The Siren, Voulme 25, Issue 9

Page 1

College Tribune Entertainment Supplement 22.02.2011

The Blackout Music

Radiohead Page 5


True Grit Review Page 11


Campus Style Examines UCD Fashion Page 8



The Siren 22.02.11

Electrical Storm by Tracey O’ Connor

Ever wondered exactly why Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing” is such a wholeheartedly guilty pleasure that it is reserved for the drunken final tunes of weddings, over-thetop birthday celebrations and 80s-themed dive bars? Or why The Cure can often seem like the aural equivalent of hoovering up seven Easter eggs in one sitting? It may be because the fingertips you’ve shredded, struggling up the sheer rock-face of life, are set at ease, while your feet start jiving unconsciously, and the contents of your brain ease to one side a little, sending into a curiously demented tail-spinning dance. It could be. But most likely, it’s the delicious synthesizer rush. Saccharine, indulgent, releasing more serotonin than sex with a saucepan of mashed potatoes rifled with chocolate chips - synthesizers create a cacophony of blissful, mind-numbing sound that is embarrassing even in the sole company of yourself. Fortunately, facing the mirrors to the wall and partaking in the company of a bottle of Tesco’s cheapest, solves this issue easily. I’m pretty sure that’s what Robert Smith did, although I can’t be certain about how he coped without Tesco. While it’s safe to say that I feel similarly about synthesizers as Sir Mix-A-Lot does

about the female derriere – “I like ‘em round and big and when I’m throwin’ a gig I just can’t help myself” – this fascination is not limited to personal opinion. Since the development of Moog synthesizers in the sixties, this potent machine has been utilized across a range of rock and pop genres. Although perhaps never more popular than in the eighties, during which the disarmingly modest-looking keyboards formed a cornerstone of Generation X culture, synth use continues to evolve, excite and make money with the likes of LCD Soundsystem, The Killers, Passion Pit, and Crystal Castles. The idea was a long time in development before Moog’s easy access incarnation. From the ‘Electromusical Telegraph’ to the ‘Singing Arc’, not to mention accompaniments to early films and TV shows, like “Gone With The Wind” and “The Twilight Zone”, there were many visions of how the many pleasures of synthesized music could be achieved, but none were particularly successful. The Moog and mini-Moog, being much cheaper and more userfriendly than its predecessors, hurtled through the barriers damming the floods of synth-psychedelia and electro, facilitating some major changes in the course of pop

music. Other companies soon hopped the wagon of course, but Moog still garners a lot of respect and uses names which force your mouth into funny shapes, like the Moogerfooger. The change in the tides of music production can be attributed to The Monkees and The Doors, who garnered substantial audience appreciation when they experimented with synthesizers in ’67. Even the imaginative Jim Morrison probably had difficulty envisioning the incredible range of achievements possible with technology at that time. In fact, it’s likely that many who utilized the instrument in its early years of popularity shied away from the more unconventional creations possible, due to the sheer incredulity of the

sound arrangements. This potential was particularly suited to psychedelic rock and acted as booster fuel to the creativity of this genre. Some gorgeous nerve-tingling gems of this sort can be found on Pink Floyd’s “Brain Damage/Eclipse” and “And You And I” by Yes. The instrument arguably came into its own in the ingenious hands of Kraftwerk in the seventies. Put simply, what they produced sounded like nothing else, except perhaps a mind-crumbling hallucination. This was music which could not have been composed without the synthesizer. It challenges our preconceptions of music, even of ‘enjoyable’, at times. Electro and synth-pop were the earlier fruits of the synthesizer’s courageous exploration of the

ability to invoke soundscapes and intensity of emotion far beyond the regular bounds of reality. With the development and rising popularity of other electronic instruments sequencers, drum machines, samplers and PCs, other genres were spawned – to the benefit or detriment of the musical world, depending on your tolerance for house and trance. There is little argument that as technology develops further, the contribution of the synthesizer to music will swell, probably beyond what we can currently envisage. As exciting as that may be, I cannot foresee this craving for another decadent slice of The Motor’s “Airport” being satisfied by anything other than indulgence.

to the ethereal quality of the album when listened to as a cohesive whole.They also do a good job of giving a little breather between standout tracks like ‘Hannah’, ‘The Great Estates’, and the slightly mournful ‘Broken Horse’, which is surely what autumn would sound like if a season could make a sound, with its relaxed acoustic sound and pensive lyrics (“October’s got those orange eyes/ But somehow I still lost sight”). With their notably otherworldly and delicate vocal sound, comparisons with Ben Gibbard, of Death Cab for Cutie and The Postal Service fame, are perhaps inevitable, and in fact probably quite justified. One would be hard pushed to argue that Freelance Whales have never heard of Gibbard’s work, but that’s not to say it’s derivative. Freelance Whales’ take on electronic dream-pop is distinctive enough to stand on its own merit, while perhaps taking inspiration from The Postal Service et al. Indeed, if you happen to have a lazy morning coming up when you don’t plan on getting out of bed, I recommend simply throwing on the album and listening to it straight through. You won’t be disappointed. There’s no word of a follow-up album right now, but it’s early days yet, and frankly the

band hits all the right buttons for their demographic, so I wouldn’t doubt the possibility of it coming within the next year or two. Even if you’re not of an indie bent I highly recommend giving these guys

a look - although if the idea of an album based around a dream journal makes you ill with the perceived pretentions, I can hardly blame you. Just saying though, you’re missing out.

The Specialist By Dan Binchy

This week for the Specialist, I’ve got something gentle and rather sweet for you. No, it’s not my tender embrace, but rather the quiet, soothing sounds of Freelance Whales. There was a time I would have snickered at their hipster image and mocked their indie sensibilities, but having listened to their debut album Weathervanes on a loop for the past two or three weeks I find I can no longer do so. Also I now buy all my clothes at thrift stores, because Oxfam’s too mainstream. Snarky banter aside, the band’s sound is rather wonderfully eclectic, featuring a banjo, harmonium, synthesizer, guitars, and various percussion items amongst their instrumentation, often making use of group vocals. Now bear with me for a moment, because I know that with the current attention to Mumford & Sons and their ilk, you’ve probably had your fill of quirky indie bands with banjos, but these guys are of another branch of the indie family tree. They perfected their oddball electronic indie pop playing in subway stations in New York. Some videos of this time can be found on the web, which definitely bear checking out even if only to see the looks that commuters give the skinny kids with the bass drum, harmonium and xylophone.

