State Magazine Issue 6

Page 1


€ 4.95

/ £3.20

state cd

My my! free featuring the best new Irish sounds Oh yeah! The only guide you'll need to

electric picnic ALL for under a fiver! Winner.


thank you for the music is my radar: Do not adjust your magazine

russell brand moma mia:

sigur rós from Porn to Pop Perfection Tindersticks CSS Erykah Badu Tinariwen That Petrol Emotion

circuit breakers:

Bodytonic incoming:

General Fiasco Little Boots BLK JKS and the best reviews in

albums, books, games & dvds 1

First Music Contact


issue 06 might well contain...



58 18



16 32 30


tinariwen Rebellion, revolution and electric guitars – are Tinariwen the last great rock ‘n’ roll band?

How Bodytonic set out to save Dublin clubland and their plans for the Picnic.


blog standard


Back after five years, Stuart Staples on the reasons why the time was right for the elegiac Tindersticks to return to the stage.

Russell Brand on his frustration at not actually being born a rock star.

circuit breakers

sigur rós

Meet Ireland’s most unlikely pop stars – two blokes from Belfast, a drum kit and some toys.


music is my radar

From zeros to heroes. Repeat to fade. Benny and Bjorn from the greatest pop band in the world ever talk porn soundtracks, superstardom and heartbreak with State.

The majesty of Iceland’s most ethereal sons live in New York City’s Museum of Modern Art.


Pleased to meet you General Fiasco, King Khan & The Shrines, Little Boots and BLK JKS; can Montreal survive the hype? Why do American rappers make such fools of themselves? The Cult – they were good once. Pivot in conversation; & more.



that petrol emotion Sinéad Gleeson on the rise and fall of a band ahead of their time.

Of mice and men.


holidays by mistake


Overlooked by the tourist brochures, the stunning Rwanda is breaking free of its terrible recent past and looking to the future.


Your essential six-page guide to State’s favourite music festival.


david holmes Tragedy, triumph, staying at home: David Holmes finds his voice.


Your complete guide to what’s out there. Albums: CSS make an ass of themselves, Primal Scream break out the polish, and some band called U2. DVD: Real girls, real people, really bad French cinema. TV: is bigger always better? Books: Chuck Palahniuk’s latest attempt at pulp friction. Games: going to war with Bad Company.

anger management

electric picnic preview


erykah badhu Olivia Mai has an audience with the queen.


illegal art New releases by Girl Talk and Steinski throw the great sampling debate into the limelight. We hear the case for the defence.


sa dingding Beijing, New York, Dun Laoghaire: the international life of China’s biggest musical export.


John Joe Worrall does it for the kids.


state versus the summer Your track-by-track guide to this month’s free CD.


Editors: John Walshe, Phil Udell ( Art Director: Simon Roche

Editors’ letter

Publisher: Roger Woolman Assistant Editor/Web Editor: Niall Byrne ( Advertising and Marketing Manager: Alan O’Dwyer Office Assistant: Aoife McDonnell Contributors: Dan Hegarty, Tanya Sweeney, John Joe Worrall, Maia Dunphy, Saoirse Patterson, Dave Donnelly, Jennifer Gannon, Ciara O’Brien, Shane Galvin, Martin McIver, David O Mahony, Durell Connor, Ciarán Ryan, Tony Jessen, Jenna Wolf, David McLaughlin, Jeff Weiss, Kara Manning, Sinéad Gleeson, Johnnie Craig, Bobby Ahern, Cian Traynor, Louise Healy, Paul Byrne, Joe Crosby, Chris Russell, Tia Clarke, Sean Feeny, Elaine O’Neil, Shane Culloty, Pamela Halton, Paula Shields, Kate Rothwell, Hilary A. White, Darragh McCausland, Aoife McDonnell, Michael Dwyer, Patricia Danaher, Niall Crumlish, Olivia Mai, Aiden Fortune Photographers: Richard Gilligan, Lili Forberg, Marcelo Biglia, Scott ‘n’ Goulden, Zoran Orlic, Liam Sweeney, Loreana Rushe, Feargal Ward, State is published monthly by State Magazine Ltd, 4th Floor, Equity House, 16-17 Upper Ormond Quay, Dublin 7. Tel: (01) 888 0660 Email: Website: Distributed in Ireland by EM News Distribution, Clonshaugh, Dublin 5, and RMG Chart Entertainment Ltd, 2 Carriglea, Naas Road, Dublin 12, and in Northern Ireland, by EM News Distribution (NI) Ltd. ISSN 2009-0897. All materials © State Magazine 2008. All rights reserved. Reproduction of any part of the magazine without the written permission of the publishers is strictly prohibited. Although State Magazine has endeavoured to ensure that all information is correct, prices and details may be subject to change. The opinions expressed are those of the individual contributors and do not necessarily reflect the views of State Magazine Ltd.

contributor vs

Olivia Mai Dublin born, Olivia Mai lived and worked in France and Spain before returning to sharpen her teeth at Totally Dublin magazine. Now freelancing, her features appear in national broadsheets and popular culture magazines.


Sinéad Gleeson Sinéad is an Arts Journalist, radio pundit, music reviewer for The Irish Times and columnist with The Herald. Formerly of The Sigla Blog, she now interviews bands over at http://musicalrooms.

The idea for the first State CD begin life at last month’s Oxegen, when we were struck not only by the number of Irish bands playing over the weekend, but by the quality and diversity of what was on offer. That the home scene is in a healthy state should come as no surprise, yet it was still striking to see it gathered in one place. Which is what we have done, with 16 tracks that range from the confrontational pop of Fight Like Apes to the elegant electro of Halfset and the youthful genius of Heathers. We’re also proud to say that the majority of the bands have been featured in these pages already, marking us as the place to go for both the international and national stories. Enjoy. As for our cover story, well you don’t get many bands more iconic than Abba. Meeting the twin keepers of the flame, Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus, in London, Paul Byrne hears how they went from a chance meeting in a hotel car park to global superstars, followed by a prolonged period in the wilderness. That they are now as popular as they ever were, perhaps even more, is a tribute to the fact that they have written some of the finest pop music of the age. It was exactly the kind of story that we envisaged for State when we began this and it heralds a similarly on-the-button issue. Over the next 96 pages, you will find a wealth of music from all over the world, from North Africa to China, Iceland to Belfast, presented, not because it ticks some sort of box, but because these are the bands and artists you simply need to know and read about. Given the month that’s in it, we bring you a healthy dose of Electric Picnic-related coverage – Sigur Rós live in New York, interviews with the extraordinary Tinariwen, Oppenheimer, David Holmes, Tindersticks and That Petrol Emotion, plus our detailed coverage of who to look out for at the festival. Away from Stradbally and all its delights, we bring you the most famous pop star you’ve never heard in the shape of China’s Sa Dingding, the majesty of Erykah Badu and an article on the sample-based Illegal Art label (home to Girl Talk) so good that you’ll want to cut and paste it for yourselves. As is now customary, Incoming offers you an introduction to the best new acts around and a critical eye on what has gone before. You also get an inside view on the city of Montreal, the nightmare of flying halfway round the world to interview Creed and the nonsense of US hip-hop. Over and out: see you on September 4. ~ John Walshe and Phil Udell

Rock, paper or scissors? Paper

Rock, paper or scissors? Paper

Result: Draw (yawn)


State Editors

my inspiration Tom Waits

You’re a weak little pony, Jim to pull big men like us Dylan Thomas A Visit To Grandpa’s

Photography by Anton Corbijn ‘A Visit To Grandpa’s’ by Dylan Thomas, from Miscellany Two, published by J.M. Dent & Sons Ltd., London, 1966 Copyright © 1937, 1945, 1955, 1956, 1962, 1965, 1966, 1967, 1971, 1977 The Trustees for the Copyrights of Dylan Thomas.



Ease Yourself In

they might be giants:

King Khan & The Shrines

Sometimes all you need to know about a band is their names (sometimes just a press photo – A.D.). So please say hello to King Khan and his cohorts Mr Speedfinger, Dream Jeans, Boom Boom Jennes and, of course, Big Fred Roller on big sax. There are more but we only have 96 pages to play with. It may come as no 50 words on…

surprise that the Berlin 10-piece deal in garage rock and psychedelic soul. There’s also a two-man, doo-wop and punk side project called King Khan & The BBQ Show. Like we said... all you need to know. Listen: ”Welfare Bread’ (What Is It?, Hazlewood Vinyl Plastics) Click:

come in your time’s up: (just the) one time...?

Oxegen It may have taken a while, but this was the year Oxegen got it right at last. Big, big names, nicely balanced by the up and coming and the odd (in the case of Aphex Twin, very odd) curveball. If only they could just do something about those GAA jerseys...


When Lauryn Hill released her debut solo album 10 years ago, she looked set for a long career of superstardom, both on her own and with The Fugees. How wrong we were. It would be four years until she would make what even approached a follow-up in the shape of the half formed MTV Unplugged 2.0 album. Since then, she has withdrawn nearly completely, telling Esscene magazine that she “had to step away when I realised that for the sake of the machine, I was being way too compromised. I felt uncomfortable about having to smile in someone’s face when I really didn’t like them or even know them well enough to like them.” A Fugees reunion in 2004 promised some sort of

return, although this spluttered to a halt as Pras admitted that Ms. Hill had “some things she needs to deal with”. The silence has since been broken only once, as her website excitedly reported last year that she had contributed a (frankly poor) track to the kids movie Surf ’s Up. Whether that will be her swansong is anybody’s guess.

oxegen by kyran o’brien

Lauryn Hill

Incoming dave donnelly

Pivot’s Star Turn “We actually considered changing our name, but alas, every MC and band alive has a MySpace so it was difficult to find one we actually liked before our first single came out,” Pivot’s Dave Miller tells State. The rapid ascent of the Aussie instrumental rock trio, ignited by their signing to the can-do-no-wrong electronic hub Warp Records earlier this year, belies a history that stretches back almost a decade, encapsulating two very different line-ups. Formed as a five-piece by brothers Laurence and Richard Pike, drummer and guitarist respectively, in Sydney in 1999, Pivot released their debut LP Make Me Love You six years later on the Sensory Projects label. While the album was warmly received, inviting favourable comparisons with recent State stars Tortoise, the line-up soon fractured under the weight of creative differences. With the entire project teetering on the brink of collapse, destiny intervened in an unlikely form. Invited to perform an impromptu collaboration at a cultural event in Sydney’s Opera House, Laurence and Perth electronic artist Dave were originally scheduled as part of a threepiece with a trumpeter. When the brass

man was forced to cancel at the last moment, Richard Pike stepped into the breach. When five became two shortly afterwards, a whole new Pivot was born. As Miller explains, “most tracks came from loops/half tracks/ideas of mine; I’d send them over to the Pikes in Australia, and they would overdub, structure and record things using that as the impetus.” Pivot make their Warp Records bow on August 17 with the release of O Soundtrack My Heart. “It’s rock music, heavily influenced by electronica and synthesizer music,” he notes. “We like a huge variety of music: we digest it, and

spit it out in a variety of ways. I think we have slightly short attention spans as well, so things chop and change. We also like songs.” Recent single ‘In The Blood’ and album highlight ‘Sweet Memory’ are razor-sharp slices of bangin’, jump-outthe-speakers electro funk that highlight the skills of Richard Pike, while the trippy, atmospheric slow burner ‘Love Like This’ sees Miller and Laurence Pike trade telepathically off one another. They’ve been mentioned alongside noted influences Autechre and have toured with recent Warp success story Battles, with whom they were also initially compared “but those comparisons have stopped since people have started seeing us live and actually listening to the record”. Pivot make their debut appearance in Ireland at the end of this month at Electric Picnic in Stradbally, and Dave will be eager to check out the competition. “Grinderman. My Bloody Valentine. Dan Deacon. The Roots. DMZ. It looks like it going to be big!” O Soundtrack My Heart suggests it may not be the only mass of electronic sounds to raise eyebrows across Europe this summer.

the departed:

Ministry After 27 years, 12 albums and what we estimate at 44 members, the great Ministry adventure finally came to an end in Dublin last month with the final two shows of their C-U-La Tour bringing the curtain down on their career. Formed by the ever-present Al Jourgensen in 1981, the band moved from a synth pop sound into dark and twisted industrial that would leave them hugely influential but in the commercial wasteland. 1991’s Psalm 69 and their subsequent show stealing Lollapalooza slot threatened to propel them towards the mainstream at least, before they became derailed by problems with the law and the drugs. With side projects including the mighty Revolting Cocks (we still have our KY Jelly pack of their ‘D’Ya Think I’m Sexy’ single somewhere), Ministry was more a concept from the recesses of Jourgensen’s mind than a band, but at least they left us as they had always been: loud, scary and playing from behind a cage.


Incoming they might be giants:

General Fiasco <h[[ jWba j[nj \eh b_\[ CWa[ j^[ ceij e\ dem

Z^ c Vi W

\ V

G : @ I6A

> i Éh

\ gZ

Another product of Belfast’s Oh Yeah Centre, General Fiasco have been in existence for barely over a year, having made their debut at the 2007 Glasgowbury Festival. In that short space of time, however, they have racked up a series of big name supports, attracted the ear of the increasingly Irelandfriendly Steve Lamacq and ventured down south for an impressive Oxegen slot last month. Currently awaiting their A level results, expect their tight, power pop to make it into single form later in the year. Listen: ‘Something Sometime’ Click: See: Belsonic Festival, Belfast, August 14

50 words on…

Jo Whiley

Kf ^\k ]i\\ Mf[X]fe\ ZXccj k\okj j\e[ =I<< kf ,'))) Y\]fi\ *'k_ J\gk )''/ Xe[ pflÊcc Y\ j`^e\[ lg kf Mf[X]fe\ 8[mXekX^\ Gclj% Kfg lg f] Ð)' `e fe\ ^f i\hl`i\[ kf ^\k ]i\\ ZXccj k\okj ]fi *' [Xpj% 8ggc`\j kf Mf[X]fe\ IF@ ZXccj k\okj fecp% <oZcl[\j ifXd`e^% =X`i lj\ gfc`Zp Xggc`\j% J\\ nnn%mf[X]fe\%`\ ]fi [\kX`cj%


The indie queen that’s made us go all Shakin’ Stevens at the knees is happily married and pregnant again. State is finally prepared to admit our chance is gone. A mate once tried to chat her up with the line “Jayne Middlemiss is shite compared to you”. She is too.

Incoming my roots are showing: martin mciver

The Cult Ekh X[ij [l[h jWba j[nj e\\[h =[j \h[[ YWbbi WdZ j[nji je [l[hoed[ ed LeZW\ed[ \eh b_\[ m^[d oek jef kf Xo Ï(& W cedj^ Je i_]d kf i[dZ <H;; je +&((( As a 16-year-old catching the tail-end of an erratic, transitional electro hip-hop scene, I was your average trainer junky, haplessly coerced by Run DMC, Melle Mel and the like. My first gig experience came when a friend’s brother had a spare ticket to see The Cult. A recent name change from Death Cult filled my heart with dread and my mouth with lies about who I was actually going to see, but the excitement of my first official gig was irresistible: musical taste discarded, I ran at it. I can still recall the smell of booze, sweat, joss sticks and strawberry oil in which every pseudo punk /goth was immersed, as I got my first glimpse of Billy Duffy’s iconic 1964 white Gretsch Falcon guitar. Weeks later, DMs replaced trainers, a dad’s leather jacket was ruined, Tippexing ‘The Cult’ all over it, John Peel was god: I’d found rock and all its musical cousins. For the next year, I scoured all music press for the merest mention of my newfound heroes, even reading them in the newsagent and secretly ripping out any Cult orientated snippets for my bedroom collage...’the wall of rock’. Second album Love broke the band, producing ‘all time classic’ lead single ‘She Sells Sanctuary’, and millions of pretenders enlisted to The Cult’s goth-rock cause. The Cult were becoming ‘my precious’. Third album Electric, produced by Def Jam’s iconic dischelmer Rick Rubin, dealt me a musical sucker-punch of epic proportions. Rubin literally raped their existing sound back into the Stone Age, producing a record so raw that on arrival to my senses, it devastated and deluded my impressionable heart. The band had obviously ran through a second-hand denim store covered in glue, whilst Astbury only stopped his ‘jean sprint’ to change his name to ‘Wolfchild’ and declare his love for all things metal! Initially, this to me was a coup d’état of almost comic betrayal. Still, after real tears and my only ever ‘musical soul searching’ (a day that saw me give away my prized Billy Duffy autographed jacket to my then girlfriend and then dump her hours later for losing it), my obsession with The Cult emerged intact, as it has ever since. The Cult have consistently messed with me, frustratingly letting me down, winning me back over, destroying, then resurrecting my faith with every opus. But I will always find forgiveness. The Cult changed my life, and I continue to stalk theirs.

CWa[ j^[ ceij e\ dem

Kf ^\k ]i\\ Mf[X]fe\ ZXccj k\okj j\e[ =I<< kf ,'))) Y\]fi\ *'k_ J\gk )''/ Xe[ pflÊcc Y\ j`^e\[ lg kf Mf[X]fe\ 8[mXekX^\ Gclj% Kfg lg f] Ð)' `e fe\ ^f i\hl`i\[ kf ^\k ]i\\ ZXccj k\okj ]fi *' [Xpj% 8ggc`\j kf Mf[X]fe\ IF@ ZXccj k\okj fecp% <oZcl[\j ifXd`e^% =X`i lj\ gfc`Zp Xggc`\j% J\\ nnn%mf[X]fe\%`\ ]fi [\kX`cj%


Incoming from our foreign correspondent: Sean Michaels in


Montreal’s not over. It’s four years since Arcade Fire’s Funeral, five since the Unicorns’ Who Will Cut Our Hair When We’re Gone, and more than a decade since Godspeed You! Black Emperor swaggered darkly into the world. But while cities’ musical halflives tend to be measured in seasons, not decades, indie rock is alive and well in this city of summers and snows. It wasn’t always this way. There’s an alchemy to Montreal’s musical wealth, equal parts magic and math. At the end of the ‘90s, the city was mired in a recession that was both economic and cultural. A resurgent Quebec sovereignty movement had scared away many businesses and English-speakers, and though its terrasses remained full in summertime, its coffeeshops packed in winter, Montreal was not known for its artistic fireworks. Dance music and jam-bands reigned, and foreign groups often didn’t play here, choosing Toronto or Vancouver as their sole Canadian dates. Of course there are benefits to cheap rent, and maybe even to low expectations. Quietly, in Montreal’s rundown Mile End neighbourhood, a gang of kids began to play music that was very loud. Nobody would have predicted that apocalyptic, orchestral folk-rock would be the international underground’s next big thing, but suddenly Godspeed You! Black Emperor were everywhere. They toured Europe to rave reviews, played the All Tomorrows Parties-inspiring Bowlie


Weekender, soundtracked ten thousand instances of break-up and thunderstorm and sex. And then they opened a venue. Or at least one of them did. In 2000, bassist Mauro Pezzente and his wife Kiva Stimac launched Casa del Popolo , an intimate, 100-person venue, dedicated to art, music and cheap beer. Casa was both a showcase and a beacon. Montreal artists now had somewhere to play, and with the help of audacious promoters Blue Skies Turn Black, out-of-towners began to flock as well. Godspeed’s Efrim Menuck and Thierry Amar (both now of Silver Mt. Zion) joined with sound engineer Howard Bilerman to create the Hotel2Tango recording studio, named for the building’s Mile End postal code. Now Montreal’s underground didn’t just have a stage: it had a place to record. These are the things that give the

50 words on…

Counter Propaganda As the boundaries between entertainment sources continue to blur, Ireland streetwear label Counter Propaganda have teamed up with The Infomatics to design a T-shirt for each track on their new single. Launching at BT2 in Dublin on August 14, the struggle to reach the people just took a new turn.

city its musical vitality: shared spaces for like-minded artists. It’s Montreal’s dozens of small, inexpensive venues and studios that have laid the groundwork for the Arcade Fires, Wolf Parades, Stars, Chromeos and Miracle Fortresses. Or for the city’s next wave of wonders, acts like The Luyas, Sister Suvi, Orillia Opry, Adam & The Amethysts, Clues. If you want to turn a place into Montreal, give the community small places to gather: give the artists a reason to come. And that, of course, is what makes a scene vulnerable. Because although we can make our rackets outside, lighting bonfires by the train-tracks, the city can close venues. The past year has seen a spate of licensing crack-downs, with a view to centralising Montreal’s nightlife into a multi-million-dollar Quartier des Spectacles downtown. Reclaimed spaces like the old, breathtaking Ukrainian Federation building, the site for recent shows by Grizzly Bear, Joanna Newsom, Final Fantasy, have been forbidden from staging further gigs. The Main Hall is all but closed, and dancing banned at the Green Room. Even Casa is under new scrutiny, its liquor licence replaced with a restaurant licence that forces patrons to buy food with their pints. There’s a tremor running through the whole community: the sense that a storm might be looming, the city’s cultural leaders pitted against the ones with the official titles. No, Montreal’s not over. But if it’s not careful, this too shall pass.

Where bands, festivals, venues and fans broadcast their Music TV on the web

WWW.MUZU.TV Check out State Magazine's Channel

Incoming my favourite worst nightmare: michael dwyer


I confess. I hadn’t heard a Creed song before I accepted the free flight to Washington DC. By virtue of nearly 10 million albums sold in 2000 alone, I guessed they were among the top 10 most horrible bands in America, but it wasn’t until I stopped by a CD store en route to the hotel that I realised I’d made a deal with Satan himself. The soft metal bombast was irritating. The evangelical Christian overtones were unsettling. Singer Scott Stapp’s Jim Morrison schtick was tasteless and his tone of perpetual anguish – imagine Eddie Vedder, Bono and Michael Bolton sobbing in time at a breast-beating convention – was nauseating. But nothing quite prepared me for the 10,000 Creed fans mustering along the highway as my chauffeured car neared the end of a long journey, deep into some forested corner of Maryland. As a tide of flannel and denim engulfed the car, they looked to me like pre-zombie extras in Nightmare At Bible College II. But hey, it was just another job. I


had this getaway ride sorted. I had my tape recorder and the name of the road manager. I’d get backstage, let Stapp talk his leather pants off for 30 minutes, help myself to the rider, then endure just enough of the show to write a decent story. Then I had a weekend in DC, thanks to Sony Australia. Sweet. My first truly sickening moment was watching my car burn rubber and vanish at the drop-off point. The second was when I met the aforementioned road manager. “So you’re from Australia?” he asked in a tone uncomfortably close to contempt. “Man, you guys hated us last time we were out there.” What? I’d only hated them for a few hours! But the die had been cast. Scott Stapp would not be gracing my Australian arse with his presence. Guitarist Mark Tremonti would do the interview. Stifling a “Mark who?”, I was thrust into a peagreen dressing room with two plastic chairs and a tub of ice filled with a famous American soft drink. No beer. Nobeernobeernobeernobeerno . . .

Tremonti was a nice enough guy, though he was hard to hear over the din greeting a suitably diabolical warm-up band, 3 Doors Down. I remarked that the reception sounded curiously wholesome, quite unlike your average snotty, profane mosh of the new century. “Yeah, I think it’s cool to step into the rock’n’roll scene and be different, not to be somebody that’s here to spread the ‘let’s break stuff’ sort of attitude,” Tremonti replied. “I think that’s one thing that’s different about Creed. We’re very normal, your next-door-neighbour kinda band.” No fooling. I told him about the array of normal t-shirts I’d seen punters wearing on the way up the highway: more along the lines of ‘Have A Nice Day’ than ‘Rage Against The Machine’. “Yeah, everybody’s one big, loving family,” he said. “It’s like a Grateful Dead concert, but modern.” Like, without the dope? “Yeah, without the dope. Our fans are very intelligent. They read into all the lyrics and they know exactly what they are. They’re very into the band. It’s like a cult, kinda thing. It’s like a David Koresh concert, you know?” The glib comparison to the controversially deceased Waco Davidians’ sect leader would have been the most surreal moment of the day were it not for what happened shortly after I left the comically named ‘Creed hospitality area’. Not wishing to miss a beat of the show, I gave the long lavatory queue a miss and ducked instead into the darkness behind some bushes. Perhaps this is a heathen Australian custom. But the palpable disgust of the Howard County policemen who escorted me from the premises was nearly enough to make me piss myself. The good news was that I never heard a note of the Creed show. The bad news? No car, no phone, no story – and man, I still needed to pee. See, I hadn’t quite managed to unleash the offending article before being apprehended by the Maryland constabulary. Which probably made me the only man in America who felt more like Jim Morrison than Scott Stapp did.

Incoming average white band: not awful, just ordinary






Born from the dubious Britpop legacy of Noelrock, where all ordinary white guitar bands were treated like the Second Coming, whose musical output had two speeds, plod and mid-tempo plod, most of Doves’ contemporaries had their day in the sun and were then rightfully tossed into obscurity, but the bearded Mancunians somehow clung to their guitars and weathered the storm, picking up a Mercury Prize nomination, number one albums and hit singles along the way. Their mind-boggling success boils down to their permanent place in the Indie Second Division league along with the faceless Elbow‌ they are the unchallenging, non threatening, middle-of the-road “honestâ€? guitar band for people who have given up on music and its rapid pace for the fanciful image conscious. Doves’ audience are made up of people who’ve dropped out of the race, for people who want the quiet life of the predictable and the solid. Therefore, they may not ďŹ ll stadiums and give good soundbite, like your Coldplays and your U2s, but they have an established, loyal audience who will buy all their albums: as dependable and innocuous as a pair of socks. Doves appeal to people who buy compilations instead of albums, compilations based on mundane tasks such as driving, or hoovering‌ the kickabout dads who remember the glory days of the ‘Roses and can still punch the air at the appropriate musical climax with the best of them. However, they rarely get the chance to perform such an act when listening to Doves, whose musical output is akin to a catatonic yawn. Never has the concept of fear been rendered so dull and less foreboding as when singer Jez Williams drones into your ear-holes about “coming downâ€? and the aforementioned “feaaaarrrrrrâ€? with all the passion of a drowsy student faced with the prospect of double Maths on a Wednesday afternoon. It’s hard to believe that they are the same people responsible for the divine dance oor classic ‘Ain’t No Love (Ain’t No Use)’, the same band who’s ďŹ nest hour was managing to suck all the verve and shimmy from the legendary Motown stomper ‘Heatwave’ by turning it into a monotonous lumbering back-beat to their single ‘Black And White Town’. Unfortunately, this telling sample seems to be about as radical and experimental as the band will ever get, trapped in their successful workman-like form, soundtracking Sunday pub lunches, and never breaking free to compete with the big boys.



"%7"/$& 5*$,&54 "7"*-"#-& '30. 888 5*$,&54 *& 5)& #6550/ '"$503: '03.&3-: 5&.1-& #"3 .64*$ $&/53& $637&% 453&&5 %6#-*/ %0034 1.


Incoming jeff weiss

The Rapper Always Blings Twice earth for the oughts, they could reasonably ascertain the depth of hip-hop’s hair metal excess by watching the Miami contingent perform during this year’s BET (Black Entertainment) Awards. Rick Ross, Florida, T-Pain and peg-legged hype-man(atee) DJ Khaled, used a clichéd but apt circus motif to unwittingly illustrate the emphasis on spectacle above substance and style over being sentient; the sort of maxed-out, oblivious detour that both the genre and the nation have been on ever since a similarly swaggering ex-Texas oilman stumbled into the Oval Office. In the five minutes of the aforementioned Miami medley, viewers were treated to the sight of midgets breathing fire, dancing strippers on stilts, creepy clowns, pink unicorns, and glittering disco balls. T-Pain, pop music’s current overlord, rocked a suit of shiny silver sparkles that made him look like a cross between a Happy Hardcore Candy Raver

and The Wizard of Oz. For sheer entertainment value, few productions on earth can match the Awards’ high-octane fervour, as year-inand-year-out BET consistently draws every bold-faced name in contemporary urban music. From Kanye West, who aided hack crack-rapper Young Jeezy in a performance of hit single ‘Put It On’, to a shirtless Nelly,

100 albums to avoid before you die No. 6 Metallica: Metallica (The Black Album) (vertigo)

Oh, how the mighty have eaten. Once the leanest, tightest and most exciting metal band in the universe, Metallica’s first album of the ‘90s was a big, bloated bag of blubber. James Hetfield, Kirk Hammett, Lars Ulrich and Cliff Burton (and latterly Jason Newstead, following Burton’s tragic death in 1986) had proved themselves the most vital metal band of the ’80s, with the stunning quartet of Kill ‘Em All, Ride The Lightning, Master Of Puppets and And Justice For All. The Black


Album, however, saw Metallica swallow their own hype. Where previously, we had the ferocious ‘Whiplash’, the monumental ‘Seek And Destroy’, the bludgeoning of ‘Battery’ and the (literally) biblical rage of ‘Creeping Death’, now we were left with the inspiration-less ‘Wherever I May Roam’, the execrable ‘Of Wolf And Man’ and the godawful ‘Through The Never’. Only ‘Enter Sandman’ and the ballad ‘Nothing Else Matters’ hinted at past glories. Metallica had ballooned into the very swollen rawk behemoths they had been the antithesis of just a few short years before. Sad, but true. Don’t download: ‘Of Wolf And Man’ If you hate this, don’t listen to: Iron Maiden’s Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son, Megadeth’s Youthanasia, anything by Helloween.

who ostensibly hoped that showcasing his buff physique would cause fans to forget that his latest single, ‘Don’t Step on My J’s’ stole both its title and hook from a regional St. Louis club hit from earlier in the decade. Usher dropped in to lip-sync ‘Love In This Club’ and re-affirm to the audience that the hundreds of millions he has stashed in the bank haven’t quelled his desire to engage in unsanitary and possibly nefarious nightclub fornication. While Lil Wayne closed out the show, in full victory lap mode, after selling a million copies of overrated opus, Tha Carter III, the week prior. Of course, not everything was an empty-calorie, sugar rush. An Al Green tribute, featuring Maxwell, Anthony Hamilton and Jill Scott, featured a denouement from the 62-year old Reverend, who taught the whipper-snappers a thing or two about performance, cooing goose bump-inducing renditions of ‘Love And Happiness’ and ‘Let’s Stay Together’. Meanwhile, a dull but tasteful Alicia Keys set turned into a homage to the girl-groups of the ‘90s, with appearances from TLC, En Vogue and SWV. Ultimately, the BET Awards captured the maddening jumble of the state of contemporary major-label hip-hop: the desperation to sell records that has forced an entire genre to jettison any quaint 20th Century notions of art over artifice, in exchange for flashing lights, shirtless cover poses and the occasional pink unicorn. What a bunch of clowns.

frank micelotta/getty images for bet

Had Y2K neuroses and psychic premonitions of a George Bush presidency led one to wisely orbit the

Incoming they might be giants:


BOOKING 01 872 1122

Friday 22nd Aug, The Loft at Purty Kitchen Doors: 9.30pm (on stage 10.30pm)

Seu jorge Saturday 23rd Aug The Loft at Purty Kitchen

Coming on like a South African Yeasayer/ The Mars Volta combo, these Afro art-rockers from Johannesburg were noticed by tastemaker DJ Diplo when he toured the continent. An appearance on the cover of US music bible The Fader and shows at SXSW led to the recording of the Mystery EP with Brandon Curtis of The Secret Machines, who secured studio time for them at New York’s Electric Lady Studios as he was so impressed. BLK JKS assert external inuences into a unique hybrid of African dub and US psychedelic rock. By the time you read this, the band will have played their ďŹ rst Irish gig at Mantua Festival in Roscommon but we don’t expect it to be their last.

