The Thin Air Magazine: Issue 10

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The First Time Jealous of the Birds // Not Gospel Brian Kelly // Primer Dublin Street Artist James Earley // Roving Eye Ham Sandwich // Column Fight Like Apes’ MayKay ISSUE #010 | OCTOBER 2015 | FREE U






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






Foreword / Contents Editor Brian Coney @brianconey

One Year, Ten Issues?

Deputy Editor/ Photo Editor Loreana Rushe Art Director Stuart Bell @stubell_ Reviews Editor Aidan Hanratty @adnhnrt

Cover photo: Joe Laverty

Guide Editor Stevie Lennox @stevieisms Contributors: Conor Callanan Brian Coldrick Brian Coney Aaron Corr Richard Davis Liam Doyle Aaron Drain Mark Earley Mary Kate Geraghty Aidan Hanratty Garrett Hargan Keith Kavanagh Brian Kelly Joe Laverty Colm Laverty Stevie Lennox Cathal McBride Sean McCormack Mike McGrath Bryan Eoghain Meakin Francisco Michel Will Murphy Michael Pope Loreana Rushe Conor Smyth Tara Thomas Isabel Thomas Dean Van Nguyen Jonathan Wallace

We'll Take That.


ne night last September, myself and a friend half-jokingly started discussing the ins and outs of possibly launching a physical magazine of the Thin Air. Despite the giddy idealism, “Don’t be so silly, Brian” danced around the inner recesses of my mind. There would be various features, album reviews, a photo of the month - all the usual stuff with a very conscious focus on Irish music, art and artists. Hardly a revolutionary concept but still, worth a go.

“Wait. Do people still care about physical magazines?” I probed myself, countless times following that initial conversation. It didn’t matter: some people care and that’s more than enough. Twelve months on, it defines my reasoning for keeping the good ship sailing. There are people who enjoy picking up and reading our free, monthly, nationwide magazine – combined with our incredible contributors, I couldn’t ask for more. Until next time, cheers for picking up! Brian Coney

Contents Photo of the Month ���������������� 4 Projection ����������������������������� 5 Insert Coin ���������������������������� 7 Inbound �������������������������������� 8 The First Time ���������������������� 12 Stacks On Deck ����������������������13 The Thin Air Is One ��������������� 14 May Kay ������������������������������� 16 Track Record ������������������������ 18

Feature: Girls Names ������������� 20 Primer: James Earley ������������� 24 Roving Eye: Ham Sandwich ��� 26 Feature: Padraic Moore ��������� 29 Reviews: Releases ����������������� 32 Reviews: Live ������������������������ 34 Not Gospel ���������������������������� 36 88mph: The Specials ������������� 38 Agony Uncle ������������������������� 39 @the_thin_air

October 2015


– Photo of the Month

Photo of the Month Tara Thomas


Turning Pirate Mixtape, Spiegeltent, Dublin Image: Tara Thomas


ach month our photo editor Loreana Rushe selects one stand-out 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: Turning Pirate gathered some of the finest musicians in this country for a unique performance at the Dublin Fringe festival and Tara captured this unique gig so expertly. A shot like this is no easy task, so to get each artist in action in their entirety on the stage without it looking clunky certainly takes a steady hand and some perfect timing. Tara: When you have a plethora of talent of one stage at one moment, each giving it their all, who do you point your lens at? That was the quandary I could have found myself in at Turning Pirate’s Mix Tape in the Spiegeltent at Dublin Fringe Festival.

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However I always shoot with two cameras for two reasons, I don’t like to change lens during a gig, and if one breaks down I always have backup. On this occasion I was carry a long lens, 70-200mm, and a wide angle, 16-35mm. The 16-35mm meant I wouldn’t have to make that difficult decision, I could fit everyone into one image. Having had access to the green room earlier and seeing the set list I knew I must be in prime position towards the end of the show to get a decent group shot. Realising I’d have to push my settings to get as much light as possible I also understood I needed to be some distance back from the stage to ensure the musicians would be in focus. Once I’d found that sweet spot, where it all came together, it was just a matter of waiting for the lighting sequence and the magic on stage to collide - then press the shutter.

5D MARK II - 1/160 SEC AT F2.8 EF 1-35MM AT 24MM ISO 5000

Preview: Red Army


MISS THE COLD WAR. Let me clarify that: Russians make great bad guys, and throughout the 1980s they were Hollywood’s go-to antagonists - think Red Dawn, Red Heat or The Hunt for Red October, in fact anything with ‘red’ in the title. They were almost like a crime family. There were the Corleones, and then there were the Russians. While the actual Cold War was mainly shadow boxing and political machinations, there was one arena where the United States and the Soviet Union faced off directly- sport. Just like the space race, sport was exploited to serve each side’s needs - a mere tool for their propaganda machines. One of the Soviet Union’s greatest weapons in this ideological war was the indomitable Soviet national ice hockey team, the eponymous Red Army of Gabe Polsky’s new documentary. Hailed as the greatest team of all time, the Soviet national team dominated ice hockey from the 1954 to 1991 and were living proof of the superiority of the communist system. They never failed to medal in any International Ice Hockey Federation tournament they played in and won gold at seven out of nine consecutive Winter

Olympics. One of those two ‘failures’ was the 1980 ‘Miracle on Ice’, when the US national team beat them in one of the greatest upsets of all time (essentially The Mighty Ducks in real life) - it left a wound that never healed. Polsky’s documentary takes you inside the Soviet machine to tell the human story of the players and how they were used as mere pawns in a war between the superpowers. Sport has a checkered history on film - there will never be any good football films - but its pressure cooker atmosphere has an uncanny knack of creating compelling human drama, which tends to be best recreated on screen in documentaries. Obsessive, bitter rivalries between irreconcilable personalities play out like pseudothrillers on screen, in films such as Senna and Wrestling with Shadows. Whether it’s Senna versus Prost, Bird versus Magic or Hart versus McMahon, sport becomes the expression of a much larger, Shakespearean human drama. Richard Davis In Red Army the stakes are even higher as every ripple reverberates into the superpower rivalry of the Cold War in the biggest USA-USSR dust-off since Balboa versus Drago. Red Army is showing at Queens Film Theatre from Friday 16th to Tuesday 20th October.

– Projection

Projection Red Army

August/September October 2015 2015




XX15: Women in Film

– Projection



he release of Suffragette (coinciding with Dublin's Feminist Film Festival) is set to inspire a thousand thinkpieces about the continually under-represented role of women in cinema.... so we're getting ours out of the way early! Our run-through of women's most significant contributions to the movies in 2015 starts with the earliest contenders for film of the year. Selma was directed with unflinching intelligence by Ava DuVernay, while Alicia Vikander's android played with white knight expectations in Deus Ex Machina, and Sidse Babett Knudsen and Monica Swinn laid down the gauntlet for the year ahead as Duke of Burgundy's whirring erotic pairing. Later, Ana Lily Amirpour's eerily cool vamp flick A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night was talk of the town at the Belfast Film Festival. Comic auteur Desiree Akhavan wrote, directed and starred in the enjoyably droll Appropriate Behaviour, while Greta Gerwig continued her fruitful partnership with Baumbach in Mistress America, her screwy, complex comic timing matched by Lola Kirke's straight woman. The two best performances of the summer were both women: Bel Powley's sexually-empowered teenage hero of Marielle Heller's fresh The Diary of a Teenage Girl, and Charlotte Rampling in 45 Years, giving a masterclass in slow-mo desolation. Conor Smyth The Feminist Film Festival runs Oct 30– Nov 1 at the New Theatre, Dublin

