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FEBRUARY 2009

now

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free!

State.ie

The Only Living Boy In New York:

antony & the johnsons I RELAN D’S MUSIC PAYLOAD

dengue fever East meets West

autotune The Future Is Now

Will Be the year of Villagers, Heathers, Annie Mac, Prince Kong, Adebesi Shank, Kill Krinkle Club, Katie Kim, Sineád Ní Mhórdha plus a host of other illuminations

circuit breakers:

Out On A Limb incoming:

The Mummers Lady Gaga Underworld Chicago City and the best reviews in

albums, tv, games & dvds 1

Animal Collective Esser


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I S S U E 1 0 M I G H T W E L L CO N TA I N . . .

Regulars 4

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INCOMING The demise of Night Shift gets us all worked up; The Mummers, The Knux, Lady Gaga, Esser and Theoretical Girl are new for you; Kara Manning pays tribute to Underworld; Martin McIver’s nightmare journey into hiphop; what’s going on in Chicago and what the hell’s happening with The Pipettes?

MUSIC IS MY RADAR UFC champion Dan Hardy on The Clash, Pantera, Slayer and breaking someone’s collarbone stage-diving.

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CIRCUIT BREAKERS Out On A Limb Records – five years and counting.

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INPUT Your guide to the best albums, DVDs, video games and TV over the coming weeks, from Animal Collective to Anne Frank.

Irregulars 24

THE NEW FACES Post-The Immediate, Conor O’Brien is getting ready to do it all again, this time with Villagers. Plus the names set to make 2009 Irish music’s best year yet, including Prince Kong, The Parks, Annie Mac, Grand Pocket Orchestra and more.

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DENGUE FEVER Cambodia: the new epicentre of rock ‘n’ roll. Really.

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A U T O -T U N E How Cher ushered in the future of music as we know it.

20 A N T O N Y & T H E J O H N S O N S Antony Hegarty on Barrack Obama, the environment, traditional Japanese dance moves and his new album, The Shining Light.

56 A N G E R M A N A G E M E N T John Joe Worrall goes soap crazy.

Webulars O N S TAT E . I E T H I S M O N T H Live reviews of MGMT, The Walkmen, Goldfrapp, Cut Copy, Fleet Foxes, Cass McCombs and Wolf Parade, Lykke Li tells us why she’s fed up, Autamata share their Austin City Limits Diary, a full report on the horror that was the MTV Music Video Awards plus all the usual, including news, gig announcements, mp3s and listings. Get on it.

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Editors’ letter

State is dead. Long live State. Despite winning plaudits such as the Periodical Publishers Association of Ireland Award for Designer Of The Year, we have had to accept that producing a high quality monthly print magazine is simply not for these times. The costs of ensuring that State’s physical entity lived up to the quality of the editorial and visuals inside proved prohibitive in the current economic climate, with advertising revenues not even coming close to covering the outlay and so it’s time for Ireland’s finest music magazine to morph into a new entity. We’re immensely proud of what we have achieved over the past year, from that first REM cover through to BrenB’s stunning illustration last month. In between, we have brought you what we feel is the best editorial coverage of music Ireland has ever seen, covering acts both established and undiscovered (it was nice to see previous State tips Little Boots, La Roux, Florence & The Machine, Passion Pit and VV Brown all making

the BBC Sound of 2009 list). It wasn’t just about unearthing new talent, however: we also provided the most in-depth music coverage Ireland has ever seen, through revealing interviews with the likes of Interpol, Iggy Pop, Seasick Steve, Duke Special and Gemma Hayes. We’re not going away just yet, though: the award winning www.state.ie will continue to flourish and there will STILL be a monthly digital version too, and now you can download it as a PDF and sign up for email alerts to tell you when it’s available, ensuring that Ireland’s Music Payload keeps on trucking. Why do we feel the need to keep fighting the good fight? The answer is to be found within these very pages. Quite simply, despite the doom and gloom, Irish music is in its best shape for some time. Kicking off with our cover stars Villagers (prepare to be amazed), we have gathered the pick of the new names for 2009, put them on location with photographers Richard Gilligan,

State Editors

JOHN WALSHE

editor

PHIL UDELL

editor

SIMON ROCHE ROGER WOOLMAN NIALL BYRNE AOIFE McDONNELL

} editorial@state.ie

art director publisher assistant editor & web editor operations manager

advertising and marketing enquiries – ads@state.ie heart

Aoife McDonnell Aoife is terrified of spiders and ghosts. While studying for her degree in Journalism, she had many part time jobs, including a prison drama workshop facilitator. One Christmas, Santa brought her Kylie and Jason videos, which her brother promptly hid. Phew! Favourite village? The Village on Wexford St. Rock, paper or scissors? Rock

~ John Walshe and Phil Udell

head

CONTRIBUTOR VS CONTRIBUTOR

Feargal Ward and Roger Woolman and produced the definitive and most stylish guide to this year’s essential talent. From Adebesi Shank and Katie Kim to Sinéad Ní Mhórdha and Kill Krinkle Club, these are the names that will make sure that we remember 2009 for all the right reasons. We’ve a jam-packed issue, full of some of the most exciting music around, from the familiar (Antony & The Johnsons) to the brand new (The Mummers). In short, no change in terms of quality. We wouldn’t have it any other way. We might not be buying the State yacht any time soon, but we remain committed to bringing you top class interviews, honest, unbiased reviews and unearthing the best music from all corners of the world.

contributing writers 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, 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,

mcdonnell, michael dwyer, patricia danaher, niall crumlish, olivia mai, aiden fortune, alexandra donald, jack higgins, anna forbes, paula shields, alan reilly

photographers richard gilligan, lili forberg, marcelo biglia, scott ‘n’ goulden, zoran orlic, liam sweeney, loreana rushe, feargal ward

hands

brenb, nathalie nysted, christian kirkegaard, wulff & morgenthaler

organs

RESULT: AOIFE WINS!

pamela halton, miles stewart, kate rothwell, hilary a. white, darragh mccausland, aoife

eyes

Phil Udell State Editor Phil cut his teeth as a T-shirt seller and tour manager in the UK before moving to Ireland for the love of a good woman. He maintains that he has the best music taste of the State editorial team, if not the coolest. He may not be right. Favourite village? Kingsworthy Rock, paper or scissors? Scissors

State Magazine Ltd, No 9 Sycamore Street, Temple Bar, Dublin 2.

illustrators

State is published monthly by Tel: (01) 443 4025 / info@state.ie / www.state.ie issn 2009-0897 All materials © State Magazine 2009. 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.

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


Incoming

Ease Yourself In

THEY MIGHT BE GIANTS

THE MUMMERS As fanciful as a fairytale, The Mummers’ minialbum Tale to Tell (Part 1) was one of 2008’s most jubilant debuts. The band’s sensuous, brassy pop promenades like ‘March Of The Dawn’ and ‘Wonderland’ wryly recollect Björk, Burt Bacharach, Ravel, The Sundays, Efterklang, Esquivel and even The Flaming Lips tumbled together in an effervescent orchestral brew. The ever-expanding Brighton-based collective, led by sirenic singer Raissa Kahn-Panni and composers Mark Horwood and Paul Sandrone, are recording in a treehouse (really) and drop a second album in late spring. Says Kahn-Panni, who waitressed while writing lyrics, “it’s a whole world we are trying to create both visually and musically.” Listen: ‘March Of The Dawn’ Click: http://www.myspace.com/themummers

THE DEPARTED

100 ALBUMS TO AVOID BEFORE YOU DIE

No. 10 DAVID GRAY: WHITE LADDER

NIGHT SHIFT What the fuck is going on with the people who run Irish TV stations? Not only do they not know a good thing when they see it, but they don’t recognise it when they already own it. December 31 saw the last Night Shift show broadcast on Channel 6, and with it, the finest domestic music programme since No Disco went the way of, well, No Disco. Since the formation of Channel 6 in March 2006, Night Shift made the wee hours palatable for music fans, regularly airing videos from the likes of Battles, Bat For Lashes and The National, as well as providing a platform for a host of domestic acts, from Future Kings Of Spain to Fight Like Apes, to air their videos on terrestrial TV. The Night Shift team, including presenter Michelle Doherty and producer and former Brando frontman Elton Mullally, weren’t afraid to take risks and it’s probably this bravery that has seen the show axed by the station bigwigs. Perhaps the most irritating aspect of the show’s demise, however, is the fact that it can’t have cost a whole lot to produce in the first place and will probably be replaced with bought-in re-runs of American shows we didn’t want to watch first time around. For a nation of music lovers to have only two decent domestically produced music shows (Other Voices and The Last Broadcast) is nothing short of a travesty.

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It’s unfortunate that David Gray’s surname describes many of the songs on White Ladder. Indeed, it takes a great deal of self control to keep puns to a minimum. On the periphery of success for quite some time, it wasn’t until the release of White Ladder in 1999 that the masses became enamoured with David Gray. Actually, it was just the Irish population who follied and fawned all over Gray after this release: it took a bit longer for Gray’s bland brand of electronicatinged folk-pop to creep into the mainstream in the UK and US. While his song writing ability is slightly better than his contem-

poraries and the experimentation with synths is commendable, it stops short of being actually interesting. Music that slips right under your consciousness, yet unashamedly tries to tug on those heart strings. This album belongs on an easy listening radio station for the elderly or in the CD player of a hapless young chap trying to force ambience for a romantic date. All tracks found on White Ladder are, ahem, varying shades of grey. Don’t download: ‘Silver Lining’ If you hate this, don’t listen to: Dido: No Angel, Paddy Casey: Amen (So Be It)


Incoming

FUELLING THE STATE ENGINE FROM THE PRESENT…

THEY MIGHT BE GIANTS

ESSER

First Aid Kit W : Tiger Mountain Song Two Swedish girls cover Fleet Foxes. In a wood. Youtube it.

Antony & The Johnsons: Epilepsy Is Dancing Stunning, elegant baroque pop, and classy as hell to boot.

Fever Ray: If I Had A Heart The female sibling of The Knife cloaks herself in complete darkness for her solo project. Sublime.

Dinosaur Pile-Up: My Rock ‘n’ Roll Because sometimes all you need is guitar, bass and drums... A LOT of drums.

The Lowly Knights: Devotion A fine little ditty from a band bursting with potential.

& FROM THE PAST… Lemon Jelly: Nice Weather For Ducks ...from when ambient actually seemed like the next big thing.

The Plague Monkeys: Surfacing A beautiful hymn to science, the jar and lighthouses.

Underworld: King of Snake Blessed with the kind of quiff not seen since the heyday of rock ‘n’ roll, Esser is, however, far more than some kind of two-bit revivalist. A mere 23 years old, Essex boy Ben Esser may have been brought up on UK garage but his influences run a lot deeper, unsurprising given that this is a lad planning to get a portrait of producer Joe Meek

tattooed on his chest. It’s not as strange an obsession as you might imagine. Whatever route he takes, Esser always ends up at the holy grail of the three minute pop song. Remember the name, remember the haircut. Listen: ‘Satisfaction’ Click: www.myspace.com/esserhq

WULFFMORGENTHALER: by Wulff & Morgenthaler

Still as uplifting as the day you were in some field in Kildare off your bin 10 years ago.

Frank Sinatra: I’ve Got You Under My Skin The greatest falling in love song from the greatest voice of a generation. Nuff said.

Sultans of Ping FC: Veronica The Ping actually had some decent songs to back up their antics.

WWW.WULFFMORGENTHALER.COM

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Incoming MY ROOTS ARE SHOWING: KARA MANNING

UNDERWORLD New York, 1996. I was a graduate playwriting student at Columbia University and had spent an exhilarating summer in residence with other international playwrights at the Royal Court Theatre in London. We developed new work, saw a dozen plays, chatted with Harold Pinter and Caryl Churchill, and peripatetically explored London on our own. I became infatuated with the not-yet-gentrified East End, wandering past dodgy Shoreditch pubs as Oasis’ ‘Wonderwall’ or Underworld’s ‘Born Slippy.NUXX’ careened from jammed locals to the streets beyond. Like furtive snapshots, both songs became reminders of pissed punters in West Ham jerseys staggering down Hackney Road. I liked Oasis, but didn’t know anything about Underworld. Two months later, back at school, I was assisting Anne Bogart, the professor whose radical directorial vision inspired my gamble on grad school. As I entered her flat on a rainy afternoon, Anne’s houseguest, Jocelyn Clarke (a Dublin writer) was playing the most sensual, sinister song I’d ever heard. Murmured, sly vocals and elliptical lyrics; it was an intimate dialogue intoned as monologue. A serpentine, shuffling beat propelled the track, serrated by reverberating slaps, like a succession of slammed doors. This wasn’t simply a song, it was a Pinter play: visceral, enigmatic and perverse. “Who is this?” I asked Jocelyn. “Underworld,” he said. “‘Confusion The Waitress’.” He handed me the album: Second Toughest In The Infants. Not since Laurie Anderson’s Mister Heartbreak had I encountered music that bridged - via abstract images, velocity, evocative language, lightdrenched tableaux and rhythmic flux - what I’d been trying to say theatrically. Writing is relentlessly solitary, but here was a strange companion. Rick Smith and Karl Hyde’s music has been the gesso for nearly every play I’ve written over the last dozen years. Their catalytic songs, whether the agitated Jackson Pollack-like splatters of ‘Pearl’s Girl’ or the gentle, euphonious ‘Best Mamgu

Ever,’ have offered apertures to hard-to-solve scenes or characters. I felt not-as-daft when I read that the late director/playwright Anthony Minghella was also smitten, writing his screenplay for Breaking And Entering to Underworld’s music (Smith and Hyde later composed the film’s score with Gabriel Yared). Last February, I interviewed Karl and Rick in London and we spoke for 90 minutes about their website, artwork, perseverance and Tomato, the art collective they co-founded with six friends in 1991. Later that night at their Roundhouse gig, Underworld opened, by chance, with ‘Confusion The Waitress.’ It’s not a track often unearthed for live shows. I gasped and laughed, struck by the poetry of a perfect coincidence.

THEY MIGHT BE GIANTS

NOW WE KNOW THAT…

THEORETICAL GIRL

Massive Attack’s drummer has joined Il Divo’s band. State Art Director Simon Roche has been voted Designer of the Year by the PPAI and had to wear a bow-tie to accept it. The Blur re-union is on for sure, with a show announced for next July in London. Coldplay were accused of plagiarism again. This time Joe Satriani is the accuser. Kanye West says Will.i.am is producing the new U2 album. WTF? Ireland’s got its own world class arena in the new O2 building in Dublin. A mighty structure.

