The Thin Air Magazine: Issue 15

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Track Record Villagers’ Conor O’Brien // Vault Lines The Altered Hours’ Elaine Howley Column Lisa Hannigan On Her Recent Irish Tour // Feature Introducing Hipdrop Records ISSUE #015 | AUGUST 2016 | FREE

– SlowPlaceLikeHome: At Their Own Pace – U






M U S I C M U S I C & &






Foreword / Contents Editor Brian Coney @brianconey

The Kids Are Alright

Deputy/Photo Editor Loreana Rushe Art Director Stuart Bell Reviews Editor Eoin Murray Guide Editor Stevie Lennox Contributors: Brian Coney Aaron Corr Carrie Davenport Aaron Drain Charlotte Dryden Mark Earley Lucy Foster Pedro Giaquinto Lisa Hannigan John Harrild Elaine Howley Vincent Hughes Ruth Kelly Joe Laverty Sara Marsden Cathal McBride Justin McDaid Mike McGrath Bryan Eoghain Meakin Brian Mulligan Will Murphy Eoin Murray Michael Pope Moira Reilly Loreana Rushe Adam Smith Conor Smyth Izabela Szczutkowska Tara Thomas Jonathan Wallace Ray Wingnut Cover Photo: Brian Mulligan


Do Let Them Know

ast month TTA had the distinct pleasure of teaming up once again with freelance photographer (and allround legend) Carrie Davenport to oversee a week-long Summer Zine course at Belfast’s Oh Yeah Music Centre. Whilst last year’s inaugural outing is lodged fondly in my memory, this second excursion proved a hugely enjoyable, coffee-fuelled reminder that, given the right encouragement, resources and practical knowledge, creative young people will surely shape the future trajectory of Irish music and culture press in extraordinary and inspirational

ways. Despite most publications having an expiry date by virtue of fluctuations in demand, financial support and how we consume content, it’s heartening to think that many teenagers today – especially those simultaneously enthused and encouraged at the right time – will one day ensure magazines like the one you’re currently holding will always exist. And with that in mind, I sometimes like to remember that as confidence isn’t always innate in some of the potentially greatest creatives around, we all have something of a responsibility to embolden that spirit. Brian Coney

Contents Photo Of The Month ��������������� 4 Projection ����������������������������� 5 Feature: Charlotte Dryden ������ 6 Inbound �������������������������������� 8 The First Time ���������������������� 12 Feature: Lisa Hannigan ���������� 14 Vault Lines: Elaine Howley ����� 14 Track Record: Villagers ���������� 18 Feature: SlowPlaceLikeHome � 20

Feature: Orby Chase �������������� 24 Feature: Hipdrop Records ������ 26 Primer: Steve McCarthy �������� 30 Reviews: Releases ����������������� 32 Reviews: Live ����������������������� 34 Not Gospel: Louis C.K. ������������ 36 88mph: The Beach Boys �������� 38 Agony Uncle ������������������������� 39 @the_thin_air

August 2016


– Photo of the Month

Photo of the Month Tara Thomas


Hare Squead Castlepalooza 2016 Image: Tara Thomas


ach month our photo editor Loreana Rushe selects one standout gig image from our fantastic team of hard working photographers. The photographer gets the opportunity to showcase their pic and share a few insights into how they captured it.

Loreana: Hare Squead are fast becoming one of my favourite bands visually, and their live performances are always a treat for photographers. Exuding energy and covering every inch of the stage, Tara managed to capture this brilliant airborne shot of Jessy. Tara: Shooting dynamic performances in low light can be very challenging as it’s difficult to achieve shutter speeds fast enough to capture the action crisply. Two elements made it possible to

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get this shot. Firstly, it was a daytime set which meant good light and secondly I knew what was coming. Having shot Hare Squead on a few occasions previously I anticipated an energetic show. They didn’t disappoint. When a set is frenetic it’s tempting to follow the performer using the full length of the photo pit trying to catch a good shot. Sometimes you can be lucky but more invariably not. I waited for the action to come to me and Jessy obliged; shooting in continuous mode, it resulted in one near perfect shot. Being ultra-critical, I could have pushed the speed more so his left hand and feet would be frozen but sometimes a little motion blur can add to the atmosphere. 
 Shot on a Canon 6D Lens 24-70mm f2.8 ISO 1000 F/5 1/250sec



– Projection


oggy weather and underwhelming summer blockbusters are keeping us indoors and with the last 6 months’ output starting to arrive on DVD and VOD platforms, it’s the perfect time to catch up on all the good stuff you’ve missed. Here’s a rundown of some of 2016’s top films that deserved more attention. Charlie Kaufman and Duke Johnson’s claymation collaboration Anomalisa struggled to find an audience, grossing back two thirds of its budget, and further adding to Kaufman’s existential anxiety about his industry viability, but it’s a heart-breaking masterpiece, replicating the banality of modern life with horror show disorientation. I’ve already praised Robert Eggers’ The Witch and Stephen Fingleton’s The Survivalist in these pages, both demonstrating supreme authorial control. And speaking of witches… Winding Refn has just returned with high-heels horror fantasia The Neon Demon, a fantastic and ridiculous spectacle of feminine power with Elle Fanning’s fresh-faced model inspiring terror and devotion amongst the L. A. automatons. If Begin Again was the difficult second album for John Carney, the happy-sad musical populist who gave us Once, then Sing Street is the welcome return to form, a shiny, toe-tapping Grange Hill bursting with 80s tunes and teenage angst. A school outsider

starts a band to impress a girl, Carney drawing on his own Dublin childhood for a celebration of brotherhood, creativity and taking chances. Grosser growing pains are on display in Lucile Hadžihalilović’s Evolution, body sci-fi soaked in sea surf, mixing The Prisoner, The Island of Dr. Moreau and Under The Skin. Set on an island of young boys and suspicious mother-nurses, the film is in no hurry to divulge its secrets, ma A no the eye-popping visuals hitting the viewer like waves. Captive women and their self-righteous jailors was a recurring theme, not just in Lenny Abrahamson’s Oscar-grabbing Room. Belfast Film Festival opener Mustang is an Islamic teenage fairytale about girls trapped in towers, a fable of survival and rebellion about five fierce sisters in a Turkish coastal village farmed out for arranged marriages like fresh market stock. It’s delicately observed and filled with spirit, even as it mines genuine outrage at the strict policing of female agency. 10 Cloverfield Lane borrows the monster brand for a fishbowl abuse drama, the always-ace Mary Elizabeth Winstead escaping John Goodman’s self-pitying domestic despot. And there’s so much more! The arch wit of Love & Friendship, with a career-best Kate Beckinsale as Austen’s ruthlessly bitchy anti-heroine; the blade-sharp sound design of The Invitation, Karyn Kusama’s dinner party thriller; the gumshoe investigative drumbeat of Spotlight; Ryan Gosling’s ragdoll routine in The Nice Guys; absolutely everything in A Bigger Splash. Conor Smyth l is

Under The Radar: Catching Up on the Under-Seen

August August 2016 2016


Charlotte Dryden Meet the new CEO of Belfast’s dedicated music hub Oh Yeah Music Centre


y name is Charlotte Dryden. I’m the new Chief Executive of Oh Yeah Music Centre in Belfast, and while I am new to the role, I’m no stranger to the centre. In fact, I have worked here for eight years. I came here in 2008, exactly one year after the project kicked off. Oh Yeah was set up as a music charity and social enterprise and after securing some funding from Belfast City Council and the Paul Hamlyn Foundation; they were in a position to make two staffing appointments. Up until this point the very dedicated volunteers and the founding board – including Gary Lightbody of Snow Patrol – were keeping things going. Oh Yeah founder Stuart Bailie took up post as CEO and I joined him as part time development officer. I’ll never forget the first day. We sat at donated desks in an old office on the first floor.