The band formed in 2008, having connected through that eminent source of helpful people, Craigslist. Weathervanes was largely written on the subject of childhood memories and half-remembered visions scribbled in dream journals, which explains much of the album’s sound. Though still relatively little-known outside the States, some of their music has been featured on a Twitter video and also on season 5 of Skins. The first track on Weathervanes, ‘Generator First Floor’, has an instant catchiness and universal appeal in its choir-like refrains and wistful lyrics, and later gets a callback in ‘Generator Second Floor’, a song which appears to be about a dying man reminiscing happily on his past. In fact, this dreamlike, nostalgic quality persists throughout the album, with the possible exception of one or two more obviously “pop” tracks like the undeniably likeable ‘Kilojoules’, which comes off like a somewhat unusual take on the love song. I say “comes off like” because Judah Dadone on lead vocals delights in metaphors, enigmas and generally being a clever smartypants. The two “filler” tracks, ‘Vessels’ and ‘Danse Flat’ - while initially grating in their subtle disguise as songs - serve admirably to add

The Siren 22.02.11



The Scoop

Bright Eyes - The Peoples Key 3 out of 10. By Joseph Conroy

Conor Oberst offers his eighth and final album under the Bright Eyes moniker. Like all previous Bright Eyes releases, the album begins with a spoken word snippet. These generally tend to offer a pretty good indication as to what type of record is about to follow. In this case it’s an American preacher type, ranting about the Sumerian Tablets, slavery, reptile people, Hitler, and alternate dimensions. Unlike other Bright Eyes albums, this time the voice keeps popping up rather annoyingly here and there on the album, talking about psyche energy, fascists and far off cosmoses. The basis of Bright Eyes’ success has been Oberst’s lyricism. For an artist who has been called an emo-folkster, many of the tracks on The People’s Key are overwhelmingly joyous and positive, and sung over major chord progressions.The lyrics tend to veer towards some love and positive energy mumbo-jumbo. Good to know Conor’s feeling the love, but his writing seems to be suffering for it. Many of the songs on this album feature a spacey rock sound.This both distracts from the lyrics and plasters over the cracks in them.The tracks with the broadest instrumentations have the weakest lyrics. It is when Oberst strips things back that the record gets decidedly more interesting, on songs like Approximate Sunlight, and particularly the penultimate track, Ladder Song. The record plays like a coda to the Bright Eyes project, rather than a band looking to go out with a bang. Elements of the entire back catalogue are present on the album, but it fails to go really go anywhere. The album adds little to the Bright Eyes catalogue. Those unfamiliar with Oberst would be much better served by checking out one of the early Bright Eyes records, or Oberst’s more recent Monsters of Folk project.

Jamie XX/Gil Scott-Heron - We’re New Here 8 out of 10. By Aonghus McGarry

It would be reasonable to consider Gil Scott-Heron the comeback king of 2010. Not only was he responsible for one of the most soulful records released of last year, he also had a considerable role in the making of the most high-profile album of the year, Kanye West’s ‘My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy’. To pair Jamie Smith, of The XX fame, with a man of such high standing makes much more sense than one would think. Smith was the man responsible for the distinctly broody, intimate sound of the The XX’s eponymous debut and through a fistful of excellent remixes, and the first great mix of 2011 for the BBC’s Benji B, has become a cornerstone of post-dubstep’s evolution. To take the work of Heron and give it an electronic twist could not be in safer hands. Lead single NY Is Killing Me is a fantastic reimagining of the original. With one hand, Smith transforms it into perfect dance floor material, and with the other keeps Heron’s spoken cracked vocals at the forefront of all the frantic action. Smith’s production ability is reinforced perfectly by the different ends of the spectrum hit with the instrumentals, ‘My Cloud’, though on the more mellow side of things, being one of the album’s highlights. Arguably the album’s strongest track, and hardest to categorise, is album closer ‘I’ll Take Care of U’, which is nothing short of euphoric. As of late, the work of Smith has been compared with budding stars James Blake and Jamie Woon.While his work with The XX may bear similarities with the work of Blake in terms of space and silence within their music, a much more pertinent comparison would be the glitchy electronics of the less well known but talented DJ’s Falty DL and Ramadanman. Fans of both Gil Scott-Heron and Jamie Smith approach ‘We’re New Here’ with trepidation. This is unnecessary. This record has bucked the trend of most remix albums, sitting comfortably with both the illustrious past of Heron and the promising future of Jamie Smith.