State first became enamoured with Amy Eleanor Turnnidge when we stumbled across a video on MUZU.TV (url.ie/zay) of her performing on a park bench. A couple of weeks later, we were informed that Turnnidge had been snapped up by Memphis Industries and was recording her debut album. The demos on her myspace page show a

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lot of promise and if superstitious omens mean anything (“A bird pooed on my head on the way to the studio this morning. I’m taking it as a good sign,” she wrote on her blog.), the forthcoming album and shows at South By Southwest should set her up for a riveting career. Listen: ‘The Boy I Left Behind’ Click: http://www.myspace.com/iamtheoreticalgirl

Robyn, Lykke Li and The Knife will appear on the new Royksopp album Ron Asheton of The Stooges was found dead in his home last month. R.I.P. Bonkers soul crooner Jamie Lidell plays *ALT Dublin on March 13


Incoming MY FAVOURITE WORST NIGHTMARE: MARTIN MCIVER

GANG STARR LIFE During my years as a freelance band merchandiser, a swag company asked me to do the European leg of Guru’s Jazzmatazz tour, a groundbreaking musical experiment fusing hip-hop and jazz, played by key figures within each genre, including Gang Starr’s Guru, Donald Byrd and Roy Ayres. The two previous ‘swaggies’ had fallen foul of what was described as a “personality clash with the entourage” and had come off worse during their disagreements. The tour was offered as a “no one else will do it” scenario. Up until that point, I’d only worked with rock bands, so, brimming with zealous confidence, overly satisfied with my likeability, partial to a bit of hiphop and actually owning Gang Starr’s Daily Operations album (which still holds up as one of the best rap albums of all time), I took the gig. On day one, joining the band in the lobby of London’s Embassy Hotel, this 5ft 6” white boy with punk purple hair and a nose-ring came to realise that smoke means fire. My initial meeting with the band saw my confident swagger dissipate within three seconds, resident touring rapper Big Shug (pictured – 6ft 3” tall and 4ft wide) choosing “You look like a bitch” instead of “Hello” as an opening salvo. What followed was days of hair curling gang-life stories (never clean a gang member’s apartment without gloves!!) and tales of what happened to the likes of me back home in the ‘hood’, interspersed only by tales of what would happen to me in prison. A week in, the backline tech was sacked with drive-by finality in a hail of abuse for ‘sabotaging’ the music’. Being a drummer myself, the tour manager asked that I fill the void and perform drum tech duties, which brought me even closer to the band. Gulp! Arriving at a French TV channel for a live broadcast, hours were spent perfecting the sound. Drums sorted, heart-rate slowing, brow mopped. Phew. However, when the broadcast went live minus Guru’s vocals, the kickoff between the producers and the band was nothing short of a mini riot. I stood my ground in front of the female backing singers in an unconvincing pseudo protective stance, bricking it. All hell broke loose, with monitors and chairs suddenly soaring through the air. Seeing a chance to get the girls out, we bolted for the door, knocking a security guard flying. The tour manager subsequently spent hours calming heads and negotiating between all parties (the French constabulary in attendance) and getting back to the bus and out of France with a full complement of person-

nel was a miracle. Even more a divine intervention was the new attitude afforded me. My erstwhile tormentor, Big Shug acted like a personal bodyguard for the rest of the tour, saving me from a pasting in the depths of dark hip-hop clubs several times. Whenever I was challenged, Big Shug would loom up behind me with comic timing, saying “He’s with me”. It always took every ounce of my semblance not to say “yeah, muthafucka, step off ” instead of the English boy sarcasm of “that must be quite upsetting for you”. Yep, I was now a ‘G’! I came to learn that all the abuse I’d endured was a test to see how much I would take: quite a lot, apparently! Further along the tour, I’d be trusted to retrieve a solid gold lion’s head chain worth $25,000, from Switzerland, a story for another time and an adventure to fear in itself. But as it was, I’d survived, and shot the breeze with both jazz and hip-hop legends to boot (meeting Donald Byrd was as enlightening as it was humbling). I even learnt to use the words ‘whack’ and ‘fly’ without so much as a hint of English white-boy self awareness.

THEY MIGHT BE GIANTS

THE KNUX Taking their cue from the Southern Playalistic Cadillac Muzik of another Southern duo, Krispy Kream and Rah Al Millio make alternative rap with the help of a live band and a blipster sense of fashion (look it up). The two brothers left New Orleans for Hollywood in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and set about recording what would become their debut Remind Me In 3 Days for Interscope. The result is hip-hop album that mixes boom bap rap with a keen sense of rock/ pop dynamics. Another reminder that hip-hop can be a starting point to something greater and not the end game. Listen: ‘Bang Bang’, ‘Cappuccino’ Click: http://www.myspace.com/theknux

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Incoming FROM OUR FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT: JANINE SCHAULTS IN

THEY MIGHT BE GIANTS

CHICAGO

LADY GAGA

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COME IN YOUR TIME’S UP

THE PIPETTES For fans of genuinely alternative pop music, the arrival on the scene of the Pipettes in 2005 was something to behold. Coming straight outta Brighton in matching polka dot dresses, signed to the Go! Team’s label and making manufactured pop (with the key difference that they had manufactured it themselves), their debut album We Are The Pipettes was stuffed full with up-beat, irresistible tunes and even went on to give a good account of itself in the proper charts. Since then, however, confusion has reigned. A revolving door policy has left no original members whatsoever (goodbye then, RiotBecki and the Duchess Of Darkness) with one new Pipette joining and leaving within the space of a few months. They did make a few live appearances last year, including one with Mark Ronson – understandable – and one with REO Speedwagon (less so). State for one hopes that they get it together soon.

NK BY DENIS KLEINMAN

Long before acquiring the life-changing ‘Academy Award Winner’ title, Glen Hansard brought Marketa Irglova and their batch of Once ditties to Chicago’s Hideout to preview the film’s soundtrack for an unsuspecting weeknight crowd. Maybe crowd is a bit of a misnomer, since the club more resembles the interior of a college buddy’s basement in size and décor (taxidermy and wood panelling anyone?) than the venerated music venue it is, but that’s just part of the neighbourhood dive’s charm. “The Hideout has a place in Chicago music that’s larger than the size of the room,” says Tim Tuten, who co-owns the bar with his wife Katie and high school friends Mike and Jim Hinschsliff. Known for his exuberant, rambling introductions, Tuten sees the bar as a place where musicians can explore untapped reserves of creativity in public. “The Hideout is a really great incubator. We’re not the biggest place, but many of the artists – they come, they play at The Hideout and they experiment.” Multi-instrumentalist Andrew Bird used the club as a jumping off platform to segue from the swing influences of his earlier material with Andrew Bird’s Bowl of Fire to the indie rock-centric flare on his solo records. Observant fans could find Chicago transplant Neko Case (pictured) behind the bar serving patrons as often as she appeared on stage, and Mavis Staples, the voice of the civil rights movement, handpicked The Hideout as a backdrop for her Election Day ’08 release, Live: Hope at the Hideout. Jon Langford of The Waco Brothers and formerly The Mekons relishes The Hideout’s intimate surroundings, calling it the “keystone” of the city’s music scene. “It’s a venue where I can do anything,” he says. “It’s a pretty weird, contradictory place ‘cause it’s so tiny and so grassroots, yet it’s got an international reputation. It’s a little jewel.” Nestled in the industrial part of town where the city’s Department of Fleet Management stashes its garbage trucks and with a dimly lit Old Style sign as the only discernable marking on the building, the bar truly lives up to its name. “It’s a little shack in the middle of nowhere that looked like it was thrown up overnight about 100 years ago,” Langford explains. “It’s beautiful. I feel very proud when I take people in there. I like watching their faces because it’s just very welcoming and rinky dink and small and weird.” The building did, in fact, originate in the late 1890s, built by Irish squatters, no less, according to Tuten. The Hideout opened in 1934 as a public house, serving the working class employed by the surrounding factories, but didn’t become a haven for the arts until the Tutens bought the place in 1996. “The Hideout is known for American music, but the sensibility is an old-world sensibility. We’re trying to create the great art of our time, building upon the past. Does that sound too pretentious?” Tuten asks. Not when Oscar winners cross the threshold.

There’s an art to creating a perfect pop song. Every now and again we are confronted suddenly with a morsel from the chalice of pop. It doesn’t happen often but when it does, State are the first to put up our hands and say so (hello our Abba issue, hello our editor’s undying love of Girls Aloud). Lady Gaga’s ‘Just Dance’ single is one of those nuggets. Joanne Stefani Germanotta certainly has the chops, style and substance to boot. She started her music career playing seedy scenester clubs in New York’s Lower East Side before turning her attention to mainstream pop. At just 22 years old, she has already written songs for Britney and Pussycat Dolls, now it is her turn. She categorises her style and aesthetic under the umbrella of “pop performance art” as evidenced in her music videos. ‘Just Dance’ is a retro synth-pop club hit and has peaked in the charts of the US, Canada, New Zealand and Australia. Now it’s our turn. Her debut album The Fame is released at the end of January. Listen: ‘Just Dance’ Click: www.myspace.com/ladygaga


Incoming MY HEADPHONES WHAT REAL FOLK ARE LISTENING TO

DAN HEGARTY

TELEVISED REVOLUTION

SAOIRSE McTERNAN FROM AND LIVES IN DUBLIN What are you listening to right now? The Department of Eagles’ In Ear Park. How is it? It’s good, I’m liking it. What kind of music do you listen to? Everything, really. On more than one occasion I’ve looked at my life, and wondered what if? These ‘what ifs’ have ranged from ‘What if I was offered the part of James Bond?’ to the more recent ‘what if I hopped on a motorbike and set off on an adventure around the world?’ The answers to the above fall somewhere between the ridiculous (me being James Bond), and the entirely possible. The latter idea was implanted in my head after picking up a copy of The Motorcycle Diaries, which chronicles the early life of Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara. He’s arguably the most revered revolutionary of the 20th century, and the face behind what some proclaim to be the most reproduced image in the history of photography. He’s also the subject of a two-part biopic, part one of which was released in cinemas a few weeks ago. The film Che Part 1 will undoubtedly be one of 2009’s most talked about releases, although, reaction has been mixed - one review stated that Che had all the excitement of a military training documentary! For most people, Che Guevara is the bloke who’s image appears on t-shirts, which have become as commonplace as those classics like Ramones or AC/DC. If you google his name, you’ll find his image has been painted, printed, tattooed, sculpted, and even knitted! That image, by the way, was created by Irish artist Jim Fitzpatrick (based on the photograph ‘Guerril-

lero Heroico’ by Alberto Korda), then subsequently turned into the iconic pop-art piece that we see on an almost daily basis today. In the decades since his death, Guevara has become a rock star without even strumming a note. If being name-checked in The Stones’ song ‘Indian Girl’ didn’t do it for him, then becoming the adopted face of revolution in the modern age certainly added to an already heroic epitaph. When you look back at some of the seminal moments of music, film or life in general, some images flicker before you. It could be Jim Morrison’s pose, arms out-stretched, Marilyn Monroe’s captivating laugh as she struggles to hold onto her dress, or those heart-wrenching images of starvation in Ethiopia in the 1980s these are some that have just flashed through my mind. But every time you hear the word revolution, that image of Che Guevara is never far away. The film’s potential failure won’t damage the legacy that Guevara has left; in fact it’s only going to make even more people curious as to who he was and what he stood for. And whether you agreed with his beliefs or not, it’s hard not to be drawn to the charisma and passion of the man who has been written about with astonishing regularity during the past five decades.

Who are your top three favourite artists of all time? Animal Collective, Radiohead and Grizzly Bear. What are your favourite music websites? The Hype Machine, it’s good for checking out blogs, Pitchfork and Gorilla Vs Bear. Who are your favourite Irish bands? Crayonsmith and Cap Pas Cap. What would you do if you were on a very, very long bus journey and your mp3 player died? I’d try and fix it, and then cry, maybe! What’s the best gig you’ve been to in the last year? The Animal Collective gig in Whelan’s, because it had been cancelled and then it was rescheduled for Whelan’s.

Tune into Dan Hegarty’s Alternative To Sleep on RTE 2fm, weeknights from midnight to 2am.

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Music is my Radar

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DA N ‘ T H E O U T L AW ’ H A R DY The Ultimate Fighting Champion on his music addiction, his time in a Rage Against The Machine covers band and his favourite walk-out music

Photography by

As told to P H I L U D E L L M AT T H E W S H E P H E R

I remember when I was a small child sitting in the back of my parents’ car, we used to listen to music all the time. My Mum and Dad have great tastes in music and I still listen to a lot of those bands today. My Dad would listen to bands like Madness, The Specials and The Jam, while my mum was into Blondie, Dire Straits and Fleetwood Mac. When I was old enough, my Dad got out his record collection and I used to sit and listen to them in my room, the one that got the most plays was probably Antmusic by Adam and the Ants.

The first record I actually owned myself was Bad by Michael Jackson. I knew every word of every song on the album. I didn’t have a lot of my own music, though, because I would listen to a lot of my parents’ stuff. My Mum also showed me how to record songs off the radio so I used to make my own mix tapes for my Walkman. When I was old enough to go and buy my own music, though, I would get about three CDs a week, with the occasional ‘music binge’ when I would buy 10 or 15 at once, at birthdays or on holiday. As you can imagine, that started to mount up and I have about a thousand CDs now!

I have been in a few bands.

Myself and a couple of friends would practice while we were at school and we would cover songs by Green Day and The Beatles. We never played any gigs though. Once I started college, I was asked to sing for a Rage Against The Machine covers band. I spent about a year doing that and we did a few gigs before the other members of the band fell out. There have been brief attempts at the music industry since: I was doing

vocals for a metal band called Grudge for a short while but decided to dedicate my time to training instead.

The first gig I went to would be the Euro 96 Festival: my parents took me and my sister. I wasn’t too bothered about the rest of the bands on the show because Madness played and that was awesome. When I started going to gigs on my own, I was about 15 and I used to travel around with friends from school. I had to compromise because my musical tastes were different to theirs and I got to see a lot of bands I would have never seen on my own, like Oasis and Supergrass. Eventually, I was regularly going to metal and hardcore gigs pretty much every weekend. I now have quite an impressive list of live shows I’ve been to and some good stories to go with them!

I remember travelling to a Pantera gig in Wales when I was about 17 and a couple of songs into the set, the security were told to leave, so people from the crowd could get up on stage. I saw this as a fantastic opportunity and made my way right to the stage so I could dive back into the mosh pit. Without looking, I leapt off the stage and of all the thousands of people I could have landed on, I found the guy that had driven us all the way there from Nottingham. Unfortunately, I broke my fall with his collarbone and Henry, being the tough old soldier that he is, drove all the way back from Wales with a broken clavical bone.

or circuit training I would listen to someone like Earth Crisis or Madball to get me in the mood. If I’m lifting weights, I’ll listen to Slayer and Pantera, and for technical sessions with my Thai Boxing coach, I listen to a mix of Ska and Reggae. I usually have a particular band or album for each type of session and it changes from one fight to another.

I think there are a lot of ties with music and mixed martial arts (MMA) and there are always disagreements at training sessions about what music we are going to train to. I found that in the UK, training sessions are done to rap and drum and bass, whereas in the US, there is a lot more metal and punk, which suits me!

My walk-out or intro music changes from fight to fight.

For my last fight, I used ‘England Belongs To Me’ by Cock Sparrer, which went down pretty well with the Birmingham crowd. I think my favourite walk out song has been ‘Nowhere To Run’ by Martha And The Vandellas: that always gets a laugh.