Doors: 9pm (on stage 10pm) Tickets: â‚Ź28 (incl Club)


Sunday 24th Aug, Pavilion Theatre Doors: 7.30pm (on stage 8pm) Tickets: â‚Ź29 (*â‚Ź27 concs.)

Listen: Mystery EP Click:

50 words on‌





Sleevage For the nerdy designer in you who is interested as much in the sleeve design as the music contained within, check out Sleevage, a music blog about cover art. Dissect and learn the reasoning behind the artwork, like why Beck decided not to use the above covers for Modern Guilt.

22 23 24 AUGUST



Incoming they might be giants:

Little Boots

Victoria Hesketh has found a new outlet since the hiatus of her former pop-rock band Dead Disco and it certainly involves a dancefloor. The Blackpool native was already playing banging tunes from the DJ box, and now with the help of Joe Goddard from Hot Chip, her own electro pop tunes are ready for the floor (sorry). First single ‘Stuck On Repeat’ follows the same hit-making rules as Hot Chip; repetitious, heady, helicopter synth with an Italo-disco feel. It’s Donna Summer’s ‘I Feel Love’ for 2008, basically. Hesketh is also wicked with a Tenorion, a new-fangled LED-based digital music instrument by Yamaha. Check out the video of her rocking a cover of her mentors at Listen: ‘Stuck On Repeat’ Click: littlebootsmusic

bring your daughter to the slaughter: great heavy metal lyrics of our time

50 words on…

No. 2: AC/DC “Some balls are held for charity/ And some for fancy dress/ But when they’re held for pleasure/ They’re the balls that I like best.” ‘Big Balls’ “Three fifty arrests/ No bullet proof vests/ Now ain’t that a shame/ We wanted to play/ Play for the crowd/ ‘No’, said the wankers/ ‘You’re on your way out’.” ‘Bedlam In Belgium’ “I’ll give you black sensations up and down your spine/ If you’re into evil, you’re a friend of mine/ See my white light flashing as I split the night/ ‘Cause if good’s on the left, then I’m stickin’ to the right.” ‘Hells Bells’


Phantom 105.2’s New Schedule Weekdays are changing for the better. Phantom 105.2 have announced their new morning/afternoon line-up, with Richie McCormick taking over the Pure Morning breakfast show, followed by Finest Worksongs, a two-hour music show presented by the State-approved Michelle Doherty, and Front Row, a music/magazine show with Sinéad Ní Mhorda. Magic darts.

Incoming dan hegarty

show time

Don’t Look Back In Anger

The name Oasis is synonymous with many things - Britpop, the Gallagher brothers, ‘Don’t Look Back In Anger’, hissy fits, and as Dave Fanning once called them, “The best Irish band since The Smiths!” With their seventh studio album Dig Out Your Soul due in October, I’m glad they’re releasing a new album, but I can’t say I’m expecting a classic. Ever since they set themselves the task of following up Definitely Maybe and (What’s The Story) Morning Glory, we’ve been fed the same old crap in the months leading up to the subsequent album’s release - ‘they’re back to their best with this new album’. However, what we’re delivered has never measured above moderate. During the 1990s when they were at their peak, Oasis were untouchable: the walls of their European empire had no fear of any breaches. The enormity of their success rekindled the kind of excitement that was described so passionately in books about music in the ‘60s and ‘70s: the media (and seemingly everyone else) couldn’t get enough of them. At one stage, I would have considered myself a fan: some of their songs have had a lasting impact on me. My enthusiasm and patience ran out after being overexposed to the bragging, the posturing and the constant claims of being the best band in the world. Greatness never needs to announce itself: this subtle point was lost on these blokes. Between ‘Girl Power’ and what I dubbed the ‘Oasis epidemic’, life got pretty

predictable for a while. Buskers forgot how to play old staples like ‘Losing My Religion’ and ‘The Whole Of The Moon’ (maybe I should be thankful about the second one), and pubs, clubs and everywhere else were over-run with twats telling you that they were “Mad for it”. By the time Be Here Now dragged its cellulite ass out of the studio, the band that were once proclaimed as ‘the next Beatles’ were in danger of becoming the UK’s answer to Bon Jovi. Aside from this, there were other acts around making much more interesting music: Radiohead had created Ok Computer, Beck was touring Odelay, and Sonic Youth were working on a slightly mellower sound that turned out to be A Thousand Leaves. You can argue that their post Be Here Now albums have had a few great tracks, but surely ‘the best band in the world’ can do better than this? Some say Noel Gallagher’s hunger has dissipated, others that Liam has lost his swagger: I just think that the raw energy and brilliance that Oasis had was confined to two albums. If Dig Out Your Soul turns out to a masterpiece of our time, I’ll happily stand corrected on these pages at a later date. I hope that they prove me wrong: it will only be a good thing for music. But the chances are slim. The single ‘The Shock Of The Lightning’ will be our first taste of what Oasis 2008 can come up with: let’s hope that the lightning has reignited some sort of spark. Tune into Dan Hegarty’s Alternative To Sleep on RTÉ

Kilkenny Arts Festival August 8 - 17 An impressive line-up comes to the festival, which is expanding its horizons this year under the Wired 08 banner to include Mercury Rev, Spiritualized, Lisa Hannigan, Tenpastseven, Halves and 3epkano. Go on, you know you want to see Spiritualized in a church. An Taobh Tuathail Volume 2 gigs Roisin Dubh, Galway, August 8; Liquid Lounge, Cork, August 15; Trinity Rooms, Limerick, August 22 To celebrate the release of volume two in Cian Ó Ciobháin’s compilation series, he’s taking a few acts on tour with him. Expect appearances from the one-man drum band Rarely Seen Above Ground, Somadrone, Alphamono and Cian doing a DJ set at each night.

Thecocknbullkid The Button Factory, Dublin, August 21 The next big thing? There is loads of buzz around young Londoner Anita Blay at the moment after an impressive Glastonbury performance, by all accounts. Her Irish debut at Club NME will allow us to measure her up to the hype. Neutral Milk Hotel Tribute Night The Lower Deck, Portobello, Dublin, August 23 Local talents Ben Kritikos, Reader’s Wives, Robotnik and friends join forces to pay tribute to Jeff Magnum and his band Neutral Milk Hotel. Expect a celebratory atmosphere and renditions of songs from the cult 1998 indierock album In The Aeroplane Over The Sea. Lovebox Dublin Marlay Park, Dublin, August 23 An unusual mix of acts make the line-up this year, as MCD takeover the running of this Groove Armada conceived one-day festival. NERD, Maximo Park, Paolo Nutini, Kid Creole (with his Coconuts), Sam Sparro, Plain White Ts, Leon Jean Marie and intriguingly, Gorillaz Soundsystem wih a VJ/DJ set apparently.

2fm (90 - 92fm), weeknights from midnight to 2am.


Russell Brand


Music is my Radar

Writer, comedian, movie star: Russell Brand is a lot of things. But he wishes he was a rock star. As told to Paul Byrne ~ Photography by Jude Edginton

It actually bothers me that I’m not a rock star. Look at me, I’ve certainly dressed like one for the last two decades. Actually, that’s possibly the purest form of rock’n’roll star: you’re just too lazy and disorganised to go and actually learn an instrument, go into a studio, get some songs together, put them out there, tour, promote. I’m just not interested in all that. I’ll just jump straight to the end product: rock star. That way, I can never get grief about my new stuff not being as good as my earlier albums.

Music’s always been important to me, despite the fact that I’ve worked on MTV.

jude edginton/camera press ireland

You can’t grow up and not have a soundtrack to your teenage years. And, naturally, those particular songs – because you were experiencing so many things for the first time – they’re the most important songs ever written. Ever. Even if it’s ‘The Birdie Song’, or some godawful Bryan Adams hit, you’ll have this sense memory that this song soundtracked my first snog, my first shag, and therefore, it will always have a special place in my heart. That’s why it’s so important to have a Hendrix CD, or something by Otis Redding, with you at all times when you’re a virgin. When your time finally arrives, at least you’ll have something cool to spend the rest of your life using as a tool to get you in the mood…

I can’t really say that Infant Sorrow are my current favourite band, can I? Given that they don’t really exist, but I do front them in Forgetting Sarah Marshall. You see, those people knew I’d make a good rocker, and we even made a video, for ‘We’ve Got To Do Something’. Which kinda ruins my plans never, ever to release something. I guess I can always regard this as a side project, and my real opus is this big pile of blank CDs. I’ll have to make cool covers for them, though. Maybe I’ll base each cover on a Bowie album sleeve from the ‘70s. How cool would that be?

I realise I haven’t actually answered your question yet about my favourite music. I love all the people you’d expect me to love, really. Morrissey, of course. I use ‘Last Of The International Playboys’ and ‘Sister, I’m A Poet’ for when I’m doing any readings from my incredible tome, My Booky Wook. The Beatles would have to be in there too, Syd Barret, Daniel Johnston, The Libertines, Moldy Peaches, ‘Islands In The Stream’ by Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers. All the really, really cool stuff, along with one or two naff choices, just to show I’m not a snob about these things. Russell Brand is currently working on his second book, shooting a movie with Adam Sandler, and preparing to front another Channel 4 show. When he’s not busy shagging lots of women, that is.



Sigur Rós have amassed more strained similes than any other band. Period. However, their recent show at New York’s Museum of Modern Art hints that the notoriously enigmatic quartet may be about to embrace their shiny pop hearts.

When The Ice Melts… Words by Kara Manning



‌at Electric Picnic, Aug 29-31

An electric fan, attached to a thin wire cable, sweeps across the length of the second level atrium in New York’s Museum of Modern Art in lazy, everaltering arcs. The mesmerising and vaguely next 19

threatening airborne appliance, part of MoMA’s exhibit, Take Your Time, showcasing the eclectic works of Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson, buzzes like a petulant dragonfly over the heads of patrons who are sprawled on benches or reclining on the floor, as if transported to a Hvalfjördur meadow. Others are drawn to a third floor hallway, where Eliasson’s use of monochromatic bulbs wildly mucks up your colour perception, creating an unfamiliar world painted in sepia tones, as if you’ve been dropped mid-scene into Woody Allen’s Manhattan. The visually haunting and even vertigo-inducing Eliasson installations seen by State on this breezy June evening – which also happened to be Iceland’s Independence Day, celebrating the country’s formal break from Denmark in 1944 – were accompanied by an equally enigmatic partner; the Icelandic band Sigur Rós playing a live, sold-out concert downstairs. As challenging as it is to explain the kaleidoscopic wonder of Eliasson’s 360° Room For All Colours without stumbling into starry clichés, the same can be said when lassoing the essence of Sigur Rós’ resplendent, keening and near-orchestral music. Throughout their 14-year career


Sigur Rós

and albums like Ágætis Byrjun (1999) and Takk (2005), rhapsodic and slightly daft descriptions abound when speaking about the quartet’s music, comparing it to the thrashing sea or the dense stratus clouds hovering over the volcanic terrain of Sigur Rós’ homeland. But like Eliasson’s art, there has always been something subversively urban – and lonely – lurking below the glacial ice of Sigur Rós’ songs. That is, until the release of the band’s handsome, upbeat new album Með Suð Í Eyrum Við Spilum Endalaust (With A Buzz In Our Ears, We Play Endlessly) in June. It would seem unlikely that singer/guitarist Jón Pór ‘Jónsi’ Birgisson, keyboardist Kjartan ‘Kjarri’ Sveinsson, bassist Georg Hólm and drummer Orri Páll Dýrason would care about mainstream radio or penning the perfect three-minute pop confection. But tracks like the sunny, percussive ‘Gobbledigook’ (which is a perfect 3:08 pop single) the equally robust ‘Við Spilum Endalaust’ and the thrilling, sing-a-long-if-you-know-Icelandic ‘Inní Mér Syngur Vitleysingur’ are surprisingly accessible. While the lyrics are mostly written in Icelandic or spun from the gossamer of ‘Vonlenska,’ the gibberish that Birgisson configures as an alternate vocal choice, there is even one song sung in English, ‘All Alright.’

DJ Gideon Coe of BBC Radio 6, the UK digital and online station, told State via email that while he doesn’t think Með Suð.. is a sudden gear shift for the band, it does mark a steady progression from their last album, Takk. “Hearing ‘Gobbledigook’ for the first time was quite arresting,” enthuses Coe. “This is their fifth record and if a band isn’t exploring different sounds and techniques and ways of writing and performing music by the time they get to album five, then they really should be thinking about calling it a day.” Sigur Rós have acknowledged – albeit vaguely, as is their wont – that there were crucial changes marking the evolution of Með Suð…, notably the speed of its studio execution. The album was recorded last spring in New York and London, not just in Iceland, in a fast gallop of 11 days under the guidance of UK producer Mark ‘Flood’ Ellis, who has also nudged U2, PJ Harvey and Nine Inch Nails to new sonic heights. Coe feels that a band like Sigur Rós benefited from their collaboration with a producer who challenged their well-worn recording habits. “Flood has made the sound a little simpler in places, instruments have more space to be heard,” he asserts. “This may appeal to those who may have found a

bennett raglin/wireimage



lot of the previous material overblown and even pompous. But they’ve managed to do this without losing the emotion and melody, which makes this band so special. They may well have squared the circle of expanding their appeal while not alienating their existing fan base, but there’s absolutely no indication that it was done as cynically as that may suggest.”

bennett raglin/wireimage

While interviews with Sigur Rós can disintegrate into monosyllabic shambles – the band’s notorious YouTube clip of their US interview with National Public Radio (NPR) host Luke Burbank is downright excruciating to watch – the positive energy surrounding the new album has prompted a few convivial conversations with the press. The reticent Birgisson even acquiesced to the New York Times that the recording was exciting and “almost too fast,” allowing the band to “feel like we were losing control”. The risk has seemed to pay off with what has become Sigur Rós’ highestcharting album to date. Með Suð... debuted at No. 4 on the Irish album chart, No. 5 on the UK chart, and a respectable No. 15 on the US Billboard Album Chart. At the MoMA show, the contrast

Sigur Rós

between the exuberant Með Suð... selections and the ruminative temperament of older songs was striking. Tempestuous tracks like Takk’s ‘Glósóli’ or even the elfish waltz of ‘Sé Lest,’ with its spirited brass band entrance, still adhered to the duskier corners of Sigur Rós’ repertoire. Under the watchful eye of Auguste Rodin’s sculpture of Balzac In A Frock Coat, which sat mid-stage like a bemused French Buddha, Birgisson, also elegantly cloaked, violently drew his cello bow across his Les Paul in the noisy thick of ‘Ny Batteri,’ face contorted in concentration as if casting a huldufólk spell. But the shift to ‘Vid Spilum Endalaust,’ from Með Suð…, was seismic as the song strutted into the set via Hólm’s thrumming bass line. The track’s pugnacious hook leapt into the air with brassy confidence from a real versechorus-verse structure, as if after years of finding their songs’ destinations via lichen-covered mountain passages, Sigur Rós decided to take the M50 motorway instead. The usually inscrutable Birgisson even broke into a broad smile for the first time this night and the entire band grinned back at him, bobbing their heads happily. The new and catchy ‘Inní Mér Syngur Vitleysingur’, driven by drummer Dýrason’s rollicking pace, followed on the

heels of the delicate fury of ‘Sæglópur’ and again drew attention to the quicksilver shifts between the fresh material and the older, more labyrinthine songs. A gust of confetti fell like snow over the audience during set-ender ‘Gobbledigook’. It proved an intoxicating moment, in which Sigur Rós, their brass band compadres and the women of string quartet Amiina banged on drums and vigorously clapped their hands at the crowd, while Birgisson wailed away on his acoustic guitar, cooing throughout like a deranged dove. It was an exhilarating three minutes and more gentle evidence that Sigur Rós are reaching for a balance between their dark, sea-lashed sojourns and more effervescent pop, as if suddenly Reykjavík’s own version of The Cure. No matter if it’s the polar night persona of Sigur Rós or its midnight sun counterpart, Coe believes the band are consistently compelling. “Their records sound great on the radio,” he concludes. “In the mix of other tracks [6 Music] plays, they work really well. I really like them, they make beautiful, affecting music. And some tracks are long enough to play while making a cup of tea. Of course, if they make it big, I will be dropping them like a stone.” Sigur Rós play the Electric Picnic.




Heimer Republic Words by John Joe Worrall ~ Photography by Sam Lare



Sitting in a diner in the middle of a seven-hour journey between US cities, Shaun Robinson and Rocky O’Reilly took stock. Their brief history as a band had seen ringing endorsements from Ugly Betty, Gary Lightbody and a seven yearold from Virginia; they were about to release a spanking second album full of lightning quick anthems. But in amongst all the good stuff, there was something missing. All they could think about was a packet of Tayto Cheese & Onion. “Sometimes you just get the urge,” offers Robinson. Such was life on the road for Belfast pop/electronica/ tubthumping synth and guitar fiends, Oppenheimer. Fast forward a few months and the duo’s second album , Take The Whole Midrange And Boost It, has been released to great acclaim. Shaun and Rocky, though, are angsty already and an album that is new to the outside world is old hat to them: already they’re back in the studio. “Rocky’s got a high idea that some of his songs may be rap on the new album,” says Robinson, “I highly suspect that none of it will make it there, though his alter ego may have something to say about that.” The alter ego in question is Der Papst, whose tragic-hero history consists of a deluded mind (he thinks he’s the Pope), a very minor one hit wonder (entitled ‘The Pope Loves The Twelfth’) and issues over his vocal delivery. “Yeah, he’s a German sort of… dude, he raps in English for the purposes of his UK fanbase though,” notes O’Reilly, “with somewhat of a Northern twang about him too. He could become an important artist if he hadn’t already retired. “To be honest,” interjects Robinson, “I don’t think it’s even anywhere near the calibre of ‘The Wham Rap’.” Another offshoot of the band – Doppleheimer – is also explained as “the evil German techno Oppenheimer who hate pop music”.

Sauerkraut-eating pseudonyms aside, the real Oppenheimer are enjoying a stint in the limelight with some of the finer, radio-friendly moments of Take The Whole Mid Range… (such as ‘Support Our Truths’ and ‘Look Up’) receiving sizeable airplay round these parts. O’Reilly even confesses to nodding his head to one of their tunes in HMV in Belfast the other day before realising who he was listening to and leaving hurriedly before anyone spotted him. Having only met in 2003, via the now-defunct indie outfit Torgas Valley Reds (Robinson was the drummer, O’Reilly mixed their sound live) they began writing together through having “little else to do” and were soon, in their own words “forced” into being a band. “We were never going to be a band but we got bullied by a friend into playing a gig,” explains Robinson. “He gave us a fourmonth deadline to be ready for a gig of his that he’d signed us up


…at Electric Picnic, Aug 29-31

for. At first, we thought about doing two guys with keyboards, Kraftwerk style, then two guitars, but that didn’t work either as we’re not amazing guitarists.” This led to the logic of Robinson sitting behind drums singing, while O’Reilly makes his way through a variety of synths and guitars with abandon. “The thing is, while it looks odd with me sitting at the drums, I think it gives a live power,” says Shaun. “I mean, you can go see enormous electronic acts with drum beats and I always think I’d love to see a drummer in the middle of it all.”

With those four months of writing and the first gig out of the way, they began to record their eponymous debut, Robinson arriving over at O’Reilly’s house after finishing the day job (as a teacher) and slowly working their way through hooks and melodies from Robinson’s acoustic guitar and O’Reilly’s various gadgets. A three-song demo led to deals in the US, Australia, Japan and the UK. Which led to the appearances of their tunes on US TV shows (such as the aforementioned and, let’s be honest, way past its prime, Ugly Betty). This in turn led to the release of Oppenheimer in 2006, touring across Europe and the US, the release of the layered beauty of the second album, more touring and Tayto-cravings. “Going across the US in a van, playing all those gigs and the nights out after was very inspiring,” says O’Reilly. “A lot of nights you kind of just shake your head and say ‘shit, I’m having the time of my life, how am I getting away with this?’ “I mean, we got to go to the Moog factory to hang out for fuck’s sake!,” he continues. “It’s in this little industrial estate and then there are these shitty steps at one building and a little sign saying ‘Moog Music’. You open this really normal office and then there’s this big room with 20 people all making synths. It’s incredible.” O’Reilly then begins to tell the tale of that seven-year-old from Virginia who insists her entire family go and see the band play every time they arrive in the area. “She’s this really musically talented kid and she writes poems and draws as well,” he grins. “She even drew pictures for us, which her dad printed up on their t-shirts. I think when you’re driving around the place, not eating the best, not paying your bills, meeting people like that family makes you think you’re doing something decent that people get.” With recording of the third album getting into gear, Robinson notes that he only recently took stock and was amazed that, while they were busy being swept away by the tide that started as a bedroom project five years ago, Oppenheimer have quietly become a living, breathing band. He sighs, “We’ll concentrate on the nonrap alter egos for a while yet though.” Oppenheimer play the Electric Picnic.




…at Electric Picnic, Aug 29-31

The Staples Singer Words by John Walshe ~ Photography by Richard Dumas

When Tindersticks’ seventh studio album, The Hungry Saw arrived into the State office earlier this year next 25


we were well surprised.

Five years after Waiting For The Moon, we weren’t alone in thinking that the cinematically gorgeous Nottingham outfit would never record together again. Thankfully, we were wrong. “Five years ago we’d reached a point where there was a dry space between us and we had to take a break from it,” recalls vocalist Stuart Staples, who recorded two solo albums during the band’s half-decade hiatus. “For me, I needed to find out who I was again, what I wanted: if it was music, what was it about music, what was I looking for. It’s been a gradual process.” According to Staples, the six-piece as they were had “ended up in a cycle of writing, recording and touring, and having very specific roles in the band, certain jobs. By the last album, I thought I was writing to fulfil this need for this thing to happen....” So it stopped being fun? “The fun in music comes with adventure, playfulness, new ground. If you ignore something that’s important, it will come and find you, and on touring Waiting For The Moon, it came and found us. The feeling wasn’t there between us and by the end of it, I thought ‘I’m never going to go on a stage again’.”

For Stuart, singing in Tindersticks was never about a great desire to be a frontman. Instead it was “this thing that I was desperate to get out of me”. According to the singer, when he lost that need, he was “just a guy singing songs on stage and I had lost a sense of who I was”. Thankfully, Stuart refound



his sense of self and of his band, Tindersticks, alongside longtime members David Boulter (piano, organ and accordion) and Neil Fraser (guitar). “The last five years has been about looking, talking, making things, gradually finding out who we are individually,” he continues. “For somebody like Dickon [Hinchcliffe, former member who is now a composer of film scores], I think he’s found what he needs to do is to work on film soundtracks. For myself, David and Neil, there’s something between us that we really needed to do this. But we didn’t make a decision that we were going to make a Tindersticks record. It was more about ‘let’s just get together for a weekend and see what happens’. It was good so we did it a few times, the energy grew and a real belief grew in what we were doing that we should record it, that it was important and this is what we believe a band should be, making this music.” To State’s ears, The Hungry Saw is the finest Tindersticks album since their eponymous second release back in 1995 and sounds like a creative rebirth. “Maybe a reconnection,” Staples corrects us. “When we first started playing, it felt as though we could touch our music. A certain essence of what’s important to us, what we believe in, the people we are, what we need in music, at the beginning, I was able to touch that and for myself, I got to a point where I couldn’t feel it. I didn’t know what it was about. Making this record has been about some kind of confidence, a trust in people and their ideas, giving yourself up to a moment and just not being afraid to experiment, to take things in different directions, just feeling















)'' ]i\\ dlj`Z [fnecfX[j GSPN XXX NVTJD OPLJB JF /*$& 4P




free and easy with it. There’s a new kind of playfulness and a new kind of adventure about making music.” Did his two solo albums change Stuart’s idea of the band dynamic and how that works? “Definitely,” he agrees. “One thing it really gave me a sense of is what is important. By the time we got to this album, I was ready for everybody to have an effect: the more they did, the happier I was. But also, after going through that journey of making the solo albums, which I really enjoyed – everything I’ve done has been new – but actually getting back to the point of making this record, I felt that this is where I belong, working with people who excite me, that are all pushing at something: this is where I belong, in the middle of this. It’s just nice to be in a space that feels good, after a long time. It feels like a bit of a second chance.”

So were they victims of their own success, due to the rapturous response to their first two albums? Did their success ultimately put pressure on them to enter that non-stop circle of writing, recording, touring that seemed to burn them out creatively? According to Stuart, the turning point came after their third album, when their record label, This Way Up (a subsidiary of Universal) ceased to exist, and Tindersticks suddenly found themselves dealing with the vagaries of their label’s parent company. Up until that point, the band felt very much at home with their record label. “We signed to a small record label to make the first album, because we wanted to work with those people,” he remembers. “We had almost every record label trying to sign us at that point but we just wanted to work with these people: we had a lot of respect for them. They asked us how much money we wanted and we didn’t need money at the time: we were all working and we just wanted to make an album. So we signed for almost nothing and it shocked everybody. But for us, we made this album, it cost nothing [to make] and it sold. Nobody could tell us what to do. We just did exactly what we wanted to do and it worked. So when we made the second album, we made it with totally that spirit again.” However, when This Way Up went that way down, Tindersticks found themselves renegotiating their deal. “By that point, we were all full-time musicians, so we needed an advance to pay for everybody to do stuff. Before you know it, it’s like a job. That’s why I trust those first two albums because nothing affected them: they’re very pure records. I’m not saying that this album is the same, but there is a freedom to it. It’s in this space and time that’s not really affected by anything: it’s just, ‘this is what we need to do, get rid of everything and just do this’.”

It has been noted that the band’s creative ‘reconnection’ was kindled in London’s Barbican Centre in September, 2006, where they played their entire second album, alongside a string and brass section. Did it bring a sense of closure to what had gone before? “Yeah, but in a nice way,” Stuart opines. “We were playing our second album, which I think to all of us was our most creative time between the six of us, so it was really nice to revisit that and to be together again. Along with that, it was almost as if we were never going to make this music again with this kind of vibrancy



between the six of us. I think it provided us with a space to move on from. It was like closing a chapter, I suppose. It was tinged with sadness but we played great and there was a really great feeling in the room.” Indeed, Stuart remains in contact with all the former Tindersticks members and doesn’t rule out working together again. “Not at all,” he muses. “It’s about getting into the right space. If that was possible, I’d be really open to it. I think the feeling that came from that Barbican gig was that at this moment in time, this isn’t possible. People can think differently about something, and it’s really important for a group to think differently about an idea or a song, but everybody has to want the same thing for it, and if you haven’t got that feeling between you, it’s not something I could embrace, really. I’ve always thought about Tindersticks as being a progressive band. With the last album, Waiting For The Moon, maybe I lost that feeling. It’s always been about looking for new ways of doing things. I think I felt that in the room when we were making The Hungry Saw.” So what is The Hungry Saw of the title? “’The Hungry Saw’ is the song I had the most fun writing on the record. It’s about being here now, the need to make things: that’s the thing that drives me and David, the need to express something. With that creativity, the other side of it is that it brings a destructiveness, a kind of restlessness that once I’ve made something, I want to break it down and almost make it into pieces. With the song, and the sleeve, I was able to enjoy romanticising the destructive side of it. It’s almost one of the most serene moments on the record, that feeling of destruction, loving that moment. I think that’s what The Hungry Saw is, moving backwards and forwards through something.”

The album’s stunning artwork is actually scratched into the wall of Stuart’s house in France, where the album was recorded (“when you’re giving three coats of varnish to a hundred square metres, it gives you a chance to dream about when this is done”). “I had this idea and over a period of a month, I was looking at this spot on the kitchen wall where I knew it was going to happen,” he grins. “Then it got to the point where the record company were saying ‘we really gotta have the artwork’, so I got up one morning and started experimenting. Then, a day and a half later of standing on a stool with a screwdriver, I finished the sleeve. After I finished it, my hand was like a claw for two days.” Is it a permanent fixture on the kitchen wall? “We’re trying to figure out what to do about it,” he smiles. “Our house in France is about 300 years old and nobody’s done any work on it in around 40 years so it’s kind of... grim. But gradually, it’s growing around us. So we were wondering what to do with this part of the kitchen wall. I think we’re going to frame it and renovate around it,” he laughs. “Suzanne, my wife, is a painter, so it’s good when we’re both working. It’s a good sign for the house when we’re together, scratching at walls, experimenting.” What about when the kids walk in and their dad is deconstructing the wall with a screwdriver? “My daughter will have a definite opinion about it, whether it’s good or bad,” he laughs, “but my son will just walk in and shake his head.” Tindersticks play the Electric Picnic.


s g n i le W


Litotdtime John Go

Upstairs@Whelans 8pm August 13 | Tickets €10

(plus booking fee)

Tickets : WAV ( Lo-call 1890 200 078) | City Discs | | Road Records

+ guests: woodpigeon & Guests Moutpiece

21/08/08 FOREVER










Circuit Breakers

…at Electric Picnic, Aug 29-31

Words by Phil Udell

Spoonful Of Sugar Bodytonic have grown from organising parties for mates into one of the most innovative music promoters in the country. who’d had it so good for 10 years were able to react. We started playing in pubs to 20 of our mates.”