Radiohead - The King of Limbs 8 out of 10. By Joseph Conroy

While Radiohead’s sound has altered dramatically over the last 20 odd years, each album has still shown a clear sense of progression. Each successive release has retained strong elements of its predecessor. The King of Limbs is an album which still possesses much of In Rainbows’ more direct approach, particularly on the first half of the record, while the second half deviates to places that recall elements of a less muddled Hail to the Thief and a less obtuse Amnesiac. The overall effect is something distinctly different. The key achievement of this album is perhaps the cohesion of its blending of natural and digital sounds. Nigel Godrich’s production is luscious. It’s often hard to identify exactly which instruments are making which noises. The most modern of digital beats and voice manipulation sit neatly beside acoustic tones. Traces of acts like Four Tet and Flying Lotus, who have also pushed this mixing of natural and electronic sounds, can be heard echoing throughout the album, but the album’s sound always remains Radiohead’s own.Yorke’s handclaps on Lotus Flower, and the backtracked digital fluttering bird noises at the end of Give Up the Ghost, are some of the most obvious examples of this blending of natural and digital sounds. One of the key features of In Rainbows was its sparseness;The King of Limbs operates on a much grander scale. Each track features meticulously arranged layers of heavily reverberated noises. The album’s sound is clearly established in its opening track, Bloom. Its droning piano riff, its off kilter bass line and its broken beats and glitches swell into an avant-garde lumbering brass and strings driven movement which opens up the full scale of the album’s sound. All the way from the stuttering guitar-driven Morning Mister Magpie to the Pyramid Song-esque Codex, the whole album operates within the soundscape established by Bloom. Their experimentation with this sound reaches its high point on the largely instrumental mid-album track Feral. The King of Limbs is an extremely tight package. At 8 tracks spread over 37 minutes, it is Radiohead’s shortest album to date. It is the type of album where the songs that sound the weakest on the first listen come to sound the strongest by the tenth. Anyone who has enjoyed any of Radiohead’s post-OK Computer output will certainly find a lot to like on The King Of Limbs.

Yuck - Yuck

9 out of 10. By Daniel Nolan Yuck founders Daniel Blumberg and Max Bloom have come a long way since their time as part of generic NME favourites, Cajun Dance Party. There’s been much made of their current band’s debt to bands such as Dinosaur Jr. and Pavement - their fondness for feedback and reverb are particularly reminiscent - but there’s also a refreshingly original energy to a lot of Yuck’s debut album. Lead single ‘Holing Out’ bears the most obvious Dinosaur Jr. influence, riding in on a big riff that doesn’t bother with any kind of subtlety. As the song progresses though, it develops into something a lot more elegant and interesting, which is relatively reflective of Yuck’s general sound. Good as it is, it doesn’t measure up to its B-side, ‘Coconut Bible,’ which has weirdly been left off the album despite being one of Yuck’s strongest songs to date. The other single, ‘Rubber,’ with its slow, heavy progression and distant vocals sounds more indebted to a different style of 90’s guitar band, such as Galaxie 500. While Yuck are highly derivative and open about their influences, it’s the touches or originality that spring up throughout the album that set it apart from other 90s revivalist bands. Touches like the ragged harmonies on ‘Georgia’, the album’s most direct cut, insure that Yuck are never weighed down by their influences. Bloomberg’s lyrics occasionally let him down. He tends to be at his best as a lyricist when he keeps it simple and direct, rather than over-complicating things such as on ‘Suck’, where he over-reaches slightly. This is never off-putting enough to seriously distract from the quality of the songs though. ‘Suicide Policeman’ is perhaps the record’s most original track. It starts out as a simple acoustic jangle, but winds up sounding slightly like Burt Bacharach with added feedback. It’s a surprisingly effective combination, and gives the impression that Yuck will be capable of branching out their sound on future records. For now, their debut is a pretty effective start.

playlist Jedward – Lipstick Having conquered the hearts of many an eight year old through their X Factor appearances and slots on just about any TV show that’ll have them, the terrifically terrible twosome have their eyes set on Eurovision glory. With a song this awful they might even win. Toro Y Moi – New Beat The one man ‘Chillwave’ juggernaut has gone and done a 180. On previous releases Toro Y Moi, real name Chaz Bundick, made tunes for a blissed out sunny day spent on a beach somewhere in California, but this is pure dancefloor. Sounds a bit like Prince, before he was really awful. Adele – Someone Like You It was very hard to pick a favourite song on Adele’s most recent album, but this might be the standout. Having stolen the show at the Brit awards with this astounding breakup ballad, she has gone and proven a very important point. Pop music can still be brilliant. Cults – Go Outside Having released this song for free early last year, Cults have jumped from music blog obscurity to major label upstarts, and now you’re being asked to pay for this song. You really should, it’s very cheery and very good. Kanye West – All Of The Lights With more contributors than this writer has writing space, the latest single from Kanye West can only be described as epic. Rather than being a messy affair, this is probably the finest production on any hip-hop single for years. I hope to God this gets the airplay it deserves, because I will never get sick of it. by Aonghus McGarry

Pat de Brún

Scott Ahearn

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UCD International week February 2011:


22nd 23rd 24th 25th

Monday 21st

13:30 - 14:30: Coffee afternoon with Traditional Irish Music Global Lounge (Ground Floor Main Restaurant)

17:15 - 18:15: International Week Launch - Wine and food Reception Global Lounge (Ground Floor Main Restaurant) 18:00 - 19:30: Salsa Lessons - Main Restaurant 20:00: Spanish film - Room J109 Arts

Tuesday 22nd:

13:00 - 14:00: Malay and Chinese Dances - Atrium, Student Centre 13:00 - 14:00: General Exchanges Talk (for stage 1 students only) - Global Lounge (Ground Floor Main Restaurant) 18:00: Halal Food Festival (Food from Malaysia, India, Thailand, Pakistan, South Africa,Italy, Singapore, Libya, & more) - Astra Hall, Student Centre

Wednesday 23rd:

13:00 - 14:00: Traditional Chinese Board Games - Global Lounge (Ground Floor Main Restaurant) 20:00: Mexican Party - Room C214 Arts Belfield FM - International Week

Thursday 24th:

13:00 - 14:00: Traditional Irish Music - Chill Area, Agricultural Building 17:30 - 19:30: Traditional Chinese Games - Global Lounge (Ground Floor Main Restaurant)

19:30: Table Quiz & Wine & Food Event - Astra Hall, Student Centre

Friday 25th:

11:00 - Trip to Powerscourt Gardens & Waterfall sign up by emailing


UCD International Office | Spanish Society | Chinese Students & Scholars Association | Trad Soc | International Students Society | Malaysian Society | Belfield FM | Islamic Society