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The building still resembled a warehouse. I remember thinking, “where the hell do I start?!” But we had some tenants, creative people working out of the building, including a recording studio called Start Together. The following eight years are a blur. Today we have a live venue, rehearsal rooms, a music exhibition, key projects, local, national and international partners. There are now eleven dynamic music and creative enterprises operating out of the centre, people doing business locally and globally, often working through the night and at weekends finalising festival line ups, producing music videos and documentaries, mapping visuals, and even building stages. Then there are the publishing and record deals, and the recording and mastering of albums. Our most recent tenant is Leif Bodnarchuk, a guitar technician that has

Feature Charlotte Dryden

“We have a space, we have ideas, and we would love to hear the thoughts and ideas of our music scene.”

worked with everyone from Leonard Cohen to Ash; he’s just set up a repair shop for guitars, amps and more. Elsewhere, the rehearsal rooms are busy with practicing bands and the local college BMC use the centre as a music campus. The Oh Yeah team and volunteers manage event diaries and room hire bookings. Talent development projects like Scratch My Progress are tapping into and nurturing emerging artists. Young promoters Volume Control run regular under 18s events. Outreach officer Paul Kane is doing ground-breaking work in music and dementia. Beyond that he runs the Over The Hill Music Collective, a network that supports older people back into music. We collaborate and work with community and youth organisations, ensuring those with the least access get involved, participate and produce music. Every year we run a festival called Sound of Belfast, which includes the NI Music Prize and the Oh Yeah Legend Award. This year Ash will be celebrated for the 20th anniversary of their debut album 1977, and will be performing it in full. In 2016 I launched a new project called Women’s Work, a festival celebrating the contribution that women make to music. We had radio legend Annie Nightingale and

influential music journalist Jessica Hopper. What a week that was. In short, Oh Yeah is a music hub. The effort of our little team and brilliant group of volunteers astounds me. So many people have bought into the vision, but I think we can widen the net and build on encouraging more musicians, fans and music lovers into the building. We have a space, we have ideas, and we would love to hear the thoughts and ideas of our music scene. Let the hub live louder. There’s a meeting planned; we will let you know when. I’m a great believer in grass roots and collective power. It makes sense to work together, to collaborate. I see pockets of musicians and artists collaborating all the time. It’s brilliant, let’s expand that. From encouraging people to get out and support live music, to providing welcoming spaces for creativity, to finding ways for organisations to compliment rather than compete. A rich, diverse and inclusive scene can help build audiences and create a sense of community. A little solidarity goes a long way. It’s not easy out there, it can be lonely and frustrating, the industry can be cruel, audiences too, funding is tight, austerity bites, politicians fight, venues are struggling and licensing laws suck. The music industry is shifting and changing faster than ever, but we are working with and have support from the likes of Help Musicians UK, Musicians Union, PRS for Music Foundation, UK Music and many more. Oh Yeah celebrates ten years in 2017. So many things have changed since we first opened the doors of the centre. But one thing has not changed, the excitement and the buzz that I, we get from music. New opportunities, and yes, challenges will continue to present themselves, but I’m excited to be taking things forward, together. Charlotte Drydren

August 2016



here is an overriding sense of darkness and foreboding surrounding Dublin’s lo-fi punks Girlfriend. With song titles like ‘kill them all (your feelings)’ and ‘the stuff you think about late at night and never tell anyone about’ which adorn their debut EP 3AM rituals, it’s clear that on the surface anyway, this band have shrouded themselves in this veil of death and misery through which no light can pierce. As the four-piece say, their music is to be consumed “at 3AM while sitting in a circle of salt surrounded by black candles casting spells on enemies/friends/local fiends/lovers”. Tongues are firmly in cheek with that description, but there is some merit behind it. Musically, they’re noisy and angular with only the faintest sliver of a melody guiding the songs; guitars shriek


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atonally, drums shudder and clatter and the vocals veer between porcelain delicacy and animalistic wails. It draws from the great discordant tradition of the American indie scene. Shades of Sonic Youth, early Modest Mouse, and Merchandise are undeniable, due in no small part to the home-fi production. While that sense of disquiet runs throughout everything they do, there’s a gentility and fragility to the band, particularly in the vocals, that ensures the songs never succumb to the trappings of “woe is me” solipsism and are instead exorcisms of all those hateful, disgusting feelings that steal the hours of the day away in the healthiest possible manner; more Rites of Spring than Morrissey. What you get with Girlfriend is an emotionally raw thrill ride from an extremely promising young group. Will Murphy

Photo: �Aaron Corr

– Inbound –


Inbound Rory Grubb

Rory Grubb an essential live act, but he also has the songs to back it up. His recorded work brims with charm, lo-fi yet layered, echoing certain elements of David Kitt, Sufjan Stevens or Patrick Kelleher but inhabiting a world of often childlike wonder all of its own. Where other instrument inventors like Thomas Truax use their creations for unsettling or disturbing outsider pop, Grubb has chosen to use his for good rather than evil, crafting melodic pop lullabies that proves arty experimentalism needn’t always sound challenging or difficult. Considering he also recently made a huge harp out of string to fill a Georgian meeting house in Offaly, turning it into a ‘playable building’ as part of an art project, it seems unlikely Grubb will grow bored of experimenting any time soon. Cathal McBride

August 2016


– Inbound –

Photo: Pedro Giaquinto


ory Grubb may be a singer-songwriter, but he isn’t exactly the kind of artist that term brings to mind. Third album Water House, his first in seven years – apparently “pieced together in rural Kilkenny between 2010 and 2012, over two very cold winters, in buildings without insulation” but only now seeing the light of day – amplifies the idiosyncrasies of previous album Sketches From The Big Sleep and brings them closer to the surface, as he mixes acoustic and electronic instrumentation along with homemade instruments like his impressive electric ceramophone – an array of ceramic pots spanning the musical scale, wired up to effects pedals. Along with building loops by beating and bowing a bicycle wheel, this sort of inventiveness alone is enough to make Grubb

Inbound Thumper

– Inbound –


ichotomies can define a band or artist throughout their bodies of work, their lives and their legacies. When things beloved by musicians run in contrast, the results are often frightening, awkward, yet compelling and almost always (sometimes accidentally) in the spirit of their time. Case in point: Dublin band THUMPER’s most recent release ‘Magnum Opuss’, thrown out via Little L Records on that label’s customary lash of handmade tapes, as well as via Bandcamp. Sonic Youth might serve as an obvious reference point, but the no-wave tendencies are tempered by a way with hooks best exemplified in ‘Dan the Man’, a happy, mid-paced mover that almost lapses into Britpop territory in places. Not to say entirely tamed - ‘Chimera’ manages some odd shapes in its six minutes, an Odyssean length for a


