OCTOBER | NOVEMBER 2011 FINDING NIMA
MUSIC & REVIEWS
GIGS & EVENTS
ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT
AU & OH YEAH PRESENT:
Time to be proud
JAPE | ZOMBIES | PATRICK WOLF | GROUPLOVE | APPLES | LAFARO | HALLOWEEN | M83 | MOVIE REMAKES | VERSECHORUSVERSE | GARY NUMAN
my inspiration Ed Sheeran
Whyâ€™d you sing Hallelujah if it means nothing to you? Damien Rice Delicate
CD out now
Photography by Dan Curwin DELICATE by Damien Rice Published by Warner/Chappell Music
Title subject to availability while stocks last at participating stores/online.
MAGAZINE ISSUE 77 | CONTENTS EDITORIAL
UPFRONT News and views from the world of AU
There are moments in time that you feel like your life has been building up to. Wednesday, November 2 is going to be one such moment. It has always been an ambition of ours to start an awards ceremony that recognises and celebrates the diverse and rich talent that we have on our doorstep, and we really couldn’t be happier to have played a part in creating the first ever Northern Ireland Music Awards. We’ve been pushing the NI music that we love in print and online for the best part of a decade now, and being able to take that a step further and be involved in heralding our great and good in this way is a dream made reality. Things have never been better for Northern Irish music. Our bands aren’t just been doing well on home soil, they’re making waves the world over. This is the best things have ever been. It truly is a time to be proud. Jonny
REVIEWS The AU Verdict
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 (www.timothyfarrell.co.uk) Illustration Stephen Maurice Graham, Rebecca Hendin, Mark Reihill Photography Carrie Davenport, Lili Forberg, Alan Maguire, Aoife McElwain, Loreana Rushe, Gavin Sloan Contributors Kiran Acharya, Josh Baines, Jonathan Bradley, Niall Byrne, Brian Coney, Jordan Cullen, Dave Donnelly, Neill Dougan, John Freeman, Lee Gorman, Daniel Harrison, James Hendicott, Adam Lacey, Stevie Lennox, Ian Maleney, Darragh McCausland, Karl McDonald, Aoife McElwain, Tara McEvoy, Lauren Murphy, Joe Nawaz, Steven Rainey, Eamonn Seoige, Dean Van Nguyen, Michael Wilson
STUPID THINGS SAID THIS MONTH So what’s this about Supergrass playing the Ulster Hall? You could fully commit a terrorist atrocity in this building. It’s good to be productive, you feel good when things are getting bucked. She was lovely but has really wide shoulders. She looked like an American Football player without the pads. Gareth got me a supercoffee this morning and I feel a bit winged. I’ve got a dickhead chair. It’s alright, Tim’s here now. I presume a supergrass is someone who is super at telling? This is the magazine that won’t die.
Going Out or Staying In
Page 8 – Hot Topic – Movie Remakes Page 10 – Carrie Davenport Page 12 – Andrew J Johnston Page 13 – Teethgrinder Page 15 – Season’s Eatings Page 16 – Tony Wright / Twitter Gold Page 18 – LaFaro / All Hail: R.E.M. Page 21 – Unknown Pleasures / Games Page 22 – Patrick Wolf / Elspeth Page 24 – Back Of The Net Page 26 – Incoming: Forest Fire / Kuedo / Givers / Niki & The Dove
48 Album Reviews Page 54 – Young Blood Page 55 – Movie and Game Reviews
REWIND AU rolls back the years Page 56 – Flashback: Home Taping Is Killing Music Page 57 – Classic Book: Our Band Could Be Your Life
FEATURES AU goes in-depth
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 email@example.com a line. We’ll sort you out. To advertise in AU Magazine contact the sales team Tel: 028 9032 4888 or via email: firstname.lastname@example.org 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: email@example.com For all general and editorial enquiries call: 028 9032 4455 AU Magazine graciously acknowledges funding support from the Arts Council Of Northern Ireland
28 Northern Ireland Music Awards Page 34 – Grouplove Page 36 – Jape Page 40 – A to Z: Halloween Page 44 – Waking The Undead
58 History Lessons: Gary Numan Page 60 – In Pics: Jape album launch / Sanctum Page 62 – The Last Word: Cormac from The Answer
Dexter SEASON 6
Dexter Morgan has been through a lot in recent years: suffering personal tragedy, notching up surrogate father figures, splitting his time between working as a blood splatter analyst and serial killing. As before, the show’s appeal stems from its ability to walk this dynamic between horror and humour, melodrama and subdued tension. Recent seasons have seen Dexter growing darker and more daring, taken in bold directions by an always-value-for-money Michael C. Hall, who plays the character to be at once sinister and emotive. RT
Now showing on Showtime in the States. Ahem…
The Social Club NI THE PODCAST
Given the ever-expanding choice of podcasts available to football enthusiasts, until recently there was one curious omission. Filling the void for fans of Northern Irish football, The Social Club NI launched to coincide with the beginning of the domestic season in August. The podcast is presented by four leading NI football journos, with an entertaining mix of news, views and interviews centred on the Irish League and the Northern Ireland national team. Essential listening for followers of the local game. JB www.thesocialclubni.com
X-Men: First Class THE MOVIE
Origin stories can often buckle under the weight of clunky exposition and the introduction rather than the development of characters. In contrast, Matthew Vaughn’s return to comics after the comically vicious Kick-Ass balances its constituent parts expertly. This surprise gem of a film trades barnstorming action sequences with quieter beats of mutant introspection. The always charismatic Michael Fassbender invests Magneto with repressed anger whilst hot property Jennifer Lawrence brings a tragic air to a young Mystique. Consistently witty and exciting, First Class more than lives up to its name. RT Released on DVD and Blu-Ray on October 31.
The Night Eternal
The final instalment in legendary director Guillermo Del Toro and author Chuck Hogan’s vampire trilogy, The Strain, the wonderfully titled The Night Eternal looks set to deliver everything from post-apocalyptic master races and vampire-conducted death camps to the age-old survival of the fittest. Best of all, though, it promises to combine the best of The Lost Boys, Brave New World and The Road, hopefully further exposing Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight series as the trivial fluff it is. BC
Peep Show writers Jesse Armstrong and Sam Bain find the perfect comic set-up in first-year university life. A gang of freshers in Manchester are lumped into a tumbledown house, complete with cardboard walls and glory hole. Cue sexy shenanigans and insecurity as Kingsley (played by Inbetweeners man Joe Thomas) and hip-hop loving public schoolboy JP (a perfectly posh Jack Whitehall) compete for the affection of Welsh room-mate Josie. As close to the bone as Peep Show, and just as funny. KA
Published on October 13 by HarperCollins.
Channel 4, Wednesdays at 10pm. Catch it from the start at 4od.com.
1991: The Year Punk Broke
Drop-D has been at the heart of the Cork scene since 2005, and it’s now one of the Irish underground’s best blogs, covering Irish and international music (with a bias towards rock and metal), retro videogames, fashion, movies and all manner of other good stuff. The site recently had a makeover and plans to relaunch its gig nights in Cork and Dublin soon, as well as introducing an iPhone app and updating the site with more goodness than you can handle. The Irish music scene is renowned for its blog, and Drop-D is a large part of the reason why. CJ
A long-awaited DVD release for Dave Markey’s anarchic tour film, which until now has only been available on grainy VHS. In a classic case of perfect timing, the director follows Sonic Youth, Nirvana and friends on a European tour mere months before Nirvana exploded into the mainstream (the aftermath of which was examined in last month’s AU cover story). Here, Kurt and co. play second fiddle to their mentors, while there are also blistering performance footage from the likes of Dinosaur Jr and Babes In Toyland. DH
Out now, published by Geffen.
Batman: Arkham City Hopes ride high for the follow-up to Arkham Asylum, the first videogame in years to do the Batman brand any justice. And not the twisted Two-Face version of justice, either: development team Rocksteady encapsulated everything that’s great about gaming and the Dark Knight in a rewarding package. This sequel promises to build upon that success, expanding the roster of villains, adding new weapons and increasing the world size significantly. This time around, you have the whole of Gotham to play in. RT
THE GAME Released on October 21.
MTV European Music AwardS
Rihanna took one for the global superstars’ team when she spent a week in Northern Ireland at the end of September. A quiet sojourn it was not, from being told by a County Down farmer to kindly do one after stripping off on his land, to being mobbed by the good folk of the New Lodge and then raising the ire of thousands of fans by showing up nearly two hours late for the first of her three shows. Granted, she brought much of it on herself, but you wonder what Gaga, Beyoncé and the rest made of the shenanigans. Simply put, the good people of Ulster went buck mental. Well, folks, it’s not the last we’ve seen of Rihanna’s kind this year, because at the start of November the all-singing, all-dancing MTV European Music Awards rolls into town, for what could be the biggest party Belfast has ever seen. This conjures all kinds of images, from pickets outside the Odyssey by the more reactionary sections of our society to Justin Bieber (left) and our host for the evening Selena Gomez sharing a snug in the Crown bar. But above all, it’s an opportunity – both to attract paying punters to Belfast, and (hopefully) to shine a light on our increasingly self-confident city. Let’s just try not to embarrass ourselves this time. CJ
Sunday, November 6 at the Odyssey Arena
Kowalski at Animal Disco Animal Disco has provided the soundtrack to many a great night for AU this year, as have Bangor indie boys Kowalski. So it makes perfect sense for the two to combine on the Friday night of Belfast Music Week. Kowalski may have left behind the ‘new kids on the block’ tag a long time ago, but you get the impression they are really about to go somewhere in the next 12 months. Their last single ‘Outdoors’ was a smashing slice of summery pop, so let’s hope they back it up with a long-awaited debut album. Support on the night comes from Yes Cadets and, of course, the Animal Disco DJs. AS Friday, November 4 at Auntie Annie’s
Belfast Rocks: The Answer, Therapy? The Answer headline this show to celebrate the release of their new album, Revival. They have been relatively quiet of late, after the success of Everyday Demons and their 18 month-long tour across the globe with AC/DC. However, this gig gives them the perfect opportunity to remind us why they’re one of the best live rock ‘n’ roll bands around. Support, somewhat surprisingly, comes from alt. rock legends Therapy? (above) in their first Belfast show since last year’s triumphant gig in the Mandela Hall. The County Antrim boys release their 13th (!!) studio album early next year, so expect new material from them on the night as well. AS Friday, November 4 at the Ulster Hall
Alzheimer’s Society Benefit: Ash, The Undertones, The Divine Comedy Three of Northern Ireland’s biggest acts are getting together to run through (arguably) their most popular albums, from start to finish, all in aid of the Alzheimer’s Society. The gig came about as Tim Wheeler’s late dad suffered from the disease, while Neil Hannon’s father was diagnosed with it several years ago. Ash and The Undertones will be each be playing their debut albums, while The Divine Comedy will be running through fan favourite, Promenade. Ash’s 1977 is one of AU’s favourite albums of all time, so to say we’re a bit excited about this would be an understatement. AS Thursday, November 3 at the Ulster Hall
Belfast Electronic Festival
Radio K with Phil Kieran and friends
Kicking off Belfast Music Week is a special show brought to you by the all-ages promoters Volume Control. Volume Control is a group of young people, aged 15-18 years old and they have been running fantastic all-ages shows in the Oh Yeah for a few years now, however this has to be the highlight so far. The bill includes Rainy Boy Sleep, Silhouette, Colly Strings, Axis Of (above) and A Plastic Rose. Something for everyone there, and a great variety of up-and-coming talent from across NI. AS
This will be dirty. But dirty in the best possible way. Sprawled across two rooms, Belfast Electronic Festival #2 features some of the filthiest techno, drum and bass and dubstep Belfast will have witnessed in one venue for quite some time. Headlining the techno room is Cisco Ferreira (aka The Advent, above), alongside Steve Rachmad and Perc, while Broken Note will be bringing some brutal bass to room two. The organisers are also bringing in a Funktion One sound system especially for the night. An interesting alternative to the indie and rock spread across the rest of the week. AS
One of the more exciting aspects of Belfast Music Week is that you will often catch some of our most talented musicians and performers playing at unlikely venues, and that is the case here, with techno heavyweight Phil Kieran playing at the weekly Radio K club in McHugh’s. Kieran has had one of his most successful years to date, playing at some of the biggest clubs and festivals all around the world as well as working on upcoming productions with luminaries such as Speedy J and Green Velvet. We can’t be sure what his music policy will be, given that it’s normally an indie-disco, but we’ll put a fiver on it being one of Radio K’s best nights of the year. AS
Monday, October 31 at the Ulster Hall
Saturday, November 5 at Browne’s Bar, Boucher Road
Saturday, November 5 at McHugh’s
Northern Ireland Music AwardS We know we’re prone to banging on about things that we’re involved in, but this is way more than justified. If you’re reading this magazine from the front to the back, you’re going to find all a lot more detail once you reach p.28, but for now let us fill you on the most important facts. AU and the Oh Yeah Music Centre, with the support of the Northern Ireland Tourist Board, Belfast City Council and Invest NI, are proud to present the first ever Northern Ireland Music Awards.
An evening of celebration and recognition, a host of awards will be presented, including Best Band, Best Album, the Oh Yeah Legends and Contenders Awards, and a lot more. There will also be live performances from And So I Watch You From Afar, Stiff Little Fingers, The Japanese Popstars, General Fiasco and Cashier No.9 (right), and the MCs on the night are BBC Northern Ireland’s Rigsy and Citybeat’s Emma Fitzpatrick. It’s safe to say that we’re more than a little bit excited about the whole event, so much so that a little bit of wee just came out. Off to change our trunks here, see you on the 2nd. JT
Wednesday, November 2 at the Ulster Hall. Tickets £12 from www.ulsterhall.co.uk
If It Ain’t Broke… As the remakes keep coming, AU takes Hollywood to task Words by Ross Thompson Illustration by Stephen Maurice Graham
Take a trip to your local multiplex and you’ll surely experience a nagging sensation of déjà vu. That’s meant literally: you will have already seen many of the films on offer. Sure, it might have been a few years back and they probably starred more respectable actors, but you will definitely have seen them. We’re not talking about Sarah Jessica Parker, who appears to be stuck in an endless groundhog loop playing the same ditzy love interest over and over again. No, we’re talking about remakes, which now comprise the lion’s share of movie listings. Conan, Fright Night, Straw Dogs, Footloose... we’re paying to see movies which have already been made, several
with their dancing needs to be repeated. It’s telling that its most recognisable name is Dennis Quaid, a solid actor but by no means a major draw – and by that token a relatively meagre pay cheque. It’s insulting to think that studios are happy to keep repackaging the same product time and again. It’s like being given the very same birthday present you bought a friend five years ago, only it’s wrapped in brown paper. The effect on the industry, particularly their finances, can only be negative. Film fans are not likely to pay for something so familiar and derivative when they can easily download it from the internet for free. Further, most are not impressed by the fact that the gap between original and remake is narrowing significantly. We are currently promised, a word which implies that the following is a good thing, new iterations of Superman, Spider-Man and Daredevil. Their predecessors were released within the last decade. Tomas Alfredson’s poignant, elegiac vampire drama Let The Right One In (2008) was given the entirely futile American treatment two years
another it’s a gonzo hoedown of gloopy body horror. Predictably, Carpenter’s tour de force has now been remade, though in an attempt to be politically correct and therefore entirely spoil its philosophical subtext the studio has chosen a female lead. They just can’t leave it alone. Credit should also be given to Martin Scorsese, who took the Hong Kong police thriller Infernal Affairs (2002) and ratcheted up the tension even further for The Departed (2006), or who transformed Cape Fear (1962) from a melodramatic pot-boiler into a psychological game of cat and mouse (1991). The latter is bolstered by Robert De Niro, long before he started squandering his considerable talent on movies with animated squirrels and Billy Crystal, excelling himself as drawling fruit-loop Max Cady. Finally, it may be too early to tell but hopes ride high for David Fincher’s forthcoming treatment of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (2011), whose dark sensibilities should be ideally suited to rebranding the Swedish mystery (2009).
“Modern cinema is in the doldrums. We’re being jipped.” times before in some cases. If you need evidence that the movie industry is suffering from a dearth of strong ideas you only need to google the list of upcoming releases on Hollywood’s slate. Spike Lee is helming the redo of hyperviolent Korean revenge tragedy Oldboy and there’s a live-action version of Akira is in the works. Whether anyone will buy the new Robocop for a dollar remains to be seen. Whilst remakes are certainly not a new phenomenon, in recent years they have threatened to overtake the production of original screenplays and independent pictures. Nothing links Last House On The Left, Fame and A Nightmare On Elm Street other than the mercenary logic behind them: studios are unlikely to risk millions on an unproven writer’s pet project when they can simply pull an old script out of the drawer. The latter has an inbuilt audience and by association a sense of misplaced nostalgia which blunts the senses and clouds judgement. Take the aforementioned Footloose, for example. Sure, the original might carry some kitschy appeal, and incidentally starred a young Sarah Jessica Parker, but it’s doubtful that this tale of disaffected, mulletted teens shaking up a puritanical small town
later. At least Alfredson, who recently directed the admittedly sublime Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy had the decency to choose a work that was three decades old. Hollywood traders might argue semantics, knocking about empty terms such as ‘reimagining’ and ‘reboot’, but they still lead back to the same endgame. Modern cinema is in the doldrums. We’re being jipped. There are, however, remakes which equal and occasionally surpass the original. Norway may be more famous for its splendid fjords and cured herring than for its cinematic output, which is partly why Christopher Nolan’s delicate treatment of Insomnia (2002) managed to eclipse its forerunner. From Al Pacino’s dishevelled, tortured performance to Robin Williams’s turn as a supremely creepy, crime-writing hermit, Nolan’s film is composed of one grace note after another. Elsewhere, horror remakes are four a penny these days, but few of them can hold an acetylene torch to The Thing (1982), John Carpenter’s take on Howard Hawks’ classic slice of 1950s Cold War paranoia. Proving that splattery will get you everywhere, on one level it’s a psychological study of what happens when men with beards spend too much time together, on
The remake approach has led to some odd decisions. Foreign films The Vanishing, Ring 2 and Funny Games have all been remade for an American audience, but by the original directors. They are pale imitations; a photocopy of a photocopy. Other directors and screenwriters take a more insidious approach, stealing entire plots without admitting that their film is essentially a remake. Thus, D.J. Caruso liberally pillaged Hitchcock’s canon for Disturbia (2007), a shameless rip-off of Rear Window (1954); and Eagle Eye (2008), a lame attempt to “update” North By Northwest (1959). Michael Bay, not content to inflict the Transformers franchise upon the world, stole the concept of Logan’s Run (1976) for the anaemic The Island (2005). It’s not that they are misguided enough to think that nobody will notice. It’s because they don’t care. Sadly, remakes will be with us for a long time as the movie business becomes less and less about making movies and more about doing business. Remember: every time a studio decides to polish up an oldie they have to spit on it first.
Life Through A Lens As music photographer Carrie Davenport launches a major solo exhibition, she talks us through a few of her favourite shots.
From sneaking into the darkroom at school and teaching herself how to develop photos to shooting the world’s biggest bands for AU, Kerrang! and more, Carrie Davenport has been on a hell of a journey. At the end of October the Belfast-based music photographer launches her biggest solo exhibition to date, showcasing her work on the walls of the Ulster Hall’s Group Space during Belfast Music Week. “I’ve only done one solo exhibition before, in April last year, but it was a much smaller affair,” Carrie says. “I didn’t want to repeat myself so this one is very different – it’s on a much larger scale for a start. There won’t be any of the photos from the previous show either,
apart from a Therapy? shot which is one of my all-time favourites – loads of new shots, a mix of local and international, posed and live.” It says much for Carrie’s commitment to the local scene that the new exhibition features an abundance of young, local talent like Colly Strings and Katie and the Carnival alongside the likes of Pulp, Slash and her favourite band, Kiss. “We have an amazing music scene here and I love working within it,” she enthuses. “The atmosphere at the front of gigs is amazing, the lights are always unpredictable and every band is different to shoot so it never gets boring. It’s the best job in the world!” Chris Jones
1: Kiss Carrie: “Kiss are one of my favourite bands of all time so getting to see them in Ireland was good, but getting to shoot them was amazing. I’m not ashamed to admit I was a total fan in the pit in my Kiss t-shirt! I wanted to get my face painted but I figured it’d all smudge off on the camera.” 2: Katie and the Carnival Carrie: “We went for a story-based theme with a tea party in the woods, then Katie finding herself at a gig in the middle of a secret forest. We shot this at Minnowburn Meadows and despite the midge bites and severe sogginess it all went fantastically well.” 3: Colly Strings Carrie: “We met up in the dead of winter with no heating to do the shoot under UV lights and I honestly thought the
guys were going to get hypothermia. At first we wanted to draw more detail on the guys but it didn’t light up enough under the lights so we just went crazy with the paint and it turned out perfectly.” 4: Mojo Fury Carrie: “This was grabbed just after the guys got offstage at their album launch and shows them cracking open a bottle of champers in the backstage area of the Spring and Airbrake. It was such a great gig and topping it off with the buzzing atmosphere backstage was the best end to a day.” 5. Slash Carrie: “This was shot in Dublin and for the fourth song I got to shoot onstage which was great as it meant getting a different angle from everyone in the pit. Usually we only get three songs so it meant a bit of extra time too!!”
