OTWO April 3rd 2013 Issue XI
Foil, Arms and Hog talk gay gyms and Irish films
on staying loyal to her fans
Top foundations for pale skin
The Vaccines ask Otwo for a gentle mauling
Mystic Mittens’ Feline Fortunes
Libra September 23 - October 22 Everyone is very discouraging of your plans to leave education and become a rapper, but I’ve got your back on this one. Rap about what you know, such as how you don’t know how to rap.
Regulars – Page 2
Conor Luke Barry is getting all hot and bothered over Facebook messaging. Mystic Mittens predicts your future with 100% guaranteed accuracy, and What’s Hot and What’s Not prevents social faux pas once more.
Hidden Gems – Page 4
In hope of better weather, Eva Griffin explores the best hidden parks Dublin has to offer.
Games – Page 6
Mari0 and Darkstalkers get reviewed, and Duncan Wallace asks if this is the end of the single player.
Film & TV – Page 8
Scorpio Aries October 23 - November 21 March 21 – April 19 Have you been to the Ag shop in the It’s time you expanded the limits Ag building? I know I’m supposed to of your knowledge. Mittens recom- be predicting your future and all but, mends an LSD tab and attendance at boy howdy, that’s some great value the Noam Chomsky lecture. tea. Taurus April 20 – May 20 Uranus is rising over Jupiter. This week you will giggle at the word Uranus.
Harmony Korine’s latest endeavour, Spring Breakers, as well as The Place Beyond the Pines and Pilgrim Hill are placed under the strictest scrutiny, while Casey Lehman assesses Sam Raimi’s directorial career, and Laura Bell looks at what we might expect from the return of Twin Peaks.
Gemini May 21 – June 20 This week things are going to really kick off. There’s a new Gilmore Girl’s game on the E4 website and you’ve managed to amass €5 in refunded bus tickets. Life is good.
Centre – Page 12
West London Indie darlings, The Vaccines chat to Otwo about mauling fans and their refusal to be labelled as another rock band.
Music – Page 14
All the latest album reviews come accompanied by a delightful interview with Gabrielle Alpin, a very melancholic mixtape, and the latest report from those young rapscallions, Heathers.
Comedy – Page 17
Jack Walsh chats to comedic sensations Foils, Arms and Hog.
Fashion – Page 18
Anna Burzlaff has a chat with fashion and portrait photographer extraordinaire, Sean Jackson. Rebekah Rennick looks at the worst celebrity fashion collections that have sullied our rails, and Aoife Valentine examines the best foundation for our pale Irish skin.
Otwo Attempts... – Page 22
All lights are on Kevin Beirne this issue as he attempts stand-up comedy.
Fatal Fourway – Page 23
Lock yourself in your room and get out your Nirvana mixtape, as our fourway competitors battle it out over the greatest teenangst novel.
University Observer Volume XIX Issue XI Telephone: (01) 716 3835/3837 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org www.universityobserver.ie
Capricorn December 22 - January 19 Later this week you will realise that you were left handed all along, explaining why you’ve had the writing of a three year old for two decades. Better late than never.
Aquarius January 20 - February 18 Did you know that the secret lake is haunted by ghosts? Not just any ghosts, but ones that manifest themLeo selves as adorable little ducks that July 23 – August 22 make you powerless through being Many people may begin to ques- adorable. They must be destroyed. tion your motives and/or sanity this week. But just remember: you look dashing in that tinfoil hat and wear- Pisces ing clothes is such a contrived social February 19 - March 20 norm anyway. You’re going to discover that if you run for 30 miles straight on a treadVirgo mill in the gym a portal will open August 23 – September 22 and you’ll access an alternate verDon’t let other people bring you sion UCD. It’s pretty much the same down. Just because you’re a fester- as this one, except instead of lecturing mass of overweight flesh doesn’t ers there are just bears in suits. As a make you any less of a human being. result, more lectures end in maiming.
Editor Emer Sugrue Deputy Editor Aoife Valentine Art, Design & Technology Director Conor Kevin O’Nolan Chief Designer Gary Kealy Otwo Editors Conor Luke Barry Anna Burzlaff Music Editor Emily Mullen
Cancer June 21 – July 22 You’re really going to mess things up this week, and I mean really. First you’re going to get really deep in debt with the bank and then you’re going to be unable to repay them. God, Cyprus, get it together!
Sagittarius November 22 - December 21 Mittens pro-tip: In the old-timey rules of UCD, if you construct a fort out of architecture textbooks in the library, that structure becomes your legal residence.
Film Editor Casey Lehman
Special Thanks Guy, Colm, Orla and Staff Writers Rory at MCD PromoTelevision Editor Stephen Connolly tions, Laura, Chantal, Laura Bell Yvanne Kennedy Caroline and Amy at Emily Longworth Universal, Ciaran at Chief Stylist Lucy Montague Moffatt Warner Music, Eoin Sophie Lioe Jack Walsh Martin, Killian Woods, Killian Woods Easter Eggs, Love Soup, Games Editor Beyonce, Diet Coke, Steven Balbirnie Contributors Ken Hom, Every Time Eva Griffin I Die, Deryck Whibley, Chief Photographer Heathers Of Monsters and Men Caoimhe Stephen Heffernan and Easter Eggs again. McDonnell Edward Kearns Caitríona O’Malley Not Thanks Chief Writers Christopher Reed Forced time travel, Lucy Montague Rebekah Rennick housemates, ants and Moffatt alphabetising..
AARRRGGGHHHH! WHAT’S HOT AND WHAT’S NOT
WHAt’S HOt Mainland Europe
With UCD class trip piss-ups making up 70% of the tourist industry’s income during the midterm break, we can all agree that the European capital we’re fresh home from is our new favourite place, largely owing to their irreplaceable scenic beauty, friendly natives, and dangerously cheap alcohol. Most of Europe has an inherent love for the Irish people too purely because we’re not the English, despite how much we cost them in damages. Those years of oppression are now paying off in shots.
Model Lighthouses Although Cash in the Attic has been celebrating this popular but functionless ornament amongst household kitsch for years, Model Lighthouse is now the leading candidate in LawSoc’s Auditorial Elections for their 103rd session. Model Lighthouse’s campaign manager, an Inanimate Carbon Rod, has said that the porcelain figure, who has never yet been involved in a cheque-forging scandal, contains more bone china than his main opposition, who is a Swan. Voting takes place today.
Vinyl being the new black
The over-investment of time and money in vinyl records is now the top pursuit of elitists and purists alike. “I need that track on wax” is the most acceptable thing to say when talking about music in public, unless you already do have the song on vinyl, at which point you should say “I have this track on wax” and then explain how much better it sounds. Never mind that your speakers are too poor quality to bring out the subtle differences of the analogue format, your friends will be too enthralled with the novelty of a turntable to notice how it actually sounds.
WHAt’S nOt Gypsy Tops
When Melissa Joan Hart sported some excessively-billowing gypsy sleeves in Sabrina the Teenage Witch in the late 90s, she was greeted with a bitter and repulsed “What are you wearing?” which is saying something, considering that the majority of clothing in Sabrina resembles a patchwork quilt or a leather factory. Despite their inability to look in any way aesthetically pleasing, gypsy tops have since featured on The OC, The Hills, and that one time on MTV news, with disgusting consequences.
Spring being a Hipster Having proved itself to be too cool for everyone, Spring is now officially a hipster. The season has also been spotted hanging around with Wes Anderson while listening to the new Mount Kimbie track and wearing disco pants. Since Spring has turned too cool, everyone has also developed an immediate and profound dislike for it, but Spring doesn’t care because it’s too busy pencilling in its eyebrows and taking flattering webcam pictures of itself.
USI Congress Misogyny Aside from exhibiting so much antipathy towards UCD that many of our delegates decided to leave early (because nothing says ‘democratic confrontation’ like storming out of a room), a motion to run a campaign encouraging the participation of women in elections was rejected by USI. Somehow, the entire USI Congress has forgotten everything it was taught in Junior Cert CSPE, and nobody thinks a gender imbalance in Irish student politics is an issue. Go home USI, you’re drunk.
soapbox With ‘social generation’s Luke Barry is making it
networking ’ becoming this favourite buzzword, Conor mulls over how modern life so difficult to ignore people
he modern world has decided that there’s nothing us humans like more than communicating with each other non-stop. There’s a time and a place for socialising, but our new age of sparkling technology has decided that that time is literally every waking moment. With a constant barrage of social notifications from e-mails, Twitter, Facebook, as well as those people talking at your real life fleshy face, it’s become impossible to have any quality ignoring-people time. There’s always at least one urgent social message gnawing at the back of my skull that I have to reply to at some stage, lest I demolish that friendship through ignorance. But this hasn’t always been the way. There was once a time where if you didn’t feel like talking to someone, you just stopped going to places where they also were. Sure, they could write you a letter or something but they took so long to arrive that it was a decent excuse that you’d potentially died of the plague in between, so people were rarely offended by a lack of reply because they were too busy mourning. Then some jerk had the genius idea of inventing the face hugging piece of metal wizardry, the telephone. Now people had a way to demand you talk to them, even if they weren’t in your general vicinity. This evolved into the mobile telephone, so you could bring the marvel of being socially obliged to talk to whoever felt like a chat in your pocket 24/7. This trend has continued with the machine we attach our brains to for the majority of our lives, the computer, trying its utmost to become our mechanical box of choice to fulfil our various needs. It’s just unfortunate that the thing we use to do the majority of work in life also wants to be our buddy. It’s as if someone has determined that life is just a big party and if you can’t go to the party technology will bring the party to you, your friends and acquaintances clawing their way out of your computer screens and telephones, whether you want them to or not. There is no escape from socialising. You will have fun and you will like it. But all of this pales in comparison to the worst offender when it comes to avoiding people, the ultra-specific issue of those little updates that let people know when you’ve seen their comment on Facebook chat. It may sound like I’m blowing a small problem out of proportion, but there is no doubt that this is the final nail in the coffin of privacy. Not only does it inform the person you’ve failed to get back to that you have seen their comment, but it also tells them what time you saw it, thus what time you began to ignore them, leading to a new level of paranoia and selfdoubt never before seen in humanity. With that we can wave goodbye to any alone time, as the rest of your life will be taken up with constantly dealing with all of your online social obligations. Thank you very much, the internet.
Hidden Gems: Parks In hope of some warmer weather, Eva Griffin explores some of the best parks in which to while away a sunny day Iveagh Gardens Clonmel Street, Dublin 2
People’s Park Dún Laoghaire Park Road, Dún Laoghaire
A little hideaway not far from the hustle and bustle of Stephen’s Green, the Iveagh Gardens is a peaceful escape tucked away in the middle of the city. Easily missed as you stroll down Clonmel Street, this wonderful albeit small park is one worth finding. Thankfully not the busiest park around, its sanctuary-like atmosphere is what entices daydreamers, picnic-ers and joggers alike. Though not as decorated or colourful as some of the larger parks, the Iveagh Gardens boast some aged statues dotted about the place. The main feature, however, is the delightful waterfall which cascades down a rock wall. When not having a kick-about on the rectangular green, or a stroll through the grassy tracks, one can embrace their childish side and make their way through the hedge maze. Aptly dubbed ‘the Secret Garden’, a secluded rosarium is also on site, ready to please your eyes. During the summer, this park is transformed into a fitting location for comedy festivals and concerts, making full use of its aesthetic appeal, though often rendering it unrecognisable. The Iveagh Gardens truly is the ideal safe haven for some well-deserved quiet time on a sunny day. Avoid the usually over-crowded Stephen’s Green, and instead make use of the largely unnoticed park.
Not too far from Dún Laoghaire town, and overlooking the seaside, lies People’s Park. A charming and beautifully maintained patch of greenery, it’s the perfect place for lazing about if you’re blessed with a rare sunny day. The picturesque park is of course adored by families due to the lingering mellow atmosphere and the presence of a children’s playground. The cute little tea rooms also contribute to its’ popularity. Adding to the attraction is the fact that, come Sunday, the park becomes the location of the weekly farmer’s market. The colourful and varied selection of food on offer by the many vendors is a delicious sight and not too detrimental to your wallet, thankfully. Of course, if market food isn’t your thing, there’s a handy coffee shop nearby to satisfy your hunger. The market isn’t simply restricted to food, however, as one can also avail of bookstalls and the range of jewellery and crafts on offer. If you’re at the park any other day of the week, it’s still enjoyable for a leisurely stroll or an admiring look at the fountain, but the excellent Sunday market is definitely the selling point.