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October/ November Preview


ouble, double, toil and trouble: in time for Halloween comes Justin Kurzel's brooding, misty Macbeth, full of ghosts, witches and stabby regicide, with Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard as Shakespeare's dagger-happy social climbers. Has Fassbender's trademark coiled intensity ever been more appropriate? Amongst the inevitable fright night screenings there are a few new releases: the Paranormal Activity team goes 3D, while Tom Hiddleston and Mia Wasikowska get spooky in Crimson Peak, Guillermo del Toro's vintage haunted houser. Also, keep an eye out for Corin Hardy's well-received horror debut The Hallow, an Irish folklore riff starring our own Michaels Smiley and McElhatton. You better get ready 'cos Autumn is gonna kick your ass: turtlenecked Fassbender is a more modern megalomaniac in Jobs, Emily Blunt takes on the drug war in Denis Villeneuve's Sicario, Carey Mulligan takes on the patriarchy in Suffragette, Colin Farrell heads up an ensemble of oddball singletons in Yorgos Lanthimos' deeply surreal The Lobster, Ben Foster cheats the system in Lance Armstrong biopic The Program, Bond returns in Spectre, Tangerine shoots transgender prostitutes on an iPhone, Saoirse Ronan is homesick in the adaptation of Colm Toibin's Brooklyn, it's the final round of Katniss' deathmatch with the Capitol in Mockingjay Part 2, Cate Blanchett seduces in Todd Hayne's swooning Carol and Pixar goes pre-historic in The Good Dinosaur. Thank God for the deep, dark nights! Conor Smyth


Above: Metal Gear Solid V


t’s been a long time coming for anticipating fans but by now the majority will have delved deep into the open world of Konami’s Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain and sneaked, sidled and snuck their way through its many depths. As well as garnering rave reviews it has also been noted for, what Gamespots’ Peter Brown noted as, “Top-notch cinematography and voice acting echoing--and at times exceeding-contemporary standards for film and TV”. Now, the Metal Gear series has long been praised for its borrowing of themes and presentation from cinema, but it’s not alone, just look at the sci-fi patrimony of a title like Deus Ex or the debt to films like The Big Sleep and Chinatown in a video game like LA Noire. Borrowing like this isn’t new but it’s being done in more innovative ways, creatively repurposed rather than soullessly recanvased. Which is the issue with the transition the other way round; linear media, like film, simply fails to catch the zeitgeist of video games and the wider gaming culture. This is in direct contrast to games’ ability to steal the very magic of film and TV and utilise it so seamlessly. Just look at Rockstar Games criminal epic Grand Theft Auto V which lambasted

nearly everything but took particular pleasure in aping its competitors in the media wars. This title alone laid a benchmark for video games’ ability to masticate, digest and regurgitate others agency to spectacular effect. The question now isn’t why can’t films compete on this level, they simply lack the breadth and immersion, but why can’t films bring the magic of video games to the screen without losing their essential vitality? It’s a question that Ubisoft should be asking themselves right now, because they have managed to maintain a level of unprecedented control over their Assassin’s Creed series transition into film. Moved from development into production just last month the title, which will star a certain Mr. Fassbender, currently offers the best hope of a successful game to film conversion. The reins being firmly in the hands of the studio can only be a boon but a failure here could damn any further deals of this kind, meaning there’s more than one reason to root for their success. The opportunity here is simply too big to ignore. If a film can successfully capture the dynamism of a video game then Ubisoft will have begun a precedent, a partnership that could see stories shifting from one medium to the next, expanding and expounding in the same way games already do across different platforms. Eoghain Meakin

– Insert Coin

Insert Coin

October 2015


Inbound Florence Olivier

– Inbound –


ny band that names a single ‘Warriors’ in homage to the legendary Patrick Swayze and features a video constructed of actionsequences featuring the late star doing what he does best could arguably go either way. Thankfully, in the case of Dublin electro-pop trio Florence Olivier, their decidedly tongue-incheek approach only strengthens the case that they’re an outfit who enjoy the frivolity and levity of performance (Roadhouse notwithstanding). Further evidence is to be found in the short but captivating collection of tracks they’ve produced so far – last year’s ‘Portals’ or their throbbing cover of Annie Lennox’s ‘Walking On Broken Glass’ (spot the modern influence within) are particularly catchy, albeit angular, jams.


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There’s also a quality to the trio that is inherently DIY. Compositions are simple, elegantly produced electronic excursions that are a bit euphoric, a little rhythmic and largely look back to early Depeche Mode (happier Depeche Mode?), Yazoo, The Human League and their ilk, but are pulled off with a much needed self-deprecating humour only made possible by an increasingly wavering musical landscape. We’d even go so far to say that a little Le Galaxie has crept its way into the Florence Olivier influence bank, but who’s complaining? Synthesiser arpeggios that don’t come off as dated ‘80s motifs are difficult to pull off by the best of keyboard wizards. Taking the piss at times? Certainly, but Florence Olivier are no novelty act and have the tunes to back it up. Aaron Drain

Photo: £Aaron Corr

Florence Olivier

Photo: Loreana Rushe


ublin alt. hip-hop duo Stay Gold comprises 19 and 20year olds Greg & Shola. Their name, besides being an allusion to their initials, has symbolic significance for their music, which immediately springs an air of enthusiasm and positivity to mind in the context of an uneven social & economic climate. It’s somewhat parallel to the New York Native Tongues collective from the late ‘80s/early ‘90s, based around the likes of A Tribe Called Quest & De La Soul, and these links are helped in no small part by their seamless cross-genre musicality, as the music itself draws from a huge pool of influences. Their mentality is one that seems to echo with some of their peers, exemplified by the Rusangano Family’s ‘Don’t Be A Waste, Man’, and, having

just played the main stage of Dublin’s Academy for Hard Working Class Heroes, the youngsters look like the latest to join the diverse and hugely exciting current crop of hip-hop artists in the nation’s capital – a list that boasts talent like the significantly darker Dah Jevu, Lethal Dialect and the aforementioned Family. So far, Stay Gold have released only one single, ‘If You Want’, which, despite its concision, manages to display some truly exciting ideas. It’s based around a subtly effective lounge jazz guitar motif that dictates the mood throughout, counterpinning its main attraction: the kind of infectious, confidently cool smirked delivery of Outkast channelled through the kind of contemporary R&B hook-heavy lyrical style that gilds records. Keep an eye out. Stevie Lennox

October 2015


– Inbound –

Stay Gold

Inbound Solid Sun / Thrash Hat

Solid Sun



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Thrash Hat Though not apparent until further on into new single 'Pandaface', Thrash Hat, a side project of ASIWYFA man Rory Friers, is invested with the same ingenue and atmosphere as his day job, with glitchy percussion and sonorous, ringing bells carrying a joyous if contemplative melody. Thankfully, at six minutes, it's as heavyweight as his day job, too, the song building solidly, layering elements of static and noise around itself. The debut original release from the project follows a number of quality remixes and production work under the name over the past few years. His remix of Coney Island Sound's ‘Klang!’ gleefully recasts the song as a demented paean to happiness, alternating between peak-era Sonic the Hedgehog FM-synths and math-rock tropicalia. His production of BeeMickSee's 'Belfast Slang' rings with ASIWYFA-esque guitar warmth and poppy riffage, while more pensive electronics can be found on display on Eatenbybears' 'Vanderhoof', only to give way to feel-good beatsiness. Though it's still early days yet, Thrash Hat's future is seemingly as bright as the sonic Technicolour scenes it evokes. Mike McGrath Bryan

Photos: Solid Sun - Francisco Michel, Thrash Hat - Colm Moore

he rock and metal scene continues to throb as fiercely as it ever has along the rain-kissed pavements of Dublin town, and new to the fold, but hardly new to the game, are Solid Sun. The band, who roared into existence early in 2014, already have an Irish tour with beloved AC/DC tribute act, Acca/Dacca, under their belts, as well as a healthy serving of dates in October and November. All of the heavy rock necessities are present in Solid Sun’s enormous music, from their unambiguous and energetic lyrics, to the booming resonance that carries each song forward. Rather than an exhibition of pure technical prowess, Solid Sun are among a class of rock bands that still write songs designed for well-rounded performances, as is evident in their recent acoustic set in Dublin’s Crowbar. You can check out their debut EP Fall in Line from their official web page, as well as enjoy some live sonic pummelling across Ireland from October through November. Liam Doyle

Doors 8:30pm £5 INCLUDES ENTRY TO GIGANTIC CLUB October 2015


The First Time Jealous of the Birds

– Jealous of the Birds –


First artist/band to change your music-listening/making life? 