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The Siren 22.02.11



How to Make an Album Launch a Global Event in the 21st Century by Joseph Conroy In the ever fragmenting music industry, it is harder than ever to turn a record launch into a global event. Perhaps the last attempt at such a launch was U2’s No Line On the Horizon. They went old school, blanket media coverage, a week-long residency on The Late Show with David Letterman and the BBC dedicated a night to the band on the day of the launch (later ruled to be in breach of the BBC’s commercial endorsement guidelines, such was the coverage). But, ultimately, the album sales were far below what was forecasted. This was deemed a flop. The old system had failed. In the tail end of 2010 Kanye West tackled this problem by leaking songs from his My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy in the weeks coming up to the release through his Twitter account. He also released the audacious MTV-backed 35 minute long Runaway preview video on YouTube before the launch. This approach was effective, but still this drip-feed of material meant that the impact of the whole body of work was somewhat diluted by the time the album was actually released. Enter Radiohead. Last Monday they unleashed Project Valentine announcing that their new album would be available the following Saturday only via digital download, only off of their own website and on their own label. All that was released was the title, The King Of Limbs, and Stanley Donwood’s cover art. A scramble for information ensued. Radiohead fan site atease.web made the announcement that the album would feature 8 tracks. This information was enough to attract so much traffic to the website that its server crashed. Fake torrents were placed on prominent pirate music websites on Tuesday. These files were downloaded by thousands, but they only contained a mix of Madonna and Green Day tracks. Also on Tuesday, Vice Magazine cemented their position as the hippest hipsters on the internet with their über-ironic parody exclusive first review of a non-existent Radiohead record. In the middle on the night on Thursday, a tweet appeared on Radiohead’s official Twitter account in Japanese. The message translates to “Hachiko Square Shibuya, 59 minutes Friday at 18” referring to the square in downtown Tokyo. This sparked wild speculation that there would be a performance by the band in Hachiko Square at 18.59 on Friday, 09.59 GMT. This event was promptly cancelled due to security concerns. What was meant to happen remains unclear. Thousands still showed up at Hachiko Square, but 18.59 came and went and nothing happened. With all eyes on Tokyo, a surprise email was sent out by XL Records at 10.15 in the UK

About one third of the comments were something along the lines of “OMG RADIOHEAD ARE GODS”, while another third were along the lines of “ugh… I prefer the earlier stuff”. The in-between initially fell into two camps. announcing that the new Radiohead album will be released 24 hours early and will be available to download shortly. A promo video then appeared on YouTube for a track off of the album, Lotus Flower. The bizarre video is filmed in black and white and features a 42 year-old Thom Yorke wearing a bowler hat and doing a manic interpretive dance to the new track. By evening the video had gone viral, as well as sparking a host of parodies, such as Mr. Yorke dancing to both Beyonce’s Single Ladies and Shakira’s Loca. The Siren received word from Radiohead’s Irish distributors, confirming that the record was available to download at 10.45 on Friday morning, and the album began to be downloaded on computers all over the world. Radiohead have remained at odds with both the record industry and the press. Thom Yorke has particularly expressed his frustration at the way in which, once the first reviews of a new albums are released, other journalists tend to converge to the ideas in these reviews, rather than really listening to new records and developing their own opinions. In many ways, what was seen on Friday morning was a face-off between blogs, social networking websites, and the traditional media. Newspapers and music magazines scrambled to get the first reviews in. Each of these reviews were largely positive, but with big ‘buts’. To the NME it was “a record to admire more than truly love”, the Telegraph said Radiohead had got too complacent with the sound they had developed from Amnesiac onwards, while The Irish Times were perhaps the most positive but still think it lags in the middle. On the other end of the media spectrum, indie music blog Stereogum opened a “Comment Party”, inviting readers to give their initial reactions to the record. The website is well known for its “Premature Evaluation” feature, which reviews leaked

albums before the established media is allowed to, but on this case they reserved their judgment. About one third of the comments were something along the lines of “OMG RADIOHEAD ARE GODS”, while another third were along the lines of “ugh… I prefer the earlier stuff ”. The inbetween initially fell into two camps. Some thought it started well and lost its way, others thought the first half was a bit bland, and loved the second half. These opinions changed throughout the day. As people listened more, they seemed to come to like the album more and more as a whole. Codex, Feral, Lotus Flower and Separator seem to be early fan favorites. By the evening almost all media outlets had track-by-track reviews live on

their websites. The Telegraph has no less than three different reviews of the album. The difference of opinion, particularly in terms of how they describe the actual music, was renarkable. For instance, the NME likened Morning Mister Magpie to “‘Unforgettable Fire’-era U2”, while Rolling Stone called the same track “clattering, hyperactive, pencil-neck funk”. Rolling Stone also described Feral as “abstract, loopy, throbbing”, while the Telegraph said it sounded like “late night post-dubstep ambient intimacy blended with a light almost jazz-African percussive groove”. Through the shotgun release of the record, Radiohead managed to create a global listening experience for the 21st century, in which everyone received

the music at the same time, miraculously without even a single track being leaked from it, and could listen to it together with no preconceptions. It will be interesting to see how the industry responds to this experience.



The Siren 22.02.11

The Best in Town? Graham Luby meets Welsh rockers and Kerrang favourites The Blackout Situated between vacant dirt lots and unfinished concrete shells in the city’s Docklands, the Gibson is one of Dublin’s better cheap hotels. Resplendent in granite, indoor flora and floor-to-ceiling glass walls, the punk-rock artwork is the only indication that this is one of the hubs of Dublin’s entertainment business. When an act retires to the Four Seasons after headlining the O2, their support bands usually slink out the back door and across the Luas tracks to the Gibson. In The Blackout’s hotel suite the afternoon, following a triumphant supporting slot in the O2, trying to appear invisible amongst fist-bumps and yelping PR men, this reporter senses

that something is wrong. The place is spotless. While a hole kicked in the wall a la Robert Plant would be too much to ask, not even a suitcase or a lone hitop sneaker litters the earth-tone shag pile carpet. The door to the band’s inner sanctum opens. Out of the corner of my eye while fumbling with my borrowed Dictaphone, a bespectacled hobbit from one of UCD’s other media factions emerges and, without any fanfare, slinks out into the corridor and away. His oversized backpack is the last thing to bounce comically off the door frame before he disappears, unnoticed. Seeing this, it appears that the last thing The Blackout

want is another grilling. Now aiming to get in and out while creating as little friction as possible, I frantically leaf through my notepad for my pre-prepared

