TWO DOOR CINEMA CLUB The great hopes of 2010 on trying to stay sane while riding the hype
The Brooklyn oddballs go pop
Return of the Mackems
Dancing with the gods
The award-winning snapper in his own words
THE PHONE BOX EXPERIMENT
Stuck in the Spanish wilderness with only a payphone for company…
E N—1 T Y AAUT Magazine— S TA K •
Chew Lips / Wounds / The Maccabees / Race Horses / Cooly G / Space Dimension Controller / Belfast4Haiti / Charles M. Schulz / 808 State / LaFaro / The Breakfast Club / The Dangerfields
my inspiration Robbie Williams
And I need you more than want you and I want you for all time Glen Campbell Wichita Lineman
Photography by Julian Broad —2 issue 63—
WICHITA LINEMAN by Jimmy Webb
AU Magazine —Feature Contents
—16 Graham Smith “My photography does not break any boundaries, I know that. I just like simple photos.”
—36 Delphic “You hear a lot of electronic dance music and it’s got no soul. We wanted to tap into dance music, and get the emotion as well.”
—40 Field Music “I’m not particularly interested in indie music”
—42 Two Door Cinema Club “It’s not particularly about the quantity of albums we sell, or looking super-cool. It’s about doing what’s right for the music and the band.”
—48 Vampire Weekend “We’ve never taken a groove or a riff from African music, and just copied and pasted it into our music. A lot of our influence from African music is conceptual or abstract.”
—52 Yeasayer “I hear a crazy, futuristic, robotic army flaming on fuckin’ trashcans from another universe.”
—54 The Phone Box Experiment “The thing rang non-stop with people calling from all over Earth. The callers were genuinely delighted someone was there to pick up the phone.”
Image —21Incoming: Pantha Du Prince
—3 AU Magazine—
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Editorial Our regular readers will notice something different about picking up this issue. Not with the magazine itself, which is the same level of awesomeness as always, but rather the fact that they didn’t have to pay for it in a shop, and just picked it up from one of many locations at which it’s available for free. This is because we have changed the distribution method of the mag from one that puts it through newsagents, to one that makes it available for free across loads of different places across Ireland – such as venues, cafes, cool clothing shops, art galleries, and tons of other outlets. It’s a big change for us, and one that means hordes of new people will pick up the mag now too. So, if you’re a new reader, and this is the first time you have read AU – hello! We’re a music, culture and lifestyle mag that focuses on the best of stuff from Ireland, and the international arena. We only like to spout about things that we think are genuinely good, so if it’s in here you can take that as a quality seal of approval. We hope you enjoy the mag, and keep picking it up in the future. And if any readers out there have any feedback or thoughts, drop us a line on firstname.lastname@example.org. We like hearing from you. Jonny.
Stupid things said this month That’s what disco is all about - getting slapped on the ass with a rubber glove. It’s the best thing Johnny Marr has ever done. There should be girls in it somewhere... I’m not even joking. They brought their Macs, pedals and cowbells. She’s got nothing else to do with her time, she may as well try not eating. You can’t stretch and not expect someone to punch you in the stomach. Imagine you fell into an ancient world. I love the Internet.
—Issue 63 Roll Call Publisher / Editor In Chief
Francis Jones, Edwin McFee, Ross Thompson
Neill Dougan, Mickey Ferry, John Freeman, Lee Gorman, James Gracey, Matt Hazley, James Hendicott, Lisa Hughes, Adam Lacey, Ailbhe Malone, Nay McArdle, Kirstie McCrum, Louise McHenry, Paul McIver, Kenny Murdock, Joe Nawaz, Steven Rainey, Jeremy Shields.
Stuart Bell, Luke Carson, Tim Farrell, Neil Gillespie, Elissa Parente, Mark Reihill.
Richard W Crothers
Timothy Cochrane Carrie Davenport
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. She’ll sort you out.
—6 issue 63—
AU Magazine —Contents (continued)
8 9 12 13 14 15 16 18 19 20
The AU Stereo The Dangerfields Five To One: Underrated Bands / Bad Special Effects Wounds / Shorts / Heartwork Space Dimension Controller / We Must Hide The Maccabees / Shorts Graham Smith Hey You! What’s On Your iPod? On The Road With LaFaro Incoming: Cooly G / Pantha Du Prince / SBTRKT / Creature With The Atom Brain / Race Horses / Avi Buffalo / Hunter-Gatherer / tUnE-yArDs
25 26 30 32 34
Flashback: The Death Of Charles M. Schulz History Lessons: 808 State A To Z: Dimwits Respect Your Shelf: Zombie Movies Classic Movie: The Breakfast Club
58 Album Reviews 64 Live Reviews 65 Unsigned Universe
67 70 72 74 76 78 80 81
Most Wanted Screen Games Arts Comics Back Of The Net In Pictures: ASIWYFA / Haiti Fundraiser The Last Word: Chew Lips
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, The Marquis Building, 89-91 Adelaide Street, Belfast, BT2 8FE 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
Upfront —14 Space Dimension Controller
—7 AU Magazine—
The AU Stereo
The AU Stereo
Rockin’ The Office Airwaves This Month...
Thieves In The Night (Parlophone) The opening track of their new long-player One Life Stand sets the tone for what is a stunning album indeed. ‘Thieves In The Night’ bubbles along effortlessly, throwing more than a few glances back to the Eighties. It’s pure pop wrapped up in swathes of lush electronica, and reveals that beneath their hip aesthetic, Hot Chip are truly great songwriters. JT
Lindstrom And Christabelle
Baby Can't Stop
10 Mile Stereo (Bella Union)
Who would have thunk it? ‘10 Mile Stereo’, one of the many gems offered up on Beach House’s marvellous Teen Dream LP, is a stadium rock song wrapped in indie gauze. Starting with a simple drum-kick, it locks into a stirring, instrument-gathering momentum that builds to the most skyscraping chorus this side of The Killers. An unlikely revelation. DMcC
While positively pop compared to his sprawling magnum opus Where You Go I Go Too, Lindstrom and Christabelle’s Real Life Is No Cool is still plenty weird once you crack its gleaming disco-ball exterior. ‘Baby Can’t Stop’ sounds like Michael Jackson’s ‘Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough’ numbed to its back teeth on a small South American economy’s worth of cocaine and funny toad excretions. DMcC
CHEW LIPS TOO MUCH TALKING (FAMILY) We could have picked any track off their splendid debut album Unicorn, but ended up plumping for this dark, tortured ballad. “There’s such a thing as too much talking / Take your time to have a think about it” pleads, or scolds, a desperate sounding Tigs, as keyboards swirl around her. By the end she’s seems lost, her sorrow smothered in fuzzy white noise. This is electronic music bearing its soul – rarely has bitterness sounded so good. JF
10 hit with the Chase & Status collaboration ‘End Credits’. However, the forthcoming Plan B album The Defamation Of Strickland Banks casts Drew a sweet soul boy; he possesses a delicate falsetto, and ‘Prayin’ is a fabulous slab of Smokey-inspired old-school soul. JF
PANTHA DU PRINCE ABGLANZ (ROUGH TRADE) ‘Abglanz’ draws you in, hook by hook and noise by noise, pulling at you like a tractor beam. The subtlety and intricacy with which German techno producer Hendrik Weber constructs his music means that on each listen your ear will pick out something new, a sound you didn’t spot before. By injecting organic feeling percussion and instrumentation into
—8 issue 63—
a traditional formula it evokes emotion and ideas that are lacking in most modern techno. Triumphant. JT PANGAEA 5-HTP (HESSLE AUDIO) Leeds dubstep producer Pangaea (aka Kevin McAuley) has released a series of 12”s that showcase his garage-influenced drum programming and taste in choice vocal samples, and a new six-track EP will raise his profile even more. ‘5-HTP’ takes a while to kick in but it’s pure atmosphere, with lazy pianos, an addictively bouncy bassline and seemingly oceans of space in the mix. Head music. CJ PLAN B PRAYIN (679/ATLANTIC) The notorious Ben Drew, both a brilliant rap artist and harrowing social commentator, is no one-trick pony. Last year his acting career took off with a strong performance in Michael Caine’s Harry Brown, while he achieved a Top
THESE NEW PURITANS WE WANT WAR (SBTRKT REMIX) (DOMINO) The new TNP album Hidden is just ripe for dark, heavy remixes that home in on the sub-bass and dancehall-inspired rhythms of the originals and run for the hills. This is just such a tune, as UKG-inspired dubstep producer SBTRKT ramps up the tempo, adds some thumping kick drums and ravey synth stabs and hits heartquickening paydirt. CJ FOUR TET PLASTIC PEOPLE (DOMINO) Over the last couple of years, Kieran Hebden has held down a DJing residency at London’s Plastic People club (home of the legendary
dubstep night FWD>> among others) and collaborated with one of that genre’s true auteurs, Burial. And it seems to have rubbed off. This track from his new album There Is Love In You features plenty of his trademark dreamy sonics and a steady 4/4 pulse, but also some of the shuffling hi-hats, crackling snares and unmistakable swing that Burial is famous for. CJ HELIOPAUSE EPILOG. (SELF-RELEASED) As Heliopause’s new EP Let The Silence Go (and, indeed, their unreleased album) draws to a close, the downy-soft melancholy is shattered by this very short palate cleanser, as an unusually jaunty melody, skipping drum beat and wistful vocals collide with a wall of cathartic noise. It’s by no means typical of the band’s recorded output but it shows what they can do when they do decide to let themselves off the leash, and the surprise value makes it all the more bracing. CJ
The Dangerfields THE DANGERFIELDS: 2009 (L-R - Adam Sims, Andrew Griswold, Jamie Delerict.)
DANGER! DANGER! Andrew ‘Griswold’ Johnston has steered Belfast punks The Dangerfields through 42 member changes, 800-plus gigs and a decade of supercharged rock ‘n’ roll. Writing for AU ahead of the band’s 10th anniversary tour, he spills his guts about Northern Ireland’s most action-packed outfit.
If someone had told me in March 2000 that I’d still be plugging away with The Dangerfields 10 years later – begging for gigs and scrabbling for coppers – I’d have smashed them in the face with a hi-hat stand. It wouldn’t have been what I wanted to hear. By 2010, I had hoped to be lording it up in Tommy Lee’s swimming pool, rolling about in cash and girls. Instead, I’m still squabbling for payment with 15-year-old punk promoters and hawking CDs out of cardboard boxes – and you know what? I fucking love it. I formed The Dangerfields because I had been frustrated with my previous band, Griswold (from where I took my stage name). All I wanted to do was play, but Griswold’s singer worked for Ash as a guitar tech, and he was always away with them – meaning Griswold got nothing done. I dreamed of a band that would tour hard and take no prisoners. The Dangerfields became that band. All we needed were three chords, four wheels and one middle finger. The idea was that The Dangerfields would be bigger than any single member. If someone dropped out, we’d replace them and move on. The original line-up split after the first practice, setting a precedent for the rest of the decade. To date, we’ve had four singers, 20 guitarists, 17 bassists and one drummer – me. I also took on lead vocals in 2002, after our frontman at the time quit (or was fired, depending on whose side you’re on). I’d rather people rated us for our music, but I am constantly asked about the bizarre statistics and aftershow antics. So, here you go: there have been 42 members, 206 line-up changes, 92 unique line-ups and three yachts released to sea by an inebriated bassist. We’ve toured the UK and mainland Europe relentlessly, but still managed to play 67 gigs at Belfast’s Front Page
bar. Between 2000 and 2005, the FP was our home away from home, though the management probably thought we should have been in a home. Musically, The Dangerfields have mutated from scratchy pop-punk to heavy-duty, Motörhead-style rock. We’re not a million miles away from Zeke or the Dwarves, both of whom we’ve toured with and both of whom, like us, have sobered up and wised up over the years. There are no other bands like The Dangerfields in Northern Ireland. We’re too heavy for the punks, and too punk for the metal-heads. People have tried to get us to change, to compromise – but I’m in love with our music, even if no one else is. In the old days, there was never a dull moment with The Dangerfields. On the road, there was the usual sex, drugs and general wretchedness. Some of it was grim, like 2004’s near-fatal van crash on black ice in the Yorkshire Moors. The driver – who we’d met just an hour before the accident – now has a metal plate in his skull. The nightmare continued in 2005, when we were turned down by US immigration control for an 86-date American tour. Elsewhere, prostitutes mugged a bass player, an
“I’m still squabbling for payment with 15-year-old punk promoters and hawking CDs out of cardboard boxes – and you know what? I fucking love it.” —9 AU Magazine—
The First Bassist Aaron ‘Baron’ McCoy was a founding Dangerfield, co-writing early classics such as ‘Let’s Get Fucked’, ‘You Suck’ and ‘17 Forever’. The Newtownabbey native – now a pharmacist – recalls the punks’ primitive origins. I met Andrew in the Limelight. I was out with my girlfriend and her two mates – Andrew made straight for them. Failing to get off with them, he had no choice but to talk to me. We liked a lot of the same music, and we drunkenly agreed to form a band. We had a few practices, came up with about six songs and Andrew booked a gig. The gig was a week away and we had no singer. I met a fella in the Venue nightclub, a friend of a friend – he said he would be up for it. Doc Party, we called him. He had one practice, and made a bunch of lyrics up on the spot. They were bollocks lyrics, but fair play to him for doing the gig. He did nine gigs with us, then I was tasked with chucking him out because he had no timing. I still feel bad about that. Playing live was brilliant. I loved it. But I didn’t love having no money, arguing about paying for things, work telling me I couldn’t have any more time off and all the shit associated with being in band. Andrew had emerged as a band leader – a band needs a leader, so it’s no bad thing – and I had started to see him as my boss, not a mate. It came to a point where I had to either quit and stay mates with these people, or stay in the band and start to hate them. After quitting, I knew Andrew wouldn’t quit. I knew I would be replaced, but nobody seemed to last. There must have been 20 different bass players after me. Watching the band tour relentlessly with different stand-in bassists, it looked like things on the creative front were stagnating. There was no new material – it was just the same songs from my day over and over again. It was obvious the band needed a more stable line-up and time to write new songs. With Adam Sims they came up with some great stuff – songs like ‘Wolf Man’, ‘Last House On The Left’ and ‘Rock Club’. They sounded so much more polished than the three-chord punk tunes from my day. After leaving, I played in other bands, but they never had the same work ethic as The Dangerfields. It’s been three years since I last played a gig and I’ll probably never play in a band again.
THE DANGERFIELDS: 2004 (L-R - Ian ‘Wasp Boy’ Pearce, Andrew Griswold, Dan Bastard, Lee ‘Batboy’ McDaid.
ex-guitarist died of a drugs overdose and neo-Nazis smashed up a gig in Dresden. Still, we trundled on. The Dangerfields have now played 809 shows, with no record label, no management and often no audience. It’s been four years since we released our debut album, and five since we recorded it. Born To Rock has sold around 3,000 copies since 2006 – nothing compared to a lot of bands, but not bad considering none were sold in shops, and only a handful online. We do things the oldfashioned way – hustling after gigs. On the Stiff Little Fingers tour in 2007, we were shifting 50 CDs and 50 t-shirts a night.
“Prostitutes mugged a bass player, an exguitarist died of a drugs overdose and neo-Nazis smashed up a gig in Dresden. Still, we trundled on.” It’s been too long since we put out any new material. We’ve been trying to record the second album since 2007, but have been thwarted by an unstable line-up and poor finances. Things seemed to be heading back on track recently. With Jamie Delerict on bass and Adam ‘The Beast’ Sims returning on guitar, we were playing great shows and had begun writing for the new record. Then, Simsie quit. Newly muscled, toned and cleanshaven, he is now pursuing a career in fitness training. This wasn’t the first time Beast had bailed – in fact,
—10 issue 63—
according to the meticulously maintained archives, it was the 21st. That’s nothing compared to former bassist Ian ‘Wasp Boy’ Pearce, though. Ian quit and rejoined the band a total of 50 times between 2000 and 2008. Throughout our career, we’ve seen support bands blossom into great acts. I admit I get jealous when I see the latest string of dates for Gama Bomb, The Answer, Fighting With Wire or And So I Watch You From Afar – all groups that used to open for The Dangerfields. Heck, I even gave Ash their first Belfast gigs, back when I promoted punk shows at the Penny Farthing in the early Nineties. I’m happy for them all, of course, but I keep wondering when it’s going to be my turn. I’ve been waiting in the wings a long time. Rock ‘n’ roll is a ludicrous lifestyle – grown men and women traipsing around the country, playing to kids young enough to be their kids. But it’s fun, and it’s too late to stop now. It’s not all I know how to do, but it’s what I know how to do best. I love everything about touring – the drive, the load-in, the smell of stale beer and sweat, the stage, the lights, the volume… It’s all about to kick off again, with a mainland European tour booked for March and April, during which we’ll visit 13 countries in 33 days. Before then, The Dangerfields will debut our latest line-up, featuring Scottish lead guitarist John ‘Sancho’ Bonnar, at four Irish shows, including the Speakeasy at Queen’s University in Belfast on Thursday, March 4 – 10 years to the day since the band was formed. For those afraid to rock we say: ‘Fuck you’.
THE DANGERFIELDS PLAY SALLY LONG’S, GALWAY ON MARCH 3; QUBSU SPEAKEASY, BELFAST ON MARCH 4; MASON’S, DERRY ON MARCH 5; THE INF, WARRENPOINT ON MARCH 6; AND BAKER PLACE, LIMERICK ON MAY 1. WWW.THEDANGERFIELDS.CO.UK
The Latest Guitarist Durham-born bassist Jamie Delerict originally signed up for six gigs with The Dangerfields. He’s still there, three years later. The punk scene stalwart talks about the highs and lows of life on the road. I’d be lying if I said I remembered crossing paths with The Dangerfields in the early 2000s. I was lead singer and guitarist of the Nottingham band Panic, and The Dangerfields were just another crappy pop-punk band on the UK toilet circuit. I have a vague recollection of them gaffer-taping one of their guitars to the wall of a dingy Dundee club, but that’s about it. It wasn’t until May 2004 that I ‘got’ them, when Panic played with them in Belfast. The Dangerfields blew us away that night. After Panic ended, my new band Teenage Casket Company played a lengthy UK tour with The Dangerfields. I couldn’t figure out how Andrew could tour like that and not drink. In November 2006, their bassist had quit and Andrew asked me to stand in for a tour with The Supersuckers. Joining The Dangerfields was just what the doctor ordered. I had to find out if I was capable of abstaining from drugs and alcohol whilst being on tour. The Supersuckers tour was fantastic. That was followed by a six-week tour with Stiff Little Fingers. I was playing to the largest audiences of my career, and I was
having fun – without chemicals! By the time our August tour with The Dwarves came around, my partner Gemma was pregnant. There were not only serious complications with her pregnancy during that tour, but TCC were also on the road and unfortunately some dates overlapped. I was forced to choose between my two bands. I chose The Dangerfields. During my daughter’s first year, I still managed to fit in three tours in 2008, including a brilliant fortnight in Europe. But there was a slight problem in our camp. We used five different guitarists that year. This was nothing new to Andrew. Incredibly, he seems to relish the fact that The Dangerfields have had 42 members in 10 years. Me? Not so much. The most aggravating part of the whole thing was that we kept going back to guitarists that had either quit or been fired, and inevitably history repeated itself. It annoys me no end that Simsie finds it so hard to commit to the band. He’s a perfect fit, but he just doesn’t possess the same fire in his belly as myself and Andrew. Either that, or he’s not as fucking stubborn and stupid.
“There are no other bands like The Dangerfields in Northern Ireland. We’re too heavy for the punks, and too punk for the metal-heads.” —11 AU Magazine—
Words by Andrew Johnston
Five to One
5 to 1
Bad Special Effects
Dr Feelgood The pub-rock renegades get their dues in new rock-doc Oil City Confidential, but it’s been a long wait for Canvey Island’s finest. They helped invent punk – Johnny Rotten pinched his mad-eyed stare from guitarist Wilko Johnson – yet are often overlooked. Without Dr Feelgood’s furious 4/4 rhythms, your favourite band probably wouldn’t exist – just ask Blondie, the Ramones or The Clash. Still going – albeit with no original members – the fearsome four-piece remain a force to be reckoned with.
An American Werewolf In Paris (1997) The original won an Oscar for its make-up, but this needless, 16-years-later sequel arrived just as CGI had gripped Hollywood like a dose of rabies. Lifting their legs on John Landis’s legacy, the makers foul the screen with bargain-basement digital effects. There are computer-generated werewolves that look like a blind man’s Scooby-Doo, and gore that wouldn’t pass muster in an episode of Casualty. Director Anthony Waller didn’t make another film for 11 years.
Gang Green Everyone knows Black Flag, Minor Threat and The Misfits, but there’s another mob deserving of the title ‘Hardcore Legends’ – Boston’s Gang Green. Chris Doherty’s outfit blew their chances of lasting fame by boozing as hard as they played, but they are cult heroes. Dropkick Murphys modified the formula and cashed in, while every thrash act worth its Hi-Tops has a Gang Green t-shirt in the wardrobe. The motley crew are still playing today – when they can sober up long enough.
Rats: Night Of Terror (1983) Supposedly an adaptation of James Herbert’s The Rats, this Italian-made schlock-fest is a gruelling farce. Hack director Bruno Mattei painted guinea pigs black to double as giant rats, then threw them at the actors. Grimmer still, several hapless rodents are burnt alive while clinging to a flaming stuntman. Amazingly, Rats: Night Of Terror didn’t kill Mattei’s career – if you can call directing Snuff Trap, Killing Striptease and Cannibal Ferox 3: Land Of Death a ‘career’.
EMF They pioneered rave-rock, hit number one in America and played arenas in Britain, but EMF are now a footnote in Britpop history. Their fall from grace was fast – in Belfast, they went from selling out the Ulster Hall in 1991, to half-filling it in ’92, to the Limelight in ’95. Still, guitarist Ian Dench probably isn’t bothered. The man is now vice president of A&R at Epic Records, and won a Grammy for co-writing Beyoncé’s latest album.
Mega Shark Versus Giant Octopus (2009) Come back, Bruce – all is forgiven. Named after Steven Spielberg’s lawyer, the rubber great white in Jaws now looks like a work of genius. Since that movie, cine-sharks have plumbed the depths, from the toothless Jaws sequels, via the murky Deep Blue Sea, all the way to this straight-to-DVD yawn. The effects look like they were knocked out on Microsoft Paint, and Eighties pop princess Debbie Gibson’s acting isn’t much better. So bad, it’s bad.
Slade Mostly known for that Christmas song (“IT’S CHRISSSSTMASSSS!”), Black Country warriors Slade were also a hugely credible albums group. Heavier than you remember, their metal credentials are immaculate. Gene Simmons says Slade inspired him to form Kiss, Ozzy Osbourne went to rehab with the drummer and Quiet Riot had US hits with covers of ‘Cum On Feel The Noize’ and ‘Mama Weer All Crazee Now’. Slade couldn’t spell, but their glam-rock racket was a joy.
Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope – Special Edition (1997) The re-release of George Lucas’s 1977 classic barely stood the test of its running time. Belfast actor Declan Mulholland had portrayed space gangster Jabba The Hutt in human form in a scene deleted from the original movie. In ’97, a computerised blob was superimposed over Mulholland’s performance. The CGI Jabba is worse even than the prequels’ Jar Jar Binks – and it ain’t over yet, sister. Pixel The Hutt will live again in 3-D, if the ever-tinkering Lucas gets his way…
Dwarves They got thrown off a Motörhead tour for ogling the headliners’ girlfriends. Sub Pop dropped them after they faked guitarist HeWhoCanNotBeNamed’s death. They play naked and assault the crowd. What’s not to like? Quite a lot, it seems, as their most recent UK tour pulled measly crowds. This year celebrating a quarter of a century of methfuelled mayhem, the LA scoundrels are rolling the dice for what could be the last time with new album The Dwarves Are Born Again…
Plan 9 From Outer Space (1959) Ed Wood’s Z-grade masterwork has it all: flying saucers on strings, spacecraft casting shadows in space and cardboard tombstones. Star Bela Lugosi died during production and was replaced by Wood’s wife’s chiropractor. The stand-in bore no resemblance to Lugosi, being two feet taller and 40 years younger. Still, it was a lucky escape for the Dracula legend. He didn’t live to see Plan 9 From Outer Space crowned the worst film ever made.
—12 issue 63—
Wounds / Shorts / Heartwork
Wound Up Tight
Dublin Gutter-Punks Plan Their Assault
In the year or so that they’ve been together, Dublin fivepiece Wounds have earned a reputation as a live band capable of employing shock and awe tactics on credulous crowds of onlookers. Brothers Aidan and James Coogan front the band, and invariably play from the midst of the crowd. On a good night, you can expect to see damaged equipment, buckets of spit and sweat, and James hoisted aloft by enthusiastic fans for the length of a whole, riotous song. There are no bad nights. “I got my nose broken last year supporting Gallows. Not intentionally. Well, probably intentionally. Whatever. Basically every gig I’ve done I’ve ended up covered in bruises. I’ve broken about 2000 euro worth of guitars since the band started. There’s a lot of broken stuff, like,” James says. They seem unconcerned. “Our gigs are really just about having a good time, getting fucked and having a riot of a show.” For the first time, though, they have attempted to document the art-hardcore chaos with an EP, Dead Dead Fucking Dead. They are characteristically impassive about it, though it’s
really a milestone in the life of the band, recording the songs they played for their anarchic first year. “We just did it in a shed, basically. It’s crap recording quality, but we’re going to put it out there anyway, see how it goes.” The recording quality, along with the energy, is reminiscent of bands like Nottingham art-punks Lovvers, but James claims this is not intentional. “The whole lo-fi thing, we weren’t going for that at all. I don’t understand that whole thing of trying to make your music sound shit.” Aidan concurs. “Yeah, we want big Limp Bizkit production.” There is a pause. “Make sure you write that we laughed after we said that.” In some ways, Wounds emerged despite the prevailing trend in Dublin music, rather than because of it. James is disdainful of the idea of a ‘scene’ in general. “This is not in a snobby way, but we don’t consider ourselves a part of it. We played our first gig ever in Belfast, and we’ve played in England more than we’ve played in Ireland.” “I don’t like that trajectory. I don’t want to be one of those bands who take a two week holiday out of work a year to go tour and then go back to their jobs,” Aidan says. “So we
Shorts Bangor’s favourite radio stalwarts Snow Patrol have announced the first two support acts for their (second) homecoming Ward Park gig in the town. Joining them on Saturday, June 5 will be Seattle country-rockers Band of Horses and the soon-to-bemassive General Fiasco. More acts have still to be announced. LA hip-hop visionary Flying Lotus (aka Steven Ellison) has announced details of his new album, due out on May 3 via Warp Records. The 17-track Cosmogramma will feature guests including singer Laura Darlington, jazz saxophonist Ravi Coltrane (John Coltrane’s son and FlyLo’s cousin) and, uh, that dude from Radiohead. Yes, Thom Yorke apparently contributes
throw ourselves out there, we cast the net as wide as we can because we want as many people as possible to be into it, you know?” With supports for bands like HEALTH, Gallows and even San Diego retro lo-fi outfit Crocodiles in the bag, their network is broad and widening. Work on a professionallyproduced album is in progress, and trips across the Irish Sea will continue, courtesy of manager and Fierce Panda (Art Brut, The Walkmen etc) label boss Guy Lowman. The Coogans are excited at the prospect of breaking body parts in America soon, too. But for now, they just want to play. “I played in a death metal band, and that was really just a bunch of wankers standing there looking at your fingers while you’re playing guitar. We just want to be up there having a really good time and getting everybody involved.” Karl McDonald DEAD DEAD FUCKING DEAD IS OUT ON MARCH 29 VIA YOYO ACAPULCO RECORDS WWW.MYSPACE.COM/THEWOUNDSBAND
Heartwork vocals to a track by the name of ‘...And the World Laughs With You’. ‘Weep And You Weep Alone’ sounds like a more appropriate title for ol’ Smiler Yorke, but maybe he’s cheered up a bit. Spectral indie-rock trio Heliopause are now split between Belfast and Brighton, where frontman Richard Davis is studying, but we are happy to report that it hasn’t disrupted the band too much. They recently released a free EP called Let The Silence Go from their Bandcamp page (heliopause. bandcamp.com), and it consists of three tracks “written and conceived as a trilogy”. All three songs are taken from the band’s debut album, which we have heard (it’s excellent) but which is yet to see a release. Labels of the
world, get the finger out. Welsh siren Marina and those there Diamonds have announced two Irish dates as part of an extensive UK/Ireland tour for May. She’s down to play Belfast’s Speakeasy on May 26 and Dublin’s Tripod the next night, but if she takes off the way Florence and yon Machine did last year (and it seems likely), we wouldn’t be surprised to see those venues upgraded, Brooklyn miserablists The National have announced that their as-yet-untitled fifth album will be released in May on new label 4AD. The band have three dates booked at the start of the month in London, Berlin and Paris, so expect to see plenty more before the year is out.
Heartwork In praise of random LP art NEGATIVLAND TRUTH IN ADVERTISING Let’s examine this cover, from right to left. First off, the mannequin guy on the right has an expression on this face that
clearly implies he is ashamed of the fact that, as a mannequin, he has no penis. In his head he is currently thinking of how he should probably be called a womannequin, and wishing he didn’t exist. Moving to the left, and we have a classic psyche-out contest between the two centre mannequins. The sitting mannequin has claimed that he can stare into space for hours, without blinking. The other mannequin doesn’t believe him, and is dancing round, waving his hands in front of his face and trying to get him to blink. It’s not working, and has been going on for several hours. Then, at the far left we have the puzzled mannequin. He is staring down, wondering if the seated mannequin is crossing his legs because he is the one with the penis, and he doesn’t want to make the others feel bad, or if he is too ashamed to reveal the fact that he doesn’t have a penis either. We’re still not sure what any of this has to do with advertising. JT
—13 AU Magazine—
Space Dimension Controller / We Must Hide
Electro Prodigy Meets His Match For New EP
We Must Hide... John Terry! It’s been a quiet winter so far for Jack Hamill, but the man behind the astral, Eighties-tinged electro of Space Dimension Controller has been laying the foundations for what could be a breakthrough year. After the free release in 2009 of a full-length album on Belfast’s Acroplane Recordings, Hamill (aka Jack Tiraquon, aka Mr 8040 – he’s into his aliases) released a single, ‘The Love Quadrant’, on Boxcutter’s fledgling Kinnego Records label in November. The lead track was named as one of respected website FACT Magazine’s tracks of the year, while SDC was nominated by no less a figure than Dutch dubstep/techno/garage genius Martyn as one of four producers to watch in 2010. “This youngster sounds like a direct descendant of Detroit’s finest producers,” he wrote. High praise. “It’s cool,” says Hamill of the attention. “I kind of didn’t expect anything to come of [this], but it now seems like it’s going up and it’s going to keep going.”
still pretty limited, with only a handful of live shows under his belt. However, as we went to print he was preparing to play a show in Bristol, and then to attend the prestigious Red Bull Music Academy in London, alumni of which has included the likes of Mr Hudson, Flying Lotus and Hudson Mohawke. “It’s weird, because [NI] is so small,” he reflects. “I’m better known outside of here than I am here. I don’t know, people [in Belfast] just seem to listen to shit minimal [techno]. Any time I go and play anywhere else, it’s way better received, but I think that comes back to the crap dance music scene here.” Doesn’t sound like it’s holding him back much… Chris Jones WWW.MYSPACE.COM/SPACEDIMENSIONCONTROLLER
The Belfast native has a four-track EP ready for release in March on Dutch label Clone Records, and it is due to include a remix from a guy who you might argue is his direct counterpoint in the US, albeit with a much higher profile – 18-year-old Detroit producer Kyle Hall. The teenage pair are currently in the process of working on a collaborative EP to be released on Hall’s own Wild Oats label under the name Kyle and Jack (or possibly Jack and Kyle – it’s early days). “It was just over the internet, on MySpace first of all,” says Hamill of the project’s gestation. “I saw that he’d become a ‘fan’ of me on Facebook, so I just gave him a shout. We were talking on [instant messenger program] iChat for a few days, and then he suggested that we maybe do something together. He sent me a track of his that he wanted to release on his own label, so then I made a track to go with that. So we’ve got those, and then we could have two collaborative tracks as well.” Despite the respect he’s garnered from respected names elsewhere, Space Dimension Controller’s profile locally is
—14 issue 63—
More potent than one of Doctor Octopus’s isotopes, disgraced England captain John Terry has been around the pitch a few times, figuratively speaking. If rumours are to be believed, the footballer has been playing away from home with a gaggle of supermodels – to use the correct collective term – several members of Girls Aloud, Marilyn Monroe’s ghost, a couple of Wombles and a hole in a fence. The latter is reported to be so emotionally distraught it is considering legal action. We suggest that Terry goes into hiding, if only for his own protection – it can’t be long before the likes of Jordan and Jodie Marsh come sniffing around his door. Terry has generated so much bad press not even Max Clifford can sweep the brouhaha under the sizable carpet he uses for such occasions. Removing him from public scrutiny won’t do his career any favours, but it will stop him from going blind. If you manage to spot John Terry, so good he was given two first names, look away immediately, lest he entrance you with his come-to-bed eyes. If you find Mr Terry, send your contact details, along with the specifics of where you spotted John, to info@ iheartau.com Winner will be chosen at random from all correct entries, and you’ll win something equally random.
Top Ten Songs For John Terry
1. Ryan Adams Dear John 2. Electronic Getting Away With It 3. Shaggy It Wasn’t Me 4. Carly Simon You’re So Vain 5. Morrissey Sorry Doesn’t Help 6. Captain Beefheart I Got Love On My Mind 7. AC / DC Big Balls 8. Kelis Caught Out There 9. Franz Ferdinand Cheating On You 10. Hadouken! Game Over
The Maccabees / Shorts
Do You Remember What The Music Meant? With: Hugo White from The Maccabees What is your earliest musical memory? My earliest musical memory would have to be Rolling Stones records and Bob Dylan. My parents had a pretty cool record collection, it was all that type of thing. Who was the last band or artist that you became obsessed about? It would maybe be Julian Casablancas of The Strokes. He released a solo album that I have been pretty addicted to.