 Nirvana. You have to break a little inside to sing and scream the way Kurt did. They were the first band I discovered whose songs represented internal chaos in a very tangible form. I still binge on their vinyl and cassettes when I want to be reminded of that punk aesthetic; how songs (like people) don’t always have to be pretty, but they should always without question be real. 

 First local band you got really into? 
 First time I heard Sister Ghost play live, the flesh almost melted off my bones. Her sound is deliciously grounded in classic punk influences without ever feeling stale. I could feel the bass vibrations in my chest. That’s always a good sign.
 First song to make you cry? 

 Simon and Garfunkel’s ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’. What a sanctuary of a song. I cried listening to it through head-

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phones on a train commute from Belfast and got eyed by one of the conductors. For me, it embodies the kind of friendship I aspire both to give and receive. 

 First time you knew you wanted to make music? 

 After I watched a Girlpool documentary called Things Are Ok. The realisation hit me that if two other nineteen year old girls had the courage to write some songs, travel across the Atlantic and perform them in front of complete strangers, then the idea of me playing a gig in a bar wasn’t such a big deal.

 First original song you wrote? 

 As a kid I wrote lots of silly, badly-written songs. One was about walking in the park and featured the lyric, “the squirrels are all acornin’ in the trees.” But the tailend of 2014 was when I started writing with a truer sense of purpose, so Little Emeralds was the pebble that caused ripples in the pond.

Photo: Joe Laverty

– The First Time

Photographer Joe Laverty shoots and delves into the music-making, listening and loving firsts of Naomi Hamilton AKA Jealous of the Birds.

Leader of the Old School

Illustration: Aoife Dooley


eleased in 2012, Joey Bada$$’s debut mixtape 1999 was a refreshing slice of throwback hip-hop at a time when Virginian producer Lex Luger’s hard-as-nails 808s and Chicago’s blood-soaked drill scene were rap’s most fashionable sounds. With its jazzy samples, smooth boom-bap drums and nostalgic turntable scratches, the Brooklyn teenager brought listeners all the way back to the golden age, establishing himself as one of the most exciting prospects in the game for those who value rap music’s traditionally core elements. If, like me, you still bump Illmatic on the regular, Bada$$ seemed the complete package. He sounded comfortable rapping on jacked J Dilla and MF DOOM instrumentals – his smooth, youthful flow gliding gracefully alongside the silky beats. And like a young Nasir Jones, he was a razor-sharp lyricist to boot. “Barely even conscious, talking to my conscience/Gettin’ deeper in these flows like conches,” spit Joey on A$AP Rocky’s 2013 single ‘1 Train’, acknowledging his conscious rap ethos. Appearing alongside a whole host of new-age talent in Kendrick Lamar, Yelawolf, Danny Brown, Action Bronson and Big K.R.I.T, it was the Pro Era collective co-founder’s most prominent brush with the mainstream to date. Another high point on his ascent to

what seemed inevitable rap stardom. But Bada$$’s rise hasn’t proved quite as straight forward as those initial victories. As his baby face faded, his hair lengthened and physique filled out, Joey opted trade in his previously clean, fluid flow for a more stuttering vocal style that nodded to his Caribbean background (his mother is from St Lucia, his father’s from Jamaica). It proved an uncomfortable fit for the MC and the otherwise urbane sounds of his debut album B4.Da.$$, which dropped last January. Tracks like ‘Hazeus View’ and ‘Big Dusty’ epitomising the ugly tongue-kissing of Bada$$’s more aggressive spits and the record’s chilled-out, jazz-tinted beats. B4.Da.$$ was no turkey, though. The retro production front-to-back is glorious, while tracks like ‘Paper Trails’ and ‘On & On’ are as lyrical on-point as anything he’s ever done (the latter likely finds him considering the 2012 suicide of his friend and frequent collaborator Capital Steez, a tragedy no adolescent should have to endure). So while the record may not have vaulted him to hip-hop’s head table, his body of work suggests that the still only 20-year-old Joey will almost certainly make a better full-length. And if he maintains his admirable ethos, that’s definitely something worth rooting for. Dean Van Nguyen

– Stacks on Deck

Ahead of his November 10 show at Dublin’s The Academy, Dean Van Nguyen examines the burgeoning career of retro New York rapper Joey Bada$$.

October 2015 October132015


Feature The Thin Air Is One


s Princess Irulan wisely uttered in Dune, "A beginning is a very delicate time." Whilst she had a point, as we cast our thoughts back to our launch as a magazine this time last year it’s hard to recall anything but dizzy excitement and a real eagerness to make mere speculation a physical reality. “The Thin Air Magazine. Dare we even go there?” Ten issues and two hundred grey hairs later, it seems we most certainly did. Henceforth we briefly peddle back our journey to date, if only to heap praise on our ever-growing, exceptional team of contributors. We decided last September to only feature Irish artists we genuinely love on the cover, generally leading it around the time of a new release but in some cases their sheer awesomeness propelled them onto the front. For example, Loah, our first lady, graced the cover of our new year issue purely on the basis of the beautiful music she hadn’t even released to the public yet. In that same issue we featured 15 bands we thoroughly believed in for our 15 for 15. The majority of our predictions have gone on to do very well, including Alana Henderson who is now touring with Hozier as his cellist, Rusangano Family who blew the roof off the Twisted Pepper at our 2nd birthday bash and Elastic Sleep who are thrilling audiences across Ireland and UK at various psych festivals.


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Photography has been such an integral part of the magazine and we would be nothing without our fantastic team of photographers. All the work in the magazine is 100% original and produced specifically for print. Along with showcasing original illustration work in our Not Gospel column, we also have Primer which focuses purely on the wealth of great artists we have in this country from the likes of Mark Rehill and Eleanor McCaughey. The majority of the content for The Thin Air is conceived out of crazy notions, thousands of emails, copious amount of coffee and long Facebook chats between Brian and Loreana. For the entire editorial team, a huge highlight was the build up to the marriage referendum and the succeeding of YES vote, as well as some brilliantly written columns from incredible Irish artists like May Kay from Fight Like Apes, Chris Wee from ASIWYFA, Brian Kelly from So Cow and Le Galaxie’s Michael Pope, whose Agony Uncle has provided the comedic element of the magazine, like a back page agony aunt answering all the questions we didn’t think we needed answers for!
 So… that’s one year over. Will we make it safely to two years? Will our legs get tired from peddling that cultural gramophone? Please stick around for the ride. The Thin Air

Illustration: Brian Coldrick

– The Thin Air Is One

October 2015


Column Fight Like Apes' MayKay

Lots of Bits and Pieces Fight Like Apes' frontwoman MayKay offers a candid insight into the frustration of balancing art and output with paying the bills.


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traps when you finish work with 2 days off. IN A ROW. You really want to focus. You've spent weeks trying to move gigs around to suit four people's day jobs, so you're going to have to be really, really sure it was worth it so that no one regrets having the argument with your boss to get that day off when you weren't owed it. It's only since returning to 'normal' lives, with jobs that PAY YOU AS STANDARD that we've realised what's important to do and even more so what's important to skip. Everything is more important now, so everyone is more enthusiastic. Everyone is a bit more honest in the dreaded gig post mortem because the following turns out, is the truth. One gig will not make or break you. Also, people are sound when you tell them you're freaked out. You learn how to lie from your parents. So don't be surprised if they know when you're doing it. Doing gigs is so much better than not doing gigs unless those gigs make you really sad and make you not want to do gigs anymore. MayKay

“You learn how to lie from your parents. So don't be surprised if they know when you're doing it.”