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band becoming better-known for brevity, while opener ‘Rent is Due’ is slowly dragged into existence by noise/ sampling courtesy of fellow Dublanders Otherkin and Bitch Falcon. THUMPER blurb themselves as “Sonic Youth meets ABBA”, and while the former’s obsessions with pop don’t make such a fusion so odd on paper, it’s still quite jarring to hear such pristine pop arrangement and songwriting emerge so clearly from a spiky, over-saturated noise. Sometimes coming off as unmastered, super-rough live takes, and other times entirely bathed in feedback, it’s a charming mix that’s beginning to turn heads, with the band garnering plenty of love for their by-all-accounts deranged performance at Knockanstockan this past month. Keep ‘em peeled and pricked for this crowd. Mike McGrath Bryan

Photo: �Moira Kelly


Inbound Franklyn

Photo: �Ruth Kelly


s the seasons inevitably turn and summer ambles into autumn, sometimes you need music to augment the mood and bridge that interim between the party and the comedown; the winddown from long evenings boozing by the canal and the sinking realisation that it all has to finish up sometime. That seems as good a time as any to welcome a brand new friend into your life - four of them, more accurately playing a blend of sad and raucous, joyous and melancholic songs about love and other less important things. Initially Taylor Johnson’s solo endeavour, the addition of his sister Lauren on synth and the rhythm section of Darren Hill and Fionn Crossan expanded Brand New Friend to a more fuzzed-out, beefed-up entity

than that fledgling acoustic project. Earlier demos seem to point to a musical mind touched by Jeff Mangum, recorded in ad hoc fashion in bedrooms and a handful of other DIY locations befitting a young band that has creativity to burn through. Their debut EP, American Wives, retains the lo-fi charm of those earlier recordings, even if the means of production signalled a move from sleeping quarters to studio. The siblings often double up on vocal duties, a twofold layer to deliver the wry sentiment of the EP’s title track, “I don’t see us getting better/But I don’t see us getting much worse.” The energy is encapsulated in a bristling ‘I Love You, Goodbye’ - a band chomping at the bit to get to where they’re going. Justin McDaid

August 2016


– Inbound –

Brand New Friend

The First Time Louis Price

– Louis Price – First album you bought?

Oh jeez, this is a bad one... Robbie Williams’ Life Through A Lens.

free videos of them live in concert. I used to dress up like Freddie Mercury and dance around the living room.

First single you bought?
This one is possibly even worse. I feel this article is not going to paint me in a great light. It was a Louise Redknapp single on cassette. Her first solo single. It was a big deal back then. Actually wait… no it wasn’t.

First festival experience? Leeds Festival 2004. We were all underage, like 16/17, and somehow talked our parents into letting us go because one of our friend’s older sisters was going and agreed to be our “guardian”. Needless to say no “guarding” took place and the whole weekend was complete carnage.

First album you properly loved?
 Would probably be An Old Lady Sings The Blues, a compilation my mum had on CD. It had all the classics from Nina Simone and Ella Fitzgerald etc. I was very young, like 4/5 and would just play it on repeat, which probably grew from being cute to annoying quite quickly for my parents.
 First artist/band to change your life?

The first band to really change it for me was Queen. My dad was doing work for them at the time so got some

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First musical hero you ever met? Supporting Modest Mouse at Open House festival in Belfast. I was just hanging around the Modest Mouse dressing room hoping to bump into Isaac Brock and started speaking to this nice chap who I though was a roadie. He wasn’t, turned out he was Jim Fairchild from Grandaddy. This was just when he started playing for Modest Mouse. He was super cool. Didn’t get to speak to Brock, though.

Photo: Joe Laverty

– The First Time

Photographer Joe Laverty shoots and delves into the music-making, listening and loving firsts of Louis Price of Swimming Tapes and Kowalski.

August 2016


Ahead of the release of her highly-anticipated third studio album, At Swim, Lisa Hannigan pauses to reflect on her recent string of Irish dates with Ye Vagabonds.


hadn’t played in so long before my Irish shows. So before my new record, At Swim, came out, I just wanted to dip my touring toe back in and play these new songs with a different band and try to figure that all out on stage. Ireland has always been the warmest and most welcoming place for me and I would venture to say most artists, so I just really want to go all over the shop and go to as many different types of venues and just get used to it all again. I toured quite a bit on my last record and then it took me a good while to write this one. It took longer than expected. As I hadn’t played at all in front of people in a long time, it was a slightly nerve-wrecking prospect when all those dates started stacking up. But it was fun!

 I think I played about six new songs a night and they went down really well. And that’s always a nerve-wrecking prospect, too. You don’t really get a “sense” of a song, I think, until you play it in front of people and hear it through their ears, as it were. But the songs went down so well and I was so happy to feel them work in that setting because it is such a different thing making a record. There’s a lot of harmonies on this record, which I was originally wondering


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how we were going to do live. Thankfully, though, there was so many amazing singers in the band and of course, the beautiful Ye Vagabonds were there too so they also did some singing. So I was actually spoiled for singers. For these shows, I didn’t think we were going to “replicate” the record, necessarily. It more like trying to figure out a way of doing it live. It’s so much more vibrant and kind of exciting in that setting. I love Ye Vagabonds’ work; I think they’re so incredibly talented and that shone true. 

 With my upcoming European dates there’ll be much more focus on the record as it’ll be out then. For the Irish shows, I just didn’t want to overload people with all my new songs, you know? Of course, there’ll be some old ones too. The wonderful Heather Woods Broderick will also be supporting and doing some singing. I played alongside her at Boston Calling back in May and she is the most incredible singer, so I’m really looking forward to singing with her again. It’s been a long time since I’ve had new music out. It was hard making the record and waiting for it to come out and getting everything else ready around that. It is just the best feeling in the world having a physical object that you can hold in your hand. So as you can imagine, I just can’t wait to get it out there. Lisa Hannigan

At Swim is released worldwide on August 19

Photo: Moira Reilly

Feature Lisa Hannigan

“ It was a slightly nerve-wrecking prospect when all those dates started stacking up. But it was fun!�

August 2016


TOWER RECORDS - 7. Dawson St.


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l @towerdublin f towerrecordsdublin - - ( 01) 671 3250

Vault Lines Elaine Howley

Elaine Howley on A Woman’s Heart
 The Altered Hours, Morning Veils and Crevice artist shares her thoughts on an Irish compilation that has burrowed deep.


12 track compilation album released in 1992, A Woman’s Heart was the first Irish album I listened to often. I learned to sing Mary Black’s ‘Sonny’ and sang it to whoever had the patience, no doubt bewildering and amusing adults singing lyrics “I’m feeling so tired and not all that strong” at family gatherings aged five or six. I was magnetised by the accents, voices and melody I heard. Mary Black, Eleanor McEvoy, Dolores Keane, Sharon Shannon, Maura O’Connell and Frances Black contributed two tracks each to the album. 

