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NOVEM BER 2008

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State.ie

free! music is my radar:

scarlett johansson I RELAN D’S MUSIC PAYLOAD

Why the Nashville sons hate their first two albums but love stadiums The Blizzards Messiah J & The Expert The Roots Oasis

the streets

Living On Borrowed Time? circuit breakers:

DEAF Preview

fight like apes

Gorilla Tactics

incoming:

Juana Molina V.V. Brown Beijing and the best reviews in

albums, downloads, games & dvds 1

The Virgin Prunes Lisa Hannigan Brendan Canning


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issue 07 might well contain...

Regulars

Irregulars

50

16

incoming

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Bid hello to Talulah Does The Hula and Natalie Portman’s Shaved Head; Juana Molina talks turkey, well, vegetarian cooking actually; Johnnie Craig’s brush with the far right; Phil Udell’s funk-metal roots; and a postcard from Beijing. That’s enough to be getting along with.

music is my radar

circuit breakers

30

blog standard

holidays by mistake

34

input

38

anger management

the streets messiah j and the expert Ahead of the release of their stellar third album, the duo talk clichés, culture and politics.

44 40

the virgin prunes Innovative visionaries, art punks or ‘80s antichrists: Gavin Friday spills the beans on Ireland’s most incendiary band ever.

61

The great, the good and the just plain awful from the worlds of music, DVD and games: will Lisa Hannigan’s debut live up to its promise? Can Mogwai roll back the years? Cracking debuts from Rarely Seen Above Ground and One Day International, while Mercury Rev and Fujiya and Miyagi turn in career best performances. The last word on I’m Not There and The Wire, plus Microsoft take on Sony at their own game.

new irish music photography

Mike Skinner reveals just what makes him tick, and why he’ll never turn into Girls Aloud.

37

Queen of Lyon: France’s second city thinks State is pregnant (ok, we’re late but it’s nothing to worry about).

the roots

Every image from the State-curated photographic exhibition at this year’s Hard Working Class Heroes Festival.

24

Clicking the light fantastic.

fight like apes

Questlove provides a different perspective on hip-hop, hype and why Obama is “the first ray of light and hope in any American figure since the ‘60s”.

14

Niall Byrne talks past, present and future with the organisers of the forthcoming Dublin Electronic Arts Festival, taking place in the capital from October 23-26.

The clan Followill’s new album, Only By The Night, sees the quartet unashamedly coveting U2’s stadium rock crown. Niall Byrne hears their confessions on why they don’t like their first two albums any more.

State’s Phil Udell spent much of the summer with Fight Like Apes and lived to tell the tale. From London’s Somerset House to a storming special guest slot at Hard Working Class Heroes, he reports from the frontline on a band about to go supernova.

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Bona fide Hollywood A-lister Scarlett Johansson shares her thoughts on Tom Waits, Styx and reveals how she almost starred in a remake of The Sound Of Music.

kings of leon

46

the blizzards Niall Breslin, The Blizzards’ frontman on pop versus indie, fitting in and having to “cop the fuck on”.

56

brendan canning The Broken Social Scene stalwart finds his voice, stars in a documentary and salutes Ireland’s plastic bag tax.

80

Restaurant rage, State style.

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Editors: John Walshe, Phil Udell (editorial@state.ie) Art Director: Simon Roche Publisher: Roger Woolman Assistant Editor/Web Editor: Niall Byrne (niall@state.ie)

Editors’ letter

Advertising and Marketing Manager: Alan O’Dwyer (ads@state.ie) 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, Warren Jones, 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, Miles Stewart, Kate Rothwell, Hilary A. White, Darragh McCausland, Aoife McDonnell, Michael Dwyer, Patricia Danaher, Niall Crumlish, Olivia Mai, Aiden Fortune, Alexandra Donald, Jack Higgin, Anna Forbes, Paula Shields. Photographers: Richard Gilligan, Lili Forberg, Marcelo Biglia, Scott ‘n’ Goulden, Zoran Orlic, Liam Sweeney, Loreana Rushe, Feargal Ward Illustrators: BRENB, Nathalie Nysted, Christian Kirkegaard State is published monthly by State Magazine Ltd, 4th Floor, Equity House, 16-17 Upper Ormond Quay, Dublin 7. Tel: (01) 888 0660 Email: info@state.ie Website: www.state.ie 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

Niall Byrne The first song Niall can remember hearing is ‘Solid As A Rock’ by Ashford and Simpson. He currently runs the popular music blog nialler9.com and the State.ie website. He is partial to hummus and other spreadable foods, making visuals and has a healthy distrust for people who say they don’t like music. Rock, paper or scissors? Rock

contributor

John Joe Worrall A fan of Elvis and Carlos Valderrama t-shirts since he was knee-high to a radio, John Joe is a State regular, ridiculously busy freelancer and hugely disappointed with Bloc Party’s new album.

~ John Walshe and Phil Udell State Editors Rock, paper or scissors? Scissors

Result: Niall wins!

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Hello and welcome to Issue 7 of State Magazine. There’s every chance, of course, that this could be your first experience of the magazine and if so, come on in. For six months now, we’ve been doing this sort of thing, offering a mix of the biggest names in music alongside the most exciting new artists from both home and abroad. Having gone down the traditional route of selling the magazine, we came to a decision that we wanted as many people as possible across Ireland to read us, hence here we are in your local café, venue, bar, shop or whatever for free and gratis. We hope you enjoy it. If you’re coming back to us after our short break, we trust that you’ll spend that extra fiver wisely. And so onto matters more pressing, the contents of the latest State. Our cover stars Kings Of Leon have been on a steady career trajectory ever since their debut album, but this year has seen them soar. With a new record just with us and their blink-andyou-missed-a-ticket shows in Belfast and Dublin to come, our assistant editor Niall Byrne travelled to London to witness how this band of brothers are coping. Just fine, it would seem. Fight Like Apes are just starting out on that path but they too are experiencing a rapid ascent, from fancied newcomers to seemingly carrying the expectations of a musical nation. State spent time with them over the summer as they prepared for the release of their fine debut album and the probable change of life that would follow. The Blizzards have done the first hit record and lived to tell the tale. John Joe Worrall reports back from the Meath frontline on a band attempting to grow up in public. The Virgin Prunes faced their own problems as a young band, but they often involved just staying in one piece. Gavin Friday joins us to look back on a career that took then to the extremes of music, art and public decency. Elsewhere amongst these pages you will find Messiah J & The Expert on what makes them angry, Mike Skinner of The Streets on what makes him happy and the Roots on what makes them tick. We look forward to the DEAF festival and back at the State sponsored Hard Working Class Heroes photography exhibition. Our new names for you to consider include Talulah Does The Hula (don’t ask), V.V. Brown and Natalie Portman’s Shaved Head (again...). Plus the verdict on the new Oasis album, Brendan Canning, the music of Beijing, Scarlett Johansson and, as they always say, much, much more. Read, digest, enjoy: see you next month.


The next episode is a remix of a remix. The Nokia N95 8GB gives you a back stage pass to as much music as you can handle. 8GB of memory means that the extended mix is no problem and the advanced sound quality makes everywhere you are feel like a sound system. And with a high resolution, bigger screen you don’t have to watch from the cheap seats. If you feel like an intermission, intuitive control of your entertainment means flipping from music to gaming to video is as easy as 5,6,7,8. Time to choose your DJ name. Play music. Play movies. Play games. The next episode in entertainment is about to begin.

For more information please see www.nokia.ie

Visit www.nokia.music.ie

Š 2007 Nokia. 3


Incoming

Ease Yourself In

they might be giants:

Talulah Does The Hula

It was with great sadness that we reported on the untimely demise of The Chalets in the very first issue of State. Since then, precious little has been seen of the various members, not least vocalists Pee Pee and Pony. However, Talulah Does The Hula (perhaps the only band ever to be named after a New Zealand court case) does feature two very familiar characters by the names of Cash Bingo and Ceeva Las Vegas. Together with cohorts Jessie

50 words on…

Loveaction, Lauren Lizzy and Mike, they combine a love of The Shangri La’s, The Ramones and Carmen Miranda. Unique ain’t the word. Listen: ‘Order’ Click: http://www.myspace.com/talulahdoesthehula See: Andrew’s Lane, Dublin, October 18 (with Messiah J); Whelans, Dublin, October 31.

come in your time’s up: forgettable fire

Simian Mobile Disco get Fitted Up The worlds of rock ‘n’ roll and light exercise used to be mutually exclusive but not any more. SMD are the latest act to contribute to Nike’s Original Run series, putting together a 30-minute original workout mix. If you see State looking purple and breathless, you’ll know we downloaded it.

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Dre should have kept his trap shut from the word go. Hip-hop’s most venerated producer told MTV News waaaaaaaay back in 2002 (when Eminem was popular – yes, that long ago) that he was soon to release his third and final album entitled Detox and it would be a hip-hop musical, thereby predating R Kelly’s hip-hopera by a good three years. Work on Detox got waylaid by his production work for the likes of 50 Cent and The Game. The album had a number of release dates which duly passed, first in 2005, and is now slated for this year. “I’m just now, over the last couple of months, starting to feel that it’s going to be right and it’s something I can be proud of, and everybody is going to love it,” Dre told USA Today earlier this year. “In a perfect world, I’m shooting for a November or December release.” Ever the entrepreneur, the now

buffed-up Dre is looking to accompany the album release with the release of a drink called ‘Aftermath Cognac’ as part of an integrated marketing plan around the album. We still haven’t forgotten about Dre yet, but we’re getting there, if he doesn’t hurry up.

tdth by feargal ward

Dr. Dre


Incoming hilary a. white

Girls Juana Have Fun “I’m good at mixing vegetables with fruits and cereal. Many different separate flavours, but then you put them together and you choose. I’m not very much into this over-elaborated cuisine.” Juana Molina is discussing her culinary skills, but she might as well be telling State her artistic manifesto. La dama from Buenos Aires is gradually shedding her reputation as a Latin TV sketch-show comic, and is now revealing a musical skin that is getting critics in a lather. Her fifth album Un Día is yet another intriguing collection of multilayered sounds and earthy acoustic delicacy. It looks set to free her from the ‘world music’ pigeonhole she’s usually squashed into and place her, rightfully, among the Bjorks and Joanna Newsoms of this world. She’s anxious to explain the role of lyrics in her craft, and in doing so, gives some insight into the lengthy writing process. “I fit all these musical rhythm moments with words that really make sense to me,” she notes. “Not silly, but not too serious either. That’s why it takes so

long after I finish the songs.” Is Spanish a particularly musical language to use then? “Sometimes,” she muses. “It can be unmusical as well. If you need to add another syllable in English, you can add a word: that’s more difficult to do with Spanish. I grew up listening to

If you hate this, don’t listen to: Cleopatra,

songs in English so in a way it’s strange for me, but I have no choice.” Listening to Juana speak is fascinating. Not being a native English speaker, she tends not to dress up her descriptions, instead relying on a sincere and pleasantly straight-forward discourse. “I listened to no other music during the making of this record. I don’t know if it’s because I listened to so much music when I was young, but I feel like all my nutritional needs are already filled with musical information,” she informs us. She is due for a highly anticipated return to Europe, but is adamant to keep the flying to a minimum: “That wears you out. You’ve gained 15 years when you get home. I like my roots in the soil wherever I am.” After one of the standout Electric Picnic sets this year, is she looking forward to seeing us again? “I think the show I had at the Crawdaddy last year was one of the best shows I ever had. Really fun. I got in a very good mood.” So what’s next? “When I finish a record, I always think maybe this is the last one, but then I can’t help it and I make another. Maybe I might do something else.” Like what, State wonders? “Grow potatoes!”

Pussycat Dolls

Juana Molina plays Crawdaddy, Dublin, on

100 albums to avoid before you die No. 7 Spice Girls: Forever (vertigo)

By the time The Spice Girls came to release their third album, it seemed as if they were bullet proof. Geri Halliwell may have departed but the classy ‘Goodbye’ had notched up their third Christmas number one and there

seemed to be no sign of their career heading anywhere but up. Oops. Perhaps with their heads turned by US success, the girls adopted an ill-advised R’n’B direction, with producers...take a deep breath... Richard Stannard, Matt Rowe, Darkchild, Fred Jerkins III, Harvey Mason Jr., Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis at the helm. It stunk up the place and duly bombed. No further singles saw the light of day after the tepid ‘Holler’ and soon the remaining four Spices announced that ‘forever’ in fact meant ‘see you later’. Solo careers beckoned, and we all know how well that went. Don’t download: ‘Right Back At Ya’

October 9. Un Día is out on October 3.

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Incoming they might be giants:

V.V. Brown At a time when previously feisty British artists (Sway, Estelle) seem only too willing to churn out identikit US R‘n’B, thank heavens for Londoner V.V. Brown. Having held her own on a live Jools Holland debut, alongside Kings Of Leon and Metallica, Brown – who boasts Sugababes writing credits on her CV – is starting to look like an unstoppable force of nature. The indie dowop movement starts here: remember where you heard it first. Listen: ‘Crying Blood’ Click: www.vvbrown.com

my roots are showing: phil udell

Faith No More

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perfect. Funk metal was the order of the day, spearheaded by Red Hot Chili Peppers and, while FNM were an altogether darker concern, they rode the wave. The hit singles started to rack up, as did the TV appearances. I saw them twice on that ‘Real Thing’ tour – once at the Astoria in

London when the crowd barriers broke and then at Reading Festival, where I set fire to myself with a flare afterwards. Good times. Next album Angel Dust was just as popular but personally, the singles aside, I wasn’t buying it. I mean, I did buy it it but found it too self-indulgent for my tastes. Patton was starting to gain control of the group from founder member Jim Martin and the cracks were beginning to show. Martin would jump soon after and that, in reality, was it. Diminishing returns, more infighting and then, in 1998, they called it quits, leaving us two and a half great albums to remember them by. Was it fun while it lasted? Not all of the time. Do I miss them? More than you’ll ever know.

50 words on…

Johnny Cash Remixed It was probably inevitable but news of the forthcoming Cash remix album is still worrying. Thankfully, the Rubin revival period has been avoided but the thought of ‘I Walk The Line’ featuring Snoop Dogg is horrific. The fact that his son has overseen the project only adds to the misery.

vv by alex lake

It was a t-shirt and a 7” single that did it. The t-shirt belonged to James Hetfield, who seemed to wear it in every possible late ‘80s photo shoot. That endorsement was enough for me and I picked up the ‘We Care A Lot’ single, replete with that distinctive logo. The music contained inside the sleeve was equally striking. By this stage, I had got used to bands dragging me out of my metal obsessed youth into new and interesting areas but this, this was something new altogether. A defiantly atonal singer rapping in an equally roughshod manner, loud guitars mixing with funk basslines and lyrics that dealt with everything from war and disease to Rock Hudson and Transformers. Bon Jovi it wasn’t. As would ever be the case in this particular band’s career, they managed to implode just as they were starting to attract attention. Singer Chuck Mosley (himself only the latest in a long line of vocalists, including Courtney Love) was given his cards and the band ploughed on recording their second album while they searched for a replacement. They would find him in the shape of Mike Patton, singer with the largely awful Mr Bungle, who dropped out of college and wrote a complete set of album lyrics in two weeks. The timing couldn’t have been more


Incoming my favourite worst nightmare: johnnie craig

In retrospect, it had all the makings of catastrophe about it. London ska-pop legends Madness had reformed for a “one off” weekend reunion in North London, and elected to turn it into something of a ‘Best of British’ showcase. On the bill were newcomers Gallon Drunk and Flowered Up, followed by Ian Dury and Morrissey. 75,000 fans flocked to Finsbury Park on August 8, 1992, for fun and frolics - what could possibly go wrong? Well, putting Morrissey on the bill, apparently. In some ways, it was only natural that Madness should ask him to take part: their producers, Clive Langer and Alan Winstanley, had helmed several Morrissey singles and his 1991 album Kill Uncle (Madness’ Bedders played bass on the record), while Suggs himself had provided guest vocals on Moz’s 1990 single ‘Piccadilly Palare’. Moreover, Morrissey had enthused at length about the essential ‘Englishness’ of both acts, making many (this writer included) believe that Madstock was going to be a quaint garden party. It turned out to be anything but. Morrissey’s 1992 album Your Arsenal had been somewhat of a watershed in his solo renaissance; with his new songwriting partners Alain Whyte and Boz Boorer coming from a rockabilly background, he was quiffed up and rocking out like never before. One particular track had, however, got up the noses of NME, ‘The National Front Disco’, which appeared to empathise with a young Englishman who felt his country was no longer his. This came in the wake of previously controversial songs of racially-tinged urban alienation, ‘Bengali In Platforms’ and ‘Asian Rut’. Come Madstock, this combined explosively with Madness’ long-ignored, dark secret: the presence of a far-right skinhead element in their audience. Morrissey fans are, by nature and reputation, a peaceable breed – and even more so when they’re being antagonised. I have to confess my utter naïveté in this regard; if I’d had Trinny and Susannah to hand to ask what not to wear to Madstock, they’d probably have frowned upon my choice of a bright red polka-dot shirt, worn open over a t-shirt bearing the somewhat homoerotic sleeve image from Your Arsenal. Of course, I was only through the Park gates for a few moments when a lager-swilling huddle of bovver-booted neo-Nazis spotted my quiff and garb and blew poisoned kisses in my direction, tweeting, “ooh, Morrissey, Morrissey!” Still, the first three acts passed through peacefully from my position at the back. Then, as a swell of scattered quiffs converged into a sea flowing towards the front, the stage backdrop was revealed: two giant, Fred Perry-adorned skinhead girls. Automatic seething ensued from the swastika’d necks of bald giants who’d refused to budge from their positions at the stage front; the wailing strains of Klaus Nomi’s ‘Wayward Sisters’ only inflamed them further. All of which reached a hate-filled crescendo as the gold lamé-clad Morrissey and his rockabilly boys took to the stage and launched into a growlingly prophetic ‘You’re Gonna Need Someone On Your Side’. In any mosh-pit, you expect at least a degree of jostling; but try being jostled into the back of one of these human Rottweilers for a stomach-churning, never-to-be-forgotten experience. The

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grimace, the fists like a tiger’s dinner, the threatening eyes, the sudden reminder of a young Paul Weller’s experience down in the tube station at midnight: they all flash before your eyes in an instant. I allowed the jostlers to carry me elsewhere, while hatefilled missiles (oranges and plastic bottles) rained onstage. Meanwhile, Morrissey, a Liberace shirt slung over his skinny frame, is waving these fascist-spawned monsters’ Union Jack at them while relating the experience of Davey, the young man who went to the ‘National Front Disco’; if ever there was a sudden irony failure at NME, who’d slated Morrissey’s solo work for not ‘treading on the taboos of old’, it was right here. Only a couple of years later, they would laud Britpop and the reclaiming of the British flag, yet here, it was Morrissey, and not this foul minority in Madness’ audience, who they cast as the racist. Morrissey finished his otherwise triumphant set early and failed to show for day two; Suggs never mentioned, nor was he ever quizzed upon, his band’s neo-fascist supporters’ behaviour that day. Meanwhile, me and my fellow Moz-heads made our tremulous way to the tube station, well before midnight, in blissful ignorance of just how this story was about to be spun by the popular music press we’d supported for years; so long as we remember exactly what took place that day, the chroniclers and revisionists can simply get on with glossing over the inconvenient truth.

mick hutson/redferns

Morrissey, Madstock 1992


kopparberg.ie


Incoming from our foreign correspondent: Matt Yanchyshyn in

Beijing

Zhang Weiwei – number 1

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they might be giants:

The Japanese Popstars

Hailing from Derry, this team of DJs (consisting of Gary Curran, Decky Hedrock and Gareth Donoghue) are the best dance DJs this island has to offer right now. Their tour schedule is already heaving with dates booked up until February 2009, including shows in the UK, Ibiza, Australia, Japan and Spain. Their sound is akin to the biggest names in dance at the moment like Simian Mobile Disco, Justice and Digitalism and they share the same epic beat histrionics as stadium dance pioneers like Chemical Brothers, Daft Punk and Underworld, as the reaction to their Oxegen set showed this summer. This is the sound of open-air festivals next year. Grab their debut albumWe Just Are now to find out why. Listen: ‘Sample Whore’ Click: http://www.myspace.com/thejapanesepopstars

ww by rasmus wallin

If you were to read articles about Beijing’s music scene in the major western dailies prior to visiting, as I did, you’d think that this city was all about classical music. Sure, I’d heard some rumours about a budding rock sound but it seemed from the outside like your typical imitation scene, where groups try their hardest to sound like Radiohead or Foo Fighters. It only takes a few days with visits to local venues like Mao Live, D-22, 2 Kolegas, Yugong Yishan, 13 Club and Jiangjinjiu to expose a different reality. This city has scores of small but vibrant and original music scenes, with fans who seemingly couldn’t care less about classical, or the rest of the world. Many of the best bands playing contemporary rock, folk, electro and other styles in Beijing don’t seem too interested in appealing to the European or American market, but rather do their thing for packed houses of local Beijinger fans. Many of them sing only in Chinese and the few label owners I’ve met here are mostly keen to develop a local sound with a local fan base, first and foremost. What makes this exciting is that this kind of atmosphere – music rooted in a local following, sung in the local language – is what moves a scene and its sound in new and unique directions. It’s also something that will insulate it from your average passer-by, maybe in a good way. Once you’re in Beijing, a few reads of local listings mags like City Weekend or The Beijinger will quickly turn you on to the more hyped bands like Subs, Re-tros and Lonely China Day. Dig a little deeper and you might stumble across the wonderful alt-folk scene that fuses Chinese, Mongolian and other minority traditional music with modern sounds. Groups like Zhang Weiwei, IZ, Hanggai and many others are producing a fusion of regional sounds that have little to do with what I’ve heard elsewhere. But this isn’t “world music” as we’ve come to understand it: these are Chinese contemporary sounds for a

Chinese audience. Music piracy is rampant here, making it difficult if not impossible to sell many records. This is maybe what’s scaring off the majors. It also means that many local label owners are producing music out of a genuine love for the sounds and for the local market: the few I’ve met all have day jobs. Admittedly a number of Chinese bands have started to breakout of the Chinese scene. Wang Wen, a popular post-rock group who could be compared to Mogwai, are on tour in Europe at the moment. Post-punk groups Re-tros and Lonely China Day, who both kind of remind me of a revamped, Chinese Joy Division, got good reviews when they played at the SXSW festival last year. But that doesn’t seem to be the end goal of any musician or label I’ve encountered here. If you want to hear the future of Chinese youth music culture, you have to come here to find it yourself. Concert goers won’t stare at you and wonder why you’re at their shows, either: they know that they have a good thing already, and if non-Chinese are into it as well, that’s all good with them.


