychobilly rock ‘n’ roll” is OK by me. Check out his Out Getting Ribs / Has A Hit vinyl release on House Anxiety Records. - myspace.com/zookid Blog Buzz – MOTHS Speaking of potential young stars, how about 17-year old Jack Colleran from Newbridge, Co. Kildare? He may currently be studying for his Leaving Cert but this kid has already produced two delightfully adept electronic songs to rival the likes of Gold Panda in the awesome stakes. One to watch, after he finishes his exams of course. - mmoths.bandcamp.com

THROWING MUSINGS AU meets Kristin Hersh at the Irish launch of her candid new book After reading Throwing Muses frontwoman Kristin Hersh’s fascinating, largerthan-life memoir, it’s hard not to feel awed. This woman has lived. Paradoxical Undressing is based on a diary she kept for a year-long period from spring 1985 to spring 1986. A lot can happen in a year but, for 18-year-old Hersh, more happened than most. The memoir records the rise of Throwing Muses and the electric relationships she had with her bandmates and friends. It also chronicles her harrowing breakdown and eventual diagnosis of bipolar and her realisation, at 18, that she had become pregnant. Considering that the events of the year were in many ways painful, it seems surprising that, instead of putting it all behind her, she spent the past four years recounting every moment of it for this book. “I didn’t know I had all those memories,” she says. Hersh is youthful, fun and warm and has the ability to put anyone around her at ease, and even to engender feelings of protectiveness, knowing what she went through. “Some of the people in it are dead and I had to remember all of their idiosyncrasies and the quality of their voices but you can and I

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wanted to because I missed them and I missed that time. Which is weird, because I thought I hated that time.” Despite the circle of people she had around her, when her breakdown occurred, she disappeared. “I didn’t tell anybody about anything then. I had a habit of walking off and disappearing and I certainly wasn’t going to talk to anyone about it because it was embarrassing and they were my relief, they were my world outside of it. Why would I sully that?” Paradoxical Undressing is essential reading, not just for Throwing Muses fans, but for anyone who likes to read a stirring story told by a writer with such a strong narrative voice. It’s an impressive piece of work, a haunting insight into the world of a gifted musician and a glimpse through the eyes of someone falling apart through mental illness. Hersh’s fun, playful, and in some ways innocent voice resonates strongly throughout. By the time you get to the end, you wish there were more. Deirdre O’Brien Paradoxical Undressing is out now, published by Atlantic Books www.kristinhersh.com


LABEL PROFILE: PLANET MU

MIKE PARADINAS

SOLAR BEARS

Founded: Based: Run By: Key Acts:

1998 (name dates from earlier) London Mike Paradinas Venetian Snares, μ-Ziq, Jega, Boxcutter, Solar Bears.

Long established as one of the UK’s foremost electronic labels, Mike Paradinas’ Planet Mu have just released their latest compilation, 14 Tracks From Planet Mu, rounding up the best of the last year and adding exclusives from Irish acts Boxcutter, Solar Bears and more. His label a key player in the development of breakcore, dubstep and now Chicago footwork, Paradinas talks us through the last 13 years of going it alone.

BOXCUTTER

How did the label start in the first place? At the time I [as μ-Ziq] was signed to Hut [part of Virgin Records] and they’d given me the imprint name Planet Mu. I had the idea with David Boyd who was head of Hut Records to release a compilation of stuff under the name Planet Mu, which was called Mealtime [1997], but it didn’t sell particularly well so I took the label on independently – that was about ‘98. I just had a few friends whose material I wanted to release, like Jega and Horse Opera. And it seemed to work out. People started sending in demos and it went from there. When you began, was there any specific ethos or policy beyond just releasing what you liked yourself? I think I had a lot of people telling me that I couldn’t do it, and that spurred me on. In terms of policy, it was and is still generally what I like and what’s exciting me. I felt I had the talent to notice things that encapsulate a moment, or something like that. Or that were just good. [laughs] And I thought I could exploit that talent by running a label. Are there any major acts you missed out on? Boards of Canada, I wanted to sign them but unfortunately that was just before the label started. It was right for them to go with Warp at that time. They had sort of agreed to do something with me, but that was before I got the distribution deal sorted out, so it wasn’t fair of me to say no. There were no bad feelings or anything like that – there never is. It’s just a matter of, we’re not big enough to play the

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games of fighting with other labels. Not the bigger ones, anyway. You mentioned Warp there. They could be seen as peers of yours but they have a few years on you… Yeah we started, essentially, in about 1998, and they started in 1989 so that’s nine years, and in those nine years the records they were releasing were selling a lot more. You could take a white label down to a distributor in ‘92/’93 and sell 10 thousand. Nowadays, even the biggest record of the year isn’t selling 10 thousand. But yeah, I think Warp have been very influential on me and I’ve loved a lot of their releases. You’ve survived for a long time as a small label. Is there anything you can point to as to why? We’re careful with money. I think that’s the main reason we’re still around and other labels aren’t. And maybe because we’ve made some good choices with who we’ve signed – people are still buying the records. This year might be our last – every year might be our last, you never know. That’s the problem, anything can happen and suddenly you can’t carry on. So you just live day by day. I mean, I’m optimistic about it – you can’t be otherwise, really. We’ve got some good stuff coming up, so you’ve got to survive for that. 14 Tracks From Planet Mu is out now. www.planet.mu


Back of the Net

We tickle the underbelly of the interwebs, so you don’t have to

HERE’S LOOKING AT YOU(TUBE) Lucky Strike

Words by Neill Dougan

Streakers are great. No sport is so exciting that it can’t be enlivened by the presence of a naked interloper hurtling across the field of play, dodging portly stewards and gesturing to the crowd as they go. Besides, sport is taken so seriously that an unexpected bit of nudity provides some welcome levity. Traditionally, television broadcasters are strangely reluctant to let the audience view the naked dash in its full glory. Luckily, these days we have the internet. Streak on, brave brothers and sisters. Streak on. I Can See His Helmet

It’s Just Not Cricket

A Tase Of His Own Medicine

Many streakers are mere drunken opportunists, but this athletically-built character at an American football game has clearly planned ahead. For a start he’s wearing his skimpiest G-string, and has also chosen to sport a fetching Viking helmet. Not only that, while most streakers are taken down by overzealous stewards within seconds of beginning their nude run, this guy has planned his escape in advance, utilising a handily-parked electric buggy as a launch pad to vault gymnastically over the perimeter fencing to freedom. Bravo, my Nordic friend.

Of course, as well as having to avoid vexed stewards and security men, any would-be streaker also needs to take into account the unpredictable reactions of pumped-up, aggressive professional sports people, many of whom are likely to take exception to their match being ridiculed in so blatant a fashion. Here, an Australian flasher learns the hard way not to mess with Andrew Symonds, an angry bruiser of an international cricketer who appears to entirely lack a sense of humour. Lighten up, dude.

You might be unsurprised to learn that in the good ol’ US of A, they do things a bit differently when it comes to pitch invaders – even those that remain clothed. This 17-year-old baseball fan is given reason to regret the moment his exuberance got the better of him and he intruded upon the field of play, as he is unceremoniously tasered by a blue-shirted security guard. Nasty. Still, it’s more entertaining than actually watching baseball.

- tinyurl.com/VikingStreaker

- tinyurl.com/CricketStreakerOuch

- tinyurl.com/Tased

Words by Karl McDonald

WEIRD WIDE WEB

Smug As A Bug

Teen Dream

The Great Rock And Roll Prindle

Whilst navigating the chaotic and dangerous world of the internet, it’s often important to have the correct tools in your belt in order to retain your hard-won reputation of detached ironic appreciation. So, the next time someone asks you a question of any sort on chat, hop over to Let Me Google That For You, type it in and then pop the resulting link into the window. LMGTFY’s satisfyingly condescending interface will make sure it never happens again.

Though groupiedom has largely disappeared from popular consciousness, it was once an aspiration for many rebellious teens, as Los Angeles’ Star magazine proves. Explore its pages for free online, and find a Cher review calling her “a beautiful witch of the earth’s gypsy winds”. Learn the answers to questions like “Is just one boy really enough?” or even the age old chestnut, “How far-out are you?”. And maybe, just maybe, find out how to snag a Stone.

Now nearing 15 years in operation, Mark Prindle’s record reviews site rivals Pitchfork’s for aged venerability, but it’s decades ahead in terms of putting humour ahead of vocabulary flexing. Enjoy Scratch Acid reviews written from the perspective of a burglar breaking into his house, finding his records and typing out his thoughts on them. Or the Lightning Bolt review that begins with “Hi, I’m some guy’s big ol’ smelly ass!”. Or worse.

- lmgtfy.com

- star1973.com

- markprindle.com

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"aaagh! my eyes!"

Two Door Cinema Club

The column that wishes it was all just a horrible dream Words by Neill Dougan

STORY OF THE VIDEO

Craig’s parties always took a turn for the worse once the crystal meth came out. - tinyurl.com/WrestlingMen

Title: ‘What You Know’ Director: Lope Serrano

On a Monday in December, Two Door Cinema Club entered a Barcelona film studio to record their latest video, for the single ‘What You Know’. Full of bright colours and dancing girls, it’s like an outtake from Sixties pop show Ready Steady Go! Guitarist Sam Halliday tells us all about it. Where did the idea come from for the treatment you went with? We had suggested going for a Sixties kind of look and were open to having dancing involved in some way. The directors thought it would be cool to make a kind of remake of a Sixties pop video. Did you have any input in that process yourselves? We picked out the company who made the video, Canada, because we love the other videos they have done.  And yes, we were up for giving it a vintage look. We got very into the Beatles on our last tour of America after watching the anthology on a rainy day in the dressing room. 

You have appeared in all your own videos so far. How much of that is a strategic decision aimed at increasing your profile, and how much is down to your own enjoyment? I think it is a good way for people to see what the band is like. It’s a good way to give the band more personality. Though after the 20 hour days we can see why many bands are not in their videos.

Having already suffered the indignity of an arrest for public intoxication, Steve thought it particularly cruel of the police to draw all over his face in magic marker while he was passed out in his cell. - tinyurl.com/TattFace

Can you explain the girls in the bath? It’s something that wouldn’t really appear in a Sixties pop video. Bit of a visual twist... You’re welcome. Tell us an anecdote from the shoot. The section where Alex is walking through everyone in the verse, Kev and I are making small talk with the girls. I don’t speak Spanish. There are only so many times you can say ‘hola’. The girl I was paired with spoke a little English but wasn’t the best at understanding questions. One take would have been fine. Just a bit awkward.... Watch the video online at bit.ly/ twodoorwhatyouknow www.twodoorcinemaclub.com

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Robbie Williams’s increasingly erratic public appearances prompted fears for his mental well-being. - tinyurl.com/RobbieShopping


THE EMERGING ACTS YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT

VESSELS

Members: Formation: Check Out: For Fans Of: Website:

Tom Evans (guitar), Lee Malcolm (guitar), Martin Teff (bass), Tim Mitchell (drums). Leeds, 2005. Second album Helioscope, out March 21 on Cuckundoo Records. Mogwai, Sigur Rós, Radiohead. www.vesselsband.com

A lot of nay-sayers will have you believe that the general spectrum of post-genredom is dead. Indeed, it does seem to have been plagued with pretenders, but sometimes, a band like Vessels comes along and changes everything. Fresh off new album Helioscope, produced by The Paper Chase’s John Congleton in Texas, the Leeds quartet are hitting the road, with a new direction and killer tunes under their belt. Shying away from their earlier synth orientations, Evans says that the album develops the “sounds and grooves” found on their first album. “I think the album brings the danceable element of our music into focus more than ever before,” he says. Tracks like ‘Monoform’ do indeed possess that locomotive quality, while downbeat moments such as ‘Heal’ are nothing short of spine-chilling. Shifting away from their early and ill-fitting “next big thing” tag (“I guess if we’d had different haircuts things could have turned out differently – but that’s speculation really”), Vessels are a genuinely thrilling proposition, and if this upcoming record is anything to go by, they won’t need the hype in the least. Mike McGrath-Bryan

Chapel Club

Members: Formation: For Fans of: Check Out: Website:

Lewis Bowman (vocals), Michael Hibbert (guitar), Liam Arklie (bass), Alex Parry (guitar), Rich Mitchell (drums). London, 2007. Beach House, Wild Beasts, White Lies. Chapel Club play the Academy 2 in Dublin on February 25 and Auntie Annie’s in Belfast, on February 26. Debut album Palace is out now on Universal. www.chapelclub.com

Chapel Club are a band that it would be easy to misinterpret. Hailing from Camden and displaying a penchant for waistcoats could see them erroneously pigeonholed as hipster chancers. Similarly, the assertion from singer Lewis Bowman that we can expect “grand gestures, turbulent emotions and lots of loud noises” from their debut album conjures unwelcome images of stadiums filled with mobile phones held cringingly aloft. However, it is the nuances to Chapel Club that render these first impressions invalid. Take, for example, the excellent single ‘Surfacing’. Taking its refrain from the standard ‘Dream A Little Dream Of Me’, the song is the perfect example of the myriad influences displayed by the band. Bowman states that inspiration is taken from a disparate range, including My Bloody Valentine, Fleetwood Mac and The Velvet Underground. Having previously supported Two Door Cinema Club throughout Europe, the band are about to embark on an extensive tour that sees them cross the Irish Sea. “We’re playing our own shows in Northern Ireland and the Republic for the first time, which should be ace,” says Lewis. We concur – you might not see them in such tiny venues again. Jonathan Bradley

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AUSTRA

Members: Katie Stelmanis, Maya Postepski, Dorian Wolf Formation: Toronto, 2009. For fans of: The Knife, Björk, Zola Jesus Check out: Debut single ‘Beat And The Pulse’ is out on February 21 on Domino Website: www.myspace.com/austra They say no man is an island – but if you’re Austra, and share a name with an 88 km² Norwegian land mass, that particular adage doesn’t really apply. Their debut single ‘Beat And The Pulse’ is a silver of icy electronica that throbs and shimmers underneath multi-instrumentalist Katie Stelmanis’s ghostly, austere vocals. Add in some golden tresses, and it’s little wonder that parallels have been drawn with Karen Dreijer Andersson of The Knife/Fever Ray. “I make midi music, and I like to layer my voice in different and unexpected ways,” Stelmanis explains. “Aesthetically, this may lead people to believe we are similar at first listen, but I think it you spend some time with my project you’ll realise we’re quite different.” The album, due in the coming months, was recorded in Montreal with Damian Taylor (Björk, The Prodigy). “I think Damian’s resume helped us feel very confident working with him,” she says, “but I think it took us a bit of time to realise that even though this guy has more experience then us, our opinions are valid.” No man is an island, but Austra is indubitably self-governing, then. Lauren Murphy


YUCK Members: Formation: For Fans Of: Check Out: Website:

– not unlike Sebadoh – who are aware that sometimes not trying too hard, and just doing your own thing can be the coolest thing on the planet.

Daniel (vocals, guitar), Ilana (vocals), Max (guitar), Mariko (bass), Jonny (drums). London, 2009. Dinosaur Jr., Sebadoh, Teenage Fanclub. Debut album Yuck, out February 21 on Fat Possum/Pharmacy. yuckband.blogspot.com

“Is it weird to be getting so much attention? Well, yes and no.” Max Bloom is hesitant. And he has good reason to be. For a band that formed a little over a year ago, they’ve already reached heights they couldn’t previously have expected to. “When we started the band, we never had an idea that we would be putting out an album, or that people would take us as seriously as they have been.” The BBC’s annual ‘Sound Of…’ poll is a big deal. Whether you take the poll – and its results – seriously or not, it focuses an enormous amount of attention on hitherto unknown artists, thrusting them onto a world stage. Whilst they didn’t win, Yuck found themselves featured on the Sound Of 2011 list, and the resultant attention might begin to verge on overwhelming. For a young band trying to preserve its cool, it’s uncertain waters. “It’s not really particularly relevant to us, in that we’re still going to keep making music. It’s really good for us, it’s amazing that people want to listen to us. But what I’m trying to say is that it’s not going to affect how we do things.” The strain is apparent in his voice, but it’s totally understandable. The temptation is to bracket Yuck as ‘That Band That Were On That Poll, But Didn’t Win It’, and then either file them away, or scrutinise their every move. The truth of the matter is that Yuck featured on this list because they’re a very good band, with a very good album, an album that will reward repeated listening. Brimming with classic indie-rock confidence, Yuck are a band

“We tried working in a studio before, and it didn’t really feel very nice. And so it kind of sounds like how an album would sound if we recorded it in your bedroom. Which is what we did, I guess. When we went in to record it, we didn’t definitely have an album in mind. We made a tracklisting, obviously, but the songs are much more like a collection of songs, that have been written over a period of time. Which is one way of doing things.” It becomes clear when speaking to Max Bloom that he’s not entirely comfortable explaining things, and it’s a trait that runs through the album. At no point does it feel like five people have sat down, had a chat, looked at what everyone else is doing, and then planned out what’s going to happen. Instead, it’s easier to imagine five people coming into a room, picking up instruments, and leaving with a killer album, having no idea what they just did. That sleepy, somnambulistic attitude puts the band much more in step with the lo-fi, American indie-rock bands of the late Eighties and Nineties, like Dinosaur Jr. or Guided by Voices. And just as those bands made classic power pop songs without thinking about it, Yuck seem happy to do just what they were always going to do. “I guess it’s important not to pay attention to the things that are happening around you, whether musically or whatever. We knew how we wanted this to sound, and it’s not like we pay attention to stuff that’s going on at the moment, whether it’s really different or not. We just knew what we wanted.” One listen to Yuck will confirm that they did indeed know what they wanted, and it would appear that they had a pretty good idea of what you might have wanted as well. Steven Rainey

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Love in its many guises has occupied the minds of humans for as long as we have had the capacity for rational thought. Poets, philosophers, and genius writers of popular song like Billy Ray Cyrus have poured forth innumerable words on the subject. And, now that the annual crapfest that is Valentineâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Day has been and gone, we at AU (as a team of highly experienced and accomplished lovers ourselves) thought it high time that we gave you the real lowdown on that crazy little thing called Love.