“Oh sorry, are you waiting on us? Come on in.” Slinking into the room, my previous trepidation melts away. Drummer Gareth “Snoz” Davies

The Blackouts are currently in Dublin, supporting My Chemical Romance on the World Contamination Tour, promoting their new single “Higher & Higher” questions and shoot a sly glance into the room at the dark figures milling around. Too quick for me to look away, the group’s balding guitarist James Davies catches my eye.

emerges from behind a wall and greets me with a handshake that could grind bones to dust. “Sit down over there if you like. We had thought about doing this on the bed, hah!” Davies bounces

off the freshly changed kingsize and into the circle of chairs facing me, joining Davies and one of the group’s two vocalists, the immaculately coiffured Sean Smith. The Blackout are currently in Dublin supporting My Chemical Romance on the World Contamination tour, promoting their new single “Higher And Higher”. This precedes three Irish dates as part of an extensive UK headline tour in April to coincide with the release of their upcoming fourth album, “Hope”. Following up on their last album, 2009’s “The Best In Town”, is not going to be an easy task due to its five K rating (the highest rating the rock bible



Kerrang! can bestow), but as I gather immediately, Sean Smith is more than up to the task. “We actually got nine Ks! One week they gave us four Ks, and the week afterwards they did a reprint saying ‘Actually we counted up the Ks wrong, we meant to give them five!’ So we were the first band ever to get a

beforehand?” admits Smith, cracking a grin. “We were doing a photo shoot on a cold hill in Guildford, and I got a phone call saying we had got the MCR tour, but I was too cold to care!” “But the best thing about it, I think, for us, was that they chose us to do it,” Lawrence interjects. “Same thing with Limp Bizkit

But however they are received by the public, who might choose glitter over substance, it is clear that The Blackout are in this business for themselves. “Higher And Higher”, the first single from “Hope”, has become one of the most hyped tracks in the UK since its release last week. nine K album! That’s more than Metallica ever got!” I ask how The Blackout have found touring with one of alternative music’s biggest bands, and how they landed their coveted support slot. “I did an interview [with Kerrang!] recently, and they asked me who was left that we had always wanted to tour with,” recounts Davies. “We had just toured with Limp Bizkit in Europe and that was a dream come true, but I said that I had always wanted to tour with My Chemical Romance. And then this came about afterwards, which is insane!” “We didn’t even know we were doing it until - what, a week

- when we played with Limp Bizkit, they chose us as well.” Once upon a time,The Blackout played Cardiff ’s Barfly venue to approximately no people, save for the bar staff. Today, as they bounce around in a chrome hotel suite, still buzzing from the previous night’s rapturous response from the audience of a band that wanted them on the bill, the days of living handto-mouth in a van seem like a distant memory. By rights, they should be on top of the world. However, “Hope” presents a much darker vibe than their last album, 2009’s swaggeringlytitled “The Best In Town”. “It’s, like, personal experience over the last two years,” shrugs

Davies. “Since the last album, we’ve had ups and downs. Several of the songs are quite cheery as well, but I think we’ve just seen people kind of come and go, and kind of turn their backs on us and stuff as well, so that’s where the darker element kind of comes from.” Even being the best in town, the hard knocks of life as a band help to keep them grounded, as Smith goes on to reveal. “It’s just, like, seeing some bands and pop stars that are a load of shit come from nowhere and do really well, and then there’s us with a nine-K album and we’re NOT massive!” Their experience on the Vans Warped Tour (punk’s infamous annual travelling circus) during

the last album’s touring cycle gave them a first-hand view into the injustices of the music scene: “A lot of bands who are getting a lot more attention have a lot of trance bits, vocoders and stuff like that, but the thing is, you’re a band. Be. A. Band.” Lawrence snaps. “I saw BrokenCYDE play. They’ve got a rapper and a screamer, but I’m sure that the screamer was miming.” But however they are received by the public, who might choose glitter over substance, it is clear that The Blackout are in this business for themselves. “Higher And Higher”, the first single from “Hope”, has become one of the most hyped tracks in the UK since its release last week,

and with the album following on April 4th, are they worried about how it will be received next to “The Best In Town”? “Nah,” quips Smith, to the amusement of his band mates. “When we made this album, I don’t remember once thinking like that. We literally just went in and wrote the album we wanted to write.” “Instinct was to go, ‘Well OK, we wrote a good album, surely we can write a better one’... it wasn’t like ‘It MUST be better’, but we were moving on as a band. How can we beat nine K’s anyway?” The answer was the best sound bite this reporter could have hoped for. “TEN K’s, that’s how!”



Nail It! Laura McNally has the inside track on how to care for your nails this spring. If there’s one beauty treatment to indulge in this spring, it’s grooming your nails. A perfectly painted set of nails gives an elegant, classy look, and you can experiment with different nail art designs for a more decorative look. Here are some tips on how to keep your nails looking well-trimmed and in top shape. If you’re going to invest in a good quality nail varnish, the infamous cult brand OPI sell a wide variety of colours. Their website,, shows the full range of colours available. Other top brands include China Glaze, Lancôme and Chanel. Use cuticle sticks to push back the cuticles on your nails. This is more effective if done after a shower or bath, or after soaking nails in warm water for 5 minutes. To do a French manicure, apply a clear base coat of varnish, followed by a light pink neutral shade. Wait to dry, and then apply some white nail varnish to the tips of each nail. Seal with a top coat