6. Pulp Carrie: “This was shot at Electric Picnic which is one of my favourite festivals. Before I turned to the dark side and got really into metal I was a huge Pulp fan. Listening to the tunes live was like stepping back in time 10 years – surreal but brilliant.” Carrie’s exhibition ‘Take A Picture It’ll Last Longer’ runs at the Ulster Hall Group Space in Belfast from October 27 to November 25. The official launch night gig is on Friday, October 28 with live music from Colly Strings. www.carriedavenport.com
Taking The Mic Andrew J Johnston on swapping the punk circuit for stand-up comedy
“I don’t really want to be liked,” says the rather likeable Andrew J Johnston. “I have enough friends already.” The erstwhile zookeeper, banker, scribe and punk musician is now making a bilious splash in the NI comedy scene with his unrelenting brand of shock-com. The trajectory, from singing and drumming in the cacophonous punk palaver that was The Dangerfields (“11 years, 850 gigs, 45 members, three arrests and one dead porn star,” as Johnston’s band précis goes) to howling misanthropic comedy missives into the void isn’t such an unlikely one. “Being on the road has stood me in good stead for doing stand-up,” says Johnston, whose entertaining columns for this publication suggested a hardened war veteran reflecting on a casualty-strewn campaign of carnage. When AU catches up with him seven months into his new comedy career, he’s compering at a comedy night in the Limelight, Belfast. It’s a sparsely attended affair on a wet Friday evening. The energy in the room is what self-help manuals would describe as ‘low’, but Johnston’s material about paedophiles, rape and Amy Winehouse (“too
soon?”) stands out amidst the cheery froth of the main acts, simply because he doesn’t seem to mind if the audience minds. Talking to AU a few days after that gig, Johnston is sanguine, unrepentant and ready to take on the world. And he has plenty of life lessons to share… You can’t be THAT bad… “I was often told that my between-song banter wasn’t bad. Then I went to see an open-mic comedy night and I saw how low the bar had been set. It would have been stupid not to give it a go.” It pays to know your audience… “I used to try anecdotes about being on the road with The Dangerfields. Most people didn’t have a frame of reference for the DIY punk scene though, so it didn’t really work. If you’re going for offensive, you should be broadly offensive, so there’s something there that everybody can get. Or get upset about.” Psychopaths are more fun… “I’m not there to be loved or liked by the audience. I do material that I’d want to hear and if I can touch one freak, maniac or psycho in the room, I’ll be happy. I feel that they’re my people.” Be true to yourself… “Life’s way too short and I’m not Russell Howard. I’ve tried to write clean stuff, but it never works out. I’m just trying to speak about things that bother me and yes, I will also talk about assisted suicide,
abortion and paedophiles. I’m ridiculing myself in the process. Because we’re all of us fucking ridiculous.” Comedians travel light… “Being in a band is all work, lugging equipment, sharing a van for months at a time with three or four other people. It takes a lot of effort just to make it to a stage. With comedy, you just turn up on time, get in front of the mic, and fire away. Make sure you have material though...” What’s the worst that can happen? “If you can face down stage-invading Neo Nazis in Dresden, you can pretty much face down anything. Personally, I feel pretty fearless on stage. I don’t give a shit what people think or if they’re offended or not. Hecklers are just drunken assholes – and I’ve been there before.” The first time always hurts… “Seven months ago when I started, I was given all sorts of advice, but the best advice was ‘just fucking do it’. Some are better than others, of course, but everybody’s first time will be guaranteed shit. It’s as simple as that. That’s the big hurdle. Once you’ve done that, it’s uphill all the way.” Joe Nawaz Andrew J Johnston is the headline act at Auntie Annie’s, Belfast on October 22, as part of the Belfast Fringe Festival 2011.
TEETHGRINDER TTTTTTTTTTTTTTT Dave Donnelly sets the world to rights. This month: social networks and privacy
Recent changes on Facebook have once again brought the web’s largest social networking site into conflict with privacy-conscious users. Facebook, Twitter and their archaic cousins, MySpace and Bebo, have long fought a battle on two fronts: users who demand greater integration on one hand, and users who seek to retain their privacy on the other. In many cases, it’s the latter overreacting, provoking wild claims that Facebook is trying to sell your photos or market your mobile number to Thai pimps. It’s invariably bullshit propagated by hysterics who lack the basic skills to read a licence agreement, but there’s also a real tug of war developing. Inevitably one corner will have to give way, and unfortunately the loser has been pre-ordained for a long time. Privacy will always lose out, and here’s why. Facebook, Twitter and the latest entrant to the social networking stable – Google – are all profitseeking companies. Of the three, only Facebook has figured out how to turn a profit from its endeavours. Twitter has burned hundreds of millions in pursuit of a viable business plan and Google is, well, Google and it’s hard to know what its angle is. However,
above all else they’re interested in your personal information. That’s not to say they want to look at your photos – very few people do – nor do they want to know what vile insults you’re throwing at Kim Kardashian from the safety of your Blackberry, and they definitely don’t care that you’re flirting with your boyfriend’s best mate over Facebook chat. What they do want to know is what you ‘like’, what your friends like and how they can sell it to advertisers. So prepare for more integration and more erosion of the boundaries between yourself and strangers. Nobody’s gonna sell your holiday snaps or reveal your drunken status declaring your love for your mate’s girlfriend, but they are going to build a profile that allows them to target ads at you, and inevitably that means surrendering some element of privacy. If, like me, you’re comfortable giving up that amount of information, you have nothing to worry about. If you’re not, perhaps you need to ask yourself whether social networking is ever really going to be for you.
Y&T SPRING & AIRBRAKE 7th OCTOBER
MINUTES / PLEA AUNTIE ANNIE’S 9th OCTOBER
MAYBESHEWILL / KASPER ROSA THE LIMELIGHT 20th OCTOBER
THE LIMELIGHT 10th OCTOBER 2011 Tickets: KATY DALY’S bar - cdcleisure.com ticketmaster.ie - Phone- 0844 277 4455
The Blizzards' Bressie Goes Solo
THE LIMELIGHT - 12th OCTOBER Tickets: KATY DALY’S bar - cdcleisure.com - ticketmaster.ie - 0844 277 4455
SPRING & AIRBRAKE 2nd NOVEMBER
DEVON TOWNSEND DOUBLE HEADLINER
SPRING & AIRBRAKE 7th NOVEMBER
DUTCH UNCLES AUNTIE ANNIE’S 19th NOVEMBER
VINTAGE TROUBLE AUNTIE ANNIE’S 20th NOVEMBER
THE LIMELIGHT 18th OCTOBER
Tickets: KATY DALY’S bar - www.cdcleisure.com - www.ticketmaster.ie Phone - 0844 277 4455
SPRING & AIRBRAKE 10th NOVEMBER
Tickets: KATY DALY’S bar - cdcleisure.com - ticketmaster.ie - Phone- 0844 277 4455
AUNTIE ANNIE’S 29th NOVEMBER
THE LIMELIGHT COMPLEX - SPRING & AIRBRAKE / THE LIMELIGHT / AUNTIE ANNIE’S / KATY DALY’S - www.cdcleisure.com
ELECTRIC SPRING & AIRBRAKE 14th MARCH 2010
SPRING & AIRBRAKE 25th NOVEMBER
Tickets available at Katy Daly’s bar - cdcleisure.com - ticketmaster.ie - Ph 0844 277 4455
BELFAST MUSIC WEEK 31st OCT
9-11 Fountain Street, Belfast, BT1 5EA
BELFAST’S NEWEST PUB & VENUE
2nd NOV ROBYN G SHIELS
EVERY FRIDAY 10 - 2
EVERY SATURDAY 10 - 2
FROM HIP HOP TO CUTTING EDGE DUBSTEP, GARAGE AND UK FUNKY ALL THESE SOUNDS GET RINSED ON THE PRESSURE RIG
(A BANQUET OF BEATS FOR DANCING FEATS)
DAY OF THE DEAD HALLOWE’EN BALL
KASPER ROSA DJ MICHAEL MCKEEGAN (THERAPY)
4th NOV TRIGGERMAN DJ JAMES LOVEDAY (DISTORTION PROJECT)
IMPROMPTU SESSIONS ALL WEEK!
w w w. v o o d o o b e l f a s t . c o m
START TOGETHER STUDIO Three studios across two locations in Belfast city centre. SSL console, Pro Tools HD9, 2” and 1/4” tape machines, various large tracking rooms. Unique collection of vintage and modern microphones, drums, ampliﬁers, guitars, analogue synths, organs, tape echoes, fuzz boxes, effects. EMT 140 plate reverb, Wurlitzer electric piano, upright pianos... Previous clients include ASIWYFA, Slomatics, General Fiasco, Robyn G. Shiels, Axis Of, Desert Hearts, Elspeth, Girls Names, Not Squares, Pat Dam Smyth, Lowly Knights, Pocket Billiards, Duke Special, Katie and the Carnival, Morning Claws, In Case of Fire, The Minutes, Sharon Corr, House of Gaga, Sony, Warner Chappell, Jive/Zomba, Richter Collective, Slumberland, Infectious Records, Island Def Jam...
CONTACT US +44 (0)28 9029 9900 firstname.lastname@example.org starttogetherstudio.com
START TOGETHER STUDIO UNIT 5A, WEAVERS COURT BUSINESS PARK, BELFAST, BT12 5GH
SEASON’S EATINGS This month we look at the unassuming apple, and a deliciously savoury, autumnal way of serving it. They say an apple a day keeps the... well, you know how it goes. But instead of eating an apple every day of the year, have a go at eating lots of the lovely things when they’re at their peak condition. Our winter months tend to be a bit moaned about when it comes to kitchen-ready and seasonal ingredients. To my mind, however, autumn is just as thrilling as spring and summer. It offers us a bounty of root vegetables and wintery fruit, designed to be transformed into comforting concoctions. Perfect for making the
transition from summer to winter a truly mouthwatering one. One fruit at its best between September and November is the humble Irish apple. Our supermarkets sell imported apples year round, so keep a keen eye out for the Irish variety in your local fruit and vegetable shop or farmer’s market. You can turn these astonishingly tasty apples into warming tarts and sweet pies. Alternatively, pair them with pork to create a delectable savoury treat, like this one-pot wonder below.
Simple Sausage and Apple Bake Serves 3 to 4 people
While this dish is cooking, whip together some mashed potatoes to serve on the side to complete this nourishing autumnal meal.
About a quarter of a glass of dry white wine, just a splash really About a tablespoon of freshly chopped sage leaves* Two lovely red Irish apples, cored and cut into slices, with the skin left on
One tablespoon of olive oil 10 to 12 of the best quality pork and herb sausage you can find 80g of bacon lardons or pancetta cubes (or 3 or 4 rashers cut into cubes)
*The fresh sage adds an extra layer of lusciousness to the whole affair. However, the fresh leaves can be hard to find so don’t worry at all if you have to leave it out. Your dinner will still be super.
Heat the oven to 220C/fan 200C/gas mark 7. In a large frying pan, heat the olive oil over a medium to high heat. Fry the sausages for five minutes or so until they are brown all over. Transfer the browned sausages to a large ovenproof dish. Then scatter the bacon all over the sausages and add the splash of white wine. Put into the oven (the top shelf so everything gets nice and hot) for 15 minutes. Afterwards, take the dish out of the oven and carefully turn the sausages so that they’ll be evenly cooked.
oven for another 15 minutes. Keep an eye on it and take the dish out halfway through to give everything a good stir.
Preparation Time: 5 minutes Cooking Time: 30 to 35 minutes
Before you return the dish to the oven, scatter the chopped sage around the sausage and bacon and mix well. Finally, scatter the apple slices around the sausages and mix well with the other ingredients. Return the dish to the
Words and photo by Aoife McElwain
When the sausages and apples have been in for 15 minutes, take them out of the oven and give the apple slices another turning over. They should be lovely and soft and gooey and almost falling apart. If they’re aren’t, whack them in the oven for another 5 minutes. Serve up this comforting sausage and apple bake with a side of mash, using the juices from the cooking dish as a lazy-man’s gravy. Lush. Read Aoife’s brilliant food blog – icanhascook.wordpress.com
THERE’S THIS LITTLE PLACE...
An Cruibin & The Silk Purse 1 Union Quay, Cork City
T: +353 (0) 21 431 0071 W: www.themeatcentre.com
An Cruibin is a nifty little bar serving tapas-style portions of Mediterranean food, stamped with a local imprint and with an economical price tag attached. The proprietors, Paul Lewis and Frank O’Connell, also have a slightly more chic restaurant in the upstairs room of the pub which goes by the delightfully sow-related name of The Silk Purse. Be warned: it’s relatively vegetarian friendly but vegans are pretty much out of luck. Have a look at bit.ly/ancruibin for more info on An Cruibin and a peek at bit.ly/ thesilkpurse for more info on The Silk Purse.
Into The Unknown Ex-ASIWYFA guitarist Tony Wright on leaving the band and going it alone
“This is something that’s in me. It’s in my genes.”
Somehow, And So I Watch You From Afar have always seemed indestructible. Over the last five years of frantic activity and burgeoning success, the north coast band always presented a united front, with a bond born of years growing up together. So when the news broke last month that guitarist Tony Wright had left the band in order to concentrate on his career as an acoustic singersongwriter, the overwhelming response was disbelief. Why would anyone walk away? As Wright puts it, the decision to leave “had been incubating for a while” but when he told the rest of the band it came as a shock. “They were like, ‘What?!’, but they respected it,” he says. “They took their band hats off and put their friend hats on and said, ‘Well, if that’s going to make you happy’…” As for why, a couple of incidents brought the situation into sharp relief. Wright freely admits
that he partied harder than the rest of the band, describing himself as a “loose cannon”, and that seems to have been a contributory factor, not to mention a horrific incident on tour in Vienna, when he was set upon by a group of bouncers and beaten so badly that he fractured two ribs and had to play Electric Picnic (his last ASIWYFA show, as it turned out), sitting down. “The next week, I didn’t really hear too much from the guys and I had a lot of time to think,” he says. Think he did, about lots of things. His health for one (long-term hernia injuries were further damaged in Vienna), as well as the atmosphere in the band – and his relationship with fellow guitarist Rory Friers. “I think we were drifting [apart] creatively,” he admits. Did it ever come to a head? “I’m sure there were times when we got close, but no. We were like, ‘We’re fucking friends, we’re brothers here. We’ve been through thick and thin together’. It’s such a cliché but it was creative differences or something.” So as the band continues with ex-Panama Kings frontman Niall Kennedy taking over guitar duties, Tony can put all his energies into his solo project, VerseChorusVerse. It’s a massive change, but having spent time thinking back six years to when he sacrificed his studies in Liverpool in order to come home and form ASIWYFA, it’s one that excites him. “That fear really drove me,” he recalls, “and I hadn’t felt it in quite a while. I wanted to go into the
unknown once more and feel around, rather than have a defined path.” He cites Neil Young, and how he spent years splitting and forming bands at will – Buffalo Springfield, CSNY, Crazy Horse. “That’s punk rock,” says Wright. “That’s something that really appeals to me – that freedom; twisting and turning and being able to express yourself in a different way at any time.” Above all, though, Wright speaks of his passion for writing and singing songs, and of his mother, who taught him to play guitar and died 11 years ago. “This is something that’s in me,” he says. “It’s in my genes. There are all these pictures of my mum from the Sixties and Seventies, in bars playing protest songs, and this is where I come from – it’s my lineage.” Wright wishes the band well, but says it will take some time before he feels ready go to an ASIWYFA gig as a fan. In any case, he is already busy with new music. “I’m going to put out an EP as soon as I can.,” he says. “Next year I’m hoping to record an album. I have 17 or 18 songs demoed and I’m writing more every day. And I’m going to tour as much as I can. I’m really confident about the future and I’m really excited about it. It’s a blank page. I know I’m not done with rock music – I’ll go back to it in the future – but right now my guitar and my harmonica are my band.” Chris Jones soundcloud.com/vcvtony
TWITTER GOLD At the end of September @eddiemorgan tweeted us with a pun about ‘Castlereagh Charles’, so we started the #nornironpopstars hashtag and within an hour it was trending worldwide. Much hilarity – here are a few of our favourites…
@andrewastewart: Braniel Bedingfield @keithbelfast: Armagh Van Helden @theJBs: MF Toome @_chrisjones_: Magherafelton John @weepetecole: Ballylumford & Sons @jonnytiernan: Magheralin Manson
@livemusicpics You Say Party! We Say Diane Dodds! @iPhonie: Tayto Cruz @pablomcc: Strabananarama @ManuelTheWaiter: Casiotone For The Painfully Malone
Gigs galore Love music? Love the sound of 130 music events, over one week? From monster gigs to intimate performances, jam sessions to concerts, pop-up gigs in places you’d least expect. All happening in Belfast’s pubs, clubs and secret hubs. Belfast Music Week: 30 October – 6 November, 2011. A week of electrifying music, culminating in the massive MTV EMAs. Check in and listen up!
Volume Control All Ages gig
Monday 31 October The Ulster Hall
Northern Ireland Music Awards
Wednesday 2 November The Ulster Hall
Alzheimer’s Beneﬁt Gig
The Ulster Hall
Monday 31 October
Thursday 3 November
The Ulster Hall
The Ulster Hall
Tuesday 1 November
Friday 4 November
For more details, ticket info and breaking news, visit
Fighting with Wire at Glasgowbury 2010
Words by Brian Coney
LaFaro discuss scandalous riffs, new bassists and luminous underwear… Without a shadow of a doubt, it is Fresher’s Week in Belfast city centre: the streets are laden with smirking, cashed-up students and you can barely walk a few steps without being hassled time and again to “check out this cool new place”. Truly, if there was ever a musical counterpart to this spirited – though completely harmless – enthusiasm, LaFaro would be it. Of course, this is not to suggest Jonny Black and co. are a bunch of sneering snobs out to rain on the parade of those enjoying ‘free money’, independence and late-September sunshine. After all, this is a band whose new record, Easy Meat, has been getting first-rate reviews right across the board. They too have a lot to smile about. But as AU and LaFaro casually make our way to the quieter corners of the Empire Music Hall, one can’t help but feel justifiably tickled by the happy-go-lucky antics of glittery students in makeshift, woefully-designed parade floats. “Jesus Christ, what a bunch of bastards,” laughs guitarist Dave Magee. “I mean, would you be at it like?” This is what’s so instantly agreeable about LaFaro: off the record, they are as good-naturedly derisive as they are on it. Calling these students “a bunch of bastards” is automatic LaFaro code for ‘none of us are half-wise’. There’s no superiority complex involved here; it’s teasing self-deprecation that values the bad just as much the good.
Easy Meat is out now on Smalltown America. www.lafaro.co.uk
LaFaroisms Easy Meat is absolutely bursting at the seams with bantering phrases and colloquial silliness pretty much exclusive to Northern Ireland. Here are a select few – keep ‘er lit! ‘Boke’ What you might do after a torturous night knocking back endless shots of tequila having somehow managed to miss the Easy Meat album launch. No, not suicide – throwing up, silly. ‘Meat Wagon’ Something of a bittersweet symbol of our country’s divided past, meat wagons are heavily-armoured
eyesores-on-wheels that serve as magnets for rioting spides. Police Land Rovers, in other words.
the adjoining interview is they have absolutely no shame in the knickers department. The buck eejits.
things would only take off if you decided to introduce a flame into the equation …
“His Da’s his Ma” No, not one of Socrates’ wisest sayings, “your da’s your ma” (alternatively: “your ma’s your da”) is a defiantly Norn Irish criticism of one’s fellow man that is virtually impossible to refute.
‘Slide On’ “Slide on, mate, slide on.” We’ve all been there: had a bit too much to drink, thought it was a good idea to bombscare a group of people at an ice-rink and been promptly told to “slide on”.
Roy Walker Legendary Belfast-born presenter of Catchphrase, probably most famous for phrases of his own such as “Say what you see” and “If it’s up there I’ll give you the money myself!” Ahh, come on now Roy, we all know you couldn’t afford to.
