JAN 2013 6 St a Mel r ratin tyB raing for s?
The Best 25 of 2012 MRU AWARDS
E D I S IN l orma Val N del Life Mo The y Scully Ra rds Awa MRU
REVIEWS - Amelia Curran - Twin Planets - The Holy Sparks - Skyline Highway - Glen Keys + More...
Photography: Anto Kane was doing some snappy work in and around some key Dublin venues. Turn to page 38.....
Interview: Val Normal North Dublin rockers Val Normal have been making waves lately. Turn to page 18.....
Editor -in- Chief Trevor Halpin Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @mrueditor
News-Features-Interviews Feargal Daly/Editor Email: email@example.com Twitter: @feargaldaly Meghan O’Dowd/Dep-Editor Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Fashion: Melissa-Maria Carton tells us what it’s like to
Live Review: The Kings of Enthusiasm
be a model and SFX make-up artistry. Turn to page 30.....
Neil Cathcart drops into The Kong and reviews 6 amazing acts. Turn to page 34.....
Interview: Ray Scully
MRU Awards 2012
13 is a lucky number so far for Ray Scully, who aired on series 2 of RTE’s The Voice of Ireland, on January 13th 2013. Turn to page 30.....
Writers - JAN13#Issue Alice Stands Neil Cathcart Dean Ruxton Shaun Cole Karin Carthy David Jordan Sam Geaney James Glynn C.W Deputy Fashion Editor Alexandra Das Neves
This months front cover shots was taken by photographer Paul Kolbe and features winners from the MRU music awards 2012
List of winners and all the acts posing with their gold disks. Turn to page 24....
Juno (Canadian Grammy) to her name in 2010, critical acclaim and huge popularity in her native country of Canada, it’s not often we see an artist with an impressive rap sheet like Amelia Curran come to our attention. Now comes the difficult third album though, with such achievements under her belt though does her new album, Spectators, live up to her previous achievements or does it feel the pressure? The first thing that caught my attention was the Dylan esque vocal delivery, obviously Amelia Curran is a female vocalist but there is a certain husk, an ever so slight hint of something that might come from a Sir Bob influence. Her voice has that heartfelt, bluesy quality that speaks directly to you, like you’re having a private performance rather than listening to a recording. In terms of instrumentation, generally speaking, the album is very limited, most songs are carried simply by voice, guitar and a simply accompaniment. Amelia’s voice is certainly strong enough to carry the song though and an overbearing instrumentation would dilute some of that directness that really makes the album. Occasionally we do see the appearance of horns and violins as almost expected with this genre of music but they’re only needed in small doses and are rightfully given in just that. As a whole, the album has that late night, early Sunday morning vibe. I can imagine people will put this record on to chill out to, the aurally pleasing melodies and inoffensive pace of the album will suit fans of the genre. By around the half-way point though, I had started to become a little bit uninterested with this pace, I think that comes down to personal taste more than anything else though. This album will certainly find its audience in previous fans of Amelia’s last album Hunter, Hunter and any other fans of roots, acoustic music. Spectators is a triumph in the wake of her previous success’ and it may be time to dust a space on the mantle for another award. The album is available now through Six Shooter records and will be accompanied by a tour through the UK in January and February. www.ameliacurran.com Review by Shaun Cole
Twin Planets : double sided single, ‘Empires’ and ‘Divisions’
Twin Planets are a four piece set from the UK. They’ve recently released a double sided single, containing ‘Empires’ and ‘Divisions’. ‘Empires’ starts off slowly, and builds into a great little track. James Rookyard has a very distinctive and powerful vocal, noticeable throughout the song. It is complimented by excellent music, all of which come together to create a catchy rhythm – it’s hard not to bop your head along to this number. The second half of the song allows for a few
Review by Karin Carthy
verses of pure music, which draw you in, before Rookyard springs back in with his unique voice. ‘Divisions’ is slightly more mellow to start off with. The chorus shows just how strong Rookyard is with his voice, while the bass builds up to an increasingly higher pitched crescendo. It’s a solid indie tune, and would be easy to imagine hearing on the radio. My first instinctual comparison would be to The Killers, but there’s certainly a lot of
new wave influence in there, such as Joy Division. There’s some superb musical composition involved in these songs, and a strong guitar sound – these are clearly accomplished musicians. They sound professional and polished, and certainly you could imagine rocking out to them at an underground gig somewhere. I doubt it will be too long before they begin to see commercial recognition. www.soundcloud.com/twinplanetsmusic
Plots of the Patriarchs
Review by David Jordan
The Holy Sparks
With this EP The Holy Sparks!!! prove that alternative rock music can be infectious and catchy without being compromising. The first track, Plots of the Patriarchs, is outstanding for its power, especially the vocals which sound like a mix of Jim Morrison and Ian Curtis. The music sounds like Joy Division meets Fields of the Nephilim. This dark sensibility is translated into the lyrics which are obsessed with ‘historical villians, dark shadows and eternal truths’. The EP displays punk ethics, especially in the music which has simplicity whilst remaining powerful. Another aspect of the record is experimentation. You get the sense that this band create to please themselves more than anyone else but, again, they do it whilst keeping the music energetic and attractive, full of infectious melodies. The only real problem with the EP, to these ears, is that the band don’t make enough use of the singer. It would be interesting to hear this band produced by a professional in a major studio. How much would they have to compromise and how much would they gain? Hopefully we’ll find out in the future. In the meantime, checkout this EP and find out how good they are for yourself. Also, they are supposed to be very good live so watch out for them. www.theholysparks.bandcamp.com
Skyline Highway ::: Skyline EP Review 62
5 Skyline EP Review by David Jordan
Skyline Highway is a country and western band from out of London in the UK. â€˜Skylineâ€™ is their debut EP. The word that first comes to mind when thinking of these three tracks is energy. This band has the energy of a young punk or ska group. The second word that comes to mind is joy. This trio sounds like they are enjoying every second of what they do. These are important requisites for a good band but there are other qualities displayed by this group such as musicianship: there is throughout the three songs masterful pedal steel playing by Keith Buck, as well as apt vocals, especially the high pitched, dulcet voice of Rebecca Michelle on the third track, Lonely Days and Lonely Nights. Her vocals are ideal for the genre. The tracks have a musical, changeable quality which recalls, to these ears, the early Beatles when they recorded quite a few country and western songs. They also had joy and energy in their playing at this period and were in love with American music. Even though they come out of London, these guys are totally convincing as a country and western band. They are possibly one of the purest examples of the genre outside the US. This is an excellent record, showing lots of talent and musical intelligence and is probably even better played live. Anyone who loves American music should check out this EP. www.facebook.com/skylinehighwayband www.musicreviewunsigned.com
Out Damned Spot
Review by David Jordan
