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Feature: 15 For ‘15: Our Fifteen Irish Acts To Watch Out For In 2015 // Not Gospel: Frostbit Fickleness The Record: Jape Talks New LP, The Chemical Sea // Live: Run The Jewels and Sinead O’Connor ISSUE #004 | JAN / FEB 2015 | FREE

– Loah: The Advent of Artsoul U






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






Foreword / Contents Editor Brian Coney brian@thethinair.net @brianconey

Keep On Keeping On

Deputy Editor/Photo Editor Loreana Rushe loreana@thethinair.net @loreana Art Director Stuart Bell @stubell_ Reviews Editor Andrew Lemon andrew@thethinair.net @_andrewlemon_ Guide Editor Stevie Lennox stevie@thethinair.net @stevieisms Advertising, Marketing & Creative Co-ordinator Richard Crothers @CRUTHCAT

Cover photo: Tara Thomas

Tune In Editor James Magill james@thethinair.net @jamesjmagill Contributors: Laura Carland
 Brian Coney 
 Carlos Daly 
 Richard Davis 
 Aaron Drain 
 Mark Earley 
 Scott Edgar 
 Richie Egan 
 Sarah Gourley 
 Aidan Hanratty 
 James Hendicott 
 Chris Jones 
 Brian Kelly 
 Colm Laverty 
 Joe Laverty 
 Stevie Lennox 
 Joe Madsen 
 Alan Maguire 
 Sean McCormark 
 Justin McDaid 
 Tom McGeehan
 Mike McGrath Bryan 
 Alessio Michelini 
 Colm Moore 
 Will Murphy 
 Brid O’Donovan 
 Steven Rainey 
 Loreana Rushe 
 Conor Smyth 
 Isabel Thomas 
 Tara Thomas 
 David Turpin 
 Dean Van Nguyen 
 Jonathan Wallace


All In Favour Say “Aye”

ardon my Portuguese but wasn’t January one long-assed, purgatorial non-event of a month? Scuppered resolutions and the dreaded wait for post-festive payday hooked up in a dingy wedding reception of the soul, leaving even the most buoyant of buddies reaching a little too readily for the mid-week rum. But fret not, informed reader: we have, have we not, penetrated the storm in fine fashion and now bask in the cleansing bosom of February (which, incidentally, stems from

the Latin term februum, meaning purification)? We have, so forget the workmate you drunkenly texted “You up? x” to at 4.30am on New Year’s morning, disregard those six to seven pounds you just haven’t been able to shift from Christmas over-indulgence and completely ignore the fact that seemingly everyone you went to school with is seemingly much more successful and “settled” than you presently are. They’ve serious trust issues and secretly begrudge your wit and charm. Brian Coney

Contents Photo of the Month ����������������� 4 Projection������������������������������� 5 Feature: 15 for 15 ���������������������� 6 The First Time ���������������������� 16 Feature: Loah ����������������������� 18 In The Studio: Jape ����������������� 21  Primer: Alan Butler ����������������24


Reviews ������������������������������� 26 Live �������������������������������������� 28 Feature: Little Gem Records ����30 Not Gospel �����������������������������33 88mph ����������������������������������34 Agony Uncle �������������������������� 35



Jan / Feb 2015


Photo of the Month Isabel Thomas

Behemoth, The Academy, Dublin Image: Isabel Thomas

– Photo of the Month



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: Myself and Brian unanimously came to the decision that this image had to be photo of the month in the magazine. When I think of Death Metal, a photo like this

wouldn’t be too far from what I’d perceive as an accurate representation of the genre. Nergal genuflects to the audience with an ethereal light shining on him, yet his face is covered in corspe paintan absolute contradiction on religious iconography. Isabel: Behemoth made it easy and delivered loads of great material for the photographers. Having seen them live at the German With Full Force festival for the first time and missed them at Wacken Open Air for

The Thin 4 AirThe Magazine Thin Air Magazine

unfortunate circumstances, I just had to return for their own headline gig and capture this feast of Black/Death metal! Nergal and Co. are not only very fond of the camera, but they absolutely know how to fascinate the crowd. Great lights at the Academy and an intense atmosphere with fire, abrupt movements and heavy incense in the air underlined their music nearly to perfection. 

 SHOT WITH CANON 6D W/ 2470 MM LENS SHOT AT 24 MM, F/2.8, 1/800, ISO 2000



– Projection

2015 in Film: 
From Mad Max to Star Wars


espite its reputation as a studio dumping ground, Oscar season spillover means the start of the calendar is studded with compelling releases. J.K. Simmons gets the role of his career as an unforgiving music instructor in Whiplash, while Paul Thomas Anderson adapts Thomas Python’s sun-kissed stoner noir Inherent Vice, Steve Carell plays to the Academy in true-life crime drama Foxcatcher and Michael Keaton bugs out in Birdman. Later, look out for much-buzzed indie horror It Follows and comedy Appropriate Behaviour, and new auteur features from Terrence Malick, Micheal Mann, Michel Gondry, the Wachowski siblings and Noah Baumbach. It’s a year of cash-gobbling blockbuster nostalgia, with resurrected and reanimated

franchises. Terminator: Genisys looks like bloated fan-fiction, but there’s fun stuff elsewhere. Apart from new editions of Bond and Mission Impossible, the least insurable amusement park on the planet re-opens in Jurassic World and George Miller and Tom Hardy bring back the crazy with the long-gestated Mad Max: Fury Road. But the House of Mouse is set to dominate the year’s balance sheets: animation supremo Brad Bird’s Tomorrowland, James Spader’s psychotic robo-Pinocchio in Avengers: Age of Ultron and J. J. Abrams’ odds-on shot at redeeming Star Wars. Happy New Year, nerfherders. Conor Smyth

The nominations are dominated by Birdman and The Grand Budapest Hotel with nine each. However, unlike last year when 12 Years a Slave, Cate Blanchett and The McConnaisance had their categories sewn up, there are no runaway winners. But after winning at the Golden Globes, Boyhood and Richard Linklater are the nominees to beat for Best Picture and Best Director. Despite the Oscars’ notoriously conservative approach there are welcome nods for Ida and Nightcrawler, two of the year’s lesser seen gems. It wouldn’t be the Oscars though without a major PR gaff and the embarrassing realisation that all twenty acting nominees are white (this happened before as recently as 2011) is currently running a close second to the public outrage that The Lego Movie missed out on a Best Animated Feature nomination.

“No Lego Movie?!”


t’s hard to believe it’s been twelve months since every idiot with a cameraphone was recreating Ellen DeGeneres’ selfie of selfies, but the 87th Academy Awards are just around the corner on February 22.