What is the first record you ever owned, and do you still listen to it? It’s a pretty embarrassing answer, it’s a record that Felix bought me. ‘The Macarena’. [laughs] What piece of music moves you to tears? It’s got to be Bob Dylan’s ‘Baby Stop Crying’ What three albums would you force a total stranger to listen to? Why is everything leading me to Bob Dylan!? [laughs] It’s gotta be Bob Dylan’s Blonde on Blonde, The Beatles’ White Album... I can’t think of another at the minute. I’ll be kicking myself later. Who is your all time favourite artist? Wow [laughs], you guessed it – Bob Dylan. THE MACCABEES PLAY DUBLIN ACADEMY ON FEBRUARY 21 AND BELFAST MANDELA HALL ON FEBRUARY 22. WWW.THEMACCABEES.CO.UK
Shorts The line-up for Barcelona’s always-excellent Primavera Sound festival is taking shape rather nicely. The fest takes place at the city’s seafront Parc del Forum on May 27-29, and the marquee acts this year include the reformed Pixies, Pavement, Orbital, as well as the neverwent-away Wilco, Panda Bear, Low, Grizzly Bear, Shellac, Built To Spill, The xx, Wire, Tortoise, Liquid Liquid, No Age, Yeasayer, Wild Beasts, Fuck Buttons, Major Lazer, HEALTH, The Antlers, The Big Pink, Joker, King Khan, Fake
Blood and plenty more. 2010 could be the Year of the Murph. Not content with readying a third LCD Soundsystem album (due out before the summer), James Murphy has also completed his first film soundtrack, for the Noah Baumbach-directed Greenberg. The soundtrack album features 11 solo tracks by Murphy, a new LCD song and contributions from Nite Jewel, Albert Hammond, Galaxie 500, The Sonics, and Duran Duran.
Shaun Ryder is getting Black Grape back together for a one-off gig at London’s Get Loaded In The Dark event. Be still our beating hearts… The postHappy Mondays group found success in the mid-Nineties with their #1 album It’s Great When You’re Straight… Yeah, but its follow-up Stupid Stupid Stupid performed poorly and the band split in 1998. “It’s great, it’s interesting, it’s part two,” he told the event’s website. “I’ve had a break and now I’m back to do it. The time is right.”
—15 AU Magazine—
Life Through A Lens: Graham Smith Graham Smith has been one of Northern Ireland’s foremost music photographers for several years, but it’s since he decided to concentrate solely on his work documenting the day-to-day life of the bands he works with – in practice, in the studio, on tour – that the 29-year-old has really come into his own. His uncanny, razor-sharp ability to capture a moment recently bagged him the coveted Lex van Rossen Award for European Music Photographer of the Year. Here, in the man’s own words, are 10 of his favourite shots to date.
Tony Wright, And So I Watch You From Afar This photo was taken on tour in Luxembourg in the Spring of 2009. I tour manage ASIWYFA so I get to see the high points and the low points. This photo was taken during a temporary low. Two minutes later, I took a picture of Tony laughing. That sums up touring life. Cat Malojian The band hired a cottage in the Mourne Mountains to record their debut album, and I went along to document the process. It was a very relaxed atmosphere, a few days of glasses of wine, cups of tea, good company and great music. A very simple photograph. Frank Turner Taken in Austin, Texas in 2009 at the SXSW Music Festival. A late night, impromptu gig in front of a small audience. The photo was used in the artwork of his latest album which is a great honour, being that he is my favourite musician. Enda Strathern, General Fiasco Also taken at SXSW in 2009. They had just played a massively overcrowded, hot, sweaty gig. Rather than get the same live shot as everyone else I decided to wait at the stage door and catch the band as they were coming offstage, into the alley outside to cool down.
Graham Smith Glasgowbury Festival: The Aftermath Taken 2004 or 2005 in the Cellar Bar, Draperstown, with the legendary Paddy Glasgow on guitar. It was about 2am on the Sunday night/Monday morning, none of us had really slept in three days. A tired but happy group of people. Jetplane Landing Taken on tour in 2004. A very important photo for me, this was the shot that really cemented in my mind that capturing the clichéd ‘moment’ is what I wanted, rather than trying to create the moment. It took me three further years to finally stop all commissions and ‘promo shoots’ and concentrate on a documentary style. I wish I had stopped on this day. Pixie Saytar We had been hanging out for the evening at my house with a few bottles of wine. We went to see a band in Lavery’s in Belfast, which is where this photo was taken, messing around in between bands. My photography does not break any boundaries, I know that, I just like simple photos like this. In my opinion, they stand the test of time so much better than conceptual work. The Rapport Taken backstage at The Spirit Store, Dundalk. This looks like so many backstages I have been in. The boredom, the exhaustion and the anticipation. And the graffiti. Ulster Hall Reopening Concert, 2009 Features members of Ash, Therapy, Divine Comedy, ASIWYFA, LaFaro, Fighting With Wire and more. I don’t shoot ‘from the front’ live images very often anymore, but this was too good to miss. A wild end to a incredible day. The Scream The band were recording a new EP in a remote studio on the west coast of Ireland. This was taken at about 3am, singing along to Bob Dylan songs. This sort of shot means so much more to me than trying to get a band to look ‘cool’ in some sterile photo studio. WWW.GRAHAMSMITHPHOTOGRAPHY.COM
—17 AU Magazine—
Words and Photos by Richard W Crothers
Ryan McCawon Dillanger 4 – Contemplate This On The Tree Of Woe Coldplay – Strawberry Swing Biffy Clyro – Horses
What's on your iPod?
Interesting Fact – Ryan claims it took four days to grow his beard. We think he’s a fibber: that’s two weeks growth at least, the cad.
What’s On Your Mind? Insight And Insanity From The AU Forum RE: INDIE BOYS ARE SO PRETTY Georges Grun: Fuck your beards. This is the reason I’m never going to ATP again. A horrible aesthetic cul-de-sac. Skinny jeans, funny glasses, funny hair, fuck off. Why can’t indie people look proper indie anymore, like 1990 or something. Pat Nevin. ShowYourBones: Fuck your rant on people’s appearance.
Passion Pit – Sleepyhead Cobra Starship – Hot Mess Ke$ha – Blah Blah Blah
Adebisi Shank – You Me ASIWYFA – A Little Bit Of Solidarity Goes A Long Way Propagandhi – Supporting Cast
Lady Gaga – Bad Romance Glee – Don’t Stop Believing Green Day – 21 Guns
Interesting Fact – Roisin is going to Glasgow to see Passion Pit. We’re pretty jealous about that, what with PP being one of our favesies.
Interesting Fact – Andy hung out with Green Day’s drummer when he was 10. Not in a Michael Jackson way, we hope.
Interesting Fact – Sarah has the awesome ability to juggle spoons. We’re not sure if it’s just spoons, or other objects too. We assume it’s more, only being able to juggle spoons would be odd.
RE: 10 MILLION FIREFLIES :D Ant: It’s a bloody sickeningly awful song that I want to disappear now. It’s like someone has taken Death Cab For Cutie and poured the contents of a a few Prozac bottles down their throats. Aw Ah Ah Ah: If 10,000 fireflies are required to exchange 1,000 hugs with Mr City, how small must the world be if 10,000,000 fireflies are sufficient enough to provide it with light?
RE: PRIMAVERA SOUND Alan Yates
Hadouken – Liquid Lives Foo Fighters –Learn To Fly Arch Enemy – We Will Rise
UB40 – Red Red Wine David Bowie – Rebel Rebel Foo Fighters – Skin And Bones
Lord Sitar – Black In Black Ravi Shanker – Sitar Jam Jefferson Airplane – Embryonic Journey
Interesting Fact – Alan has been a choral singer since he was five. Some people might think this would lose you cool points, but we award him an extra 10.
Interesting Fact – Maria is lucky enough to have seen Michael Jackson live in concert.
Interesting Fact – Robyn is going to India to study midwifery. She thinks it’s to do with childbirth, we think it’s middle wives of arranged polygamous marriages.
JohnnyHolywood: I recommend the zoo. It’s ace. All the animals are more active as it’s warmer and you can get silly close to them. Also there was wee monkeys with wee baby monkeys hanging on to their tummys and then the wee baby monkey ran onto the bigger wee monkeys back and it was FUCKING ace. ShowYourBones: Sprinkle a little Grizzly Bear, Major Lazer, Fake Blood, Tortoise, Built To Spill, Sian Alice Group and Beak> onto that lineup. It really is an indieboy’s wet dream. RE: JOKE OF THE DAY...
All Time Low – This Is How We Do Blue October – Calling You Pendulum – Tarantula
Michael Bublé – I’m Feeling Good Michael Jackson – Thriller Kid Cudi – Day & Night
Interesting Fact – Hollie’s mouth is large enough to fit her whole fist in. Or maybe her fist is small enough. Either way, we watched her put her fist in her mouth. Good work.
Interesting Fact – Milo once met Quentin Tarantino, which is quite cool. He also resisted the urge to quote movie lines to him. That’s more than we could have managed.
Passion Pit – Sleepyhead David Bowie & Arcade Fire – Wake Up (live) King Charles – Love Lust
—18 issue 63—
Interesting Fact – Julia auditioned for Popstars: The Rivals. She was unsuccessful. We’d have kept that one quiet, to be honest.
Dombrog: How many musos does it take to screw in a lightbulb? It’s a pretty obscure number... you probably haven’t heard of it JOIN THE FUN AT WWW.IHEARTAU. COM/FORUM
LaFaro Tour Diary
On The Road With LaFaro
As they embark on the biggest tour of their lives, and prepare to unleash their debut album (out on May 10 on Smalltown America), the eight-legged riff machine that is LaFaro sent us this missive from their UK tour. Chief barker Jonny Black, the floor is yours…
Greetings and salutations from chez LaFaro. As of this morning (January 27) we are two weeks into this touring malarkey and about to set off from Nottingham to the fair city of Lincoln. It is a beautiful and historic cathedral city in the East Midlands with narrow and winding cobbled streets and a bustling and brimming marketplace. But we don’t give a fuck about that. We are going there to make a filthy, joyful mess of a noise and bring a measure of Northern Ireland candour to the place. We are just four of the many ambassadors that believe our little country can swim with the sharks. Catching a ferry is just the first step in trying to force a ripple to become a wave. And you know what? It’s working. Everywhere we’ve been so far on this tour, we keep getting asked the same questions: do we know the Panama Kings? Do we know Two Door Cinema Club? Do we know Fighting With Wire? Do we know And So I Watch You From Afar? Do we know Feargal Sharkey (president of music)? Our collective music is starting to get out there into the wider public consciousness and from what we are told, people not only know about it – they fuckin’ LOVE IT! Then they tell their mates, and their mates’ mates and their mates’ mates’ mates, blah blah... I digress. My shoes smell fresh and surprisingly so do the ‘oul pits; there’s a pot of tea brewing and the bacon’s in the grill. Our friend Noush kindly put us up at her place last night and forced enough premium red wine into us to make speech foreign and difficult, yet no ill effects linger past the morning. We are all up in good time and in good spirits. For
the most part, home has been ‘big red van’, which has been customised to modestly accommodate four Irish fellas. It has two 32” flat-screen plasma TVs, four Xboxes – that’s one each – 12 plug sockets, two kettles, two sinks, a Jacuzzi, a juicer, two ejector seats, a frenchie machine just for Tony [Wright, ASIWYFA and LaFaro BFF], laser-quest, a spare room for the dancing girls and a pool table. I’m just kidding around, obviously. In actual fact it has a dirty carpet, a single mattress and a cigarette lighter. But sure, it’s home. We usually start a tour like rabid greyhounds, but not this time. It’s probably due to old age and cynicism but I suspect there were other reasons for this. You see, this is the longest tour we’ve done together; six weeks in total, but it’s also the first time we have booked it ourselves and gone out alone. This adds gravitas to the whole thing, which in turn has made us more considerate of the work that needs to be done. We have always loved touring, and we have been fortunate to be asked to tour with some great bands and with some great friends, but it was important to us that this tour was done on our own. Alan [Lynn, drums] and Herb [Magee, bass] did a fantastic job in booking, splicing and piecing this thing together. Two weeks in and all the gigs so far have been great. The promoters, who have mostly been friends of ours from previous tours, have done us proud. It’s clear that they have been working their sexy wee socks off to get people listening, interested and down to the shows. The first show was in Bannerman’s in Edinburgh. They gave
us somewhere to stay, eat and wash, and even found it in their hearts to get us shit-faced. There just isn’t a better way to start a tour. Then the next night was the 13th Note in Glasgow. Low ceiling, no stage; an absolute sweatbox of a gig with a fantastically vocal and appreciative audience. We loved it. On the third night we travelled to Newcastle to play a show with our friends’ band Knuckledragger in their practice room. A proper stripped down, DIY, guerrilla gig; no promoters, no bouncers, no bar, not even a sound man. Just carry-outs, getting stupid and loud-as-fuck rock. Incidentally, a rare opportunity to drink, smoke fags and watch live music at the same time. Ahhh... the good old days. Then it was south to London for a show with our old friends Let Our Enemies Beware in the Bull and Gate. All credit to Mike the promoter for pushing the gig so hard. It was entirely unexpected to play in London to a packed room including a few familiar faces from back home. I could go on like this for every gig but that would be a bit fookin’ tedious, wouldn’t it now? So I won’t. Instead, I’ll just say that we’re having a ball, playing hard, and giving it to the English tight. Job done. Up the hoods. I guess we’ll be seeing yous all in a couple of months, so until then take care ya wee rats, Jonny. X WWW.MYSPACE.COM/LAFARO
—19 AU Magazine—
Pantha Du Prince, Creature With The Atom Brain, SBTRKT
THE EMERGING ACTS YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT
Pantha Du Prince
Creature With The Atom Brain
REAL NAME: BASED: FOR FANS OF: CHECK OUT: WEBSITE:
MEMBERS: FORMATION: FOR FANS OF: CHECK OUT: Records WEBSITE:
Aldo Struyf (guitar, keys, programming, vocals), Dave Schroyen (drums), Jan Wygers (bass), Michiel Van Cleuvenbergen (guitar) Antwerp, Belgium, 2005 Screaming Trees, 13th Floor Elevators, Millionaire Second album Transylvania, out now on The End
REAL NAME: BASED: FOR FANS OF: CHECK OUT: WEBSITE:
Making deep and dark bass music is a pretty faceless enterprise anyway, but London’s SBTRKT (pronounced ‘Subtract’) has gone one further and obscured his appearance entirely, from press pics to his (frequent) DJ appearances. “Minimalism is the influence,” he explains. “How can you reduce a name and an image to their bare bones and still be immediately recognisable?”
Hendrik Weber Berlin and Paris The Field, Four Tet, Apparat. Third album Black Noise, out now on Rough Trade www.panthaduprince.com
Rough Trade haven’t always been abo–ut that largely Anglophile brand of indie-rock with which their 00s renaissance made them synonymous. No, back when The Strokes and The Libertines were but glints in the eyes of Tom Verlaine, Joe Strummer and the rest, Geoff Travis and friends were busy developing their West London record shop into the most bleeding-edge label in the UK, signing the likes of This Heat, Scritti Politti and early electronic acts like the proto-industrial Cabaret Voltaire and Throbbing Gristle. And so although their recent signing of German techno bod Pantha du Prince may have raised a few eyebrows, it makes a strange kind of sense. It’s a hell of a leap to suggest that the melody-kissed Pantha himself is following in those difficult and edgy footsteps, but it shows that his new label has form, and perhaps they are trying to row back a little from the niche they have recently built for themselves. Weber released his third album Black Noise at the start of February, and it slots nicely next to the likes of The Field and Four Tet – visionary artists that draw from elements of minimal techno, house and electro-pop without becoming genre archetypes. Two highlights from the new PdP album illustrate the point – a collaboration with Panda Bear results in the soaring, euphoric haze of ‘Stick To My Side’, whilst a few tracks later on ‘Behind The Stars’, we are thrust into a sweaty Berlin warehouse with some mean, no-quarter-asked techno. If Rough Trade really were looking to expand their portfolio, they’ve certainly chosen well. Chris Jones —20 issue 63—
Five tracks into the first spin of the new Creature With The Atom Brain album in the AU office, the cry goes up: “Is this the Screaming Trees?!” There’s a very good reason for that. On their second full-length, the Belgian troupe again enlist the services of Trees frontman Mark Lanegan on ‘Lonely Light’, while the whole of Transylvania was mixed by Chris Goss, famed for his work on records by the likes of Kyuss, Queens of the Stone Age and Lanegan himself. The bands’ histories are intertwined, with frontman Aldo Struyf having supported Goss’s Masters of Reality and toured with QOTSA as part of his other band Millionaire, as well as contributing keys to Lanegan’s Bubblegum, produced by Goss. “We kept in touch over the years, so when I asked Chris or Mark to help me with the [new] album, they immediately said yes,” he explains. They are handy friends to have for their pulling power as much as their musical contributions, but they shouldn’t overshadow the new Creature record. As their Roky Erickson-referencing name implies, there’s a gloomy, psychedelic bent to the band’s warm, aged sound – they are as redolent of Sixties hippies and Seventies dropouts as the downtuned riffage of stoner titans like Kyuss. And as for the lyrical themes, Struyf’s own take sums things up rather nicely: “Everything changes, gets fucked, turns into darkness but there’s always a way out.” CJ
Unknown London Burial, 2562, Pinch. New single ‘Soundboy Shift’/‘Rundown’, out March 15 on Young Turks www.myspace.com/subtractone
The producer’s identity remains a secret, but his profile is on the rise. He started producing as a UK garage-loving teenager in the late Nineties, but only last year did he start touting himself around, and things have moved pretty fast in the last 12 months. “DJs like Mary Anne Hobbs, Benji B, Sinden and Blackdown were early champions of my sound, and it’s built up since then.” Remixes have been completed for an eclectic list including Basement Jaxx, These New Puritans, Modeselektor and Jack Peñate. The second single to follow the January release ‘Laika’, ‘Soundboy Shift’/‘Rundown’ will be released on Young Turks (home of the “inspiring” Peñate and The xx) in March. It comprises two tracks of tough, dub and techno-inflected two-step, shot through with an eerie, nocturnal ambience that is so typical of the producer. Atmosphere is key: “I get my inspiration from playing chords and melodies which can build and play with emotion or evoke a place or time. That’s always been my main premise before the beats and vocals. A lot of bass music is about the place and time it’s played. I look for the escape music can provide.” CJ
Cooly G REAL NAME: BASED: FOR FANS OF: CHECK OUT: WEBSITE:
Merissa Campbell Brixton, South London Joy Orbison, Kode9, Ikonika ‘Narst’/‘Love Dub’ single, out now on Hyperdub. www.myspace.com/coolyg
What is it they say about women and multitasking? Cooly G is a first and foremost an exciting new producer, but she is also a singer, model, DJ, and, significantly as it turns out, single mother of a threeyear-old boy. She even had a semi-pro football career until recently, too. The 27-year-old has been dubbed the ‘Queen of Funky’ and a ‘Dubstep Diva’ since she signed to the bass-centric Hyperdub label, but she credits her son with the impetus she needed to get this far. “After like a year, a year-and-a-half, when I felt like I could let him stay at his dad’s house or his nan’s house, I went to some club and I was like, ‘Listen bruv, play my tune, innit?’,” she says, in an infectious South London patter. “I just wanted to see the reaction, what I should do from now on. And the crowd went so nuts, and that just made me start to do this properly. It’s my family that really made me do this hard, you know? Proper focused and that. And then when that got played like that, I was like, ‘Whoa, nothing’s gonna stop me now!’.” Cooly – akaw Merissa Campbell – started DJing at the age of seven, inspired by her dad’s love of reggae and her mum’s fixation on acid house, and if you listen to her own tunes, you can hear the lineage straight away. “I was washing cars to make money, and just buying random records, just anything – revival, rare groove, hip-hop, anything. I just wanted records.” DJing turn into production in her teens, then nearly a decade teaching music production – often to middle-aged men – at a studio in Brixton, keeping busy with singing, rapping and everything else on the side. “Before I was pregnant, I was everywhere – at the studio, at this show, at that rave. I was all over the place, not really focused but doing a lot of things. Doing modelling, doing fashion shows… But now I have my son, I’m well focused and I know what I want now. And I’m doing it for him as well, innit.” ‘Narst’/‘Love Dub’ was the first single on Hyperdub, and it was followed by the inclusion of the sultry ‘Weekend Fly’ on the label’s recent 5 Years compilation. Cooly is happy to admit that she knew nothing about Hyperdub – nor its enigmatic founder and leading producer, Kode9 – before he heard ‘Love Dub’ on her MySpace and got in touch. “I put it up and then three days later, I’m getting all these emails from Hyperdub. I was just like, ‘Who are they, man?!’.” She almost shrieks at this point, recalling her utter confusion at the time. “And then I spoke to Kode9 and he was… I don’t know man, I just felt warm to him. He was just like, ‘I can put your shit out’. I didn’t even know who he was, I was just like, ‘Let’s do this’ and it’s been dramatic since then. Now I understand why people are going crazy over them.” They’re rightly getting excited about Cooly G as well. As well as her warm, evocative tunes and DJing rep, she has the looks, the charisma and the star quality (“I love the camera!” she says of her Cooly G TV venture – bit.ly/coolygtv) to mark her out as the aesthetic opposite of Burial’s faceless (if awe-inspiring) gloom, even as they coexist on arguably the most exciting label in the UK. Her goalscoring exploits may have fallen by the wayside, but the future looks bright. Chris Jones
—21 AU Magazine—
tie things together. It’s not really a concept album, but it imagines an old sailor reminiscing about his life. There’s always romance attached to travelling on the sea.”
really appreciated how cold the Welsh hillsides can get. You know when you’re just shaking and there’s a tear in your eye?”
“This feels like quite a mature album,” Meilyr adds. “Where our headspace was, it felt almost like it was the end of something. The next record will be really pop and a buzz.”
The result of all this chaos is an album that, according to Meilyr, sounds unlike most debut efforts. “The first album usually represents how the band are, you’ve got the songs and you put them down. Then, if you have more money, you might experiment on the second album. But we wanted to make something with no boundaries. At no point was anyone saying, ‘Perhaps we shouldn’t be doing this’, and maybe why some people won’t like it.” Dylan nods in agreement, “I haven’t heard a band doing such a collage of songs. The instrumentation for every song is dangerously varied.”
MEMBERS: FORMATION: FOR FANS OF: CHECK OUT: WEBSITE:
Meilyr Jones (vocals, bass), Dylan Hughes (keyboards, guitar), Alun Gaffey (guitar), Gwion Llewelyn (drums). Aberystwyth, 2008. Pomegranates, The Beatles, Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci. The album Goodbye Falkenburg is available now via Fantastic Plastic. www.racehorsesmusic.com
Certain bands open themselves up for a deluge of puns. Welsh psychedelic-rockers Race Horses are odds-on (damn it) to be your favourite new band this year. Lead singer, the swooningly handsome Meilyr Jones, accepts they’ve unleashed a monster. “We had T-shirts with ‘Bet On Race Horses’, but our favourite was ‘Only Fools And Race Horses’.” The Cardiff-based quartet, who met at school in the coastal town of Aberystwyth, have just released their excellent debut album, Goodbye Falkenburg, which forges a path between Rubber Soul-period Beatles and wobbly sea shanties. In fact, a nautical theme is embedded throughout the record. Maybe this is what happens when you grow up next to the sea, as guitarist Dylan Hughes explains. “We just thought it would be a brilliant way to
—22 issue 63—
Race Horses were formed just over a year ago, out of the ashes of the band Radio Luxembourg. Meilyr and Dylan grew up on a diet of The Beatles, classical music and the “weirder side of the Seventies”. However, it was an early concert experience that seemed to sow the seed for their unconstrained style. “When we were younger, Catatonia were really big and that was the first gig we went to,” Dylan explains. “Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci were supporting and were very wild that day. It was really entertaining, and to see this band with keyboards breaking down, stuff going wrong, and the general madness, was great fun.” Goodbye Falkenburg was recorded in various places, including a house party, a chapel, a zoo and an eco-village called Cae Mabon. “We recorded ‘Cake’, our last single, in the eco-village, which sounded like a great idea on the phone. The problem was it was about four days before Christmas and there was no heating at all,” Meilyr says. Dylan physically shivers at the memory, “We hadn’t
Race Horses are also proud patriots, and two tracks on Goodbye Falkenburg were recorded in Welsh. “There are specific feelings in songs that the English language cannot describe,” Meilyr says. “But in the same way, Welsh has its failings and it doesn’t suit everything.” So surely Race Horses must be Aberystwyth’s finest ever musical export? To AU’s surprise, Dylan doesn’t think so. “No, one of my favourite albums is by a band called Murray The Hump. They were a really good Aberystwyth band, so we’re probably second.” John Freeman
Avi Buffalo, Hunter-Gatherer, tUnE-yArDs
Avi Buffalo MEMBERS: FORMATION: FOR FANS OF: CHECK OUT: WEBSITE:
Avigdor Zahner-Isenberg (vocals, guitar), Rebecca Coleman (keyboards, vocals), Arin Fazio (bass), Sheridan Riley (drums). Long Beach, California, 2007. Neil Young, Wilco, The Shins. The album Avi Buffalo is available on April 26 via Sub Pop. www.myspace.com/avibuffalo
“Hey, check out this band, Avi Buffalo! They’re quite the jam!” So says the exotically named Avigdor Zahner-Isenberg, singer-songwriter with the Californian quartet. And AU tends to agree with him. Recently signed to the legendary Sub Pop label, Avi Buffalo sound like a sun-baked Neil Young, as they take their first tottering steps. Still in their teens, the band formed in high school, and quickly caught the ear of Sub Pop honcho Tony Kiewel. Avi is well aware that the Seattle institution comes with its baggage. “There’s definitely something that goes with being a ‘Sub Pop band’, since I’ve heard that term thrown around a lot since we started working with them,” he tells AU. “To me the label ‘Sub Pop band’ is a very bad thing that could limit the way people listen to us, but we’ll just keep making as much music as possible to avoid that and insanity.” With a debut album out in the spring (“It’s kind of a fun record – it’s a little bright sounding and very cluttered sounding”), Avi’s musical heroes effectively sketch out its boundaries. “When I started playing guitar I got really into Jimi Hendrix, then Led Zeppelin, then Wilco and Neil Young, then Jim O’Rourke, then John Coltrane, then The Flaming Lips.” But the self-titled long player had an uneasy gestation. “We started recording the record as sort of an experiment. Halfway through recording it we heard from Sub Pop, which threw us off our energy for a little bit because before we were making something that was for ourselves and for fun. I was also in my senior year of high school, so everything was going crazy at once.” Age-worn yet carefree – knowing but with glimpses of sweet naïvety. Avi Buffalo are indeed the jam. John Freeman
Hunter-Gatherer REAL NAME: BASED: FOR FANS OF: CHECK OUT: WEBSITE:
Unknown Dublin Aphex Twin, Ulrich Schnauss, insomnia, late nights I Dreamed I was A Footstep In The Trail Of A Murderer, out now www.myspace.com/huntergathererforever
If you’ve ever woken up in the dead of night with headphones still clamped to your nut and a serious dose of the sweats, Hunter-Gatherer is the music-maker for your state of mind. Following a handful of EPs in the last few years (a couple of which are available for free download on his MySpace), H-G ended 2009 by delivering an epic debut album that muscled its way onto many a top ten list and had everyone up in an end-of-year heap. His is the purest form of electronic music – unsettling, slightly paranoid and jam-packed with melody, ideas and rhythm. While the elitism and willful obscurity of some IDM can prove frustrating to the casual listener, H-G’s debut, in a similar manner to Aphex Twin’s ambient work, has all the hallmarks of smart, carefully-constructed electronica; equal parts cold and warm, experimental yet familiar. These are the sounds of a confident musician, welcoming you tentatively to his world and revelling in the intricacies of a genre with few boundaries. According to the man himself, 2010 sees “gigs in February and March, the album released on vinyl, the recording of two EPs and a second album, some remixes and collaborations with people, possible soundtrack work, writing and working on a few audiovisual projects.” He describes his sound as the “harmonics of regret” and who are we to disagree? This is going to be a big year for HunterGatherer. Adam Lacey
tUnE-yArDs REAL NAME: LOCATION: FOR FANS OF: CHECK OUT: WEBSITE:
Merrill Garbus New England, USA, 2004 Ariel Pink, Dirty Projectors, Pikelet New single ‘Real Live Flesh’, out now on 4AD www.tune-yards.com
Merrill Garbus once lived illegally in Canada, and you get the feeling that she’d quickly take to the road with only a scruffy dog and her ukelele in tow if fate called, as she is a brighter and fresher kind of rambling rose, the kind of singer-poet-songwriter person I’d half-hope to meet on a park bench one afternoon. Now focused on her tUnE-yArDs project after saying goodbye to old band Sister Suvi, she’s wise to life and to music, yet retains a childlike approach, performing in signature blazes of colour. Inventive but uncomplicated, her music is gently brash, technologically natural, thoughtfully abstract and yeah, honest too. As Belfast and Dublin audiences recently found out, she’s the brightest folk star we’ve seen in a while. Nay McArdle
—23 AU Magazine—
—24 issue 63—
10 Years Ago
The Death Of Charles M. Schulz February 12, 2000
—Sometimes it feels like life is just out to kick you in the ass, steal your lunch money, and split before anyone sees it. There are times when the cruel indignities of it all mount up, and you have to hold yourself back from throwing your coat on the ground, shaking a fist at the sky, and muttering, ‘Good grief!’ under your breath. But one man set out to tell us that there was more to it all than that, through the medium of a put-upon young boy and his dog. And on February 13, 2000, that boy and his dog took their last ever adventure, one day after the death of their creator. Over the course of 50 years, Charles M. Schulz did his best to show America what it had become, through the eyes of children. Filtering his own experiences of the post-war world through a collection of misfit kids in a generic American small town, Schulz’s gang of kids reflected seismic cultural events and changing attitudes, and acted as America’s conscience. Born on November 26, 1922, the unassuming cartoonist had led a quiet and unassuming life before joining in the war effort in 1943. Rising to the rank of staff sergeant, he was formally discharged from the army in 1946, becoming an art teacher. A childhood interest in illustration led to him trying his hand at a cartoon strip, and in 1947, Lil Folks appeared, a prototype version of the cartoon which would make him a household name. For the princely sum of $10 a strip, Schulz chronicled the lives of a group of children for the St. Paul Pioneer Press, one of whom was called Charlie Brown. After a dispute over pay, and a desire to move the strip to a different part of the paper, Schulz quit, by which time a deal had been brokered with United Feature Syndicate to reprint the best of the strips alongside new material in newspapers across the US. The strip was re-titled Peanuts, and within a few years, Schulz was the most successful cartoonist in the country. Whilst Schulz was not the first significant cartoonist in American history, in many respects he defined
the language and tone that continues to dominate newspaper cartoon strips to this day. His perfectly balanced mix of whimsy and comment allowed him to tackle much weightier subjects than his peers, with a degree of subtlety that had hitherto been unseen in the world of comics. Although the dominant tone of the strip was that of a playful sensitivity, Schulz used his position to comment on the world around him, referencing the Vietnam war, race and gender issues, and political events. Unlike some of the fiercer, more scathing commentators of the day, whose work would frequently reside on the editorial pages of the newspaper, Schulz operated on a more subtle level, addressing the big topics without a political axe to grind. This was the kind of storytelling where the characters would articulate what you’d already be thinking, but in a way that you’d be comfortable dealing with whilst having your breakfast. The strip became a phenomenon, inspiring merchandise, films, and albums, whilst the characters of Snoopy and Charlie Brown became instantly recognisable icons. But all the while, Schulz remained complete control of the strip, handling every aspect of its creation himself. And whilst the world kept turning, spiralling through tumultuous times, there remained a beautiful serenity at the heart of Peanuts, an unsentimental reminder that the simple things still mattered, even when it was becoming increasingly hard to get your bearings on what
Words by Steven Rainey Illustration by Elissa Parente
was happening to you. Central to the message of Peanuts was the notion that whilst things might not turn out right, they would still turn out, and it’s how we deal with that which matters. This heartfelt and sincere message reverberated throughout every storyline, every character, and every line on the page. Schulz had long commented that Charlie Brown would outlive him, and true to his word, after announcing his retirement in 1999, the final Peanuts strip was printed on February 14, 2000, the day after Schulz’s death. And in more ways than one, it was the end of an era. One wonders how Schulz would have dealt with the post9/11 world, or the rise of the digital age. Unspeakable evil was never a feature of his world, and it almost seems apt that he never had to face up to it. Instead, Peanuts remains as it always was, forever preserved, never aging, and continuing to offer the same comfort and warmth that it always did, despite the world it dealt with no longer really existing. Ten years after his death, Schulz can rest easy knowing that his creation is still as relevant and important – and untarnished – now as it has ever been. And the questions he first asked 60 years ago still need to be asked. As the title of one of the television specials once pointedly asked, What Have We Learned, Charlie Brown? It’s a question we’re still trying to answer, and with the help if Charles M. Schulz, there’s always hope. —25 AU Magazine—
History Lessons - 808 State
—Be it the gorgeous, saxophone-led chillout anthem ‘Pacific State’, or the juddering techno slam of ‘Cübik’, 808 State’s vision and desire to experiment produced some mind-bending music in the late Eighties. As ZTT prepares to release four remastered 808 State albums (Ninety, Ex: El, Gorgeous and Don Solaris) next month, AU talks to head honcho Graham Massey about how a café, a record shop, the rise of ecstasy and a love of jazz pushed back the boundaries of dance music forever.
those Radio 1 DJs got up to all kinds! He probably had an epiphany to that record.”