ut Damned Spot is a San Fransisco based alt-rock band whose debut selftitled offering is a pretty decent blend of ambient melodies and more dated, indierock elements. Released last month, the tentrack album isn’t the mind-blowing breakthrough release of 2012, but does have a couple of promising highlights worthy of mention. The record opens with “Nothing to Hold On to”, which kicks proceedings off to a bit of an indifferent start. A slow and thoughtful guitar and chunky bass combo, courtesy of Anthony Barrie and Justin La, creates quite an atmospheric and interesting verse set up, which is sadly let down by a lacklustre chorus. Thankfully for the four-piece, the quality increases dramatically over the next two numbers and hits an impressive peak with “Blind”. By far the record’s best inclusion, this charmingly short, pared-back
number is the first to allow the lyrical work to take over and land any kind of emotive punch. Excellent. Vocalist and frontwoman, Trinity Nay, boasts an accessible modern rock voice that rests somewhere on the plain of Dolores O’Riordan of The Cranberries, minus the broad Limerick twang, obviously. There is some further evidence on the album of a conscientious bass and guitar partnership, and drummer Andrew Tavis also puts in an allround solid performance. Despite an obviously competent outfit, each song on the album can fit into one of two categories, between which exists a palpable gulf of quality. The first bunch consists of some interesting, non-linear compositional work that often enjoys a skin and bones, laid back and incredibly original feel; songs in this group include “Broken”, “Blind” and, in parts,
“Long Way Down”. The second however, tends to lean towards a generic and slightly unimaginative indie sound that’s been heard before, with notable culprits being “Undeserving” and “False Conception”. Thankfully, the album’s concluding track, “Jackie”, acts as a mascot for the more desirable of the two sides and ends the album on a high note. Overall, “Out Damned Spot” can be perceived as slightly hit-and-miss. While there is some seriously impressive and innovative material on the record, there is also evidence of the standard indie go-to moves. The band have gone the Radiohead way and elected for a “name your own price” policy for potential listeners; on balance, there’s definitely enough merit for a test run, at the very least. www.outdamnedspot.net
Review by David Jordan
Arrivals is the debut release from TV After Midnight, a quartet from Westmeath in Ireland. It’s hard to believe that this is a debut album from an unsigned band it sounds so accomplished. There’s not a weak song on it. Tracks like Running Full Circle, Words and Icarus wouldn’t be out of place on MTV Rocks. Full of energy and musical intelligence, the album aims to please and it hits the spot with every number. On the best tracks the band aspires to be ‘big’, anthemic and uplifting and they pull it off with aplomb. There are enough hooks here to keep you humming for days and there is an overall warmth and candour to the music and lyrics which is irresistible. I can’t imagine anyone into good rock music not liking this album. On the negative side, though the band does cite the Foo Fighters as an influence, sometimes it comes close to being imitation. This is most evident in the song, Faith Won’t Falter. This is an excellent, exciting Irish rock album that deserves your ear and should be played from beginning to end. Like all such albums, it takes you on a journey, one that you will want to take again and again and again. Arrivals is released on the 16th of December. www.facebook.com/tvaftermidnight www.musicreviewunsigned.com
West Dublin Access Radio is now seeking volunteers
West Dublin Access Radio (WDAR 96FM) is now seeking volunteers to perform a variety of roles, including presenting, producing, researching and sound desk operations. No prior experience is required, as you will receive full training on the job. This is a wonderful opportunity to join your local community radio station and develop your skills in broadcasting. They are also very interested in hearing from anyone who has previous experience in presenting and would like an opportunity to do this again. If you are interested in getting involved, phone Barbara at 01-6207139, You can also email them at email@example.com outlining the area that you are interested in. Note: If you are interested in presenting your own programme you should include the programme proposal which you can Download the Programme Proposal Form on: www.wdar.ie
Glen Keys ::: “How2scratcha7year1tch” Review by C.W
Born in Belfast but now based in FranceGlen Keys’ album “How2scratcha7year1tch”- owes much more to his adopted country of residence than to the city of his birth. Mirroring the diversity of France- this album is a melting pot of different and eclectic styles. Fusing funk, blues and classic rock- this is one of the most ambitious albums I’ve heard in a long time. The album opens with “Don’t Give a Funk”the funk is certainly present on this track but it shares its space with classic rock licks, loose guitars, organ and laconic vocals. Sounding like a Parliament/Jimi Hendrix hybrid- this groove laden jam is an excellent start to proceedings. “Shock Tactics”- is a slightly more modern sounding number- the funkiness remains- but the vocals are spat out in a rap style akin to the Beastie Boys. It shouldn’t work but it does- sounding both manic and fun- the composition on this track is great – it flows perfectly from start to finish. “Imola” is an energetic and explosive number. Merging a furious thrash funk riff with rhythmic slap bass there’s great energy to this one. Keys’ vocals bring to mind Anthony Kiedis- the track itself evoking the Chilli Pepper’s in their Freaky Styley period. “Dope”- see’s a return to the 60’s/70’s rock sound of the album opener. Again- vocally this is very close to Anthony Kiedis. Containing the refrain of “are you experienced” this song confirms what was already obvious- Keyes is a fan of Jimi Hendrix. This is further illustrated on “More”- a wah heavy rock number. This track borders on Hendrix panache and is more filler than anything else. Opening with synthesisers and an acoustic guitar- “Break” marks a turning point in the
album where the funk takes a back seat. The highlight of the song is the Led Zeppelinesque heavy riff that accompanies the chorus. “Pixie Minx”- is the first of two mellower numbers. The combination of acoustic guitar and piano come together nicely but the overtly nostalgic and sentimental lyrics drag the song down somewhat. “Turn Me Loose” is piano driven ballad. Again this track feels over cooked- lyrically it’s far too mawkish. The guest female vocals are refreshing but this sounds too middle of the road. Bearing similarities to Sting- this track feels misguided and out of place. On “I Will Be There”- Key’s reverts to his rockier sound. A slow burning blues number with a hard rock edge- the singer sounds much more at home at this pace. “Here Comes The Rain”- adopts the same blueprint but is a much stronger track. A fantastic intro gives way to a heavy blue’s riff- reminiscent of Love Spreads by Stone Roses. The chugging riff is the highlight of the album- illustrating that the art of guitar playing is not yet lost. Remarkably assured and confident; “How2scratcha7year1tch”- is a testament to Keys’ versatility as a musician. He happily bounces between styles; sounding as comfortable on the funk numbers as he does on the bluesier orientated tracks. It helps that his backing band is so accomplished- each member showing they have a rhythm and feel for their instrument. What hurts the album is that even at 10 songs- it feels long- some quality control and there would be a very fine E.P here. Also- lyrically this album is quite suspect at times. However- if you’re looking for something fun, funky and danceable this is definitely what you’re looking for. www.cdbaby.com/cd/glenkeys
‘ Cycles of Evidence Review by Dean Ruxton