My favourite record of 2008 is Live At Shea Stadium by The Clash. If you haven’t checked it out yet, I recommend you do so as soon as possible. If only for the bit where Strummer explains to the crowd that they are like guinea pigs in an experiment!

Music is very important to my training. I use it to focus my mind on what needs to be done. For example, before a hard session like sparring

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Dengue Fever.

FRO M ASIA WITH LOV E ~ Words by

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NIALL BYRNE


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a decade ago, a los angeles native named ethan holtzman travelled to cambodia with an irish friend, ross moran on a backpacking trip through South-East Asia. While they were there, Moran contracted dengue, a mosquito-transmitted virus which causes serious headache, extreme muscle pains (the virus is also known as break-bone fever) and variably nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea. On an eight-hour truck drive back to get some treatment, with Moran in the back and Holtzman in the front with the driver, the only escape became the Khmer music their guide was playing for the duration of the journey. The experience and the music left an indelible mark on Holtzman. Before he left, he bought some of the Cambodian music he heard on the journey to bring home with him. Coincidentally, upon his return, he found out that his brother Zac had just recently become enamoured with the same Cambodian music. Dengue Fever, the band, was born. On the surface, a band from LA explicating the music from 1960s Cambodia doesn’t sound like a winning formula or the kind of music that might bring any measure of success but here Ethan is, sitting in Dublin’s Sugar Club venue, alongside his brother Zac, explaining what the appeal of this strain of Cambodian music is and how it got them here. “It’s kind of a cool blend of psychedelic rock from Britain and the United States, but then they put their own traditional Cambodian music and blended it,” Ethan explains. “They crack into these falsettos that they call ‘ghost voice’ and it’s really beautiful, sort of Indian yodelling cracking into that higher falsetto. The instruments too, they would have some farfisa organ and some fuzz guitar, surf guitar mixed in with a traditional Cambodian long necked banjo instrument.”

That’s the primary sound of the band but we haven’t even mentioned Dengue Fever’s secret weapon yet. Chhom Nimol is the band’s vocalist and is in fact, famous in Cambodia for her singing. Her voice is distinctly not the voice of a rock band and that is her major appeal. It is soft yet strong, shrill yet silky. When the rest of the band began to look for a singer in the restaurants and nightclubs of the Little Phnom Penh area of Long Beach in 2001, Nimol was the only singer that really stood out. Up until then, the band had been faithfully playing six of the Cambodian songs they loved from the ’60s but convincing Nimol to come to rehearse with them was more difficult than they thought. “We probably had about five or six singers come to practice and we were like ‘Chhom Nimol might come tonight’ and their boyfriends were like ‘No way, she’s famous’,” recounts Ethan. “She was a famous singer in Cambodia, which we didn’t know! Sure enough, after about five or six visits to the Dragon House nightclub where she sang, asking her to come to this rehearsal space, she showed up.” It turns out that Nimol was sceptical about their intentions.

DENGUE FEVER

“She didn’t trust us,” Zac laughs. “She didn’t speak any English so she was wondering why these American guys wanted to play Cambodian music. Ethan’s got a moustache. I have a long beard. We just looked fishy, like we were trying to pull something!” Once familiarity was established, however, the band set about playing live and recording their first and self-titled album. Because Nimol didn’t speak any English, all of their tunes were interpretations of the original Cambodian songs. When Nimol’s English was sufficient enough to write songs, the group encountered a different problem. “If you translate a sentence in English that has eight syllables, into Khmer, suddenly it’s a 20 syllable long paragraph that will never fit into the song, so we have to shave the song down to a really streamlined essence, almost a haiku, ” says Zac. State wonders if the band have learned the language of the country they are so indebted to from Nimol? “Sometimes,” answers Zac. “She’ll say a word and then you ask her how to say it again, and she’ll say it differently. Then you say it once and she says it a different way. I don’t know if she’s the best Khmer teacher!”

When their music began being used in films and TV, the band were given the opportunity to travel to Cambodia to play some shows in 2005. It was to be Nimol’s homecoming and the trip is the subject of a documentary, Sleepwalking Through The Mekong. The two brothers call their time there one of the greatest experiences of their lives. “We recorded in Phnom Penh with some surviving master musicians who played traditional instruments and live shows for free – one in a shanty town and about 1,000 people were tripping out on us doing some of their classic rock songs,” remembers Zac. “They were slack-jawed,” adds Ethan. “We also played some smaller clubs where some ex-pats and people working for the embassy, NGOs and Cambodians showed up. They were a different crowd that were used to mingling with Westerners so they were going crazy, punk-rock style. They didn’t even clap after the big outdoor show but that’s how they do it. The clubs were different. In the little clubs, people were getting up and dancing on stage and singing with us. I felt like for some of the Westerners who were working over there, it was the first time they had every truly interacted with the Cambodians. It was the best merging of cultures.” With their third album, the brilliant Venus On Earth released officially a few months ago in Europe (through Peter Gabriel’s Real World label) and demonstrations of their superb live show under their belts at Electric Picnic and The Sugar Club, expect Dengue Fever’s brand of “Cambodian pop rock psychedelic dance party” to spread further onto these shores in the coming months.

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Circuit Breakers Words by

PHIL UDELL

SW E ET RELEASE Limerick independent record label, Out On A Limb has been fighting the good fight for five years. We catch up on half a decade of courageous music.

given the way of the world at large and the music industry in general, surely only a fool would start a record label. explains, came from his involvement in That or someone with a passion for music and a genuine desire to make things happen. Thankfully, Albert Twomey is definitely the latter. For the past five years, he and his colleagues Ciaran Ryan and Richard Bourke have been running Out On A Limb Records, releasing a series of albums truly plugged into the Irish underground. Having celebrated their anniversary at the end of last year with an all encompassing gig, he is looking to the future. The roots of all this, as Albert

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live music. “I’d been putting some shows on in Limerick under the banner of AMC and was seeing bands like Giveamanakick, Rest and Ten Past Seven and liked what they were doing. Giveamanakick in particular were local so we decided to attempt to put a record out. I spoke to Richard who was up for it, then Ciaran came on board. “We had no idea what we were doing but we gave it a blast and put the record out anyway. It was all about getting that one record out, I never really thought

past that.” How easy was it, getting that first record out? “It’s as easy as you make it,” he shrugs. “You have to get it into the shops around the country first. Dave and Julie at Road Records in Dublin were great and have been very supportive to the label over the years. We went up and met them: building those personal relationships is very important.”

Even so, there was no grand plan for the label beyond the first release, until they came across another band. “We were still putting on the shows and we met this bunch of kids called Waiting Room,” he remembers, “who were in the midst of putting a record out with someone else. That fell through so we said we were interested. They were a talented bunch and it was a great record. Through that, we got distribution with RMG and Vital, which was crucial. It was fantastic and that was the point where we believed we were getting a bit of a standing. We were able to ship 500 copies across the country. RMG has the biggest reach of any distribution company in Ireland.” Were they influenced by any other labels? “Trust Me I’m A Thief would have been a good place to start. We’d put on some of the bands on the label like The Redneck Manifesto and really liked their DIY ethic. Brian Mooney has done a great job. In particular, he had a range of music on the label, from the Rednecks to stuff like Goodtime John. We’ve always tried to leave the parameters open for releasing records and we’ve had quite a few different acts on the labels, from Windings, who’d be the most lo-fi, right up to Rest, which is very expansive. The Hope Collective was a massive influence as well, both on the live side and just


in getting things done yourself. It’s unbelievable the influence they’ve had on Irish music and a lot of them are still doing things, people like Leagues O’Toole.”

Rightly or wrongly, the label has formed an identity as a non-Dublin concern, picking up on bands outside of the capital scene, but it certainly wasn’t by design. “We didn’t start off that way: it was more important that we saw local bands that we liked,” Albert avows. “There was no need to look outside the box. If we came across a band that we thought were really good, we just asked them if they were interested in putting a record out. We were always surprised when they said yes and have never wanted to let anyone down, so we’ve always worked as hard as possible. “Up until Crayonsmith, everybody was based in the Munster area, so there may have been that idea that if a band was from Dublin, they didn’t bother to approach us. There were never any restrictions as far as we could see: we liked the guys and we liked the record, so we released it. It’s good to work with people who are going to put the effort in.” For Ciaran Smith of the aforementioned Crayonsmith, moving to OOAL was a smart move. “I put the first album out myself and found it a lot of hard work,” he notes. “With Out On A Limb, they have a profile and are very well respected in the industry. They give you more sway than if you go out by yourself. I really like their work ethic. I let them get on with it and just focus on the music.”

As with all their signings, he came to the label naturally. “I was in Windings before this band and obviously got to know the guys through that. We became very good friends and it was just a matter of time, really. We were talking about doing a new Crayonsmith album and they said, ‘do you want to do it with us?’”

As the label has only released a comparatively small number of records in their history, Albert is happy to stand over each and every one. “I’ve been chuffed so far”, he admits. “Giveamanakick are releasing records on their own label now but we’ve seen them grow from a brash, messy rock ‘n’ roll outfit into something else. That was the kind of music that I used to listen to, which is probably why I took a shine to the guys at the start. The live show was really good: we just needed to focus it and harness the energy onto a record. Even if it was a bit nasty, there was melody there.” So was it a surprise when the duo moved on? “We were kind of shocked at the start but we’ve got over it and are all friends still,” he muses. “We wish everyone the best of luck. Our contracts are usually loose: there’s nothing restraining anyone. We had the label birthday night at the end of last year and everybody who’s ever been associated came and played. It reminded us why we do it.” An awful lot of what it means to be a record company must have changed over the past five years?

Hooray For Humans (blowing), Wingdings (Dolan’s-ing), Rest (mood-ing) and Crayonsmith (orienteering).

“It is a very different experience,” he says ruefully. “Bands can do a lot from their own websites and MySpace pages. Labels are still releasing your typical formats: the Fight Like Apes record came out on vinyl as well as CD. But the notion of a record label is changing. All of us try and bring something to the label but we’re still learning.” So how would he like to see Out On A Limb develop? “We’d be interested in having more reach internationally, but it’s a tricky one,” he admits. “I know a lot of really good bands who’ve gone over to the UK and sold a couple of hundred records in eight months. What I would say is that bands on the label like Crayonsmith and Hooray For Humans have played in The States and the UK and really put the work in. Giveamanakick weren’t averse to going up and down the UK in a van: I went with them. It’s not a closed shop, there are plenty of ways to reach people and it’s great that the bands are pushing it themselves.” As with everything the label has done, he’s approaching 2009 one step at a time. “As we’re all aware, the financial and musical landscapes are changing all the time, so we have no immediate plans. We’re just getting over our birthday. But if someone really grabs our attention, we’ll put their record out, so we’ll wait and see.”

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Kanye West’s use of Auto-Tune on his new album has sparked an online war of words between the hip-hop star and his fanbase. But just what is Auto-Tune and why does it court controversy so?

KAN YE KI CK I T ? ~ Words by

MICHAEL FREEMAN ??????????

Illustration by

the entries on kanye west’s personal blog are mostly just pictures of expensive might have drifted out of key, and slowly accessories. Recent posts include links to a solar-powered yacht, a designer bathtub, a pair of novelty socks and a picture of Melita Toniolo, the winner of Italian Big Brother. Aside from the bling and bands, however, West also used his blog to leak a number of tracks from his new album, 808s And Heartbreak, including the single ‘Love Lockdown’, the vocals on which came in for some severe criticism from fans. Comments ranged from angry (“drop the whole auto tune thing, it’s LAME!”) to resigned: “If 808s = auto-tune, that shit better be galactic Ye… ’Cause it ain’t even hot no more.” Kanye responded almost immediately by posting “if you don’t like Auto-Tune… too bad cause I love it”, and he wasn’t lying: 808s And Heartbreak has AutoTune on almost every track. So what is this studio device that sets so many hearts a-flutter and keyboards a-typing?

Auto-Tune was initially designed simply as a studio production tool for correcting the pitch of dodgy notes. Nic Bertino, a Sacramento-based producer, who also releases his own material under the name Melee Beats, calls this the “traditional method”. Auto-Tune “will take a note that

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put it back into key, without the end user actually noticing.” Its obvious application is on the music of artists who might – shall we say – be performing for reasons other than their innate musical talent. The reality, however, according to Bertino, is that nearly every big pop or rock release will have been Auto-Tuned along the way. “It’s to make sure that it’s perfect,” he explains. “Most of the time, it’s not going to be a big enough change to impact the musical or the creative aspect of it. It’s just to get it in tune and sounding consistent.” Bertino estimates that the device is used in 95% of what he calls “radio-ready” recording sessions. The idea is that you shouldn’t be able to tell. For a long time, this worked. AutoTune was a well-kept producers’ secret. But it forced its way into the public eye on Cher’s ‘Believe’, released in 1998, the earliest song to utilise the ‘robot voice’ effect (although at the time, the producers were so keen to conceal the industry’s use of Auto-Tune that they claimed to have used an entirely different device). This effect is essentially the sound of AutoTune gone wrong. When playing live, many big-name artists put their vocal straight through

Auto-Tune before it gets amplified. But if it’s not set up right, things can go horribly awry. If ageing MOR purveyor Billy Joel doing a T-Pain impression sounds unlikely, look him up on YouTube singing ‘The Star Spangled Banner’ at last year’s Superbowl. Nic Bertino calls this “artifacting”, which is what happens when the singer drifts way out and the Auto-Tune kicks in – sort of like the vocal equivalent of your emergency parachute. “It has to shift the tone [of the vocal]. And if the settings are off, you can hear that shift being made,” Bertino explains. It’s that glitching sound that’s the giveaway – the electronic flick from note to note. If you adjust the device to do that intentionally – to trip instantaneously between tones, without any of the human voice’s natural slide – you get the robotic articulation that Auto-Tune’s product page, having wised up to its own success, now calls “the T-Pain/Cher-style effect”.