Words by Neill Dougan Illustration by Mark Reihill

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E is for:

A A is for

Aphrodisiacs Some people say oysters are an aphrodisiac. That’s a load of rubbish for a start. Nothing is less of a turn-on than a big plate of slimy, cold shellfish. Ten pints and a kebab – now that’s an aphrodisiac.

B is for

Brotherly Love Fraternal affection is important – everyone needs a pal or two, after all. Of course one major drawback with mere brotherly love is that there’s no sex. Or at least there shouldn’t be, otherwise a major line has been crossed and no mistake.

C is for:

Chemicals “Love’s only chemicals,” sang Dublin band Sounds of System Breakdown last year on their song of the same name. And how right the lads were: love is, indeed, a heady cocktail of serotonin, oxytocin, testosterone, oestrogen, dopamine and so on. And, like all the best drugs, the comedown from love is truly spectacular in its horror. You have been warned.

D is for:

Divorce

Although married couples pledge themselves to one another “till death do us part”, in practice this often means “till we get sick of the sight of each other.” Which is fair enough – who wants to live with someone who really annoys them? Anyone who grew up with brothers, sisters or indeed parents will tell you what a drag that is.

K is for:

Ecstasy

Kama Sutra

Popular recreational drug that can cause the taker to feel something very close to love for complete and utter strangers. Er, allegedly. And, y’know, it’s really bad and stuff so don’t ever do it.

Naughty book penned by the Hindus of India in the second century. In fact it covers many other aspects of human relationships besides sex. But needless to say it’s mostly popular for the dirty pictures.

F is for:

L is for:

Flowers

Love Letter

Listen up, ladies. If your man sometimes arrives home and unexpectedly produces a beautiful bunch of flowers for you, the appropriate response is “Oh, lovely, thanks very much” or words to that effect. Under no circumstances should you sceptically exclaim: “Oh Christ, what have you done this time?” That’s just a little tip from the Relationship Counselling Department here at AU. We’re here to help.

Since time immemorial, lovers have penned impassioned declarations of their feelings for each other. Sadly, the art of the love letter has been somewhat destroyed by the ubiquity of text messaging. “I luv u 4eva” doesn’t quite have the right ring to it, does it?

G is for:

Music

Glowing

People in love are said to visibly glow with happiness. Which is really great for them, obviously. Why don’t they just literally jump in our faces, laughing and pointing at our misery, and be done with it?

M is for: Music was “the food of love” according to Shakespeare, a man who knew a thing or two about romance. But then Shakespeare never lived to see The X-Factor, the lucky bastard.

H is for:

Hormones

Anyone who has ever been a teenager can testify to the confusing and distressing effects of rampant hormonal changes. Unfortunately falling in love causes wild hormonal fluctuations too, and thus we are prone to act like foolish teens all over again when confronted with the object of our affections. In other words, we get roaring drunk, make an ill-advised, lips-first lunge at them from across the dancefloor, and awake the next day full of bitter remorse and self-recrimination. Yep, that’s the way to do it alright.

I is for:

Infidelity Take AU’s word for it: Playing away from home might seem like fun, but it’s neither big nor clever, and will catch up with you in the long run. Especially when you get bad news from the VD clinic and you have to contact your myriad conquests and inform them that you may have given them a dose. God, that was the worst birthday ever.

J is for:

Jewellery “Diamonds are a girl’s best friend,” they say. Well, that may have been true when Marilyn Monroe sang it in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes in 1953. Today, however, a man is as likely as a woman to be dripping in ostentatious bling. Especially if that man happens to be a Premiership footballer or a rapper.

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N N is for:

Narcissism Named after the Greek myth of Narcissus, about a boy who becomes entranced by seeing his own reflection in water. A bit of self-love is healthy enough, of course, otherwise we’d all just want to kill ourselves. But too much self-regard can turn one into a preening, arrogant and obnoxious person that everyone else wants to kill. Johnny Borrell from Razorlight, for example.

O is for:

Ogling

When you spy an attractive person of the opposite sex across a crowded bar, there’s nowt wrong with a bit of eye contact. There’s a fine line to be drawn, however, between some seductive smouldering and a disturbing leer. If your tongue’s hanging out and you’re making an audible and vaguely sexual groaning noise to yourself, the chances are you’ve crossed that divide.


P is for:

Polygyny

U is for:

Unrequited Love

W is for:

The practice, popular among many human societies both ancient and modern, of a man being allowed (and indeed expected) to take multiple wives. Strangely, it’s an idea that seems to have more traction amongst the men of said societies than the women.

“Plenty more fish in the sea,” they’ll say as you mope about the house, despondent as the one you love swans around town with their paramour, who is better-looking and more intelligent than you. Noone understands your pain! Actually, they do. Get over it, chump. Plenty more fish in the sea, after all.

For you and your spouse, it’s a special day when you exchange vows and commit your lives to each other – she resplendent in white, he dashing in morning suit. For your guests, it’s an unmissable opportunity to get royally rat-arsed, do some bad dancing, cop off with a bridesmaid/groomsman, and possibly get in a fight with your equally inebriated uncle. Could it get any more romantic?

Weddings

X is for:

xxx

Traditional method of signing off texts, cards, letters and so on to indicate how many kisses the sender wishes to give the recipient, with one X being equivalent to one kiss. The appropriate number of kisses depends on the relationship between sender and recipient. If you’re an adult and you’re still getting more than three Xs at the bottom of birthday cards from your mother, for example, it’s time to have a word.

P

Y is for:

Young Love

Q is for:

“The first cut is the deepest,” sang Rod Stewart on his 1976 hit. Yeah, like you’d know Rod, with your devil-may-care smile and your millions of notches on your bedpost. Bugger off.

Queasiness Do you have trouble sleeping at night? Have you lost your appetite? Find yourself breaking out in cold sweats on a regular basis? Are you lightheaded and nauseous? Sounds like you’re in love, my friend. Well, it’s either that or swine flu.

R is for:

Romance

Flowers. Chocolates. Jewellery. Perfume. Expensive dinners in fancy restaurants. It’s certainly a pricey business, this romance caper. Still, it’s cheaper than going to a prostitute, eh? Er, probably.

S is for:

Sex

Although necessary for the continued existence of mankind, sex should be looked upon as an exam of sorts: you just have to do enough to pass and no more, and there’s no need for any extra fiddling about. This maxim has certainly served AU well over the years and probably explains our extraordinary popularity with the ladies.

T is for:

Touching

‘Foreplay’, you say? Nope, never heard of that. Next!

R

Z

V is for:

Z is for:

First celebrated in 500AD, but in recent times hijacked by cynical greetings card companies to exploit people’s need to be loved, Valentine’s Day as we know it is an exercise in crass commercialism bought into by idiots, and should be shunned at all costs. Having said that, it’s generally inadvisable to use the exact words of the previous sentence to explain to your other half why you didn’t bother to get them a card.

The world’s largest Cubic Zirconia was memorably stolen by the cat burglar Malloy in a superior episode of The Simpsons. But what the hell is it? Well, fact fans, Cubic Zirconia is a man-made material that bears a close physical resemblance to diamonds, and thus is sometimes given as a similarly romantic gift. Except, y’know, a bit shit. The bling equivalent of Kaiser Chiefs, in other words.

Valentine’s Day

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Zirconia


UEEN’S Q STUDENTS’ UNION

ENTERTAINMENT

Cara dillon SAT 12TH MARCH MANDELA HALL

GOGOL BORDELLO

St Patrick’s Eve Special Wednesday 16th March

THE VACCINES

Rescheduled show from November, all tickets remain valid

Speakeasy, Doors 7pm

Mandela Hall, Doors 7pm

Saturday 26th March

PETER DOHERTY

Tuesday 12th April Mandela Hall, Doors 7pm

Sunday 29th May Bank Holiday Weekend

JOSH RITTER AND THE ROYAL CITY BAND WED 13TH APRIL MANDELA HALL

Mandela Hall, Doors 7pm

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WWW.QUBSU-ENTS.COM


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Sad Songs Say So Much Three years ago, Stockholm’s Lykke Li crashed into our world with her sophisticated dancepop and riveting live shows. This month sees the release of an excellent second album, Wounded Rhymes. You’d think all would be good in Lykke Li’s world, but, alas, it seems she is not a happy bunny. AU dons a pair of half-rim glasses and prepares to take notes. Words by John Freeman

L

ykke (pronounced ‘lick-ee’) Li Zachrisson is multi-tasking. While talking to AU on the phone, she is also sorting out her laundry as she paces around her Stockholm home (‘home’ being a tenuous concept for the nomadic singer). She also tells us that the interview makes her feel “like a prostitute”. Momentarily, we are lost for words as a truckload of mental images crash into our consciousness; Lykke Li has a habit of making us feel a tad uncomfortable. Since completing a gruelling touring schedule for 2008’s debut Youth Novels, the 24-year-old singersongwriter has had a tough time. A failed relationship left her “heartbroken” and her new found success came weighed with the baggage of expectation. Born out of this melancholy is her new album, Wounded Rhymes. It is a dark record, breaking new musical ground for Li, and contains her finest songs to date. The murmured lullaby of ‘I Found Places’ and the lush ballad ‘Sadness Is A Blessing’ are masterpieces of introspection. It is a record fuelled by sadness and despair – and it is brilliant. “It is a very dark album,” Lykke agrees. “I constantly think of myself as being at a crossroads, especially at bad times. Personally, I’ve always struggled with this, but it’s all about dealing with that darkness. At the same time if you understand that, then you have a choice.” We thinks we can hear her pacing up and down her apartment as she continues to offload, “I think everybody knows that in your early twenties, a lot of your dreams and illusions get crushed and I feel like I’ve had hard times.” But, surely the launch of a globally successful career as a musician must be a huge source of contentment? “Maybe it’s difficult to understand for someone else, because I have had some success, but there have been a lot of studies that have said that success doesn’t make you happy.” Lykke Li is complex character. Almost detached and laid back one minute, she is quick to correct any perceived untruths about her. She gives the impression of wanting to be anywhere but doing our interview but is happy to divulge her intense internal “struggles”. Her live show projects a sassy independence, yet Wounded Rhymes is at its most stellar when her vulnerability is on naked display. “I

like performing; I really like being in character and pretending to be stronger than I am,” Li says. “But, being in a studio and writing songs is a more soulful kind of thing – it is really heartfelt to be doing that kind of work.” She also seems to be her own fiercest critic, admitting that Youth Novels was “too light for my tastes – sometimes you are too young to deliver,” as well as still hating her own singing voice. “I am looking forward to getting older when my voice will catch up with my life experience.” The offspring of liberal hippy parents, the young Li spent much of her childhood moving around the world; Morocco, Nepal and “five schools in Portugal” all moulded a lifestyle which suited an intensely restless mindset. “I’m so restless, I don’t even know how to cope with the next two hours here, so that’s why I am walking around and trying to organise my laundry,” Li admits. “I’m trying to settle down but I can’t. It is so hard for me. I know all these people who stay in Stockholm and think it is as good as it gets, but there are so many other possibilities out there.” Conversely, the lack of having a rooted ‘home’ caused more anxiety for Li, and contributed on an epic transcontinental journey of discovery that ultimately created Wounded Rhymes. “It’s the challenge of being on the road and not knowing where to return to. The end of the [Youth Novels] tour made it more stressful because the rest of the band would go home and I found myself in Manhattan bar, wondering what the fuck I was doing.” What she ended up doing was mooching round her old ‘open mic’ stomping grounds in New York, before heading west to the Nevada desert (“It was a time of adventure and letting myself go – it was a crazy time) before renting a house in Los Angeles and allowing Wounded Rhymes to pour out of her heart. The wooden house on a hill left an imprint, “I created my own space with a piano and flowers and incense. I want to cry when I think about it, I miss it so much.” Ironically, she then went ‘home’ to Stockholm to record the album, but only to ensure she worked again with producer Bjorn Yttling (of Peter Bjorn

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and John fame). “He has a baby, so he couldn’t really leave [Sweden]. My dream would be to rent Frank Sinatra’s old house and record in Los Angeles but I don’t have that kind of money.” The cover art for Wounded Rhymes is a stunning black-and-white image of coastal rock formations and a distinct lack of the photogenic singer. Not for the first time during the interview, Lykke kindly points out AU’s mistake. “No, that is me on the cover; it’s just that I am covered in black silk. I was standing on a beach freezing my ass off.” Silly us, how could we have missed that? “I’m trying to create a world and that world has a very visual part,” she continues. “I’m very controlling when it comes to my image. For this record I couldn’t understand why, because I was a woman, I would need to be on the cover. It is bullshit, you know. I just wanted the music to talk for itself. I’m also very tired of seeing my face everywhere.” As is the norm for anyone achieving a degree of success, Li has subsequently been able to contribute to a number of projects, including the song ‘Possibility’ to the Twilight: New Moon soundtrack, appearing in a Moses Berkson film Solarium and collaborating with Kanye West on the N.A.S.A. track ‘Gifted’. The latter experience left Lykke a little cold – “I didn’t even meet him. It was more about me testing if I could write a song in, like, one hour. It was an experience as a songwriter, but other than that, I probably could have lived without it.” As our interview comes to an end, and with AU in a philosophical mood, we reflect that perhaps sadness is a blessing. There is a long history of misery creating great art – Leonard Cohen as built an entire career on the premise. Perhaps Lykke Li also requires the energy of despair to write songs. But could she make music if she ever found herself feeling deliriously happy? “No,” she says with just the trace of a giggle, “because I would be too busy baking cakes and drinking wine and having children.” And that would be multi-tasking par excellence. Wounded Rhymes is released on February 28 via LL Recordings. www.lykkeli.com


The Anonymous World Of

POST SECRET

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How a small business owner in small town America became an artistic philosopher, and owner of one of the biggest private blogs in the world… Words by James Hendicott Frank Warren is an artist, yet he doesn’t produce any art. He’s a popular public speaker, yet most of the stories he presents are not his own. He’s also something of a guru: a man who listens to others’ problems on a daily basis, and does so without judgment. Every week, he’s contacted by the abused and their abusers; the suicidal and the murderous. Over the last few years, he’s heard from thousands of cheating spouses, hundreds of sexual deviants, priests who don’t believe in God and someone who fed a container of bleach to their cat. Despite all of the above contacting Frank personally and specifically, he has absolutely no idea who any of these people are. The early moves towards what would become ‘Post Secret’ could almost be classified as spam. A selection of self-addressed postcards asking strangers to submit anonymous secrets started out as a one-off art project, and drew a response of around 3%. That was more than enough for an art exhibit, which was eventually transferred to Frank’s website, PostSecret.com. Between that inauspicious start in 2005 and the present day, Frank has been handing out his home address online, and has received more than a million postcards, every one of which he reads and keeps. He sees his hobby as a valuable insight into the human psyche. In a sense, he’s like a modern day agony uncle, except without any hint of judgment along the way. The sole purpose is to get the ideas off your chest, anonymously, yet also in a way that exposes your thoughts and actions to the general public. Five years after its start, PostSecret has now produced seven books (including books on love, confession, death and God), achieved a staggering total of approaching half a billion web hits, and become Frank’s full-time job. He also hosts associated events, which usually take place in university amphitheatres, where Frank explains the philosophy of his artistic endeavors and then hears a selection of secrets from members of the audience. It’s all a far cry from his old day job, running a small systems information business. The heart of the product, though, lies in the Sundayupdates of one of the world’s most popular private blogs. Frank creates the stories from his weekly mail, weaving together a dozen to two dozen postcards that speak to each other: “They’re funny, sexual, tragic, hopeful, philosophical and spiritual, and I try to arrange them in a way that connects them, almost like a conversation is happening between these anonymous secrets”, he tells us. That’s where the artistic side comes in. While some postcards go straight on the site, others are saved for weeks in order to create a flowing tale; a collection of symbolic and anonymous story-art that weaves a floating picture around itself. Frank explains: “I spend hours selecting the postcards. I think of myself a little like a film editor, taking these scenes from people’s lives and knitting them together to tell coherent stories we can all relate to”. Some of the ‘tales’ lead viewers to highly contemplative Sundays.