ASIWYFA North Coast instrumental rockers and buddies of LaFaro, if there’s one thing we’ve learnt about And So I Watch You From Afar from
‘Sucking Diesel’ When things are really taking off, you are officially “sucking diesel”. Not literally, of course: if you spent your days actually sucking diesel
You must be delighted with the reaction to Easy Meat? Jonny Black (vocals, guitar): Yeah, it has been getting really good reviews but the work starts with getting out there and playing it! No amount of reviews is going to make people buy it. Like, RockSound gave it a 9/10, which is unbelievable because I thought they only reserved that for the likes of Atreyu and Avenged Sevenfold! But it’s been lovely getting such favourable words printed about us — it all helps. You say that but it’s only been a year-anda-half since the release of your debut. How did it get recorded so quickly? JB: It had to, pretty much. We had no time to record during our touring schedule after the summer, so it had to get it done quickly – so it did get done quickly. Dave Magee (guitar): A lot of bands say they can write on the road, but unless you have the facility for touring being so comfortable that you have a lot of free time, you probably could. That’s something we couldn’t really do. JB: Radiohead have a pro-tools rig on their tour bus. We don’t even have a heater in our van! Although they work brilliantly, the little links of banter between the songs on Easy Meat could be considered a risky move. How did the idea come about? JB: I forced it on these fuckers! It was kind of inspired by Check Your Head by the Beastie Boys – 20 tracks and some songs are like, 7 seconds long but counted as tracks in their own right. For us, the album flows better, plus it gives the listener a little bit more of an insight into the psyche of the band, which is what I’ve always loved about bands — not just 12 songs. Lyrically, the album is unquestionably Northern Irish in nature (“his da’s his ma”/the ‘RA/Roy Walker references). Did you intend to capture this side of your personalities? JB: Very much so. We want to be Northern Irish, you know? There’s so much fodder to choose from with regards to hilarity. Like, Derry pricks have some of the best sayings I’ve ever heard! I just love our language and ways – all of us do. DM: The last few months we’ve been playing all these funny towns that we’ve never been to, just meeting lovable idiots everywhere, it’s hilarious. People don’t seem scared to come along, take the piss and have a laugh, which is always great.
The album is much more riff-heavy and rampaging than your debut. With the likes of ‘Boke’, ‘Sucking Diesel’ and the title track, did you aim to take it up a notch? JB: Yeah, absolutely. It doesn’t really let up, doesn’t it? I mean, you’ve got to have scandalous riffs. Who wants to listen to mediocre riffs? Nobody!
AL: We were talking about this just last night actually, like whenever Jonny brought in ‘Easy Meat’, we had no fucking idea what to do, you know? DM: Yeah, like when you came in with that riff for ‘Chopper Is A Fucking Tout’, we were like: you can’t use that! That’s a Megadeth riff, Mustaine will find you! Music aside, another big change in the LaFaro camp has been the departure of bassist Herb from the band. Why did he leave? JB: Simply put, he turned 30 and wants to do different things with his life. It has been completely amiable, you know? We still love him and see him all the time. One assumes you’re the new bassist then, Oisin? How did you get roped in? Oisin O’Doherty: Well, I’ve known LaFaro since they first started. I moved away just as they got together, heard their first EP and thought, ‘God, this band are amazing!’. Ever since then, we became friends, and any time they’re over in England they stay with me. The same applies to other NI bands, including ASIWYFA, who, for the record, leave the most disgusting underwear everywhere! I’ve never seen so much tight, brightly coloured underwear in my life! But, seriously, I’ve been back home two months ago now and I’d been thinking about asking the guys knowing there was a place there. Herb told me that they were going to ask me, and I said I was going to ask them as well. DM: Yeah, it was a sexually-charged point of relief whenever we asked if you’d join the band. And you were like, ‘I’d fucking love to join the band!’. Finally, what’s the significance of the ‘meat’ in ‘Easy Meat’, ‘Easy Peasy Meat’, ‘Meat Wagon’, etc? Or is it almost too obvious to ask? JB: It’s not for us to say. It’s just one of those things, like the unspoken things — the unsaid things. If people want to think it’s about you know, some misogynist, sexist views on women, they’re welcome to think that, but they obviously don’t know us that well. If they want to think it’s about cheap Denny sausages, that’s fine too!
In our hearts, we all knew this would happen. After 31 years, 15 albums, millions of album sales, and a few diminishing returns, the biggest ‘cult’ band in the world have called it a day. And I can’t help but feel sad. For a kid in a small town growing up in a musical vacuum, R.E.M. were the best band to be into, a rock group that seemed happy to take me by the hand and lead me into a bigger better world. Patti Smith, The Byrds, The Velvet Underground, Hüsker Dü, The Replacements, Minutemen…if R.E.M. said a band was worth getting into, then it definitely was. Wearing their influences on their sleeves, whilst cloaking them in shimmering enigma, R.E.M. were a band who knew the virtue of taking you on a journey, but keeping the best bits for themselves. Since releasing their first album Murmur to substantial critical acclaim in 1983, they have been instrumental in exemplifying ‘doing it right’ in indie rock music. Touring relentlessly, avoiding flashy promotion, and winning over fans one person at a time, R.E.M. cultivated and developed their fanbase, giving them what they wanted, but teaching them how to want more. Rarely pandering to the lowest common denominator, the band was not afraid to show its intellectual smarts, knowing it had
a hip, clued-in audience who could go with them. By the 1990s, they’d become one of the biggest alternative bands in the world, somehow managing to make the mainstream come to them, rather than selling out for a chance at commercial gain. With the chiming, textured guitars of Peter Buck melding with the melodic basslines of Mike Mills and the highpowered drumming of Bill Berry, the curious poetry of Michael Stipe was only one part of the picture. R.E.M. have never been about showing off, or being insubstantial; hard work and integrity are the building blocks upon which they are founded. Of course, age has begun to weather their appeal, with albums such as Around The Sun prompting even diehard fans to question their love for the band. Their final album, Collapse Into Now stands as a wonderful way to bow out, a warm-hearted look back by a band finally at peace with themselves, and the coming years will surely give us a chance to put this remarkable band’s legacy in context. The fan in me is sad that there’ll never be another ‘Perfect Circle’ or ‘Country Feedback’, whilst the realist in me knows that the time had come to let the legacy stand on its own. Ultimately, regardless of what they do next, the world is a better place for the gifts R.E.M. have given it. So, just for now, go and put on your favourite R.E.M. song, turn up the volume, and remember a time when everything seemed exciting and hopefully. That, surely, is the best legacy a band can hope for. Steven Rainey
plus SKINNY MACHINES Friday 4th Nov, Mandela Hall
Tickets available from Ticketmaster outlets and Queenâ€™s Student Union
GAMES: Beachy Dead
UNKNOWN PLEASURES Niall Byrne digs deep to uncover the freshest new music
Blog Buzz – Dark Skies Blurring the lines between postdubstep, chillwave and 2-step, 20-year-old London producer Dark Skies’ beguiling and gentle club music can be found on a free downloadable EP on the Cut Music netlabel. bit.ly/greatskies
7” - Outfit For a debut single from a Liverpudlian five-piece who only formed in January, ‘Two Islands’ is remarkably assured conversation starter. It’s a moody, twinkling song lifted up by crooning and distinguished vocals. It clocks in at six minutes but couldn’t be any less. The same goes for B-side ‘Vehicles’. The single is released on Double Denim records. bit.ly/outfitsingle Mix Archive - Essential Mix BBC’s Pete Tong-presented Essential Mix may be the most recognisable radio mix series in the world but what you may not know is that one single user of Soundcloud has uploaded over 900 of them, dating back to 1993. That’s hours of nostalgia including 1995’s Portishead mix, up to more recent selections from the likes of Alex Metric. bit.ly/essentialmixes
The strange saga of one of the year’s biggest games
Mix - Ifan Dafydd He was called a James Blake impersonator (they lived together in college) after debuting a few of his tunes online this summer but there’s much more to this young Welsh producer than he’s yet been given credit for. His Sonic Router mix starts with Chopin and moves into Boards Of Canada-esque beat wizardry, upbeat percussion and bass tunes. Not the sound of a pretender, but an originator. bit.ly/ifandafydd 7” – Leopard Of Honour David Roocroft’s music-making thus far could be, and has been, described as hazy. The Mancunian (who named himself after a song by Canadian band Destroyer) certainly recalls all the things that have been associated with chillwave: nostalgia-laden melodies, vintage bedroom synth sounds and an immersive ambience. There’s something else at play though that make Leopard Of Honour intriguing – sometimes, his music sounds like it was actually made in the Eighties, rather than channelling the idea. One to watch. A 7” is released through the ever-reliable Transparent label. leopardofhonour.bandcamp.com Blog Buzz - Lemonada A young Dublin-based producer of instrumental beat tapes who would prefer to remain unknown, Lemonada’s debut mixtape Kelly Green Volume 1 showcases his confident, sample-heavy, bumping hip-hop style over 15 tracks. lemonada.bandcamp.com
The recently released Dead Island (Deep Silver, Multiformat) raises some curious questions about the videogames industry, not only in terms of how titles are promoted and marketed but also how they are received by fans and critics alike. First announced at several expos in 2006, this open world, first person adventure has a genuinely intriguing premise, one which should be filed under, ‘Why did nobody think of that before?’. When a zombie virus breaks out in a luxurious holiday resort, a small band of survivors must team up to battle the undead, who are amusingly clad in Bermuda shorts and bikinis – you don’t see this sort of thing on A Place In The Sun. Early footage was embarrassingly rough but this was not enough to dampen the excitement of socking zombies in the kisser with a dinghy paddle. After that, all went quiet. Techland, the Polish developers in charge of bringing the dead to life, sporadically leaked a smattering of screens but to many it seemed that the project had been scrapped. However, in February of this year the silence was dramatically broken by a fresh trailer. Mostly seen from the perspective of a young girl, it depicts a family being literally torn apart by a rampaging gang of freshly dead flesh-eaters. The teaser, which features a hotel room being besieged and bodies falling from the balcony, has a discomfiting, chopped-up structure, which runs backwards as in the film Memento. Dead Island was firmly back on the gaming map.
But, and it’s a big but, the trailer contained no actual footage whatsoever. It may have smacked gobs worldwide but it was not representative of gameplay. Depending on your opinion this was either a canny marketing move or a sneaky trick or a sign. That question was answered last month when Dead Island was finally released worldwide. In a further twist it received uniformly strong reviews in spite of the fact that it contained more bugs and glitches than zombies: pop-in, horrendous voice acting, unfinished animations, quests which failed to load. Frankly, at times it felt like a shonky beta demo rather than a rigorously play-tested release, which should explain the downloadable dayof-release patch which hastily followed. A patch, it has to be said, which did not fix the manifold problems which dog the game. Normally, a game would be heavily criticised for such inconsistent design and scored accordingly, but Dead Island has become one of the most successful releases of the year. However, it’s difficult not to look at this as a hollow victory, particularly when compared with the fate which met the proficiently made Child Of Eden (Ubisoft, Multi) and Shadows Of The Damned (EA, Multi). Both games brim with fresh ideas and attention to detail but sold next to no copies. It raises worrying questions about the industry, questions which are exacerbated by the potential for an underperforming release to sink a studio. In this light, it’s tempting to believe that Dead Island has got away with murder. Ross Thompson
Tough Love Patrick Wolf on confronting romance – and how he’s right where he wants to be my work not get more attention?’. Then I realise that, when I was younger, the artists that always inspired me were almost beyond underground. They were self-sufficient and had a great rapport with their audience. That’s all that really matters.” As with Wolf’s earlier records, Lupercalia is a confessional. In a way, he is his own greatest creation, his personal life and emotions providing the fuel that fires the music. It’s a great part of his appeal, but I wonder if Patrick ever feels he’s too open for his own good? “No, I really don’t,” he answers, without a sliver of hesitation. “I yearn, in the rest of my life, to get the courage to really start being honest, relating the things I don’t even tell my friends. That was the intention when I started writing, that the things I couldn’t tell my parents, or my best friend, I could tell to my songs.”
On the song ‘House’, from latest album Lupercalia, Patrick Wolf sings of how “The native has returned”. It’s a telling phrase, a neat doffing of the peacock-feathered cap to Thomas Hardy – author of Return of The Native and an artist whose work, like that of Wolf, questions societal pressure to conform and depicts a love that is considered transgressive. Most pertinently, the lyric provides a biographical clue as to Wolf’s own recent experiences. After the anguished soul-searching that informed previous album The Bachelor – not to mention that La La Land debauch spent in the company of Satanists – Lupercalia sees him back home in England, caught once more in the arms of love and revisiting the mainstream-baiting pop brilliance of 2007’s The Magic Position. He’s also returned to the major label fold. Curiously, though, Wolf continues
to perceive himself in the role of the outsider. “I don’t belong to pop music,” he argues. “I’ve created my own world, one where I can exist without the music industry. That may sound arrogant, but the reality is I’m too leftfield to appear on the BRIT Awards, too dangerous to put on TV. I’m kind of what I wanted to be when I was growing up – unacceptable and indefinable. Sometimes I do think, ‘Well, why does
Elspeth launch their prize video AU and Armstrong Learning recently ran a competition for bands to win a music video worth £2,000, to be shot by Redcap Productions and shot at Media Zoo Studios in Belfast. Belfast/Newry band Elspeth were the lucky winners and they made the video at the end of September.
Of his own music, the statements he makes in a soft-tongued whisper are bold and, in the mouths of lesser musicians, might seem pretentious. However, Wolf’s music is equal to the claims he makes of it. And, with Lupercalia, the great trick is to have made an album about love that makes the very concept seem new-minted. “On my previous albums I tended to avoid romance. Even if I was in a relationship, I’d rather focus on less obvious aspects of love – the escapism of love, for example. ‘Augustine’ from The Magic Position is a song about love, but at the same time it’s about domestic abuse, drug addiction and that Stockholm Syndrome that develops between abused and abuser. However, by the time of Lupercalia, I wanted to write love songs that had a toughness to them, songs that had courage. And if, in a way, I have made a pop album, then it’s a pop album for people to savour in private – people doing the washing-up, anthems to get them through domestic situations and the sort of emotional problems that are usually not talked about. I hope it inspires people to fall in love in a different way, a way beyond all those clichés.” Francis Jones Lupercalia is out now on Mercury Records Patrick Wolf plays the Speakeasy, Belfast on October 23 and the Academy, Dublin on October 24. www.patrickwolf.com
The band will launch it with a special acoustic show on October 13 at the Black Box Café in Belfast, with support from Gerry Norman (A Plastic Rose) & Jamie Neish (More Than Conquerors). Doors at 7pm, admission free. The competition was a fundraiser for the Cystic Fibrosis Trust – to donate, visit www.justgiving.com/ffapmv
Tickets available from Ulster Hall box office, Ticketmaster outlets or online at ulsterhall.co.uk and ticketmaster.ie
AND THE LIP FACTORY
Thu 20th October, Mandela Hall
PATRICK WOLF Sun 23rd October, Speakeasy
Tues 25th October, Mandela Hall
GENERAL FIASCO Sun 30th October, Mandela Hall, 14+
WED 9TH NOV KEITH FARNAN
WED 26TH OCT PETE FIRMAN
Wed 2nd November, Mandela Hall, 16+
FOIL ARMS & HOG
WED 12TH OCT KEVIN McALEER
Fri 4th November, Mandela Hall
STEVE EARLE & THE DUKES(& DUCHESSES) Sat 5th November, Speakeasy
STEPHEN CARLIN COMPERE: COLIN MURPHY
Thu 10th November, Mandela Hall
QUEEN’S STUDENTS’ UNION DOORS 9PM. TICKETS £5 (NON-STUDENTS WELCOME) WWW.QUEENSCOMEDYCLUB.COM
THE SAW DOCTORS Fri 18th November, Mandela Hall
WWW.QUBSU-ENTS.COM Tickets available from Queen’s Students’ Union, booking fees apply elsewhere. Also available at ticketmaster.ie and all Ticketmaster outlets. Queen’s Students’ Union, University Road, Belfast, BT7 1NF. Tel: (028) 9097 3726. Fax: (028) 9097 1375. email: email@example.com
Getting A Bad Rap
Words by Neill Dougan
In recent years, technological advances have meant that anyone with a laptop and some recording software can crank out their own grand musical opus. And, on the whole, AU applauds this egalitarian, democratising development. However, as in any walk of life, many wouldbe musical superstars have an abundance of self-belief far outweighing any actual talent they might possess. Now, we know it’s wrong to mock the delusional, but...actually, there’s no good way to finish that sentence. Just watch these really, really bad rappers. R.A.E.D All Over
Putting It Out There
‘Game Over She Wants Me Back’ by Australian rapper R.A.E.D is an astonishing five minutes’ viewing. The video (featuring our hero crouching in a hole and getting angry with a steel fence for no apparent reason) is bad enough, but the song itself is as hilarious a musical endeavour as you’re likely to hear, R.A.E.D’s random, tuneless rant bearing little correlation to the actual melody or beat. Remarkable.
Another Australian rapper, the Sudanese-born Bangs, who has all the bling stylings of yer average hip-hop star, but sadly little of the substance. ‘My Life Is Hard’ is four minutes of self-pity over an anaemic beat, featuring the inspired chorus “My life is hard to live / And I never, ever have a good time”. and the closing, sage words of advice: “If you need more information / Think about it”. Aw, poor Bangs.
Courtney Stodden is famous for marrying a 51-yearold actor (Doug Hutchison from The Green Mile) when she was 16. But she’s also an aspiring popstar and here’s ‘Don’t Put It On Me’, a masterpiece in which Courtney – clad only in pink bikini – raps badly from inside a motorboat about, well, nothing very much as far as we can ascertain, over a hideous, lumpen musical backing. And then the auto-tune kicks in...
WEIRD WIDE WEB
Words by Karl McDonald
Elle Décor, an interior design magazine, asked famous actor and wife of beige stadium musician Gwyneth Paltrow which household items she couldn’t live without. It turns out, far from citing true necessities or even anything remotely relevant to non-millionaires, she absolutely requires handpainted wallpaper and an artisan bathtub in the middle of her bedroom. This begs the question: would factory wallpaper actually kill her?
The universal depiction of Santa Claus as a jolly, apolitical man has finally been called into question by self-taught artist Fran LaganaBrooks. In her ‘Weeping Santa’ series, we see a new side to everyone’s favourite distribution expert as he cries softly to himself and even, in what seems offensive in a non-specific sort of way, embraces Jesus Christ while remembering the events of 9/11.
Two prominent members of the online hip-hop blog community, Dallas Penn and Rafi Kam, have this internet fame thing figured out. Call yourself a celebrity to begin with, and then go ahead and make viral videos to back it up. Their ‘Ghetto Big Mac’ series, including a veritably alchemical combination of McDonald’s breakfast and regular menu items ordered either side of the fabled cutoff, is seminal.
STORY OF THE VIDEO
"aaagh! my eyes!"
We Cut Corners
The column that asks ‘How are you supposed to set fire to the rain, exactly?’ Words by Neill Dougan
After months on the Nicorette patches, Tim fell off the wagon with a bang.
Title: ‘The Leopard’ Director: Eoghan Kidney
Dublin duo We Cut Corners are on a bit of a roll – not only with their stripped-down take on folky garage-punk tunes, but also with the visual side of the band. Their last video for ‘Go Easy’ was sumptuous and rather sexy, but this time things have got weird, as ‘The Leopard’ is entirely shot on a thermal imaging camera. Director Eoghan Kidney tells AU all about it. This video is a huge departure from the band’s previous one. Was there a deliberate effort to make it very different? No, we needed to make something cheap and I had this idea!
What was the thinking behind using the thermal imaging camera? Had this been done before in a music video? I dunno. I think so, but not with colour. I wanted to do it for ages but the cameras were too expensive to rent. Now you can rent one for a couple of hundred bucks from your local plumbing hire store. Everyone’s gonna be using them now, I tell ya! How was the video made? Was it expensive? I shot the guys in a warehouse, improvised with some people who turned up to help. It was a short and sweet shoot, especially because we didn’t need lights. Did you encounter any problems along the way? The resolution of the video and the codec it encodes in is disappointly lossy. [Techie! – Ed.]
It was only Day One of Snake Charming College, and already Tony was beginning to suspect he’d made a terrible mistake.
Did it come out as you intended? Yes, and more. That camera has awesome mixreal-life-with-thermal-life features! Watch the video online at bit.ly/theleopard www.wecutcorners.net eoghankidney.tumblr.com
Despite his mother’s assurances, Little Billy wasn’t too sure how his Halloween costume was going to go down.