The original 808 State line up comprised Martin Price, the Svengali-like owner of Manchester’s Eastern Bloc record shop, Graham Massey and Gerald Simpson, who would later release the classic ‘Voodoo Ray’ as A Guy Called Gerald. “I used to run a café across the road from Eastern Bloc, and Martin used to come in for cups of tea,” Graham tells AU. “We had a record player in there and stacks of vinyl – the records would be covered in coleslaw! Martin used to bring a lot of hip-hop people in, as he wanted to start a label. One of the kids who came in the shop was Gerald.” As they became friends, their diverse musical tastes would ultimately shape the sound of the fledgling band – Massey was the electronics geek, Price the Northern Soul fan, and Simpson the expert on the evolving American house scene. “I got really into the recording studio aspects, and I signed up for a recording course. It was the dawn of samplers and computers, so I was learning all that stuff.” And of course, Eastern Bloc provided an endless supply of new, imported music. 808 State were christened after Simpson’s favourite drum machine, the Roland TR-808, but Graham prefers to reflect on the impact of their name. “It sounds very corporate and faceless, and we liked that. We weren’t setting out to be pin-up pop stars – it was music for the people.” The trio became heavily involved Manchester’s club scene, spending night after night at the Hacienda, and the lesser-known but more, as Graham describes, “chemical” Thunderdome. In the mid-Eighties, different musical genres were beginning to collide. “There was electronic soul, like The SOS Band, and then there was house, which wasn’t considered very cool. British electronic music, like New Order and Throbbing Gristle, was more our territory, but then the territories starting crossing. That’s when it got interesting to us – if we took these sounds and then manipulated them into our view of things. Make them harder, make them weirder.” After releasing the acid-house Newbuild in 1988, the band came to public prominence with the majestic ‘Pacific State’ single a year later. Containing the now seminal saxophone melody and awash with tropical electronica, the song became a blueprint for what was to become known as ambient house. Today it still sounds disconcertingly groundbreaking and represented the summation of the band’s influences. “There were quite a lot of jazz influences in what we were doing, like to put a soprano saxophone on ‘Pacific State’. When you get a record like ‘Pacific State’, it’s not just come from the house scene – it’s come from Santana records, from [jazz fusion pioneers] Weather Report, [original house music guru] Marshall Jefferson and [‘father of exotica’] Martin Denny.” The usually conservative Gary Davies played ‘Pacific State’ daily on BBC Radio 1, and for the public at large the genie was out of the bottle. “John Peel played us and that was very helpful, but not nearly as helpful as daytime [radio]. Davies was very mainstream, but I’m sure all
The drug scene played a part in shaping the sound of 808 State. As ecstasy became the drug of choice, chill-out rooms became integral to a night of dancing. Graham agrees that 808 State created music specifically with this in mind. “The types of music that was being played in clubs, and the barriers that were broken down, were definitely influenced by the drugs. When ecstasy took off, the demand for different types of house music did get bigger. There were certain key records at raves that had that three-in-themorning atmospherics that we were very interested in.” And 808 State were not merely musical innovators, with their importance lost to only the geekiest of electronicaheads. At their height, they were a hugely successful band and highly sought after as both remixers and collaborators, working with a pre-solo career Björk and Mancunian rapper MC Tunes. “We did the G-MEX in Manchester, which was a 12,000 seater. We were a faceless dance act and that kind of thing didn’t happen. We were in at the deep end; we just assembled the hugest PA system ever!” And as for Ms. Gudmundsdóttir? “She had our early stuff like Newbuild and Quadrastate, and wanted us to get involved in programming beats that would become Debut. She rang up, and didn’t say who she was, but said she was from Reykjavik so we sussed her. We did those two tracks on Ex: El; ‘Qmart’ was a first take improvisation – it’s quite jazz.” Massey would go on to produce Björk’s magical Debut album. The success of ‘Pacific State’ led to a record deal with ZTT, and 808 State became one of the posse of bands, such as The KLF (“We’d spend weekends in the weird KLF house; they had an actual police car in there!”) destined to bend and stretch dance music for the mainstream. “With [1989’s] Ninety, we had signed to ZTT and did the whole thing in not much more than a fortnight. We didn’t fuss over it; it’s got the heat of the moment in it. It’s got some experimental stuff on it and it became an ‘after club’ kind of record. There became a new space within rave music, which us and people like The Orb looked to fill.” Massey seems particularly proud of the legacy 808 State has left, and is excited by the torch of innovation being carried forward by artists like Autechre, Aphex Twin, Simian Mobile Disco and even the currently red-hot Delphic. “With the Autechre connection, we don’t sound anything like them – but they wouldn’t sound anything like they do if we hadn’t kick started that experimental area. And I’ve had many conversations with [Aphex Twin] Richard James about the ‘Massagarama’ single appearing in a record shop in Cornwall and kick starting a little scene down there.” 808 State still tour, but logistics are likely to get in the way of any new material. “Over the last two years we’ve done a clump of summer festivals, and we still get on. That’s an achievement really. Artistically, we could record again, but to untangle our lives to do it would be quite hard.” And does Massey have any regrets? “No, but we would have killed to have the technology we’ve got now. It’s now so much easier due to how much sample you can get on your modern computer, compared to the floppy disk we were building things on. You’d get one-and-a-half seconds of sample on a disk – a song would be made up of tiny fragments, like a mosaic.” And what would 808 State’s epitaph be? Graham grins at AU, and without missing a beat, concludes, “Door kickers!” NINETY, EX:EL, GORGEOUS AND DON SOLARIS ARE OUT ON MARCH 22 VIA ZTT RECORDS. WWW.808STATE.COM
Words by John Freeman
THE RHYMES THAT BITE
808 STATE’S KEY TRACKS, AS CHOSEN BY GRAHAM MASSEY. ‘Pacific State’
(from Quadrastate, 1989). Their defining track: a soprano saxophone (“it’s not a bloody clarinet”) underpins this jaw-dropping chunk of proto ambient-house. “My son and his friends only know it because it’s on Grand Theft Auto.”
(from Ex: El, 1991). A fearsome techno piece – the soundtrack to being repeatedly kicked in the bollocks, “It’s like it could be a Led Zeppelin tune; it’s a monster guitar riff shape.”
‘In Yer Face’
(from Ex: El, 1991). Their biggest hit and an accidentally unfinished masterpiece. “I’d left it half done and gone on holiday, and somebody handed it over to the record company. So, it’s really together for the first two minutes and then goes off at mad tangents.”
(from Ex: El, 1991). “The electronica heads go for this – the really rich, colourful oddball one.” AU verdict: five minutes of strobing, looping, head-fuckingly weird brilliance.
(from Ex: El, 1991). “It’s a grand prix of beats. It’s the tour de force of drum programming.” AU can offer no better summary.
IT’S IN THE GENES BANDS THAT SHARE THE SAME MUSICAL DNA AS 808 STATE.
Now approaching 70, the legendary acid-jazz pianist was an early embracer of synthesizers; 1983’s global smash hit ‘Rockit’ featured scratching and drum machines.
The Future Sound Of London
Forever pushing back the boundaries of experimental dance music, FSOL shared the same studio as 808 State in the late Eighties. According to Massey, “They took an extreme angle of what you could do with rave music.”
Once an indie-guitar girl with The Sugarcubes, a fascination for rhythms and samples was fuelled via collaboration with 808 State.
Rochdale’s finest, the Warp Records alumni are paid-up devotees. “Our Newbuild album did set a lot of people off in a certain direction. Autechre are massive fans of our really early acid stuff.”
Simian Mobile Disco
SMD’s James Ford drummed for 808 State, and was hugely influenced by their organic, analogue approach or, as Massey describes, “a direct lineage between one generation of club culture and the next.” —27 AU Magazine—
DIMWITS —Fame. Something every single person secretly craves (don’t deny it – you do). And it’s easy to see why. There’s the wealth, the adoration, the thousands of nubile groupies waiting to cater for your every whim. But perhaps being in the public eye isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. For whereas you and I might blunder around clumsily, saying and doing things of the utmost stupidity, we do so with the benefit of relative anonymity, with only our family and friends to mock us. Not so the poor celebrity, whose every ‘D’oh!’ moment occurs in the unforgiving glare of the TV camera or the paparazzi lens. And for some of these numbskulls, the clangers come thick and fast (particularly, it seems, if you’re a professional footballer, US Republican politician or socialite). Join us as we point and laugh at the following disgraceful specimens of humankind. Words by Neill Dougan Illustration by Elissa Parente
—28 issue 63—
A to Z - Dimwits
A IS FOR ANDRE AGASSI
In his day, a very handy tennis player. But he fairly sullied his good name with the revelation in his recent autobiography that he had taken crystal meth while still a professional. Silly thing to do; an even sillier thing to admit to. And don’t think we’ve forgotten the fluorescent outfits and dyed blonde mullet from the early days either, Andre.
B IS FOR GEORGE W BUSH
The archetypal daft bastard, George somehow found himself serving two terms as the most powerful man on the planet, peppering his time as US President with a seemingly never-ending series of verbal gaffes and diplomatic cock-ups. Would have been quite funny if it wasn’t for all the wars and evil and stuff.
C IS FOR STAN COLLYMORE
Once a footballer of quite frightening talent, Stan succeeded in thoroughly ruining his reputation with an ill-advised sequence of idiotic blunders, including beating up then-girlfriend Ulrika Jonsson and being caught in the act of dogging. Worse, he starred in Basic Instinct 2: Risk Addiction. Truly shameful.
D IS FOR JIM DAVIDSON
Gratuitously offensive right-wing throwback masquerading as a ‘comedian’. Appears to think nothing of including jokes about rape and the disabled in his act. For all that, his most heinous crime is being very unfunny indeed. Big Break was ace though.
G IS FOR PEACHES GELDOF
An off-putting combination of brashness, petulance, arrogance and the mistaken belief that she is very clever indeed, the Geldof girl recently outed herself as a scientologist in the ITV documentary Fame… and Peaches Geldof, during which she made presenter Fearne Cotton look like a beacon of common sense and intellectualism. Quite a feat.
H IS FOR PARIS HILTON
Like Peaches Geldof, Hilton is one of a breed of pampered princesses who are born into wealth and fame, with not much going on upstairs, and whose only apparent aim is to party long, party hard, and make appalling reality television shows. As an advert for Western civilisation, she makes AU want to run off and join Al-Qaeda.
I IS FOR CHARLES ITANDJE
L IS FOR KYLE LAFFERTY
Previously regarded as a promising young striker, this all changed for the lanky Rangers forward in May of last year when, in a match against Aberdeen, he pretended he’d been headbutted and went down as if shot in one of the more outlandish acts of playacting football has seen in recent years. Sadly for Kyle, the incident was captured by the TV cameras. Fined by his club as a result, he’s now seen, with some justification, as a bit of a muppet.
M IS FOR GEORGE MICHAEL
Doesn’t seem like a bad bloke, but tends to get stoned and fall asleep at the wheel of his car a lot. That’s simply not clever. We won’t even get into the whole public toilet debacle. Best stick to the soulful ballads and funky jams, George.
Everyone likes a laugh and a joke. Helps the day go in a bit faster, doesn’t it? However, there’s a time and a place for that type of thing, and it’s fair to say that a memorial service for the 20 th anniversary of the Hillsborough Disaster is probably not it. Didn’t stop Liverpool reserve keeper Itandje though, who was spotted larking about inappropriately during the commemoration. No-one was surprised when he was shipped out on loan soon after. Chump.
E IS FOR THE EDGE
We actually have no idea if the U2 guitarist and fan of tight-fitting beanie hats is a dimwit or not. But we will say this: he has a really fucking stupid name. Almost as stupid as ‘Bono’, in fact.
F IS FOR VICTOR FRANKENSTEIN
Protagonist of Mary Shelley’s classic 1818 novel Frankenstein, Doctor Frankenstein hits upon the dubious idea of seeing if he can create life by piecing together a humanoid from pieces of human corpses. And is somehow subsequently surprised when his monstrous creation wreaks bloody havoc all around him. Wow, didn’t see that one coming, eh Doc?
J IS FOR JONAS BROTHERS
Mind-numbingly banal, simpering Christian soft-rock group who’ve made a career out of entirely missing the point of rock ‘n’ roll by stripping it of all sense of edge and danger. Currently poisoning the minds of hordes of pre-teens into thinking rock music is good, clean fun. Must be destroyed.
K IS FOR JAY KAY
Erstwhile chart-topping Jamiroquai frontman who thought nothing of declaring himself a committed environmentalist while simultaneously owning a fleet of over 20 gas-guzzling sports cars, including several Ferraris. Yeah, that makes perfect sense. Also fond of sporting some truly foolish headgear and scrapping with photographers.
N IS FOR OLIVER NORTH
Lieutenant Colonel in the US Army who disgraced himself by getting caught up in the Iran-Contra affair – selling weapons to Iran and using the profits to support Nicaragua’s Contra rebels. The scandal pretty much finished his military career, but he needn’t have worried – Fox News, traditional refuge of right-wing crazies, gave him a new home and a career as a political commentator. Hooray for Fox! —29 AU Magazine—
O IS FOR BILL O’REILLY
Dangerously unstable Fox News Channel host who earned widespread ridicule when a video was leaked online showing him completely flipping out, Ron Burgundy-style, over his inability to understand simple everyday phrases on his teleprompter. Worth watching again… and again… and again (tinyurl.com/ oreillyflips).
P IS FOR SARAH PALIN
Bafflingly chosen by John McCain as his running mate in the last US Presidential election, the Alaskan Governor proceeded to sink the whole enterprise with a succession of Bush-esque gaffes, such as failing to name a single newspaper during a TV interview. Recently launched a new career as a TV presenter when she signed up to – who else? – Fox News, so Americans can expect to hear a lot more from her. Lucky them.
W IS FOR TIGER WOODS
Q IS FOR DAN QUAYLE Just one name on a bizarre list of bumbling halfwits who have managed to ascend to great political heights in the US (see Bush, Palin), Quayle was Vice-President to George Bush Senior, and attracted widespread ridicule for his habit of making nonsensical statements. Famously corrected the spelling of ‘potato’ to ‘potatoe’ during a school visit. Bush Junior was obviously paying close attention.
R IS FOR IRIS ROBINSON
By the time you read this, Bible-bashing hypocrite Mrs Robinson’s infidelities and dodgy financial dealings might well have caused her husband – First Minister and unfortunate cuckold Peter – to relinquish his leadership of the DUP. And she would have got away with it if it wasn’t for that pesky kid.
S IS FOR JESSICA SIMPSON
Racy popstrel who showed herself to be quite the dolt on her MTV reality show Newlyweds. Her best on-camera moment came she was while eating a can of ‘Chicken Of The Sea’-brand tuna, when she paused, turned to new hubby Nick Lachey and said quizzically: “Is this chicken, what I have, or is this fish?” Astonishingly, the marriage didn’t last.
T IS FOR GIOVANNI TRAPPATONI
Why won’t he pick Andy Reid? Why, God, why? Aaaarrgggh!
—30 issue 63—
You’re the most famous golfer in the world. You earn millions from sponsorship and celebrity endorsements. Everything is great. Except you’re a right randy bugger and you can’t keep your pecker in your pants, getting it on with over a dozen cocktail waitresses and nightclub hostesses behind your wife’s back. You somehow expect to get away with this. Unsurprisingly, you don’t.
X IS FOR ABEL XAVIER U IS FOR KEITH URBAN
Cheesy country-rocker from Down Under who has a ludicrously unlikely surname. Granted that’s not really his fault, but it is his fault that he called his 2006 album Love, Pain and the Whole Crazy Thing – possibly one of the worst album titles ever. Also a recovering cocaine addict, but we can’t think of anything smart to say about that, apart from some piss-poor pun about his ‘urban’ lifestyle. Best just leave it.
V IS FOR THE VIPER
Of course you have to be a bit of a bozo to participate in (or indeed watch) professional wrestling in the first place, but Randy ‘The Viper’ Orton seems a bit slower than most. The former US soldier went AWOL twice, was imprisoned for 38 days and received a ‘bad conduct’ discharge. As a wrestler he’s been beset by allegations of steroid use and was suspended for 60 days for ‘unprofessional conduct’. Ultimately, though, it’s wrestling, so no-one really cares.
Portuguese international footballer whose career was interrupted by several instances of stunning oafishness. Following Euro 2002 he was banned for nine months after throwing a massive tantrum when his team crashed out in the semis. Then in 2006 he tested positive for steroids and was banned for 12 months. Worst of all was his bleached blonde hair and matching beard, which made him a dead ringer for Dr Zaius from Planet Of The Apes.
Y IS FOR SARAH, DUCHESS OF YORK
Former Royal whose main contribution to the advancement of human kind was to popularise toesucking, after she was famously snapped topless by the paparazzi while some guy slurped on her tootsies. Still, it’s more than most of the Royal Family have done for us.
Z IS FOR ZORRO
Yeah, so he can buckle his swash with the best of them and he’s pretty handy with that sword, but does he not know he looks like a twat in that mask? Sort it out Zorro, you git.
BELFAST NASHV ILLE SONGWRITERS FESTIVAL 24-28 FEBRUARY 2010 Pre-festival Nashville’s Phil Vassar in Concert, 29th January, Madisons Hotel, £12
A-Z Songwriters Iain Archer 27 Feb Ulster Hall £20 Tom Baxter 27 Feb Ulster Hall £20 Carlene Carter 24 Feb Empire (solo) £22, 25 Feb Kings Head £22 Nanci Griffith 25 Feb Empire £22, 27 Feb May St Church (solo) £22 Ralph McTell 26 Feb May St Church £15 Mundy 25 Feb Madisons £12, 26 Feb Empire (solo concert) £12 Midge Ure 27 Feb Empire £15 Andy White 26 Feb Black Box £15 Holly Williams 26 Feb Kings Head (solo) £10, 27 Feb Ulster Hall
Tickets: www.belfastnashville.com Tel: 028 9024 6609 —31 AU Magazine—
Respect Your Shelf - Zombie Movies
Respect Your ShelfThe AU Buyers’ Guide
The zombie movie stands as a metaphor for the fragility of the world we have built, the one area where we can truly gaze into the abyss and confront the frightening reality of what happens in the face of our own annihilation. Unlike other horror stories, in the zombie apocalypse, there is NO coming back. Steeling itself for the final showdown, AU loads its weapon, boards up the windows and attempts to learn the lessons from our own demise as portrayed in the inevitable zombie apocalypse. Before we continue, if someone you love gets bitten, remember to remove the head – they’ll thank you for it in the long run… Words by Steven Rainey Illustration by Elissa Parente
—32 issue 63—
The Great Grandaddy
The Punk Years
Bring The Gore
Dawn Of The Dead (Dir. George A. Romero, 1978)
Return Of The Living Dead (Dir. Dan O’Bannon, 1985)
Zombi 2 (Dir. Lucio Fulci, 1979)
Having made his name with 1968’s Night Of The Living Dead, George A. Romero had dragged the horror genre out of the campy excesses of previous decades, jettisoning the gothic melodrama and period silliness of the Hammer Horror movies. Night Of The Living Dead was an unflinchingly bleak film, sending out a message that we were all doomed, and that there was not one damn thing any of us could do about it. Returning to the genre a decade later, Romero pulled out all the stops to create the definitive zombie movie, overflowing with horror, violence, and – most importantly – big ideas. As the dead begin rising from the earth (for no explainable reason) four people find themselves trapped in a shopping mall, and do their best to usher in some sense of normality to this world gone wrong. Romero pulls no punches, hitting out at the consumerist society that America had become, and in the film’s final moments, he makes his message overt as a war-band of looters pull down this materialistic utopia, literally letting themselves die in their pursuit of goods and wealth in a world where they no longer have any meaning.
Dawn Of The Dead was laced with a dark humour, but Return Of The Living Dead plays it for laughs, with a bunch of nihilistic punk rockers partying themselves into oblivion. The tone is slapstick, but the film still manages to be an effective satire, tapping into the wanton destruction of American punk, and portraying that element of society that would happily embrace the end of civilisation with open arms. The zombies are not the shambling harbingers of death, but rather a legion of wise-cracking smart asses, hell-bent on eating your brains. And as if that wasn’t enough, it’s all done to a thumping soundtrack of punk rock. The film wears its ridiculousness on its sleeve and the overall effect is a film that knows that it’s awful, and is completely pleased with that fact. And in keeping with the tradition of downbeat zombie endings, it all ends on a bleak note, leaving not a glimmer of hope for humanity, as we laugh ourselves into the grave. Only to climb back out of it, shortly afterwards.
Gaining notoriety under its alternative title, Zombie Flesh Eaters, Lucio Fulci’s hellish tale of the beginning of the end is one of those films your mother warned you about. One of the original ‘video nasties’, Zombi 2 featured primitive but stomach churning special effects to capture that horrible moment when an undead being sinks its teeth into some nice succulent human flesh. With a story that takes us from New York to a tropical island, resulting in the seeming annihilation of the human race, Zombi 2 is cheap and nasty, but it still holds up on account of its utter grimness. It’s no surprise that this movie was on the receiving end of some heavy censorship, as it revels in a grimy, intentionally revolting sensibility, trying to be as upsetting as possible. And the ending hints at the ultimate nightmare of the zombie apocalypse – none of us will survive… none of us at all.
Best Bit: The punks have invaded the graveyard, and sexy punkette Trash discusses her favourite way to die (being torn apart by old men, apparently). She then gets nekkid, and does a wee dance on top of a tombstone. Later, she is torn apart by old men.
Best Bit: In a scene that has gone down in the annals of cinema history, a swimmer exploring the tropical sea beside the yacht is attacked by a zombie… UNDERWATER! They only manage to escape when the zombie is attacked by… A SHARK! The mind struggles to take in the preposterousness of what is happening, as we watch some poor fool in a zombie costume getting mauled by a live shark.
La Triviata: Now defunct Leeds hardcore band Send More Paramedics were named after a line uttered by a hungry ghoul after consuming two ambulances’ worth of health service workers. Oh! The humanity…
La Triviata: Zombi 2 is not actually a sequel to anything, with the ‘2’ presumably added to cash in on the fact that Dawn Of The Dead was released in Italy as Zombi.
Playing It For Laughs
The Horror Of Man
Shaun Of The Dead (Dir. Edgar Wright, 2004)
28 Days Later (Dir. Danny Boyle, 2002)
Guided By Choices: The AU Defence
Simon Pegg, Nick Frost and Edgar Wright, the creative team behind Spaced, came up with their own homage to the zombie movie, which managed to be an affectionate parody, as well as a genuinely affecting film in its own right. After a zombie outbreak threatens London, hapless shop assistant Simon Pegg decides to ignore the wider plight of the world, and concentrate on those small things that are important to him – namely his estranged girlfriend and the sanctuary of the local pub. As well as being a surprisingly effective comedy, Shuan Of The Dead also makes a deeper point about how we cling to those things that really matter to us, even when it seems like the entire world is about to fall apart. As the world goes up in flames, the only thing that matters to Shaun is repairing the damage done to his relationship, perfectly displaying the human capacity to ignore the bigger picture in times of crisis. When the zombie apocalypse takes place, there’s a good chance a lot of us will be too busy looking the other way to even notice.
At the core of every truly great zombie film lies the question of how humanity reacts when faced with its own destruction. At its best, the genre acts as a parable on what we are capable of when the chips are down. Perhaps no film captures this better than 28 Days Later, Danny Boyle’s re-imagining of the zombie movie. The film works not just because of the zombie threat (and by updating the zombie for the 21st century, making it faster, sleeker and more deadly, these bad boys are pretty gruesome…), but also because ultimately, the most threatening enemy Murphy encounters is his fellow man, even to the extent that the virus itself is man-made. In a world without rules, how would you react? In 28 Days Later the answer is not a pretty one, but it is a relevant one: in the aftermath of the apocalypse, perhaps the greatest threat to survival is ourselves…
Best Bit: The survivors operate a plan to clear the mall of the undead, using all their new-found material wealth to do so. The resulting scenes are exhilarating, but ultimately result in the protagonists essentially imprisoning themselves and a dying world of their own making. La Triviata: Despite the fact that the film has a fairly bleak ending, with the two remaining survivors escaping in a helicopter with limited fuel and no prospects, the original ending was even bleaker, with both survivors choosing to commit suicide, rather than face the prospect of living out the last days of humanity.
Best Bit: In a film loaded with iconic scenes, perhaps the most satisfying scene in the film is when Dylan Moran’s constantly complaining, wet blanket of a character gets pulled through the window of the pub, and torn to shreds – a moment which is both gruesome and hilarious at the same time. La Triviata: So impressed by their obvious affection for the genre, George A. Romero offered Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright roles in his 2005 film, Land Of The Dead, but rather than the prominent roles they were initially considered for, the pair insisted upon being zombies.
Best Bit: As Cillian Murphy struggles to comprehend what has happened to London, wandering through deserted streets whilst wearing a hospital gown, the apocalyptic swell of Godspeed You! Black Emperor rises up in the background, reaching an almost unbearable emotional crescendo. His world is gone, and it is never coming back. La Triviata: The film ends on a (relatively) upbeat note, with a glimpse of hope being offered, but several other endings were filmed and planned, all concluding in the traditional bleakness that only the zombie film can really deliver. A sequel, 28 Weeks Later, appeared in 2007, but it was more of a traditional action/horror movie, adding little to the original’s sense of apocalyptic dread.
The zombie apocalypse genre comes in many shapes and sizes, and it all depends on what you want from it. There are films which supply belly laughs and frights, others that specialise in gruesome gore, and others still that strive to make some kind of greater statement about humanity. Pound for pound, Romero is the master, and almost all of his zombie moves have something worth checking out (with the exception of 2007’s Diary Of The Dead which shows a group of completely unlikeable and unsympathetic characters caught up in the early stages of an outbreak.). However, do be careful to avoid the myriad of absolutely atrocious, bottom of the barrel, zombie gore-fests that are out there. As a rule of thumb, if it looks like exploitative crap, it probably is – horror wears its heart on its sleeve… or in its mouth… Ultimately, the zombie film at its best strives to reveal something about human nature, forcing us to confront our own mortality, and our morality. Sometimes when we stare into the abyss, we can see ourselves staring right back. And in a truly great zombie movie, all you’ve got to be careful of is that the face staring back at you might try and bite back. —33 AU Magazine—
Classic Movie - The Breakfast Club
Classic Movie The Breakfast Club (1985, directed by John Hughes) —They were five different people, strangers to each other, brought together by circumstance. By the end of that fateful day, they had become all of us, reflecting everything we’d ever been or ever could be. They were society – they were The Breakfast Club. Released in 1985, The Breakfast Club is far from a masterpiece. Indeed, at several points in the film, it seems as if all sense has been obliterated as the film leaps about in search of equilibrium, alternating between moments of personal soul searching and mawkish slapstick ‘comedy’. But in terms of capturing a moment, and helping a generation define themselves, the film is a stone-cold classic. By boiling down his audience into five basic stereotypes, John Hughes created a template – and a cultural phenomenon – that exists to this very day. Think about it: there’s every possibility that you know someone who fits every one of the character archetypes Hughes creates – the athlete, the brain, the basket case, the princess, and the criminal. And in a sense, every film aimed at ‘youth culture’ ever since has somehow been related to The Breakfast Club. Hughes wasn’t just documenting what American teenagers were like, he was creating them. The film’s plot (such as it is) tells the story of five pupils of the fictional Shermer High School who have been sentenced to Saturday detention. From the outset, it becomes clear that the five classmates are only loosely acquainted with each other, at best. Over the course of the day, they learn a little about each other… and themselves. And that’s it. Nothing else happens, and there is little or no dramatic tension at any point in the film. The jokes are generally crushingly unfunny, the scene where the kids “toke on a doobie” is perhaps the most jaw-droppingly astounding sequence ever filmed, and the moments of soul searching are – at best – laughable. —34 issue 63—
Yet despite this, the film manages to transcend these limitations and become a snapshot of a time and place, largely through the strength of the five central characters, and the performances that drive them. In career-defining roles, Emilio Estevez (the athlete), Molly Ringwald (the princess), Ally Sheedy (the basket case), Anthony Michael Hall (the brain), and Judd Nelson (the criminal), flesh out these character archetypes, and make them somehow believable, even when they are doing stupid and unbelievable things. Appropriately, every kid who saw the movie saw him or herself reflected in the screen. The sports jocks were able to empathise with Emilio Estevez showing his sensitive side, whilst the popular girls could sympathise with Molly Ringwald, feeling the pressure from her peer group. Anthony Michael Hall’s portrayal of the brainiac feeling the strain of his parent’s expectations resonated with angry science nerds everywhere, and Ally Sheedy gave a voice to the weirdo new-wavers and goths existing on the fringes of society. And then there was Judd Nelson’s tour de force performance as bad boy John Bender. Flaring his nostrils and pouting wildly, Bender was punk rock given a cleanup for the movies. Smoking, scrapping, and smouldering, Bender was the wise-cracking bad ass that we all wanted to be. In a moment that manages to be simultaneously touching and hilarious, Bender eventually wins Molly Ringwald’s affections, and the star-crossed lovers exchange earrings. Bender punches the air in triumph, Simple Minds kick in with ‘Don’t You Forget About Me’, and we’ve just had the best day ever.
Words by Steven Rainey Illustration by Elissa Parente
The film was a huge hit, and showed Hollywood that there was a market for hip, smart teen movies that spoke to their audiences without patronising them (despite the fact that vast parts of this movie are hugely patronising). For the remainder of the decade, films drawing from the mercurial chemistry of The Breakfast Club would appear, documenting a variant of the American teenager that didn’t really exist until The Breakfast Club invented it. As if by magic, teenage culture lay down and happily acquiesced into the stereotypes put forward by the film, and pretty soon their lives had become our lives. John Hughes made other movies documenting teenage life, but in many ways The Breakfast Club remains his definitive statement. Its mixture of sensitivity, comedy, and pretention struck a chord with audiences that continues to resonate to this day, and Hollywood will seemingly never tire of the bunch of likeable misfits who learn something about themselves on their journey through this thing called ‘life’. Even the ‘gross-out’ comedies of the early 2000s owe a debt to The Breakfast Club, as the hapless teens stumble through all manner of ‘zany’ situations, but growing along the way. Hughes occasionally spoke of returning to the characters in later life, saying that he knew exactly where they’d be right now. His death in August 2009 prevents such a reunion from taking place. Which is possibly a good thing, as it seems implausible that these five characters would ever share a room again, like they did on that special Saturday in March. Hopefully, under Hughes’s watchful eye, they turned out alright.
Two Floors Of Alternative Sounds RESIDENT DJs:
GREGZ McCANN JONNY TIERNAN DARREN CRAIG EVERY SATURDAY AT LAVERY'S DOORS:8PM | ADM:£5 LIVE BAND SHOWCASE FROM 8PM Plus retro disco in the public bar
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in th E v e ry e Ba l l r o Thu om
r s d ay & F r id * F r ee ay a d m is s io n * Re q u e P l ay l is s t F r ie n d ly t w it h D av e F
WEEKLY CLUBS IN THE BUNKER Monday Kitsch Tuesday TA’PP Wednesday OMGWTFDISCO Thursday Radiation Friday Gigantic
Classic Disco Pop and Rock with DJ Gregz Eclectic Student Club with Panda Hearts Pineapple Cut n Paste Disco with FAUX DJs Emo / Punk / Hardcore with DJ Darren Craig Cutting edge Indie & Electro with DJ Jonny Tiernan
WEEKLY CLUBS IN THE BACK BAR Monday Uprising Reggae, Ska & Dub Club Tuesday Circus Of Sound Classic Rock & Soul Wednesday Performance Singer Songwriter Sessions Thursday Coup D’Tat Upbeat Music mix Friday Vintage Alternative Sounds From The Last Century Saturday Eclectic Electric Genre Jumping Mix Sunday The Soul Social Classic Funk, Soul and Rhythm & Blues
—35 AU Magazine—
Spin the bottle
DELPHIC THE BEATS GO ON Sankeys is a textbook example of Northern regeneration. The Manchester superclub is housed in the underbelly of Beehive Mill, where the sound of Victorian spinning machines and the clack of clogs have long been replaced by the pounding beat of house and techno. And so it seems the perfect setting to meet Delphic, the Manchester trio who, if the tastemakers are right, should conquer all before them during 2010 with their bass-heavy electronic dance anthems. AU takes a long hard look at the futuristic “Delphic vision”. Words by John Freeman
Delphic are late; when they do arrive they claim that a combination of trying to find Sankeys in the daylight (they usually stumble out of it in the early hours), and having no PR person with them (keyboard player Rick Boardman has taken on the organisational duties) have caused their tardiness. And there are only two of them; Rick is with singer James Cook, while guitarist Matt Cocksedge is nowhere to be seen. However, the chaps welcome AU with warm smiles and firm handshakes, and we decamp to a nearby organic deli, where the Delphic boys order green tea without success. Rick and James are immaculately dressed in sharp sweater-and-shirt combinations, fitted winter overcoats and expensive-looking shoes. These are not your average scruffy indie types; this year should see Delphic move into the big league. After releasing acclaimed singles on the achingly cool Kitsuné label (who provided them with the upmarket clobber), finishing third in the BBC’s Sound Of 2010 list, and with a sparkling debut album, Acolyte, already doing brisk business, Delphic are well on their way. They seem
AU muses on the pressure-cooker nature of the Delphic living arrangements – what happens if one person just wants to slob in front of the TV and watch the football on an evening? “It was a huge risk, as it was one of the hardest things,” admits Rick. “Because if you say, ‘Tonight, I’m gonna watch the football’ it never works like that. One person might watch the football, but if the other two people are writing it drags that person away from the TV. So, there was no time for anything else, it was absolutely constant.” A deadpan James tells us, “We tried to expand on it, and try and sell the idea to Channel 4 to put cameras in our flat. But they were a bit bored of the idea of three boring guys making music every minute of the day!” Creating art via struggle seems to be important to Delphic, “We just see it as necessary to write music; it’s how we do things – this all-consuming process,” states Rick. “We thrive off the idea of change and development,
“We want to make Manchester exciting again” especially pleased that the record is finished, as James tells us, “Relieved is probably the word, that it is now out of our hands. Everyone else can have it.” Rick seems particularly gregarious and hails from the Cheshire hill town of Marple, which to his mind is the “centre of the musical world”, if only because The Smiths’ ‘This Charming Man’ was written there (“behind the Norfolk Arms pub - where Johnny Marr used to have a little flat.”) What quickly becomes apparent is that Delphic are both deeply committed to their music, and also business-savvy enough to have planned their route to success. They set up their own record label, Chimeric, before they had recorded a single track, but ensured it was handled by the commercial clout of Polydor – giving them complete artistic freedom with the weight of a big player behind them. They also made a conscious decision to live together in a city centre apartment, in order to create the artistic tension necessary to fuel Acolyte. Rick takes up the story. “We started on it [Acolyte] at the end of 2008, when we got a record deal. We then set up Chimeric within Polydor, and we had this big Delphic vision and everything was moving, so all we had to do was record an album.” Matt, James and Rick had previously been in local indie guitar bands – including the briefly hyped Snowfight In The City Centre – but wanted to jolt themselves into a different sphere. “We thought we had to throw ourselves into an uncomfortable situation to create something unique, or else we’ll churn out the same old rubbish,” Rick says. “We’d written most of the tunes but it was a bit
—36 issue 63—
of a struggle, as the three of us lived together and we’ve got this really intense relationship between the three of us.”
so the next album we’ll probably have to be slightly different so we can challenge ourselves,” says James. Although based in Manchester, Delphic have rallied against being lumped in with the city’s musical legacy. From their point of view, it’s debatable whether being a ‘Manchester band’ is a blessing or a curse. “It is blessing, because it gives journalists something to talk about, which we’ve noticed,” Rick says. “And it’s a blessing, because people constantly look towards Manchester and the heritage it’s had. Maybe if we’d been from Derby, it would have been more of a struggle to get noticed.” However, while the band receive recognition, they also get the inevitable barbed comments about their supposed local influences. Rick is quick to point out that their range of influences is not standard Madchester fare. “When we were younger, what got us into music was The Chemical Brothers, Daft Punk and the tail-end of Orbital and Underworld.” James nods in agreement, before adding, “I used to listen to my sister’s collection of Ministry Of Sound records. But then we got more into the indie scene, and, being from Manchester, we did listen to stuff like Oasis and Britpop.” The lads are warming to their theme now; “Our favourite albums are things like Bowie, Björk and Radiohead,” Rick tells us. “It’s about a combination of things, like when Radiohead tapped into the Warp Records thing, and got something new out of it. I was 16 when Kid A came out. That was a big record for us, because of the combination of sounds.” House and techno are also at the core of the Delphic sound. “There are certain dance albums that do go with
Spin the bottle
part of your life. I remember being in the car on the way back from Glastonbury listening to Surrender by The Chemical Brothers, and every time I listened to it after that I thought of that moment,” James says. “But, you hear a lot of electronic dance music and it’s got no soul. We wanted to tap into dance music, and get the emotion as well.”
we might sound a little bit like it, but look elsewhere, look down south a little bit! We take influences from everything.”