“Cycles of Evidence” is the debut EP from Birmingham-based alt-rock five piece, The Grades. A tight four-track offering in its own right, the EP successfully embodies quite a solid and familiar gritty, riff-based rock, reminiscent of the early 2000s. “Avalanche” kicks off proceedings, and after immediately being hit with some dazzling double-kick work from drummer Conor Lamb, Chris Gilliver delivers a great rock voice that‘s eerily similar to that of Chris Cornell. A trend develops with the song’s lead guitar track, which screams Tom Morello, and one thing immediately becomes clear; we’re dealing with Audioslave fans. That RATM/Audioslave no-holds-barred pentatonic riffing ultimately dominates the record to an extent, and ignites the EP’s second number, “Feedback”. Contrary to the song’s initial tempo suggestion, this one actually breaks into a more melodic and mindful chorus, making for an interesting inclusion. Up until now, the EP has shown some potential for excellence, but unfortunately, it somewhat wavers after the halfway mark with track three, “I Wanna Be U”. The song does contain some appealing, chunky bass (Alec Brunson) and quite a skilled (if partly indulgent) wah-based lead guitar track; however, this isn’t enough to save it from some iffy lyrics and an overall impactless impression. The concluding number, “U Know Me”, is a four-and-a-half minute testament to the band’s composing abilities and features some well worked, varied changes in style and rhythm that end up gelling well. Despite a borderline lazy chorus hook, the song helps to finish this debut release on quite a positive note. The Grades is a band that oozes the influence of some of the most popular alt rock outfits of the last 20 years. Although “Cycles of Evidence” won’t blow you away with its originality, at the very least you’ll appreciate a well produced and rendered product that could stand its own ground in any contemporary rock market. www.facebook.com/thegrades
3 Review by Sam Geaney
Fantasy is an experimental album by soprano and cellist Tani Ghaffarsedeh. Experimental music never aims to be easy listening but this album goes even further and is quite a hard one to listen to. This is not so in a bad way just more that the tracks are so discordant that one has to come prepared when listening to the album. The singing is very discordant and the minimalistic accompaniment can barely be heard over the vocal lines. If the levels of the vocals were brought down, the listener would not be as deafened by the singing. The tracks have great potential but the vocals overpower the rest of the music. The songs are very atmospheric and would make a good soundtrack to a tense horror film or an art-house film if the vocals levels were reduced slightly. The distortion on the vocals, though probably intended as an effect, gets a bit too much a lot of the time and makes it a struggle to listen to. The title track, “fantasy” has mesmerising drums that give the track a more tribal kind of feel. The drums come in late changing the shape of the music. It is probably the best track of the album with “Far” also being worth a mention. The eerie opening to “Far” is again one for a horror soundtrack. When listening to this album make sure to strap in as this is a tense thrill ride that will knock you back. It is a whirlwind of distortion and discordant vocals with mellow, quiet accompaniment. Overall it is an intriguing album that is very heavily experimental. This is definitely not an easy listening album but those with a keen taste for experimental music may enjoy it. www.facebook.com/Ghaffarsedeh
I Just Want You
Amy u to Know Rose Review by James Glynn
‘I Just Want You to Know’ is the forthcoming single from Canadian country singer Amy Rose. The single was recorded in the iconic Sony Tree Studios in the home of country western music, Nashville, Tennessee, and is to feature on her third album. Already a popular singer on the scene, having received comparisons with Carrie Underwood and Kelly Clarkson to name but a few, Rose will no doubt enhance her reputation with this catchy feelgood country pop tune which features some well known musicians from across the genre on fiddle, keys and bass. ‘I Just Want You to Know’ has all the ingredients of a break-out single to cross the divide between the country and pop markets much as the likes of Taylor Swift and Kelly Clarkson have been doing for some years now. The simple, carefree melody gives Rose the perfect platform with which to demonstrate her strong vocals, whilst the chorus hook is certainly a memorable one. You could argue that the material is a bit onedimensional whilst Rose will no doubt have to work on her vocal style in order to prevent being pidgeon-holed throughout her career, but admittedly ’I Just Want You to Know’ works very well as a single. Well produced, well edited and with definite appeal for both country and pop music fans, it’s very difficult not to see this song being a big hit. For Amy Rose on the other hand, the journey could just be beginning. www.amyrosemusic.com
The Model Life Hi my name is Melissa-Maria Carton and this is what it’s like to be a SFX model. There is nothing in the world like SFX make up artistry and I consider those who master it to be the most gifted in the profession. I’ve done some high fashion bizarre make up looks on models myself, including one for MRU during the summer, but nothing comes close to the sheer talent of those who can induce nightmares with just some gelatine. If you’re a model with a strong constitution nothing will stand out more in a portfolio than SFX shots, but it’s hard work and sometimes physically painful and you have to be prepared for a less than glamorous day. Some make up artists are golden. For example my SFX shoots at Red Tree Studios in Bray have been a joy, cold, but a joy. Cold is something that goes hand in hand with SFX. You usually have to be topless, in your undies etc… so not a lot of clothes but a lot of gooey stuff being poured onto you. SFX make up also takes hours with you trying to hold yourself in the same position so that the gooey thing that’s just been carefully attached to you doesn’t fall off. Ever heard Tyra Banks go on about how modelling isn’t about the model it’s about the clothes? The same goes for SFX make up. Usually you’re not wearing much but the make up, which is an art piece that someone has put time, effort and money into making so you don’t want to go knocking it onto the floor and break their heart now do you? I’ve been fortunate enough to work with some of the best in the field including Nina Whitt, Marie Viktoria, Sara Tonin and up and coming SFX artist Kathy Harkness. I’ve also had the pleasure of being a SFX model for the students of The International Make Up Academy multiple times. With the good unfortunately also comes the bad. More than once I’ve come home in pain and covered in marks from make up artists who didn’t properly remove SFX pieces. In one case, I had an inexperienced make-up artist tear off a slit-throat prosthetic tearing the skin on my throat. Another time I had what I thought was just regular body paint applied to me for a shoot. To my horror I found out that the MUA had gone out to
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Photography by Maik Sinkovec
shops asking for body paint and couldn’t find any so she’d made some with acrylic paint and latex! There’s no such brand as ‘body paint’, body painting is the name given to the type of make up artistry but what is applied to the body is just run of the mill face paint, either water or oil based. In the end it took me DAYS to fully remove the body paint and I was left with a rash all down my torso! If you’ve never worn latex before know that it can take off any hair that’s underneath it so if it’s torn off expect to be waxed. Yep, ouchie! SFX make up is not the same as beauty makeup and where you might be able to get your
cousin who likes watching youtube tutorials on smoky eyes to do you up on Saturday night. Make sure to put some research into who you ask to do a SFX job on you. Latex and other SFX tools are easily bought by anyone but it takes someone with skill and passion who will practice till they get it right. It’s the great consideration for the person they are applying it to that makes a good SFX make up artist. From working in the fashion industry I can safely say that there is a difference between someone who puts make-up on and a make-up artist.