Incoming average white female: not awful, just ordinary

Madonna

It may seem somewhat hyperbolic to state that Madonna is solely responsible for the current drastic state of the music industry but we are nothing if not prone to exaggeration. Before Madonna, there existed a music industry filled with artists who wrote their own material, for whom the concept of “image” was condensed into a hurried five-minute conversation over a spliff in the back of a tour bus, who got into music precisely because they hated working 18-hour days and dealing with corporate suits. Then along came Madonna. She’s that KitKat ad come to life: she can’t sing, she can’t dance, she looks awful, she’ll go a long way. In fact that KitKat ad would never have aired if Madonna hadn’t been the prime inspiration at the time. She blatantly cannot sing, as evinced by her endless attempts at same, warbling her way incompetently through three chord pop tunes with the expression of a woman who is trying to perform open heart surgery, whilst simultaneously receiving a high colonic. She couldn’t carry a tune if it had handles, and when you think of Madonna singing live, the words “passion” and “heartfelt” are probably the last that come to mind. She is an average dancer, hoofing it around the stage with the grace of a bodybuilder. And as for beauty? She increasingly looks like Iggy Pop’s older, more strung-out sister, and we have yet to meet a man who names her as one of his top five all-time celebrity crushes. So how has she sustained a career that spans three decades? It seems that she has managed it because she is a saleswoman who just won’t take no for an answer. Apparently this is something that we are now rewarding in the music business. We laud Madonna and endow her with iconic status, purely for surviving in the music business and still releasing albums. Come on, does this not make her the musical virus of our time? And if her creative kiss of death weren’t hard enough to bear when applied to music, let’s not forget Shanghai Surprise or Swept Away. Enough is enough. Put the lycra-encased sweaty crotch away, stop bothering cash-poor credible music producers, and leave us all the fuck alone. The musical landscape would be a better place without Madonna. Case closed.

alexandra donald 11


Incoming they might be giants:

Natalie Portman’s Shaved Head What a day it was when Natalie Portman turned up to the premiere of Revenge Of The Sith in 2005 with a newly-shorn head! Had she been listening to too much Sinéad O’Connor? As it turns out, the slaphead look was for the film V For Vendetta. She still managed to predate and maybe even inspire Britney’s new look by a whole two years and without being batshit crazy to boot. Clearly inspired themselves, this five-piece took the name from that tabloid brouhaha for their synth-pop band. After their first gig in Seattle garnered attention in three major local publications, they set their sights even further. Still only teenagers, their enthusiastic live shows continue to raise the roof in the US, with thrusting, fun performances. Their debut album Glistening Pleasure dropped in July in the US and contains future hits ‘Me + YR Daughter’ and ‘Iceage Babeland’ and the best adolescent song about facial hair ever, ‘Beard Lust’ . With CSS jadedly exploring their rock roots, the time is ripe for these new takers to the electro-pop crown. Listen: ‘Beard Lust’ Click: http://www.myspace.com/ natalieportmansshavedhead

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

50 words on…

No. 3: Manowar “Manowar Manowar living on the road, When we’re in town speakers explode, We don’t attract wimps cause we’re too loud, Just true metal people that’s Manowar’s crowd.” ‘Kings Of Metal’ “A dark march lies ahead, Together we will ride like thunder from the sky, May your sword stay wet like a young girl in her pride, Hold your hammers high.” ‘Hail & Kill’ “The gods made heavy metal and they saw that it was good, They said to play it louder than hell, We promised that we would, When losers say it’s over with you know that it’s a lie, The gods made heavy metal and it’s never gonna die.” ‘The Gods Made Heavy Metal’

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Avril Lavigne nets $$$s from Youtube With 97 million views on Youtube, Lavigne’s video for ‘Girlfriend’ has netted her a cool $2 million from ad revenue. Avril’s triumph was largely and inexplicably aided by Avril fans who figured she needed extra cash, via a Youtube video refreshing tool ‘Hey! Hey! You! You! No Way! No Way!’


Incoming dan hegarty

show time

Does This Count As Hype?

Super Extra Bonus Party Launch Party Andrew’s Lane Theatre, Dublin, October 10 To launch their free digital download album Appetite For Reconstruction, Choice Music Prize winners Super Extra Bonus Party host a gig in Andrew’s Lane Theatre from 8 ‘til late on the same night. It will be jammed with DJ sets from !Kaboogie and T-Woc and live performances from The Vinny Club, RSAG, Ikeaboy and Capirinha Sound, and of course, the Super Extra Bonus Party lads themselves. DragonForce Ambassador Theatre, Dublin, October 12 Savoy, Cork, October 13 Following their extensive UK tour, powermetal outfit Dragon Force bring their sound to Ireland. Even if you’re not a metal fan, this is still show worth checking out for the sheer fret-wankery on display. Be prepared for twin guitar solos, double kick drumming and electronic sound effects - all at a mind numbing speed.

It never ceases to amaze me how we build things up, only to smash them to the ground. This happens with all sorts of things: celebrities, films, TV shows, and of course music. That’s not to say that it’s always a bad thing when you consider that you can get famous these days for having big knockers (there’s a retro term!) or shagging some z-list celebrity. I’ve never been someone that gets too embroiled in hype: on the contrary I’ve almost felt pity for new bands getting lauded over by music’s tastemakers. At times, you can nearly see the backlash following these accolades and compliments like a shadow. Over the past few years, there has been a substantial concentration of talented acts coming from our wee island. Four of the best of these are Dinky Loop (from Cork), Portadown’s Foamboy, Robotnik from Dublin, and Waterford duo, Ugly Megan. Ugly Megan have put together some of the most brilliantly unorthodox pop tunes I’ve heard in ages. While so many bands conform, Ugly Megan’s second release ‘The Gavin, Megan & Oisin EP’ operates on a different frequency to just about everything else. It’s rare that you can find sweetness and sleaze coexisting so happily in songs, but their track ‘One Night In My House’ has it in near perfect measure. Cork collective Dinky Loop share

their tunes with their alter ego Sunday Morning. It’s pretty difficult to give a musical reference point for them, but if you can imagine what the offspring of Joy Division and Stereolab would sound like, then you’ll have a vague idea. In 2004, Sunday Morning put together a single called ‘Avenues Lined With You’, which opens with a quote about Sid Vicious. “Sid Vicious was once asked whether when he made his music, he thought about the man on the street, and Sid answered, ‘no, I’ve met the man on the street and he’s a...’” - just the kind of thing that will get my attention! Dinky/Sunday have released singles with alarming regularity since 2004 (initially through their www.lastserenade. com, but more recently through www. myspace.com/dinkyloop) - most brilliant, others averaging at being just very good. Robotnik’s (AKA Chris Morrin – pictured) debut album Pleasant Square has been one of my highlights of 2008. While he might look like a villain from the old Inspector Gadget cartoons, the bloke has talent oozing from every orifice. If that doesn’t convince you then perhaps this will: party animal John Walshe (yes, the editor of this publication) was once spotted leaving a party to go to a Robotnik gig - a titanium seal of approval if ever I’ve heard of one! Tune into Dan Hegarty’s Alternative To Sleep on RTE

Skinny Wolves Presents... Various Venues, Dublin Skinny Wolves present a plethora of gigs in various Dublin venues including Lovvers, Bats, Weil Rats, The Creeping Nobodies, Anni Rossi, The Thread Pulls, Mahjongg, Not Squares and Brooklyn’s innovative three piece Telepathe (66% are pictured). They’ll also be releasing the limited vinyl only pressing of Indian Jewelry’s Sangles Redux with a gig on October 18. See www.skinnywolves.com for full listings. Holy Fuck Speakeasy Bar, Belfast, October 19 The Academy, Dublin, October 20 Canadian purveyors of non-electronic produced music which still sounds electronic return after their superb showing earlier in the year. Imagine, Waterford Arts Festival October 24-November 2 The festival boasts an eclectic mix of music, film, theatre, comedy, literature, dance and visual arts, with plenty of workshops and storytelling to keep the kiddies happy. The music line up includes Dark Room Notes, Nina Hynes, acclaimed Jazz musician Martin Taylor and former member of Dae-Kim, Katie Kim.

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

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SCARLETT JOHANSSON

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Music is my Radar

From Tom Waits to Styx, and a not-so-secret love of Andrew Lloyd Webber, Hollywood’s leading lady on the sounds that rock her world. As told to Patricia Danaher

Music is so personal. It’s how we all connect: it’s the way we relate to one another. I think a lot of times through music. You know, we’ve listened to songs that make us feel melancholic or joyful, all of these different emotions, and that’s how we empathise, sympathise with the lyricist and the vocalist and the musicians. It’s such a wonderful and vital form of expression, you know, for the ages. I would love to continue to do music in the future: I think the possibilities with it are endless. The album, Anywhere I Lay My Head came out a couple of months ago and it was a total passion project for me. It was a labour of love and it was a creative collaboration. It was inspired and it was incredibly fulfilling. It really was. I love to sing and I love music and I love Tom Waits, of course, and to be able to re-imagine those songs, it was almost as if you were reimagining Alice In Wonderland or something, like an old tale that you kind of re-spin in your head. It was a lot of fun and it’s been kinda crazy to have it out and for people to listen to. It’s funny, something that feels so intimate and then, it’s like, released. I’ve never really had that before, so it’s been exciting. I am lucky enough to have a lot of friends that are so talented at song writing and I would love to be able to collaborate with them and in the future, I hope to. I’d love to work with David Sitek again, who produced the record: we’ve become good friends. He’s like a magician, a wizard. You know, he’s so talented and we wrote an original track together, which is on the album as well. I would love to pursue that again in the future, it would be a lot of fun.

Musicians I admire are in the same vein as Tom Waits. I love Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen and Chet Baker: I even love Nine Inch Nails. If I could be in any band in the world, I’d be in Styx.

I would love to find a new musical to do, but it’s hard because a lot of musicals are not contemporary and it’s hard to make them contemporary. Obviously, they did a wonderful job with Chicago. It’s not the same as Oklahoma, which is kind of idealistic. It would be exciting to find a new musical to do. I love Andrew Lloyd Webber. I could sing the whole score of Sunset Boulevard for you, right here. I would do a musical for free if it were the right one. I was in talks to do a remake of The Sound of Music, but I realised if I was going to do a musical, I wanted it to be one I was incredibly passionate about. You get just one shot to debut, so you’re very vulnerable. It’s wonderful and it’s exciting and obviously it’s a lot of work and in the end, it was simply that this was not the right musical for me. It was purely a creative decision. Scarlett Johanssen will appear in Woody Allen’s forthcoming ‘Vicky Christina Barcelona’ which our Art Director has seen and says that it’s brilliant and that she kisses Penelope Cruz in it.

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RHESUS POSITIVE Fight Like Apes.

~ PHIL UDELL RICHARD GILLIGAN

Words by Photography by

the dublin private members club that state ďŹ nds itself in on a typical, grey irish summer day is used to turning a blind eye to the more eccentric behaviour of its clients. the four next 16


State

Tricky

…at Oxegen, Friday, July 11

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State

youngsters sat here today aren’t exactly wrecking the joint but, in their distinctly downbeat dress, they do stick out a tad. And it would appear that the young lady amongst them is wearing mud-caked boots. To Mary Kate Geraghty, however, that is not just any old mud. It’s Glastonbury mud and a reminder that, just a few days before we meet, she and Fight Like Apes had been experiencing one of the weekends of their lives. There’s a lot of that happening to Fight Like Apes at the moment. Having spent their first year in the public eye developing at insane pace, they have taken themselves out of circulation somewhat: firstly to Seattle to record a debut album; secondly, by playing anywhere that would have them. Now back home for an increasingly rare breather, does this feel like a surreal calm before the approaching storm? “It’s becoming more and more overwhelming,” says Jamie (aka synth boy Pockets). “When it was just Ireland, it was OK: I know what Mullingar looks like, I’ve been to Galway a few times and know where to get a good batter burger, but when you go to towns you’ve never heard of and there are people there to see you, and some of them are singing the words, it’s a bit weird really. How do these people even know we exist? We’re just four eejits from Ireland.” Mary laughs: “My mum asked me what’s it’s been like and I said it was like the first time I went on a giant teacup ride. It’s been the most exciting time we’ve had as a band, coinciding with the most nerve-wracking time too. People are getting a bit more opinionated but that’s what we want.” Does she feel the pressure of the situation? “I think we’re very lucky because none of us put any pressure on ourselves,” she avows. “You have to realise that there are certain things you have control over and after that, well... We’re delighted with the album, we’ve done the best that we can do. If people hate us, we can’t complain: I hate lots of bands. If you don’t love what you do then you’re in trouble. You have to learn to rely on yourselves. We had to up our game but the way we work together has never changed.” “The pressure has never been a negative thing”, says drummer Adrian,” it’s inspired us to keep moving forward. It’s exhilarating.”

If we were to take a look in the teenage Apes’ record collections (and, at an average age of 23, we’re not going that far back), would we get a sense of the band they became? “No,” Mary Kate insists. “Well, yes in some sense maybe. In my video collection, there would be. I loved those Now... albums but I never got that fever, that obsession with music. I reckon I’d have a hugely embarrassing CD collection but I’m not going to tell you any more.” So pop played a part? “I’ve always been pop, always,” she admits. “I never really opened my ears to the heavier, more extreme stuff. We’ve all got such vastly different musical tastes but our common ground lies in pop.” While Adrian loved his metal and bassist Tom his US punk, Jamie had his own crosses to bear. “I was a big fan of Technotronic, Kriss Kross, maybe a bit of Snap. All the hip bands. I had terrible taste in music: then the grunge thing came along. I remember the first time I saw Henry Rollins on Beavis And Butthead and I went, ‘what is this?’ This is so much better than Haddaway. It spiralled me into a world of punk and grunge.”

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Fight Like Apes

Part of their musical development was the ‘Brave New Bands’ game, as Mary Kate explains. “One of us would go and buy nine CDs, maximum of a euro each, and do three rounds of three songs. No-one was allowed to know the name of the song, the band, anything. There was no quality control, you just picked them up at random. That’s where the shoegazy stuff, the Heavenly stuff came from.”

Odd as it may sound now, those unlikely influences did manifest themselves in the earliest incarnation of the band, or at least in Mary Kate’s vocals. “I tried out the whole wailing, hair blowing, ethereal singing thing. I wasn’t too shit at it but it never really worked. When we started, I was singing like that over what the band is still playing now. They had to make me angry. We knew there was something missing and I thought, ‘shit, they’re going to have to get someone else’.” “We knew what she could do”, says Adrian,” what noise she was capable of making, so we kept pushing her. Then one day she just blew us all away. We played ‘Jake Summers’ and went, ‘Jesus’.” Mary remembers the moment well: “Jamie said, ‘Mary, it’s all very well, we get that you’re nervous blah blah blah but this song is not sweet and nice, it’s really fucking angry’. I thought, ‘Stop telling me what to do, I’m singing like this and that’s the end of it’. I went outside for a big dirty cigarette, came back in and went, ‘right, I’m going to do this now and if you don’t like it you can all just fuck off’. They liked it. After the song, Adrian was going, ‘Jesus, simmer down’. I’d like to think it unlocked something in the band. As much it sounds like a cliché, it felt right. It sounded right. We didn’t know exactly what we wanted to sound like but we knew we were left of the mark. There’s a lot to be said for a really sweet song over heavy music but it just wouldn’t work for us. Take a song like ‘Digifucker’,” she starts singing in a quiet voice, then laughs. “That just sounds really creepy. I felt instantly more comfortable.” And so Mary Kate became May Kay and Fight Like Apes were properly born, ready to annoy the hell out of people. “This was more an experiment in trying to make people leave venues, which worked really well”, admits Jamie. “None of us could play guitar so we just put everything through a distortion pedal. People would generally just run. We’re an extremely Marmite band. We never expected to be as liked as we are: we expected pure hatred from the start.” “Right from the beginning”, says Mary Kate, “we knew how obnoxious and how opinion dividing this band would be. We never wanted to impress anybody apart from ourselves.” However, they did start to impress people, not least FIFA Records, the label run by the Frank & Walters’ Ashley Keating, who liked the band’s demos so much that he released them as their debut EP. “That was the first milestone for the band,” enthuses Mary Kate, “to have a real record label that wanted to release our songs. And to be connected to someone who had been in the Frank & Walters was incredible. Ashley was amazing: he’s a real music fan with no bullshit.” The band were to stay with FIFA for a second EP before moving on to Model Citizen for their debut album. Inevitably, there were those looking for a hint of scandal in the comings and goings. According to Mary, they won’t find it. “It sounds like I’m


State

Fight Like Apes

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State

Fight Like Apes

“I understand how bands get so comfortable with the cosy future they have at home, the nice crowds. Then you go to the UK, you go to London and you either play to noone or a crowd just staring at you. God, you’d love it if someone even just tapped their foot.” ~

being political, but we really did just move on. We told them that Model Citizen were interested in us and they said, ‘go for it’. The deal was only ever for two EPs. I’m sure we could have done more but it was all very natural. We still talk to Ashley and Colleen: they’re always there for us.”

As the summer of 2007 slid into autumn, the band were on the crest of a wave. Audiences were getting bigger, the media response more ecstatic and a forthcoming Electric Picnic slot promised much. Suddenly, though, the band who could do no wrong managed to blow it. Looking back now on a fairly disastrous performance, Adrian and Mary Kate are quite sanguine. “The Electric Picnic was a good lesson”, Mary Kate notes. “I wish it hadn’t happened but I’m glad it did. I needed to learn my boundaries as a singer. I can’t go to a festival for two days and have fun and then play on the third. The sound was bad, Tom wasn’t able to play [having broken his finger in a bout of horseplay], the circumstances were difficult but to be fair, I just couldn’t sing. It was just inexperience, I was like a woman possessed for two days, no excuses. At the time, if someone had said that I shouldn’t have gone till the day of our show I’d have thought they were mad. Now there’d be no question about it. I don’t see it as a sacrifice. I’d have a much better time playing half an hour to a crowd like that than three days of partying.” In the grand scheme of things, this was just one show by one band, but the effect and disappointment that the four felt is still evident a year later. They recovered, of course, not least with an impressive Hard Working Class Heroes slot and an end of year Whelan’s show that saw them up for a gong at the Meteors. But Ireland has only ever been a part of what Fight Like Apes have done, what they have wanted to achieve. For them, the main prize has been nestling on the other side of the Irish Sea. Unlike the majority of Irish bands in recent years, the Apes have given the UK live circuit a serious pounding. For Mary, it was a much a question of getting out of their comfort zone as any sort of grand plan: “I understand how bands get so comfortable with the cosy future they have at home, the nice crowds. Then you go to the UK, you go to London and you either play to no-one or a crowd just staring at you. God, you’d love it if someone even just tapped their foot.” Jamie sees it almost as a rite of passage. “There’s only so many places you can play before you get very bored. You’re always told to build your home following first but if you do that without

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having to spend the night in an airport or scrounge the cash to get a bus while carrying your gear, playing to 500 people at home really won’t prepare you for that when you have to do it. You’ll just want to go back to the comforts of home. We’ve always been prepared to sleep in Stansted to catch the one penny flight in the morning: it’s been embedded in us that if you can get comfortable in the UK, then you’re really comfortable.” Yet the more they (didn’t really) ignored us, the closer we got. Come the turn of the year and the annual scramble for new bands to champion, Fight Like Apes seemed to be everywhere – regardless of whether the band were talking to a magazine or not. Unavoidably, much of the attention would focus on the band’s singer. “I totally understand that and the band do too,” Mary Kate says. “If someone wants to go and put me in a magazine or in an article, there’s nothing I can do about it but people are going to get sick of the sight of you. We were lucky that we had very good guidance. I got on a bus into town and opened two papers and we were in both of them. My mum was delighted but I was like, ‘oh no’. That wouldn’t make people want us anymore.” Jamie agrees: “We all kind of felt it. People seem to blame bands for the hype: it’s everybody else’s fault really. The very people who complain about the hype are the ones who were doing it in the first place. I find that very amusing.” Perhaps fortuitously, the opportunity presented itself for a little time away. After a search for a suitable producer, they settled upon John Goodmanson (Sleater-Kinney, Los Campesinos!, Wu Tang Clan, amongst others). His studio happened to be in Seattle and so, for 28 days this spring, Fight Like Apes were out of here. Decamped to a rented apartment (where they ‘bonded’ with their strange neighbour Matt, a man who liked to glue live mice to car mudflaps), they set about recording Fight Like Apes And The Mystery Of The Gold Medallion. Goodmanson had said two things to convince them he was the right man for the job – “I have 150 distortion pedals” and “I make records sound good by default.” As with many bands before them, they faced the question of how to approach their old songs. For Jamie, the decision was easy. “There was so much more we wanted to do with those songs and we never wanted to be restricted by the fact that we went in, recorded demos and then released them as EPs. There have been bands who I’ve loved who have left tracks off albums and I’ve been thoroughly disappointed. I really didn’t want petty people being disappointed with us because they loved a song and it wasn’t on our album.”


State

“But we had to re-record them too”, says Tom. “It would have been really cheap to release an album with the original versions on. We recorded 11 songs in two days that first time.”

Their hard work in the UK is certainly beginning to pay off, with not only higher profile gigs such as Glastonbury and Reading / Leeds, but also through the radio patronage of huge fan Steve Lamacq and also Jonathan Ross. Sorry, let’s read that again. Jonathan Ross? Jamie grins: “He played us between Bruce Springsteen and Abba. It was a very odd thing to happen. We were getting ready to go on at Glastonbury and someone sent us a text saying it was on. It was quite a moment. The weird thing is that all these things happen together: it would be brilliant if you could have one a day, but you get two weeks where it’s just getting boring and you want to go home, then five things happen in one day and you won’t be able to register them till you get home and think about it.” A couple of weeks later and State is enjoying a cold beer on a terrace overlooking the Thames, the water twinkling in the golden light of early evening. Somerset House is a far cry from the mud and chaos of Oxegen but in reality, this is the kind of gigging leap that Fight Like Apes make these days. On Sunday, they were playing to a packed tent of converts: here, they will face a crowd of We Are Scientists fans that will include men in suits drinking pear cider. The beauty is you can’t see the join, aside from a more reserved crowd reaction and Jamie not diving head first into the audience at the end. To watch Fight Like Apes at work here is to get a measure on

22

Fight Like Apes

what they are potentially about to achieve. Lamacq, supposedly on holiday, still cannot bear to miss them. Important promoters and strange journalists come up to them to shake their hands. There are radio pluggers and booking agents floating around, as well as girls wanting to have their photo taken with Mary Kate. Tom’s opera loving father is here to see his son play for the first time. Amongst it all, the four young people who make up Fight Like Apes are having a ball. Playing the game, doing the right things, but having a ball nonetheless. “Nothing’s happened that we didn’t want to happen”, said Mary Kate when we first met. “I feel 100% because we’re all so comfortable with what we’ve done. Someone could say that the album is a piece of shit, that’s fine. I don’t think it is. If I didn’t believe in this, that kind of stuff would hit hard but it isn’t.” The last time we see Fight Like Apes, summer has rolled into autumn and winter is occasionally banging at the door. Not so today, thankfully, as a beautiful golden day has slipped into a balmy night. This time last year, they were one of the buzz bands at the Hard Working Class Heroes festival. This year, they’re back as special guest headliners, drawing a sizeable crowd through the streets of hen parties and drunken idiots to the sanctuary of Meeting House Square. Truth be told, they’ll play a lot better shows this year, but even a below par Fight Like Apes are still head and shoulders above most of the live bands here this weekend. Their album is about to be released and they’ll return to a sold out Whelan’s. It was recently announced that they’d be supporting Ting Tings on their next UK tour. Last year is now this year and the scene is set for FLA to become the most exciting Irish band of their generation. Next year? Who can tell but one thing’s for sure, it’ll be some ride.


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23


Circuit Breakers Words by Niall Byrne

DEAF JAM The seventh Dublin Electronic Arts Festival takes place from October 23-26 in various venues around the capital, and it’s more eclectic and all-embracing than ever. there’s only one or two main players. And on that level, you want to be coming in with ideas like Heineken Green Energy or Bud Rising. That’s not what we’re about. So it was just natural for us to be independent. We ran the festival with no sponsorship the first year: I think we got €5,000 total sponsorship.” A reliance on such sponsorship also means those deals are temporary and need to be chased up year by year. “For years, we’ve worked on it ourselves for nothing, to try and build it up,” says Karen Walshe. “Any money we got from ticket sales or sponsorship, we put it back in. Every year, you have to get back out and look for new sponsors, because things change in those industries, it fluctuates all the time. It depends who is the Marketing Manager and what they fancy doing at the time. So we’ve had Tiger, Budvar and now this year, Becks.”

late october sees the dublin electronic arts festival take place around Dublin City for its seventh year of electronic music programming. This year’s festival has 52 events running the gamut of electronic artists and beyond, with experimental forefathers Nurse with Wound and White Noise rubbing synths and laptops with the likes of M83, Daedelus, Trans Am and Luke Vibert. It’s probably the most mainstreamleaning line-up since its inception after forays into Irish-only and Asian music in the last two years. State sat down with DEAF organisers Eamonn Doyle and Karen Walshe to talk about the past, present and future of a festival which is looking forward to 10 years of original programming. The pair run the festival from a noisy office on Dame Street, the walls of which are decorated with the unique artwork from previous years’ brochures, a unique feature which has become a cornerstone of DEAF and helps the festival stand out amongst its peers. They first established

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DEAF to give a platform to electronic music artists who were largely ignored by other festival organisers. “The big dance festivals like Homelands and Creamfields were on at the time and basically, we were just never asked to play at those festivals,” remembers Eamonn Doyle, who also runs D1 recordings. “So it was just to set up a platform for ourselves and our peers here, and that’s pretty much the format it took for the first few years.”