It’s been a strange journey for the robot voice. The usual trajectory for new bits of musical technology is to begin somewhere out on the leftfield, gradually growing in popularity until they choke up the mainstream, before quickly dying


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AUTO-TUNE

~

“So why should ‘I Heard It Through The Grapevine’, a real vocal about a made-up heartbreak, sound any more ‘true’ than ‘Love Lockdown’, which deals with real heartbreak through a made-up vocal?” ~

out. Take scratching: pioneered as a new sound by a small group of New York DJs in the early ’80s, it became progressively more widely accepted until, by the late ’90s, it was being so heavily used as an easy marker of ‘urban’ credibility – appearing routinely on nu-metal tracks, skateboard video games, and even Hanson’s puberty-rock anthem ‘Mmm Bop’ – that it plummeted, deservedly, out of favour. Auto-Tune didn’t start out on the margins. It began on a single that sold upwards of 10 million copies, sung by an ageing gay icon, chiefly known for revealing outfits and a strange grimace brought on by considerable plastic surgery. It then flirted briefly with credibility on Daft Punk’s ‘One More Time’, before being endlessly imitated until it appeared only on the kind of production-line Eurohouse that people play out of their mobile phones at the backs of buses. Now, suddenly, it’s all over us again. T-Pain, who has made the sound his own, has released two of the biggestselling albums in the States these last two years. Kanye has plastered it all over his new release. And Lil’ Wayne – the critics’ darling – used it extensively on one of the most highly-anticipated albums of 2008, Tha Carter III. How can this be? You might put it down to 2007’s revival of interest in European dance stylings. The crossover appeal of Justice and friends, along with renewed success for Daft Punk, brought the Robot Voice back into the fold and lent it a leftfield credibility it had never previously enjoyed. However, Nic Bertino suggests that there might be a more definite musical reason why people have latched onto the Auto-

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Tune effect: “It brings the vocoder sound, which is very mechanical, and mixes it with a human sound – so it’s a human sound that’s just a little bit robotic.” Vocoders are an earlier and more primitive way of electronic-ising the voice (think of the hook on Tupac’s ‘California Love’). With a vocoder, you get the robot, but it takes the human out. With AutoTune, you have the electronic sound, but you don’t lose the capacity for the singer to express emotion.

Oddly enough, expressing emotion seems to be exactly what Auto-Tune gets used for a lot of the time. Cher’s ‘Believe’, for all its core of frothy dance-pop, is a breaking-up song; and Auto-Tune’s glitching occurs most on the lyrics where feeling runs highest: “I can’t break through… So sad that you’re leaving.” 808s And Heartbreak was recorded after the death of Kanye’s mother and the breakdown of his relationship with his fiancée. On ‘Love Lockdown’, there’s no rapping at all. Yeezy has lost his Louis Vuitton Don swagger entirely, and in its place is a resigned-sounding ode to a failing relationship (“You lose, you lose”). It’s almost as if singing was the only way to express how he feels. “It was just what was in my heart,” he has said of his singing. “The melodies were in me.” Elsewhere, he’s described the album as “a little bit of Auto-Tune and a whole lot of fucked-up life.” This combination, however, is exactly what Kanye’s detractors on the blog seem to be complaining about. One summed up the general feeling: “This is one of the

most personal of his songs. I want to hear Kanye, not a computer.” People will accept practically any kind of electronic distortion or synthesised sound on a track. But when it comes to the human voice, there’s this idea that it’s somehow ‘truer’, the more raw it sounds. And when Kanye alters it electronically, people act like he’s covering something up. “PLEASE re-do this”, wrote another commenter, “and SING YOUR PAIN OUT!”

In 1967, when Marvin Gaye was recording ‘I Heard It Through The Grapevine’, his producer arranged the track in a key slightly higher than Gaye’s vocal register, so he’d have to strain to hit the top notes. The point was to get a rawer sound, as though Gaye’s voice was cracking with emotion. The trick was a success – but it’s a trick. Gaye was singing words written by and for someone else and his emotion is no more genuine than if it had been added with a computer. So why should ‘I Heard It Through The Grapevine’, a real vocal about a made-up heartbreak, sound any more ‘true’ than ‘Love Lockdown’, which deals with real heartbreak through a made-up vocal? The bottom line, it seems, is that when it comes to recorded displays of emotion, we’re happier with a convincing fake than we are with a fake-sounding reality. But perhaps that’s no bad thing. The point of a song, after all, is to soundtrack our own experiences, not the artist’s. That’s what music is there for. So in a way, it doesn’t matter how genuine Kanye’s heartbreak is: if we can’t translate it into our own, it’s never going to have soul.


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Antony & The Johnsons.

INTO THE MYSTIC ~ Words by

JOHN WALSHE

antony hegarty is the most softspoken pop star state has ever encountered. indeed, so gentle are his tones next 20


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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

next

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that we have serious trouble in making out what it is he’s saying when we listen back to the tape an hour after the interview. What does shine though, however, is Hegarty’s quiet confidence in the singer and artist he has become. Unafraid to articulate his thoughts, from his ever-growing environmental concerns to traditional Japanese dance forms, he’s quick to laugh at himself and the position he finds himself in, being asked about some of the biggest issues of the day by someone he’s never met on a phone from halfway around the world. “I’m definitely more confident than I was five years ago. I find it easier to explain my thinking, publicly,” he laughs. What about as a songwriter? “Nah,” he laughs. “I always said I just write songs so that I’ve got something to sing.” State surmises that Hegarty’s life much be pretty much unrecognisable from the one he enjoyed just four years ago, before the Mercury Music Prize-winning I Am A Bird Now catapulted the English-born, New York native very much into the public eye, amid patronage from musical luminaries like Lou Reed and Rufus Wainwright. “Everyone says that, but it hasn’t changed that much,” he says, “besides the touring. Well, I’ve got a bigger apartment now, and I have a kitchen.” He’s also been extremely busy in the intervening years, appearing in two films (Steve Buscemi’s Animal Factory and performing ‘I Fell In Love With A Dead Boy’ in Sebastian Lifshitz’s Wild Side), organising and performing a multimedia collaboration with video producer Charles Atlas and stealing the show in I’m Your Man, a star-laden tribute to Leonard Cohen. There’s also the small matter of ‘Blind’, his glitzy, dance-floor friendly collaboration with longtime friends Hercules And Love Affair. “I actually recorded that song before I Am A Bird Now around 2002 or 2003,” he admits. “I really thought it would be an interesting thing to do, to try to get people dancing, as it’s not something I usually explore in my music,” he guffaws.

Last October saw the first new Antony & The Johnsons material since I Am A Bird Now, with the ‘Another World EP’ and this month sees Hegarty unveiling The Crying Light, his brand new 10-track album. “I’ve been working on the album for around two or two and a half years. It’s just taken me that long to do what I wanted to do,” he explains. It transpires that The Johnsons recorded up to 30 new songs in the sessions for the album, with Hegarty choosing the ones that made the final cut: “I put it together in a way that made sense to me, in terms of song cycles.” The result is an album that’s simply stunning in its uniqueness, but then Hegarty has always followed his own muse, fusing the spirits of Nina Simone, transgender activist Marsha Johnson and Marc Almond into a beguiling whole that encapsulates baroque pop, classical and soul music. It’s an album of simple songs with complex arrangements, thanks to the help of composer Nico Muhly (who organised the orchestral parts for Antony’s recent live shows with the London Symphony Orchestra), Doug Weiselman (who also contributes some sterling clarinet across the album) and Maxim Moston (who arranged the

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ANTONY & THE JOHNSONS

strings on Rufus Wainwright’s Want One and Want Two). “I’d write the songs and then record some of them very basically, just piano and voice,” he explains, “and then create layers of ideas and arrangements around them, some with strings and some with wind instruments. The idea was to create something that had lots of interesting things going on around the periphery, like a forest, with shadows at the edges. I wanted it to have a depth of field to it.” Intriguingly, the songs that didn’t make it onto this record will see the light of day at some point in the future, although the singer admits, “I’m not sure how that will happen.”

Thematically, it seems to this listener that The Crying Light has moved from the personal, in terms of relationships, to the universal, in terms of the natural world, the environment and our relationship with it. Antony disagrees. “I think about it a bit differently,” he argues. “This stuff is very personal to me. It really reflects songs I’ve written over the last seven years, whereas the last album was written in the mid-’90s. It’s about my relationship to nature and the elemental world. It’s also about the whole notion of mother, father, the relationship between parent and child.” He goes on to refer to the “creative, feminine, nurturing” sense of nature that he feels is reflected in the album, tying in with his recent description of it as a pagan record. “I guess, because I was raised as a Catholic, I grew up with these far-reaching notions that I came here from somewhere else, that I was of a different spiritual constitution to the rest of the environment, created from different elements of nature, that I had a different destiny, as a human being: that I was just biding my time, proving my worth, until I could go to heaven,” he muses. “As I’ve gotten older and more comfortable in my own thinking, I tend to see my reflection in the world around me, because I’m made of the same stuff, the same elements, the same carbon, water and electricity. That took me a long time to figure out, my relationship with my own environment, and that intersected with the theme of hearbreak around my dawning awareness of the impact we have had on our ecology, and trying to come to terms with that: trying to clarify my relationship and responsibility to the world around me, and ultimately to affect the present.” This desire to “affect the present” is also a challenge for Antony the singer, as well as Antony the human being, he explains. “When you’re on stage, there’s no point in being preoccupied with things from 20 years ago or 50 years hence. I’m always trying to create a channel to the present, to connect with people.” Is that something he works very hard on in his live show, forging that connectivity with the audience? “Definitely, it’s a part of what I focus on. I think in that sense I’ve learned a lot from Kazuo Ohno [the co-founder of Japanese Butoh dance, who adorns the cover of both The Crying Light and the ‘Another World EP’]. I studied under one of his students when I was in my early 20s. He had an amazing way of bringing this energy to his dancing. The way he dances is like stepping into the light, unveiling this creative child, almost like the feminine divine: he seems to have this real sense of wonder, like he’s


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ANTONY & THE JOHNSONS

~ “Because I was raised as a Catholic, I grew up with these far-reaching notions that I was of a different spiritual constitution to the rest of the environment, that I had a different destiny, as a human being: that I was just biding my time, proving my worth, until I could go to heaven.” ~

looking at the world around him for the first time. He’s been a big influence on how I approached this record and on my work generally.”

foresee environmental concerns becoming increasingly important for everyone, noting wryly how they won’t be seen as a “special interest”.

Considering how big a part the natural world plays throughout the new album, we suggest that Antony must be delighted with the imminent inauguration of US president elect Barrack Obama, who has made a commitment to reducing America’s greenhouse gas emissions. “I was in Paris when he was named president elect. It was amazing to watch that from outside the US,” Antony enthuses. He describes it as “quite humbling”, realising the extent to which Europe identified with the new American leader: “People talked about him as not just the leader of America, but the leader of the whole world. It was pretty intense. It’s not right that America has that much power, but at the same time, the reality is that corporate culture is so far-reaching.” He describes it as incredible that so much negative feeling towards America was wiped out in a single moment, that “all the terrible things that happened in the last decade were forgotten”. “It seems that no-one can take a step forward until America does,” he’s warming to the subject now. “America, for the last few years, has been a place of irrational activity, like a reckless alcoholic: there has been no rhyme or reason. It seems that we’ve elected someone for the first time in god knows how long that represents common sense. You can actually understand his thought processes, how he gets to his decisions. He’s willing to explain how he gets to those decisions. And he’s not from a Texas family dynasty that represents big oil. “Even in America, we didn’t dare to dream that Barrack could get elected after the last two elections. We were so used to being defeated that I don’t think anyone in America dared to believe that Barrack would be elected until it was actually called. And it was the first time ever that the South didn’t get to determine the winner of a general election. The population of America is changing and its conscience is changing.” How so? “I think there’s a growing awareness of diversity of the connectedness between people,” he opines, before laughing. “But I can’t even speak on the subject and it’s ridiculous that I do. I don’t even know that much about politics.” While Antony doesn’t see himself becoming involved in campaigning for environmental groups in the future, he does

So what will Antony be doing over the next year, besides touring his new album. Having already appeared on celluloid, we wondered if he has any ambition to get back on the big screen? “I don’t really like acting,” he puts paid to that line of questioning. “I like doing music for films. Someone asked me to act in a film recently and I said no.” But he did own his own theatre group in early ’90s New York? “But it wasn’t really theatre: it was performance art and I just performed as myself. It wasn’t about playing a character.” He was recently commissioned by fashion giant Prada to score an animated video for Fashion Week, entitled ‘Fallen Shadows’. The resulting video (available at www.prada.com) features a stunning new Antony composition called ‘The Great White Ocean’, which was written on the Norwegian-owned island of Svalbard in the high Arctic Circle in 2006. “I don’t have a lot of connections in the fashion world,” he admits, “but I am interested in fashion. When they approached me to do the project, I liked the idea of the video, of the woman being chased by her shadow and meeting the child.” He saw a lot of parallels between the video and his own thematic concerns, while he is also interested in fashion as another creative endeavour. He admits that he was thinking a lot about his grandparents when in Svalbard writing ‘The Great White Ocean’. It transpires that the Hegarty ancestors in question are on his father’s side, from Donegal. Indeed, he has very strong memories of visiting his Irish relatives, aged just seven. “I went as a child, to my grandfather’s house, which was a thatched cottage in the hills with no running water, no electricity, no plumbing and not even a proper out-house. There was nothing but a bunch of sheep and the bog.” He describes it as “amazing” to think about the great leaps society has made in just a few generations, “from barefoot children in the hills, digging around for a potato or an egg to me living in Manhattan, doing what I’m doing. “I have a picture of my great grandparents on my wall and I’m always chatting to them,” he laughs. “I’m not sure what they’d think of me, to be honest.” The Crying Light is released by Rough Trade on January 16.

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We at State don’t claim to be able to predict the future but we have been keeping our many ears to many a cold, moist ground recently and the rumblings we have heard pointed us in the direction of a number of bands and people who are liable to make you more excited about the coming musical year than any other. And because we want to lovingly caress your very own eyes, we had the best photographers we know shoot them. Begin the begin‌

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VILLAGERS ~ His previous band, The Immediate imploded just as they were about to ignite, but Conor O’Brien is back with a new project which already has State feeling very giddy indeed. Words by

NIALL BYRNE RICHARD GILLIGAN

Photography by

Sitting in a bar on South William Street on a crisp and dark Monday evening, Conor J. O’ Brien is attempting to chart his experiences of the last 19 months. Though he has a new project called Villagers about to launch in February, it is almost impossible to talk about his musical notions without mentioning his former band The Immediate, which he does fleetingly and frequently throughout our interview. It was only May 2007 when the band Conor played a vital part in announced they were to split due to “existential differences”, an explanation which bewildered at the time, so the wound, if there is one, is still relatively fresh.

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Let us recap. The Immediate (made up of Conor, David Hedderman, Peter Toomey and Barra Heavey) were Ireland’s first independent band for a long time who seemed to hold so much promise and who seemed to be on the cusp of greater things. Released in August 2006, the band’s debut, In Towers And Clouds captivated the hearts of many, earned them a Choice Music Prize nomination and a performance on the live stage at the Meteor Awards. Jim Carroll of The Irish Times called the album “one of the best Irish debut albums of the last 20 years”. Live, the band were even more incendiary. State can recall a 2006 performance at Hard Working Class Heroes in Meeting House Square in Dublin’s Temple Bar where the band displayed an abundance of vitality, infectiousness and accomplished musicianship in their set. Nothing lasts forever, though, and in the case of The Immediate, the band had simply run its course. “The reason we split was so we could split, y’know?” says Conor, slightly flustered. “I don’t really know what happened. It had to just... end. I’d been writing songs with Dave since I was 12 or 13 maybe. Then we finished school and started college. The band were playing gigs, then people started to listen to us. We kept it up. We were like ‘This is really good. This is working. We’re playing shows. People are coming to the shows’. Then naturally, people [in the band] realised: ‘Oh, more stuff is happening in my life. When I actually sit and think about it, I don’t know if I want to do this anymore’. It was literally that natural. I had no idea how to describe it. People were like ‘What happened?’ and I just said ‘I don’t know. Things end’. ” These unclear sentiments justify the tongue in cheek explanation of “existential differences”. Put simply, two members of the band just didn’t want to play in The Immediate anymore.