With an approach reminiscent of the hugely influential Heavenly

Sitting in the front bar of his own pub, a set of busy offices upstairs, one wanted to be a DJ,” he admits. “It seemed could forgive Bodytonic’s founder Trevor O’Shea a moment of quiet satisfaction. He has overseen the growth of his organisation into one of Dublin’s main players of any genre. Its roots, however, where not so auspicious. “It started in Meath five or six years ago,” he remembers, “running clubs in every little town we could find. It failed miserably. I don’t think what we do could work in anywhere without a high population. I realised that it was a waste of time and moved to Dublin. I was working in The Kitchen nightclub and getting into the scene: that was how it all really started.” Did he feel that there was a gap in the Dublin clubbing scene that needed plugging? “Looking back, there probably was something wrong but at the time, I just


like the scene was sewn up, but pretty healthy at its peak. It’s always the same, though: if you sail too close to the sun, you become Icarus. It really just started because I wanted to play more and was reading in magazines about people who had started their own nights up, their own labels. The punk DIY ethos was a large part of that. Looking back on it, Dublin clubbing was in a serious bind and it was the exact wrong time to do it.” How come? “Late bars had a big effect,” he says firmly, ignoring the continually ringing phones in the background. “Clubs thrived on the fact that they were the only place where you could find a DJ who was the centre of attention. Suddenly all these late bars had DJs – Billy Scurry, Johnny Moy – and it took that away. The dance scene in general started to suffer and the guys

Social, Bodytonic set out on a mission to change things, one step at a time. “Across all types of music, that pattern developed. You start something small for a bunch of mates,” agrees Trevor. “It took a year for people to really get it, I guess. We ran beach parties, roof-top parties, parties on boats. People could see we were trying something different. It was about doing our own thing and if people notice you, it’s a good thing. At the time, it was totally miserable but it was probably the best thing that ever happened to us.” They still do the odd one-off, even though Bodytonic is far more legit. “They are a headache,” he smiles, “but you do them because it’s fun and because I’m always wary of getting into a trap. We have Pogo, which is our version of the superclub, and is great, but we still need to do things that make us realise what we’re about. We just did a warehouse party on the Quays which got shut down early but was an adventure. We’re always planning. There’s always going to be an appetite for doing something different. If it’s exciting and different, then there will always be an appetite for it. There could be a school of thought that we’re in a similar situation that we were five years ago.” But Bodytonic has come a long way since those early days, building through a series of regular nights to the point where it can attract the biggest names in the business, although Trevor sees keeping the balance as key. “It can be quite addictive to book the big acts and people do talk about it if you have Laurent Garnier or DJ Yoda coming in, but we do try and keep what we do based here,” he asserts. “I love booking

Village People What to expect at The Bodytonic Village at this year’s Electric Picnic. The Bodytonic Village at Electric Picnic incorporates three different tents, each one promising “that small cozy intimate vibe we know and love”. With a mainly Irish line-up, the Bodytonic people reckon they’re gonna be tipping their cap to the best clubs, DJs and live acts from across the country. Bodytonic Main Stage A 2,000 capacity tent, the Bodytonic Main Stage will host the majority of the international names featured on their bill. Visuals will be run by the Digitonic Crew, plus some artists the acts themselves will bring over especially for the festival. This year marks a dubstep debut, with Benga making an appearance, as well as a 20+ piece Samba band, a really special ‘20 years of Fish Go Deep’ party on the Friday and a techno showstopper with Rob Hood on the Saturday.

acts but it doesn’t give me the same satisfaction that it would if one of our own guys made it big abroad. The big names come in, go out, they’re gone. That’s it.”

Far more than just standard club promoters, Bodytonic now oversee a range of nights, a record label, graffiti art projects and a website, all from the upstairs offices of their Bernard Shaw pub in Dublin’s Portobello. Was that always part of the plan? “It was and it wasn’t,” Trevor muses. “We were always ambitious, but I couldn’t put a definite thing on what that ambition was. I never would have thought we’d be running a pub. I want people to be producing as much as possible, whether it be writing or making a tune or working on decor for a party. That’s making a statement on what we’re about, rather than just a depot for acts coming in and out. This and the website are things that we have 100% control over. At festivals or clubs, we don’t, but with this and the label, we do. The pub is good but upstairs is where it’s all happening.” Bodytonic’s latest venture is hosting their own village at The Electric Picnic, which for Trevor is a logical step. “Ever since it started, we were the underdogs of the festival, and quite

rightly so in my opinion,” he notes. “In year one, we were this little tent in the corner but it was rammed. We were just a dance tent, getting bigger each time, but this year we’re doing a whole village. We hope to showcase what we actually do, where people thought we were just a bunch of ravers, which essentially we are. Something like the Electric Picnic appeals far more than Creamfields or Planet Love: it just wouldn’t make sense there.” Finally, he can ignore the ringing phones no longer and rises to leave. “In the ‘90s, there was the idea that you had to belong to one tribe or another. Everything was a micro-genre,” he sums up. “These days, people go out of their way to tell you that they listen to a bit of everything. Being part of a festival that reflects that gives us a freedom.”

The Bernard Shaw This should have the same hedonistic vibe as their pub of the same name in Portobello, Dublin. What to expect? Scribble, Antics, bands, art, exhibitions, graffiti, Thumped. com, a mental all-day Sunday disco-funk session. “Overall, it will be messy, dirty and sweaty, and the toilets probably won’t work. Perfect BS vibe”: and that’s according to their website. The Twisted Pepper The Twisted Pepper will feature a varied combination of reggae, dubstep, techno, breaks, Miami bass, drum ‘n’ bass, world beats & hip-hop. Toddla T and Red Shape might not be familiar names as yet, but give it six months and you’ll be wishing you’d seen them.





…at Electric Picnic, Aug 29-31

Out Of Africa Words by Olivia Mai ~ Photography by Feargal Ward

When tarmac turns to dirt track, and dirt track turns to desert, Tinariwen know they are almost home. Across interminable sand and scrub, 1,700km from the Malian capital Bamako, and 400km to the Algerian border, lies the isolated city of Kidal. Known as the gateway to the Sahara, this is where Tinariwen call home. In their songs they call the area “Tamesna”, referring to the vast North African territory that spans Mali, Niger and Algeria. For Tinariwen are Tuaregs, a nomadic, tribal people who have roamed the Sahara Desert since their ancient forefathers, the Berbers. They are also one of the most popular bands to come out of Africa in recent years. Before they first came to Europe as a group in 2001, Tinariwen had already existed for well over 20 years, mostly by a musical grapevine. In a territory about the size of Wales, where people are widely dispersed and speak different dialects of Tamashek, cassettes were made, passed on, copied, and passed on again. Prior to Tinariwen, there was very little cultural output through the media in their own language. They listened to French programmes on BBC World Service, but even then, the only people who understood French, let alone listened to the radio, were an educated minority of society. Traditional Tuareg music was almost exclusively played to old melodies with poetic, but generic lyrics about love, the beauty of the desert, the bravery of the men etc. Then along came Tinariwen, with their electric guitars, singing “Brothers wake up and rise out of the ancient slumber and realise what is happening to you/ I am in exile…” That they were playing electric guitars was revolutionary in itself, but it was their lyrics that touched a chord. They sang about poverty, drought, political unrest and government oppression, about exile and loneliness. They sang about the reality their people were, and in many cases still are, experiencing. “We were in exile,” Abdallah Ag Alhousseyni, singer, musician and spokesman for the group explains. “We were in Libya, we were in Algeria, it was a very hot (turbulent) time for us, very difficult. The government sold a large territory to the

Chinese, Tuareg territory, so that they could mine uranium. They killed the people, the animals... this was the Tuareg problem. In Libya, the Tuareg were okay, but in Mali and Algeria, they suffered.” Poverty and violence led to many Tuareg fleeing their homeland and for most, it meant decades of exile. One of the songs, ‘Soixante Trois’ (63), which features on their most recent album, was inspired by that time. It was written to teach us about what happened and to prevent amnesia. The lyrics are chilling. “’63 has gone, but will return/ That time has left us memories/ It murdered the old folk and a child just born/ It swooped down to the pastures and wiped out the cattle/…My sisters were hunted down without mercy/ Those who I would exchange for nothing on this earth/ Because love is powerful and strong/ It penetrates the soul and blisters.” Blisters and scars, it would seem.

Tinariwen’s formal naissance at Colonel Gaddafi’s training camps in Libya has been widely reported throughout European and North American media. Gaddafi had funded a series of camps, allying himself with a wide range of resistance movements with a then undisclosed intention of furthering his own imperialist agenda. “This period had a huge influence on the music of Tinariwen,” says Abdallah. By their own admission, some of the older band members participated in military operations and rebellions. Recognising the power of music as a way of informing and disseminating information, Tuareg rebel leaders running these camps set the founding members of the group up with amps and guitars. Their popularity grew steadily through North Africa and could have, in some ways, been measured by the heavy censure of the Malian authorities. To even possess one of their tapes was a serious offence. Andy Morgan, the group’s manager, recounts one of singer-




“If you were caught with a cassette or were a member of the band, the Malian authorities associated you with the rebels. Ibrahim went back home in 1989, the first time since leaving in 1969... and initially he was under surveillance. Four of his friends were arrested and one of them was killed.”

songwriter and founding member, Ibrahim Ag Alhabib’s close calls. “If you were caught with a cassette or were a member of the band, the Malian authorities associated you with the rebels,” Morgan recalls. “Ibrahim went back home in 1989, the first time since leaving in 1969. He went back to Tessalit, where he was from, and initially he was under surveillance. Four of his friends were arrested and one of them was killed. Ibrahim had to escape: basically, he had to get out of town quickly.”

Tinariwen, however, do not like the media to become too distracted by the band’s formative years in these camps. They have stressed in previous interviews that it was a difficult time and should not be romanticised in any way. Their message is not one of war, State is told, and their songs are not a call to arms: “The music is by the people, for the people. It is to inspire hope, to tell of the bravery of living in the desert.” This “raising of awareness” is still very much part of Tinariwen’s objectives and is something Abdallah speaks of emphatically. He describes how the lyrics of their songs attempted to make people aware of the changes happening around them, in their villages and in the desert. It is also, he explains, to protect the Tuareg culture and prevent the people from being forgotten. Indeed, this fear of being over-looked seems to be foremost in their minds. “When a Tuareg sings, it is about his family, the desert, the Tuareg situation,” explains Abdallah. “We are a minority people, dispersed in Libya, Algeria, in Mali: we are all nomads who have been completely forgotten.” With the ongoing unrest in Mali, the band still see themselves as a voice for the people. “The music of Tinariwen still speaks out for problems in the desert,” Abdallah notes. “Before, we had to educate the Tuareg community but today, we must raise awareness for the Irish and the English and the French… we must raise awareness as to who the Tuareg are. Therefore, the music still


plays a role of educating: it still brings a message.”

That Tinariwen sing in their native language, Tamashek and occasionally in Arabic, but not in French or English, may seem something of an obstacle for them. “For an African band, they’ve done very well” Morgan says, explaining the difficulties they have faced abroad. “They are firmly within what an African band could expect, but not anything like what a rock band could expect. Journalists love the story, but radio are frightened of playing the music because it’s not English language and so are terrified that people will switch off. The press has been very successful but with very little radio play, which means that people can’t connect to the music.” For Tinariwen, however, this is a not a barrier to their audience. It is a question of “melody and attitude”, according to Abdallah, who believes music works on more levels than simply a matter of linguistic comprehension. “Music is universal,” he explains. He believes that people learn about the band “little by little;” that we discover the music first and perhaps are curious about their appearance (which, in the flowing blue robes and full headscarves, is admittedly very distinctive). They have translated their lyrics on their recent CD into English, as well as written them in tifinar, the Tuareg alphabet, and phonetically in Tamashek. Three albums, several world tours, and numerous awards attest to the appeal of the band, their music and their ability to communicate. These nomads have wandered far from the desert to deliver their message, to inform us of their culture and in so doing, keep it alive. Despite what must be for them a vastly different setting, Tinariwen are popular in Ireland and they are happy to return. Described by their tour manager Bastien Gsell as modern nomads: “they are used to travelling and looking for water”. Well, they’ve definitely come to the right place then. Tinariwen play the Electric Picnic.


So by now you may have spotted the first of your free State covermount CDs* (glued there on the front covering those ludicrous karate suits). It ’s the first in what we wish to be a probing collection of the finest music out there (eventually from North America to Cambodia we hope - and anything good inbetween) created and compiled for you, dear State reader. Because, while we love sunny weather, we feel we can rely on joyous music more and if you can’t be with the one you love, honey, love the one you’re with. Here’s what ’s on State versus… No. 1:

1: Fight Like Apes Knucklehead

9: Adebisi Shank You Me

With debut album Fight Like Apes And The Mystery Of The Golden Medallion due next month, the four-piece are facing the prospect of suddenly becoming very liked indeed. Taken from: ‘Something Global’ single (Model Citizen) Interact: As seen in: State Issue 2

Last year’s four-track EP showcased their ability to make loud music stunning again. This September, the three-piece will display their considerable talent for riffage on a debut longplayer recorded in Baltimore. This is your exclusive heads-up. Taken from: Forthcoming album (September ‘08) Interact:

2: Jape vs Delorentos Stop (What A Comedown! Never Been A Better Remix) Two Dublin indie heavyweights in a remix fight instigated by Jape but finished by Delorentos’ vocals. The Malahide boys go from strength to strength with each passing month. Roll on album number two. Taken from: ‘Stop’ single (Cottage Records) Interact: As seen in: State Issue 2

10: Super Extra Bonus Party Drone Rock (Decal Remix) The Boners prepare for to follow up their Choice Music Prize winning debut with an album of remixes from Jape, Ikeaboy, Deep Burial, Ambulance and T-Woc, amongst others. Also included is this stonkin’ track by Alan O’ Boyle, aka Decal. Taken from: Forthcoming remix album (October 08) Interact: As heard on: Podcast 02

3: Heathers Remember When?

11: The Vinny Club Infinite Smokebombs

Barely out of school they may be, but Heathers (aka twin sisters Louise and Ellie) have already become one of the year’s most interesting stories and released one of its most exciting debuts. Taken from: Here, Not There (Hideaway Records) Interact: As seen in: State Issue 4

Mixing vintage synth sounds, drum machines and video game samples, The Vinny Club is a one man band – homemade electronic style. Taken from: Rocky IV Reckyrd (Richter Collective) Interact: As seen in: State Issue 3

4: The Jimmy Cake Haunted Candle

12: Halfset A Place To Stay

Nine-strong instrumentalists produce a glorious, thriving racket on their third album which nails the fine line between orchestral arrangement and sturdy melody. Taken from: Spectre & Crown (Pilatus) Interact: As seen in: State Issue 1

Listening to Another Way of Being There, it’s obvious that the already impressive arrangements on 2005’s Dramanalog have reached profound levels of lushness. Taken from: Forthcoming album Another Way Of Being There (Casino Gravity) Interact:

5: Carly Sings GOD and the GIRL

13: Mumblin’ Deaf Ro Drowning Man

Like the woman herself, Carly Sings’ debut album is a meeting of influences and backgrounds, European and Irish, with a dash of electronic thrown in for good measure. Taken from: The Glove Thief (Carly Sings Recordings) Interact: As seen in: State Issue 1

Many said he was robbed a Choice Music Prize nomination this year and State would agree. His simple but clever folk style is accentuated by the most original lyrics on an Irish album in recent times. Taken from: The Herring & The Brine Interact:

6: Ham Sandwich Sleep

14: Oliver Cole We Albatri

Ham Sandwich’s year got off to a flier with the release of their debut album and a Meteor Award. Following this up with continued touring, things don’t look like slowing down. Taken from: Carry The Meek (Route 109) Interact: As seen in: State Issue 1

Having put the trials and tribulations of Turn behind him, Oliver Cole is ready to set out on his own solo path. See him Upstairs at Whelans on August 14. Taken from: Forthcoming album We Albatri Interact:

7: General Fiasco Maybe I’m A Little Bit Strange (demo)

15: Fred Fear

After the breakthrough success of Oppenheimer, all eyes are out for the next Belfast band to make the jump. General Fiasco are still at an early stage but, as this track proves, are developing nicely. Taken from: Unreleased Interact: As seen in: State Issue 6

While bands from the People’s Republic have always chosen a unique approach to making music, Fred have taken those obscure influences and put them through the pop blender. It works. Taken from: Go God Go (RCM Records) Interact: As seen in: State Issue 4

8: Giveamanakick Spring Break!

16: Doris Will I Ever Learn?

Noisy Limerick duo Giveamanakick are finally discovering their more melodic, if not sensitive side on their new album. They still kick out the jams big time though. Taken from: Welcome To The Cusp (Monkey Heart) Interact: As seen in: State Issue 2

On the back of two Top 30 singles comes Doris’ debut album, a classy exercise in adapting alternative influences for a wider audience. Taken from: Working Title Interact:

*If your free cd did not come with this magazine, someone with extremely good taste in music may have stolen it. Fear not – just write to us (contact info on page 2) with your address and we’ll post one out.



That Petrol Emotion

…at Electric Picnic, Aug 29-31

Perhaps the most under-rated band ever to hail from this island, That Petrol Emotion had it all: indie credibility, poptastic tunes, a stunning live show and a great frontman. So why did they never cross over? Could they still?

Heard A Secret! Saw You Smiling! Words by Sinéad Gleeson

In the annals of music, there are countless bands that in their heyday were criminally under-rated. Bands that did ‘Does anyone know someone who wants everything right who failed to bag the kind of acclaim they really deserved. The reasons for their under-championing are as broad as they are inexplicable: from being innovative or ahead of your time (Devo), falling between the stools of several genres (various ‘80s bands) or extricating yourself from what other bands around you were doing at the time (American Music Club). Some of this rationale applies to That Petrol Emotion, who sprang from the ashes of The Undertones, drafting in a dreadlocked singer from Seattle who’d never been in a band before. The Undertones, so beloved of John Peel, were one of the first alternative Irish bands to have major chart success in the UK. After they disbanded, John O’Neill, one of the song-writing lynchpins, met Reamann O’Gormain who played in a band called Bam Bam and The Calling. Along with drummer Ciarán McLaughlin, they upped sticks to London in the early ‘80s. After hooking up with John’s brother Damien, another ex-Undertone, they began the hunt for a singer. Steve Mack was a postcollege kid from Seattle working in a pizza restaurant. “A colleague was going out with a guy from Derry, and one day casually asked:


to be a singer?’ I of course replied, ‘yep, me’. It was only later on, she mentioned that some of the guys had been in The Undertones,” Mack smiles. “I couldn’t believe it, as I was fan and had bought their records.” Up ‘til that point, Mack’s musical collaborations had consisted of basement jams with friends. Little did he know that a one-year sabbatical in London would turn into an 11-year music career. According to Reamann O’Gormain, Steve had his work cut out for him, in more ways than one. “God love him, he had to put up with us constantly talking about Ireland so he had to swot up a lot on history,” O’Gormain laughs. “In retrospect, I felt bad for him.”

Despite The Undertones’ past fame, it didn’t do the band a lot of favours in getting That Petrol Emotion off the ground. Steve admits that while they weren’t starting from scratch, a huge amount of graft was required to get noticed. “For the first six to nine months of the band, I was still working in the restaurant,” he remembers. “The guys would drop me

off after gigs and I’d work cleaning floors as the night janitor. The Undertones name meant that pubs would book us, but then we still had to play a lot of pubs. It was hard work and everybody was still on the dole too.” Reamann agrees that there were no PR or media leg-ups: “The Undertones didn’t really open any doors for us. Alan McGee in Creation was interested but they were only starting out and broke, so were focusing on The Jesus and Mary Chain. We had to go with another label and in a way it kick-started a chain of us jumping from label to label.” The band played every weekend and eventually started getting offered decent support slots. In the early days, John and Reamann had written the bulk of the Petrols’ songs back in Derry, but with Steve on board, more of the writing was worked out in the rehearsal room. “I wasn’t involved in writing the lyrics, as much as people would think,” says Mack. “A lot of the lyrics had a political undercurrent to them, which was a conscious decision made by the band. People used to ask me ‘how can you sing this stuff when you’re not even Irish?’, and I’d always reply that the things we were singing about were


/////Little Fingers Stiff



That Petrol Emotion

“I’d be lying if I didn’t say that we should have been bigger, particularly because Chemicrazy and Fireproof contained singles that were as strong, if not stronger, than anything in the charts... Then came Ecstasy and The Happy Mondays and it was nuts. It’s also a classic timing thing. Had we patched up our differences and lasted another three to five years, we could have broken through. Look at some of the Britpop singles.”

universal themes.” Ex-NME Editor Stuart Bailie feels that like My Bloody Valentine, “the Petrols were completely beyond Irish music. They were looking for some universal challenge out there.” The band saw themselves as more of an ‘information service’ for what was happening in Northern Ireland in the ‘80s, and never wanted to be political poster boys. Bands from the North were invariably asked for their views and were expected to trot out political soundbytes in interviews that often took place in pubs, interviews that consisted of more than a handful of loaded questions. One tabloid even dubbed them ‘the musical wing of the IRA’. “As far as we were concerned, we were talking about civil rights,” says Reamann. “I regret what happened with the ‘Genius Move’ sleevenotes [a quote was used that had appeared in Gerry Adams’ book, but wasn’t actually by Adams]. It was stupid, especially as Radio 1 refused to play the


song and we had felt that ‘Genius Move’ was our best chance to break the Top 40.”

Despite politics often threatening to overshadow the music, the band felt outside of the mainstream in many ways, not least when compared to some of their Irish contemporaries of the time. “There was a perception that we wanted to be recognised as people who cared deeply about the future of Ireland, but without getting lumped in with some of the bombastic ‘Irish’ bands,” offers Mack. “We were just doing what we thought sounded good and had much more of an affinity with American bands like Sonic Youth. There was a lot of Irishness in our DNA: it just wasn’t out there on our music.” In the ‘80s, the band frequently spoke about feeling outside of Irish music/rock cliques, but this seems to have been more of an issue for some members than others.

“After John [O’Neill] left the band, it took us a while to realise that we didn’t have to come out with very strong statements all the time,” says Steve. “Most of our best gigs have been in Ireland, and we’ve always been embraced by Irish fans.” These strong opinions have left an occasional residue of regret – the band were asked to support U2 on tour and said no – something Mack says is “the stupidest thing we ever did. It was at a time when everyone in the band had strong views, and everyone was right about everything, but ask anyone from the final line-up and all now think it was a mistake saying no.” Reamann agrees. “We were asked twice, and saying no once was bad, but twice… it was quite ungracious, and I’d do it now at the drop of a hat.” At the time, U2 were one of the biggest bands in the world, and Steve admits the Petrols felt Bono et al could have been more vocal about what was going on in the North. This outspokenness was a major factor in them being well-


liked and admired critically, according to Jim Carroll, music journalist with The Irish Times: “It had as much to do with Mack’s mouth and their polemic as the music. They were a band whose quasi-subversive bent fitted those times and journalists loved the fact that they could talk the talk.” The crux of the band’s musical appeal was the blending of styles, the crisscrossing of indie, dance and rock. Carroll admits to loving their energy. “They were doing something few other acts were doing at the time,” he notes. “I can still remember hearing ‘Big Decision’ for the first time. It was just so smart. Live, they were on another planet, always aiming for the stars. And Steve Mack was a star.” Stuart Bailie was similarly taken with the band. “At the start, I was very curious, because they were so different from The Undertones. The Petrols were darker, the music was more challenging and they had a stronger indie ideology. They were very sophisticated musically, at a time when most Ulster bands wanted to sound like The Smiths or Joy Division.” The band’s hook-heavy guitar pop was infused with influences from Television to Captain Beefheart, artists Reamann had spun when he DJ’d at the Left Bank in Derry. “After the Undertones, John didn’t want to be in a band anymore but hearing this kind of music and people like Afrika Bambaata really energised him,” says Steve. “He and Reamann started writing, so we had these great songwriters, limitless energy and very loud guitars, in an era when people weren’t listening to a lot of guitars. John wanted things to be noisier and more abrasive, not too poppy, which is essentially the sound of the last two albums.” Reamann isn’t sure if the music he introduced John to “did him any good,” but admits that himself and Ciarán brought an intensity to the band’s sound.

In the second half of the TPE’s life, Steve confesses they listened to stuff like Curtis Mayfield and Kool & The Gang. “We were like sponges: we’d listen to so much stuff and absorb it.” He’s particularly proud of Chemicrazy and Fireproof, which he believes is their best work. “There were certain things that

That Petrol Emotion

we did, as a group of five musicians that we did better than we did anything else,” he claims. “When we wrote stuff like that, it was the sound of the band firing on all cylinders.” John Peel’s support certainly elevated their profile in the UK, but the albums spoke for themselves. Despite the fact that the nearest they came to UK Top 40 success was when ‘Big Decision’ skimmed the charts at No. 41, albums Manic Pop Thrill and Fireproof went to the top of the UK indie charts. That Petrol Emotion always seemed like a band on the verge of a major breakthrough. Was this something the band felt too? “I’d be lying if I didn’t say that we should have been bigger,” admits Steve, “particularly because Chemicrazy and Fireproof contained singles that were as strong, if not stronger, than anything in the charts. But we hampered ourselves with that the awkward third album [End Of The Millennium Psychosis Blues] and we lost momentum. Then came Ecstasy and The Happy Mondays and it was nuts. It’s also a classic timing thing. Had we patched up our differences and lasted another three to five years, we could have broken through. Look at some of the Britpop singles.” Stuart Bailie also thinks they were unlucky with timing. “The big change in indie music happened when The Stone Roses released ‘Fool’s Gold’. Suddenly it was ok to dance to indie music, and the availability of Ecstasy probably helped. But the Petrols had the groove long before that, and songs like ‘Big Decision’ would have been massive in this later era.”

“By the time the band came to an end, it was harder to do,” says Mack. “People were married, had families

and everyone had grown up. It was part slow-decline, part abrupt full stop. There’s a great book quote [from Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises] when one character asks another, ‘How did you go broke?’ and gets the reply, ‘Gradually and then suddenly’. For us, there was a gradual erosion. Some band members were rallying the flag to keep going, and eventually they just gave up.” Reamann recalls how he felt they were writing great songs but getting nowhere, and he just couldn’t keep going. “Fireproof had gotten great reviews, but didn’t sell. Every band member except Damien had a dramatic ‘I’m leaving the band’ moment, so when Damien said ‘that’s it’, we knew that really was it.” Despite the frustration near the end, he has no shortage of good memories. “We never had as much fun as we did making Manic Pop Thrill, and we always had a lot of fun on tour.” Steve also veers towards rosetintedness, although he believes that the band should have played every gig they were offered and worked a bit harder. “Looking back, you tend to forget about the bad stuff, and just remember the good parts. Playing Féile was one of our greatest gigs ever and we also played in Russia to 80,000 people. Playing live was so fantastic because going to see bands always meant so much to me, and I hope that we were able to make our fans feel the same way when we played.” Jim Carroll is adamant the band aren’t remembered in the way they deserve. “Most people prefer The Undertones, and That Petrol Emotion are a band most people have forgotten, and the new kids on the block know nothing about, which is a huge shame. Maybe the reunion will change that. The 12” mixes of ‘Big Decision’, ‘Swamp’ and ‘Sensitize’ were amazing and Chemicrazy was a great album. I think a Best Of/Retrospective is long overdue.” Stuart Bailie is equally wistful, but full of praise. “They were an underground band who didn’t make a bad record. The guitars were awesome and Steve Mack willed himself to become a vital frontman. I recall a gig at The Forum in London when they were at their best and it was like a religious convention.” That Petrol Emotion play The Spirit Store in Drogheda on Thursday August 28 and The Electric Picnic in Stradbally on Saturday August 30.



Electric Picnic Preview

The only guide you need to the greatest weekend of your musical life.

Electric Picnic 2008 Words by John Walshe, Phil Udell, Niall Byrne, Tanya Sweeney Ireland’s most eclectic music festival, Electric Picnic takes place from August 29-31. Deciding who to see can be the toughest task of all. State makes it easy for you, however, with your indispensible six-page guide to this year’s must-see acts.

Franz Ferdinand You know how it is: you’re in various bands, kicking about doing crappy gigs, when suddenly you strike gold and achieve the success you’ve always dreamed of. Suddenly there you are on the album / tour / album treadmill and it’s very hard to get off. Just ask Franz Ferdinand. With an impressive debut album under their belt and audiences requesting their presence around the world, finding time to come up with an equally beguiling second record proved difficult. And it showed. You Could Have It So Much Better proved to be an apt title, the record essentially a less interesting re-run of the first. Since then, however, Franz Ferdinand have thrown on the brakes, taken stock and gone off to get interesting again. So far, the signs are all good, from hanging out with LCD Soundsystem, Gorillaz and Girls Aloud, to covering everything from Gwen Stefani to Air and David Bowie. A rake of secret gigs have been taking place, including the Park Stage at Glastonbury, where they debuted a handful of new songs. The greatest indicator of the way forward, however, was their appearance at the Africa Express gig in Liverpool, where they performed ‘Why Can’t You Let Me Stay The Night’ with musicians from Mali and Senegal, as well as UK rapper Kano. For once, the thought of a festival headliner abandoning the traditional greatest hits set is very appealing.

state picks The ones you won’t want to miss.


Sigur Rós

Lisa Hannigan


Dan Deacon

The Roots

Whether you love their otherworldly space-rock or think they’re the devil incarnate, there’s no denying that the Sigur Rós live experience is phenomenally powerful and moving. See page 18 for more on Sigur Rós.

Having left the Damien Rice fold to pursue her own muse, the honey-tonsilled Lisa Hannigan has been quietly brewing up her own musical storm with a series of low-key gigs around the country. With an album to follow later this year, this should be a showcase to savour.

When Saint Nick and most of his Bad Seeds released the eponymous Grinderman album in March 2007, it signalled a return to Cave’s raw punk roots, epitomised perfectly on the feral ‘No Pussy Blues’. Those of a nervous disposition should probably steer clear.

At his last Dublin show, Deacon had the audience literally running circles around the venue, forming human tunnels and participating in a dance contest. Since then, he has started playing material from his forthcoming album Bromst. He recently told State he was hoping to add a band to the live equation, so expect a switch-up.

Hip-hop’s best live band are always a must-see, especially at a festival. This year’s Rising Down, their eight studio album, saw ?uestlove, Black Thought et al return to form with help from the stellar cast of Common, Mos Def, Styles P, Talib Kweli, and recent State They Might Be Giant Wale.