Primarily recorded in Berlin, Acolyte is a bold landscape of German electronica, bellowing house and eerie introspection. Indeed, ‘This Momentary’ sounds like ‘Born Slippy’ if Thom Yorke had provided the lyrics. But at the heart of the album, such as on the recent single ‘Doubt’ or the breathless ‘Halcyon’, lurks some great pop tunes. “If you strip away all the electronics, at the heart you’ve got a pop song. That’s what we’re really into; you can dress it up any way you choose. We’re obsessed with Brian Higgins and the whole Xenomania thing. It’s really fascinating to us; we’ll go and dissect Girls Aloud tunes,” Rick freely admits. The sum of these influences all seem to come together on the album’s centrepiece, the eight-minute title track. A raging storm of full-blown progressive house, sharpened by metronomic Krautrock overtones, its genesis nearly killed Delphic. “The track was basically two years in the making,” Rick admits. “It was the first thing we wrote and the last thing we finished. It was the bane of our existence. We had the idea before we had a band name, we knew the title of the song and that the album would be based around this epic track – an eight-minute instrumental. But it became this huge monolith. However, as a result of it being written throughout, it’s a marker for the whole record, as it contains a bit of everything.” AU then raises the thorny issue of New Order, well aware that the band are tired of comparisons by “lazy” journalists. But it’s a tricky one, because even though Delphic talk a good fight about taking Manchester music forward, it’s very difficult not to hear a familiar throaty bass on ‘This Momentary’ or the Technique-era happy house of ‘Halcyon’. Throw in song titles such as ‘Counterpoint’ and ‘Submission’ and Delphic’s argument for originality begins to deconstruct just a little. James seems particularly exasperated at the notion. “I just get bored by the constant comparisons. The Manchester music scene is so nostalgic. They’ll listen to our tunes and say, ‘It sounds like New Order or 808 State’. OK,
—38 issue 63—
At this point, the third pillar of the Delphic triumvirate, guitarist Matt Cocksedge, joins us. Bespectacled and wrapped up against the wintry wind, he has the air of an Oxbridge student styled by a New York fashionista – or the missing member of Vampire Weekend. His bandmates immediately allow him to vent. “A lot of it depends on what aspects you classify it as. Musically, we don’t think we sound like New Order. That’s the aspect that’s always a bit jarring with us. As for the song names and whatnot – we just like nice words.” As the others momentarily disappear to answer phone calls, Rick leans towards AU rather conspiratorially, “I don’t mind the New Order thing, the first record I ever got was ‘True Faith’.” And, therein lies the dilemma: there is a sense of Delphic treading a perilous path between distancing themselves from the Mancunian past and reaping the benefits of association. Rick has the final word on the matter, “Manchester has this great heritage, but it is so stuck on the past – so focused on the old Factory heydays. Maybe we’re contradicting ourselves, but in one way we want to remove ourselves and live in our flat, in our own little Delphic world, and not worry about anything. But on the other hand, we’ve got this passion for Manchester – this civic pride. We want to point Manchester towards the future – we want to make Manchester exciting again.” But AU can take a hint, and decides to end that particular line of questioning. Sitting at the table next to us is a woman from the BBC. She’s also here to meet up with Delphic, to do some “pre-filming”. She’s clockwatching our chat as it overruns, mindful of her evening train back to London. When, earlier, AU asks her what the filming is for she becomes secretive and “couldn’t possible say”. AU guesses it has something to do with the BBC’s Sound Of 2010 list and she looks a bit sheepish – we think we’ve sussed her. And we may have been on the money; it was announced last month that Delphic had been placed third on the list – a fast-pass to Successville if previous years are anything to go by (Florence and the Machine were number three
in 2009). We offer our congratulations on this mighty achievement, and wonder how the band are bearing up against the weight of hotly tipped expectation? These are cool men, and they don’t appear flustered by the bluster. “We feel sorry for the people who haven’t made a record and they’re on the list,” Rick says. “Although it’s nice to be on it, we don’t take media stuff too seriously. We put everything into our music, and put pressure on ourselves to make an album. If we hadn’t made an album and were on the list, we might have felt more pressure. But at this stage, it’s done.” However, what did have Delphic quaking in their Chelsea boots was their first live TV experience, late last year on Later… With Jools Holland. “That was a bit more pressure,” admits James. “We were on with Joss Stone and Alice In Chains, so we didn’t feel too self-conscious. It was cool seeing Joss Stone dancing to us.” So, it would appear that 2010 could, and should, be the year that Delphic burst into the mainstream consciousness. They’ve delivered a powerful statement in Acolyte, and are in control of the ‘Delphic vision’. AU is intrigued by the concept, which is repeatedly mentioned by the band. What exactly is the ‘Delphic vision’? “That’s a mean question,” grins James. Matt is happier to explain, “It has different elements to it. Visually we want to look at things differently. It’s all about looking forward instead of looking backwards. It has the indie element, in that we’re bothered about songs, but we’re just bored with guitar music.” That’s cleared that up, then. And if we were to reconvene in 12 months time, with four cups of green tea but minus the BBC camerawoman, how will Delphic judge a successful year? “For us, the most important thing is growing the band. If we can be at a stage where we’ve not totally sold out and become awful, that’d be nice,” says Matt. He gazes out of the café window, and adds, “We just want to be making our music and videos for as long as possible – that would be success. Just getting away with it.” Sounds like a good title for a song.
ACOLYTE IS OUT NOW ON POLYDOR WWW.DELPHIC.CC
—39 AU Magazine—
HE AIN’T INDIE, HE’S MY BROTHER
—40 issue 63—
FIELD MUSIC Words by John Freeman
We meet Field Music while the band takes a breather from playing a session for Marc Riley’s BBC 6Music radio show. Somewhere in the bowels of Manchester’s BBC studios, we make ourselves comfortable in the canteen. Having just nailed new track ‘A House Is Not A Home’, and enjoyed some on-air banter with Riley about cheese sandwiches, the brothers Brewis are clearly delighted to be back. They happily chat about an array of subjects, be it the prospects of their beloved Sunderland FC, the brilliance of Prince’s back-catalogue or the album artwork for the 1994 Black Crowes album, Amorica, which features a close-up photograph of a woman’s bikini-clad crotch. “It’s unnecessary,” laughs David. “I’m really embarrassed about the cover, I have to turn it over. What if me mam comes in? But I really love the music on that album, it’s nothing to do with the bikini and the pubes.” As nippers, the Brewis brothers’ love of the Southern rockers knew no bounds. “For about a year-and-a-half we dressed exactly like The Black Crowes. I used to have nipple-length hair,” offers David. “Mine was the same length put didn’t get to my nipples, it just went sidewards,” admits Peter. After their previous album (2007’s excellent Tones Of Town), the brothers put Field Music into hibernation, seemingly tired of the ‘indie’ tag they had acquired. Peter explains, “We never really wanted to be part of the indie scene. We just thought we were making an album. Everywhere we played, we were like another indie band. If that’s what Field Music was going to be viewed as, it needed to not be the only thing that we did.” David Brewis does most of the talking, appearing happier to hold court. The mention of Field Music being lazily categorised as ‘indie’ elicits a gentle rant. “There’s very little music on our record collections that is indie music. I’m not particularly interested in indie music. The closest, and probably newer, things are Deerhoof and Fiery Furnaces and they’re very much at one end of the scale. I like rock music. I like pop music. Lots of things about indie music make me think of bands I’m not interested in. If you compare our records to indie bands then you’ll probably take it the wrong way. You can listen to our first album and think, ‘They’re like Belle And Sebastian but they don’t have proper songs’ and you can listen to our second album and think, ‘They’re like Snow Patrol, but it’s not produced very well’ but for us it’s nothing like any of those things.” So, the brothers took different musical paths during 2008. Peter produced a critically acclaimed album under the moniker of The Week That Was, while David released Sea From Shore as School Of Language. These side-projects allowed the siblings to explore and grow as musicians. “I had an idea to do an album that became The Week That Was, which was very specific sounding,” Peter says. “I didn’t know if I could do anything like that on my own. That lack of confidence was probably purged.” David attained Stateside success, with Sea From Shore being released via the super-hip Thrill Jockey label. “I got to play guitar a lot and I didn’t have to worry about what anyone else thought.”
Spin the bottle
One of the most welcome returns in 2010 is that of Field Music, the creation of the Brewis brothers, Peter and David. In 2008, having become disillusioned by how their band was perceived, the Sunderland siblings went their separate ways on different solo projects, only to reunite last year and record Field Music’s splendid new album, Field Music (Measure). AU meets up with them to discuss unsightly pubic hair, the acoustics in women’s toilets, and their disdain for all things ‘indie’.
The reaction from the US fans seems to have triggered a career epiphany for David. “When Field Music played in the States our crowd would be very Anglophile. They’d say, ‘We love your music, and we love The Kooks and Maxïmo Park’ but that’s not how we see ourselves. With School Of Language, I’d go over there and people would say, ‘We love your music, and we love Thrill Jockey stuff and Tortoise’ and it made a lot more sense to me. And it made us realise that things could be a lot more open for us, providing we were brave enough to say, ‘Field Music can be anything we want it to be’. If that means we make a record that people don’t like, then that’s OK.” And, at that moment, the unrestrained concept of Field Music (Measure) was created. “If we make music deliberately trying to second-guess what people are gonna like, it’s not going to work,” says Peter, with a quiet defiance. Now that the self-imposed shackles have been removed, David feels it is game on. “As well as other people having expectations of what Field Music should sound like, I think for us, we were beginning to see there were our own expectations of what Field Music was supposed to
empty. All the cisterns were in the gents so it made a noise - the urinals flushed automatically every now and then. It wasn’t a weird thing wanting to be in there.” David changes the course of our conversation, perhaps mindful of the hole his brother is digging for himself. “What’s nice about coming back to do the Field Music record is it’s a very kind of subtle collaboration. You bring the song in and go, ‘It goes like this, and I want this bit to do that’ and the other person kind of nods sagely,” he reveals. “If there’s no nodding sagely, then we probably haven’t explained ourselves correctly!” says Peter. The band return with a re-jigged line-up, having shed keyboard player Andrew Moore, who, in Peter’s words, “needed to have a proper job”. They are now a four-piece, having been joined by old mates Kev Dosdale on guitar (“Kev is in about 19 bands”) and bassist Ian Black (“With bass, we thought, ‘Who do we know who we can bully sufficiently to be in the band?’” jokes David). Field Music are currently touring with Irish dates pencilled in for early March.
“There is very little that can’t be on a Field Music record. If me and Peter do it, it’s a Field Music song.” sound like. Then the moment I thought, ‘We can’t do that because it doesn’t feel Field Music enough’ – the very fact I’ve got that thought in my head – meant we had to do something different. Now we’re in a situation where there is very little that can’t be on a Field Music record. If me and Peter do it, it’s a Field Music song.” The result of all this soul-searching is album number three – the 20-track epic Field Music (Measure). Released this month, it’s a sprawling compendium of musical styles; from the Prince-style funk of ‘Let’s Write A Book’ one minute, to the Led Zeppelin rock of ‘Each Time Is A New Time’ the next. It was always going to be big, Peter tells us. “We set out to make a really varied album.” David expands the point, “Part of opening up what Field Music could be was saying we can make a long album and not worry about trying to make it coherent.” We then chat about other notable double albums; earlier that evening, Marc Riley had suggested that if Tones Of Town was Field Music’s Revolver, then Field Music (Measure) is their White Album. Peter doesn’t shirk from the comparison, “I love albums, and I love massive albums, and I love albums that it takes a long time to get your head around – The White Album, Tusk and Physical Graffiti – big, crazy albums.” The recording process was not without its odd quirks, with the band starting sessions early in the morning, so they could be out by lunchtime for when their friends The Futureheads came in to record their new album. However, they would sometimes return later in the day, as Peter explains. “Quite often we’d have to record the reverb late at night, because we used the ladies’ toilets as a reverb chamber. So, we needed the building to be
Later on, we decamp to Manchester’s Deaf Institute to see Field Music play to a sizeable crowd. Peter repeatedly apologises for subjecting the throng to “yet another new song” but no one seems to mind. While there is impressively expert musicianship on display, what is utterly compelling is the connection between the brothers. After each song, they immediately turn to each other and share a nod or a smile – their bond is palpable. As David tells us earlier, “When it comes down to it, who do I want to be in a band with most? It’s my brother!” So, with Field Music delighted to be back together, and Oasis in shreds, what’s the difference between the Brewis siblings and the warring Gallagher boys? David has his theory. “They’re just not very nice,” he argues, before continuing, “It would please me if they didn’t make any more records. There are too many records in the world, and Oasis records for quite a long time have been like that. It’s a shame because Noel Gallagher is obviously quite a clever bloke.” Peter is a lot less opinionated on the matter; simply reflecting, “It’s not nice, people falling out, is it?” It’s just about the first time these brothers have disagreed all day. FIELD MUSIC ALBUM FIELD MUSIC (MEASURE) IS OUT ON 15TH FEBRUARY, THEY PLAY DUBLIN’S CRAWDADDY ON 5TH MARCH AND BELFAST’S THE PAVILION ON 6TH MARCH. WWW.FIELD-MUSIC.CO.UK
—41 AU Magazine—
Two Door Cinema Club
Pop SpinBangors the bottle
Since last summer, Two Door Cinema Club have been gathering unstoppable momentum. They’ve played prestigious live shows, been touted by numerous industry sorts, notched up high-profile celebrity endorsements and readied a debut album that should mark their coronation as the cream of 2010’s new intake. Words by Francis Jones
We join two-thirds of Two Door Cinema Club in a Belfast coffee joint on what is, even by this city’s standards, a bitterly cold day. We are in the grip of the worst winter the UK and Ireland has experienced since the Sixties. Outside everything seems to be coated in a layer of white frosting. Inside, the pair – guitarist Sam Halliday and bassist Kev Baird – huddle tight to their steaming hot beverages. It’s January and, as per tradition, the music press and industry tastemakers have been indulging in their favourite pastime, that of king-making. This year, as you read through the multitude of polls and tips for the top lists you just might have stumbled across the name of Two Door Cinema Club. The Bangor band have featured not just amongst the recommendations of individual publications such as the NME – by whom they’ve also been granted a prize slot on a couple of NME Awards shows – but in the BBC’s Sound of 2010, an industry-wide survey that seeks to name the most promising new music talent. Of course, such polls are an imprecise art; past acts name-checked by the BBC’s ‘Sound Of…’ surveys include not only genuine successes such as Franz Ferdinand and Lady Gaga, but nonentities like Air Traffic and Joe Lean and the Jing Jang Jong. Which is not to say that Two Door aren’t pleased to find themselves nestled alongside Ellie Goulding and Marina & The Diamonds in this year’s list.
“We were on the road at the time and we were playing around with different titles, coming up with loads of crap ones,” admits Kev. “I was thinking about being from Bangor [in Co. Down] – all the songs were written there, a place which is very much a tourist town. Yet, we had to move and be on the move. We couldn’t logistically stay there; we had to go elsewhere to do the album. Also, being on the road so much, going to other towns to play your songs, it felt like a lot of people didn’t know our music. It was like both we and our songs were tourists in those places. It felt right to label the album with something that referenced the context in which the songs were written. This first album is our CV; it sums up our achievements to date and was written over a long period of time, an expression of everything that happened over the last two-and-a-half years.” The album was recorded and mixed in West London with the assistance of Elliot James, former knob twiddler for the likes of Bloc Party and, more recently, Noah and
“IT’S NICE THAT YOU DON’T HAVE TO FEEL LIKE A COMPLETE AND UTTER FRUIT BECAUSE YOU LIKE POP MUSIC” “It’s just great to be in there anywhere,” affirms Kev. “When people see your name in that poll they’re more likely to check you out and expect you to be good. From what we hear, it’s the one poll that can’t be rigged. Of course, people will be like, ‘These guys are supposed to be one of the best bands of 2010’, and if we don’t become one of the most popular acts of the year then people will dismiss us as hyped shite. It’s made us a little bit nervous previously we’d flown a little bit under the radar.” How the band handle the heightened expectations that currently surround them will be crucial, but speaking to the duo you sense that they’re well equipped to deal with whatever comes their way. Having known each other since the age of 14, they’re an unmistakably tight knit unit, even if they weren’t the very best of friends at the outset, Sam and Alex (Trimble, vocals, guitar, keys) – today’s absentee – initially suspecting Baird’s motives for befriending them. “We were friends with lots of girls and we think that’s why Kevin was trying to be mates with us,” says Sam with the hint of a grin. “Well, that’s my theory of why he was tagging along with us!” “What do you mean tagging along?” splutters Kev. “Sam didn’t like me at first, but if I hadn’t tried to get off with those girls then it might have been very different for Two Door.” This good natured ribbing – “We’re still three immature little boys,” Kev confesses – and sense of camaraderie helps stop them getting in a fever about some of the more grandiose critical garlands thrown their direction. Sam audibly scoffs when he relates how the band were told by one listener that their debut album, Tourist History, would ‘save pop music’. “Yes, call us the messiahs of pop music,” adds Kev, tongue lodged firmly in cheek. “Call it Jesus-pop.”
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However, despite the heavenly accolades it has been receiving, Tourist History is an album grounded in earthly concerns and ground out of the band’s unstinting efforts. They’ve spent a considerable amount of time on tour of late, honing their craft and getting the good word out. It is these activities which lend the album its title.
The Whale’s acclaimed second album The First Days of Spring. Tracks earmarked as potential singles were later mixed in Paris by Philippe Zdar of Cassius and Phoenix fame. The finished article comprises 10 brilliantly frothy dollops of electronica-charged indie-pop and clocks in at an impressively compact 34 minutes. Forget delayed gratification; full to the brim with honey sweet melodies, these songs delight in an instant. The band’s cause is helped by the fact that they boast not one, but three natural songwriters. “Everyone has to have creative input, stresses Baird. “We all play a big part. It makes everything so much more collaborative. It’s good for our longevity. We never wanted to be one of those lead singer/ songwriter bands.” The ability of the three-piece to write such exorbitantly tuneful and – let’s shout it loud and proud – POPorientated music has not always come naturally to TDCC, as Sam relates. “Before, we were more of a rock band and we were playing gigs to practically no-one. You could argue that you play music for yourself, but when you’re playing to only a handful of people, well, it’s a bit of a waste of time. We just thought we’d try and make things more upbeat, more exciting. We’re not afraid of pop music any more. If you want to get on the radio these days, and get in amongst all the hip-hop, R&B and pop, you’ve got to have plenty of hooks in there. You’ve got to be somewhat commercial, I guess.” As his bass-playing bandmate is quick to elaborate, that’s not to say that any shift in style by TDCC since their inception is cynically motivated. “The way we’ve developed has been a wholly natural thing,” he assures me. “This is how we write music. The reason we didn’t do as well previously is simple – we
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weren’t that good at writing rock music. Pop, indie and electronic music, that’s what we’re good at. For example, on the way here we were listening to the radio and Sam was telling me how much he loved this new Rihanna song that came on. I’m not comparing us to Rihanna, it’s just nice that you don’t have to feel like a complete and utter fruit because you like pop music. You shouldn’t have to pretend that you like or dislike certain things.” The honesty of opinion and attitude is something that TDCC hold dear. They cherish the fact that they are free to pursue their musical muse wherever it takes them, rather than being bound by convention and the whims of management, or a record label. “It’s interesting that everyone does pretty much the same thing,” notes Sam. “There’s almost a formula there, in terms of, say, releasing an uncommercial first single on an indie label, then building it slowly up. We saw it happen with La Roux, how they made a really quite mainstream pop singer seem cool by releasing the first single through Kitsuné, then doing the album on a major. You can see a framework for how things might work.” “Being involved in the industry, you get to see through a lot of the cack,” says Kev, spitting disdain. “I remember hearing about this revolutionary new gig that Friendly Fires were involved with. There was loads of press generated by it, Friendly Fires were talking about how they wanted people to be totally immersed in the music, to get back in touch with it and that therefore this show would take place
“IF WE DON’T BECOME ONE OF THE MOST POPULAR ACTS OF THE YEAR THEN PEOPLE WILL DISMISS US AS HYPED SHITE” in this completely black room and the lights were going to be turned off. Somehow the band would still be able to see. Anyway, at the bottom of these interview articles, it stated that these shows were curated by Virgin and Orange Mobile. I’m sure the band got paid a load to do those shows. They did it for the money.” That the band has not been pushed down such the strictly ‘for profit’ path owes much to the outlook of their label. Kitsuné – an offshoot of the exquisitely hip fashion brand – have carefully nurtured the trio, seeking to cultivate their talent rather than exploit it. “It’s not particularly about the quantity of albums we sell, or looking super-cool,” states the bassist. “It’s about doing what’s right for the music and the band. You wouldn’t get that with a major label; they’d just want to sell records, push you in front of as many people as possible and gets names for your mailing list.” So, just how did this Bangor band come to the attention of the Parisian outfit? Kev explains, “A French promoter told an A&R guy at Kitsuné about us. He seemed to like us, contacted our management and we met up in London. He talked about us doing a Kitsuné party in Paris. We played and it was really cool and afterwards we talked about doing a single with them. The only thing was that we were supposed to be doing our single with someone else, but that all fell through at the contract stage. We thought, ‘Oh, crap’, but we ended up doing the single with Kitsuné. We got loads of attention in Europe off the back of it and started talking about doing some more Kitsuné parties and another single. After that we started talking about the album. It was nice; there
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EARNING KUDOS FROM KANYE In one of the most bizarre episodes of their career to date, last December Two Door Cinema Club found the video for their single ‘I Can Talk’ being blogged by none other than Kanye West. Kev tells us just how the hip-hop superstar got turned onto the Two Door sound. “When we tell anyone how that happened, it just sounds like we’re being cocky, but it’s actually the best part of the story. One of the guys from Kitsuné basically managed Daft Punk. He mentioned us to Daft Punk, they liked it and they passed the word on. I think we’re now going to try and bully Gildas Loaëc [Kitsuné founder and former art director for Daft Punk] to get them to take us on tour next year. I don’t know if it’s gonna happen, but we’ll try.”
TURNING JAPANESE As Two Door Cinema Club discovered on their first trip to the country, Japan can prove a somewhat disorientating place for the first-time visitor. Doubly so for bands, where the relationship between fan and band is of an altogether higher pitch than almost anywhere else in the globe. And then there are all those lights… “It was mental,” recalls Kev. “We spent two days in a room doing interviews, but the show was amazing, 3,000 capacity venue and second on. We didn’t know where we were going when we went out in Tokyo, gravitating to busy areas. We were judging it on the lights. Then when we got closer we realised it was just an electronics shop. It’s so much to look at. In shops even the price tags are amazing, revolving price tags and robotic hoovers. There’s a weird culture too of separation between fans and band. We did a signing and they all clapped us in, we thought it was gonna be really embarrassing. But 100 people turned up and some of them had our EP, something we’d only really sold at gigs, mostly in Belfast. They wanted us to touch their hands and give them hugs. They even brought us presents, green tea flavoured Kit-Kats, sake, and socks. We’d love to go back.” was no immediate discussion of the album. It was a breath of fresh air – we’d been meeting loads of labels at that time and they were all, ‘album, album album’.” “I like the fact that they’re a bit different to a lot of the UK labels,” chips in Sam. “They have a different perspective on things; being signed to them also differentiates you from a whole clump of UK bands. Being from Northern Ireland, we don’t feel particularly connected to England.” Indeed, despite being much-travelled, the three-piece’s sense of fraternity with the native scene remains intact. During interviews they take the opportunity to namecheck their contemporaries, whilst Alex recently dropped Panama Kings in a BBC Radio 1 mini-mix. As Kev strenuously assures me, they do these things not out of any sense of obligation, but because they “genuinely love” the music that is being produced here. “We were inspired to be a band by the likes of Six Star Hotel. We grew up listening to their music and saw them playing shows. That was amazing, just to realise that these guys were so good and had found an appreciative audience. We thought, ‘Well, why don’t we start a band?’ Northern Irish music still is really important to us. That’s why it pisses me off when I hear Gary Lightbody talking about the music scene here; he doesn’t really have a clue apart from what Oh Yeah [Music Centre, in Belfast] tell him. We grew up in the music scene here; started playing gigs aged 16 and played with loads of these bands. We always try and flag those bands up.” As they continue on their upwardly mobile career trajectory, it seems likely that TDCC will have ever larger and more high-profile platforms from which to flag up their favourite bands. Not that they’re taking anything for granted. “The way the music industry is at the minute, acts can have a really successful debut, sell loads and play big shows, but it might still all end up being pretty short term,” muses Kev. “There are no guarantees that we’ll get to a third album. We’re just thankful to be where we are right now and we’re trying to enjoy it. We realise that we mightn’t get the chance to do anything more, much though we’d like to and to keep writing and releasing music in five years’ time. None of us are naïve enough to think [that] that’s a cert. We’re expecting that the album will come out, it’ll get good press and, hopefully, we’ll get to play some good shows and go from playing 400 to 1,000 capacity venues, but we don’t think it’ll be huge. We’re not expecting it to go like Friendly Fires, or White Lies, or those types of bands.” Such expectations might well be confounded, but irrespective of what the future holds they’re content to contemplate imminent adventures, Sam enthusing about the prospect of spending a month touring the States, Kev relishing the chance to tour – now with added live drummer action – play the festival circuit and possibly return to Japan.” “From the age of 15 this is what we’ve wanted to do,” says the latter delightedly, “just play gigs and release records. I couldn’t picture myself doing anything else. At the same time, I couldn’t picture myself not being in Two Door Cinema Club. Then again, if Two Door ended with me hating music, I’d maybe try something different!”
TOURIST HISTORY IS RELEASED ON MARCH 1, ON KITSUNÉ WWW.MYSPACE.COM/TWODOORCINEMACLUB
KICK OUT THE JAMS
Made in association with AU magazine.
Kick Out The Jams in association with AU Magazine is proud to present an unmissable session and interview with Evan Dando. The Lemonheads front man stumbled through the doors of the NvTv studio looking like he hadn’t slept in days. What followed was an hour of madness that those present will never forget. Powered by a mini-pack of Haribo Starmix, Evan wrapped himself in the studio christmas lights and recorded his tracks. Following that, AU magazine’s own Ross Thompson stepped up to the plate to do his first on-camera interview. Fans of Evan, christmas lights, gay trucker anthems, ripped jeans and pesto acronyms should definitely check this out. NVTV MUSIC VODCAST AVAILABLE THRU ITUNES. (Just search nvtv) —47 AU Magazine—
An Yo d so lig rker , the su ht o s co nice me c lyan cess nce c b l aga ink reas Ar d a l ful ed in in a e per the egio lbu , th g in New m gr hap y fee n of un is tim to t s h itt l d ed , bu ing eage er t e wi e th fo t th the r fa he i a rb r os p att e p res ns t belt le… oin sur o p s le e? ty tee We ase. th ll, ar e
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K END Wo
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Rostam Batmanglij is heroically jet-lagged. This is not ideal. “It’s 10 in the morning. I’m a little bit tired. We’ve been in Australia and Japan for a few days.” In an attempt to overcome yawns and enliven the mood, AU opens with an anecdote. “Do you want to hear something funny? For Hallowe’en last year, my friend dressed up as ‘Vampire’ Vampire Weekend. He wore a cape and chinos. It was brilliant.” Rostam deadpans, “Actual vampirism is not a route we’ve ever chosen to pursue.” The producer, mixer and engineer of the band – alongside singing and playing organ, guitar and harpsichord – Batmanglij is not a wordy man. Maybe it’s the jet-lag, maybe it’s the press tour, maybe he’s just not in the mood, but when contrasted with lead singer Ezra Koenig’s essaylength interview answers, Batmanglij is more philosophical and laid-back. His responses are concise, and delivered in one segment. Not unlike, in fact, the band’s approach to album length. Both new album Contra and the group’s selftitled debut clock in at just under 40 minutes each. Why so short? Batmanglij replies, “The record’s short because we all feel like most records will lose your attention if they go over 40-45 minutes. We talked about it – even if you go to a concert of a band you like, after 40 minutes you start to get tired and lose attention, and get bored. And then the encore comes on and you just want to go home by that stage.” Although he’s passive to some degree, he becomes rapidly defensive when we touch on more sensitive subjects, such as responses to the new album. AU posits that there isn’t a massive difference between the first and second album, genre-wise. Without wanting to mention the ‘Y’ word (Yeasayer and Vampire Weekend have had a fraught past; each laden with the ‘afrobeat buzz-band’ tag, they maintain a professional distance, as it were), the other New York band have produced a follow-up that replaces the
“I don’t know if I prefer this to the first record. I think they’re very different records. I think this record takes a lot more listening to than the first record did, and I like that.” Contra is the result of nine months of hard studio work. More intense than Vampire Weekend, it was aided by the fact that the group no longer had day jobs to tie them down. Says Batmanglij, “It happened more quickly, you know. The first one, we started it in May 2006 and it was done Fall 2007. This one, the recording started in January and it finished up in September. It was quicker because we were working more intensely, and we didn’t have any day jobs. There was nothing to intrude on our work. Before we had jobs – Ezra was a teacher, I was working on film scoring, Chris Baio was at college still – we had things that were pushing and pulling us in different directions. Yeah, in some ways it was easier to make this record.” If it was slightly easier to make Contra, what – apart from work commitments – had changed? To start with, Contra was written on the hoof. Rostam freely admits that one of the reasons Vampire Weekend got signed so easily was, aside from obvious talent, that they had an album of songs ready to record. Their follow-up however, was mainly written in the studio. Rostam explains, “This record was written as it was recorded. I think that it yielded some results. I think that playing and producing makes the songwriting and the production more melt together when you do it at the same time.” How did the songwriting and production ‘melt together’ exactly? “Well, like the song ‘Taxi Cab’ which is definitely one of our favourites – that was almost made as if it was rap music. Like the music inspired the lyrics. The music was there and there was some lyrics. We scrapped them and then re-wrote the song over the beat that was there.”
“I think this record is hugely different. If you look at a lot of bands and compare their first and second record, I think we changed a lot of things. But you don’t think so?” He catches himself, and adds, “Some people have said that there’s a lot more going on on the first record. But everyone has their own opinion, you know.” Yes, although the quartet haven’t ventured into Norwegian death-metal territory, there is a difference, it’s true. Contra is more sparse, less ‘bouncy’ than Vampire Weekend. The jaunty collegiate boys of their debut have become more measured and thoughtful. There’s a definite ‘space’ between sounds – a statement which Batmanglij is eager to endorse. “That’s something that we’re obsessed with. Having the right amount of minimalism.” There’s also something else present – a hunger to prove themselves. It’s been a tough two years for Vampire Weekend. One of the first ‘bloghaus’ bands, the internet buzz and subsequent luv/hate response surrounding their debut would be enough to crush any musician’s spirit. Add to that, speculation about their background (rich boys from Columbia University, making ‘indie’ music? Pah!) and the ‘cultural sensitivity’ of taking influences from African music (colonialists, all!) and it’s a wonder that the group managed to make a second album. Let’s address the issues in turn. ‘Stealing’ from African culture? Hardly. Rostam notes that, “We’ve never taken a groove or a riff from African music, and just copied and pasted it into our music. A lot of our influence from African music is conceptual or abstract. It’s more about arrangement than direct musical influence.” He adds that it’s “weird” how some critics expect them to be au fait with “every African artist that’s ever been”. As for reactions to their wealthy background, Rostam is unimpressed. “I think some people don’t actually engage with our music. They have some kind of impression of us that’s superficial, or wrong. That’s a bit irritating. I think that’ll change with time. As the dust settles, ultimately you have to engage with our music.” And the music itself? Well, that’s where things get interesting.
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Much has been made of Vampire Weekend’s well-heeled background and expensive educations, but they aren’t the only band to have graced an Ivy League institution…
Galaxie 500 Before Vampire Weekend, there was another all-Ivy League indie group. The members of dream-fuzz-core group Galaxie 500 were all students at Harvard, and the trio began playing during their time at the university.
Interestingly, when on the topic of music, Batmanglij opens up. Gone is the reticent, slightly shy man, with diplomatic, measured answers. Instead, he pours forth on recording
“Actual vampirism is not a route we’ve ever chosen to pursue” fuzzy tribalism of their debut with slick Justin Timberlakestyle pop. Batmanglij quickly counters, voice rising, in a slightly accusatory manner.
GOING AWAY TO COLLEGE
techniques, learning and writing. AU mentions a quote from Ezra Koenig – that the band is supposed to reflect the group’s interests; have the group’s interests changed since the band began? He reflects, then answers. “We’re exploring more of our musical interests on this record. In some ways, people might be surprised on this album, but we’ve always known that we could write ballads. We’ve always wanted to write slower songs. If you only heard our first record, you might not think that we were capable of that. I think that the slower songs like ‘Taxi Cab’ and ‘I Think Ur A Contra’ are clearly some of the best songs we’ve ever done.” Batmanglij enjoys dissecting sound – knowing and explaining where it comes from. He’s instantly at home discussing production techniques, and carefully creating the exact sound that he wants. Where did this passion for intricacy stem from? Studying music in university has definitely helped, to a certain degree. “I think you’ve got to know when to forget it and let it go, but it’s nice to have it in your back pocket. Studying music – specifically classical music – the approach to sound is very different to the approach you have to take when you’re recording music. The ways in which recording factors into making music these days doesn’t overlap with what we learnt when we were learning about classical music.” To this extent, he is largely self-taught in modern music. “A lot of the stuff I had to do on my own. I studied recording by myself, in my spare time. It was more of a personal education. I think that what studying classical music in school taught me, more than anything else, was how to teach myself. I think that’s the most important skill that you can have – how to deconstruct sounds, and how to be really deep and careful with something. Not just to listen for the top layer.” ‘Careful’ is the right word. The sound is a lot more thoughtful and experimental on Contra than on Vampire Weekend. It’s restrained – and there’s even Auto-Tune on ‘Californian English’. Do the band feel that they’ve finally rid themselves of the dubious epithet of a ‘blog band’? Undoubtedly, claims Rostam. “I think at this point that we have shaken off the ‘blog band’ thing. Especially in Europe. Great Britain, and stuff.” That’s not to say that they enjoyed the tag while it was around, he cautions. “It was quite
Weezer One of the very select group of students to have had their graduations covered by SPIN magazine, Rivers Cuomo graduated from Harvard in June 2006. The singer had been attending intermittently since 1995 and obtained a Bachelor’s degree in English, and well as a head-nod from academic honour society, Phi Beta Kappa.