OPI and Barry M have released nail polishes which can be applied as a top coat to produce a “shatter” effect. Konad Ireland supply special sets for nail care and nail art. The pack comes with a stainless steel disc with various nail art designs which you apply ink to, transfer to a stamp, and then transfer to the nail. Their products are available for purchase through their website, Sally Hansen and The Nail Doctor sell a wide variety of nail varnishes for specific types of nails, whether you have dry, damaged or weak nails, or even nails that won’t grow. Both brands are available from Boots stores. Dark colours will make nails look shorter, whereas shimmery, metallic colours will make nails appear longer. For a more glam look, try gluing rhinestones or diamantés to the nails after applying nail varnish. Seal with a top coat to secure. Lemon juice is a commonly used remedy



From Left: Rachel Heavey (Age 20) 2nd Law & Philosophy Favorite Shop: T.K. Maxx Style Icon: My sisters, Suzanne & Jessie Marcus Brennan (Age 19) 1st Arts Favorite Shop: Penney’s Style Icon: 90’s boybands Ciara Cafferkey (Age 19) 1st Finance Favorite Shop: American Apparel Style Icon: My friends

to strengthen weak nails. It also helps remove dark stains on the nails. Avoid using metal nail files as they damage the nail. Instead, opt for an emery board which will work just as well without causing any damage to the nails. To whiten the tips of your nails, use a white nail pencil to colour in under the nail. When choosing fake nails, it’s important to consider the many types available. Look at their advantages and disadvantages, then choose which ones are right for you. The most commonly used forms are gel and acrylic. Gel nails produce a more natural effect, but are not as durable as acrylic nails. However, gel nails are less damaging than acrylic ones. Whatever your sense of style, be sure to give your nails some TLC this spring. You deserve it!

The Siren 22.02.11


The Siren 22.02.11


Fur & Against


Róisín Sweeney & Kellie Nwaorkie argue the two cases Pro-Fur Fur is one of the most beautiful and sumptuous fabrics, it can change one’s mood completely. It’s not necessarily to do with making you look good either. My fur coat is huge, old, bought second-hand, and the furthest it’s travelled from my house is to the corner shop, as I’m terrified of it getting damaged. It’s a comforting fabric, the feel and warmth of which is unlike any other. While I am pro-fur, I am also pro-animal welfare, not pro-animal rights. There is a huge difference between the two concepts. Animal welfare philosophy is formed around the idea of the responsible treatment of animals to obtain animal products, such as meat, milk, fur, and leather. Animal rights are the ideas of Ingrid Newkirk, founder of PETA, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. Animal rights groups view all animals and humans as equal, and condemn the use of any animals for human benefit. They are against pest control, medical research on animals, and oddly, pets. While PETA’s heart may be in the right place, their demonstrations and protests use the fear of being attacked or humiliated to force people into not wearing fur or farming animals.To me this reeks of hypocrisy, as it impinges upon the rights of people, in order to protect the rights of animals. Real fur is an exclusive, expensive symbol of glamour and status. It is not a material that is readily available to the masses, and this is the main reason why fur invokes so much more controversy than leather. An important point to make here is that, if you wear or use leather in any way, then it’s hypocritical to claim to be against fur. They amount to the same thing, and it’s incorrect to have opposing views on these two materials. Cows and animals used for fur are both products of factory farming, live under similar conditions, and the byproducts of both kinds of animals are used in their entirety.The difference between the two is cows’ skins are by-products, while with animals farmed for fur, everything else is a by-product of the production of skins. Environmentally, real fur is a far superior product to fake fur. The materials used in the processing of animal pelts are salts, sawdust, acids, soda ash, cornstarch, and degreasers. Blends of acrylic and modacrylic polymers are used in the production of fake fur. These materials can take generations to break down, and are composed of coal and petroleum. Faux fur is also not as warm as real fur. Some people claim that fake fur can replica the texture and appearance or the real thing - however I believe that just as

with meat or leather, there is not a good enough substitute. More proof of this is the fact that designers like Donna Karan more often than not choose to use real fur, and given the outrage, anger, and controversy that this can sometimes provoke, they would not do so if their was an aesthetic equivalent available to them. Almost 65% of the world’s fur comes from Europe, and European farms are strictly regulated and controlled by both national and European veterinary authorities.

Chinese fur farms are the least regulated, and it was difficult to find much detailed information on the laws on fur farming there. I believe regulations on the labelling of fur need to be improved so people can see where the fur originated. This is one of the biggest faults within the industry. I adore fur, but sometimes I do find it difficult to justify it to myself. I love it because it is incredibly beautiful and feels better than anything else. I’m never going to stop wearing it but I don’t think it’s completely ethical. A warning to those who are against fur, don’t ever try it on, it’s incredibly addictive.

Against fur There has been a long standing debate within fashion for years, and many designers, models and fashion addicts alike have been faced with the question; Fur or against? There is only one answer, and that is against. Once upon a hundred years ago, fur was viewed as a way of showing society just how special and wealthy you were. It was glamorous and made an impact when worn. Today, instead of wearing a real fur coat to make an impact, all we need is an iPhone 4,

or a Blackberry. Society today is moving at an alarming rate. We have new innovations in science, medicine, fashion and art. The last thing we need to do is continue on the route of real fur. Fashion is at a place where faux fur is just as aesthetically pleasing as the real stuff, but animals had to be skinned in the process. Faux fur is everywhere you look. Celebrity designer and animal rights devotee Stella McCartney drapes it over her catwalk models. From H&M to Next, Zara to Accessorize, there’s hardly a high street store that hasn’t heard the news. Fake fur, whether it is a coat with a funky collar, a trendy tippet, or a cute pair of cuffs, fake fur is fun to wear.