Electric Picnic Preview

My Bloody Valentine Much like Nirvana’s at the Top Hat in Dun Laoghaire, The National’s in Whelan’s and Interpol’s in The Village, My Bloody Valentine’s 1991 gigs have taken on a rather fetishised and fabled quality. Thousands profess to have been there in the flesh, yet actually finding a bona fide attendee remains no mean feat. Over the years, and despite many reports that a third album from the camp was “three-quarters done”, we came to believe that the likelihood of Shields resurrecting his erstwhile outfit was as likely as Elvis headlining this year’s Electric Picnic. And then, unexpectedly and delightedly, came the news last year that most fans couldn’t bring themselves to even dare wish for. My Bloody Valentine are one of those bands whose reputation has burgeoned afresh over the years, despite nary a peep from their camp. The weight of acclaim famously proved too much for frontman Kevin Shields: seemingly beleaguered by his own brilliance, he became a reported megalomaniac-slash-recluse, only serving to fuel the myth further. To say that there was an air of expectation around their recent headliner at London’s Roundhouse is no small understatement – the air was positively crackling with electricity. And then, as though the last 17 years hadn’t happened, the four original members took to the stage behind a gargantuan backline teeming with various amps and stacks. Even Shields, surrounded by his various sonic accoutrements, appeared more promisingly vital and less jowly than in recent times. If you’ve spent the majority of 17 years obsessing and poring over the exquisite layers on MBV’s records in the privacy of your own quarters, hearing the songs in a live and ear-shattering setting is nothing short of a complete, heavenly shock. Drowning in Shield’s overpowering guitars, ‘Only Shallow’ and ‘Nothing Much To Lose’ were discombobulating, foggy and breakneck, while the rarely-aired ‘Thorn’ proved joyously jarring. ‘Feed Me With Your Kiss’ and’ I Only Said’ were deliciously airtight, although the band lost their way during a riotous rendition of ‘(When You’re Awake) You’re Still In A Dream’. Momentarily abandoning the song, Shields simply laughed off the gaffe: given that he has fashioned quite the reputation as one of rock’s most impassioned control freaks, this is certainly a sight to behold. Yet for the most part, the

foursome were austere and ascetic, seemingly cognisant of the sense of legend writ large. No review of My Bloody Valentine’s show would be complete without a mention of the so-called ‘Holocaust’ white-noise moment during ‘You Made Me Realise’. Clocking in at a monstrous 25 minutes, it’s a moment that certainly separates the wheat from the chaff. With the band treading a divinely fine line between transcendence and torment, the crowd are forced to either enjoy the sonic torture (and worry about tinnitus later), or take the moment for what it really is...a load of pretentious, nonsensical crap. Let’s just say that a 2000-strong crowd embroiled in a proverbial dick-measuring contest is never a pretty sight and leave it at that. Alan McGee, no doubt still smarting from those infamous Loveless studio bills (emotionally if not financially), recently claimed that “MBV were my joke band, my way of seeing how far I could push hype.” He may have had a point, but Shields – quite rightly – is finally having the last laugh. See you up the front.

back from the dead

jakob bekker/300 dpi

Artists we never thought we’d see on a stage again.

Grace Jones

That Petrol Emotion

Silver Apples

Candi Staton


A genuine coup for the festival, Ms Jones returns to the fray, following rave reviews for her recent Meltdown Festival show. Expect costume changes, big hats, a lot of lights and the buffest 60-year-old rear-end on the planet.

As detailed elsewhere in these pages (Page 36-39), That Petrol Emotion were the right band at the wrong time. Emerging from the demise of The Undertones, they delved headfirst into the kind of indie dance that others would make their own years later. See them now or forever miss your chance.

Formed in New York in 1967, Silver Apples’ short twoyear career was a precursor to the electronic music scene. Indeed, such was the interest that they reformed in 1996 and have continued to tour since, albeit in the solo form of Simeon Coxe III since the death of drummer Danny Taylor.

Born into the Southern US gospel tradition in the ‘40s, Candi Staton moved into the public consciousness with her 1976 hit ‘Young Hearts Run Free’ and later the Source track ‘You Got The Love’. Recently recording with Groove Armada, expect a master class in blues and soul.

The latest band to join the ‘here’s one we prepared earlier’ brigade, Gomez are celebrating the 10th anniversary of their Bring It On debut album by playing it from start to finish. All of which means no embarrassing silences after the new stuff.



Electric Picnic Preview

Cathy Davey

Christy Moore

Last year’s stunning Tales Of Silversleeve album saw Cathy Davey come of age, transforming the raw potential of her debut, Something Ilk into a perfect skewed pop whole. Critical acclaim, significant radio play and a host of award nominations duly followed, and Davey honed her live show through constant touring (including a weekly residency in Whelan’s and the Róisín Dubh), with a stellar live band, which included Conor O’Brien (formerly of The Immediate), Keith Farrell (Mundy) and various members of the great One Day International. She has since ran away with the Best Female award at the Meteor Awards, wowed all and sundry at South By South West and been all over the telly, with ‘Moving’ soundtracking the latest Vodafone campaign. She is, quite simply, the finest female artist operating in the country at the moment.

What can you say about Christy? Folk legend, political animal, Planxty founder and one of the sharpest lyricists ever to come out of this country, rumours that the Kildare man was about to decommission his guitar a couple of years ago proved greatly exaggerated. If anything, Christy has been busier than ever of late, playing a host of rapturously received dates throughout the country. By times cranky on-stage when audiences deign to sing along with his most famous tunes, how he’ll deal with a field-full of people hollering along with ‘Delerium Tremens’ is anybody’s guess.

state stonkers Guaranteed to have you leppin’ like a 16-year-old.



Super Extra Bonus Party


While not exactly dividing the nation a la Wham!/ Duran Duran, the aligned appearance of Adele and Duffy did throw up two ‘60s-influenced soul sisters for the price of one. Of the two, Duffy seems the more dynamic, especially live.

Following her recent Dublin cancellation, this is an opportunity for one of the year’s most exciting new artists to make amends. Two dancers, one DJ, but still amazing.

We had them marked down as just another NME wannabe band but, boy, were we wrong. Foals’ debut album hinted at a willingness to expand their sound to include brass and this year’s essential Afrobeat influence. Look out for round two of the great Sex Pistols rumble too.

Quite simply the most fun you can have on stage with your clothes on, SEBP’s Choice Music Prize win showed that their recorded output is no slouch either. Last year’s legendary Sunday morning slot was an almost religious experience: as ever, expect the unexpected.

Having finally managed to extricate his album from record company hell, Richie Egan is enjoying the fruits of the summer all over Europe. His live show has developed too into a full band, featuring members of One Day International and Redneck Manifesto. A sort of homecoming.

jape by richard gilligan




Electric Picnic Preview

Sex Pistols Now that the 30th anniversary of punk has come and gone, we can perhaps allow ourselves some respite from the nostalgia merchants and their rose tinted, phlegm-covered glasses. What has been astounding, though, is that, for what was essentially a two-year flash in the pan, the main protagonists have proved to have such longevity. Some have managed their legacy well (The Clash, Siouxsie), others have kept ploughing on regardless (The Stranglers, The Damned), while some, like Johnny Thunders, never stood a chance. The Sex Pistols, as ever, have remained a conundrum. Always destined to burn brightly before reaching a swift, chaotic and ultimately tragic conclusion, they were never a band who were going to develop musically in the way of Strummer & Co. Their legacy may have been huge but it is ultimately based on one album and perhaps in reality, two or three songs. But what songs they were: a glorious combination of menace, melody and the realisation that a genuine cultural shift was on the horizon. Watch the old video footage now and they were mesmerising, especially the young John Lydon, his eyes burning bright with conviction and rage. Having imploded on that fateful night in 1978, that should have been it, yet 18 years later, they were back, ostensibly for the money but perhaps also with a sense of unfinished business. Their infrequent appearances since have proved that, while age has not withered the Lydon tongue (including a recent unsavoury clash with Bloc Party’s Kele Okereke), it has rather taken its toll on their energy levels. If you’re looking for a life-changing experience, stay away and remember them the way they were, but if you take your nostalgia with a dash of pantomime and a bit of swearing, roll up.

ones to watch This time next year, they’ll be massive.

Dengue Fever

Hercules & Love Affair

Emmy The Great



State caught their Roskilde slot in July and we were very impressed. Based in Los Angeles, these six-strong psychedelic rockers are led by Cambodian vocalist Chhom Nimol and are exactly the kind of thing you’d expect to find on a Tarantino soundtrack.

New Yorkers re-assert their city’s love of disco and house in 2008. Their self-titled album came out on ultra-cool DFA Records In March. Listen to their calling card ‘Blind’, featuring Antony Hegarty.

If you’ve caught Lightspeed Champion recently, you’ll already be familiar with the sound of Emma-Lee Moss who has been touring with Dev Hynes’ band. A singersongwriter in her own right, she comes to the Picnic for a full-band set.

Brooklyn’s off-kilter Afrobeat orchestra take in an awful lot more than African influences, extending their skill-set to dub and American funk. With 12 members utilising trumpets, sax, guitar, trombone and percussion, they could be the perfect festival pick-me-up.

If Battles decided to cover John Carpenter soundtracks, it might well sound like these Aussies. See page 5 for an interview with the band.



Electric Picnic Preview



Certain bands were born to play certain festivals: it’s the way of it. The Electric Picnic has that kind of draw for Goldfrapp, a place where dance music gets to co-exist with all sorts of other elements and influences. That approach has been a shorthand to Goldfrapp’s career over the years, moving from the lush acoustic sounds of Felt Mountain, through the shimmering disco of Supernature, and back to the more organic Seventh Tree this year. Always a spectacle live, Goldfrapp are coming home.

Jeff Tweedy & Co. have flirted with alt. country, experimental rock and pure pop over the course of their 14 years. Whether they’ve been promoting the weirder edge of the musical spectrum (2002’sYankee Hotel Foxtrot) or 2006’s Eagles-loving, Byrds-aping Sky Blue Sky, however, they’ve always enjoyed a reputation as a stunning live act. Dubbed “one of America’s most consistently interesting bands” by Rolling Stone, expect to see the diehards worshipping at the altar of Tweedy: this could well be the highlight of the entire weekend.

bodytonic village






David Holmes

These German boys slayed the crowd on Sunday night in 2006, covering the audience in banging techno beats and a bottle of champagne. Since then, the live show has been bolstered by the release of last year’s Happy Birthday! and live visuals.

He may be known as Kanye West’s DJ now, but A-Trak was a one-time 15-year-old DMC world champion. He’s also one of the best party DJs on the planet: check out his remix of Kanye’s ‘Stronger’ for a taste.

Wesley Pentz is responsible for so much in the last few years, including helping to bring MIA and Santogold into public consciousness. He’s renowned for shining a spotlight on global music subcultures from Brazil’s baile funk to Baltimore’s club bass.

Where the anonymous Burial aimed for head-grazing atmospheric dubstep, Benga’s take on the genre is firmly rooted in the electrosonic camp. London born with Nigerian parentage, Benga combines menacing spectral synth lines, characteristic deep bass frequencies with flourishes of soul and jazz samples.

Belfast’s finest soundtrack supplier returns with a new album and a fresh sound. We’re curious as to how this one goes down. See page 48 for an interview with the man known as Holmer. wilco by chris strong

This beat is... This beat is... This beat is... Bodytonic.



Electric Picnic Preview

Conor Oberst Nebraska-born Oberst is one of those rare songmakers who started at an early age and never really thought to pause. He first released a cassette in 1993, at just 13 years of age, on what would become his own Saddle Creek label. In 1998, he began to perform and record alongside friends under the Bright Eyes moniker. 2002’s Lifted or The Story Is In The Soil, Keep Your Ear To The Ground brought him to the attention of many, while the same-day release

in 2005 of two very different albums in I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning and Digital Ash In A Digital Urn cemented interest in indie circles. This year’s self-titled album was recorded in Mexico and drops the Bright Eyes name once again. It’s the sound of a relaxed Oberst playing material with his Mystic Valley Band, not afraid to let an overt countrified feel permeate.

body & soul The Picnic’s chillout space is much more than massage and healing areas. Add Lucent Dossier’s Vaudeville Cirque, a village feel and of course, the Chill stage, which is the place to be for one-off events like last year’s Final Fantasy/Architecture in Helsinki /Clap Your Hands Say Yeah! impromptu jam.


Rarely Seen Above Ground

Laura Marling

Martina Topley Bird



Jeremy Hickey decided he’d go it alone, so he began to write songs and play live. Yet no singer-songwriter is he. What he is, however, is a one man band who drums live to his own backing tracks to the backdrop of a virtual band. It helps that the songs are multi-layered percussion-led wonders. If Caribou came from Kilkenny, it might sound like this.

This 18-year-old Brit has got a lot of people excited by her unique and hook-laden alt-folk songs. She might be young, but as a songwriter she’s got real depth and has already collaborated with The Mystery Jets. Listen to the astounding, lilting ‘Ghosts’.

Many will know Topley Bird’s sumptuous, unmistakeable voice already from her work with Tricky. That collaboration is starting to be forgotten thanks to this year’s The Blue God, an album with elements of vintage soul, blues, jazz and electronica, made with the help of producer du jour Danger Mouse.

A Kilkenny band who have recently been seen soundtracking Donal Dineen’s visual work and supporting Spiritualized at the Kilkenny Arts festival, 3epkano will provide lush, sophisticated live scores to archaic silent films at this year’s festival.

No stranger to these shores of late, this Canadian returns after playing Donal Dineen’s (yes, him again) experimental music series Month of Sundays. His music is a mix of lush electronics and lyrics, centred on romance and love (except without being clichéd or shite).

Blog Standard The tracks and artists being noticed online this month by Niall Byrne

The Vinny Club State Mix The latest in our State mix series finds 8-bit wonder The Vinny Club tackle the tricky subject of German New Wave and “early to mid 1980s pop slash rock”. Contains recordings from bands with names like Spliff, Zaza and Hubert and Herbert.


Justice remix MGMT Parisian dance gurus turn the Prince factor to 11 on ‘Electric Feel’ by psychedelic rockers and Oxegen highlight MGMT, while adding their own unique synth and electro-funk sound to the song.


Diplo and Santogold – Top Ranking Diplo returns to the mixtape format that helped build the buzz on MIA. In 2004, the pair hooked up to make Piracy Funds Terrorism Vol. 1. Now in 2008, Diplo is doing the same with Santogold. Top Ranking mixes reworked songs from her debut alongside tracks from Ratatat, Benga, Devo, B-52s, Radioclit, Skream, The Clash and Barrington Levy.


Bon Iver – Takeaway Show Director Vincent Moon continues to impress with this session in his Takeaway Show. Moon’s supreme talent is capturing the mood of an artist’s songs in a snapshot environment. Here it’s no different. Iver and band play ‘Lump Sum’ facing each other, as the camera whirls around them, and a wonderful version of ‘For Emma, For Ever Ago’ starts in an alley and finishes on the streets, herding startled tourists as they go.


Dizzee Rascal covers The Tings Tings Dizzee covers the ubiquitous ‘That’s Not My Name’ by The Ting Tings for BBC Radio One’s Live Lounge. Suitably replacing the lyrics to the chorus to “They call me rudeboy / They call me mate / That’s not my name”. One more time - “Are you calling me rudeboy?”


blog of the month The Hood Internet Because who wouldn’t want to hear Usher mashed up with Los Campesinos!?

on videotape Feist on Sesame Street State always felt there was something unabashedly cutesy about ‘1,2,3,4’. How about a kids version concerning counting from 1 to 4? Abso-bloody-lutely.

World’s worst song about smoking hash ‘Puff Puff Give’ is a misguided ode to smoking the ‘erb by crusty hippy girl Hannah Field and her dreadlocked white friend. The song actually contains the lyrics – “Use, enhance your mind / Helps the blind / Rocks DJs to rhyme on time”

Duran Duran cover Public Enemy. What? WHAT??? Excruciatingly unfunky cover of ‘911 Is A Joke’ will leave you cold, numb and with a strong desire to hurt Simon Le Bon.

The Hood Internet is two producers, Aaron Brink (aka ABX) and Steve Reidell (aka STV SLV) from Chicago, who are adept at taking the latest obscure indie-rock song and splicing it together with a hip-hop vocal to produce mashups. The results are like hip-hop/indie-rock monster hybrid, but sound nothing like Linkin Park. The duo place tracks so skilfully in a different context they frequently hit the “whole new song” jackpot. Take Broken Social Scene’s ‘(7/4) Shoreline’ in instrumental form and put R Kelly’s vocals from ‘I’m a Flirt’ over the top: the result is nothing short of genius. And not ironic genius either. This shit works.




David Holmes

Internal Hard Drive

Hollywood player, Irish dance music pioneer, world-renowned DJ, David Holmes is well known for being all of the above – but these days he’s also a nicely settled husband and daddy. When State calls, he’s busy fulfilling his role as father. “Can you ring back in 10 minutes? I’m dropping my little girl over to her granny’s,” he says. Based in Belfast with his BBC producer wife and four-yearold daughter, it’s David’s low-key family lifestyle that provided inspiration for his latest – and without doubt most personal – work to date, The Holy Pictures. “It’s very self revealing,” he says of the record. “It’s like going into therapy. I don’t buy into all that, it works for some people but it’s not for me, but actually writing these songs was like going to a psychiatrist. I felt kind of healed at the end.” David has become synonymous with the Ocean’s movie series and the glamorous LA world of film scoring, through his ongoing relationship with director Steven Soderbergh. However, once the work is done, he’s happiest returning home to Belfast. “I could live in LA or New York but I don’t want to,” he admits. “Belfast is my home, it’s where I grew up, it’s where my family live. People say to me, ‘oh you’re back’ when they see me around Belfast and I’m like, ‘this is where I live!’ I may go to LA and spend four months there working, but I always come home.” For his little girl, David’s work trips are a chance to see the world. “I bring my daughter and my wife with me when I go: my wife can get time off easily enough and it’s great for my daughter too.”

While David’s successful career as DJ, film score producer and solo artist played out in the foreground, the desire to write a record about his family and life in Belfast began to ferment, until the death of his parents made him realise he had to do it. “The album started when my mother died in 1996 but I didn’t

…at Electric Picnic, Aug 29-31

Words by Saoirse Patterson

know it yet,” he reveals. “And then my dad died and we became orphans: it’s a very hard feeling to deal with. And then you bring a child into the world yourself and you’re a parent. These are all life changing moments that I had to document.” With his rock ’n’ roll years behind him, the 39-year-old felt ready for the level of self-reflection needed to unlock the emotions explored on the album. It’s a far cry from the hugely ambitious, perhaps even workaholic tendencies of his 1990s’ incarnation. After starting DJing in mod clubs at the age of 15, Holmes came into his own with the explosion of acid house in 1988. The youngest of 10 children, his mother used to bring back rare Detroit techno and Chicago house records from trips to the States visiting his siblings, which helped his burgeoning house obsession formulate and led to his pioneering foray into club promotion at the dawn of the ‘90s. With the Irish clubbing scene still in its foetal stages, his acclaimed parties Sugar Sweet and Shake Yer Brain were truly innovative and his debut album, 1995’s This Film’s Crap Let’s Slash the Seats, was well received. From the release of his first album right up until the birth of his daughter, his huge drive has been evident from the sheer volume of projects he has produced: a back catalogue including three solo albums, four DJ mix collections, numerous film soundtracks, countless DJ gigs and even a brief stint running a Belfast café called Mogwai (“It was ahead of its time, but also on a business level, it was a disaster.”) After the release of 2003’s David Holmes Presents The Free Association and the resulting tour, he slowed down his workload to concentrate on putting together The Holy Pictures. The album was recorded in his home studio in Belfast and appropriately, it was named after a bar in the city. “The Holy Pictures was a pub in Belfast,” he recalls with a chuckle. “It was magic, you could phone out but you couldn’t phone in and there were holy pictures all around the bar. It was



David Holmes

“When it got to the point when I had to put a voice to it, I knew it had to be me. I’d never sang before and I don’t plan on doing it again. I felt only I could sing these songs because they were very deep feelings.”

in the neighbourhood where my dad grew up. The name is also a metaphor for cinema and people who mean something to me and that I hold dear in my heart.” The album shares with David’s other work a rich and idiosyncratic fusion of influences, with luscious electronic soundscapes sitting comfortably alongside scuzzy rock tracks. Aside from the gorgeous lead single ‘I Heard Wonders’, one of the record’s most haunting moments is ‘The Ballad Of Jack And Sarah’, a tribute to his parents. “That track was the first thing I began working on after my dad died because I realised ‘Hey, I’m on my own here’,” he explains. “Six weeks after it happened, I realised I needed to channel this emotion and I put it into the music. It could never have happened if I didn’t feel that way: it wouldn’t have come out the way it did.”

For dedicated Holmes disciples, The Holy Pictures will be an even more fascinating listen as it’s his first time singing on record, and quite a lovely voice it is too. “Really? You think so?” he blushes. “Jeez you’ve made my day. I’m still so nervous about what people are going to think about the singing.” Although terrified of trying to find his singing voice within himself, he knew he had to do it. “It was quite a big thing for me to do that, as I didn’t know if I could even sing,” he admits. “When it got to the point when I had to put a voice to it, I knew it had to be me. I’d never sang before and I don’t plan on doing it again. I felt only I could sing these songs because they were very deep feelings. It came out the way it did because I felt so deeply about what I was singing about.” However, it took a long time to overcome his fears. “Even though I wanted to do it, I wasn’t ready,” he continues. “I was talking to Andrew Weatherall, who’s been a good friend of


mine over the years and he said, ‘Do it yourself and don’t worry about it’. I said, ‘No, I can’t!’ Some of the conversations I had with him were pivotal in finding the courage to do it.” Andrew, a legendary DJ in his own right, went through a similar process as one half of Two Lone Swordsman when he sang for the first time on their 2004 album, From The Double Gone Capel. It was a big gamble for the Englishman but the album got a positive reaction. Even with Andrew’s support, it took a lot of work for David to get his vocals to where he wanted them to be. “I was trying to find my voice and it was a long, drawn-out experience. I’d be in my studio and record one line and think, that sounded OK, so then I’d record another line and I’d end up recording up to 20 takes, trying to get it right!” he says, laughing. “But it doesn’t matter how long it takes you to get it there: it’s the final version that matters, that people hear. It was just about me trying to find my voice and I knew I wasn’t going to put any autotune on my vocals.” Did his fears ever make him consider not releasing the album? “Oh no, it was always going out,” he says. “A guy at my label heard it in its roughest form and he really egged me on. Also, my friends and family and Andy were very supportive, I would play them bits and pieces as I was making it and they liked it.” Holding up such a deeply intimate work to the bared teeth of the world’s music critics could be difficult, but David insists he isn’t concerned about the reviews. “It doesn’t matter what anyone thinks about it,” he asserts. “It was a really cathartic experience but also really frustrating at times. But now that it’s done no one can take it away from me. It’s me saying ‘This is for you and you and you and you’, all the important people in my life, and no one can take that away.” David Holmes play the Electric Picnic.


Gatsby Doors 8/ Adm â‚Ź10


Liz Seaver Doors 8/ Adm â‚Ź12/ â‚Ź10


Dublin Burlesque Ball with Chrys Columbine, Miss Honey Lulu, Millie Dollar and more. Doors 8pm / Adm. â‚Ź25.00 + booking fee from


Phantom FM Quiz Night Doors 7.30/Adm â‚Ź40 per table


Fundraiser for The Sweet Dreams Project with Hoarsebox and Thomas Kitt with Firehouse Skank DJ Enda. Doors 8pm / Adm â‚ŹTBC


Thomas Dunning’s Hoot Night: “Elton John vs. Drugsâ€? Featuring Miriam Ingram, Keith Moss, Medea, Carol Keogh and many others. Doors 7.30/Adm â‚Ź10


The Rubes play the music of Jeff Buckley Doors 8/ Adm â‚Ź10


Jongleurs Comedy Night Doors 8/Adm TBC


Saville (Nostalgia album launch) with support from Carosel + Tobacco Road. Doors 8/ Adm. â‚Ź12.00


Garageland.boz Night Doors 8/Adm â‚Ź12




Parnell School of Music Showcase Night Doors 8/Adm TBC


Private Screening

22 Prsents Owen Brady Doors 8/ Adm â‚Ź13.55

23 Night Doors 8/Adm â‚Ź12



26 Presents Adam Green Doors 8/Adm TBC

SEPTEMBER 05+06 The Bulmer’s Comedy Festival Presents Brendon Burns Doors 7.30/Adm ₏22.50 08,09,10 The Bulmer’s Comedy Festival Presents Dead Cat Bounce Doors 7.30/Adm ₏20 15+16 The Bulmer’s Comedy Festival Prsents Jimeoin Doors 7.30/ Adm ₏28


JDF:B 8CC<P 9FKKFD F= :FNJ C8E< K<DGC< 98I ;L9C@E @I<C8E; NNN KLIKC<?<8; @< 9CF>


8 Lower Leeson St, Dublin 2, Ireland Telephone: 01 6787188 /



Erykah Badu

Queen Bee

phil knott/ camera press ireland

Words by Olivia Mai ~ Photography by Phill Knott



Back-stage at Vicar Street, she’s curled up on the sofa, covered by a blanket and surrounded by a handful of adoring fans, like a queen bee among her drones. Actually, she has what looks like a double beehive on her head, but Erykah Badu’s choice of hair accessory would only surprise nowadays if it were normal. She’s in the middle of explaining the three types of ‘artist’ in the music world. “There’s the first kind, who bleed and sweat and ache and hurt to write and do what they do,” she notes. “Then there’s the second kind, who imitate that, and the third, they just do what they’re told. They’re all very important but usually the second kind are the most successful. The bleeders are usually idiots: they’re usually crazy, kinda insane a little bit, they don’t know what the hell’s going on. I’m a bleeder.” Erykah’s notorious writer’s block and ‘Frustrated Artist Tour’ should, you would think, have caused her to suffer the aforementioned aching and bleeding, but not so apparently. “The writer’s block… it wasn’t writer’s block at all” she Dallas drawls. “It was time to hush. There was a downloading process and a time when things were just coming through to me, and I relaxed, and then all of a sudden, ‘Arrggghh’.” The result was a veritable creative explosion: 73 songs later, we have what she refers to as her magnum opus, New AmErykah, Part I, (4th World War) and the Vortex Tour. Part II, Return of the Ankh and an unrelated Lowdown Loretta Brown are scheduled for release over the coming months.

Most of New AmErykah is produced by Madlib and SaRa Creative Partners, with Badu herself bringing in that indefinable extra. The neo-soul of Baduism and the lyrical intimacy of Mama’s Gun have morphed into something much more hip-hop, more urgent and edgy, less commercial. The tone of the album is far darker and more political than anything we have heard from her to date. Lyrically layered, there is a lot to take in, being at times personal, sometimes obscure, and sometimes combative. “I try to make very sober-minded statements,” she explains, “and even though it seems like a hodge-podge of ideas and things, it’s a very focused project.” The third album, Lowdown Loretta Brown, yet to be released, sounds something akin to Eminem’s ‘Slim Shady’ in concept. Previously secretive on the subject, Badu reveals, “Loretta Brown is a part of me. I don’t read music, I never studied it but I do understand it from some place, the theory of it: I know how to direct a band, I know how to write songs. Those kinda things, that’s who Loretta Brown is: a futuristic blues singer, someone

Erykah Badu

who lives in the year 2060 but in her mind she lives in the year 2040 – go figure!” The new albums represent a completely new departure in Badu’s ever evolving musical sound; the incredible vocals are still there – the rest is very much Badu, but not as we know her. In the flesh, she smiles a lot and is surprisingly selfdeprecating. When asked about love and boyfriends, she half-jokes “I am a butterfly and I need someone to worship the fucking ground I walk on.” No doubt there is no shortage of offers. Beautiful as she is, her image has always been something for public scrutiny. “I look at some of the outfits and go ‘Oh my god!’” she laughs. As with her music, Badu does not like to be categorised or boxed in. She was criticised by her record label for years, she says, for wearing the headdress but then “it really pissed them off when I stopped wearing it,” she notes. “They were like, ‘but that’s your thang, now you don’t got no thang’.” Her image, however, is a very deliberately considered part of the Badu brand: “I give the look thought because it’s always a political statement, you know, who you are, what you wear, how you look - it’s always a political statement.”

Off-stage, Badu is calm, quiet even. Her softly accented voice is so low, even the few excited fans in the room are forced to be quiet and listen. The bigger issues are left for the stage, and she chats very easily about head-wraps and motherhood, especially the influence of her own mother and grandmother in her life. While admitting in a previous interview that “ego needs a boyfriend”, she comes from a lineage of matriarchs, and the “queendom”, as she calls her Dallas home, is all she knows. The women in her life, ‘the sistas’, inspire much of her focus and resolve, she explains. “I come from a line of strong women who didn’t have husbands, or if they did have husbands, they separated early or the husbands passed away, so when you don’t have that image of parents being married, you don’t see them in a separated way,” she asserts. She jokes about using astrological chit-chat to confound record executives into allowing her to do what she wants, but behind the serene exterior and the incense sticks, you know that there is a will of iron. “We [Badu and her mother] have the same set of rules you know: there are no rules, just do what I say.” A “bleeder” she may be, but Erykah Badu certainly remains queen of the hive.



Illegal Art

America’s Illegal Art label is at the forefront of the intellectual rights debate over music samples. They’ve also just released two stunning albums.

Sampled Underfoot Words by Niall Byrne ~ Illustration by BrenB

What do 57-year-old Jewish advertising consultant Steve Stein and 26-year-old former biomedical engineer Greg Gillis pioneer Afrika Bambaata, awarded the have in common? Quite a lot actually. Both men are purveyors of highly contentious music based on samples of other artists’ original works that thus far has avoided the clutches of the copyright controllers. Both have recently released albums with the Illegal Art label: Stein, better known as Steinski, with What Does It All Mean? 1983-2006, a retrospective of his work made available officially for the first time in June, and Gillis under the moniker of Girl Talk has released his mash-up album Feed The Animals to significant acclaim. State talked to both men and their mysterious label owner about the art of making lawless music. In 1983, Steve Stein and Douglas Di Franco submitted a five-minute mini-mix to a Tommy Boy remix competition under the name of Steinski and Double Dee. The end product took its cue from the track it was supposed to remix, ‘Play That Beat, Mr DJ’ by GLOBE and Whiz Kid but after that, all bets were off. With sample forays into funk, hip-hop, disco, instructional tapdance records and spoken word from Humphrey Bogart films, the remix was one-of-a-kind at the time. In recognition, the judges, which included hip-hop


duo first prize. What followed was a series of five mixes in total: one tackled James Brown, one hip-hop, one jazz and the final one hip-hop originators The Sugar Hill Gang. Over the course of the last 25 years, New Yorker Stein has created audio collage works with various themes, including the Kennedy assassination, sex and 9/11. His work is revered in the hip-hop community and has been shared through bootlegs and radio recordings. He has inspired many a DJ, such as DJ Shadow, Cut Chemist and, to a certain extent, The Bomb Squad and Kid Koala. Due to the many copyright infringements contained within his works, Steinski has never made a dime but his work afforded him other opportunities. “I’ve gotten a fair amount of notoriety that’s led to interesting advertising work, other records, remixes and related projects, lots of DJ gigs in many great places, and meeting and working with quite a few amazing people,” he admits. The pro-sampling Illinois label Illegal Art decided to release the retrospective last month despite the potential legal problems. Even now, in 2008, Stein is still

liable for those recordings should the lawyers wish to pursue him. Not that’s he’s worried. “My work has hardly been highprofile enough to warrant anyone jumping up and down, outraged over the ‘illegality’ of it,” he laughs. “I work in collage, the same way as (if I can mightily stretch a comparison to include two truly great visual artists) Joseph Cornell and Louise Nevelson. The ‘legality’ issues are secondary, and only enter into the discussion because audio work is infinitely reproducible through digital technology, an idea that threatens cultural control.” The essence of what Stein is getting at is the very core of file-sharing and digital distribution. The internet empowers society to upload and share work. Most of that work happens to be copyrighted. This is either a very good thing or a very bad thing, depending on your interests. A leaked Arcade Fire record which was on your computer in the morning could be on thousands of hard-drives by bedtime. On the flipside, such dissemination of material also empowers individuals to create, to express, to remix and recontextualise for a large audience. The


Stiff Little Fingers



problem arises when business interests are stirred and copyright is infringed.