Thankfully, the main reason Conor is talking about the past is because of his oh so bright future under the moniker of Villagers. A four track EP entitled Hollow Kind, written and performed solely by Conor, is released in February and judging by the reaction to the handful of live gigs towards the end of 2008, people are already getting excited at the prospect. State witnessed the band’s support slot with Halves in Whelan’s in November and the bubbling excitement is easily understood. It was a captivating performance from a band making their first tentative steps. It’s a testament to Conor and his band that at that point, they had only had two proper rehearsals. “They are such good players, they pick up on it straight away,” Conor enthuses. “I gave them all the seven songs we’ve so far rehearsed and they learned them. We had a rehearsal, we played a gig. Each gig acted as a rehearsal for the next one, rather than having to meet up and rehearse properly. To me, all the gigs felt like a different band. It’s interesting. I’ve never felt such a change from one gig to the next. Just in terms of the energy levels of the songs. I felt like I was going to be naked on a stage but I got into the songs as much as I wanted to right from the off, which is really, really surprising for me.“ These high calibre players include Tommy McLaughlin (formerly of Berkeley, who recorded the Hollow Kind EP), James Byrne (who is releasing it on his label Any Other City) and the bass and keyboard section of One Day International, Danny Snow and Cormac Curran respectively. The support slots were the first public fruits of Conor’s labour over the last 19 months and have made him sufficiently excited about the future. “I came off giddy every gig. I hadn’t been that excited for a while. It was a good feeling,” he says, beaming. Currently, the rest of the band can’t commit to every gig as they are involved in other projects but Conor relishes the prospect of a loose collective of musicians working with him. “The songs are constructed in such a way that they are very open to interpretation on the night,” he explains. “I kinda wanted it that way. Each of these songs went through about seven or eight arranged versions in demo form. So it was a long process but it means that when I perform them in the future, maybe I’ll do a different arrangement. I don’t want to get stuck in any way.“ The seeds of Villagers were sown the very first day after the band decided to split. “I wrote a song the day after. I got really really drunk and then the

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next morning, I woke up completely dehydrated and wrote a song at seven in the morning. I still haven’t gotten that song right but it’s gonna appear eventually. It’s gone through lots of stages,” he recounts. Those initial songs were informed by the whole experience of being in The Immediate and Conor decided not to take his solo songs as seriously as before. “I’d think about things too much and that makes things sound quite contrived. When the band split, I started writing songs and it took me a long time to be into them. I still hadn’t let go of that way of thinking. I feel like once you get a little bit older, once you get in your mid-20s, it’s not old but it’s different than being 19. It’s a big five years. It makes you realise it’s just another piece of the rest of your life. You shouldn’t take it too seriously. Whatever comes out, comes out. If it comes out, then that’s what you go with, rather than holding shit back because you feel like it mightn’t be right.“

While Conor was getting over The Immediate he joined Cathy Davey’s band as guitarist, a role he is still currently fulfilling. “She came to The Immediate’s early shows. She kinda dug us and then I sent her a message on Myspace saying I really liked her demos. She had just put up the demos for what was to become the Silversleeve album. She had ‘Harmony’ and ‘Sing For Your Supper’ up. She sent one back going ‘Do you know any guitar players?’ and I was like ‘I’m a guitar player’,” he chuckles. “I was recording with her while The Immediate were still going. I was recording the album with her so once it [The Immediate] ended, she asked me to come on tour with her.” Conor strikes State as a sensitive soul and that decision to join Cathy straight away seems to be a moot point or at least a thing that Conor worried about in terms of perception from the rest of The Immediate. “It felt like cheating or something. I would have been pissed if one of the other guys had gone off and done something the week after, so I understand why that would have been...” he trails off. “But she asked, so I did it,” he says, dancing around an explicit explanation.

His time with Cathy has informed Villagers’ distinct brand of soul-filled folk songs as Conor found his guitar skills tested to the limit. “I’ve learned a hell of a lot. I had never played with different musicians ever before. I’d only ever played with the guys, so it was real ‘deep end’ sort of thing. I remember being really nervous the first time, very nerve-wracking as well. She does a lot of radio sessions and stuff. We do a lot of covers of old songs – old soul songs, jazz standards. Just on a very musical level, I’ve had to learn about a million new chords!” The songs debuted so far bear the hallmarks of a seasoned guitarist. Though Conor might not admit it, he’s become quite an accomplished arranger too. This is evident on the Hollow Kind EP. ‘Down, Under The Sea’ is a brooding piano and percussion-filled opening salvo, while the restrained and atmospheric ‘The Meaning Of The Ritual’ uses organ as the centrepiece for stark ruminations on love. ‘Pieces’, which can currently be seen in a live video on Youtube from one of those support slots (http://url.ie/wtn) holds the promise of being one of the best tunes of 2009 once the EP is released. “There’s still loads of shit we have to iron out, but that’ll come,” says Conor. “The bones of it are enough. There is still a lot more to be written. It’s by no means there yet. I don’t want it to be. I don’t ever want it to be a finished project: it needs to be constantly changing.” Conor has 14 or 15 songs fully arranged with others “floating”. An album will most likely be forthcoming sometime in 2009. Dublin’s Richie Egan, aka Jape, wrote on his blog that he believes Conor is the best songwriter to come from Ireland in a long time. “That gentleman embodies everything I hold dear about music,” he wrote. Conor J. O’ Brien best get used to it. State expects a lot of praise coming his way over the course of 2009. Villagers’ debut EP, Hollow Kind is launched with a gig in Crawdaddy, Dublin, on February 21.


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ADEBESI SHANK ~ Three Wexford boys who play furiously fun, face-meltingly loud instrumental rock. Photography by

FE ARGAL WARD

Describe yourselves and your music... “Three funk soul brothers kidnapped by Napster, forced to play in the worst metal band of all time. We started playing together because we were friends but we soon sorted that out. We keep making it because we are useless robot bastards with literally nothing else to do except eat cheese.” What are your plans for the next six months... “Star Trek: The Next Generation boxsets, Europe and Japan tours, making friends with our new dog Pearl, a new record, top secret misadventures for all the family, hilarity and dismemberment ensues.” “I’ve seen these guys live a few times, they’re ridiculously tight and high energy so that’s me sold every time”: Prince Kong on Adebesi Shank Get familiar: This Is The Album Of A Band Called Adebisi Shank Get clicking: www.myspace.com/adebisishank

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H E AT H E R S ~ While some teenage girls prepare to begin college by updating their wardrobe, twin sisters Louise and Ellie McNamara found themselves on a US tour with Ghost Mice, promoting their debut album Here, Not There. Words by

AOIFE McDONNELL RICHARD GILLIGAN

Photography by

Travelling in a van with no air conditioning, they managed to tot up an impressive 34 gigs in 30 days, a daunting task for even the most seasoned artist. So what was it like for two 18 year olds, who, just last year, would have to sneak into their own gigs? “It was a bit hectic but amazing”, explains Louise. “It was a couple of days after we finished our Leaving Cert. We flew to Chicago, travelled across the northern states to Washington, went down to California, across through Arizona and Colorado and then back up to Chicago.” It seems that these girls were blessed with, not only the ability to write insanely catchy songs and create beautiful, intricate harmonies, but also very understanding parents. A week before they were due to sit their Leaving Cert. mock exams, the Dublin twins recorded their debut album in Hive studios, Kilcoole. However, their packed schedule didn’t seem to impact on their studies, as they both secured places in third level. ”They wanted us to do our best, obviously, but we put in the work. Our music was sometimes like a break [from studying], so they were positive and supported us the whole time,” remembers Ellie. The Dublin duo admit that juggling college life and a music career with a potentially stellar trajectory is a little more difficult than they anticipated. “It’s a little bit stressful. I found it was a little bit difficult to try and settle in and concentrate on music at the same time but it’s getting easier,” reveals Louise. Although Louise plays guitar, she is eager to explain that they both collaborate closely on lyrics and melody. “We tend to write everything together,” she explains. They seem at ease and often interject in each other’s anecdotes. State is interested to find out more about their bond as twins and, as they must spend a considerable amount of time working on their melodies and lyrics while still living at home, if they always get on this well. “I think every sister’s relationship [is difficult] and they get into arguments and everything but I think the fact that Louise is in college in May-

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nooth and I’m in Dublin, we don’t really see much of each other during the day,” Ellie explains. “Then we come home, it’s nice to play music together because we haven’t seen each other. It means we don’t argue as much. Some people say maybe the reason our voices blend is because we are twins, I don’t really know if it is...” Louise interrupts, “Well, some of it is. We are sisters. We know each other so well and we know each other’s voices. We find we need to be in a good mood to write a song. We can’t be angry with each other.” They state that their influences are more Simon and Garfunkel and Bruce Springsteen rather than Tegan and Sara, who the girls only heard when 90% of their album was completed. The healthy state of the Irish music scene also encouraged Heathers to embark on their musical careers. “There’s loads of really great bands at the moment. It’s really inspiring,” muses Ellie. “When we were first starting out, one of the things that really encouraged us was that a lot of our friends were in bands.” ”Two years ago, we never thought in our wildest dreams we’d even be in a band,” admits Louise. “So people having a positive response to that and actually liking our stuff is still shocking. It’s surreal.” Career highlights so far include a CMJ performance, superb debut album and a US tour, all before they reach their 20s, 2009 promises to be positively white-hot for Heathers. “Love their loc-tite harmonies, the great guitar playing, their use of the word ‘nourriture’ and the lyric ‘we will slowly slowly, slowly climb over a ladder with no other side’ (‘Remember When’), delivered with more panache than you could reasonably be expected to take in on one listen”: Mail Order Messiahs on Heathers Get familiar: Here, Not There Get clicking: www.myspace.com/heatherswhatsyourdamage


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ANNIE MAC ~ Representing and presenting at the BBC, meet the new queen of the Irish media. Photography by

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Dublin to Belfast to London is a career path that has suited some before but few have profited quite so much as Annie Mac. Right now, there seems to be no stopping her. Having established her own nightime slot on BBC Radio 1, she can be heard all over the station, recently sitting in for Jo Whiley. Television has come a calling too, with slots on the Culture Show amongst others. Then there’s the small matter of her live DJ work, with her Annie Mac Presents... tour doing the business all over the UK. Her home country hasn’t figured highly until now, but her turn presenting Other Voices should remedy that. What we want to hear now is evidence of her allegedly mean skills on the mandolin. “A total legend” Fighting With Wire On Annie Mac Get clicking: www.anniemacpresents.com

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B AT S

F IG H TIN G W ITH W IR E

Q Five-piece Dublin organism who will be recording their debut in Salem, Massachusetts, in February. Promoters of science and rocking the fuck out.

X Quite why the whole country isn’t trumpeting the success of Fighting With Wire is still a mystery. Photography by

Photography by

RICHARD GILLIGAN

Describe yourselves and your music... “I’ve described it before as ‘a series of intermittent mind-bullets aimed directly at the face’. I guess you could call it progressive post-punk dancemetal. We’re making it because it’s the most fun in the world!” What is your best song and why... “I’m deadlocked between ‘Credulous! Credulous!’ and ‘Vermithrax Pejorative’. ‘Credulous’ is a cautionary song about the rise of popularity in pseudosciences and superstitions like alternative healing, astrology etc., while ‘Vermithrax’ is about the dragon from Dragonslayer.” “Bats are our girlfriend band, we love them, maybe a little too much. Sexy Darwinian Dancey Cyber Metal. Everything you could possibly want in a band” Adebesi Shank on Bats

GRAEME SMITH

Signed to Atlantic Records through Derry indie label Small Town, Fighting With Wire spent five years building up to their Man Vs Monster debut record and it shows. The media, from Zane Lowe to Kerrang!, have been quick to champion them and tours with the likes of Reuben, Biffy Clyro, Million Dead, Seafood, Your Code Name Is: Milo and Future Of The Left have helped spread the word. It’s been a long time since Ireland produced a top flight rock band but the wait is over. “They really set the standards in Northern Ireland and we’re so chuffed for them that their hard work is paying off. We’ve probably shared the stage with them more than any other band, but we never get bored of watching them. It’s a vile word to use, but they’re anthemic”: Panama Kings on Fighting With Wire Get familiar: Man Vs Monster Get clicking: www.myspace.com/fightingwithwire

Get familiar: Cruel Sea Scientist EP Get clicking: www.myspace.com/leatherbeatsfeather

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SINÉAD NÍ MHÓRDHA ~ Like Hegarty, Curtis and Huston before her, Sinéad Ní Mhórdha has cut her teeth in Phantom, both in its pirate and legit format. The next name to make the move to a bigger stage? We wouldn’t bet against it. Photography by

FE ARGAL WARD

Describe yourself.... I grew up listening to an eclectic mix of music; from country to rock but mainly a lot of 1950s’ and 60s’ rock ‘n’ roll; from Elvis to The Everly Brothers and Roy Orbison to Chuck Berry. My first gig was Jerry Lee Lewis and Fats Domino in Canada. I picked up the violin, button-accordion and tin-whistle when I was 7. I’ve also sang in The Last Post (Alan Kelly is such a wonderful songwriter) where I suffered the embarrassment of having to wear an eyepatch on stage at the Roisin Dubh. I had just received laser eye surgery on my eye (long story) and had to avoid bright flashing lights! But the gig supporting Camera Obscura in Whelan’s was quite a memorable night as Jack White and The Raconteurs rocked up after. My band-mates, Joss and Colm, showed them how to play the saw! Apparently Little Jack mastered the art. “Joan Of Ark” Katie Kim on Sinead Ni Mhorda Get clicking: www.phantom.ie

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TH E PARKS

PA N A M A K I N G S

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Blessed with the exuberance of youth, The Parks are not only one of the newest bands on the block but rapidly becoming one of the best. Drums, bass, guitar, tunes: what more do you need?

According to those in the know, Panama Kings are leading the charge for Northern Irish music. Who are we to argue? Photography by

Photography by

GAVIN MILL AR

FE ARGAL WARD

“They should call their drummer ‘Phil’ ‘cos in the time that it takes you to read this he could have gone around the rack toms 17 times, cracked a cymbal and pushed his bass-drum perilously close to the edge of the riser”: Mail Order Messiahs on The Parks Get familiar: ‘Nothing Comes From Nothing’ Get clicking: www.myspace.com/theparksmusic

Describe yourselves and your music... Alternative-quirk-soul. What was the strangest thing that happened to you in 2008? Being introduced onstage by Ruby Wax, singing Undertones covers with Gary Lightbody, hanging out with Oasis, recording a 37-man choir on one of our tracks, but the strangest thing of 2008 is probably that all four of us are still alive. Get familiar: ‘Golden Recruit’ Get clicking: www.myspace.com/panamakings

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KILL KRINKLE CLUB ~ Justin (Irish) and Elina (Swedish) met in a Dublin bar a few years ago. Now they make beautiful starry songs (and children) together. Photography by

Describe yourselves and your music... “Uplifting-downbeating, 45% electro-pop, 35% folk, 10% experimental, 5% fairytale, 5% mistakes.” What was the strangest thing that happened to you in 2008... “Justin conducting various experiments with his body and Elina taking notes, including: 1.