National Botanic Gardens Glasnevin, Dublin 9 The National Botanic Gardens, located in Glasnevin, boasts 20,000 living plants of various species, both local and exotic. The sheer amount of greenery in this park is astounding, and makes for some wonderful scenery for you to feast your eyes on. Expertly restored and planted glasshouses house a large portion of these plants. Also available to enjoy are features such as the rose garden, pond area, and rock gardens. Don’t worry though; you don’t have to be a botanist to delight in these gardens. This park is a must for lovers of the outdoors, as there is a vast amount of space to cover if you’re adamant in seeing everything it has to offer. A familial atmosphere permeates much of the gardens, though it’s not uncommon to see a loner or two enjoying the view. Though admission is free, one can avail of an hour-long guided tour at the very reasonable price of two euro; perfect if you wish to learn more about the gardens and their assorted collection of plants. While this park is undoubtedly a tourist attraction, conservation also plays a huge part in the life of the gardens. The site houses over 300 endangered plant species; so make sure to take in the gorgeous views while you still can.
Dubh Linn Gardens Dublin Castle, Palace Street, Dublin 2 The Dubh Linn Gardens are virtually hidden, nestled between Dublin Castle and the Chester Beatty Library. Many would simply stroll through this park on the way to either tourist attraction, thereby missing out on one of the most peaceful (and widely undiscovered) parks in the city. Though at first glance it appears to be a rather bare patch of grass, the surroundings are actually quite beautiful. Take your time to walk around and admire the various modern sculptures including a giant glass snake, a 2003 Special Olympics memorial, and the bust of murdered investigative journalist, Veronica Guerin. A few wooden benches are provided if you wish to sit and relax, though there’s plenty of greenery for that purpose, so long as the weather manages to hold up. Like the Iveagh Gardens, this park is considered a secluded paradise of sorts, acting as a much needed escape from the incessant noise of the city centre. It’s advisable that you gather a picnic from the various shops on Dame Street if you get peckish, though the nearby Chester Beatty Library also houses a café. Oddly enough, the park doubles as a helicopter landing site, though you should probably stick to some innocent lounging about on the green.
Travel: Stockholm, Sweden lucy Montague Moffatt takes us beyond Ikea to explore the beauty of sweden with its capital city, stockholm
f you are looking for beautiful buildings, beautiful people and beautiful weather, then Stockholm, the capital of Sweden, is the perfect place to visit. A city that is brimming with hidden gems, history, picturesque landscapes and, to top it all off, almost everyone speaks perfect English. In fact, it might become slightly frustrating when trying to practice the few key Swedish phrases you learned on YouTube as most people will talk back in English, spoken with an American accent picked up from the television. Another frustrating thing is that nearly everyone is beautiful. You personally might not find this annoying but you might also be lying to yourself. During the summer, blonde haired beanpoles skip around the capital, their tanned toes peaking out of fresh Birkenstocks. In the winter, chiselled business men saunter through the underground tube in big wool jackets with the intense stare of an underwear model. If The Millennium trilogy has taught us anything, it is that all Swedes are hot. I’m sure Larsson would be proud. The city itself consists of two main bays, which cut into the city, holding ferries and large cruise liners and tourist boats in the shape of Viking Ships; think the Viking Splash tour but actually in a boat and not in a weird car-float thing, and in the sea, as oppose to a polluted section of the docks. What’s great about Stockholm is that it’s really easy to get around.
There’s the Tunnelbana (underground trains), which are a cheap and cheerful way to get places. Some stations are decorated with objects that were found when the underground was being built, and a lot of them have kept the natural cave-like features. There’s no right angles here! It’s all jagged rock and lovely slime. Boats are your other transport option, and also one of the best ways to see Stockholm. Some of the nicest buildings look out on to the bays, and some of the top museums are located at boat stops.
Right around the corner is Skansen, which might be the best place in the world (once everyone in the world votes this can be confirmed). It mixes the two of the most popular tourist sites: it is a zoo and an outdoor ‘living’ museum in one! It is the ultimate tourist mash-up. You can stroll around this park-like wonderland, coming across something new at every turn. It might be a crazy Scandinavian animal such as an elk or an angry wolf, behind a fence of course. Or a little wooden
“Whist walking around a random green area you might happen to be greeted by the in-house traditional dancers that frolic through the undergrowth in traditional dress with a fiddler in tow. Joy!” So now you’ve travelled around on your various modes of transport, but where are you going? Where everyone goes on city breaks, silly: To the museum. And there are some great ones to pick from. The Vasa Museum is dedicated to a ship named Vasa that sank a few minutes after departing from Stockholm’s bay (how embarrassing!). Years later they hauled it up from its watery grave and now it hangs from the ceiling of this huge room. Think Titanic, but really up close, without an oxygen mask in your way, and less famous. You can spot the museum across the bay as they used the sails to decorate the roof of the building, so it looks like a ship. It’s all very epic, and what more do you want from a museum other than epicness? Nothing.
village, made to look like it did in the olden times, complete with a working bakery, windmill, post office and townspeople dressed in bonnets and calf-hugging trousers. You can step into their little living history houses and ask the elderly woman churning butter about her life in the 1770s and she will tell you all about her everyday chores. Whist walking around a random green area you might happen to be greeted by the in-house traditional dancers that frolic through the undergrowth in traditional dress with a fiddler in tow. Joy! Skansen is located on a hill and if you wander to the top you can look down at the beautiful views of the bay and the city, and the theme park which is located conveniently right next to it, providing a soundtrack of screaming people to your
ambles around the zoo. The theme park is Gruna Lund and is kitted out with a new ride every year. Its biggest attraction is the Fritt Fall, which is Europe’s highest freefall. If you like the sensation of every organ in your body rising up into your mouth in a sudden jolt then this is not to be missed. Some other great rides provided are the Fun House, which makes you giggle the whole way through, no matter what age you are, and the Haunted House, with its very own actor ghosts and witches who are way too good at their job. If just a simple wander around the city is more to your fancy, get the Tunnelbana to Gamla Stan, the old town. It features cute cobbled streets and the best waffles you ever did taste. Make sure to buy a Pippi Longstocking memento, because when in Sweden... There are cafés and restaurants galore, just know that Stockholm can be very expensive. Bring many bags of coins if you plan to wine and dine your way through a fancy holiday. The one place that should be avoided is the Ice-Bar. Yes, it is made of ice, yes you get to wear a cool shiny cape when you go into it and yes the millions of photos you can take of you licking ice Dumb and Dumber style in your allotted forty minutes look cool on Facebook, but in reality it is just a weird cold room at the side of a hotel that you want to leave immediately because it is so cold but can’t as you’ve paid lots of money to be there.
DARKSTALKERS MARI0 RESURRECTION
arkstalkers Resurrection is a downloadable title which brings the series to the current generation of consoles as a package re-releasing the second and third games in the series. The most straightforward way to describe Darkstalkers is as a fighting game akin to Street Fighter, but instead of featuring an assortment of martial artists, its characters are a collection of folkloric creatures and B-movie monsters. All of the characters have very distinctive appearances and fighting styles ranging from werewolf, Jon Talbain to succubus, Morrigan, and from mummy, Anakaris to zombie rocker, Lord Raptor. Combat is at a blistering pace and features a wide array of special moves such as B.B. Hood’s ability to call in gun-toting huntsmen as back-up, or Demitri Maximoff the vampire’s iconic midnight bliss. The learning curve can be steep but this makes victories all the more satisfying. Darkstalkers Resurrection adds a variety of new features including tutorials and challenges for newcomers, online play with matchmaking lobbies of up to 8 players and a function to record matches and upload to YouTube. There are also a variety of ways to customise the aesthetic of your experience such as altering the screen display to make it look as though you’re playing on an arcade machine or, more bizarrely, as though you’re watching from over the shoulder of someone who is. However it is impossible to shake the feeling that there were certain missed opportunities with
this port. For example, the exclusion of Dee, who was included in Vampire: Darkstalkers Collection on PS2 defies logic as does the inability to crossover characters between Nightwarriors and Darkstalkers 3 despite this function having been included in Darkstalkers Chronicle: The Chaos Tower on PSP. The lack of an option for characters such as Pyron and Jedah to fight one another just seems like a lazy oversight. Anita could have been developed into a fully playable character also, as was teased in previous games. The question also arises as to why Capcom didn’t give a graphical tune up to this in the way that they did with 2008’s Bionic Commando: Rearmed. Even with these relative shortcomings Darkstalkers Resurrection is the best retro 2D fighting experience on modern consoles, and given that Capcom have already implied that whether or not a Darkstalkers 4 gets developed depends on the sales of this title, this is a heavily recommended purchase for fighting game fans. by Steven Balbirnie
Darkstalkers Resurrection - Title Capcom - Publishers Iron Galaxy Studios - Developers Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 - Platforms
non-profit, built from the ground up release that in all likelihood could be sued by a list of huge names in the industry sounds like an unusual sell, and for all accounts Mari0 is just that. Fusing together stalwarts Super Mario Bros (1983) and Portal (2007), has allowed developers Maurice Guégan and Sašo Smolej to create a postmodernist view of the evolving nature of the platforming genre. The gameplay is doubtless the reason Mari0 emerges as an enticing prospect for gamers, first and foremost allowing veterans to see the advances the genre has made from the simple side-scrolling linear nature that the Mario franchise popularised, to the challenging physics based puzzler of Portal. With Mari0, players get to see these advances first hand, as the player is given a portal gun, thus opening and subjecting the world of Mario to the rigours of the player’s imagination. Every player, grizzled or freshfaced, has the same expression playing a Mario game, that harmonious mix of smiling and frowning, delight infused with the knowledge that something as cheap and cheerful as a strolling turtle can end your hard earned level. This feeling only intensifies when handling the portal gun. Every playthrough can be totally different based on the player’s whims and ideas. The developers have recreated a loyal and impressive version of the eighties benchmark; it is remarkably clean and crisp, with minimal glitches or lag time, all of which seem to have been ironed out via
rigorous fan testing. Along with developer StabYourself ’s other nostalgic parody Not Tetris (another physics based jaunt), we can only hope that they will continue their inspired ways of looking at videogame past to promote its future. From a co-operative standpoint, Mari0 rivals the recently released New Super Mario Bros. for sheer crowded action. Half the fun is realising your own short attention spans will need to work together, with the other half devoted to the mishaps of having four people being able to defy the laws of linear momentum on the same screen. Added to that developed Portal style vistas and level building options, Mari0 boasts a surprisingly long shelf life. The full depth of Mari0 can take a while to sink in, as it can be argued that one could merely play the game without using the intrinsic portal gun, thus portraying the game’s face value to full effect, and StabYourself have done justice to the Miyamoto brain child. The graphics and vistas have been lovingly recreated, and the charming 8-bit soundtrack will melt the heart of even the most adamant Sega sympathiser. Questionable developer name and obvious breaches of copyright aside, Mari0 is a lovingly realised concept, and is a fitting ode to thirty odd years of platforming evolution. .