Re-using portions of recorded sound for another creative purpose is nothing new, of course. Hell, The Beatles did it back in the ‘60s. Beastie Boys and The Dust Brothers created the 1989 classic hip-hop record, Paul’s Boutique, which was infused with 105 samples in total. It was the golden age of sampling, allowed to flourish thanks to corporate ignorance of subcultures. Just look at Drum and Bass and Jungle: entire underground musical genres based on a famous sample known as the Amen Break from a forgotten funk 1969 B-side ‘Amen Brother’ by The Winstons. When bureaucratic interests realised what was happening, the clampdown began. In 1991, rapper Biz Markie was sued for using a Gilbert O’Sullivan sample and was forced to withdraw his album from shelves. That case meant the frequency of sampling by artists was curtailed significantly over the ‘90s. It’s important to remember the laws that


Illegal Art

govern sampling were set in stone before internet usage was widespread. Now in this Web 2.0 internet age, we are faced with endless possibilities to contribute to culture: whether it’s uploading a video, blogging, remixing your favourite artists, fan-made videos and more, ad infinitum. But current copyright law values property and protection over creativity. Just ask Greg Gillis. The Pittsburg native’s latest album as Girl Talk, Feed The Animals, is made up of over 300 samples from various popular recording artists, none of which were cleared. From Beck to Beyoncé, Rihanna to Roy Orbison, Sinéad O’Connor to Snoop Dogg, the album is made up entirely of sampled recorded work, with a new sample introduced every 10 to 15 seconds. It is, of course, under copyright law, legally dubious but in cultural terms, highly creative. Illegal Art also released Feed The Animals online in a pay-what-you-like system, a la Radiohead’s In Rainbows, in June. It is Girl Talk’s second release to feature that volume of samples (his first was 2006’s Nightripper), yet so far, no cease

and desist letters have been received. Illegal Art label owner Philo T. Farnsworth has a theory: “The number of samples protects us to a degree. If we’ve infringed on an artist’s rights, they can only claim a tiny moment within a fairly large project.” So far, Gillis has received nothing but positivity from artists who he has directly sampled. “Big Boi from OutKast came out to one of my shows in Atlanta,” he tells State. “Sophie B. Hawkin’s manager emailed me recently. I heard Mike Patton say that it was an honour to collaborate with Busta Rhymes on my new album!” While some would claim Girl Talk’s modus operandi is both illegal and unoriginal, Gillis naturally disagrees. “There are no original ideas in pop music. Everything is built upon previous ideas. ‘Originality’ comes with how well you re-contextualise an old idea. I would like to see sampling treated like any other instrument. It’s possible to make transformative work that does not negatively impact the sampled artists’ potential sales, and I think this should be legal. For any album that samples 300 songs, even if you wanted to pay for


Illegal Art

“There are no original ideas in pop music. Everything is built upon previous ideas. ‘Originality’ comes with how well you re-contextualise an old idea. I would like to see sampling treated like any other instrument.”

the samples, it would be impossible,” he continues. “No one could afford it. It’s clearly a case where the law is holding back a certain form of artistic and musical expression.”

Both Girl Talk and Steinski have the moral backing of Illegal Art and its mysterious owner Philo T. Farnsworth, who has plenty of experience releasing illicit albums. In 1998, Illegal Art released Deconstructing Beck, a compilation of tracks which used samples from Beck songs. Farnsworth received multiple legal threats from Beck’s lawyers on the grounds of copyright infringement. The case went high-profile for a while but as Farnsworth is a pseudonym, designed to obscure his real identity (the real Philo T. Farnsworth was an inventor), the lawyers couldn’t find enough real information on him or the Illegal Art label to prosecute. One wonders what Beck Hansen thought of all this? “We’ve never officially heard, but there were rumours that Beck actually liked the CD,” Farnsworth tells us. With these releases from Steinski and Girl Talk bringing a decent amount of exposure and success to Illegal Art, Farnsworth sees those releases as ways of encouraging dialogue on the subject of copyright. “It has given us [Illegal Art] a higher profile, and it has also brought a lot of attention to the debate over whether this music should be allowed to exist or not,” he notes. Clearly, Girl Talk’s gruelling touring schedule tells us that it should be. Beyond that, take the case of producer Danger

Mouse and his Jay-Z /Beatles bootleg mashup album in 2004. EMI attempted to halt the distribution of the record but it only fuelled interest in the release. Nowadays Danger Mouse is a much-lauded producer who, as well as being partly responsible for Gnarls Barkley, has also produced records for Gorillaz, Beck and Martina Topley Bird. His illegal work has allowed him to produce for some of music’s biggest names, thereby contributing significantly to the popular culture canon.

Artists such as Girl Talk, Steinski and Danger Mouse are finding copyright law too restrictive or unrealistic to apply to their creative urges, so they just ignore it. Farnsworth says it’s not just artists who see it that way: “The average person now seems to be in opposition to the perceived laws.” Taking the Arcade Fire leak as an example of what happens every day, one might agree. At the same time, Farnsworth and Gillis are aware of what could happen but would hope that their work would fall under the doctrine of Fair Use should they ever have to defend it in court. “We’d consult with the artist and our legal team to decide how far to take things. We’re prepared to go all the way, if needed,” Farnsworth asserts. That’s not to say they don’t support the protection of art through copyright but are of the opinion that the balance has shifted too far from protection to restriction. Stein’s view is that any potential changes have been hindered by “large corporations pouring enormous amounts of money into the American legislative system for the past 100 years,

warping copyright and patent law beyond recognition and original intent.” Farnsworth agrees: “Entities that have investments in intellectual property are very concerned in tightly controlling their interests. They go too far, though. They do things that are counter-productive to our culture and to the growth of the very interests that they’re trying to protect.” In the US, lobby groups have convinced congress to pass laws extending copyright for 20 years. Here in the Europe, Ireland’s EU Commissioner Charlie McCreevey has proposed an extension of copyright law for a further 45 years. What Illegal Art and their artists are doing is more akin to a silent protest at the shift in the scales. They each have their own wishes for the future. Steinski would like to see that law “scaled back toward its original time limits and intent, so it could protect creators for a reasonable amount of time. Then let society – which generously gives exclusive licenses to creators through copyright guarantees – have access to the works for which it has already provided protection.” Farnsworth would like to see copyright law “return to its core purpose of encouraging creation and use, rather than imposing endless restrictions”, while Gillis’ view is a little more simplistic: “I just want to be treated like any other band. I just want people to be able to hear my music.” Whatever happens, it seems that the 57-year-old Jewish advertising consultant and the 26-year-old former biomedical engineer will continue to create and inspire scores of copyright-flouting DJs and musicians for some time.







Scoring porn movies, Eurovision heaven, breaking up, Bjorn Again, watching Pierce Brosnan sing their songs, divorce, from novelty camp to pop gold. Words by Paul Byrne

Being a serious music lover from the moment when, somewhere in the mid-1970s, we figured out how to operate our big brother’s hi-fi when he wasn’t around, State naturally thought Abba were crap. Worse than that, next 59

they were hugely successful, record-breaking, chart-hogging, radio-shagging crap. Everywhere you turned, there was Abba. Turn on the wireless, and ‘Mamma Mia’ came blaring out. Switch on Top Of The Pops to see if Bowie or Roxy Music might grace us with their shimmering presence and – boom! - it’s ‘S.O.S.’ Head down to Cabana’s nightclub, and it’s bloody ‘Dancing Queen’. Or ‘Waterloo’. Or ‘Ferfrickinnando’. Like just about every other stuck-up, dumbass muso who spent their teenage years with their nose buried in the NME and their eyes fixed on Debbie Harry’s pelvic area, it took State a long, long time to realise that Abba were, in fact, one of the greatest pop bands of all time. And if you don’t believe me, go and listen to ‘S.O.S.’ right now. Or ‘Take A Chance On Me’. Or ‘The Winner Takes It All’. Or, indeed, any of the above tunes that had State tutting and sighing our way through much of our adolesence. Today, in London’s Mandarin Oriental Hotel, in sunny, snooty Knightsbridge, it’s a totally different story. Goran Bror Benny Andersson and Bjorn Christian Ulvaeus are in the building. In fact, they’re just down the hall, last door on the right. And excited. And delighted. The reason Sweden’s answer to Lennon and McCartney are here is the release of Mamma Mia!, the movie version of the hit stage musical that debuted on April 16, 1999, at the Prince Edward Theatre, a short cab ride from this hotel. Since then, Mamma Mia! has done pretty well for itself, going on to San Francisco in November 2000, Broadway in October 2001 (where it bagged $27million in advance ticket sales), and then Vegas in February 2003, before enjoying its 1,000th show there back in June 2005. And it’s still going strong… All of which means, of course, that this show is big. Really, really, really big. So, hey, Hollywood came sniffing. Like a two-hour hen party with a great soundtrack, Mamma Mia! has Meryl Streep as the Greek island-dwelling single mum who finds herself confronted with the three possible fathers of her about-to-be-married daughter (played by relative newcomer, Amanda Seyfried). Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth and Stellan Skarsgard are the potential pops, whilst Julie Walters and Christine Baranski are the best friends ready to offer the dazed hussy mum a shoulder to cry on and a Mai Tai to wallow in. Like Sex & The City, it’s not a movie designed for heterosexual males. And it is already proving huge. Which means another wave of adoration is about to hit the two men sitting in front of me. So, how does it feel, Benny and Bjorn, to be so revered after quite a few years where you were so reviled? To be back on top after a period in the mid-1980s when you could buy an Abba compilation on a budget label in your local garage for £2.99? “It feels absolutely and utterly incredible,” smiles Bjorn, glancing over at the man he has worked with pretty much nonstop for over 40 years now. “It’s like throwing away a lottery ticket, and then being told that, ‘no, your numbers have actually all come up’,” says Benny, before pausing for thought. The weird thing is, these guys – both in their early sixties look pretty much the same as when they were prancing around during their Abba years, in costumes that even Stevie Wonder would laugh at. “In fact, it’s more like you’ve filed away a winning ticket that



you’ve already cashed in, and then being told many years later that that same ticket is good for another big win. Does that make sense?” “Absolutely,” nods Bjorn. “To me, anyway…”

And that’s probably all that matters when you’re dealing with two guys who first met under an elm tree in the car park of the hotel they both happened to be staying in. The year was 1966, and Benny was enjoying considerable fame with The Hep Stars, a band shamelessly modelled on The Beatles, and one that ended up actually selling more than the Fab Four in their native Sweden. The folk-loving Bjorn, on the other hand, was touring with The Hootenanny Singers, who specialised in the sort of songs that should only ever really be sung around campfires. When they met in 1966, both men were longing to make music that was a little more universal, a little more original. And that was all down to the arrival of The Beatles three years earlier. “I just knew, instantly, that’s the kind of thing I want to do,” says Ulvaeus, who was 18 when John, Paul, George and Ringo stopped him in his schlagering tracks. “But I also realised that it would be foolish of me to walk away from The Hootenany Singers, as we were having hit after hit in Sweden.” Benny got that little bit closer to his Beatles dream with The Hep Stars, but back in 1963, he was an 18-year old with two kids by his girlfriend, Christina. “I was completely caught up in playing music though,” he says now, “so, I wasn’t really a father to my children back then. It’s not something I’m proud of…” When Benny and Bjorn met for the first time, 42 years ago, under that elm tree, they spoke of wanting to make a record as good as Pet Sounds. When The Hep Stars split up shortly after, and The Hootenany Singers began running on empty, they finally got around to their first collaboration. The soundtrack to a Swedish porn film, Inga. Nice. “Yeah, we’ve pretty much come full circle now, haven’t we?” smiles Ulvaeus. “Inga and Mamma Mia! sort of make a nice set of bookends…” “I wonder if they’ll make a DVD box-set out of the two,” adds Benny, with a laugh. “It would be nice to see such an underground Swedish classic finally get the recognition it deserves. We could say it was the film Meryl Streep’s character was watching the night she conceived…” Plan B wasn’t exactly inspired either, as Bjorn enlisted the help of his wife, and successful solo artist, Agnetha Faltskog (the couple having married in 1971), and Benny called upon his fiancee, Norwegian jazz singer Annifrid ‘Frida’ Lyngstad, to form a, eh, comedy revue. Part of which included Benny and Bjorn dressed as schoolboys, complete with lollipops, and hats with propellors on top. Incredibly, Sweden’s answer to The Krankies lasted a year. With Agnetha and Frida having sung backing vocals on Benny & Bjorn’s 1971 album Happiness, the four then decided to tour as a group, firstly as The Engaged Couples, and later, with the release of the single ‘People Need Love’ in June 1972, as Bjorn, Benny, Agnetha & Frida. A radio competition by their manager, Stig Anderson, designed to let the public choose a better name, resulted in a shortlist of Alibaba, Friends And Neighbours, and Baba. The band’s manager decided to come up with one of his own,

front cover by peter mazel/sunshine/retnauk; previous spread by gab archives/redferns




“Even though we were dressed up like we might just be mad, we had thought long and hard about what we were hoping to do. We had dreams too, of where we might be able to go with our music. We knew we had to make commercial, catchy songs, but we were always ready to push ourselves within those confines.”

camera press/heilemann

but soon realised that Abba was also the name of the largest fishcanning company in Sweden. Stig promptly sent them a letter. “And they wrote back,” laughs Bjorn, “and said it was fine once we didn’t do anything that reflected badly on the fish industry.” Bang goes that Abba concept album based on Moby Dick. Besides (cue bad pun siren), the boys had bigger fish to fry.

When Benny and Bjorn produced the Swedish entry in the 1972 Eurovision Song Contest – Lena Andersson’s ‘Better To Have Loved’, which came in third – they were rewarded with a No.1 hit in their native Sweden, and the firm belief that the Eurovision offered the best chance of an international breakthrough. This was in the days, of course, before transvestites, Orcs

and turkeys became the norm. And so the boys enter ‘Ring Ring’ as Sweden’s potential enty for Eurovision 1973. The song failed to qualify, but an English version went on to hit the No.1 spot in Austria, Holland, Belgium and South Africa. Still determined, the boys entered ‘Waterloo’ into the 1974 Eurovision. “And the rest is – drum roll, please – history,” says Bjorn. Having already enjoyed so much success before ‘Waterloo’ suddenly meant that even people in Castletownbere knew who they were, did Andersson and Ulvaeus truly believe that they were about to become an international phenomenon? The previous two Eurovision winners, both from Luxembourg – 1973’s Anne-Marie David (with ‘Tu Te Reconnaitras’), and 1972’s Vicky Leandros (with ‘Apres Toi’) – hardly became household names. Even in their own households.


camera press/heilemann


62 Abba


“I think we were optimistic, let’s put it that way,” says Benny. “We were determined also, but, yes, you could never be sure of anything in this business, and we just saw this as our chance to move forward. To reach a bigger audience.” “You have to remember, even though we were dressed up like we might just be mad, we had thought long and hard about what we were hoping to do,” says Bjorn. “We had dreams too, of where we might be able to go with our music. This all started with The Beatles, with Brian Wilson. We knew we had to make commercial, catchy songs, but we were always ready to push ourselves within those confines.” “And it’s not like having No. 1s around the world wasn’t rewarding,” smiles Benny. So, given just how many No. 1s Abba scored around the world during their chart-topping reign, from 1974 to 1982 – with record sales now estimated at a staggering 370 million - is it possible for the two men who wrote them all to pick favourites? I’m guessing ‘Sitting In The Palm Tree’ is not in the list, right? “You would be right, it’s not,” laughs Bjorn, referring to the Waterloo album’s reggae outing. “I’m afraid I don’t have one. It’s really difficult to say.” “They’re all different,” interjects Benny. “If you take ‘Dancing Queen’: good recording, good song. ‘Thank You For The Music’: good song, bad recording. Em, ‘Knowing Me, Knowing You’: great song, great recording. But they’re all… I don’t know, they all have a place, you know. It’s impossible to choose one. ‘Winner Takes It All’ might be the one. Maybe.” Bjorn takes over: “Also, we tried to emulate what The Beatles had done; to develop from album to album. To take another step, to be more daring. Which means that there are early period favourites, favourites from the middle period, and favourites from the end. So, that’s why it’s impossible to pick just one.” Given that, in the 1980s, Andersson and Ulvaeus allowed their songs to be licensed off to budget labels, had they fallen out of love with Abba’s back catalogue, or were they just being practical? When Polydor suggested releasing Abba Gold in 1992, Benny joked that they should have been releasing Abba Wood. “I’m very proud of them, indeed,” says Bjorn. “Whenever I hear something on the radio, it still sounds – most of them, anyway – still sound uplifting and fresh. And I don’t know why. “When we split up in ’81 or ’82, whenever that was, I thought that was the end of it. And I know, as you said, there were a lot of records out, various labels and stuff, and it wasn’t until the beginning of the ‘90s, when Abba Gold was released, that there was a change in the weather. But all through that time, of course, we were still very proud of the stuff.” “I think we should be forgiven for some of it, like any artist,” notes Benny. “I mean, you try your best all the time, and sometimes the results are not exactly what you expected. At least when you see it in retrospect. But basically, I agree with Bjorn; we’re very proud of the work we did with Abba, and we’re very proud of the work we did with this film.” The arrival of The Beatles kick-started it all, and Pet Sounds gave Benny and Bjorn something to aim for. Other influences? “Oh, many,” smiles Benny. “The Beatles above all,” warns Bjorn. We’re back to Benny: “Brian Wilson – the greatest of them all, I think. I don’t know…Ray Davies. And then the great guys; Irving Berlin. Richard Rodgers…”


And Bjorn again: “The great producers, like Phil Spector. Lots of people…”

As much as love has inspired many a wonderful song, the crushing pain of heartbreak seems to bring out the best in songwriters. Think of Blood On The Tracks, Rumours and the latter third of Abba’s output. Bjorn and Agnetha announced their separation on December 24, 1978, just two months and three weeks after Benny and Frida got married in Sweden. On Valentine’s Day, 1981, Benny and Frida anounced that they were filing for divorce. The heartbreak going on behind the scenes would have hardly come as a surprise to anyone who was paying attention to the songs Abba were producing around this time. ‘The Winner Takes It All’, ‘One Of Us’, ‘When All Is Said And Done’, ‘I Know There’s Something Going On’, ‘The Day Before You Came’… Bjorn, the lyricist, had his ex-wife, Agnetha, singing “But tell me does she kiss/Like I used to kiss you?/Does it feel the same/ When she calls your name?” on ‘The Winner Takes It All’, a No. 1 hit for Abba in August 1980. The following January, Bjorn married Lena Kallersjo, and on the last day of 1981, Benny married Swedish TV personality Mona Norklit. Strange, strained days? “It was definitely strange for a while,” nods Bjorn. “You’d come into the studio to work, and you all hadn’t seen each other for a few weeks, and of course, you couldn’t really ask each other what you had been up to. To be honest though, there’s a strange kind of energy that comes from something like a divorce.” “From any emotional upheaval, really,” adds Benny. “And it probably helped us get through some things too,” continues Bjorn. “When I presented the lyrics to ‘The Winner Takes It All’ to Agnetha and Frida, with that opening line, “I don’t want to talk”, there were tears.”

Our time is nearly up, and the publicist is back in the room. So we should finish with some soft and breezy questions. Help promote the new movie, and all that. So, you guys always happy with the idea of a movie? Didn’t work for Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band when the Bee Gees unwisely decided to adapt The Beatles’ classic album to the screen in 1978, or Phantom Of The Opera, Joel Schumacher’s attempt to turn the long-running stage musical into a blockbuster… “Oh, absolutely happy with the idea, absolutely,” enthuses Benny. “After the stage musical had become a big hit, obviously people started to talk about a movie, and as far as I’m concerned, it was only a matter of time before we would do it,” Bjorn adds, “because everyone wanted it. It was about one and a half years ago when we decided now was the time. Very hard to say exactly when you should do it and when you shouldn’t.” “But we were not reluctant, this time,” sighs Benny. What about seeing their perfectly formed three-minute pop gems being performed by a bunch of non-professional singers, such as Stellan, Colin and Pierce? When Brosnan breaks into ‘S.O.S.’ in the movie, for the first few bars, State genuinely believed he was putting on a joke voice… “I know these guys were all very nervous when they headed into the studio with us to do the pre-records,” Benny notes.




To be honest though, there’s a strange kind of energy that comes from something like a divorce. And it probably helped us get through some things too. When I presented the lyrics to ‘The Winner Takes It All’ to Agnetha and Frida, with that opening line, “I don’t want to talk”, there were tears.”


chunk of the music is sung by the mother and her daughter, and we knew we were on safe ground, because we met with Meryl and with Amanda, and went through all the music. We wanted to know who was in this movie before we went ahead.”

State wonders if there was a specific moment when the main protagonists realised that Abba were coming back from the dead. They had been wary when the tribute act, Bjorn Again, came out in 1989, feeling that they might just be making fun of Abba, but then, bands like U2 started requesting their presence on stage, Erasure released the four-track ‘Abbaesque’ – a No. 1 in 1992 – and the Australian comedy, Muriel’s Wedding, was driven by Abba songs. A real love for Abba was suddenly all around, with even the critics who slammed them when they were scoring hit after hit now trumpeting Abba as true pop giants, State included. “Something happened towards the end of the ‘80s,” nods

peter still/redferns

“Within half an hour though, Pierce, Stellan and Colin were around the mic, like the Andrew Sisters. So, you know, we’re not that hard on our subjects…” “I told them later that they looked like three frightened schoolboys coming in to see the teacher,” adds Bjorn. “That’s the kind of effect we have on people.” They both let out a laugh. But did Benny and Bjorn have a say in the casting? “Absolutely, yes,” says Benny. “There was only one thing that we stipulated: anyone who wants to be in this movie needs to be able to sing. Period. And so, we saw everybody. We were sent DVDs. Also, Martin Lowe, our musical director, went around when we couldn’t be there, meeting up with Julie, Colin and others. Pierce we saw in this Irish thing, singing in a pub [Evelyn] and Stellan, I auditioned over a cell phone. Although he told me later that he just handed the phone over to a friend of his who could actually sing. “But we knew that we were safe,” he continues. “The major



Bjorn. “All those things that you now mention happened, plus the record company released Abba Gold. And I don’t know why exactly…” “Small things happened and major things happened,” adds Benny. “Like the movie, Muriel’s Wedding, and Erasure having the four-track EP, so then we started to feel, ‘wow, this corpse is alive’. And that happened again, obviously, after Mamma Mia!, the show, We don’t know about the movie yet, but the show, definitely.” “And this revival took me completely by surprise,” says Bjorn. “Not me,” Benny quips. Bjorn lets out a laugh. “Not you. But I thought that was the end of it, at the beginning of the ‘80s. I was sure.” Benny nods, “Absolutely. We were dead sure.” So how do Agnetha and Frida feel about the fact that the songs they brought to life are still popular 26 years after all seemed to be said and done? “I think they’re equally flattered and as happy about it as we are,” says Benny. “Yeah,” nods Bjorn. “Because they know, even though they didn’t write the songs, we wouldn’t be sitting here if they weren’t involved from the beginning,” finishes Benny. “We know that, and they know that, and we know that they know. “But yeah, absolutely, they’ve seen the show a couple of times, and I know that they enjoy it, and if they don’t feel a part of it in some respect, they know that they’re the platform that everything took off from…”

We’re blogging this! is your daily digital dose of State Magazine full of news, mp3s, reviews, interviews and giveaways.

You could be working. Or you could be pretending to work and actually be checking out:

camera press/ heilemann

The latest Singles and EPs reviewed Summer Festival reviews: Oxegen, Analog Festival, Download Interviews: Albert Hammond Jr, Simian Mobile Disco, Siouxsie Sioux, Holly Golightly MP3s: Lykke Li, Mercury Rev, The Flaws, The School, Podcasts and Mixes


Holidays By Mistake Fake being a local around the world

Words by Louise Healy

Rwanda Getting up close and personal with a silverback gorilla, revisiting the most atrocious acts of genocide in recent memory, sipping cocktails on East Africa’s answer to the Med. Welcome to Rwanda.

“Crouch down, don’t move a muscle and don’t say a word,” the guide the famous Susa family that reside in this said with steady unease as the silverback charged towards us, beating his mighty fists against his chest. Squatting down in the thick vegetation of the Karisimbi forest in northwest Rwanda with nowhere to run and absolutely nowhere to hide, State began to question why it had come here, and paid to come here at that. We were all in a semi state of paralysis, eyes fixed on the ground, not wanting to make any visual contact with the leader of the pack. “It’s ok, gorillas are vegetarians: they won’t want to eat us,” whispered a girl with conviction, to which State responded with the filthiest glare we could muster as the 160kg beast continued to advance, thrashing his way through the bushes to get a better glimpse of these strangers who had invaded his home. Thankfully, our guide, knowledgeable in the ways of gorillas and particularly


massive forest bordering Uganda, made some awkward howling and grunting sounds and in less than a minute, disaster was averted. When we finally got the courage to raise our heads and breathe easy, we saw a family of eight gorillas chomping on the lush greenery ahead of us. It really was like a throwback to Gorillas In The Mist, the famous film about the life of gorilla conservationist Dian Fossey who went to Rwanda 40 years ago to work with and protect endangered gorillas from poachers and a corrupt government on a macho killing spree. While the poaching of gorillas has been somewhat curbed, it is just a small part in a bitter past that Rwanda is still trying to recover from.

Look Around Rwanda still has an image problem. Say its name and people instinctively think of two

things: mass genocide and Hotel Rwanda, the Hollywood movie about the events of 1994 when genocide on an unfathomable level hit the country and resulted in the massacre of more than 900,000 people. The core of it was civil, between the Tutsi and Hutu tribes, each vying for power. But when things got complicated and the government backed the Hutus, thousands of people were butchered in massacres that plagued the whole country. This climaxed in 1994 and 14 years on, the country is still only getting back on its feet. Contrary to what people may think, however, Rwanda today is an extremely safe country to visit. Tourism as such has yet to be developed, and as a result, the Rwandese people still see travellers here as a relative novelty, and in turn will give their time and help, imparting advice to visitors and expecting nothing in return. Kigali, the capital, is a hub of activity and is slowly but surely regaining its reputation as Rwanda’s party town. Its main attraction is Rwanda’s official genocide museum, which is a must for any tourist as it outlines in detail the events that unfolded here, events that made the country the location for one of the most vicious attempts at genocide in history. It is especially worthwhile for those intending to also go south to Ntarama, Nyamata or Murambi (the site of one of the biggest massacres: 80,000 people were killed there over two days in April 1994) to visit the harrowing genocide memorials. A ride to the museum, which is on the outskirts of town, on a boda-boda (a motorcycle taxi – a tourist attraction in itself) costs about 20 cent. Stop off at the restaurant on Rue de Kalisimbi for some tilapia and soak up the bamboo decor and relaxed ambiance. Afterwards, for a real Rwandese watering hole experience, try Turtle Cafe on Rue du Travail, for pumping live African tunes, or

Making time Get in the mood or simply be an armchair traveller

Get this album Rwandan-Belgian singer Cecile Kayirebwa’s acclaimed album Ubamanzi. Download this single ‘Mama Ararira (Medley)’ by Afro Celt Soundsystem, from the Hotel Rwanda soundtrack.

the Okapi Hotel, which has a fabulous bar and an extensive menu, with dishes from around the globe. Apart from that, there are no other real sights and activities as such to see in Kigali, which makes for an excellent place to soak up the atmosphere and relax, before embarking on any trip around rural Rwanda. And it’s here where the real essence and beauty of the country lies. Known as Les Pays des Milles Collines (Land of a Thousand Hills), Rwanda is a country full of tumbling hills, where almost every unprotected piece of land is cultivated: even the sheer mountainsides are edged with countless terraces full of beans, potatoes and millet. From distance, the landscape looks like it has been covered in a large patchwork quilt of deep browns and greens, making it look like something straight out of Tolkien’s imagination. And nowhere are the mountains more vast and stunning than the magnificent Virunga volcanoes in the northwest, where, hidden in the dense forests are some of the world’s last remaining mountain gorillas. The Parc National des Volcans, a chain of seven volcanoes that border with Congo and Uganda, are the definitive place in Rwanda to track some of the world’s 706 endangered mountain gorillas. Rwanda is a relatively cheap country to visit, but tracking the rare mountain gorillas is not. And while US$500 (€318) may sound like a high price to pay for just an hour, the chance to encounter one of these gorillas in all their glory really is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity which no tourist going to Rwanda should miss. And the bonus with visiting the gorillas in Rwanda rather than neighbouring Uganda is that in Rwanda, a gorilla tracking tour in Ruhengeri in the north west can be booked the day before through the local ORTPN,

Rwanda Office of Tourism and National Parks, in Kigali. And that’s exactly what State did. So we set off with our local guide, Francis, and somehow managed to catch a glimpse of the Susa family within an hour of trekking into the Karisimbi forest (some tours can take up to seven hours to find the gorillas). After the short but gruelling hike scaling 2,800 metres through the mucky undergrowth with rain spilling from the heavens, we came across the creatures that became Dian Fossey’s obsession. And it was clear why. It was a wet day but when the early morning sun finally broke through the clouds and suffused the sky with gold, shimmering against the surrounding landscape, these creatures, and even the babies, looked invincible. They playfully bounded over the broken trees and thick vegetation, all the time hollering to each other in ambiguous howls and squeals. Gorillas from the pack encircled us from the sides and behind...but mostly just out of curiosity. And the silverback that had been so territorial, ended up sitting down and covering up his face from the prying eyes and camera lenses in an act of defiance. As we made our way back down the mountain, there was a still silence all around, as we contemplated the beautiful sight we had just encountered. Even sitting on the beachside resort of Lake Kivu at Kibuye, Rwanda’s new Mediterranean, it was hard to forget the image of some of the world’s last remaining gorillas. Rwanda may still be recovering from a bitter past but visit it and you will feel at times that you are amongst the privileged few who are exploring the country for the first time. It’s the hidden gem in east Africa that hasn’t yet been exploited by mass tourism. Get there quickly before this well kept-secret gets out.

Watch this film Check out Hotel Rwanda, a film about hotelier Paul Rusesabagina, an ordinary man who, during the genocide, summons extraordinary courage to save the lives of over a thousand helpless refugees. Read this book Shake Hands With The Devil, by LieutenantGeneral Romeo Dallaire of the Canadian Forces, chronicles the fateful months of Dallaire’s tour as Force Commander of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda (UNAMIR) in 1993-1994, during which he witnessed the 1994 Rwandan Genocide.