Members: Mark Thresher (vocals, guitar), Nathan Delffs (guitar, multi-instrumentalist), Natalie Stormann (bass, vocals, multi- instrumentalist), Adam Spittler (keys), Robert Pounding (drums). Formation: New York, 2008. For Fans Of: Velvet Underground, Deerhunter, The Walkmen, Check Out: Second album Staring At The X, out October 17 on FatCat. Website: www.myspace.com/fuckforestfire
Real Name: Based: For Fans Of: Check Out: Website:
Members: Tiffany Lamson (voacls/percussion), Taylor Guarisco (vocals/guitar) Kirby Campbell (drummer), Josh LeBlanc (guitar) and William Henderson (keyboard/saxophone). Formation: Lafayette, Louisiana, 2009. For Fans Of: Dirty Projectors, Vampire Weekend, Nomo. Check Out: Debut album In Light, out now on Glassnote. Website: www.giversband.com
Natalie Stormann may complain to us that her band’s new record was hampered by “shitty equipment, no money and conflicting schedules” but its griminess is exactly why it’s so seductive. The New Yorkers are true indie-rock experimentalists, following in a Big Apple lineage taking in the Velvet Underground, Televison, Sonic Youth and The Walkmen; effortless cool and creativity unbound. “We were all just as concerned with sound as we were song, arrangement and lyrics,” says Stormann of the band’s genesis. “Experimentation and dynamics were very important from the beginning. We wanted to ideas to reach fruition. Thoughts to become reality. That sort of thing.” Their second album Staring At The X is their first for the ever-unpredictable FatCat Records. It’s a record bursting with invention, as songs that in other bands’ hands could have ended up sounding fairly straightforward are turned into greasy little nuggets of weirdness. If you’re after shiny radio hits, forget it – this band is all about the dirt beneath the fingernails; the crazy practice room ideas. “Making a record is like taking a picture of a ghost,” says Stormann. “No matter your intentions, you will always capture the feeling in the room.” Chris Jones
Jamie Teasdale Berlin, Germany. Vangelis, Girl Unit. Debut album Severant, out October 17 on Planet Mu. soundcloud.com/kuedo
As one half of British duo Vex’d, Jamie Teasdale (aka Jamie Vex’d) had a hand in one of the most influential and innovative full-length dubstep releases, 2005’s Degenerate. However, his postVex’d output showed that his interests extended a lot further than the confines of their dark, bassheavy aesthetic. “Vex’d was more an experimental territory characterised between two people, more so by Roly [Porter]’s musical language perhaps, and by a listening phase that was quite fleeting,” he reasons. His new album Severant features vivid retrofuturist synths and percussion that draws influence from the fast bpms of footwork, a Chicago-centred genre/scene that his English label Planet Mu have recently brought to wider attention. “I thought there was something about the mixture of those types of drums to those types of synth lines,” he explains, “something worth chasing.” With clear echoes of Vangelis, Severant has a cinematic atmosphere and a sense of tension that reflects the halfway point between daydreaming and reality. “When I was writing the tracks, I would often hold scenes in mind, lived or imagined, and use them as a chasing point when deciding which direction to take the music as it formed. They all have very strong associations with specific events and concerns in my life, domestic dramas and everyday life stuff… Kitchen dramas!” Daniel Harrison
THE EMERGING ACTS YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT
‘World music’ is a tricky beast to pin down. The ever-reliable (cough) Wikipedia describes it as “traditional music of a culture that is created by indigenous musicians, closely related to the music of the regions of their origin,” which doesn’t rule a whole lot out. Louisiana’s Givers describe their sound as ‘world music’. According to vocalist/ guitarist Taylor Guarisco, it was one of the few forms of music – they’d previously tried the Louisiana folk style zydeco, folk and even hiphop – the band hadn’t properly explored. “But whenever we jammed it, it felt really good, like a nutrient we were lacking,” he explains. “When we first started Givers, our thought was, ‘What are we lacking in our lives?’ and let’s go for that.” Having created a stir in their hometown of Lafayette – a place where “you go out to a club, a band plays and everyone in the club dances to every song” – Givers have recently released their debut album In Light. In Taylor’s words, Givers music “has evolved to be anything” and the record is a testament to a band with “no limits”. In Light manages to blend a barrage of eclecticism; Afro-beat, Latin folk, Cajun blues, indie rock and even doo-wop all jostle for space on a set of songs that sound like one, long Southern party – with the world invited. John Freeman
Niki And The Dove Members: Formation: For Fans Of: Check Out: Website:
Malin Dahlström (vocals), Gustaf Karlöf (multi-instrumentalist). Stockholm, Sweden, 2010. Kate Bush, Robyn, Zola Jesus. The EP The Drummer is out October 18 on Mercury. www.nikiandthedove.com
Since forming in their native Stockholm in February 2010, Niki and the Dove (we’re not sure if singer Malin Dahlström is Niki or if multi-instrumentalist Gustaf Karlöf is a dove) have been garnering plaudits, gathering fans and honing their twisted, gothic synth-pop. The duo’s raison d’être appears to be the pursuit of a musical Holy Grail – the perfect pop song. Malin is enchanted by the concept: “It is like the golden truth in mathematics, where everything is corresponding with each other, and is what we are all striving for. That’s the struggle.” This struggle has already created some startling results. Malin is almost a hybrid of the intense artistry of a young Kate Bush and the dark melancholy of fellow Swede Lykke Li. Coupled to Gustav’s left-field arrangements and icy beats, the ‘Niki’ effect is as unnerving as it is entrancing. After early singles ‘DJ, Ease My Mind’ and ‘The Fox’ tipped off the taste-makers, new EP The Drummer is their most accomplished release to date. “We have wanted to explore different sounds through the singles and EPs,” Gustav tells us. “‘DJ’ was urban, ‘The Fox’ was very much set in the deep, dark woods, while The Drummer is an EP interpreting the desert metaphorically.” The ‘metaphorical interpretation of the desert’ is a new concept for AU, and we push Gustav on what exactly he means by the description. “The inspiration for the EP was the desert and the certain light in the desert, and, in particular, a light phenomenon called sundog which can appear where it is extremely cold or extremely hot,” he continues. We are still baffled – but acknowledge that The Drummer is a work of extremes, from the pulsating Eurochug of the title track to the fractured ballad ‘Manon’. An eagerly-awaited debut album will follow early next year. Expect it to be epic; “We are currently working on the last two songs, so we are close to completion,” Gustav reveals. “The album is going to be a collage of different soundscapes – not a particular theme but instead quite disparate at close sight. But hopefully, when you zoom out, we have succeeded in creating a pattern.” Musically, Gustav admits that the album may not turn out as originally intended. “When we began making the album we thought a lot about minimalism and small arrangements, but it turned out that every song is grandioso – we got stuck in grandioso mode.” Live, Niki and the Dove are a blast of pounding rhythms and Dahlström’s magnetic, awe-inflicting stage presence. With America beginning to fall under their spell, there is a real sense that Niki has endless possibilities. “The beautiful thing with Niki is that we feel very free,” Malin says. “Any song can be a Niki song. We are going through a very dynamic process. I think I can speak for both of us, when I say there is a real beauty in feeling free in this band. We can go so many ways; it is not like we are caged.” AU refuses to do the ‘birdcage’ pun. John Freeman
N O R T H E R N I R E L A N D M U S I C AWA R D S 2 0 1 1
Time to be proud There have been a few really special occasions in the recent history of Northern Irish music. Snow Patrol’s Ward Park gig in 2007; the A Little Solidarity gigs organised by And So I Watch You From Afar in 2008; Two Door Cinema Club’s homecoming Mandela Hall show late last year. To that proud pantheon, prepare to add Wednesday, November 2, 2011, when the inaugural Northern Ireland Music Awards take place at the Ulster Hall in Belfast. Presented by AU and the Oh Yeah Music Centre, sponsored by Invest Northern Ireland, with support from Belfast City Council and the Northern Ireland Tourist Board, the awards will be the marquee event of Belfast Music Week. It’s going to be a special night, as the achievements of bands and artists from Northern Ireland will be recognised in front of a packed hall of their peers and fans. More than that – it’s going to be a party. The line-up of live performers is mouth-watering, with punk legends Stiff Little Fingers joined by the cream of the current crop: And So I Watch You From Afar, The Japane-se Popstars, Cashier No.9 and General Fiasco. And if you turn to p.32, you’ll see that there is much more where they come from, with immensely strong lists of nominations in eight categories. As well as the regular categories, Oh Yeah will present their Legends and Contenders awards. Stiff Little Fingers pick up the Legends Award, while the winners of the Contenders Award for the brightest brand new talent in NI music – as with all the other winners – will be revealed on the night. “The awards are a testament to just how much talent there is in Northern Irish music right now,” says AU publisher Jonny Tiernan, “and just how far the music industry here has come in the past number of years. When you look over the nominations list you can see that it is full of acts who have been making a real impact not just on our own doorstep, but across the globe. It shows that NI music is in the rudest health it has ever been, and that the talent here is truly deserving of the highest level of recognition we can give it.”
Stuart Bailie, CEO of the Oh Yeah Music Centre, agrees. “We rock, fantastically well,” he says. “We have a wonderful spread of talent at the moment and that there’s a legacy behind us that we should be awful proud of. I think you will look back in five years and realise that we were at the centre of something proper.” In order to arrive at the nominations, AU and Oh Yeah put together a list of dozens people involved in Northern Irish music – journalists, promoters, DJs, producers and more – and canvassed them for their nominations in each category. That gave us the best possible representation of all that is great about music in Northern Ireland. “When you look at the nominations, you get a sharp reminder of the breathtaking standard of NI music, including those that aren’t on the list,” says BBC radio presenter Stephen McCauley. “We punch so far above our weight!” Now it falls to our ‘academy’ to choose the people who will receive their awards from our presenters, BBC Northern Ireland’s Rigsy and Citybeat’s Emma Fitzpatrick, on the stage of the Ulster Hall. Over the next two pages, eight nominees give their thoughts on what is set to be an unforgettable night, and in the centre pages you’ll find your pull-out guide to the runners and riders. Get your tickets from www.ulsterhall.co.uk and we’ll see you on November 2 for, as Stuart Bailie puts it, “collective joy, a full house, a few tears and several beers.” Chris Jones
TIME TO BE PROUD
Rory Friers, And So I Watch You From Afar How do you feel about being nominated for best band, best song, best album & best live act? Any nomination is flattering but to get four is really amazing. We don’t get to spend as much time at home as we’d like so it’s nice to know no-one has forgotten about us. What do you think about the fact that NI now has its own music awards? I don’t think winning prizes for music is very important, but being recognised for working hard or creating something
magical is, and both of those are happening in NI at the moment. Plus, it’s a good chance to have everyone in a room together for a party. How do you feel about the current NI scene? We’ve seen it develop over the past five years into an amazing place to be. We wear that badge with honour when we’re on the road, as do a lot of our friends who are now touring all year.
Owen Strathern, General Fiasco How do you feel about such a new track being nominated for best song & best video? We are thrilled – the track keeps surprising us. Initially we just wanted to release a song to get people thinking about the band again!
Ciaran McGreevy, Mojo Fury How do you feel about being nominated for best album, best live act and best video? It feels great to have three nominations! Our album has only been out for a few months so to be up for Best Album is great. What do you think about the fact that NI now has its own music awards? It’s amazing. It shows you how far Northern Irish music come in the last few years. How do you feel about the current NI scene? We’re very proud to be a part of it all. It seems like every teenager wants to be in a band now, it’s great! It wasn’t like this when we started the band.
How do you feel about the current NI scene? Northern Ireland has always been our biggest supporter – we have our best shows here and we are proud to be Northern Irish. It’s a great time for Northern Irish music and I have a feeling it will only get better.
What do you think about the fact that NI now has its own music awards? It’s great. Anyone who plays in bands locally or goes to gigs will tell you that
there is a wealth of talented people working within Northern Ireland.
Cathal Cully, Girls Names How do you feel about being nominated for best album? Pleasantly surprised. I think our labels Slumberland and Tough Love will be feeling quite proud now too. What do you think about the fact that NI now has its own music awards? I hope that it benefits all the artists involved and raises awareness to the general public to the talents of some amazing music created here. How do you feel about the current NI scene? It’s certainly thriving. It always has been though, hasn’t it? I’m not sure where we fit in, exatly. We’ve accidentally done something unique by building up a following and gaining recognition outside of NI before people here took note. We’re proud to be from Belfast though, that’s for sure.
Dave Magee, LaFaro What does it mean to you to be nominated for best band and best live act? It’s very flattering. We just try to do our best and we’re very grateful that anyone has taken notice. What do you think about the fact that NI now has its own music awards? Northern Ireland has a great music scene and I suppose any recognition for the artists and people involved is a great thing. Having said that, it’s often the best bands that go unrecognised. How do you feel about the current NI scene? We’re very proud to be from NI, particularly because the scene is so vibrant and constantly changing. People are always asking us about the bands from back home so word is getting about that we have a very good thing.
Paddy Glasgow, Glasgowbury Festival How do you feel about being nominated for best festival? It’s always an honour to be nominated for an award for what we love doing, especially now that the awards are so close to home. What do you think about the fact that NI now has its own music awards? It’s been a long time coming but I think this can only be a positive thing for NI. I think they should be relished, not as a pat on the back exercise for the nominees, but as a
celebration of all that’s great about local music. How do you feel about the current festival scene in Northern Ireland? Festivals are an important part of any culture but it’s important that they’re organised and run in the right spirit and ethos. Glasgowbury has attempted to shine a light on some of the best new talent around while celebrating the success of others, and that will continue to be the case.
How do you feel about being nominated for best band, best song, best album and best video (twice)? Yeah, we’re chuffed to be nominated for all these awards. Can’t believe we’re not up for best craic, we’d definitely win that. Or best looking frontman… Does any one nomination mean more than the others? Best Album – we spent a lot of time recording and writing it, making sure the songs related to each other through the production. What do you think about the fact that NI now has its own music awards? It’s great; there are so many great musicians and bands from the north that it’s about time we all had a big party to celebrate it. We’re really looking forward to playing at the awards. There’s always something magical about playing in the Ulster Hall.
Dan Todd, Cashier No.9
Robyn G Shiels How do you feel about being nominated for best solo artist? It’s an honour, and it means I must be doing something vaguely right. What do you think about the fact that NI now has its own music awards? It’s about time. There’s a lot to choose from in regards to up-andcoming acts and the, ahem, ‘more seasoned’ amongst us. How do you feel about the current NI scene? The current music scene in Belfast is now in a much healthier state than it was about 20 years ago. The likes of Stiff Little Fingers, Therapy?, Ash, Snow Patrol etc. have basically paved the way for bands over here to be taken that bit more seriously, as opposed to before when the big ‘ignore’ button always was in use if Belfast was ever mentioned... The good will out though and it’s humbling to be a part of it.
Best Solo Artist
And So I Watch You From Afar Cashier No.9 LaFaro Not Squares Two Door Cinema Club
Duke Special Foy Vance Pat Dam Smyth Rainy Boy Sleep Robyn G Shiels
Best Electronic Artist
And So I Watch You From Afar Search:Party:Animal Cashier No.9 - Goldstar General Fiasco - The Age That You Start Losing Friends Rams’ Pocket Radio - Dieter Rams Has Got The Pocket Radios Seven Summits - Burning Heart
Boxcutter The Japanese Popstars Not Squares Phil Kieran Space Dimension Controller
THE OH YEAH Legends Award Following previous recipients Terri Hooley (2008), Henry McCullough (2009) and The Undertones (2010), Belfast punks Stiff Little Fingers are recognised with the Oh Yeah Legends Award. “By challenging the given notions of sectarianism in songs like ‘Suspect Device’ and ‘Wasted Life’, they encouraged a generation of young people to see life beyond the bigoted, tribal world of Northern Ireland,” says Oh Yeah’s Stuart Bailie. “And when they sang “grab it, take it, it’s yours” they let us all know that we were in charge of our own destiny. Inspiring.”
Best Live Act
And So I Watch You From Afar - Gangs Cashier No.9 - To The Death of Fun Girls Names - Dead to Me Mojo Fury - Visiting Hours Of A Travelling Circus Not Squares - Yeah OK
And So I Watch You From Afar LaFaro Mojo Fury Not Squares Pocket Billiards
Cashier No.9 - Goldstar Cashier No.9 - Lost at Sea General Fiasco - The Age That You Start You Start Losing Friends Kowalski - Outdoors Mojo Fury - Colour Of The Bear
Belsonic Glasgowbury Open House Festival Pigstock Sunflower Festival
THE OH YEAH Contenders Award “The Contenders night was launched last year with live music from A Plastic Rose, Wonder Villains, Farriers and More Than Conquerors,” explains Stuart Bailie. “We had a 12-track CD of new bands and then we took them on a bus tour around the north.” Following a poll of NI music experts, the winners of the inaugural Contenders Award will be announced on the night.
TICKETS AVAILABLE FROM ulster hall box office and www.ulsterhall.co.uk
A life-changing romance, a fortuitous meeting on a Mediterranean island and a reunification that led to near-instant summery radio play: Grouplove’s biography is all the evidence you’ll ever needed that bumming around can be a good use of your time. No wonder they can’t wipe those smiles off their faces... Words by James Hendicott Good fortune and spontaneity seem necessary parts of the backstory of so many of music’s classic acts. If Lennon’s shambolic skiffle group hadn’t bumped heads with a 15-year-old Paul McCartney in late 1950s Liverpool, for example, and Brian Epstein hadn’t later rather haphazardly chosen The Beatles as his play thing, modern music might have gone down an entirely different path. You can apply it to many facets of life: sheer good fortune is simply a necessary part of almost any burgeoning tale. Of all the unlikely backstories, though, Grouplove’s chance encounter sits alongside San Francisco duo Girls’ tales of mad cults and musical escapism as one of the most serendipitous in modern music; not so much ‘sliding doors’ as a random encounter of the monkeys/ typewriters kind. It all started when prolific singer-songwriter Christian Zucconi and abstract painter Hannah Hooper met after a performance from Christian’s former band Pagoda in New York. “We pretty much fell in love at first sight,” says Hannah. “On the very next day after we met, I was invited to go to Greece for a painting residency and I just thought, this guy Christian is too special, I’m going to ask if he can come with me. Luckily, he agreed.” The residency turned out to be a total shambles (“they
people who would become Grouplove went their separate ways. That looked very much like the end, until a year later, when they all met up again, leading to a successful debut release. “We wrote the EP on a reunion visit to Ryan’s in LA,” Christian explains. “Soon afterwards, Hannah and I sold everything we owned and moved out from New York.” The rest, as they say, is history. Since the EP, Grouplove’s growth hasn’t been difficult to follow. ‘Colours’ – the lead track from the EP and already years old before it saw any significant publicity at all – garnered huge blog attention, and when Grouplove first set foot on Irish soil for Oxegen this summer, they opened their set to perhaps 10 people before watching the tent slowly fill as word spread. Come Electric Picnic in September, an early afternoon slot induced a euphoric reception and saw the colourful fivepiece installed as one of the talking points of the weekend. The turning point was probably their early support slot for Florence & the Machine. “Having only been a band for half a year it was really humbling to get to that point,” Ryan says. “Still, once the show was over, the question was, ‘How do we do that better in the future?’.” The rapid nature of the band’s success has surely
The band’s five-songwriter set up is jointly influenced by their shared history and the fact that they are a collection of musicians that, Hannah explains “we can’t even begin to summarise.” She elaborates: “Every member of the group comes from a different angle. The important thing is that we all appreciate each other.” ‘Colours’ is very much Christian’s baby, for example, while ‘Itchin’ On a Photograph’ sees Andrew’s sentimental side come to the fore. There’s no sense of friction or ownership surrounding the songs, though. “We’re just too into the love we have for each other,” Hannah concludes. Of course, that applies more than anything to Christian and Hannah, who seem entirely besotted with each other. “We’re used to it,” says Andrew. “As long as they don’t start getting it on in the dressing room it’s all good. We’ve only ever known them as a couple, so it doesn’t change the group dynamic”. Experience tells us that friendships developed on the road often fall apart when subjected to the real world, but having lived the best part of a year in a tour van, perhaps Grouplove haven’t even got that far yet. Sean even argues that the lack of a shared history beyond the artists’ commune informs the band’s music. “It’s fresh because we didn’t know
“We didn’t know each other’s pasts. All we knew is that we were all on a beach wearing shorts and playing guitars.” told us to squat in a corner, there was one cold water shower and Sean had to sleep next to a dead cat,” Christian recalls), but they befriended Ryan Rabin (the drumming son of Yes guitarist Trevor) who stumbled in from an exchange program in Prague to meet his best friend Andrew Wessen (guitar), and Sean Gadd (bass), another musical minded resident. Christian and Hannah’s impulsive love story led to a happy summer with their new friends. “We spent hours riding around on scooters, sitting on our own secret ivy-covered beach and writing music,” Hannah explains. “It was very much a friendship thing – I started off drawing everyone and we slowly started humming and finally singing together. It was a very special experience.” Ryan takes up the story: “It was a lot like a summer camp, basically, but with no running water, and a lot more rustic. We performed at the camp’s music festival before we left, but more as a group of friends than a band. It felt like Hannah arrived as an artist. She’s still an artist, but she also left as a musician.” Things had clearly clicked, but nevertheless, the
contributed to the Grouplove ethos – the name is “not so much a hippie reference, but an expression of our love for each other” – which is clear to see in shows that bubble over with smiling energy. The band’s effervescent interviews are no different. Primary singers Christian and Hannah steal secret, beaming glances at each other between sentences. English bassist Sean – the only nonAmerican member – plays the role of spokesman; a jovial and cuttingly humorous character whose earthy Brit-wit encapsulates the band’s mutual adoration. Given the breathtaking fortuitousness of it all and the infectiously happy-go-lucky vibe that Grouplove purvey, debut album title Never Trust A Happy Song must be laced with irony? “Yes, it’s incredibly upbeat, but it also has a bit of a twisted underbelly,” Andrew explains. “It’s difficult to be happy about everything, and we like our songs to have a bit of critical realism. Every member has a writing credit yet every song has our collective conscious running through it. It’s a great representation of who we are.”