 Even though the majority of the songs on A Woman’s Heart were not recorded with this record in mind, the spirits seem kindred. Listening to it, you might find yourself dancing and crying in succession or at the same time if you are that way inclined. Vulnerability is explored with strength. The vibe sombre, reflective and shadowy. Eleanor McEvoy’s track ‘Only A Woman’s Heart’ and Frances Black’s ‘Wall of Tears’ in particular explore darker tones. Bursts of joy arrive in the form

of Sharon Shannon’s instrumentals ‘Blackbird’ and ‘Coridinio’ and you are freewheeling. Maura O’Connell’s version of Cheryl Wheeler’s ‘Summerfly’ is jaunty and wilful - a mood close to the one Eleanor McEvoy explores in ‘I Hear You Breathing In’. Listening back to the music now some of the production sounds dated. Backing track type keyboard sounds feature in places, tinny cymbals make an appearance too. This type of thing might easily grate a critical ear. That said, it is at moments like this that it becomes apparent - these are songs sung out of necessity. More than anything the music on this album acts as a vessel for emotion. I have heard this record described as a cultural awakening and as empowering and I agree, it was for me too. It was relevant to my surroundings, the voices sounded like one’s I knew. A Woman’s Heart drew me in and sparked a lifelong fascination with the idea that feeling and atmosphere could be transferred into song and shared. I very much enjoyed taking it out of the vault for a listen. Elaine Howley

August August 2016 2016

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– Villagers – Conor O’Brien handpicks a selections of records that have left an indelible imprint of his music and life.

All I can say it that it leaves a proper mark on your soul and you just know that you’ll be friends forever from the first moment you lay your ears on it. It feels like a safe, dark place.

Fela Kuti Opposite People
 I was talking to a Nigerian taxi driver the other week and when I told him I was a musician he screamed and put on a bunch a bunch of Fela Kuti tracks whilst translating the words for me and explaining the political signifi-


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cance of each song. It was amazing. I’ve loved Fela Kuti for years but had never heard this album. It has so many levels in it’s genius but the rhythm takes over every time.

Nina Simone Silk and Soul This is just the most perfect album there is. There’s nothing we can say about it to do it any justice. Beauty and pain and anguish and celebration and love all wrapped up in some incredibly understated musicianship and arrangement with Nina’s voice cutting through it all like a warm knife and ending gorgeously with the selfpenned ‘Consummation’. Insane.

Photo: Loreana Rushe

Bill Wells Trio Also In White

Track Record Villagers

Terry Riley A Rainbow in Curved Air I always use this album for traveling. It’s a total trip. It sounds completely alive, as if there’s a garden growing inside your head. I like falling asleep to it and waking up a different points in the journey.

Julee Cruise
 Floating Into the Night I never stop going on about this one but it’s for good reason. My favourite albums are the ones which create a world for the listener to drown themselves in and there’s an ethereal, shimmering beauty in this one which is utterly unique and occasionally terrifying.

Bill Callahan Sometimes I Wish We Were an Eagle The first time I heard this album I can remember thinking that it was so insanely inspired sounding; as if every single nook and cranny of it was dripping with invention. It still sounds as fresh now as it did then. It goes very deep; a lot deeper than most modern music of this particular

lineage. That was my music critic moment just there.

Mos Def Black on Both Sides I love this album so much. I played it to death when it first came out. I remember seeing the video to ‘Umi Says’ and running out the door to get it. It’s the sound of someone at the height of their creative flow. There are so many amazing ideas tumbling from every line of every track and the musical attention to detail is incredibly satisfying. Love and peace is at the centre of it all. A masterpiece.

Owen Pallett Heartland Another masterpiece. Heartland is a completely unique piece of work. I’ve never heard anything even remotely similar to it not only in terms of musicality but also in terms of lyrical content and theatricality. It’s phenomenally sophisticated in its execution and for some unknown reason I almost feel obligated to list the various musical and literary influences which are masterfully sewn together to create this world but doing so would belie the fact that its quite simply a thing of unique beauty. It really is just beautiful.

August 2016


Feature SlowPlaceLikeHome

Feature SlowPlaceLikeHome

hen I phone Keith Mannion, the man behind SlowPlaceLikeHome, on a Sunday evening in July he is just after returning to his home in the rural landscape outside of Ballyshannon, Co. Donegal. After a weekend of shows that saw him and his band, comprised of bassist Ciaran Patton and drummer Sean Reynolds, playing Knockanstockan, supporting Dan Deacon in Galway, and performing on a pier to a mass of unsuspecting holidaymakers in Dunmore East, spirits are quietly high. Chatty, modest and easily embarrassed, he sounds optimistic, if a bit tired, and glad to be nestled back into the place that has informed every element of this musical endeavour since the beginning. “It’s pretty rustic up here. The phone reception is pretty terrible, so I’ll try to stay still”. Since its inception in 2011, SlowPlaceLikeHome’s breezy electronics, crackling percussions and resonant, eerie grooves have been deeply rooted in the forested, isolated region

that Mannion relocated to after several years living in the country’s bigger towns and a period of time in Norway. “It was a case of coming back home. I took to living on my own in this house and just started gathering equipment. I started teaching myself everything on the production side and just started messing around with it. It was literally just a pastime. I’m not exactly sure what it is now to be honest! But it started off as a very personal thing. It was therapeutic.” A confessed believer in the Suzuki method, a Japanese theory of teaching music that highlights the importance of a person’s environment on the way they learn and create, Mannion has discussed on more than one occasion how he couldn’t make this music anywhere else, how if he was to move to a city the project couldn’t continue as it is. “It wouldn’t be fair to it. It wouldn’t exist only for where it’s made. There’s a slowness, an eeriness to this area. The beaches, the woodland, the walking chainsaw accents... it’s all seminal to the therapeutic nature of

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Feature SlowPlaceLikeHome

the place that allows this music to happen. And you know, it also means you don’t feel a need to depend on others, and there’s never a fear of becoming trapped in a scene”. Do the sounds of the surrounding areas make their way into the music literally as well as thematically? “Oh yeah, a lot! There’s a lot of flora and fauna to play around with. You can hear a fox at night, the different types of birds... It’s always been part of it. I was trying to find a way of joining technology with nature. It became absolutely central. Every release I’ve put out has been a combination of those elements with my own headspace and feelings at a particular time; be that joy, be that grief, whatever. There’s always a concept”. Even lyrically, as SlowPlaceLikeHome evolved from its Trip-Hop, IDM roots into more dream-pop, post-punk territory, Mannion found himself playfully discussing very local happenings and issues in the music, but making a point of never allowing it to become too negative. “It’s just a bit of tongue-in-cheek commentary on things I see around here. It’s fun. If it’s not then it just ends up becoming bitter and what’s the point in that? It’s a waste of energy”. That