Eat this Cassava, a tropical starchy perennial plant, is the most popular staple here. Try Umutsima (cassava and corn), Isombe (cassava leaves with eggplant and spinach) and mizuzu (fried plantains) and get the thumbs up from the locals. Drink this Most people don’t realise that Rwanda produces some of the finest coffee beans in Africa. Due to the political unrest over the last three decades, there was little growth and even less to export, but its high altitude, consistent temperatures and rich African soil makes Rwandan coffee extremely rich.





…at Oxegen, Friday, July 11

Words by Kara Manning

Chinese Whispers Seated in the second floor lounge of a hopelessly generic Holiday Inn in Manhattan’s chaotic Chinatown district is a striking young woman dressed in riotous excess: next 71


Sa Dingding

“I think everything is freedom. My music is very special because it only belongs to me and I’m free enough to express what I’m really thinking, express my sincere heart.”

an artfully shredded, hand-embroidered chocolate brown tunic, purple pantaloons and gold stiletto sandals studded with synthetic gemstones. Baubles of multi-coloured, wooden beads are draped around her neck and dangling heavily from her ears. Her long black hair is plaited with red yarn, like a Rasta weave gone Raggedy Ann mad. She looks perfectly freaky for a Monday afternoon, but also preternaturally elegant and unforgettable, which seems to be the exact impression Chinese singer Sa Dingding hopes to give Americans on her first full day in New York. The 25-year old Beijing-based Sa – her first name is Dingding – is poised for an international breakthrough, spurred on by the global release of her second album Alive. The CD, a well-crafted mélange of mellow electronica awash with traditional flourishes, is sung in Chinese, Sanskrit, Sa’s own imaginary language and, surprisingly, Tibetan. Primarily produced and written by Sa, Alive went double platinum in China and won BBC Radio 3’s World Music Award in the Asian/Pacific category this year. And while it will keep her far from Beijing during this month’s Olympics, Sa is focused on European and UK gigs this summer, including the UK’s Womad Festival in July and Ireland’s Festival of World Cultures in Dun Laoghaire this month. She will return home in September for


a benefit concert at Beijing’s National Stadium for survivors of the deadly Sichuan Province earthquake last May.

Demands for Tibetan independence, Olympic torch relay protests and human rights criticisms of her country – plus Sa’s inchoate comment to a British newspaper supporting China’s Tibetan policy – has proffered some rough publicity. Sa and her Universal Music China translator Sunny Wu, one of two A&R executives who discovered the former television talent show finalist, vaguely confirmed that while initially invited to perform at the Glastonbury Festival in June, the invitation was, essentially, withdrawn. Was there a reason given? A crackling discussion in Chinese ensues between Sa and Wu. Yes, she was invited and yes, sort of uninvited. Were you disappointed? Sa shakes her head. “Next year!” she offers brightly, with a cautious smile. When asked how it feels to be tagged as ‘controversial’ by the press, Sa deflects the question. “I live my music every day,” Sa finally offers, while Wu continues: “She doesn’t care what people call her: she just cares about people’s reaction to her music.” But State wonders if a morsel of subversion lurks beneath Sa’s


unruffled demeanor. One of her MySpace ‘Top Friends’ is Björk, whose pro-Tibet comments during a March concert in Shanghai helped fuel the Chinese Ministry of Culture’s new sanctions on foreign entertainers they believe threaten “our nation’s sovereignty”. Sa will only say she is aware of the incident, but speaks enthusiastically about Björk and Kate Bush as “very special in words, music and spirit”. “When I look at their performance I think, ‘Oh! I love them,’” says Sa, who is unabashedly proud of her own partiallyimprovised live show with a band of six musicians. She’s keen to perform in Ireland: her live version of ‘Lagu Lagu’, sung in an imaginary tongue she describes as “deep memories and emotion”, features a Celtic-inspired violin solo. Jody Ackland, artistic director of the Festival of World Cultures, describes Sa’s show as “a promoter’s dream,” comparing it to a “live film soundtrack.” Sa now sighs that Alive is “the saddest product” because it cannot be changed (“the shame, regret and imperfections, it’s all there”), but she’s unveiled two new songs on tour called ‘Xi Ran Ning Po’ and ‘China Girl’. As for the latter track, when State asks if she knows of the 1983 David Bowie and Iggy Pop-penned single, released the year she was born, Sa giggles: she has never heard of it. Nevertheless, she seems to have easily accessed Western music while growing up, listening to Tiesto, Gwen Stefani, Linkin Park and Nine Inch Nails. If anyone could remix Alive, she’d choose Jay-Z (“I like his singing. I think it’s very aggressive!”). Her most adored influences – Deep Forest and Paul Oakenfold – are now, magically, collaborators. Oakenfold, whose 2002 album Bunkka is frequently praised by Sa, met the singer in Shanghai and later requested two vocal

Sa Dingding

tracks, which she recorded over a demo for his next album. While in France in April, Sa spent two days in a studio with Eric Mouquet of Deep Forest and now the duo, who recorded three tracks during that session, including ‘It Won’t Be Long’, honouring earthquake victims, hope to record an entire album together.

Sa, the only child of a Han Chinese government official and a Mongolian-born doctor, describes her music as an expansion of the nomadic “freedom” she felt as a little girl, living in the grasslands of inner Mongolia with her grandmother. “I think everything is freedom,” explains Sa. “My music is very special because it only belongs to me and I’m free enough to express what I’m really thinking, express my sincere heart.” She uses the word “freedom” often and, as if to punctuate her affection for the noun, plans to visit the Statue of Liberty during her 60-hour stay in New York. She describes herself as a “spiritual person”, studying Buddhism, yoga and other world religions. Although she had never seen Tibet when she recorded ‘Holy Incense’, from the 2006 film Prince Of The Himalayas, she has since visited four times, filming the video for ‘Alive’ in that country’s remote kingdom of Guge. It was a transformative experience for Sa, who says she felt “the power of the universe” while clambering up a mountain. “The Tibetan culture is very special in Chinese culture,” says Sa carefully. “I am inner Mongolia people, and Mongolian culture is very close to the Tibetan culture. I love their culture. I love electronic music. I think the two can mix.” Sa Dingding plays the Festival Of World Cultures, August 24. More details below.

Festival of World Cultures Highlights From humble beginnings at the turn of the decade, the Festival of World Cultures has grown into one of Europe’s great events, attracting a quarter of a million people over the weekend last year. Sa Dingding is just one of the many highlights, scattered around Dún Laoghaire town in a mixture of free (including the main outdoor stage) and paid events. Friday, August 22 Éthiopiques Pavillion Theatre From a golden era of Ethiopian music in the ‘60s and ‘70s, when Emperor Haile Selassie I ruled over a proud nation famous for its ‘swinging’ nightlife, Éthiopiques are the sound of original African jazz. With a line-up taken from the region’s most legendary soul and funk musicians, expect a night of lo-fi, raw brilliance. Saturday, August 23 Tiken Jah Fakoly Newtownsmith Main Stage African reggae star Tiken Jah Fakoly has been the conscience of a continent, working tirelessly to denounce political corruption. With his fusion of infectious reggae, African rhythms, rich vocals and uncompromising lyrics, he has become a sonic spokesperson for millions of

Africans who have been disenfranchised by globalisation and political tyrannies. Sunday, August 24 Lisa Hannigan Kingston Hotel Gardens Irish music has always had a place at the festival, with the free Kingston events now home to the likes of Mundy, Dempsey and Interference. Lisa Hannigan takes her place this year, part of her ongoing build-up to next month’s highly anticipated debut album. Sunday, August 24 Balkan Beat Box Purty Kitchen Born in Brooklyn to Israeli parentage, this innovative duo began experimenting by remixing samples with live music when the sound they desired could not be found. Merging Balkan

gypsy music, Mediterranean rhythms and Brooklyn hip-hop beats with electronica and Arabic flavours, the result is an exciting blend of energetic and original dancehall music for the 21st century. See for full info






Input 73

State reviews & previews

albums Are CSS our friends electric? Kitty, Daisy & Lewis roll back the years. Black Kids and Agnostic Mountain Gospel choir impress. U2 go back to their roots. David Bowie is live and direct.



★★★★★ ★★★★ ★★★ ★★ ★

digital All the best MP3s of the month for you to hug, from cutting edge remixes to ‘60s soul and ‘50s cigarette promotions.


dvd Ryan Gosling grows a ‘tache, buys a blow-up doll and turns an entire town upside-down in Craig Gillespie’s deliciously off-kilter comedy. The return of Mike Leigh. Plus, Joy Division get the documentary treatment.


tv Technology and the girl – an uneasy relationship. Just where to draw the line when it comes to TV tech. Plus, people running and throwing things, Saddam’s house and how to stay healthy.


books Fight Club author Chuck Palahniuk’s latest effort sees 600 men standing in line, waiting for one minute with a porn queen: yes, it’s as tedious and full of cock jokes as you’d expect.


Kitty, Daisy and Lewis are a rock ‘n’ roll band. And we say rock ‘n’ roll, we mean rock ‘n’ roll – Elvis, Jerry Lee, Sleepy Labeef, that sort of thing. Hailing from North London and with an average age of just 16, the sibling trio make music that is proudly retro, utterly nostalgic and quite, quite brilliant.

games Once more into the breach with EA’s Battlefield: Bad Company; Solid Snake bows out; while Buzz makes his handheld debut.




illustration by brenb


(sub pop)

If Kitt from Knight Rider could review tunes, and no doubt he spat out a few of the Hoff’s more questionable tapes in his time, not only would this have made a very decent spin-off chart show but evaluating the merits of an album like Donkey would be a damn sight easier for him than it is for this puny human. Logically, the car would argue, there’s nothing amiss with CSS’s new record, being as it is a general blast from start to finish, but trust us, there’s something wrong here. We’ll start with the rights. We get a songwriting level that has seen the Brazilians dramatically up their game from their self-titled debut. Lyrically, they’re as clever as ever, while showing admirable restraint in not going top-heavy on the pop culture references, as most expected, and whenever they need to drop the guitar for a keyboard, they get the timing spot-on. Tossing about influences such as Dinosaur Jr and Sleater Kinney in the run-up to the record’s due date, the desire to present a more live, raw sound compared to their 2006 debut is evident from the thundering opener, the wonderfully titled ‘Jaeger Yoga’. As if John Cusack were behind

the mixing desk, with track number two, ‘Rat Is Dead (Rage)’, they take it up higher still, before going down a notch with ‘Let’s Reggae All Night’. It continues with the almost Editors-esque ‘Give Up’, before frontwoman Lovefoxx gets delightfully soppy about being on tour with ‘Beautiful Song’. So what’s wrong then? Well, to begin with, repeated listens highlight the fact that by taking a more focused approach to their craft, they’ve sacrificed some of the mess that charmed us all in the first place. Whereas on the last record, they ripped all your clothes off, this time around there’s just a nudge and a wink. Call us a sucker for a fucked-up bird, but Lovefoxx calling Paris Hilton a “bitch” repeatedly on the first record just did it for us in a way that her admittedly crisp delivery of album denouement ‘Air Painter’ doesn’t. We’ll call it Yeah Yeah Yeah syndrome. A wilfully laid-back approach doesn’t have to sacrifice all sense of emotive power either and were Donkey to contain a song with the balls of say, ‘All My Friends’, then the feeling that they may not mean it would almost certainly be extinguished. Instead, the closest to such elegance is ‘Left Behind’, the lead single and possibly the best bridge into their new six-string-driven direction. Located near the halfway mark, though,

it is also the point when CSS begin to repeat themselves. Songs like ‘How I Became Paranoid’ and ‘Move’ are excellent when taken on their own merits but seem eerily familiar to what went on 20 minutes before. Maybe going to places that touched a nerve wasn’t what they wanted to do after what has been a breakneck two years, which has also seen their numbers decrease by one after the defection of bass player Ira Trevisan, who left to “dedicate more time to fashion”. Whatever the successes or defects, there’s not so much a nagging feeling as a great big thumping certainty that tells you that the gods have deemed that Donkey will be the shit of 2008. The majority of songs will easily find their way to soundtracking all manner of TV commercials, sports highlights, movie trailers and CSI promos. It’s the kind of record with enough credibility to see a TV or movie exec. go weak at the knees with options of where to stick something as frenetically funky as ‘I Fly’ to plug their wares. Overall, it’s proof that an album containing a host of great songs does not necessarily make a great album. Try explaining that to a $40 million car. ~ John Joe Worrall


Albums Seneca Sweeter Than Bourbon

(west pole mgm)

Limerick four-piece Seneca’s debut album gets off to a promising start with the upbeat and uber radio friendly ‘Sleepless Amazing’, all lilting guitars and lo-fi layering of melodies. However, from here on in, it all goes rapidly downhill. ‘Clarity’ features some uplifting violin which showcases the band’s penchant for traditional Irish music. The violins also intend to gently tug on listeners’ heart strings as vocalist, Rob Hope lays his heart bare. Now we’re all for raw emotion and heartache in songwriting here at State (Bon Iver makes us weak at the knees) but Hope’s lyrics are cringeworthy, due to their simplistic wording and overused themes about failed relationships. The rest of the album plods along inconsequentially and soon all the songs begin to fade to one bland wall of noise. In fact, Seneca’s music could provide the perfect backdrop for RTE’s medical drama, The Clinic. Can’t you just imagine nurse Keelin breaking the news to Keith Duffy’s character that he’s going to have to lay off the fags and booze as Seneca’s ‘Good For What Ails You’ plays in the background and Keith intones a ‘Wha?’ into the camera, looking deeply vexed. Seneca have been hailed for greatness from many of their local newspapers, praising their anthemic, mainstream and radio-friendly sound. However, there is a real lack of depth here. Scratch the surface and there is nothing to hold onto, apart from a band who have carefully moulded themselves for the mainstream but seem to be lacking a few of the vital ingredients. Unlike the band they’ve been most compared to, Snow Patrol, you can’t imagaine a Senaca live show would be very fun to watch. Overall Sweeter than Bourbon is dangerously MOR, but then again that’s exactly where Irish radio stations get their playlists from, isn’t it? ~ Tia Clarke

Alyanya Spirit

(realise records)

These days, we take it as read that if you’re a pop-folk artist with an acoustic guitar, it in no way implies you are a protest singer. Ergo, Dublin’s Alyanya Massey never threatens to rage against the machine on this, her long-awaited debut album. Instead, the singer-songwriter, who has in the past toured with Luka Bloom and played alongside John Spillane and Christy Moore, turns in a collection of chirpy, soothing tunes probably best described as “nice”. Spirit’s sound and atmosphere are its sellingpoints: Alyanya has a beautiful voice and an undoubted talent for writing simple, breezy, strummed ditties, which never threaten listeners’ expectations or frontiers. In addition, the straightforward, no-frills production lends the album, which was recorded in four days in a


converted church, an appropriately spiritual feel, suitable for wafting through countless shops selling New Age crystals and crushed velvet. But that’s also it’s downfall. Alyanya’s recurring, airy-fairy lyrical pursuit of “peace”, albeit with the earnest enthusiasm of a boho Sunday School teacher, comes without substance or solution, and thus infects the listener with little but chilled apathy. Perhaps that’s the point, but what Irish folk-pop needs is a poetic revolution, not well-meaning but, ultimately, nebulous prayers. ~ Johnnie Craig

Bodies of Water A Certain Feeling

(secretly canadian)

Despite being a foursome, you could be mistaken for thinking Bodies of Water were a 50-strong hippy commune singing their praises to Mother Nature around a fierce night fire. With husband and wife team David Metcalf and Meredith Arthur and friends spinning evangelical vocals and thrashing at an array of strings and brass, comparisons with Arcade Fire are inevitable. But Bodies of Water spread themselves more broadly than the Canadian choral troop. Layering ripe sun-dried harmonies over a smorgasbord of rich, gospel-led prog, A Certain Feeling works its way through various courses of musical mastery. From the dark Spaghetti-western drama of single ‘Under The Pines’, through the sparse and haunting prayer ‘Only You’ to the pop opera rock-out ‘Darling, Be Here’, Bodies of Water get around a bit. But it’s the structure of their epic songs, most over-spilling the five minute mark, that make the Californian choral quartet so appealing. It’s not immediately obvious that the pretty maudlin pop intro to ‘If I Were A Bell’ will lead into a fast-paced Rocky Horror Show number, for example. But if you’re this far into the album, having experienced euphoric prog tour de force ‘Water Here’, you’ll probably have a good idea of what to expect. Opening in a haze of horn, the standout track takes in a meandering guitar riff seemingly plucked straight from the coast of ‘70s California, before a dirty reverb puts it on course of big band jazz, with melodies layering up to a climax of joyous vocal glory.

A Certain Feeling acts as a church for Bodies of Water’s exhilarating musical praise, and their zeal is infectious. ~ Jo-ann Hodgson

Sara Bareilles Little Voice

(sony bmg)

American singer-songwriter Sara Bareilles is already being compared to Fiona Apple, Norah Jones and a less quirky - or irritating -Tori Amos. Little Voice is Bareilles’ first major label release, a collection of songs that veers from vulnerable to sultry, giving an insight into Bareilles’ own life and relationships. The songs are simple, in keeping with her own description of herself (“I’m just not that fancy”), but remain catchy enough to keep you coming back for another listen. Bareilles is at her best, however, when she stops sitting on the radio-friendly fence. The caustic lyrics of ‘Vegas’ - “It’s never your fault you can’t start your own winning streak but I’d hate to lose you to the fortune you seek” - are at odds with the upbeat tempo, but make it more interesting. And that’s what Sara Bareilles’ hook is: she’s far from the bland, disposable pop that is churned out by record companies in an attempt to add more zeros to their sales figures. While some of the tracks are definitely commercial, there are twists you don’t expect in the lyrics. Highlights include the cynical ‘Bottle it Up’, and the children’s tale with a modern twist ‘Fairytale’, where Snow White makes midnight phone calls to escape domestic drudgery and Rapunzel wishes she’d cut her own hair off before any prince tried to climb it. Fiery and intelligent, Little Voice she most certainly isn’t. ~ Ciara O’Brien

The Presets Apocalypso


Anyone who found themselves dancing to The Presets’ stomping ‘Are You the One?’ in a sweaty club would never have guessed that this Australian duo graduated in classical music from Sydney’s Conservatorium of Music. While Julian Hamilton and Kim Moyes have stopped short of presenting us with a concerto for their second album, their combined musical muscle is far more in evidence on Apocalypso than on their 2006 debut, Beams. Comprising four sterling singles and a stack load of filler, Beams didn’t bode well for a lasting career in music. However, the three years The Presets have spent touring since its completion have sharpened their skills to a needlepoint. The album is a melting pot of elements that make up the best of modern electro: a dash of the banging peak time euphoria epitomised by Soulwax, (‘Kicking And Screaming’, ‘My People’), a squeeze of ‘80s-inspired funk á la Chromeo,




Back with a new label and a new album. But have the Scream lost something amid the spit and polish?

Primal Scream Beautiful Future


Primal Scream have always confounded expectations. Just when we had them pegged as shoe-gazing ‘60s revivalists, they opened a big shiny bright Screamadelica-shaped hole in the musical universe, transformed into old school r’n’b rockers and then created some of the most daring electroclash crossover tunes we’ve ever heard. Now, it seems they’ve reinvented themselves as shiny pop tarts. There’s a polish to Beautiful Future that will confound Scream diehards but may win over a legion of skinny jean-clad kids to the cause – quite what they’ll make of dizzy Gillespie and Mani’s edge-of-reason live show is another matter, however. They set their stall out with the opening title track, their most FM-friendly tune since ‘Movin’ On Up’, all insistent keyboard licks and pristine hooks. The ‘70s soul shuffle of ‘Uptown’ takes Gavin Friday’s Night-town concept and gives it a rinse and blow-dry, before sending it out into the rain wearing only a raincoat and stilettos. Even the sonic assault of lead single ‘Can’t Go Back’ is tempered with the kind of pop synths that are making eyes at the charts. Their cover of Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Over & Over’ sees Bobby trading vocals with folk legend Linda Thompson, and is arguably the best thing here, while other special guests include CSS’ Lovefoxx on the hugely disappointing ‘I Love To Hurt (You Love To Hurt)’. Elsewhere, this is Scream-by-numbers, with ‘Suicide Bomb’ and ‘Zombie Man’ merely aping past glories, albeit with a glossier coat, while the awful ‘The Glory Of Love’ manages to remind State simultaneously of The Human League and Bon Jovi. Come on boys, you can do much better than this. ~ John Walshe

(‘Yippiyo-Ay’, ‘Talk Like That’) and a sprinkling of emotionally charged Cut Copy-esque synth rock (‘This Boy’s In Love’). The result is unique, self-assured and the consistent quality is only slightly dampened by the underwhelming UK bonus track, ‘Buzz Factory’, and the otherwise brilliant ‘Talk Like That’s creepy lyrics; “My how you’ve grown/ Turn out the lights/ We’re at your daddy’s home but he’s not listening.” Sleazy murmurings aside, if this is what the dancing at the end of the world sounds like, State will be strapping on a pair of red stilettos. ~ Saoirse Patterson

Kitty, Daisy & Lewis Kitty, Daisy & Lewis

(sunday best)

Music today is all about striving for the new, exploring uncharted avenues, looking for the next big thing. Or if you’re Lewis Durham, it’s about painstakingly re-creating the Sun Records recording studio in your house. That, in a nutshell, is how he and his sisters operate. Despite being all of tender years (15, 17 and 18), for them, music stopped around about 1959. After overseeing a compilation of the A-Z of rock ‘n’ roll last year, their debut finds them mining the same source for themselves. Made up mainly of,

mostly obscure, covers, the recording is as lo-fi as you might expect for a home-built studio, yet absolutely crackles with the authentic energy of the time. Born into a musical family (mother Ingrid Weiss was the drummer in The Raincoats), the record works because it sounds like the most natural thing in the world for three teenagers from North London to be doing, rather than paying lip service to a genre that might garner them a few column inches: hell, Lewis even does his own 78 rpm DJ set. What is more astonishing is that they are able to handle the material so adeptly, especially the vocals of the two sisters, who manage to holler their way through the old Chess classics with genuine authority and passion. They even manage to throw in a couple of their own songs that more than stand up for themselves. Out of step they may be, but Kitty, Daisy & Lewis are an absolute find. ~ Phil Udell

Nas Untitled

(def jam)

These are strange times for Nasir Jones: bloggers tripped over themselves earlier this year lumping praise on him after dropping The Nigger Tape mixtape with DJ Green Lantern. The stage was set

for Nas to produce his most explosive full-length since bursting on the scene with 1994’s debut Illmatic. On top of that, his ninth album was to be called Nigger – that was until the big retail giants got in on the act and scuppered any chances of that working out. Unfortunately, his attempts at becoming overtly political, in this of all years, seem ill-conceived. Sure, you can’t really fault his objectives, but his prose lacks the venom or elegance of a Chuck D. Untitled gets bogged down as Nas angrily strives for martyrdom, by having a pop at the usual targets: for instance, ‘Sly Fox’ sticks it to Rupert Murdoch, while also casting shadows over his bosses at Universal. Nas is a paradoxical character: On ‘America’, he cries about the lack of “niggas in NASA”, yet on ‘Make The World Go Round’, he glamorises thug-life, while ‘Testify’ even sees a shout-out to notorious gangster Sherm Da Worm (“80 years/ come home nigga”). With this in mind, Nas’ preaching starts to wear thin, very quickly, with women’s lib, Bushbaiting, global warming, and anti-death penalty sentiments all on the agenda. State doubts any of those groupings really crave his patronage. And sadly for Nas, one also sincerely doubts the Obama campaign will be utilising ‘Black President’, or anything else from Untitled this year. ~ Ciarán Ryan





One of hip-hop’s hottest new acts deliver decidedly lukewarm debut.

The Cool Kids The Bake Sale

(xl recordings)

As anybody who’s been within a mile of the internet in the past year knows, one of the hottest prospects in hip-hop today is the auspiciously-named duo, The Cool Kids. Comprising Detroit native Mikey Rocks and Chicagoborn Chuck Inglish, The Cool Kids are adding a dose of much-needed old school to the modern hip-hop climate, dropping laid-back collaborative rhymes atop a shelf of sparse, thudding bass beats. Their influences are easy to pick out: ‘88’ self-consciously knocks off its chorus from one of Nas’ few recent triumphs, ‘Made You Look,’ while the squealing funk horns and furious jazz drum-work of ‘What It Is’ practically scream Bomb Squad. Lead single ‘Black Mag’ gives off strong EPMD vibes, while ‘Gold And A Pager’ references the Low End Theory with a wandering upright bass loop. Not everything is so rosy at The Bake Sale, however. ‘A Little Bit Cooler’ and ‘Bassment Party’ are playful attempts to send up southern club rap. While the former is arguably the EP’s best track, with its Sega-obsessed chorus, ‘Bassment Party’ is an ugly Miami pastiche, cursed with all the subtly and self-awareness of your dad doing his impression of 2Pac. Opener ‘What Up Man’ boasts the kind of aimless arrangement that would make the fruits of Tommy Lee’s electro project seem majestically pre-ordained, while ‘One Two’ and Nas-aping closer ‘Jingling’ barely warrant a reaction. So the question is posed: are The Cool Kids holding something back or were they just not that good to begin with? ~ Dave Donnelly

Stereolab Chemical Chords


Describing the creative process behind their new record, Stereolab’s Tim Gane has underlined the random nature of each song’s construction: eschewing traditional songwriting, they preferred to improvise, arbitrarily assigning chords to rhythms created in the studio before fleshing each song out properly. The result here is a pop album that seems a little cut-and-pasted - cold and disconnected in places, but elsewhere sounding unnaturally beautiful, almost by accident. Laetitia Sadler’s distinctive vocals reign supreme, brooding and personal in their own undramatic way, and in a sense, this is the album’s problem. The lack of any drama over its 14 short (it is Stereolab) tracks grates a little, and while it certainly evokes a nicely sunny mood, it could too easily be background music. In some places, as on the album’s fine title track, they combine obtuse chord changes with lush instrumentation and lazy percussion in a manner oddly reminiscent of Brian Wilson, while the single ‘Three Women’ is representative of the album as a whole: cheery and entertaining, but there’s just too much of nothing happening. It’s true that Chemical Chords unfolds and improves with repeated listening. As a whole, the myriad disconnected strands in different songs come to form discernible patterns, and the record


has its own cohesive identity. It’s best heard as a whole, with the focus on the intricacy of each track. This is a fine soundtrack for a sunny afternoon in the garden, but don’t be surprised when you forget you’re listening to it. ~ Shane Culloty

Sparkadia Postcard

(ark recordings)

Standout songs include the already mentioned ‘Kiss of Death’, ‘Morning Light’ and ‘Jealousy’. ‘Help Yourself’ is slightly kookier than the other tracks, while ‘Connected’ has echoes of a less irritating Keane. There’s nothing very startling about this release; it won’t set any new standards in originality. But it makes a change from the turgid, identikit pop we’ve grown to know and hate from the southern hemisphere. ~ Ciara O’Brien

Sparkadia are a half decent Australian pop act that don’t have their roots in questionable soap operas, but don’t get your hopes up too much just yet. Postcards is a pleasant diversion from manufactured pop, yet it’s unlikely to set the music world alight just yet. For part of this album at least, Postcards screams sunshine and lazy days by the beach, and may just be the closest we get to a summer feeling. The problem is that you spend most of the album saying “That sounds just like… [insert your own choice of band here]. From the retro feel of ‘Too Much To Do’ to the catchy beat of ‘Kiss of Death’, there’s plenty to draw you in. Frontman Alex Burnett does a decent job, with melodic, at times ethereal vocals and a familiar, comforting sound. But that’s just the problem – it’s a little too familiar. You might find it hard to work up anything above a mild sort of enthusiasm for this music, and you just know they can do better.

She & Him Volume One

(double six)

It is unsurprising that a record made by an actress bounces from one genre to the next. And while Volume One does this, it also sounds like a unified work. Like the best actors, it can mould and change, while all the time retaining traits that pertain purely to that person. So, Hollywood actress Zooey Deschanel’s collaboration with indie folk songwriter M Ward can slink from Beatlesy pop to Spectoresque fare to West Coast country rock with barely the roll of a drum. No matter what M Ward brings to the musical table, it’s Deschanel’s voice that gives the album a spine and a shape. What is surprising is that three-quarters of the album is made up of Deschanel originals, apart from one co-write and two pretty dismal cover versions: three if you




Pretty it may be, but is there enough substance behind the Norwegian’s catchy indie pop? Not so.


Ida Maria Fortress Round My Heart

(sony bmg)

Norwegian songstress Ida Maria has had many a critic fawn over what has been described (and is proudly displayed on the album sleeve) as a mixture of artists and elements, including The Strokes, punk, Björk and Amy Winehouse. Whilst the idea of such a combination is intriguing, her music is in actual fact a much simpler affair: indie pop-rock at its most catchy. Singles ‘Stella’, ‘Queen of the World’ and the imploringly cheeky ‘I Like You So Much Better When You’re Naked’ have already been spinning around the heads of countless alt-pop fans, but opening track ‘Oh My God’ is just as likely to stick. So too is the unashamedly cheerful ‘Louie’, which showcases the clear and tuneful side of Ida’s vocals, as opposed to her raspier tones on more rock-orientated numbers. The highlight of this album has to be its faster fare, with slow songs lacking the edge of their speedy equals. ‘Keep Me Warm’ could be a grower but the vibe of a quiet love song is interrupted somewhat awkwardly by amateurish guitars, which exit as unexpectedly as they enter. ‘See Me Through’ is a more well-rounded, if a little repetitive, attempt at something other than straightforward indie-rock but leans almost too obviously towards its Bjork influences to warrant a boast of genuine originality. Clocking in at the unusually short time of just over half an hour, Fortress Round My Heart is an enjoyable listen, but a lack of real substance calls its staying power into question. ~ Kate Rothwell

include the hidden verse of ‘Swing Low, Sweet Chariot’. Where the album excels is when She & Him concentrate on girl-group homages such as ‘I Was Made For You’ and stand-out, ‘Sweet Darlin’’. These boost the pop factor up to 10 and turn dismal summer days into happy sunshine-y ones, without the aid of the weather. And although some of the more middle of the road and countryinfluenced songs are rather beautiful (‘I Thought I Saw Your Face Today’, ‘Take It Back’), a few more pop tunes in place of the more mediocre country stuff and Dawson’s Creek-type material would have helped the momentum of the record and made it a far superior being. ~ Shane Galvin

Micah P. Hinson Micah P. Hinson And The Red (full time hobby) Empire Orchestra A bad liver and broken heart has been paydirt for many a singer/songwriter since ‘70s lowlifes like Tom Waits and Townes Van Zandt staggered forward. Southern gent Micah P. Hinson is a direct descendent of these American miserableists, but owing to a freak spinal injury three years ago and a subsequent addiction to painkillers, perhaps a bad back and a broken heart is a better description. Hinson’s in good company with other young sentimentalists like Josh Ritter and Willy Mason; ancient voices of wisdom and pathos on youthful


shoulders. …And The Red Empire Orchestra is the Memphis man’s fourth LP, and finds him oddly shtum about the painful medical problems that dogged his touring of late. But wouldn’t you know it, being young and single gives him ample dark matter on this stately and surprisingly playful collection. While believable and poignantly brittle, Hinson’s 40-a-day, pickled croak could grate were it not for his sixth sense in directing a tune. He knows when to give things more slack, extending tidy intros and letting the parts go where they need to. Centrepiece ‘Sunrise Over The Olympus Mons’ rolls along with violins and chiming guitars, before exploding into a momentous squall of whitening noise. You wouldn’t see it coming. Meanwhile, the desperado tension of ‘You Will Find Me’ is a mini-western in under five minutes. For these things, Hinson deserves a pat on the back, even it’s just a light one. ~ Hilary A White

The hiatus in sunnier climes, honing the style he is now peddling, has done Rory the world of good. In a very Dick van Dyke/Eddie Vedder fashion, Rory plays every instrument on the album, excluding the pedal steel. This was not an egotistical move, as Rory highlights on his album, but a financial practicality. Despite being a low budget affair, Rory offers us an album rich in emotion and melody. Even up-tempo, catchy tracks like ‘Its Not Great On Yer Own’ and ‘Dye House’, where The Revs’ stylings peak through, manage to retain some credibility. The country vibe and twangy guitars are strong throughout, from the opening ‘The Oxygen Is Not Pure Anymore’ to the moving album closer, ‘Most Beautiful Thing’. It may be hard for him to escape the shackles of his cartoon punk-pop past, but this conscious, perhaps contrived, effort to re-invent himself as a serious singer/songwriter is somewhat successful. A little bland at times, but a worthy debut solo effort. ~ Aoife McDonnell

Rory God Bless The Big Bang

(buddy records)

Leaving the ADHD days of ‘Wired To The Moon’ behind him, former Revs frontman Rory Gallagher is noticeably calmer on this surprising debut, God Bless The Big Bang. Having moved to Lanzarote in 2007 to work on his solo material, Gallagher spent the time re-inventing himself and now, following in the footsteps of other one name wonders, is now going by the moniker ‘Rory’.