Title - Mari0 Publishers - Stabyourself Developers - Stabyourself Platforms - Linux, Mac OS X, Windows
by Jack Walsh
Could offline single player games soon be a thing of the past? Duncan Wallace scrutinises the concept of ‘online single player’
evat Yerli, the CEO of Crytek (the developers of Crysis) recently suggested that “the notion of a singleplayer experience has to go away” to be replaced by a “connected SinglePlayer or Online Single-Player instead”. This was nominally à propos of the success of single-player games that require constant connection to the internet, such as Diablo 3 and more lightweight titles like Farmville. But while this concept is primarily being broached to promote social media integration and curb piracy, the idea in itself is full of potential. In multiplayer games today we are generally presented with characters that endure, but worlds that have no constancy. The environments, matches, conflicts, and campaigns tend to be entirely palimpsest. There are no multiplayer shooters where you can see the effects of prior battles. Notwithstanding official patches for bugs or balancing, maps are in no way changed by the scores of people that have fought over them since their inception. This has, in fact, become a defining point of most shooters, where ingrained strategies will spring up through the fixity of the environment within which these matches are held. Sure, many games today allow locations to be totally wrecked within the course of a match but once it is over the transience of this conflict is revealed; there is no permanence except in the users’ profiles. The settings of most online games have neither episodic beginning nor end, the narrative life is tied to the players’ interest. If you delete a user’s profile or character, it would almost be as if they had never played at all. Compare this to the traditional single-player game. It doesn’t even matter whether there’s a plot: the arc of the gameplay has a clearly defined beginning and end. To a large extent, everybody plays the same game, as if engaging in an interactive movie. Even games where we are given the illusion of open-endedness, such as Fallout 3, Far Cry 3,
Grand Theft Auto 4, or Mass Effect 3, players are forced to engage in a central linear plot quite at variance with the freedom felt in the relatively inconsequential side-quests. The problem for programmers is obvious: the more possibilities presented to a player, the greater work there is to implement the different routes the player may take. Bethesda Softworks has had notorious problems with bugs that have taken years to both discover and fix; largely due to this sandbox environment which they have attempted to develop. Yet the real limitation of games with side-quests becomes obvious when you see that these sidequests are almost entirely independent of one another. They are generally mini-campaigns in themselves, where the main option is whether or not you choose to take up these campaigns in the first place. But what’s the point of freedom if your actions have nothing but local consequence? Traditional single-player games also feature the issue of replay value: the disposable nature of campaigns where (particularly in more linear first person shooters) there’s rarely much inclination to retrace one’s footsteps or start over. Compare the vast swathes of environment traversed, never to be witnessed again, with the tiny, claustrophobic environments, epitomised by something such as Counterstike’s de_dust, upon which countless scores of people played and replayed matches for years. So we are left with the dichotomy between offline and online worlds: the static and the dynamic, consequential and meaningless, the episodic and cyclical. Is it possible to merge the two? Leaving aside the technical difficulties for a moment, suppose a multiplayer game were given the typical plot of a single player game. But if a game has this sort of narrative, what happens if you aren’t there at the beginning, or equally, the end? What if you don’t happen to be present during the most important parts? The traditional narrative framework seems to present as many problems for the potential player as it does the developer.
But that doesn’t mean that a different type of narrative cannot be achieved. Online games do not need to be compartmentalised into matches that are tiny relative to the absolute number of simultaneous players. Persistent worlds have long been an aspect of massively multiplayer, as has the concept of very large servers. Eve Online has shown us that very large, persistent universes are possible. Yet such games have, to date, focused almost exclusively on character progression, instead of an overarching narrative. A persistent world does not preclude an evolving story. Our world is persistent, but that doesn’t mean that global events are only conceivable as a great incoherent cacophony where the only voice you can hear is your own. Sweeping generalisations and unsupported assumptions concerning events may make archival academics weep; but it is this very process that we all use to draw meaning out of the maelstrom of information, every single day. As Stalin (somewhat anachronistically) said: “A single death is a tragedy, a million is a statistic”. Roughly four and a half million people died last month. How many can you name? Hugo Chavez. So we shouldn’t necessarily be concerned that people entering an evolving story in media res will be left adrift, or be afraid to end current events lest the game itself end. Like in history, conflicts begin and end, but that doesn’t mean that there is an end to conflict. It is hard to imagine how a heavily scripted single player games can ever be shoehorned into a multiplayer environment, or if we would ever want to. However, the very real possibility of multiplayer games that allow their environments to evolve, and for the actions of players to create their own history, can be realised. As it stands, Yerli’s “connected SinglePlayer” is merely a buzz-term. It remains to be seen what path developers will ultimately take in the merging of single player experiences and online media.
There and Back Again:
Sam Raimi’s Rise from the B-List With the successful return of director Sam Raimi with his recent release Oz the Great and Powerful, Casey Lehman charts his career, considering how his origins in independent horror have influenced his output today
orn in a small town in southeastern Michigan, Sam Raimi learned his craft making movies with his friends (including the inimitable Bruce Campbell) and brothers using a Super 8 camera in the family’s backyard. These early projects culminated in 1978’s Within the Woods, an extremely low-budget short film that served as a dry run to generate investment in Raimi’s first feature, the infamous The Evil Dead (1981). That film spawned two sequels and launched the careers of director Raimi, star Campbell, and producer Robert Tapert, a college roommate of Raimi’s older brother and screenwriting partner, Ivan. The Evil Dead also generated fierce controversy due to its graphic violence and demonic themes, which established Raimi’s reputation for over-the-top genre filmmaking and self-conscious excess. Although by the end of the Evil Dead trilogy Raimi had moved away from the horror genre and begun making more comedic and fantasyoriented pictures, his penchant for stylization and grandiosity never disappeared, culminating in another trilogy with a much bigger budget, Spider-Man. The first film in the series finally gave Raimi a real shot at a marketable mainstream picture, having been sabotaged by poor marketing for several of his previous major studio efforts, including The Quick and the Dead (1995), a western starring Sharon Stone, and For Love of the Game (1999), an incongruous and ill-advised foray into both sports movies and working with Kevin Costner. Spider-Man had been in what is known as “development hell” for over two decades, bouncing around from studio to studio with at least a dozen different scripts by over twenty writers until Sony Pictures settled on Raimi to direct a script by David Koepp, who had previously written such hits as Jurassic Park (1993), Mission: Impossible (1996), and Snake Eyes (1998).
After the massive success of Spider-Man (2002), Sony green-lit two sequels, each more profitable than the last; catapulting Raimi from a funny little B-grade director to an A-list moneymaking machine. Spider-Man 3 (2007), however, and the ensuing battle between Raimi and the studio, essentially torpedoed the series, despite the film’s massive financial success (until the recent reboot, without Raimi’s involvement). While he was criticised for treating the film and the character as a joke, especially in the inexplicable sequence in which Peter Parker, under the influence of the alien symbiote, dances through the streets of Manhattan, the real problem with Spider-Man 3 may have actually been that Raimi was given too much freedom and a massive budget. It wasn’t so much incompetence as it was self-indulgence. In the early 1980s, Raimi’s films had been largely responsible for establishing the independent horror aesthetic, using absurd amounts of blood to cover the cheapness of the special effects they often had to improvise on-set (mainly severed limbs, an important plot point in the Evil Dead trilogy). This ingrained lack of subtlety seems to have never left Raimi, as his youthful exuberance for comic book fare was given free rein on SpiderMan 3, highlights being a ten-story tall sand monster and extraordinarily hammy performances from a respectable cast that included Thomas Haden Church (Sideways) and Topher Grace (In Good Company). It seems that the real failure of Spider-Man 3, then, was not Raimi’s. The film failed with fans simply because they expected another cookie-cutter superhero action flick and Raimi refused to give it to them; instead, he made the picture he always wanted to make but couldn’t for the previous 25 years of his career. Written prior to the Spider-Man trilogy but produced after, Drag Me to Hell (2009) marked Raimi’s return to his roots in supernatural horror and more modest budgets. The film follows
the generically-named and generically-blonde Christine Brown as she attempts to rid herself of a gypsy curse placed on her by an old woman to whom Christine denied a mortgage extension. Christine is actually the only bland character in a colorful cast that includes the token Asian from The Fast and the Furious, Crispin Glover’s boss from Bartleby, and Waiting/Accepted sadsack Justin Long bizarrely playing some kind of professor (a professor of what? Who knows). Drag Me to Hell was a considerable financial and critical success, being praised as both fun and scary. One wonders how the campiness that came in for such criticism in Spider-Man 3 could come right back in the same director’s next movie less than two years later and garner such praise. But, so goes the viewing public. More recently, Raimi has achieved another success with Oz the Great and Powerful, a prequel to The Wizard of Oz (1939) that makes exquisite use of 3D technologies and, surprisingly, works just as well in 2D. Featuring an all-star cast that includes James Franco (who portrayed Harry Osborn in the Spider-Man movies) as Oz, and Mila Kunis, Rachel Weisz, and Michelle Williams as the trio of witch sisters, Oz the Great and Powerful seems to have created a more successful fusion of Raimi’s loosely comic leanings and the more stringent demands of bigbudget filmmaking. Littered with close-ups of the wizard’s winking, grinning visage that foreshadow his “transformation” into the disembodied head familiar from the original, Raimi’s film triumphantly strikes a balance between nostalgia and novelty that a lesser filmmaker could not have achieved. And it seems that statement will actually be put to the test because, although the studio (Disney) has approved a sequel and the stars have signed on, Raimi has not. A Raimi-helmed Oz trilogy, unlike Spider-Man and Evil Dead before it, does not, unfortunately, appear to be forthcoming.
Drinking the Kool-Aid
With shows like Twin Peaks and Arrested Development having a small but loyal audience and often being referred to as ‘cult’ shows, Laura Bell investigates what the term actually means
hat is a cult classic?” is the oft asked, argued and undeniably boring question that dominates the discussion around the subject. Some argue that to be ‘cult’, a show has to fail miserably before it succeeds marginally; while others claim that one need only combine one fan base with a singular passion for flogging a dead horse in order to whip up everlasting, if minor notoriety. Really, the true test of whether your favourite show is about to spawn a sect and a matching spot on the shelves at Forbidden Planet, is that of time. Many critics named and shamed Lost as the greatest cult show “of all time” back when polar bears roamed the jungle-like wilds of ABC and the fat guy was still fat. While Lost is still popular in a shockingly marginalised way, it’s no classic, and trying to argue it will have Doctor Who and Star Trek fans aged 6-60 laughing into their striped scarves and red shirts. That’s the elusive thing about this type of media; these shows don’t have to be artistically good, critically acclaimed, or loathed by the mainstream audience. They just have to sit out their extended shelf lives as host to a rabid fan base who play out their devotion like it’s a new clean energy source. There is a special place in the heart of cult for the unfinished series, that propels several shows whose endings are swathed in mystery into the limelight. David Lynch and Mark Frost’s Twin Peaks, which ran for two seasons over the year of 1990-91 is considered by Entertainment Weekly to be the “big bang of auteur TV”, and in January of this year, was rumoured to be the subject of discussions as to the viability of its modern day resurrection. Sadly, creator Frost brutally
shattered the rumour along with the hopes and dreams of fans worldwide with a snarky tweet. Joss Whedon’s Firefly, a western set in space, was hit with a severe case of Network Meddling in which Fox aired 11 of the 14 episodes of the first season out of order, and forced Whedon to write a second pilot with more fighting and less talking. Fans of the CW’s Veronica Mars, however, were not content to sit idly by and watch reruns of everyone’s favourite sassy teen detective. A fan group called the “Cloud Watchers” hired a plane trailing the banner “Renew Veronica Mars” to fly over the network office; papered major American cities with 30,000 fliers advertising the series; and sent more than 10,000 Mars Bars by post to CW executives. A kick starter to fund a feature film is currently underway, donations reaching $1,000,000 in four hours and 24 minutes, and as of March 25th of this year had passed $3.7 million. Warner Brothers have now tentatively agreed to market and distribute the film. Sometimes, if they’re lucky, fans don’t have to raise millions of dollars in order to persuade studios to give the public exactly what it wants. Such was the case with Friday Night Lights, the show based on the movie based on the book based on A True Story was such a fan favourite that when the show seemed doomed to be cancelled, fans raised $2,000 for charity and for Friday Night Lights DVD’s to be sent to US troops overseas. In addition, they also raised enough to send more than 13,000 mini footballs to NBC execs Jeff Zucker and Ben Silverman. Arrested Development, everybody’s favourite TV show that nobody actually bothered to watch when it was on the air, faces an actual confirmed resurrection. If the Veronica Mars incident hasn’t
proved that not even paying studios to let us pay them will get them to put Transformers 19 aside, then the upcoming fourth season of Arrested Development, airing exclusively on Netflix is testament. Like Firefly, the sitcom had the displeasure of dealing with Fox, and is generally considered to have been doomed by their general ideology in favour of the bare minimum. A movie, slated for release in 2014, will follow. The creators of cult are of an entirely different breed to the archetypal Hollywood hack, known to their fans by name, face, and twitter account. In the world of television, the name Joss Whedon as synonymous with Buffy the Vampire Slayer as Bill Gates is with Microsoft. The New Yorker defines these auteurs as “the sort of difficult obsessives who make original things and then get fired.” Usually, disposing of these creative liabilities also signifies the imminent and premature death of their brain children, moved first to the so-called “Friday Night Death Slot” between 8 and 11p.m., and then on to the television afterlife (Netflix). However, sometimes things get legally nasty, and big names get shafted from their own shows. Such was the case with Dan Harmon, the creator of NBC’s Community who was quietly phased out of the production process and the payroll. Harmon felt the network’s message to be clear: “We’re going to smother [Community] with a pillow very quietly”, he said. Ultimately, regardless of content and creator, the cult of cult can be intoxicating, and even the best of us can sometimes fall prey to the ‘It’s really popular so now I hate it’ trope. Remember, the only thing worse than not enough people caring about your favourite show is too many. They can’t know your love.