“Every time we buy or wear clothing without real fur, we reduce the animal suffering in the world,” says international charity the Fund for Animals. But, if you are one those pretentious fashion heads, who are deluded to the fact that owning and wearing real fur gives you access to some elite fashion group, who pride themselves in only wearing “the best”, then I feel sorry for you. Being able to purchase real fur is not directionally proportional to show off how wealthy you are. The majority of those who purchase real fur do not know the origin of their coat or item of clothing. Many animals are caught within the wild. Animals caught in a hidden steel jaw trap suffer a slow, excruciating death.The trap snaps down on the limb of an unsuspecting animal, sometimes breaking the limb. The trapped animals often freeze to death, or are attacked by predators from which they cannot flee. Many frantically chew off their own legs to escape the agonizing pain. If they are still alive when the trapper returns to the scene, they are bludgeoned or strangled to death. Animals raised on ranches are kept in cramped confinement and deprived of anything resembling a natural life, until finally they are killed, often by crude and painful means. Methods used include gassing, suffocation, or electrocution through the mouth and anus so that the “product”—the pelt— is not singed or stained with blood. Far from being “humane,” fur ranching is characterized by barren wire-mesh cages, isolation, and environmental deprivation so intense that animals often go insane, as animals used to roaming 15 miles each day go crazy from life in a cage. Animals are forced to endure all weather extremes, and veterinary care is typically non-existent, since it is not cost effective to treat an animal whose fate is to be turned into a coat. Animals that are naturally solitary are caged together, often resulting in cannibalism, and animals are often left to decompose in cages with live animals. This is the real price to pay for the expensive fur coat. Kim Kardashian has said she will continue to wear real fur and was recently photographed sporting an entire ensemble.The correlation between wearing real fur for vanity and intelligence is now obvious. If you have any ounce of it, you won’t wear it.

Golf Umbrellas Windy spring showers and inside out embarrassing umbrella situations can easily be avoided without being strictly argyle-patterned. Invest in a larger, more sophisticated umbrella that will go with most spring outfits.

Summer Blouses Lighten up your wardrobe with blouses, both pastel and colour, that can be easily tucked in to shorts, jeans and skirts and smartened up with belts and tights.

Shades The mornings are getting blindingly brighter, and hiding late-night bags under the eyes is made easy with the help of last summer’s polished aviators, Ray-Bans, or big framed shades.


Duvet Attire on non-duvet days Big baggy tracksuit bottoms, man hoodies and Uggs - unless it’s miserable out, this shapeless ensemble can look both lazy and unflattering.

Cher Lloyd bandanas The X-Factor’s long over. Turn your swag off please. by Kate Brady


The Siren 22.02.11

D.I.Y. or die Aoifa Smyth guides you through looking after and adjusting pieces in your wardrobe. We all know the feeling: your shoes are scuffed; your coat has gone bally, you’re missing several buttons off your cardigan and your favourite winter dress feels outdated. But, before you run after the rubbish truck with a pile of clothes to fire into the back of it, consider the small tweaks which can make an item feel as good as new again Add a new collar onto a coat or jacket which you have tired of. Pieces of real and faux fur can be purchased in material shops. Old leather jackets can be given a new lease of life with the addition of a sheepskin collar, these jackets new would set you back up to 200 euro on the high street. Search charity shops for coats and jackets which you could take the collar off, most of which will only cost 10-20 euro. Pin on the new collar and sew in the right position. Changing the

spring. Jeans and cords can be cut to your desired length, leave the ends frayed or hem them up. These can be worn with blouses or tshirts tucked in, over tights with ankle boots during the colder months, and bare legged when it gets warmer. Most haberdasheries sell single studs too, which can be added to pockets and seams for a more punk feel. If you’ve gotten bored of a dress which you once loved and probably dished out a small fortune for, don’t bin it just yet. Shoulder pads can be added easily to give it a more futuristic twist; these can be purchased in different sizes from the Woollen Mills. Pieces of material can be made into peter pan collars, which are both sweet and all over the high street at the moment. Lace can be bought in material shops. Rubenesque, in the Powerscourt

Shoulder pads can also be added to woolly jumpers, to modernise them. Even elbow pads look great on certain jumpers and cardischannelling the geek chic vibe. A long jumper which feels dowdy and dated can be cut down the front and turned into a cardigan. You can add a belt to close it over, or add on buttons and holes if you’re confidant at sewing. Moth holes or damage to wool can be covered over with patches or pieces of embroidery in the same colour, many of which can be picked up at haberdasheries. If a wool pieces has become bally, you can shave it gently with a razor to remove excess balls. Before storing away pieces which are out of season, make sure they are in good shape so you can make use of them when you take them out of storage. Always polish your boots and shoes and check

buttons of a coat or jacket is always a great way of updating it. The Woollen Mills has a lovely selection, with many military styles too. Old trousers can be chopped into shorts, a nice fresh look for

town house, stocks designer lace and silk pieces. American Apparel and Zara also sell separate collars to add onto clothes. Drab long dresses can be taken up easily, making them feel like new.

the heels to see if it needs to be replaced. If they are worn at the heels, shoe menders will replace them for about ten euro. Dry clean winter coats before packing them away. Meaning you won’t have to

fork out another hundred euro, or so, the next time a cold snap arises. Always put moth balls in with wools when storing them away and if possible place them in vacuum packed bags. All these tips are small adjustments

which could save you a little or a lot of money and give you more wear out of your purchases. Whether you shop in Pennies, Principles or Prada, love and attention to your clothes will benefit you and make sure pieces last longer.

Suits You, Sir! With the all important election happening this week, Alex Fingleton talks style in politics.talks style in politics. Charvet, the high end French tailor, is

shirts alone in the space of three years,

of a modern, successful and fashionable

themselves as successful and capable.

politicians don’t have to steal the

a lone remnant of the one-time many

during the midst of thsi country’s

Ireland. Policies are important, but

Search YouTube for “Brian Cowen

money to afford this successful image

quality shirtmakers of Paris. Founded

last recession.

nobody is going to deal with Irish

Lost in Europe” for an example.