each other’s pasts. All we knew is that we were all on a beach wearing shorts and playing guitars. This band listens to each other, everyone has a huge input and it’s also very individual and non-judgemental. It works really well creatively. It’s fun, and exciting. Being part of the band is just the easiest thing in the world. It really takes the pressure off, having everyone contribute. Someone comes up with a song and we all work on it together. “There’s no formula, and I hope there never will be; the only thing we tried to stick to when making the album was to keep every song different,” Sean continues. “We just put everything into what we do together. Of course, the real measure will be if we’re still remembered in the future. For now, we’re just so happy to have this opportunity. How well we’ve done is really quite overwhelming.” Never Trust A Happy Song is out now on Canvasback / Atlantic. www.grouplovemusic.com
Stories From The Sea Words by Lauren Murphy Photography by Loreana Rushe
No more Mr. Nice Guy. It’s a grey, muggy autumn day in Dublin, and Richie Egan – the supposed ‘Nicest Man in Irish Music’ – is in reflective mood. Sitting in the bar of Brooks Hotel, he slams his teacup down on the table, barely looking up from his BlackBerry to snarl a bored greeting. Okay, okay, you’ve got us. That may be the scenario in a parallel universe, but in reality, Egan is an über-friendly sort, the kind of musician that is so endearingly and unpretentiously into his music that it’s hard not to like him. He seems slightly uncomfortable – perhaps even embarrassed – about bigging himself up in any way, and is tuned in to the comic absurdity of the forced nature of interviews. There’s no doubt about it. He’s a nice guy. “That goodwill thing is good and all, but the thing about people calling you ‘nice’ and stuff like that is you’re only as good as your last album. That’ll get you so far in a sense, but at the end of the day, it comes down to how good you are at what you do. I know plenty of nice people who make fucking shit music. Maybe I need to get more un-nice. The next album is gonna be called Go Fuck Yo’self,” he says, grinning and throwing two fingers skywards in a manner that would make Johnny Cash proud. Before the next album takes a slide into gangsta rap territory, however, there’s a new one to discuss. Ocean Of Frequency is the fourth Jape album, the long-awaited follow-up to 2008’s Ritual. To be fair, Egan has been kept busy with outside pursuits: he got married last year, released another album with his old muckers The Redneck Manifesto and started a new side-project called VisionAir. The year before that, he won the Choice Music Prize with Ritual, a record that charmed critics across the board with its inventive take on indie, electronica and pop. He’s also been part of a one-off Vampire Weekend tribute supergroup. If the ‘fingers in pies’ analogy applied here, the man would have a different flavour on every digit. But since that flush of success three years ago – the life-affirming festival appearances, the packed-out gigs with mass singalongs all has been quiet on the Jape front. It was beginning to seem that his one-time 9-5 was being put on the backburner and may remain there indefinitely. “I was writing all along, and I was just kind of waiting ‘til it felt right,” he explains of Ocean Of Frequency’s long gestation period. “I had a lot of songs that I didn’t really want on the album, and it took a while; I didn’t really know how I wanted it to sound for a long time. I thought I had it finished at one point
and when I realised it wasn’t, that was hard to deal with. It was like, ‘Shit, this isn’t really good enough’.” As fortune would have it, it was aforementioned side-project VisionAir – the electronica duo he formed with Redneck Manifesto comrade Niall Byrne – that helped him to focus on the direction that Ocean Of Frequency eventually took, and the follow-up to Ritual indubitably marks a significant shift in the Jape sound, treading an altogether more laid-back approach to electronica rather than focusing on upbeat hooks and catchy choruses. Indeed, the floaty vocals and soft, smothered throb of songs like ‘The Oldest Mind’ echo minimal acts like The Field, while the sombre, gentle canter of ‘Borrowed Time With Peace’ – the song that Egan declares his personal favourite – is as laid back as anything he’s done in the past. Yet following the most successful album of your career to date wasn’t daunting, Egan explains. “The success of Ritual never really changed anything for me in that way; it’s always been about just making the songs sound the way I want them to sound,” he says with a shrug. “When stuff is finished for me, I tend to move on from it and try to do something a little bit different anyway. If it’s successful, that’s great; when it’s not successful, well hopefully the next thing will be. But I definitely think this album is a lot less energetic in some ways – people who’ve heard it have said it’s much more of a grower, and that’s cool. Maybe Ritual was a bit more immediate, but maybe this one will take you longer to get. I definitely think it’s a better album. I don’t think Ritual has aged well, that’s my own opinion. I suppose I never really like the shit I do anyway. But I think this one will definitely age better because I must have listened to it seven or eight hundred times at this point, and I still think it’s, y’know... okay.” Crafting a complete album was more important to Egan than recording a collection of songs that may be commercially successful. That’s not to say that Jape have ever been darlings of the chart, of course, but even their biggest ‘hits’ to date, ‘Floating’ and ‘Phil Lynott’, have been happy accidents. “I know it’s such a cliché, but I’m definitely getting into the idea of writing an album,” he nods enthusiastically. “Having tones that change slightly, but basically an album you listen to all the way through. I want to do that again. And I also don’t want to have such a long gap between this one and the last one. I feel like I’ve learned a lot about myself and my songwriting in the last three years, an awful lot. I’m much more aware of what I’m good at, and what I want to do. It’s not going to blow people’s minds on the first or second listens, but hopefully it’ll get in under their skin and make them feel happy over a period of time.” Finding the album’s sound was a case of trial and error, but there was certainly a period (which happened to coincide with Egan
“I couldn’t give a shit about breaking the States or any of that shite” playing acoustic solo gigs and publicly declaring, as many people did, his admiration for Conor O’Brien of Villagers) that potentially signalled a move into singer-songwriter territory. There are a couple of tracks on Ocean Of Frequency that use an acoustic template to temper the electronic elements – most notably ‘Its Shadow Won’t Make Noise’ – but a 180-turn in style was never on the cards. “Conor’s such an amazing songwriter and musician – he’s inspirational to anybody who plays music, I think,” he says. “I still write a lot of acoustic songs, and I still have a lot that I’ve never even released, but I just didn’t want to present myself in that particular way. It’s funny, ‘cos you get older, you kind of get a little bit more confident about what you can do. Whereas in the past... I think a lot of musicians, and especially young musicians these days, they often run away from what they’re good at, y’know? And it takes a while for you to understand that that’s what makes you unique. Embracing that fact played a big part in finding out what I wanted.” Does that mean that he’s perhaps guilty of failing to embrace his strong points in the earlier stages of his career? “I definitely didn’t – and probably still don’t – take compliments very well,” he nods. “Whenever anybody said something good about my stuff, I’d get very freaked out. If someone was to slag me, I’d take more positive energy from that, because I’d be like ‘Fuck you! I know that I can do better’. Whereas when people are heaping praise on you, I get really freaked out by that, and it makes me feel weird, so I do worse shit then. I’m like Rocky Balboa!”
When it eventually came around to recording with Dave Odlum at France’s Black Box studio, this album proved more of a group effort than ever before. “Ritual was pretty much a lot of just me, with Matthew [Bolger] playing a bit of guitar and Ross [Turner] playing a bit of drums after I’d finished everything else,” he nods. “With this one, I wanted to try and write the bones of stuff and then give it to the lads, and we’d go over it together and flesh it out. To be honest, it was amazing to have Glenn [Keating], Ross and Matthew to play off, and to have a different set of ears – and also to have someone telling you that this bit is shit, or whatever. I get that with the Rednecks, but Jape is more or less my thing and you miss having someone telling you that this bit is shit, or that bit is great.” As much as there are songs here that take time to seep in, there remains a catchy pop element to Jape’s sound that will probably never be fully abandoned. It’s heard on radio-friendly tunes like ‘Scorpio’ and ‘Please Don’t Turn The Record Off’, while ‘One Of Those Days That Just Feels So Long’ sees Egan dabble in voice modification to agreeable effect – a result of listening to a lot of Odd Future singer Frank Ocean’s solo album. Yet despite the potential commerciality of a number of tracks, as well as the new lyrical depths plumbed on Ocean Of Frequency, Egan doesn’t have any illusions about success outside of Ireland. He’s already had his fair share of disillusionment with labels, having signed a deal with V2 before they eventually crumbled, and he’s also flirted with second-degree fame (although none of the financial benefits) thanks to The Raconteurs’
cover of ‘Floating’. Signing with new independent Dublin label music/is/for/losers means being realistic about how far this album can reach. “Ah yeah man, I couldn’t give a shit about breaking the States or any of that shite,” he says with a smile. “It’s a smaller vibe, but I’m willing to work really hard and so are they, so we should at least make our money back. The main thing is trying to get the album out and at least get another one done soon enough. The only thing is for me – and I really, genuinely mean this – I would love to be hugely successful, but the only thing I’m good at is songwriting. So at the end of the day, all I can do is continue to write songs. “There’s a balance between becoming complacent and shit, which happens to a lot of people... or else trying to stay young and hungry in your head. Trying to progress your stuff, but never taking anything for granted and always having a questioning attitude to what you’re doing. If you can surprise yourself, you’ll continue to get better. Y’know, that line ‘You have to go up your own ass to smell the shit’ is true. And all it comes down to is that I would like to get old and good, rather than old and shit.” Ocean Of Frequency is out now on music/is/for/losers Jape tours Ireland throughout October, including dates at the Roisin Dubh, Galway (8th) and the Spring & Airbrake, Belfast (13th). www.japemusic.com
A to Z
In the calendar of seasonal social events, Halloween is a bit of a strange one. Marked by ritual and symbols, descended from pagan festivals of murky origin, the whole bizarre farrago is a hangover from more credulous, superstitious times, and arguably has no place in the modern world. On the other hand, of course, it’s great fun if you like to dress up like a tit, stuff your face full of candied treats, terrify yourself and your friends, and generally act like a bit of an eejit. And let’s face it, who doesn’t enjoy that? No-one, that’s who. Words by Neill Dougan Illustration by Mark Reihill
is for All Hallow’s Eve
The direct precursor to Halloween, ‘All Hallow’s Eve’ was the night before the Catholic holy day of All Saints. The actual word Halloween dates back to 16th century Scotland, when medieval Scots would don kilts, consume deep-fried snacks, get blind drunk on whisky and start vicious fights, before recovering the next day by quaffing industrial quantities of a sickly-sweet drink known as Irn Bru. All of which then became national pastimes enacted every single day of the year.
is for Bonfires
Of course, in this part of the world bonfires play a somewhat dubious societal role. But Halloween bonfires are harmless enough affairs. Well, as harmless as huge pyres, made up of discarded sofas and car tyres, set alight in crowded residential neighbourhoods with kids, old people and family pets in the immediate vicinity can be said to be.
is for Costumes
Everyone loves dressing up at Halloween, unless you’re a massive killjoy. For reasons that are not entirely clear, the tradition seems particularly popular in Derry/Londonderry, where in recent years increasingly outlandish costumes have been the order of the day. AU knows of people who have spent Halloween in Stroke City disguised as a fridge, a Nintendo Game Boy and a shower. Yes, a shower.
is for Devil’s Night
Not just the name of a crappy rap album by Detroit mooks D-12, but also the name of the evening before Halloween when, since the 1930s, city youths would engage in acts of random criminal violence. Just like a typical night out in London, in other words.
is for Evil Dead
Sam Raimi’s graphic, low-budget comedyhorror premiered at Halloween in 1981 and was immediately controversial, being banned in Germany, Iceland, Finland and – yep – Ireland. Despite (or because of) this, the movie soon
garnered a cult following and is now considered a classic. Unsurprisingly, a remake is now in the works, which we predict shall neither garner a cult following, nor be considered a classic. Just a hunch.
is for Food
For AU, the word ‘Halloween’ evokes nothing so much as childhood memories of stuffing our face with toffee apples and a frankly ludicrous amount of peanuts (which for some reason were called ‘Monkey Nuts’ at this particular time of year) until we were quite literally physically sick. The life lesson we learned is that it’s not a party unless you’re quite literally physically sick.
is for Games
Halloween is a time for pranks, tricks and games. The most notable is bobbing for apples, in the course of which one must dunk one’s head into a tub of water and attempt to retrieve said apples using one’s teeth alone. AU likes to play a variant of this game, with the water replaced by vodka, the apples replaced by ice cubes, the tub replaced by a glass and ‘bobbing’ replaced by drinking. Basically, we drink some vodka.
is for Halloween The Movie
1978 indie horror classic Halloween saw Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis in her film debut) terrorised by deranged maniac-in-a-mask Michael Myers. Audiences were then made to suffer seven sequels of generally decreasing quality, not to mention the inevitable remake in 2007. It was terrifying, yes, but sadly not in the way its makers had hoped.
is for Imagery
Halloween imagery is arguably more striking than any other seasonal celebration, and commonly features themes of death, evil and the occult. Too much for you? Don’t worry: Christmas, with its images of jolly, smiling Santa, is just around the corner. Ya big wimp.
is for Jack-O’-Lanterns
Classic symbol of Halloween, the Jack-O’-Lantern is a hollowed-out pumpkin with a hideous rictus
grin carved into it. Light a candle inside and the effect can be quite spooky. As a child, a turnip traditionally sufficed which, in hindsight, was definitely a bit second-rate and crappy. But that was 1980s Ireland for you. Nowadays, with the global import and export trade being what it is, pumpkins are abundant at Halloween, even in Ireland. So everything’s all right then.
is for Freddy Krueger
One memorable Halloween, an innocent, 11-year-old AU was persuaded by a group of older boys to watch A Nightmare On Elm Street. Not wanting to appear a scaredy-cat, we sat absolutely transfixed with fear throughout the entire film. A traumatising experience that has left us with a lifelong fear of school janitors. And being horribly slaughtered in our dreams.
is for Literature
The imagery of modern-day Halloween owes much to the gothic literature of Mary Shelley (Frankenstein) and Bram Stoker (Dracula), two books with just the right atmosphere of suspense and creeping dread. It’s just a shame the movie adaptations were about as scary as a cup of warm cocoa. Yes, Francis Ford Coppola and Kenneth Branagh, we’re talking to you.
is for Money Making
Halloween, like everything else that was once innocent and pure, has these days been co-opted by advertisers as just another means to sell us more crap we don’t need. In fact, you’ll start to see Christmas trees in many retail outlets before Halloween is even past, as we begin the runup to the annual shit-binge that is the festive season. Now, where did we put that shotgun?
is for Necromancy
Necromancy is the summoning of a dead person’s spirit, by use of a ouija board or similar, a notuncommon activity at this time of year. A bit like Whoopi Goldberg’s Oda Mae Brown in the film Ghost. Except, y’know, less sassy. Most necromancers aren’t sassy.
is for Occult
Venture out onto any neighbourhood street at Halloween and you’re likely to encounter unusual characters who may claim knowledge of magic, wizardry, alchemy and extra-sensory perception. They’re probably lying. Either that or they’ve stood too close to a discarded sofa burning on a bonfire and are tripping balls on the fumes.
is for Parentalia
Ancient Roman precursor to Halloween, Parentalia was a festival paying tribute to the dead, in the course of which sacrifices would be laid at the tombs of deceased family members. By the standards of ancient Rome, a solemn and – well – somewhat boring affair, with not so much as an orgy in sight.
is for Glenn Quagmire
In the Family Guy seasonal special ‘Halloween On Spooner Street’, lovable pervert Quagmire is the butt of a series of Halloween pranks, including being bombarded with eggs and being infected with an unknown disease from Senegal. Oh, and being tricked into sleeping with his friend Joe. Quite amusing, if not particularly scary. Or tasteful.
is for Religion
The somewhat muddled roots of Halloween lie in a host of ancient religious traditions, including Celtic pagan rites, Roman festivals and Christian customs. This mix-‘n’-match history probably explains why modern-day Halloween makes no sense at all.
is for The Simpsons
Rather than the traditional Christmas special, The Simpsons has over the years opted for an annual
W Halloween episode, the so-called Treehouse Of Horror. There have been some classic Treehouse moments over the years (the peerless ‘Citizen Kang’ segment from Treehouse of Horror VII springs to mind) but sadly these days, like all episodes of the once-great Simpsons, it’s absolute pap.
is for Trick Or Treat
Now, AU isn’t saying that we have no time for kids in disguise coming round our house demanding sweets in a vaguely threatening manner. We’re just saying that, when we do hear the little dears knocking on our door, we instinctively utter a very simple, three word response: “Release the hounds.”
is for Unicef
What on earth does Unicef have to do with Halloween, we hear you ask? Well, in recent years in the USA, ‘Trick Or Treat For Unicef’ – whereby trick-or-treaters collect donations for the charity instead of the traditional sweets – has become a common practice. Is it very wrong to admit that as a child we’d have much preferred to get the sweets?
is for Vampires
Terrifying mythical blood-sucking night-crawlers, popularised by countless movies and books. Also a popular costume at Halloween time, which is understandable as vampires are said to be suave and well-dressed creatures. You could even sup upon a Bloody Mary to complete the effect. Just don’t forget to remove the entirely un-vampire-like stick of celery. Everyone knows vampires don’t dig veggies.
is for Witches
The witch outfit is particularly popular amongst little girls going to their first Halloween party. Y’know –
broomstick, raggedy dress, pointed hat. All good clean fun, just as long as there are no black cats involved. Cats being creatures of the devil, of course.
is for Xander from Buffy The Vampire Slayer
In the successful vampire-killing TV series, undead-assassin Buffy’s best mate is Xander, a somewhat buffoonish everyman with no particularly outstanding skills. Indeed, so normal is he that – should you choose to dress up as him at Halloween – all you need do is wear your usual clothes and behave completely unremarkably. A good costume for the utterly lazy, in other words.
is for Yikes!
Everyone loves a good fright, with the possible exception of pregnant women and those with heart conditions. So if you’re not one of them, Halloween is the time to sit down with a good horror movie or ghost story and scare the bejaysus out of yourself. And afterwards, if you need to sleep with the light on, that’s only slightly shameful. As long as you haven’t wet yourself as well.
is for Zombies
Another popular disguise at Halloween is the zombie. Simple to pull off – throw some tomato sauce around your face to signify the blood of your innocent victims, rip your clothes a bit a la Michael Jackson’s Thriller, adopt vacant stare and hey presto. Most important of all is the slow, shuffling walk of the living dead, an effect easily accomplished by first consuming 10 pints of lager. *There’s much more on the undead over the page!
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Waking The Undead The Rise and Rise of Zombie Media The living dead. Infected. Deadites. In recent days these terms have invaded our lexicon as relentlessly as the freshly exhumed horde shambling into a Pennsylvanian town. Once the sight of decomposing flesh glooping out of a soiled burial suit was confined to socalled video nasties and the occasional Michael Jackson video. Nowadays, however, you can’t turn around without coming face to rotten face with a crowd of slavering zombies. With the help of several media experts we try to understand what drives the genre which just won’t stay dead. Words by Ross Thompson Illustration by Rebecca Hendin “When there’s no more room in hell,” goes the famous line from Dawn Of The Dead (1978), “the dead will walk the earth.” But what happens when there’s no more room on earth? Lately, our television schedules, games consoles and cinema listings have become clogged with images of the zombie apocalypse. It’s fascinating how painlessly we have become inured to visions of our decimated cities strewn with rubbish and severed limbs. More fascinating is that these rank pictures of death are presented so innocently. There are apps in which you can decorate your own self-portrait with wounds to resemble a corpse. The break-dancing dead have been used to advertise Lucozade. With ‘Zombie Walks’, an outlandish take on flash mobs where participants ghoul up and shuffle through streets and malls, the American public barely blink an eye. The origin of the lowly zombie is the subject of much conjecture. Some argue that it stems from salty tales of Haitian folklore and African voodoo brought back from pioneers. Travelling far
of an opium-infused dream and a writing competition with her literary chums, plays with motifs which would reoccur over a century later in horror cinema. Dr Kevin Corstorphine, lecturer of English at the University of Hull, says of zombie fiction, “As humans we’re fascinated with death and the mysteries it holds. The horror lies in the way they represent resurrection without transcendence: the body returns but there is no higher functioning, no soul.” On its most basic level stories such as Ambrose Bierce’s ‘The Death Of Halpin Frayser’ (1893) and W.W. Jacobs’s ‘The Monkey’s Paw’ (1902) present the issue of mortality in its rawest, most unabashed form. The existence of zombies negates the hope that there is an afterlife awaiting faithful believers, or rather that it is a purgatory where, to borrow from An American Werewolf In London (1981), the sufferers walk the earth in limbo until their curse is lifted. It is no coincidence that the recent surge of zombie media that this questioning the existence of the human soul, has dovetailed with the growth of fervent atheism.