REVIEWS Title: The Place Beyond the Pines Director: Derek Cianfrance Starring: Ryan Gosling, Bradley Cooper, Eva Mendes Release Date: April 12th
he Place Beyond the Pines opens with the sound of heavy breathing over a black title card. Enter enigmatic Luke Glanton (Ryan Gosling), a motorbike stuntman in a travelling circus. This is Gosling’s second collaboration with director Derek Cianfrance, following 2010’s Blue Valentine. Set in Schenectady, New York, spanning 15 years, and with a dense and intricate plot, Pines is a compelling piece of cinema. Glanton’s tryst with Romina (Eva Mendes) has resulted in a baby boy. Anxious to support his son and struggling on a pittance, he begins robbing banks. Glanton becomes entangled with an ambitious young police officer, Avery Cross (Bradley Cooper). Cross longs to claw his way up the hierarchy of a force infected with corruption and deceit. One taut encounter between these men will have irrevocable, profound consequences not only for them, but for a wide spectrum of people. With bleached hair and tattoos, Gosling is intriguing as the morally dubious and sometimes brutal
THE PLACE BEYOND THE PINES drifter. He can be a merciless and repugnant character: a hopeless victim of the mutilated American dream. Scenes of his recklessness are juxtaposed with tender moments of paternal love. Although he is a father, he is curiously childlike in his conversations with Romina. The handheld camera which often follows over Glanton’s shoulder is certainly intimate, but can be jarring in its shakiness, though it is an interesting technique. Gosling succeeds in moulding Glanton into someone hostile and abrasive, yet sympathetic because he is so broken and earnest. Impressive, sweeping shots of the character careening along the winding roads of Schenectady on a motorbike develop a sense of his exile from society and are visually sumptuous. It is to Cianfrance’s credit that he does not allow the Avery Cross storyline to descend into police clichés. Cross might have been a bright-eyed, irritatingly clean-cut young policeman, but he is far more nuanced. He is aware of the corruption in the force, yet he is not above
SPRING BREAKERS 10
u n t e r S. Thompson wrote about “a savage journey to the heart of the American Dream”, and Snoop Dogg said “I’ve got bitches in the living room getting it on and they ain’t leaving till six in the morning”. Harmony Korine’s Spring Breakers lies somewhere between these two ideas. The film opens, naturally, with footage of a beach rave to the lurching dubstep of Skrillex. Tanned bodies and Bud Light; objectification on a massive scale. We then cut to some genuinely pretty shots of an almost-deserted university, where our four heroines (Selena Gomez, Vanessa Hudgens, Ashley Benson and
manipulation and exploitation himself. Cooper is captivating in the role, and like Gosling, he manages to be both appealing and despicable. Ray Liotta is slimy and unsettling as Cooper’s boss, Detective Deluca. The allure of the forest is central to the film, and the landscape of Schenectady is lavishly rendered in warm tones of red and gold. If there is one criticism, it is that Eva Mendes is given short shrift as damaged Romina, and her quiet suffering is often sidelined. Overall, however, this is a layered
and insightful study of the nature of sacrifice and ambition. There are welcome flashes of humour (a reference to The Goonies comes to mind), and the ethereal setting adds to the harrowing beauty of this accomplished drama.
Rachel Korine) are wishing they were down in Florida with seemingly the rest of the college-age population of America. They walk empty dorm hallways wearing bubblegum pink nail polish and sweaters with cartoon characters on them. Then they put on balaclavas and violently rob a chicken restaurant for vacation cash. Strange contrast, right? But then this film doesn’t take place in the real world; this is spring-break world, a dream world, a heightened version of reality. Down in Florida, booze, drugs, and sex are all there for the taking. Korine didn’t pick two former Disney stars (and put them in bikinis for ninety minutes) by accident; we’re meant to be uneasy about the whole thing. Gomez’s character, Faith, takes the role of the sheltered Christian girl who loses herself in the good times with her friends. But then the comedown arrives. They get into trouble, and the true god of the film arrives to ‘help’ them; a local rapper (and literal gangster) named Alien, played mesmerically by James Franco in full corn-rows and teeth-grillz mode (à la Gary Oldman in True Romance). And if you thought things were crazy before, well, you’ll be surprised. If there’s one thing that gets annoying in the middle of this sensory
Title:Spring Breakers Director: Harmony Korine Starring: James Franco, Vanessa Hudgens, Selena Gomez Release Date: April 5th
In a Nutshell: An absorbing tale of crime, alienation, fatherhood and loss, in a gorgeous setting, with fantastic performances from Gosling, Cooper, and Mendes. by Derek Cianfrance
rush of a film, it’s the lack of a script. Seriously, they didn’t finish one before shooting, and it shows in dialogue that is often quite simple and declarative, or else full of platitudes. But then, that’s how real people talk (as opposed to a Tarantino film where the dialogue is amazing but you just know that no-one ever really sounds that cool). The repetitive flashbackediting may be designed to mimic human memory, but it gets old quickly. Money is the biggest drug in Spring Breakers, and the film explores some very interesting dynamics of power and exploitation. It may be layered with sexual imagery and excess, but underneath this is actually quite a clever film. How far will you go to escape from normality? Who’s using who? And can you reconcile the juxtaposition of singing Britney Spears while holding a shotgun?. In a Nutshell: A hyper-real cultureshock with a brooding core. by Edward Kearns
Stupid Animal Movies 10. March of the Penguins (2005) Apart from ruining children’s minds by getting Morgan Freeman to narrate penguin sex blow by blow, in a broader context it influenced a whole generation of wanky people to feel they were better than anyone else because they felt emotions watching a documentary. Thanks Luc Jerkquet.
9. Deep Blue Sea (1999) One day the director of Die Hard 2, Renny Harlin, decided all by himself that the world needed another movie about killer sharks. Good job Renny.
riter/Director Gerard Barrett takes us to a lonely dairy farm in rural Ireland, and leaves us alone on Pilgrim Hill with Jimmy Walsh (Joe Mullins). Jimmy describes himself to his brother Tommy (Muiris Crowley) as being on the wrong side of 40, uneducated, and without hope for more. We follow Jimmy through his daily activities, repairing fences, herding the cows for milking, and cleaning. His days blend together, with a monotony occasionally broken when he can pop into the local for a few pints. Pilgrim Hill is shot in a combination of interview-like talking heads in Jimmy’s kitchen, wide landscape shots that Jimmy moves through, and studious close-ups that bring us into the reality and tedium of his day. Eating, cooking, shopping, smoking, even sweeping the walk are all presented with a thoughtful view that puts us in Jimmy’s routine. Stunning to look at, and with a soundtrack mainly of ambient sound, our experience of Jimmy’s life grinds along. Actor Joe Mullins portrays an exhausted man, lacking hope and left longing. In one of the interview sessions, he remarks that at night he looks into the distance and imagines what happens behind those lit windows, a husband coming home to a wife with children about, the normal life that has passed him by. He has assumed responsibility for an unseen father, who is now bedridden after a stroke. This previously abusive father, who took to drink after the death of his wife, is represented exclusively by a doorway, lit only as Jimmy enters or leaves the room. Tommy’s life serves as a mirror for Jimmy’s, showing what is available without the responsibilities of the farm, or father. He arrives in his showy car, wearing a flashy tracksuit, and remarkably impractical trainers. Subsequently, when Tommy attempts to show Jimmy a good night, taking him to a dance club, we see Jimmy standing uncomfortably to the side, in a space that pulses, flashes and dances around him. Despite winning awards at the Kerry Film Festival, Welsh Film Festival, and the Galway Film Fleadh, and Gerard being named Best New Irish Talent at the IFTAs, this will not be a film you take to movie night with the friends. The desperately lonely protagonist, and chilling effect of the farm will leave you in search of a pub, loud people, and the company of whichever of your friends is the most animated and encouraging of bad ideas. In a Nutshell: Pilgrim Hill is an excellent movie and a great antidote to a recent viewing of The Sound of Music. by Christopher Reed
8. Cats and Dogs (2001) This movie falls short of expectations due to its lack of graphic content. If dogs conquered cats there would be public executions, a key scene left out which would have completed the movie. Title: Pilgrim Hill Directors: Gerard Barrett Starring: Joe Mullins, Muiris Crowley, Keith Byrne Release Date: April 12th
7. The Lion King (1994) Commonly regarded as a classic, The Lion King is nothing more than a propaganda flick for monarchy. Why should Mufasa get to stomp around like a giant, while the rest of us try not to get smushed under his big feet? What’s so great about Mufasa? We should totally just stab Caesar Mufasa! 6. The Killer Shrews (1959) Filled with plot holes so big that they could be used in a ‘Your Mama’ joke to make light about how big your mama’s butt is, this movie centres around giant shrews (dressed as dogs) killing humans. Good job 1950s. 5. Seventh Inning Fetch (2002) Listen, there’s no one is disputing that dogs can be adept at most sports such as basketball, soccer and even football. But the idea of a dog being talented at a fourth sport, and that sport being baseball?! No, that’s just too much talent for one dog. 4. Piranha 3DD (2012) I just don’t like Piranha’s. They really get on my unnecessarily large tits. 3. Beverly Hills Chihuahua (2008) For a movie that grossed ten times its original budget, it is difficult to fault. Flawless dialogue and believable characters, the sole reason this movie is awful is the fact an oversized rat plays the lead. 2. Lake Placid (1999) We all know that Betty White is a callous and heartless wagon, but when she started feeding cows to a giant crocodile that was the time to get the phone and dial PETA. A terrible film that highlighted White as the despicable abuser of animal rights that she is. 1. War Horse (2011) A film that tried to portray horses as loyal majestic creatures that were true to their owners (even if they were blinded by gas) ended up showing horses as the cowards they truly are. Joey (the horse) didn’t think twice about running away from war to hide in a French windmill, then defect to the Central powers when they appeared to be winning, only to defect again back to the Allies when they offered to save him from being turned into burgers.. by Killian Woods
he Vaccines’ guitarist, Freddie Cowan, has just absented himself from a sound check on Alan Carr’s The Chatty Man set; the rhythmic foot pedal of Pete Robertson’s drums, the soft twanging of Árni Arnason’s bass, with Justin Young charmingly singing his way through the alphabet, make up the background noise of the interview. Cowan is cool, calm and collected at the prospect of releasing the bands new single ‘Bad Mood’ to millions of TV viewers, he even managed to slip in a few interviews as he had a celebratory cup of tea at the side of the set. Is he prepared for the full force of Alan Carr? “I’ve never watched it before,” Freddie bashfully admits. Perhaps this explains the relaxed tea slurping then. The band’s first single ‘If You Wanna’ began circulating online in the summer of 2010. The demo may have been basic, complete with a clunky reductive chorus and a questionable quality of production, yet it was this raw sound and dumb lyricism that attracted so many, and it was through this honest style of music and painfully simplistic lyrics that The Vaccines’ sound was born. Making their London debut in October 2010 at a tiny free show, by the end of 2011, it was two nights at the 5,000-capacity Brixton Academy. By the start of 2012 their debut What Did You Expect From The Vaccines? had gone platinum. It was certainly a very quick ascent. Yet when The Vaccines were exploding, the band were often reported to be shy, defensive and unhelpful during interviews; with one review of their first album split between excoriating Young as a person and celebrating his songcraft. But, despite this slight blip with the media, Cowan doesn’t consider their first foray into fame to be in any way negative: “I don’t think we were uncomfortable with it, I just don’t think we knew
how to deal with it. I mean when you don’t have your head around it, and you don’t have a handle on what is actually happening to you it is.” It appears that it was not the speed of the ascension, but dealing with the actual attention that affected the band at the beginning. “It doesn’t matter how fast it happens to you, if it happens to you over two years or over two days, you’ve never actually experienced anything like it before, so the speed at which you reach it is irrelevant. You can’t go to school for it, you can’t learn how to deal with it, you just have to experience it through trial and error. When you come into that kind of world it is difficult to find your feet. But you’re on tour when it is happening, so you are in a little bubble. If it was me dealing with it when