Agnostic Mountain Gospel Choir Ten Thousand

(balling the jack)

Spinning the latest dusty gem from cult roots renegades Agnostic Mountain Gospel Choir is akin to losing yourself in a fabled, bygone realm of moonshiners and madmen, with only the blues and bruised hearts for company. Googling them

Albums to discover the truth and ruin the illusion just seems unfair. Steeped in rich imagery and bearing an authentic, late-night dustbowl spirit that belies its modern-day Calgary conception, the apparently wisened quartet aren’t pretending they have reinvented the (wagon) wheel here on their third album but that’s precisely the point. Everything from the no frills production to the palpable timbre of slackened steel strings, down to the ‘Hell Note’ artwork (in Chinese mythology, people burn these as offerings of good fortune for the dead), reeks of a knowing nod to the past, lending Ten Thousand the air of a belligerent but jubilant celebration of olde tyme values and songs that soothe the soul. Comprising original material that sounds as gloriously vintage as its Son House and Sleepy John Estes covers (‘Empire State Express’ and ‘Stop That Thing’) and boasting a singer in Bob Keelaghan who is one part Tom Waits and one part Muddy Waters, there is much to love here, even if two or three of the later of its 14 tracks could be pared down to make it a more compact whole. This ‘Choir may be a little too niche-interest for some tastes but for those of a similar dissenting voice, theirs is one hymn sheet worth singing from. ~ David McLaughlin


Unkle End Titles… Stories For A Film (surrender all)

Psyence Fiction, Unkle’s dark debut, hinted at greater things to come from James Lavelle and DJ Shadow. On paper, Shadow was an exciting replacement for founder Tim Goldsworthy, but the alliance sounded better on paper. ‘Be There’, a rumbling mantra featuring a well-utilised Ian Brown, was Unkle’s moment of greatness, peaking at No. 8 in the UK. Shadow has departed for pastures not entirely greener, while Lavelle, though prolific in output under the brand as well as collaborative remixes, hasn’t troubled the charts since. Like Massive Attack’s Robert Del Naja, he’s now master of all he surveys, but may not have the head for the occasion if End Titles… is anything to go by. The production is as silken as you’d expect, and Lavelle balances atmosphere with energy harmoniously. ‘In A Broken Dream’, ‘Kaned And Abel’ and ‘Black Mass’ are the Unkle we know and love, but, frustratingly, he book-ends them with the electro-rock equivalent of waffle. Guests come willingly, but the songs don’t always profit. Josh Homme’s Roy Orbison-on-methadone drawl works on the sinister ‘Chemical’, and unknown Gavin Clark does well despite being hampered with still-born rubbish like ‘Blade In The Black’, or the dull Brit-pop of ‘Can’t Hurt’.

‘Nocturnal’’s no-brainer chug is a lowly vehicle for fellow Queen Chris Goss, leaving you wondering how Lavelle woos these people into a studio. Who knows, but one thing’s for certain: he needs a sidekick who’ll say ‘no’ once in a while. ~ Hilary A White

Minotaur Shock Amateur Dramatics


After remixing songs from Hard-Fi, Stars, Holy Fuck and Halfset’s Jeff Martin to impressive effect, and secretly recording techno under the name Principal Participant, Bristol’s David Edwards returns to his own material in the shape of a third album as Minotaur Shock. Amateur Dramatics starts with a woozy piano and violin tune-up on ‘Zookeeper’, before bass and drums kick in, lending creed and direction to the first fluttering minutes. It segues directly into ‘Am Dram’, where the electronics are introduced in the form of squelching synths, gradually outflanking its more organic cousins until a full on Kraftwerk-esque euphoric breakdown. And that’s just the first eight minutes of the album. From there on in, the boundaries between genres become more blurred as electro, orchestral chamber music, 8-bit sounds, acid and growling techno come together and have a fascinating orgy. This shouldn’t really work as well as it does,

~ Niall Byrne


Bettye Swann


The Collection

Dublin music blogger MP3hugger and purveyor of “indie MP3s you can hug” has organised a compilation of unsigned artists from around the world, with the profits from sales going directly back to the artists featured. Volume One is now available and it’s only €4.50 for 10 songs, all of which are deserving of your wallet’s love, including Storkboy Choons, Michael Knight, Cymbals Eat Guitars, The ELF and Slushco.

The Louisiana pop/soul singer’s definitive collection of songs before her move to Atlantic Records are collated here, taken from her time with the Money Recordings label. All of her singles from 1965-1968, some essential songs from her 1967 Make Me Yours LP and nine unreleased tracks. Cliché-free Motown soul.

Available @

50 Best Albums

Available at Amazon MP3, eMusic


The Truth

Stereogum Presents

The Sunny Side of the Remix

RAC Vol 1

Probably the most bizarre remix album State has ever heard. Commissioned by a US website called The Truth which is not anti-smoking per se, but is certainly anti-tobacco industry. The remix album features remixes from Diplo (he’s everywhere, as you can see), Mixmaster Mike, Z-Trip, Cobra Starship and Pete Rock, but it’s littered with light-hearted ‘50s style facts and jingles about cigarettes. Well weird.

The Remix Artist Collective is Portugese André Allen Anjos’ group of producers, whose modus operandi is to make remixes that stay away from the style of club tracks and are more akin to re-interpretations of the originals. Stereogum asked him to create a compilation. The resulting nine tracks take in re-workings of Bloc Party, Au Revoir Simone, Tokyo Police Club and Chromeo with gorgeous cover art too.

Available @

As voted for by eMusic subscribers, you’ll never be stuck for ideas for what to download with this list around: the best independent albums available on the site. Highlights include Pixies -– Doolittle, Pere Ubu – Dub Housing, John Coltrane – Lush Life, John Fahey – The Legend Of Blind Joe Death, The National – Boxer and Neutral Milk Hotel – In The Aeroplane Over The Sea amongst many others.


Albums but by exercising restraint in the mixing of such disparate parts, Edwards succeeds in taking the listener on a genuine musical journey, where one occasionally notices new elements on a familiar old road. If you are looking for reference points, ‘This Plane Is Going To Fall’ is a bouncy dance number with violin parts which recalls The Avalanches’ sense of bliss, ‘Accelerated Footage’ is Analord acid while ‘My Burr’ sounds like Prefuse 73 playing with lush instruments. Amateur Dramatics is available as a digital download from with suggested price for each track (total £6.39) using criteria ratings such as technical difficulty, computer crash, musical difficulty, live instruments played by me and fun/replay factor. A wholly modern and unique release. ~ Niall Byrne

Dirty Pretty Things Romance at Short Notice


However you feel about The Libertines, there’s no denying that their two, some would call decadedefying, albums attracted much critical acclaim. The same sentiment of mass approval is unlikely to be heaped upon Carl Barat’s latest offering with Dirty Pretty Things. Romance At Short Notice opens optimistically, with the dark energy of fairground, drum-heavy ‘Buzzards And Crows’ proving that the power behind Barat’s voice and his musical enthusiasm have remained intact from the fallout of the cult wonderkid days. The Londoner obviously carries a torch for Doherty’s songwriting ways, with stripped-down, reflective numbers ‘Come Closer’ and ‘Truth Begins’ echoing his old band-mate’s manner. And the influence of Mick Jones, the Libertines’ producer, is still apparent in punkier tracks, ‘Hippy’s Son’ and ‘Chinese Dogs’. But if you’re looking for Libertines-style magic here, you’ll not find the same dynamic that sparked Barat and Doherty’s fire in the early noughties. If you’re on a search for good solid indie pop songs, however, you’ve come to the right place. Single ‘Tired Of England’ defines the quartet’s second album, presenting an uplifting summer anthem which progresses into a shady modern nursery rhyme. “The Queen of England sits on her throne, of bingo cards and chicken bones,” leads the melody to the middle eight, which consists a sweetly sang “don’t drink yourself to a


lonely death, in casinos on crystal meth.” Moving into fast-paced American pop-punk, ‘Kick And Consumption’ marks a new direction for the band, although seems to be, once again, about failed friendship. It must be hard to leave the past behind when the hype that came before continues to haunt. ~ Jo-ann Hodgson

David Holmes Holy Pictures


David Holmes has spent half his career scoring huge Hollywood films, and half the rest scoring imaginary films. So the challenge facing any reviewer of Holy Pictures is to avoid the dreaded reflex adjective: cinematic. Like trying to review the Magnetic Fields without using the word “arch”, it’s a frickin’ impossible challenge. Still, there are as many types of films as songs, so cinematic never tells you very much. Usually, it means Monument Valley-style widescreen, but that only applies here to the opening track. ‘I Heard Wonders’ fades in on an insistent, staccato bassline, adding instruments until it reaches one of those supernova moments like The Pixies’ ‘Tame’ or old-school trance, and thundering along from there. Then, there’s ‘The Story Of The Ink’, which Tarantino could surely use, with slashing guitar and gorgeous contrapuntal glockenspiel. ‘Theme’ and ‘Hey Maggie’ have an ache to them that you don’t have room for in Soderbergh soundtracks; but the film State would watch again and again is the one ‘The Ballad Of Sarah And Jack’ is from. Holmes has said that Holy Pictures is inspired by his mum, Sarah, who died in 1996. Without that context, would ‘Ballad’ be so beautiful? Who knows, but it ends the album on a note of grace and simplicity – five or six interchanging chords on guitar and piano in the straightforward key of C – that leaves the listener in a welcome contemplative melancholy, with an appreciation of those around them still living that maybe they didn’t have when the song began. Music doesn’t do much more than that. ~ Niall Crumlish

Conor Oberst Conor Oberst And The Mystic Valley Band


At the ripe old age of 28 and with seven albums under his belt, Conor Oberst has dropped the Bright Eyes moniker. Is this significant? An attempt to be taken more seriously? Throughout his prolific career, there remained a constant niggling sense that his substantial songwriting intentions were undermined by the fragile bambi looks which endeared him to the hearts of his young fanbase. Physically, at least, Oberst is no Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy. Yet, his current run of albums demonstrate both a blossoming maturity

and a confident handling of country inflected Americana that could soon have Will Oldham looking over his shoulder. Musically, Conor Oberst And The Mystic Valley Band follows closely in the countrified vein of his previous outing, Cassadaga, albeit with the shimmering Nashville slickness of that record toned down somewhat. On the likes of ‘Danny Callahan’, the guitars sound satisfyingly less sandpapered, the pianos pleasantly roughshod and plonky. The sound works best on ‘Sausalito’, which comes hewn from sunbaked desert rock. It is every inch the type of upbeat country classic that plays through the AM radio stations of dusty pickups driving through the American Midwest. Lyrically too, the song shines, packing in a string of Springteenesque romantic observations about a young couple taking off into the desert. Like The Boss, Oberst manages to walk a fine line between cliché and profundity, and get away by the skin of his teeth because of his powerful underlying honesty. Elsewhere, however, some slight and awkwardly obtuse turns of phrase demonstrate that he has a long way to go before he reaches the full lyrical maturity of either Springsteen or Oldham, but let’s not forget he is only 28. While it won’t rewrite the musical landscape, Conor Oberst And The Mystic Valley Band is the sound of a man confidently filling the big pair of shoes a young lad called ‘Bright Eyes’ cobbled all those albums ago. ~ Darragh McCausland

Rollers/Sparkers Hames


It would seem that the best way to truly understand and appreciate Rollers/Sparkers is to be a member of the band. They are clearly a collective of wags who rejoice in impressing each other with their wit, and any act with such a humorous approach to web and sleeve design deserves considerable praise. But while the funnies are for everyone, the music is certainly not. Their brand of niche experimentation is certainly adventurous, if not entirely dangerous, involving vocals, sounds and rhythms constructed from practically anything they could lay their hands on. Initially improvised and later dickied up in studio, Hames is a sonic Turner Prize entry recorded by rebellious Hare Krishnas and characters from In The Night Garden, something which becomes apparent when Makka Pakka turns up to spoil the otherwise hypnotic ‘Heron’. Chin-stroking enjoyment can be gleaned from bobbing along to ‘CIE Action Figures’, cowering from ‘Prince Of Moments’ and wincing at ‘The Monkey From Uncle’ but beyond its witty titles and wonderful cover pastiche of Thames TV’s classic ident, Hames is an, at times, torturous exercise in self-indulgence. Worth listening to but not necessarily worth paying to listen to. ~ Johnnie Craig



Brave but flawed attempt to distil the history of California into one album and a 100-page novella.


Ry Cooder I, Flathead


Having focused his career on rekindling neglected musical styles, Ry Cooder clearly values the stories and cultures behind them just as dearly. I, Flathead is the last and loosest piece of a conceptual trilogy where the guitarist has crafted his very own elegiac back-stories. Accompanied by a 100-page novella, the album acts as a mirage of a bygone era, offering an alternative insight into the history of multi-ethnic California. Set in the early ‘60s, the story follows Kash Buk, an ageing hot rod-racer turned country musician, as he drifts restlessly through the empty bars and diners that dot the desert highways. Conscious that his best days are behind him, Buk’s deadbeat ruminations about Johnny Cash songs, “popular mechanics” magazines and sci-fi comics parallel a world being left behind by a culture in transition. Nowhere is this more apparent than on the atmospheric monologue of ‘Can I Smoke In Here?’, a moment’s pause amongst a multitude of rock, R&B, country boogie, mariachi and ragtime. Such scope is a testament to Cooder’s legacy but while his playing is as sharp as ever, the material is a pale shadow of the virtuoso’s prime. Cooder was never renowned as a writer (he had as little as one writing credit on classics such as Paradise And Lunch) and by over-reaching with a narrative that often becomes either strained, corny or indebted to the deadpan storytelling of Tom Waits, the impact is weakened, leaving fans longing for the eclecticism of old…much the same way Cooder himself continues to reminisce. ~ Cian Traynor

Carla Bruni Comme Si Se Rien N’était


One must ponder as to whether this album would be creating such a stir if Carla Bruni were not now Madame Sarkozy. Carla must be thrilled that the release of her third album has coincided with her high profile and glitzy marriage to the diminutive French president. It certainly hasn’t done her career any harm. With the model-esque baggage aside, Comme Si De Rien N’était is a fleeting collection of songs in the language of love. The opener ‘Ma Jeunesse’ (My Youth) is a cute waltz, which sets the tone for the rest of this record. That is, it doesn’t change pace from herein. Although there are some changes in style, from the ukulele fuelled ‘L’Antilope’ and the flamenco flute led ‘La Tienne’, the entire 14 tracks are set to mid tempo. Bruni has written the majority of songs on this album with her lyrics sometimes edging on the embarrassing and schmaltzy. It’s the breathy vocals that seduce your ear on this record, and Bruni pays homage to the likes of Brel, Birkin and Gainsbourg in this respect. Her trademark whisperings enhance tracks like ‘L’Amoureuse’ (Lover) and ‘Péché D’Envi’ (The Sin of Envy) and as the token English track, Bruni does a lazy jazz cover of Bob Dylan’s ‘You Belong To Me’. The title of this album translates to As If Nothing Has Happened and that’s what it feels like listening to it. If you want a coffee table record

to soothe a frazzled mind at the end of a long day, it’ll do the trick, but it won’t do much more than that. ~ Pamela Halton

Black Kids Partie Traumatic

(almost gold)

Multi vocal disco rockers Black Kids stroll into the world’s musical consciousness on the back of some serious transatlantic ‘hot tips’. Managed by the people who brought you Arcade Fire, on paper there’s some expectations that need realising. So, to eagerly anticipated debut album

Partie Traumatic. Produced by Suede’s ex-string poker Bernard Butler, the mission is to build on the igniting buzz of their only previous outing, the‘Wizard of Ahhhhs’ EP. ‘Hit The Heartbrakes’ gets the ball rolling, highlighting the band’s melodic prowess. Male/ female vocals are seamlessly mixed, weaving fabric onto the framework of an outstanding pop song. Exuding energy from the get-go, the album’s continuity is paced perfectly, with the uplifting ‘Listen To Your Body Tonight’ and ‘I’ve Underestimated My Charm (Again)’ standing out in a tracklisting potentially full of hit singles. Throughout, the lyrics harbour a charming, humorous demeanour, though the subject matter almost exclusively deals with a teenage view of relationships. In fact, so many people appear to be dumped during this record, they should be arrested for fly tipping. Nonetheless, even with a sparse range of cerebral content, the strength of the songs transcend the areas that some over analytical listeners may insist need attention: this is simply a pop/rock record and should be judged as such. The album is flawed with over-polished production and a few lightweight moments, but this is musical coal: squeeze it enough and it becomes a pop/rock diamond. Likeable, charming, catchy and unashamedly fun, this is a band living up to its hype. It is everything it’s trying to be, joyously: nothing less, nothing more. ~ Martin McIver


Reissues & Compilations The fab four’s first trilogy of releases gets the remaster treatment, from the raw angst of Boy, through dodgy second album syndrome and onto the all-conquering War.

U2 Boy/ October/ War


In some Dublin teenager’s bedroom in late 1981, the last echoes of the scatter-brained ‘Is That All’ rings out and the band they’ve built up as the “ones who understand me” have just broken their heart. Only a year on from the euphorically youthful debut that is Boy, U2 had made a record that would leave fans unclear if they backed the right horse, the type of throwntogether second album that could have been the breaking of many others. If they were confused then, fuck knows how many times that fan’s head has been melted since. A vicious sounding commercial resurrection would follow with War; a creative awakening of stunning proportions would take place not long after with The Unforgettable Fire and… well you know the rest. But back to October – now re-released along with Boy and War – here was U2 as weak as they ever would be. Bono is shorn of confidence, having lost a book full of lyrics only weeks before sessions were due to begin; Adam Clayton feeling isolated as the band’s other three members jumped headlong into a questionable Christian group. For a brief few days, after a particularly heated row in the studio, U2 were even briefly no more. Trying times indeed. While The Edge-led re-mastered version of October (plus live tracks and rarities) isn’t quite as bad as some on-the-spot reviews made out, it’s still as frustrating a listen as ever. Indeed, it’d be easy to pluck lyrics from this period and take the piss (“when I was three I thought the world revolved around me, I was wrong”), but look deeper and you’ll see that this fractured effort would lead to the making of the band. As they toured in its aftermath, they, and in particular their sensitive frontman, attempted to find an identity, a reason to continue being U2. As Green Day would do 20-odd years later, they found sanctuary by turning on the news. War was, and still is, a statement of intent so powerful that most rock

Darren Hayman Great British Holiday EPs

(belka records)

With a title that springs to mind dreadful oompah-bands, misguiding flag-waving and Butlin’s faux-cheerfulness it would be easy to resign Darren Hayman’s album to the dustbin without a listen. But the one-time front man of perennial Peel favourites Hefner, has managed to eschew the celebrated crassness associated with anything ‘Great’ and ‘British’ that was so wearily common in the late ‘90s and has instead created a wonderful ode to the mundane beauty of the domestic holiday. The EPs bound together, like a slim volume of short-stories, tell romanticised tales of teastained ‘caff’ counters, peeling formica tables, flat lemonade and wee-scented camper vans. Hayman’s frail, almost ethereal vocals and delicate ukulele plucking create dreamy melodies, capturing the aching nostalgia for the family holiday, the annual anti-climax of tempers flared, endless days of dull nothingness and glimpses of


kids would burn their skinny jeans for half the anger and genuine soul contained in its enjoyably uneven 10 tracks. Here, all three records are beautifully presented and come complete with some cracking live tunes and b-sides that vary in quality from barmy excellence (‘Treasure’) to plain horrendous (‘Angels Too Tied To The Ground’). For completists only, you say? Bollocks. Actually, they’re for anyone without these records – a stirring first three chapters with enough vigour and imagination to paper over the last decade’s mainly woeful output. ~ John Joe Worrall

sun through the rain. It’s not all grey skies, and there are moments of sunshiny beauty on tracks such as ‘The Only Kind Of Light I Know’ and on the apt ‘Rain All Summertime’, he even manages an inspired rendition of ‘Holiday Road’, the National Lampoons theme tune. Sadly, however, the collection suffers from being overly long and after 20 songs, you definitely feel like it’s time to pack up and head home. ~ Jennifer Gannon

Pentangle The Time Has Come 1967-1973


Of all the burgeoning British folk acts emerging in the 1960s, including Steeleye Span and The Incredible String Band, Pentangle arguably brought the most to the table. Their name was rooted in 14th Century mysticism but there was little retrogressive about their sound, which effortlessly and gloriously fused folk with rock and,

more pertinently, jazz. They were made up of five of the finest musicians of their era: golden-tonsilled singer Jacqui McShee, innovative and prodigious folk guitarists Bert Jansch and John Renbourn, and jazz-infused rhythm section Danny Thompson on double bass and Terry Cox on drums. Individually blessed, but, as a unit, unrivalled in their field. This wonderful, and long-overdue, 4-CD set maps this line-up’s finest moments: discs one and two are divine cherry-pickings of greatest hits, alternate takes and unreleased gems; disc three is a mint reproduction of their breathtaking performance at London’s Royal Festival Hall in June 1968, while disc 4 showcases their singular film and TV work from the early ‘70s. A sumptuously detailed 60-page booklet outlines the tale, but the music (see ‘Tam Lin’ and ‘Once I Had A Sweetheart’ for instant gratification) tells the whole deep, glorious story. A timeless and rewarding indulgence. ~ Johnnie Craig

Reissues & Compilations Studio Yearbook 2


underground. That Liz Phair was never able to match it is clearly a crying shame. ~ Phil Udell

State tip our collective hat to anyone who can lay hands on Kylie Minogue’s ‘2 Hearts’, exorcise the faux Goldfrapp and replace it with a Spanish guitar and flirtatious, sun kissed grooves. Studio are such people. Following success in their native Sweden with West Coast, Yearbook 1, and the birth of their new label, Information, the Swedish duo take time out to remix a few of tracks by others. Here, Shout Out Louds’ latest single ‘Impossible’, goes from Cure-ish nostalgia to flurry of adolescent electro-sensuality, while the Rubies’ ‘Room Without A Key’ is as ethereal as This Mortal Coil’s ‘Song For The Siren’. Studio slowly undress tracks, untangling bass lines and gently coaxing melodies from within melodies. Elements drift hazily in and out, each given plenty of space and rhythm to shake their stuff: most tracks clock in way past seven minutes. Parts of Yearbook 2 could be Yeasayer’s Sunrise on mellow house night, flavoured with subtle disco beats. Spanish guitars smuggle their way onto almost every track, but instead of sounding Ibiza Chill, it flavours the album with sunshine, shifting emphasis on more than one track. It’s not groundbreaking but its solid proof that there are many groovy ways to skin a musical cat. ~ Deanna Ortiz

Liz Phair Exile In Guyville

(ato records)

When Chicago’s Liz Phair released her debut, double vinyl, album 15 years ago, it caused a cultural if not commercial stir. Alternative rock was at its mainstream media height, yet here was an album with very few obvious radio hits. Female musicians were at the coolest, most confident, yet Liz Phair stripped off for the inner sleeve and sang of being a blow job queen and fucking and running. The world was confused, feminists were appalled and Liz Phair did not become as huge as Nirvana. Exile In Guyville, however, has stood the test of time better than many of its contemporaries. The stripped down, lo-fi sound and Phair’s own downbeat vocals always gave the record a melancholic feel and the songs – dealing as much with loneliness and rejection as sexual liberation – reflected that perfectly. As such, it was a far more thoughtful and rounded affair than the attention grabbing one-liners suggested. No-where is Phair’s confusion better illustrated than on the short, sharp ‘Fuck And Run’, with its balance of sexual aggression and plaintive cry of “I want a boyfriend”. For every promise to “fuck you till your dick turns blue”, there’s a tale of separate beds and losing the map. Quite how this was supposed to be a track-by-track response to Exile On Main Street is still a bit unclear but it is undoubtedly a record that earned its exalted status in the US

David Bowie Live Santa Monica ’72


In October 1972, David Bowie took to a Santa Monica stage with the Spiders From Mars and jawdropped the room. Facing the audience as Ziggy Stardust on his first US tour, Bowie amped up the glam rock and kicked off his global domination. With its first official release, Live Santa Monica ’72 lets fans step back in time to Bowie at the cusp of greatness. Even back in those early days, the illustrious swagger of Bowie’s vocals was present. Despite the nervous mumbling that separates each song, his vocals are relaxed and confident. Even though the stage show saw a red-headed Ziggy clad in flashy leotards, the music was bare. The production perfection of The Rise And Fall... was left in the studio. This live recording has a rustic rawness that has classic written all over it. Throughout the 17-track Ziggy set, Bowie weaves older songs like ‘Life On Mars’ and ‘Space Oddity’ into the mix, alongside covers of The Velvet Underground’s ‘Waiting For The Man’ and Jacques Brel’s ‘My Death’. These sit comfortably aboard the Stardust ship, and feel every bit as Ziggy-like as the rest of the concept album. Lead guitarist Mick Ronson is, as Bowie says, at his “blistering best” on this recording. His energetic bursts pick up the slack on some of the tracks, while his solo on ‘Moonage Daydream’ will have any self-respecting guitarist grasping for the strings. Easily Bowie’s best live recording, this offers everything from the slow softness of ‘Andy Warhol’ to the beat-driven ‘Jean Genie’. Superb. ~ Elaine O’Neill

Various Independents Day 08

(independents day 08)

A compilation, covers and charity album, and a celebration of independent artists, this double-CD

does its best to be all things to all people, but like any compilation, suffers from hit and miss. The first CD boasts contemporary covers by notable independent (but not always indie) artists. Highlights include The Prodigy adding their own distinct electro touch to The Specials’ ‘Ghost Town’, or Devandra Banhart turning Oasis’ ‘Don’t Look Back in Anger’ into a summery folk number. José Gonzales brings his classical guitar stylings to ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ and The Charlatans take a surprisingly good stab at New Order’s ‘Murder’. Jarvis Cocker and Beth Ditto’s version of ‘Temptation’ would also be worth a listen if it wasn’t for the latter screeching moreso than singing. The would-be big things might have been better off placed alongside their idols, as it is the once-off covers that will generate interest in this album and it is all too easy to forget about the second CD, a selection of tracks from up-andcoming independent artists recommended by more established acts. There certainly are songs worth listening to and it is interesting to see who nominated who: the Rodrigo y Gabriela-backed Oceansize could give Elbow a run for their money, while impressive instrumentalists Cougar are favoured by the somewhat noisier Maximo Park. From twee singer songwriter, Laura Groves, or electro rockers Mobius Band to painfully punk Electricity in Our Homes, variety abounds but quality isn’t consistent, leaving Independents Day ‘08 as forgettable a novelty as an indie cover version. ~ Kate Rothwell

Bowerbirds Hymns For A Dark Horse

(dead oceans )

John Darnielle of The Mountain Goats’ favourite band, The Bowerbirds have re-released their debut album Hymns For A Dead Horse with two new bonus tracks. At first listen, Bowerbirds sound quite similar to other folk bands and echo the likes of Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy and Fairpoint Convention. However, ‘In Our Talons’ sees the band upping the tempo and distinguishing themselves. Dark lyrics such as “It takes a lot of nerve to destroy this wondrous earth” are relayed in a manner that is both chilling and inviting. This North Carolina three-piece are obviously passionate about what they sing and this album comes with a message: we’re ruining the earth. The violin on the ‘The Marbled Godwit’ adds a sense of sadness to a song that could have easily been angrier, while bonus track ‘La Denigración’ is more polished than anything else here, proving that Bowerbirds haven’t been idle since the initial release of this album. The theme of nature and how we are destroying it crops up throughout but vocalist Phil Moore stops mercifully shy of preaching. His voice has a patient, understanding tone that resonates long after the album is done. Saving the earth was never this beautiful. ~ Aidan Fortune




Ryan Gosling is pitch perfect as the delusional Lars in Craig Gillespie’s touching, off-beat Canadian comedy.

Lars And The Real Girl Director: Craig Gillespie. Starring: Ryan Gosling, Emily Mortimer, Paul Schneider. Running Time: 102 minutes. Extras Deleted scene, The Real Story documentary, A Real Leading Lady documentary, theatrical trailer.

Lars Lindstrom (a moustachio’d Ryan Gosling) is a loner, avoiding human contact wherever possible, living in the garage of the house he grew up in, which is now occupied by his brother Gus (Schneider) and his pregnant wife Karin, the latter of whom is getting increasingly worried about Lars’ antisocial tendencies. When Lars buys an anatomically correct love doll on the internet, however, it’s not for the usual reasons. When ‘she’ arrives, he promptly slips on his best sweater, brushes his hair and brings her over to the house for a hilariously uncomfortable dinner, explaining how the wheelchair-bound ‘Bianca’ is half-Brazilian, half-Danish, doesn’t speak any English and was brought up by missionaries. Our hero is delusional, really believing that the latex lovely is a real woman, and the local doctor, Dagmar (the ever brilliant Patricia Clarkson) – who also happens to be a psychology major – recommends that everyone else goes along with his delusion, even ‘treating’ Bianca on a weekly basis, so she can try to help Lars.