Belfast’s QFT Theatre will be screening a week of repeat showings from February 13 of the Oscar nominated Boyhood and Birdman for anyone who missed them first time around. Richard Davis

Jan Jan // Feb Feb 2015 2015


www.mandelahall.com jessie ware

tuesday 20 january mandela hall

gascan rucKus

race the FluX - his new atlas thursday 29 january bar sub

echo & the bunnymen

tuesday 17 february mandela hall

a plastic rose album launch

thursday 26 february mandela hall

ella eyre

thursday 12 marCh mandela hall

public service broadcasting sunday 3 may mandela hall

man overboard

tuesday 5 may bar sub

duKe special

frIday 15 may


The Thin Airmandela Magazine hall

15 for ‘15

Our Must-Hear, Must-See, Must-Praise Irish Acts for 2015


ou know, “whittling down” is rarely a fun thing to do. It implies having to rigorously choose certain things at the reluctant expense of others. You don’t want to, but you have to. Stemming directly from its (only slightly tenuous) title, compiling 15 For ’15 –that is, handpicking and profiling a mere fifteen Irish acts we’re absolutely convinced are set for extraordinary things in 2015 and beyond – was no different. But whilst necessary omissions frustrate us still (it could have very easily have been 50 For ’15) the bands and artists that grace the following ten pages were worth every

second of head-scratching, priest-consulting and shortlist-amending. From Cork dream-pop wizards and Belfast jazz-punk quartets to Dublin feminist garage-punk trios and Galwegian alt-rock contenders, our writers and photographers have eagerly captured some of the country’s very best artists, each of them, in their own way, on the cusp of truly remarkable things. Of course – as is the nature of the game – some may well fade into obscurity, but with the chase being, we think,better than the catch, they are all but peerless in their pursuit at present. Delve in, (re-)acquaint yourself and enjoy.

Jan Jan // Feb Feb 2015 2015


15 for ‘15 Oh Boland / Alana Henderson


hat with ‘garage rock/ pop’ being one of the three/four musical styles currently en vogue, Tuam’s Oh Boland are likely to leap on most of these ‘to watch’ lists as a matter of course. However, theirs is a mix of influence and style that goes some way to escaping that genre’s straight (leather) jacket. After two free-online EPs and a split LP with Me & My Dog, 2015 will see the release of their first album proper, a set from a band equally in love with the Can-nier moments of Thee Oh Sees and Yo La Tengo and the summer pop jangle of The Clean.

– 15 for ‘15 –

Catching them live is wholly recommended, the musical joins visible in the best early-Pavement way. It’s the kind of thoughtful-yet-careless thrash that makes people put pints down and crane their necks to see what the hell is going on. In a city near you soon, presumably. Brian Kelly

Alana Henderson


nd of year lists are a funny thing. Every year the music industry churns these things out and every year the same names appear top of the pile. In the case of Alana Henderson it’s well deserved praise. Since the release of Wax and Wane in 2013, the Northern Irish vocalist and cellist has gone from strength to strength. Alana has graced the pages of music magazines and festival programmes alike. She has borne that one-to-watch tag, delighting with her contemporary take on traditional folk. You’ll currently find the twenty-five-year old on tour as part of the backing band for Irish songwriting supremo Hozier. The touring experience across Europe and beyond will have done Alana no harm. In 2015 we look forward to the addition of some tales from the road to her already formidable yet charming repertoire. Cello-pop and traditional tunes come together over at alanahenderson. bandcamp.com. Scott Edgar


The Thin Air Magazine

Oh Boland: Sean McCormack, Alana Henderson: Joe Laverty

Oh Boland



oy meets girls. Protest punk meets loud lo-fi garage. A three-piece band is born. Traversing the jagged topography of social commentary, sexual politics and gender inequality, streaked through with black humour and sonic references, Sissy describe their sound as “cool music”. The trio’s sound comes across like Dead Kennedys or Devoto-era Buzzcocks, but the vitriol is more subtle than from where Jello sounds off. In its place is irreverent invective, with hints dropped to the debt that’s owed to Kathleen Hanna’s output over the last quarter century.

Sissy: Carlos Daly, Edward F Butler: Alan Maguire

The band subverted Enya’s ‘Orinoco Flow’ in the chorus of their collargrab first single ‘Sail and Rail’, trashing and trampling it in the recounting of a trip to Britain for an abortion; an Hiberno-centric pop cultural reference deriding the same land’s archaic politics. Sissy’s songs are heavy in focus but swift in passing, artfully lacerating in execution; above all, though, cool fucking music. Justin McDaid

Edward F Butler


ulti-talented music man Edward F Butler has had a fairly tremendous run of things so far. Not only has he had a foothold in the cinematic arts, having directed videos for Oh Volcano, as well as the video for his own debut single, 2014’s ‘Running From Fears’, he has seen his music reach far and wide over the past year or so, through the ‘BBC Introducing’ scheme and through his own former project, the much loved and much missed HOWL. He’ll build you a shed too if you ask him nicely. The London-born, Belfast-based producer is creating the kind of soulful electronica that brings to mind Caribou and James Blake but forefronts a pop mentality. With a new EP in the works too, Edward F Butler is very much the one to watch in 2015, and, if his past exploits are anything to go by, we’ll be seeing a lot more of him over the coming months. We can’t wait. Aaron Drain

Jan / Feb 2015


– 15 for ‘15 –

15 for ‘15 Sissy / Edward F Butler

15 for ‘15 Night Trap / Axis Of


– 15 for ‘15 –

ublin synth-pop duo Night Trap (Ciaran Smith and Jill Daly) are very much doing things their own way. Eschewing the kind of mainstream/house crossover guff that has seen far too many acts regrettably become household names over the past year, they are creating vibrant, synthesizer-orientated pop music that is reminiscent of early Depeche Mode yet champions a futuristic, technologically forward-thinking approach. Think Ladytron meets Vince Clarke. Sounds pretty sweet, right? Striking that balance though, between retro and futuristic, in itself is a commendable achievement, but doing so with the kind of panache that Night Trap have shown us on 2014 tracks ‘Someone Like You’ and ‘Rogue Spirit’ is an exciting appetiser for what’s likely to come. With a string of live shows under their belt too, notably supporting Women’s Christmas this past November, 2015 should see Night Trap bringing some much needed neon to the stage and glorious synth melodies to the masses. Amen. Aaron Drain


The Thin Air Magazine

Axis Of


015 looks all set for take-off for the North Antrim act dubbed by Rocksound “the most exciting band to come out of Northern Ireland, possibly ever”. Axis Of launch into the New Year with the release of their second album The Mid Brae Inn and an accompanying show at Belfast’s Empire Music Hall, and can expect still more international acclaim with prominent label Smalltown America jumping into their corner. Latest single ‘Wetsuit’ is something of a surprise, shaking off the darker, heavier leanings of debut Finding St Kilda in favour of shouty vocal layering, brusque chords and smart melodies. With their reputation slowly inflating both at home and abroad – Kerrang! were impressed enough to premiere the ‘Wetsuit’ video – Axis Of’s slow morph from gnashingly-abrasive melodic metal to something with plenty of bite but a touch more subtlety is one that’s becoming irresistible. James Hendicott

Night Trap: Loreana Rushe, Axis Of: Tom McGeehan

Night Trap

Dear Desert


ear Desert’s debut single ‘Give It Up’, released last June, intrigued with an alluring combination of suave melody and lo-fi production. The Dublin-based three-piece – made up of Richie Fenton, James O’Donnell and Brendan Miller – followed the track up with the Gift Above EP, released in November. Co-produced with Asta Kalapa, the release builds to a striking, six-minute title track, in which Millar’s reverb-heavy vocal weaves in and out of heart-tugging synth arpeggios.