them; donning some double denim and cultivating some nonchalant hair growth seemed to fit the sartorial bill, but musically the style is somewhat more difficult to discern. Yet their cocksure confidence still remains, armed with their new getup the message is clear: they no longer want to be perceived as an indie band, those slashed sleeves tell of a new rock flirtation. Once dismissed as simply a ‘hype band’, they’ve hit back and returned with a beefed up sound. Yet the band’s new image and new sound is fraught with contradictions, from the get-go Cowan asserted that: “We have always considered ourselves to be a pop band. We write pop songs, we always have and we just happened to write pop songs in a very raw format for this album.” However, referring to themselves as pop appears to be a safety net, when in every sense of the word they have stylised their sound, their attitude and their look as a rock band. Perhaps this assertion that they are simply “just a pop act” keeps the baying critics from ravaging at their door, for it is a very easy feat to null any question of style or of motives by reducing and simplifying their music to “pop music.” Though creating a cloud of obscurity, and asserting that the music is too simplistic for interpretation, the band sound like rock, look like rock, act like rock but deny any such terminology. However the sound you hear is simple and timeless rock; guitar, bass and drums locked into a pattern that sounds immediately familiar but also – as with the best bands built on the three-chord tradition, ultimately timeless and new. The band worked with the producer Ethan Johns on the record. “He is a very rootsy, a very raw producer, and he records everything live,” explains Cowan. “So with the four of us in a room, it was always going to sound garagey” At the risk of sounding cynical, The Vaccines’ new darker sound appears to be coincidental and somewhat accidental
“I think you should enjoy the bits that you can’t control, don’t worry about it just enjoy it. But remember what you are doing here, remember why your there”
I was at home in a little English town, looking at how it was visibly changing my life then it would be a much harder experience, and have much more of an effect on me. But because I’m right in the centre of what is going on, always travelling, always on the move never in one place for more than five seconds, I don’t have time to think about it at all. I’m just thinking about what I’m doing with music and gigs.” Without hearing even a note from their new album Come of Age, visually you might have guessed a new sense of purpose for the band. Gone is their nondescript preppy look to be replaced with a new uniform in which no one could mistake them for being anything but a rock band. The Vaccines wanted to show the world that they had become different. The new album heralded a new look for
Amidst a plea for an increase in gentle mauling from fans, Emily Mullen talks to The Vaccines’ Freddie Cowan about the band’s pop lineage, One Direction and the realities of living and working as musicians occurrence, created by the producer’s discretion, for as far as Cowan is concerned; “the heart, the essence of these songs are pop songs.” Lead singer Justin Young has just come clean about collaborating with One Direction on some new tracks, yet surprisingly no slagging ensued from the rest of the band on working with the pop sensations. “Niall and Louis came to our gig, and we all did karaoke together and we started hanging out and I think Niall came to a gig of ours in London and it kind of went from there, they just hooked up and started song writing.” Perhaps The Vaccines really do have no qualms about their supposed new found Rock n’Roll integrity, and are just keen on making a decent pop song after all? Wile the giant cogs of the hype machines were everywhere turning during their sophomore recording process, the band never succumbed to the pressures of it. “I think that it’s difficult to do anything under pressure, so you have to relax, just have fun and enjoy it. There wasn’t any pressure placed on us, well at least none that we paid attention to.” With the second album done and dusted The Vaccines are now concentrating on making “the dreaded third one.” For Freddie this album will be “the important one, the album that will define us most. I think you can get away with doing something similar on your second record, but you need to really find yourself on your third one.” The band are writing as much as possible whilst on tour, despite the logistical difficulties. “Yeah, we write as much as we can, it’s hard to get your space because when we tour, we tour in a big bus together. So there is not like 20 dressing rooms for every person to have their own space, so it’s only on days off really do you get time alone and usually you’re too exhausted. But you write as much as you humanly can.” As long as the quality of music is maintained, Cowan appears unconcerned with the downsides of being in such a renowned band: “I only really care about being a part of a quality band, as long as I can maintain that I don’t really care about the other stuff. Its unpredictable, you don’t have any control over anything worth thinking about really. I think you should enjoy the bits that you can’t control, don’t worry about it just enjoy it. But remember what you are doing here, remember why you’re there. “ Having been mauled in Taiwan whilst they attempted to man their merchandise stand, Cowan seemed to rather enjoy the enthusiastic response: “I find the fan attention really funny when it’s happening, I mean I’ve already forgotten about that incident, so I could probably do with some mauling now! Yeah, The Vaccines want more mauling!” Yet the constant touring punctuated by bouts of recording does appear to be having an effect upon the band: “Well because nobody buys music any more, so you can’t afford to be in a band unless you tour continually. As long as you’re making quality music and you’re not taking years and years between records, I mean the likes of Kings of Leon and Arcade Fire, all sorts of bands.” Yet at what cost must the band keep touring at such an alarming rate? The band have just returned from their headline tour of America, having been postponed after Young did not take as much care of his health as he should have. The American tour planned for September of that year was scrapped as he faced post-surgery rehab. Despite the dissipation of the initial buzz of the
tour, it was an overwhelming success for the band. But you can’t help but glance at The Vaccines’ schedule and question what effect the constant touring must be having upon Young’s vocals? Yet the main emphasis of the interview lies in Cowan’s demand for creating consistently good music and in turn creating a musical legacy. “You just need to maintain your quality, but I think you still can create a legacy, I think you can still do it. But the problem begins because bands are so reliant on touring that they need to tour continually, and maybe the musical side gets neglected and then they get forgotten about. I mean it is difficult to make consistently good music at a steady rate, but if you can do that it is possible to create a legacy and not get left behind like the rest.” With The Vaccines’ position as virtually the only new British alt-”rock” band to sell any albums, they are sitting quite prettily in the music scene. With their album Come of Age reaching number one in the charts, the band are fast becoming a household name with every TV appearance and single release, becoming an ever increasing shot in the arm for The Vaccines’ fame. Although they don’t quite hold the same space in pop-aficionados’ hearts as their friends One Direction do, Cowan is ever optimistic: “I mean who’s to say what’s going to happen next?” And of course what else could you expect from The Vaccines?
“I mean it is diﬃcult to make consistently good music at a steady rate, but if you can do that it is possible to create a legacy and not get left behind like the rest”
The Vaccines play the Trinity Ball on April 5th, The Olympia on April 8th and their new album Come of Age is out now.
abrielle Aplin has a lot going on at the moment, a fact that is especially impressive once you consider that she’s only 20 years old. Right on the cusp of major fame, with her début album English Rain on the horizon, Aplin has already established a solid fanbase thanks to the YouTube generation. In the past year, she has released two chart-placing singles, played support to Ed Sheeran, and racked up a hefty number of ticket sales for her own tour. On top of that, she set up her own independent label at the ripe old age of 15, but has now moved on to sign with Parlophone. Feeling lazy yet? Undoubtedly, that’s a lot to handle when she’s only just left her adolescent years behind. Breaking into the music world and succeeding when you’re barely out of school would be enough reason to let your head swell to a ridiculous size. So, it was a pleasant surprise to find that Aplin sounds just like any ordinary 20-something, despite being anything but in terms of talent and success. She unexpectedly giggles at the lamest attempts at humour, and at times loses her train of thought. After five minutes of chatting to her, you’ll wonder would it be too soon to pop over for tea on Sunday. Perhaps this startling humility arises from the fact that Aplin kickstarted her career by posting cover videos on YouTube, before unleash-
Rising star Gabrielle Aplin chats to Eva Griffin about staying loyal to fans and keeping herself grounded ing her own material upon the vast world of the internet. This, as it turns out, was largely unnoticed by Aplin. “Obviously, it was incredible and I didn’t know why it was happening,” she says. “I didn’t put videos up because I saw someone else doing it and I wanted to do it. I didn’t really have any expectations, so when it started happening I didn’t know if that was right or wrong. I didn’t know if that was normal or not.” Any other average Joe would agree; what happened to Aplin wasn’t exactly “normal”. This seemingly harmless uploading of videos lead to widespread attention, and soon she began releasing EPs via her own label, Never Fade Records. These proved popular, and with Aplin continuing to post both covers and original songs, her fanbase grew. Fast forward to now, and her Twitter and Facebook pages are bombarded with tweets and comments daily. Apart from requests to play here or there, some fans choose to profess their undying love and beg her to marry them. Instead of shying away from social media as a result, Aplin keeps her pages up to date regularly. Her views on using the sites to communicate with fans are concrete, and it’s something that she clearly be-
lieves in. She says: “I think it’s got to a point where people can attain music so easily without paying for it. People are only going to buy your music if they really feel you deserve it.” This takes a slight effort on the part of the artist, but regular communication is something that Aplin thinks should be practised by everyone hoping to build a loyal fanbase and actually sell their music. “If you’re kind of ignorant and don’t speak to people who support you and don’t thank them, then they’re gonna kind of get bored and not bother with you. I think you need to say thanks every now and again, let people know what’s going on and be attainable.” On the well-maintained Facebook page of hers, Aplin defines her music as “ghosty pop/folk with hints of choirs and twinkly things.” The description is quite apt. In previous releases and videos, the focus is on a girl and her guitar (or in some cases, piano), creating the archetypal singer-songwriter impression. Her vocal style is influenced by the great Joni Mitchell, while she looks to Nick Drake for lyrical inspiration and John Martin for guitar playing. English Rain, however, will incorporate more orchestral elements, something that Aplin has always
been keen to do, but a goal that has only been realised now due to Parlophone’s funding. This desire for a bigger sound also comes from listening to bands such as Coldplay and Elbow. Overall, Aplin has claimed the forthcoming album has an “English war-time feel,” hence the title. Though Aplin describes herself as “a bit average,” there’s no doubt that even greater things are on the horizon for her. It’s certainly clear that the talented singer has managed to stay grounded despite the amount of amazing opportunities that have come her way. The fact that she’s surrounded by equally gifted friends, such as Orla Gartland and Hudson-Taylor is a huge comfort to her. “We can all understand it and help each other out,” she says. In fact, Aplin has been known to collaborate with her talented pals both on and off stage. Really, it sounds like she’s simply having a great time. So, with a nearly sold-out UK and Ireland tour still in progress, an album on the way and the infamous festival period ahead, how does one even cope with that much on their plate? Well for Aplin, she’s trying not to look too far ahead. “That’s kind of all I’ve got planned... I’m just quite oblivious to it all. I just take it all as it comes.” Gabrielle Aplin plays The Academy on April 5th and her debut album English Rain is released in May.