The main difference between DEAF and a lot of other festivals is that all funding and sponsorship is received through independent means rather than through corporate channels. “It was the only option for us,” explains Eamonn. “To qualify for Arts Council funding, you have to be a non-profit anyway. The only other route is to go down a corporate route and it’s not even an option in Ireland, as

Away from the fickle nature of sponsorship, DEAF has benefited greatly since 2002 from the help of local promoters, all of whom are happy to organise gigs under the DEAF banner. This year, many types of promoters are represented, from the dance names like Bodytonic, Nightflight and Clampdown, to those who favour dubstep and glitch, like !Kaboogie and Stasis, as well as the more alternative-focused Foggy Notions, Maximum Joy, and Forever, or hip-hop via Choice Cuts, and, in a more traditional vein, Note Productions and Improvised Music Company. “We’ve always kind of wanted to open it up like this, but there were just two of us, and it takes a while,” explains Eamonn. “And we’ve changed the shape of the festival over the years. So two years ago, it was all Irish. Last year it was all Asian. Again, we pretty much did all of the events ourselves. So we’ve kind of shifted it around and opened it up.


Nutshell Thursday, October 23 Nurse With Wound with support from Stephen O’Malley SUNN O))). Now based in Clare, British-born Steven Stapleton’s forthcoming Irish debut has attracted an audience from abroad, keen to witness his experimental live show. Andrews Lane Theatre, 7.30pm, €22.50. Sweet Talk with Steinski, Maser and John Gilsenan Copyright enthusiast and pioneering cutup DJ Steinski joins street artist Maser and Gilsenan of I Want Design for a nice ‘aul chinwag. The Sugar Club, 7.30pm, €5.

“This is closer to the format that we’re going to stick with. It makes it a lot more interesting, and you know, when we did focus and narrow it down with a theme, some people felt a bit alienated from it, and it was quite restricted as to what other promoters could do. There was a great feeling of ownership of the festival by a lot of the artists and promoters, and that started to change a little bit when we started to theme it. It’s much more interesting for us this way.”

This year’s festival culminates in a closing party on Sunday October 26, which takes over The Village and Whelan’s venues completely, with sets from legendary Detroit electro pioneers Model 500, house from Laurent Garnier, ambient guitar music from Chequerboard, the grimey Bass Clef, the ambient drones of Fuck Buttons, German techno outfit Mortiz Van Oswald Trio and a whole load more. Many people remember the DEAF events which took place in the Guinness Storehouse in 2003 (“People still think they’re going on up there,” quips Karen) and this is another ambitious multi-stage event. The closing party is an eclectic statement on the diversity of the many strands of electronica happening today. It’s something which is reflected locally too, though Eamonn is keen to point out some important changes which he noticed while picking the artists for the DEAF CD, which is sadly unique to Ireland.

(L-R) Boredoms playing a previous DEAF, and upcoming acts in ’08 Steinski, Trans Am and Model 500

“This time, the club music was a lot weaker than I thought it was going to be, and the electronica and leftfield stuff was a lot stronger. It’s just come on a lot more. I put it directly down to our licensing laws. The environment for club music is just terrible. I think it’s finally killed the scene over here because it is still alive and kicking when you go travelling and you see it’s there,” he notes, rather agitatedly. “When we started the festival, it was pretty much a club festival and it had already become really difficult because licensing laws had changed, bars got extensions, so for clubs to run it was really, really difficult. And that’s one of the reasons why I think labels have a club: I mean, most labels that I know from around the world run their labels from their clubs. So I think one of the big changes is that the club scene has finally been smothered by licensing laws.” “I think, seven years later, there’s a lot of people that are still here who have really grown up, developed a lot, and are a lot more professional,” adds Karen more optimistically. “The electronic arts and music scene is not as underground as it used to be, so I think it’s a bit more accessible. In the mainstream, more people are listening to it, so DEAF isn’t as scary to people as it could have been seven years ago.”

Friday, October 24 Poets of Rhythm, Daedelus, Tukia and DJ Scope Solid hip-hop line-up includes the amazing showmanship of Daedelus. Andrews Lane Theatre, 7.30pm, €20.50. M83 and Channel One French electronic-popsters will wrap you in warm synths and ‘80s melodies. Vicar Street, 7.30pm, €23. DJ Sandrinho, Tchicky Al Dente, Lex Woo and Sansao Rio’s favourite Baile Funk DJ will be reminding snooty Brazilians about their country’s crass but hugely entertaining music. It helps if you can’t understand the words. South William Bar, 8.30pm-2.30am, Free. Saturday, October 25 DEAF Workshops and Screenings Including the BBC Radiophonic workshop and Irish premiere of Totally Wired. Andrews Lane Theatre, 7.30pm, Tickets €20.50. Sunday, October 26 Model 500, Laurent Garnier, Fuck Buttons, Moritz Von Oswald Trio, Americhord, Chequerboard, Rollers/Sparkers, Bass Clef and loads more The ultimate DEAF event of this year and the festival closing party. Whelans and The Village, 7.30pm -3am, Tickets €35. White Noise, Broadcast DJ set, Andy Votel, Polly Fibre and An Electric Storm The Sugar Club, 7.30pm- 2:30am, €15/10 after 11pm.

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A TRIBE CALLED QUESTTLOVE The Roots.

~ Words by

WARREN JONES

in a genre where bling, braggadocio and the dollar bill rule the roost, the legendary roots crew have always been notable for offering a next 26


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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

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different perspective on hip-hop. 15 years and running from their first release and the Philadelphia group still stand out from the pack. Where most artists rely upon the now-standard two turntables and a microphone, The Roots see those elements of hip-hop as merely a foundation and raise it with live drums, guitar, bass, keyboard, percussion and a sousaphone. Yes, a sousaphone: that wearable tuba instrument more readily associated with marching bands gets a prominent place at their reputable live show these days, played by a man affectionately known as Tuba Gooding Junior. In their MC, Tariq ‘Black Thought’ Trotter, they have one of the most consistently underrated voices in rap. Yet no-one embodies the spirit of The Roots more than the multifaceted figure of Ahmir Thompson aka Questlove (or ?uestlove) whose many hats include drummer, producer, studio engineer, journalist and DJ. He is the cerebrum of the entire operation: the man who knows where the band are heading to next and where they would like to be. He can talk at length about the machinations of the music industry, politics and the state of hip-hop. Questlove has got his shit so together that although the group only released their 10th LP, Rising Down, in April, they are already planning 2009’s live show. “Usually when we do the summer European festivals, that’s when we are fishing for a new shell,” explains Questlove. “New songs are tried out, new ideas are tried out in Europe. August is when we start constructing the show for next year.” As primarily a live band, he explains that The Roots carefully map out their touring season each year by continent to ensure they hit the summer festivals in each country. In any year which they release an album, The Roots will tour for approximately 225 days. By the time you read this, the band will have played a show at Electric Picnic after travelling to play in the ‘Eastern Bloc’, including the Czech Republic, Poland and Russia, with possible dates in South Africa before the end of the year. Back in the US however, it’s a different story. In a recent interview with Seattle radio station KUBE 93’s Sunday Night Sound Session, Questlove talked about “leaving room” for other artists in the same hiphop/R&B demographic on their American tour, who are rolling in town with expensive shows in tow. He mentions tours from Kanye West, N*E*R*D and Jay-Z as examples. “Because of the weird nature of the United States, most urban artists aren’t even encouraged to actually tour. Here [The US], the only people that get to tour are mega-mega-mega-mega platinum acts and the two or three acts that they choose to open for them. There’s really not a steady live venue structure in the United States of America,“ he elaborates. “So that’s what we did: we took advantage of other artists not touring. Now that the economy in America is really messed up, artists are finding that they now have to tour.”

It wasn’t always that way, of course. With doom and gloom permeating every music industry news article these days, the halycon days of the ‘90s for many black urban artists are long gone. “The problem is, back in the day, you get someone doing moderately well, say Foxy Brown or Lil Kim, you could probably survive off your label,” Questlove opines. “Get a nice little advance, do a few club dates and then, life is hunky dory.”

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The Roots

The Roots never rested on their laurels in such a way. It’s an interesting fact that the band got their first break in Europe in 1993 when they rented a flat in London and played live around Europe for about a year. On their first night in England, they witnessed the debut UK club performance from then fledgling singer Mary J. Blige who had just released her first album What’s the 411?, which saw Sean ‘Puffy’ Combs in his first major production role. They learned a lot that night: “I’ve had the misfortune of seeing probably the very best and very worst Mary J. Blige show. She even remembers this story. I think a lot of the mentality of the American artists was ‘We don’t have to try as hard in Europe because they’ll take just about anything we do’. She came over with just a DJ and really didn’t have the stage-savvy or experience she has now. The audience was none too pleased with it. There was a barrage of boos,” he recounts. “That was my first night in Europe so that stuck with me forever. I was like ‘Oh ma god!’ They’re gonna eat us alive! This is Mary J. Blige! One of the biggest singing sensations ever!’ After we talked to a few fans, I realised they know when they feel someone is short-changing them. So, ever since I saw that show, I was like ‘maaan, got to do good’.” Though the band learned from that night, there was still a stigma in Europe in ‘93 about rap shows, and the misconception that violence would be encouraged was common. In order to combat this, The Roots’ tour manager came up with an ingenious plan. “There really was no booking of a hip-hop act from the US at European festivals without some sort of press from America,” says Questlove. “But the first thing our agent told us was like, ‘Yo, let me embellish your presentation a little bit’. We were like ‘What do you mean by embellish?’ Next thing we know he got us like 40 gigs! We were like ‘How did you do this? Our album isn’t even out yet!’ He’s like ‘Y’know I said you guys did jazz and poetry!’ Cos if they hear rap they’ll be like ‘it’s too much of a risk’, especially in the early ‘90s,” he laughs. “Everyone thought they had to get extra police and security. I forget what country we were in, the promoter got four times the police force and was mad as hell mid-show. He was mad he wasted his money. He had an Onyx show over there and fights broke out so....we had to embellish a little bit.” It worked. During their time in Europe, the band released their debut Organix in order to sustain their touring funds. That album eventually sold 150,000 copies.

1995 saw the release of Do You Want More?!!!??! and the seminal video for ‘What They Do?’ which ripped on rap video clichés. 1999 was their most successful year to date thanks to the reaction to Things Fall Apart and the hit single ‘You Got Me’, featuring Erykah Badu. The album went gold. The band have toured constantly in the intervening years and Questlove remembers their Irish show at the last Witnness in 2003 before the festival became Oxegen. “That was definitely one of our most ass-kicking shows ever,” he enthuses. “Actually, it was kinda funny because the plane had lost all of our equipment. We cancelled the show but the promoter was like ‘Nah, just do it anyway’. So even with half the members present, we got on the tour bus. We couldn’t find our bass player (Hub), we had no equipment, we were missing members and we wound up probably


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doing a top ten Roots show of all time.” Their latest album, Rising Down, sees them very much in the ascendant once again – matching Game Theory’s political and social themes with plenty of synth-led bangers, which was important for the band to talk about in such a crucial election year. And it’s all down to one man – Obama. “He literally is the first ray of light and hope in any American figure since the ‘60s,” Questlove rationalises, “back when leaders were real leaders and you actually looked up to your leaders to solve a problem. After 1968, American government has really not meant that much to the poor and disenchanted, the voiceless... people. Government has been only serving the corporations.” State asks whether Questlove thinks Obama can change that. “Absolutely,” he enthuses. “Really, if anything, he’s exposing the fact that America still has some ugly sides to its character.” We dig a little deeper about political issues and the topic turns to Katrina, which prompts Questlove to declare bluntly, “Katrina exposed what black America always knew. This election is exposing all types of creases and wrinkles inside of the environment of America that people don’t normally like to talk about and I think it’s actually necessary. It’s necessary to talk and deal with our shortcomings.”

The Roots

Beyond politics and The Roots, Questlove’s production CV is equally impressive and as important to the canon of hip-hop and R&B. He has had an executive production role in revered albums such as Erykah Badu’s Baduizm, Common’s Like Water For Chocolate, D’Angelo’s groundbreaking Voodoo (“Nothing will ever replace that period”) and counts Jay-Z as his favourite artist to work with. He recently had the honour of producing the legendary Al Green, a role he claims he got “on a dare”. “I told the label, ‘I know you guys are often thinking that the only way to work with anybody over the age of 60 is either do a duets record with Norah Jones on it, or do a standards album’. That’s cool and all but Herbie Hancock got a Grammy for a Joni Mitchell tribute record, Smokey Robinson and Natalie Cole similarly. It’s like maaaan. The Rolling Stones are still rockin’ out at 60, Natalie Cole still has to be singing jazz standards in order to get a gig? I wanna change that. If hip-hop is dead and I can’t sample those artists, then I might as well go to those artists and get my jones off that way.” For nearly two decades, Questlove has been making music, playing, producing and DJing. It’s not something he takes for granted: “If we can have 20 years in this business without a spot nor a wrinkle, then that’s a beautiful thing.”

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NEW IRISH MUSIC PHOTOGRAPHY State Magazine’s innagural exhibition of new Irish music photography at the Hard Working Class Heroes festival was a fine example of the creative and talented folks trailing cameras around the music scene of the country. It was genuinely tough narrowing down the selection to fit on the walls of The Button Factory but we tried to get the most varied, unusual and wish-I-was-there live moments, combined with some damn smart portraiture. Here, for your pleasure, are the exhibition images in full, including the a full page of the so-good-it-was-nicked-on-the-first-night shot of Peaches at HWCH 06. It’s not wrong to wish you were that Flying V…

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27 1. Peaches by John Sherlock / 2. Sunn O))) by Agnieszka Zwara / 3. Jape by Loreana Rushe / 4. Robbie by Niall Marshall / 5. Elvis fan by Barry Delaney / 6. Hooky by Shane O’Neill / 7. Melt-Banana by Yan Bourke / 8. Marva Whitney by Dolan / 9. Disconnect The Dots by Cait Fahey / 10. The Aftermath by Darren Kirwan / 11. Ham Sandwich by Enda Casey / 12. REM by James Goulden / 13. Girl Talk by Mark Duggan / 14. Electric Eye by Martini / 15. Crystal Castles by Farzad Qasim / 16. Sweet Jane by Johnny Savage / 17. Morning Hush by Shawna Scott / 18. Cage The Elephant by George Coppock / 19. Skunk Anansie by Luke Danniells / 20. Duke Special by Alan Maguire / 21. Ciaran Dwyer by Martina McDonald / 22. Papier Tigre by Sinead McDonald / 23. The Zutons by Darren Kirwan / 24. Crystal Castles by Farzad Qasim / 25. Warlords Of Pez by Richard Topham / 26. Peasant by Gene Smirnov / 27. Le Galaxie by Mark Duggan / 28. Buckcherry by Richard Topham / 29. Blaithin by Paul Marconi / 30. Crystal Castles (yes, them again) by Shane Serrano

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The Streets.

BOULEVARD OF BROKEN SCHEMES ~ Words by

it’s not easy being a genius. ask mike skinner, although he probably wouldn’t consider himself in that category. His first two records as The Streets, though, suggested he was heading in that direction. His extravagant rise, however, was followed by an equally spectacular fall as his third album, 2006’s Hardest Way To Make An Easy Living met with critical and consumer disinterest. If State is wary of bringing up the topic early in the interview, Skinner has no such qualms. “I felt like I was in a good place on the last album, I thought I was really on a roll,” he opines. “I was smashing things down, smashing things up. I had a lot of subject matter. That’s what I mean by being in a good place creatively, having a lot to talk about. I’ve always had that. When you start repeating yourself, that’s when you dry up.” Stretched out on the corner seat of a hotel bar, he cuts a relaxed figure, considering his words before he speaks. It’s those words that have really marked Skinner out as a genuine talent, with each album enjoying a very distinct character: from the roots of his debut to the pop star hell of his last release. “Each time I do an album, people think it’s the end of the line: they’re doing that now, but it’s not – it’s just another album,” he stresses. “Some artists get too caught up in who they are and who people think they are. The fact that I compartmentalise those different things that I am is just a different way of doing things, really. You owe it to your audience to be excited by what you’re doing.” Skinner didn’t exactly sound excited by the world he pictured on that album, more driven to despair and the edge of insanity. It had its moments but was a worrying listen. He nods. “People assess creativity by what they get from it, they’re doing it with everything. A wasp isn’t very good because it stings you: well is it

ANNA FORBES

intrinsically bad because it stings human beings?” he asks. “It’s the same with music: people are very positive about how they feel. If something speaks to people, then they love you: if you talk about something that they don’t understand, they don’t.” Which was the main problem with that last album, it spoke to no-one apart from pop stars having a shit time. “Pete Doherty loved that album”, he interjects, fully aware of the irony of that comment.

Everything Is Borrowed, the new album, is a different kettle of fish on many levels. Not that its creation was any easier. “It was difficult because I’d always used the fine details to propel the stories along and people usually connect with those details, because they hold emotions for them too,” he states. “This time, I decided that i wasn’t going to reference modern life on this album, so I didn’t have any of those references for people. It’s gone up in the sky and has become a bit more philosophical. I had to redesign my formula a bit, which took me two and a half years.” Did he hit a personal block? “It wasn’t so much personal as creative” he admits, “the methods I was using. My personal life never affects my work rate, although it absolutely affects the songs that I write. The formula and methods that I was using to employ drama had to change. The type of drama changed a lot on the last album: it was high risk rather than humble emotion.” Emotion seems to be something that he’s never had a problem with in his music. “I’ve always been open, I don’t find it difficult. It’s the best way. You never get attacked for being honest,” he argues. “I’ve never had a bad word said to me really, which is strange considering that I’ve done some pretty maverick

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~ “If you take it to the nth degree of doing songs that people like, then you end up like Girls Aloud, or maybe something a bit better. Then you realise that it’s about making the music that you want and be honest about that: that’s when people will appreciate your journey.” ~

things with my career. People can’t question them really because it’s not like I’m pandering to anything. When you lie to people, that’s when you’re at risk.”

Like fellow individualist Tricky, Skinner branched out into the label business with the now defunct Beats imprint, something he considers a good learning experience. “You grow up a lot when you manage other artists,” he explains. “You learn a lot about yourself. Before I did the Beats, I was constantly pushing against the boundaries, testing the water. When you’re working with someone else, you have to draw your boundaries out so you don’t get the piss taken out of you. Every aspect of normal life is making and testing boundaries, but when you’re a musician, they aren’t always there. That’s a lot of fun but they never get to see what it’s like without those boundaries: it’s scary.” So what boundaries exist for him as The Streets? “For me, the only boundary is making good music,” he fires back. “That controls everything else in my life and it works well because I want to do myself justice as an artist. That’s what gets me up in the morning.” How, we wonder, does this process work? “It’s ramshackle. I have a lovely little studio in my house and an engineer that I work with all the time. Apart from that, anything goes,” he notes. “I’ve written songs in every environment that you could possibly imagine. Every element that you can hear in my music has been a starting point and an end point. It’s completely random but it’s the whole of my life.” Is it a solitary experience? “It is in the most fundamental sense, making the final decision. That’s quite scary: you have to get used to the idea that nothing is right or wrong. You decide on a vision and go with it and all these people around you either agree

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or disagree. Everyone has their opinion but making that final decision is the solitary thing, but having said that, there are a lot of people around me who I trust.” “I handed in an album and it wasn’t very good”, he continues, “so I spent the next year and a half writing more songs. This stuff people seem to like, it’s getting great reviews, so people are now wanting to hear the stuff that I threw away. Trust me, you don’t: they’re not very good. They’re not as good as the ones that you’ve got. Not all the songs I write sound as good as the ones I put out there.” So it was his decision to pull the record? He shakes his head: “I could have bullied it through: it wasn’t me saying that the songs were shit. I don’t write shit songs. It was everyone else who didn’t like them. My mum was a big voice in that. That was quite terrifying. No matter how long you do this, every new song is as hard as the first one, harder maybe. That’s why artists don’t hang around forever: you don’t often get better at it.” Rumours abound that the next Streets record will be the last, rumours that Skinner is happy to confirm. “It won’t be in a sense that I’ll always make music and it was me before The Streets and will be after it, but I want to get away from the name, I want to get away from those five albums. If I sit down and I haven’t got a record deal and I haven’t got the name The Streets, it’ll be exciting and people will appreciate the new directions that I take. “When I was younger I used to believe that my songs were written for other people,” he concludes. “I never had that much opinion about art. Songs were either good or they weren’t. As I’ve got older, I realise it’s about taste. If you take it to the nth degree of doing songs that people like, then you end up like Girls Aloud, or maybe something a bit better. Then you realise that it’s about making the music that you want and be honest about that: that’s when people will appreciate your journey. It’s not about making things that sound nice, it’s about making statements.”


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

Pendulum: Coldplay Covers? As with Oxegen in July, this Australian drum and bass juggernaut continue to slay every festival going with their raucous, pounding live set. A banging, beat-heavy cover version of ‘Violet Hill’ is a collectors’ item only perhaps, but if you’ve ever wondered what Coldplay would sound like if they went drum and bass, this is some kind of indication.

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http://url.ie/prg

Soulwax: Belgians Remix MGMT MGMT prove once again that their tracks are perfect for electro workouts in front of thousands. This time around, it’s Belgian mavericks Soulwax taking on the mighty ‘Kids’.

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Kanye West: Love Lockdown The only musical performance of note from this year’s MTV Video Music Awards was the closing song from Kanye where he debuted ‘Love Lockdown’, a minimal, drum-heavy croon with autotune. It was so strange and so markedly different from his usual “I’m the world’s greatest” that DJs and producers around the world are going nuts to make remixes and edits of the track.

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Passion Pit: US Electro Poppers get State all of a tizzy State is very excited about Passion Pit, an electro-pop outfit from Boston whose debut EP Chunk of Change is out on French Kiss Records. Their sound is somewhere between The Avalanches, The Postal Service and the kind of stuff usually found on Modular Records. Plus, it’s filled with warm, happy melodies. Watch out!

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http://url.ie/prc

Air France: Balearic Calling Hold on, haven’t we got past all the never-ending chillout compilations by now? If Gothenburg’s Air France didn’t make so music so goddamn beguiling then we wouldn’t care and neither would the world’s music bloggers. Their primary sound is some kind of Balearic pop utopia. To quote their song, ‘Collapsing At Your Doorstep’, “It’s more like a dream! No.... better.”

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Stereogum http://stereogum.com The most influential indie music blogger in the US?

http://url.ie/ppp

on videotape Glen Danzig on his book collection Very strange three-minute video with the Misfits’ frontman explaining how his favourite read is The Occult, Roots and Nazism and how “every school child should have this book”. http://url.ie/jjd

La Blogotheque concert La Blogotheque put on a gig in Paris with The Dodos, Noah and The Whale, Fleet Foxes, Essie Jain and Vandaveer. Not surprisingly, the footage is brilliant and the performances are even more captivating. http://url.ie/psa

MUZU Hard Working Class Heroes channel Irish music video upstarts shot live sessions of bands playing at this year’s Hard Working Class Heroes festival, including great videos from Little Xs for Eyes, Heathers, Spook of the Thirteenth Lock, Robotnik, Carly Sings, The Hot Sprockets and tonnes more. http://www.muzu.tv/hwch

A front-runner in the MP3 blogging stakes, Stereogum was started by New Yorker Scott Lapatine in 2003 and is probably the most successful music blog out there. It has gone from a pop culture/indie obsessed journal to a full-on blogging powerhouse. Stereogum is usually the first place to find the first song from that soon-to-be-huge band and is usually the originator of that band’s buzz. The site has gone fully legal with all MP3s it posts, but that doesn’t stop it posting “premature evaluations” of leaked albums alongside other frequent features like weekly newsletters, ‘Quit Your Day Job’ - a series examining the jobs musicians do to make ends meet, New York gig reviews and has even launched a sister site called Videogum. Essential.

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WORDY WINNERS ~

Messiah J and The Expert.