Dear Desert: Loreana Rushe, Boyfights: Sean McCormack

The band cites influences from Cocteau Twins and The Blue Nile to Frank Ocean and Blood Orange, and there’s a trace of Jamie Woon’s gorgeous, Burial co-produced 2011 single ‘Night Air’ in their blend of spacey atmospherics, sinuous rhythms, and soulful vocals. Dear Desert compellingly side-step the ultra-polished sound of so much “future soul” in favour of something rawer and more tactile. It’ll be interesting to see how far they take this approach, sonically and geographically, in 2015. David Turpin



year and a half of live performance under their belt, Galwegian quartet Boyfights look poised to expand their loyal western fanbase. Two summers ago, the band gained traction in various battles of bands across Galway City nightlife. Along the way, they became favorites of popular local venues like Roisin Dubh and The Cellar. Although scant releases of the band’s material online have given them limited exposure, the available sound plays to an indie-punk style redolent of early Weezer and Nirvana. Lead vocalist Liza McCann delivers sultry chops through pithy lyrics that sink lazily over her heavy-handed bass. Elsewhere, Simon McDonagh of Oh Boland veers between vocals, guitar and synth, Eoin Reilly provides a sharp contrast on his choppy guitar rhythms and Daniel Nestor punctuates the band’s attitude with a boisterous presence on percussion. Few performances outside Galway can they claim, but Boyfights stands ready to claim national recognition in 2015, if they’re up for the challenge. Joe Madsen

Jan / Feb 2015


– 15 for ‘15 –

15 for ‘15 Dear Desert / Boyfights

15 for ‘15 Robocobra Quartet / God Knows + mynameisjOhn


– 15 for ‘15 –

obocobra Quartet are a band that you should discover live. In fact, we insist you do.

The unique spectacle offered by the Belfast based four-piece is energetic, menacing, fast and loose. With influences as varied as 90s era hip hop, ska, jazz, DC Hardcore, rap and rhythmic vocal stylings that can only be compared with beat poetry, we’re left with an ambitious kaleidoscope of sound. Spoken word vocals courtesy of Chris Ryan are barked from behind the drumkit which puncture frenzied melodies, a backbone of brilliant bass and crescendos of sax blasts. It’s off-kilter, organised pandemonium that threatens to burst and descend into chaos at any moment.

 Describing themselves as ‘Baroque-punk hip hop jazz’, here’s a band who let their influences fight it out resulting in a musical concoction unlike anything we’ve seen for quite some time. Most of all, Robocobra Quartet deserve your attention in 2015 because they are very, very good fun. Laura Carland


The Thin Air Magazine

God Knows + mynameisjOhn


ver their debut mixtape, Rusangano/Family, released last year, the Shannon-based God Knows – an incisive MC with a style that draws influence from grime and dancehall – raps over mynameisjOhn’s mauling electronic beats in a manner so natural, it’s easy to see what drew the duo together. Born in Zimbabwe, God’s lyrics cover often unheard topics like defining his self-identity as an African raised in a country not known for its multiculturalism, sewing a fun toy chest of pop cultural references into his intricate flow to boot. John, meanwhile, gives him plenty of good looks, including idiosyncratic MF DOOM-palatable beats (‘Throw The Spear’), afrobeat-tinted instrumentals (‘Marato’) and the darkest reaches of UK garage (‘Raise the Bar’). It all adds up to one of the most credible hip-hop releases to come out of Ireland in the past few years. “I am Irish grime and I will be for a very long time,” raps God on the sombre ‘Habbakuk’. It’s hard to argue with him. Dean Van Nguyen

Robocobra Quartet: Colm Laverty, God Knows: Colm Moore

Robocobra Quartet

New Gods


New Gods: Isabel Thomas, Goldie Fawn: Joe Laverty

hen it starts, you can feel it. This invisible touch sliding down your spine like finger of some long forgotten creature. Foot taps and gentle nods turn into body slams and head banging. This is what 1976 must have felt like; everything teetering on the brink of collapse and the only solace is a four chord assault. No fat, no frills, nothing slower than 130 bpm. This is Dublin’s New Gods, and while they may not be the saviours of punk they are a much needed shot of adrenaline. Their debut EP, Gods of Punk, is well worth a listen. It’s a nine minute, four track smattering of fury, speed and melody, made in the same mould as the likes of Dead Boys, The Damned and The Stooges. If the band are able to keep this momentum up, they’re fit to become the shining stars of Dublin’s fertile punk scene. Will Murphy

Goldie Fawn


aving well and truly cut her teeth as the leading lady of kaleidoscopic, tale-telling troupe Katie and the Carnival, Belfast-based singer-songwriter Katie Richardson has recently very convincingly metamorphosed and re-established herself as Goldie Fawn. Retaining the swooning, enchanting quality that made her previous incarnation so potent, Richardson has re-imagined both her sound and image to induce an ever more irresistible craft. With new material currently in the works, early live shows has seen Goldie Fawn (that is: the project, as it very much includes Richardson’s wonderful band) conjure real magic in song: intimate, furtive, occasionally sensual tales of reverie, romance and reality, underpinned by a bona fide grasp of the human condition. Expect some real magic from Goldie Fawn throughout the year. Brian Coney

Jan / Feb 2015


– 15 for ‘15 –

15 for ‘15 New Gods / Goldie Fawn

15 for ‘15 Speed Of Snakes


014 saw the end of a band called Adebisi Shank, but this year the vibrations of the two remaining hatchlings of the snakes whose trails are the cosmos will reverberate along your consciousness like never before. Speed of Snakes are coming. 2014 saw them follow up early social media profiles and streaming single ‘Arroway’ with one of the most ambitious videos ever from an independent Irish outfit, for menacing, crawling ‘Backbone of Night’, seeing the Snakes’ dreams of being neo-Dublin cyber-pimps dashed by an examination of their subject’s sentience. An eponymously-titled follow-up single


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was also fairly ridiculous, unveiling a penchant for floor-filling, falsetto-laden future-beats. The brainchild of Vinny from Adebisi and Rupert from BATS, SoS sees the duo pushing their personal creative boundaries, with Vinny leaning into his beatsiest territory yet, a logical step from the Vinny Club, and Rupert expanding his vocal and lyrical stylings to difficult and sometimes even ridiculous new places. But the future can’t be built on suspicion of new horizons, and whether it’s a neon cityscape or complete dystopia, these two harbingers intend to lead us there. Mike McGrath Bryan