Not eating anything for four days.

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Drinking five litres of water and then spending five hours in a hot tub in Canada.

3.

Bungee jumping.

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Dancing with Republic Of Loose frontman’s mother at our Fringe Festival gig.”

Get familiar: ‘White Trees’ Get clicking: www.myspace.com/killkrinkleclub

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K AT IE K IM

C A P PA S C A P

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Formerly of Waterford group Dae Kim, Katie now makes “slow jams” to the sound of her own beat. Her recently released album Twelve is a quality collection of barely-there shoegazing ambient folk.

Dublin’s Cap Pas Cap are leading the new-wave of no-wave post-punk. Expect an album to appear on Skinny Wolves this year but ‘til then, pick up the stupendous ‘We Are Men’ 12”.

Photography by

ROGER WOOLMAN

What was the strangest thing that happened to you in 2008... “I went to see Autolux in London this year and PJ Harvey sat beside me. I stole her cup after she left.” Get familiar: ‘Radio’ Get clicking: www.myspace.com/dancekatiekimdance

Describe yourselves and your music... “Hyperactive shape shifting motorik pop chants with pounding drums, fuzzed up drones and no wave led synths.” “I love their post-punk Gang Of Four-ness and am really looking forward to their new album which will feature songs that The Rapture’s producer, Al O’Connell has worked on. I hope they will shine brightly in 2009” Sinead Ni Mhordha on Cap Pas Cap. Get familiar: ‘We Are Men’ single Get clicking: www.cappascap.com

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GRAND POCKET ORCHESTRA ~ The sound of pop drawn outside the lines. Photography by

FE ARGAL WARD

What are you looking forward to this year... “I’m really looking forward to trying to smuggle three keybords, two guitars, a bass, a melodica, a glockenspeil and drums into the States without a visa” – Bronwyn Describe yourselves and your music... “Our music sounds like what a box of crayons would sound like if they could play instruments not very well” – Bronwyn “When we started off, we were almost like a juvenile self help group, banging whatever instruments we had. I now like to call it insecurity pop, the happy sound of shame and discomfort. I also like to call it chongo pop” – Paddy Get familiar: ‘Make Happy War’ EP Get clicking: www.myspace.com/grandpocketorchestra

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TH E AM B I E NC E A FFA I R

LOW LY K N IG H TS

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The Meath/Dublin duo have been compared to The Dodos but Jamie and Mark’s racket is a much more soothing sound. Live, they’ve been known to combine Final Fantasy and Feist into a singularly organic mash-up.

Born from a one-night-only idea, Lowly Knights have grown from a musical side-project for the great and the good of the Belfast scene into a meeting of 12 minds and 24 hands.

Photography by

CLAIRE WEIR

How did your music come about and why are you making it... “I was playing on my own for a couple of years and knew I needed a drummer to enhance the quality of the songs I already had and to inject some creativity into the new ones. Our music is currently based upon looped vocals and guitars, together with drums and percussion. We are making our music because we want to create songs that are unlike what has gone before” - Jamie

“Neil and Cazi from the Lowly Knights are the two most beautiful men in music, inside and out. But seriously, they’re just so fresh and exciting, and they sing about things that most bands are scared to deal with. Plus, they have a one-year-old, about four drummers and a choir in the band. How cool is that?” Panama Kings on Lowly Knights Get familiar: ‘The Rifles’ EP Get clicking: www.myspace.com/lowlyknights

“Because there are only two instruments, there is a limitation, but I really enjoy the challenge in adapting and changing the way I play in our set-up. For me, what we play now is just the beginning as there is loads of room for experimentation” - Marc Get familiar: ‘I Recoil’ Get clicking: www.myspace.com/theambienceaffair

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MAIL ORDER MESSIAHS

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Michael and Darren released the dreamy electro-pop ‘Par Avion’ EP in November, so-called because the pair lived in different parts of the country and would send lyrics, demos, mixes and rewrites through snail mail.

Delightfully wrecking the heads of audiences with rythym-centric, fucked-up, breakcore over the last few years, Kong will be turning his attention to a new project featuring guest MCs Jah Balance and Warrior Queen in 2009.

What was the strangest thing that happened to you last year... “We were in total silence with a minidisc at the door of Asylum studios, recording the street noise of Abbey Street, hoping a Luas wouldn’t wreck the take. The results can be heard on ‘Stalin’s Friend Dies’. At present, we’re trying to make contact with the rather worse-for-wear couple whose 14-minute blazing row we were lucky enough to digitally capture forever. Once they are successfully located, the royalty cheque will be winging its way.” Get familiar: ‘La Maitraisse’ Get clicking: www.myspace.com/mailordermessiahs

Photography by

RICHARD GILLIGAN

What’s your best tune and why... “Every time I finish a track it becomes my favourite. It’s an essential element to writing for me as I don’t see why you’d bother writing something half assed: it needs to be a continual bettering of my craft. To be able to translate exactly what is in your head into whatever medium you’re working in comes with understanding your technology and development of skill. You’ve got to be able to sit back when you finish a new piece and grin from ear to ear and truly believe it’s the best thing you’ve ever heard. Otherwise, what’s the fucking point?” “I’m my own biggest fan, I think it’s imperative to be. What’s the point in making music if you prefer someone else’s to your own?” Prince Kong on Prince Kong Get familiar: ‘Stamina’ Get clicking: www.myspace.com/kongism

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S TAT E R E V I E W S & P R E V I E W S

49 ALBUMS Animal Collective’s ninth long player is their finest yet; Antony & The Johnson’s sublime third effort; Damien Jurado does the folk-rock thing; while Warren Zevon’s eponymous Atlantic debut gets the reissue treatment, cementing the late singer’s seat at the great songwriting table in the sky.

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{

★★★★★ ★★★★ ★★★ ★★ ★

TV Maia Dunphy on the highs and lows of sitting in front of the goggle box in 2008 and the highlights worth staying in for this year.

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DVD Liam Neeson goes all Bourne on us in Taken; a brief history of all things GAA; the Beeb gets it right with the story of Anne Frank; the horror of bad horror movies; Vin Diesel goes Babylonian on State’s ass.

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GAMES Sony’s shooter supreme, Resistance 2, takes up where its predecessor left off; Microsoft’s answer to karaoke; and why Mirror’s Edge melted State’s head.

With Put Your Money On, Cork’s Áine Duffy has created an album that confuses, confounds, surprises, delights and frustrates, in perhaps equal measure, combining a record store’s worth of genres in one place. One thing she’s not is boring.

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Albums

Animal Collective

illustrationby bybrenb nathalie nysted illustration

Merriweather Post Pavilion

(domino)

Ever since details of Animal Collective’s ninth album were announced back in October, people have come from all corners of the globe through the net to add to the glut of hyperbolic palaver and speculation. First, there was the trippy yet slightly too stoner-friendly album cover. That was followed by a fiasco around leakage of two tracks from the album, which was quickly squashed by a heavy-handed internet security firm. In the midst of all that, there were listening parties in major cities, leakage Rickrolling culde-sacs and, in what is surely a first, obsequious and dedicated Animal Collective fans even recorded their own “re-imagining” of the album referenced from live tracks while they were waiting. Finally, the album leaked on Christmas Day resulting in a climax of emotion of nirvana-like proportions from fans behaving like their muchpromised first sexual experience came to fruition after much wink and promise in an elaborate nymphal and sexually explicit ritual. It’s easy to see why. Since the 2000 release of Spirit They’ve Gone, Spirit They’ve Vanished, Animal Collective have been picked up by a rabid fanbase as they continued to experiment, hone their craft and take leaps from those initial freaky acorns. Each album since has displayed a thrust forward in sound and as they progressed, their songs

began to feature nods to song structures and the established principals of songwriting, instead of a ‘song’ where a guitar is bashed, while Avey Tare and Panda Bear, the group’s vocalists, yelp atop the track. Merriweather Post Pavilion is the most obvious apogee of their catalogue thus far, with a natural inclination towards some kind of popular standard, while featuring the band’s characteristic knack for melody and experimentation without compromise. That is to say that AC will still baffle your average Kings of Leon fan but in their own way, they have made an album which has classic and/ or cult potential. It’s fitting that the album leaked on Christmas Day as it lends itself to that imagined and accepted wonderland indelible in the culture of the season. For Merriweather occupies a magical place where beautiful electronic noise collides with idiosyncratic timbres and comes out beaming. Album opener ‘In The Flowers’ sets the tone delightfully, with a whirling cacophony of noise beckoning us to join their flighty carousel. Animal Collective don’t really do meaningful vocals, often preferring their voices to be guides, hooks and mantras but on the Noah Lennox aka Panda Bear-led ‘My Girls’, it’s the closest they’ve come so far to hand-on-heart lyrics, in a paean to Lennox’s wife and daughter, singing “I just want four walls and adobe slabs for my girls” set to joyous whoops, while the song emits shards of short arpeggiated synth waves behind them. The song also features the first conscious ap-

pearance of some driving low-end frequencies, something which was largely absent in previous releases and helps set the album apart from their previous best on 2005’s Feels. ‘Also Frightened’ too features a bass-heavy squelch set to some beautiful (and there’s no way to get around this) Beach Boys-esque harmonies, while ‘Summertime Clothes’ is the most recognisable Animal Collective song here, due to its skipping, trance-beat as Panda Bear and Avey Tare sing the “I want to walk around with you” refrain. There’s an overall sense of space between the noise, which can be attributed to the production work of Ben Allen, his first time working with the band. Listen to the already-established closing number ‘Brother Sport’, written by Lennox, for his brother Matt, whose name becomes a fantastic echo amidst a rhythmic, bleating and climatic symphony. Panda Bear and Avey Tare’s vocal relationship helps define and refine the album’s strong danceable electronic aesthetic with some necessary humanity, as they share vocal focus and harmonies. Both men have distinctive and contrasting singing styles, yet the variance between them is crucial to the bristling energy of this record. When they align, it can be glorious. And it frequently is. Animal Collective are far from their freak-folk roots but the missives from their creatively foraging path are now essential and celebrated listening. ~ Niall Byrne

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Albums Antony & The Johnsons The Crying Light

(rough trade)

For those of tender heart, you will be delighted to know that one certain Mr Hegarty is back, expressing, and almost becoming, human frailty like no-one else. While not delivering the immediate swooning impact of the first two albums (we may have got used to his touching voice), The Crying Light is admirable in its restraint, mainly relying on Antony’s piano and voice, still resplendent in its delivery of those loving and oblique lyrics of loss and optimism. The subtle orchestration behind the songs introduces shade and light but never overwhelms proceedings. The album as a whole may not be a fully formed and wonderful entity, but it’s the beauty in certain individual songs that linger in the memory. ‘Epilepsy Is Dancing’ begins with the heart-breaking “cut me in quadrants, leave me in the corner” – yet rises to optimistic heights by the end, thank god. There’s a very subtle screeching wood instrument somewhere in ‘One Dove’ that is like a ghost in the song and though discussing murder, ‘Kiss My Name’ is quite upbeat in tempo. With any luck, you’ll still be tapping your foot cheerily when you reach ‘Another World’. Unquestionably the highlight of the album, it could well be the saddest, most tear-inducing song you’ll ever, ever hear. More instrumental ghosts float around the ether of this paean to either the planet Earth or, more probably, life itself. If you ever wish to elicit floods of tears at a funeral, this little number should do the trick. Perhaps lacking on this album, if to be overly critical, are some bigger sounds - some epics, which Antony is well capable of penning. There is some longing to hear his voice within a more orchestral surround: anything which might expand the plane of sound, which becomes a tiny bit claustrophobic by the end. Those of a less-than-melancholic disposition may recoil from the obvious mood of death and sadness but anyone who’s made a certain peace with their ‘duende’ has, in Antony, a flag-bearer for this human condition. It’s worth bearing in mind that, according to the artist, it’s not specifically darkness that pervades on The Crying Light. It is landscape and the future. Here’s to the future, then. ~ Simon Roche

Damien Jurado Caught In The Trees

(secretly canadian)

Seattle singer/songwriter Damien Jurado beats even Ryan Adams in the prolific stakes: Caught In The Trees is his ninth album in just 11 years. It seems young Damien has rather a lot to say. Unlike Adams, however, Jurado’s quality control has remained pretty high throughout, and Caught In The Trees shows no signs of tiredness, although few of the 13 songs deviate too far from the folkrock template he has established his name with.

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That’s not to say it’s all acoustic whimsy, however. The electric ‘Caskets’ has menace aplenty, ’Go First’ could be a Low out-take, while ‘Coats Of Ice’ has Jurado referencing “the endless bottles of pills that never seem to work”. Indeed, thematically, this is far from shiny and happy, displaying an intensity and insight that’s far from his normal narratives. Throughout, he’s accompanied by long-time friends and band-mates Jenna Conrad and Eric Fisher, with the former’s sweet voice complementing Jurado perfectly, from the upbeat, opening ‘Gillian Was A Horse’ to the plaintive, string-laden ‘Sorry Is For You’ or the pure country of ‘Everything Trying’. Caught In The Trees does get a little bogged down by its final third, with ‘Sheets’ and ‘Paper Kite’ testing the patience somewhat – there’s only so much soul-searching you can take in one go – but the Conrad-penned ‘Best Dress’ gets things back on track, before the closing acoustic folk of ‘Predictive Living’. While it won’t change your world, by and large, this is a competent and occasionally exciting collection from a man who shows little sign of slowing down. ~ Miles Stuart

Chairlift Does You Inspire You

(kanine)

What comes to mind listening to Chairlift? Birth control, mainly. Cropping up a number of times, not only on the album but in the first two songs, we seem to be constantly reminded of the need to ‘keep it safe’. And you know, Chairlift do kind of keep it safe but after a week of Scots pounding State’s delicate brain with songs of murder and infidelity, this is like an aural train ride through rural Scandinavia in a warm, new compartment. Caroline Polachek sings with the sort of comfortable female tones that you’ve heard many times before, low-fi (on ‘Evident Utensil’) and sometimes cutesy (on ‘Bruises’, like The Cure at their sweetest) but it is appealing. Layered with certain light electro and the odd bell or two, Chairlift do enjoy their ’80s synth sound but they don’t overdo it. The tone of the album does swerve about a bit. It’s can become little Portisheady (dark and smoky, but without a really distinctive voice to cut through the dry ice) and even touches country

in ‘Don’t Give A Damn’, with some beautiful slide guitar and echoed vocals. The B-side of the album (do people understand that anymore?) is the darker, mellower half and closes the album with the slow and swirling ‘Ceiling Wax’.The real treats are on the A-side, however. ‘Garbage’ is as good an opener as you’ll hear and very special when the simple but effective guitar kicks in. A highlight, ‘Planet Health’, is a very odd paean to our whole-foods culture, while relating the Heimlich Manoeuvre to making babies and how we’re all feeling great tonight. All over the shop, but it’s a pretty nice shop. ~ Simon Roche

The Lightyears London, England

(the lightyears)

When The Feeling made the graduation from playing covers in bars in the Alps to becoming the soft rock band of choice, it was three-piece The Lightyears who filled the gap. Now on their second album, the experience is long behind them but like their predecessors, the importance of making their own material as memorable as possible has hit home. The good news is that they’ve become more focused than in the past, less likely to sound like a bizarre compilation of different acts. They’re at their best making bright and breezy pop in the Jellyfish mould, tracks such as ‘Emily’ and ‘Sleepless’ floating along on a wave of harmony-filled choruses and rolling pianos. ‘This House Will Burn’, meanwhile, sounds like Babyshambles with less drugs and better manners. The Lightyears still can’t help themselves though and feel the need to push off in different directions, fortunately not without some success. The clunky ‘She’s The One’ and ‘Filmstar’ aside, their attempts at a harder, more rock edge work well, especially the opening instrumental ‘Firefly’ and the short, Beatlesly ‘That Was Us’. The grandeur of the album title never really translates itself into the album itself – and lyrics about Primrose Hill and the Tube can be a bit grating – but on ‘England’ they reach for epic and manage to pull it off. In a world of passing fashion, fake credibility and media hype, The Lightyears are able to stand out for all the right reasons, but that might just make their task all the harder. ~ Phil Udell

Cara Dillon Hill Of Thieves

(charcoal records)

Twice in her career now has Cara Dillon been poised at the so-called future of folk music, once when she replaced Kate Rusby in The Equation and then when she signed to Rough Trade as a solo artist. Both times brought the same result, a brief level of interest from the mainstream and then a return to the status quo. That seems to suit Dillon too, who left the indie label in 2007 for


Albums

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Former Secret Machines man joins up with NY sister act for soaring electronic pop.