Words by Photography by

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messiah j and the expert have things to get off their chest. while our time together takes in such topics as The Lisbon Treaty, Steve Staunton, their favourite lyricists, old Nuggets music, MTV and America, nothing gets them more animated when discussing how the word “hip-hop” is used by Irish media. State understands, having heard elders describe the genre (which is one the best selling musical styles in the world, as The Expert points out) like it’s some unfathomable, unbreakable hieroglyphic code thought up by the Egyptians in 3,000 BC. Thankfully, it’s getting better and MJEX are doing their bit to spread the message that hip-hop (as The Roots prove in this issue elsewhere) doesn’t have to be crass and well, stupid, with their third album From The Word Go which is released this month. Coupling a strong lyrical bent with some eclectic musical arrangements, the album picks up where the previous Choicenominated Now This I Have to Hear left off. The duo’s remit continues to include shattering people’s expectations of what hip-hop can be as they explained one recent autumn evening in central Dublin. “Having the hip-hop tag automatically means 25-35% of people are just going to go ‘I don’t want to hear it’. To say Irish people can’t rap is ludicrous,” says The Expert, the band’s main musical producer. “Look at other things – be it football or golf, we can do whatever. It shouldn’t matter where you’re from or who you are.” “Somebody said, around the time of the last album, when we sent them a song... In this day and age it just makes my bloody skin crawl,” adds frontman Messiah J who gets visibly angry. “They said there’s too much talking on it. Probably someone who goes home and watches Live At Three every day and doesn’t care about whatever. What’s embarrassing is that these people are heads of radio stations and what not.”

While attempting to “buck the trend” (to quote ‘Tomorrow is Too Late’ from the new album) since 1999, they are understandably a little annoyed at how they are perceived, especially in the media. Messiah J takes the theme and runs with it. “The amount of sloppy articles I’ve read where people go ‘The words Irish and hip-hop are an oxymoron but...’ Can you not think of something more interesting? It’s the lowest common denominator in journalism. It’s almost like it’s written for a mammy in Mayo who calls it ‘thumpy thumpy music’.” The album is far from that. Musically, From The Word Go is laced with the touch of many musical oeuvres, from the frantic, Bernard Hermann-esque ‘Geography’, featuring a star turn from Ro and Kieran from Delorentos to the R&B twist of ‘Amnesia Comes

Messiah J and The Expert

Easily’, with vocals from Joanne Daly. Then there’s the funky ‘Turn The Magic On’, with another album appearance from Leda Egri, or the synth-based ‘Jean is Planning An Escape’. With the help of their live band, G-Bone and The Twiddler, they have produced a rich tapestry of music using guitar, bass, brass and strings, blurred with hip-hop elements, that stays away from the formula. “It’s called hip-hop but this record has [everything from] opera, funk, soul to reggae to indie to electronica to classical,” The Expert elaborates. “It crosses every musical genre. You’re going to hear five other records max as eclectic this year and if you do, I want to hear them ‘cos that’s the kind of shit I’m into. Unless The Avalanches release five records, then good luck!”

The duo are equally proud of their lyrical achievements with this album which forgoes the personal monologues of Now This I Have to Hear, for real-world and global issues. A common strand throughout is the urgency of youth to make a mark on the world. “In your late 20s, there’s a certain feeling of responsibility, not wanting to have any ties and sometimes wanting to run away from all that,” Messiah J tells State. “Not dealing with having to grow up and be a man. There’s a kind of a confused fear factor on the record. Wanting to do the right thing, wanting to make a difference but not quite knowing how to. ‘Megaphone Man’ will illustrate that. Wanting to be a leader, a voice for people but not pulling it off. It’s quite human, things that people can relate to.“ One subset of society that J can’t relate to is politicians: “You’re looking at someone who doesn’t have the same brain. People talking about things you don’t care about. For me, voting is very much pot luck or a quick pick. You just hope for the best.” The Expert, who had more of a say in the lyrics this time around, clearly relishes the opportunity to explain ‘Year Of The Genie’, the album’s opening track: “It sums up what an awful lot of young people feel, as far as I’m concerned. My favourite line is ‘Knock Knock / Can I see your mother a sec please? / She’s not here but guess who’s OK to vote?’” It’s no surprise that the main lyricist, Messiah J, favours bands like The Specials, The Smiths and The Clash, artists who also had a lot of things to get off their chest. “I feel I have a duty to actually say something,” says J. “What do kids listen to? Music. None of my friends go to plays. I’m not trying to say I’m a massive authority on anything but why not actually try and say something? Most of my favourite lyricists have something vulnerable about them. They’re not perfect, they’re not overtly-preachy, they don’t have all of the answers but they pose interesting questions.” With thanks to Sub City, Exchequer Street, Dublin

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Defecating on plates, urinating in wine glasses, getting bottled off stage supporting The Clash, getting right up the noses of 1980s’ Ireland. Ladies and gentlemen, The Virgin Prunes.

WHEN ANARCHY AND ART COLLIDE ~ Words by

PHIL UDELL

of all the bands to come out of ireland in the past 30 years, few have been shrouded in skirt and I had a plastic suit made out such myth as The Virgin

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of raincoats, no jocks underneath, and a pair of Docs. We’d only played two little gigs before that. Steve Averill from The Radiators From Space played synthesizer with us. The crowd just went apeshit. They thought Guggi was a chick. “The adrenaline of all these people pogoing kicked in and I started jumping around, the next thing this plastic suit that my ma had made me split completely. I was standing there totally bollock naked, except for a pair of Doc Martins. I turned around and Guggi’s skirt had come off and you could see that he was a bloke. All hell broke loose, there were bottles flying, they were setting the curtains on fire. We were reefed off the stage by The Clash’s tour manager and fucked out the door. We had no money and had to walk with all our gear, back from Dun Laoghaire to Ballymun.”

Such was the world of The Virgin Prunes, a world where art and chaos collided, a world where you would do anything to break the boredom of living in mid-‘70s Ireland.

The very first photo of The Virgin Prunes, 1978

“We were like a Third World country”, Friday remembers. “If you go back to parts of the Eastern bloc of Europe now, that’s what Dublin was like in the ‘60s and ‘70s. Grey, dull, mass unemployment and complete poverty. Music became a lifeline to escape for kids. Punk gave you a licence to form a band with just an attitude. I turned 16 when punk kicked in and had plenty of attitude.” There was a fair bit of attitude kicking around Ballymun in those days, as a group of teenage friends formed their own strange society (Lypton Village) and gave each other nicknames – Guggi, Gavin Friday, Bono, The Edge. These guys were a band before they’d even picked up

photographs courtesy of mute records

Prunes. Much of it may have built up outside of their control but, as Gavin Friday would be the first to admit, they were also responsible for much of the whirlwind themselves. Tucking into a plate of fish and chips in a Dublin hotel, he acknowledges that the band never made it easy for either themselves or their audience. “The second gig we ever did was just me and Guggi,” he recalls, “with U2 as our band, when they were The Hype. I worked in a slaughterhouse and I got a load of white coats and mesh which we used to cover them up. We did a 20-minute version of ‘(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction’, slowed right down so that it would take a minute and a half to get one sentence out. It was totally provocative. After that gig, Dik Evans, who was Edge’s older brother, left The Hype and came to work with us.” No matter how inauspicious it might sound, that gig led to a third live outing for the Prunes and a slightly more high profile one at that – supporting The Clash at The Top Hat in Dun Laoghaire in October 1978. For Friday, it was a memorable night. “We came on: Guggi was wearing a tiny


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The Virgin Prunes

~ “We set up a big dining table and each one of us did a shit on a plate and pissed in a glass, then we left it there and turned up the heat. The smell would kill the audience then we walked in: then we locked them in.” ~

an instrument. “The name Virgin Prunes had been hanging around for a while”, says Gavin, “since the early ‘70s. You’d see odd people walking around and we’d call them prunes. Virgin prunes were quite innocent. We always said if we ever had a band, we’d be called that. The name was there. I was a big, big music fan. Guggi was more a visuals person. When punk happened, it was a godsend. It was like we were two bands just waiting to pick up an instrument. We weren’t really into football, we lived in a wasteland, the only release was music.” That release would lead to the formation of not one but two bands, as has been well documented. Were the Prunes and U2 two sides of the same coin? Friday takes a sip of tea. “U2 formed at the same time but there were no similarities whatsoever,” he muses. “There was a link between the two and still is but because they’ve become so successful, the myth has got bigger. There’s nothing weird about a group of mates hanging out together, forming bands, having ideas. It’s when all the ideas become reality, that’s when the myth gets bigger.” So the story that they made some sort of commercial vs artistic pact isn’t true? He laughs. “We didn’t have a fucking clue. It’s down to what people are. Bono’s far more

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diplomatic, I was far more angry and using music as a way to get through that anger, getting rid of it.” Plan or no plan, it can’t be denied that The Virgin Prunes were as artistic as they were musical. “Guggi painted, I painted; one of the few things I was good at was art. We were always called pretentious pricks simply because we were into the avant garde. I remember when we were 16, it used to be a big deal to come into town and hang out at McDonald’s. One day we walked in and saw the performance artist Nigel Wolf naked with paint all over him and a huge stream coming off his mickey pulling these rocks. We were going, ‘What the fuck was that?’”

Perhaps unexpectedly, The Prunes did start to attract record company interest, although more predictably, they weren’t prepared to play ball. “Rough Trade’s Geoff Travis said it was time we made an album but we said no,” grins Gavin. “He said it was time we worked with a producer, we said no. We told him that we wanted to do a 7”, 10”, 12”, cassette, do a gig, release a film and publish a book (the ‘New Form Of Beauty’ project). This was in 1981 and we had no money. We almost did it. We have the film

but it was never released and the book never happened, but we did it. We released something on the first of each month: it was quite a strategy.” Surprisingly, Rough Trade weren’t put off and still The Virgin Prunes continued to lead them a merry dance. “They gave us £10,000 for an overall budget for the album – producers, studio, everything. We went out and spent £6,000 on photographs and they went fucking insane. We were saying, ‘But it’s really important’. There was a certain amount of shooting ourselves in the foot going on.” How did the band get on with their Dublin contemporaries? “Not particularly well,” admits Friday. “We were very arrogant. I was, certainly. There was that cockiness you have when you’re 17 or 18. A lot of bands were just playing jazzed up r’n’b. Everyone talks about The Boomtown Rats: they were a great pop band but they were never fucking punk. The Atrix were, Stiff Little Fingers were, The Radiators were. The Virgin Prunes were fucking punk. We were arty, we were visual, we were avant garde, but when it came down to it, we were punk. U2 were a new wave rock band. We were there from the start. We never would play and never did play The Baggot Inn ’cos it was for old hippies. That element of arrogance was allowed.”


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Somehow, though, this bunch of cross dressing, make-up wearing punks found themselves appearing on The Late Late Show, the epicentre of traditional Irish values at the time. How the hell, we wonder, did that happen? “They asked us on”, says Friday simply. “We were never afraid of publicity but I think we were set up in a naive way. Gay Byrne knew what he was doing, I mean it was the same weekend that the Pope was in town. We were banned from RTÉ after that, although it didn’t help that we were robbing costumes from the dressing room. When we went in to soundcheck in the afternoon, we didn’t wear the make-up, I didn’t scream. I just read the Oscar Wilde poem and that was it, we didn’t even bring the chicks in. Then when we came back that night, we went hell for leather. They weren’t expecting it but we were definitely set up. Gay Byrne had a massive response on his radio show and we had massive queues at our next show. The song basically said ‘why should I be like you, be yourself’. That was our whole stance.” A huge element of their visual style was the cross dressing element, guaranteed to cause a stir in early ’80s Ireland. Gavin laughs. “It was fun. When people say The Virgin Prunes wore dresses, it was never

The Virgin Prunes

like Boy George wore dresses. I remember going to the Blitz Club in London in 1981, where the whole Steve Strange /Boy George movement was kicking off, and they wouldn’t let us in. We looked more like Rasputin: you weren’t sure if we were going to kiss you or kill you. It wasn’t like we were trying to look like girls.” Or indeed, lock you in a room full of faeces? “We did some extraordinary shows in Dublin, they were more like art exhibitions. We set up a big dining table and each one of us did a shit on a plate and pissed in a glass, then we left it there and turned up the heat. The smell would kill the audience then we walked in: then we locked them in. There were pieces about abortion, one saying all women were pigs, stuff just to provoke people. We were called anti-feminist so we did that to wind them up. It was childish and it wasn’t thought out but we wanted to provoke a reaction.”

Despite their image, the hassle, the music industry, despite everything the Virgin Prunes enjoyed a level of success with their If I Die, I Die debut and soon found themselves caught up in the traditional method of promoting a band at that time –

constant touring. It wasn’t a good move. “It basically killed the band. Without even knowing it, we became this machine. We started getting freaked when we would play gigs and you’d see all these Gavin and Guggi clones in the front. That was happening everywhere. There was nothing solid in the band. My brain was jumping around, Guggi was into the visuals, Dik was quite avant garde. The rhythm section wanted to be in a straight rock ‘n’ roll band and Davey was from Mars. Things like girlfriends started to become an issue. People got people pregnant. We were drinking too much, there was too much shit going on. It just imploded.” The end was nigh. Guggi and Dik Evans were the first to go and although Friday would keep it going long enough to release a second album, The Moon Looked Down And Laughed, by this point he too had had enough. By 1986, The Virgin Prunes were no more. Regrets? Not for Gavin Friday. “It always had to be a short lived thing,” he admits. “There was a total purity there, which often was construed as arrogance. We were always shooting from the hip, blindfolded to reality, just going for it. I love that. I think we were one of the purest bands ever to come out of this country.”

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Holidays By Mistake Fake being a local around the world

Words by Louise Healy

LY O N From phantom pregnancies to fast trains, mulled wine to sweet house clubs, France’s second city has it all.

“j’ai plein,” were the only words of broken french that could be uttered as State plump little restauranteur piped up, “If you rubbed its belly, indicating it had more than eloquent sufficiency in the food stakes as the Frenchman tried to shove another camembert soaked-baguette onto the plate. Saying no was not an option but this stab in the dark at the belle langue seemed to be a huge hit with the Lyonnaise restauranteur who let out a gasp and said in his best English,” ah ha! well zen you should take ze next helping if you ah eating for two, non?”. State was more than slightly confused at this and couldn’t really tell whether it was the impending food hangover or this big French beast which it was more afraid of, but before anything more could be said, an unhealthy dollop of potato gratins, steak haché and fried onions landed onto our plate. This was followed by a sharp look that said “eat ze food or you insult me, my mother and ze goldfish.” So we ploughed on, meat sweats galore and with one last morsel to go and feeling like there was no end in sight, the

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can’t do it for yourself, do it for ze baby”. Now State knew it’s French was bad, but this misinterpretation had just gone too far. With child we was not. Accepting defeat and reverting to being a silly tourist was the only action required. Look Around. Lyon is France’s second largest city and is just a three hour train ride from Paris on the swifty French rail network, the TGV. Next to the capital, it is a refreshing place to visit, with all the perks of a large city but with the intimate atmosphere usually associated with southern French cities. Divided by the river Rhône, Lyon remains separated into north and south, with an old quarter and a cosmopolitan hub side by side. Walking around old (vieux) Lyon is an experience in itself. The winding cobble-stoned streets and latticed roof tops make it feel like you are being

thrown back in time to the heart of 18th century France. Stroll by the arts and crafts shops and if feeling energetic, take the walk up to the famous Fourviére, perched on the hilltop overlooking the city, for some quality views, past the famous Parc de Tête D’or. The main esplanade, the Place de Bellecour, is surrounded by quaint outdoor cafés and in winter time is transformed into an ice rink bordered by stalls selling every sort of French cheese, mulled wine and arts and crafts. For something different, check out the Gallo Roman, the old amphitheatre nestled beside the grand Fourviére above the city where concerts, Shakespearean plays and operas are held. Here you can sit outdoors on the tiered original stone seats nursing some Beaujolais and local cheese whilst being entertained under the stars. But check out the listings well in advance: gigs for Leonard Cohen and the Manic Street Preachers sold out within minutes when the summer festival programme came out last April. For something with a bit more get up and go, less than two hours away is Lac Annecy and Lac d’Aiguebelette for beautiful sunbathing and outdoor adventure spots such as paragliding, kayaking and river surfing. Nestled in the heart of the countryside at the base of the Alps, these two spots are surrounded by towering cliff edges with a beautiful perfect ruggedness synonymous with the French countryside. Similarly, Lac Mirabel is just a 15 minute drive or a 40 minute cycle away, and is extremely popular with locals and tourists alike for both swimming and horse riding. Eat. After an energetic day out, there is nothing better than to sit down and savour a French meal that can go on for hours. Lyon is


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

Get this Album Moon Safari, the acclaimed 1998 album by AIR (an acronym for Amor, Imigination, Reve by French duo Nicolas Godin and Jean-Benoit Dunckel) is considered a classic of the chillout genre. Download this single Diam’s: ‘Ma France A Moi’. Diam’s (Melanie Georgiades) is France’s most famous female rapper. Born in Cyprus but brought up in Paris, most of her songs are about her immigrant roots and resonate with a huge percentage of the young immigrant population.

the gastronomical capital of France and the cuisine is simply amazing. For a real culinary experience, sample one of Paul Bocuse’s (the famous French three-star Michelin chef) brasseries in Lyon—Le Nord, Le Sud, L’Ouest or L’est. State recommends heading to Bocuse’ s L’est in Gare de l’Est for some of the finest fish dishes, followed by an after-dinner tipple in the swanky ‘First’ nightclub next door. For something a little less extravagant on the pocket, try out Johnny’s Café on Rue Saint George in vieux Lyon for the best plat du jour (meal of the day) served between 12-3pm along with the best of French, American and European dishes. Drink. Wine tasting is a must if you are in the heart of Beaujolais country. Head to the Rhône Valley: Saint Joseph is probably the best option as you can walk around the vineyards as part of the wine tasting tour. Similarly Cave de Tain L’Hermitage is also a famous hot-spot for wine lovers who want the quintessential French wine experience or for those who just want a day of getting merry in the vineyards. Due to its being the second largest city in France, Lyon is home to a number of universities that provide exchange or Erasmus programmes for young university students who like to frequent the Australian and American bars dotted around Rue San Catherine and embark on a spree of drunken debauchery. Need we say more: these areas should be avoided at all costs. The pub experience in France is a little different to Ireland’s ‘get the drinks in and let’s get absolutely obliterated’ pub

culture. Here, the emphasis is on the cafébar, where people sit around smoking and sipping beers and wine, before heading out for a night on the tiles. State recommends you follow suit and do not embark on a binge drinking spree. The gendarmerie will have no qualms about locking you up for the night if you get drunkenly out of control. Party Party. Nightclubbing in France was once synonymous with men with floppy hair and tight jeans and women wearing the most god-awful rig-outs shuffling along to some cheesy MC Solaar wannabe. Today, thankfully, things have changed and the French clubbing scene has taken a 180 and is actually quite a cool experience. Due to the fact that French radio is required to play a mandatory 80% French home-grown music, French rap and dance music is quite popular in late bars and clubs. So throw away your misconceptions and immerse yourself in the French way of partying. Lyon’s waterfront has been transformed into a bar/club hub, so check out any of the clubs here but remember to get there early at the weekend as queues can be long and tedious. State highly recommends ‘Cube’, opposite the Parc de T’êté D’or, for some funky house beats. Some clubs stay open until the wee hours of the morning and there is nothing better than to stroll out onto the quiet streets of Lyon at the break of day and head to a boulangerie to devour some Lyonnaise croissants and pain au chocolats or sit in a cafe and have a full French breakfast of strong black coffee.

Watch this music video Vanessa Paradis ‘Joe le Taxi’: purely for the cheese factor.

Rent this film La Vie En Rose: Oscar-winner Marion Cotillard plays the legendary French actress Edith Piaf, who rose to international fame from her beginnings on the streets of Paris. Read this The Little Prince or Le Petit Prince by Lyonnaise author Antoine de Saint Exupéry. The children’s fairy tale is also a popular read for adults, drawn to Exupéry’s profound philosophical and idealistic points about life and human nature. Eat this Lyonnaise salad, comprising frisée lettuce, bacon, croutons, poached egg and Dijon vinaigrette, is a must have when in the region. Drink this Kir Royale: the quintessential French aperitif made of white wine, usually sauvignon blanc or a chardonnay, and mixed with creme de cassis, blackcurrant liqueur. Also try out a demipêche: beer with a light dose of peach syrup.

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BREWING UP A STORM

The Blizzards.

~ Words by

JOHN JOE WORRALL GRAHAM SMITH

Photography by

with five minutes to go before they go on stage, the blizzards buzz around the apartment that doubles as their changing room tonight. Keyboardist Aidan Lynch, up the stairs straining vocal chords with various exercises, is soon joined by lead guitarist, the Trilby-wearing Justin Ryan. “You just know they wouldn’t look like the Brazilians,” says Niall Breslin, or Bressie as everyone calls the band’s six-foot plus frontman. He’s talking about the possibility of an Irish beach volleyball team in the next Olympics with Cowboy’s X’s John Hanley. “I can see it now, two of them standing there, pale as, ‘Spike it up there Tina!’” Pre gig there’s not so much tension as a build-up of energy with The Blizzards: the band’s engine, Dec Murphy whacks his drumsticks off anything suitable; the curtains, the couch, the table, himself. Meanwhile, manager Justin Moffat (Moff to everyone but his kids) describes the band’s new record Domino Effect as “just huge, amazing stuff,” his head coming in and out of the door as he smokes a cigarette. Breslin takes up the last few minutes before going on-stage on the couch, trying to distract himself by flicking through magazine articles (“Amanda Brunker… she’d destroy ya”) and watching the weather. “I’d love to go on the piss with Martin King,” he says to no one in particular. Murphy chats away about not wanting to hear the new songs again on record until they’re done properly. “I find, recording it, that you’re just intensely trying to get the performance out, that by the time you finish, you don’t want anything to do with it. Even when it comes back from mixing, it can be a surprise…” “Ready lads,” interrupts the promoter, peering in through the door. After a collective deep breath, they begin the march through the hotel courtyard, down an alleyway and into the back door of the tiny venue that hosts the Le Chéile Festival in Oldcastle, Co Meath. “They’re very driven,” says Moff, while leading State towards

the side of the stage, as the clapping of a baying crowd gets louder and louder. The five of them shuffle together for a last few words. “Ye can go for it now lads if ye want” shouts a roadie, and on they walk…

A few hours earlier, Breslin sits at the kitchen table in his manager’s Mullingar home (which acts as mission control for the band), playing with the toy gun of Moffat’s nine year-old son, pulling the trigger repeatedly. Moff had earlier told State that the new record had “nearly broken them”, something which Breslin doesn’t deny. In the months leading up to recording, he had been writing what he terms as “bitchy” songs about the music scene, tunes that are “embarrassing, looking back”. “I needed someone to tell me to cop the fuck on,” he says, and thankfully someone did. Michael Beinhorn, who had produced the band’s first record – 2006’s A Public Display of Affection – as well as previously working with Red Hot Chili Peppers and taking on the desk duties for Soundgarden’s Superunknown, had no intentions of recording a second album with the group until Breslin sent a batch of these “bitchy” heavier than usual tunes to him via email. “He said the best thing to do if you want to write this stuff is break up the band and do this with someone else, and he was right,” Breslin admits. “He said people don’t want to hear us bitching: they want stories, true life stories. Then we went back and wrote a particular tune – ‘Postcards’ – then sent it to him, and he said ‘now you’re a songwriter, it’s the most honest thing you’ve ever written’. If that didn’t happen, I don’t know would we have done a second album.” The lyrics to ‘Postcards’ – which concern the death of someone close to the band – are typical of what’s to be found on Domino Effect. Breslin’s trademark storytelling is still evident in abundance, and tracks like the country-tinged ‘Money Doesn’t

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The Blizzards

~ “Being indie is incredibly mainstream now, incredibly safe. At least we know we mean it, we mean everything we put out there: a lot of bands, there’s just nothing, no intent; the words don’t mean a thing.” ~

Buy You Class’ (concerning a “rich bitch” who “frankly sickened” Breslin during a meal they shared) or the enormous opening track ‘Buy It Sell It’ have the type of chorus hooks which fans will know off by heart before the closing chords of the first listen. But it’s a more expansive, coherent record than their previous outing by some distance. Breslin mentions Rumours as an influence, if not for sound, merely because every song “has truth about it”.