Of course, such a project is not going to pass without controversy. “Many secrets are secret for a reason,” says Frank. “They can be offensive, politically incorrect, involve nudity… sometimes the best secrets can make us very uncomfortable. The FBI has contacted me on several occasions.” At the time of writing, Frank was embroiled in a censorship battle, trying to follow his heart in deciding whether or not to display a postcard that featured the sacred underwear of Mormons. Such a dilemma is not an atypical result of a week’s offerings. On the more light-hearted end of the spectrum, another sender confesses to not wanting children in order to avoid more visits from the in-laws. A third postcard reads, “My husbands thinks I’m a drunk after binging on wine. Actually, I binge on wine to make my bulimia easier to bear. I don’t know which is worse.” At a recent PostSecret event, a female audience member offered up this gem: “When I was visiting my grandmother recently, I went through her drawers when she was out. I found an antique vibrator. Yes, I used it.” These might all seem like unusual confessions, but Frank’s heard dozens that are similar. One of the most striking aspects of the postcard collection is the level of artistic talent. Very few of the submissions fail to reach at least a modicum of an impressive aesthetic, a result Frank put down to this: “So many of us are artistically talented, but it might only come out when we reveals vulnerable parts of ourselves that allow it to do so.” It’s something Frank can relate to. “This project found me. I’m an accidental artist, in that I don’t have any artistic training. I’ve had to adapt, become the kind of person who can read these secrets daily, year after year after year.” The project, unsurprisingly, has changed Frank for good, though he argues that the postcards are so important that he doesn’t mind the knock-on effect. He does his best to channel the project output, focusing on gaining the trust of viewers and those who submit. Despite huge numbers of hits, the only link to appear on a website to date is promoting a suicide prevention charity. “It’s important to me that I’ve never taken a dollar for paid advertising. I feel very fortunate that strangers trust me with their secrets. I don’t want to do anything to mess that up, and advertising might feel like exploitation. I try to be very personal. For the same reason I use my home address, not a PO Box, and I don’t offer any comment on the secrets I post. I need to protect what’s special about it. If I can do that, things can keep going indefinitely. It’s not always easy. I’m a little like eternal stranger on a train, and people feel they can pass things on to me that they might not tell someone they’re closer to.” Maybe even the deepest, darkest and most perverse secrets were meant to be shared.

www.postsecret.com

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Time enough to grow: the triumphant return of…

Words by Steven Rainey

Sometimes, there are things that are better left alone. Time is great at corroding fond memories, shocking us with what we find when we return to them. ‘Absence makes the heart grow fonder’, they say, but there are times when absence brings perspective, and we find ourselves falling out of love with previously untouchable subjects. Rival Schools are ready to release Pedals, their first album in 10 years, and AU finds frontman Walter Schreifels confident that they couldn’t exist at any time other than right now.

When United By Fate arrived on record store shelves back in 2001, the world was a very different place. Nu-metal was still a hot property, but The White Stripes and The Strokes stood ready to show the world that it was time for something new. At the same time, a whole new generation of bands were ready to capitalise on the underground swell of emo that had been building in the background during the Nineties. Change was on the way. “I think the time had changed to where the mainstream was ready to accept more of that abrasive style.” Walter Schreifels has a one of those voices that struggles to hide a burning intelligence, a passion straining to break free. Which is unsurprising given the all-or-nothing approach he has had to making music over the last two decades. “I had been in Quicksand before, and we were signed to a major label, and we toured the UK at a time when music was really open, but I don’t think people were ready for what we were doing. But at the time Rival Schools came around, it was a different sound, and people had heard enough for it to make sense. Now, people have come to understand it.” United By Fate (alongside Jimmy Eat World’s Bleed American) helped usher emo into the homes of middle America. Perhaps it’s more accurate to call it ‘post-hardcore’, but the sentiment is the same; people were ready to hear about feelings, without

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having to turn to the sensitive singer-songwriter with acoustic guitar in hand. From here on in, American indie-rock music underwent a seismic change, where the previously held dynamics were replaced by an emphasis on mood, emotion, and passion, as well as the capacity to rock like hell. Much as grunge had been the moment when punk ‘broke’ in America, 2001 was when ‘emotions’ landed in the American suburban heartland, and the scene is still dominated today by the language ushered in by that handful of bands. It’s potentially a huge burden, and it’s perhaps why a follow-up album was not initially forthcoming, as Schreifels candidly explains. “Maybe that’s part of where the 10 years helps. You make a thing, and people dig it, feel all these things for it, and as time goes by it has a different meaning. That’s why it’s like an abstract concept to me. I don’t really feel like I could in any way try to top this ‘legendary’ album. You can’t do it! To try and make another legend is fucking impossible. I think maybe having the distance from it, and making the best album we can make, the way we want to make it, is the most positive thing for us. It made a process of wanting to see it happen, as opposed to trying to perfect it in some way. “I’m happy with it, and I’m satisfied with it, but the best thing about it for me is that I feel like I’ve


had this ‘How come you never followed up United By Fate?’ question hanging over my head, and now I can fucking move on! I would like to move on with Rival Schools and make an album that isn’t about the album that came out before. But, y’know, I’m not in a rush! And I want to enjoy the ride, because I think we’re a better band now.” Lest it sound like Pedals is some exercise in forgetting the past, Rival Schools have made an album that is the sum of 10 years’ experience, an album that has grown up alongside the fans who held United By Fate so close to their hearts. Put simply, this record could not have come out at any other point. Crystal clear guitar lines intertwine, sounding completely alive, but dripping with history. Rather than growing old disgracefully, Rival Schools have produced an album that begs to connect with the listener, and either share those moments we’ve had together, or prepare you for the things that lie ahead. “Right after United By Fate, we weren’t in the right headspace and we were burnt out. Forgive us for taking our fucking time! Now, we can just be our own selves, and I like that. We had some songs that were meant to be for a follow-up to United By Fate, then in 2008 we built up enough material for a new album, and then when we went to record, we built up more material. So it’s a collection of all that.”

The break between the two albums seems to have revitalised the band. Pedals is a mature album, but it still possesses that energy and passion that fired the band in the first place. Full of heart-stopping moments, Rival Schools have reached that point where they can make the music they want to, and know exactly how to do it. The 10-year gap found all the members of the band pursing other projects, and finding their feet outside of the band, a process that contributed to the creating of this new version of Rival Schools.

“Right after United By Fate, we weren’t in the right headspace and we were burnt out. Forgive us for taking our fucking time!” “It was strange, because you’re jumping into some former part of yourself,” exclaims Schreifels, clearly aware of how lucky he is to have been able to recapture that mercurial magic that makes this band special. “You’re making new things, but you’re also rediscovering the things that were good, and that were annoying about it! You have that new perspective from being older and having done different things. I think at the time we made United By Fate we were pretty headstrong, and I think at this stage of the game we’ve managed to trim through some of that

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bullshit and can just be like, ‘We want to listen to each other’s playing and make songs together’. And it’s a lot easier, and a lot more fun. At the time, we took it more serious than we had to.” For a long time, fans of this band had come to the realisation that this story would never get a second chapter; that it would hang in the air, unfinished, forever. The 2008 re-union seemed too good to be true, and the prospect that the follow-up album would actually surpass expectations was unthinkable. To say that Pedals is worth the wait is not an understatement. It might be different, but it satisfies in ways that we could never have predicted. In a very realistic sense, taking 10 years off is the best thing that the band could have done, creating a promise of satisfaction that they could actually deliver upon, rather than cashing in, and releasing something that cheapens their legacy. This isn’t a comeback, it’s a re-affirmation. “The only thing we ever wanted to do was to make a great album. And the fact that people connected with it, I feel very fortunate.” Pedals is out on March 7 via Photo Finish/Atlantic Records www.rivalschools.net


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IN THE ZONE You’ve released an album – 2008’s In Ghost Colours – that is hailed by all and sundry, not only as a personal breakthrough, but as one of the best records of the year. Some go further, suggesting it is one of the defining albums of the decade. So, what next? For Cut Copy the answer was simple – you head into the wild, a clutch of classic albums in your backpack and an inclination for derring-do in your heart. Here, expedition leader Dan Whitford recalls the exploits that led to the creation of the band’s latest opus, Zonoscope. Words by Francis Jones It’s a musical cliche as weathered, worn and downright dull as ‘creative differences’, or ‘difficult second album’. The particular old chestnut I’m referring to is ‘sense of adventure’. Every act you speak to, they can’t wait to regale you with tales of their zany escapades, how they used a didgeridoo on that track, switched producers on this album, recorded in a coal shuttle. They expect you to applaud, to consider them the Marco Polo of pop. They’re not. On the great scale of adventure, most musicians rate closer to Ben Fogle than Sir Ranulph Fiennes. However, when Cut Copy say they have taken risks, embraced the unknown and dared do something different – rather than slavishly chase the dollar – they mean it. The proof is there in the glittering textures and alien shape of new album Zonoscope, it’s there in the fact that they have turned down support slots with myriad big name acts – not least globe-straddling colossus and freak Pied Piper, Lady Gaga – in order to pursue their own, artistic objectives. Whilst most other acts would have considered the Gaga slot an offer they couldn’t refuse, Cut Copy had no hesitation in turning the queen of controversy down flat – Dan Whitford was quoted on Pitchfork saying he was “simultaneously repulsed but also tantalised by the idea”. This decision is the first thing we query with the band’s commander-in-chief. Dan is a contemplative sort, pausing thoughtfully before replying to my questions, allowing himself ample time for careful consideration, turning each enquiry over in his mind, searching for hidden nuances and pitfalls. However, when asked about refusing the royal decree of GaGa – how could he? – he snaps back sharp and unequivocal. “It was quite simple,” he says, with the tone of an impatient teacher addressing a slow on the uptake pupil. “If we’d signed up to her tour then we wouldn’t have been able to do our own shows in support of Zonoscope. It was a no-brainer but I can’t deny it, I was very curious about what it would have been like to support her. We’ll never know, we’ll just wonder, or maybe when the next record comes out she can tour with us!”

Right now, Zonoscope means everything to Cut Copy. Its predecessor, In Ghost Colours, rightly pocketed all sorts of plaudits. It was a beautiful album, one that found itself at the holy intersection between Cocteau Twins and Technique-era New Order, a place where shoegazing ethereality met heart-pumping melodies, those glorious beats forged, it seemed, not in the studio, but in God’s own smithy. Two albums in and the band had made their definitive statement, or so we thought. Listen to Zonoscope and you might have to reappraise. It’s not as instantaneous as In Ghost Colours, as streamlined and pop but damn, it’s ambitious. Clearly, Dan and his compadres – guitarist Tim Hoey, bassist Ben Browning and drummer Mitchell Scott – weren’t content to simply bask in the golden glow of In Ghost Colours, to replicate it and rake over the same old embers. “Straight off, we knew that we wanted to bring forward different ideas than those we’d showcased on the last album,” he states. “It didn’t matter to us that the last album was successful; that it was what you could describe as a breakthrough. Our directive, our mindset when approaching Zonoscope was that we wouldn’t just remake In Ghost Colours. Then you think, ‘Right, so what do we do?’. I think that, in the long-term, people respect careers that have different twists and turns. For those reasons it was necessary for us to find a new space to occupy, a new palette of sounds to work with. That was the impetus from the outset, almost that we’d take what Cut Copy was and move things on, drop ourselves in at the deep end of something different, that elbowed us out of our comfort zone. You have to push yourself that way, it’s almost better to sink than continue to swim in the same waters.” It’s telling that Whitford should speak of those acts whose careers take interesting twists and turns. Bands, he suggests, like Talking Heads, acts that prove ‘adaptable’, who stay the course whilst managing to stay interesting and relevant. It’s a theme we return to a number of times during our conversation and it’s clear that he’s already got one eye on the Cut Copy’s musical legacy. “Well,

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“We bought a truckload of weird percussion stuff from a nearby drum store, near cleaned the place out. Half the stuff, we didn’t even know what it was.”

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yes, I do hope we create a real legacy,” he states boldly. “My favourite records are the ones that have that high level of detail to them; that you can go back to, time and again, five years later, 10 years later, and find something you’d never noticed before. Those little moments of revelation are the most exciting thing about music. That capacity, it’s something we want to build into our own music.” For Dan, sounds are both his livelihood and his lifelong passion. He tells me that the first record he distinctly remembers hearing, and being obsessed by, was Devo’s ‘Whip It’, that the first record he bought was The White Room by The KLF and that he has a soft spot for The Proclaimers. And, given any encouragement, he’d happily bore you silly with an academic-level treatise on the works of Brian Eno. He tells me how, on tour, the band would reward themselves by visiting record

Visions Of The Apocalypse Looking for a suitably arresting album cover image? Try the end of the world. This lot did. Cut Copy Zonoscope (2011) The artwork for Cut Copy’s new album Zonoscope is a striking image by the late Japanese photomontage artist Tsunehisa Kimura. The work depicts New York City engulfed by a waterfall. Dan Whitford explains, “It’s about the sheer surreality of it, the juxtaposition of this mechanical, man-made skyline with this equally grand, but natural occurrence, the waterfall. That

shops, indulging their “terrible habit of buying vinyl everywhere we go”, seeking out those rare slivers of black plastic, finding virgin sounds for their ears to feast upon. This rich hoard of music would prove invaluable when it came time to start fomenting ideas for Zonoscope. “We all went off on our own tangents, listening to all these records that we’d bought and stockpiled whilst we’d been touring. So we trawled through those and started to piece together a vision of what sort of record we would make.” And what sort of record did they make? Zonoscope is an intensely atmospheric affair, a record whose meticulous construction never misses an opportunity to create drama. It is also a record that casts its net wide, its catch including electro, straight-up pop, tribal sounds, shoegaze, disco, a dab or two of funk. “There are a lot of styles that all bleed together and, somehow, we’ve managed

idea of contrast fit really well with the record – the futuristic and technological feel of certain tracks co-existing with these human, natural sounds.” Nice explanation Dan, but for the rest of us, it’s a beezer image of impending doom. Cut Copy aren’t the first band to borrow a post-apocalyptic image for their artwork. Here are some other images of End Timesinspired cover art that we’ve dug up for your delectation.

to stop it sounding like a bizarre compilation album.” It is a dizzyingly, dazzlingly great album. As Dan himself observes, it is the collision of sounds and sense of contrast that gives the record appeal and, he hopes, longevity. “We wanted to create something that was classic, but that can fit in a number of eras and still has something new and relevant to say. Something that works now, but which will continue to be relevant.” Underpinning the whole thing is a primal sense of rhythm. It is rhythm as heartbeat, as the life-force that gets blood coursing through Zonoscope’s veins. “I was listening to a lot of records which had a really strong rhythmic element, stuff like Screamadelica, acid-house stuff, even tribal African music and the artists that fed off that, acts like Talking Heads. Rhythm provided the jumping-off point for a lot of the tracks and we built from there, rather than starting with chords. This one definitely feels like

design company Hipgnosis, the artwork was particularly inspired by the book’s finale, in which, “All the children run off the end of the world.” Powell knew just the place to give the image that “end of the world” feel, The Giant’s Causeway. With cover star siblings, the golden-haired Stefan and Sam Gates in tow, he set off for Northern Ireland. “It promptly rained for 10 days straight,” he glumly recalls. Slayer Hell Awaits (1985)

Led Zeppelin Houses Of The Holy (1973) The cover for the Zep’s fifth was influenced by Arthur C. Clarke’s novel Childhood’s End. According to Aubrey Powell of legendary

Much of Slayer’s artwork is concerned with religious themes and borrows from the Book of Revelations and the fire-andbrimstone Christian concept of apocalypse. Take Hell Awaits, an album whose cover

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suggests that following the Day of Judgement we’ll spend eternity having our bones gnawed by demons in a fiery pit. Still, better than being forced to listen to Slayer’s back catalogue ad infinitum, eh? Iron Maiden A Matter Of Life And Death (2006) Born out of the band’s collective childhood memory of growing up during the Cold War era, when global armageddon was the mere push of a button away, this arresting image finds an army of the undead marching over a wracked and ruined landscape. The album cover was created by celebrated American artist Tim Bradstreet, best known for his work on comics such as Hellblazer and Punisher.


more of a piece, a ‘whole’ record than the others ever did. I guess, the previous records, when I listen back to them, they feel like an amalgam of everything that we were listening to at that time. The sense of rhythm provides more of a unifying motif on this record; we consciously tried to give it more of a focus, a weird sense of a faraway place, tropical, somewhere that has this tribal energy resonating through it. The percussion was vital in conveying that and, as a result, this is our most clearly linked set of songs.”

and treating each recording session as nothing less than an adventure. Along the way they utilised all manner of exotic instruments – “bongos, congas, cowbells, shakers of all shapes and sizes; whatever came to hand. We even had these wine bottles filled to different levels with water.” Their enthusiasm and willingness to speculate is apparent in the record’s boundless skipping of musical genres and in their seeking out of new terrain. This thrusting, unfettered spirit is encapsulated best by the thrilling abandon of closing track ‘Sun God’.

weren’t obsessive, then they wouldn’t turn out right. I was fortunate in a way because, when I first started making music, I was signed to the same label as The Avalanches. This was just before their first record, Since I Left You, came out. I got to see the whole process at close quarters, the incredible care they took in making that album and the aftermath, how it all blew up and they became really popular. They were also very precise about remixes and in prepping their live show, and that made me appreciate that you have to invest time in your music, especially if you want to create something that an audience is going to get long-term enjoyment out of. That sense of meticulousness that The Avalanches had, it was something that I then took on.”