Rage Against the Machine Before they inadvertently launched a bid for Christmas Number One, Rage Against the Machine were getting their learn on. Guitarist Tom Morello attended Harvard. 10 points for guessing which subject he graduated in. Anyone? Political Science. Obviously.
The Offspring While not strictly an Ivy League college, AU’s WTF?! Award goes to lead singer of this skate-punk quartet. Dexter Holland has a degree in Biology, a Master’s in Molecular Biology and a was a candidate for a PhD in Molecular Biology (all from the University of Southern California) before he abandoned the sciences to write such ‘classics’ as ‘Pretty Fly For A White Guy’.
“We would hate for anyone to have a pre-conceived notion of what we are” annoying to always be told that, ‘You’ve got a lot of hype around you, what’s your response to that?’. But ultimately, we always believed that when the dust settled, people would always focus on what was left. And what was left would be music – which is the focus of our band.” A guiding voice could possibly have come in the form of Dave Longstreth. The Dirty Projectors frontman was also at the receiving end of an Afrobeat blog backlash. Vampire Weekend lead singer Ezra Koenig is a former member of Dirty Projectors – did he learn anything helpful from being in a different band? Sort of, muses Batmanglij. “I still hang out with Dirty Projectors. We’re in different stages – they’re recording at the moment, and they’ve been touring like crazy. In some ways they’ve been an influence on us. I think we’ve learned things from them. Specifically, the first time Ezra went on tour, he was in that band, as a member. So, in some ways, we learned how to tour from that. We modelled our first tour of America after that tour. But that’s kind of a specific example. I think we think of them as peers of ours.” What they did learn, however, was how to stick at what they believed in, namely their music. Batmanglij is adamant that their music is, and always has been, the most important aspect of the group. Says he, “We’re not in tabloids, we’re
not trying to sell anything except for music. Some bands, some characters and musicians, they’re selling something that’s not music. We’re not going to have a Vampire Weekend iPhone app.” That’s fighting talk. There’s a defiance present in this record, rather than the chirpiness of their debut. They’re men now, rather than boys, and having had their round in the ring, now need to show that they’re still worthy contenders for the World Series. Is there a hidden agenda behind the record? Yes. And it’s not exactly hidden. Batmanglij asserts, “There was something we wanted to prove. I think in some ways we wanted to prove that we’re a band that can make records that sound different from one another. We can make records that sound original and that we don’t rely on any kind of gimmicks, or tricks as a band. I guess we wanted to prove that we would grow as songwriters. But that stuff’s in the back of your mind. It doesn’t really govern your decision-making. We didn’t have a list on the studio wall. I think we achieved our aims, though. I’m proud of this record.”
record, and its attitude? He oscillates, debating internally, before backing away from the question. “The song isn’t really the album summed up in one track, but I think it’s powerful in that it doesn’t conform to one definition of the word ‘contra’. We would hate for anyone to have a pre-conceived notion of what we are.” A diplomat’s son to the core, Batmanglij ends our conversation abruptly to answer a phone call from Finland. What remains is a sense of push-and-pull – of wanting to make a statement of intent, but worrying about conflict. ‘Fuck the haters’, he thinks, but on the outside, he maintains a sense of calm and dispassionate reason. It’s an odd binary, one that resonates in the album title Contra. A word with many definitions – a dance, a group of Nicaraguan revolutionaries, or a video game – but a definite tone. ‘Against’. Perhaps he’s not as diplomatic as we first thought. The Vampires have risen, and are fighting back. CONTRA IS OUT NOW ON XL WWW.VAMPIREWEEKEND.COM
In particular, he’s most proud of the final track on the album, the aforementioned ‘I Think Ur A Contra’. Would he go as far to say that the final track is a summation of the entire —51 AU Magazine—
BLOOD Spin the bottle BROTHERS Yeasayer isn’t the band you think it is. A slow-burning underground success with their debut album All Hour Cymbals in 2008, the New Yorkers impressed with a record that echoed Panda Bear’s stretched-out narcotic haze, but compressed it into weird, proggy almost-pop songs. There were memorable tunes, sure (see ‘Sunrise’ and ‘2080’), but there was also a strong whiff of patchouli oil about the place, not least due to bassist Ira Wolf Tuton’s natty wifebeater, greasy ‘tache and lank hair – the band came on like the mutant spawn of Animal Collective, 70s Fleetwood Mac and a bunch of dodgy trailer trash. But things have changed. New album Odd Blood finds the threesome tight, focused and direct, channelling influences from 00s Jamaica to 60s Detroit, and it also finds Ira with a brand new look. “I cut my hair,” he says in an endearing drawl. “I shaved my face. I realised I was just too pretty to hide it anymore. I want people to see my smile, man! And I’m sick of carrying combs on tour.” While some bands find a sound and spend their entire careers trying to perfect it, Yeasayer have decided on a different tack, and the new album is the first evidence of that. After signing to a new label – Mute – and touring solidly in support of All Hour Cymbals, the band started 2009 by high-tailing it to a remote part of upstate New York, the better to knuckle down and concentrate on creating something new. But rather than return from the woods with an album of wintry heartbreak, Bon Iver-style, Odd Blood is a bright and shiny pop album, almost completely devoid of the widescreen harmonies and hippie overtones that characterised its predecessor. Instead, say hello to big choruses, a strident frontman in Chris Keating and lots and lots of synths,
As New York psychepoppers Yeasayer birth a new and vastly different second album, their magnificently named bassist Ira Wolf Tuton (centre) talks us through its gestation, and the influence of the Wu-Tang Clan and dancehall… Words by Chris Jones
“I didn’t want to make the same album,” says Ira. “People can always listen to that first album if they like that. You get to the point where you can either repeat yourself and do a better job of songwriting and recording, or you can do a totally leftfield, soundtracky album, or you can rein it in and try and do something different. “We all listen to pop music, we all grew up listening to a lot of pop music. A lot of times I’d do interviews from the last album, and I might be noting influences, and I’d realise a lot of people didn’t understand them. I’d be like, ‘Well, Wu-Tang and Motown and dancehall’, and people would be like, ‘Wow, that’s not really what your album sounds like!’. We’re maintaining those same influences, but really exercising them a little bit more.” That’s not to say that Odd Blood is precisely a mash-up of those influences, of course. The dreamy weirdness hasn’t gone entirely (see opener ‘The Children’ and the languid ‘I Remember’), but by far the most striking tracks are the ones that are most divorced from the debut. Synaesthesia time: hues of gold and cream have been jettisoned, to be replaced with neon purple and orange. We’re thinking of lead single ‘Ambling Alp’, with its infectiously goofy positivity, the glorious sweep and huge chorus on ‘O.N.E.’ and the hands-in-the-air rave-up that is ‘Love Me Girl’. At least until the clipped funk of the verse comes in and scythes across the ‘church of dance’ opening, anyway. It’s a strange album, but a fun one, and Ira is happy for it to be viewed in opposition to the debut. “You know, we didn’t want to play dirges for a year,” he says, with admirable candour. “We wanted to play some dance music. I love dancing to music, you know? I like hearing songs on the radio. I like dance music. I like R&B. I like hip-hop. I like dancehall. I like that kind of production, so it’s interesting for us to try our take at our own pop lexicon in that form.” You mentioned the word dirge there – you sound like you’re pretty down on the first album. “I think it’s good to be critical of what you do, but to be honest with you I think about those songs very differently now than from when we recorded them. Once an album is mastered, then I no longer think about them and I don’t revisit the album, basically. “The first thing is that a lot of those songs are much more upbeat when we play them live, just because that’s the nature of the game. You’re trying to take people over and people want to be taken over, and you’re trying to be energetic with what you do day in and day out and enjoy it. So I’m not down on it at all, part of it is the necessity
—52 issue 63—
to move beyond. We’re constantly going to revisit the material, but I like revisiting that material in the way that we played it in a show a month ago, as opposed to the way that we recorded it two or three years ago.” It’s somewhat ironic that in order to make a fizzing, upbeat pop record with touches of dancehall and R&B, the band basically decamped to the wilderness. When their album blog went online at the beginning of last year, fans could have been forgiven for steeling themselves for a delicate folk album, or some mystical prog rock. But in fact, the process wasn’t about connecting with nature so much as the band finding a way to give the record its undivided attention. “It was just really important for us to be able to get away from all the distractions that we love in New York,” says Ira, “and to be able to really force ourselves into a solitary headspace, where we were forced to just work on these ideas. But we were close enough to New York that we could still get back to those distractions, which was nice on the weekends or every 10 days or whatever. But yeah, we knew from the get-go that we needed three months together to make sense of these ideas, away from restaurants and films.” This was in stark contrast to the small group of friends that got together to record All Hour Cymbals around their day jobs, without the investment they now have from Mute, and certainly without the dizzying array of synthesisers and computer equipment that was pressed into service for Odd Blood. Another change was the departure of drummer Luke Fasano, bringing the band back down to the core trio of Ira, vocalist Chris Keating and guitarist Anand Wilder. “Artistically, and a little bit on a personal level, we were kind of on a different page,” Ira explains. “He was our live drummer for a while, and he’s a great live drummer, but the three of us had long-standing relationships before we played in the band. Chris and Anand grew up together, I’ve known Anand’s family since I was a little kid. His brother-in-law is one of my best friends and he’s married to my sister, and the father of two of my nephews. And from the get-go we were like-minded and we wrote together and recorded together and I think Luke wasn’t always so much of an easy part of that. “He was also not the only drummer we had – we had a few drummers before that, including a drumming machine – but for the lion’s share, he was. And when it came to think about how we were going to do the new recording, it made sense for the three of us to get back to the way that we worked together. I don’t think it would have worked any other way.” Ira insists that Fasano’s departure was nothing to do with the change in sound between All Hour Cymbals and Odd Blood, and he explains that the band have never really worked in the studio with a regular, ‘proper’ drummer anyway. Rather, the work is shared out between the band and, on this album, guests. Peter Gabriel’s drummer, Jerry Marotta, for one (he owns the house the album was recorded in), and the two new touring members. It all feeds into the band’s philosophy of how music should be created – communally, and without self-interest. “The goal is that I don’t want anything to sound like you can hear a person,” says Ira, “whether it’s drumming or any line. It’s about the whole heap.” That sentiment is the exact opposite of what you hear from so many other bands – that they crave the human touch. “Yeah, I’m not into hearing the ego guitar solo, or the Keith Moon drummer. I feel that that all been pretty beaten down to a pulp, stylistically. And we’re not so much going for that – we’re going for a unit of sound. That’s not what dance music is – I don’t imagine a drummer playing a beat when I hear a dance song or a dancehall beat. I hear a crazy, futuristic, robotic army flaming on fuckin’ trashcans from another universe.” So that’s what you’re going for? “Yes.” ODD BLOOD IS OUT NOW ON MUTE WWW.MYSPACE.COM/YEASAYER
—53 AU Magazine—
THE PHONE BOX EXPERIMENT For a corporate stunt, Mexican actor Rob Cavazos was plonked next to a phone box in a remote part of rural Spain, in order to spend 10 days fielding hundreds upon hundreds of phone calls from around the world. This is what happened. Words by James Hendicott
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Every creative profession has its odder moments in the early stages. For musicians, there’s that awkward early gig in front of a crowd of leaky, post-menopausal pensioners at a pub in a far-off town. For writers, there are the awkward grammar errors that creep into print and somehow stick out next to your name on Google search for the next six months. And even for accomplished actors like Rob Cavazos there are forgotten lines, appearances as the back end of a horse in the Eastbourne City Hall community theatre production of Alice In Wonderland, and becoming the depressingly recognisable face of an unfeasibly humanised product on a local billboard campaign. It’s not the easiest of lifestyles, but occasionally – just occasionally – something comes along that makes it all worthwhile. For Rob, a typical gig might involve playing the Fool in King Lear, shining as a fascist in a BBC Radio production with a title about making people smile (the natural reaction of the public to fascism, of course), or hopping across the stage at the Old Vic in a play produced in just 24 hours. One day, though, Rob decided to apply for a new position, a role as ‘Wilderness Man’. It certainly wasn’t his first casting session, but while Rob usually auditions for a role, being Wilderness Man is more of a calling. Rob’s recruitment came through a lucky glance at a campaign to find somebody to participate in a viral advertising campaign, with his fluency in three languages and outgoing personality helping him nail down the job. On paper, the role was simple: to sit next to a phone box for as long as possible, and answer the phone to whoever
happened to call. Rob had become the newest and perhaps most short-term employee of Skype and – in line with his exotic new title – would be spending the best part of advent sat in backcountry Spain and living in a tent. Of course, you don’t get money for nothing these days, and there were always going to be a few less enticing twists to the demands placed on the Wilderness Man. Firstly, the number for the phone box he camped next to was to be placed prominently online, and it became the heart of a clever advertising campaign for Skype’s online telephone service. Secondly, the website would be running a live feed of Rob 24 hours a day, transmitting whatever he happened to be up to (or whoever he happened to be talking too, more often than not), and preventing our intrepid explorer from ever escaping the overbearing eye of ‘big brother’ in the form of a 24-hour international selection of bored web surfers. Thirdly, while Rob was inevitably going to miss the occasional call due to being, well, on a call, he had to answer every dialling tone that came through, a feat that made his chances of sustained sleep fairly similar to those of an agitated troubadour the night before the running of the bulls. No doubt he still hears that funky Spanish ring in his sleep. The idea was inspired by the once notorious Mojave Phone, a booth that stood 15 miles from the nearest road in a Californian national park before being removed in 2000. The Mojave Phone was once the temporary home of an international traveller, who believed he was instructed by the Holy Spirit to answer the calls of anyone
who might choose – after a few beers, no doubt – to dial it up. He spent just over a month camping next to the booth and answering calls from international mystery men, including odd repeat calls from a man who identified himself as Sergeant Zeno from the Pentagon, and talked only about ‘national security’. When the anonymous, connection-obsessed traveller finally moved on, the phone became a quirky tourist attraction, with people from all over the world dialling up just to see if anyone might answer, and playful hikers making their way to Mojave to take photos and make an outgoing call as proof. In a BBC report in the late Nineties, the Mojave Phone was described by a roaming reporter as “seemingly arbitrary in existence, and overshadowed by risking life and limb to travel to the middle of the desert and answer it. The thing rang non-stop with people calling from all over earth. I answered a few calls, and the callers were genuinely delighted someone was there to pick up the phone.” In 2006, director John Putch even wrote the movie Mojave Phone Box, a film about mysterious strangers crossing paths in front of the quirky desert ‘attraction’. The Mojave Phone itself, though, has been gone a decade now, and instead Rob was instructed to bed down in a remote spot in south Spain. We can’t tell you exactly where it is, mainly because Rob’s most specific idea of the location was “up in the hills about two hours north of Malaga” (he was escorted to the site under cover of darkness). For those with an equally odd adventurous bent, though, Cavazos does suggest it might be possible to track down his secret location: “Very few people (not including myself) actually know where that phone is,” he reflects. “Maybe someone will go seek it out and start
—55 AU Magazine—
a new sort of experiment – ‘the quest for Rob’s phone’ has a nice ring to it.” If you’re so inclined, on arrival you will find a long list of countries, each accompanied by a tally, and a lone phone box branded in indelible pen: ‘The Wilderness Phone’. It marks the small corner of Spain this particular actor knows like the back of his hand. Once he got into the experiment and the phone starting ringing, Rob’s callers included a whole host of bizarre pranksters. In amongst pizza orders from Germany and “the police” from elsewhere in Spain, Rob fielded a call from himself: “These guys teamed up, recorded four of their conversations with me and made up a soundboard from all of my responses. When I answered, I had a really surreal conversation with myself. It’s the single strangest, most flattering thing anyone has ever done for me.” Most of the conversations were more run-of-the-mill, but did include callers from 82 countries (Iraq, Zimbabwe and Pakistan all popped up along the way, as did a French Territory, while Germany, Spain and the UK provided most of the callers). Ironically, Rob hates talking on the phone, telling us that “the only time I spend any length of time on the phone is when talking to my parents. I usually keep phone calls brief, I run out of things to say.” It wasn’t the phone calls, though, that proved the most stressful aspect of the experiment. Even an average of 18 hours a day spent talking to random strangers can’t compare to the stress caused by spending your entire life in front of a camera. Rob has already appeared in productions by Channel 4, but brief stints in front of a lens playing someone else is an entirely different proposition to 240 hours of live solo webcasting, during which you can only be yourself. On the ground, Rob described himself as “oscillating between completely forgetting about the camera and shamelessly playing to it. Half the time I would ignore it, then I’d suddenly remember there were unfathomable amounts of people out there watching me at any given moment, and so I’d overcompensate by jumping on the couch or something. I felt they might get bored otherwise.” As an actor, Rob was arguably better prepared for the on-camera experience than most, and certainly didn’t capitulate into Big Brother-style ‘look at me’ behaviour under the limelight, but he does admit that preparation for this kind of life is all but impossible. With the organisers taking care of the technical side of things – the webcam, secret location and hefty set-up fees – Rob’s preparation was more mundane. “You undergo all the practical preparation you might do for any old camping trip: provisions, first aid, lots of clean socks, but I was completely unprepared for that kind of response. There’s no way I could have planned for that.” The Phone Box Experiment’s website was a quirky and brief web phenomenon, featuring a TV trailer style clip of Rob’s more bizarre moments on the road phone, before feeding through to a live stream, usually featuring Rob leaning against the phone box and rambling away in either English, German or Spanish. In the trailer, his tramp-style cardboard box signs told readers from different countries of his intentions, and invited callers to harass him at any time of the day or night, while a graphic of a phone box – Skype’s viral advert – invited people from anywhere in the world to contact Rob in the cheapest possible way through their service. It was a sponsored, corporate trick that worked a treat: most visitors to the site believed the experiment was entirely of Rob’s making, and the Skype connection simply a
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method to encourage callers of getting in touch. Rob performed to the crowd, bloggers and social media spread the word, and Wilderness Man just kept on answering his anonymous phone calls. When you’re doing something as patently bizarre as living life next to a phone box, you may as well collect some facts about it all along the way. While the obvious ones about phone calls (1,040), time on the phone (120and-a-half hours) and international attention during the stunt (radio interviews in four different countries, for example) make for impressive reading, it’s the odder stats that really stand out. Rob’s calculated, for example, that he ate a total of around 16,000 beans over the ten days (which makes you wonder why he bothered to bring a cool box), while – in a twist to bring in more callers,as if they were needed – many of the assorted belongings that surrounded him on the live video feed were boxed up and posted around the world towards the end of his challenge stint. On spotting a hidden sign in amongst Rob’s belongings on the live web feed, callers were invited to call and ask for any item on the screen as a gift, with Rob’s random assortment including a ten pin bowling set, oversized lounge lamp, leather couch, guitar, fairy lights that kept the phone glowing all night long, and even a football (we can only assume Rob’s supremely talented, as had he kicked the ball out of the frame at any stage, game over…). Amazingly, Rob’s post-challenge review video shows him walking away from the scene and returning to London with at least one entire set of clothes still intact. With 18 hours of phone calls to field a day – and the inevitable onslaught of online viewers determined to interrupt Rob the moment he chose to sit down for a meal, eyeing the live stream to log their call straight after the last caller or checking in with the Wilderness Man in the early hours after a swift few down the pub – it was exhaustion that eventually signalled the end of the project. Six hours’ sleep a day is not enough at the best of times, but when that’s the absolute maximum, and interruptions are unpredictable and constant, Rob found himself at the point of no return after ten days camped out. “It was physical exhaustion,” Rob tells us. “It really takes it out of you.” With his time playing to the camera and living by the call of a rural payphone over, Rob is still haunted by his unusual experience. “After I left, I’d find myself having waking dreams in the middle of the night, where everything I did was still in the eye of an imaginary camera watching me. Sure, I could have kept going, but there’s no way I could have sustained my good mood indefinitely, and I felt it was best I left while people still had a good impression of me. I can be quite grumpy when I’m knackered!” The Wilderness Man eventually – now a phone-ophobe – recovered by retreating to his native Mexico for some downtime over Christmas, pretending the Internet didn’t exist, and eating anything that wasn’t beans. In honour of Rob’s ten-day stay in the wilderness, AU’s James Hendicott will be undertaking a mini ‘Wilderness Man’ experience: 10 hours camped next to a phone box in Dublin’s Phoenix Park on Saturday, February 27, fielding calls from AU readers, (or anyone else who happens to get in touch). Keep an eye on the AU forum for info, and pick up next month’s issue for a full report.
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thebiglist â€”57 AU Magazineâ€”
Chew Lips – Unicorn
pg 54 Record Reviews | pg 63 Live Reviews |pg 65 Unsigned Universe
Illustration by Mark Reihill WWW.MARKREIHILL.COM
Chew Lips Unicorn
henchmen, the multi-instrumentalists James Watkins and Will Sanderson, provide sparse elegance in their arrangements; the sense of intrigue heightened by the lack of clutter.
Chew Lips formed in 2008, having become disillusioned with the dull indie guitar bands they had previously inhabited. The chemistry was immediate: a mythological 10 tracks were written during the very first practice session. After spending much of last year honing their edgy ‘Casiotone drone’, Chew Lips released two razorsharp singles, ‘Solo’ and ‘Salt Air’, on the Kitsuné label. Both tracks were stylish statements of intent from a band that, by the summer of 2009, had nailed their debut album. And so confident were they in the unbridled quality of Unicorn, neither single features on the album, both seemingly considered surplus to requirements.
The renaissance of electro-pop has created a crowded field, particularly for female-fronted acts. While Little Boots and La Roux evoke the poptastic thrill of early Eighties Top Of The Pops veterans, and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ masterpiece It’s Blitz electro-shimmied its way into the hearts of the alternative crowd, bands like Crystal Castles ditched the pop part almost completely, in favour of experimentation. But the synthesiser remains king (or queen) – even this year’s Critics’ Choice at the Brits, Ellie Goulding, has acquired the tag of ‘electro-folk’ just to ramp up her coolness quotient. So, the last thing we need is yet another slinky girl singer with some blokes on laptops and synths. What can Chew Lips, fronted by the charismatic star-in-waiting Tigs, possibly bring to the party?
Indeed Chew Lips have correctly asserted that less is more. Produced by David Kosten (of Bat For Lashes fame), the 10 tracks clock in at a shade over 30 minutes. Pruned of any excess baggage, Unicorn is electro-pop at its darkest and purest, allowing Tigs the space to excel. Her platinum voice both tantalises and pleads, playing the coquettish kitten one moment and distraught diva the next. You can dance to Unicorn, for sure, but you can also cry into your pillow to it.
Well, rather a lot actually – and right from the first moment of the immaculate Unicorn. “Like a high-speed chase on your wedding day,” sings Alicia Huertas-Tigs on the haunting opening track ‘Eight’, perfectly capturing the breathtaking excitement of the London trio’s debut. Her
Tigs favourite singer is Karen Carpenter, and there are similarities between the seemingly frivolous nature to The Carpenters’ music, and the lingering sadness of Carpenter’s delivery. Unicorn may be bursting with threeminute pop wonders, but Tigs reveals a blackened world,
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ensuring the pop perfection of ‘Seven’ and the clipped arpeggios of ‘Slick’ are genuinely soulful. Lyrically, the album excels in leaving opaque, dangling couplets open to the listener’s personal interpretation. Unicorn will leave you to decide whether that “high-speed chase on your wedding day” is a good thing or not. The guitar-driven ‘Karen’ laments the demise of Ms Carpenter, while the heartbreak and drama of ‘Too Much Talking’ – Tigs’ voice quivering with regret and frustration in the aftermath of a break-up – sounds like a modernist take on Soft Cell’s magnificent ‘Say Hello, Wave Goodbye’. It’s bettered by the torrid hymn, ‘Gold Key’, which sees Tigs wrestling with all manner of demons. “Out on a crowded street / I talked a man down / He wanted peace in death,” she confesses, sounding unsure as to whether it was the right thing to do. The album ends with the understated simplicity of ‘Piano Song’, a track displaying a maturity only usually associated with huge talent. You may feel overloaded by synth-led pop bands, but shuffle up and make some room; the best has been saved until now. A brilliant, brilliant debut. John Freeman
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 DOWNLOAD: ‘PLAY TOGETHER’, ‘TOO MUCH TALKING’, ‘GOLD KEY’. FOR FANS OF: MAY68, THE YEAH YEAH YEAHS, SOFT CELL.
Marina & The Diamonds The Family Jewels 679
If your inner music snob recoils in disgust at the notion of frolicsome pop, then you’d best move along now. The remainder of you will revel in the hugely enjoyable debut from the much-touted Marina, a record that bears all the trappings of classic pop; somersaulting vocals, frothy – albeit less than profound – lyrics, and hooks bigger than Quint’s. It’s not especially demanding, just damn good fun. The assortment of piano and keys compositions here are beguilingly simple, but then the best pop is. The opening ‘Are You Satisfied?’ encourages us to take up arms and battle against our lives most ordinary. It’s all a little bit X Factor – after all, we can’t all be Will Young – and such naïve sentiments are the biggest cause for complaint here. Likewise, ‘Girls’ suggests that Marina will never usurp Germaine Greer as the voice of informed feminism. However, unbridled tunefulness reprieves these occasional lyrical lapses. And we need such melodious fare; man cannot live by Animal Collective albums alone. We need melodious daftness (‘I Am Not A Robot’), we need pun related buffoonery (‘Shampain’), and we need choruses we can hum along to – take your pick. In short, we need acts like Marina & The Diamonds. Francis Jones
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 DOWNLOAD: ‘SHAMPAIN’, ‘OBSESSIONS’, ‘HOLLYWOOD’. FOR FANS OF: KATE BUSH, TORI AMOS, REGINA SPEKTOR.
Emily Breeze The Penny Arcade LASERGHOST
A year after the world seemed to submit to the vulnerable, waifish charm of Taylor Swift, have we ever needed someone like Emily Breeze more? An indirect descendant of legendary hellraiser Brendan Behan and a student of the insouciant cool of Lucinda Williams, Breeze could be about to reclaim rock ‘n’ roll from the inarticulate, belligerent morons of the last 15 years. Her songs purr with the promise of salacious encounters while suggesting hurricanes of wrath awaiting your inevitable betrayal. ‘Monday’s Right Hook’ and ‘Come See Me’ are classic, pounding rockabilly, ‘Matt Black & Chrome’ is a mix of the Appalachian country of Ralph Stanley and the honeyed, redemptive charm of Nick Cave and her cover of ‘Lost Highway’ is a surprising delight. More balls than a pound of sausages! Kenny Murdock
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 DOWNLOAD: ‘COME SEE ME’, ‘MONEY’. FOR FANS OF: LUCINDA WILLIAMS, IMELDA MAY.
Field Music Field Music (Measure) MEMPHIS INDUSTRIES
Maybe, up to this point, the Brewis brothers have been teasing us as to their real musical identity. After 2007’s impressive Tones Of Town album, dismayed with being perceived as an ‘indie band’ by the press and fans alike, Field Music were jettisoned into hibernation and sideprojects took centre stage. David Brewis went on to sharpen his guitar skills with School Of Language, while brother Peter released an acclaimed record of skewed pop as The Week That Was. Rejuvenated and rid of self-constraints (although shorn too of keyboard wizard Andrew Moore), Field Music (Measure)
is a 20-track leviathan, and provides a sense of Field Music’s true mojo. A love of straight-up rock is apparent on ‘In The Mirror’, while the sparse funk of ‘Let’s Write A Book’ would have Parade-era Prince purple with envy. The Brewis’ slate is not entirely wiped clean; their trademark tangential changes of pace and rhythm are still present – the 10-minute finale ‘It’s About Time’ spirals and writhes, refusing to be pinned down. Although it’s an easy criticism, like most double albums, Field Music (Measure) would benefit from some trimming – but finally hearing Field Music cut loose is well worth the weight, and wait. John Freeman
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 DOWNLOAD: ‘LET’S WRITE A BOOK’, ‘YOU AND I’, ‘CLEAR WATER’. FOR FANS OF: PRINCE, TALK TALK, FLEETWOOD MAC.
Tunng …And Then We Saw Land FULL TIME HOBBY
Sextet Tunng return with this, their fourth album, a collection of gorgeously idiosyncratic songs that buzzword lovers have dubbed folktronica. Their characteristic spooky English folk sound is retained from prior records and simple, melodic harmonies combine with mellow synthesised beats and found sound samples to create constantly lush compositions. A number of songs exhibit what the band themselves have described as ‘The Megga Chorus’ – a 15-strong choir that lent their voices to the album, much of which was recorded in an abandoned school hall in London. The rowdy chorus of ‘Don’t Look Down Or Back’ that dips and rises in and out of the body of the song is sure to become one of those summer festival anthems, whilst elsewhere, moody electronic drones entwine with plaintive finger picking (‘With Whiskey’) and strangely cinematic atmospherics bleed into warped prog-rock guitar solos (‘By Dusk They Were in the City’); combining to produce an album of startling scope and effortless introspection. James Gracey
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 DOWNLOAD: ‘WEEKEND AWAY’, ‘HUSTLE’, ‘WITH WHISKEY’. FOR FANS OF: ESPERS, THE BOOKS, JUANA MOLINA.
Tindersticks Falling Down A Mountain 4AD
Strong Arm Steady In Search Of Stoney Jackson STONES THROW
Strong Arm Steady’s second album sees the Californian MCs team up with Madlib, who adds to his insanely cluttered CV by handling production duties. From the off, Madlib’s in a soulful mood, smooth and sumptuous string and vocal samples riding his characteristically off-kilter beats. But there are darker grooves on show too, like the foreboding ‘Ambassadors’ and the funk-riff based ‘Bark Like A Dog’. The SAS MCs (assisted by numerous guests) rise to the occasion, tackling the economic downturn (‘Best Of Times’), junk food (‘Chittlins & Pepsi’) and, er, dental hygiene (‘Smile’) with wit and verve. True to form, Madlib teases us with some tantalising song-snippets that are just great: ‘Telegram’ is one of the most enjoyable 59 seconds of music you will hear. Neill Dougan
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 DOWNLOAD: ‘BEST OF TIMES’, ‘TELEGRAM’, ‘BARK LIKE A DOG’. FOR FANS OF: MADVILLAIN, TALIB KWELI.
Plastiscines About Love
It’s safe to say that the French have provided us with many things over the last, oh, 2000 years. However, when it comes to punk rock they’ve been as useful as Stephen Hawking in a tug of war and sadly all-girl Parisian rockers Plastiscines won’t redress the balance any time soon. Featuring shiny production from Katy Perry’s knob twiddler Butch Walker, the opus is a flaccid affair that falls short on hooks. It’s not all bad – ‘Bitch’ has the right amount of bite – but ultimately the band need to learn that if they wanna go somewhere, it’s not ‘About Love’: it’s about songs. Edwin McFee
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 DOWNLOAD: ‘BITCH’, ‘CAMERA’, ‘YOU’RE NO GOOD’. FOR FANS OF: BE YOUR OWN PET, THE VERONICAS, THE MUFFS.
RDA Recommended Daily Allowance
The sound of whiskey-smoked evenings and another love affair sliding into the gutter, Tindersticks slope, half-cut, reeking of Gitanes and Brylcreem, into the room, yet another fine album in tow. It starts oddly with the title track, a slow motion burst of skittery jazz on which the players doodle with notes before it swells into a storm of noise, pitching the listener onto a sea of dark treacle. As ever, the vocals, courtesy of Tindersticks lynchpin Stuart Staples, form the anchor. His keening, baritone mumble conjures up real pathos, particularly on ‘Factory Girls’, which sounds like the notes leisurely dislodging from a music box. As on previous albums, the tempo rarely rises above somnambulant and many of the tracks flutter around in a minor key. However, the band add colour by gamely embracing mariachi on ‘She Rode Me Down’ and cheerful soul on ‘Harmony Around My Table’. It very much resembles a French film soundtrack – unsurprising, given that the band have scored four films to date. Odd, sad and quite, quite lovely. Ross Thompson
We are told that on this debut album, Newcastle outfit RDA have eschewed voguish influences such as the “yawn-fest of Gang of Four, The Fall, Joy Division etc”, to instead be guided by the considerably more soporific likes of Prefab Sprout, Supertramp and Miles Davis. Make of that what you will. Whilst I personally enjoy a good yawn-fest now and again, the band manage to slightly loosen the shackles of unfortunate marketing to reveal a loose, pastoral and sporadically charming sound. A lot of it is delicate, folksy and very English in a Pentangle/Fairport Convention kind of way; more Robert Wyatt than The Wurzels. RDA’s mix of close harmony vocals, faux-jazz flourishes and slightly skewed time signatures doesn’t always gel convincingly and is occasionally leaden, but though the album is largely unremarkable, it redeems itself in the last three tracks with a surprisingly sprightly finish. Joe Nawaz
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DOWNLOAD: ‘KEEP YOU BEAUTIFUL’, ‘HARMONY AROUND MY TABLE’, ‘FACTORY GIRLS’. FOR FANS OF: LEONARD COHEN, LAMBCHOP.
DOWNLOAD: ‘I SEE YOU’, ‘BELIEVE’, ‘MY OH MY’. FOR FANS OF: TERRY CALLIER, THREE TRAPPED TIGERS, PENTANGLE.
—59 AU Magazine—
Efterklang Magic Chairs 4AD
Cheekbones you could slalom on, perfectly-groomed facial hair and jodhpurs – Efterklang would be easy to dismiss as a Euro fodder whimsy were they not so bloody good. Magic Chairs is the Danish ensemble’s third full-length, after Tripper (minimalist electronica with orchestral swagger), Parades (bombastic-yet-intricate step forward) and a couple of cracking EPs. Given the detail and lustre of practically everything Efterklang produce, their wondrous journey is best viewed as a pupa-to-butterfly metamorphosis as, here, they throw in everything they’ve explored to date: complex percussion, perfect timing, horns, Casper Clausen’s melancholic vocals, harmonies, strings, piano and electronic glitches. Most bands would kill to make an album as eclectic yet accessible as Magic Chairs, but few can boast the talent and necessary lack of self-consciousness to just try something outside ‘the box’. This album gets better with every listen. Adam Lacey
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 DOWNLOAD: ‘ALIKE’, ‘HARMONICS’, ‘MIRROR MIRROR’. FOR FANS OF: JODHPURS, MOUSTACHES, IDM, LOVE, AMIINA.