Photo: Loreana Rushe


am after a 12 hour shift with a bottle of wine is a bad time to write a column. I'm tired from working all day. I'm frustrated because that day wasn't spent with anything to do with music. And I'm double tired because it's a bit of challenge to switch your brain into a different job when you're tired. And then come the questions. But why am I doing it? Who am I doing it for? Walk away from the computer for 5 minutes. Come back. The answers are simple. When I was full time doing the 'band thing' it was crap, for the most part. The gigs were fun. The studio was a whole different type of exciting. Press calls were good for a laugh. But those things only took up about 20% of the time. The other 80% was filled entirely with waiting and worrying and hoping and doubting and planning and second-guessing and telling parents you'd been “in the studio all night” and build ups and let downs and amazing highs but amazing lows. Christmas Eve Family Gathering was the worst. When the question “So what has your band got coming up?” is asked enthusiastically, for the sake of all parties, “Oh god, lots of bits and pieces, here and there, you know yourself” is preferable to “Nothing. Nothing at all. I'm absolutely terrified.” Working 5 days a week at a job that doesn't leave space for thinking about much else outside of that has been the worst and the best thing. You're like a greyhound out of the

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October 2015


– Hilary Woods – Ex-JJ72 bassist and solo artist Hilary Woods handpicks a selection of records that have left an indelible imprint on her music and life.

Horses is just one of those all time classics..."Jesus died for somebody's sins but not mine"; the poetry on this is gold. Dramatic and emotive, this record's boldness, courage and honesty is a refreshing palette cleanser to produced-to-bits contemporary offerings.

Warpaint Warpaint
 Warpaint’s intoxicating psychedelia and lush trance-like harmonies over Cure-ike bass lines would entice anyone. Loved their debut EP Exquisite Corpses, and this,


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their second record, produced by Flood, is far more synth-based and boasts their stunning track ‘Love is to Die’.

Hidden Highways Old Hearts Reborn 
 Hidden Highways' debut - released two years ago this Autumn - is a beautiful sounding record by a unique Irish band doing something totally different. Old world Americana inflected-folk reminiscent of timeless classics by Gillian Welch, The Carter Family and The Cowboy Junkies. Carol Ann McGowan's voice reminds me of an old world Nancy Sinatra or Lana Del Rey.

Photos: Isabel Thomas

Patti Smith Horses

Track Record Hilary Woods

Nick Drake Five Leaves Left
 I have cherished this record for as long as I can remember; the songs are golden. I love Bryter Layter and Pink Moon too; its reassuring to know that Nick Drake is as popular today as he’s ever been, a testament to true art rising to the surface and sustaining a life, long after the artist passes on. There’s something really magical and moving bout listening to a record recorded on a solo acoustic guitar, heard as written

Talking Heads The Name of this Band is Talking Heads
 A gem of a compilation find: ‘Psycho Killer’, ‘Love' and ‘Artists Only’ … a lot of hits on here. Always liked Tina Weymouth, her mojo and bass playing.

Bjork Innocence
 This limited edition 12" features lots of different remixes of Bjork’s tracks coinciding with a variety of different artwork. Big beats, vulnerable vocals, theatrical and wondrous. Who isn't in love with Bjork? I’ve always been a fan. I loved her first band The Sugarcubes and her later solo songs ‘Isobel’,

‘Venus as a Boy’ and her new tracks on Vulnicura are stunning. Her music videos with Michel Gondry, artistry, scope, taste, femininity, voice and beauty are a sheer delight and inspiration, and the production on this is magical.

Grace Jones Nightclubbing
 I absolutely love this record. First picked it up at a car boot sale years ago and bought it solely because she looked so damn cool on the cover. I subsequently listened to it every day for about three months. I love Jone's attitude on this record - her can-do life-affirming hypnotic swagger fused with her magical cocktail of new wave, post-disco and funk. The musicianship is so cool. A life-changing buy.

Van Morrison Astral Weeks
 I play this record at home a lot. I love the instrumentation and the arrangements and I think the song-writing is exquisite. This is my favourite of his albums. I love that the songs feel very crafted but there’s also a fluidity in its stream of consciousness style and off beat lyrical genius. Its a record that never ages, it’s been a huge inspiration. I’m forever appreciating Mr Morrison!

October 2015




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Feature Girls Names


t’s a truism as old as the hills: from Bowie, Nina Simone and Nick Drake to Slint, Elliott Smith and innumerable others besides, a vast list of genre-defining, visionary records owe their very existence to the often concealed trials of their creators. Whilst much more the sum of its milieu, Girls Names’ extraordinary third album, Arms Around a Vision, is one such masterstroke – a twelvetrack expulsion confronting the need to slow down and take care. In a candid conversation touching on ageing, success, scraping by, mental health and the burden of expectation, Brian Coney chats with the Belfast band’s frontman Cathal Cully about the grand tussle between distress and determination that informed the writing and recording of their wonderfully accomplished new record.

 Hi Cathal. I’m intrigued about the title of the new album. Where does it come from?

 “It comes from a line in the last song of the record, ‘I Was You’. Where that line comes from exactly… well, let’s just say it was plucked out of a few moments of madness. It was more or less decided upon at the eleventh hour, having decided there was enough decent lyrics on the record to pick something from it.”

 You speak of “moments of madness” – the record really feels like a confrontation along those lines. Do you feel that’s a dominant premise of Arms Around a Vision?

 “Yeah, I think so. Last year was a weird year. The last couple of years have been weird, to be honest, both for the band and me personally. Everything kind of caught up on me. It’s fine now but it transpired I was suffering a bit from anxiety, stress and other potential ailments, which I couldn’t really see at the time. I was just so busy, in the middle of making the record and other stuff. We toured a lot last year – we were away for three months of the year.

“The only thing that made me confront anything was when I got physically sick. At Christmas, I came down with a pretty severe skin condition, caused by a weird reaction to heat. I broke out on hives and had to take antihistamines to treat it. I still suffer from it but it really came to a head after we finished the record late last year.”
 Do you think that physical reaction stemmed from neglecting those mental issues you mentioned?

 “I’m not certain but I wasn’t looking after myself and I was burning the candle at every end. The last tour we did last year was in October – two and half weeks around Europe. It was great but my long term relationship finished around the same time, when I got back… which was a fucking boot in the balls. I’m kind of sensible when I get back from tour and look after myself. Despite looking at me, I would’ve went to the gym and physically looked after myself. But I just went out one night after we came back from tour… and that went on for the rest of the year. I wasn’t sleeping at all, really. 

 “Eventually, when I got sick – physically sick – I had to slow down. I didn’t drink for 13 weeks from the start of the year. I even stopped caffeine for around 6 weeks. Having been off the rails for a bit I had to totally stop. I had to lie low and calm down and change the pace of life to almost a standstill. It gave me a lot clarity, thinking about a lot of stuff that was doing my head in. Looking back, it was definitely a mindset that was “happening” to me. I was living off a lot of adrenaline for ages and I didn’t realise until I got sick. I lost a load of weight. I hit 9 stone, which I haven’t weighted since I was 14. 

 “There was a lot of introversion going on, masked by a lot outward activity. I had a bit of money at the time – we had just come back from tour and I received a rare royalty payment. For once I had a bit of comfort so I just decided to drink it all… as you do in Bel-

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Feature Girls Names

fast. I realise now, I was pretty stressed out about making the record. I just wanted to make it really good. I didn’t think anyone else had that much expectation for it. I try not to think about that but I put a lot of expectation on myself. I never really felt that I had performed, vocally, on a record before and I really wanted to nail that and the lyrical content. I put a lot of weight on myself but of course I didn’t let on to the band or anything. They probably knew, though…”

 You’ve said that Belfast is a good place to focus on making art. I’d be inclined to agree but why do you think that? 