Clearly, making music gives Dan and the other “That was initially a four-and-a-half minute track and members of Cut Copy a feeling of freedom that they then, within the space of a day, it had bulked up into cannot find anywhere else. And they were never a 16-minute track. We were at the end of a recording more liberated than in making Zonoscope. With session at the warehouse and, overnight, we embarked Whitford having sketched out some initial ideas at on this space jam that went on until the wee hours of the home, the band began the search for a studio proper morning. When we first finished we didn’t know what For their meticulousness, their adventurous spirit in which to begin recording. They alighted upon an it was. We went to bed, came back the next day and and, above all else, for the music that they make, Cut old warehouse that was situated on the Copy deserve to be richly rewarded. outskirts of their native Melbourne. As They have the critical accolades “We’d like to think that our albums might one day our man relates, the space became their already, increasingly they have the be considered part of the canon of great records very own musical Narnia. audience, but what about cold hard that have been created within this band’s era” cash? “Monetary gain is certainly not “The guy who had taken out a lease our chief priority,” says Dan, not in on the warehouse, he used to have a studio in the listened again and went, ‘Wow, this is incredible, we’ve the manner of a slick PR man, but with sincerity. country and had shoved it all into this warehouse. got to put this on the record’. It was meant to be, there “Hopefully, at some point, we’ll make some money When we’d arrive in the morning, we’d go past was no grand plan, we just tried it and it worked.” out of selling records. I look forward to that day,” he these piles of kit, reach in and take a lucky dip and laughs. “First and foremost, however, we just want spend the rest of the day tinkering with whatever Whitford might give the impression of a man who to make good records. Being such music fans, we’d we’d grabbed and running stuff through it. It was is brimming with belief, but he admits that it wasn’t like to think that, perhaps, our albums might one a dream situation for us, a wonderland of weird, always so. He recalls the group’s origins, their 2004 day be considered part of the canon of great records half-broken, vintage technology. We also brought debut Bright Like Neon Love, the handful of nerve- that have been created within this band’s era. That’s a whole load of our own gear there. I’ve been rattled early live shows. They were “definitely not all you can do, make good records and, maybe, in collecting vintage synthesisers for almost 10 years confident” then, he says. Even looking back on the doing so, inspire other people to make good records and have a stack of stuff and outboard recording lauded In Ghost Colours, he reckons they were only too. If, as a by-product, we make some money, then equipment, guitar amps et cetera. We even 80 percent of the way towards becoming the band great, but, if not, we’ll just have to get day jobs.” bought a truckload of weird percussion stuff from they wanted to be. If he speaks with surety now, it is a nearby drum store, near cleaned the place out. only the certainty that comes with hard-work and a Zonoscope is out now on Modular Half the stuff, we didn’t even know what it was.” perfectionist mindset. www.cutcopy.net Freed from the shackles of the conventional studio set-up, the band cut loose, embracing opportunity

“The records we make are so detailed that, by necessity, you have to be obsessive about them. If we

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My Nightmare On Africaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Highest Mountain

Kilimanjaro or Bust


Charity challenge junkie Andrew Johnston’s latest adventure takes him to Tanzania’s infamous ‘White Mountain’ in support of Mencap. He finds that at nineteen thousand feet no one can hear you scream… The logic was simple. If Ronan Keating, Cheryl Cole and Chris Moyles can do it, so can I. In 2009, these three, together with six other celebs, made it to the summit of Kilimanjaro in aid of Comic Relief – even chubby, boozy Moyles. Of course, they probably had oxygen tanks, people to carry their daysacks and a helicopter to get them down quick. I would have none of these things on my ascent of the ‘White Mountain’. I undertook my first charity challenge two years ago, at the age of 35. After a decade of godforsaken tours with my punk band The Dangerfields, I decided that dog sledding in the Arctic or hiking across the Sahara could be no harder than fighting neo-Nazis onstage in Dresden or sleeping in cat shit in a Dutch squat. The Arctic and Sahara trips raised £6,500 for Mencap, going towards its work with people in Northern Ireland with learning disabilities. For my third expedition, I went for broke. At 19,341 feet, Mount Kilimanjaro is the highest mountain in Africa and the tallest freestanding mountain in the world (i.e. not part of a range). Located in northern Tanzania, near the Kenyan border, Kili – as most people who have been seem to call it, usually through gritted teeth – is made up of three centuries-dormant volcanoes: Kibo, Mawenzi, and Shira. Kibo is highest, though Mawenzi and Shira are still umpteen times bigger than any British or Irish hill. The first task was raising the £4,000 sponsorship. My family and friends must be sick of me chasing them for donations by now, but they coughed up nonetheless. A benefit gig, a raffle and support from local businesses got me past the two-anda-half-grand mark. Special thanks must go to Aer Lingus, who weighed in with a free return flight from Belfast to Heathrow, and it is here my adventure begins…

Day 1

Day 3

At Terminal 4, after a bit of celeb-spotting (well, Sinn Féin’s Gerry Kelly), I check in my 23 kilograms of overpriced kit (even with 15 per cent off at Cotswold Outdoor, this stuff costs a fortune) and board the overnight flight to the Kenyan capital, Nairobi. Amongst our 17-strong group are a criminal defence lawyer from London, a dental practice manager from Aberdeen, a Lisburn florist, a Belfast taxi driver, a bloke who has run three marathons this year and a 25-year-old woman who has been in 21 car crashes. A motley crew, indeed. As the plane follows the path of the Nile far below towards Equatorial Africa, a vegetarian meal and a dodgy Nicolas Cage movie are my last tastes of civilisation.

At breakfast, travel rep David from Good Earth Tours chats with me about Tanzanian politics, the country’s rhino conservation efforts and the mythical popobawa – an evil spirit that sexually assaults men in their sleep (and repeats the crime the following night if the victim fails to announce what has happened). David assures me I will have more pressing concerns on the mountain.

Day 2

Right Top - The group at Mawenzi Tarn Hut; photo by August Urio Bottom Left - The ever-present white-necked raven; photo by Andrew Johnston Bottom Right - Andrew dwarfed by mahogany tree; photo by Liam Clarke

From Nairobi, it is a short flight in a 42-seat propeller aircraft to Kilimanjaro International Airport. It’s probably best I don’t check Wikipedia for Precision Air’s safety record. The heat in Tanzania is intense, but who cares when there are exotic birds to watch? I spot a superb starling, a pair of crowned cranes and a flock of spur-winged geese before we’ve even boarded the minibus to the hotel. The journey to Moshi, close to Kili’s base, takes us past deep ravines, huge termite mounds, open-air churches and juddering trucks that even Willie Nelson might turn his nose up at. I hit the sack to the din of a brass band celebrating a local wedding and awake to the sound of baboons shrieking.

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Our guides are Malcolm, a Brummie now living in Drogheda, and native expert Godlisten (they have some fantastic names out here). Malcolm, from UK-based company Across the Divide, looks like Steven Seagal, sounds like Ozzy Osbourne and isn’t too fond of Kili. Worryingly, last week was his first ascent. Even more worryingly, he didn’t reach the top. Godlisten is an imposing, charismatic character – like a safari-suited Wesley Snipes. We are to follow the Rongai Route, one of the more remote trails up Kili. There are no tourist huts, no Coke for sale and, best of all, few obnoxious Americans. The tranquil, mahogany tree-lined path gives little indication of the hell that awaits us further up. When we reach the Simba camp, at 8,695 feet above sea level, the tireless porters provide popcorn and tea. It’s amazing to see these hardy workers striding up the mountain, carrying tents, tables, chairs, cooking pots and great sacks of potatoes on their heads. This is regarded as a good job in Tanzania, and the 100-plus porters never complain.


Kilimanjaro – The Risks Never mind fatigue from climbing Africa’s highest mountain – there is plenty more than that to keep your mind occupied… Altitude Sickness Everyone feels something, whether it’s vomiting, headaches, nosebleeds, diarrhoea, difficulty sleeping or problems with coordination. Effects can be felt from as low as 8,000 feet above sea level, far below Kilimanjaro’s 19,341-foot peak. A 2010 study found that 75 per cent of people experienced mild symptoms by 10,000 feet. By 15,000 feet, even getting in and out of the tent requires a major effort. It’s a little like as if the air had turned to sand. Severe symptoms include decreasing mental alertness and a hacking, gurgling cough. If you reach this point, your climb is over and the only option is to get off the mountain fast. There are anti-altitude sickness drugs available, but mountaineering and medical professionals tend not to rate their effectiveness. High Altitude Pulmonary Oedema (H.A.P.E.) High altitude pulmonary oedema is a leakage of fluid into the lungs, caused by the lack of oxygen. It can be deadly, but don’t worry – research has found that generally less than one per cent of climbers above 13,000 feet are affected. High Altitude Cerebral Oedema (H.A.C.E.) HACE is like HAPE, only it’s fluid on the brain rather than on the lungs. Severe instances quickly lead to coma and then death if not treated immediately – and the only treatment is getting off the mountain. Falls Kilimanjaro is a steady ascent, with none of the main routes requiring technical climbing skills. Still, one wrong step on the summit and you could be eating scree for several thousand feet… Wild Animals Lions, leopards, elephants, rhinos, jackals, hunting dogs, baboons, bush pigs, honey badgers and vultures have been recorded on Kilimanjaro, but encounters are exceedingly rare. The arduous hike up Kili’s slopes seems to appeal even less to wild beasts than it does to humans.

Right Top - Andrew finally reaches Gilman’s Point; photo by Steve Wernick Bottom Left - Day 1 on Rongai Route; photo by Liam Clarke Bottom Right - Kibo looming, with wreckage of Italian tourist plane in middle distance; photo by Andrew Johnston

After a candlelit dinner of soup, spuds, veg, gravy, fruit and hot chocolate – I’m not really selling the roughing-it side of things, am I? – we get our first view of magnificent Mawenzi. Then, Kibo materialises from behind the clouds. The awesome spectacle of this distant, snow-capped peak certainly takes our minds off the camp’s grim drop toilet. The person before me has missed the hole, and in the dark I’m lucky not to step in their foul, orange diarrhoea.

Day 4 On we ascend, clambering over rocks and through moorland. There are signs that elephants have been here – flattened branches, enormous piles of dung – but we may have missed them by days. There seems to be a jackal nearby, though, judging by the fresh, squidgy poo that one of the group has just stepped in. It’s thrilling to know that wild beasts are around, even if we can’t see them. By this stage, a couple of trekkers are struggling – one chap, Chris, gives his daysack to a porter to carry, while Kerry, the car-crash girl, is lagging behind. At the Second Cave camp, at 11,350 feet, I spend more time than is sociable gawping at a whitenecked raven. These birds, which will follow us the whole way up, are known as harbingers of doom, but really they just want our packed lunches. Dinner is banana stew, which tastes marginally better than it sounds. I fall asleep to the sound of women nattering, and awaken at 5.30am to the caw of the raven and a four-striped grass mouse in my tent.

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Day 5 Today’s itinerary includes a detour to visit to a cave that was discovered just three months ago. Like typical westerners, we slip on wet rocks, bang our heads and try to take photos in the dark. This is the toughest day yet, with rough terrain and unforgiving sun. The altitude is starting to seriously affect some of the group, and at Mawenzi Tarn Hut – 14,210 feet above sea level – we have to take cover in the mess tent from a sudden hailstorm. After it passes, a few of us grab some local guides and head off on an acclimatisation walk up Mawenzi. The landscape on the slopes of this ancient volcanic cone is like something out of Star Wars, though fortunately there are no Sand People or Sarlaac pits.

Day 6 After a restless sleep, we set off on the final haul towards Kibo Hut base camp at 15,520 feet. We are really feeling the altitude now, with headaches, nosebleeds and runny bottoms all round. The camp, visible on the horizon, remains just out of reach – it’s impossible to gauge distance without roads or buildings. En route, we pass the wreckage of an Italian tourist plane, which crashed in 2008. The area is so remote it has never been brought down. As we near Kibo Hut, following an exhausting, six-hour plod, Chris, a trekking veteran in his fifties, bravely admits he doesn’t feel capable of tackling the summit. At camp, with legs like jelly, we burrow into our sleeping bags.


Day 7 We crawl out of our tents to a clear view of the mad climb that lies ahead. The snow at the top is retreating fast, but the four-storey-high snowcaps on Kibo’s rim remain a stunning sight. The altitude at base camp has taken its toll on Kerry, who has to go down the mountain, while another two women are also evacuated, suffering from hypothermia and possible pulmonary oedema. That leaves 13 of us. The ascent takes place at night, to ensure we summit at dawn – plus it’s easier going up in the dark than it would be coming down. So, after a day spent tossing, turning and cramming as many calories into our bellies as possible, the hour arrives. It’s 10pm, and time to get going. Like the Seven Dwarfs, we tread on the spot, as much to take our minds off things as to keep warm. Ahead, in the flicker of head torches, I see someone projectile vomiting. Behind me, the faint sound of weeping. And then we’re off. The climb is heads-down, no-nonsense stuff. We split our energy reserves between shuffling our feet and sucking in any available dregs of oxygen. Zigzagging up the alien mountainside – left, right, left, right – minutes pass like hours. At around 1am, Chris’s brother, Peter, throws in the towel. He’s made a solid attempt, but has the sense not to jeopardise the climb for the rest of us. On we trudge, enjoying not a second of it, until disaster strikes 30 feet from the

top. Taxi driver Lynn – a keen cyclist, in excellent shape – suffers a heart attack. The guides and the doctor rush down to him, abandoning the group, some of whom are hallucinating, puking or having trouble standing. Somehow, we manage to drag ourselves up the remaining distance to Gilman’s Point on the crater rim. It’s 5.20am, 12 below zero, and we’re at 18,638 feet. I’m wearing a thermal vest, a trekking shirt, a fleece, a down jacket, a waterproof coat, long johns, extra-thick trekking trousers, waterproof trousers, two pairs of socks, hiking boots, two beanies and a snood, and I’m still freezing. We hunker down in an emergency storm tent and await first light. The frustrating thing is that although we are on top of Kilimanjaro, technically this is not the summit. That’s Uhuru Peak, another 703 feet round the crater rim. But we can’t make the two-hour walk without the guides, and with our friend quite possibly dead – the last we heard over the radio was that his lips had turned blue – it’s not exactly our prime concern.