Going into its release, the Mullingar natives are aware that The Blizzards occupy a unique place in the Irish musical landscape: by no means an indie band, they are, Breslin admits, “proud as punch to be pop”. The fact that they find their way onto Phantom and Tom Dunne playlists, while giving slick interviews to candyfloss TV shows with ease, has left many not knowing what to make of them. Their fanbase too – often predominantly female and with barely an indie kid to be seen – leaves them an easy target for some cross-armed gig goers. As do articles that focus more on Breslin’s clean cut rugger bugger looks than the band’s tunes. “Come on, sure being indie is incredibly mainstream now, incredibly safe,” Breslin says, making a fair point while sipping his coffee. “At least we know we mean it, we mean everything we put out there: a lot of bands, there’s just nothing, no intent; the words don’t mean a thing.” Driving to the gig that night in his new car, Breslin plays asyet-unmastered versions of most of the album, excitedly skipping forward to his favourite bits in many of the tracks. When other topics like his rugby days with Leinster or the sex symbol status come up, he swats them away with simple sentences like “ah sure, it was cool, but this is what I want to do” for the rugby and “listen, anyone saying anything nice about ya is great in life, so the sex symbol thing, it’s not even an awkward question now,” for the other. The “not awkward” question does lead to a few moments’ silence though, only punctured by the old reliable Irish male conversation saver: “fierce bad road this,” he says. State nods in agreement and before you know it, Breslin’s off again, playing excellent newbies such as ‘Silence Is Violence’ and hidden track ‘Regarding Carla Bruni’, which, after getting clearance from Universal’s lawyers, comments on Bruni’s talents for “tempting French presidents”.

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“They were only going out with each other when we wrote it,” says Breslin, adding that himself and Ryan spent two days looking up the proper third person form of saying ‘you broke my heart’ in French to top off the backing vocals. “I honestly can’t wait for it to come out and people to hear it,” he says.

A few hours later and predictably enough, when they start proceedings off with the unfamiliar ‘Buy It Sell It’, the festival crowd fall for it hook line and sinker. A temporary problem with an amp seems to throw off bass player, Anthony Doran, along with Ryan, but no-one in the audience seems to care that much. ‘Fantasy’ and ‘Trouble’ – the two songs that “made us”, according to Breslin – bring on full scale euphoria. A sweaty encore later and the band are back in the apartment, Murphy throwing his soaking shirt on the ground, which thuds against the stone floor like a knockout punch. Doran and Lynch sip on cans of Coke and politely say the night was “grand” without going into any more details, the former eventually offering a simple “sorry man, we’re fucked”. As each of them drinks either soft drinks or health shakes (all are driving home tonight), State is handed a beer by Moffat and asked to leave while he, the band’s sound engineer and the five lads, conduct their ritual 15-minute dissection of every night’s performance. Afterwards, as they chat away before heading back on the short journey to Mullingar, they each talk about the album but, nearly to a man, they simply say “best talk to Bressie about that” whenever a little more detail is required. “Every album is a journey, a part of your life,” offers Ryan, while loading up the band’s van. So what does this chapter mean we inquire? Before you can say ‘snap’ he says “Bressie’s probably best to talk about that.” The man himself is knackered and not too crazy about how small the stage was, but with the “always important” meeting out of the way, it’s all about looking forward not back. “It was very obvious a few years ago that we didn’t fit in, as it were,” he confesses. “Whereas now, I think a lot of people want to listen to big fuck off pop songs. The world is a shit enough place at the moment and maybe they don’t want to hear about it on the radio as well.”


IREL AND’S MUSIC PAY L O A D A L S O H A S A R AT H E R F E T C H I N G ONLINE SISTER. SHE’S AS FREE AS WE ARE A N D W E R E A L LY D O N ’ T M I N D I F YO U WA N T TO SEE HER TOO.

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www.state.ie Always fully stacked with the finest and most up-to-date: Music News Live reviews Interviews MP3s Podcasts Videos Giveaways Archive Articles Features & plenty other things that just can’t be pigeon-holed.


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~ Words by

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NIALL BYRNE


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Preachers, piss-ups and the Pixies to Skinny boys, Skinny ties and mojitos.

london, mid-august and the pavements in westminster are heaving with tourists of all ages and sizes. there’s a frantic summer pace next 51


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to the area around westminster bridge, where hundreds congregate, encouraged by the bridge’s closure to vehicles. With Big Ben as a backdrop, pictures are taken, ice cream is consumed, queues are formed, children bawl and Japanese tourists uphold their country stereotype by documenting every moment of it all, including the busking bagpiper’s performance, with the latest micro-range of video cameras. Nearby, earlier that sunny day in a Soho hotel room, and some familiar tourists to this side of the Atlantic are recovering from the previous night’s triumph in an equally frazzled state. “Oh god. I’m so hungover right now,” blurts Jared Followill during our time with Kings of Leon’s bass player and his older brother and drummer, Nathan. The previous night, the band played a sold-out gig at the near 5,000 capacity Brixton Academy. The band are enthusiastic about their performance and in good mood, despite their obvious headspace. Both are dressed in all black. Nathan wears a black wifebeater showing his many tattoos while Jared slurps on a Coke, all the while stroking his black glittery skinny tie. There’s no denying he’s the pretty boy of the group and if State was that way inclined, we would totally be swooning right now. It’s Northern European press day for the Kings and an infiltration of journalists drawn from Denmark, Sweden, Germany and Poland have assembled in the hotel to pose questions to the band. The reason for such a gathering is the imminent release of their fourth album Only By The Night. Before we are granted time in the presence of the Nashville rockers, there’s an album playback in a hotel room on the second floor. Disconcertingly, it’s played from TV speakers while an unnamed Englishman chats up an Austrian radio presenter on the nearby bed, oblivious to the others in the room, listening for the first time. Another young man natters on his oversized phone about a pair of jeans he just bought, while the young male press officer looks up the latest news on Pitchfork, before a fire alarm amusingly startles him into thinking the high-pitched sound is emanating from his laptop. This side entourage is a long way from the relatively simple collective upbringings of the Followill brothers. Caleb (26, vocals/ guitar), Nathan (29, drums), Jared (21, bass) and cousin Matthew (24, lead guitar), who make up Kings of Leon.

The band first arrived on the international scene in 2003, four youthful, straggly, long-haired boys from the Bible Belt. The three brothers spent their youth travelling around the Deep South with their mother, Betty-Ann, and their Pentecostal preacher father, staying in one place for a week at a time. While their father Leon preached at churches and tent revivals, their mother would home-school the boys. All the while, the family moved around nomadically, laying the groundwork for their future profession on the road. Born into the lifestyle of the Lord, the band soon became magnetised to the Devil’s music and a chance meeting with Angelo Petraglia, a Nashville producer and songwriter, helped the fledgling Kings establish their initial garage-rock sound. extending as far as assisting the band write the songs, elevating him to “fifth member” status in the eyes of many. “He’s our drug dealer,” jokes eldest brother Nathan. “Nah, he was the guy that really introduced to us cool, old music. We went

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Kings Of Leon

and wrote with him back when we first moved to Nashville – me and Caleb. His house is like a museum, with every guitar you can imagine, old drum sets. We really just started jamming out and he introduced us to The Rolling Stones, television and all this cool music.” Their time spent travelling with their parents had sheltered them from good old fashioned rock ‘n’ roll and Angelo opened up a whole new world, fulfilling the much-needed musical mentor role. “We were just kinda young and getting into that stuff,” explains Jared. “He was there from the very beginning. When I decided to start playing the bass, he was there. He took me to the music store and played every bass in there to find the best one for me. He was always like a guru.” Buoyed by the uncharted musical territory, they consumed music with a vivacious appetite, trying to learn everything they could. “This kid at high school gave me Surfer Rosa [by the Pixies] and it changed everything,” says Jared. “Once I heard that, it was like the beginning of a completely new view of music.”

The band’s peripatetic Deep South background stood out to the UK press so much, that it threatened to overshadow the music when their first album, the Petraglia-produced Youth And Young Manhood was released in 2003. “I think they were more interested in our story at first. Then luckily, when that story got old and people were tired talking about it, then they realised ‘Y’know, they make decent music too’,” explains Nathan. “The story kept their attention long enough for the music to catch up. Since then, they’ve felt like they’ve discovered us, so they always want to be one step ahead of America or anywhere else. We’re their darlings, I guess.” You really can’t underestimate the gulf in the band’s popularity in Europe compared to the US, especially the UK and Ireland, where their third album, Because Of The Times, went to number one. Though the band have been recently making inroads in the US by touring with acts like U2, Pearl Jam, Bob Dylan and most recently, headlining the Saturday night main stage at the All Points West festival in Jersey City, they still have a long way to go in America. There is hope in the camp as the new single, ‘Sex on Fire’, is being received positively across the country. “America is so tied in to Top 40 radio and MTV,“ notes Nathan. “The biggest acts in America right now are on Disney, y’know: High School Musical and The Jonas Brothers and Miley Cyrus. It’s all this little kiddie-pop. But it’s been that way forever in America. Before that it was N*Sync and the Backstreet Boys. Before that it was New Kids On The Block.” “Bands from other countries can get famous much more easily than American bands right now,” adds Jared. “Bands will just blow up and then go away like Jet did. They were huge in America. HUGE! Wolfmother too. Maybe just Australian bands actually,” he laughs. It’s no surprise then, that they consider the UK and Ireland to be their musical home. “In a career sense, it feels like home over here, with all the success we’ve had,” says Jared, looking to his brother for confirmation which is swiftly given. “On days like this really, it feels like home,” continues Nathan, pointing out the window. “Blue skies, nice weather and...“ On cue, a member of the crew places a mixed alcoholic drink on the table in front of him. “....and mojitos!”.


State

Kings Of Leon

~ “A lot of people loved our first two records and they liked it maybe more than what we do now, and they’re sad that we’re changing our sound and stuff, but to us, we had to, we had no choice. As musicians, going back and listening to the things we did on the first record and the second record, I can’t listen to it now. It makes me wanna die. It’s so bad. I just wish we’d kept it to ourselves.” ~

If things had gone according to plan, State shouldn’t even be talking to the Followills right now. After a lengthy tour for Because Of The Times, the band sequestered home to Nashville for some time off. “At first, we all lived together. We were either on a bus together, in a dressing room together, on stage, an after-party, at home, a bar...”. “A woman,” interjects Jared mischievously, before retracting the statement in jest. “It’s the first break we had, where we could buy houses, buy cars and actually be normal, live a normal life outside of the band,” continues Nathan. “We’re starting to enjoy life at home a little more, just because this is the first time we got to experience being normal and grocery shopping, all that stuff.” When they got the call asking them to headline Glastonbury

earlier this year, the band figured they should prepare some new material, so they cut their break short. “A week off to us feels like three months,” claims Nathan. They hit the studio with producers Angelo Petraglia and Jacquire King on April 2 for six weeks to record the album that was to become Only By The Night. After each day recording, the band would retire to a nearby bar to hang out. Finding that the pressures of being in such close quarters all the time were gone, they began to enjoy each other’s company again, as well as the relative novelty of recording on familiar territory. “It’s such a big difference when you’re coming into the studio and you just slept in your own bed and your woman cooked you breakfast and you sat there and had a normal morning, as opposed to waking up in a hotel in LA, poppin’ in your rental car

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State

Kings Of Leon

~ “A lot of drinks were consumed. Malibu and pineapple, mojitos, vodka, soda and lime. Anything that would get you drunk after drinking three or less! I can honestly say there wasn’t one song on this record where all four of us were sober. Not one single song.” ~

and driving 45 minutes in traffic to the studio,” Nathan extols. “The thing about recording in LA is that you’ll find yourself trying to get through the day so you can go out that night to whichever new club or restaurant is open.” That’s not to say the band’s now characteristic penchant for alcohol-fuelled good times didn’t play a part in the recording. “A lot of drinks were consumed. Malibu and pineapple, mojitos, vodka, soda and lime,” Nathan remembers. ”Anything that would get you drunk after drinking three or less! I can honestly say there wasn’t one song on this record where all four of us were sober. Not one single song.” “When we do a record,” he elaborates, “it’s more like drinking buddies getting together and strapping on your instruments and you just play. Some of our best recordings have been us in there, fuckin’ around. Just trying to get the pattern – like the verse, chorus and the bridge. We’ll go in there and run through it. Our producers said ‘That’s it. Great. Good job’. We had no idea they were even recording it. We’ll go back and listen to it and there’s no way we’re gonna outdo that. There are a good three or four songs on this record that we had no idea they were recording, like ‘Cold Desert’, ‘Seventeen’, a couple of b-sides.” So they didn’t take advantage of the studio environment and re-record mistakes? “The recreation of inspiration is very difficult for us,” he answers. “We’re an ‘in-the-moment’ kind of a band. It might even be a case that someone fucked up but it was a good fuck-up, like a scar. It humanises you, makes you a cool band. Like anyone can go in there and use Pro Tools and cut a song up. Just listen to the radio. Every song out there nowadays is cut and pasted in this perfect little fashion. I think that’s one of the things that attracted people to us.”

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Only By The Night is the band’s first record not to feature the mixing, engineering and production work of Ethan Johns, who had been with the band as long as Petraglia: in other words, since the beginning. His departure was politely and amicably inflicted by the band. It seems the relationship had become strained and inhibited, as Nathan explains: “At the end of the last record, we knew it [the relationship] had run its course. We wanted to be a little bit more experimental and I think because Ethan did the very first record with us, in his mind, we would always just be these young guys that need mentoring and tutoring. Like ‘You stick to the music and I’ll stick to the producing’. “With this record, we knew we wanted a more pro-active role as far as producing goes,” he continues. “We wanted our voices to be heard and wanted to make the record we wanted to make and not feel silly because we wanted to try something in the studio. I mean, making a record, you should never feel guilty or silly about trying anything because at the end of the day, you’re paying for it. You don’t want to feel like you’re wasting someone’s time ‘cos you’re not. That time was paid for. If we wanted to go in there and record us playing ping-pong for four days straight, we can do that. Why? Cos we’re paying for it. Angelo and Jacuire were so openminded and cool.” There’s certainly a shift happening on Only By The Night, albeit a slight one. While not as expansive or experimental as initial reports suggested, it definitely sounds like a band growing in confidence; a natural progression from Because Of The Times, which embraced studio trickery with heavy reverb and a gargantuan, anthemic sound, a statement of their naked ambition. While it seems to the cynical amongst us, that the Kings got a taste for popularity, cut their hair, hired stylists and started to sound more like U2, the truth is simply a case of an absorption


State

of outside influences, from the resulting years of stepping outside their somewhat blinkered existence. The band count My Morning Jacket, Radiohead’s In Rainbows, MGMT and M83 as the music which is doin’ it for them these days. “Only By The Night is basically a continuation,” explains Nathan. “Because Of The Times is definitely different from any record we had made and I think that was kind of an insight into the direction we were going as a band. Towards the end of that album, it really opened our eyes. OK, you can make a record with songs other than a two and a half minute sweaty tune... like, boom. Because that’s what we were for the first two records. “Y’know, this is the first band any of us have ever been in, so it’s only natural to find yourself, musically,” he elaborates. “This is the end result of touring non-stop for seven and a half, eight years and making four records. This is where we’ve gone naturally. I don’t think we ever sat down like, ‘OK the first two sounded like this, we need to make this one sound like that’.” Jared follows that statement with a startling confession when State broaches him on their newly-acknowledged confidence: “Just getting better and listening to yourself. With any walk of life, as a TV presenter or something like that, you’re going to feel pretty cringe-worthy about it but once you get the hang of it, you don’t have to think about it anymore and that’s us with music. I know a lot of people loved our first two records and they liked it maybe more than what we do now and they’re sad that we’re changing our sound and stuff, but to us, we had to, we had no choice. As musicians, going back and listening to the things we did on the first record and the second record, I can’t listen to it now. It makes me wanna die. It’s so bad. I just wish we’d kept it to ourselves.” It’s an unequivocal statement and one which should raise eyebrows, even to fans, but it does demonstrate where this band see themselves in the future and it’s not performing short, sharp archaic, classic rock songs. Musically, Only By The Night cements the band as Kings of Leon MK II. They have created their own unique brand of rock ‘n’ roll, informed by outside influences, and the album reflects that in its self-belief and assured musicianship. In particular, Caleb’s voice is stronger and clearer than ever and the album contains some of his best lyrics. “If you listen back to the recordings on the first record, he sounds like a gremlin, a little demon or something,” laughs Jared.

Reports that the album was political in tone turn out to be exaggerated: the focus here is as it always was, apart from the odd diversion –girls and apocryphal tales of rock ‘n’ roll excess. Certainly, the myriad of femme fatales met on the road in years past has informed much of their work, with the Kings (or Caleb particularly) never coming out in a dominant position. With Nathan happily married and the others testing out relationships, nowadays, lyrics about the object of their affections are a little more heartfelt. New song ‘Use Somebody’, an album highlight, finds Caleb yearning for love (“I hope this will make you notice / someone like me”), while the piano ballad ‘Revelry’ is an ode to a girl who kept him sane in times of bacchanalian excess: “The time we shared was precious to me / All the while I was dealing in revelry”. Elsewhere, like the album’s opener, ‘Closer’, Caleb embodies the spirit of a vampire who rues an almost

Kings Of Leon

banshee-like female: “She took my heart / Then she took my soul”, so maybe he’s not quite ready to settle down just yet. ‘Revelry’ also contains the album’s most obvious reference to their rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle and appears to be Caleb apologising for Rooster, the name given to his drunken alter-ego - “What a night for a dance / You know I’m a dancing machine / With fire in my bones / And the sweet taste of kerosene / I get lost in life / So much I don’t want to come down”. It’s obvious Kings of Leon are a band with momentum and determination. When they talk of crowd numbers, they talk about playing to at least 3,000-5,000 “kids” a night, yet won’t be content until they are playing shows in the US to at least 15,000. At Glastonbury, the band played to an estimated 100,000 people. The three brothers in the band, Caleb, Nathan and Jared, brought their mother (now divorced from their father) along for the experience. “There were more people at that show than in the town where she lives in Tennessee, so I think it was pretty mindblowing for her,” says Nathan. “There were more people that saw us play that show than an entire American tour,” adds Jared. Coincidentally, that morning, their Dublin and Belfast shows, scheduled for December, sold out 23,000 tickets in minutes. State has the privilege of sharing that information with them, to which, Jared honestly sounds delighted: “Jesus, that’s awesome! I love Ireland”.

From their humble beginnings in the Deep South, the Followill brothers and cousin have conquered plenty and are well aware how lucky they are to have matured musically under the hand of a major label. “From day one, we’ve always said we want to box that career,” explains Nathan. “Even if that means taking our time, like U2. Joshua Tree was the record that did it for them. That was their fourth, fifth record? [fifth – Ed] Nowadays, you don’t get that opportunity to grow. If you’re not a hit, then boom: ‘We’ve got five bands who come in and will dress the way we tell them to dress, sing the songs we tell them to sing.’ I think we’re really fortunate that we are on our fourth record right now and people are still interested in us, still critically acclaimed.” “It’s so cool, ‘cos yesterday, it was made reality for me,” he tells State “I was in the shop and this girl came up and was like ‘Oh my god, I’m a huge fan. I came to your show on my 13th birthday: my dad brought me’. This girl was 19 years old, almost 20 and now a woman and it was really cool. That’s how our fanbase is. From day one, they were so intrigued and interested that we came across as a band that they wanted to grow with. They were interested in where we were gonna go next.” Even in the situation they are in, they claim not to be fazed by external forces. “The only thing we feel pressure with now is... keeping up with ourselves,” says Jared. “Because our last record was number one over here, it was our biggest record by far. It sold more than any other. Internally, you feel like if this doesn’t go to number one, it’s gonna feel weird for us because we’ve done it already.” Once you’re on the mountain-top,“ Nathan adds, “there’s nowhere to go.. unless you’ve got a helicopter. And we’re thinking of buying one of those. ”

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State

X

Broken Social Scene Presents Brendan Canning

BRENDAN’S GRACE ~ Words by

toronto’s brendan canning has spent almost two decades in bands, from by divine right to hhead, before founding the massively successful and influential Canadian indie supergroup, Broken Social Scene. After almost 20 years playing bass, with just the occasional foray into singing, Canning has finally decided to step into the spotlight with his debut solo album, Something For All Of Us, under the Broken Social Scene Presents tag, like that of fellow BSS founder Kevin Drew last year. “The timing was good for me,” drawls Canning down the phone from his Toronto home. “It wasn’t necessarily me saying, ‘Right, it’s time to make a solo record’. It was more a case of my next-door neighbour, who had been asking me for a couple of years to come up to his studio, so I finally did. When we first started recording, slowly but surely we realised that maybe we had a Brendan Canning solo record, as it were, on our hands. That was how it evolved.” State wondered if he had any nerves about stepping up to the microphone. “No,” he muses. “I was more looking forward to the opportunity and the challenge. It took a little while for me to find out how best I fit in vocally to tunes. To that date, I had only had a song per record with Broken Social Scene, but near the end of it, I was definitely comfortable enough to stand behind everything I’d done. But I also wanted to get different vocalists involved too, to even out the album, with Lisa Lobsinger on a tune; my bandmate Sam Goldberg takes a verse; Liz Powell from a band called Land Of Talk takes a verse; Kevin Drew and myself do a duet on ‘Churches Under The Stairs’.”

Like Drew’s Spirit If, Something For All Of Us isn’t really a ‘solo’ album in the traditional sense. The album credits list 20 musicians, as well as Canning himself, including fellow BSS

JOHN WALSHE

members Drew, Lisa Lobsinger and Sam Goldberg, as well as a host of friends and musical bedfellows. Canning’s girlfriend, Sarah Haywood, was the art director for the project, with artist Juliana Neufeld providing the stunning caricatures that make up the album sleeve – incidentally, the house in the background on the album cover is actually Canning’s Toronto home. As well as a stellar line-up of musicians, Something For All Of Us also takes in a wealth of styles and influences, from folk to punk, house to disco, funk to pop. Is that reflective of Canning’s own musical tastes? “Well, I’ve got my record collection here, all divided into categories: hip-hop, funk, soul, r‘n’b, reggae, African, Latin, classical, house, jazz, jazz vocal, jazz ‘60s and ‘70s, Kraftwerk have their own section. So, yeah, I like it all.” Was it important to him to get that mix of influences across on the album? “I think the mix is just gonna come out in the music I write,” he opines. “It’s not something where I say, ‘Oh, have I got the African bass-line covered?’ The more music I work on in this lifetime, hopefully, I’ll be able to explore all the avenues I want to explore.”

While he was recording, Canning was also the subject of a forthcoming documentary by Canadian film director Bruce McDonald, which involved Canning’s studio being invaded by a full camera crew, but “just on one of the last days, when we were recording ‘Churches Under The Stairs’,” Canning sighs. “I don’t think I’d be able to make a record if I had a camera crew there all the time, even though they were a very mellow crew that he had working with him; they’re great guys. But it was fine for one day. When I look back at the documentary and see the studio footage,

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State

Broken Social Scene Presents Brendan Canning

~ “It’s a privilege to be doing what we’re doing and you don’t want to be saying, ‘Oh no, I can’t do that’. You’re being given great opportunities so you might as well take advantage of them while you can.” ~

it’s like, ‘Oh yeah, that’s why I don’t want camera crews in the studio’.” The documentary wasn’t Canning’s first encounter with the director. The BSS man, along with some fellow musicians, scored McDonald’s most recent movie, The Tracey Fragments, which stars Ellen Page of Juno fame, a creative process very different to his usual musical work. “It’s a case of just watching the faces up on the screen and trying to nail down some moods and some sort of emotional elements that you feel is going on on screen and trying not to overshadow that,” he states, “trying to be part of the film-making process without being too heavy handed.” He enjoyed the process immensely. “It’s quite a dark little film, but despite that, I really enjoyed it. It’s definitely not a film for everyone and it’s quite the antithesis of Juno.”