]

School of Seven Bells Alpinisms

(ghostly international)

Consisting of Benjamin Curtis (ex- Secret Machines) and sisters Alejandra and Claudia Deheza, Brooklyn’s SVIIB have recently toured with M83, a match that’s a good indication of what to expect aesthetically from Alpinisms. It is a fulfilling album, the palette of which is rich with digital gauze, heavenly harmony and shoegazing electronic pop. A comparison to the Cocteau Twins is perhaps inevitable but justified as the sisters do share the same ethereal timbre as Liz Fraser. Take that blueprint and update it for 2008 with a coat of digital sheen: warm-toned synthesizers, glitchy beats and whirling ambient effects. The opening section is the most immediate, establishing the mood nicely with four upbeat numbers: the familiar ‘Iamundernodisguise’ (with vocals previously used in a different form by Prefuse 73), the percussive arc of ‘Face To Face On High Places’, the melodious ‘Half Asleep’ and the rich and noisy ‘Wired For Light’. There are a few missteps. The overtly long 11 minutes bleep-assisted ‘Sempiternal-Amaranth’ is testing and the dark eclipse of ‘White Elephant Coat’ wanders. But by the time you get to the one-two sucker punch of the vocodered ‘Chain’, with its refrain of “I can not seem to remember my dreams lately”, and the unique harmony of the jagged ‘Prince Of Peace’, the troughs are forgotten. School of Seven Bells largely soar on a crest of a beautiful digital wave. ~ Niall Byrne

the more homely environment of Charcoal. Hill Of Thieves, then, is being presented as the singer’s return to her roots. It certainly is a very simple album, Dillon often accompanied solely be her husband Sam Lakeman – although a range of guests, including Zoe Conway, do make an appearance. Despite this, the album fails to achieve either a stark beauty or a rip-roaring spirit. Instead, it just sits somewhere in the middle: sweet enough but offering very little that is really memorable. The more upbeat numbers never venture beyond the polite and where there should be genuine drama (‘The Parting Glass’, ‘She Moved Through The Fair’), there are simply faithful reproductions of the traditional tunes. The blame doesn’t necessarily lie completely with Dillon herself – she has proved remarkable in the past – but there is an overwhelming sense of playing it safe. And for safe, read boring. Ironically, by taking this approach, she has done what she was always tipped to do, make a folk album for people who don’t really like folk music. The trouble is that those who do like it are left wondering if she still has anything to offer. ~ Anna Forbes

Áine Duffy Put Your Money On

(áine duffy)

Screw trying to confuse people over the course of an album, the at-times batshit crazy Cork pow-

erhouse Áine Duffy instead tries to wrong-step listeners around every verse, chorus and curiously meandering guitar line on her debut record. As obsessed with the dramatics of a song as Jack Lukeman was a decade before her, Duffy delves into industrial sounds, and casually throws in vocal styles which jump from jazz to modern opera. At times, it feels like you’re being beaten up when listening to this, or at the very least like you’re in one of those rows with a girlfriend when you have absolutely no idea what you’ve done wrong. Duffy is a whirling, howling glass case of emotion but beyond that, she has some brilliantly bananas moments like ‘Been And Gone’ or the high-pitched theatrics of ‘Ask John’. For those looking for something a little more gentle, where she allows her voice to be left unfettered by too many guitars and synths attacking from all angles, the beautiful double dose of ‘In A Day’ and ‘Paperback’ in the mid section should be more than enough; the latter building on a gorgeously simple acoustic riff into something you can imagine on a Parisian stage in the late ’20s. It’s not all good, though, the stodgy production job being the main culprit, particularly in the latter stages and the budget almost certainly wasn’t there to match the ambition. However, the fact that Duffy can dream all this generally charming oddness up should have plenty of people waiting for the next instalment with open arms.

Marnie Stern This Is It And I Am It And You Are It And So Is That And He Is It And She Is It And (kill rock stars) It Is It And That Is That For those of us with long enough memories of dodgy heavy metal, talk of an American female guitarist who plays riffs at lightning speed can only conjure up horrific images of an artist called The Mighty Kat (whose key track, if you wish to know, was called ‘Heavy Metal Beethoven’). Yet these are thankfully modern times and not only does New Yorker Stern not feel the need to don spandex – although there’s a headband very much in evidence – she is also a favourite of Pitchfork, as opposed to Metal Hammer. None of which should make any sense but strangely, it does. What carries her through is her sheer self belief in what could have been an utterly ridiculous concept: a guitarist reminiscent of Eddie Van Halen at his most showy, performing alternative rock songs solo. What it actually is, though, is an, at times, hugely exciting record that rushes past at the speed of light. It helps that her songs are pretty decent, coming down far more in the cool New York camp then any overblown metal extravaganza. There are elements of both though, which is what makes it as unique as its title. An unexpected pleasure. ~ Phil Udell

~ John Joe Worrall

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Reissues & Compilations Welcome re-release from the late, lamented acerbic bard of sleazetown.

Warren Zevon Warren Zevon

(asylum/rhino)

When Jackson Browne came calling in 1975, LA singer/songwriter Warren Zevon had just about given up on his musical dreams, having relocated to Spain with his new wife. All that was to change, however, with this Jacksonproduced album the following year, which established Zevon as one of the finest songwriters of his generation (finally rewarded with a posthumous Grammy for 2003’s The Wind, following his death from cancer). This remastered, expanded deluxe edition of his major label debut, which featured contributions from various members of The Eagles and Fleetwood Mac, is a timely reminder of this sardonic songwriter as his best, from the Springsteen-esque blue collar rawk of ‘Poor Poor Pitiful Me’ to the pitch-black humour of the Tom Waits-ean ‘I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead’. But there was so much more to Zevon’s talent than wry sarcasm: album opener ‘Frank And Jesse James’ is as straightforward a country epic as you could imagine, while ‘Hasten Down The Wind’ is a stunningly simple love song and the Dylan-esque ‘The French Inhaler’ is an elegant elegy to the lost dreams and phonies of Hollywood’s “sleazy bedroom town”, and the perfect kiss-off to an ex (“When the lights came up at two/ I caught a glimpse of you/ And your face looked like something/ Death brought with him in his suitcase”). Indeed, Dylan’s confessional lyric-writing is a key influence, from the downat-heel ‘Desperados Under The Eaves’ to the rockabilly ‘Mama Couldn’t Be Persuaded’, apparently a reaction to Zevon’s own family life and his father’s

Various Artists Un-co-operative - Twisted Nerve (twisted nerve) 10th Anniversary Mix Selected by Twisted Nerve co-founder Andy Votel (also a musician and producer in his own right), Un-co-operative is a wilfully eclectic remix of some of the lesser-known lights from his famously diverse and ferociously independent label. Thus, the only inclusion from Badly Drawn Boy, their most commercially successful offspring, is an excerpt from his first ever release, the little known, whimsical ‘Riding With Gabriel Greenburgh’. There’s a serious amount of music sewn into this 13-track mix CD, with each ‘track’ actually comprising a mash-up of at least two and up to five actual songs, most of them instrumental. Kicking in like a Tarantino soundtrack, if Quentin lived in Bolton and overdosed on Skittles, it’s all skewed breakbeats and serrated guitar, mainly courtesy of the various remixes of DOT’s ‘Say Your Prayers’, Clear Spot’s excellent ‘A Slice Of Ginger Noise’ and Voice Of The Seven Woods’ ‘Fire In My Head’. Then there’s the slinky ‘Pretty Pretty’ by Mum & Dad (whose soaring ‘Animals In Towns’ is the most gloriously upbeat track here), the samba of Toolshed’s ‘I Rooster 2’, Kerdd Dannt’s scatty ‘Tiwn Gron’ and the menacing ‘Cock Diesel’ by Votel himself, with help from Sirconical. The latter seques into Dakota Oak’s quirky ‘Coffee Dreams’, one of the album’s many mood-swings, alongside The Liftmen’s whimsical

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heavy gambling, Meanwhile, the heart-rending ‘Carmelita’ should be required listening for any Ryan Adams fans. The second bonus CD features alternate takes and demos of the original 11 songs, with stunning solo piano demos of ‘The French Inhaler’ and ‘Mohammed’s Radio’, and a world-weary ‘Backs Turned Looking Down The Path’ the real highlights. ~ John Walshe

‘Sad Tale’, and Misty Dixon’s stunning take on Dolly Parton’s ‘Love Is Like A Butterfly’. Like most compilations of this type, there’s something for everybody, but equally, there’s bound to be stuff that you absolutely despise, but for fans of off-kilter folk, esoteric electro and stomping fuzz-pop, there’s much to admire. Like a chameleonic group sex party, Un-co-operative crams more inspired ideas into its 78 minutes than it has any right to, the styles mixing and morphing into one another with all the giddiness of toddlers on Red Bull. ~ Miles Stuart

Diplo Decent Work for Decent Pay : Collected Works Volume One

(ninja tune)

Wesley Pentz has been at the centre of a resurgence of sorts for club music for about five years now. Starting with his involvement in a Baltimore club night called Hollertronix, his production work with MIA and Santogold, a distinctly (and rather excellent) non-club album entitled Florida, but he is perhaps most lauded for highlighting global music to Western audiences, such as his repping of Brazil’s baile funk with his Favela Strikes Back mixtape, which led to the establishment of the Mad Decent label and non-profit social relief work for impoverished youth through music in indigenous areas of Australia. It’s certainly an impressive CV and this addi-

tion is an attempt to quantify Pentz’s remix and original work of the last four years into a physical release. The disc contains 16 tracks, with four original Diplo songs, two productions for other artists (Bonde Do Role & Kano) and remixes for the likes of Hot Chip, Claude Von Stroke, Black Lips, Spank Rock and CSS. While it’s an admirable first volume, with more presumably to come, perhaps it would have been better to release a definitive compilation, as numerous tracks here really aren’t that exciting. Remixes of Black Lips, Peter, Bjorn and John’s ‘Young Folks’, Hot Chip’s ‘Shake A Fist’ and Samim are forgettable and better left to an ephemeral existence on The Hype Machine. Standouts include Diplo’s own foray into Brazilian funk, ‘Newsflash’, with Sandra Melody, his remix of ‘Paper Planes’ (the best of a gazillion out there), the fruits of his Australian journey featuring Aboriginal rap, ‘Smash A Kangaroo’, and his remixes of ‘Let’s Make Love And Listen To Death from Above’ by CSS and ‘Put That Pussy On Me’ by Spank Rock. For all the good though, it’s hard not to ask why his genuinely brilliant remixes aren’t featured. Where are his reworkings of Yeah Yeah Yeah’s ‘Gold Lion’, Kanye West’s ‘Gold Digger’, Three Six Mafia’s ‘Stay Fly’ or his superior remix of Bloc Party’s ‘Helicopter’? Instead, the compilation focuses on his remix work from 2007. Here’s hoping that volume two will feel a little more definitive to match his prolific status. ~ Niall Byrne


Words by

TV

MAIA DUNPHY

HIGHS, LOWS AND A TA L E O F T WO T I C K E TS fit of rage? Well, in as much as Pat can do ‘fit of rage’. It was on about the same rage level as a grumpy two-year-old confronted with a plate of vegetables. Not quite Sinead O’Connor ripping up the pope’s photo. As we head into 2009, our hopes for the next 12 months are simple: we’d like to keep our jobs please, and we’d like some decent telly to watch, as we will all be staying in a lot more. Yes, we know there’s less advertising, less money and things are tight – we’re all in the same boat. But we’re being told to think before we spend, so if we’re going to hand over €160 of our hard-earned cash on a TV licence, all we ask is that it’s spent wisely.

2008 was, to be fair, a mixed bag on the tv were quickly plugged with rehashed front Most of us were too busy talking about recessions, down-turns and the new man in the White House, but some voices could just about be heard piping up over the commotion, “Hey, there’s nothing on telly”. And they weren’t far off. Unless you were a fan of ever-flourishing reality TV, in which case 2008 would have been a veritable box-shaped haven for you, as it showed no sign of waning. From the usual suspects like Big Brother and the multitude of next top model shows (how many new top models does the world need?), to newcomers like The Choir and the countless find-a-newWest-End-star shows. And we had our usual stab at them over here too; from the Irish version of The Apprentice to the ludicrous, but surprisingly successful original format of Fáilte Towers. Of course, reality TV culminated, as usual, in the big multiple climax to the year that was the ménage a trois of Strictly Come Dancing, I’m a Celebrity... and X Factor. Yes, love it or loathe it, reality TV continued its hold over the schedules. But if you think we have reality overload, check out realitytvworld.com for some of the ludicrous formats the Yanks have had to put up with. The writers’ strike at the beginning of last year meant great big holes in the schedule; holes that

reality shows like Gladiators (we soon remembered the reasons this show was axed), and plenty of new easily renewable (but hopefully not) gems: Parking Wars, for one – and yes, it is a show about parking attendants.