Depeche Mode Delta Machine Grade: B+
Daughter If You Leave Grade: D-
Depeche Mode’s Dave Gahan said recently that he wanted his new record to have “more of a rawness about it,” keen that Delta Machine would not be another electronic album with those predictable Depeche Mode qualities. He needn’t have worried, however. The bluesy undertones which flow through the entire record replace the electro with a soul that sits well with the archetypical Depeche Mode sounds. The contrast of old and new seems to characterise the album. Opening with the almost techno track of ‘Welcome To My World’ (more familiar on 21st Century discs from artists with several Zs in their name), before Gahan’s silky vocals brings us back in time to somewhere more simple. In contrast, the track ‘Heaven’ breaks away and brings us right back up to the present. For hardcore Mode-rs, this may be a bit too mainstream but the song is clean and would go well on a driving mixtape. The tempo throws back to ‘Precious’ and more classic Depeche work, so this may well be the track for everyone. Typically misleading, ‘The Child Inside’ would appear to evoke a more calm and jovial side to the boys than is normally seen. No such luck, though that’s not necessarily the worst thing. This is classic Depeche Mode. The lyrics are haunting and there is “darkness and death in [the] eyes” of the child inside. Not normally everybody’s cup of tea, but they made it work and kudos is due for that.
The phenomenon of the female vocalist accompanied by the moody, atmospheric backdrop, à la Goldfrapp, is beginning to lose its shimmer. Whatever faint differences exist between Daughter’s latest endeavour, If You Leave, and that of any their competitors simply failed to make a lasting impact on this reviewer. As a whole the album sounds like a second-rate Cat Power enthusiast went into a recording studio on a down day and mumbled into a microphone with a generic folktronica backdrop. In a futile attempt to retain the attention of the listener, anthemic drums are added in from time to time, but these only succeed in making the album sound even more insincere. It’s almost as if the album’s engineer decided they would keep him awake long enough to finish recording the album. Regardless, Daughter appear to be getting some things right. The band managed to sell out the Button Factory with only a few EPs to their name, while their record label, 4AD, is world-renowned for only signing the crème de la crème of those on the indie scene. On his occasion, however, they appear to have made a mistake. The album falls between too many stools for it to be truly successful or indeed marketable to the general listening public; Bat for Lashes for the tween market is the nearest comparison which could be called kind.
In a Nutshell: A surprising and challenging album for all those involved.
In a Nutshell: “Despite everything I’m still human?” The album sounds worryingly fake for that statement to be true.
by Yvanne Kennedy
by Stephen Heffernan
The Strokes have fallen far from their lofty nest in the laps of rock critics worldwide since they gained their reputation for being Converse-shod, one-trick ponies. Regardless, their ear for melody has rarely been anything less than remarkable, a fact that’s once again evident as the band make a return to the musical stratosphere (albeit with a fancier synthesiser). While actually meeting in the studio as opposed to recording music by correspondence may have been part of the secret, this album certainly has less of the aching lethargy that 2011’s Angles was swathed in. There is much to be enjoyed here, particularly in the first half. ‘Tap It Out’ and ‘All The Time’ instantly feel like classic Strokes songs, and ‘Chances’ in particular is one of the most attractive songs they’ve ever put to tape. The band have largely deserted their more swinging rhythms in favour of comparatively taut ones, most notably so on the album’s opener. In addition,
The Strokes Comedown Machine Grade: B they’ve gone the route of adopting that rather shallow 1980’s synth pop homage production, seen with Casablancas’ own solo recordings (and indeed everyone else’s these days). Despite such efforts to scrub their own DNA, the majority of the compositions are still unmistakably Strokes’ recordings, which alone will probably be enough information for most. Whilst ‘Welcome to Japan’ and ‘Slow Animal’ are the types of songs Albert Hammond Jr. could create in his sleep, and do nothing for the album. In a Nutshell: Not going to convert those who long to see Julian Casblancas eaten by ants, but worth a listen for anyone else. by Stephen Connolly
mixtape songs to cry yourself to sleep to
Burrow under the duvet, clutch your pillow and whimper as Caitríona O’Malley counts down the top ten songs to cry yourself to sleep to as you contemplate being alone forever ‘Empty Chairs at Empty Tables’ Les Misérables You’re feeling wretched; all alone and you’ve just remembered that 3,000 word essay for Friday. However (spoiler alert), Marius Pontmercy has lost all his dapper friends at the barricade. Slightly worse off, perhaps. Forget the absence of romance in your life and instead immerse yourself in his impassioned agony.
‘I Miss You’ Blink-182 Yes, you may be drenching your pillow in tears because you miss someone. More realistically, the lyrics about spiders catching and eating things are evoking vivid memories of that spider scuttling across your bed last week. The spider probably had someone to scuttle home to, though.
‘The Sound of Silence’ Simon and Garfunkel How long has it been since your phone last buzzed? Your friends mustn’t like you anymore. You have no admirers. The quietness is crushing. Even the teddies in the basket turn their glassy eyes away. Darkness is indeed a familiar friend. Try not to dribble on the hot water bottle in your lusty despair though.
‘Daddy’s Gone’ Glasvegas A moving one about divorce. Feel your eyes mist over as you hear how this child yearned to simply kick a ball around with Dad, but it wasn’t to be. Sympathy for the abandoned boy should lessen the sadness of being bereft of romance.
‘The Drugs Don’t Work’ The Verve So reliant has your over-stimulated body become on tea and coffee that the kick no longer comes. Caffeine is the only love in your life, but it’s callous. This is one to sob to, crumpled in the foetal position while gnawing at a tea bag, because life is more real that way, y’know?
‘Everybody Hurts’ R.E.M. The melancholic anthem of choice. As your pillow becomes ever more sodden, remember that all is not lost. Michael Stipe feels your sadness. Let this song wash over you as you bleat beneath the duvet. You’ll be fine.
‘Streets of Philadelphia’ Bruce Springsteen You may be like that zany friend in every romantic comedy who no one fancies, but unlike Tom Hanks in the film this soundtracks, you don’t have AIDS. But that doesn’t mean you can’t weep to this poignant number as you think, “I, too, know what it is to suffer.” ‘Mad World’ - Gary Jules One for all you Donnie Darko fans. Turn the volume up and gaze into the middle distance as your loneliness pierces. Swaying slowly back and forth can only enhance the drama of your pain.
‘Invincible’ Muse There’s something so touching about the hopefulness of this one. So what if you’re alone? You’re invincible. Feel free to let some more tears drip onto your bed, though, because you’re just that racked with emotion. ‘Time After Time’ Cyndi Lauper Poor Cyndi. Her relationship has crumbled around her. It is a ballad soaked in remorse and evidence that love hurts. Maybe forever alone isn’t so bad. The perfect song to play out your final moments of tearful wakefulness.
Heathers Greetings from the land of all things Heathers, We’ve been very busy lately but busy is always good! As I type, I’m sitting in the lobby of our hotel in London shivering. It’s snowing outside and people keep coming through the door letting in a gust of snow each time. I am this close to throwing my apple at the lock button, trapping them all outside in the blizzard. But I’m not that mean. We’ve been over here for the past week doing some writing in the studio with a wonderful producer called Josh Wilkinson. We’ve been spending a lot of our free time writing music for other artists so it’s great to have the chance to come over here to do it! We don’t have a lot of time when we return home as we’re heading off to New York to play a series of showcases for advertising agencies and a gig in the Irish Arts Centre on the 12th of April. We’re then flying up to Toronto, Canada where our album Kingdom will be released on the 16th of April through Sony Music. We are incredibly excited about this, as ‘Forget Me Knots’ has been getting quite a lot of airplay over there and it looks like our show in Toronto on the 17th is going to be sold out! We’re extremely excited. We’ve just been announced to play two shows at the Dublin Camden Crawl on the May bank holiday weekend, as well as a really special show at Christchurch Cathedral where two of our songs will be sung by a full choir, which is pretty amazing. We haven’t played any gigs in Dublin in a while so we’re really looking forward to these shows in May. We also just shot a video for our next single, ‘Lions Tigers Bears’, in London this past weekend. It was shot on an amazingly cool camera called a RED Epic, so we’re hoping the vid will be just that: Epic! Hope to see you at one of our May shows! Ellie and Louise xx
Foil, Arms and Hog H idden within the depths of Kimmage is a small, unglamorous office space. Nothing looks particularly out of the ordinary, until you see the mounted cymbals, the trademark closers of a Foil, Arms and Hog set. The sketch comedy trio Sean Finegan (Foil), Conor McKenna (Arms) and Sean Flanagan (Hog) have been developing their own blend of observational sketch comedy for over five years, with their humble beginnings in UCD’s DramSoc. They were quick to comment on the shifting nature of turning professional: “It was a bit weird, there was a little bit of uncertainty about it. The work also wasn’t there at that time to make it full-time but it’s the only way to improve. I think a lot of people will stay with their jobs for years and years but you just don’t get that level of progress.” Working in an office environment, the trio are given the full freedom of essentially each other’s imaginations, something which Flanagan adores when writing: “My favourite ones are the misunderstanding ones, where someone has an idea, and someone else picks it up and make it their own. Like they misheard something and got the wrong idea and those sketches are always the best, they don’t follow a logical train of thought. It’s just an accident in the creative process. The golf sketch’s original idea was I told one idea to Fingo and he said ‘Oh yeah, like this?’ and I was like ‘No, but that funny!’ We said it to McKenna and he was like ‘Oh right, do you mean like this?’ Again, we said ‘No, but that’s even funnier!’” McKenna continued: “It became a sketch about golfers to a sketch about the noises that they make being played by big speakers behind them. Because he couldn’t do the noises without the speaker, he did it from his mouth. And I was like ‘That’s funny how you’re doing that from your mouth’ and he was like ‘No, I meant from the speaker’, and I went ‘But it’s funnier from the
mouth’ and he was like ‘Yeah, it is.’” Now a part of the 98fm broadcast team, McKenna excited to mention how the show is going: “It’s a lot of cheesy ideas really, a lot of chat. It’s just a long form chat with a few sketches and some good ideas, and it’s mostly improvised. It’s really a great practice as it has taken us a while to get into our stride and be confident in what were saying. We have stopped doing dead air now too, which is great! The radio has helped the stage, so everything we are doing essentially feeds into everything else”. Although the sketches often discuss Irish goings on, the lads have never described their work as intentionally ‘Irish’, more being what appeared funny to them at the time, as Finnegan explains: “We’re definitely not going out of our way
to talk about Irish stuff. The Brennan’s sketch, for example, will be on the BBC in a decade all talking about really British products. That’s a good sketch because it’s funny no matter what you say, you could do ten million different versions for different countries. We went with Brennan’s because it’s a big stupid yellow bag and it looks ridiculous”. Scrawled on the windows of their office are, among other things, numbered descriptions of sketch ideas that are often just two words. Hesitant to tell us the ‘secret formula’ of success-
Sketch troupe Foil, Arms and Hog talk to Jack Walsh about the makings of a sketch, gay gyms and Irish films
ful comedy and with the reminder that every sketch will be redone about 20 times, Flanagan explained: “Irish play’, we were working on that last night. It’s now an Irish film, about every single Irish trope ever, like depression and the famine and religion. All the things you would find in every other Irish film, in one film.” McKenna continued: “Another one is gay gym. Basically it’s a gym that, where… here’s the halfbaked premise: You know how you see like gym open till 4am? That’s not a gym; you can’t go in and get a month’s membership. And they’re like ‘Well sir, just to remind you this isn’t a gym, this is a place where people go to have sex.’ ‘But you said you have a sauna?’ ‘Nope it’s just a big bed.’ ‘Okay, could I get a personal trainer?’ ‘Again, that’s a prostitute.’ It’s more stand up then sketch really. The ad would be based around a gym pretending to be a gym but every so often it betrays itself.” Never wanting to be described as teases, Flanagan then flipped open a surprisingly organised A4 pad with a new sketch that will most likely be tried out on the radio: ‘Ghost Audition’. The trio then spent the next ten minutes bouncing out the sketch, with each character being swapped and changed, and tiny details being tweaked and revelled in. From a fan’s perspective it’s an amazing thing to watch and, as Finnegan asserts, it’s the reason sketch is such an attractive medium to work in: “The big thing is that you can bring an idea alive. With stand up there’s a certain way of telling it, but I think people love imagining things as it is, like people are already trying to think through a stand ups set in their heads, Like, what would happen if what he was saying happened? Where they tell a joke and act out a scene. If you get two to three people, then the scene just comes alive.” Foil, Arms and Hog will be playing in Whelan’s on April 13th, tickets are €15 and are on sale now