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playfulness has fed into other elements of the music, with some children from Mannion’s family performing guest vocals on some of Romola’s tracks. “I’d love to help awaken the creativity in some of the kids that I know.” None of this is to say that he denies the various tribulations that go with being a musician in rural Ireland, especially in the North Atlantic corner that seems to struggle to accommodate too much originality, if any. “There are no venues. There’s no hub, nowhere for touring bands to play. Some are trying but really the place is crying out for something better.” This can at times lead to interesting events however, a collaborative night with Homebeat and Dublin band Carriages saw a gig take place in big shed by a beach, band members and punters alike lounging on couches, enjoying the music and embracing the setting. For something that began as an absolutely personal, bedroom project, the trajectory of SlowPlaceLikeHome has been a natural, positive one, evolving into a touring act with a full live set up complete with red boiler suits and a touch of face paint, the history

Feature SlowPlaceLikeHome

of which Mannion seems content to keep secret. “It really works well if we’re at an all ages thing! Kids and parents start getting into it because they enjoy the stupid makeup. The critics get a bit put off by that but then we’ll play a track that the kids would never dance to and it draws them back in…” SlowPlace has even found fans in the likes of Dan Deacon and members of London Grammar, but Mannion would be the first to admit that he isn’t too well acquainted with most contemporary music. “I’ve been rediscovering a lot of artists I used to listen to because I spent so much time not listening to anything! I’d get scared of accidentally plagiarising melodies I’d get stuck in my head! But I listen to a lot of talk radio, a lot of jazz, my old electronic stalwarts like Tarwater and the likes. I find it hard to find new stuff that I find interesting, I feel like I need to find artists that are telling a story with their music.”

For Keith Mannion that story is progressing gracefully down some thrilling avenues, with unpredictable collaborations and bigger shows in the pipeline along with an album promised to arrive next spring. “I need to make the album happen before it can’t happen. It’s going to blow the other one away”. With a changing process to writing to accommodate the expanding live show and a growing confidence in himself as an artist, the future is right there for the taking for the “befuddled personality” of SlowPlaceLikeHome, whatever that may entail. “I can see what’s on the horizon at the moment… but who knows what’s past that? The earth isn’t flat after all!” Wherever this project ventures to however, one can be sure that there will always be one foot firmly resting in the slow, quiet, landscapes of home. Eoin Murray

August August 2016 2016


Feature Orby Chase

Orby Chase: Running the Gamut

First up: for the unacquainted, how and when did Orby Chase form?
We formed in early January 2016. Josh had been doing the rounds as a singer/songwriter since the split of his previous outfit The Blindies and to reasonable acclaim. As his writing developed so did the textural palate he found himself reaching for and as such it was him that spearheaded the formation of the band. Phil was added to the mix on drums and percussion, and shortly after Jamie joined in on the creative process. Jamie & Josh go back to their school years although had never played together, save for sharing the occasional bill. Many an inebriated conversation took place in Lavery’s where Jamie worked and often entertained Josh’s musings on collaboration until it eventually developed into a sober narrative. Shortly after, Matt climbed aboard and as they say, “That’s Numberwang!”.
 You’ve just released your debut EP, Wolf by the Ears, which you recorded at Start Together. Who did you work with and how was the recording? We’ve all played music for most of our lives and have learnt


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the hard way that doing things by halves only serves as a hindrance so we wanted to capture the energy of elements we’d been hearing through our own ears and avoid the sterile, factual, calculated reproduction that can often occur if done without consideration. Everybody’s been there.
 We reached out to Rocky O’Reilly and sent him a few live guide tracks to offer him a flavour of Orby Chase and he jumped right in to the creative process, drawing comparisons and offering solutions that really resonated with us before we had even booked the studio time.
 Rocky really made recording a breeze for us. The process of writing music compared to the process of recording the same can be almost identical or worlds apart depending on the nature of the composition at hand, and Rocky was able to advise what needed done where outside of our own intuition in order to reach the full potential and eventually the end product you can hear now. The music of the Strokes, Bombay Bicycle Club, Pixies and others are imprinted on your sound. But how much do you consciously aim to channel your main influences?
We’ve never sat down and had the “we want to sound like Band X” conversation. We all get really excited about certain acts and share a real appreciation for different aspects of what’s achieved on different records. We’re all musos deep down so much of the time it’s a case of geeking out over the occasional vocoder, rhodes, riff or tone. Tame Impala have a Deezer session on YouTube that must have racked up 200+

Photos: Adam Martin

One of many shining lights being championed by our friends at BeKreativ, Orby Chase are a recently-formed Belfast outfit on a mission. We catch up with the alt/indie quartet about the past, present and auspicious future of the band.

Feature Orby Chase

views from Orby Chase alone, but it doesn’t necessarily materialise itself in what we’ve composed to date. 
 Ireland is arguably oversaturated at the minute with guitar bands that fall under the self-proclaimed “alt/indie” bracket. What do you feel sets you apart from others of your ilk, in Ireland and possibly further afield? If we were able to truly assess what it is that affords us a sense of individuality, we would hope it would be in our endeavour for melody and harmony juxtaposed with the more rudimental elements of what we play. As stated previously, we love the simplicity that often proves effective in the context of popular music, but without a strong sense of harmony/melody, it lacks the hook that is so crucial in effective songwriting.

Momentum and the sense of an upward trajectory is often crucial to a band’s rise. You’ve covered some really good ground since forming at the start of the year. How do you hope to capitalise on that over the next few months?
Our goal from day one was to offer something tangible as soon as appropriate without jumping the gun; to offer a piece of Orby Chase to everybody from the start. After our EP launch we’re elated that we genuinely feel we’ve achieved that. Our agenda now focuses on gigging whenever we possibly can to justify the work we’ve put in so far. We want to get as much live exposure under our belts before we start looking at releasing more material towards the end of 2016. We’ve no intentions on resting on our laurels; it’s only been a glimpse of things to come.

Be Kreativ is a support platform from Beck’s to give up-and-coming creatives an opportunity to showcase their talents in Ireland. Here, and on We’ll hero YOU, the creatives. So whether you’re a musician, painter, writer, sculptor, fashion designer, coder or beyond… All you have to do is #BeKreativ.

August August 2016 2016

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Feature Hipdrop Records

Hipdrop Records Shooting From The Hip Words Eoghain Meakin | Photos Lucy Foster

Hipdrop Records is a new Dublin label championing the often overlooked but always exciting sounds of Ireland’s funk, afrobeat and world music artists. With an obscenely talented opening camp of musicians and years hustling in event organisation we talked to co-founder Keith Fennell about changing the record, fun and family. So what is Hipdrop records? How did it come about? Hipdrop Records is an independent label for Funk, Soul and World music setup by me and my long term business realist, Dan Whelan. The ethos of the label