there’s no time to rest. The guides want us gone to make way for the next chumps – I mean, trekkers – so it’s a breakneck clatter all the way down to the gate. The folk who had to drop out are waiting for us, including Lynn, who is looking distinctly healthier than last time we saw him. I will take much away from my time on Kilimanjaro. The summit ascent was undeniably the most gruelling thing I have done, but the scenery and the camaraderie on the way up made up for it. The one thing I am sure of is that I never again want to hear the words “I don’t think he’s going to make it” crackling through a walkie-talkie at 5am in minus 12 on the side of a mountain. Andrew would like to acknowledge the generous support of Aer Lingus, Aiken Promotions, Baird Sound Systems, CDC Leisure, Cotswold Outdoor, the Hilton Templepatrick Hotel and Country Club, JamLive Rehearsal Studio, Movie House Cinemas, Steamers Coffee Shop, Stena Line, the Templeton Hotel and Translink. Andrew’s climb has so far raised more than £2,500 for Mencap. You can donate at www.justgiving.com/ andrewkili

Day 8 The descent is almost worse than going up. In daylight, with the unfiltered sun searing our skin, the enormity of the challenge is clear. Only our walking poles – which I can’t believe I actually considered not bringing – save us from tumbling down several thousand feet of scree. At Kibo Hut,

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For more information about climbing Kilimanjaro, visit www.acrossthedivide.com


At Lavery’s

Mon / Tues / Wed (14.03.11 - 16.03.11)

ACOUSTIC AND TRAD SESSIONS WITH CROOKED JACK AND FINNEGAN’S WAKE IN THE PUBLIC BAR

Wednesday 16.03.11 PERFORMANCE ACOUSTIC SESSIONS IN THE BACK BAR FREE PARTY WITH FAUX DJs IN THE BUNKER

Thursday 17.03.11

St.Patrick’s Day Party

LIVE TRAD from the world famous

4 - 6PM PLUS: A maration 11 Hour DJ Set from DJ Dave F & friends! Doors: Midday | Admission £3.00 Also in Laverys on St. Patrick’s Day: Free entertainment in the Public Bar and Back Bar from 6pm Terms and conditions apply, right of admission reserved. For further information please visit:

WWW.LAVERYSBELFAST.COM

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• pg 47 Record Reviews | pg 53 Young Blood | PG 54 Live Reviews | pg 55 MOVIE & GAME REVIEWS •

Illustration by Mark Reihill

James Blake James Blake

ATLAS/A&M

With a handful of accomplished EPs already under his belt and the endorsement of critics ringing in his ears, young Londoner James Blake releases his self-titled debut album. Contrary to popular opinion, this is a record that suggests that what you don’t hear is every bit as important as what you do: the artful silences, those gaping moments that bridge the notes, that’s what it’s really about. Stitched together using a music sequencer, samplers, piano and drum machine, these eleven, relatively brief tracks could easily have resulted in a rather sparse sounding record. However, as Blake elegantly proves, you don’t need to labour to make your point. The mechanised cough and splutter of opener ‘Unluck’ offsets harsh electronics with wonky stabs of synth and Blake’s soulful holler. His voice blooms bright here, a rare flower flourishing between the cracks of a

forbidding industrial wasteland. Throughout, he is an arresting vocalist and no matter how his warm croon is technologically distorted, how it is sliced, diced and manipulated, it remains painfully human. Get a load of ‘Wilhelm’s Scream’, a valium daydream on which tender rhythms and sporadic beats combine with narcotised whisper to create a sweet, heavy-lidded atmosphere. The stillness and air of solitude of the near mythic log-cabin in which Bon Iver recorded For Emma, Forever Ago is transplanted to ‘Lindisfarne II’, with Blake’s smudged murmur coupled to brittle guitar. Elsewhere, ‘Give Me My Month’ dresses his tender vocal in swathes of melancholy piano. Each individual instrument is given its place within the architecture of the song, creating a clean and uncluttered sound. Centrepiece of the record is ‘Limit To Your Love’. It starts simply, with sombre piano notes hanging heavy in the air and Blake’s lovelorn lament stretching each feeling-drenched syllable taut. Then, from the deeps, comes that dub rumble. Midway through and everything comes to a standstill, all sound swallowed up in a tension-sapping interlude before piano arrives to fill the void. Gratification, though delayed, is eventually delivered.

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For the most part, the atmosphere is one of deep contemplation, emotion bubbling constantly to the surface, remorse and bitter sadness chief amongst them. Blake walks alone, love having long left this place. ‘Why Don’t You Call Me’ finds him pleading like Antony Hegarty at his most affection-starved, whilst on the gorgeous, Jeff Buckley-evoking, ‘I Never Learnt To Share’, we discover that he has even been forsaken by family. The whole thing is precariously, but delicately arranged and balanced, with chords teetering over yawning abysses of nothingness. The overall sparseness creates a desolate ambience, sharpening the appetite for the record’s fleeting melodies and minimalist instrumentation. In this age of austerity, there is something commendably timely about this music and its sense of restraint. Indeed, as acts such as The xx, Jamie Woon, and, our boy, James Blake prove, less is the new more. Francis Jones

KEY TRACKS: ‘I NEVER LEARNT TO SHARE’, ‘LIMIT TO YOUR LOVE’, ‘WHY DON’T YOU CALL ME’. FOR FANS OF: THE XX, BON IVER, MOUNT KIMBIE.


Rival Schools Pedals PHOTO FINISH / ATLANTIC

Aging can be difficult to deal with but it happens to everyone. Occasionally, age can help mature an artists, and we are given the special gift of being able to watch their work mature and develop, getting better as the years go by. A lot of the time, that youthful charm that attracted you to a band in the first place can fade, leaving you forced to watch them peddle diminishing returns. As Rival Schools return after a 10-year absence, the pressure is truly ON. And, thankfully, absence has made the heart grow fonder. United By Fate was a classic debut, and rather than try and create an obvious follow up, Rival Schools have wisely opted to try and make the kind of album one would imagine they’d be making today, but with the freshness that only absence can bring. The buzz-saw riffs are still there and so is the propulsive energy that made its predecessor so arresting, but it’s coupled to a sense of drama that serves the band well. Texture is a key factor to this, a punk rock riff cutting through the speakers with softer, jangling guitars following in its wake. These songs sound lived-in, and the band have lived long enough to breathe life into them. The 2011 version of Rival Schools is of excellent vintage. And if Pedals is anything to go by, the future holds even more delights. Steven Rainey

KEY TRACKS: ’WRING IT OUT’, ‘EYES WIDE OPEN’. FOR FANS OF: JIMMY EAT WORLD, R.E.M.

Earth Angels Of Darkness, Demons Of Light, Vol.1 SOUTHERN LORD

Dylan Carlson’s Earth have been purveyors of doom drone for over 20 years now, progressing an otherwise difficult and knowingly impenetrable genre with each release. Following on from retrospective A Bureaucratic Desire For Extra Capsular Extraction, Earth continue their (albeit purposefully slow) march onward with their new LP, which brings to the table the services of exNirvana cellist Lori Goldston, with a soulful, deep layer of strings added to a musical dirge, taking in the jazz intonations of recent albums and select Americana influences. Album opener ‘Old Black’ winds its way slowly and mournfully, but surely. ‘Father Midnight’ feels closer to classic Earth, but ‘Angels of Darkness, Demons Of Light’ validates their new direction further; a symphony of low end. A beautiful, slow-burning jewel of an album, proof that Earth’s continued march is unmissable. Mike McGrath-Bryan

KEY TRACKS: ’OLD BLACK’, ‘ANGELS OF DARKNESS, DEMONS OF LIGHT’. FOR FANS OF: BLACK SABBATH, MELVINS, JESU, BORIS.

PJ Harvey Let England Shake ISLAND

Sebastian Faulks’ epic novel Birdsong laid bare the ravages of the Great War. The stench of death in the trenches and the futility of a soldier’s life were beautifully woven into a story of love and hope. Polly Jean Harvey’s extraordinary eighth album could be its soundtrack. Recorded in a cliff-top Dorset church, as if to gaze outward from her tarnished country, Let England Shake showcases one of music’s most vital artists in majestic form. Whether lamenting the brutal loss of life (“Arms and legs were in the trees,” she proffers on the astonishing ‘The Words That Maketh Murder’) or the crumbling sham of an Empire (as on the scolding title track, “Let England shake /

Weighted down with the silent dead”), Harvey’s words are poetic memorials to the fallen. But, perhaps incredibly, this is neither a dark or depressing album. The deft and inventive instrumentation, supported by long-time collaborators John Parrish and Mick Harvey, provides the songs with light and air. Quite simply, tracks like ‘On Battleship Hill’ and ‘In The Dark Places’ are two of the finest songs you will hear this year – or any year. Seemingly now comfortable in her own skin, Polly Jean Harvey has delivered a flawless masterpiece. An utterly magnificent album. John Freeman

KEY TRACKS: ‘ON BATTLESHIP HILL’, ‘LET ENGLAND SHAKE’, ‘IN THE DARK PLACES’. FOR FANS OF: PATTI SMITH, ANNA CALVI, RADIOHEAD.

T.I. No Mercy

Disappears Guider

ATLANTIC

KRANKY

So T.I. is the ‘King of the South’. He was in jail and his comeback album, much anticipated, was to be called King Uncaged. But then he got sent to jail again. Whilst enjoying his brief freedom, he recorded this, a largely by-numbers megastar rap album that carries the weight of the postponed triumphant return in its songs. ‘How Life Changed’ with Scarface is a pretty satisfying go at the remember-when trope, and ‘Poppin Bottles’ with Drake is a nicely nihilistic club track. T.I. is skilled enough to hold his own against the aforementioned emcees (not to mention Eminem and Kanye), but the essential lack of direction stops this would-be comeback being anything more than what it is: a stopgap. Karl McDonald

Having already wowed many last year with Lux, Chicago’s Disappears didn’t hang around before cracking on with their second album. These four have simply ignored huge swathes of music through the years to focus on a specific sound that’s reverbcentric, noisy, echoey and filthy. Kneel before the motorik stomp of ‘Superstition’, do a weird punchdance to the thundering ‘Not Romantic’ and lose your shit to belting title track ‘Guider’. This is brief, rough and it’s probably safe to assume they now finish every gig with the epic 16-minute closer ‘Revisiting’. Given that their current tour drummer is Steve Shelley, this is a band to catch live as soon as possible. Adam Lacey

KEY TRACKS: ’HOW LIFE CHANGED’, ‘POPPIN BOTTLES’. FOR FANS OF: B.O.B., YOUNG JEEZY, RICK ROSS.

KEY TRACKS: ‘SUPERSTITION’, ‘REVISITING’. FOR FANS OF: VELVET UNDERGROUND, THE STOOGES.

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Lykke Li Wounded Rhymes LL RECORDINGS

Since time immemorial, nothing has stoked the fires of creativity like love. And unrequited love is the fuel that burns fiercest. It has forced the poet to take up his quill, the painter to spill his feelings out on canvas and the architect to construct monuments to its exquisite agonies. Lykke Li feels their pain, she shares it, her second album is a hymn to the experience of unrequited love, it even contains a song named, yes, ‘Unrequited Love’. Said song is gorgeously vulnerable, the Swede’s shivering voice consoled by little dabs of guitar. Aside from the similarly spare ‘I Know Places’, it is the most naked and straightforwardly confessional moment on an album that is warmly layered with scraps of keyboard, percussion and organ. The funky throb and twist of ‘I Follow Rivers’ finds her chasing the pied piper of love wherever he leads, whilst ‘Rich Kids Blues’ arrives on blasts of spooky organ before unloading a cargo of clattering drums, needling guitar and skewed pop-melody. On the magnificent ‘Sadness Is A Blessing’, producer Bjorn Yttling (Peter Bjorn and John) does his best Phil Spector impersonation, stacking bold drum sounds, electronics and voice to build a heart-rending wall of pain. Jimmy Ruffin once asked, ‘What becomes of the broken-hearted? The answer, Wounded Rhymes suggests, they get inspired. Francis Jones

KEY TRACKS: ’I FOLLOW RIVERS’, ‘SADNESS IS A BLESSING’, ‘SILENT MY SONG’. FOR FANS OF: ANNIE, SCHOOL OF SEVEN BELLS, ROBYN.

Jonny Jonny TURNSTILE

Five years since they called it a day, ex-Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci frontman Euros Child has teamed up with Teenage Fanclub’s Norman Blake to record their eagerly awaited debut. Two gifted musicians coming together to make muzak - what of it? Well, of it this and make no mistake: Childs and Blake have convincingly pooled their resources to create a record seeping with instantly memorable melodies and happy-dance inducing psych-pop. ‘Goldmine’ is a jutting, organ-driven riot of a track – the normally sacrilegious rhyming of “goldmine” with “mine” barely cause for a sigh – whilst the hugging sentiment of ‘Candyfloss’ and ‘Circling The Sun’ recall American Beauty era Grateful Dead and the indie-rock soul of Sub Poppers Avi Buffalo. So, not unlike an old friend indebted to little darkness, Jonny maintains an unassuming charm throughout and is almost certainly due a play or 10 come the summer. Brian Coney

KEY TRACKS: ’CIRCLING THE SUN’, ‘GOLDMINE’, ‘CAVE DANCE’. FOR FANS OF: GORKY’S ZYGOTIC MYNCI, TEENAGE FANCLUB, SUPER FURRY ANIMALS.

The Streets Computers And Blues 679/ATLANTIC

The fifth, and supposedly final, album from Mike Skinner is a curious proposition. Apparently sick of the baggage attached to The Streets, Skinner wants to make movies and generally sit on his art. ‘Computers And Blues’ sounds like the work of a man determined to go out on a high, but ends up weighed down by his history. Skinner’s kitchen sink commentaries now cover the social ills of Facebook and Google, but the wry observations are better executed by others these days. However, he has always possessed the ability to turn hardened geezers into blubbering

Peter Bjorn and John Gimme More COOKING VINYL

Touted as Peter Bjorn and John’s experimental album, 2009’s Living Thing may have been tough for some fans. But never fear, the Swedish trio are back with what they do best – traditionally-arranged, sweet pop rock. Lead single ‘Second Chance’ is a dreamy, catchy little ditty with some excellent cowbell work keeping the pace. ‘Breaker, Breaker’, which clocks in at just under two minutes, and the equally short ‘Black Book’ are slight anomalies in the album – quick, slightly abrasive, a welcome change. Overall, Gimme More benefits from a garage vibe – prominent drum rhythms, clanging guitars and distant harmonies – but at times, it feels like the CD has skipped and Vampire Weekend have taken over. Cynical trend-hopping? Well, if it works – why not? Don’t answer that. Louise McHenry

KEY TRACKS: ’SECOND CHANCE’, ‘BREAKER, BREAKER’, ‘(DON’T LET THEM) COOL OFF’. FOR FANS OF: BEST COAST, VAMPIRE WEEKEND, SUMMER CAMP.

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fools (see ‘Dry Your Eyes’) and he is at it again on the genuinely affecting ‘Blip On A Screen’. Over a delicate beat, he confesses his hopes and fears to an unborn child, overwhelmed by paternal love for “a hundred pixels on a scan”. It’s a beautiful sentiment. The closing track, ‘Lock The Locks’ (featuring a decidedly unshouty Clare Maguire), provides an insight into Skinner’s fractured relationship with his career; the song describes an office worker clearing his desk on the last day of his humdrum job. Good luck, Mike – did everyone sign his leaving card? John Freeman

KEY TRACKS: ’BLIP ON A SCREEN’, ‘LOCK THE LOCKS’, ‘PUZZLED BY PEOPLE’. FOR FANS OF: DIZZEE RASCAL, PROFESSOR GREEN, PLAN B.

Pearl Jam Live On Ten Legs UNIVERSAL

One wonders if a live album from the long-running grunge rockers is really necessary, given the hundreds of band-sanctioned official bootlegs already available. That said, as a compacted introduction to what makes Pearl Jam such a thrilling live act, this record mostly hits the sweet spot. Live albums by nature tend to be limpid affairs which rarely capture the sweat and spirit of losing yourself in a pulsing moshpit, so Live On Ten Legs wisely places all the group’s fastest, loudest songs upfront, skipping over the ballads in favour of ‘World Wide Suicide’, ‘Animal’ and ‘State Of Love And Trust’. It’s a compilation of sorts as the performances have been culled from gigs since 2003. Not that you would notice: Pearl Jam, particularly singer Eddie Vedder, still have the same energy and attitude as they did in their pomp, and if fans can get past the creeping feeling of a cash-in they will be in their element. Ross Thompson

KEY TRACKS: ’REARVIEWMIRROR’, ‘THE FIXER’, ‘JEREMY’. FOR FANS OF: THE WHO, NEIL YOUNG, THE RAMONES.