Aside from scoring art-house movies, Canning has more side projects than a self-employed tradesman. As well as this solo work and his ongoing BSS commitments, Canning is also involved in a band with Spiral Stairs of Pavement fame. “He curated a festival in Alberta, Canada, called the Sled Island Festival, and we put a band together for a one-off gig and we had such a good time, we’re thinking about recording some of that in September. There’s lots of stuff in the works.” The bearded bassist is planning to tour Something For All Of Us in Europe in early 2009 (“Ireland is in our sights for touring because it’s one of our favourite stops on the European touring circuit”), and also hopes to start work on a new Broken Social Scene album. “I’m hoping for next summer,” he avows. “I can’t say with any sort of definitive yes or no statement but the plan is to get writing near the end of this year. We were going to get writing in November but we just got offered some dates with REM. I saw REM up here with The National and Modest Mouse, and that was really good: I hadn’t seen REM since 1987. I thought this time they

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were maybe a little better than the previous time, a little more engaging. It’s funny what the years do to a band, make you forget why you thought it was such a hassle in the first place,” he laughs. With so many creative projects going on, you could accuse the affable Canuck of being a workaholic. “I’m definitely not a workaholic,” he chuckles. “I’m working right now to get out of town so I can get a couple of days vacation. But I think, often there are things that come up and at this stage in the game, you can’t really be turning down good opportunities. It’s a privilege to be doing what we’re doing and you don’t want to be saying, ‘Oh no, I can’t do that’. You’re being given great opportunities so you might as well take advantage of them while you can.”

Canning is certainly not going to let opportunities pass him by. He uses a short space at the end of the album credits to advise people to “exercise your right to refuse plastic bags when you shop”. “It’s drives me around the bend, people going to the store, getting a pack of chewing gum and a small carton of milk and needing a bag for it,” he opines. “I think a lot of people don’t even think about it and it’s a serious waste problem we got going on up here.” When State informs Canning of Ireland’s plastic bag tax, he mumbles appreciatively. As well as being an uber-busy musician, film scorer, documentary star and committed environmentalist, Canning is also a confirmed football fanatic. Indeed, his homepage on the Arts & Crafts website shows Canning on his couch, wearing a Barcelona jersey (complete with his name on the back) watching last season’s Champions League semi final between Man United and Barcelona. “I’m actually a Liverpool fan,” he chuckles. “But I don’t know how many of their games I’ll get to see. I don’t have Setanta. I guess if I got that channel, I’d never leave the house.”


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Input 63

State reviews & previews

albums

Oasis return to the fray with arguably their finest hour since (What’s The Story) Morning Glory; the long-awaited debuts from Lisa Hannigan and Fight Like Apes; Kings Of Leon go global; Mercury Rev go digital; and introductions to Rarely Seen Above Ground, The Hedge Schools and One Day International. Phew!

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{

★★★★★ ★★★★ ★★★ ★★ ★

digital

NYC’s finest MC, Derry’s punk past and the meeting of minds between Brian Eno and David Byrne.

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tv

Why do most US-made re-interpretations of British shows suck? Maia Dunphy has a theory and she wants you to hear it.

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dvd

Todd Hayne’s quasi-biopic of Dylan comes under the State microscope; The Wire calls it a day and David Duchovny tries to shag his way through the whole of LA.

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games

Viking legends and big fuck-off lasers: too good to be true? Too Human reviewed. Plus, the latest in the Brothers In Arms series and a dungeon crawler that will drive you insane.

When former Ten Speed Racer, Pat Barrett was recovering from a near-fatal brain aneurism, he penned a host of beautiful, uplifting songs, which he then set about recording, with old mucker Joe Chester on board. The result is the sublime, heart-felt, life-affirming Never Leave Anywhere, from The Hedge Schools.

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(EARUSON&-$UBLIN 50#$IGITAL#HANNEL $!"$IGITAL2ADIO /NLINE


Albums

Oasis

illustrationby bybrenb nathalie nysted illustration

Dig Out Your Soul

(big brother)

The waiting is the hardest part. And boy have Oasis kept us waiting. One and a half great albums plus a few good singles in 14 years is hardly a wonderful hit rate. Yet so dramatic was their arrival, so astonishing those first two albums, that still, even after Be Here Now, Standing On The Shoulder Of Giants, Heathen Chemistry et al, still we approach each new Oasis record with a quickening of the heartbeat. No matter that since the grand folly of album number three, every release has been greeted with half hearted mumblings of it being ‘the best thing they’ve done since Morning Glory’, only for it to prove to be a bit rubbish. Still we wait. So album number seven is upon us and guess what? It’s already being described as the best thing they’ve done since Morning Glory. And guess what? It just might be. One thing’s for sure, this time Oasis sound like they mean it. ‘Bag It Up’ is a roaring opening track, upbeat and built on a surprisingly groovy rhythm. “The freaks are rising up from the floor,” snarls our Liam. “I got

my heebie-jeebies in a bag”. Once again, we’re not exactly talking Shakespeare but the band sound vibrant, alive and very rock. After having had your expectations thus raised, it’s hard not to expect the worst and for Oasis to mess it up. Surprisingly they don’t, well not for a bit. ‘The Turning’ and ‘Waiting For The Rapture’ move along similar lines – a big rock sound built on a groove. More importantly, they’re fine songs, always at the heart of the band’s success. Not to talk too soon, but we could just be falling in love with Oasis all over again. Even the Gallagher-bynumbers single ‘The Shock Of The Lightning’ is sounding pretty good as this point. Don’t look now though, as here comes the first Liam Gallagher composition, in the past a sure sign to head for the exit. ‘I’m Outta Time’, however, manages to hold its own. As a ballad, it has more than its fair share of Beatles references, even including a snippet of a John Lennon interview, but it’s a strong song that wouldn’t sound out of place as a single. Having convinced us that they’re not going to put a foot wrong, however, they stumble slightly. ‘(Get Off Your) High Horse Lady’ is actually as bad as the title suggests –

another Beatles re-hash with pretty embarrassing lyrics. In short, what we’ve come to expect. It’s not disastrous but is certainly the first track not to really work. Things do pick up with the psychedelic whirl of ‘Falling Down’ (all strings, unusual rhythms and production) and Gem’s ‘To Be Where There’s Life’, a great song built on a bassline worthy of Jah Wobble in his heyday. On an album that doesn’t exactly take too many chances, it’s the closest Oasis come to genuine experimentation and it suits them. Unfortunately, though, it’s also the album’s last great – even good – moment. From this point, Dig Your Own Soul doesn’t just go downhill, it careers off a cliff. The last three tracks are pedestrian at best, awful even in the case of Andy Bell’s ‘The Nature Of Reality’. It’s all a bit depressing. Still, as ‘Soldier On’ crawls to the album’s conclusion, you at least want to put it on again to experience the rush of its first few tracks, and when was the last time Oasis made you want to do that? Is this the sound of Oasis finally rediscovering the plot? Definitely maybe. ~ Phil Udell

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Albums Fight Like Apes Fight Like Apes And The Mystery Of (model citizen) The Golden Medallion So we arrive at the first real benchmark of a band who have been slowly but surely building a buzz for the last 18 months to the point where expectation has reached something approaching fever pitch. By taking their cue from alt-rock bands like Pavement, McLusky and American TV, the band are the first from Ireland to truly embrace a distinct culture of another, therefore allowing them to occupy a space outside the remit of most; a unique space filled with pop culture references, brash behaviour and Americanisms. Make your primary instruments polychromatic synthesizers and you’re onto a winner. Indeed, many of the songs here sound like theme tunes to some forgotten LA teen drama which never made it past a pilot. The exuberance is infectious and the instruments possess a behemoth power, equally matched by May Kay’s strident vocals. The entire album walks the line between pop and alternative perfectly, without dipping into procedure. Most of the songs are so loud and acerbic, it might take you a while to realise there’s no electric guitar anywhere on this 36-minute record. Re-recordings of ‘Jake Summers’, ‘Lend Me Your Face’, ‘Do You Karate?’ and ‘Battlestations’ all make the jump from the previous EPs and largely improve on the originals. The real story here is the hidden depths that reveal themselves upon repeated listens. It’s not lyrical depth, by any means, but a vitality and skill evident in their arrangements. Listen to the twinkling soundscape of ‘Digifucker’, the emotional inflections in May Kay’s voice on both ‘Tie Me Up With Jackets’ and the updated ‘Snore Bore Whore’ and the remarkable ‘Lumpy Dough’, with its distinctive layered sound, and you too will be convinced that this is much more than four people who can only shout, scream and fall over. They do so much more than that: just watch them. ~ Niall Byrne

Yo Majesty Futuristically Speaking… Never Be Afraid

(domino)

Over the last few years, there has been a revival in demeaning, misogynistic hip-hop. The likes of Spank Rock have made a career out of spouting old hackneyed clichés, somehow getting away with it unquestioned, being seen as having their tongues planted within their cheeks. So, here we have Yo Majesty, a two-piece lesbian hip-hop duo who similarly discuss booty-spanking, pussyeating and bitch-sucking. And although their ambition may be to turn these themes on their head and make them empowering for women, they simply fail and reinforce the old stereotypes. Rapper Shunda K’s assured delivery sometimes raises them above their lyrical concerns

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and they do have the ability of switching between raw-throated anger on ‘Fucked Up’, gentle singing on ‘Buy Love’ and rapid-fire spitting on ‘Night Riders’. Production-wise, Yo Majesty are aided by UK electro duo Hard Feelings and their contribution concentrates on upbeat party electrocrunk hip-hop, making Yo Majesty sometimes resemble a below-par female Outkast/Basement Jaxx collaboration. They do manage to occasionally swerve unexpectedly, like on the aforementioned ‘Buy Love’ where Shunda K and Jwl B are backed by an acoustic guitar, leaving aside the ass-shaking antics, exposing a softer side to the band. ‘Don’t Let Go’ opens with a Boards Of Canada-style bassline which then buzzes with dirty synths, resulting in the strongest song here. Unfortunately, Futuristically Speaking…Never Be Afraid never succeeds in rising above groin-level, so intent on making you want to party that the end result is less ‘hands in the air’ and more ‘puke in the toilet’. ~ Shane Galvin

Guggenheim Grotto Happy The Man

(shellac records)

Fresh from the success of their debut, Waltzing Alone (as heard on TV shows Brothers and Sisters and One Tree Hill as well as on Starbucks’ Across the Pond compilation), Happy the Man, Dublinbased Guggenheim’s Grotto’s latest, wears its heart squarely on its sleeve. At times sugary, its first half is predominantly upbeat: think Aslan, U2 and Paddy Casey. A sunburst of rolling synths on ‘Fee Da Da Dee’ have the whipped cream nostalgia of Bents’ Ariels, its lyrics a philosophical ‘Don’t Worry Be Happy’. Even when tied to heartache, instrumentation lightens the mood or lyrics recall good times, instead of wallowing in bad. In act two, layers fall back as a slow burning torch is lit. The highlight here is the languid ‘Sunshine Makes Me High’, a track about fine weather that’s too cool to be sunny. Duke Special would be proud of ‘Lost Forever And’, while the unenthusiastic ‘Just Not Just’ could be a slower, updated b–side of Bananarama’s ‘Venus’. For indie kids, it’s this half of the album that holds most interest. While they can be sentimental, Guggenheim Grotto have a solid pop album here. Arrange-

ments are listener friendly and obvious singles hop out of the woodwork with unpretentious ease. Happy The Man is man enough to laugh anything from a cheesy hit factory right off the stage. Like the much-loved new car smell, the fact that this is a new band is audible: there’s a homegrown freshness here that’s, well, refreshing. ~ Deanna Ortiz

Jenny Lewis Acid Tongue

(rough trade)

When Jenny Lewis released her solo debut, Rabbit Fur Coat, two years ago, she felt safe in the knowledge that little was riding on it. Had the low-budget independent release failed to impress, there was always the success of Rilo Kiley to return to. Yet not only did the album outsell anything the Californian band ever released, but the one thing that reviews for the group’s subsequent album could agree on was Lewis’ potential star quality. But where Rabbit Fur Coat was a bare-all confessional that saw a vulnerable Lewis searching for answers, Acid Tongue represents a self-assured step forward. The singer’s wry and wearisome observations are as plaintive as ever, but this time a barbed, dirty-sounding electric guitar imbues them with an energy closer to the southern rock of Ryan Adams rather than the altcountry of Gillian Welsh. With the likes of Elvis Costello and Zooey Deschanel joining return collaborators Conor Oberst and M. Ward, the album’s expansive cast ensures plenty of variety. Meatier arrangements such as ‘Jack Killed Mom’ and ‘Fernando’ date back to the previous album and the time spent on them shows. It’s only when the material retreads old ground that it falters, but even then Lewis’ heartfelt angst can illuminate moments that might otherwise seem staid. Ultimately, the problem with Acid Tongue is its inconsistency: with so little focus, it feels like a collection of songs intended to be played on an iPod shuffle. That said, its highlights deserve a place on any best-of-2008 playlist and, taken in isolation, reveal a songwriter hitting her stride and rightfully taking centre stage. ~ Cian Traynor

Max Tundra Parallax Error Beheads You

(domino)

Six years since his delightful oddity Mastered By Guy At The Exchange first appeared and planted itself firmly in the ears of lovers of skewed, alternative pop, Ben Jacobs allows us into his eclectic headspace once again. Jacobs’ music is like no other but it sounds like the amalgamation of every song he’s ever heard. For example, the album’s last track, ‘Until We Die’, is 11 minutes of celebratory electronic-pop which sounds at times like Steely Dan, Sebastian Tellier,


Albums

[

]

From whimsical to melancholy, Lisa Hannigan’s first solo work keeps listeners on their toes.

Lisa Hannigan Sea Sew

(iht)

A romance so drawn out that Kiera Knightly would fit well into the movie version of it; Lisa Hannigan’s methodical path towards a debut album does, however, produce a notably happy ending. Comparisons with the man she played supposed muse to are inevitable but what Hannigan produces is some distance away from the work of Damien Rice: not necessarily better, but infinitely more enjoyable. Sea Sew is a record that begins and ends on playful, tender moments (‘Ocean And A Rock’ and first single ‘Lille’), while fitting in some addictive tension and darkness in between. Just listen to the twisting Fiona Apple lunacy-lite of ‘Courting Blues’ for evidence: Hannigan’s is an instinctive voice, reacting to the intricacies of the twisting strings and piano lines surrounding her. A somewhat unsettling tune, it’s nonetheless the perfect centrepiece to an album that dives between sugary sweetness and echoed dramatics. It’s not a difficult listen by any means, but it will take time to weigh up whether it works as a whole. While there are not necessarily peaks and troughs, it’s more a scattershot approach to track listing which may well stump some first time out: this you suspect may be intended in order to never let the listener settle into a staunch opinion on what she’s trying to do here, as she consistently catches you off guard. Hannigan the songwriter is still feeling her way into things – she penned nine of the 10 tracks here – but there’s no need for sentimental brownie points for beginners: this is without doubt one of the debuts of the year. ~ John Joe Worrall

and cheesy lo-fi ‘80s TV theme tunes, segueing into each other, with Jacobs singing about “a holy mountain on ice”. If that sounds appealing, then you’ll love this. The lyrics are largely rooted in real-world trivialities, shot through with Jacobs’ near trademark humility. Lines about 20p jumpers, eBay bidding, Google images, and the Glycaemic Index are sung in a funky white-boy falsetto. This is far beyond some tawdry post-modern display, as his enthusiasm and love for music is self-evident. The overall effect is like listening to a whimsical wizard playing colourful songs on jellied, wobbly synths which have come alive and are trying to escape from under his nimble fingers. He plays guitar, brass, xylophone and uses an archaic Commodore Amiga 500 to control them all, which only adds to his unique appeal. In a just world, Parallax Error Beheads You would be outselling Coldplay and Max Tundra would replace Timbaland as the producer of choice. He certainly has the skill and an abundance of ideas to pull it off. ~ Niall Byrne

Parenthetical Girls Entanglements

(tomlab)

Three years in the making, Entanglements is an album brimming with inventiveness and confidence, and while it is unmistakably a Parenthetical Girls record, it’s unlike anything they’ve

done before. Gone are the little songs capturing uncomfortable bedroom moments, to be replaced by pieces like ‘Gut Symmetries’, chronicling doomed romances with older lovers. Where previously they favoured Xiu Xiu-esque musical confrontation, their grander scale now calls to mind Final Fantasy’s lusher moments. Singer and songwriter Zac Pennington’s voice sounds more at home than ever, his croon cushioned nicely by the Hollywood musical unfolding around him. Songs lead into each other like a constant narrative, and the entire record, it has to be said, is a surprisingly sexy affair. On ‘A Song For Ellie Greenwich’ ( so good, it should appear here twice) rhythmic brass punctuates a jazzy beat, with a string section that dips and glides along beautifully. This musical tone sits strangely with Pennington’s favourite lyrical tool, using uncomfortable sexual images as a symbol for the fragility of a relationship. His lyrics often hit close to the bone, yet despite his talent for evoking images of “fresh stretched post-fuck flesh” it’s clear that this record is no cautionary statement. Rather, it maintains a reverence for love and lust, though it refuses to pretend that they never mislead us. There is the occasional overindulgence, where the music is eclipsed by the band’s ambition. But these fleeting moments aside, Entanglements is a triumph, and essential listening for anyone fed up with hopeless romanticism. ~ Shane Culloty

Jason Collett Here’s To Being Here

(arts & crafts)

If you’ve come to this expecting the kind of musical inventiveness that Broken Social Scene deliver, you’re likely to be disappointed. While Jason Collett does indeed roll with that particular crew, here he’s happier to reproduce the basics of rock rather than reinvent them. Thankfully, he has a touch for crafting songs out of sounds you’ve heard plenty of times before, and doing it so well that you couldn’t care less. It doesn’t matter when his vocals come across like a less authentic Dylan, or a song pads along in the manner of a wearier Randy Newman, there’s usually a little touch of genius there to bring you back and keep your head nodding. On the album’s jaunty standout, ‘Out Of Time’, it’s the hooting vocals of the chorus, as vibrant and infectious as anything the Stones ever had to offer. On ‘Charlyn, Angel of Kensington’, his description of the faces of his neighbourhood could come across as clumsy and half-hearted, were it not for the unexpected earnestness to be heard in his voice. He recounts the titular Charlyn’s good deeds; helping the needy as though she were “feeding birds right out of your hand”. There are drawbacks here. There’s a lack of variety in the songs, a criticism levelled at Collett’s previous work, and sometimes his lyrics seem flat and half-thought out. But if you overlook these minor quibbles, it’s a consistent record, and

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Albums

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Capturing the scope and soundscape of a Broadway musical ODI shimmer with the sound of summer.

]

One Day International Blackbird

(independent records)

No matter how thoroughly State scours the minimal promo artwork of the debut release from this Irish/Oz combo, there’s still no sign of three words which we assume must be missing from the record’s title: “Original Cast Recording”. For this is a CD candidly stuffed with West End trademarks; intense peaks and troughs, soulful bombast, narrative and soliloquist insinuations, dramatic instrumental interludes and some awkward lyricism which could normally be excused exclusively within the confines of an exciting production (“If you go down to the woods today, you’re in for a big surprise/There’s nowhere left for the kids to play/We may as well run for our lives”). But for a group who named themselves for a format of cricket match and who named their album after a plainly-monikered thrush, Blackbird is a considerably less boring listen than its creators would allow you to believe. The maturity and agility of these compositions are perhaps most comparable to the presently-AWOL Sufjan Stevens, as orchestral flourishes, swish choral harmonies and aptly-positioned beats (provided by Ross Turner of Jape/Cathy Davey) elegantly wrap themselves around skeletal piano to together reach a concordant climax. One Day International are essentially releasing an ideal ‘summer album’ a few months too late (not to suggest that there’s one perfect time to do such a thing on this wind-stricken and porous blob of rock), but it’s a record likely to ease the cold curse of the winter for those unable to make it to Broadway during the dying months of 2008. ~ Bobby Aherne

there’s enough affection on display for rock’s past to win over the most churlish musical adventurer. ~ Shane Culloty

Fucked Up Year of the Pig

(matador)

Flesh, flesh, everywhere. This extended EP from Canadian hardcore group Fucked Up wallows in uncomfortable lyrical imagery and violent viscerality. Although the title song comes padded out with four extra tracks that stick closer to the traditional hardcore sound, there is no doubt that the 18-minute pig is the prize specimen on display here. And what a beast it is: demented, squealing, covered in shit and properly scary. Proceedings start innocuously, with guest vocalist Jennifer Castle singing over a waltzing Hammond organ motif. After a few minutes of this, regular vocalist Pink Eyes drops into the mix (yes, he is named after the infection you get when you don’t wipe your bum properly, then accidently touch your eyes. Sure another one of them is called Concentration Camp). Pink Eyes sings like Tom Waits on steroids, huge phlegmridden growls and heckles, low register burps and barks. The words he spits into a building guitar maelstrom come thick and heavy with nihilistic pig-related metaphors. Blood runs freely, bones are sucked dry, corpses pile high, humans get fat, pigs get eaten, the apocalypse arrives.

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What is it all about? It’s hard to untangle such bleak abstraction, really. The song seems to rail against all human life. Not since Nirvana’s in Utero, or the Manic Street Preachers’ The Holy Bible has State heard something this brutal and despairing outside of death metal. With The Year Of The Pig, Fucked Up have completely progressed outside the boundaries of the hardcore genre, with a stunning song that is as forward looking as it is vicious. ~ Darragh McCausland

The Stills Oceans Will Rise

(arts & crafts)

With Interpol and Editors having successfully cornered the market in nouveau gloom, worshipping at the feet of the holy trinity of Curtis, McCulloch and Smith, it would seem that Montreal band The Stills were the only ones yet to achieve the success that dreaming of dank bedsits can bring. But in this time of economic uncertainty, with the babbling fear of recession rising like steam from a Pot Noodle and the relentless, punishing Biblical weather, never has there been a better time to soak in the songs of the sullen. After a brief flirtation with the starker side of music on their second album, the earthy Without Feathers, the band have returned to the more successful synth drenched melodies of their debut (Logic Will Break Your Heart) and have envel-

oped themselves in the bombastic, widescreen, windswept sound of ‘80s guitar bands. They are at their Bunnymen best on the woozy opener ‘Don’t Talk Down’ and the swirling anthemic squall of ‘Hands On Fire’, although singer Tim Fletcher’s dramatic vocals have an unnerving tendency to stretch the tunes to the point of earnestness, so much so that they have a tragic, almost Simple Minds quality about them, especially on the shameless Radiohead pastiche, ‘Panic’. However, caught in the midst of all this portentousness and bluster is the touching, utterly charming Rufus Wainwright style balladry of ‘Everything I Build’, a boiled-down-to basics tune that dissolves the posturing and lets the soul of the band shine. If this track is a glimpse at what’s to come, perhaps The Stills can step out of the shadows and leave the romanticised brooding to the bedroom boys. ~ Jennifer Gannon

Miley Cyrus Breakout

(hollywood records )

For those who have been living under a rock for the past few months, Miley Cyrus is the offspring of one-time country ‘star’ Billy Ray, he of ‘Achy Breaky Heart’, line dancing and bad hair. She’s currently famous for her stint as Disney darling Hannah Montana and more recently, for a Vanity


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Albums

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New Zealand’s electronic queen fails to really ignite.