Photo: Alessio Michelini

– 15 for ‘15 –

Speed Of Snakes


Photo: Isabel Thomas


he duo of Liam Mesbur and Aoife McCarthy - accompanied by various friends - are the core of Dublin experimental indie rock act Princess, who dropped their neo-shoegaze debut EP Black Cat in Summer ’13. It was a mammoth, noisestrewn affair not unlike The Horrors after (yet another) Krautrock binge. Since then, they’ve been blurring the line between chaos and barrenness, with their most recent single ‘Molly’ perfectly showcasing their ability to give a song ample breathing room in all of its amble-paced junkie looseness. Potentially their finest release to date, it - along with the rest of their output - embodies the spirit of Eno in its cathedral-evoking spaciousness, with glistening, glassy Beach House lead lines, underpinned by gently strummed,

subtly autumnal Dirty Three-esque guitar textures. Their other 2014 single, the genuinely infectious and actually-quite-perky-forpost-punk ‘Neverlook’ – available for free on Bandcamp along with everything else they’ve recorded - proves they’re capable of more than just the slow-swaying, lo-fi aesthetic without losing that reverbsoaked, rounded edge. Having made the cut for plenty of end-of-year lists for ‘Molly’, as well as its remix treatment from Ben Bix of Meltybrains?, the announcement that they’re to embark on a fortnight-long UK and European tour with Washington DC garage-punk outfit Ex Hex means Princess start – and look to continue on a similar note - 2015 with their most high-profile movement to date. Stevie Lennox

Jan / Feb 2015


– 15 for ‘15 –

15 for ‘15 Princess

15 for ‘15 Elastic Sleep

Elastic Sleep


here is much to be said for patience. After well-loved Cork pop combo Terror Pop abruptly bid adieu in mid-2012, the band’s core membership took their time about regrouping. Quietly and subversively working away, Elastic Sleep emerged in mid-2013 with debut single ‘Anywhere’, a weighty shoegazer with a celestial mantra at its core, before punctuating their statement of intent with a chilling, reverberating take on Nancy Sinatra Bond-theme confection ‘You Only Live Twice’.

– 15 for ‘15 –

All this was prelude, however, to a 2014 that saw the band unleash their near-spectral debut EP, ‘Leave You’ on Cork co-op FIFA Records, featuring an eponymous title track that boasted the appropos amount of spacey distance while prominently featuring some co-

lossal hooks. Nailing their colours to the mast, Elastic Sleep have been touring hard all year, opening their festival accounts with Indiependence, Hard Working Class Heroes, Knockanstockan and more. Their hard work hasn’t gone unnoticed by their influences either, with My Bloody Valentine drummer Colm Ó Cíosóig stopping at their headliner at (sadly now-defunct) Dublin venue The Joinery. The ‘shoegaze’ tag wasn’t going to hang heavy for too long, though, and undesirous of pigeonholing, the band’s most recent single, ‘Slip’, is a booming volley of harsh percussive discipline, a noisier edge to their considerably layered sixstring assault, bluntly fuzzy Kim Deal-esque bass and in Muireann Levis’ progressively more distorted vocals throughout, the sound of dreams falling beautifully asunder. It sets a stunning precedent for what surely has to be a breakthrough year for one of Ireland’s most dedicated and visionary musical propositions. Mike McGrath Bryan

Photo: Brid O’Donovan


The Thin Air Magazine

The First Time Ian McFarlane

– The First Time

Photo: Joe Laverty

Photographer Joe Laverty shoots and delves into the music-making, listening and loving firsts of Squarehead bassist Ian McFarlane

 First gig? Red Hot Chili Peppers at Landsdowne road with New Order supporting – great gig. New Order were booed off but they opened with ‘Blue Monday’ so it was an uphill battle from there. John Frusciante played a song with New Order too. It was inspiring seeing Flea play bass live.

 First festival? Primavera in Barcelona. I had an amazing time with great friends and I got to see amazing bands in a beautiful, warm setting. No rainy fields! 

 First soundtrack? Saturday Night Fever. I was listening to it the other night actually. I love the Bee Gees and the songs are incredible. Dazed and Confused is another great

soundtrack. Purple Rain too obviously Prince’s masterpiece!

 First song you cried to? I cry listening to music all the time but I remember being very emotional the first time I heard ‘Always’ by Erasure. I was only a little kid then but I remember it vividly. It’s still one of my favourite songs. 

 First time you knew you wanted to make music? I knew I wanted to make music when I saw friends like Lar (Kaye, Speed of Snakes, ex-Adebisi Shank) playing guitar and seeing how much fun it could be. First song you wrote? 

 I don’t write songs but I help other people write. I was very lucky with the friends I had when I was learning how to put songs together. They opened me up to a whole world of music I would have never discovered on my own. I’ve learned more about music from my friends than anybody else.

Jan / Feb 2015


Feature Loah

Loah – Love, Death & Feminine Power – Photos: Tara Thomas


ands down one of the country’s most beguiling and unique up-and-coming artists, Sierra LeoneanIrish singer-songwriter Sallay Matu Garnett AKA Loah is well and truly “one to watch” in 2015. Having positively seduced us with her single ‘Cortége’ in November – incredibly, the same month as her debut headline performance– the Dublin-based artist talks to Brian Coney ahead of what is almost guaranteed to be her breakthrough year.


The Thin Air Magazine

Hi Sallay. 2014 - namely the last few months - was a great year for you. Looking back, how was it for you? It’s been a wonderful year. It’s remarkable how one can plug away at things on a modest level for what seems like an age - many, many years of writing, playing and all kinds of performances and creative avenues. Then in one year all your work becomes more visible to people outside your immediate circle as if you sprung up from nowhere! I definitely have not sprung up from nowhere, that’s for sure,

but it’s fair to say that my work as ‘Loah’ certainly has - I only conceived of this new direction in late 2013. I’ve enjoyed connecting to a wider audience and I have an amazing group of loyal and supportive people around me who are with me all the way.

 The name Loah: where did it come from and what does it mean? Loah is a very old name for a girl in various languages I believe, and for me it is a derivation of the term Loa which describes the spirit entities in

Feature Loah

“I definitely have not sprung up from nowhere, that’s for sure, but it’s fair to say that my work as ‘Loah’ certainly has.”

Haitian voodoo. What is most pertinent to me is that the Loas are an incredibly diverse array of energies or spirits who take on many forms, embodying all the universal forces. You’re also a pharmacist in south Dublin. How do you manage balancing both of these sides of your life? Does it come natural? Most artists have had or have a job at some point that doesn’t necessarily connect directly with their work. Mine happens to be a profession I worked towards. I don’t believe it’s a particularly unique quality to balance these skills even though they seem so far apart. I’m very happy in both healing and in arts though the latter will prevail ultimately (I don’t believe they’re so disconnected either). From observation I think balancing parenthood and any other side of life looks much harder!

grown-up, hopefully mature and cohesive version of all these influences that I call Artsoul.

 ‘Cortége’ is a wonderful insight into your style. Can you take us through your songwriting process; how you usually start writing a song and how you develop it?
 Tough one - I have no specific process. What seems to happen most often in spite of me trying to regulate the process is that melodies and words come together when I’m doing anything but trying to write - walking, driving or in the case of The Bailey cooking mackerel. Once this initial gate is opened then it’s just a process of writing down what I’ve already ‘heard’ and completing the piece. It feels more like dictation than writing! 