Non-reality wise, there were highs and lows. The BBC’s follow up to Life On Mars, Ashes To Ashes didn’t disappoint (keep an eye out for a new series later in the spring). BBC Three brought us the best Aussie export since BMX Bandits in the shape of Chris Lilley’s brilliant mockumentary, Summer Heights High (if you haven’t seen it yet, buy the DVD immediately). Lilley’s other tour de force, The Nominees, also made it to these shores, but RTE broadcast it in the wee hours of Sunday morning, so it’s unlikely anyone found it. Keep a beady eye out for it being repeated again in 2009 as it will become the stuff of comedy legend. Some of the lows are so low they don’t warrant further mention, step forward Katherine Lynch, (and then step away from the telly), and others were TV gold; did everyone catch the cringe-making Late Late Show episode where Pat ripped up two Toy Show tickets live on air in a

What’s on Born Survivors BBC Three If you’re looking for a chuckle-filled start to the New Year, this might not be the series for you. BBC Three are kicking off the year with a ground breaking new multi-platform project for the second season four one-hour documentaries telling the stories of young people surviving whatever life throws at them; from drug addiction and homelessness to anorexia and teenage prostitution. Hard hitting hardly covers it. Happy New Year. The Lucy Kennedy Show RTE 2, Tuesdays Lucy Kennedy goes back to chat – this time without Podge & Rodge. Will she take a leaf out of the bachelor brothers’ acerbic book, or adopt a more ladylike line of questioning? Time will tell. Dragons Den RTE 1 Following on from TV3’s version of The Apprentice (wonder how long the winner’s job as a used car salesman will last?), RTE give Dragons Den an Irish makeover. Budding entrepreneurs pitch their money-spinning ideas to five of Ireland’s most successful business people. Seeing as the last year saw some of Ireland’s most successful business people bankrupted, there might not be too much money on the table.

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DVD match), right up to the opening of Croke Park to rugby and soccer, and the historic Six Nations game with England in 2007. Fascinating. ~ John Walshe

For Fans of: GAA, obviously.

Joyride 2: Dead End Director: Louis Morneau Starring: Nick Zano, Kyle Schmid, Nicki Aycox, Rebecca Davis Running Time: 97 minutes. Extras: Making Of, Featurettes

[

Liam Neeson drops the ‘nice guy’ routine in Pierre Morel’s slick and stylish thriller.

Taken Director: Pierre Morel Starring: Liam Neeson, Maggie Grace, Famke Janssen Running Time: 94 minutes. Extras: Making Of/ Premiere/ Inside Action featurette.

Having given up his career to be closer to his estranged 17-year-old daughter, former CIA agent Bryan Mills (the ever watchable Neeson) is forced to take matters into his own hands when she’s kidnapped in Europe, drugged and forced into the sex trade. Co-written by Luc Besson, Taken is a slick action thriller, which sees Neeson smashing, killing and torturing his way through Paris in a bid to locate his missing child. It’s fast, frantic and fun, with some stunning Bourne-esque fight sequences, although it does require a certain suspension of belief – surely not all Albanian human traffickers can be such bad marksmen. That aside, however, Taken is a fine thriller which should have done better at the box office, but was probably too European for American audiences and Neeson’s cold-hearted anti-hero too honestly ruthless for conventional tastes. Thoroughly recommended. ~ John Walshe For Fans of: Frantic, Gone Baby Gone, the Bourne trilogy.

The Diary of Anne Frank Director: Jon Jones Starring: Ellie Kendrick, Tamsin Greig, Iain Glen Running time: 145 minutes Extras: Documentary

The story of Anne Frank is quite probably one that people don’t know as well as they think they do, reason perhaps for the BBC to screen this fiveparter on consecutive nights over the New Year. . We all know the premise but it remains the case that if someone came up with a fictional account

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of two families living in secret for two years while the Nazis set about systematically destroying an entire race of people, it would be dismissed as fantasy. Newcomer Kendrick is mesmerising as Frank herself, focusing on a story that is less about the war outside and more about a teenage girl who had such great hopes and dreams. Thankfully, there is no attempt to turn this into some glossy blockbuster, concentrating instead on fine character acting and a script that portrays the claustrophobia and terror, but also humour of her situation. The ending, as expected as it is, is still heartbreaking and is all the more reason why this is required viewing. ~ Phil Udell For Fans of: The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas, The Nazis – A Warning From History.

Part Of What We Are Running Time: 201 minutes. Extras: The GAA in Europe; The Hurley Maker; Football’s Greatest Game: Dublin V Kerry 1977; Football’s Greatest Rivalry: Dublin V Kerry.

Billed as “a living, breathing history of the GAA”, Part Of What We Are is a four-part documentary narrated by Mick Lally and written by Sean Moran and Tom Humphries. Featuring interviews with players past and present, including the likes of Kevin Moran, Jason Sherlock, Donal Og Cusack, as well as historians and politicians, the series traces the origins of our national sports and the organisation that supports them, from its “taming of the faction fight” to its current status as the biggest sporting establishment in the country. An enthralling story, it includes a wealth of incredible anecdotes (such as when then Irish President, Douglas Hyde was suspended from the GAA in 1938 for attending an international soccer

The follow-up to the groundbreaking, smash-hit Oscar winning American horror film... OK, OK.. that’s a lie. We already know what to expect from the title don’t we? Gratuitous titty flash within 90 seconds? Check. Implausibly obscured face of killer trucker in every scene he appears? Check. Beautiful all-American cast waiting to be picked off? Check. Convenient car breakdown used to advance plot? Yup. Spooky deserted house in the middle of nowhere? Uh huh. While the first film in this hopefully now defunct series had a decent cast and was produced by JJ Abrams of Lost and Cloverfield fame, this sequel comes seven years later and arrives straight to DVD with a no-hoper director and an instantly forgettable collection of vapid, stereotype actors. It’s shoddy horror-by-numbers and plus, it’s hard to care about such annoying characters, especially when they are being led by a script that makes Wes Craven’s Scream seem like Shakespeare. ~ Niall Byrne

For Fans of: The Hitcher, Wrong Turn, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

Balylon AD Director: Mathieu Kassovitz Starring: Vin Diesel, Mélanie Thierry, Michelle Yeoh and Lambert Wilson Running Time: 82 minutes. Extras: Scene Selection.

Babylon AD starts with a Vin Diesel monologue, which may be enough to put most people off but they’d miss out on a reasonably entertaining, if confusing, bubblegum action movie directed by the man who gave the world the wonderful La Haine (although he was also responsible for the forgettable Gothika). Based on the French novel, Babylon Babies by Maurice Georges Dantec, the movie is set in a harsh near-future, where semi-retired mercenary Toorop (Diesel) takes on the job of escorting a girl (Thierry), along with her martial artist nun minder (Yeoh), from Krygystan to the USA, in return for a new identity and new life in the homeland where he’s no longer welcome. All is not as it seems, however, as the child being delivered is anything but normal and the body-count soon begins to rise exponentially. While not in the league of Blade Runner or even Die Hard, Babylon AD is an adrenaline-pumping thriller that has so much action going on that you don’t get time to think, which is probably a good thing. ~ John Walshe For Fans of: Blade Runner, Gattaca.


Words by

Games

JOHN WALSHE

nothing particularly new here, but if you’ve yet to be bitten for the NFS bug, it’s the perfect cocktail of fast cars, great graphics and a plot so hammy it should have been recalled by the Food Safety Authority.

Mirror’s Edge X360, PS3, PC

(ea)

You’re Faith, a ‘runner’ (illegal courier) in an Orwellian futuristic cityscape, delivering a series of packages to various shady characters by way of the city’s rooftops, with a host of special athletic abilities, like wall-running and slo-mo ‘reaction time’ to help you overcome obstacles, inert and human, in your way. What could have been a stunning action platformer that crosses Blade Runner with Prince Of Persia, however, is rendered the most frustrating gaming experience of recent memory by clunky controls, irritating puzzles and bland animé cut-scenes. Avoid.

Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3 X360, PC

[

Resistance 2 takes up where its predecessor left off, but when the first game was so good, where’s the harm in that?

Resistance 2 PS3

(scee)

Resistance 2 continues the story of Lieutenant Nathan Hale exactly where the first game finished. For those unfamiliar with Sony’s PS3 shooter showcase, here’s a quick recap. A mysterious virus spread across Western Europe in 1949, along with a race of nasty, ugly, human-hating monster thingies called Chimera, who obliterated the continent and dug their way to England in 1951. Good old Uncle Sam sent in some of his brave boys to help out the Limeys. So far, so Boy’s Own. Our hero, Hale, was infected with the virus but survived, gaining incredible strength and regenerative powers in the process. The game begins with Hale being picked up by chopper and sent to a special research centre for ‘observation’ by a sinister scientist, who keeps muttering intriguing phrases about ‘inhibitor treatments’ and the Sentinels (others, like Hale, who have survived the Chimeran virus with superpowers). Before you can take any of this in, however, the base in Iceland comes under attack and you’re confronted with enormous beasties straight out of HP Lovecraft’s worst dreams. The action is relentless, the plot secondary (although the alternate take on history is amusing) and the graphics and sound are stunning, with the Chimera, in particular, rendered in stunning detail, from giant airships to the nightmarish Kracken, which bears a more-than-passing resemblance to its counterpart from ancient legend. Mixing up Halo-style room-to-room combat

]

(the chameleon Chimera are a real bugger in this environment , generally remaining invisible until they’ve sliced you up) with Day Of The Deadesque zombie shooting frenzies, Resistance 2 is bigger, badder and better than its predecessor in almost every way, particularly the online game modes.

Need For Speed Undercover X360, PS3, PC

(ea)

The latest game in the popular street-racing series doesn’t deviate too much from the formula that’s worked so many times before. The only difference this time around is that you’re an undercover officer, trying to get close to an international crime syndicate who’ve been stealing and smuggling a whole lot of cars. There’s lots of cheesy filmed cut-scenes right from the off, as you bid to build up your rep. amongst the bad boys of the Tri-City Bay Area. Cue lots of shortish speed-tests, from straightforward sprints to circuit races, highway battles (where you win by leading for a certain time or by a particular distance) and other events where you have to cause a large amount of damage to civic property in as short a time period as possible. Any racing fan worth their salt will fly through the opening salvos, but it’s when you start to steal vehicles for the bad guys that things get tough – outrunning the cops is usually manageable, but doing it without destroying your latest ride is a lot harder. If you own any of its predecessors, there’s

(ea)

Red Alert 3 is probably the funniest real time strategy title you will ever set thumbs on, with over an hour of real film footage featuring the likes of Tim Curry, Jenny McCarthy and George Takei hamming it up for an alternate history lesson that comes across more Carry On Cold War than Doctor Strangelove. Basically, the Russians invent a time machine and wipe out Einstein, which means nuclear physics (and thus, the atom bomb) never existed. Instead we have a threeway war (with some very odd weapons indeed) between the Russians, the Allies and the Empire of the Rising Sun. A RTS game with a sense of humour? You betcha. B-movie-tastic.

Also Released Lips

(microsoft)

X360 Bill Gates’ answer to Singstar, this is karaoke, Microsoft-style, with tunes from Alicia Keys to The Ramones. Good fun. Monopoly

(ea)

X360, PS3, PS2, Wii The classic board-game gets a makeover for the console generation, with lots of silly mini-games thrown in. Save yourself a fortune and buy the table-top version. Banjo-Kazooie Nuts & Bolts

(microsoft)

X360 Microsoft’s attempt at a Ratchet & Clankstyle adventure falls very flat thanks to long load times, an irritating game interface, lack of voice acting and dull gameplay.

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Anger Management

T HE S OAP THAT DO ES N’ T WA SH JOHN JOE WORRALL CHRISTIAN KIRKEGAARD

Words and Bile by Illustration by

‘Shut it you slag!’ Christ on a bike, but can we not have one weeknight without pain, despair and Dot sodding Cotton? One weeknight in a fucking millennium without ‘summing happenink on tha markih’… why oh why must it go on? But there it is, unrelenting, poorly acted and viciously, maliciously downbeat. I absolutely loathe every fake brick, every fake pint pulled and every different business venture involving the name ‘Beale’ which appears fuck knows how many times a week these days in Eastenders. In fact, throw Coronation Street and Emmerdale in there too. Both shite, both previously with a smidgen of credit but now so muddied with hateful characters that if they were cats, they’d be put down four times, just to make sure they’re really dead. Was I the only one who thought when Brookside ended, it was a case of ‘one down, shitloads more to go’? Between RTE and TV3, we have around two hours a night, five nights a week of this balls and that’s excluding the Aussie dramas. Though the latter are worth watching just to nudge the person next to you to and tell them about Stefan Dennis’ horrific foray into late ’80s synth pop, unless that’s just me? Surely not… The defence thrown up by many will be that these, for want of a better word, ‘dramas’ deal with big issues, things which run deep in the emotions of everyday society; be it teenage pregnancy, cancer, physical or sexual abuse, not to mention every TV chief’s favourite – anything with lesbians. Well bravo for stealing a few Daily Mail headlines and turning them into storylines but why do they find it necessary to get the worst actors imaginable to deal with these issues? There’s a guy called Dev in Coronation Street and he approaches each line as if it’s a conundrum meant for a slightly dim seven-year-old, bereft of any contact with the rules of diction. “You want to buy my shop… okay yeah… (raises voice hugely) YEAH WELL YOU, YOU’VE COME TO THE WRONG PLACE (drop tone of voice for no reason), this is my BUSIness, my LIVELIhood, yeah, yeah, my sweetHEART… get out Vernon.” Actors who can barely mutter the word ‘wha’, or at a stretch ‘whatchu mean I’m out of order’ without seeming like their brain has broken in half litter these shows until they’re chucked into a jungle to save their careers.

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There’s so little that makes sense in these puny, ugly universes as well. Entrepreneurs are everywhere in Soapland; the ratio is astonishingly out of synch with the rest of society. If someone hasn’t owned 25, 50 or 100% of a pub, shop, bookies, poxy market stall, video shop or greasy spoon café then they haven’t lived. There is something that many of you will be dying to say and yes I’ll admit it, I hate the fact that I know too much about these shows. The last few years have seen a decent job of avoiding this shite, but a childhood with one TV in the house meant most evenings had a dose of Arthur Fucking Fowler’s crumpled, ashen face beaming in from Albert Square or the homespun bollocksology from Coronation Street. But in amongst all the horrendous storylines, there’s one episode of the London-based crapola which stands out in particular: it arrived about 15 years ago and signalled a half an hour of pure, condensed misery. Dot and Ethel in a room talking about their lives… the men they’d lost, the war, tea leaves and much, much more in awful, drawn-out detail. Think of the worst play you’ve ever seen, add melancholic pensioners smoking and you’ll get the idea. ‘Maybe that’s what hell is,’ I thought at the time, these two talking endlessly with fag ash everywhere. And all my 10 yearold self wanted was for this to end and Allo Allo to come on. In many ways, I’m still waiting. Oh René… give us a look at the Fallen Madonna with the big boobies: we need cheering up.


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. AND THE SWOT EVEN WO N A N AWA R D !

IRISH WEB AWA R D S B EST MUSIC SIT E OF 2008

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State Issue 10  

ones to watch villagers heathers antony & the johnsons animal collective

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