]

Ladyhawke Ladyhawke

(modular)

Oh to be proven wrong! To see the fire behind all that media smoke and realise that Ladyhawke wasn’t the disposable side product of an electro-pop friendly musical climate that you initially thought her to be. The self-titled debut from New Zealander Pip Brown comes as a welcome surprise, providing not only the catchy choruses promised by releases ‘Paris Is Burning’ and ’Dusk Till Dawn’ but a few edgier, more riff-orientated numbers in the form of ’Manipulating Woman’ and ’My Delirium’. Messing around with all these different genres could potentially hurt the album as a whole but Ladyhawke seems to come up more or less unscathed every time. In fact, it’s often a lack of punch that leaves a lot to be desired in many of the softer numbers. This mix of songs really begs the question of who is Ladyhawke? The edgy, modern songstress heard in ‘Magic’ - by far the album’s most satisfying and most likeable song - or the emotional pop artist heard in songs like ’Back Of The Van’, which despite being a tad too ‘80s pop, with its cheesy synth and girls just wanna have fun verse, really has its moments? The album’s real failing, however, doesn’t lie in this contrast of modern and retro styles but the way in which they’re carried out. Disregarding those singalong choruses, the modern songs often fail to reach any sort of peak while the retro-throwbacks sound all too familiar. Paris may be burning but Ladyhawke only manages to smoulder at best. ~ Jack Higgins

Fair photo shoot that had middle America up in arms and Disney in full outrage mode. Breakout is Cyrus’s attempt to move away from the saccharine sweet Hannah Montana persona. Unfortunately, it’s highly predictable, as Cyrus warbles her way through songs about love lost and won, alongside typical teenage dramas about gaining a little freedom. Catchy tunes are teamed with simple, at times childish lyrics, as well as a host of sugary ballads that wouldn’t have seemed out of place on the Hannah Montana albums, such as ‘Goodbye’ or ‘These Four Walls’. There’s also an extremely suspect version of ‘Girls Just Wanna Have Fun’, which should be avoided at all costs. There’s a slight improvement with a remix of ‘See You Again’ and ‘Simple Song’, while ‘Wake Up America’ sees our heroine encouraging people to become more environmentally aware before it’s too late: “I know that you don’t want to hear it/ Especially coming from one so young”. Teenagers and young kids will love it. Anyone with an ounce of respect for their ears will leave this one alone. ~ Ciara O’Brien

AU Verbs

(aagoo records)

The common English dictionary defines verbs as “the part of speech that express existence, action, or occurrence”; hence bestowing an apt title

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upon this organic and gripping set of experimental pop tunes from Oregon’s Luke Wyland. But as the 22-member choir (some of whom also work day jobs with the likes of Parenthetical Girls, Yellow Swans and A Weather) of album opener ‘All My Friends’ proudly assert, AU is far from a solo affair. This headcount may allow lazy comparisons to be made to the likes of The Polyphonic Spree, but it would be wrong to compare State to a sloth for daring to relate Verbs to the Texan troupe’s dense, leisurely and swimming first record. Animal Collective’s Spirit They’ve Gone, Spirit They’ve Vanished - another debut album recorded in the millennial year - is also brought to mind; a kitchen-sink work which bewilderingly occupies a distant and unique space on first glimpse. Then as the listener continues on their quest, the surface clutter and impressively superfluous detail begin to ripple, until we have entered its melodic cosmos and can hear the catchy and inviting (yet secretive) pop record which lies beneath. The most exciting and instant jingle here is ‘RR Vs. D’, a song which projects the image of a circus as its animals, acrobats, jugglers and clowns march back into the ring after a successful performance and line-bow to a rapturously-applauding audience. And still this pleasing jaunt of the imagination is only one sample segment of the big, bold, beautiful and action-packed carnivalesque canvas of Verbs. ~ Bobby Aherne

Mercury Rev Snowflake/Midnight

(v2)

If you’ve seen Mercury Rev live, you’d be forgiven for finding their records underwhelming. Their shows are powerful, streamlined and thunderingly loud, with frontman Jonathan Donahue leering like a pixie with a dirty secret. This is not to say they can’t do the business in the studio - 1998’s Deserter’s Songs was nominated for the Mercury Prize – but you feel there is unfulfilled potential. Dave Fridmann (Flaming Lips, Low, Mogwai) mans the sound-desk once again, but this time he’s working with a bolder band. Their seventh LP, one of a dual release (Strange Attractor is instrumental and free to download) finds them scoring a movie only they could have envisioned, and not so much embracing sonic technology as groping it. It suits them down to the ground. Donahue’s spectral warble now comes framed within the sort of elemental beats and soundscapes it was made for. That such textures have been superfluous throughout their 20-year career is unsurprising when you’ve got a guitarist like Grasshopper. Like Sigur Rós with bigger balls, Snowflake/ Midnight is located somewhere otherworldly, crossing pastoral meadows and battlefields alike. Instrumental centrepiece ‘October Sunshine’ is like slipping into a warm bath. The proggish ‘People Are So Predictable’ sees the band becoming The Mercury Volta. ‘Snowflake In A Hot World’ is at once featherlight and pummelling, with gorgeous piano washes and fuzzed bass. “All you’ve


Albums done and all you’ve become/ You’re where you should be,” observes Donahue, possibly referring to this new Mercury Rev he has the pleasure of introducing. The pleasure is all ours. ~ Hilary A. White

Saville Nostalgia

(reekus records)

Saville’s third album is no doubt the one the band hope will ‘break’ them out of the comfort zone of their own city, and from the playfully ominous opener ‘And The Star Turns Red’, it seems that they might just be on to something. The following title track is too laid back to excite, but things pick up with the almost indie-rock ‘It Don’t Feel Right Anymore’. Sadly, this marks the end of anything notably interesting on the album. ‘I Can’t Do Anything To Ease Your Pain’ is an inoffensive number that, although lasting less than three minutes, still manages to sound repetitive. The seemingly Beatles-inspired ‘Seventeen’ is a cringeworthy reminiscence of teenage days gone by, recounting romantic memories that might be better off not shared, whilst the old school crooning in ‘The Only One For Me’ is little more than bearable. Summer single ‘Symphony Of Sound’ is an ode to the band’s hometown, but is not something that the Dublin Tourist Authority will be taking on

Digital

as a soundtrack any time soon. The lyrics may be realistic (“Workmen dig deep on Henry Street/ In time to the beat of the shoppers’ feet”) but come across as ridiculous, a sense which is further emphasised by the would-be-groovy musical backdrop. Saville’s varied style results only in confusing the listener, and the added retro touch sounds dated and bland. They have been hyped to the hilt and yet achieved relatively little, a fact which is unlikely to be changed by the release of Nostalgia. ~ Kate Rothwell

Messiah J & The Expert From The Word Go

(inaudible records)

More than any other style of music perhaps, hiphop is as much about where you’re from as where you’re headed. The trouble is, if you’re not from a certain part of the world then most people don’t want to know, so you either ape the established styles or find your own voice and face the slings and arrows. Messiah J & The Expert have always done the latter, increasingly silencing their critics. The mantle of being an Irish hip-hop crew has always weighed heavy, but From The Word Go should finally allow them to be seen as just a band. While Now This I Have To Hear was no slouch of a record, the third album finds them

more focused than ever before, walking the line of being true to their roots without being either parochial or a cliché. You won’t find a Bothy Band sample anywhere here but the record is as Irish as they come. J’s lyrics are a lot more outward looking than before, introducing a subtle political edge as well as looking at subjects like domestic violence and the country’s drinking culture, without coming unstuck. Musically too, they’ve upped their game, employing sounds and styles not only fresh to themselves but to the genre in general. Pop, swing, techno, rock and psychedelia all fit seamlessly into the mix, as do regular collaborators and special guests, including Delorentos. Time after time, song after song, they simply nail it. Not an ‘Irish hip-hop’ record or any such nonsense, just a great one. ~ Anna Forbes

Ilya K Anaesthesia Ad Infinitium

(dekay music)

Winners of Murphy’s Live 2007, Waterford’s Ilya K define eclectic. Simultaneously, you hear a dazed Pink Floyd, razor-sharp Metallica, NIN, and at times, a less dance-infused Future Sound of London. Bizarrely, pop structures wander in and out, sneaking in a verse/chorus framework, just to keep you on your toes.

~ Niall Byrne

El-P

Arabian Prince

We Are All Going to Burn in Hell Megamixx 2

Innovative Life Anthology

Brookyln’s finest MC proves why he’s so highly regarded with a mix that was originally available as a tour CD but is now available free from Def Jux. It’s all new material, from the banging instrumentals to El rhyming over Modeselektor to the last song, which features a re-working of Jay-Z’s ‘99 Problems’ and a remix of Mars Volta’s ‘The Widow’. This would be worth the money if it was released in the shops but like the fine copy of State you’re holding, it’s all free baby.

When Egyptian Lover appeared at the Mantua Festival over the summer, he caused quite a stir with his dirty old skool beats. Similarly named and equally-less known, Arabian Prince used to roll with NWA before submitting to the sound of ‘80s electro with tracks like ‘Let’s Hit The Beach’, ‘Strange Life’ and ‘Innovator’. Stones Throw have lovingly compiled an Anthology: we suggest you get it. Available @ eMusic, iTunes and 7Digital

David Byrne and Brian Eno

http://url.ie/ppu

Bloc Party

Everything That Happens Will Happen Today

The Undertones

Intimacy

Teenage Kicks EP

So good, John Peel bought it three times back in 1978. If you’ve given up on vinyl, if you sold your records to pay for other more important crap or if you’ve never heard the original EP before, the best song the island of Ireland ever produced is available digitally for posterity and nostalgic purposes, alongside another A-side, ‘True Confessions’ and two B-sides, ‘Smarter Than U’ and ‘Emergency Case’.

Those without regular internet access may be unaware that the third album from Bloc Party was released online with two days notice (review at state.ie). Then they released a single, ‘Talons’, which wasn’t on the new album at all, just to mess with us further. The band can be found skulking in the corner of the room they are currently occupying and charging £5 for the download of the album, which is released through normal channels on October 27.

A symbiotic album born from a dinner conversation, the duo have been calling this collaborative effort “electronic gospel”. It’s a little less leftfield than the name suggests but Byrne’s main lyrical inspiration was indigenous American gospel, folk and country. Eno provides the instrumentals which summoned Byrne’s vocals. A refreshing release for each collaborator.

Available @ eMusic, iTunes and 7Digital

http://url.ie/ppx

Available at everythingthathappens.com

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lll#idiVaanYjWa^c#^Z


Albums

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Uplifting, life-affirming melodies from former Ten Speed Racer man.

]

The Hedge Schools Never Leave Anywhere

(independent records)

In our hectic modern existence where stress, strain, traffic, noise and caffeine are all part of everyday life, it is rare that we get a chance to take time out to reflect and actually appreciate our lives. For Patrick Barrett, however, a near fatal brain aneurism put things into perspective. While recovering in hospital, he penned the songs that would make up The Hedge School’s Never Leave Anywhere, subsequently joining forces with his former Ten Speed Racer bandmate Joe Chester to create an album of 10 rather beautiful tracks. The songs reflect a deep appreciation for life, with their dreamy melodies and simple production making this a tranquil, uplifting and an almost spiritual album. ‘Kansas’, for example, reflects Barrett’s own Yellow Brick Road to Recovery. A deeply personal song about returning to his safe place, it sees Barrett identify with the Scarecrow “’cause he was looking for a brain and I was looking for a piece of mine”. ‘Butterfly’ and ‘Don’t Call It Heart’ manage to combine melody and emotion in a way that will give even the most emotionally stunted a lump in their throat. Some may dismiss the album on first listen, as a similiar sleepy swell of emotion permeates all 10 tracks, but if you take time out to actually listen to this album, it pretty soon becomes clear that The Hedge Schools have captured something very special indeed. ~ Aoife McDonnell

On ‘Weird Shapes’, their quirky soundscapes hypnotise, minor chords lull and vocals that favour Nick Cave’s side of macabre offset otherworldly blips, until the lot is brought to boil, culminating in a flurry of intense electric guitars. ‘She’s Got The Loneliest Eyes’ is lovely, with escalating harmonies and a rhythmic vocal line not unlike a slower ‘We Didn’t Start The Fire’ by Billy Joel. This displays a tenderness not usually found on the same album as the sinister Rammsteinesque ‘Pink In The Blood’. Like a free buffet where you decide you fancy a bit of lasagne but don’t want to miss out on teriyaki, Ilya K dip a fork into everything. Are they determined not to be pigeonholed by notions of genre or a fledgling band that hasn’t quite found their groove? There will certainly be a quandary as to where to put them in your local CD shop: and truth be told, Anaesthesia does have moments where you wonder if you’re listening to a compilation. They have seeds of something good here, but it would be better if they achieved a little more fusion. Call them brave, call them mad. But one thing’s certain: they’re not dull.

own sake but willing to take their challenging discoveries into accessible areas. And if we thought their approach had reached its creative zenith on 2006’s marvellous Return To Cookie Mountain, we were cheerfully mistaken. Dear Science is, as you’d expect, brimming with styles, rhythms and explorations, only this time they’ve opened their influences to wider adulation. Epic opener ‘Halfway Home’ sounds instantly menacing, yet within seconds the ba-ba-ba hook hoists it into upbeat, commercial territory; ‘Golden Age’ is pure funk, with its fluttering bass and sunshine chorus; meanwhile, the delicious piano chords and heart-tugging strings of ‘Family Tree’ are lastingly touching. For that its lyrics refer, with frightening regularity, to death and dying, Dear Science is a triumphant album. Expertly and brightly produced by Sitek, it not only finds its groove from the first note but keeps it, twisting and turning, all the way to the climactic ‘Lover’s Day’, a joyful celebration of glorious lovemaking, complete with orgasmic samba. Breathtaking.

creases. The album starts with a spacey song called ‘Closer’ that suggests the Followills are reaching for something beyond this planet, but they quickly re-assert themselves into the arenas and not the stars with the mainstream rock muscle of ‘Crawl’ and single ‘Sex On Fire’. ‘Use Somebody’ is the album’s true insight into their mindset, a song so deliberately anthemic and catchy, one can’t help but admire it. From there on in, the Followills’ Southern roots become apparent, from the bluesy ‘Revelry’ to the aptly named ‘Cold Desert’, stopping along the way to ape the Pixies once again, with ‘I Want You’. Only By The Night represents a new plateau of confidence for the band and nowhere is that more evident than in Caleb’s vocal delivery. Where once he mumbled, now he roars, albeit in his very distinctive twang. If he could only learn to loosen up live, then he’d be a model rock star. This is Kings of Leon’s attempt at grandiosity and by those standards, they’ve nailed it. ~ Warren Jones

~ Johnnie Craig

~ Deanna Ortiz

TV On The Radio Dear Science

Slipstream

Kings of Leon Only By The Night

Mantra

(interscope)

It’s by no strange alchemy that TV On The Radio are virtually critic-proof. Not only are the band’s mainstays, frontman Tunde Adebimpe and multiinstrumentalist David Sitek, relentlessly inventive individuals, their previous two albums have found them not merely being experimental for its

(enraptured)

(rca)

There’s no turning back now. For those of you hoping for the Kings to realise the time is nigh to write some more dirty garage rock a la ‘Molly’s Chambers’, it ain’t gonna happen. Kings of Leon are stadium-bound, whether you like it or not and Only By The Night is the record that shows the result of the band ironing out those rougher

The fifth album from Mark Refoy and Jonny Mattock is pretty much what you’d expect from two former Spiritualised members. Sweeping, epic soundscapes? Check. Squalling guitars? Certainly. Hypnotic melodies? You betcha. Indeed, Mantra could be an album of out-takes from their former band, were it not for two things: neither the lyrics nor the vocal delivery have anything like the

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Albums magic touch of their former mentor Jason Pierce. Stomping album opener ‘Maybe Next Time’ is all caterwauling guitars and insistent, thumping rhythm, but, alongside the retro-‘90s ‘High Time’, it’s a rare moment of excitement on an album that frequently loses its way by plodding where it should cut loose, getting bogged down in a mire of shoe-gazing indie by numbers. ‘Burn Till You Die’ could be a Ride b-side from 1994, while ‘Psycho Paul, the theme tune for the latest series of BBC sitcom Ideal, can’t make up its mind whether it’s an electro wig-out or a Happy Mondays pastiche, and the almost-seven-minute ‘Meditation # 1’ is a pointless vanity project if State ever heard one. All in all, Slipstream seem to be stuck for ideas and inspiration in the early ‘90s, and the basic lesson here is that retro isn’t always chic. Even when they do get the music right, such as the quite beautiful ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll (Burns Your Soul)’ or ‘Never Understand’, the songs are badly let down by lyrics so trite they could have been written by a 13-year-old with a thesaurus. Must try harder. ~ Miles Stewart

RSAG Organic Sampler

(psychonavigation records)

In terms of today’s Irish music scene, there’s the mainstream, the underground and the really underground. From the latter, please welcome Rarely Seen Above Ground, aka Jeremy Hickey. If the thought of a one man band consisting of a drummer and some backing tracks sounds a bit like hard work, well it ain’t no walk in the park, but buried in this double debut album is something quite special. The opening couple of tracks actually throw you off guard a little, pitching RSAG more as some ‘80s goth obsessive than anything else, but gradually the record opens up a whole range of influences. That initial impression never really shifts (New Model Army spring to mind for some reason) but extra shades creep in – a touch of Talking Heads here, some African riffs there. Unsurprisingly, it’s heavy on percussion, but there are some lovely touches of instrumentation. Around the middle of record one, Organic Sampler nearly takes off, bringing all those different

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strands together on the fantastic ‘Good Times’. We say nearly because there is one glitch holding the record back – the production. Granted that this has probably been turned out on a shoestring, but it’s hard not to feel that with the right budget and resources, this could have gone to another level altogether. All of which is probably getting ahead of ourselves, as this will surely find its way into the hands of remixers all over the place. It deserves to too, for as raw material goes, this is solid gold. ~ Phil Udell

Halfset Another Way Of Being There… casino gravity

Information about Dublin electronic act Halfset is hard to come by. Googling the album title Another Way Of Being There… returns just a handful of posts in elite Irish blogs, but such mystery hasn’t prevented them seeping into the public consciousness. Few will have been able to escape (and only the mad would attempt it) ‘The Abbatoir’, the chirpy country-folk ditty from the band’s first album that adorns that lovely Bord Gáis ad (the one with the jellyfish that’s always on). Needless to say, having dropped that fact, Halfset have moved on considerably since. With nary an acoustic guitar in sight, the group’s second album expands upon ambient beginnings and adds a measure of grit, as rock guitar and live drums clash with swampy synths and crafty electronic beats. ‘At This Moment’ opens proceedings on a misleading sweet note, with lush harp sweeps, before brashly distorted guitars and drums flip the mood completely. From that point on, Another Way Of Being There… becomes increasingly dominated by electric guitar, from the smooth bluesy licks of ‘Salmon’ and ‘Rhodes, Bells, Vibes’ to the frenetic indie rock riffing that plays out ‘Little Pieces.’ The two tracks to contain vocals, the title cut and ‘A Place To Stay’, are the two that stick out most: interesting by themselves, the deep, breathy vocals never quite impose themselves in the same way as the melodic guitar lines do elsewhere, and Halfset’s true quality shows when they avoid Air-related clichés and concentrate on the varied and progressive voices in their instrumental music. ~ Dave Donnelly

Fujiya & Miyagi Lightbulbs

(full-time hobby)

Like so many great bands, Fujiya & Miyagi have a very specific and peculiar sound that is theirs and no-one else’s. Their sound is somewhat akin to taking Kraftwerk’s ‘Neon Lights’ to a party in a car which cruises around desolated city streets at 4am. Lightbulbs is a continuation of the same party that was captured on their sophomore

effort, Transparent Things, but with added body noises, handclaps, vocal stutters, fingerclicks and the funny knitting needle drumming audible on ‘Dishwasher’. Throbbing basslines and motorik Krautrock grooves are still in check. The lyrics, as ever, seem to revolve in trancelike circles, resulting in obtuse lines getting wedged deep inside the brain. Lyricist, David Best has a strange knack for writing near-gibberish phrases which somehow verge on near-genius. It’s a canny combination of often hilarious words which are also employed as a type of phonetic percussion. And so, lines like “I spy with my little eye something beginning with C/ I arrange my records alphabetically” and references to the ghosts of Lena Zavaroni and Hans Christian Anderson playing musical statues take on bigger significance than perhaps they’re meant to. The title track sees Fujiya & Miyagi explore a new dimension, that of the acoustic-based track, and the adventure is immensely successful, revealing a previously unseen tender side to the band and resulting in one of their finest moments to date. In fact, Lightbulbs is a terrific journey from start to finish – an album that revels in its individualism and is all the better for it. ~ Shane Galvin

Colm Mac Con Iomaire The Hare’s Corner/ Cúinne An Ghiorra

(plateau)

The Frames’ fiddler releases his debut solo album and the most surprising thing is that it’s not traditional music. Sure, there are plenty of folky flourishes and trad tendencies, but overall, Cúinne An Ghiorra owes as much to jazz, country and even classical music as it does to our Celtic heritage, and is all the better for it. Throughout, Mac Con Iomaire is joined by a stellar cast of musicians, including most of The Frames, as well as harpist Paul Dooley and pianist Catherine Fitzgerald, with Alice Farrell providing the very occasional vocal fanfare. Opener ‘Time Will Tell’ is gloriously upbeat and laid back all at the same time, thanks in the main to Bill Blackmore’s delicious trumpet. Then there’s the quietly arresting ‘Ronnie’s Theme’ (where the main melody is the simple sound of someone whistling), the hauntingly (French) cinematic ‘Blue Shoes’ and the bittersweet melancholy of ‘Emer’s Dream’. There’s an air of Balkan menace to ‘Thou Shalt Not Carry Timber’ reminiscent of Beirut at their best, albeit without the gypsy wedding vocals, while ‘The Red Road’ builds from a gentle lament into wave upon wave of bruised beauty. None of the tunes outstay their welcome, with only the traditional air, ‘The Court Of New Town’ even approaching the five-minute mark. That aside, it’s mostly three minute tunes, with nary a jig nor reel in spitting distance. ~ John Walshe


Albums Constantines Kensington Heights

(arts & crafts)

It seems like it’s business as usual on album number four for Canuck five-piece Constantines. That means gnarly stompers spiced with the stylings of key influences such as Strummer, Westerberg, Springsteen, and to a lesser extent, MacKaye, remain intact. However, there is a more conceptual approach to Kensington Heights than previous Constantines efforts. A move from Sub Pop to local heroes Arts & Crafts, combined with naming the LP after the area of Toronto they practise in, guarantees there is a more homely feel here. For instance, frontman Bryan Webb bellows “There’s no short cut and no straight line/ The highwayman defines a sleeping country” on the particularly crunching ‘Trans Canada’. Not surprisingly, the title refers to the vast highway which stretches the length of their native land, going from no-man’s land to urban sprawl and back again. Yet you don’t have to scratch too far into the surface of Kensington Heights to see that it is not just mere regionalism that Constantines have absorbed themselves in – nostalgia lingers throughout the album, with references to age littered about from a band now entering their early thirties. This is best manifested in the wonderful ‘Our Age’, with its chiming guitars and marching drums, offering a more mature progression. Sure, Constantines are getting slightly older, and a couple of watery numbers near the end may faintly sully Kensington Heights, but with stonking rockers like ‘Brother Run Them Down’ in the cannon, they may be just entering their own golden age. ~ Ciarán Ryan

Jakob Dylan Seeing Things

(colombia)

His father is the icon of the 1960s’ zeitgeist and a genuine living legend, so Jakob Dylan must be exhausted by now from dodging his dad’s shadow and trying to make his own mark. For his first solo effort since The Wallflowers’ hiatus began, Dylan’s famous name is exposed and the inevitable comparisons are flying. Like he did for Johnny Cash and Neil Diamond, producer Rick Rubin has worked his magic on this collection of acoustic blues folk, keeping Dylan’s voice and lyrics as the main focus of attention. With intricate finger-work on guitar, bass and understated drums and harmonies, the 10 tracks on Seeing Things are well written observations on everything from war to work and relationships. This is Dylan’s finest lyrical work to date. His comments on conflict and unrest are more humble and emotional than political, unlike the protest songs of his father. His textual imagery portrays a songwriter who modestly believes this is who he is and we can take it or leave it. He

relishes in the simplicity of domestic bliss on the single ‘Something Good This Way Comes’, a song which Jack Johnson fans will warm to, and sways from resignation of war in ‘Evil Is Alive And Well’ and ‘Everybody Pays As They Go’, to the motions of a working class life in ‘All Day And All Night.’ Comparisons to his Bobness are warranted, but on songs like ‘Valley Of The Low Sun’ and ‘On Up The Mountain’, you’d be forgiven for mistaking them as Springsteen numbers from the early ‘70s. Dylan’s genes can only count for so much of his talent, and these songs deserve to be heard for what they are – fine slices of musical poetry by Jakob Dylan the singer, and not just by the son of a legend.

you won’t get by delving into the Scot’s back catalogue. Howie B may work well by taking another artist as his blank canvas and contributing to their work, or even beginning on his own, dipping around for samples, but whatever is going on in the ‘collaboration’ (it is actually a ‘versus’ so maybe it’s a scrap) with Casino Royale, it jars the whole Howie B experience. Then again, Mr. B is hardly pouring anything new into this mix either. A little lazy, not very fresh and 100% cringey in places, this is sadly not going to warm those extremities feeling the autumn chill. ~ Simon Roche

~ Pamela Halton

Mogwai The Hawk Is Howling

Howie B vs Casino Royale Not In The Face

(fabric)

A pioneer of the trip-hop/electronic scene from the early ’90s, Howard Bernstein has, for much of his producing career, bounced around between the likes of Björk, Tricky, and more famously, U2 – notably, being credited as ‘DJ and Vibes’ for U2’s Pop. He has also been releasing his own albums for over 10 years and his new collaboration with Italians Casino Royale is laden with much of the warm mellow electronica that’s the red thread in his musical output. In fact, all seems well and cosy until about a minute and a half in, when we’re introduced to the sort of lyrical jibberish that even Underworld’s lyric dept. would scoff at. Characterising much of the album, the opener’s lyrics jump between shouty, echoey and completely unnecessary, with some bad Europop verses for good measure. Some pleasant but forgettable tunes follow. ‘Plastico Mistico’ is, well, graaaand but if you get a ring at the door it’s unlikely you’ll be humming it after sending the TV license inspector away. Seven tracks in comes the torturous ‘Royale’Sound’, and it must be said it is purely the lyrical additions that make it an unbearable tune to push yourself through. There are some very listenable songs permeating the album, of course: ‘Protect Me’ and the closer ‘Tutto’ are two but there’s a creeping feeling of ’90s familiarity about them. In fact, there’s really nothing new on the table here that

(wall of sound)

The critics must have gotten to Mogwai. Two years after the release of Mr Beast –slated by some for being too digestible and reduced – they have returned with 63 minutes of melancholic beauty. Even though The Hawk Is Howling is a natural progression in sound for the Glaswegians, its bravery finally matches the mind-blowing debut Young Team. Now expert shoe-gazers, the five-piece reissued Young Team in June, reminding fans just how great post rock can be. This would have been a dangerous move if they had followed it up with a disappointing sixth studio album. Thankfully, The Hawk Is Howling sounds like a mature upgrade of the 1997 classic. Though there are no 12-minute masterpieces, most of the 10 tracks are given space to breathe. ‘I Love You, I’m Going To Blow Up Your School’ and ‘Scotland’s Shame’ both make it past the sevenminute mark with the band’s trademark vibrating softness. The ceremonial tone of the organ on ‘Scotland’s Shame’ makes it easily the best track on the album. ‘Local Authority’ and ‘The Sun Smells Too Loud’ are perhaps the most beautiful, as the playful layers of synth, guitar and drum reverberate an elevated mood. ‘Batcat’ and ‘The Precipice’ feature Mogwai’s chaotic darkness. Leaning closest to their instrumental metal side, these two run riot through the album’s softness. Despite their menacing mayhem, they give The Hawk Is Howling something to shout about. Though it may not appeal to the wider audience, Mogwai’s welcome return to experimental indulgence is triumphant. More than 10 years later, they’ve finally matched their debut. ~ Elaine O’Neill

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Reissues & Compilations Before they were monsters, James Hetfield & Co. were the finest speed metal band on the planet.