 “I’m sure you’ve noticed but there is fuck all to be at here. I don’t know if it’s a mixture of getting that little bit older and places shutting down but this summer has been a struggle. I literally have no fucking money so I’ve been lying low a lot. But it’s just a ghost town this summer. It always is but there’s always usually parties and stuff and you find things to do. I think everyone’s just moved on. Turning 30 was actually pretty great. 29 was a pain in the hole. That’s when the hinges were getting loosened for me. I still feel like I’m 16, to be honest. I still feel… a little bit lost. The only thing that’s different now is I’m 30 and I’m thinking, “What the fuck am I going to do with my life?” Even though I’m in the middle of doing something pretty substantial. I probably shouldn’t complain.”
 Indeed. It’s a perspective thing, and that certainly fluctuates for all of us. Regret is a fruitless thing.

 “Yeah, I don’t regret anything but I would do some things differently. The band has been going on nearly seven years now. I was 23 when I started it, now I’m 30. A lot has happened in that time. It’s almost like a blink of the eye but a lot has happened. I definitely don’t have that same carefree abandon. I think that


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"I’m 30 and I’m thinking, “What the fuck am I going to do with my life?” Even though I’m in the middle of doing something pretty substantial. I probably shouldn’t complain.” went three, four years ago. There’s a lot more actually have to think about consequences. It’s a month to month worry, paying rent and everything. I do like a bit of comfort in my life. There’s a lot of waiting – a lot of fucking waiting. I’m resigned to that but it’s tough in that we’re practically full-time at the minute but it doesn’t pay full-time. I’m scraping by, getting bits of work here and there. 

 “But it’s the mental health aspect of it – money is a big fucking issue when it comes down to it. Few artists actually talk about it because the majority of them come from money or they have it. There’s obviously not the same money in music any more. We’re actually really lucky because this is the first time there’s been a bit of promotion being put into it. Tough Love have stepped up loads, helping pay for some of the record. We specifically booked more time in the studio than we ever have to play about and experiment.”
It’s also the first time it got mixed by someone else, Daniel Rejmer who’s based in Stockholm. He works with Ben Frost – he basically engineered his last record and does all his front of house. I went on to his website. His tagline was, “Do the mix that gets you fired.” I loved that so he mixed it. We just gave him the stems and left him to it. And then we had a few months of e-mailing. It was lengthy.”

 Your last record, The New Life, was largely written and recorded by yourself. Arms Around a Vision feels a lot more collaborative. Is that the case?

Feature Girls Names

“Yeah, it was totally collaborative this time. We actually did the semi-clichéd thing and rented a house in Donegal, in the middle of nowhere, for a week last April. It’s hard to get together because Gib (Cassidy, drummer) lives in Dublin - trying to practice and stuff. Because he just joined the band when the last album came out, it took that first year for him to properly gel. It was getting him up to speed. For this new record I had been working on ideas and stuff but not a whole lot, so we decided it would be a more collaborative. 

 “We signed a publishing deal with Domino at the end of 2013 and got a little bit of money through at the start of last year so we bought a few amps, guitars and stuff. We went to Donegal, set up everything and demoed half the album in a week. We found somewhere, literally in the middle of nowhere. No Wi-Fi. Our driver Jim Heaney drove us up in the van with all the gear and left us there. We didn’t even have a car to go anywhere. There was a little bit of cabin fever but it was good! It was the first time we ever worked like that.”

 There’s a lot more light and shade on the album, compared to The New Life… which felt a bit monochrome.

“Yeah, it’s a lot more urgent, too. The New Life is more of a maudlin affair. It’s a bit murky, to say the least. It’s where I was at, then, mentally. The vocals were really lacking conviction on The New Life. I meant what I was singing but couldn’t really own up to it. A friend of mine read the lyrics and said, “They’re really good but are you ok?” It was pretty personal but masked as being abstract.

 “There was a lot of frustration and a lot more anger going into this one. We wanted it to be different – not purposely different but totally disconnected to what came before. It may as well be a different band. We’ve always felt that we’re outside of things. Not just in terms of being in Belfast and keeping ourselves to ourselves. It’s hard to feel we fit in anywhere no but that doesn’t change the fact I’m proud of the new album and the whole band. Musically, sonically, it’s our most accomplished work. It’s cohesive. On a personal note I’m more happy with the performance side of things. I knew the band were delivering what they had to do so I had to perform, which I’ve never really stepped up to on a record until now. It finally feels like we’ve properly arrived. Brian Coney

 Arms Around a Vision is out now on Tough Love Records

October October 2015 2015


Primer James Earley

I have always had a large amount of drive and ambition when it comes to creating art. I am very methodical in my approach to all projects and am a stickler for getting things right. Strong self discipline and a bit of self belief has certainly helped along the way.


Hello James. What first inspired you to create art? And at what stage did you get involved with street art/graffiti?
 I come from a long line of artists on my father’s side of the family. Drawing and sketching was always encouraged as I was growing up. It was really around the age of 12 onwards that I started taking a strong interest in art. I painted my first graffiti piece at the age of 16, after a mate of mine had brought a book called Subway Art to school. It was absolute pants, but a lot of fun. How did you get from there to where you are now? Was it all part of a masterplan or did things just slot into place as you grew up and got out into the world?
 No, there certainly hasn’t been a master plan, I think the timing of the popularity of the graffiti/street art movement has certainly helped for sure. That been said,

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How do the large scale murals like Blooms Hotel come about? Did you consciously decide to move away from graphics to mural work?
 Yes, I have made a conscious effort to pursue more paint-related projects in recent years. I really enjoy the public nature of the work and the different environments/

Photos: ^Mark Earley

– Primer

In the latest installment of Primer - a regular Thin Air feature looking at some of the country's brightest artistic talents - we chat to James Earley, Dublin street artist/designer/curator and founder of design agency Inputout and most recently, the online Irish art gallery

Tell us about Inputout. When and how did you start on your own? How has it been? What is the current focus of your design work? 
 Inputout is a design agency I founded in 2007, it specialises in graphic identities and large scale commercial mural projects. The main emphasis is on painted commissions.

Primer James Earley

context a finished piece of art will appear within. I am lucky that the scale of the artworks themselves tend to help promote my work, so I will invariably get people contacting me out of the blue with projects. The Blooms Hotel project was one of those situations. I was painting a wall in front of the owner’s bar, we got chatting and it all snowballed from there!

involved and have worked with all of them on a variety of projects over the years. And yes, there are more confirmed artists that are not currently on the site. As we release artworks in the future with these artists, they will be added onto the roster. A physical launch will be happening with the site later this year, it will take place in November, in the centre of Dublin.

In late August you launched Iverna which is described "an online art collection showcasing the very best in Irish contemporary art". Where did the idea come from? What sort of art will we find on the site?
 Iverna had been in gestation since 2014. In fact, the idea came to me many years ago, but I really started to think about it seriously as I was curating the art collection for the Dean Hotel in 2014. I wanted to sell my own prints online and realised that there really wasn’t an online gallery dedicated to selling limited edition original artworks in Ireland. Iverna does just that. It serves to represent the wealth of creative talent we have, covering a variety of artistic disciplines ranging from fine art, street art, photography and graphic design.

You've included a piece of your own work here. Tell us about it.
 The piece is a limited edition 3 colour screen print illustrating a giant Irish elk. It is an embodiment of my signature stained glass style, referencing my family’s creative heritage. The Giant Irish Elk symbolises the Irish people – their strength and endurance – as well as celebrating Ireland's natural heritage. The other artwork is a recent piece I painted as part of Waterford Walls. A street art festival in, well, Waterford! The illustration depicts a bull, the other elements within the design are stylised references from old Earley Studio windows.