“Zombies are the mindless, hungry and violent part of ourselves we would rather not face up to” beyond the dotted lines of the ‘civilised’ world, these sailors supposedly discovered reanimation rituals steeped in black magic. Their accounts were partly imbued with the fear that the great divide between life and death could be broken, and partly by the xenophobia which characterised the colonial era, an acrid foretaste of racism which would pervade the entire western world. Elsewhere, others will speak of Books of the Dead from Tibet and Ancient Egypt in which the authors envisage the states of consciousness following death, or the chronicles of spectres and phantoms found in Arabian Nights and the writings of H.P. Lovecraft. In The Canterbury Tales (approx. 1387), Geoffrey Chaucer spoke of “this false traytour Deeth”, a medieval incarnation of The Grim Reaper who sloped from village to village claiming souls. Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1818), the product
Arguably, the thing which separates zombies from other horror tropes is their tangible sense of human tragedy. These are not the masked, faceless killers of slasher pictures, nor are they the beasts of low-rent exploitation pictures. “They’re us,” gasps Peter in Dawn Of The Dead in awe at the emergence of a grave new world, a succinct encapsulation of the paranoia which lies at the unbeating heart of zombie fiction. Texan author Joe R. Lansdale, who has written about the returning departed in books such as the fantastically off-the-wall Dead In The West (1986), affirms, “Part of the appeal is that they’re so human without having unique powers, other than they’re animated dead folks and have a ravenous appetite. I always think that the frightening part of that would be you might kill someone you know, someone you love. And the idea of a rotting, smelly corpse coming to grab you and bite you is just a basic sort of fear of dead things that won’t stay dead, at least not in the manner you wish they would.”
This idea of families and neighbourhoods imploding came to the fore in George Romero’s Night Of The Living Dead (1968) in which a zombified young girl mercilessly kills both of her parents. It’s a shocking moment, not because it’s explicitly gory but because of its subtext. “Zombies are people stripped of art, culture, morality and love,” argues Corstorphine. “They’re the mindless, hungry and violent part of ourselves we would rather not face up to.” Like Schwarzenegger’s Terminator, a zombie in cybernetic form, these ex-humans cannot be reasoned with, nor can they be stopped – unless, of course, you sever the brain stem. Their sole desire is to eat other human beings. “The zombie neither chooses nor wants it; it just is,” continues Lansdale. “It has that mindless aspect. There’s nothing more frightening than something that can’t or won’t reason and has simplistic, but terrible goals, if you can even call it a goal. It’s a purpose, I guess. Here it is not staying in the grave where it belongs, but getting up and trying to pull you in ahead of your time, or eat you, or make you one of them.” This is what is most distressing about the zombie concept: the fact that the horde always wins. “They’re coming to get you, Barbra,” mocks Johnny at the very beginning of Night, and his
28 Days Later
Night of the Living Dead
prediction soon comes true. Even if they lollop in an uncoordinated, brain-dead fashion or sprint like enraged athletes as in the Dawn remake (2004), the zombies will get you. As Robert Kirkman outlines in his acclaimed comic series The Walking Dead (2003 - ), there’s no hiding from such inhumanity. Most people’s skills with petrol bombs and chainsaws are limited so even you will eventually be assimilated, Borg style, into the groaning, drooling mass. The other option is being dismembered and disembowelled and having your remaining pieces left as a warning for future survivors. On a personal note, these feelings of frailty were first awakened when I foolishly watched The Evil Dead (1982), aged approximately eight. It was as suitable for children as the title suggests. Up until that point the most horrific thing I had seen was the Nazis melting like high-speed candles in the finale to Raiders Of The Lost Ark (1981). Sam Raimi’s ferociously original movie, to pilfer Stephen King’s assessment, was made with pals on a budget which couldn’t even afford shoestrings, struck an odd chord between outré violence and Three Stooges slapstick. Missing the gallows humour entirely, the powers that be blackballed the film. Until it was released uncut years later, it was a casualty, some
will say unjustly, of the ‘video nasty’ furore which exploded in Thatcher’s Britain. Philly Byrne, vocalist with thrash metal outfit Gama Bomb and self-confessed schlock fan, recalls, “My first memories of zombies are traumatic ones but like most traumas they’re also some of my most formative memories. The first scare was when I wandered into a room, Lord knows I must have been five or six years old, and my brothers were watching a video. It featured a lady walking down a dingy alley and being attacked by a horriblelooking man who leapt out of a pile of boxes. I remember screaming and screaming and the image really stayed in my mind. Last year I realised it was the movie Zombie Flesh Eaters .” For Byrne, however, there is also something – dare we say, funny – about our zombie brethren. “They’re loveable because they’re winners. Think about it. Vampires never win – they’re tortured and always full of ennui. Zombies only want one thing and in the end they always get it. When the credits roll on any decent movie, the zombies will have their dinner. You have to admire them.” This is undoubtedly true. In any zombie text, whether it Charlie Brooker’s savage satire Dead
Set (2008) or seminal b-movie Carnival Of Souls (1962), the ‘they’ will always devour the ‘us’. However, the ideas which inform these stories are more complicated than your basic fear of dying. Just as Bram Stoker composed Dracula (1897) as a psychoanalytic treatise on repressed sexuality, Victorian disease and restrictive religion, so the zombie narrative can be adopted as a blank canvas for manifold societal neuroses. There is convincing evidence that Night can be read as a polemic against the Vietnam War. Similarly, Danny Boyle’s brutal 28 Days Later (2002) can be viewed as a parable for society’s accelerated guzzling of information. The magnified interest in zombie antics is most pronounced in the videogames market, where it seems that every second title involves blowing away the undead with your boomstick. There’s the grindhouse-influenced Rise Of Nightmares (Sega, Xbox 360), which utilises Kinect motion technology to chop and slash hundreds of flesheaters, the open world Dead Island (Deep Silver, Multiformat), whose wonderful teaser proved to be much more emotive than most film trailers, and relentless multiplayer Left 4 Dead (Valve, Multi). Zombies from different eras also pop up, literally, in Red Dead Redemption (Rockstar, Multi) and Call Of Duty (Activision, Multi). The latter even features add-on levels set in space, which would perhaps make them the floating dead. The founding father of this zombie subgenre was Resident Evil, which
The Walking Dead
“When the credits roll on any decent movie, the zombies will have their dinner. You have to admire them.”
Left for Dead
has recently celebrated its 15th birthday. Capcom’s Adam Merrett says of the franchise which manages to mix high camp and bloody terror, “We’re in a generation where violence, corruption, war and death are a normal occurrence, so it’s not seen as a problem so much by the public. I certainly am surprised that Capcom got away with it when videogames were being smeared by the media, politicians and parents for making the youth violent and corrupt.” Even these deceptively silly games reveal significant details about the decrepit state of our world. “People have created so many concepts of zombies,” continues Merrett, “and I think it explains individuals’ interest in life and death. When you get scared by playing zombie games and watching zombie films it’s due to the fact that you’re scared of death and the realisation of how precious life really is. I think the interest in zombies represents the bad attributes in death that people fear: deterioration, detachment, being emotionless, being disowned.” All of this talk of life and death leads inexorably to one conclusion: zombies are here to stay. They are not only reminders of the fragility of human existence but also of the joy, love and tragedy which make that existence worthwhile. Compared to that, death is a more merciful option.
• pg 48 Record Reviews | pg 54 Young Blood | pg 55 MOVIE & GAME REVIEWS •
Illustration by Mark Reihill
M83 Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming NAIVE
Over the course of their career to date, M83 have shown themselves to be nothing if not startlingly ambitious. Both before and after the departure of co-founder Nicolas Fromageau, albums such as 2000’s self-titled debut, 2003’s Dead Cities, Red Seas & Lost Ghosts and Before The Dawn Heals Us (2005) sought to join the dots between beatific noiserock, Eno-influenced ambient music, and the rush of modern electronica. The result was music of wide-angle beauty and unashamed grandeur. It makes sense, then, for Anthony Gonzalez (operating as a solo artist since Fromageau’s 2004 departure) to tackle that most exacting – some would say foolhardy – of musical endeavours, the double album. Citing as influences The Beatles’ White Album and Pink Floyd’s Ummagumma (fair enough), as well as Melon Collie And The Infinite Sadness by Smashing Pumpkins (well, ok, if you must), Gonzalez has
crafted a huge-sounding album – dense, diverse and, yes, more than a little indulgent. M83’s previous offering, 2008’s Saturdays = Youth, was an unabashed homage to the 1980s, and those same influences spill over into the new album. Indeed, the degree of enjoyment you’ll get from this release is likely to be directionally proportional to the amount of Eighties sounds you can stomach in one go. For what it’s worth, AU can certainly enjoy the squealing synths of infectious single ‘Midnight City’, and can even appreciate that song’s sax solo, but the slap bass on ‘Claudia Lewis’ is surely a bridge too far (and the vocals sound a bit like Sting). Fortunately, there’s much more than Eighties nostalgia on offer: the album brims over with moments of unusual, heart-rending beauty. Several short, ambient pieces link together the album’s longer songs, and most (particularly ‘Where The Boats Go’ and ‘Fountains’) are gorgeous, full of wordless longing and melancholy. Of the more fully-fleshed out tracks, ‘Wait’ – a fragile acoustic lament with the most delicate of chorus hooks – is utterly lovely. Meanwhile the first disc’s closing track, ‘Soon, My Friend’, is
almost unspeakably beautiful, a lightly-picked acoustic guitar motif gradually enveloped by swelling strings and brass as the refrain “I’ll be yours / Someday” is repeated over and over. There are upbeat moments aplenty, too, such as the irresistible synth-pop of ‘OK Pal’ and the driving, bombastic ‘Steve McQueen’. It’s not all good news – this is a double-album after all – and ‘Raconte-Moi Une Histoire’ is a notable clanger, its pleasant-enough electro marred by an unbelievably ill-judged, cutesy-pie voiceover by a young American girl who tells a story about a magic frog. No, really, a magic frog. That said, there are remarkably few such mis-steps on Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming, an album majestic in scope and execution, which shows that – improbable as it seems – Anthony Gonzalez’s sky-scraping ambition is matched by his talent. Neill Dougan
KEY TRACKS: ‘WAIT’, ‘SOON, MY FRIEND’, ‘MIDNIGHT CITY’, ‘OK PAL’, ‘STEVE MCQUEEN’. FOR FANS OF: AIR, SCRITTI POLITTI, MY BLOODY VALENTINE, BRIAN ENO.
Future Islands On The Water THRILL JOCKEY
With its unusual mix of simplistic beats, gorgeous synths, post-punk basslines and Sam Herring’s traffic-stopping vocals, Future Island’s last album In Evening Air was something of a breakthrough, rightly receiving great reviews across the board and giving us at least one immortal song in ‘Tin Man’. This time the lead single is arguably the band’s brightest and best pop moment yet, ‘Before The Bridge’, but overall On The Water is a knottier record than its predecessor. A song cycle exploring a turbulent time in Herring’s love life, it doesn’t give up its charms easily – instead it unfolds gradually, with a set of slow-burning songs in which Herring lays bare his soul. ‘The Great Fire’ is a heart-rending duet with Wye Oak’s Jenn Wasner; ‘Where I Found You’ an emotionally naked ode to a lost love; ‘Balance’ an awesomely lovely ray of optimism. At times the songwriting can feel a little undercooked, but when they get it right they really fly, and in Herring the Baltimore natives can boast one of the most charismatic vocalists of his generation. Chris Jones
Roots Manuva 4everevolution BIG DADA/BANANA KLAN
KEY TRACKS: ‘BEFORE THE BRIDGE’, ‘BALANCE’, ‘THE GREAT FIRE’. FOR FANS OF: THE CURE, THE ANTLERS, NEW ORDER.
Space Dimension Controller The Pathway to Tiraquon6 R&S
Belfast producer Space Dimension Controller’s latest EP The Pathway to Tiraquon6 comes with a barmy conceptual back-story reminiscent of Daft Punk’s Interstella555 – all Pulsovian usurpers this and interplanetary spacepods that. It’s hard to know how seriously Jack Hamill (his name when he’s not fighting pulsovians in the Gamma Quadrant) intends the sci-fi shtick to be taken, but it does work as a useful framing device for an EP that lithely tries on a lot of electronic styles while maintaining a certain spacey feel. The EP, which is close to an album in length, opens on ‘Feature Presentation’ with big Vangelis-style synths deliberately chewed up to sound like old VHS tapes, a trick that effectively sets a retro-futuristic vibe for the rest of the set. ‘Closing Titles’ bookends the record with the same effect. In between, Hamill’s dextrous capabilities see him zipping between Aphex Twinesque Black-&-Decker bass workouts (‘Pulsovian Invasion’), Tangerine Dream-like space drift (‘Floating Blind Through Blue Trails’) and atmospheric techhouse reminiscent of Metro Area (‘Flight Of The Escape Vessels’). If that sounds dizzying for one EP, it is. But in a good way. Hamill, like his namesake in Star Wars, manages to keep a firm grip on the controls. Warp Speed ahead! Darragh McCausland
KEY TRACKS: ‘FLIGHT OF THE ESCAPE VESSELS’, ‘TIRAQUON’S RETURN (A NEW HOME)’. FOR FANS OF: LINDSTROM, APHEX TWIN.
He might be approaching veteran status, but there’s no sign of Rodney Smith, aka Roots Manuva, resting on his laurels. Somewhat remarkably, 4everevolution – his fifth album of original material – might just be his best, most adventurous to date. That voice – grizzled, gravelly, great – is instantly recognisable, delivering typically sharp lyrics ranging from angry and disillusioned to playful and wacky. Musically, meanwhile, Smith essays throbbing mutant disco (‘First Growth’), lolloping dancehall (‘Who Goes There?’), clattering ragga (‘Go Champ’) and more. In lesser hands this headspinning diversity could prove a distraction, but the
My Pilot Hot Blood EP LESS DECEIVED
Slimming down from a quartet to become essentially a solo project doesn’t seem to have had any significant impact on My Pilot string-puller Neill Dougan’s [POI: an AU contributor] vision. Hot Blood tiptoes along a similar lo-fi pop path to predecessor Spiders, its simple, melodic guitar figures and languorous vocals shot through with varying layers of white noise, slide guitar and cut-and-paste percussion. It’s a warm and welcoming clatter, most successfully realised on opener ‘Innocent Grace’s seven-minute lope and the gauzy space-rock fuzz of ‘Descendants’, while the instrumental title track’s improbable victory over the constant threat of disintegration should warm the cockles of even the most cynical listener. Lee Gorman
KEY TRACKS: ‘INNOCENT GRACE’, ‘DESCENDANTS’. FOR FANS OF: SPARKLEHORSE, SEBADOH, LOW.
quality of the songwriting is such that you’ll barely have time to reflect on it. 4everevolution features Smith’s strongest tunes since the timeless ‘Witness (1 Hope)’ – particularly the excoriating stateof-the-nation address ‘Skid Valley’, the glorious calypso of ‘Wha’ Mek’ (in which he unveils a very pleasant baritone croon) and the remarkable sevenminute, angsty wig-out ‘The Throes Of It’. As outrageously enjoyable closing stomp ‘Banana Skank’ rings out, one might reflect that, while certain young, commercially-minded Brit MCs may shift more units, none of them can hold a candle to the grandaddy. Roots Manuva 4ever. Neill Dougan
KEY TRACKS: ‘WHA’ MEK’, ‘BANANA SKANK’, ‘SKID VALLEY’, ‘THE THROES OF IT’. FOR FANS OF: DELS, WILEY.
Land Lovers Confidants POPICAL ISLAND
Dublin’s Land Lovers have taken an ambitious theme for their second album, encompassing the joys of youthful discovery and the encroaching mortality of old age. Chief songwriter Padraig Cooney marries the joys of discovering musical heroes to Roxy Music keyboards and chugging glam guitars on ‘The Cinema Bell’ and pays tribute to intellectual Eighties pop music on ‘As Low As Possible’, but pathos is never far away. ‘Terry & Julie’ depicts a dying man living out his final romantic fantasies with a lyrical lightness Ray Davies would be proud of. If the self-effacing winsomeness gets a bit repetitive at times (‘Legion of Saps’), Land Lovers have more than enough charm to avoid drifting into self-parody. Jordan Cullen
KEY TRACKS: ‘AS LOW AS POSSIBLE’, ‘LIFE’S WORK’, ‘TERRY & JULIE’. FOR FANS OF: HEFNER, TEENAGE FANCLUB, THE SHINS.
Forest Fire Staring At The X FATCAT
Forest Fire embody a particular kind of New York cool, based on a mania for experimentation and a good dollop of natural insouciance. In other words, they have more in common with the Velvet Underground and Television than any number of bands that have tried to rip them off. Add a little of The Walkmen’s whisky-soaked grandeur and a lot of imagination and you get close to what the band’s singular-sounding second album sounds like. It makes for a seductive 35 minutes, with songwriter and vocalist Mark Thresher your sinister guide. His speak-singing drawl haunts the album in a manner reminiscent of Deerhunter’s Bradford Cox, but although the songs are his, Staring At The X is a band effort, fleshed out from his bare bones. Thus ‘They Pray Execution Style’, sung by Natalie Stormann, is six-and-a-half minutes of deliciously queasy funk while elsewhere there is a stately acoustic ballad (the title track), a blistering psych-rock anthem (‘Born Into’) and an upbeat piano-pop number punctuated by not one, but two skronking sax solos (‘The News’). Brilliantly odd stuff. Chris Jones
KEY TRACKS: ‘BORN INTO’, ‘THEY PRAY EXECUTION STYLE’, THE NEWS’. FOR FANS OF: VELVET UNDERGROUND, DEERHUNTER, THE WALKMEN.
Isobel Anderson Dark Path SELF-RELEASED
Justice Audio, Video, Disco ED BANGER/BECAUSE
Justice were already veterans of the production and remix circuit before they dropped their debut album † in 2007, but the record’s success still took many by surprise. Blending earth-shattering synths, mauling beats and polished grooves, their critically-revered sinister disco sound invaded the mainstream, with meaty singles like ‘Genesis’ and ‘D.A.N.C.E.’ proving to be the tidal wave that washed away early noughties dance-punk for good. The French duo just sounded bigger than anything else on the radio. Without compromising on scale, Justice have cut their pop album with Audio, Video, Disco. The production is slightly cleaner, there are more singable hooks and, at their best, the group achieve Purple Rain-esque levels of pop/funk creativity. In
fact, at times the two DJs appear to be summoning the spirits of pop classics, funnelling them into the brawnier avatars provided by their huge production methods. For example, On’n’On’ all but pinches the synth breakdown from Stevie Wonder’s ‘Living For The City’. ‘Horsepower’ opens with the same droning thumps that introduced Michael Jackson’s ‘Beat It’, while the scratchy guitar riff of ‘Newlands’ is more than a touch ‘Whole Lotta Love’. But there are some surprises and many highlights. ‘Brianvision’ is an unexpected electric guitar workout, while the still-great first single ‘Civilisation’ fully captures the magnitude of Justice’s synthetic orchestration. Without quite matching the palate-cleansing reckoning that was †, this follow-up still succeeds as a pleasure-centre tickling pop record. Dean Van Nguyen
KEY TRACKS: ‘ON’N’ON’, ‘CIVILISATION’, ‘OHIO’. FOR FANS OF: DAFT PUNK, PRINCE, SIMIAN MOBILE DISCO.
Following on from last year’s debut, Cold Water Songs, Isobel Anderson makes a magisterial return with The Dark Path. An open book emotionally, Anderson here gives expression to fathomless depths of yearning, regret and tenderness. We’re spared nothing and whilst the story of love lost is ages old, the unflinching manner of its telling gives these songs a life all their own. ‘Resolution’ makes for a spirited opening and there’s great fun in the saucy and indecent ‘The Proposal’, but the record works best at its absolute bleakest, as on ‘Let Me Go’, when Anderson goes where angels fear to tread, or the title track, with its devastating payoff, “sometimes I like to hurt myself by dreaming.” Elsewhere on ‘My Love’, her lonesome voice is brushed with the merest hint of guitar and strings. She possesses such a pure, captivating voice that it seems wrong to sully it with more elaborate accompaniment. Overall, these eight tracks affirm that Isobel Anderson possesses a rare gift and so, whilst the path she takes may be dark, it’s one worth travelling. Francis Jones
KEY TRACKS: ‘LET ME GO’, ‘THE PROPOSAL’, ‘MY LOVE’. FOR FANS OF: JONI MITCHELL, JUDEE SILL, LAURA MARLING.
Class Actress Rapprocher CARPARK
‘Don’t bore us, get to the chorus’ goes the old pop maxim and Class Actress are doing their best to live by those words. They have the latter half down but avoiding boredom is proving more difficult in practice than in theory. The first chorus on ‘Rapprocher’ is over in less than a minute and this straight-forthe-jugular approach is repeated throughout 11 songs that are anything but subtle. Big beats, bigger synths, absolutely massive hooks, each song is rammed to bursting point with attention-seeking sound. Unfortunately, there’s not much to warrant attention. The synths sound like Microkorg presets, the drums are repetitive (not in the good way) and the vocals fill unadventurous melodies with inane lyrics. Utterly vacuous. Ian Maleney
KEY TRACKS: ‘WEEKEND’, ‘BIENVENUE’, ‘NEED TO KNOW’. FOR FANS OF: GOLDFRAPP, SLEEP THIEVES, LADYTRON.