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is in the name really which comes from a song by New Orleans Funk band The Explosions called “Hip Drop”, music to make you dance. It came about originally as a night we used to organize under the name the “Hipdrop Collective” the idea being to have a group of artists all interested in similar music working together. That same spirit is there under the label - just with a more focused vision and end result. What’s it like moving from event organizer to label? What kind of challenges are you facing? In some ways it’s a little less stressful because we don’t have the pressure of putting on large scale events anymore. Instead we are putting our efforts into sus-

taining a lasting legacy for our artists and for us as a label. I think event promoters are a different breed and we are definitely more comfortable being a label and working with musicians - as we are both musicians ourselves. We also felt there wasn’t really anyone doing what we are doing now in Dublin. We still run a regular night in The Bernard Shaw once a month with DJs and small stripped back sets from Hipdrop artists. The main challenge for us is funding but there are always ways to do these things on a shoe string and make it work. Our artists are really passionate about what they do so that makes it easy to work with them. Big things can happen on smaller budgets as everyone is so excited to work together. In a world where artists often just represent themselves what does a modern, artist-centred label like Hipdrop do? For us it’s first and foremost a community that helps each other out. All the artists on Hipdrop are like family. They play in each other’s bands, they collaborate with each other. When a new artist joins, the idea is that they will eventually do the same. Of course we don’t push this, but it usually happens organically. There is a vast resource within the label that each artist contributes to and collectively that amounts to something really special and unique. Each of our artists take influence from all over the world, and this is an important staple of what we do. We want to promote a global international sound inclusive of all and with no borders. Music isn’t about competition - it’s about collaboration and helping each other. It’s not always about making it in the “industry” it’s about having fun. If you aren’t having fun you might as well give up. Fame shouldn’t be the goal you’re striving for, making music that makes you happy should be your goal and if you become popular as a result of that, well and good.

You’re highlighting a previously underrepresented niche in the Irish music scene, was that part of the inspiration to start this up? Yes, definitely. Myself and Dan have played in mainly funk and soul bands for years and that’s always been our jumping off point for the music we want to make. It’s the antithesis of what Irish music is known for worldwide and yet as a country we have produced some amazingly funky soulful artists over the years from Van Morrison to Republic of Loose. It’s always been there, just not at the forefront of what we are known for. Hopefully we are seeing a shift in that now with the amazing resurgence of funk, soul and world music. We can see this through the work of promoters like Bodytonic, Choice Cuts and the Improvised Music Company bringing fantastic artists from all over the world here and giving Irish artists the chance to play with them. How did you choose the acts in your stable? What would you be on the lookout for in the future? Our first act Danny G & the Major 7ths was one I had worked with for years and the logical choice for our first outing as a label. He made an amazing album with some fantastic musicians. It garnered really good reviews abroad in The States and in continental Europe. Zaska had recorded two EP’s which blended elements of funk, jazz and soul music to create a really unique sound. I had met Max years ago and had been following him ever since so he was the next obvious artist to work with. I had seen Feather play support to Hiatus Kaiyote in 2015 and when we met by chance at Life Festival that year we discussed her coming on board. The music and energy was exactly what we wanted to put out. Yankari were the final addition, amazing players playing traditional afrobeat music that’s impossible

August 2016


Feature Hipdrop Records

not to dance to, what was not to like? And that’s the lot! At the moment we don’t want to bite off more than we can chew but eventually we will add more to the roster. Mainly what we look for is an incredible live music experience which also translates to a record, with enthusiastic musicians who are driven. How healthy do you view the Irish music scene right now as an industry and a creative pool? I think on the surface it can seem a little stale. The same old singer-song writers wheeling out the same songs we’ve heard a thousand times before. However if you look a little harder you can see the gems. I think the industry here is a little lost but the real talent and excitement has always been when you dig a little deeper in Ireland. We have had a steady influx of different cultures melding together here over the last 10 to 15 years and that’s finally starting to show. Yankari are a perfect example of this with their afrobeat style and Feather also, combining elements of West African music into their sound. It’s an exciting time for music in Ireland. Going forward what does Hipdrop want to achieve? What’s the mission statement? It’s pretty simple: we want to put records out there that will stand the test of time, that DJs will want to play in the places we like to frequent and in 20 years time if someone finds one of our records in the €1 section in the record shop then that would be the best of all! We want to push our artists to the wider global community and at the same time we want to make this music accessible to the home crowd as well. To show what the future of Irish soul, funk and world music looks like.


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Primer Steven McCarthy

guess I want to exhaust all ideas first before locking it in.


n the latest installment of Primer a regular Thin Air feature looking at some of the country’s very best artistic talents - Mark Earley chats to Dublin freelance designer Steve McCarthy.
 Hi Steve. How are you? What are you working on at the moment? I’m great thanks, glad to be back to work after some travelling. I get itchy fingers. Right now I’m trying to finish my first children’s book and looking for big walls to draw on. Can you tell us a little about your working process? How does an initial idea crystallise into a final product for you?
I’m a little obsessed with metaphors, idioms and synonyms. When a job comes in, I generally spend a lot of time breaking down the concept into its parts linguistically, long before I pick up a pencil. I try not to think about the visuals until the last possible second, I


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Being a freelance designer in Dublin is very hard work. What are the disadvantages and advantages of working for yourself? No safety net, I always say do your best work, and your best work will find you, but there’s no guarantees, no secret sauce, just a lot of trial an error, and you’re banking your livelihood on it. It takes a certain kind of thick skin to smile and say “no problem” when a client says “do all this work, but we only pay within 60 days” and you have €20 in your bank account. Who would you say has had the most influence on your career path to date and why/ how? Mick Minogue, he’s the creative’s creative, the real deal. He actually lives and breaths his work, he has a brain like a magician’s sleeve, and a way of going about things that baffles everyone, most of all him. He’s my go to for bouncing ideas off and having my ideas rightfully trashed when they’re stupid. I feel really

Photos: Mark Earley

Primer: Steve McCarthy

Where/to whom do you look for inspiration on an international level? And closer to home?
I get a lot of inspiration from podcasts. I like the symbiotic nature of listening to things while drawing. I find it really meditative, and I listen to a lot of them so I’m always looking for new stuff. I’m just getting into a podcast network called Radio Wolfgang, I can’t recommend it enough, beautifully produced soundscapes and fascinating subjects and issues.

Primer Steven McCarthy

lucky to have him on my team ‘cause he’s got the same surly downtrodden love of being creative that I do. For you, how does Dublin stack up against the likes of say Barcelona, Berlin or Lisbon as a place for creative people to work, live and be supported? I don’t really know. I’ve never worked anywhere else. I love it, like I really love it but I’m terrified I’ll never live anywhere else. Dublin is everyone’s bad boy crush; he barely considers us, is outright rude most of the time, but one half smile and we all swoon like morons. What projects and commissions have stood out for you over the past year or so? What makes them so special? I used to do a lot of live drawing events, I really miss those, sometime I did them for brands or events, but I’ve been doing them less and less, I cannot express the pure undiluted joy of drawing on a big wall, in a pub, while smoking and drinking and dancing. Simple pleasures I guess. You’ve included a piece for us (top right). Tell us about it. It’s a piece I was asked to

create for the Offset creative festival. They literally just said “do a piece about creativity”. I tried to depict the transcendent and yet totally familiar experience of exploring one’s inner space in what is, an intangible, almost mystical process. But I didn’t know how to draw that, so I did a little me climbing into a big me, with floaty, pencil polygonal particles and spacey stuff. Finally, what’s your favourite medium to work with? Does this change much for you? Magic. I use magic. It works really well on all platforms, it is... actual magic, which is in itself a plus. I find its not too messy, expensive or cumbersome. I actually find it mostly fulfils all my earthly desires. There are downsides over time of course; ironic curses, ghosts, dealing with the devil etc. but I believe we should all live in the moment.