You grew up between Maynooth, Gambia and Sierra Leone, which has undoubtedly lent to your singular approach to songwriting. Can you trace how different musical experiences from your teenage years has informed your music now, as an adult? I am completely at home in so many styles as a result of this. I don’t feel the ‘foreignness’ of genres of music really. Moving so much and settling in different places breaks down the barrier of what you feel is ‘home’. I spent my teens playing classical music in various ensembles, playing funk music, playing various African music, playing folk, adoring Caribbean dancehall and punk. This is so freeing but the flipside is that it can take longer to find your truest ‘niche’ or voice. Right now I’m going through the interesting process of fusing this into a

The track refers to a solemn procession and it is sung in the Sierra Leone languages Sherbro and Mende. How important are those aspects of your background - memories, experiences outside of Ireland - to your lyrical approach? It’s basically all about the song - if a different language works for the melody and the sentiment of that song that’s what I’ll do. There will undoubtedly be more of this - I am multi-lin-

Jan Jan // Feb Feb 2015 2015

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Feature Loah

gual so it would almost be strange to only ever sing in one language when I often have thoughts in other languages. However I wouldn’t include anything to force something, it has to work aesthetically. English is my first language after all. Interestingly I don’t speak either Sherbro or Mende - my aunt did a translation of my English lyrics for the song, but I could not imagine that song any other way. ‘Cortege’ deals with a very solemn subject and there is a delicate depth to the Sherbro language, not to mention the privacy of singing in a non-widespread language that made it perfect for the song. Do you feel the emotion and lyrical contact comes across in your songs for people who don’t speak the languages? Specifically, do you consider there to be such a thing as a language barrier? I hope the emotion comes across! I believe it does. If music speaks it speaks, end of story. It does help if something is catchy and can be sung along to if that’s what you’re going for. However not every single song in the universe has to be catchy and be sung along to perfectly. There’s room for all of it - I’m certainly a fan of catchy but I enjoy both. I also think that the gatekeepers of music media do not give audiences enough credit for their


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intelligence and openness and willingness to be surprised. What currently inspires you when you’re writing music? Specifically, non-musical things - ideas, themes or images rather than musical influences? Power. Feminine power to be precise. It has been desecrated for centuries and this is a big theme for me. How to discover a strength in yourself or believe you can achieve anything when society (which includes oneself) tells you that your type of strength is inherently lacking? Love, of course. Death. The destruction of our habitat and ourselves. Dancing. My family and friends. I love to write ‘for’ people.

How have you found the reception to your music over the last year in Ireland (and perhaps further afield)? Surprisingly good! In spite of all my talk about a universal musical language one does worry people won’t get it. I am very chuffed and very humbled. I’m still writing so I’m looking forward to sharing more of the work and seeing where it takes us. Finally, what are your plans for 2015 in terms of writing, recording and playing live? There will be lots of all of the above! Some gigs, a small tour and an EP to come later in the year. I am very excited to deliver Artsoul to the population! Brian Coney

– The Record

Richie Egan reflects upon the sadness, serenity and inspiration behind the writing and recording of his fifth studio album, The Chemical Sea.


Photos: Ian Pearce

almö had a population of 280,000 until two-and-ahalf years ago, when it raised to 280,001 when I moved there. It has amazing falafel spots all around and some beautiful forest trails close by in the flat rolled out countryside of Skäne. The actual city part of Malmö is a little grey and industrial, though. That was the part of the city where I wrote and recorded the newest Jape album, This Chemical Sea. My studio is about a fifteen minute walk

from my house and I would use that walk to listen to mixes and decide if I should keep them or dump them over the railway bridge onto one of the Oresund trains. Making an album is a long process for me. I always have to experiment for quite a while, writing lots of songs and taking bits and pieces from them, then letting them breathe for a while. This time around that process was helped by having Glenn Keating as a sounding board and writing partner for the tracks.

Jan Jan // Feb Feb 2015 2015

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The Record Jape

I’d email versions over to him and he would come back with brutally honest assessments of what he thought. That’s something I think is important and fun for a musician or songwriter: you should have to fight for your parts. Good natured arguments make great music as long as the bottom line is, “we are serving this song”. Being in Sweden is a little bit like living in a bubble for me, to be honest. I basically stick to myself and try to get to the studio as much as possible. People have asked me if living in Sweden has changed the way I make music and the only thing I can say to that is that it’s definitely easier to


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get more work done, as there are a lot less distractions. For some reason, as well, I find it easy to be reflective up there in Scandinavia - something to do with the weather perhaps or maybe that fifteen minute studio walk, where thoughts seem to hang around and make themselves cups of tea. This is helpful when you are songwriting because these thoughts, which become lyrics, always have some hidden meanings. They are crossword puzzle clues and you have to mull them over in order to get them to reveal themselves. I listened a lot to a lot of music in the writing process but I would say one of the

biggest influences on this record was Johnny Jewel from The Chromatics. Not so much their music - which I adore - but more so his work ethic and the way he continually works and just does his thing and gets better all the time. Johnny is a very pure artist and that is so inspiring to me. I’d say David Kitt is like that too actually, just super hard-working - get the head down and get the tracks made and keep going. I would sometimes think to myself when recording, “WWJD?” Johnny, not Jesus. My mother got sick with cancer and died during the making of this album, too. I can’t forget getting the call

The Record Jape

from my Da with the news that she was gravely ill on one otherwise uneventful sunny evening. It was a devastating blow but, strangely enough, the whole horrible process was in its own way deeply beautiful. To watch her die with the grace and fearlessness she showed was the most inspiring thing I’ve ever witnessed. I tried to get that feeling and her spirit into as much of the record as I could then after that. The piano line at the end of ‘Breath of Life’ was written literally the day after that phone call. When I hear it now it warms me from the inside out because I can feel her spirit. Music is the universe, and she is still alive in there somewhere. I’m glad the album is finally going to get out now on Faction records and I’m curious to see what people think of it, it came out eventually exactly the way I wanted, helped along by

a great mix from David Wrench and master from Matt Colton. Currently I’m taking all the tracks and re-working them for the live tour coming up, so it’d be great to see you if you happen to live in one of the places we are playing. It was fun to record some videos and take some photos with my talented friend Ian Pearce for The Thin Air. Take it easy. Richie Egan

 thischemicalsea.com Watch Jape on TheThinAir TV: tinyurl.com/japelivesession

“Good natured arguments make great music as long as the bottom line is, ‘we are serving this song’.”

Jan Jan // Feb Feb 2015 2015

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Primer Alan Butler

In this latest installment of Primer, Loreana Rushe delves into the curious, contemporarily concept-driven work of interdisciplinary Dublin artist Alan Butler.

 Hi Alan. Can you tell us a bit about yourself? Your background, about your work and how you got into art?
 I’ve been using computers to make art since I was a kid in the 80s. I preferred using art software to doing anything else when I was growing up. In 2000, I went to NCAD to study fine art, and I specialised in new media. All my research then was about simulation and virtual reality. But coming out of art school in 2004, it became obvious really quickly that new media doesn’t feature heavily in the Irish art scene.