How did you choose the artists involved? Will you be adding to the roster in the future? Any plans for a physical launch of the site? 
 The artists chosen are very much forerunners within their artistic disciplines. I also have a strong personal relationship with the artists

What other projects are on your radar at the moment? Anything exciting in the pipeline?
There’s a lot of exciting projects on the horizon. Check out my website (details below) for more information. To follow James' work go to: | |

October 2015


Roving Eye Ham Sandwich

– Ham Sandwich in London –

– Roving Eye

Tara Thomas captures night two of Ham Sandwich's recent sold out stint at The Islington, London.



t’s unlikely I can impart anything new to you about the London music scene such is our affinity with this city. A magnet for musicians worldwide we are fortunate to have this cultural hotspot on our doorstep. London town, with its myriad of venues, grandiose or intimate, is for many Irish artists their first taste of international exposure. It was only a matter of time before Roving Eye was cast in the direction of Islington, North Greater London. A short walk from Angel tube station, The Islington showcases a diverse range of musical talent, including some home grown artists. Recent performances by Declan O’Rourke, Booka Brass Band, The Lost Brothers and Wyvern Lingo highlight the management’s dedication to promot-

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ing Irish acts. This weekend they welcome Ham Sandwich who haven’t played in the city since 2008. I joined them on the second night of their two sold out shows. I find the band behind heavy red velvet curtains which is all that separates the idiosyncratic open aired lounge and bar from the stage area. A few people are milling about but it’s all very subdued and intense. Ollie tells me that the night before had a celebratory feel, everyone was excited to be back in London. They are suffering the consequences which explains their solemn faces. “Nothing a bit of Buckfast won’t cure,” he confides. Regardless of their tender state this soundcheck isn’t scaled down. While on tour with bands I’ve observed there is always one member who is an analyser, review-

Roving Eye Ham Sandwich in London

naps I chat with promoter Finn. There’s a real buzz about Irish acts at the moment he explains. With upcoming sell out shows scheduled for King Kong Company, the Raglans and Cry Monster Cry he doesn’t envision that demand abating anytime soon. On return to the green room it’s time to put on showbiz faces, literally for Niamh as she applies her trademark glitter eyes. Getting in the mood involves a hilarious rendition of ‘Put ‘Em Under Pressure’ and plenty of “Ooh Aah Paul McGraths". Some downtime seems to have restored the spirits and the obligatory Buckfast has made its timely appearance. I’m told stories of prank calling Louis Walsh, Podge’s pre show disappearing acts and “that time” Ollie (Murphy, drums) delayed an Etihad flight waiting on a Burger King take out. Pat hangs out in the hallway tuning his violin while friends are offering best wishes and broken legs. As they prepare to go upstairs to perform there’s a few

– Roving Eye

ing each performance with minute scrutiny. Darcy is it for Ham Sandwich - he is meticulous. Darcy and engineer Darren run through revised song arrangements in detail, tweaking any complications they had during the first show. Meanwhile a stage hand is taping carpet to the platform providing Niamh (Farrell, vocals) with additional traction for her infamous energetic exploits. It’s very much business at hand. Podge (McNamee, vocals and guitar), is late to arrive but the energy level goes up a notch when he does. His good humour is infectious. Niamh is giddy, her mother is travelling from Scotland to see the show and she plans to get some quality time with her over dinner. As soundcheck wraps up Lisa Hannigan and Conor O’Brien pop in to say hello and show support. With only two hours before doors open everyone heads out for some much needed rest and recuperation. While they go their own way to grab food or power

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Roving Eye Ham Sandwich in London

last minute checks, the set list, a quick discussion on the appropriate amount of on stage banter and most importantly, deciding on who is on “nipple watch” tonight. Niamh’s stage outfit has “Judy Finnegan” pop out potential, this gives a whole new understanding as to why she frequently turns her back on the audience for a boogie with the drummer. The venue is jammed as I worm my way out towards the stage. It is sweltering, a few electric fans are whirring air up towards Niamh, Podge and Darcy giving them little relief. One song in and Niamh is already removing her shoes, her vivacity is boundless. The chemistry between her and Podge as they circumvent the small stage is extraordinary, they feed off each other’s zeal. The appeal of a Ham Sandwich show isn’t just in their dynamic music but their good-humoured audience interaction. At one point Niamh instructs

the audience to sit down then jump up on cue during the chorus Donna Summer’s 'I Feel Love'. Dave catches kisses blown to him from an admirer in the crowd and a misfired confetti canon only adds to the euphoric atmosphere. When they admit they can’t whistle an intro they make avid fan Nick Barr’s night by inviting him on stage to do the honours. Later Podge encourages two hundred odd people to shout out in unison “Fuck you Carty” a friendly greeting to his buddy visiting from New York, a perfect segue to the massive announcement they are heading to New York in October for the CMJ Music Marathon. As the set winds down I slip out the side door into a street party, folk who couldn’t fit into The Islington are dancing in the alleyway. It’s a super good vibe. The confetti canons may have misfired but Ham Sandwich certainly did not. Tara Thomas

"The confetti canons may have misfired but Ham Sandwich certainly did not."


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Interview Pádraic Moore


– Pádraic Moore – Pádraic Moore is an Irish art historian, writer and curator currently residing in the Netherlands, who is currently preparing for two group shows in the Fokidos gallery in Athens in November and IMMA in Dublin in December. He discusses what goes into curating exhibitions, selecting inspiring works and the research that inform these decisions. Firstly, can you tell us a little about yourself? Your background and what lead you to get involved with curating etc. There are numerous factors that led me toward the path that I’ve been on for the past decade. I knew early on that organising exhibitions, writing about art and working with and for artists was my vocation. My outlook and approach is rooted in - and significantly influenced by - my background in History of Art which I studied at UCD in the early noughties along with English Literature. It was then still quite a traditional programme of education and chronicled the development of Western Art as a linear narrative in which each new development or progression occurred in direct response to a previous action or event. The realisation that history is ultimately a constructed narrative that can operate in the service of a particular agenda or be coloured by subjective intentions and desires was important.

The enthusiasm of several lecturers I encountered all those years ago engendered within me a long standing interest in the legacy and continuing potential of philosophical and artistic ideals developed and proposed in the late 19th and early 20th century. The year after graduating I had several life changing experiences and epiphanies. Some of these stemmed directly from the relationships I had formed with individuals whilst hanging around Dublin in 2004. I was part of a temporary community with whom I shared certain sensibilities and aspirations and early experiments I devised with that set enabled me to balance my academic acumen and theoretical concerns with practical knowledge. I’ve learned a great deal since then but I still subscribe to many of the ideals and tenets that I formed then. Do you see curating as a means to preserve art history or as a way to introduce new

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Interview Pádraic Moore

Have you noticed any reoccurring motifs or symbolism in your selection process? Obviously there are certain artists and art forms that I have a particular propensity towards but there isn’t one particular motif that distinguishes my work. All facets of my practice are shaped by the conviction that visual art facilitates modes of communication and experience that are vital in an increasingly virtualised, technorational world. My curatorial methodology is meticulous but subjective, and is informed not by abstract theoretical dispositions but in depth intuitive analysis of the artist’s individual positions. On a personal level, developing

exhibitions allows me to elucidate the meeting point of often-divergent strands of research. You are currently based in the Netherlands. How do you find people respond to art there compared to Ireland? It’s difficult to gauge and quantify audiences’ responses. The way in which people engage with visual art is extremely subjective and I’m reluctant to make any generalisations. Today, anyone who wants to can stay ostensibly abreast of developments in the field of visual art. There is a surfeit of information available via numerous avenues that one can access if they chose to do so. The upshot of this is that geographical location has much less an impact now then it did 20 or 30 years ago when living in Dublin inevitably meant that one had a more limited access to exhibitions etc. This is of course still the case to some degree but one is certainly not as isolated as they might once have been. However, there are of course some factors which inevitably influence the way people engage with artwork.

"Today, anyone who wants to can stay ostensibly abreast of developments in the field of visual art."