- or was it just resting in your account,

in 1838, the brand is synonymous with

Whilst the source of this money

representatives who don’t present

Let’s just hope that this time, our


kings, sultans and princes.

has always been controversial, he

Other customers have included John

maintained a certain image of Ireland

Galliano, Kate Moss and Coco Chanel.

abroad when the economy was in dire

Amongst the extensive list of the rich

straits, leading to foreign investment

and famous, former Taoiseach Charles

that memorably led to the development

Haughey notoriously became one

of the IFSC.

of the Paris boutique’s most valued

20 years on and here we are again; with


hundreds of thousands unemployed,

Political campaigns are all about first

and all of Europe thinking we are

impressions. Haughey revolutionised

eating our pets to survive, or worse.

perceptions of Ireland in other EU

Another story for another time. Let’s

member states. Back in the 1980s, TDs


wore more or less the same clothes

seeking election this month, and

as they did when on their farms or

speculate about how their general attire

everyday pursuits; Kerry TD Jackie

could affect Ireland’s image abroad.

Healy Rae still does. Haughey, however,

This month, use your vote wisely, and

spent tens of thousands of pounds on

elect those who will maintain an image




During the Troubles, the IRA carried out vigilante policing in Catholic areas & punished crimes made against the community. They missed Gerry for his crime against the community - those awful jumpers he always wears.

The Green Party TD, now infamous due to his disgraceful “F*ck You Deputy Stagg!” outburst, appears to own only one suit. By no means does it fit him either. This can only lead to the impression that it’s his dad’s, or, in the Green Party spirit, he’s recycling clothes.

A new entrant into politics, Dylan appears to be very popular with the youth of Dublin, whom he has been working with for years. From his hairstyle and suit choices, Dylan appears to have gone for a smooth, sleek Gordon Gekko-style look, in tribute to the Michael Douglas character from the original Wall Street movie. Cool, but didn’t he steal millions through insider trading?


The Siren 22.02.11

True Grit Film Review 4/5 Stars by Ryan Cullen The Coen brothers’ latest work is an adaptation of the Charles Portis novel and John Wayne film of the same name, but it comes vigorously different in many ways to the original adaption. True Grit follows the path back to the original Charles Portis novel to spin the tale of 14-year-old Mattie Ross (Hailee Steinfeld), a pig-tailed child of vengeance and ferocity, hellbent on finding the man who robbed and killed her father. Given the choice of three US marshals to hire, Mattie promptly opts for “the meanest”: a cantankerous yet hilarious cyclops called Reuben “Rooster” Cogburn (Jeff Bridges). Also joining her on this mission is LaBoeuf (Matt Damon),who plays a Texas ranger far from home. Rooster and LaBoeuf plan to ditch the girl and split the reward between them. But Mattie will not be deterred and pursues them across the river and into the trees. Up ahead lies Chocktaw country, where

the snow whirls and the rule of law no longer applies. This is a land prowled not by dragons, but bears, brigands and rattlesnakes. The story itself is not as interesting as the characters that populate it. With the use of eccentric character development and witty conversation, True Grit keeps the audience in tune with the ever present dilemma and hardship that plagues many of the characters. The landscape, beautifully rendered by Roger Deakins’s cinematography, is drenched in a fantastic yet realistic consciousness of punishment and reward: retribution awaits for every man and woman. Jeff Bridges gives a stellar performance along with notable acting from a young Hailee Steinfeld, who remains watchable through the film. Beautiful to watch, with a soothing yet Coen-esque soundtrack, makes this film one for fans of the Coen brothers and a healthy addition to their ever growing list of achievements.

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The Siren 22.02.11

Full House Sees the Community Musical Put on a Show by Peadar Ó Lamhna Huge crowds gathered in the O’Reilly Hall last week for this year’s UCD Community Musical, Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. With support from the Vice President for Students, Dr Martin Butler, UCD Students Union, the Musical Society, and a cast and crew of nearly 100 staff, students and alumni, it was the most successful Community Musical to date. Under the direction of Emily Leonard and producer Aileen Ryan, backed by assistant producers Keith Siew and Aifric Nugent, this tale of love was brought to life for enthralled audiences for a run of six shows. English and Drama student, Megan Cassidy, as leading lady Belle, gave a fantastic performance of the show-

acting. The set of the musical was one of the finest ever seen in a UCD production. Complete with moving wings, firework–exploding champagne bottles, and a wonderful castle scene, the tale was really brought to life before our eyes. Computer projections added to the spectacle. The live orchestra, under the baton of Bronagh MacManus, helped to give a sense of atmosphere, and were a huge addition to the overall grandeur of the piece. Front of House was also magnificent. The conservatory of the O’Reilly Hall transformed into a grand hall, complete with burgundy and white drapes and candelabras, under the direction

stopping numbers “Home” and “A Change in Me”, and engaged the audience’s attention throughout. Alumnus Alec Ward played the Beast, particularly impressing with his rendition of “If I Can’t Love Her”, which brought Act I to a close. Villain Gaston, played by Stuart Pollock, was superb in his performance, while first year Medicine student Paddy Cooper brought the comical character of Lefou. More comedy was provided by 3rd year Business and Law student Denis Grindel and History and Geography student Diarmuid Browne, as Lumiere and Cogsworth respectively. Both seemed to have been born for their roles, and the French accents were perfected to a tee! Mrs Potts, played by Vickey Howell, gave a wonderful rendition of the signature tune “Beauty and the Beast”, and left some members of the audience reaching for tissues to wipe away their tears. Her onstage son Chip was played by 7-year-old Rian Middleton, who endeared himself to the whole audience, such was his stellar performance and the calibre of his

of Front of House manager Trisha Ryan. It truly set the scene and ambience for what was to be a fantastic show. With many people disappointed that they hadn’t bought a ticket sooner, the cast played to packed houses each night and received numerous standing ovations throughout the run. Alas, when the curtain finally fell on Saturday night, the months of work came to a end and the set was packed up and transported to its next location, while the cast and crew return to their normal lives. The UCD Community Musical really demonstrates the community spirit within UCD. Crew members from every part of the college come together and showcase the talent that UCD has to offer, not only through singing and acting, but in staging, lighting and design. The unfortunate result for the rest of us is that we must wait until next year for another production from this talented group - but there is no doubt that whatever the choice on offer, it is sure to be another successful musical.

Photos: Stephen Murray