Joan As Police Woman The Deep Field PLAY IT AGAIN SAM

Joan As Police Woman, also known as Joan Wasser, is that very rare gem – an artist who other artists love as much as the critics do. With a career resumé that includes collaborations with Lou Reed, Rufus Wainwright and former boyfriend Jeff Buckley, one might be forgiven for thinking Joan’s hard-working days are over, but the 40-year-old New Yorker has unleashed this, her third album, to damn the doubters. Alive with passion and yearning, from opener Nervous (“I want you to fall in love with me”) through the ethereal ‘Run For Love’, Wasser’s torch-song vocal is a luscious sound that melds music which is both modish and classic. Kirstie May

KEY TRACKS: ’FLASH’, ‘I WAS EVERYONE’, ‘CHEMMIE’. FOR FANS OF: MARTHA WAINWRIGHT, ANTONY AND THE JOHNSONS, KAREN ELSON.

Harrys Gym What Was Ours Can’t Be Yours

present, based on the past, refracted through an even earlier past. Detroit: a fine city. Josh Baines

KEY TRACKS: ’GOOD LIFE’, ‘BUG IN THE BASS BIN’, ‘STRINGS OF LIFE’. FOR FANS OF: THE GORIES, JUAN ATKINS, JON SPENCER BLUES EXPLOSION.

Wagon Christ Tomorrow NINJA TUNE

If you have never heard the early works on the Ninja Tune label, then go out and pick up their brilliant first retrospective, Zen, featuring Coldcut, DJ Food, The Herbaliser, DJ Vadim and Wagon Christ among others. In recent years it could be said that Ninja Tune has failed to meet the heights of their early artists’ work, but Wagon Christ has returned to right that wrong. Perhaps you know him already by his other name, Luke Vibert. Tomorrow is electro-infused instrumental hip-hop, flawlessly produced. Christ’s beats are big, bouncy and all bangers. The Ninja Tune bosses will no doubt be thanking him for restoring the label’s past glory. Patrick Fennelly

SPLENDOUR

Harrys Gym isn’t the most elegant name a band has ever bestowed on themselves, but don’t let that cloud your judgement because their second album soon blows away any aspersions that particular shortcoming may cast on the Norwegian group’s creative integrity. With respectful nods to dream-pop, psychedelic rock and shoegaze, Harrys Gym create whimsical, swirling synth-pop, centred around frontwoman Anne Lise Frøkedal’s gorgeous soft-sung vocals. And while they don’t stray too far from the territory explored on their 2008 debut, they’ve improved their consistency to the point where there’s scarcely a single belowpar moment here, perhaps partly due to the strong artistic bond the band say they forged with producer James Rutledge. Whatever it is, it’s served them well. Patrick Conboy

KEY TRACKS: ’OLD MAN’, ‘NO HERO’, ‘NEXT TIME’. FOR FANS OF: ASOBI SEKSU, BLONDE REDHEAD, VESSELS.

The Dirtbombs Party Store IN THE RED

The Dirtbombs kinda rule. On Party Store, Mick Collins and his suited-and-booted Motor City soulboys churn out a taut collection of songs that equals, if not betters, their seminal 2002 Ultraglide In Black LP. This time, in a move that could have gone horribly wrong but proves to be a master-stroke, they eschew the Detroit sound of the Sixtiesfor that of the Eighties. Yes, this is The Dirtbombs doing a record of techno covers. Turning the likes of Inner City’s ‘Good Life’ and ‘Alleys of Your Mind’ by Cybrotron into agitated, angular, no wave-influenced garage rock turns out to be an unexpectedly wonderful exercise. Music for the

KEY TRACKS: ’MY LONELY SCENE’, ‘WAKE UP’. FOR FANS OF: COLDCUT, DJ VADIM, LUKE VIBERT.

Asobi Seksu Fluorescence POLYVINYL

If you’re going to get lumbered with a description of your sound, bands could probably do a lot worse than ‘shoegaze’ – with the deliberately provocative joketag of ‘rapegaze’ being the actual worst. The NYC dream-pop (and quite shoegaze) quartet released this, their fourth album proper, on Valentine’s Day and they haven’t exactly abandoned what they’ve become extremely competent at. Fluorescence sees the group continue in the more-subdued-thanCitrus style of 2009’s Hush, delivering a couple of pummels here and a few spacey diversions there but maintaining a catchy, pop vibe throughout. Songs like ‘Sighs’ will teleport you straight back to the Nineties while ‘Pink Light’ is as wildly hypnotic a closing track as you’re likely to find. Adam Lacey

KEY TRACKS: ‘PINK LIGHT’, ‘SIGHS’. FOR FANS OF: MY BLOODY VALENTINE, COCTEAU TWINS, SCHOOL OF SEVEN BELLS.

Chapel Club Palace UNIVERSAL

Whether it’s been the scramble for their signature, the furore surrounding the legality of the single ‘Surfacing’ or the release of this debut album, Chapel Club have achieved little in their short careers without a considerable amount of press attention. Though to a

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pre-occupied or inattentive listener, the band sound a little too much like White Lies for comfort, it is on closer inspection that Chapel Club excel. From the excellent ‘Surfacing’ and its refrain lifted from ‘Dream A Little Dream Of Me’ to ‘O Maybe I’ and its pondering of indulgence in extra-marital affairs, it is clear that there is more to the band than the first impression would imply. Chapel Club are at their strongest when at their most prosaic, allowing the force of Lewis Bowman’s emotion to come to the fore. When, on tracks such as ‘After The Flood’, that rawness is shrouded in poetic allusions, their ability to compel the listener wanes. Jonathan Bradley

KEY TRACKS: ‘SURFACING’, O MAYBE I’, ‘THE SHORE’. FOR FANS OF: ECHO AND THE BUNNYMEN, GENE, WHITE LIES.

Owensie Aliens OUT ON A LIMB

Owensie’s debut album is an acoustically-driven collection that offers intensity in a folksy Led Zeppelin III style, but has the capacity to surprise. The tempo sporadically changes, adjusting to embrace an easy listening groove; on the excellently mis-titled ‘Dark Place’, for example, which is about as foreboding as a drive along a Californian coastal highway at the height of summer followed by a highdive into a Hollywood pool party. ‘Lonely Wood’ catches the spirit of Nick Drake, certainly engagingly melancholic, but imbued with springtime optimism. The cover may suggest that ‘Aliens’ is an exercise in inner-city Dublin grind but, no, Owensie has sights set further than the ring road, into the green belt and beyond. Jeremy Shields

KEY TRACKS: ’ALIENS’, ‘DARK PLACE’,’RONDA’. FOR FANS OF: DAMIEN DEMPSEY, JOHN MARTYN, NICK DRAKE, RODRIGO Y GABRIELLA.

Gangrene Water DECON

Gangrene are a duo with serious form, consisting of Stones Throw producer Oh No and Eminem DJ/Mobb Deep and Dilated Peoples affiliate, The Alchemist. With the pair exchanging production duties and rhymes, Gutter Water is closer to the underground hip-hop you’d expect from Oh No than the more mainstream sounds that Alchemist is associated with. So much the better. The likes of the loping, menacing ‘All Bad’ and the parentunfriendly ‘Take Drugs’ are murky and downright weird slices of smoked-out rap. With recurring themes of dirt, violence and disease – and not much in the way of stand-out hooks – this is certainly far from commercial. For all that, it’s an atmospheric, dark and sporadically excellent effort. Neill Dougan

KEY TRACKS: ’ALL BAD, ‘TAKE DRUGS’, ‘BRASS KNUCKLE RAP’. FOR FANS OF: MADLIB, OH NO.


Yuck Yuck FAT POSSUM/PHARMACY

The last ten years have been categorised by revivals, cross-genre fertilisation and a general feeling of wanting to push boundaries and mix up the medicine. It is perhaps no surprise that the last few months have seen a number of gloriously unadorned, straight ahead collections of good, ol’ fashioned indie rock, like they used to do in the old days. Which is exactly what Yuck specialise in. Guitars are dirty and scuzzy, with solos positively dripping with fuzz, whilst sweet vocals call out classic melodies. It may not be the most progressively forward-looking thing ever recorded, but there’s such a joyous enthusiasm for making indie rock and roll that you can’t help but go with the flow. There’s nothing particularly derivative about this either, as the band inject some genuine freshness to this eternally youthful genre, adding a subtle layer of melancholy in all the right places. It may not change your life, but if you listen to it in just the right way, you might find that you’ve picked up a friend for the journey. And sometimes, that can be just as important. Steven Rainey

KEY TRACKS: ’THE WALL’, ‘SUICIDE POLICEMAN’. FOR FANS OF: DINOSAUR JR., ASH.

Mogwai Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will ROCK ACTION

Are post-rock’s groundbreakers in decline? Their last effort, The Hawk Is Howling, was typical fare, full of elongated, distorted guitar tracks that swooped and soared. Musically, it was competent, but it rarely deviated from the quiet/loud instrumental dynamics and open song structures we’ve come to expect. Mercifully, Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will, while unmistakably Mogwai, feels like a band reinvigorated, thanks largely to willingness to experiment with electronics and more varied tempos. Opener ‘White Noise’ is anything but, a soothing, tuneful mix of layered guitars and synths. ‘Mexican Grand Prix’ is the undoubted standout, delicately combining a hypnotic organ melody with primitive electronic beats and whispering vocoder vocals, echoing Radiator-era Super Furries, minus Gruff’s distinctive drawl.

Anna Calvi Anna Calvi DOMINO

In a world swamped by hyperbole, it’s often difficult to separate true artistic ability from wellorchestrated spin. Enter Anna Calvi, lazily touted as the ‘new PJ Harvey’, whatever that means. Despite only a handful of live shows to her name, Calvi was readily championed by Brian Eno and invited to tour with Nick Cave’s Grinderman. Three years in the making, her debut arrives fully-formed and it’s an instantly engaging body of work. Opener ‘Rider To The Sea’ teases the listener with its dreamy extended intro before

Calvi’s evocative voice is heard for the first time. The album’s key strength is honest, raw power. Calvi’s songs are poetic, free-flowing, often incorporating multiple styles that frame her distinctive and kaleidoscopic vocal range. Her exceptional talent is best appreciated on ‘The Devil’, a sparse cut, which sets her intense vocal delivery against howling guitar. A gifted musician, possessor of a unique voice and writer of inimitable songs, Calvi is already primed for greatness. Eamonn Seoige

KEY TRACKS: ‘RIDER TO THE SEA’, ‘THE DEVIL’, ‘DESIRE’. FOR FANS OF: PJ HARVEY, JEFF BUCKLEY.

The Go! Team Rolling Blackouts

Cold War Kids Mine Is Yours

MEMPHIS INDUSTRIES

DOWNTOWN

Surprisingly, the mood and pace shifts from track to track, with decidedly mixed outcomes. The controlled rhythmic thumper ‘San Pedro’ is a highlight, ‘Death Rays’ is blissfully epic, but much of the album’s second side is somewhat uninspiring. Overall, a fine release, proving there’s life in the old dog yet. Eamonn Seoige

While roaring fires and copious quantities of tea is the orthodox remedy for the winter blues, a new Go! Team record may just be a more effective method of combating the effects of the cold snap. The band’s first release since the ever-so-slightly disappointing Proof Of Youth in 2007 is full of the infectious hiphop-infused pop that wowed on their debut. The presence of de facto frontwoman Ninja looms over the album, with opening track ‘T.O.R.N.A.D.O.’ a highlight. Even when a change of pace is required and vocal duties are relinquished to Satomi Matsuzaki of Deerhoof on ‘Secretary Song’, Bethany Cosentino of Best Coast on ‘Buy Nothing Day’ or upstart rapper Dominique Young Unique on ‘Voice Yr Choice’, such is the ability of Ian Parton to create indeliable melodies that the quality never diminishes. Jonathan Bradley

Up to this point, the dominating force behind each and every Cold War Kids recording has been the vocal of Nathan Willet. In possession of a voice that gave an emotional gravitas to the phrase “tax deductible charity organisations” (in ‘We Used To Vacation’), his delivery was, understandably, the trademark of the Californian quartet’s sound. It is, therefore, an odd decision to reduce its impact on Mine Is Yours, with each ounce of individualism seemingly wrested from Willet by over-production. The songwriting is still of the expected standard but with the strengths of their erstwhile forceful front-man not utilised, the record fails to make an impression for prolonged periods. Tracks such as ‘Louder Than Ever’ hint at previous glories but, in its entirety, Mine Is Yours cannot be considered a particularly memorable effort. Jonathan Bradley

KEY TRACKS: ’MEXICAN GRAND PRIX’, ‘SAN PEDRO’, ‘DEATH RAYS’. FOR FANS OF: EXPLOSIONS IN THE SKY, TORTOISE.

KEY TRACKS: ’BUY NOTHING DAY’, ‘T.O.R.N.A.D.O.’. FOR FANS OF: HOT CHIP, ARCHITECTURE IN HELSINKI, THE AVALANCHES.

KEY TRACKS: ‘SENSITIVE KID’, ‘MINE IS YOURS’, ‘LOUDER THAN EVER’. FOR FANS OF: LOCAL NATIVES, TOKYO POLICE CLUB.

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Adele 21 XL

When a zombified Amy Winehouse put her career on, err, ice, Adele was perhaps the most successful of the crop of big-voiced singers who jostled to take her place. Written when she was 19, her debut album 19 was a slightly patchy affair that nevertheless sold shedloads on the back of the enormous ‘Chasing Pavements’ single and Bob Dylan cover ‘Make You Feel My Love’ (which everybody seemed to think she wrote). Now she is 21, her second album called (wait for it) 21 is an ambitious undertaking that aims to consolidate her reputation as one of the great singers of her age. For the most part, the album succeeds. The slightly over-egged but somehow successful songwriting on lead single ‘Rolling in the Deep’ and Bonnie Tyler-style power ballad ‘Set Fire To The Rain’, will see them massacred at office karaoke parties for years to come. And they are just the tip of a soulflavoured heartbreak iceberg of radio friendly unit shifters, which demonstrate a new-found maturity in the young songwriter’s abilities. However, if Adele sounds so world-weary and emotionally wrecked now, what in the name of God will she be singing about on the inevitable 23? Major clinical depression? Darragh McCausland

KEY TRACKS: ‘ROLLING IN THE DEEP’, ‘SOMEONE LIKE YOU’. FOR FANS OF: AMY WINEHOUSE, ALICIA KEYS.

The Joy Formidable The Big Roar ATLANTIC

After taking a laborious three years to make – three years in which they have been showered with critical bouquets – The Joy Formidable’s debut has much to live up to. All the more impressive, then, that it not only sounds fresh, but justifies the early hype: The Big Roar is one big, brash beast of a statement of intent. Raw yet tuneful vocals from frontlady Ritzy are accompanied by an abrupt, tense wall-of-sound style that mostly slams its way along with a barrage of guitar-driven energy. Opening with an eightminute epic in the soaring ‘The Ever Changing Spectrum Of A Lie’, the band blend run-of-the-mill thrashy guitar and mid-song interludes as bright and unexpected as trickling water. The starker moments are sometimes headache-inducingly pounding, but for all its edge, The Big Roar’s diversions into the eerie and affected offer up the clever contrast that nudges this album into the stratosphere. Expect their future to be enormously charming, and downright epic. James Hendicott

KEY TRACKS: ’LAW = WALL, ‘THE EVER CHANGING SPECTRUM OF A LIE’. FOR FANS OF: YEAH YEAH YEAHS, FIGHT LIKE APES, THE SMASHING PUMPKINS.

Beans End It All ANTICON

proving particularly great tracks on a quality collection. Beans’ speedy, smooth flow is instantly recognisable and a joy to absorb while, in the production stakes, everyone brings something layered, pumping and all that good stuff.

Antipop Consortium veteran Beans needs no introduction and for his fourth solo outing, Robert Edward Stewart II has taken two steps that will have the music snotterati creaming their pastel Y-fronts this year: he’s jumped in with Anticon and he’s enlisted a crotch-twitching roster of collaborators that includes Nobody, Four Tet, Son Lux, Tunde Adebimpe, Clark and Sam Fogarino of Interpol.

This will undoubtedly get tagged, condescendingly, as a ‘smart’ hip-hop LP but the truth is it takes a genre that already had an embarrassment of riches in 2010 and, with the confident swagger of a musical authority and a lethal dose of jaw-dropping bass ‘n’ beats, slaps 2011 right on its gyrating arse. Adam Lacey

There’s not really a duff track here with the insanely catchy, bass-heavy ‘Deathsweater’ and the Sam Fog-produced ‘Electric Bitch’

KEY TRACKS: ‘DEATHSWEATER’, ‘ELECTRIC BITCH’. FOR FANS OF: SHABAZZ PALACES, ANTIPOP CONSORTIUM.