The Black Dog Liber Dogma SOMA
The Black Dog’s latest album of dark, pummelling dance music comes with an admirable mission statement: “to fuck [all the] hair dos and hair don’ts. Music is about losing yourself...” In other words, the lads aim to bring the visceral feel of their storied live sets squarely to your living room. If you have a strobe light handy, you might be advised to whip it out to get the right relentless vibe for this extremely hard set. Tracks such as ‘Black Mania’ and ‘Single Light Focus’ demand one thing, and one thing only – dancing. It’s not going to win any beauty contests, but Liber Dogma is functionally brilliant. Darragh McCausland
previously unreleased track from General Fiasco will probably prove the biggest draw for many, ‘The Bottom’ showcasing a new depth and restraint from the ebullient scamps. Pick of the bunch, though, are Rams’ Pocket Radio’s glorious electro-pop and Event Horse’s sharp re-tooling of the early Nineties US underground sound. Lee Gorman
KEY TRACKS: UNITED FRUIT - ‘THREE’, RAM’S POCKET RADIO - ‘COAL MY LIPS ARE SEALED’, EVENT HORSES – ‘FACES’. FOR FANS OF: QUALITY UNDERGROUND MUSIC.
Kuedo Severant PLANET MU
There’s no shortage of stargazing, retro-futurist synth music around at the moment, with the Altered Zones mini-blogosphere dominated by acts who worship at the temple of Vangelis or Tangerine Dream. Berlin-based producer Kuedo (aka Jamie Vex’d) comes at it from a different angle though: Severant’s vivid, cinematic sound also takes influence from footwork - a somewhat younger genre characterised by super-fast BPMs and raw energy. These tracks may be evocative and subtly dramatic but they’re also grounded by hyperactive, intricate percussion and bass weight. This mixture of elements lends Severant an air of momentum that prevents it from being the dreamy background music it could have been in lesser hands. A deceptive, rewarding record from a talented producer who’s enjoying the chance to stretch out. Daniel Harrison
KEY TRACKS: ‘TRUTH FLOOD’, ‘ASCENSION PHASE’, ‘VECTORAL’. FOR FANS OF: VANGELIS, SOLAR BEARS, GIRL UNIT.
DRC Music Kinshasa One Two WARP
KEY TRACKS: ‘BLACK MANIA’, ‘BIRD SIREN’. FOR FANS OF: SURGEON, SHED.
Various Artists Public Service Broadcast #10 SMALLTOWN AMERICA
STA’s Public Service Broadcast series has become synonymous with value for money and unimpeachable quality across its first nine outings, and this rather special outing for the label’s tenth anniversary furthers that impressive legacy. Emerging on a limited vinyl run of 500 has necessitated a reining-in of the customary generosity (there are 10 tracks rather than the usual 20-plus) but there is no let-up in the franchise’s variety and high standards. Glaswegian noiseniks United Fruit start proceedings with a resonant blast of early British Sea Power bluster, Blacklisters and Battle For Paris flex some fearsome post-hardcore muscles while Mnemotechnic’s aggro-funk reimagines The Rapture as angry young Frenchmen. As always, the local scene is well represented; the
In July, Damon Albarn put together a musical collective to travel to Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic Of Congo, to record an album raising funds for local performers and Oxfam’s humanitarian work in the region. Knobtwiddlers included the likes of T-E-E-D, Dan The Automator, Jneiro Jarel, Richard Russell and Actress, all collaborating with Congolese musicians. The result is Kinshasa One Two. From the ghostly opening strains and head-nodding grit of ‘Hallo’ to the tribal electronica of ‘African Space Anthem’, dubsteppy ‘Lingala’ and uneasy wooze of ‘Ah Congo’, this is the kind of collaboration that will have Warp enthusiasts wetting themselves with glee thanks to its variety, culture-mashing and ambition. Who would ever have thought Albarn would spread his musical wings so very wide back in the Nineties? Adam Lacey
KEY TRACKS: ‘HALLO, ‘AH CONGO’. FOR FANS OF: KONONO NO. 1, FELA KUTI, DAMON ALBARN POST-BLUR.
The Ambience Affair Burials BLUESTACK
If you were lucky enough to pick up the Dublinbased group’s first two EPs, you’ll know what to expect here. Their tense, sometimes raucous sound is built on fluctuating layers of loops and guitars but, driven by a pounding rhythm section, retains a pleasingly organic, almost folky feel. This stirring first full-length makes good on the promise of the earlier recordings, fleshing out the songwriting and weaving in delicately-textured, semi-instrumental passages. Expanding to a trio has added another new dimension, in the form of some sweet female backing vocals to complement Jamie Clarke’s impassioned rasp. Lee Gorman
KEY TRACKS: ‘THE FALLEN’, FRAGILE THINGS’. FOR FANS OF: DODOS, VILLAGERS, SWEET BILLY PILGRIM.
LaFaro Easy Meat SMALLTOWN AMERICA
There are few things worse than a sophomore slump. One minute you’re riding the high wave of success, the next you’re being universally slated as a hopeless so-and-so for having been so fluky in the first place. Luckily for Belfast rockers LaFaro, though, this is not a fate they’re likely to endure any time soon with their second fulllength release. Letting loose on the thoroughly merciless ‘Full Tilt’, it is a mind-bogglingly, lipsmackingly, fist-clenchingly accomplished record full of bolting rampages, noise-punk dirges and the odd introverted reprieve. Whereas the likes of ‘Sucking Diesel’ sees Alan Lynn transform into an absolute beast behind the kit, Jonny Black’s rambling, colloquial-ridden spiel becomes a fascinating feature throughout. Better still, as the likes of ‘Boke’ and ‘Wingers and Chips’ brilliantly tip the idiomatic hat to everything from ASIWYFA to Roy Walker, Easy Meat is – to its absolute advantage – a distinctly Northern Irish release. And though ‘Off The Chart’ and one or two of the short interlinking skit tracks detract a little from the riff-fuelled momentum, you will struggle to hear a more compelling second album this year. Brian Coney
KEY TRACKS: ‘MEAT WAGON’, ‘SUCKING DIESEL’, ‘SLIDE ON’.FOR FANS OF: MCLUSKY, THE JESUS LIZARD, QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE.
Spank Rock Everything Is Boring And Everyone Is A Fucking Liar BOYSNOIZE
Lisa Hannigan Passenger HOOP
We all know about difficult second albums but they’re probably not quite as daunting when your first album was already judged against a standard set by someone else. After the less-thanamicable dissolution of her working relationship with Damien Rice, Lisa Hannigan proved she could go it alone with the charmingly intimate indie-folk of 2008’s Choice- and Mercurynominated Sea Sew. With growing confidence came a growing intensity: her spine-chilling rendition of Nick Drake’s ‘Black Eyed Dog’ in a series of tribute concerts provided a sharp contrast to the twee tendencies of her debut. For her second album, she’s enlisted Joe Henry (Elvis Costello, Ani DiFranco) on production duties for a collection of songs that showcase a more mature, fuller sound,
tied together by themes of transience. The question is whether something’s been lost in the transition. Passenger is a solid album for sure – whether she’s restrained and wistful (‘Paper House’, ‘Safe Travels (Don’t Die)’), gently swooning (‘O Sleep’) or cutting loose (‘Knots’), Hannigan’s vocals are as beguiling as ever and the songwriting craft is hard to argue with. It’s just that she no longer seems that unique: ‘A Sail’ is a ringer for Gemma Hayes’ early material; ‘O Sleep’ has the mark of her former partner-in-crime all over it; while ‘What’ll I Do’ could be an out-take from Cathy Davey’s last album. Overall, the atmosphere seems a touch too placid at times, lacking either the intensity she’s capable of or the idiosyncratic touches that made Sea Sew so enjoyable. In other words, a bit of a passenger. Daniel Harrison
KEY TRACKS: ‘SAFE TRAVELS (DON’T DIE)’, ‘PASSENGER’, ‘NOWHERE TO GO’. FOR FANS OF: GEMMA HAYES, LAURA VEIRS, DUKE SPECIAL.
We Were Promised Jetpacks In The Pit Of The Stomach
Rustie Glass Swords
The oft-clichéd ‘difficult’ second album from Glasgow-based We Were Promised Jetpacks shows obvious influence from bands like Arab Strap and Mogwai with the scuzzy lo-fi production, lengthy instrumental sections and walls of noise. However, they mix it up with pop-hooks, catchy singalongs, jagged riffs and an edgy pop charm underpinned with vocals in a thick regional twang. It’s a record full of twists and turns, layers of noise and so steeped in Scottishness it should come battered and wrapped in tartan. A real gem of a record and one which sticks two fingers up to convention making the whole second album lark seem like a piece of cake. Michael Wilson
From the same Numbers collective as Jackmaster and Hudson Mohawke, it’s unsurprising that Rustie’s few years making music have seen the Glaswegian squeeze out a plethora of releases that draw on a multitude of genres, from squelchy hip-hop on his Joker 12” collab Play Doe to the psych leanings of 2009’s Bad Science. Glass Swords takes everything Rustie has ever pumped into his earholes and mushes it into one great whole. Stand-outs ‘All Nite’ and ‘Ultra Thizz’ boast the kind of overblown synths that the Drive soundtrack should repopularise for a while, and elsewhere there are Scarface (the film) stabs, Timbaland rattles, cutting edge electronica and proggy solos layered on top of layers of other layers. But somehow, it all works as a beautiful mess. Adam Lacey
KEY TRACKS: ‘CIRCLES AND SQUARES’, ‘SORE THUMB’. FOR FANS OF: FRIGHTENED RABBIT, THE TWILIGHT SAD.
KEY TRACKS: ‘‘ULTRA THIZZ, ‘ALL NITE’. FOR FANS OF: SCARFACE, CHROMATICS.
Everything Is Boring... marks the overdue return of potty-mouthed rapper Naeem Juwan, aka Spank Rock. It isn’t quite in the unashamed party banger territory of 2006 debut YoYoYoYoYo, but neither has MC Spank Rock become a choirboy in the interim. With Boys Noize on production instead of former partner XXXchange, Juwan has undergone a considerable reinvention, broadening his musical spectrum to include elements of rock and new wave alongside his core electro/hip-hop roots. Santigold adds some polish to the filthy rhymes of the excellent ‘Car Song’ while the suitably titled ‘Nasty’ and ‘#1 Hit’ will keep the booty-shaking club posse satisfied. The new wave-meets-funk of ‘Energy’ imagines an unlikely David Byrne/Sly Stone collaboration, opener ‘Ta Da’ finds Juwan combining sleazy rhymes with a minimal guitar sample, while ‘The Dance’ is dancefloor electro meets TV On The Radio. Much more than a one-trick pony. Eamonn Seoige
KEY TRACKS: ‘CAR SONG’, ‘ENERGY’, ‘TA DA’. FOR FANS OF: KANYE WEST, ROOTS MANUVA, M.I.A.
Jape Ocean of Frequency MUSIC/IS/FOR/LOSERS
It may have taken Richie Egan three years to follow up the Choice Music Prize-winning Ritual, but the resultant record has been worth the wait. Egan plumbs new musical and lyrical depths in the most subtle of fashions with Ocean Of Frequency, his fourth release; this is Jape version 2.0, where pace and ambience take precedence over instantly gratifying singalongs. That’s not to say that these tunes are the are po-faced creations of an ‘artiste’, either. The streetwise swagger of ‘One of These Days That Just Feels So Long’ and the retro cheesefest of ‘Scorpio’ are irresistibly tangy, but it’s tracks like ‘The Oldest Mind’ that exhibit Egan’s songwriting progression, its combination of layered reflection and a soft electro pulse encapsulating the best facets of the Dubliner’s songbook. Lauren Murphy
KEY TRACKS: ‘THE OLDEST MIND’, ‘ONE OF THOSE DAYS THAT JUST FEEL SO LONG’. FOR FANS OF: THE WHITEST BOY ALIVE, SIMPLE KID, ROYKSOPP.
The Answer Revival SPINEFARM
Following a high profile 18-month world tour with AC/DC, The Answer have returned to the real world with their third album. The feel can be summed up in the first 30 seconds of opener ‘Waste Your Tears’ by way of a rootsy bottleneck riff which implodes into a colossal blues-grunge riff as they merge Seventies classic rock with Nineties grunge.
Guitarist Paul Mahon shows increasing diversity, with notable reference points including Stone Temple Pilots and Screaming Trees. The Answer have shown measured progression through their career, gradually developing a more modern edge which will attract new admirers to Revival, while long-time fans of the band will be pleased to find a consistent collection of uplifting soulful rock songs, as is the band’s stock-in-trade. Stevie Lennox
KEY TRACKS: ‘ONE MORE REVIVAL’, ‘WASTE YOUR TEARS’, ‘VIDA’. FOR FANS OF: LED ZEPPELIN, BLACK STONE CHERRY, SCREAMING TREES.
The Field Looping State of Mind KOMPAKT
After the largely dull misstep that was 2009’s Today And Yesterday, Axel Willner returns to the pristinely stuttering microtrance that made his debut LP From Here We Go Sublime so, well, sublime. Abandoning the pop samples of the aforementioned albums in favour of a more organic, but resolutely mechanical, feel has been a masterstroke; staccato snippets of melody, texture and percussion become humanised and instilled with a quietly sad sense of euphoria. One’s enjoyment of this album largely hinges on a predilection for subtle manipulation. At its best – ‘Arpeggiated Love’, the title track – with the hyper-precise endless repetitions, all tweaks and twitches, Looping State Of Mind demonstrates Willner’s ability to pull on heart strings whilst keeping an eye on the dancefloor. A techno album of sheer excellence. Josh Baines
KEY TRACKS: ‘IT’S UP THERE’, ‘LOOPING STATE OF MIND’, ‘IS THIS POWER’. FOR FANS OF: STEVE REICH, JAN JELINEK, ADA.
Loney, Dear Hall Music SOMETHING IN CONSTRUCTION
Eight years into an illustrious career which has already seen him collaborate with the likes of I’m From Barcelona and Andrew Bird, Sweden’s Loney, Dear is back and in better form than ever with his sixth studio album. The LP sees Emil Svanängen walk the tremulous tightrope between joy and melancholy, straddling the divide between epic and intimate. Recalling Sufjan Stevens and Sigur Rós, songs veer from the gently uplifting (‘Name’) and those pulsing with nervous intensity (‘ Durmoll’). A swelling, riveting collection of that sees Svanängen trying his hand at playing everything from home-made instruments to church bells, the album may be entitled Hall Music, but the songs here won’t just reverberate between the walls of your corridors; they’ll reverberate between the walls of your heart too. Tara McEvoy
KEY TRACKS: ‘‘LONELY BLUES’, ‘DURMOLL’, ‘WHAT HAVE I BECOME?’ FOR FANS OF: FEIST, JENS LEKMAN, SUFJAN STEVENS.
Martyn Ghost People BRAINFEEDER
Dutch producer Martyn and L.A.-based beatmaker Flying Lotus have long been good friends and creative free spirits, so it seems only natural that the former’s new record is seeing release on the latter’s highly-respected Brainfeeder imprint. Compared to Martyn’s last LP – the atmospheric and stylistically diverse Great Lengths – this is notably more club-friendly, with a string of busy, up-tempo
dEUS Keep You Close
tech-house numbers. That’s not to say it isn’t complex, though: the likes of ‘Masks’ and the title track may have floor-filling potential, but they also betray Martyn’s knack for dizzying flourishes and vivid textures. ‘Bauplan’ and ‘Horror Vacui’ take things into deeper, darker territory, while the eight-minute ‘We Are You In The Future’ is a virtuoso closing track that manages to be both restless and cohesive Daniel Harrison
KEY TRACKS: ‘MASKS’,’GHOST PEOPLE’, ‘POPGUN’. FOR FANS OF: 2562, INSTRA:MENTAL, PEVERELIST.
Portugal. The Man In the Mountain In The Cloud ATLANTIC
Belgian rockers Deus undergo an impressive reinvention on Keep You Close, their third album since returning from extended hiatus in 2004. While their early experimental period is rightfully lauded, the more focused, linear and textured song-writing of Keep You Close marks a career high-point of an entirely different kind. dEUS Mk. II is practically a new band with only vocalist/guitarist Tom Barman and multi-instrumentalist Klaas Janzoons remaining from the early days. Atmospheric opener ‘Keep You Close’ sets the tone, a cinematic romp of bombastic guitar and soaring orchestral strings driven forth by Barman’s passionate vocal. ‘The End Of Romance’ begins with a whispering Barman accompanied by subtle guitar and percussion before blossoming into an impassioned pop melody. Greg Dulli lends his considerable vocal power on dramatic blaster ‘Dark Sets In’ and to great effect on soaring showstopper ‘Twice’. A fine record from Antwerp’s resurrection rockers. Eamonn Seoige
KEY TRACKS: ‘KEEP YOU CLOSE’, ‘DARK SETS IN’, ‘TWICE’. FOR FANS OF: THE TWILIGHT SINGERS, MUSE, PLACEBO.
Portugal. The Man love parentheses: few perfectly serviceable song titles are left without a bracketed afterthought. More pertinently, since 2006’s Waiter: “You Vultures!”, they’ve steadily churned out an album a year – an extremely impressive feat in its own right for a band with some prog/psychedelic leanings. Fortunately quantity is matched by quality and album number six, In The Mountain In The Cloud is another irresistible concoction of the widescreen, the psych-tinged and the shamelessly catchy. John Gourley’s distinctive Plastic-Ono soprano leads the fray through big bouncy wavealongs. ‘Latterday Cosmic Americana’ may be a Guardian rumination waiting for a movement but Portugal. The Man makes an excellent case for the definition of a specious concept. A joyous and celebratory brand of contemporary rock and roll lies within the grooves here. Joe Nawaz
KEY TRACKS: ‘SO AMERICAN’, ‘HEAD IS A FLAME (COOL WITH IT)’. FOR FANS OF: ARCADE FIRE, MY MORNING JACKET, EDWARD SHARPE AND THE MAGNETIC ZEROES.
Young Blood Your indispensable guide to new releases from up-and-coming acts Words by Brian Coney
Boy Lights Fire Weatherman EP Like it or not, there are a lot of bands that sound a little like Dublin three-piece Boy Lights Fire. Luckily for them, though, their upcoming Weatherman EP retains a singular, altogether instant catchiness throughout could very easily see them make it big. Like a sun-drenched combination of The Daysleepers, Two Door Cinema Club and Pinback, the title-track is a firm distillation of their unique brand of post-shoegaze pop, whilst closer, the nostalgia-tinged ‘Dorothy’ is all about shimmering guitar lines, brisk time-shifts and a level of imagination that will leave you wanting more. In all, a thoroughly enjoyable insight into greater things to come.
Survival Bag Miracle Cache Knowledge Apart EP One for the wilful obscurists out there, Miracle Cache Knowledge Apart is the debut EP from practically anonymous, Belfast-based fortysomething, Survival Bag. Over the course of six brilliantly eclectic songs, his dense craft seems to operate as filtering system for subconscious memory or elusive snapshots of a life only now put to music. Almost fully coherent in their abstraction, highlights ‘Don’t Send Me Back’ and ‘Jettison’ see swelling keyboards, jazzy percussion and quivering vocals form to evoke a highly ambitious, though fully realised sound that is perhaps best described as Blue Aeroplanes and Grandaddy jamming Bark Psychosis. Lovely.
Versives Two Enemies Yet another revelation to emerge practically fullyformed from a currently thriving Cork scene, Versives are a three-piece electronic outfit with a distinctively warm and hugging sound evoking the likes of Sparklehorse, Yo La Tengo and The Postal Service. Currently being released via Leedsbased independent label TAKEA!MF!RE, the snappy title-track is a superbly delicate, autumnal bath, whilst the soul-crushingly catchy crescendo on seven-minute remix of ‘All In Arrival’ calls to mind the electro mastery of Walls, Oneohtrix Point Never and Air. Encouragingly, with their upcoming LP ‘Prussian Blushes’ just around the corner, Two Enemies is a short yet stupendously convincing teaser of real magic in the works.
INPROFILE: ACT: FROM: FOR FANS OF: WEBSITE:
Boy Lights Fire Dublin Bombay Bicycle Club, Two Door Cinema Club, The Daysleepers. boylightsfire.bandcamp.com
Their name may bear more than a passing resemblance to that of a revered American hardcore band, but with their melodious indierock, Dublin-based trio Boy Lights Fire couldn’t be more different. With a new EP out, frontman George Mercer submits himself to AU’s questions. How did the band come about and where is it going? We all met whilst studying music in Dundalk. It was just around the time when I had grown tired of gigging as a solo songwriter that I became friends with Mike Daly (bass), and we started writing together in the campus apartments where I was living. Kevin McDonnell (drums) completed the line-up shortly afterwards and we began writing as a three-piece in September 2009. We released our debut Weatherman EP in August 2011 and are following this up with our second EP release in early 2012.