Metallica Kill ‘Em All / Ride The Lightning / Master Of Puppets

(mercury)

It’s been a tough couple of years for Metallica fans (some might harshly argue that the downward spiral started right after 1991’s Black album). Thanks to 2004’s warts’n’all rockumentary, Some Kind Of Monster, and drummer Lars Ulrich soiling his nappy so publicly over the file-sharing/Napster debacle, they have been exposed as an embarrassing, egomaniacal circus of insecure millionaires, somewhat tainting their reputation as pioneering metal legends. Whether the aging Bay Area rockers’ new album Death Magnetic can claw back some of that errant credibility still remains to be seen, but as a timely reminder of why they mattered so much in the first instance, comes these double 45rpm, 12-inch vinyl reissues of their first three albums. Naturally, the quality on offer here is without question but to nostalgically relive the progression in all the fulsome, spacious richness offered by vinyl is a joy and an experience only the lucky few were privy to before now (a mere 5,000 copies of 1986’s Master Of Puppets were produced on vinyl by then record label, Music For Nations). You can argue the toss over which is the best or most influential among them, but it matters not because all three are essential albums in anyone’s music collection. For all Metallica’s recent indiscretions, any rock act that has formed in the

Chemical Brothers Brotherhood

(virgin)

It’s been 13 years since the Chems first released Exit Planet Dust and became the pioneers of bigbeat dance music. Subsequent albums Dig Your Own Hole and Surrender successfully captured the zeitgeist of their time and cemented Rowlands’ and Simons’ reputation in the process. Curiously, it’s been five years since the duo (or their record label) decided it was time to celebrate 10 years of Chemical Brothers singles with the Singles 93-03 collection. So what has changed in the last five years to warrant the release of another best of? Albums Push The Button and We Are The Night were well received (both hit singles ‘Galvanize’ and ‘Do It Again’ are included here) allowing the Chemicals to expand their live dates to include an impressively large visuals show and they have stayed just the right side of relevance to continue to headline festivals without any objection. So naturally enough, Brotherhood is essentially an update of a previous package, adding the Spank Rock-led ‘Keep My Composure’ with new single ‘Midnight Madness’ in order to attract new customers. In doing so, it inexplicably leaves out the seminal ‘The Private Psychedelic Reel’. The most appealing thing about Brotherhood lies in disc two, which replaces the b-sides and bonus disc of Singles 93-03 with a collection of more interesting test pressings under the collective name of Electronic Battle Weapon. A great idea for completists but one can’t help but

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wake of this triumvirate of releases owes a debt to this band whether they even realise it or not. Anyone who isn’t yet au fait, just owes it to themselves to get clued in already. ~ David McLaughlin

think this is ultimately an unnecessary release. Maybe they should have waited until their 20th anniversary? ~ Niall Byrne

The Coral Singles Collection

(deltasonic)

Appetite For Reconstruction, available for free download from the band’s website during October, is an extension of SEBPs mix of ambition and ability: 16 specially-commissioned remixes from some of Ireland’s finest electronic artists. Predictably, it’s a mixed bag: some are more imaginative than others, and some miss the mark completely, but generally, the competitors have risen to the challenge. Decal’s take on ‘Drone Rock’ was featured on the inaugural State CD, and with good reason: its ear-splitting synth attack blows the socks off the original. The Vinny Club takes on ‘Mushie Shake’ as perhaps only he can, with the aid of a xylophone, and the results are mesmeric, while Canadian rapper Cadence Weapon savagely chops up ‘Everything Flows’ but, crucially, leaves its pulsating rhythmic section firmly in place. There are a couple of missteps (three remixes of ‘On The Skyline’ is two, if not three, too many) but Appetite For Reconstruction is by no means dwarfed by its predecessor, and should be just as appealing for the casual electronic fan as the band’s devotees.

Like fellow Scousers Cast before them, it’s impossible to truly hate The Coral. Also akin to John Power’s mob, however, while their brand of guitar-pop is often toe-tappingly catchy, there’s just not enough substance behind the Scally swagger to ever really ignite the senses. They had their moments, of course. ‘Dreaming Of You’ is 141 seconds of pristine indie pop, guaranteed to get even the most melody-shy listener moving, which is why it remains a stalwart of indie discos six years after its initial release (an aeon in indieland, where last month’s next big things are already sooooo last week). The guiding hand of chief Lightning Seed, Ian Broudie, is evident here, and in all their finest work, like the western-tinged melodrama of ‘Don’t Think You’re The First’ or the searing guitar of the Beatlesesque ‘Goodbye’. Unfortunately, after two albums, their charms were already wearing thin, with the band essentially continuing to release watered down versions of their finer moments (‘Who’s Gonna Find Me’, ‘Something Inside Of Me’, ‘Put The Sun Back’). The lone new song here, album closer ‘Being Somebody Else’ encapsulates the essence of The Coral: jangly guitars, decent harmonies and a ‘60s-inspired tunefulness: unfortunately, it’s also lyrically light, with not enough meat on its bones to satisfy those looking for more than mere background music.

~ Dave Donnelly

~ John Walshe

Super Extra Bonus Party Appetite For Reconstruction (alphabet set)


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TV Accept No Imitations

Words by Maia Dunphy

Australia’s original Kath And Kim

sit down to watch a remake of a much-loved show, we become the kid in the classroom again – ready to cast daggers at the imitator. Remakes need to win us over from the getgo; we are, at best, apprehensive, at worst, hostile. Every year, we hear rumours of shows being remade for US audiences, but thankfully most don’t get past the pilot stage. British formats have tended to fare badly in the US: I give you Porridge, Coupling and not one, not two, but three stabs at Fawlty Towers, each attempt worse than the last.

imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. except we all know that it isn’t. We’ve known form of irritation. since we were kids, and one of our so-called best friends bought the same shoes as us, copied our new hairstyle or suddenly started liking the same bands, even though you knew damn well they never liked Def Leppard before you. Mums everywhere told their children that they should be flattered, as it was the only platitude they could offer, lest they be accused of inciting bullying by saying, “God that is annoying. You practically invented that look. What an idiot that other kid is”. If imitation was the sincerest form of flattery, then Louis Vuitton wouldn’t have just sued eBay for €40 million. No, it it’s not flattering. It’s irritating. Imitation is the sincerest

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Giving permission to imitate isn’t always much better. Television remakes are rarely, if ever, as good as the originals. When is the last time you heard that your favourite show was going to be remade for the US and thought “Brilliant! It’ll probably be better than the original, which I am unhealthily obsessed with and have turned down nights out to stay in and watch”? You don’t. Because experience tells us it will usually be vastly inferior. Yes, they are being made for a new audience, but why can’t they just buy in the original series and enjoy that as much as we have? When we

I have just seen the teaser for the US version of the hit Aussie show Kath & Kim, due to hit NBC this autumn, and am already devastated. Like all cult viewing, some people love the original, some hate it. I sit firmly (with TV snacks) in the former camp, and the sight of size zero actress Selma Blair in the role of Kim is the worst bit of casting since Steve Martin as Inspector Clouseau. The whole point of Kim is her blissful lack of self awareness as she wanders around Fountain Lakes dressed like an 18-yearold. Supermodel-esque Selma Blair looks pretty damn good dressed like an 18-yearold and the joke is lost before anyone has even watched a full episode. Gina Riley, who plays the original Kim, is far from a fatty, but she is carrying a couple of pounds and emphasises this fact whenever and wherever possible – usually in lycra. The fact that Magda Szubanski, who owns the rights to the third main character, Sharon, has refused to let the Yanks have her for the show, speaks volumes. Magda clearly realises what the rest of us do: it’s just not going to work. The US version of The Office has been a huge success; but let’s be completely honest: is it because it’s genuinely a great show, or because Steve Carrell went on to movie superstardom whilst making it? Call me a cynic, but if a relatively unknown actor was in the role, I don’t think it would


TV Ones to Watch

have hoovered up the awards as it has. There’s no doubt it is entertaining but a very different animal to the original and has lost so much of the subtlety of the UK version. The Americans also want longevity out of an idea, and are far less precious than the Brits about flogging a dead horse. They have already made 66 episodes compared to the original series’ 14. If The Office had been a French show (which if you have watched much French telly, you know would never have happened, but just go with it for a second), most of us would never have seen it and we would probably love the US version. As happened with Ugly Betty, which is of course a remake of the Mexican hit show, Yo Soy Betty La Fea. But the current Betty audiences in English-speaking countries around the world have never seen the version en Espanol, so for us, Ugly Betty is all we know. But once we have an original as a benchmark, it just doesn’t quite cut it.

The Americans do comedy brilliantly. Seinfeld, Friends, The Simpsons, My Name Is Earl and Curb Your Enthusiasm, to name just a few. But their determination to try and put an American stamp on popular foreign comedy is a mistake they just keep on making. For years, there have been rumours of a Father Ted remake for the US. It had become something of an urban myth with talk of Steve Martin being given the chance to ruin yet another legendary comedy character (Bilko anyone?). Then a fella called John Michael Higgins was signed up for it, and the pilot was scheduled for earlier this year. Fortunately somebody woke up, realised their mistake and it was pulled. I like to think the real reason is some exec in NBC got wind of the annual Father Ted festival in the Aran Islands, saw footage of it on the internet and thought, ‘Jesus, we really shouldn’t mess with people like this. Best leave it alone.’

Amazon BBC2, Monday Anthropologist and explorer Bruce Parry’s follow up to the spectacular ‘Tribe’, sees the sexiest man on TV embark on a breathtaking journey to the source of the Amazon. Whilst drooling over Bruce, we might also learn something about the greatest forest on Earth. But still whilst drooling. Worth staying in for.

Massive BBC3, Sunday Danny and Shay have been best mates since they bonded over Oasis in 1994, and they have a shared dream – to run their own record label. When Danny’s gran kicks the bucket and leaves him 10k, he knows exactly what to do with the cash. Now all they need is to discover the next

big thing. New comedy series starring Ralf Little, Carl Rice and the inimitable Johnny Vegas. Strictly Come Dancing BBC1, Saturday If you’re a fan of ‘Strictly’ then you’ll know all about it already, and are preparing to kiss goodbye to Saturday nights until Christmas. Such a plan might save you a few euro, until a few episodes in when you sign up to dance classes you’ll never take.

Langerland RTE2, Monday Brilliant 10-minute animated series from the people behind the Langerland website. A unique ‘top ten’ style show – with episodes such as ‘What Have The Brits Ever Done For Us’. If you’re not aware of it already, you soon will be.

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DVD successful but schmaltzy movie. Having from his native New York to the west coast, Moody has subsequently broken up with his long-term partner, Karen (McElhane), the mother of his 12-year-old daughter, Beccie (Martin). Instead of working, either on his next book or his non-stop relationship suicide, however, our hero sets about losing himself in a sea of casual sex, and the irritating thing for single men everywhere is how good he is at it, even managing to pick up a porn-star while stopped at traffic lights. What could have been merely an exercise in sexual shocks (and it does try hard) is turned into something more by the fact that Californication is extremely well written, featuring some of the smartest dialogue since Carrie Bradshaw last wielded a keyboard: indeed, it could easily be described as Sex And The City for men. For fans of: Entourage, Sex And The City. ~ John Walshe

The Wire: The Complete Fifth Season Director: Various Starring: Dominic West, Clark Johnson, Aidan Gillen, Clarke Peters. Running Time: 630 minutes. Extras: None required

[

Now that the hype has died down, does Todd Haynes’ Dylanesque pastiche hold up?

I’m Not There Director: Todd Haynes Starring: Marcus Carl Franklin, Ben Whishaw, Heath Ledger, Christian Bale, Richard Gere, Cate Blanchett Running time: 135 mins Extras: Commentary, Heath Ledger tribute, soundtrack documentary.

The story of I’m Not There ran long before the movie itself appeared, with talk of the multicharacter / actor approach and in particular, the seemingly bizarre notion that one of those playing Dylan would be a female, namely Cate Blanchett. As it turned out, it was one of the most inspired casting decisions of recent years, with Blanchett not only stealing the show but being nominated for an Oscar. Away from the hype and in the cold DVD light of day, I’m Not There proves not to be quite the masterpiece that many declared it to be. The premise of six actors playing six different characters based on periods of Dylan’s life is convoluted enough, but with a slapdash approach to chronology, the film quickly becomes confusing and haphazard. While Bobcat aficionados will spot the references throughout, the casual viewer may find themselves simply baffled. This film is a world away from bio-pics such as Walk The Line, placing itself more as an art house movie. Broken down into their separate segments, some parts of the film work well. Blanchett is given the most to work with as the classic post-electric Dylan (or Jimmy Quinn here), all big hair, dark glasses and dry one-liners, but she responds fantastically. Ledger and Bale are

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both fine too, although Richard Gere’s outlaw character is one step too far. Given the singer’s esoteric character, this is probably the closest we’ll get to a film about his life but there is far more insight to be gained from Scorcese’s masterful No Direction Home. For Fans of: Bob Dylan, Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story. ~ Phil Udell

]

The final series of the “greatest TV show ever” according to Charlie Brooker and just about everyone else focuses on the media, while bringing together everything that had gone before – the police department, city hall and the drugs cartels. The Baltimore Sun newspaper becomes the setting for the writers’ riveting exploration of bureaucracy, journalistic integrity, political events and media consumption. Many of the plotlines of series five are based on the questionable actions of detective McNulty, actions which are unusually dramatic, considering The Wire’s gritty reputation but the end result is still streets ahead of other TV dramas in scope. For Fans of: Homicide, Generation Kill, The Shield ~ Niall Byrne

Adventures in Short Film Volume One Director: Various Running Time: 95 minutes. Extras: None

Californication: Season One Created by: Tom Kapinos. Starring: David Duchovny, Natascha McElhane, Madeleine Martin. Running Time: 327 minutes. Extras: Cast interviews/ audio commentary on pilot episode.

Hank Moody (Duchovny) is a cult novelist, suffering from writer’s block, whose last book, God Hates Us All, has been turned into a hugely

Since 2003, the Future Shorts network have been showcasing the best of short film and music videos, with monthly events worldwide organised by localised representatives. It allows ���lm-makers to show their work to audiences in the UK, Ireland, Spain, Russia, Poland, Italy, Denmark, Bangladesh and more. Their first DVD release collates 16 shorts, including the music video for Bat For Lashes’ ‘What’s A Girl To Do’ by Dougal Wilson, La Vie D’un Chien – the story of a scientist who invents a drug that allows him to become a dog, and the BAFTA-winning Jojo On The Stars. A great selection of shorts. For Fans of: Short Films ~ Niall Byrne


Games

Words by John Walshe

stick with it, Baroque is an infectious little bugger that rewards serious playing time. Just don’t expect linear narrative.

Brothers In Arms: Hell’s Highway Xbox 360, PS3

[

Microsoft take on Sony at their own action adventure game with Too Human, but is it any good?

Too Human Xbox 360

(microsoft)

It seems that the good folks at Microsoft, not content with redefining the standard for shooters with the Halo series, are now taking on Sony at what they do best, action adventures. Too Human owes a debt to Sony’s superb God Of War games, but instead of Greek mythology, we’re playing with the blueprint of Norse lore, mixing Viking legends with futuristic weaponry in an epic intergalactic battle between humanity and a race of ultraviolent machines, some of whom gorge themselves on human blood. The player takes up the sword and lasers of Baldur, a cybernetically enhanced super warrior, who must lead a squad of humans into the heart of the machines, taking on all comers in with a mixture of melee and ranged weapons. The game does mix some RPG elements in, and the Skill Tree allows you to match your character’s attributes to your playing style, as you increase your abilities and upgrade your character’s talents by earning skill points. Some of the battles are extremely tough, the graphics and sound are superb, and the variety of weapons on offer is extremely gratifying, yet the relative yawnfest that is the plot and the overlong

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cut-scenes detract from the game, with the result that Too Human falls short of the epic standards it aspires to. One to rent, rather than buy.

The latest instalment in Ubisoft’s WWII squadbased shooter is pretty much a case of as you were, with Sergeant Matt Baker and his team fighting their way through Operation Market Garden, allowing the player to star in their own version of Band Of Brothers. Much more than EA’s Medal Of Honour series, this is all about tactics: heroic dashes towards the enemy will usually result in Baker being sent home in a bodybag. The visuals and sound are impressive, but the real winner here is the gameplay, making it relatively easy to control your squad as you bid to outflank the enemy and take Europe back from the Nazi war machine, one field at a time. Recommended.

Recommended Facebreaker

Growlanser: Heritage Of War / Baroque PS2

(atlus)

A tough strategy RPG title, Heritage Of War is ultimately frustrated by too many ideas and not enough quality gameplay, making it a truly irritating playing experience. This is a shame, as there is a decent game hiding behind the quasi-hippy ideals, as your characters bid to end war on the mysterious continent. While the plot is interesting enough, if more than a little confusing, the gameplay doesn’t add anything new to the genre and there are a whole lot of better quality RPGs far more worthy of your attention. From the same company comes Baroque, a bizarre but addictive dungeon crawler, where the only way for mankind to survive is through its dreams and delusions, known as baroques. The plot is weird in the extreme, as are some of the nightmarish creatures you’ll face, and the game is intentionally vague on story, which many players will find extremely frustrating. However, if you

(ubisoft)

(ea sports)

PS3 Cracking arcade-style boxing brawlfest, that allows you to put your own face in the game via the PlayStation Eye. That said, the control system rewards button-mashing over skill. Still, it’s great fun as a two-player pummelfest. Mercenaries 2: World In Flames

(ea)

Xbox 360 Random acts of violence abound in EA’s action-packed sequel as you bid for payback on a former employer who never paid his bill. Mindless but fun. The Mummy: Tomb Of The Dragon Emperor

(sierra)

DS Reasonably enjoyable but seriously tough action adventure based on the blockbuster movie.

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Anger Management

The Fear of Eating Averagely Words and bile by John Walshe Illustration by Christian Kirkegaard

It’s a weekend night. You don’t feel like cooking. You’ve worked bloody hard all week, so it’s time to treat yourself to a nice meal out. Whether you’re going with someone special for a romantic evening or a simple catch-up with friends, all you’re looking for is relaxed atmosphere, decent service and edible food, without having to remortgage your family home. The reality, however, is usually the polar opposite. First up, you have to try to actually get into the restaurant/café in the first place. This usually involves numerous phone-calls as either (a) they only open for reservations between 1:30 and 1:55 when Home And Away isn’t on the telly or (b) the phone is constantly off the hook. Then, when someone finally deigns to answer the bloody thing, you’re generally informed they can squeeze you in at 6:30 in the evening but need the table back for a party of solicitors at 7:15. Even the more accommodating restaurants will tell you they have “two sittings”, which means that you can either eat at a civilised time and then have a small army of waiters trying to hurry you out of the place half-way through their vac-packed ‘home made’ banoffi pie or you can starve yourself until what should be drinking time, only to stuff yourself with food that’s been rushed together ‘cos the chef wants to get out in time for last orders. OK, so there are some decent restaurants left in the country, providing quality food at reasonable prices. The average, however, is distinctly below average (or what should be acceptable as average), with over-priced menus, poorly presented food and surly service being the norm rather than the exception. The latest trend is to pay over the odds for slopped-up slush served on cracked plates in what looks like a crumbling school canteen: bohemian chic my arse, I lived in the ‘70s bucko, and it wasn’t much fun then either. I don’t mind paying top dollar for top grub, but forking out the guts of a hundred euros for a meal for two that I could easily have put together myself is another thing entirely (and State is no Jamie Oliver, as anyone who has tried our Baked Bean Surprise will testify to). Speaking of the food, some of the fuckwits who write menus should be taken out and shot with balls of their own shite. “Honey-glazed fillet of corn-fed chicken, drizzled in a red wine jus and served on a bed of Mediterranean champ with a light berry coulis”. My hole! Chicken breast in red wine sauce with mash,

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alongside a dollop of something gooey that may once have been vaguely related to a raspberry. The most aggravating aspect of eating out in post-Tiger, postcoital Ireland (after we fell in love with ourselves and started to fuck each other over royally), however, is the level of (non) service in most restaurants. I don’t need somebody to pour wine, water or to spoon-feed me, but being grunted at by a sour-puss student when you dare ask about the soup of the day is not my idea of a fun night out. On the rare occasion that restaurant staff actually enquire how your meal was, they don’t seem to give a flying fuck about your answer. “The steak was tough, the vegetables were cold and we’ve been trying to get a second bottle of wine for the last 15 minutes,” is usually greeted by a stare so vacant, it could have come from a footballer in a nuclear physics conference. Particularly grating is when said waitron (more moron than waiter) arrives with the bill, smiling profusely as if they’ve just provided you with the most illuminating culinary experience of your life, when in truth, they’ve merely realised it’s money time and they might just get a bigger tip by flashing some pearly whites. Fuck off and earn your tip, asshole, or go work in a profession where people skills aren’t a job requirement, like journalism...



State Magazine Issue 07