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Young Blood Your indispensable guide to new releases from up-and-coming acts Words by Chris Jones

Kid Karate Heart EP Dance-punk duo Kid Karate go straight for the jugular on their debut EP. Over four tracks (one a live recording) the Dubliners define their sound absolutely – built on the rock-solid, piston-like drumming of Steven Gannon and Kevin Breen’s strafing, looping guitar riffs and yelped vocals, the songs have no great truck with lyrical complexity, or even many words at all. This isn’t clever music, then, but it isn’t intended to be – ‘Feel For You’ and ‘Black And Beige’ are big, dumb, party songs, sizzling with live energy, while the title track slows the pace and ups the tension. Sweaty, sexy and direct, Heart is the perfect middle finger to pofaced chin-strokers everywhere. myspace.com/kidkaratemusic

Go Panda Go Go Panda Go EP Not to be confused with Belfast’s Panda Kopanda, this Donegal/Galway/Mayo quartet think big on this EP, and hint at where they might end up. ‘Decoded’ starts slow before building to a galloping, giddy beast of a weirdo pop song, while ‘Jake The Dog’ is much more straightforward, aiming for anthemic but scuppered slightly by the strained vocals. ‘Go! New York! Glow’ would be more of a highlight were it not for the existence of Vampire Weekend (seriously, it’s uncanny), while ‘El Troubadour’ is a lush slow-burner that trades on sway-along oh-oh vocals. The songwriting has a little way to go, then, but there is potential here. gopandagomusic.com

The Foamboy Deluxe Arkestra In A Heartbeat EP After assaulting our ears in the best way possible with last year’s Here Come The Hurricane EP under his Team Horse moniker, Comber’s Geoff Topley returns to his main project for his latest self-released album – his 19th release since 2003. Once more, though, proof that an intimidating back catalogue is not necessarily a sign of low quality control. This time, Topley has taken Mark Lanegan, The Black Keys and Tom Waits as his muse and those influences are unmistakeable, with bluesy guitar licking at the edges of his grizzled vocals. Built on drum machine grooves and humming with atmosphere, songs like exquisite ‘The River’ deserve a proper audience. thefoamboydeluxearkestra.bandcamp.com

InProfile: ACT: Kid Karate FROM: Dublin MEMBERS: Kevin Breen (vocals, guitar), Steven Gannon (drums, vocals). FOR FANS OF: Yes Cadets, Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, The White Stripes WEBSITE: www.myspace.com/kidkaratemusic One of the most-tipped bands in Dublin, punk duo Kid Karate have landed with a splash. Their debut EP Heart has been making us flail uncontrollably around the office, while the band have been doing to same to audiences from here to Poland, where they recently completed a tour. Before they left, Steven Gannon submitted himself to AU’s questions. How did Kid Karate come into being? An ex-girlfriend of mine who was one of Kev’s best mates introduced us in the summer of 2009. We talked a lot about music among other things and decided to have a jam for a laugh. When we started playing we were just two mates who wanted to have some fun and try to write some songs. We didn’t think about gigging, recording or releasing anything, we just wanted to have fun. Was it a deliberate decision to form a band as a two-piece rather than three or four? After we’d had a few practices, a friend of ours offered us a gig, which he’d booked for the following month. We had originally planned on

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finding a bassist and a vocalist but as time was of the essence we took his offer and played the gig as a two-piece and have stayed that way ever since. We gel well musically and we feel the dynamic would suffer if we were to have more members in the band. But never say never. You both appear in the much-criticised RTE reality show Fade Street – how did that come about and has it had any effect on the band’s profile? We were approached by the producers and told they were making a show about bands, DJs, artists etc. trying to make a name for themselves during the Irish recession. It sounded good so we agreed to do it for the laugh. Personally it’s not my cup of tea and I can see why people would dislike it. The thing I did like about it was that it showcased Irish music and I can’t think of any other mainstream TV shows that have done that. What should we expect from a Kid Karate live show? Our live shows are pretty manic, very noisy and a lot of fun. Some odd things have happened at our shows. There have been stage invasions, lots of audience participation on the drums and stuff like that, but the weirdest thing I can remember happening at a gig was when we played at Odessa in Dublin and Kevin ended up with his head in a couch. What are your plans for the rest of the year? Our goals for 2011 are to record our second EP before the summer, to play some shows in Europe and America, as well as some festivals in the summer and to hopefully begin work on our debut album by the end of the year.


LIVE REVIEWS

David O’Doherty The Playhouse, Derry What do all good heroes have? Capes. Capes that billow in the winds of change and uncertainty. Capes that mesmerise assailants into submission and defeat. Capes with shiny golden edges decorated with felt sharks and pandas. The latter is perhaps a more unassuming cape, one which may belong to a hero with modest adventures involving bikes, penguins, oranges and getting punched in the face. Tonight the Playhouse in Derry welcomes its southern brother David O’Doherty through the big red doors and after a late start due to a traffic accident, he emerges from the curtains, teacup in hand. He begins with a humble tale of a small, rain-soaked Shakira and her longing to learn the ways of the man. This quirky song, along with many others in his tiny-keyboard repertoire, is the real key to his comedy. By spinning otherwise mundane stories of getting over your ex, the early days after a break-up or ranting about pet hates, he makes these mundane daily conversations into something actually quite hilarious. His songs have been described as stupid, but this seems unfair. Yes, perhaps dealing with the tale of a friend’s encounter with a very questionable Thai massage seems daft at the offset but the songs are witty, smart and often address blunt truths with unmistakable charm and comic timing. It should also be appreciated that the guy is juggling many things at once; singing, playing and reacting to the crowd. His between-song chit-chat regularly revolves around the personal; stories about his sister’s pet turtle or a pub crawl with his friends. The approach works well; after all, sometimes the funniest things you hear can be tales from family and friends. The DIY ethic of David O’Doherty’s show makes him more likeable and approachable than perhaps his most comparable peer, Tim Minchin. The structure of the show doesn’t seem too fixed, helping the gig to feel comfortable and laid back. His stage set-up is minimal and homely, allowing space for a chair, laptop and book. There’s also something about a mop-haired thirtysomething singing contently with a tiny 1980s keyboard resting on his lap that is much more endearing than any epic smoke machine or impressive light show accompaniments. His rapport with the crowd is great throughout; allowing for song requests, chatting with audience members and assuring us he will be downstairs straight after the gig for a pint and a chat. In a time when stand-ups like Demetri Martin and musical duo Flight of the Conchords are popular, O’Doherty fits right in. It’s refreshing that more people are embracing a style of comedy that makes the overlooked and everyday nothings funny and interesting. This takes real talent and David O’Doherty is a dab hand at it. Shannon Delores O’Neill

Photo by Alan Maguire

Wire Spring & Airbrake, Belfast Universally lauded stalwarts of post-punk and beyond, famed and esteemed in equal proportion for their work and enduring influence, Wire are met with virtual silence as they walk on stage. This is, without question, an odd and unexpected start perhaps more indicative of timid admiration from the crowd, rather than indifference. Either way, mildly slighted, the band offer a brief acknowledgement of surprise before kicking into ‘Smash’, the enormity of which resurrects many. Thankfully, a healthy applause follows, to which bassist Graham Lewis – still visibly irked by the reception – insists “move closer”. It works: the crowd draw nearer in mostly middle-aged, mechanised rows as Wire, all credit to their mercy, launch straight into a first-rate set. What impresses most is how assertively Wire execute their new material and, in doing so, with such a gallant and most tangible vitality; a true

Sonic Youth Academy 1, Manchester There is a sense of occasion whenever Sonic Youth roll into town – reverence fills the air. Tonight’s hotchpotch of Northern indie glitterati is out to see the iconic no wavers either once again (and do so sporting unhygienically threadbare Evol t-shirts) or for a first time (sporting box-fresh Goo clobber). To add to the grandiosity, venerable post-punk peers The Pop Group roll back time with a thrillingly noisy support slot before the Yoof stride onto stage. Like a guitar Holy Trinity, Kim Gordon, Thurston Moore and Lee Ranaldo slide into the opening ‘No Way’ with such ease – abrasive ease, mind – that it is easy to forget how unique the Sonic Youth sound actually is, a combination of power and poise, created

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vigour impervious to years and yet one reinforced by the addition of new touring guitarist, Matt Simms. That said, the logical allegiance to their new album, Red Barked Tree, throws many into a state of statuesque disinterest – that is, many who you could imagine having spent the last few weeks re-worshipping Wire’s early masterpieces struggle to embrace the new songs with equal fervour. And yet, as if it was ever in doubt, Wire fail to neglect their celebrated past in delivering, amongst others, the ferocious, leap-inducing ‘Spent’, the rabid, punk stab of ‘Two People In A Room’, and an unforeseen and altogether inspired performance of ‘Drill’, its rollicking surge instigating spontaneous howls from several pockets of an increasingly animated crowd. At the end, quite a few leave before the encore – like a Man Utd fan leaving around the 85th minute of the 1999 Champions League final. Set closer, an extraordinary re-imagining of ‘Pink Flag’, decobwebs the stunted and induces a smattering of semi-epileptic fits by way of an unholy, almost cataclysmic wall of sound. One cannot understate this interpretation, a devastating release – a vital conclusion – that is nothing if not a spine-chilling clearing of the air. Brian Coney via detuning and the mangling of conventional chord structure. Live, it sounds magnificent. However, the set-list is dominated by 2009’s The Eternal and, good album that it is, this produces passages of sonic ambling. “They’re not playing any crowd-pleasers,” complains one young pup mid-set. Thankfully, when ‘Tom Violence’ (from Evol) and ‘Stereo Sanctity’ (off Sister) emerge like writhing, free-formed bastard songs, it is easy to remember why Sonic Youth have been able to sail their own career course for almost 30 years. They encore with two perfect Daydream Nation offerings (‘The Sprawl’ and ‘Cross The Breeze’) but the crowd still react more with respect than pantwetting adulation. The final blast is a spleen-bending ‘Death Valley ‘69’ and the Manchester crowd is sent into the night – finally pleased. John Freeman


whole affair is balanced upon a quandary so subtle that it cannot be fully resolved. The movie loses steam and starts put-put-putting along when the trio of friends grow up and move to the same Soviet Bloc England depicted in A Clockwork Orange. Kathy (Carey Mulligan) longs for Tommy (Andrew Garfield) but he’s under the thumb of the malicious, manipulative Ruth (Keira Knightley). It’s a classic scenario but one which is underwritten: Mulligan is a nuanced, credible actress with the most expressive eyes but here she is reduced to gazing through windows with a wavering bottom lip. Garfield continues to blossom as an actor, building further on kudos gained from his turn in The Social Network. Knightley, sadly, is the weak link: scenes which should be heavy with pathos instead creak with her flat, cold delivery.

Movies: Never Let Me Go

Director: Mark Romanek Starring: Keira Knightley, Andrew Garfield, Carey Mulligan Cert: 12A What to say about this slight, quietly troubling film when the film itself says so little? Whereas most pictures rooted in classic sci-fi speculation place images of a tightly wound, dystopian society right at the forefront, Never Let Me Go shies away from such conventions. We are told in a series

Mass Effect 2 (Ea, Ps3)

GAMES One of the best games of last year, and arguably all time, finally materialises on Sony’s black box. Though PlayStation owners will be incensed by the delay, they should be placated by the quality and quantity of the package which Bioware have delivered. The disc not only includes the full version of Mass Effect 2, now upscaled to look pin sharp thanks to the Mass Effect 3 graphical engine, but also all of the available DLC for the game. That’s around another six hours added to a title which is already long and involving enough to make the player forego sleeping, eating and relief breaks for a week. Those who are familiar with the developer’s previous work such as Dragon Age and Knights Of The Old Republic will know that Bioware don’t make videogames; they make narratives, interactive movies which just happen to play on home consoles. The player is wrenched into the story from the game’s opening cinematic in which the broken body of Commander Shepard is retrieved from his decimated spacecraft and rebuilt by machines. The shady Cerberus corporation recruit the resurrected hero for a mission to defeat the reapers, a race of alien locusts who have been stripping planets of their resources and their people. This will end in certain death for all involved so Shepard must enlist assassins, engineers and mercenaries for what is to all intents and purposes

of stark statements that all serious illnesses have been banished. What comes after is a slow dawn, a realisation of the ugly truth with a love triangle at the centre. Kathy, Ruth and Tommy are pupils at Hailsham, an austere, sheltered school of sorts in leafy Middle England. They do all the things that kids in mohair cardies, shorts and knee socks do but something is awry. Behind the patina of clipped accents, geography lessons and skipping games there is a much bigger picture. It is, however, a picture we are not permitted to see. The slim story is propelled by a swelling undercurrent of sadness which never subsides but any viewers hoping for a satisfying denouement will not be sated. The a suicide mission. The sense of urgency is ratcheted as the game reaches its explosive, dramatic finale. The player grows to care about his or her (you can choose Shepard’s gender, along with a plethora of other mind-spangling stats) character along with their crew. When the ending arrives, and it does so with an unprecedented sense of scale and drama, it’s affected by the decisions the player has made up to that point. Conversations and battles are regularly punctuated by the option to choose to be the goodie or the baddie, creating a tangled web of possibilities you just don’t get in more linear releases. It’s this depth of storytelling which makes Mass Effect 2 such an immersive experience. You will encounter multiple races, interplanetary nightclubs and bars, ghost spaceships, offworld prisons... it all adds up to a rich and believable universe to rival those created by Lucas and Roddenberry. Goto only knows what Bioware will achieve with the forthcoming Mass Effect 3. Ross Thompson

Donkey Kong Country Returns (Nintendo, Wii) The necktie-wearing great ape has come a long way since his first appearance in the seminal arcade game way back in 1981. After playing second fiddle to the tubby plumber Mario, then known as ‘Jumpman’, DK put down the flaming barrels, stomped off the building site and got his furry mitts on a franchise of his own. This came in the form of Rare’s Donkey Kong Country

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Ostensibly these characters are children in adult bodies, compliantly accepting a world which does terrible things to some to benefit others. Art should of course ask questions abut the ethics involved in scientific advancement but one wonders if the results need be quite so bleak. Logan’s Run minus the giggles, The Handmaid’s Tale without any sense of hope. Kazuo Ishiguro, who wrote the original novel, knows a thing or two about conveying melancholy but the issue here is that it builds towards a final reel which may leave the viewer feeling tricked. It’s not so much a twist, more a kick in the teeth. Ross Thompson

series, a clutch of ambitious platformers celebrated for their groundbreaking Pixar-influenced animation. Thankfully, this visual panache was backed by gameplay which, despite being cribbed from the Super Mario Bros. or Alex Kidd template of bounding from A to B, was both incredibly addictive and fiendishly difficult. Even if the anthropomorphic animals and bright colours seemed cutesy, the learning curve was far from namby-pamby. Donkey Kong Country Returns is very much in the same mould: there is scant plot about a stolen hoard of bananas, but it’s simply a MacGuffin which leads you into umpteen levels full of power-ups, shortcuts, trapdoors, secrets and hidden minigames. Retro Studios, the talented bunch behind the Metroid Prime trilogy, do a sterling job of paying homage to the classic Donkey Kong titles whilst mixing up the format with some neat touches. While the opening, jungle-based stage is a fairly derivative rehash of past glories, subsequent worlds are much more inventive, allowing you to ride jet-powered barrels and runaway mine-carts, surf atop whales and do battle with a giant octopus. You’ll climb down tunnels, up walls, across ceilings and in one standout sequence, race a tidal wave. The difficulty is pitched just on the right side of joypad breaking: Retro refuse to make things easy but know how to reward the player with bonuses and unlockables for their trouble. In short, this is, along with the sublime Super Mario Galaxy 2, further evidence that the lowly platformer is far from dead. Long live the Kong. Ross Thompson


FLASHBACK The End Of The Future: 25 years old The Challenger space shuttle disaster, January 28, 1986 The inclusion of a civilian in the space programme did exactly what it was supposed to, with an unprecedented level of media attention being focused on the project, allowing the public to follow this ordinary – yet extraordinary – woman’s progress into the beyond. For the first time, the public could follow the progress of someone becoming an astronaut at a level they could understand, and go through all the ups and downs associated with the process. Little did anyone know what lay around the corner. On the morning of January 28, 1986, there had already been great doubt on whether the Space Shuttle Challenger would launch. Adverse weather conditions had caused severe freezing on the launch pad, and low temperatures had led to concern from the engineering team as to any potential problems that the launch could encounter. Checks were made, tests were conducted, but the eyes of the world were on NASA, and something would have to happen. The launch took place, and after take-off, a large plume was seen emanating from the rocket’s engines. With both ground control and shuttle crew still believing everything was normal, the shuttle crew were given the command to, “Go at throttle up.” Shortly afterwards, the rocket veered off course, and was torn apart. The world watched in horror as the rocket disappeared in a huge cloud of smoke and debris, apparently having exploded in the sky.