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Photos: ^Francisco Michel

work to a wider audience? I would view both these roles as central to my work in some way. However, one’s role changes according to the context that one is operating in. Working as an independent curator in an environment not conventionally used for exhibitions is very different to working within the context of an institution with a permanent collection which needs to be protected and preserved.

Interview Pádraic Moore

What venues do you enjoy exhibiting in? The particulars of a venue can have a major impact upon the character of an exhibition and indeed the manner in which an artist develops a work-if indeed it’s a body of new work. There is no one type of venue that I am particularly drawn to as the specificites and particularities of a space will inevitably shape an exhibition as significantly as the artists involved. 'A Modern Panarion: Glimpses of Occultism in Dublin' was an exhibition I quite enjoyed. What lead you to selecting this as a subject matter and seeking out modern occult associations in Dublin? Is this something you have an affinity with? For several years I‘ve been researching the influence of esoteric philosophies upon the literary and visual arts. In recent decades, several scholars have explored how esoteric movements, such as The Theosophical Society, have offered a vital catalyst for change in late 19th and early 20th century art. However, insufficient consideration has been given to how contemporary cultural producers have embraced aesthetics and ideals informed by esoteric traditions. Moreover, art history and criticism have yet to develop a method for analysing the work of artists who refer to or follow in this tradition. One of my aims is to address this. That particular exhibition featured contemporary artists whose works resonate with ideas central to the belief system of The Theosophical Society. The Society was founded in New York in 1875, espousing a doctrine synthesised from esoteric religious, philosophical, and scientific ideas and aspiring toward the formation of a universal community in which all religions, creeds, and races were equal. The popularity of Theosophy in the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries was considerable, rapidly attracting a community of adherents worldwide from amongst the many disenchanted people who sought spiritual guidance and

vital inspiration in an increasingly secular and industrialized world. You are preparing for a show in Athens in November. Can you discuss what your plans are and the choice of venue? Ψ (Psi) is a project takes its name from a term coined by B.P. Weisner in 1942 to refer to the crucial but contested element that makes possible the spectrum of phenomenon contested by orthodox science including clairvoyance, clairaudience, telepathy, precognition and psychokinesis. The term itself comes from the 23rd letter of the Greek alphabet and the first letter of the Greek word ψυχή (psyche) which is used to refer to the human mind or spirit but also the psychological structure of an individual. Although occurring within the realm of visual art this project utilises strategies that are in opposition to physicalistic philosophy that proposes that one is nothing more than a physical body and that the physical world is all that exists. Finally, you are also working towards show in IMMA in Dublin for December. Can you give us some details? I’m curating Hot on the Heels of Love, a onceoff event conceived as a nocturnal counterpart to the major group exhibition What We Call Love at IMMA. As you might have guessed the title of the event is a reference to that incredible invocation by Throbbing Gristle on their 1979 album 20 Jazz Funk Greats. The soirée features a selection of artists and musicians and is comprised of a collage of performance, spoken word, screenings, live music and love songs. One intention of the event is to explore one of the decisive missions of the Surrealist movement: the emancipation of various forms of repressed desire. Hot on the Heels of Love explores the ritualistic nature of music and its potency as a catalyst for interpersonal communion. This momentous event takes place on the 9th of December and everyone is invited.

October 2015


Reviews Releases

– Reviews

Somadrone Oracle Former Redneck Manifesto member Somadrone’s (AKA Neil O’Connor) 2013 effort The First Wave was an Eno-inflected classic in waiting. Two years on he’s released its follow-up, Oracle, and it’s bloody good. O’Connor has been open about the influence of disco and acid house and it shows throughout. It knows how to get you moving in the right manner, be it via a 1980s-style synthesizer (‘Caustic City’) or via a slightly trippier route like on ‘Life Support’. That’s not to say that softer influences have been diminished. A thin veneer of ambience runs through the undercurrent of each song, lending the album a poignant and affecting tone. Consider ‘The Swimmer’, with its sense of isolation and


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longing. The track spends more than half its runtime manufacturing this feeling before letting release come in the form of expansive, booming bass. This format reaches its zenith with ‘Invitation’, which starts small and gets progressively bigger and more audacious. While the overall similarity in song structure is a flaw, the quality of these songs more than makes up for it. Will Murphy

Wounded Healer Panic About Love EP 
 Wounded Healer is the new solo venture by Ships’ member Sorca McGrath and based on the strength of this debut effort, one can imagine that

she will be juggling both acts for the foreseeable future. Having written, performed, recorded and produced this three track EP, McGrath has been able to set out her stall without any outside interference, something which has clearly paid dividends throughout Panic About Love. Ships’ music has so far encapsulated the likes of funk and disco alongside electro-pop and synth induced vibes. However, with Wounded Healer McGrath has gone for more of a sombre and slightly darker approach, while still incorporating her love of synths and electronica. The EP opens with the title track, a number that highlights McGrath’s brooding vocal style, one which suits its melancholic lyrical content; “It’s not as simple as that/you’re not meant to feel trapped”. 
Elsewhere, ‘Change Your Mind’ and ‘Check Your Patterns’ are both rather downbeat affairs yet still manage to unearth catchy rhythmical tones whilst the various sound effects mix with repetitive yet soft beats and synth indebted loops, all the while accompanying McGrath’s woozy delivery. Conor Callanan

Reviews Releases

Defcon Reach Out 

 Having collaborated with Boxcutter on the New Yen EP, Defcon (Connor Dougan) gets his own release on Kinnego with Reach Out. It’s a whirlwind excursion into footwork territory that pays homage to the genre’s innovators while showing off the producer’s own identity. Akin to the sound of the late DJ Rashad, ‘Reach Out’ pitches a plaintive soul sample over frantic percussion, switching modes between blissful and breakneck. At five minutes it’s a lengthy number, but its varying movements and structures keep it lapsing into monotony. 'The Crux' takes scattershot jazz percussion and a mangled vocal sample that moves between quavers and triplets, all embellished by fizzling mechanical

sounds and syndetic trap beats. 'Moonquake' rounds things out with more deepened vocals and arresting chords, topped off by head-nod beats that'll break your neck. If the release is marked by anything it is its crisp, polished production, every sound and sample crystal clear in its execution. Defcon may be entering a cluttered landscape, but his sound is so clearly defined that it would be hard to mistake him for anyone else. Aidan Hanratty

Documenta Dronepop #1

 As one of the forerunners in the Irish psych-rock scene, Documenta are an intriguing prospect. Their music is to be absorbed, introspective and thought-provoking. The

repetitive minimalism of Can serves as a footstone, but they could also be compared to the space rock of Spacemen 3.

 The standout track on Dronepop #1, which encapsulates the album’s tone – gentle yet abrasive – is ‘Spanish Artist’, filled with graceful summery bliss. Around the four-minute mark there is an unexpected sonic wave that crashes over you, before the song ends on a sea of tranquility. 

 At close to seven minutes ‘Love is a Ghost’ is the longest track on the record. Female vocals take over on a song that ebbs and flows as viscous sound effects rise and fall. Elsewhere, ‘Selene’ incorporates the eerie noise stomp of Sonic Youth, while ‘Chiaroscuro’ could be the sun-kissed companion to ‘Spanish Artist’.

 Ambient music based on repetition can at times be monotonous, though on Drone Pop # 1 Documenta have avoided those pitfalls by creatively making use of effects and bursts of noise that refocus attention. The album could benefit from an injection of pace but as a band they put great emphasis on creating a complete piece of art, and in that sense their ambition has been fully realised. Garrett Hargan

October 2015


Live Giveamanakick

Giveamanakick w/ Deviant & Naive Ted ROISIN DUBH, GALWAY


Top-left, top-right, inset: Giveamanakick Bottom: Deviant & Naive Ted


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Photo: Joe Laverty

arking the tenth anniversary of their stellar second album, We Are The Way Forward, Limerick duo Giveamanakick recently made their triumphant live return at the Roisin Dubh in Galway. Sean McCormack was there to capture the pair as well as support on the night from Deviant & Naive Ted.