If you’ve any questions or would like to keep up with my work you can find me at www.msc81.cmsmotion.co m/index.php with links to my Facebook page and on Tumblr at www.meliseamourisnotthe girlnextfdoor.tumblr.com/ Photography by SFX @Red Tree Studios
Written by News Editor Feargal Daly
North Dublin rockers Val Normal have been making waves lately. They’ve gained a reputation as a must see live act with the tunes to back it up and now a debut album Plans? What Plans? is set to be released on January 25th via Chew Your Own Fat. MRU had the chance to speak with Dara Walsh and Peter Lodge from the band. The lads discuss everything from their formation, song-writing processes, and lauded live shows to loving the arguments and knowing how to craft a unique rock sound too long in hiding and how they intend to win you over one show at a time. Now a certified rock beast unleashed on the Irish music scene, Val Normal was born
amongst humble and tranquil suburbs of coastal North Dublin. The rolling hills and beaches were too quiet for a bunch of then eager teenage lads seeking something more exciting and experimental. On the formation of the band guitarist Dara Walsh fondly remembers. (Dara) “We were in a couple of bands together years ago that weren’t going very well and me and Peter (Drummer) had gotten together one day and kind of just went from there just the two of us for a while, drafted a bass player and gigged for about three years now we have an album on the way!” In their late teens the band members were trying to find their sound something to set them apart from the usual school scene of wannabes, try-hards and desperates. It took time to find their identity but it eventually
came from that complex, beautiful and downright “musical” genre Prog. The band fondly reminisced about initial experiments for that sonic identity and their eventual indoctrination to the “Cult of Prog.” (Peter) “It was very different – more just straight forward rock songs – then we started getting into different rock bands. Myself and Dara found The Dillinger Escape Plan who warped our minds fairly well.” (Dara) “The songs got longer, more madness!” (Peter) “We took on bigger adventures and weirder time signatures progressed and progged on!” The writing process is always seen as a challenge to VN, not because they have difficulty getting songs down, but rather they want to push themselves and the boundaries
outside of the norm through heavy practice routines and intense song-writing processes should raise a flag for the inevitable arguments a fact the guys relish... (Peter) “Oh yeah!” (Dara) “Sure that’s the basis of the band just shouting at each other.” Of course, no rock band deserves respect unless they can carry their chops to the stage and brandish their sound as a weapon. It turns out the live scene just so happens to be Val Normal’s forte. Powerful, kinetic and oftentimes downright alluring VN assure that what may appear to be at times an eclectic and dynamic improvised prog-jam is in fact heavily orchestrated –
“We don’t write with the intention of making a catchy rock song.”
of what they are capable of. Constantly evolving as musicians and pushing themselves into sonic realms that may at first seem challenging but ultimately rewarding. (Dara) “When we’re playing 11 minute songs you can’t just come in with verse, chorus, verse and go ‘This is what it goes like...’ - one song can take 3 months to finish.” (Peter) “They’ll sort of begin with Dara coming in with some guitar ideas and we’ll jam them out until they gel together well, y’know?” The band aren’t worried that they are fighting an uphill battle with modern audiences typically trained by a mainstream, short-form sound. In fact, the band takes it as their mission to engage the audience in the music that first and foremost turns them on –
(Dara) “Just because a song is long doesn’t mean it has to be boring. We try to write so that even though a song might be 10 minutes long it’s still interesting to listen to. To us anyway, it doesn’t feel like a 10 minute track it can feel like a 3/4 minute radio track.” (Peter) “We don’t write with the intention of making a catchy rock song. We go in and try and bring our experiences to the song and make it in to a journey of what we’ve gone through so that’s why they’re ten minutes – because we’re all men.” (Dara) “We’ve tried writing short songs! But find we can’t leave a riff or segment out of a song. We just keep building and building. Some songs started as 2 minutes and ended up on the album at 8 minutes when we finished recording them.” The challenge of creating a unique sound
(Peter) “It’s all been practice, practice, rehearse and rehearse. Not every show will sound the same but in terms of the time sigs they’ve been rehearsed down to the tee.” In a sea of saturated and overexposed genres and musical sub-cultures it’s always nice for a change of pace. Rock has been slowly but surely seeping its way back into the spotlight, returning to its roots and regaining its credibility as a viable genre in the modern musical landscape. While not always instantly and openly embraced by new audiences, Val Normal were one of the few stable rock bands facing an uphill battle for recognition, and they continue to rise to the challenge at every gig. (Dara) “Lately it’s working in our favour. We kind of kicked it up a notch maybe six months ago in how the live shows go. We can tell when we hop up on stage when someone hasn’t seen us before like - ‘Who are these three long-haired stoners? They’re not gonna be very good.’ but when people see, not only with how long the songs are, they can tell how much work has gone into them. We’ve spent a year and a half writing the whole album and it’s only ten tracks.” He finalises “I think the audience at most shows realise the work we’ve put into them. We’re not just bedroom musicians anymore. This is what we wanna do.”
“I think the fact that we just love playing comes across in our live shows.”
(Peter) “I think the fact that we just love playing comes across in our live shows; people pick up on that and it works in our favour.” The opportunity to take their work to a studio was the very thing the band sought. Even a single chance to pour more blood, sweat and tears into their years of work and come out with a 70 minute album was an opportunity they couldn’t pass up (Dara) “It was the best recording experience we’ve ever had. We’ve done a couple of other EPs and other singles but we actually dreaded going into the studio because we’re always fighting when we’re there but flew through it; something like 8 days it took to do 10 tracks. It was some sort of miracle anyway!” (Peter) “We were going in with the preconceived notion that we were pretty much gonna tear each-others heads off during the recording process but it went ridiculously well.” (Dara) “The drums tracks were done in a day so Peter was completely finished on day one. All the instruments were tracked I think in 4 days. Bass, guitar & vocals were done after and we had like 3 days to mix and master any piano overdubs in. We were aiming for about 90% of what we wanted to hear and I think we hit 95%.” VN achieved the monumental task of recording, mixing and mastering a whole album in the time it takes Axl Rose to take a piss. The process was aided by Peter’s brother David Lodge (former Mike Got Spiked member) who helped them out - “He helped us out at the beginning but went to the states so left it in our hands for a couple of months. We then went in with it ourselves and had Michael Richards do the recording for us and who is a magician shall we say! He helped us with, not so much structures, but sounds.” (Dara) “He was pretty welcoming, like, a lot of engineers are pretty wary of recording an 11 minute track that hasn’t got any vocals in it. It was handy he dug the music as well, not just some guy pressing buttons, he was a fan.” With songs almost cryptic in their composition you would be forgiven for thinking the album title follows the same
trend; quite the opposite. Plans? What Plans? comes from the very foundation of expectations of youth. A generation of youth damned before they even get a chance to carve a path for themselves in the wake of a crippled society and economy. The very expectations always beset upon late teens/ early twenty years olds – ‘What are your plans? What are you going to do with your life?’. It’s a feeling the lads know too well – (Peter) “It relates to the whole idea of having a music career. We don’t do anything else. We can’t do anything else. This is all we do and we’ve made no plans otherwise. When people finished school they went to college – we started a band and gigged until our feet were fucking falling off, our hands were broken.” (Dara) “Even still when people aren’t talking to us about the band they’re like ‘So...what’s your plan?’. We’re of that age where people head off abroad, travel and whatever else – start a family and shit like that. If they ask us what our plan is generally we respond ‘What Plan?’.” Getting the attention of a label wasn’t even on VN’s mind when recording the debut. In
fact they were quite conscious not to let a label try and come near them (Dara) “Well, when recording we were pretty much convinced that no label would come near this because it’s such a fucking....strange album. It’s pretty much a concept album. Definitely not one of these albums with 5 radio songs. It’s 70 minutes long – we went in thinking ‘Right, we’re never going to get the chance to record this stuff in a studio again. Let’s just put everything we can into it’”. Chew Your Own Fat, a new independent label on the Irish music scene with just one other band on their roster, weaved their way in and provided the perfect partnership VN just couldn’t refuse (Dara) “I linked one of the songs online about a week after we finished everything in the studio and Chris from CYOF saw us at a show. We exchanged numbers and then he asked if it would be ok to send it to Paul (CYOF head). We had no intention of releasing the record through CYOF, he was just going to help us out with shows, leave the records and EPs up to us, but he had actually been planning to ask us to release it
“We don’t do anything else. We can’t do anything else. This is all we do and we’ve made no plans otherwise.”