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Can you describe the process in which you make your art?
 My work is concept driven. I don’t work in any specific medium, so the idea will dictate what format a work takes. I’m constantly collecting online detritus - gigabytes of stuff every week - and some of this ends up being appropriated into my work. I like taking all this stuff that is often intended for ephemeral online consumption and transferring it to physical space as objects or artefacts. The works can take the form as drawing, painting, sculpture, installation, video, but I also produce works online too. I want the medium to be a significant part of the meaning. This is important to me, because it reflects how I see the world. Although individualism is a massive driving force

behind the internet, you are not important: it is Facebook that’s important. These platforms really mediate our illusions, how things are manufactured and transmitted is what matters, not how you feel about the hipster sandwich you just Instagram’d. There’s always some idiot posting something I can use as inspiration. Can you discuss the pieces you’ve shared with us? 

 There is a pic of an installation called ‘Internet Über Alles’ (2012) from a show at Rua Red, which is an example of these multi-artwork installations I make. For this installation it was all about how states and corporations work together to surveil online activity. It was pre-Snowden and some people thought I was mad. There’s a still from a video called ‘Come together’ (2013), which appropriated the audio of a conversation between Glen Beck and Cody Wilson (the guy who made the 3D printed gun). There’s a file

Left: ‘The Conversation 2.0’ (2013)

I bought into all that cyberutopian bollocks of the 90s about the web being an equal and open network, and by 2008 it was pretty obvious that it had just become a super efficient, Orwellian shopping mall. Basically, the internet turned into Singapore, and this premise has provided me with a subject to play with since.

Right: ‘Come Together’ (2013), below: ‘Internet Über Alles’ (2012)

Primer Alan Butler

attached called ‘parallax-9. jpg’ which is a still from a video called ‘The Conversation 2.0’ (2013), which recreates the same conversation between Beck and Wilson, using 400+ TedTalk videos. The conversation takes place between a white iPhone and a black iPhone, floating on rainbow waves, in outer space. There’s a piece there too called ‘Screenwipe’ (2013) which is a tiny digital print on metallic photo paper with pepperoni pizza smeared all over it (pizza is a recurring motif in my work). It’s Fragonard’s ‘The Swing’, arguably the most famous Rococo-era painting, taken as a screen-grab on my iPhone. It’s wee, but decadent.

What artists have had the biggest influence on you?
 Chris Morris, Mike Patton, Matt Groening, Eilis McDonald. What can we expect from you in 2015?
 I’m working on a heap of different projects, most of which should surface in the next 12 months. I’m producing more 3D prints, laser-cut acrylic sculptures, multi-screen videos and I’m hydracoat printing (a process used in car body customisation and military camouflaging) on all sorts of 3D objects. I’m putting together a one-person exhibition at the Solstice Art Centre in Navan, which is an awesome space, maybe a solo with FLOOD gallery too. I’ll have work in group exhibitions in Rua Red in Dublin, Embassy Gallery in Edinburgh, maybe something in Sweden too. Maybe a clothing line. Maybe a political video game. I’m

close to starting production on a new video piece that’s kind of about Star Trek, but is really about television, individualism and fantasy. There will be loads more exhibitions featuring my work in 2015 and beyond, but those are the ones I can talk about right now.

 Immerse yourself in the majesty of Alan Butler’s mind at www.alanbutler.info

Jan Jan // Feb Feb 2015 2015

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Reviews Releases

– Reviews in its innate, intentional simplicity.


 The debut two-track release by Belfast-based singersongwriter Paul Dickson AKA Alphabetika, Moonstone is, above all else, a wonderfully burrowing exercise in delicate soul-searching. Recorded by Michael Mormecha of Mojo Fury at Millbank Studios at the tail-end of 2014, its popcentric panache is perfectly informed by Dickson’s skilfully stripped-back approach: where opener ‘Sam’s Song’ aims straight for the sentimental jugular – a track with “lead single” written all over it – ‘Dirt In My Bones’ reveals the true strength of the songwriter’s prowess, exquisite melodies and earworming refrains colliding via guitar, vocals, piano and drums to create something quite magical


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Expiring all too soon, Moonstone feels, especially after a two or three listens, a carefully unassuming statement of intent. Here’s to an ever better, much longer follow-up release in the coming months. Sarah Gourlay

Axis Of
 The Mid Brae Inn

 Belfast-based post-hardcore boys Axis Of have always packed a pleasant one-two punch of relatable charm and armour-plated riffing. About the first chorus-way through gang-vocalled dude homily ‘All My Bones’ it’s clear The Mid-Brae Inn is going for that pop jugular, and galloper

‘Wetsuit’ keeps the mood up admirably, setting the pace for a cracker of a sophomore album. If there’s one thing Axis Of have excelled at, it’s been lyrical storytelling, and the record rings with stories of life on the road, leaving home, and even interlude track ‘Beachcombing’ is possessed of a certain joie de vivre. This humanity, and embrace of one’s own experiences, though, is where The Mid-Brae Inn transcends a good shout-along time: it’s a glimpse at sunnier climes, at breaking out of that small town or that shit decision. It’s writ larger and larger as the record progresses: ‘Quarrel Reef’s’ big aul’ stomp would put a shit-eating grin on a marble bust of Ayn Rand, while the rattle of ‘The Harsh Winds of Rathlin’, its soulful, hearty gang vox, rankle with the spirit of adventure. Axis Of always had a tune in them, in fairness, but this is the ray of concentrated sunshine you’ve been needing to get over those winter blues and maybe put you on the road yerself. Mike McGrath Bryan

Reviews Releases

influences in Pavement, Deerhunter and Cloud Nothings. At the root of that is an uncanny knack for forging brilliantly burrowing melodies with scuzzy gusto and Eccles’ wry lyricism. The whole EP is downright irresistible. Brian Coney

or Emily Kokal from Warpaint, but Minogue’s voice is entirely her own. Her lyrics, too, are a source of intrigue, little one-liners like “it came to me in a blood transfusion”, “the steam is rising from his duffle coat” and the witchy Dead Ringers’ talk of “severed heads” and “dead man’s fingers” catching the ear and fomenting a sense of things askew.

Hot Cops
 #1 Babes

 Arguably one of the most exciting and idiosyncratic Irish indie-rock bands of a generation, Belfast-based three-piece Hot Cops are teetering on the brink of some great things in 2015. Released immediately off the back of their stellar doublesingle ‘Origami/Novelty’, the band’s new fourtrack EP, #1 Babes, coyly, often cryptically renders instability, heartbreak, and the human condition in firstrate, wanderlust-tinged lo-fi glory. Positively bursting at the seams with fuzzedout tangents, earworming refrains and masterfully nonchalant hooks, the Carl Eccles-fronted threesome’s cunningly off-kilter, slackersoaked anti-anthems instantly evoke their main

Allied to Minogue’s mellifluous singing is the intricate but stark interplay of guitar, bass and drums. The record is infused with a kinetic, nervy energy all syncopated rhythms and tightly controlled, fingerpicked lead guitar. It makes for an addictive sound that, although it could easily be a lost release from the mid-80s rosters of 4AD or Rough Trade, sounds most unlike anyone around at the moment. You could arguably cut a couple of tracks or wish for more variety, but you could also revel in the sound of an exciting new band, and await their next move with interest. Chris Jones

The Drink 
 Company London-based and featuring Galway native Dearbhla Minogue on guitar and vocals, indie trio The Drink have conjured an intriguing, refreshing sound. Minogue is the star, her vocals informed by ethereal folk music and her phrasing and melodies always liable to surprise. At times her singing is reminiscent of Liz Fraser from the Cocteau Twins

Jan / Feb 2015


Reviews Live

– Live

Sinead O’Connor


f you’re an Irish artist I believe you have a duty to be involved with matters of your country.” Speaking these words in an interview with the Independent over her application to Sinn Féin, Sinead O’Connor revelled in a home show at Dublin’s Vicar Street just hours after the report was published. The generational icon of Irish music donned simplistic garb while playing the historic venue. Sporting baggy pants, a beanie, bare feet, and a t-shirt emblazoned with the incendiary date 1916, O’Connor commanded the stage with the brooding humility of a true rebel.