You clearly possess a broad palette of musical influences. What music has most contributed to your distinctive sound? When we started writing together, we tried out a lot of different ideas and styles, but what stuck from the very start was an upbeat dance-rhythm style. It’s at the core of our sound, and it’s something that has become a distinct advantage at our gigs. On top of this, our sound was influenced by a mixture of styles – Redneck Manifesto, Mogwai, Radiohead, Tool, Bombay Bicycle Club, Death Cab For Cutie… I guess our music is a hyperactive mixture of everything we’ve ever known and loved. You describe yourselves as an ‘indie-new wave’ band – what do you mean by that? I read an article the other day on electronic artist Koreless who mentioned his friend’s description of his music as ‘post-genre’. I thought that could even be a great way to describe the way things are with popular music at the moment. We’re all influenced by so many different directions that to give a specific genre is difficult. Indie-new wave would probably be the most accurate and open description of our music though. Are you aware of the American band Boysetsfire, and have you encountered any problems with this? In the two years that we’ve been together, you’re one of two people who mentioned Boysetsfire to us! Yeah, we’re aware of the band, and to be honest it hasn’t affected us in any way so far. We discovered them long after our own name had been established, but as far as we’re concerned the name is the least important thing in the overall scheme of things – provided there are no angry phone calls!
George Harrison: Living In The Material World
Director: Martin Scorcese
Perpetually overlooked for his innate understanding of how to structure an instantly memorable song, George Harrison contributed more to The Beatles than guitar hooks and backing vocals. He was too often the mediator between an increasingly bilious Lennon and an increasingly egotistical McCartney. Martin Scorsese, who has recently emerged as an equally fine documentary maker as movie director, chases the elusive gentleman in this epic work. Out of the Fab Four it is Harrison who remains the most genuine: his pensive demeanour starkly contrasts Lennon’s acid tongue and his earnest song-writing is more appealing than McCartney’s grandiloquent anthems. Harrison’s warmth, humour and love of his craft come right to the fore in a bounty of unearthed footage and stills, along with his determination to discover a workable, rewarding faith long after his bandmates had abandoned religion entirely. The one criticism of Scorsese’s film is that it respects Harrison’s privacy just a little too much, meaning his drug use and acrimonious relationships are never fully explored. However, this befits a man who always shirked the limelight and instead let his music do the talking. Ross Thompson Released on DVD and Blu-Ray on October 10.
CONSOLE YOURSELF! The AU round-up of gaming releases Shaking itself awake after a long, slow summer, the videogame industry kicks up a gear with a surfeit of high quality titles hoping to bag some sales before the new Call Of Duty cleans up in November. Cream of the crop is the excellent Resistance 3 (Sony, PS3), a first person shooter whose narrative may be cribbed from Half-Life 2 but is by no means less engaging. It boasts cinematic action sequences to equal Uncharted, distinctive level design and, crucially, a sense of fun lacking from its po-faced rivals. From beginning to climactic finale Resistance 3 nails it: its immersive atmosphere and twist-laden plot demands at least one more playthrough. Bodycount (Codemasters, Multiformat) can only pale in comparison. Published by a prestigious company who should know better, this underwhelming shooter paints by numbers but the resultant picture is dull as ditchwater. With no sense of pace or purpose it lacks more than lustre – it’s never a good sign when any title spits out 200 gamerpoints after an hour of play. To be blunt, that’s the only reward you’ll receive from this disappointing release. Much more enjoyment is found in Rise Of Nightmares (Sega, Xbox 360), arguably the first game to push forward Microsoft’s vaunted Kinect unit. Featuring a plot involving your typically mad professor and heinous experiments in a gothic mansion, this gaudy survival horror takes the tongue-in-cheek silliness of the classic light gun arcade House Of The Dead
Resistance 3 and combines it with a full body workout. It takes a while to become accustomed to the interactive walking and chopping, but somehow feeling like a constipated gymnast adds to the knockabout amusement, particularly when playing with pals and a belly full of pizza. Elsewhere, sports fans are in for a treat with FIFA 12 (EA, Multi) and F1 2011 (Codemasters, Multi). The former is as proficiently made as you would expect from a design team who have football simulation down to a tee even if it does not make huge advancements in the genre, while the latter brings you as close as you can get to racing without having to star in shaving foam adverts. The depth and breadth of stats, courses, drivers and other significant details are dazzling although learning to
use them to their full potential is a steep learning curve. Both games, however, will bring hours of joy to sofa footballers and drivers. Retro aficionados will no doubt be jubilant at the re-release of the Ico & Shadow Of The Colossus double bundle (Sony, PS3), in which both critically acclaimed adventures are given an HD facelift yet the core gameplay shines through. Shadow is particularly wonderful, a gleaming example of how videogames are as adept a storytelling medium as any other fiction. Finally, zombies seem to be hobbling all over this issue so a shout (or groan) out must go to Resident Evil 4 and Code Veronica, now available for download on Xbox Live, two superb slices of bloody mayhem. Ross Thompson
FLASHBACK A Revolution In Sound The ‘Home Taping Is Killing Music’ campaign is launched, October 28, 1981
30 YEARS AGO In an age of free downloading, iPod shuffle and Spotify playlists, it seems unthinkable that the music industry once feared what has turned out to be a quaint reminder of a simpler time. AU looks back 30 years to a time when the music industry was up against the wall because of the humble mixtape. One of the most enduring images in music is the moment that Bob Dylan went electric. But hand in hand with the iconic sight of Bob Dylan in his sunglasses and polka-dot shirt is that of traditional folkie Pete Seeger, running around backstage at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival, feverishly pulling out wires to prevent this musical atrocity from happening. Now, this story has been exaggerated down the years (with Seeger denying it ever happened), but it stands as a potent example of how the music industry views change. Seeger represented the establishment, the way things had always been and always would, whilst Dylan was the harbinger of change, dragging music into a new future by plugging in and letting electricity flow through his
muse. People didn’t know what to make of it, and as such, feared it.
to be saying, “as ultimately you will bring about the end of music itself.”
In 1981, the British Phonographic Industry was in a similar position with regards to a new format: cassette tapes. Tapes were cheap, small, nasty, and disposable. But crucially they were also easy to duplicate, and this fact terrified the BPI. If people could easily duplicate and copy music, so their thinking went, people would stop paying for music, and the entire industry would be brought to its knees.
The Dead Kennedys were quick to point out the sour grapes attitude that the slogan represented by releasing In God We Trust, Inc with one side blank, encouraging listeners to record whatever they wanted on the blank side. A parody of the slogan with the new legend, ‘Home taping is killing record industry profits! We left this side blank so you can help!’ spelt out the message loud and clear. Music fans were tired of feeling ripped off, and the BPI seemed intent on promoting an unrealistic image of millionaire rock stars being kicked out of their mansions and forced to rummage through bins for food, all because some kid in the sticks copied one of their albums and gave it to a friend.
The advent of the tape had coincided with cheap recording equipment, allowing music fans to dub a whole album onto the side of a cassette, and then bung another one on the other side. People could tape from the radio, or even sequence songs whatever way they wanted, making their own compilations. But rather than being seen as the next inevitable development in music formatting, the BPI were convinced this would give birth to a whole generation of music pirates, stealing music and distributing music as they wished. On October 28, 1981, BPI chairman Chris Wright unveiled their new slogan, spearheading their attempt to tackle the pirates head-on. Against a black background, with a skull and crossbones made out of a cassette tape, the words HOME TAPING IS KILLING MUSIC brought the message of the BPI to the consumer. “Don’t tape music,” they appeared
In the years that followed, the music business made the same mistake with CDs, DAT tapes, minidiscs, mp3s, YouTube… As long as there are new formats, the music industry will try to clamp down on how we enjoy and exploit them. Much as Pete Seeger ripped the wires out of the PA to prevent the public from being subjected to the new sounds, the music industry is still doing its best to prevent music fans from enjoying and experiencing new music. And as more and more people enjoy the act of putting their own combinations of songs together and getting their friends into new artists, they’re still none the wiser. Steven Rainey
CLASSIC BOOK Michael Azerrad – Our Band Could Be Your Life (2001)
For ten years, starting in 1981 with the debut albums by The Replacements and Minutemen, and ending with the major label release of Nirvana’s Nevermind, the American independent music scene went through a golden period. In 2001, journalist Michael Azerrad documented that glorious decade by compiling the history of those underground bands that had made his life. In doing so, he delivered one of the most compelling books ever written about alternative pop culture. Azerrad was kicked into action after watching a TV series on rock music, which seemingly skipped from punk straight to Nirvana. In deciding to fill in the gaps he wrote the stories of 13 seminal independent acts from Henry Rollins’ Black Flag through to Sub Pop luminaries Mudhoney – bands that forged the link between the US hardcore scene and the flowering of Nirvana’s mainstream success.
In compiling his thoughts, Azerrad became fixated on the notion of independent artists. He only included bands who existed during the Eighties without any major-label interference. Therefore, there is no room for R.E.M., while he covered Nirvana in a previous publication. Indeed, Our Band... is a book in which record labels themselves become the heroes – SST, Dischord and Sub Pop are lovingly chronicled as minor revolutionaries. Reading Our Band... (the title is taken from the opening line of ‘History Lessons – Part II’ by Minutemen) hammers home the historical environment. For many American kids growing up in the Eighties, unless they happened to live in a big city, music was defined by what they saw on MTV. There were no blogs, Soundcloud or iTunes and no instant internet access to the latest buzz band. Fans of alternative music had to expend huge amounts of energy to seek out new artists via a network of fanzines, independent radio stations and record shops. Azerrad’s book details the artists’ struggle; the endless touring and the eked-out survival via a combination of word-of-mouth publicity, the goodwill of others and the pockets of camaraderie within the independent scene. Each chapter paints a full-colour picture of artists dedicated to their art, who side-stepped the corporate music industry and made music on their own terms. But these are not obscure bands merely resurrected by an obsessive geek-fan; they blazed a trail and made a body of classic work. Albums such
as Sonic Youth’s magnus opus Daydream Nation, the molten nastiness of Big Black’s Songs About Fucking and Hüsker Dü’s thrash opera Zen Arcade would blow our minds if they were released today. Bands like Yuck, Ringo Deathstarr and A Place To Bury Strangers owe almost their entire sound to the collection of musicians featured by Azerrad. Extensively researched using original band interviews, ancient fanzines and news articles, every chapter proffers fascinating insights into the musicians’ motivation and inspiration. Lee Ranaldo of Sonic Youth reflects on the work ethic of American bands at the time; “You’d play 50 shows in 40 days, it was like punching a clock every day. We’d go to Europe and meet [The Jesus And] Mary Chain and they’d play once every two months for 15 minutes and there would be a riot. They had it easy.” Elsewhere, Steve Albini wins the ‘Most Obvious Statement’ award in the chapter on his beloved Big Black – “I like noise. I like big-ass, vicious noise that makes my head spin.” If Azerrad focuses on the people, a perfect soundtrack is intrinsically woven throughout the pages. A 13-song mixtape would contain some breathtaking tracks, be it the juddering dance-punk of Fugazi’s ‘Repeater’, the gigantic slacker-pop of Dinosaur Jr’s ‘Freak Scene’ or the proto-grunge of Mudhoney’s amazing ‘Touch Me I’m Sick’. And like the music it eulogises, Michael Azerrad’s book is an essential work. If you haven’t read it, do so – this book could be your life. John Freeman
If in 2011 the music world is awash with artists churning out edgy synth-pop, 30-odd years ago a “spotty, quirky kind of bloke” – dressed in black and with a heavy white make-up – brought electronic music to the masses. AU talks to Gary Numan about his serendipitous role as an innovator and game-changer, and how it feels – finally – to be cited as a major influence. Words by John Freeman While you may be bamboozled by their revolvingdoor approach to band members, those cheeky pop cats Sugababes have churned out a few quality tunes in their time. One of AU’s favourites is ‘Freak Like Me’ and we especially like it because it samples the huge fuck-off synth riff from Gary Numan’s ‘Are ‘Friends’ Electric?’ The riff still sounds pretty formidable today – in 1979 it punctured a hole in the pop world’s ozone layer. It would allow its creator, a barely-known 21-year-old from West London, to score a first Number One with his band Tubeway Army. Only a few months later he would repeat the feat – now as a solo act – with the classic single ‘Cars’. Not bad for someone who found his first synthesizer by accident. “I didn’t want to be famous,” Numan tells us when we speak to him about his early career. “I just wanted to get used to being in a band and try and get a record deal. I joined a band called The Lasers and by the end of the first rehearsal I was singing and we were playing songs I had written. That band became Tubeway Army.”
That album was 1978’s Tubeway Army and was the pivotal moment that all great career stories seemed to be based around. Numan went into sonic overdrive. “A few months later I did another album,” he says, reminiscing about a fast-tracked rise to fame. “‘Are ‘Friends’ Electric?’ had been written on a piano my mum and dad had bought me. I couldn’t play, it was so basic and amateurish, yet out of that I ended up with a Number One album [1979’s Replicas] and single.”
For almost 15 years, Numan’s career slid away, as sales plummeted and other synth bands began to feed off his initial success. Cue more honest assessment; “The next set of bands got a much easier deal and were getting huge credit while I was still getting slagged off. But my songwriting had got steadily worse. I’d become obsessed with trying to keep my career going. I was pretty much done – nobody was buying records or tickets, and eventually the press weren’t even talking about me nastily.”
It’s worth remembering that back in 1979, Gary Numan was different. Both his music and image were futuristic and unnerving. Dressed in black and with a slap of white foundation, he looked like an extra from a twisted sci-fi movie. He attained fanworship from self-styled Numanoids, who risked life and limb to copy his look. “It came from short stories I wrote, which I converted into lyrics,” he says when we ask him how premeditated his image was. “The idea of wearing black with white hair was a character from one of the stories. When I got to the TV studios to do Top Of The Pops, I was a bit spotty so the make-up people covered me up and made me look as pale as possible like the character. The
He was ‘saved’ by 1994’s Sacrifice album. It showcased a harder, more industrial sound and coincided with the rise of bands like Nine Inch Nails. “Sacrifice was a perfect album for the moment. Marilyn Manson did a cover version; Trent Reznor started talking about me being influential. Again, I was very lucky.” Interestingly, Gary Numan doesn’t necessarily see the musical connection with Nine Inch Nails. “I’ve been onstage with Trent and he has given me this lovely introduction about how important I was when he was making Pretty Hate Machine. I listen to it and I cannot hear me on it at all. Maybe it is a good example of where you can hear something and
“I am getting more credit than I deserve now, while I got fuck all to start with.” The initial musical direction for Tubeway Army was punk. Numan admits to us that he “wasn’t very good at punk” but, in spite of this, the band was signed by fledgling record label Beggars Banquet, who wanted them to make a “pop-punk album”. And then came that lightning-bolt moment, one of those huge slices of fortune that changed Numan’s life and the reshaped British music. “We went into the studio to do this pop-punk album. There was a synthesizer in the corner and I had never seen a real one before. Luckily for me it was supposed to have been collected by a hire company, but they had forgotten about it.” And there you have it. Gary Numan, one of the great pioneers of electro-pop, “stumbled upon” his first synthesizer because of the inefficiencies of a delivery firm. Hallelujah. Numan had a day with the keyboard and used his time to great effect. “I was absolutely blown away – I’d never heard anything like it. I went back to Beggars Banquet having hastily converted all these pop-punk guitarbased songs into pseudo electro-pop songs. They were really not happy, to be honest. But they didn’t have any money to send me back into the studio, so they released what I’d given them. It didn’t do badly and people started talking about it as being a bit strange and different.”
press started talking about me as this non-smiling, android sort of person. I was embarrassed about my teeth, so I didn’t smile. But, it seemed to have made an impression so I stuck with it.” There is no doubt that 1979-80 was Numan’s defining period; two more best-selling albums (The Pleasure Principle and Telekon) would spawn further classic tracks such as ‘We Are Glass’, ‘I Die: You Die’ as well as the timeless ‘Cars’. Unfortunately, Numan struggled with fame and his career began to unravel, partly down to the demands of touring. He is amazingly honest about what went wrong. “Success didn’t sit with me very easily at all,” he admits. “It is a big thing; you go from being completely unknown and within a two weeks you are at number one, selling 50,000 singles a day. It was quite difficult to deal with, because every single part of your life changes overnight. I didn’t have any management, so I didn’t have anyone to guide me through it. On top of all that, I was a very immature 21-yearold and I had Asperger’s Syndrome. Also, the music was quite new for its time and there was an unreasonable amount of hostility. People said it wasn’t proper music. I seemed to be the target for the shit that was flying about.”
turn it into something completely different. That is a really good way to be influenced.” The music of Gary Numan seems to be undergoing a long-deserved renaissance in 2011. He has worked with both Battles and South Central recently, as newer artists line up to pay homage. With typical brutal honesty, the man himself struggles with current levels of veneration. “If anything, sometimes I am embarrassed that I get so much credit these days. I am getting more than I deserve now, while I got fuck all to start with.” Numanoids around the world will rejoice at the idea of, not one, but two new Gary Numan albums. This month sees the release of Dead Son Rising, co-written with Ade Fenton, which Numan maintains is “not a solo album as such, but a very, very interesting side-project,” while 2012 will bring Splinter. He describes wanting Splinter to be “the most powerful thing I have ever done.” He will have a job – Gary Numan has already changed the pop world once before. Dead Son Rising is out on October 24 via Mortal Records. www.numan.co.uk
Jape Album Launch The Button Factory, Dublin Dublin-based Jape, AKA Richie Egan, launches his second album Ocean Of Frequency in style. Photos by Alessio Michelini
Claire & Ollie
Jack & Frida
Liam & Fergal
Johnny, Cat & Fran
Jacqueline & Christine
Rory & Dave
Stephanie & Tiernan
Claire, Amanda, April & Aedin
Sanctum Mister Tom’s, Lavery’s, Belfast The launch of Belfast’s newest gay friendly club night, and the first to have ever taken place in Lavery’s. Photos by Gavin Sloan
Bobby & Sassie
Katrina, Sandra & Jennifer
Stephen & Stephanie
Kirk, Paul & Stephen
Stuart & Hoi La Hoe
Eimhear, Sabrina & Helen
Aaron & Robert
Christine, Rachel & James
Taylor & Kirsty
Chris, Nicole, Ciara & Helen
THE LAST WORD with Cormac Neeson from The Answer
When was the last time you bought a band t-shirt at a gig? At the Metallica gig in the Odyssey last year – quality merchandise! When was the last time one of your heroes disappointed you? When Fernando Torres signed for Chelsea. How could you, Fernando? When was the last time you felt guilty? When I ate Mick our bass player’s bacon sandwich. How could something so wrong feel so right? When was the last time you cried? When Liverpool appointed Roy Hodgson as manager at the start of last season. When was the last time you were embarrassed? We somehow got lined up to do an AC/DC pre-gig party in a pizza place in Regina, Canada. There was no PA system and nobody had a clue who we were or what we were doing there. That was a bit embarrassing. On the bright side, we did get some free pizza.
What was your last argument about? I had a blazing row with one of my best friends recently over whether or not Nevermind was still a relevant album. I was obviously fighting in Kurt Cobain’s corner. That’s still such a quality album. When was the last time you time you had a fistfight? Not for a couple of years now. My mates in Belfast had a terrible habit of trailing a couple of mattresses into the middle of the floor and conducting their own version of Fight Club before heading out on the piss. Imagine your mate giving you a black eye and a broken rib. Not cool! What was the last thing you downloaded? ‘Tom Traubert’s Blues’ by Tom Waits. We were recording the new album in El Paso and I remembered how brilliant that song was and needed to hear it immediately. What was the last good book you bought? The Given Day by Dennis Lehane – the best book I’ve read in years. I’d recommend it to anyone.
FAMOUS LAST WORDS “I have offended God and mankind because my work did not reach the quality it should have.” Leonardo da Vinci (April 15, 1452 – May 2, 1519), Italian Renaissance architect, musician, inventor, engineer, sculptor, and painter “Die, my dear doctor? That’s the last thing I shall do!” Henry John Temple, 3rd Viscount Palmerston (October 20, 1784 – October 18, 1865), British Liberal politician and Prime Minister from 1855-1858 and 1859-1865.
When was the last time you were scared? When we went into the Texan desert to shoot guns at old TVs and empty beer cans. James [Heatley] had a glint in his eye that day that I’ll never forget, and a drummer with a Mac-10 in his hand is scary at the best of times. When was the last time you were in hospital? I’ve been pretty lucky, touch wood. I had to sit all night in the Mater A&E waiting on a friend to get sorted out recently. You meet some characters in there at five in the morning. When was the last time you broke the law? I’m pretty sure I break the law every weekend and most evenings in between. If the world was about to end, what would your last words be? Fuck this, I’m going back on the Jameson! The Answer’s third album Revival is out now on Spinefarm Records.
THIS ISSUE WAS POWERED BY Ireland being cless at Rugby, Northern Ireland being cless at golf, not fucking off anywhere, health scares, taps aff in the Mandela, taps aff at Delawab, giving things up, overdosing on 80s pop, metaphorical juggling, #nornironpopstars, an REM marathon.
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Published on Oct 11, 2011
Featuring the Northern Ireland Music Awards, Jape, Grouplove, Zombies, LaFaro, an A To Z of Halloween, Movie Remakes, M83, Gary Numan, Verse...