August 2016


Reviews Releases

– Reviews

Adultrock Push & Pull EP Although he originally cut his teeth as a guitarist and drummer in bands like Super Extra Bonus Party and We Are Losers, Kildare’s Gavin Elsted has been just as convincing as an electronic solo artist on Adultrock’s first two releases, Loves and Chants, and his third EP Push & Pull sees him continue to go from strength to strength. Though he’s used a guest vocalist occasionally in the past, the title track sees Elsted take on vocal duties himself for the first time since his guitar-slinging days, and it works to great effect, providing a repetitive central hook for the rest of the track to hang its hat on, a refrain that naturally sticks in the mind more readily than his instru-


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mental work. Meanwhile his analogue synth arpeggios on all three tracks are more expansive than ever, and the EP sounds more ambitious and slick than previous material, equally at home on the dancefloor as it is on a pair of headphones at home. Whether we’ll see a full LP from the man any time soon remains to be seen, but this EP sees Adultrock ready to join dance music’s big leagues. Cathal McBride

Talos O Sanctum

 Corks’ Eoin French AKA Talos has been nothing if not patient in his unveiling of new music to the world, with O Sanctum comprising of only the fourth and fifth songs to be heard outside of

a live setting. This patience and adherence to craft, however, has become paramount to the folk and R&B infused electronica that we have come to expect from the young artist. Each piece of music to come from the Talos camp to date has been a carefully produced, heartrending ballad, and the new cuts on O Sanctum are no different. With two remixes included to boot, this release further showcases him as one of the country’s most tantalising artists. Lyrically, ‘Your Love is an Island’ and ‘Reborn’ are simply constructed poems in which natural imagery of water, wind and sand seem to symbolise the capacity of something beautiful to destroy that which loves it. Despite production that gives precise attention to each note, beat and embellishment, French’s tender yet powerful vocals never become shrouded in soundscape. Structurally and dynamically this release is a further step forward for Talos and is hopefully a precursor to what will be an astonishing debut LP release. Whenever that may be. Eoin Murray

Reviews Releases

Selk Beast At one point during their debut album, Dublin duo Selk seem to infer an out-of-body experience with an unspecified provocation, perhaps chemical or neurological but most likely musical; the shamanic induction of a trancelike state through rhythmic cycles. The nature of the collaboration between Anna Jordan and Dennis Cassidy is one of distinct elements colliding - electro loops and polyrhythms, vocal layers and lyrical phrases. Jarring post-punk and electronica, often sparsely constructed, make up the more arresting sections of Beast, the ballads then a comedown to a more traditional base; a contradiction of opaque explorations and tender asides. On ‘Broken Bodies’, tribal beats and samples give way to piano and voice until

the organic and synthetic converge. Amidst all the hinted-at darkness, the birdsong that begins ‘Sweet One’ seems almost Lynchian, nestled at the record’s mid-way point. “Please don’t climb down this rabbit hole for me,” Jordan sings, a fantasy of escapism from a reality of solitude. The title track delivers an abrupt final probe: “How does it feel without a beating heart?” This dual engine of pulsing disquiet doesn’t need to concern themselves with that. Justin McDaid

Róisín Murphy Take Her Up To Monto Despite having spawned from the same sessions that went into making Hairless

Toys, Róisín Murphy’s latest LP Take Her Up To Monto is bold and blunt in differentiating itself from its predecessor. Scaffolded by similar motifs found throughout the avant-garde singer’s career; nu-disco, electronica, and with the shadow of Grace Jones a constant presence, THUTM delivers charisma in spades. But in typical Róisín Murphy fashion, the record is as challenging as it is rewarding – ‘Nervous Sleep’ an experimentally-driven, ethereal synth-laden case in point. Though at times typically idiosyncratic, there’s all manner of rhythmic panache to be enjoyed throughout THUTM, and in ‘Mastermind’ and ‘Romantic Comedy’, Murphy mines elements that have proved lucrative to her creative output in the past. Glamorous melodies, atmospheric glitz, and shimmering dance-floor percussion make up for any digressions given to complex arrangements like ‘Ten Miles High’, not that there’s any complaint to be made there. If Murphy has proven anything in the past, it’s that when she’s pleasing herself, everybody benefits. Aaron Drain

August 2016


Popicalia 22: Squarehead, Land Lovers & Ginnels BELLO BAR, DUBLIN


t one stage, Popical Island’s regular Popicalia nights were such a staple of Dublin’s indie scene that Retarded Cop even wrote a song about it (found on the Popical Island #2 compilation), so its return with a stellar line-up after a two-anda-half-year hiatus was always going to attract a hefty crowd to its new home in the cosy surroundings of Bello Bar. Ginnels’ opening set saw Mark Chester add a new violinist to the line-up, adding an extra layer to the infectious indie pop of ‘Algebra’ and ‘Gangs of Witches’, two tracks that channel the likes of The Clean and Guided By Voices without ever sounding derivative of them. Opening with ‘Crowd Of Lungs’, Land Lovers decided their setlist as they went along but leant heavily on solid new album The Rooks Have Returned, Padraig Cooney’s crooning lending them more of an Elvis Costello vibe than the others on the bill, blending often


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bluesy riffs with occasional synth flourishes and Maggie Fagan’s steady rolling drums to an increasingly packed out room. Headliners Squarehead’s energy was impressive considering two thirds of them have already played tonight with Ginnels, and their set leans heavily on 2013’s RESPECT, with tracks like the punky ‘Knives’ and especially ‘2025’ receiving the kind of fervent singalong usually reserved for a headline slot in Marley Park. A handful of new songs – due to be recorded imminently for a long awaited third album – are unveiled, retaining RESPECT’s harder edge. This and an apparently packed out secret show by And So I Watch You From Afar happening in Belfast on the same night serve as a warm reminder of the sense of camaraderie in Irish music that makes local gigs a joy rather than an empty, fruitless task. Hopefully Popicalia 23 won’t be another two and a half years away. Cathal McBride

Live Mmoths, Toby Kaar & Daithí



Photos: Vincent Hughes

ersatility is paramount when discussing the three artists on tonight’s bill. From Toby Kaar’s disjointed, franticly emotive beats, to MMOTHS’ encompassing soundscapes, to Daithí’s infectious floor fillers, each of these performers brings a unique sound to the Irish table of electronic music. While a busy Saturday night during the Galway International Arts Festival might not have made for the ideal time to put these three very individual acts on the same bill, it was still a great showcase of the immense talent we have here, with each set highlighting unique elements of that realm. Opening proceedings is Toby Kaar with a slightly more subdued set than his usual wild edits, leaning more on the hip-hop side of things with choppy melodic samples bouncing over organic sounding percussion.