Kicking off with the passionately humorous cover ‘Queen of Denmark’ from 2012 album How About I Be Me (And You Be You)?, O’Connor’s voice electrified the crowd. Oscillating between soft verses over delicate finger-picking and the full-bodied battle-cry of a six-piece rock set in refrain, the number set an audacious precedent for the rest of the show which followed every stage of the storied singer’s career. Whether chanting

traditional Irish numbers in rich harmony or combining country tunes with reggae influence, O’Connor’s vocals conquered a formidable musical challenge of her own design. New swinging numbers like “4th and Vine” had the crowd dancing and rollicking to every beat. Old standards like “Black Boys on Mopeds” had her fans near tears as she resounded the frustrations of a generation, alone with her electric guitar. Joe Madsen

Above: Commanding the Vicar Street crowd Left: Nothing Compares 2 Shoes (unless you’re Sinead O’Connor), photos: Colm Moore


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Reviews Live

Run The Jewels w/God Knows + mynameisjOhn THE OPIUM ROOMS, DUBLIN 

Photo: Colm Moore


t’s gonna be a motherfucking blockbuster,” announces El-P of Run The Jewels a few songs into the show. He’s not far wrong. Coming at the end of a long year of touring, and amidst the well deserved end-of-year hype surrounding their all-conquering second album, their debut Dublin appearance at Opium Rooms is a blow-out, near riotous affair that’s as good natured as it is frantic. The flame-spitting tag team of El-P and Killer Mike follows an impressively energetic opening performance by God Knows + MynameisjOhn, the Limerick-based trio (including

on the world, and how he once thought life was about treating people right and, you know, not killing them. His disillusionment led him to figure out that really it’s all about five simple words: “Lie, cheat, steal, kill, win.” This could be seen as the jewel-runners’ mantra, though they finish with the double-whammy of album closers ‘Angel Duster’ and (of course) ‘A Christmas Fucking Miracle’, both of which offer more streamlined and less sarcastic versions of their mission statement. A huge middle finger to figures of authority, from venue security to organised religion and monarchies. Aidan Hanratty

MuRli) whose Rusangan/ Family album was one of this island’s best received albums in 2014.  Rushing through tracks from their two volumes of dastardly dialogues, Run The Jewels  are plainly enjoying every minute of the performance, though their vocal chords are clearly in need of some rest. Tracks like ‘Oh My Darling Don’t Cry’, ‘36” Chain’ and ‘Close Your Eyes (And Count To Fuck)’ are performed and received with some relish, largely in the same order as they appear on record, proving the brilliance of these albums and their sequencing.  At one point, El-P reflects

Jan / Feb 2015


Not Gospel Five Seconds of Fame

Five Seconds of Fame “Y

– Not Gospel

es lad, it were all crisp sandwiches, Frostbit boy, and lumbersexuals when I was a boy. Not like nowadays, son. I prefer them days. Them were better days.”


There’s a good chance that, by the time you read this, the above statements will mean literally nothing. But, by god, as I write them right now, they’re causing me to lose faith in the concept of humanity itself. You see, we live in an age where the transfer of information is absolutely immediate. And, sadly for us miserable wretches, the dissipation of meaning is even more immediate. Substance has been replaced by style, meaning by feeling, and relevance by disposability. Back in the 90s, Echo and the Bunnymen’s Ian McCullough sang, “Nothing lasts forever,” and he was probably more right than he realised at the time. Social media is a tool that allows us to remain plugged into everyone’s thoughts, all the time. And unfortunately, our behaviours are starting to mirror this most fickle of mediums. Our thoughts, concerns, and obsessions are becoming more pocket-sized, more disposable. As we continue to plough headfirst

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into the new digital frontier, we’re adapting to accommodate it.

Thus we can have something like the Ice Bucket Challenge that becomes absolutely ubiquitous, and then disappears from our lives forever. Things happen, and then in a flash – they’re over. Realistically, there’s a large percentage of the people reading these words will have trouble remembering what all the fuss was about, or even what we were dumping ice over our heads in aid of (or not, in my case). But, y’know, who cares? After all, it’s just something to amuse us, to help distract us from the grind of the day, and there’s no harm in that. But what happens when, in a month’s time, you look back at your Facebook or Twitter account, and see the words, “Je Suis Charlie”? In the space of one month, thirty days (for the sake of arguing) these words have every chance of having utterly lost their power and meaning. In a month’s time, will you still be “Charlie”? Maybe we should consult the Frostbit Boy for sage advice over a crisp sandwich. He’ll know what to do. Or at least, he’ll tell me my beard looks good. Steven Rainey

– Little Gem Records – A Diamond In The Rough

Photo: Mark Earley


hen Elastic Witch decided to close its doors for the final time on Record Store Day this year, it was yet another addition to the sad roster of record shops that have vanished from Dublin’s streets. Freebird is still ensconced in The Secret Book & Record Shop on Wicklow Street, of course. HMV has returned to Grafton Street, and Tower Records is a stone’s throw away over in its new and expanded premises not a five minute dander from Sound Cellar. Spindizzy resides off George’s Street, with The R.A.G.E around the corner catering to the video gamers as well

as the audiophiles. So far, so southside. Across the Liffey, on the fringes of the city centre, Andy Walsh and his colleagues have dropped another pin on the map of Dublin’s musical landmarks. Little Gem is exactly that, a new haunt on Cavendish Row for all your “Tangible and Intangible” needs, as their tagline promises. The choice of title seems fairly self-evident, given the produce. “I named the shop after a song that I had written a few years ago” Andy explains, “It was fitting in that the shop is very small and precious. It was also subliminal as a friend pointed

out; the tiny print slogan of a neighbouring hotel’s sign is ‘a little gem in the heart of Dublin’.” Little Gem is run as a collective by I ♥ The Monster Hero, the project started by Andy as a solo venture in 2008 while he was playing with various bands. Joining together with some of the folk from those groups, he helped form the Popical Island collective in 2009, one of the more prolific disseminators of independent music down through the years. As such, the Little Gem crew aren’t short of a bit of insight on what it means to be both a creator