Arch Garrison King Of The Down DOUBLE SIX
The progeny of the highly acclaimed North Sea Radio Orchestra, Arch Garrison’s first album is in many ways the perfect musical accompaniment to spring. Brimming with earthy themes and imagery and with a wealth of musical competence already under their belts, Craig and Sharon Fortnam’s project comprises lilting instrumentals and perfectly placed guitars and organs. Far from being a po-faced affair, though, a subtle vein of positivity runs throughout the record, while tracks like ‘Roman Road’ could almost be Efterklang, such is their ethereal beauty. Featuring more soothing ‘oohs’ than a Girls Aloud record, King Of The Down isn’t one for playing before a night on the tiles, but it is nonetheless an understated gem for folk fans. Lisa Hughes
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 DOWNLOAD: ‘THE DAYS DON’T FEEL THE SAME’, ‘THE VAPOUR TRAIL’, ‘HERE’S TO THE END OF THE ROAD’. FOR FANS OF: ESPERS, EFTERKLANG.
Los Campesinos! Romance Is Boring
And So I Watch You From Afar Letters EP
This third effort from Welsh wunderkinds Los Campesinos! continues the refinement of their multi-faceted sound begun on second record We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed. It’s still recognisably LC! of course; the wild hollers, careering strings and hyperactive playing are all present and correct, but their songwriting has evolved to the point where the elegantly layered ‘We’ve Got Your Back’ can nestle snugly between the bouncy pop of the title track and the Fugazi-lite squall of ‘Plan A’ without sounding even slightly out of place. Handclaps, chunky brass punctuations and electro bleeps add depth to a complex yet uncluttered collection. A large debt of thanks must go to producer John Goodmanson, who has helped the band craft a thick, focused sound equally suited to their trademark punchy anthems and the textured swoons at which they are beginning to excel. Lee Gorman
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 DOWNLOAD: ‘THERE ARE LISTED BUILDINGS’, ‘ROMANCE IS BORING’, ‘STRAIGHT IN AT 101’. FOR FANS OF: JOHNNY FOREIGNER, WE WERE PROMISED JETPACKS, THE ANSWERING MACHINE.
Mat Riviere Follow Your Heart BRAINLOVE
Mat Riviere, a somewhat unknown entity, could well be the oddest character to come out of Norwich since Alan Partridge last checked out of the Linton Travel Tavern. His debut album Follow Your Heart is a genuinely unusual collection of discordant electronic songs delivered with lashings of high gothic drama by Riviere’s voice, which (either by accident or design) is so much the cut of Ian Curtis you’d wonder if he gives the bloke from Editors vocal coaching. However, get past the acquired-taste vocals and song titles like ‘Godless Girl’ and ‘Slugs in the Dust’, and there’s a lot to admire in the atmospheric instrumentation, which is full of tortured keyboard drones, stuttering loops and surprising rhythmic touches that sometimes recall The Knife at their most creepy. Darragh McCausland
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 DOWNLOAD: ‘FYH’, ‘NEVER REST AGAIN’. FOR FANS OF: INTERPOL ON BAD DRUGS, THE KNIFE
Retribution Gospel Choir 2
ASIWYFA’s recorded career so far has been a constant exercise in distillation. Their very earliest demos were near 10-minute post-rock epics, taking forever to make their point and losing their appeal because of it. But as they went on, they learned that less is often more. ‘Holylands, 3am’ was an early example – a pure blast of instrumental rock that says as much in two minutes as many bands manage in nine. Then came the self-titled debut album and nearly half of the tracks clock in at less than five minutes. It’s a tendency that the Belfast-based foursome have continued on this new four-track EP, wherein only the closing behemoth ‘K Is For Killing Spree (Ode To)’ surpasses the four-minute mark. That’s not to say that there is anything wrong with long songs – far from it – but the band have worked out how to create maximum impact, and excitement, in the shortest possible time. Riffs are more intense, transitions are quicker, sections are shorter and tracks like the quite extraordinary ‘S Is For Salamander’ are the result. The opener here, ‘Salamander’ is arguably the band’s high-point so far, a shape-shifting masterpiece of rhythmic and dynamic intensity. It’s so good, in fact, that it leaves the rest of the tracks with work to do, but there’s no harm in putting the best track first. At only two-and-a-half minutes, ‘D Is For Django The Bastard’ initially seems a little rushed with its myriad mini-movements (including a jazz breakdown, hence it’s named after Django Reinhardt) but repeated listens help to make sense of it, while the main riff is as brutal as ever. ‘B Is For B-Side’ is a more sedate affair that reckons that one riff at a time isn’t enough – why not play two across each other? Why not indeed? And then, finally, the band’s tribute to Belfast hardcore heroes The Killing Spree, which is where they basically raise the middle figure to every other band in a similar sphere and say, ‘Go on then, top this’. It doesn’t make an awful lot of sense but Jesus H, it leaves an impression. Absolute mayhem, the way only this band knows how. Chris Jones
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 DOWNLOAD: ‘S IS FOR SALAMANDER’, ‘K IS FOR KILLING SPREE (ODE TO)’. FOR FANS OF: ADEBISI SHANK, RUSSIAN CIRCLES, YOU SLUT!.
Charlie Alex March Home/Hidden LOAF
This is a joke, right? No, seriously. Is this Mark Hollis taking the piss out of current music trends? No?! Well in that case, this is awful! The boy/girl ‘call and response’ lyrics of ‘Don’t Dance’ are laughable, like Deacon Blue with a drum machine. ‘Heaven’ mixes a parody of Talk Talk with a Fall Out Boy ‘power pop’ chorus and ‘Every Girl I See’ aims for the late-Eighties shoegaze of Slowdive but misses miserably. It’s hard to see where this fits in today’s music scene, but if nothing was rubbish, how would we know what was good? Kenny Murdock
Minnesotan rock trio Retribution Gospel Choir release their second long-player on the back of successful US tours supporting the Meat Puppets and Wilco. 2 is a quarter pound mix-up of current rock stylings, with a few stabs of experimentation along the way. Opener ‘Hide It Away’ serenades us in the fashion of the brothers Followill, and ‘Working Hard’ is a Jet-style stomper. ‘Electric Guitar’ is just too elongated for its own good, however, a wig-out on the road to goodness knows where. Closer ‘Bless Us All’ has an alluring electronic pulse at the start and finishes the record satisfyingly, but it’s been a patchy, muddled journey. Like an ice cream: great on occasion, but not substantial. Jeremy Shields
This collection of short instrumental songs is reminiscent of the work of Jon Brion on Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind and Michael Andrews on Donnie Darko. This is a very, very good thing. So it’s no surprise to discover that Charlie Alex March has a similar cinematic background, albeit providing soundtracks to short films and installations. A rich tapestry of gorgeous retro-electro keyboards, lovinglyarranged strings, vibraphone and glockenspiel, each song seduces the ears like a wave of nostalgia, elation and all those other pleasant emotions we rarely get the chance to experience. For a 24-year-old’s debut album to feature guest appearances from members of the High Llamas, Stereolab and Metronomy is itself an endorsement and songs like ‘Francisca’s Theme’, ‘Cortot No 7’ and ‘Telephone Song’ are simply breathtaking in their beauty. As is the album as a whole. For those readers currently seeking warmth for mind as well as body, try this. Paul McIver
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DOWNLOAD: SOMETHING ELSE. FOR FANS OF: I DON’T KNOW, MAYBE TAKING BACK SUNDAY.
DOWNLOAD: ‘‘HIDE IT AWAY’, ‘WORKING HARD’, ‘BLESS US ALL’. FOR FANS OF: KINGS OF LEON, TEENAGE FANCLUB.
DOWNLOAD: ‘SON OF A JOE’, ‘FRANCISCA’S THEME’, ‘PLAN 9’. FOR FANS OF: STEREOLAB, LO-FI-FNK, METRONOMY.
The Newloud Can’t Stop Knowing SONICBIDS
—60 issue 63—
These New Puritans Hidden ANGULAR
These Southend youngsters rubbed plenty of people up the wrong way at first, with their inscrutable attitude, postpunk revivalism and moderately-received debut album Beat Pyramid, but this is where they demand to be taken seriously. Hidden is a record as sprawling and ambitious as frontman, songwriter and co-producer Jack Barnett promised it would be, and it must go down as a huge success. The single ‘We Want War’ is the obvious starting point, and quite something to behold – Japanese drums, horn fanfares, a dancehall rhythm and molasses-dark atmosphere spread over seven minutes doesn’t sound like a recipe for a first single, but my god it works. The band’s predilection for dancehall, dubstep and hip-hop bubbles to the surface again and again – M.I.A. is a clear influence (see ‘Fire-Power’ for evidence of that), while the apocalyptic ‘attack music’ is Hell’s floor-filler. But aside from all the beats, bass and doomy atmospherics, there’s an expansive, exquisitely musical aspect to this as well. Barnett has namechecked minimal composer Steve Reich in the recent past, while many of the string, woodwind and choral arrangements are heavily reminiscent of Danish chamberpop band Efterklang, particularly as the album winds down to a sombre close. Like fellow Essex doom-mongers The Horrors, TNP have let their imaginations run wild on the second record and come up trumps. This is exciting, boundary-pushing stuff. Chris Jones
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 DOWNLOAD: ‘ATTACK MUSIC’, ‘WE WANT WAR’, ‘ORION’. FOR FANS OF: LIARS, M.I.A., EFTERKLANG.
Tom McRae The Alphabet Of Hurricanes COOKING VINYL A decade on from his Mercury and BRIT nominated debut album, Tom McRae comes down to earth with his latest release. There are a few enjoyable tracks here, but they are sandwiched between tunes that would prove a turn-off for even the most optimistic listener. The single ‘Please’ is a jubilant Arcade Fire rouser and it comes as a blessed release from its precursor, ‘American Spirit’, the dirge-like incantations of which would scare off any kind of spirits. ‘A is For…’ is an unfortunately truncated chunk of gothic Americana, a merry swirl of clarinets sent out to taste freedom. If only that unfettered optimism could be repeated elsewhere, there’d be more to recommend. Jeremy Shields
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 DOWNLOAD: ‘PLEASE’, ‘ME AND STETSON’. FOR FANS OF: TOM WAITS, BON IVER, BONNIE ‘PRINCE’ BILLY.
Seabear We Built A Fire MORR MUSIC
Iceland’s Seabear, having expanded from a solo project to a collaborative seven-piece band, take some stylistic cues from Michigan-era Sufjan Stevens here, with typically Icelandic percussion, superb backing vocals and horns regularly (in fact, almost always) enriching what are effectively straightforward guitar-pop songs. The effect is sometimes startling – the songs twist and turn, and songwriter Sindri Már Sigfússon takes brave leaps with his lead vocal lines, weaving them brilliantly in and out of the music.
The upbeat tone of the album is broken up by the almost Appalachian folk shuffle of ‘Wooden Teeth’, which slightly misfires, and the minor-key strum of ‘Warm Blood’ sounds like nothing as much as The Verve and is much the worse for it. For the most part, though, the band work together expertly to turn each song into something much more than the sum of its parts, most notably on ‘Softship’, as pure an expression of musical joy as I’ve ever heard, and the gorgeous almost-title-track, ‘I’ll Build You a Fire’, whose deceptively simple lead guitar line drags the band along into a joyous chorus. Niall Harden
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 DOWNLOAD: ‘SOFTSHIP’, ‘IN WINTERS EYES’. FOR FANS OF: THE SHINS, HEADLIGHTS.
Massive Attack Heligoland VIRGIN
Seven years down the line from 1oo Window, Massive Attack once more take up the reins with the star-studded Heligoland. The album has lurched into being in rather haphazard fashion, assembled over an extended period and with a short sojourn in Damon Albarn’s studio helping inform the sound of several tracks. Albarn, who steals centre-stage on the nervy, guitar and keys melodrama of ‘Saturday Come Slow’, is but one member of a blockbuster cast that includes TV On The Radio’s Tunde Adebimpe, Hope Sandoval and Guy Garvey. The Elbow man brings his weary shrug of a vocal to ‘Flat Of The Blade’, the caffeinated blue-bottle buzz and rhythmic tics providing slow release thrills. Old accomplice Horace Andy shimmers atop the dark grooves of ‘Girl I Love You’, whilst Martina Topley-Bird plays it languorous on the crackling tapestry of ‘Babel’. However, it is the work of the Bristol act themselves, rather than the ‘name’ contributors, that th
dazzles. Their skittering electronica at first exudes wintry cool, but come the closing ‘Atlas Air’ the frost has thawed to be replaced by a long-lingering emotional warmth. With nods to the narcotic reveries of Protection and the itchy paranoia of Mezzanine, Massive Attack are not navigating new terrain here, but as engineers of submersive sonic experiences go, they have few equals. Francis Jones
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 DOWNLOAD: ‘GIRL I LOVE YOU’, ‘PARADISE CIRCUS’, ‘SATURDAY COME SLOW’. FOR FANS OF: FOUR TET, PORTISHEAD, THE GOOD, THE BAD & THE QUEEN.
Loscil Endless Falls KRANKY
This fifth Loscil full-length represents a massive leap forward for Scott Morgan’s previously ultra-minimalist electro-ambient sound. Whereas previous releases strove (successfully) to create a mood, each track here feels fully-realised: the opening title track’s stirring string swells emerge blinking from a field recording of rain, the deep sea pulses of ‘Estuarine’ hark back to the mesmerising Submers but glide under evocative piano and resonant drones. ‘Dub For Cascadia’ creates a nourish soundscape to rival Bark Psychosis while closer ‘The Making Of Grief Point’ introduces spoken word, the human presence jarringly effective amongst the claustrophobic electronics. Album of his career, no question. Lee Gorman
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 DOWNLOAD: ‘ENDLESS FALLS’, ‘ESTUARINE’, ‘THE MAKING OF GRIEF POINT’. FOR FANS OF: SET FIRE TO FLAMES, STARS OF THE LID, GREG DAVIS. —61 AU Magazine—
Frightened Rabbit The Winter Of Mixed Drinks FAT CAT Frightened Rabbit’s last album, the bruising The Midnight Organ Fight, saw singer Scott Hutchison picking over the still-warm carcass of a recently deceased relationship. It made for a compelling but harrowing experience, with the listener coming away with bloody fingers and split lips. So much so that the band joked that their next record would be all puppies and unicorns and cotton candy. They mostly kept their word. While they’re not likely to feature on an episode of Grey’s Anatomy, the songs here are certainly upbeat than those on their dyspeptic brother. They’re noisier too, with most tracks so soaked in reverb they could well be emanating from inside a dragon’s mouth. The thonking ‘Living In Colour’ and ‘The Wrestle’ are particularly likely to lodge within your cerebellum. A little more texture would have been welcome, as it all tends to be all rough and no smooth, but in terms of unfettered emotion few albums come more heart-baring than this. After several listens, you hear past the wolfen vocal howl and squalling guitars and start to notice the intricate balance of folk melody and Phil Spector drums. If it is a wall of sound, then it’s one constructed from smooth, finely polished rocks. Ross Thompson
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 DOWNLOAD: ‘SWIM UNTIL YOU CAN’T SEE LAND’, ‘THE WRESTLE’, ‘SKIP THE YOUTH’. FOR FANS OF: WILL OLDHAM, DEATH CAB FOR CUTIE, MUMFORD AND SONS.
Yeasayer Odd Blood
Scout Niblett The Calcination Of Scout Niblett
When a band first pops its head over the parapet, the tendency is to view their initial sound as everything they represent, without too much thought as to where they might end up further down the line. So many acts are content to plough their own furrow that it’s an easy trap to fall into, but it looks like we already owe an apology to Brooklyn trio Yeasayer. In reviewing their 2008 debut All Hour Cymbals, we wrote that they had “taken Brian Wilson’s template of heavenly melodies and tight harmonies and run with it”, incorporating Seventies soft rock and a bit of TV On The Radio along the way. All of that remains true of that first album, but listening to its follow-up, it’s difficult to recognise the same band. They’ve wasted no time at all in stripping away their main selling point – those skyscraping harmonies – and instead put the focus on Chris Keating as a frontman of charisma and confidence (presaged by his star turn on Simian Mobile Disco’s ‘Audacity Of Huge’). His elastic voice is out in front, often recalling the likes of Prince and Jamie Lidell, and behind him the band have undoubtedly tightened up, with plenty of synths, dancehall-inspired sub-bass and taut, funky rhythms, especially on tracks like the single ‘Ambling Alp’ and the frantic ‘Rome’. There are moments when the band remind you of their former selves, particularly the laconic ‘Strange Reunions’ and ‘Grizelda’, both shunted to the back end of the record, but the Yeasayer of 2010 is a very different band to the one we became acquainted with two years ago. As to whether it’s better? That’s debatable. All Hour Cymbals is certainly a more cohesive and atmospheric album, but if it’s tunes you’re after, Odd Blood wins hands down. This is very deliberately a pop record, and a supremely good one at that. Chris Jones
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 DOWNLOAD: ‘AMBLING ALP’, ‘O.N.E.’, ‘MADDER RED’. FOR FANS OF: VAMPIRE WEEKEND, DIRTY PROJECTORS, MGMT. —62 issue 63—
The term ‘minimalism’ can offer undeserved credibility to a number of ill-realised ideas. Art. Literature. Interior design. In music, a medium without limitations, it takes something or someone special to pull it off. And this regularly occurs. Chan Marshall and PJ Harvey are artists oft-compared to Scout Niblett and like the musical equivalent of an intravenous drip, their more skeletal songs infuse themselves into the body slowly and continuously, offering slight discomfort but nutrients enough for future reward. Scout Niblett’s songs have the opposite effect. ‘Cherry Cheek Bomb’ explodes into Kyuss-style fuzzy riffage for all of one minute. ‘Lucy (Lucifer)’ with its treated drum backing has a charmingly sinister simplicity. There are moments when she escapes from the single dimension she inhabits. However, freedom is fleeting and Scout must return to ‘set pattern. repeat’ or surely perish. So she does. A single riff spread over the course of a nine-minute song. A single idea spread over the course of a 60-minute album. Slim pickings indeed. Paul McIver
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 DOWNLOAD: ‘LUCY (LUCIFER)’, ‘CHERRY CHEEK BOMB’, ‘RIPE WITH LIFE’. FOR FANS OF: BJORK, PJ HARVEY, CAT POWER.
Charlotte Gainsbourg IRM BECAUSE MUSIC
As anyone who saw the film Antichrist can vouch, Charlotte Gainsbourg seems to have inherited something of her old man Serge’s gift for attracting controversy. Her first taste of music and scandal came aged 13 when the partially-dressed youngster appeared with Papa in the video for the single ‘Lemon Incest’. Zut alors! On this, her third album, the willowy chanteuse is aided by co-writer and producer Beck. The duo adopt the guise of a latter-day
Serge and Jane Birkin (Charlotte’s mother) on the cranky, piano-led duet ‘Heaven Can Wait’. However, it is Beck, rather than the ghost of Serge, who is the true father to this record, bringing swooning texture to ‘Vanities’ and treating a cover of ‘Le Chat Du Café Des Artistes’ with macabre strings. Generally, the sounds are svelte and alluring, with Beck carefully framing Gainsbourg’s breathily delicate voice. Defaulting to melancholy-tinged pop sophistication, only the clanking and off-kilter title track – IRM stands for Imagerie par Résonance Magnétique (MRI scan) – makes explicit reference to the brain haemorrhage that almost killed the songstress back in 2007. Francis Jones
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 DOWNLOAD: ‘LE CHAT DU CAFÉ DES ARTISTES’, ‘HEAVEN CAN WAIT’, ‘TIME OF THE ASSASSINS’. FOR FANS OF: MARIANNE FAITHFULL, BECK, FRANÇOISE HARDY.
First Aid Kit The Big Black And The Blue WICHITA
The Big Black And The Blue is the debut album from Swedish sisters Klara and Johanna SÖderberg. Creepier and more perceptive than their EP Drunken Trees, the girls have embraced a harsh winter sound. Lines such as “I saw your mother at the department store / She looked innocent like a stillborn” (‘Winter is All Over You’) creep from nowhere, imbuing gentle harmonics with a sinister air. ‘A Window Opens’ is a haunting waltz sung from a male perspective, and tells of a wandering son. However, what the record gains in mystery and distance, it loses in tenderness. There’s none of the warmth of the EP, though all of the melody remains. It’s a ghostly image of a pair of sisters, alone and determined, in the woods. Ailbhe Malone
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 DOWNLOAD: ‘WINTER IS ALL OVER YOU’, ‘HEAVY STORM’. FOR FANS OF: BRIGHT EYES, SADDLE CREEK, GRAM PARSONS.
The Ruby Suns Fight Softly
Andrew Vincent Rotten Pear
Fronted by Californian in exile Ryan McPhun (amazingly, that isn’t a stage name), Kiwi indie stars The Ruby Suns blend haunting, faded vocals with a spacey barrage of eclectic rhythms. The three-piece have a penchant for changes of pace, fluctuating between vaguely danceable beats in tracks like ‘Two Humans’ to moments of profound, shoegazing near-silence in efforts like slow-builder ‘Olympics On Pot’. It’s a disparity that accentuates the contrasting electronic melodrama; listening to the album in full makes potential singles such as ‘Cranberry’ seem exaggeratedly powerful and overstated. Hints of trip-hop kings Massive Attack bleed in throughout, and the result is a strange and intriguing cross between lift music and trance-tinged indie. What have they been listening to? James Hendicott
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 DOWNLOAD: ‘MINGUS AND PIKE’, ‘TWO HUMANS’. FOR FANS OF: PANDA BEAR, THE CHILLED-OUT CORNERS OF MOBY’S PLAY.
Race Horses Goodbye Falkenburg FANTASTIC PLASTIC
On the surface of it, the latest album from veteran Canadian songwriter Andrew Vincent appears slight and cut from an all-too-familiar template. You know the one – a maudlin man, his sad thoughts, some scratchy little chord changes, and a few moody swirls of background sound eked out of a terrifying looking tangle of coloured wires, duct-tape and scuff-marked effects pedals. The songs mostly adhere to an understated folk tempo that sometimes shifts gear into Velvet Underground-type chug, most notably on ‘Fooled Again’. What stops the album from melting away entirely into the vast, existing ocean of thissort-of-thing are the observant lyrics – delicate vignettes about damaged, lonely characters, spun with Vincent’s smart and confident turn of phrase. Darragh McCausland
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 DOWNLOAD: ‘HI LO’, ‘ROTTEN PEAR’. FOR FANS OF: CASIOTONE FOR THE PAINFULLY ALONE, JONATHAN RICHMAN.
Musée Mécanique Hold This Ghost
Musée Mécanique, in both name and sound, have succeeded in distancing themselves from the predominant musical flavourings of their native Portland, Oregon. On this, their debut album, they have produced a consistently subtle and lush collection of multi-layered folk-pop tracks, gleefully veering away from sparse arrangements yet still managing to maintain an intimacy. ‘Like Home’ waltzes along with a light electronic breeze, while ‘Two Friends Like Us’, with its steady, finger-picking folk base, allows Micah Berger’s pining vocals to guide each verse to an alluring orchestral destination. While there is little variety in mood throughout, it’s those very vocals and the welcome and colourful padding of strings, blow-organ, lap steel and glockenspiel that give Hold This Host a distinguished elegance. Mickey Ferry
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DOWNLOAD: ‘CAKE’, ‘MAN IN MY MIND’, ‘SCOOTER’. FOR FANS OF: POMEGRANATES, THE BEATLES, GORKY’S ZYGOTIC MYNCI.
DOWNLOAD: ‘LIKE HOME’, ‘THE THINGS THAT I KNOW’, ‘SOMEHOW BOUND’. FOR FANS OF: ELLIOTT SMITH, ROBERT WYATT, MERCURY REV.
The Album Leaf A Chorus Of Storytellers
It’s hard to get excited about Ugly Beautiful. Their debut album, Paradise, is okay. It’s pleasant. Even their own bio calls it a slow burner, which doesn’t exactly spark enthusiasm. Highly derivative, there is nothing particularly wrong with any of the components but the sum of their parts makes for underwhelming listening. With a heavily American-influenced sound, Ugly Beautiful have helped themselves blend in rather than stand out. There are whispers of promise here. These nice vocals, these perfectly pleasant riffs suggest an understanding of the dirty, gritty rock they wish to emulate – a solid base from which the Cork lads need only to inject a shot of passion, a little more creativity. Paradise is listenable. But it needs some fire; needs to be less of a polite handshake and more of a full-on slap in the face. Louise McHenry
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 DOWNLOAD: ‘PARADISE’, ‘WEEKEND’, ‘NEW SUN’. FOR FANS OF: INCUBUS, QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE, SMASHING PUMPKINS.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 DOWNLOAD: ‘THERE IS A WIND’, ‘UNTIL THE LAST’.. FOR FANS OF: MÚM, WHEN PILOTS EJECT.
Oh No Ono Eggs THE LEAF LABEL
Fêted Quirky Pop Danes In Avant-Garde Shocker! Well, not quite avant-garde, but the quintet have definitely branched out into pastures lysergic. They’ve lost the skewed pop edge of their debut Yes and have instead edged into post-fuzz AnCo territory. The single ‘Swim’ forsakes zany dance-pop for lush and swooping, with strings that Tori Amos has a beady eye on. Elsewhere, there are glimpses of their former Eighties bent on ‘Internet Warrior’, which sounds as if the Buggles got caught in an 8-bit spiderweb. While the record lacks a focus of sorts – spiralling wildly on 10-minute-long closer ‘Beelitz’ – when it shines, like on ‘The Tea Party’, it really sparkles. Ailbhe Malone
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 SOUTERRAIN TRANSMISSIONS
Formerly Radio Luxembourg, these psychobillies from Aberystwyth serve up a lovingly off-kilter debut, which is delightfully constructed around a central theme – some tosh about the ghost of an old sailor. Rough-necked sea shanties jostle with giddily joyous pop songs (the paean to calorific longing, ‘Cake’, contains gorgeous, sugar-spun harmonies), while Meilyr Jones delivers ‘Glo Ac Oren’ in his finest Welsh. The nautical premise gets a touch daft in places – ‘Captain Penelope Smith’ is just plain silly – but the superb opener, ‘Man In My Mind’ sounds like a Rubber Soul hidden track. The sense of cohesion, and confidence in their experimentation, makes Goodbye Falkenburg sound like Race Horses’ fifth, rather than first, album – if you know what we mean. John Freeman
Ugly Beautiful Paradise
lead, and the sung one-two of ‘We Are’ and ‘Almost There’ are so beautifully recorded and mixed (sounding like they cut out every frequency that wasn’t totally satisfying) that it hardly matters when they’re over and you realise they haven’t really gone anywhere. Niall Harden
DOWNLOAD: ‘‘INTERNET WARRIOR’, ‘THE TEA PARTY’. FOR FANS OF: ANIMAL COLLECTIVE, DAVID BYRNE.
Picastro Become Secret MONOTREME
Become Secret is the fourth full-length release from the Toronto-based, avant-folk rock group, a collection of slow, quiet, sparse and simple songs, which excel in one department – the creation of very fragile, creepy, melancholia. These qualities they have in abundance. What they lack, however, is a bit of charm. Perhaps a more patient listener will warm to this record over time (and they do seem to have some influential friends, Tony Dekker of the Great Lake Swimmers among them), but this particular release is a secret far too well kept. Aaron Kennedy
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 DOWNLOAD: ‘DON’T BOTHER. FOR FANS OF: CAT POWER, RED HOUSE PAINTERS.
Wounds Dead Dead Fucking Dead EP
The Album Leaf, like Mogwai, have their own chapter in the Bumper Book of Post-Rock Clichés: they’re specifically responsible for the ‘slow electric piano line + clicky laptop beat = song’ formula which blights all our lives. Of course, some bands took this and ran with it – Amiina and Halfset being two good examples – but far more used it to create the most boring music of the last decade. The Album Leaf themselves, happily, are brilliant at it, and here as on most of their albums about half of the songs stick more or less to this template. It’s music you could study to, and you can take that whichever way you like – it demands very little of the listener. This is the first Album Leaf record to feature Jimmy LaVelle’s live band and occasionally (most often on the vocal tracks, of which there are four) they are really special, the live drums and string section adding a much needed extra dimension. The pretty ‘Until The Last’ reaches Sigur Rós levels of bombast with piano and strings taking the
Like the scorned teenage child of Liars and The Blood Brothers, Wounds arrive erumpent on the scene, more energy than melody and all the better for it. Ostensibly the results of 11 hours in a shed, the recording quality lends their art-hardcore something of a DIY sheen that makes it a touch mysterious. But Wounds are nothing if not immediate as they span the spectrum from, say, the harder-edged early Yeah Yeah Yeahs stuff to what are essentially just sheets of expertly-placed noise. Aidan Coogan’s slightly buried, sloganeering vocals tie everything together with common purpose, shouting about atrophy and spinning out of control. Subtlety is not their strong point, but that’s okay. This is the start of something. Karl McDonald
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 DOWNLOAD: ‘TREES’, ‘UGLY MOUTH’, ‘CHOKE’. FOR FANS OF: LOVVERS, LIARS, GALLOWS. —63 AU Magazine—
Photographs from the Belfast4Haiti
Photos by Carrie Davenport
& COMPLY OR DIE
THE RUPTURE DOGS
TIN POT OPERATION
Belfast4Haiti Limelight Complex & Stiff Kitten, Belfast Between the morning’s Fun Run and the gigs in the Spring & Airbrake/Limelight/Katy Daly’s and then the Stiff Kitten, the chaps behind Belfast4Haiti (and their legion of helpers) managed to raise the quite astounding total of £38k in a single day, so whatever words follow here are really irrelevant – the day was an astounding success. But since this is the reviews section, let’s have an entirely subjective stab at assessing the music anyway. It doesn’t start too well, as unavoidable personal business renders us late for Not Squares, who were quite possibly the one band on the bill that stood out among all others. Of course, the reports from those that were there were extremely positive. Gutted. So we begin with a blast of bludgeoning sludge-punk from Comply Or Die (think Part Chimp gone a bit hardcore) before soothing the soul with Kowalski in a relatively (we’ll get to that) sparse Spring & Airbrake, as those without tickets queue patiently outside. Despite a few technical issues and a lack of heft behind Louis’s voice, the new line-up has gelled well and ‘Get Back’ is a veritable indie-pop treat. We suffer a couple of minutes of Brian Houston’s painful audience participation on the wander through Katy’s, but we’re back in the rapidly-filling big room
for Tin Pot Operation (featuring co-organiser Anto O’Kane). The scene veterans’ spunky blend of ’77 punk, classic pop and mandolin-fuelled rabble-rousing provides an edge befitting the occasion and some infectious songs. By now, the place is really starting to fill up, and in Katy’s we catch a bit of synth-driven twee-pop trio the Cutaways, before heading to the Limelight, where country-rock sort-ofsupergroup (featuring members of Panama Kings, General Fiasco and Katie and the Carnival) the Queer Giraffes are a genuine winner. Steve Toner is not the kind of frontman that begs to be taken seriously, but his rock ‘n’ roll casualty schtick is backed up with some sweetly funny songs, beautifully played. Bravo. Tinpot Anto’s co-conspirator Aaron ‘Ron’ Abernethy is next with his Black Bear Saloon but unfortunately their turbo-charged, balls-out rawk is utterly marred by Abernethy’s horribly overblown, fauxAmerican emoting. Young upstarts The Rupture Dogs fare better in Katy’s, despite their frontman’s distracting resemblance to – and clear idolisation of – Dave Grohl, and there’s more grunge in the Spring & Airbrake, where the popularity of Mojo Fury continues to confound. They’re not bad, they’re just… there. After all that testosterone, it’s with a measure of satisfaction that we discover Escape Act toting acoustic guitars and a wooden box in lieu of a drum kit. It makes for a slightly monochrome set, but the quite brilliant ‘Cabin Fever’ raises hairs as surely as ever. Back in the Limelight, Dutch Schultz
Photographs from the Belfast4Haiti gig by music photographers Carrie Davenport, Ramsey Cardy and Alan Maguire can be purchased online - all profits go to the DEC fund for Haiti. http://www.photoboxgallery.com/belfast4haiti
BLACK BEAR SALOON
entertain with some entirely uncalled for (but amusing in its sheer chutzpah) swearing – “L.A. Cuntfucker!” is not the most radio ready refrain we’ve ever heard, but ‘It Bends In The Middle’s soaring chorus positively gleams – an island of melodic bliss in a sea of sweat and dirt. And on an entirely different note, The Good Fight leave a big impression in front of a big crowd as the young band make a play for nextmost-likely-to status. Ringing guitars, soaring melodies and the angelic voice of Ben Robinson – it’s as convincing a pitch for Coldplay/Snow Patrol territory as you could imagine from an unsigned local band. Next it’s back to the Limelight and the always-excellent Cashier No.9, whose twanging, psyche-tinged indie-rock is lapped up by an utterly packed venue and our highlight of the day. But later attractions like The Answer, General Fiasco and the Panama Kings have to wait because for AU it’s over the road to sample a bit of the Haiti Fundraver (arf) at the Stiff Kitten. As we enter, Miniminds and then Psycatron are banging out the techno in the main room, but for most it’s a relatively quiet drink in the bar, where Space Dimension Controller, Revolver DJs, David Holmes and Boxcutter put in short sets taking in classic house and electro (SDC), crowd pleasing indie-dance (Revolver), Krautrock and electro-pop (Holmes) and a bewildering, intoxicating mix of stuff from Boxcutter. As pleasant as all that is, our night has to finish in the main room, where Col Hamilton delivers with a fierce techno set, the DJ playing to the crowd like the seasoned pro he is. A fitting end to a more than memorable day. Chris Jones
The Wonder Villains / Demo Reviews
“The reason I love the Wonder Villains is because they are everything music should be: innocent, honest, enthusiastic and enthralling. They are two teenage girls shaking with nerves as they go on stage, but they unleash the coolest, most life-affirming pop I’ve ever heard. After watching them for 10 minutes I’d pretty much decided that if I only do one more thing in music, it’s to make sure everyone in the world gets to hear The Wonder Villains. It’s pure and joyful pop music. What could be more exciting than that?” Rocky O’Reilly
Words by Chris Jones
ACT: THE WONDER VILLAINS LOCATION: DERRY MEMBERS: EIMEAR COYLE (VOCALS, SYNTH, BASS), CHEYLENE MURPHY (SYNTH, VOCALS). FOR FANS OF: OPPENHEIMER, THE CHALETS, MATES OF STATE WEBSITE: MYSPACE.COM/THEWONDERVILLAINS They’re only 17 and they haven’t released anything yet, but they’ve already supported Oppenheimer and Duke Special and had some significant airplay for the purely distilled indie-pop thrills of ‘Oh Peter’. Not bad for starters, is it? Cheylene from the band gives AU the story so far, plus there’s a word from their #1 fan, ex-Oppenheimer man and production hero Rocky O’Reilly.