through them. At a show he just said ‘I would love to release your album under CYOF’.” A daring move for a new label and a risk that is sure to pay off. VN remained grounded in the wake of label interest and thought rationally before committing. Eventually the opportunities to do what they love became real and a path to that was carved in front of them (Dara) “We didn’t dive into it straight away but it was nice to have the financial support instead of hounding labels and promoters. Having him come to us was fantastic and it’s great to have him on board. He’s got his team working on other stuff for us and that allows us to focus and perfect our live show which is pretty sweet.” (Peter) “It’s a bit of a journey...or a trek even!” It was no accident that everything would eventually fall into place. Where many bands just about survive throughout school and eventually disband as life gears them towards a path of conformity and expectations, VN always held the band as their past, present and future (Dara) “It was always our ambition to be a
musician in some sort of way. We always wanted to be in a band that went somewhere.” (Peter) “Since I was fucking 4 years old it was always what I wanted to be and if you don’t follow your dream then who the hell are you?” Val Normal are also prepping an album launch night for Plans? What Plans? in Sweeney’s in Dublin city on 25th January. Here’s what you can expect on the night – (Dara) “We’ve put an actual show together for the launch. We’re not just gonna be playing songs. It’ll be a show rather than a gig the whole album start to finish.” (Peter) “Maybe even a new tune or two thrown in to the mix.” (Dara) “We haven’t done any gigs since the start of December. We’ve just been working on this show over and over for the launch so we’re excited t debut it.” (Peter) “I must say we’ve also got some awesome bands playing with us - New Secret Weapon, abandcalledboy, Last Generation and Between Screams – Great guys and bound to be a stomper of a night.” The road ahead is busy for what is evidently
one of the hardest working bands in Dublin and contains some choice ambitions for VN this coming year – (Dara) “We have a tour booked for the middle of February through to the end of March. We’ll record another EP in between now and the middle of April/May - should be out summertime. Also hit a couple of festivals, record another album hopefully before the end of the year. Write, record, tour, write, record, tour, write, record, tour....until we’re dead.” (Peter) “And hopefully we’ll have enough money for food.” Staying true to themselves, the lads refuse to let up. They have come this far, a place so many strive to get to, and they know they cannot rest just yet. This is only the beginning for Val Normal and they intend to keep the torch burning, the eardrums ringing and win people over one at a time. Plans? What Plans? out Jan 25th via Chew Your Own Fat records. www.valnormal.com
Josey Milner 3
Josey Milner ‘Not Pretty Enough’ Review by James Glynn
The follow up to her debut single ‘Dead flowers’, ‘Not Pretty Enough’ is the new release from American country artist Josey Milner. Relatively new on the scene, the Kansas City native has been building a reputation on her strong live performances whilst her willingness to travel the country western circuit has contributed to her growing popularity. Her debut single was well received, charting in a number of European countries even, but her follow up unfortunately does not generate the same appeal. Although the soft, upbeat melody and pleasant vocal talents of Ms. Milner do combine to good effect on the single, the lyrics are clichéd if not a tad cheesy and the composition is altogether rather forgettable. Lacking the strong vocal range of some of her contemporaries within the genre, Milner has unfortunately contributed to her own demise with this single which is based solely on charm over quality, and although ‘Not Pretty Enough’ comes together reasonably well as a single, it’s hard to see making any kind of an impact outside her own fan base. www.facebook.com/joseymilner
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25 OF TH
Written by Deputy Fashion Editor/Alexandra Das Neves
Best Indie/Rock - Sponsored by Ruby Music Soldiers Can't Dance Best Blues/Rock - Sponsored by Live Loud Music Mama Kaz Band Best Electronic/alt - Sponsored by Lakeland Studios OCHO Best Alternative/Rock - Sponsored by DyNaMik Records Factions Best Metal/Heavy Rock - Sponsored by David Doyle Photography Time Is A Thief Best Punk/alt - Sponsored by NorthSouth Festival Hassle Merchants Best Pop/alt - Sponsored by Crux Entertainment Strange Boats Best Trad/Folk/alt - Sponsored by Rockit Music Management Laura Ann Brady Soldiers Can’t Dance Best Country/alt - Sponsored by Irish Country Music Radio scooped up 2 awards Stephen Young & The Union on the night “Best Best Soul/Jazz/Funk/alt - Sponsored by DyNaMik Records Indie/Rock and Best Allison McGrath Unsigned act 2012” Best Acoustic/alt - Sponsored by Rockit Music Management Fury and Pride! Those Dave Morrissey soldiers surely can Best Reggae/ska/alt - Sponsored by NonFloating Records dance and make Dem Fools everyone dance with Best Hip Hop/Rap - Sponsored by The ReSessions them. Terawrizt Best Composer/Soundtrack Sponsored by DyNaMik Records Mad Hatter Best Single 2012 - Sponsored by Disc & Print Centre Kodakid - Portis Best Album 2012 - Sponsored by Phonic Studios The Radioactive Grandma - The Radioactive Grandma Best Video 2012 - Sponsored by Disc & Print Centre Fancy Crazy - Seven Sea's Best Newcomer 2012 - Sponsored by Gigs Ireland In The Willows Best UK act 2012 Sponsored by DyNaMik Records Angus Powell - Shrewsbury Best International act 2012 - Sponsored by DyNaMik Records Volume Conflict - South Africa Best Female Artist - Sponsored by Disc & Print Centre Sinead McNally Best Male Artist - Sponsored by Disc & Print Centre Chris Keys Best Live music night - Sponsored by NUMU Promotions DimeStore Recordings - Thursday in Sweeney's on Dame Street, Dublin Best Unsigned Artist 2012 Sponsored By linda welby/ law music Soldiers Can't Dance The MRU Magazine Choice Award 2012 Sponsored by Absolute Entertainment Ireland Fox.E and the Good Hands
Best Alternative/Rock act Factions
HE BEST MAMA KAZ BAND – WINNER FOR BEST BLUES/ROCK Johnny “Skip” and Mama Kaz very emotional for their recognition in Ireland, “trying to keep the blues alive”! Long waiting and well deserved award. Best Punk/alt - Sponsored by NorthSouth Festival Hassle Merchants
Photography by Paul Kolbe @www.paulspics.eu
ALISON MACGRATH – WINNER FOR BEST SOUL/JAZZ/FUNK
Surprise of the event. When the winner was announced for this category it was possible to hear some screams and squeals of emotion in the crowd. Alison´s hard work finally payed off.
Chris Keys “Best Male artist” and Sinead McNally “Best Female artist”
FOX E AND THE GOOD HANDS – WINNER FOR MRU MAGAZINE CHOICE Their groovy performance of the night made justice to the award.
Mad Hatter “Best Composer/Soundt rack”
Keiron Black our presenter of the night seemed very impressed by Martins sharp look, commenting: “He really looks like a composer, doesn’t he?”