Jan / Feb 2015


Feature Little Gem Records

and a consumer of music. “I personally think that it’s hard to get your music heard/ played/sold if you are an Irish artist. A disproportionately large part of your audience is dependent on a third party to filter their tastes before they get the chance to decide for themselves.” The loss of the aforementioned Elastic Witch from its Twisted Pepper base did indeed leave a sizeable gap north of the river, but with sales of vinyl in rude health at the minute there’s certainly room for another bricks and mortar store to facilitate the tactile side of the listening experience. As any fan of the format will tell you, the vinyl package becomes

“A lot of people are coming in expecting a Rock/Pop section but instead are getting turned on to great independent Irish artists.” an irreplaceable part of any collection, tied up with the experience of seeking out and physically acquiring an album. “I love records and all types of music and formats” says Andy, “music is limitless and so is the listening experience. The current trends of Spotify or iTunes may be great for putting on

instead of the radio, but when you really want to indulge in an album or song that you are in love with you want to be able to hold it in your hands.” Despite the reappearance of HMV in the city centre, and the well- stocked vinyl section in the new Tower Records location, Andy doesn’t appear to be too worried about competition; the shop caters to a more niche market, with a heavy focus on independent Irish artists and labels. “A lot of people are coming in expecting a Rock/Pop section but instead are getting turned on to great independent Irish artists. There has been a good few people asking if we sell country and western music though.” The reality of owning a record shop must seem like a labour of love in a time when the city has lost a few of its best-loved establishments; certainly a challenging venture for a


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Feature Little Gem Records

business of this type. “I am doing it for the love of the music that has been coming out of Ireland in the last ten years”, Andy tells us. “I was a big fan of Elastic Witch and I missed it so much that I thought that this might fill the gap, which is kind of what Gib [Cassidy] did with Elastic Witch after Road Records closed down.” While the cinematic renderings of High Fidelity and Empire Records spring to mind when dreaming the record store dream, matters are more routine on solid ground; Little Gem seem to have found a happy medium, with Andy conceding that “so far the reality has been fighting with stuck pricing gun stickers, drinking coffee and listening to Harry Hosono records with your best friend.” It seems that the word is spreading about the shop, with artists

contacting the store to have their wares stocked. The owners curate the shelves as well, of course, and you’re as likely to find a record from a band like the sadly-defunct Drunken Boat alongside current releases from The #1s or Wild Rocket. “So far we have stocked a lot of different styles and tastes from all over the country. We are getting in some great stuff from independent bands and labels overseas too. It is a good representation of parts of the current scene and I hope to stock more acts and broaden that representation”. It’s certainly a heart-warming sight, the little gem that has appeared to pick up where Elastic Witch left off, championing home-grown music and providing a new municipal nerve centre. Long may it shine, this diamond in Dublin 1. Justin McDaid

Photos: Mark Earley

Jan Jan // Feb Feb 2015 2015

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88mph Blood on the Tracks

(NOVEMBER, 1974)

– 88mph

Bob Dylan - Blood on the Tracks


o some it’s Dylan’s finest achievement in a career not lacking in significant achievements. To others it’s the best album of the 70s, a decade overflowing with rival candidates. Most (besides the ever-perplexing Dylan himself) would agree it’s a breakup album of formidable power. But it’s much more than that. Though it may be difficult to look beyond the personal issues that determined the tone of Blood on the Tracks, artistically it was a reawakening. Astonishingly, Dylan has admitted to periods of writer’s block throughout his career and while he was still years from making a ‘bad’ album, what little 70s


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output he’d managed dipped well below his own high standards. His disdain for fame had led him down a musical path chosen in part to alienate his fans and part to free him from himself. Eventually though, running from his past and trying to live a quiet family life took a toll on the marriage itself. Unlike his recent meandering, and inspired by his painting tutor, the new album was written swiftly. To a lucky few who received personal acoustic premiers of the material Blood on the Tracks seemed like it had materialised fully formed. On release the music was a vibrant blend of his work to date; like the blaring density of Highway 61 but through the more gentle country filter of Nashville Skyline. Dylan’s words though (and his vocal delivery) were the real story. Challenging the limits of his oft-criticised singing abilities Dylan emotes like never before. Of course he’d

(JANUARY, 1975)

expressed the feelings of his entire nation throughout the 60s, but here he conveys his soul from a position of pain, anger and longing. While his voice betrays his feelings explicitly, the lyrics themselves come in swathes of multi-layered, imagery-laced tales, regularly switching location, time and perspective sometimes within the same verse. That may sound complex, but Dylan pulls off the greatest feat of all by making it entertaining and understandable, regardless of how deep into the strata one chooses to burrow. Such is the effect on the listener, just a few experiences of Blood on the Tracks makes the track listing read like a Dylan all-time-classics playlist. Under painting tutelage Dylan learned to combine his mind, his eye and his subconscious to reveal his true feelings. The result of this may have been another blow to his marriage, but the effect on his songwriting was breathtaking. Jonathan Wallace

Agony Uncle Twitter

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


This month: Tw

What can I say about Twitter that hasn’t already been said? Well, I can’t think of anything right now. I’m tired. I was up watching Danny Dyer’s Deadliest Men ‘til 4am so let’s just get through this. I’ve got five kids to feed and I only get paid one pair of trousers per column.

Illustration: Loreana Rushe

Pretty straightforward: do you use Twitter? If so, why? If not, why not? Helen, Galway I do use Twitter but just to connect with other fans of The Notebook and to make Neil Delamere feel bad about himself. What would you do if Prince starting following you on Twitter? Brian, Dublin He already does follow me, man. Is this the same Brian who pissed me off with his misuse of Star Trek terminology last issue? You just don’t learn, do you. 

Which celebrity would you like to get into a Twitter spat with. Bruce Forsyth? Gloria Hunniford? Enya? David, Waterford David, if you ever lay a hand (metaphorically or otherwise) on Enya I’ll nick a helicopter and smash it into your house in Waterford. She’s a national treasure. Like a cross between Mary Robinson and Fergie from The Black Eyed Peas. What is the most interesting thing you’ve read on Twitter and why? Sara, Cork “How Can Mirrors Be Real If Our Eyes Aren’t Real” - Jaden Smith, 05/01/2013. What do you imagine Twitter will be like in 2025? Will D, Dublin Kind of like the planet from Avatar. Can you remember a time before Twitter? I can’t. If you can, what was it like. Please remind me. Mary, Derry

If memory serves, people I barely knew would approach me every few seconds and scream observations, insecurities, anxieties, opinions, judgements and global news into my face. Oh, and they’d give me printed pictures of celebrities I didn’t care about. It was a magical time. Never mind Twitter. Were you ever on Bebo, Michael? Shannon, Dublin No but was on Ya Ba while on holiday in Thailand once. I thought I was locked in a 69 with Glen Hansard for three days. Posts on Twitter are, of course, limited to 140 characters. Can you sum your life thus far in 140 characters?  Eamonn, Belfast We’re all part of Jackie’s army, we’re all off to Italy, and we’ll really shake them up when we win the World Cup coz Ireland are the greate


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Profile for The Thin Air

The Thin Air Magazine: Issue 4  

Jan/Feb 2015

The Thin Air Magazine: Issue 4  

Jan/Feb 2015