Photographer Sean Jackson has a chat with Anna Burzlaff in his Dublin studio about finding photography and the meaning within it
hat can a photograph do? is it simply an image captured in time, or something more? Is it story, or an emotion, and if it is, whose story, whose emotion? Like all art forms, photography has a duality of narrative; it isn’t solely a portrait of its subject but also a portrait of the figure behind the lens. The narrative we receive at an image’s completion has the marks, touches, and fingerprints of the unseen artist all over it. In a shoot for Thread magazine Jackson photographs a young model, looking somewhat dishevelled, as she wanders Dublin Bay. In a portrait of Terence, a young man lifts his arm against a wall as he stares fixedly down. An isolated portrayal? Perhaps. But much more than that, Jackson’s photography is representative of a deeply spiritual artist who seeks to capture moments of utter abandonment of mundane thought, as he strips his subjects back to a raw space. “[I try] to capture someone, who they are, without all their external shit going on, without all their nerves of ‘Do I look good in front of the camera?’ Just to forget for just a second,” says Jackson. “And once you get them to forget for that second, you get a glimpse into their soul and a glimpse into who they are. I do. I don’t know if anybody else does from looking at it. And that’s when I feel the photograph.” A desire to capture a freed and liberated psyche might suggest a trapped and burdened artist. If Jackson is burdened he is terribly good at hiding it. Every topic that’s touched upon is imbued with Jackson’s deep passion and his ethereal sense of direction. “I think the more heart that goes into the conceptualisation and the execution of anything artistic, and the more love and care for what you’re doing goes into that, that the more love and the bigger the message that it’ll give to the viewer will be, whatever that message will be. Regardless of how directly translated that is. Or how direct the understanding is.” It would be easy, under such topics, for the discussion to turn into some debate over Nietzsche or one or other of the participants finding themselves, by its end, deeply disaffected on the nature of identity. Jackson, thankfully, doesn’t sink to such precocious depths. With the mention of a previous interview in which he had discussed his dream shoot as a collaboration of Vogue Italia and National Geographic (a concept which didn’t quite translate to print), Jackson cringes in embarrassment. “Oh I can’t believe I said that! The fucking Italian Vogue thing! Oh my God!”, intermittently twirling his moustache. Jackson’s ideas are the very antithesis of pretension; they argue for the complete opposite, a complete disrobing of façade. Much of this notion harks back to Jackson’s fascination with tribal culture. Having previously spent time in South America, Jackson is now preparing for a return visit to Peru to document a local tribe. This is just one in a series of trips that will be made to examine tribal culture throughout the world. An usual theme, but one pertinent to Jackson: “I think it’s very, very important that we don’t lose the run of ourselves altogether and that we remember where we came from and remember that the earth is a very, very
important place, that we don’t understand and never will totally understand, that we should respect it.” It may be impossible to understand an artist or gain a portrait of him, in any totality, from his work, in the same way it’s impossible to gain any overarching message from works of art. But having said that, while it may not be possible to form a whole picture, parts of the artist can be built, and the one that’s most dominant in Jackson’s portrait is passion. Describing the moment when photography as an art form opened up for him, this becomes very clear indeed. “It was when you could see the image of the photograph on the back of the screen that I started to just explore everything; every shape, everything that I saw and looked at it through the perspective of freezing it from whatever angle and then examining it. It was a whole new world, literally, before me. So I just fell in love with it.” For those who argue that fashion photography is solely the vice of shallow indulgence, a chat with Jackson is sure to remove any such belief. Aesthetics in art are intrinsic to its value, by its very nature, but a focus on aesthetics does not make the message of the work less forceful or the portrait of the photographer less present, you may just have to search for it that bit more. As Jackson so aptly puts it: “Fashion can be just about the aesthetics, it can be really beautiful. And I think that’s beautiful. But I think that people that understand that really beautiful aesthetic and that create that beautiful aesthetic also have a beautiful understanding of the world in some way. It’s more than that. To be able to create that just aesthetic beauty isn’t shallow or isn’t just stand alone by itself. There’s something more there.” A beautiful aesthetic and a beautiful understanding go hand-in-hand, as a beautiful picture and a beautiful photographer do. We may not see Jackson directly in his photos but his beauty, understanding, and conception are all over them.
Celebrity Clothing Lines
Following Rihanna’s dismal attempt at fashion design for River Isalnd, Rebekah Rennick explores the other celebrities whose red carpet style has failed to translate to the workroom The word celebrity, by definition, refers to one who is celebrated for their achievements. Today, this explanation has been contorted and moulded by every Z-list wannabe who somehow gets their underwhelming persona and ability into our stream of media-fuelled consciousness. When comfortable on this unsteady platform of recognition, it’s not too long before all elements of themselves are exploited and made available to us punters. Celebrities brand themselves in every way possible; from perfumes to literature, beauty products and even forms of contraception (JLS printed their faces on customised condoms), but the most strategic and easiest way to create their own army of followers is by the production of a clothing line that, let’s face it, they wouldn’t be caught dead wearing. The following are only a few criminals of the fashion brigade gathered together before the Anna Wintour within began to weep.
Heidi Montag - “Heidiwood” Taking her cue from fellow self-exploiting LA blondes like Paris Hilton and Lauren Conrad, MTV reality star Heidi Montag is a prime example of a first class clothing line faux-pas. Since she first appeared on our screens; fresh faced, toned, tanned and all round sweetness, the world of the 21st century celebrity soon hit the LA teenager like a high speed Ferrari. As her ego inflated so did her appearance. Gone were the natural expressions of anonymity and in their place was the placid plasticity of Heidi’s BFF, the plastic surgeon’s knife. With this transformation came her desire to franchise herself, and thus “Heidiwood” for Anchor Blue was born. Now before I justify the appearance of “Heidiwood” in this article, I’d like to apologise to anyone who might find zebra print tank tops paired with broaderline acceptably short leather hot pants and killer stilletos appropriate day wear. Unless you’re a BRATZ doll, I wouldn’t like to think my apology stretches very far. And neither did those in Anchor Blue. Although a reasonable price range between $10 and $60 allowed you to indulge in what “Heidiwood” had to offer, after one year working together Anchor Blue just couldn’t see low cut tops and barely there hotpants appealing to their audience of wholesome 15 year-old girls. There’s only room for one femme fatale Montag in this world, and after 12 months the love affair was no more, as a company spokesperson explained Anchor Blue’s decision as due to their desire to explore other brands. Clutching at post-Hills straws, Heidi created a clothing line that shamed even her own little blonde head, and it was soon swept under the carpet with any integrity she once possessed. David Hasselhoff - “Malibu Dave” If you thought your father was embarrassing dancing at a family wedding, let’s just take a moment to appreciate the patience of David Hasselhoff ’s kids. From his inability to grasp the fact he’s not 21 any more to his never-ending supply of leather jackets, one always knew this clothing line would hold something a little more special than others. Hassellhoff ’s ‘surf gear’ was short lived but cherished in the hearts of all avid Hoff fans. Unfortunately it wasn’t sold by the man himself from the boot of Knight Rider (a girl can dream), but Malibu Dave was the love-child of Hassellhoff ’s own ridiculous narcissism and his abundant bank balance.
2006 saw Hassellhoff as musician, who could forget the new-age classic ‘Jump In My Car’, and fashion designer, as he came to the realisation that he was “as popular as Elvis.” What materialised from his overwhelming self-righteousness was a t-shirt design, the only product of this built-up personal project. But what a t-shirt it is. I have yet to see a surfer wearing just a t-shirt out catching the waves, but I’m sure anyone brave enough to showcase a “Don’t Hassle The Hoff ” shirt would be pretty gnarley in my books. Prior to the release of this elusive clothing line, Hassellhoff proclaimed: “It’s just going to be super cool, laid back surfing gear. Everywhere I go there are all these guys, like 400 guys, wearing the ‘Don’t Hassel The Hoff’ shirt.” 400? Maybe a little steep, but there’s always KITT’s reassuring voice to get him through the disappointment. Avril Lavigne - “Abbey Dawn” Remember when you where 13 and that tartan top looked amazing with those pleated shorts and patterned tights? And who could decide between neon pink and sky blue streaks in your hair, I’ll have them both! Well thank your lucky stars because not too long ago Avril Lavigne allowed us all to relive our embarrassingly unfashionable youth. At the tender age of 28, Avril demonstrated it’s never too late to rock those fishnet tights and skull emblazoned jumpers. Who am I kidding? It’s awful and doesn’t do anyone above the age of 12 any justice whatsoever. The subversive pop singer has never been one to conform to the norm, and her clothing line is a credit to that individualism. However, with her range being taken off the market in early 2008, there are only a small percentage of 12 years olds with credit cards to purchase the dwindling supply of “What The Hell” embroidered tank tops and abrasive, stripey finger-less gloves that are still available online. In 2002, smash hit ‘Sk8ter Boi’ made your prepubescent heart skip a beat as you watched Lavigne hanging with the boys in her Converse and characteristic t-shirt/ tie combination. You believed if you wore similar clothes you’d soon be pining over your own skater heartthrob or the nearest member of Busted. However, there comes a time when you leave behind your poor pattern combinations and even poorer hairstyles. Just don’t tell Avril Lavigne though, the least you’ll get is a rock hand signal.
Beauty Spotlight: Foundations for Pale Complexions Urban Decay Naked Skin €34 Lightest shade: 0.5
Lancome Teint Visionnaire €45 Lightest shade: 005 Beige Ivoire
Capitalising on the Naked fandom surrounding the two Naked eyeshadow palettes, it would be easy to pass this off as just opportunism, but you’d be missing out. This has a super lightweight formula but gives a medium coverage and builds well, while still managing to maintain that naked/natural finish. It feels like you’ve nothing at all on your skin, and being loaded with silicon means it leaves your skin looking super smooth, though may not be great if you’re prone to huge breakouts. Offering a better deal to those with combination/oily skin, this has more of a matte finish than the others and it will last the whole day without a primer, something that the YSL option struggles with.
While this is one of the darker offerings of the bunch, its formulation is so blendable that it really does warm up pale skin while maintaining a natural look, as the people at the counter promise. Offering medium coverage with SPF 20, it has a finish that is somewhat satin, neither promising to be matte nor dewy but finding a lovely naturally luminous middleground, and it is very buildable if you’re looking for full coverage. Containing LR 2412, the miracle ingredient also in its now famous Visionnaire serum, this does small wonders for drier skin. While it is the most expensive of the bunch, the concealer that comes in the lid does soften the blow.
Revlon Nearly Naked Foundation €13.99 Lightest shade: 110 Ivory
Bourjois Healthy Mix Serum Foundation €16.29 Lightest shade: 51 Light Vanilla
With Nearly Naked, Revlon have put the focus on colour-matching, with 16 shades and online and in-store colourmatching materials. As you can imagine with a name like Nearly Naked, this is a super lightweight foundation, and while it won’t do much for you if you’ve got a lot of redness or blemishes, it is amazing at making your skin look gorgeous, without a hint that you’re wearing foundation at all. It sort of just melts into your skin. It gives quite similar results to YSL’s offering here (if a little lighter) but at much reduced price, and possibly even beating it in the long-lasting races. The main bugbear with this is that the bottle comes without a pump, making it a bit messy if you’re not careful, and it’s very easy to waste a lot of product, but the product itself is pretty damn good for the price.
After a reformulation, the entire Healthy Mix range has come back better than ever, and the serum foundation outdoes itself. It doesn’t feel much like a gel foundation to touch, but it applies like a dream, gliding on extremely easily and it feels gorgeous on the skin. It offers a very light coverage, and blends really well as a result. It also smells really lovely, as it’s got an anti-fatigue vitaminrich fruit therapy formula, giving it a whiff of peach or something. It has a semi-matte finish, a perfect balance between matte and dewy, and while it doesn’t keep it’s 16-hour wear promises, it’s pretty long-lasting and you’ll easily get through a normal day without it slipping off your face.