Photography by Paul Kolbe @www.paulspics.eu
MRU AWARDS 2012
Best Acoustic act Dave Morrissey with Sponsor Noel Taylor from Rockit Music Management
Best Hip Hop/Rap Terawrizt (Andy Brady)
Best Album 2012 The Radioactive Grandma - Self Titled album. Award excepted by the bands manager Chris Leonard on the night, pictured with - Katie Hogan (Numu PR) Caroline Reel and Tracey Hanby (Gigs Ireland) Best Live music night DimeStore Recordings Venue Promoter Peter Pureheart excepts his award on the night pictured with sponsor Katie Hogan (Numu PR)
Photography by Paul Kolbe @www.paulspics.eu
Best Reggae/ska/alt Dem Fools
Best Newcomer 2012 In The Willows
LY THE BEST
Best Video award 2012 - Fancy Crazy: Seven Seaâ€™s excepted by Caroline Reel on behalf of the band on the night.
Photography by 360 - firstname.lastname@example.org
MR UA WA RD S2 01 2
Singer-Songwriter Ray Scully speaks about the Front, Back and Two Sides of the Voice of Ireland
Interview by Alice Stands
13 is a lucky number so far for Ray Scully, who aired on series 2 of RTE’s The Voice of Ireland, on January 13th 2013. He passed the blind audition, singing ‘It’s a Man’s World’ which caught the attention of Westlife’s Kian Egan, who picked Ray’s ‘soulful’ voice for his team. When second judge, Bressie (The Blizzards) admitted he ‘should have hit the button’ upon turning around, it begs the question, what exactly is the Voice of Ireland based on? A bigger question is – can RTE, in line with Universal, provide a show for unsigned Irish acts, where singer-songwriters and serious musicians like Ray have a platform to showcase their own material and compete with their own peers? And can we, as an audience, support a show of that merit? With hugely successful bands like U2, The Cranberries and The Corrs to our name, there’s no doubt the Irish can do it, and do it well. One lucky break is all it takes. We’ve had shows like ‘The Hit’ for song-writers and ‘The Voice of Ireland’ for voices. Can RTE go a step further and put two and two together to produce a top quality show for singer-songwriters and bands to showcase their material and get quality guidance for helping them make their way in the music business? Why not have Bono on board – Bono’s search for Ireland’s next big act? That, I would watch. In the meantime, however, there is only the Voice of Ireland and if you’re not in, you can’t win the 100,000euro contract with Universal. Why not make use of the opportunity to get some exposure, if show business is the name of your game? I interviewed Ray over the phone last week where we had a good chat about the Voice, why he entered and why staying true to yourself is more important than any TV show entertainment. Photography by Anto Kane @AK Photography
Ray, you are a singer-songwriter? Yeah, I’ve been since I was fifteen, nearly 10 years now. I started gigging when I was 15, doing open-mic nights. I’ve always been solo. Even when I was with a band, they were called ‘Scully’. When I was 16, I was signed onto a management label, called True Talent.
What happened with the label? We were signed in 2005, released an album with them in 2006. Then they moved to Germany with Glider, who was their main act. Leanne Harte was also on the label. We came in third in priority. I was doing my Leaving Cert at the time so I didn’t go.
What made you want to be a singer-songwriter? It was a pure love for music. I had a love for anything that sounded good. Cat Stevens that my dad was listening to – and Led Zeppelin, my brother. I picked up the guitar when I was about six. Is this your first time entering the Voice of Ireland? Yeah, it’s something I would not usually have thought of doing, or wouldn’t watch these shows.
What made you change your mind? The reason I entered it was, I had seen little clips of it. One of my mate’s brothers was on it last year. I didn’t watch it much. I wouldn’t watch any of the other shows like X-Factor. I hadn’t got a notion going into the thing what it was about or what the format was. His brother did quite well, he was a good singersongwriter as well, but he wasn’t the best in the world. He did a lot of covers he didn’t want to do. That was my main problem going into the thing. I don’t want songs being thrown at me that I really don’t like or don’t want to do. I want to do my own thing on it, you know. If possible I want to do my own songs. Why did you choose to cover ‘It’s a Man’s World’? It’s my favourite song for the last five or six years now. I heard Seal do a cover of it, and then I heard Christina Aguilera and James Brown sing it together once, and I heard Pavarotti and James Brown sing it before he died. I took all those versions and tried to make my own of it for the last couple of years. That’s why I did it.
For the blind auditions, what were your nerves like, waiting to go on stage? It was nerve-racking because it was such a long day. I was in there from 9.30 in the morning ‘til 9 in the evening. And there’s nothing in between, there’s a bit of camera-work where you might talk to the cameras but none of that was showed.
The long wait backstage must have made it all the more difficult to remain composed? Yeah, I was watching people panicking. There were a lot of people that I was looking at, judging them in a sense, thinking they looked like bedroom singers; they mightn’t have any experience gigging. They were in and out of the toilet constantly practicing – for hours and hours. I’ve seen a few people’s throat’s getting sore and they were buying honey and all. I literally just said, I’m not even going to bother warming up because I had no idea when I was going to sing. I didn’t warm up at all ‘til maybe about 5 minutes before I realized, now I’m on. I tried not to stress out at all There was no time-table or schedule made out for the participants? No. I had warmed up in the morning thinking this could be in an hour’s time. Then I realized, this is going to be a long day. So I stopped even singing, stopped playing guitar because my hands were getting sore from just messing with the guitar while I was sitting there waiting.
they possibly might have wanted. For the blind audition I was offered other songs. I sent in ‘It’s a Man’s World’ to do, say, and they sent me back an email saying – well if you can’t do that would you do ‘Payphone’ by Maroon 5?
They don’t encourage you to pick your own cover? Not really. They have a list of 110 songs exactly and you kind of had a choice of those songs. If you were to come with something else, you could do it if they liked it. You had to get on to the musical director … and he says if it’s ok. Was this all organized long beforehand? It was just the day before, pretty much.
Was the blind audition the first audition? No, there was one audition before that and then an interview to see about your personality. The way I keep looking at it is – it’s a television program more than a talent show.
I felt a little bit uncomfortable with the chairs turned. The audience was quite blacked out.
Was performing on the Voice very different to other gigs you’ve done? There was a lot more pressure and tension, yeah. A lot more nerves. The mic had to be set a certain way for my face to be seen on camera, where I’d like it up more. I felt a little bit uncomfortable with the chairs turned. The audience was quite blacked out. If I’m ever playing a gig with a band I can turn to them and we can improvise. The band was well behind me, there was massive difference between me and the band. It was all quite strict.
Is it something you’d do again? Possibly. I’m getting a bit of criticism, in the sense – there are a lot of singer-songwriters that play sessions and stuff and they’re saying to me ‘it’s a bit of a sell-out thing to do.’ But I’ve literally been doing this for so long. I’m getting so sick of playing in empty bars. I’ve lost a lot of faith in the music industry, where I think a lot of people actually… they nearly have to do something like this.
Do you think it’s a fair competition for singers? I do and I don’t. Even watching the blind auditions, I find some guys aren’t given songs
What do you think of the judging panel? I don’t know if it’s helped me or if it hasn’t helped me but I hadn’t got a clue who Bressie was. I heard of the Blizzards but I didn’t know who he was. My Mam was even ranting and raving about him, but I hadn’t got a notion who he was.