Live Girl Band

Girl Band, Paddy Hanna & Blue Whale BAR SUB, BELFAST

Photo: Colm Laverty


t’s been said a lot lately, but no other band sounds like Girl Band. Despite echoes of noise-rock, post-punk, krautrock and techno, no label can accurately capture the enthralling racket of cathartic debut Holding Hands With Jamie, while frontman Dara Kiely shouts darkly comic lyrics inspired by a psychotic episode like the Irish lovechild of Steve Albini and Mark E Smith. Taking to the stage after fine support slots from Paddy Hanna and Blue Whale, Kiely is on a crutch following a recent fall and has to perform from a stool, but his stage presence is undiminished as he writhes around screaming through the likes ‘Pears For Lunch’, while

the biggest cheer comes for the now classic ‘Lawman’. Half the enjoyment is in their unconventional playing styles – guitar effects summoning up deafening shrieks of noise rather than actual notes, while Daniel Fox attacks his bass with impossible string bends and even a glass bottle on ‘Paul’. There’s an infectious enthusiasm in the audience for new songs that were only officially released today, but such a dedicated following should be expected – Girl Band have been the most exciting band in Ireland for some time now, and with Rough Trade onboard, the wheels of world domination are already in motion. Cathal McBride

October October 2015 2015

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Not Gospel One Article You Must Read Today

– Not Gospel



've recently been told that I have Generalized Anxiety Disorder. I'm told it is fairly common and that my apparent triggers - work, the past, the future - are also usual. A visit to the doctor confirmed suspicions that some form of control had been lost, and that the swirling, looping negative thoughts that rattled around my dumb head were not something to be kept at arm's length any longer. A program was set out. Meditation and yoga were considered with seriousness for the first time. Gifting my mind the peace it so clearly needed became the priority. There were noticeable improvements in both mood and energy levels. Wonderful. Great. 
 However. In mid-September, I did what I usually do on a balmy Galway West autumn evening, which is to go online and read cultural criticism. Several Irish music websites understandably had the same idea at the same time, which was to focus on the Hard Working Class Heroes festival. Each of those sites decided to do so by drawing attention to the acts that, in their opinion, especially deserved the attention of potential attendees. Twenty Acts To Watch. Fifteen Bands You Can't Afford To Miss. Twenty-Two Acts That Will Make You Forget Everything You Know About Waterford-Based Dream Pop. I read down through. Skimming

The Thin Air Magazine

for bands or acts that I know personally, that I am already a fan of, or names I've seen on Roisin Dubh posters in town that one time. I recognize about 5% of the recommendations. The vast majority are new, exciting-looking and have videos that clearly took time and effort. I start skimming through paragraphs. Lush harmonies. Garnering A Reputation As. Deftly Crafted. Falcon. Drogheda. I click on the embedded videos, thrilling to visuals and considering presumably-unusual mic-placement techniques on the cello track. Suddenly, I realize that two videos are playing at once, on two different sites. They sync up. Vocals appear. They call my name in the chorus, right after the Arcade Fire 'Oh-oh-oh-oh-oh' bit. There's a sudden flash. An ill-thought out solution, you ask? I have just the one. Starting in 2016, each country issues five 'musical act licences'. Each act gets 12 months. An EP, album and a eightdate tour of the island minimum. Then a New Year's Eve show and you're out. Over. On January 1st, I sit down to my meal of turkey and study the five paragraphs for the coming year. I click on five links. I make hasty judgements. And then I return to that one Pavement album I listen to all the time anyway. There will be peace in the valley once again. Brian Kelly

Illustration: Keith Kavanagh

– One Article You Must Read Today

October 2015


88mph More Specials

– 88mph

(NOVEMBER, 1974)

The Specials More Specials


here to? After creating a movement that précised 1979 UK culture and its socio-political landscape, where to? Their record label 2 Tone and debut album, had produced a time capsule of life entering Thatcher's Britain; a piece of art so rounded and fully formed, it seemed foolhardy to even attempt a follow up. But if anyone was capable of such a feat, it was Jerry Dammers and The Specials. Dammers, the driving force behind both band and label, had blended his beloved Jamaican ska with the attitude and energy of punk, spawning a sound ideal for the times. However, his tastes, imagination and ambition were not to be bound. More Specials may still have had at its core the rhythms of the Caribbean, but the diversity of further influence was colossal. With only a hint of what's to come, side one eases in the faithful with a sophisticated update on the debut. As ever The Specials blind us to their impeccable musicianship with deceptively simple melodies and interminable catchiness. Lyrically too they continue to pack a punch. 'Man at C&A' despairs at the ramping up of The Cold War


The Thin Air Magazine

(OCTOBER, 1980)

while the hit 'Do Nothing' laments the increase in unemployment. Somehow, though, they make all this fun. More of the same would have sufficed but flipping the record reveals the true story of More Specials. Throwing the listener in at the deep end, a 2-part version of then recent single 'Stereotype' has everything: Spaghetti western, bossanova, flamenco, lounge, Balkan folk music and tango lead into dub reggae and toasting with trace synth-pop. Audaciously eclectic but nevertheless triumphant, it sets the tone for the rest of the album. With the flood gates open, they are free to indulge whatever style takes their fancy. They go all-out calypso for 'Holiday Fortnight', jazzy easy-listening on 'I Can't Stand It', and for 'International Jet Set', invent a woozy, psychedelic funk that ably soundtracks a doomed flight. It's an intoxicating experience, knowingly illustrated as the album is brought full circle, with a one-over-theeight reprise of 'Enjoy Yourself'. It's a sentiment The Specials took to heart when faced with the difficult second album, but like everything else they had achieved they made the impossible look effortless. Jonathan Wallace

The Best of Agony Uncle

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

ny Uncle The Best of Ago Ten columns. Ten therapy sessions. Ten gargantuan airstrikes, dropping truthbombs that make Pearl Harbour look like your dad's poxy firework display in the back garden. God, your dad SUUUUUUCKS. This month is a 'Best Of...'. because my hands got sluiced to bits in the gears of a combine harvester and I'm waiting for replacements from Jude Law.

Illustration: Loreana Rushe

On Marriage: What’s the longest any married couple has gone without having sex? 
 I’ve actually conducted several studies in this area. My findings were thus: your Ma has been having sex with me for a good fifteen years but hasn’t shagged your Da since 1991. So let’s split the difference and say their marriage is a disgrace? On Brunch: What in your estimation is the correlation between Brunch and Hipsterdom? 
 Neutral Milk Hotel’s In The Aeroplane Over The Sea is full of backmasking (a technique where subliminal messages are recorded backwards onto a track that is meant to be played forward) basically inventing Brunch and ordering fans to eat it. It snowballed from there. On Kissing: You’ve been beamed into an English TV studio in 1996. Would you rather

kiss Dame Edna Everage or Lily Savage? 
 Neither. I’d be too busy trying to get my parents to have their first kiss at the Enchantment under the sea dance. My brother and sister are nearly disappeared from the photo! On Twitter: What’s the most interesting thing you’ve read on Twitter and why? 
 “How can mirrors be real if our eyes aren’t real?” Jaden Smith 05/01/2013 On St. Patrick’s Day: St. Patrick’s Day commemorates the arrival of Christianity to Ireland. If you could re-write the history books, how would it have panned out? 
 St. Patrick would have brought abortions to Ireland. On Bono: Is Bono a knob?
 Of course he is, but Eire is clogged with knobs but he’s still better than Hector O’ Fucking hEochagain
 On America: Hot dog, jumping frog, Albuquerque? 
 On Festivals: If you could mud wrestle anyone at a festival who would it be? 
 The ma from Crystal Swing. On Summer Blockbusters: Is 'Magic Mike XXL' an accurate account of your life? 
 The Human Centipede is more accurate.


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