Can you tell us a little bit about the band? At the start it was just the two of us and we played all of the instruments ourselves... synth, guitar, bass, vocals and even the drums – but this set up was a little bit too crazy when we started to play live – we spent more time practising super-quick instrument changes in the middle of songs rather than the songs themselves. That’s when [Eimear’s brother] Kieran stepped in to take care of all the drumming and heavy lifting! How did it feel to win the Oppenheimer support? How did the gig go? It was super-awesome. We were really nervous coming up to the results because we really wanted to play at it! We didn’t find out for ages on the day either, but when we got home from school we checked our email and there was one from Oppenheimer labelled ‘Congratulations’. Then we basically just screamed down the phone to each other for about an hour. The gig went amazing too, it was the first time we’d played in Belfast and the gig really opened doors for
us. We’re even doing some recording with Rocky from Oppenheimer now, which is unreal! Can you point to any bands or artists that have been really influential? We just picked up the synths because they sounded better than guitars! We enjoy the sound they make and we ended up making this type of music before we really knew what we were doing. Our songs are so much about the melodies! I think this comes from music from bands that we grew up listening to, like Blink-182 or even the Spice Girls. Just really melodic pop. What are your plans for 2010? We have big hopes for 2010! We’ve never released anything before so we’d love to do that which would be superexciting, though we’re still writing and recording new tunes at the moment. Already this year we’ve had our first ever photo shoot, studio time and this is our first ever magazine interview! Hopefully this year continues the way it’s going and who knows where that’ll take us.
Axis Of Brodbingnagian
epic rawk action among the snarling verses. Two words. Going places. CJ
escalate their own ideas, rather than emulating those of others. FJ
This incendiary single has already set tongues a-wagging, and it represents a marked shift sideways from the head-down hardcore the Portstewart tykes started off with. Instead, the crushing dynamics, heart-stopping tempo changes and swingeing melody of ‘Brodbingnagian’ (a reference to Gulliver’s Travels meaning ‘huge’, vocabulary fans) push things into posthardcore territory – more Fugazi and At The Drive-In than Black Flag, if you will. Things even go a bit metal in the song’s final act. It all suits them rather well. The wryly titled ‘Swine Flu Vs Bird Flu’ is the additional track, and it starts off as hardcore tunes often do, with jackhammer snares on the offbeat and some frantic yelling from Ewen Friers (brother of ASIWYFA’s Rory), but again the band know how to lift a song out of the ordinary, seamlessly inserting passages of actually quite
Sister Marko Just Let Go
Annas Chamber Demo
The thinking here is intriguing; each song is intended as an excerpt from the journal of a madman. As with many interesting ideas, this one is somewhat less vivid in reality than it is in its creator’s imagination. Also, as we only have three tracks it’s impossible to tell how the concept will play out over the duration of an album. Full of bombastic intent, there’s a certain anthemic quality to ‘Just Let Go’, its dark melodrama custom-built for radio rotation. Unfortunately, this type of thing has been done more times than Jordan. ‘Train To New York’ is less fully formed, a roll call of clichés in search of an original defining moment. There’s potential, but they need to
Relentless whirls of guitar, fierce drums and howl-at-themoon vocals, this Dundalk outfit know how to huff and puff, but they’ll never quite blow you away. At times, this is the hard rock equivalent of play dough, with the riffs on ‘State of Mind’ and ‘Vision’ moulded into over-familiar shapes. However, it’s not all infantile fare. They muster some mean voodoo on ‘Stoner Bucket’, guitar lunging like a knifeman on a kill spree. Overall, though, Annas Chambers are far from the finished article, with a possessive apostrophe just one of the many things they’re lacking. FJ WWW.MYSPACE.COM/ANNASCHAMBER —65 AU Magazine—
Annual Subscription to AU Only £12.50 (€15) Yeah, that’s right, £12.50. Right now you are thinking one of two things. Either a) Hey, I picked this copy of AU up for free, and can do every month from now on, why would I pay, douchebag? Or b) Sweet! I can still get AU delivered straight to my door, and it’s even cheaper than before. Personally, we prefer people who respond with b). They know where the smart money is. They know that time = money, and by saving the time you’d spend going to pick up your copy of AU, you’ll actually be better off financially. Plus, they’ll get the download link to an exclusive subscribers’ compilation of new music. If you want to join the clever people in what we are now calling Column B, all you have to do is pop a cheque for £12.50 (or €15) made payable to Alternative Ulster Ltd in the post to AU Magazine, The Marquis Building, 89-91 Adelaide Street, Belfast, BT2 8FE. Alternatively, you can send the payment via PayPal to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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THE CRIBS Band of Brot
BATS Yeah Yeah Yea Boys’ Noise hs Har Mar SupAﬃrmative Actio Wild Beast s aissanc erstar Spinnerette n Ren e Man Let’s Dance BroTh dy e Bu Bar gAll es Int ensity In Tw F*ck Button o Cities s Atlas Sou Swear Bears
nd Bigmouth Stri
Gang Of Fou No Age / Tim r / Hockey / The Lon gcut / Cat Mal es New Vik ing / Poc ojian The xx / Ugl y Megan / Nos ket Promise / Morriss / The Dodos ey / Hel aj Thing / Liqu id Vega / The iopause Big Pink
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—66 issue 63—
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Most Wanted - Bioshock 2
Who's Your Daddy: Bioshock Returns To Rapture
Videogames are, like the medium of film, largely made for adults by adults. This argument is epitomised by Bioshock (2007), 2K Games’ masterclass in immersive storytelling and emotionally affecting gameplay. Essentially a first person shooter, but saying that is as reductive as categorising a sabre-toothed tiger as a big cat, Bioshock was the release which persuaded many gamers to invest in a next generation console. The storyline, while indebted to the classic System Shock series, felt bold and startlingly fresh. Andrew Ryan, a shadowy figure who is part Citizen Kane, part Dr. Moreau and part Joseph Stalin, who constructed the vast underwater city Rapture, a custom-built Atlantis where pleasure of all illicit kinds was the ultimate goal; and religion, government and economy inhibited human expression. Something was rotten in Denmark, as the inhabitants, mad with bloodlust, bootlegged alcohol and cabin fever, went doolally and started mutilating each other.
After crashing into the ocean, your character stumbles upon this submarine dystopia, a topsy-turvy riot of art deco dancehalls, waterlogged boudoirs, leaking tunnels and haunted washrooms. Like a sabre-toothed tiger, it was beautiful to look at, but also slightly scary – you couldn’t avoid the feeling that you were being led up the garden path, gently towards your doom. The game demanded that you make tricky ethical choices. Every so often you stumble across a ‘Little Sister’, one of Rapture’s orphaned girls whom you can rescue or ‘harvest’ for the precious lifeforce ‘Adam’. The decision is never an easy one, but the consequences of doing the latter are truly horrifying. I’m not sure that I ever want to see the accompanying animation again. Given the manifold plaudits bestowed upon Bioshock, it’s not wholly surprising that 2K greenlit another instalment. Set 10 years after events of the original game, the bemusement park of Rapture has rusted and corrupted even further. It’s being torn apart by the ‘Splicers’, now so mutated that not even Gok Wan would want to see them naked, altruistic crackpot Sofia Lamb and the furtive cult leader Father Wales. You play as Subject Delta, one of the early ‘Big Daddies’ – the lumbering, forlorn guardians of the Little Sisters. How exactly this shift in direction will unfold itself is still unknown, but as mystery is such an integral element of the Bioshock experience, to say more would spoil the surprise, pleasant or otherwise. Games as noteworthy as this, like sabre-toothed tigers, are pretty rare, so would you kindly go to the shop and buy yourself a copy. Ross Thompson Bioshock 2 is out now for PC, PS3 and Xbox 360.
—67 AU Magazine—
Most Wanted Beastly Boys
There’s a lot to be said for bookish, enigmatic young men that straddle the line between intellect and pretension. Kendalraised but Leeds-based, Wild Beasts succeed through infusing their quintessentially English, literate art-rock with an invigorating dose of sexuality and some northern earthiness. After the falsetto-strewn and therefore forbidding debut Limbo, Panto, the quartet found that balance with last year’s Two Dancers, an album that continues to entrance and beguile. A new single, ‘We Still Got The Taste Dancin’ On Our Tongues’, is released from it on March 22, and the band embark on a short Irish tour the same week, taking in Galway, Cork and Dublin. If their last Belfast show is anything to go by, you can expect slithering rhythms, bracing vocal performances and a little self-deprecating humour. They’re nice lads, really. CJ Wild Beasts play Roisin Dubh, Galway on March 25; Cyprus Avenue, Cork on March 26; and the Academy, Dublin March 27.
SILENT BUT DEADLY
PEAK YOUR INTEREST
During the past year, a curious thing has happened to the Wii. Once viewed as a dumping ground for family friendly games compendiums, a high tech replacement for Twister, the console has become assaulted with distinctly family unfriendly titles featuring zombies, cursed mountains and random acts of staggering violence. The latest release to tarnish Nintendo’s good name is Shattered Memories, a reboot of the first Silent Hill game – now with added motion control. You can take on the inside-out fiends, or you can run away screaming like a toddler with a lollipop stuck to its forehead. As in all the games set in this foreboding location, Shattered Memories succeeds largely through its distinctive location: a largely deserted town beset by a snowstorm. It’s impressive that the designers can sustain such an acute level of creepiness throughout the game, enhanced in no small part by the interview with a psychiatrist which opens this tale of very dark things happening in a very dark place. RT
It’s a cliché to say that a particular programme changed television history, a cliché worn smooth like a politician’s lies through years of overuse, but that’s exactly what David Lynch and Mark Frost’s gonzo soap opera Twin Peaks did 19 years ago. It changed things. It shook them up like a glass cola bottle, then popped the cap so the contents could burst out onto the increasingly perplexed network ABC. Viewers had never seen anything like it, and it is doubtful that we ever will again. What started as a murder mystery, the killing of high school sweetie pie Laura Palmer, quickly evolved into a mishmash of red herrings, white elephants, vengeful spirits, parallel universes and a dancing, backwards-talking dwarf. White picket fences that were painted black on one side. Warm apple pie with broken glass in the centre. A coffee cup filled with poison. Released before the viewing public gained an appetite for the offbeat dramas screened on HBO and Showtime, Twin Peaks was daring and dazzlingly original, which should explain why it bowed out after only two seasons. American networks surpass themselves in extinguishing such bright lights. The second season, which is even freakier than the first, has long been unavailable in the UK, but hits our shelves next month. RT
Silent Hill: Shattered Memories is released on Nintendo Wii on March 5. It will also be available on PS2 and PSP. NOW YOU SEE HIM As industrious as a Swedish furniture factory, New York native Paul Auster is one of the most prolific and consistently interesting writers around. As influenced by Jacques Lacan as he is by Nathaniel Hawthorne, Auster eclipses most of his contemporaries by prolifically turning out complex narratives which have more puzzle pieces than puzzle spaces. Read any one of his many novels, and you will feel like a mouse scampering around a maze looking for that elusive block of cheese. This might not sound entirely pleasurable, but the enjoyment of investigating Auster’s prose is giving in to its hypnotic, rhythmic quality – it buoys you along towards a safe harbour, whilst at the same time tying an anchor to your left leg. Like several of Auster’s other books, Invisible, essentially another of his tales of an unlikely friendship, is constructed in several sections - interlocking pieces of an antique wooden jigsaw which makes different pictures depending on which angle you look at it. Your bedside table will be honoured to have something by Auster nestling upon it. Not that it should rest there for very long – Invisible is another enthralling read. RT Invisible is published now by Faber and Faber Ltd.
—68 issue 63—
Twin Peaks Season Two is released on DVD on March 22. HAUTE LA KERMODE Tall of quiff and acid of tongue, film critic, skiffle enthusiast and all-round decent chap Mark Kermode has been giving out his pearls of wisdom on the ludicrous nature of cinema for years. Some might believe watching films then talking about them to be the ideal occupation, but just think about that for a moment. Consider spending your morning watching Bride Wars, your afternoon ensconced in Hostel 2, and rounding off your evening with a preview of anything starring Eddie Murphy. It makes working in a hospital for sick monkeys look tempting. To his credit, Kermode has the decency to be honest about anything he watches, rather than transforming into a babbling sycophant like others doing the same job. But he does so with good humour, balancing academic insight with a gently caustic wit. His book, It’s Only A Movie, is kind of an autobiography, in which he mixes his views on the sorry state of mainstream
Dot Dot Dot...
The Best Of The Rest In Live Music
BATTLEFIELD: BAD COMPANY 2
cinema with anecdotes about encountering the rich and deluded: his run-in with Werner Herzog is a belter. RT It’s Only A Movie: Reel Life Adventures Of A Film Obsessive is published now by Random House. SCROOBY DOOBIE DOO One of the most literate performers working within a genre not frequently known for progressive views on women and gun control, hip-hop artist Scroobius Pip takes professional and personal risks by not rapping about bling and hoes, but about birth control, social change and the existence of God. This isn’t as humourless as it sounds: Pip is as funny as he is erudite, appearing onstage with a selection of props and outfits to bolster his performance with a sense of visual spectacle. His new album with regular cohort Dan Le Sac, The Logic Of Chance, is complemented by a book, Poetry In (e)otion, a collection of interpretations of his lyrics by some of the most talented artists and graphic designers around. RT
and it seems the time has came to bring the band back. The prospect of swathes of new CQ material being played live is very exciting indeed. Add to that a live appearance from The Jane Bradfords, complete with waves of their own new material, and you’ll find that we now have to sit with our legs crossed. RT Clone Quartet and The Jane Bradfords play the Harp Ice Cold Big Gig at the Spring & Airbrake, Belfast on Friday March 26.
I THINK WE’RE A CLONE NOW ‘We haven’t gone away you know’, Clone Quartet overlord Andy Henry may have said recently. OK, he didn’t really, that was some other guy with glasses. Still, long-time followers of the Belfast music scene might have been wondering just where they have disappeared to of late. Well, the short answer is that Andy decamped to London for a period, so live shows became few and far between, bar a few solo outings consisting of Andy, a laptop, and some other electronic warfare. Now he is living back in Belfast again,
Wednesday, February 17 Band Of Skulls, Strait Laces Auntie Annie’s, Belfast Sixstarhotel, Mojo Fury, Napoleon Empire, Belfast
Saturday, March 6 Bentley Rhythm Ace (live), NI Soul Troop Lavery’s Bunker, Belfast Rams’ Pocket Radio, Polar Beyond Square Peg, Warrenpoint
Thursday, February 18 Two Step: Heliopause, Before Machines, The Continuous Battle Of Order Limelight, Belfast The Good Fight, Disconnect 4, Future Chaser Speakeasy, Belfast
Sunday, March 7 Ocean Colour Scene Mandela Hall Lucy Wainwright Roche Spring & Airbrake, Belfast
Friday, February 19 Belfast4Haiti All Ages Fundraiser: A Plastic Rose, More Than Conquerors, The Rupture Dogs, Goodbye Pluto, Forgetting June, Illicit Oh Yeah Centre, Belfast Asian Dub Foundation Tripod, Dublin Yeasayer Academy, Dublin (February 20, Speakeasy, Belfast)
Monday, February 22 Seasick Steve Vicar Street, Dublin (also February 23) Tuesday, February 23 Air, Cashier No.9 Olympia, Dublin (also February 24) Wednesday, February 24 Codes, Delays Limelight, Belfast (then touring)
Battlefield: Bad Company 2 is released on PC, PS3 and Xbox 360 on March 2.
Field Music, Land Lovers Crawdaddy, Dublin (March 6, Pavilion, Belfast)
Saturday, February 20 NME Awards Show: The Maccabees, Two Door Cinema Club Academy, Dublin (February 22, Mandela Hall, Belfast)
Poetry In (e)Motion is published by Titan Books on March 26.
The ne plus ultra of blowing stuff up, Battlefield: Bad Company 2 thumps back into action early next month. The original game is still hugely popular amongst the online community – Modern Warfare might get all the props, but Battlefield has thousands of players, deathmatches and ‘Gold Rush’ campaigns running all day everyday, and no lagging servers. The series is renowned for its offbeat sense of humour and entirely destructible environments - it puts an end to cowardly campers when you can blow up walls and level buildings with a badass rocket launcher. It also had likeable characters, a rarity in this testosterone-pumped genre. Privates Marlowe, Sweetwater, Haggard and Redford found themselves off the radar, off the map and in pursuit of a bounty of lost gold. They clearly haven’t learnt their lesson, as they are right back in the fray. With an all new campaign and a souped-up multiplayer mode, Bad Company 2 promises more macho gun-toting than a rugby player’s stag do. RT
Monday, February 15 And So I Watch You From Afar (5pm) HMV, Belfast
Friday, February 26 Harp Ice Cold Big Gig: BATS, Slomatics, Common Bred Trigger Spring & Airbrake, Belfast Saturday, February 27 Hockey, Ed Zealous Spring & Airbrake, Belfast Radio K: Cashier No.9 McHugh’s, Belfast Help For Haiti: (2pm) Cellar Bar, Draperstown Valerie Francis Whelan’s, Dublin
THE LOST BROTHERS
RETURN OF THE SIXTH Pocket a little clump of original Tennessee soil when the sixth annual Belfast Nashville Songwriters’ Festival kicks off at the end of February. It boasts an eclectic line-up of both new and established Americana artists playing a wealth of gigs, from intimate ‘In The Round’ performances to larger evening shows. So far, the curators have confirmed appearances by country stateswomen Nanci Griffiths and Carlene Carter, who should more than live up to her Cash family pedigree, as well as performances by young bucks The Lost Brothers, Mundy and Iain Archer. Better yet, several gigs are free in, and there’s even a songwriting contest for any budding Willie Nelsons out there. RT The Belfast Nashville Songwriters’ Festival runs from February 24 to 28. For more info check www. belfastnashville.com
Monday, March 1 Machine Head, Hatebreed, Bleeding Through, All Shall Perish St George’s Market, Belfast Tuesday, March 2 Two Door Cinema Club Dolan’s, Limerick (then touring) Wednesday, March 3 Skinny Love: Rams Pocket Radio, Disconnect 4, Nakatomi Towers, Tearsmile Auntie Annie’s, Belfast Choice Music Prize Live Event: And So I Watch You From Afar, Codes, Adrian Crowley, Dark Room Notes, The Duckworth Lewis Method, Julie Feeney, Valerie Francis, The Swell Season (full band) Vicar Street, Dublin Thursday, March 4 John, Shelly & The Creatures (album launch), Before Machines, Queer Giraffes Auntie Annie’s, Belfast Dangerfields, The Evangelists Speakeasy, Belfast Friday, March 5 Two Door Cinema Club (album launch) Stiff Kitten, Belfast
Monday, March 8 Alberta Cross Auntie Annie’s, Belfast Tuesday, March 9 Fairport Convention Black Box, Belfast (March 10, Whelan’s, Dublin) Wednesday, March 10 Fionn Regan, Danny and the Champions of the World Nerve Centre, Derry (March 11, Empire, Belfast) Local Natives, Peggy Sue Academy, Dublin (March 11, Limelight, Belfast) Friday, March 12 New Young Pony Club Stiff Kitten, Belfast (March 13, Tripod, Dublin) Power of Dreams Whelan’s, Dublin (March 13, Pavilion, Cork) Saturday, March 13 Hadouken! Mandela Hall, Belfast Passion Pit, Ellie Goulding Olympia, Dublin Retribution Gospel Choir Whelan’s, Dublin Sunday, March 14 Tom McRae Spring & Airbrake, Belfast Tuesday, March 16 UITA: Ablespacer, Black Bear Saloon, Before Machines Auntie Annie’s, Belfast Thursday, March 18 Owen Pallett Whelan’s, Dublin Friday, March 19 James Vincent Mc Morrow Auntie Annie’s, Belfast Saturday, March 20 Mumford & Sons Spring & Airbrake, Belfast Friday, March 26 A Plastic Rose Stiff Kitten, Belfast Harp Ice Cold Big Gig: Clone Quartet, The Jane Bradfords Spring & Airbrake, Belfast And So I Watch You From Afar, BATS, Jogging Andrew’s Lane Theatre, Dublin (ASIWYFA: March 27, Nerve Centre, Derry) Delorentos Academy, Dublin Saturday, March 27 Adrian Sherwood & Brother Culture, Factotum DJs Black Box, Belfast Wednesday, March 31 Islands Auntie Annie’s, Belfast The Courteeners Speakeasy, Belfast
—69 AU Magazine—
Tales Of A Scorched Earth The Road Ushers In The Apocalypse
Words by Ross Thompson
It’s the end of the world as we know it. Whether or not you feel fine about this somewhat inconvenient turn of events will depend on how much you fancy spending the rest of your life subsisting on a diet of Pepsi Max and desiccated insect shells.
—70 issue 63—
No doubt this is already a fad diet in Hollywood, so the ‘slebs should survive the post-apocalyptic world quite merrily. If you don’t believe that Armageddon is upon us, simply saunter to your local movie cave, where you can see footage of the last bedraggled remnants of the human race squabbling manically like the customers in the express queue at a half price sale in Lidl. Firstly, there’s The Road, in which an unnamed catastrophe has devastated America, eviscerating cities, razing all plant and animal life, choking the air, and covering the shameful sight with a layer of thick dust, as the first detective at a murder scene pulls the blanket over a cooling corpse. One of the most interesting things about John Hillcoat’s adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s sparse, unsettling novel is that we’re told virtually nothing about the event which neuters the world’s most powerful country. We know that the catalyst was “a long shear of light and then a series of low concussions”, but we never get to see the blast, atomic or nuclear, organic or man-made – only its aftermath. Struggling for survival in a world where water is poisoned, the sun is blinded, and sustenance is scarce, a father and son also have to contend with the gangs of savages marauding the wasteland killing other survivors for food – or turning them into food. Most critics have pointed out that The Road isn’t a whole barrel of laughs, or even half a barrel, but then the obliteration of the human race was never going to chipper. That’s like complaining that there are not enough gags in a film about debilitating arthritis. Still, it’s infinitely preferable to The Book Of Eli, released by no stroke of coincidence to ride on the coattails on its infinitely more intelligent counterpart. Where The Road is pensive and subtle, Eli takes a ramstam approach, suggesting that the world’s final days can be salved by a buffed-up Denzil Washington and a lot of very big guns. When the unnamed father in The Road takes another life, he does it to protect his son, to avert the torture and cannibalism which will undoubtedly follow. The act of murder, necessary or not, is cruel and painful. In Eli, Washington’s character does it without breaking a sweat. It’s an action
film with delusions of conscience but a chiming sack of money where its heart should be. It speaks of last days concepts lifted from a student guide to The Bible, but it still shows you umpteen ways to kill a man. None of this is anything new. Since Old Testament prophets first put quill to parchment, human beings have been speculating about what form the end of the world will take – whether it will come with fire, ice or a plague of locusts. This doom-mongering gradually seeped into mainstream cinema during the 1950s, and increased exponentially with the growth of technology. Ironically, the same computers which were used to prevent the launch of nuclear warheads were also being used to render mushroom clouds onscreen. As visual effects progressed, the stop motion animation pioneered by Ray Harryhausen was usurped by a louder, crasser little brother. Audiences were no longer won over by the sight of a grown man in a rubber dinosaur suit knocking over cardboard Empire States and Chryslers like ninepins; they wanted to see a digitised grown man in a computerised rubber dinosaur suit doing the same. Audiences have a peculiar fascination with seeing their major cities being destroyed. It’s an odd double standard: if a high school student doodles a cartoon of the White House in flames, they will be expediently imprisoned for fundamentalist tendencies. If a director shoots a scene in which the same building is blown up by aliens, as in Independence Day (1996), it’s marketed as entertainment. Though a movie called End Of The World was released in 1930, it wasn’t until the 1950s that pictures about Armageddon started to take hold. The threat initially came from beyond the stars: dome-headed Martians landed their flying saucers in central Washington, doling out the old ‘we come in peace’ routine, before demonstrating the capabilities of their laser weaponry. In movies with verbose titles like The Day The Earth Stood Still and The Thing From Another World (both 1951), little green men made a big old mess of the United States. At first their tactics were shoot first, ask questions in clacky,
Screen squirky voices later, but as the decade ground on like a mill slowly churning up gunpowder, aliens learnt to be more insidious. In Invasion Of The Body Snatchers (1956), they snuck into houses, climbed into beds, took on human form. Your neighbour, your husband or even the local policeman could be extraterrestrial and you wouldn’t know anything about it – until they started to insert a probe into your person over dinner. Naturally, these films mirrored the political mood at the time. Cold War Frenzy was championed by Witchfinder General Joseph McCarthy, the corrupt senator who was busying himself spreading his rancorous bile against the Communists supposedly hiding out on American soil. McCarthy advised that you should trust no-one, because even the most innocent bystander could potentially be an enemy. He systematically uprooted anyone who had even the most tenuous connection to Communism, even those who once attended an anti-war rally when they were impressionable university students. As American filmmakers took advantage of this paranoid atmosphere, a similar phenomenon occurred in Japan. Still reeling from the twin bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the country made films about Godzilla (or Gojira, to use its proper title) battling giant moths and tortoises that had been borne out of irradiated slime. Yes, these creature features looked ridiculous, but the thinking behind them was deadly serious: Japan has never been ransacked by fire-breathing reptilians, but even now is reeling from the repercussions of the atomic blast. Most of these ideas lost their sting. After the 1960s ended, few people still clung to the fear that Nuclear War was around the next corner or that Communists were filtering into suburbia. Yet, in the same way that it’s difficult to stop tonguing the loose flap of skin on the roof of one’s mouth, people couldn’t stop toying with the notion that the end was nigh. It just put on a different costume. In Armageddon (1998), a film with a concept higher than Cheryl Cole’s tanning bill, an lump of space rock the size and density of Texas has become dislodged from somewhere (the science is pretty sketchy) and is headed towards earth. All is lost, unless Bruce Willis and his intrepid team (the family guy, the wise-ass, the sensible black guy) can knock it off its fatal course. Apparently, he’s the best drill operator this side of Kansas, so he is obviously the best candidate to drill a hole through a meteor within a vacuum. You can probably guess what happens at the end. When Armageddon was first screened at the Cannes Festival, the audience burst into kinks of laughter at the final scenes in which Bruce, faced with his imminent demise, weeps over a visual link-up. Little did the assembled throng know that the especially invited guest speaker was Mr Willis himself. “I’m glad you all take the end of the world so seriously,” he said, petulantly.
I AM LEGEND
But that’s the terrible point: we don’t take the end of the world seriously at all. It’s become less of a threat than it once was – a two hour distraction to take our minds off our humdrum daily lives. In fact, here’s another way to phrase that: it’s the end of the world has become humdrum. Where once the deletion of an entire species would have made viewers quake in their boots, it now barely rattles the popcorn box. Even when it’s nastied up with brand new threats. In The Happening (2008), aka Shyamalan’s Folly, New Yorkers start to spontaneously commit suicide. Turns out that the plants, peeved after breathing in centuries of pollution, are excreting a toxin which causes humans to go buck nuts. It’s woeful; a truly appalling piece of – one hesitates to use the term ‘filmmaking’ – whose idea of dramatic tension is Mark Wahlberg talking soothingly to a plant. If Shyamalan was so ecologically minded, perhaps he should have donated the money it cost to make this drivelling fartfest to environmentally friendly causes. Then there’s I Am Legend (2007), a watered down zombie-lypse, which does away with the intriguing horror science and psychological dread of Richard Matheson’s wonderful source novel (in which they’re vampires), and is also based upon the questionable conceit that Will Smith living out his days alone is a bad thing. Also featuring zombies, George A. Romero’s Dawn Of The Dead (1978) could be categorized as an apocalypse of sorts. Famous for the line, “When there’s no more room in
“The fact is that filmmakers will keep producing end of the world movies like there is no tomorrow, or until there is no tomorrow.” Hell, the dead will walk the earth” (presumably because Hell is full of tormented Communists), it pictured the world slowly being taken over by a ravenous horde of decomposing people. Another film with a conscience, this was a chilling vision of society which had grown inured to racism, prejudice and the brutality of war. Most recently, 2012 (2009) quite boldly specified the date of the world’s demise, which should limit the potential for a sequel. Again, the research is sketchy: the Mayans or Nostradamus or Derren Brown predicted time and life would stop in 2012, but as usual, arrogant human beings weren’t listening. The calamities facing humanity this time around are many: earthquakes, storms, tsunamis, Amanda Peet’s acting. The special effects are outstanding if boring, but the film has no heart, especially when compared with the emotional wallop packed by The Road. And, to be serious for a rare moment, there is something wrong with a film which promises the extinction of the entire human race but doesn’t deliver. Curiously, that’s something which Apocalypse movies rarely, if ever, do. The world is never destroyed, but always reborn. Paradise is lost, but regained. Eden is recaptured, and the aliens are sent back to whence they came. Humans have the opportunity to make the same mistakes all over again. Tom Cruise is reunited with his family, John Cusack sails off in an ark – with a character called Noah, in case you missed the reference. The fact is that filmmakers will keep producing end of the world movies like there is no tomorrow, or until there is no tomorrow. No one is brave enough to switch off the world completely, for then there would be no Communists in disguise, and no lantern-jawed heroes to save the day. An end of the world movie where the end of the world actually takes place is maybe going just a little too far.
—71 AU Magazine—
Games - Mass Effect 2
Console Yourself! Words by Ross Thompson
Christmas is over. The big freeze has barely thawed. But it’s all good, because we’re inside warming our hands by the cathode ray of a television screen and an overheated console. Here’s a roundup of the finest titles 2010 has thrown up so far...
Mass Effect 2
(Ea, Pc / Xbox 360)
The Good Shepherd...
For once the hype is bang on: this second outing for the intrepid Commander Sheppard and his crew is outstanding. Seriously, Mass Effect 2 is a tremendous achievement, not just in the multicoloured playground of videogames, but in any medium. As entertainment goes, it holds its own against any movie or television programme you could watch and most novels you could chance upon your shelf. It’s the kind of game which inspires hyperbole, and therefore incredulity, but let it be said that developers BioWare have worked wonders here. They have created a universe so richly textured and thrumming with life – mostly alien – that you could lose yourself therein for hours. And you will. After a long opening intro which recalls the first bars of the recent Star Trek, you watch helplessly as your protagonist dies in a blaze of self-sacrifice. Fret not, it’s not a spoiler: after your bruised and battered body is rebuilt like The Six Million Dollar Man, you’re recruited by the shady Cerberus corporation who may have breathed in your new life but whose questionable interests conflict with your own. With no other options, Sheppard, accompanied by genetically enhanced agent Miranda and impassioned super-soldier Jacob, is talked into a series of missions to investigate the disappearance of entire colonies across the galaxy. First, you must assemble your new flock, which includes jetting to a prison spaceship, a ransacked apartment complex and a dingy nightclub – an in-through-the-door-out-through-thewindow joint which makes Mos Eisley look like a Tumble Tots kids club.
MASS EFFECT 2
is imbued with real personality and charm. The voice acting, provided by the likes of Martin Sheen and Seth Green instead of jobbing actors who know as much about sci-fi as Piers Morgan does about telling the truth, is uniformly marvellous. Instead of a bunch of cookie-cut android and alien types flatly intoning about thrusters and crystals, there’s a funny, engrossing script where dialogue is accompanied by believable facial nuances and tics. It’s a good thing, as a great deal of your time is spent clicking through dialogue trees. These interactions are never a chore, and any potential for chat fatigue is staved off by some inspired design decisions on BioWare’s part. As in Fallout 3, you’re regularly presented with moral choices which will affect how your game experience pans out. Conversations are interrupted by a flashing left or right trigger symbol – choose good (Paladin) and you will persuade a stranger not to join a band of mercenaries; choose bad (Renegade) and you will taser some sucker in the solar plexus. It’s not so much about negative karma as it is about being a bit of a tool. These judgements, most times made under pressure, will affect the course of the storyline noticeably – it really
These reconnoitring jaunts act as a neat introduction to not only the far-flung nebulae and remote ringworlds of the game’s expansive geography, but also the menagerie of sentient beings which live there. You’ll encounter races of varied extraction as you enlist your team, each of which
“It’s not so much about negative karma as it is about being a bit of a tool.” —72 issue 63—
MASS EFFECT 2
feels as if you are making crucial life or death judgements, not responding to a set of arbitrary onscreen prompts which each lead to the same dull conclusion. Where many RPGs are as slow as shuck water, Mass Effect 2 shakes things up by splitting proceedings fairly evenly between the Basil Exposition bits and the shooty explodey bits. Individual missions are linear yet action-packed, and detailed journal entries ensure that you won’t get lost easily. Combat is hectic and intense, and there’s an inexhaustible armoury of weapons and special abilities at your disposal. It all looks gorgeous too: from the Illusive Man’s observation deck to the shots of spacecraft gliding through the void, this is as beautiful as attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. Lastly, Mass Effect 2 is profoundly affecting. By the time Sheppard and whoever else remains reaches the end of their suicide mission, you will feel something dislodge within your core. It is an incredibly human game which is as deep as a fairytale well – and just as dark.