Kian seemed delighted Bressie made a mistake by not picking you and you were on his team. Were you happy to be on Kian’s? I think so, yeah. He was happy with the voice. He was trying to tell me not to worry about his boy-band background, that he’s into rock and I’m right up his alley; what he’s looking for.
Did you speak to Bressie afterwards? No, I haven’t spoken to him at all.
Would you like to win? It’s not something that’s crossed my mind as such before now. I saw it on Paddy Power – odds on whose to win and all. There’s a lot of people writing up on twitter and facebook saying I’m putting 50 quid on ya, I’m putting 100 quid, so that’s when I was like – I could possibly win it, you know? I’d like to. Is performing your passion? Yeah, it drives me absolutely mad when I don’t have a gig or if I’m looking at my
calendar and I haven’t got a gig for another two weeks. I like to have at least 4 or 5 a week. It drives me absolutely mad if I can’t get out and play. The last two years is what’s really taken off now. The last two years I’ve been gigging 3-5 days a week on average.
Have you plans to bring out an album? My plan was to bring out an album and play a circuit of gigs, possibly even go on a small little tour. All the stuff’s recorded, it just has to be mixed and mastered. I’ve a couple of lads I play with, a drummer, electric guitar player and a bassist. It’s just a case of putting it all together. But I’ll wait and see first what happens with this…
Have you any advice for singers contemplating entering the Voice of Ireland next year? I’d say go for it but don’t be someone you’re not. My advice is: just try to be yourself on it. I’ve just seen a lot of people doing songs that they don’t want to do. Even saying things on camera they might not want to say. Good luck Ray from MRU!!!
Photography by Anto Kane @AK Photography
The Kings of Enthusiasm Review by Neil Cathcart
I remember the early days of The King Kong Club back when the Grand Social was Pravda and they had free bananas. Not a whole lot has changed since then. They still use their trademarked Empire State Building Clap O’ Meter to find a winner and the prizes have gotten better with its rise in popularity. No free bananas now though. There was a creative buzz when I walked into The Mercantile’s venue on Wednesday, it was wall to wall guitars. Everyone is in good spirits, happy to be out of the cold weather and eager to perform. The competition is simple. Lots are drawn to see who and when people go on, three songs each and then the clap off to see who goes on to the next round. Tonight’s line up Big September, The Last Monroe’s, Silverbird, Forever Young, Elevation Falls and Just No.
Big September www.facebook.com/bigseptember
Big September brought a good fan base from their home town of Bray and have the look of any modern rock group. It’s tough to impress any crowd with just three songs, these guys gave it their all. Song two could easily be a hit, wish I took note of it. They have done their homework after listening to their modern influences like Kings Of Leon, who themselves look back on the legends of the 60-70′s, Big September know where to place some imaginative guitar licks as are the harmonies are great. However by the end you get a feeling that
this is music by numbers. There is a lack of substance the three songs played that night seemed like warm up songs before the hits come out. If they were to play a longer set we would assume they songs would get better. Big September sound great and have the potential to produce a few radio friendly tracks if they step outside the box. The Last Monroe's www.facebook.com/TheLastMonroes
Another band from Wicklow, The Last Monroe’s simply are Hard Rocking, Plaid Wearing, MoFos. Mixing elements of Nirvana with the best current American indie bands for example The Black Keys. Songs like She Is The Devil’s Girl and their final song 30 Pieces of Silver show impressive skills in writing and the singer has a much older voice than he looks. I especially enjoyed the trashy break downs and the bass is very Jack White à la The Raconteurs. The Last Monroe’s set a high standard one which could be hard to beat Silverbird www.myspace.com/silverbirdrock
If you like it fast and intense Silverbird are the band for you. Grown from the albums of Sabbath, ACDC and Lizzy, Silverbird are in a world of their own when on stage. The music clearly comes before the lyrics as each song revolves around some smoking guitar riffs all fronted by the bassist just like Thin
Lizzy. It is uncertain as to what they are, now they are a superb cover band and their excellent version of Thin Lizzy’s I’m A Rocker does tribute to the original. To be anything more they could get clever and morph into a instrumental throwback group where their solos won’t fall on deaf ears. Forever Young www.twitter.com/fymusicdub
Past the half way mark now and no drop of in enthusiasm the place is only getting more crowed. Forever Young is upfront Brit Pop in a MTV Unplugged way with only an acoustic and electric guitar to it. The singer has one of the best voices tonight and he is happy to watch his band members play than taking all the lime light. The electric guitarist was extremely talented finding notes as if he were channeling Santana, yet with the mix of just the acoustic it missed the mark. They needed a little bass or percussion to fill out the spectrum. Unfortunate their rendition of Supersonic by Oasis, which should be a home, run fell short with an outro that was too long and became a little self indulgent. Elevation Falls www.facebook.com/ElevationFalls
Elevation Falls was initially a solo project for the frontwoman Hazel Jade Rogers, now with a full band behind her she wants to fly to the top. Even though these guys are still quite young they are quite gifted, playing radio
Jemson Green Announce Vicar St. Performance Deputy News Editor Meghan O’Dowd
friendly post punk tunes. Fantasy is the current single and my mind goes straight to Evanescence the great My Chemical Romance when I heard it. It is a dark rocky ride into mind of their imaginations complete with with everything you’d expect from a band that has been around for only 3 months. It has a well produced video to accompany it. Their second Song was Thin Lizzy’s cover, In the Fields. I will admit it was an odd choice of a song when you see this group. It was also weird hearing this come from a women but it sounded natural and as compelling as Phil would have done it. Hazel is able to get to the high notes as well as getting the deep ones out too, giving her an impressive vocal range. Elevation Falls have a bright future. Their sound will appeal to many more than the few which could work against them. Hazel and co might not get the over night success I fear they want but when they get their chance I know they won’t waste it either.
Just No www.facebook.com/justnoband
There is truth to the ‘it’ or ‘x’ factor, it’s hard to pin point what it is exactly. There is something unmistakeable about Just No they’re not imitating anyone so maybe that it is the ‘it’ in this case. Sharply dressed like 60′s Beatles, there is a relaxed carefree and sweet feel about them. Some lyrics are a little too innocent but songs like Only You are a pleasure to listen to. The driving drums and
airy guitar is music to my ears before it breaks into a poppy lyrical outburst. The Rickenbacker Bass is a beaut just to look at and is played with equal reverence. After the gig I checked their music out online, I was a little disappointed as the recordings don’t live up to the live performance it lacked the gritty attitude. However, I gather they are in the studio again so look forward to hearing more soon. Just No would have been my pick based on them being themselves and not a rehash of a genre. But its a democracy at the King Kong and the crowd went a different way and clapped their hands red for the equally deserving The Last Monroe’s. If they continue to play their hearts out they could see themselves winning this thing. Just No really don’t need to win this as much as other bands on the night they will find their own way. The exposure given alone in this competition is fantastic and it gives bands who have something to contribute a fantastic outlet. The King Kong Club is all about exposing new talent through its live, TV and radio shows. It really is a positive and credible influence on the scene.