What follows is one of the most original, affecting comedies you’re likely to encounter this year, with moments of real pathos spattered amongst the laughs. Gosling is superb, and Craig Gillespie’s direction assured, never allowing the narrative to descend into schmaltz. The comedy, meanwhile, is a delicious combination of slapstick, situational and high farce. Highly recommended. For Fans Of: Napoleon Dynamite, Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind. ~ John Walshe

Persepolis Directors: Vincent Paronnaud, Marjane Satrapi. Starring: Catherine Deneuve, Chiara Mastroianni. Running Time: 92 minutes. Extras: Making Of / Short Film / Interviews / Deleted Scenes

This animated film based on the graphic novels of the same name by Marjane Satrapi is as poignant and unique as any film you will get this year. It’s a deeply personal account of Marjane’s childhood and formative years in Iran during the 1980s, a time of revolution and turmoil. Differentiating the film further, it is a French language film which largely uses a stirring black and white 2D animation aesthetic to accentuate the tumultuous Tehran. It’s no surprise the film won the

Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival last year. Though Persepolis deals with heavyweight real life rebellion and resistance, our heroine’s coming of age memoir is witty and filled with enough feisty character (especially at a young age) to keep the viewer interested in her thoughts and actions. A person of realistically flawed proportions, Marjane defies law and her parents but is deeply respectful of them. With age comes the wearing of the veil, marriage and further curtailing of individual freedom. It sounds heavy (and some of it is), but to the fore of the story is Marjane’s life, set against the backdrop of an oppressive government. Her later years see her growing up in Vienna, essentially in exile, where she tastes freedom. She hangs around with hippies and anarchists, falls in love but never really fits in. There’s a real sense of history prevailing from the screen here, both in the history of Iran and in the story of a rebellious but out-of-step youth. Persepolis is a film about identity, culture, gender and intolerance, while remaining a deeply personal and vivid expression of art. For Fans Of: Maus, Belleville Rendezvous, Blackboards. ~ Niall Byrne

DVD Asterix At The Olympic Games Directors: Thomas Langmann, Frédéric Forestier. Starring: Gérard Depardieu, Clovis Cornillac, Benoît Poelvoorde. Running time: 116 minutes. Extras: none

Considering the comic books have been such a staple of popular culture for so long, it is still astonishing that Asterix and friends have yet to make a successful transition to the big screen. Asterix At The Olympic Games is the third ill-thought-out live action movie based on the character and while little expense has been spared in the production (a staggering €78 million went into this rubbish), it once again fails to capture the wit and subtle intelligence of the books. It’s also hard to see who this is aimed at, as it will be too adult for children and pretty puerile for the grown-up audience. All concerned ham it up throughout (not helped by the English language dubbing) and despite the big budget, there is no sense of magic. The movie was voted the worst French film of the year and frankly it’s no surprise. Here’s hoping that the forthcoming Spielberg Tintin film can redress the balance. For Fans Of: Rubbish European cinema. ~ Phil Udell

Happy-Go-Lucky Director: Mike Leigh. Starring: Sally Hawkins, Eddie Marsan, Alexis Zegerman. Running Time: 113 minutes. Extras: Behind The Wheel featurette, Mike Leigh’s Characters featurette, theatrical trailer.

Poppy (the brilliant Hawkins) is a 30-year-old primary school teacher, happy to freewheel her way through life, hanging out with her friends, working out on a trampoline and taking flamenco lessons. Eccentric and easy-going, she’s what your mother might describe as ‘flighty’ or ‘airy-fairy’, but she’s also one of the most likeable characters the great Mike Leigh (who also wrote the script) has ever created. Eddie Marsan’s racist driving instructor, Scott, however, is the complete antithesis of Poppy: anal and angry where she’s carefree and content. The tension between the two is palpable and is one of the reasons why Leigh’s otherwise whimsical tale makes for such compelling viewing: you just know that Scott is going to go off on one sooner or later. Another extremely watchable slice-of-life comedy-drama from the master, which also features a surreal

scene featuring Dubliner Stanley Townsend as a would-be newspaper-selling tramp. For Fans Of: Secrets & Lies, Michael Winterbottom’s Wonderland. ~ John Walshe

Joy Division Director: Grant Gee Starring: Tony Wilson, Bernard Sumner, Peter Hook, Stephen Morris. Running Time: 96 minutes. Extras: none.

Timing is everything. Coming just months after Anton Corbijn’s Control, Grant Gee’s documentary is a chronological look at the ‘80s Manchester band which complements Corbijn’s theatrical movie. Focusing less on Ian Curtis and more on the band in general, writer Jon Savage weaves a more complete picture of the group. The talking head interviews with Sumner, Hook and Morris add weight to the film, with a number of memorable moments, including Sumner singing along to the band’s very first punk-influenced “dreadful, dreadful songs” and Hook frankly explaining his reaction when he got the call that Curtis had committed suicide. Factor in interviews with the enigmatic Factory Records owner Tony Wilson and revealing anecdotes from designer Peter Saville (he had never listened to Unknown Pleasures until after he designed the sleeve) and Annik Honore, Curtis’ then girlfriend, and you’ve got the most definitive factual representation of the band. The only notable exclusion is Ian’s wife, Deborah, who is represented by passages from her book. The film manages to stay away from over-eulogising the band, apart from the myth-building offerings of a few regarding Curtis’ on-stage demeanour. Striking a balance between narrative, unseen live footage, interviews and analysis, the film is never as heavy as Control and in fact contains some light-hearted moments, including broadcast audio of John Peel playing ‘Atmosphere’ at the wrong speed. It also manages to intertwine the story of Manchester with the story of Joy Division and subsequently, New Order. As ever, it’s Wilson who sums up the band the best: “Punk enabled you to say ‘Fuck you’; sooner or later someone was going to want to say more than ‘Fuck you’. Someone was going to want to say ‘I’m fucked’. Joy Division was the first band to use the energy and simplicity of punk to express more complex emotions.” For Fans Of: Control, Meeting People is Easy, Joe Strummer: The Future Is Unwritten. ~ Niall Byrne

Shanghai Kiss Directors: Ken Konwiser, David Ren. Starring: Ken Leung, Hayden Panettiere, Kelly Hu. Running Time: 106 minutes. Extras: Documentaries, interviews, deleted scenes.

Billed as a romantic comedy, Shanghai Kiss falls down because it is neither particularly romantic nor amusing. The story of struggling Chinese American actor Liam Liu and his wavering path to

self-redemption, the film seems unsure of what it is trying to achieve, starting as a standard US comedy before taking a left turn to examine the nature of identity and belonging. Proving to be as unlucky in romance as he is in his choice of career, Liu’s fortunes are changed by a chance meeting with school girl Adelaide (a pre-Heroes Panettiere). As their friendship starts to prove troubling, he takes an opportunity to visit Shanghai on family business. The city is beautifully shot but the attempts to examine Liu’s inability to connect with his supposed homeland are too clumsily handled to have any effect. Panettiere, promoted to the movie’s main attraction since her TV success, is pretty woeful throughout, unable to handle either the sexy or mysterious nature of her character. Ultimately, Shanghai Kiss asks you to follow the characters on a journey without offering you any real incentive to make the trip. For Fans Of: Lost In Translation, Heroes. ~ Phil Udell

Hot Tamale Director: Michael Damian. Starring: Randy Spelling, Diora Baird, Jason Priestley, Carmen Electra. Running Time: 98 minutes. Extras: Icon Trailer Reel.

It begins with a body. When Harlan Woodriff’s (Spelling) father Bud is fished up out of the ice outside their Wyoming hometown, it is the final straw which leads him to say goodbye to smalltown Wyoming and head for the bright lights of LA, with dreams of playing timbale drums in a salsa band. In the middle of a marathon 18-hour drive, he stops for coffee at a roadside diner where he meets Priestley (Beverley Hills 90210), who skips out the window when two gangstertypes pull up outside, depositing his man bag in Harlan’s pick-up. This sets in motion a chain of events involving kidnappings, fake diamonds, sex, salsa and shit-loads of marijuana plants, as our hero tries to stay a step ahead of the gangsters and the cops. With decent dialogue (especially from the two thugs) and plot twists aplenty, Hot Tamale is surprisingly entertaining and the end result is far more than the sum of its parts. Recommended. For Fans Of: One Night At McCool’s, Go, Beverley Hills Cop. ~ John Walshe


TV The Future is Bright (Just Don’t Believe All of it ’Til it Happens) Words by Maia Dunphy

I have a mate who back in 1992 was convinced that the Minidisc If you subscribed to every piece of new was the future of everything. Just to make a point, he would buy me albums on MD for my birthday, with the knowledge that I wouldn’t be able to play them. Every year I’d get my present, knowing full well what it was (despite the fact that he’d wrap it in a shoebox or with a cigarette lighter just to confuse me), and when I opened it, raising an eyebrow at him, he’d say, ‘don’t tell me you haven’t got an MD player yet?’ But of course, I had the last laugh, because now he has shelves full of a pretty much obsolete piece of technology. His only comeback is ‘at least it’s not as bad as Betamax’. Yes, he’d fallen for that one too. My philosophy has always been to suck it and see. I’ll dip my toe in the water but I’ll wait for everyone else to jump in first (which admittedly is why I was still making people mix-tapes long after it had been well established that CDs were here to stay for a while). I feel the same about TV. Trying to predict the future is a dangerous game.


technology that came along, you’d buy a new telly or piece of ‘essential’ equipment every three months. First, it was plasma screens: and when they first arrived, they were utterly unaffordable. Then those in the know said that LCDs were a better option, as the plasma technology really wasn’t there yet, so all those who had bought the latter kicked themselves and bought an LCD at the next available pay-cheque, lest they should run the risk of looking like they weren’t in the know. I still had a 14” portable until four years ago, so didn’t really care either way. But when I finally had the money to invest, going in to the shop to buy one felt like walking into an orphanage. ‘Do you have the right home for this screen? How big is your living room?’ I was asked. ‘Why?’ I thought. ‘Does the telly get claustrophobic?’ But no, he was trying to ascertain how big a screen size he could get away with

flogging me, without me suing the shop for burned retinas six months later. We both agreed that the 50” would quite simply look ludicrous in my living room (which is probably only 70” wide itself). Then I got the HD-ready speech. The one I had my eye on wasn’t ready apparently. I hadn’t seen a ‘Be HD Ready’ section in my ‘How To Prepare For Major Emergencies’ handbook that was dropped into my letterbox a while ago, so I really wasn’t sure how essential it was. I have since been told I was a fool for not paying the extra for a better telly, but I thought, ‘what’s the point when I’m not watching programmes in HD yet?’ And what’s the worst that can happen? No, until I’m sure, I’m happy enough with my basic 37” (a sort of noncommittal girl-size screen) embarrassing brand TV (i.e. not Sony).

However, there are certain advancements in TV that genuinely make our lives easier these days

TV Ones to Watch

like Sky Plus. Imagine being told years ago that we’d be able to pause live TV? It certainly beats turning the sound up full and leaving all the doors open when you run to the loo, as well as being a lot more dignified. In the UK, BT run a ‘futurology department’, which has produced something they call a technology timeline. According to this, by 2010, viewers will be able to choose the angle or even player view of sporting events (can’t we already do this? – Ed), and children will be entertained by video tiles in the bathroom and interactive wallpaper in their bedrooms. Funnily enough, ‘going out to play’ doesn’t feature on the timeline. By 2015, they predict TV will be beamed directly into our eyeballs, and by 2020, they reckon we should be able to choose the actor we want to see in each role in what will be the ultimate in interactive programming (short of being able to beam ourselves onto the screen). Holographic TV will appear some time soon after this, where we will essentially see 3D figures in the corner of the room where our archaic 37” flat screens used to gather dust (mind you, we saw that in the first Superman film, so it’s a bit late coming). Some of this may sound far-fetched, but we all remember the days when plugging two VHS players together and recording from one to the other was something pretty special (and admittedly, illegal). What a lot to look forward to eh? We’ll have to hope that if and when we do get all of this incredible technology, there will actually be some decent programmes to watch. The idea of having to watch Big Brother 19 or Gladiators in 3D hologram is almost too much to bear. But as I said before, I’ll believe all of this when it’s available to me at a reasonable price in Power City. I think it’s called healthy cynicism: after all, the BT futurology department also predicts something called ‘smart yogurt’ by the year 2025. Hope it’s smart enough to pass the remote.

House of Saddam August, BBC 2 Gripping new four-part drama series tracing the rise and fall of one of the most significant political figures in recent history. It was only a matter of time before someone made this, and let’s be glad it was the BBC, so we didn’t have to watch an ex-Corrie star with a Tom Selleck-esque moustache playing Saddam.

Dexter Sundays, FX The second series of this brilliant take on the classic detective show continues on FX, following the strangely alluring Dexter and his homicidal tendencies. Those of you who don’t have FX will have to wait until it hits ITV later on in the year.

The Olympics Throughout August, RTE Well it seems we’ve all forgotten about the protests. Our hopefuls this year are in athletics, hurdling, chucking the hammer and the 50k walk. Most of us won’t have much interest unless someone wins gold: then we’ll all pretend we were supporters from day one. One Thing To Do Before You Die Thursday, RTE 1 Only a couple episodes left: some have been quite poignant, some ludicrous. If I was to choose a list of things to do before I die, an Irish music festival wouldn’t even feature in the top 100, but I’m thinking visiting exotic places didn’t quite fit with the budget.

Don’t Die Young August, BBC 2 This ‘does what it says on the tin’ series is back, with sexy doctor Alice Roberts telling us how to keep healthy. Far more anatomical than most examples of this type of show, it’s a welcome break from the allegedly questionable credentials of Dr Gillian McKeith.


Books Badly Subbed Porn

Words by Paula Shields

For his new novel, Fight Club author takes on the adult entertainment industry... and loses.

Snuff Chuck Palahniuk

jonathan cape

600 naked men wait their turn on a film set for their big moment, a one-minute shag with porn queen Cassie Wright that will make or re-make their names if her record-breaking attempt at “serial fornication” on-screen is successful. Corralled into a room akin to some hellish underworld, they pass the time eating, shaving, rubbing themselves to make sure they’re ready for action once the cameras roll, swapping confidences, winding each other up. Oh and sharing one fetid toilet if nothing else, Snuff is strong on the clash of vile aromas. Condoms are lined out on a table amid mountains of junk food, and


a mini-black market of Viagra is doing reasonable business. These wannabes and has-beens are allotted numbers by Sheila, the 20-year-old talent handler and one of four narrators of this curiously lifeless, pointless tale, a quartet completed by Mr 72, a young ingenu with white roses, here to find out if Wright is his mother, Mr 137 a wellknown TV detective down on his luck, and Mr 600, veteran porn star Branch Bacardi, a contemporary of Cassie’s in more ways than one. In other words, a storyteller for every age and even a woman thrown in for good measure. So far, so formulaic.

Palahniuk barely injects a smattering of suspense into proceedings by having these guys speculate on the identity of the child (and sire) Cassie famously gave up for adoption and whether she will survive the gruelling feat, recalling other porn stars who have come off worst in similar, if less ambitious, past efforts. Each of the protagonists takes up the baton in a relay of short chapters, punctuated at certain points by bursts of what the back cover blurb enthusiastically calls “thorough research” - on masturbating foetuses and the like – in a vain attempt to give this veneer-thin nonsense some depth, or even less likely, an undercurrent of humour. Best known for Fight Club, the film rather than his book, US writer and king of bad taste Chuck Palahniuk might be seen as the Howard Stern of pulp fiction, were it not for the fact that this - and Snuff is his ninth novel – is prick-lit of the dullest order. The best bits are the snippets on the beauty secrets of stars from another era, Lucille Ball et al, and even they don’t warrant spending hours of your life on this piffle. The opening quotation about diamonds and whores from John Webster’s Duchess Of Malfi provides by far the best lines in a book over-stuffed with endless lists meant to be “wild” and “lethally funny” (that ridiculous blurb again). Our author mistakes bad film puns, from The Da Vinci Load to To Drill A Mockingbird, and multiple synonyms such as ‘jerk jockeys’ and ‘ham-whammers’ for jokes. Snuff offers scant insight into the porn industry, aside from the blindingly obvious, and even less interest as a page-turner. Palahniuk’s characters are wooden and almost two-dimensional. The narrative is all surface and no subtlety, spending too long on the foreplay, ensuring by the idiotic, predictable climax that this reader at least was well and truly bored and indifferent. Lie back and think of England if you’re going to engage with this turkey.



A preview of the month’s more interesting releases.

] Words by Tony Jessen

Fück Yöu: Rock and Roll Portraits chronicle by Neil Zlozower Legendary rock and roll photographer, most famously known for his amazing book Van Halen: A Visual History: 1978-1984, Neil Zlozower’s latest offering, Fuck You delivers more of his famous and outstanding photos of rock gods such as Slash and Eddie Van Halen.

The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham


The Triffids are a monstrous species of stinging plant; they walk: they talk, they dominate the world. Narrator Bill Masen wakes in hospital to find that, by missing the last days of earth as we knew it, he has survived to witness a new world order, and it’s pretty horrific. First released in 1951, Wyndham’s Day of the Triffids is one of the great post-apocalyptic novels of the 20th century and deserving of this re-release.

Waiter Rant: Behind the Scenes of Eating Out. by Waiter

the lives of waiting staff and their customers at an unnamed New York restaurant. According to Waiter, 80 percent of customers are nice people looking for something to eat but the remaining 20 percent are socially maladjusted psychopaths. A Kitchen Confidential from the other side of the kitchen door.

a sinister family saga, a mystery of massive financial fraud and an ambiguous and haunting love story. For once, a book that delivers all that was promised.

Inked by Carey Hart and Bill Thomas

Japanese writer Haruki Murakami’s latest offering is a memoir on his passion for running marathons and the influence the sport has had on his life, and more importantly, on his writing. Even if this is less strange and beautiful than his works of fiction, fans of his other work (like Norwegian Wood or The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle) will still find it an enjoyable read: it should also appeal to runners, even those not familiar with Murakami’s other books.


Carey Hart is one of the most well known names in motocross and the first rider to do a backflip on a bike, a stunt he pulled off at the 2002 X Games in the US. Turning his passion for tattoos into a business venture, he opened Hart & Huntington Tattoo Company in the prestigious Palms Casino, Las Vegas. An interesting and inspiring book that covers the tapestry of what tattoos mean today.

What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami

harvill secker

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo quercus by Stieg Larsson john murray

Waiter Rant first showed its face in April 2004 as a widely viewed web log started by a person only known as ‘Waiter’, providing an inside view into

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo is the first instalment in Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy and has been called the Swedish answer to War And Peace, making Larsson a household name in his homeland. This is a violent and bloody thriller,


Games Words by John Walshe


EA’s Battlefield series takes a turn for the mercenary with the release of Bad Company, but State feels that’s a good thing.

] res, so there should be something for everyone from the bored house-husband to the teenage indie kid, with everything from Hot Chocolate’s ‘You Sexy Thing’ or Aerosmith’s ‘Dude (Looks Like A Lady)’ – how Steven Tyler gets those high notes out at his age is beyond State – to newer tracks like The Killers’ ‘When We Were Young’, The Gossip’s ‘Standing In The Way Of Control’ and even (shudder) Panic At The Disco, as well as some bona fide classics from Radiohead, Morrissey, The Police and George Michael. The sound effects on the playback are as hilarious as ever, with the vocal wobble and pitch shift capable of turning even competent crooners into warbling chipmunks. Basically, this does exactly what you’d expect, so if you like its predecessors, you’ll love it.


The 222nd army battalion is where the US armed forces sends its troublemakers, its miscreants, its rotten apples, there to serve as cannon fodder on the missions that nobody else wants. Preston Marlowe is one such soldier: he could’ve gone to jail but instead he was shuffled off to Bad Company, there to join up with fellow undesirables: Sweetwater, who only signed up for a college scholarship; Haggard, who loves making things blow up, and Sergeant Redford, who’s only serving out his time until he can retire. Together, you form a four-man squad who are generally sent to where the fighting is at its dirtiest, reeling from one blood-spattered operation to the next in a war between America and Russia that’s never fully explained. That said, the plot really is secondary here: the emphasis is very much on action, and there’s plenty of it, from protecting tank columns through to destroying AA guns, blowing up fuel tanks and shooting lots of Russian soldiers. There’s quite a lot of stuff to blow up, as the game’s use of the Frostbite engine means that practically the entire landscape is interactive: if you don’t fancy using the conventional route to enter buildings, you can simply fire a grenade at a wall and stroll through the resulting hole. Nice. You can pick up any fallen enemy weapons as you go, but most automatic guns operate in basically the same way, firing both bullets and grenades. The enemy AI isn’t the best, particu-


larly on the game’s easy mode, but it’s often the case that there are so many Russian soldiers firing on you that it doesn’t become a major issue. Like previous Battlefield games, you can commandeer a variety of vehicles as you make your way through the terrain, from armed trucks to gunboats. Unlike previous titles in the series, however, which focused very much on its online capabilities, Bad Company puts as much effort into the single player campaign as its multiplayer modes. The guys in Bad Company get pretty sick of being sent to the war’s hottest spots: the voice acting and characterisation are pretty good, considering the back-story is non-existent. When your team discover that fighting with the Ruskies are the Legionnaires, an elite mercenary army who get paid in gold bullion, their little eyes light up like kids on Christmas morning and before long, Bad Company have gone AWOL behind enemy lines, chasing the sparkly stuff. Hugely enjoyable.

Singstar Volume 2 PS3


The latest version of Sony’s home karaoke game for the PS3, Singstar Volume 2 does pretty much what all the other titles in the series have done: gives you the opportunity to test your vocal abilities on a variety of tracks, scoring you on your ability to hit the notes or rap in time with the greats. The songs on offer cross a variety of gen-

Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns Of The Patriots PS3


Solid Snake is back, but he’s not as young as he used to be: in fact, our hard-boiled hero is ageing rapidly and so has to contend with not being as agile as before. Set in the near future, where private military corporations rule with a lead fist, Guns Of The Patriots does exactly what you’d hope the last Snake adventure would do...and then some. The graphics are absolutely stunning, the sound is pitch-perfect, and the plot is so labyrinthine, it would take a thesis to explain its intricacies, but that would spoil all the surprises. Suffice to say that the action is a near-ideal combination of shooting and stealth, with some of the finest gadgets ever committed to video game, such as the OctoCamo, a chameleon-like camouflage suit that automatically imitates whatever wall or ground surfaces Snake is pressed up against, or the SolidEye, which affords our hero 3D radar images, night vision and a host of other goodies. Add in soft-drink loving monkeys, diarrhetic terrorists, suave gun-runners and fully customisable weapons (which you can adapt to your style of

liam sweeney

Battlefield: Bad Company Xbox 360, PS3

Games IV is the best beat ‘em up ever to appear on home consoles. Like most examples of the genre, this is low on plot, high on action, whether you’re fighting your way through Story Mode or trying to survive the violence-fest that is the Tower of Lost Souls. Stunning graphics, a host of memorable characters (including Darth Vader and Yoda), and a skill system that is totally customisable to fit with your playing style combine to make Soul Calibur IV a must have for fight fans everywhere.

play), and the result is one of the finest games to date on the PS3, despite the ridiculously lengthy cut-scenes. Now, go get it.

WALL·E Xbox 360, PS3, PS2, Wii


Based on the Disney/Pixar animated film, you get to step into the motors and circuits of the eponymous robot of the title (and the flying robot Eve) for a platform/puzzle adventure that is probably too easy for older gamers and too difficult for younger kids. As WALL·E, you’re basically traversing an obstacle course of rubbish, compacting various types of waste into cubes, which you then throw at barriers or use to charge up power stations, unlocking your path through the game. As Eve, you fly around a similarly barren landscape looking for plant life. The graphics are pretty good, as you’d expect from anything which bears the Pixar name, but the gameplay is just not enough fun to keep casual gamers interested for more than half an hour – and considering that’s the audience it’s undoubtedly aimed at, that’s a disaster. Not awful, but not recommended.

Unreal Tournament 3 Xbox 360

to get their sweaty mitts on arguably the finest team-based action combat shooter around. It was, however, worth the wait, with five new maps to choose from. For the most part, this is full-on carnage, with a host of stunning weapons to choose from (State’s favourite being the superdestructive Link Gun), although whether you’ll find the time to use the sniper rifle before you’re massacred by the opposing team is debatable. Still, this is great fun, and the missions vary from simple (clocking up a set number of hits) to the extremely difficult, involving all sorts of power cores and tactical assaults. That said, if you’re not signed up for Xbox Live, don’t bother, as this game is at its best online.


While this very title arrived late last year on PS3 and PC, 360 owners had to wait until now

Soul Calibur IV PS3, Xbos 360


As predicted in last month’s column, Soul Calibur

Buzz Quiz TV/Buzz Master Quiz PS3/PSP


Everyone’s favourite smart-mouth quizmaster (voiced again by Jason Donovan) makes his next gen. and handheld debuts. Quiz TV on the PS3 is pretty much a case of as-you-were on the PS2, although the addition of wireless buzzers is a definite bonus, although the game does support existing PS2 buzzers as well. It’s the usual mix of questions, covering music, TV and film, sports, lifestyle and general knowledge, and like its predecessors, works best in multiplayer mode. Buzz Master Quiz on the PSP tweaks the formula somewhat, with a decent single player game, whereby you have to achieve at least a bronze medal in each round before you can further your intellectual ambitions. Featuring around 3,000 questions (900 of which have a photo or video element), it succeeds in replicating the charm of its bigger sibling on a handheld console.

Six of the Best Gaming highlights of the coming weeks.

as Crash Bandicoot playing cricket, the fact that it’s being developed by Nintendo should mean that it’s much more fun than the real thing. Supreme Commander


PS3, Xbox 360 An all new arcade boxing sim from the EA team behind Fight Night Round 3, Facebreaker promises stunning graphics, intense ring action and a host of memorable characters, with super-sized egos to match. You can even mount your rival’s head onto the wall of your virtual trophy room. Cute. Mario Super Sluggers

Wii Mario Super Sluggers sees the world’s favourite Italian plumber taking on the world of baseball. While this may seem as exciting

Xbox 360 The multi-award-winning strategy title comes to the 360, promising exclusive new units, updated maps and two new multiplayer modes. The game allows the player to control one of three human factions in the distant future as they bid to win the Infinite War.

Hellboy: The Science Of Evil

PS3, PSP, Xbox 360 Following the cult success of the comic book series and the 2004 movie, The Science Of Evil features an original storyline with creative input from Hellboy creator Mike Mignola and famed movie director Guillermo Del Toro. The game coincides with cinema release of the highly anticipated Hellboy II: The Golden Army. Promising action, atmosphere and black humour, this could be one of the year’s surprises. Mercenaries 2: World in Flames

Tiger Woods PGA Tour 09

PS2, PS3, PSP, Xbox 360, Wii The latest version of the hugely popular golf sim allows players to tap into the skills of Tiger Woods’ coach, Hank Haney, who will help to assess your skills, tune your clubs and give you feedback after every round. There’s also a new four-player online mode featuring simultaneous play.

PS2, PS3, Xbox 360, PC The sequel to the 2005 best-seller, World In Flames promises “the next evolution in explosive open world gameplay, regardless of the system you play it on,” according to Pandemic Studios CEO Andrew Goldman. Watch this space.


Anger Management

The Kids Aren’t Alright! Words and bile by John Joe Worrall Illustration by Christian Kirkegaard

Don’t say it. Don’t let yourself get sucked into repeating the words of your forefathers. For you know the next step is joining neighbourhood watch. But kids these days… I hate them. I’m not down with them. I’m not cool enough to let them away with being teenagers. I hate them. I surely can’t be the only one who asks simple questions like ‘When did Limahl’s haircut suddenly become popular again?’, ‘Why is your tracksuit tucked into your socks?’, and the daddy of them all, ‘why, oh why, do you have your hand down your trousers?’ There was a time not so long ago that every young man in this country worked very hard to make sure that time with his hand down his kaks was hidden from humanity. What happened to those halcyon days? Tube socks were stupid, combats were vaguely understandable, roller discos were just plain dangerous, but all had enough going for them to find followers in a certain time and place. But when did the first kid look at another with his hand down his pants and think ‘y’know, he may be on to something’. Before you say it, PC crowd, this crosses all social boundaries. The rugby playing, chestnut brained, Creatine-chewing kids are just as annoying as the ones who walk around the grimier corners of cities intimidating the masses. State remembers hearing a story recently about a friend who, one beautiful summer’s evening, was asked by a particularly delinquent youth was he looking at his girlfriend and when State’s mate said no, the kid asked in a vaguely threatening manner why he wasn’t. This is what we’re dealing with. ‘Maybe it’s just the summer break and the overflow of them into our streets,’ I thought, with some sympathy for the little bastards. But then I begin to think clearly, and actually yeah, I hate them 365 days a year (366 every leap year). If it wasn’t bad enough with just the kids to deal with: they’re multiplying. The kids are having kids and these ones are being trained up early. It’s like one of those Russian dolls, but one that the universe has taken a giant cosmic crap in. A few years back, State was walking home one evening when one of the mini kids was tugging at the mother’s jumper while she talked on the phone.


“Eh, eh, eh,” the young kid yelled repeatedly, trying to get the mother’s attention. Sick to the teeth of it, she decided to teach him some manners. “It’s not eh,’ she said, ‘it’s wha’!” Fast forward a few years and you can just see the pink limo pulling up outside the church for the kid’s Communion. I suppose the nub of the question is whether the kids are getting worse or State is just getting crankier as time goes by. As Granpa Simpson would say “it’s a little from column A, a little from column B”. Our bright shining beacon, of course, is the economic downturn, which may rip a fair amount of the pocket money away from the hair-dye set and get them back into working at McDonald’s during the school holidays. Am I being a complete prick here? Is it not better to just lay it out on the table that I don’t like the kids, than being a Julie Burchill apologist type, trying to pretend that everything is a-okay, that it’s the older folk that just don’t get them? State wrote the first scrawl of this rant while doing a crossword in an oul’ fellas’ pub and frankly we feel mightily proud of that. Con Houlihan drinks here. That simple fact gives me the moral high ground I feel. Sitting in this quiet corner, supping a pint of plain and without a clue what 17 down is, we daren’t think about the fact that the kids may soon be old enough to get in here and take over the joint. We’re looking for answers, for solutions, but they’re not coming. I can see the pink limo pulling up outside already. 17 down, six letters: D.O.O.M.E.D.