Comparisons to Four Tet’s Rounds and Gold Panda seem immediately obvious but there’s a rawness and a punk sort of grit to Toby Kaar’s music that makes it uniquely gripping. MMOTHS’ set is comprised of lush walls of noise and the same longing melodies that made up his stunning Luneworks. While the giddier sections of the crowd sap from the immersiveness of the music on more than a few occasions, the peaks of tracks like ‘Eva’ and ‘Para Polaris’ still hit home wonderfully. Moving from the chilling ambience of the previous set into the bubbling energy of Daithí’s felt strange, but the majority of the crowd didn’t seem to mind. He played a stormer as always, the tracks from Tribes sounding particularly great, and the bustling dancers in front of the stage were electric. While it would have made more sense for any of these three musicians to headline their own show instead of all having to cram onto tonight’s tight bill, each performance was thoroughly enjoyable and true to their individuality and talent. Eoin Murray

August 2016 2016 August

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Not Gospel Louis C.K.

– Not Gospel



verything that I did was counter-intuitive...’ confessed Louis C.K. recently while describing the creation and financing of this year’s ten part tragedy series, Horace & Pete. Nothing looked like this minimal television show before and somehow it’s audacious ambition inspired incredible contributions by an immense cast. In the era of massive budget, world-beating, broad-ranging golden age of television, along comes Louis C.K. with a low-budget drama set in a bar and condensed to dialogue, family and isolation. To be so ‘counter-intuitive’ and unorthodox and yet so brilliant is exactly what makes Louis C.K. compelling. He is a comedian comfortable writing about bleakness and despair in a sweet, relative and charming way. Before he threw out the TV drama rule book, he had already flipped out the sitcom genre with his rambling, hilarious and thoughtful show Louis on FX channel. The courageous journey to being a free-range, prolific risk-taking artist is hard earned. You can track his career from comedy writer on shows like Conan to struggling on the American comedy circuit for years. He describes how after a life-changing conversation with comic George Carlin, he began to throw out old jokes and relentlessly write and create new material. Louis determinedly set out on a refreshed and fearless path. It led to a powerful renaissance in his career. As his popularity has

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grown, he has ensured to maintain space around him to be creatively independent while also beginning to change the formula of success. In 2011, he became an incidental internet entrepreneur by launching a 90-minute stand-up special on sale through his website priced at just $5. The risk and admirable method paid off and the success of the move consolidated that relationship between the artist and his fans. This month will not be the first time he has played Ireland, indeed his fellow comedian Paddy Courtney recalls how Louis C.K. was largely ignored by an Irish audience when he played before Des Bishop a few years back; “All during Louis’ set, there were separate shouts from the crowd along the lines of ‘where’s Des?’ ‘bring on Des’ ‘we love you Des’”, remembers Paddy. “Fair play to Louis, as he dealt with the heckling politely and hilariously but I felt it took him out of his stride and we never got to witness his A game. When he came off stage he looked dejected and went straight back to his hotel. All I could say to the audience was “shame on you, someday you’ll realise what an amazing performer you’ve just ignored right now...” But since then Louis C.K.’s star has well and truly risen, a rare tour is an amazing chance to catch an artist who at this point can achieve whatever he feels like. Ray Wingnut Louis C.K. graces Dublin’s 3Arena on August 15.

Illustration: John Harrild

– C.K and Ye Shall Find

August 2016


88mph The Beach Boys Surf’s Up

(NOVEMBER, 1974)

– 88mph

The Beach Boys Surf’s Up (AUGUST, 1971)


he Beach Boys’ creative acceleration peaked with Pet Sounds (1966) but while its velocity continued to increased, their popularity steadily waned; firstly through the abortive Smile project and subsequently through strong albums increasingly ignored by an audience, many of whom still longed for surf and hot rod music. All this went hand in hand with leader Brian Wilson’s journey through substance abuse into mental health problems. The group were left to pick up the pieces and, frequent interpersonal bickering notwithstanding, managed to pull through. The key to this survival was their collective songwriting talents which is the core strength of Surf’s Up. Facing up to the realities of the 70s, the album gets melancholy, reflective, nostalgic for better times, even downright dark. And yet, there’s moments of incredible lightness. It’s a group effort for sure, but if anyone is taking the reins here, it’s Carl Wilson. No longer simply the angelic voiced baby brother, his compositions display years of tutelage from the master. The pensive nature and sophistication of both ‘Feel Flows’ and ‘Long Promised Road’ form the back-


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bone to the record and his completion of Brian’s Smile outtake provides the startlingly oblique title track. Bruce Johnston continues a run of strong contributions with ‘Disney Girls (1957)’ in which he pines for a long lost and idealised America while Al Jardine and Mike Love take on some serious political and environmental issues yet manage to lighten the mood no end. Then, just when it seems the guys have shone bright enough to make up for Brian’s absence, he casually steps up and delivers a brace to challenge most of his entire output. Coming over like a quasi-religious experience, ‘A Day in the Life of a Tree’ and ‘’Til I Die’ ponder universal ideas and the state of the planet and at the same time see Brian reflecting on his own state of being. The day the 60s died has been assigned various dates besides December 31st 1969. A decade with many troubles it nevertheless maintained an air of hope and promise. As the celebratory faded into a hangover, The Beach Boys, whose depiction of life in sunny California had helped define that 60s spirit, finally laid it to rest with Surf’s Up. Jonathan Wallace

Agony Uncle Donald Trump

Agony Uncle Agonising? Le Galaxie's Michael Pope is here to help.


ald Tru This Month...Don

“I think Eminem is fantastic, and most people think I wouldn’t like Eminem. And did you know my name is in more black songs than any other name in hip-hop? Black entertainers love Donald Trump. Russell Simmons told me that.” – Donald Trump, 2004

Illustration: Loreana Rushe

What would Trump need to offer you for the right to use a Le Galaxie song of his choice as his permanent walk-on music? Patrick, Belfast Can’t think of anything on planet earth but if he presented us with Milo Yiannopoulos’ lungs, liver and spleen in a plastic bag we’d consider selling him CHAUFFEUR OF LOVE. Trump has famously said he wants to build a huge wall between America and Mexico. If you could build a huge wall, where would you build it and would it be made from? Keith, Dublin I would brick up Mullagh, County Cavan. Shithole. Who would win a three-way arm-wrestle between Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders? Sara, Dublin I don’t know how a three-way arm wrestle

is supposed to even work, but I’d settle for Bernie Sanders fucking Donald Trump in the mouth while Hillary Clinton goes and becomes Command-In-Chief of the United States of America If the Trump is elected POTUS how do you envisage the fate of America over the next four years? Claire, Belfast Have you seen Mad Max: Fury Road? I really liked it, particularly the central performances from Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron. Anyway, I reckon America will be comparable to Nazi Germany in 1933. When he finally kicks it, Trump will of course be widely remembered as a massive asshole. What do you think would make for a fitting funeral? Stephen, Derry The same honour and ceremony that was bestowed on my boy Mussolini! If Donald Trump gets elected, there’ll be hell toupée. Do you have a better Trump-related pun at your disposal? Brian, Galway It’s not a toupée, Trump’s hairstyle is what the bald community would call a ‘whipped bodywave combaround’. You’re the executive producer of a comeback season of the US Apprentice following Trump’s failed presidential campaign. What’s the new angle? Roisin, Dublin First Dates ISIS


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