Live review January 16th www.thekingkongclub.com
It has just been announced that top Irish unsigned act Jemson Green have joined the bill for a highly – anticipated charity event, in Dublin’s Vicar Street this February. The event, in aid of Comic Relief, takes place on the 28th of next month and boasts a line up of internationally recognized artists such as headlining act Paddy Casey, as well as Bipolar Empire, Keywest, Walking on Cars and The Enemies with many more still to be announced. Proceeds from the event will be donated to the U.K. based charity, which supports a range of life changing initiatives in several third world countries. This opportunity is one in a steady stream for the Dublin-based band, who released their internationally acclaimed ‘Tinted Glass’ EP last year. Those attending the event can look forward to a host of new material from the band, as well as top-class performances from the intense line up of acts set to perform on the night. A worthy cause that is not to be missed, tickets for the event will cost just €20 and will go on sale via Ticketmaster on January 23rd. www.jemsongreen.com www.musicreviewunsigned.com
6 Review by Shaun Cole
The first thing I saw from Meltybrains? was their artwork. The picture of a person eating a burger, who I assume is Kyle, (the one that needs freeing) instantly sent my mind wondering ‘what on earth have we been sent this time’. Then the rhetorical question in their name only further made me wonder if I wanted to listen to something that would actually melt my brain. In the end I looked past the album artwork and threw caution to the wind, putting my brain firmly in the hands of this electronic, five piece from Dublin. Whether that was a mistake or not we shall see. The EP is entitled Free Kyle and despite my best efforts (Google) I struggled to find the meaning behind it. The short paragraph at the bottom of their bandcamp page details something about the ‘Maynooth rising’ but other than learning something geography at school never taught me, I’m afraid to say, I don’t know what it means. What I can tell you about is the music though; the EP begins with the ambient textures of Roland’s
Entrance. Straight off, even without reading their influences, you know this is going to be a heavily synthesised affair, the sounds that cleverly pan from one ear to the other as they delay, the electronic drum sound that lures your body into rocking back and forth, all serve to putting you in the right mind-set for the other six songs. Although Rolands Entrance sets you up though it doesn’t necessarily foreshadow the whole EP, tracks like The Fishbowl heavily use notions of noise and result in a wall of sound effect rather than ambience The music constantly moves backwards and forwards, from calm to chaotic, not giving you a moment to breathe, its energy and vibrancy oozes from the speakers infecting every pore on your body. The vocals throughout the EP have a distinct haunting quality to them; they are heavily laced with effects and are almost disguised for the most part. Sure tracks like There’s Water Everywhere have a heavily vocal introduction but even then they take a back seat to the music when it kicks in with its head nodding, chip tune infused groove. They are used more as another instrument than a solid driving factor to any song, whether this was intentional move or not is another thing I don’t
know about this band, either way though it works. The music is good enough to stand up on its own with only short breaks of vocal interruption and I honestly prefer it that way. One thing that does wearily shows its face on the vocals in Free Kyle is auto tune; now before you throw a temper tantrum and send the humble effect back into hiding, Meltybrains? have managed to use it effectively and although it’s presence is known, it’s not overbearing. Even in later tracks such as Chocolate Is Mmmmmmm, where it features more heavily. The EP comes full circle at its end with the ambience of Inty Space, which eventually drops off to a long silence followed by an appropriate applause and even some laughter, showing the bands lighter side. Many bands now release their EP for free or name your price (which is effectively the same thing) but how many could you say after streaming it you would actually download? This is one of the few for me that I would go out of my way to add to my ITunes, it’s one of the first releases of 2013 and one you shouldn’t leave till later in the year. www.meltybrains.bandcamp.com/album/free-kyle
Pla ns? W
Review by News Editor Feargal Daly
When listening to Plans? What Plans? you might be forgiven for thinking you’ve been hit by a brick wall of sound, but it’s all part of the grand plan Val Normal have with their debut album. Released this Friday, January 25th via Chew Your Own Fat, Val Normal prove they have what it takes to stir up some much needed noise in the barren rock landscape of the current industry. On the album, Val Normal have composed what can at times be best described as orchestrated chaos – and that’s a good thing. Few bands dare to brave a display of heavy hitting tracks that both scream and whisper in pulsating levels of intensity. To top it all off the album is predominantly instrumental with vocals taking a back seat – a refreshing twist that lets the music speak for itself. The album is not pretty, nor is it meant to be. It feels designed to exhaust your senses and leaving you wanting multiple replays to unravel the little bells & whistles hidden behind the predominantly brash riffage throughout. Layered and full of all sorts of little intricacies designed to bring you back for more the album never let’s up and gets you straight to the headbang-inducing opener. ‘Hailstone(rs)’ begins with an ominous swell of layered voices/mumblings before a stomping guitar and drum combo throws your senses into overdrive – it is sonically dynamic and a perfect example of the journey ahead. Speaking of journeys and hitting close to the 11
minute mark, the brilliantly titled ‘Metal Gear Salad’ feels like an album in itself and as a midway point it perfectly serves as the albums bridge, exploring the brasher, chaotic riffage of the former half with the more melodious second. That’s not to say the band becomes mellow and sappy as the riffs come back in full force on the likes of ‘Purple Man Green Coil’ & ‘Greens’. Peter Lodge’s stellar drumming gets its spotlight on ‘We all had! Plans’ and displays a Bonham primitive punch with the sticks and skins while retaining the steady Neil Peart like complexities that flourish the entire album. Guitarist/Singer Dara Walsh knows how to extract and deliver ferocious energy out of his instrument throughout with complex guitar parts complimented by the equally direct and groove induced bass lines from Watchy. Album closer ‘College’ continues to surprise harbouring a complete sonic shift and effortlessly segued into from ‘We all had! Plans’. Not only is this the shortest track at just under 3 minutes (which is surprising in itself) but also demonstrates that VN can restrain themselves and break the music down to its core all the while retaining that distinctive VN sound. It should sound out of place but doesn’t. Then again, the whole album is such a rich collection of sounds that anything and everything would feel at home here. Trying to find a downside is tough but from a
hat Pla ns?
realistic perspective Plans? What Plans? is perhaps too musical. Even though VN stick their middle finger up at the idea of digestible radio rock, sticking to their guns is admirable but inevitably going to be a struggle attracting an audience in a music scene saturated in and devouring the indie flavours of the week. VN won’t conform, nor do they have to, but finding their audience with Plans? What Plans? may be a challenge. Technically speaking, the album boasts an impressive production with all instruments getting their deserved place in the final mix. Nothing feels too in your face and nothing is buried. Thankfully the common trend of modern records to overcompress isn’t present here and the force of the music comes across well through a variety of formats be it a high end stereo system or mp3 player and everything in between. As engaging as it is unpredictable, Plans? What Plans? is an impressive debut – A ferocious power trio making sounds loud enough to be heard over a warzone and brilliantly explosive enough to create one. It is also a slow burning rock epic as gracious to your eardrums and it is dangerous and ultimately a fantastic achievement from a one of the hardest working and honest bands in Dublin with huge ambition and talent to make it a reality. Strike this one up as a success.
Photography by Dan Dutler
Fox.E and the Good Hands Saucy Sundays Christmas Party!
Photos by Anto kane -www.faceb Erin Fornoff
LOQ spoken word | hip-hop | poetry @ Sweeneys
Cliff “I Love Yeats” horseman
Paddy casey @ The Mermaid theatre, Bray.
book.com/AntokanePhotography Stephen James Smith