Space had lost its mystique. For most Americans, it was this big black thing, that the government was spending millions of dollars on firing objects into, for reasons far beyond the average Joe’s understanding. But when NASA’s attempt to get the public excited about space went disastrously wrong, the entire world took a long, hard look at space exploration, and wondered whether it was worth the cost. In the Sixties, the American public was captivated by the promise of space exploration. In a decade full of turmoil, the space programme represented the positive side of this brave new age. As Vietnam turned into an American nightmare, and social rights came to boiling point, the desire to further the human condition and reach for the stars gave many people a sense of hope, a feeling that some bright new dawn was on the horizon.

But after the triumph of Neil Armstrong’s historic moon walk, attention began to fade, the optimism of the Sixties being slowly eroded by the cynicism of the Sixties. The origins of the space programme had lain in the secrecy of the Cold War, and now that America had appeared to have won the Space Race, even the American government’s enthusiasm started to wane. By the Eighties, people just didn’t care about space anymore, having a lot more earthly concerns to be focused on. So when the Teacher in Space project was announced by Ronald Reagan on August 27 1984, the public fascination with space was reignited. In a masterstroke of PR, NASA began a programme to put an ‘average’ American into space, perhaps identifying the lack of interest in the space programme to the heavy science involved, and the perception of the astronauts as being superhuman squares, almost incapable of engaging with the average American. After a rigorous selection process, Christina McAuliffe, a New Hampshire school teacher, was selected to be the first ‘regular’ American in space.

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In reality, the rocket had not exploded, but had disintegrated, causing the entire ship to be torn apart in a cloud of wreckage. Later studies have indicated that there was a significant chance that the crew were still alive as the shuttle cockpit plummeted to the ground, perhaps even remaining conscious until it collided with the ocean. NASA had indeed captured the attention of the public, but in a way they could never have possibly guessed. That evening, President Regan gave his annual State of the Nation address, stating, that they had, “Slipped the bonds of earth to touch the face of God.” In the aftermath, NASA’s fleet was grounded for three years as an investigation took place, and the entire public perception of space exploration appeared to change. By including a civilian, the dangers these men and women faced was brought home with horrifying reality. The space programme eventually recovered, but this was the moment when the public’s fascination with space grew up, no longer standing on the earth, gazing with wonder at the stars, but instead aware that life in the beyond could be just as dangerous as life on earth. Steven Rainey


CLASSIC BOOK Naomi klein - No Logo (2000)

Are you totally pissed off about being constantly manipulated by huge companies? In our austere economic times you perhaps should be. Canadian student Naomi Klein was and, in 2000, she waged literary war on globalisation. In a book stuffed with figures, perhaps the most chilling statistic in Naomi Klein’s groundbreaking No Logo is this; more than half of the world’s largest economies are corporations. That’s right – not nations, but huge, global companies. At the time, Klein cited General Motors as being ‘bigger’ than Denmark and Sony ‘bigger’ than Pakistan – and the problem with companies is that they only have any real accountability to their shareholders. That is a lot of unchecked power to wield, and a power that you have very little say in. Klein’s raw masterpiece took a (painstakingly) detailed look at how companies use this power. No Logo is, in essence, a book about branding and how corporations use it to influence mass culture. Brand philosophy goes something like this; the real power of (for example) Nike is its image and associated brand loyalty. It doesn’t actually matter what their new trainers are like, Nike just needs to sell you a lifestyle – which it did (and still does) with huge success. Anyone owning an Apple product has probably fallen for the same trick.

It also means that it doesn’t matter who makes stuff - Nike can source its trainers from anywhere and for the cheapest price. The infamous Nike ‘sweatshop’ scandals of the Nineties broke, in part, because Nike’s core market (us) decided we were deeply unhappy with how Nike conducted its manufacturing process (low-paid jobs in Asia in appalling conditions set against a declining manufacturing industry in the US). On its release in 2000, it hit upon the younger generation’s growing distrust of corporate globalisation. The book was released shortly after anti-globalisation protesters rioted during a World Trade Organisation meeting in Seattle in late 1999. Culturally, the book had a far-reaching impact; for example, Radiohead’s Kid A was heavily influenced by the band’s love of No Logo. Naomi Klein was in her mid-twenties when she began to research No Logo, after experiencing a creeping corporatisation of her education – from campus McDonald’s outlets to companysponsored degrees. There may well be hugely influential tomes on the subject written by learned Harvard professors, but the freshness of Klein’s discontent gave No Logo added weight. She also elegantly documented how companies go hunting for ‘cool’ to create a brand image. Initially appalled that rap music had ‘adopted’

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their brand, senior Adidas executives were taken to a Run DMC show. When the band exhorted the crowd to “show us your Adidas” during the song ‘My Adidas’, the German suits were in awe as 3,000 shoes were waved in the air. Weeks later, laceless Adidas were being marketed. The pfennig had dropped. Klein, however, had not just collated a set of doomladen observations, dedicating a whole section to positive action against globalisation: be it culturejamming, the ‘Reclaim The Streets’ shindigs or specific examples of where the ‘little’ person has taken on a major company and won. No Logo has its flaws; it is too long, too dry and Klein has only a rudimentary grasp of how to display data. She seems obsessed with outing Nike and Tommy Hilfiger, but the more subtle branding techniques employed by the petrochemical and pharmaceutical industries (which arguably have a bigger global impact) are left relatively unscathed. At the time of launch she heavily was criticised for using a major publisher – although No Logo would have had significantly less impact as an obscure cult classic. Sometimes you have to dance with the devil. John Freeman


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35 Years On The Cutting Edge Words by Steven Rainey

Wire were never an ordinary band. Eschewing the trends and conventions that have dominated popular music for the last 35 years, Wire seem to take it as their God-given right to break the mould. On the release of their 12th album, AU catches up with Colin Newman and Graham Lewis to find out just what exactly Wire is. “Well, the first thing that comes into my mind about Wire,” ponders Colin Newman, guitarist and main vocalist, “Is that Wire is very bendy.” It’s an obtuse, contrived, and though-provoking answer, and ultimately very ‘Wire’ in its delivery. Bassist Graham Lewis offers up, “Well, a lot of people discovered us after we’d stopped existing, and we found that by this point, ‘Wire’ had become an adjective. Which was something that we never expected.” The two men are a study in contrasts. On Wire’s epoch-defining first three albums, they tend to fall into two distinct camps: Newman the shouty, brattish punk, and Lewis the chilly, cerebral intellectualist. Of course, in reality, their personalities are much more complicated, but there’s still a tendency to mark Newman’s excitable, conversational tone down to those qualities first exposed on 1977’s masterful debut, Pink Flag, whilst Lewis’ measured drawl, and oblique turns of speech (he writes ‘texts’ rather than ‘lyrics’) still clearly identify his art school background, a background which Newman – of course! – shared. Nothing is ever simple in the world of Wire. Emerging out of the maelstrom of punk, Wire were never an easy fit for the uneasy mixture of energy and orthodoxy that punk quickly descended into. After settling on a permanent line-up of Newman and Lewis, as well as guitarist Bruce Gilbert and drummer Robert Grey, the nascent band found themselves facing an uncertain 1977, the punk explosion of ’76 already seeming to have run its course. “We were not a punk band,” explains Lewis, “because we weren’t a ’76 band. ’77 was our year, by which point it was ‘interesting’ and ‘done’, and we certainly took it upon ourselves to do something new.” When played today, Pink Flag (1977), Chairs Missing (1978), and 154 (1979), still sound like something beyond ‘new’. These three albums represent one of the most consistent opening gambits in the history of 20th century popular music, and they show no sign of losing their edge. Pink Flag, the most overtly ‘punk’ of their records, is characterised by its brevity, songs expiring when they have said all they need to say,

rather than dragging on for no reason. Chairs Missing expands on this minimalism, adding textures and angular sensibilities to bring a kind of twisted pop to the fore. The last of their original Seventies albums, 154 highlights the avant-garde nature of the band, mixing electronic noise, churning guitars, and oblique lyrics, whilst somehow managing to provide the band with some of their most overtly accessible material. ‘Map Ref. 41°N 93°W’ has a strident pop melody, whilst the chorus proudly exclaims, “Interrupting my train of thought, lines of longitude and latitude / define, refine, my altitude.” In anyone else’s hands, this couldn’t work, but Wire make it look easy. But then it all seemed over. The band disappeared from view, and it was left to others to pick up Wire’s mantle and go on to greater things. Wire had become a pivotal force in the development of ‘post-punk’, offering up challenging ideas in the face of the obvious, but by the dawn of the Eighties, they were no more. It would take until 1987’s The Ideal Copy before Wire’s new direction had revealed itself. “It’s all about context,” offers Colin Newman as an attempt to explain Wire’s disappearance, and subsequent rebirth. “By the time you got to the Eighties, anything to do with the Sevenites was just regarded as unremittingly naff.” Electing to abandon their heritage in favour of a completely new direction, sequencers, synths and new ideas were in. Notions of distorted guitars and ‘punk’ were out, as Graham Lewis explains. “What we decided to do was to not play any old material, which turned out to be a very hard thing to do. I seem to remember the phrase ‘The Pol Pot of Pop’ was what we came up with. It was like a ‘Year Zero’ thing. Which, as you can imagine, served to challenge people’s perceptions and their expectations.” The Wire of the Eighties, whilst possessing the same challenging and artistically confrontational ethos, was not as unified in purpose as it had previously been, and the albums struggled to gain the kind of audience the band had worked hard to build in the Seventies. However, unbeknownst to the band, they had attracted an entirely new audience on the other side of the Atlantic, an audience that was putting the lessons Wire had hammered into existence into practice. Colin Newman: “In America, Wire were suddenly being namedropped by the lot that came after hardcore, your Michael Stipes and all that crowd, who were all becoming incredibly successful. So in a way, it felt like it was the right thing to be doing. But those

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records are not consistent, and in many ways, what we’re doing now, and have been doing for the last 10 years, has completely de-valued those records.” But Wire’s impact was not lost, with the likes of the Minutemen, Guided by Voices, Minor Threat and many more citing the band as a key influence. Wire once again went into dormancy for much of the Nineties, with Bruce Gilbert opting to leave the band. Britpop, oddly, was kind to the band, with bands such as Blur and Elastica owing an obvious debt to their sound. With the dawn of the 21st century, the original line-up of Wire reconvened to release Send (2003), an album that showed them to be completely revitalized and recapturing that spirit that made them so special in the first place. “We’re just useless at nostalgia, it’s not part of our DNA,” states an unrepentant Graham Lewis. “Something like the new record we’ve just released stands absolutely equal on Spotify with our older material. The context has shifted absolutely radically, and we’re still trying to understand the implications, but perhaps all of one’s work exists now in the same timeframe. Memory is attached to it in a different way.” This decade finds Wire capitalising on this newfound sense of intellectual freedom. Red Barked Tree, released in January, possesses the energy that can only come from live performance, whilst simultaneously attempting to break down notions of temporal placement. Put simply, if Red Barked Tree was the first thing you’d ever heard by this band, it doesn’t matter. Rather than attempting to deal with their past, and define exactly who they are and who they’ve become, Wire have managed to re-implement that ‘Year Zero’ philosophy. And for the kids (and grown-ups) who are coming to the album, it frequently doesn’t matter that they’ve been around for over 30 years. So, in a realistic sense, the history of Wire is tantamount to the end of history itself, definitions becoming irrelevant in the face of a changing world where nothing is static. It’s a concept that one would imagine Wire are very happy with, being pleasingly cerebral, as well as brimming with possibility. “Wire on stage now… you don’t have to know the original recorded version. It’s irrelevant. Irrelevant.” Colin Newman pauses for a long time, confident that he’s become the architect of his own future. One can’t help but agree with him. Red Barked Tree is out now on Pink Flag www.pinkflag.net


The Digital Socket Awards The Grand Social, Dublin

Adebisi Shank

Shane & Jenny

The upstairs room of The Grand Social was packed out for the first ever Digital Socket Awards – set up by a bunch of bloggers to celebrate all that is good about the Irish music scene. Groom, Meljoann and Ham Sandwich gave top performances and the big winners were Adebisi Shank and The Cast of Cheers with three awards each, but the main talking point was our host, comedian Gareth Stack. His self-confessed attempt at aping Ricky Gervais at the Golden Globes didn’t go down too well given that he was laying into a bunch of impoverished bloggers and musicians. Still, it didn’t spoil a craicfilled night.

Words by Chris Jones Photos by Gabe Murphy

Cathy Davey

Sarah & Roberta

Liza, Aine, Merlo & Martina

Mariala & Tart With A Heart

The Riot Tapes

Michelle, Neil, Aoife & Amy

Darren & Eoin

Karen & Lorna

Sally, Mimi, Edmond & William

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Green Velvet The Stiff Kitten, Belfast

Kathryn, Danielle & Simon

Green Velvet, aka Cajmere (or Curtis Jones, as his mum calls him) is no stranger to Belfast. He has played in the city many times over the years, and there is always a big crowd of techno loving miscreants ready and willing to shake their booties at his shows. His look might have been a bit more toned down on this occasion, with Mr Velvet opting for a plain shaven head rather his sometimes bright green, spiky hair, but his choice of tunes was as banging and up for it as you would expect. A storming night and luckily we were there to capture it, with our camera ready and prepared to flash.

Photos by Will Neill

Padjo

Stacey & Morgan

Dave & Helen

Danielle, Paudric & Kristine

Aaron & Robert

Aaron & Robert

Donna, Michella, Sarah & Kristine

Robert

Greg, Jonny & Lee

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Orla, Nuala & Mairead


THE LAST WORD With: Ed Rodriguez from Deerhoof

When was the last time you offended someone? I think my mere existence offended an old woman who walked by me recently. Sometimes it’s hard to pinpoint why they give such hateful looks. When was the last time you doubted yourself? I often think I walked out of the house and left the water running, the stove top on and the front door open on the day I think I was supposed to do something important. When was the last time you did something you regretted? I went to the movies and told my friends to go grab seats while I would buy drinks and snacks by myself and meet them inside. I had on a white jacket and ordered two glasses of red wine and a large popcorn. What was the last piece of good advice you were given? Back up your computer on another drive. When was the last time you were scared? I was asleep and my doorbell rang. That freaks me out. Seriously, why is someone at my door?

When was the last time you were embarrassed? I was at a thrift store and there was only one other person who was around and he was obviously crazy and smelled like garbage, but I was worried that he might think the smell was me. What was your last argument about? When I worked at a video store in San Francisco I fought with someone about what our hours were. Important stuff. When was the last time you threw up? I’m vegan and one day on tour I was unable to find any food. I was a bit sick already and then I overloaded on all the fake meat snacks and nut bars I had brought with me and my body was slightly confused and said no to the whole thing. What was the last thing you downloaded? Our tour schedule. Let the good times roll!

What was the last meal you had? Leftovers from New Year’s Day; black eyed peas, quinoa, cornbread and some roasted kale. What does the last text you received say? It was from Jamie from Xiu Xiu, letting me know it was him. I lost his number and had been getting both sweet and then vulgar texts from someone and finally had to ask, “Who is this?” I should have known. What was the last bad job you had? I worked on an assembly line building external hard drives. I had to write down the amount of time it took to do each step and that took longer than any part of the job. What was the last injury you sustained? I got a small cut on my finger opening a guitar cable package. But that’s a risk you take as a musician.

What was the last thing you Googled? Myself, to make sure I still exist.

When was the last time one of your heroes disappointed you? When I found out Charles M. Schulz stabbed a prostitute.

FAMOUS LAST WORDS

THIS ISSUE WAS POWERED BY

Randy Rhoads, guitarist with Ozzy Osbourne (December 6, 1956 – March 19, 1982) “Why do you drink that stuff, Ozzy? One of these days it’s gonna kill you.” Said in reference to Osbourne’s alcoholism. Later that night, he died in a plane crash.

Epic coldness, a 24 hour stretch, fucking off to Australia, pulling things out of bags, classic pop, evolution, chunky chocolate biscuits, delirium, sexy paper, never saying die, Holy Ghost!, photobombing animals, Nicolas Cage.

Don Vito Corleone in The Godfather, by Mario Puzo. “Life is so beautiful.”

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AU Magazine Issue 71  

The new look, extra sexy, and top notch AU Magazine. Featuring Cut Copy, a look at the NI comedy scene, a kilimanjaro adventure, Screendeath...