Games - Bayonetta, Army Of Two: The 40th Day, Dark Void, Darksiders BAYONETTA (Sega, PS3 / Xbox 360) She’s just a devil woman… It’s not every videogame that starts with a kung fu witch in a white nun’s habit beating seven bells out of angels to the J-pop strains of ‘Fly Me To The Moon’. Funny thing is, this is one of the more sane moments in Bayonetta, the saucy action romp from the boffins behind Resident Evil and Viewtiful Joe. Madder than a dayglo werewolf, Bayonetta could have been conceived within the brain of an amethyst poodle for all the sense it makes. You play the titular weird sister, an improbably proportioned Elizabeth Hurley as Miss Kensington lookalike, who chops, kicks and guns her way through equally creepy visions of Heaven, Hell and Purgatory – the Old Testament as envisaged by Manga artists. The game has already raised a few eyebrows with its fetishisation of the central character, whose figure-snuggling catsuit is woven out of her own oil slick hair. Bayo is constantly twisting herself into cumbersome positions, pirouetting whilst unloading rounds from the pistols strapped onto her stiletto boots, bending over backwards to unleash a scissor kick. Her demonpossessed barnet is also handy for summoning multi-eyed ravens and sea monsters and the like, which rip apart your foes in a brave display of blood and guts. The legions of baddies in your way range from trumpet-blowing seraphim to hulking stone dragons with upside down cherub faces. These beasties, neither sleekit, cow’rin nor tim’rous, grow progressively larger in size and fouler of mood, spitting out curses as they clomp about, trying to smush you into itty bits. Bayonetta doesn’t follow the standard level arc of disposable minions leading up to one big boss fight; rather, each of the many ‘chapters’ is broken into bitesize ‘verses’, essentially little boss fights leading up to an even larger boss fight. Some of these big bads take up the entire screen – one of the most memorable pow-wows involves surfing down a whirlpool into the belly of the ocean whilst blowing lumps off a mechanised spider. The whole thing is frantic and punishingly difficult, like Devil May Cry on a double dose of crack, yet the combo system is fluid and intuitive – arguably the best control scheme your thumbs will come across. The key to success is the ‘dodge’ function: a quick tap of the left trigger at the crucial moment, and you enter slow motion ‘witch time’, allowing you to string combos together like Hiro Nakamura with a grumpier disposition. The increasingly inventive argy-bargies will bust your brain like a piñata as it scrambles to understand the physics
ARMY OF TWO: THE 40TH DAY
behind surfing atop a moving petrol tanker or facing off on a sheared clock tower hurtling through space. With sneaky references to Metroid, Okami, After Burner and Sonic, Bayonetta is a celebration of gaming in its purist form. It’s noisy, it’s crass, but it’s about as good as gaming gets. Let your hair down. ARMY OF TWO: THE 40TH DAY (EA, PS3 / Xbox 360) Frat’s the way I like it… It’s difficult to play this attention deficit suffering shooter without feeling more than a slight twinge in your conscience. The sequel opens with scenes of a terrorist assault on Shanghai, a startling visual spectacle which causes buildings to burst their seams, billboards to flame like touch-paper and civilians to scurry for shelter. It’s all painfully reminiscent of recent events – a screaming, soot-stained avatar face is too similar to a screaming, sootstained real face for comfort. The sight of a decimated Shanghai is so eerily identical to a fallen Haiti that it leads one to wonder if we should still enjoy this sort of thing. Videogames exist within their own digital bubble, far removed from the tragedies of the real world. However, their borders may be growing closer, so it would be nice to pay some kind of in-game moral consequence of choosing the way of the gun instead of laughing it off with gags about dead soldiers and bulging pay packets stuffed with blood money. That’s where the first Army Of Two went wrong: the fun-time adventure of Rios and Salem, two guns for hire in Jason-style hockey masks, in Somalia and Iraq was heavily criticised for its ill-judged jokes and lackadaisical attitude towards the real world atrocities in those countries. The 40th Day improves upon this greatly by toning down the frattish humour and including scenarios where you have to rescue hostages, or the presence of more non-playable characters whom you can free or dispatch, depending upon your temperament. The single player campaign is at times a pedestrian affair, a run and gun killing spree and a less enthused Gears Of War. However, this was designed for co-operative play, and that is where it earns its stripes. In the same way that playing Left 4 Dead solo is dull in comparison to a full-on multiplayer game, teaming up with a friend in The 40th Day is much more rewarding than going it alone. Levels are specifically designed to reward those with trigger happy buddies and are peppered with clever co-op moments: while one of you acts decoy by playing possum, the other can get out the sniper rifle and pick off the enemy one by one. The Aggro meter is a neat touch too: adversaries will focus their attention on whichever player is causing the biggest fracas. It is these features mark The 40th Day out from the other grunting lugs on the market. It may not be clever, but it is big, loud and quite a lot of fun. Man up, sweetheart.
DARK VOID (Capcom, PC / PS3 / Xbox 360) Must fly harder… This throwback to Fifties mini-serials with names like Dangerous Joe and Captain Atomic suffers the pressure of being released simultaneously with big hitters like Bayonetta and Mass Effect 2. If Dark Void feels pedestrian in comparison, even if gameplay does involve rocketeering about on a jetpack inside the Bermuda Triangle, it’s important to remember that it’s a different kind of game: an old-school shooter with vertigo and nausea inducing levels which require you to dogfight, loop the loop and slipstream upside down and through rock formations. While not exactly startling, it is entertaining. Playing it won’t exactly rock your world, but the flying sequences are innovative enough to keep you busy for a while. If only the whole shebang was created with the same charm as its retro spin-off, Dark Void Zero on the DSi, a retro 2D side-scroller in the same vein as Castlevania. DARKSIDERS (THQ, PS3 / Xbox 360) War! Uh! What is he good for? Ah, the loneliness of the horseman of the apocalypse. If it isn’t bad enough that your job entails being the harbinger of human destruction, then you get blamed when the Great Divide is broken and all Hell breaks loose – literally. After Armageddon befalls mankind, your character, the surly War, is sent to the Underworld to realign the balance between good and evil. You’re damned if you do, and damned if you don’t, but at least you get to have some fun along the way with the impressive array of weapons up both sleeves, stuffed beneath your shirt, and tucked into your boots. You aren’t called War for nothing. Darksiders takes the Metroid approach of stripping you of your powers an hour in, and thereafter boosting your arsenal each time you complete a dungeon. It may feel sluggish when compared to Bayonetta’s highkicking hi-jinx, but it is more forgiving: you can pretty easily mangle the undead with a plethora of gory finishing moves. Whilst impressive to look at, Darksiders holds back its most glorious vistas and ingenious stages for later in the game, so those who persevere will be rewarded with stunning yet sad vistas of a fallen world. Essentially a compendium of the best bits from God Of War and The Ocarina Of Time, Darksiders has enough flair and invention of its own to warrant several hours of your playtime. —73 AU Magazine—
Pop Art and Printmaking Grainne Deeney meets Belfast-based artist Ben Allen to hear about his upcoming shows, his love of kitsch and why art should cater to the people who enjoy it.
Ben Allen is an artist who works in print, he makes sculpture, he’s a jeweller and he’s a painter. In essence, there is creativity seeping out of his pores. And he’s a man who likes to challenge himself. His work is currently showing at the Compositions exhibition in Belfast’s Waterfront Hall, while he has his first solo show in four years coming up on March 4. Ben being Ben, however, he has another show that same night... AU: So tell us about the two shows you have coming up on March 4. Ben Allen: The solo show is in the Creative Exchange in Portview [Trade Centre] on the Newtownards Road in Belfast, and I’m hoping to have some work in another show with the Ulster Museum on the same evening. That show is to do with objects that are inspiring in the museum so the first thing I set upon was a Voigtlander camera from 1933, and I did a print of that. I also did a Leica camera, a tin toy motorbike, a giant stage and a print of the band disc; which is an Irish relic from 400 AD, it was found in the River Bann. So why did you choose those particular items? Well the camera, I just loved the look of it. It’s from the 1930s and design-wise it’s amazing. Nearly everything from the 1930s has a certain look, the deco look. It doesn’t matter if you’re looking at a camera or a motorbike or a poster, they have this certain look. If it’s from the 1930s then it’s pretty stylish. This camera was black and silver, and if you look at a motorbike from the same era, it’s probably going to be black and silver. It was almost like a high contrast black and white photograph. It was a great subject for a print. This sounds a lot different to your exhibition that is currently showing in the Waterfront Hall in Belfast, Compositions. How did that come about? Well the theme of it was singer-songwriters, and I just got in touch with some singer-songwriters and used it as a challenge to stretch myself a bit. These were drawings
—74 issue 63—
and prints of people who have the guts to sit up on a stage and play their song and expose themselves like that. I’m very in awe of someone who can do that. I actually started a new technique called dry-point – I etched thousands of scratches into the printing plate. It was a lot of hard work. The exhibition was not just prints and dry-point, some of the Creative Exchange artists made video pieces, others actually sang and others took the theme of patchwork quilts relating to Nashville and Appalachian music. It was a big thing for me to do what I did because I was learning this new printing technique and drawing portraits, which is just something I just never do. I really did challenge myself with that one! So why did you choose it? Because the exhibition had a theme and I was inspired by it. I’m always surrounded by music when I’m printing or when I’m drawing, but to actually go and say hello and introduce yourself is quite intimidating. I wanted to give something to them. I wanted to do something new for that purpose. Why were you drawn to the particular singersongwriters?
“Peter Blake, the pop artist, is a bit of a hero for me because he is a big music fan and he is a collector of things, which I am too.”
“There is nothing wrong with being a popular artist. I do stuff that I like and I’m glad that other people are into it too.” Peter Blake, the pop artist – he is a bit of a hero for me because he is a big music fan and he is a collector of things, which I am too. I collect all sorts of little things – cameras, robots, toys, that sort of thing, and I kind of warm to him because he produces work that is good fun. Another hero of mine, who has now passed on, is Eduardo Paolozzi. He is someone who has done silkscreen etching, woodcuts, bronze sculpture, public sculpture and he’s made collages and has a fascination with pin-up girls, American bombers, American design… There is a lot of that reflected in your work. Yeah, people have described my work like a Boy’s Own annual from the 1950s, not the band but the idea. It’s boys’ art, it’s very male but then on the other hand I make jewellery! Coming up next, I have a Father’s Day craft fair – there are going to a hundred vintage cars at it, lots of pictures of vintage motorbikes, Triumphs from the Fifties. One of the bikes in particular that I’ve done is from 1954 and is really sought after by the Rockers. Do you select items that pay homage to the popular? I think it was anyone who could sing or play and had the balls to do it really, but appearance does come into it, I suppose. It’s the look and the attitude. I was drawn to the shape of the bodies on the chair and they way they contort, and the camera sees things that I wouldn’t necessarily see. It’s only later that you notice little details of a person’s hair or the cables on the ground. Do you think that the Creative Exchange artists set the prototype for all the emerging art collectives in Belfast? [laughs] I don’t know about that. All the collectives are very different. I suppose you could say that our practice is very traditional – painting, sculpture, printmaking. These are just the media I work in and the things that I love. A lot of the current crop of artists work in multi-media and a lot of the studio groups might only be orientated towards video or performance. I have a grounding in that, I came
out of college in ‘86 and I worked in that way for about two years. It was good but my heart wasn’t in it and then when I got out into the real world… Ha! How long has the Creative Exchange been established? It’s been going for 10 years, I think. I’ve only been there one year. Our premises before the Newtownards Road were terrible. There were pigeons and rain coming in. One of the artists actually had 10 buckets in their space to catch the drips. It was extremely cold and I don’t understand how this occurred, but it was colder inside than it was outside! We have proper heating and lighting now and all of our own studios! We’re only really starting to promote ourselves now. There is no point in producing great art if there is no PR behind it. Who would you cite as your influences? Your work is a bit kitschy…
The appeal for me is to appeal to people. When I sell my work, I sell it to people who are, number one, collectors of my work and then they are also people who like the subject. I like using subjects that are saleable images. It’s kind of like fan art. I always think of the posters of Elvis and George Best – it’s a little bit kitschy but who cares? That’s what people want! As an artist, I think you should do what the people want. I don’t believe that an artist should be obscure. There is nothing wrong with being a popular artist. I do stuff that I like and I’m glad that other people are into it too. BEN’S WORK IS ON DISPLAY AS PART OF THE COMPOSITIONS EXHIBITION AT THE WATERFRONT HALL, BELFAST UNTIL FEABRUARY 26. CHECK OUT BEN’S SOLO EXHIBITION AT THE CREATIVE EXCHANGE, BELFAST FROM MARCH 4. WWW.CREATIVEEXCHANGE.ORG.UK.
Arts Shorts From February 15, the PS2 Gallery in Belfast will host absolutely nothing while at the same time offering up a varied menu of projects based around the exploration of space. ‘Sounding Out Space’ is a collection of projects showing how we use the architectural, emotional, historical and practical space around us. In a gallery that can be viewed from the street, the 23m2 space will play host to a range of inspired and themed installations including choreographers, mediums, interior designers and… a cat. Sounding Out Space runs from February 15 to March
20 in the PS2 Gallery, Donegall Street, Belfast. Leading up to St. Patrick’s Day, art fans can have a bit of fun with the Art Trail in Dublin’s Temple Bar. Entitled Shop If You Can, Look If You Want, the festival sees a variety of new and old art pieces on display in vacant and existing retail spaces among the area’s cobbled streets. The St. Patrick’s Day Festival Art Trail takes place in Temple Bar, Dublin from March 12 to 17.
there?” If so, then be sure to check out The Secret Laboratory, at PLACE gallery on Fountain Street in Belfast. The exhibition hopes to reveal the “hidden world of architecture” by displaying the private notes and sketches of architects in Belfast, as well as their everyday observations, to reveal the thought processes that go into making some of our best known buildings. The Secret Laboratory runs from February 6 to March 27 in PLACE gallery on Fountain Street in Belfast.
Ever looked at buildings and wondered, “How did that get
With due deference to Seamus Heaney, Michael Longley is one
of the most respected poetic voices Northern Ireland has produced in the last 40 years. Having won global acclaim, including the prestigious Queen’s Medal for Poetry, Longley has always remained a highly visible presence in his home town of Belfast, and on Thursday, March 25, the esteemed Professor of Poetry for Ireland gives a talk entitled ‘The West’, looking at the imaginative appeal of the Atlantic seaboard, and its presence in his own work. Michael Longley speaks on Thursday March 25 at The Great Hall, Queens’ University, Belfast. —75 AU Magazine—
Robot Wars Dan Slott on the Mighty Avengers
Following on from last issue’s interview with Brian Michael Bendis concerning Marvel’s fourpart, senses-shattering mini-series Siege, this month we catch up with Mighty Avengers scribe Dan Slott to hear how his series will be affected, how Hank Pym’s prodigal (and evil robot) son Ultron is about to return and why Marvel cancelling all of the Avengers books doesn’t mean that it’s all over for Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. Words by Edwin McFee
Hi Dan, last time we met was at the Dublin Comic Con and you were just wrapping up your run on SheHulk and getting ready to start Mighty Avengers. From the very first issue you seemed like you were having a blast with these characters. Was Mighty Avengers a dream book for you? Dan Slott: “Oh, it’s great. I think it’s easy for everyone to see that Hank Pym’s one of my pet characters. I’ve had such a fun time writing Norman Osborn over on Spidey, so it was really fun to let the oil and water mix.” Before Mighty Avengers was even released, you talked about it being an “Avengery Avengers” book. To a lot of readers the comic has a very old school feel. Would you agree? Slott: “Oh, totally. I think with every project I’ve been working on since coming back to Marvel in 2004,
“There’s something inherently funny about comics”
I’m trying to match whatever project I’m on to a feel. Like, She-Hulk’s going to have a different flavour from Great Lakes Avengers, which is going to have a different flavour from The Initiative. You want to do something that matches the property and, when I’m working on Avengers, I want to work on Avengers. I want to have that kind of vibe going through it that you have reading the Roger Stern years or the Kurt Busiek/George Perez era – or even Geoff Johns’s time on the book, when it was all about big characters doing big things.” It’s also got a great mix of action and comedy. Slott: “There’s something inherently funny about comics. When you look at something like Alex Ross and Kurt Busiek’s Marvels, and suddenly all these people look real, there’s something wondrous about that, but at the same time, it’s a guy in red and blue tights! If you saw someone walking down the street like that, I think you’d look at it more like the way people look at the world of Kick-Ass. If you’re buying into the premise, I think you need to wholly buy into it. There’s something odd about these characters, that they would dress up like this and do these things, and they’re going to be in these crazy situations. I think comedy and comics always goes hand-in-hand in the superhero stuff. No comic book about superheroes is really devoid of it. You look at something like Alan Moore’s Watchmen, and there’s great laughs in there. There’s this non-stop serious book, but you think about the sequence with Nite Owl and Silk Spectre talking about Captain Carnage. That’s like one of the funniest scenes in comics.” It also seems that the smart characters always win the day. Slott: “Yeah. If you just win the day by the sake of your superhero powers, then a lot of this stuff is a foregone
—76 issue 63—
conclusion. You want your characters to be smart and that’s one of the places where people like Hank Pym and Amadeus Cho shine. They’re going to find that solution. They’re going to find that thing that’s kind of cool and clever.” Looking to the future a little bit, what can you tell us about what we’ll see coming up during Siege? Slott: “Well, if you read the last issue of Mighty, they’re at Project Pegasus and there are remnants of the last Cosmic Cube there from when Cap and Winter Soldier had their big throw-down. We have the Absorbing Man running loose and he absorbs the power of the Cosmic Cube, which he’s never done before. So we’re going to have some Cosmic Cube powered things going on in the issues coming up. Also, because Loki is such a key player in Siege and the whole landscape of the Marvel universe right now, it’s important to remember that we have a book, the only team book, where Loki is a constant key player. We have the only team book where Loki is actually kind of a member [Spoiler Alert: Loki has been posing as the Scarlet Witch] and you’re going to see a resolution of the whole Loki storyline coming up, which is our last pre-Siege issue in 34.” So when does Ultron show up? Slott: “He’s there in March during the start of our twopart Siege crossover.” You said before that you love Ultron. What is it about the character that pushes your buttons? Slott: “Oh, god, yeah he’s great. Ultron is the – here I go again, people are going to hate this – most Avengery Avengers villain you can get. Either Ultron or Kang. They’re the two big ones.”
My Favourite Comic Adam Lazzara
“Mighty Avengers is going to be furiously affected by the Siege”
Pym. What might we see between those two characters? Slott: “Father and son? I think they should go to a father/son picnic, shouldn’t they? Be in the three-legged race and sack races and everything. That would be wonderful.” Khoi Pham [Mighty Avengers penciller] seems to have really grown with these characters as you guys have been working together. Slott: “Oh, he has. Khoi’s really been hitting his stride and knocking these out of the park lately. There’s a reason why they named him one of the ‘Young Guns.’ One of the up-and-comers. One of the, ‘Hey, keep your eye on this guy’. I think it’s great to look at the issues we’ve got coming up and go, ‘Wow, this guy is A-list’. He’s totally A-list.
What is it that makes you rank Ultron that highly when it comes to this team? Slott: “Well, besides that he’s ruthless and unstoppable and predates Terminator, he is born of the Avengers. He comes out of Avengers lore. He’s the robot that Hank Pym built. So on some level, he’s part of the Avengers – he’s an original sin of the Avengers.” Can you tell us how the Avengers encounter Ultron? Slott: “Well, we haven’t seen Ultron in The Avengers for a while because he was off in Annihilation. So this is the first time in a while that we’ve seen him and the last time we did he was off in the Kree side of the galaxy when the Avengers were just over on the Kree side of the galaxy too... It’s like a big puzzle, basically.” This is going to be an important meeting for Hank
What effect does Siege have on Mighty Avengers? Slott: “No Marvel book will be as affected as Mighty Avengers. Siege will have a massive effect. Mighty Avengers is going to be furiously affected by the Siege.”
“I’ve always loved Spider-Man and Daredevil. For some reason, I have always related to Peter Parker, and with the Ultimate Spider-Man series, that relation has become even more tangible for me. However, I know there are some purists that might turn their noses up at that notion, but I don’t care [laughs]. Daredevil is probably my number one though just because, well, he’s the best. My all-time favorite story is the Daredevil run ‘Guardian Devil’ written by Kevin Smith. It’s awesome. “I got started into comics by a friend of mine named Richard Helle when I was in middle school. Anything Punisher related, he had it. As our friendship grew, so did my love for comic books. I still read them now but touring has made it harder to pick them up on a monthly basis. These days I have to practice extreme patience and purchase the compiled graphic novels as they come out. Not an easy feat, mind you. I am somewhat of a GPS system when it comes to locating comic shops on tour though. I gravitate towards them.” ADAM LAZZARA IS THE FRONTMAN FOR TAKING BACK SUNDAY. THEIR ALBUM NEW AGAIN IS OUT NOW ON WARNER BROTHERS.
The April solicitation for Mighty Avengers says that that will be its final issue. Will you still be working on The Avengers after Siege? Slott: “I can’t really comment on that. It’s all super topsecret. Trust me though, you guys will love everything that’s about to happen and Hank Pym is going to have a very important role to play in the New Age of Heroes...” MIGHTY AVENGERS IS PUBLISHED BY MARVEL COMICS. FOR MORE DETAILS VISIT WWW.MARVEL.COM.
Super Shorts On February 15, that sultan of smash The Incredible Hulk stars in the directto-DVD movie Planet Hulk. Based on the epic by Greg Pak, the story took a year-and-a-half to finish and is now up there with ‘Future Imperfect’ and ‘Ghosts Of The Past’ as
a bona fide green genes classic, so we’re predicting big things for the cartoon interpretation. Check out YouTube for all the latest trailers. Staying with Marvel movies for the moment, the upcoming Spider-Man 4 is
now going to be a reboot. After director Sam Raimi and studio bosses clashed over story elements (Sony wanted the easy on the eyeballs Black Cat as the main baddie, while Raimi wanted the bald bird-man that is the Vulture) the Evil Dead dude took his
ball back and went home. At the time of going to press, Spider-Man 4 is said to feature a completely different cast, put Peter Parker back in school and have Gwen Stacey as the wall-crawler’s love interest. More news as we get it.
Fans of pretty boy vampires and all things soppy will have to invest shares in Kleenex this month when they hear the news that Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight Saga has been adapted into graphic novel form and the first book ships in March. We don’t know about you, but AU is totally Team Edward.
Wonder Woman scribe Gail Simone has announced that she’s returning to DC’s Birds Of Prey this month. Re-launching with a new issue one, that’s about all we can tell you at the moment as DC are pretty tight lipped about the project. —77 AU Magazine—
Here's Looking At You(Tube) / Weird Wide Web
Here's Looking At You(Tube) Pandemonium This column is usually devoted to mocking and ridiculing the misfortune and humiliation of others. This month, however, we’re changing tack by actually praising people. Specifically, we’re bigging up fan videos. You know the ones: those devoted fanatics who give of their own free time with no thought of financial recompense to knock up visuals for their best-loved tunes, perhaps some overlooked gem that their favourite band might never have released as a single. YouTube is awash with these amateur efforts, and some of them are remarkably accomplished. Some are utter crap too, but we’re accentuating the positive this time around. Fan-tastic!
VOX POP Our first homemade vid is a haunting, dreamy visual collage to accompany Deerhunter’s equally otherworldly ‘Vox Humana’ from 2008’s Weird Era Cont. Grainy, skilfully edited shots of incoming tides, coastal skies at dusk and skeletal trees are set against stock footage of a prancing Judy Garland, a juxtaposition of images as oddly incongruous as frontman Bradford Cox’s lyrics to the song itself. Great effort. TINYURL.COM/VOXHUMANA SPARKLING FINE
Words by Neill Dougan
Weird WideWeb 'Net Gain
STUPID IS AS STUPID DOES Is there anything more amusing than the idiocy of other people? Not on the evidence of stupidest.com, which seeks to collate examples of the dim, the dumb and the doltish from every possible walk of life. It’s certainly exhaustive – there are categories for stupidity in the world of sport, celebrity politics, even stupid road signs and stupid food. Our current personal favourite category is ‘Stupid Space Alien Dialogue’ All in all, stupidly funny.
There seem to be quite a few amateur videos set to the music of wondrous Virginian one-man band Sparklehorse, so their fans are evidently a dedicated lot (not to mention handy
Again, there are no shortage of Aphex Twin fan vids kicking around, an obvious testament to the depth of feeling people have for his music. Here’s a clip put together (as part of a college project apparently) for the rather lovely ‘Flim’, featuring a strangely endearing, contemplative 3-D stick man who wanders around a bit, becomes aghast at the sight of a filthy urinal, but is then cheered up by the lovely sunshine streaming through his window. Top of the class.
God-bothering creationist (as you do), don’t get mad; just show them this video, a very entertaining lecture from some sadly anonymous professor-type who points out that, far from being a case of ‘intelligent design’, the universe is actually incredibly stupidly designed. If God truly did create the heavens and earth, he was clearly having a very bad week. HTTP://VIDEOS/STREAKR.COM/STUPIDDESIGN.HTM WHITE ON
Words by Neill Dougan
—78 issue 63—
TINYURL.COM/ APPLEBED HIT FLIM
“He won the lottery when he was born”, sang Eddie Vedder on Pearl Jam’s song ‘WMA’, “Big hand slapped a White Male American.” This very amusing blog takes that premise and runs with it, casting a withering eye on the foibles and vanities of the privileged middle class Caucasian. From ‘moleskin notebooks’ to ‘funny or ironic tattoos’ and all points in between, this may well simultaneously amuse you and make you feel vaguely ashamed of your meaningless life and everything in it.
And speaking of stupidity, next time you become embroiled in a debate on the origins of life with a
with a video camera). Here’s a winning little clip set to the mournful ‘Apple Bed’ from 2001’s awesome It’s A Wonderful Life. As befits the song, the imagery is somewhat dark and spare – rainy night-time cityscapes, weary commuters and a cardboard box-dwelling homeless man – perfectly conveying the song’s sense of quiet desperation.
: W HE
RE T HE WILD T HI
Story Of The Video / Get Your Clicks
Get Your Clicks Our guide to the best online places for the things you need THIS MONTH: HOODIES HOODIE PEOPLE We may have seen out the worst of our Arctic winter but make no mistake about it, it’s still a bit parky out there. With that in mind you’ll want to continue to wrap up warm, but that’s not to say you can’t look stylish. Visit Hoodiepeople.com for men’s, women’s and kids’ hoodies in a huge variety of brands and styles. Particularly impressive is the Star Wars range, though you’d need some chutzpah to carry one of these off.
Story Of The Video Berndsen
TITLE: ‘SUPERTIME’ DIRECTOR: HELGI JOHANNSSON From the never-ending well of tip-top Icelandic tuneage comes the entirely twisted video for Berndsen’s ‘Supertime’. Entirely at odds with the song’s perky pop, the video is like a road safety ad as directed by evil clowns, as the victims of a car crash are made to dance and jump around by some chillingly cheery bystanders. It has to be seen to be believed. Frontman David Berndsen gave us the lowdown on the video. Whose dark mind is responsible for these heavy visuals?
The director Helgi Johannsson and the producer Atli Vidar called me up one day and asked me if I wanted to a video for the song ‘Supertime’. I said, ‘Yeah of course, what do you guys have in mind?’. They said, ‘Well, it’s going to be happy and a lot of fun’, and I said, ‘Okay, that sounds pretty good, it fits the song alright’. Then couple of days later I met them at their office and they started showing me some sketches involved with blood and this car crash idea. [laughs] Which I thought was pretty crazy and wasn’t sure to do it, but they already had a lot of actors, make-up, camera crew lined up for low budget and convinced me to do it!
What was it like shooting the video? Did you find it enjoyable? Shooting the video was so fun but there were times when I thought to myself, ‘Okay, haha, what the hell is going on here?!’. I´m standing on this car wreck and all the kids [are] covered in blood and I’m singing my song ‘Supertime’ double speed, because of the slow motion sync. [laughs] Then I thought, ‘Okay, how is this video going to look?!’, but the director Helgi had it all planned out and he also did the edit for the video which came out super-good.
Did the final cut look like how you wanted it to? There were couple of cuts of the video, some of them were way too harsh and graphic for normal people and for YouTube I guess, so Helgi decided to cut it down a little bit and find the middle way, which he did and I’m really happy with the result.
AHOODIE For the fashion victims out there, AHoodie.com has a good range of more, ahem, “out-there” variations on the common-or-garden hoodie. Some of these are truly offthe-wall, for example the ‘Giant Square’ design, which is less a hoodie and more something that Luke Skywalker would wear in Return Of The Jedi. Fair play to you if you can pull this off, that’s all we’ll say.
NEIGHBORHOODIES Are you just not satisfied with the hoodies on offer out there? Are they not quite stylish enough for your exacting requirements? Well there’s only one thing left for you to do: design your own. Visit Neighborhoodies and make this outlandish dream a reality. First off, pick your size and colour. Then select a suitably humorous or ironic slogan, choose whether you want pressed or stitched-on lettering, and decide upon a whole range of fonts and effects. Then add hoodie art from a wide range of graphics, or upload your own, et voila! Hoodie immortality is yours WWW.NEIGHBORHOODIES.COM
It’s a rather controversial video - I just showed it to my mother and she doesn’t approve. Do you have a message for anyone that thinks it’s a bit too graphic? And has the video been getting much attention in Iceland? This video has been quite controversial – I have been getting so much feedback about it from Iceland to Africa! People say, ‘I love the video, but I hate the song’, or vice versa. [laughs] Some people think it’s way too much but others think it could be way harder. But I just love what people are saying on their blogs and YouTube about the video. It’s mainly positive feedback, not that much negativity. The same crew who did ‘Supertime’ are going to do another video with me in February which will be a lot of fun, so people have something to look forward to, I hope. WATCH THE VIDEO ONLINE AT BIT.LY/ SUPERTIME Interview by Richard W. Crothers
—79 AU Magazine—
Sc And So I Watch You From Afar
Eamon, Jonny, Craig & Sara
Becki & Adam
Liam, Aine & Aileen
Padraig, Mark, David & Shea
Rachel, Breige, Enda & Charlene
Aoife, Ciara & Sarah ASIWYFA
Mark, Niall & Andy
Rebekah & Janie-Lee
Caoife & Fionnula
ASIWYFA The Cellar Bar, Draperstown The Cellar Bar, the beating heart of Glasgowbury, is a small bar in the centre of Draperstown. When a band like ASIWYFA arrive in town they’re going leave a mess behind, and they did exactly that. First act on was Pretty Child Backfire, an awesome young band with a stack of potential. Next up were The Cities We Captured, which seem to get heavier and tighter every time they play, pure goodness. ASIWYFA finished the job off and left people pretty shook up. Such a big noise in such a little venue, this one was every bit as special as the band’s enormous Ulster Hall gig. In a nutshell, small but massive. Words and Photos by Richard W Crothers —80 issue 63—
Kevin, Karen, Aoife & Meadhbh
Claire, Maria & Niamh
Dom, Stephen & Ciaran
Haiti Fundraiser Twisted Pepper, Dublin A fundraising gig and cake sale took place in Dublin’s Twisted Pepper to raise money for people affected by the devastating earthquake in Haiti. Dublin bands BATS, Hunter-Gatherer and Groom took to the stage, with DJs Nialler9, Popical Island and Mary Jane Girls hitting the decks upstairs in the Mezz room. There were plenty of delicious cakes and cookies baked especially for the occasion and raffle prizes up for grabs such as a 6-month membership of the Road Records Album of the Month club, tickets for Foggy Notions gigs, a ukulele, tickets for the Ireland - Italy rugby match, and lots of merch from local bands. The miserable weather couldn’t keep folks at home and the night was a huge success, raising €1400 for charity (mainly GOAL). Words and Photos by Loreana Rushe
Aoife & Niamh
Noel & Rupert
Al, Niamh & Ronan
Michelle & Maeve
—81 AU Magazine—
The Last Word
The Last Word With Tigs of:
Chew Lips "I love Googling serial killers. Chances are, any venue in any city, in the endless hours waiting to sound check I’ll be there on Wikipedia, perusing. When was the last time you offended someone? Not for a good long while, unless I’ve done it unknowingly. I’ve always been plain speaking but you learn how to be less of an idiot as you grow up. When was the last time you doubted yourself? No memorable conscious moment of doubt, existence is more of a tightrope; you sort of wobble and lean towards these feelings from time to time, without acknowledging them. I contain doubt and self-belief simultaneously. When was the last time you did something you regret? I don’t believe in regret. When was the last time you felt guilty? Summer. Summer is for naughtiness. What was the last piece of good advice you were given? “Have a word with yourself” – from James [Watkins, bandmate], regularly. When was the last time you cried? Properly, solidly? When my nephew and niece were born last year. Just so overwhelmed. When was the last time you were embarrassed? New Year’s Eve... it’s a long story.
Famous Last Words Philip Larkin, poet (August 9, 1922 – December 2, 1985) “I am going to the inevitable.” Unnamed Medic in Call of Duty “I'm sorry! I'm sorry! It's just... so many guys are gettin' killed out there... it's just... oh, God, they're shootin' medics too! Oh, God...”
This issue was powered by... office moves, Jack Frost, Mini Eggs, new threads, multi-jobbing, passing driving tests (and failing them), charidee, mass recycling, the cut and run.
—82 issue 63—
What was your last argument about? Something stupid and small about the details of the single cover. These intricacies are seemingly endless. When was the last time you time you had a fistfight? It’s never happened. When was the last time you threw up? My birthday in December. Sambucca. I was ALLEGEDLY found sleeping on the bathroom floor under fur coats. Allegedly. What was the last good record you bought? I’m not much of a record buyer. I know that sucks, but you just get given so much... Anyway, last record I acquired was The Big Pink, and I like it a lot. What was the last thing you downloaded? Colin Farrell sex tape. No joke. It’s pukey. What was the last thing you Googled? Serial killers. I love Googling serial killers. Chances are, any venue in any city, in the endless hours waiting to sound check I’ll be there on Wikipedia, perusing.
What was the last meal you had? Earlier this evening I had vegetable chilli and broccoli, followed by homemade flapjacks. What was the last good book you bought? Choke by Chuck Palahniuk, but it was a gift. What was the last good movie you watched? Pretty In Pink on a gals’ night. For fashion warm fuzzies. What does the last text you received say? “Just to check you remembered its Dad’s birthday today [I hadn’t] Does this make up for me missing yours?!” from my brother. We’re not so hot with birthdays in our family. What was the last bad job you had? I used to temp. Good money, extreme boredom, but it ain’t factory packing meat so I can’t complain. When was the last time you set something on fire? I accidentally set myself on fire when I was 18 or so. I had problems sleeping and one morning, just before dawn, was lying in bed trying to sleep, smoking a joint. I obviously fell asleep smoking it, as when I woke up the entire bed was on fire. It was a very close call. I burnt the eyelashes off one eye. I’ve been pretty wary of fire – candles etc. – ever since. When was the last time you were in hospital? I had meningitis in my late teens. That was an absolute riot. When was the last time you broke the law? I never, ever break the law. When was the last time one of your heroes disappointed you? Have you seen the Iggy Pop commercial? He’s not selling car insurance, he’s selling time, apparently. Also Patrick Swayze, for dying. When was the last time you bought a band shirt at a show? I haven’t. But I’ve been given a few, from doing gigs with other bands. The Veils one is particularly good. If the world was about to end what would your last words be? “TIGGO!!!!!!!!!” In an Australian accent. CHEW LIPS’ DEBUT ALBUM UNICORN IS OUT NOW ON KITSUNÉ WWW.CHEWLIPS.CO.UK
(EAR US ON &- #HORUS.4, #HANNEL /NLINE
â€”83 AU Magazineâ€”
First Aid Kit The Big Black and The Blue The debut album including the singles “Hard Believer” and “I Met Up With The King”. Out now on LP, limited CD (with bonus track) and download.
“A bewitching sound pinned down by mesmerisingly strong vocals. Big things await” NME “Blessed with the voices of plaid-clad angels” THE GUARDIAN “Faultless” 9/10 VIRGIN.COM “Sublime” 4/5 THE FLY 4/5 UNCUT 4/5 Q www.wichita-recordings.com
Los Campesinos! Romance Is Boring OUT NOW 2LP/CD/Download “Measured and mature...a big step forward” 8/10 ROCK SOUND “Excellent” 8/10 CLASH 4/5 MOJO
IN STORES AS CD AND DOWNLOAD FROM APRIL 5th. Includes the single “Watchman”, available on seven inch from March 22nd.
—84 issue 63—
Peggy Sue on tour with Local Natives see www.peggywho.com for more details.