With no sign of the sun to make the majority of our paler-than-pale complexions any darker, Aoife Valentine takes you through some of the best foundation options from the high street to the high end, so you can be the fairest of them all
Yves Saint Laurent Le Teint Touche Éclat €38 Lightest shade: BD10 With the same promises of illumination and radiance that came with the now infamous Touche Eclat concealer, YSL’s TE foundation launched to high expectations last year, and has since met all of them. With 22 shades, in a range of pink, yellow and neutral undertones, this is a line of foundation that pretty much matches any skin tone, never mind just catering to palefaces. Offering a dewy finish, the gel-based formula gives light to medium coverage, and while even building it won’t bring it to full coverage, the luminosity kind of makes up for it. If you’ve got oily skin, you’ll need to apply powder over it to stop yourself from shining like a beacon, and while it will suit those with drier skin slightly better, you’ll still end up with a very natural, fresh, glow-y face.
L’Oreal True Match Foundation €15.29 Lightest shade: Rose Ivory L’Oreal have a number of options for fair skin tones but True Match comes up trumps, with Lumi Magique coming a close second. Probably a better option for summertime or oilier skin, as it has a habit of caking into dry patches, if you can move past that, you might just pick up a shade that matches your skin tone. There’s a good number of shade options, but it’s got quite a thin consistency and is super blend able, so it does sort of easily match many tones, without leaving tide marks on your face. Where Lumi Magique promises light infusion from all angles, this has a very tiny shimmer in it that doesn’t show up on the skin, offering a bright, but more natural looking finish. Some people have had problems with this foundation oxidising on them, but whacking on a primer underneath seems to solve the problem for most.
Top 4: Concealers Rimmel Wake Me Up €6.99 Released as part of the Wake Me Up range, this was Rimmel’s first attempt at a full coverage concealer and it’s a great budget option. With peptides and a vitamin moisturising complex, it’s main aim is to give an anti-fatigue effect, which is easily seen when applied to dark circles. It’s got tiny shimmer particles which are visible in the tube, but disappear into your skin, leaving your under-eye area subtly illuminated and brightened. It works well on redness and blemishes as well, and the
Lancome Teint Visionnaire Concealer €45 (with foundation) Housed in the lid of the Teint Visionnaire foundation, this is a handy package deal and compliments the foundation perfectly. While sometimes a little too hard, occasionally making it slightly difficult to work with, the creamy formulation gives good (but not full) coverage for day to day issues such as dark circles and blemishes. Lancome have thrown some Vitamin CG in to brighten, which helps hide a multitude of small imperfections, but you’d probably need a separate product for more heavy-duty work.
Rimmel Match Perfection €6.92 If the Wake Me Up range didn’t blow your frock up, Rimmel’s Match Perfection concealer may be a better option for you. With a similar applicator to YSL’s infamous Touche Eclat, this is a budget alternative that quite possibly gives you more bang for your buck. It’s got the same highlighting qualities as its high-end counterpart, but the formula is much thicker and more creamy, which seems to allow it give a much fuller coverage. It deals with under eye drama as well as spots and blemishes, with little trouble, and just for brownie points, it manages not to lodge itself in fine lines, staying firmly in place even without a powder setting.
Beneﬁt Fake Up €26.50 This is easily the greatest concealer in the world, possibly of all time. It’s got a concealing core, surrounded by a hydrating ring, which makes it a dream to apply. Throw in crease-control properties, and really there’s no much more you could ask for, but it gives anyway. It glides on so easily, and feels really silky on the skin, and it’s smoothing promises certainly don’t feel like a lie. It’s really conceals, particularly dark circles, and it’s chock full of good stuff like Vitamin E and apple seed extract, which not only smooth and hydrate, but they work to reduce the pesky fine lines you tend to find around your eyes. The core’s got light-diffusing particles which really brighten up the eye area and mean it can be used around your face as a highlighter, to boot.
n a freezing cold night in March, I finally lived out a life-long dream of mine: I forced people to listen to some jokes that I made up as they laughed politely at the points where they thought the punch-lines were. As far as life experiences go, it was one of the most terrifying of my life, so it’s only natural that I would want to relive it by writing all about it. I had wanted to try my hand at stand-up comedy ever since I saw my first episode of the Comedy Store on TV when I was 12. It took me nine years, but I finally got the courage to get on stage and tell a room full of strangers about the time I lost my virginity. I decided that I would start off one of the most nerve-racking moments of my life by reliving possibly the most nerve-racking moment of my life. It made sense at the time. Although I had known that I was performing for around a month beforehand, I was still finalising my material while I sat on the DART in to town that night. I was so nervous that I didn’t even care how crazy I looked; not only was I talking to myself, but I was timing how long I was talking to myself for. Between five and seven minutes they said, and I was clocking in at six and a half. I got to the Ha’penny Inn at around 9.15pm, just 15 minutes before the show was set to start. I wandered upstairs and explained to the woman at the door that I was performing but no, none of my friends were coming. The only one who knew at this stage was my little sister, who was sitting at home. I had purposely hidden the details from anyone who might think I wanted them to surprise me by showing up. I bought a pint and thought about how I had sworn off drinking just three days earlier, but at least I had made it through Paddy’s Day. I took a seat beside a girl who had a guitar with her, and she introduced herself to me as a name that I honestly can’t remember right now. I can’t stress this enough: I was incredibly nervous. I know she was Canadian, at least, and she could see how nervous I was. The MC for the night came over to me to confirm that I would be on sixth. Again, I was asked if I had any friends coming, and again I explained how I didn’t want a single person I knew to see the trainwreck that I was sure was about to take place. A large group of people arrived to see the Canadian girl, and I got talking to them. Her friends were a mix of Canadians, Australians and one Irish. I felt comfortable knowing that I would never see any of them ever again after my set. The show started and I felt incredibly nervous. I had performed before in front of huge crowds, crowds 20 times the size of the one in that bar, but I had never done it alone before, or with words I had written myself. During the first act, something strange happened. I took out my phone and I texted my friend Louise, telling her the details and saying that if she wanted to come see me, she would have to run. She did. She arrived just as the fourth person was finishing up. We sat and watched the fifth act, and then the moment of truth arrived. It was the sixth act, which meant I was up. Well, it meant I supposed to be up, but then the MC called out a different name and someone else began talking. I didn’t know whether to be mad or relieved. The same thing happened for the seventh act. I was very confused, but also grateful for the extra time. Then it happened. The MC called out my name, and I awkwardly climbed over some stools to get to the stage. I introduced myself and began my routine. I was shaking so much that I decided to lean on the microphone stand as an attempt to look cool. I got through my set and apologised for it not being longer, although no one seemed to mind. I came off the stage and I felt proud of myself. I had just spent the last five to seven minutes talking to a room full of strangers about my dick, and I was
Otwo Attempts: Stand-up comedy Stand-up comedy is no laughing matter, which Kevin Beirne finds out as he gets to grips with how to get laughs applauded for it. At the next break, the MC asked people to stick around until the end to find out who the winner was. I had no idea that it was a competition when it started, but I knew I wanted to win. At the end of the show, only four or five performers were still left, so a crowd applause vote was used to determine the winner of those remaining. My new friends were kind enough to ignore their friend who performed to cheer very loudly for me, so I won a rubber ducky and a certificate. I left the bar that night with another thing checked off my bucket list. Even though I was completely terrified, I managed to get through it without crying, which I am counting as a huge victory. I may not have been the funniest person there that night, but I got the sympathy vote and now I have a certificate that I can shove in people’s faces when they don’t laugh at my jokes.
FATAL FOURWAY Best teen angst Novel
The Diaries of Adrian Mole
Perks of Being a Wallflower
The Bell Jar
The Catcher in the Rye
Conor Luke Barry
If it’s angst you’re looking for, it doesn’t get angstier than 1980s Thatcherite England, and the angstiest fictional teen of them all was Adrian Mole. The first book, The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, Aged 13¾, introduces us to the tragic every-boy, as we follow his painful progress through puberty in a hilariously relatable way. While most teen books have their protagonists and their friends facing all kind of dramatic situations such as drug taking, unplanned pregnancy, suicide or hiring prostitutes just for a chat; Adrian’s life is charmingly mundane. The plot doesn’t come from events around him, but his interpretation and understanding of them. The main things going on in Adrian’s world are his tragic belief in his intellectualism, the baffling antics of his family and his all consuming love for an pretentious girl called Pandora. While being a clever and funny book in its own right, the lasting brilliance of Adrian Mole is that is captures the both the awkwardness, the dullness and the solipsism of teenagers. Who doesn’t look back at their teen self with mortification? We were all benignly stupid at that age, not able to focus beyond the misery of a crush, or how to marginally reduce the number of pimples plaguing your face. Adrian is the everyman. Unlike other teen books where the main character is either popular or a crippling loser, Adrian is just normal. He has a few friends, he gets a girlfriend for a bit, and there’s a guy who picks on him a bit but not too badly. He doesn’t become a wizard, or date a vampire, he just goes to school and stuff. He lives the same normal teen life we all lived, he just managed to do it hilariously.
If you’ve only seen the movie version of Perks of Being a Wallﬂower, you’re missing out. Having had a revival of sorts with the film release late last year, the book may have gotten lost amidst all the people arguing over whether Emma Watson really can play any character other than Hermione Granger (she can, if you’re interested), but it’s one you need to pick up, and definitely the one you need to pick up ahead of any of the others on this page. Seemingly inspired by The Catcher in the Rye, it’s got a similar premise only it’s well, better. I mean, Perks actually has a decent plot, for one. And while you’ll find The Bell Jar hugely depressing, Perks deals with mental illness in a way that resonates so easily with so many teens, despite Charlie’s problems stemming from fairly specific incidents which only a minority could really relate to. It’s also not told in that condescending way that so many teen books are, looking back, which means you can read it at any age without feeling like you’ve borrowed your little sister’s English homework. And that’s part of makes this book so special: its authenticity and its reality. As a teenager, it’s inspiring and magical, and Charlie’s letters to an anonymous friend give it a voice that few other novels can really match. It’s jam-packed with every emotion under the sun, the same as any angsty teen usually is, and the issues it tackles are pretty timeless. Making stupid mistakes and falling in love with the wrong people because you don’t know any better, and at the end of it all, we’ve all been Charlie at some point, standing back from the chaos, trying to make sense of it all. And it doesn’t get angstier than that.
No awkward teenage girl’s journey to adulthood is complete without a reading of The Bell Jar. Sylvia Plath’s novel has two functions. First, it allows for deep insight into mental illness and Plath’s own psychological state and second, it reminds those misanthropic amongst us that there is in fact someone more miserable and disturbed than we are. It is also the ideal accessory for any angst-ridden teen. Combined with skinny jeans, and a look of utter and hopeless despair, carrying The Bell Jar around is going to pave a teenager’s path to hanging out with youths who have asymmetric fringes and are still convinced that Courtney Love killed Kurt Cobain. I don’t want to get too light hearted about the book as it is a serious work of literature that seriously explores mental illness, and all that. Boring! Essentially the whole point of The Bell Jar is so that you can look troubled, and angstridden, and hang out with those cool kids who skate at Central Bank. The Catcher in the Rye is so clichéd at this stage if you attempt to talk about Holden Caulfield you’ll be greeted with a host of scowling disaffected youths. Admittedly you may only see one half of their scowl due to the asymmetric fringe, but you’ll feel its full force nonetheless. The Bell Jar on the other hand is the true stamp of alterity. Plath’s tale of deep psychological burden and perturbing mental distress is almost 100% guaranteed to make you one of the group. You may even all end up painting one another’s nails different colours and running around parks shouting “conformist” at people. Kids these days!
Well, this one was easy. I win this week by default because two of the three other choices, Perks and The Bell Jar, wouldn’t have even existed if J.D. Salinger hadn’t written this cultural icon. In fact, it’s not just these two books that have been heavily influenced by Salinger’s pondering mini-epic, but literally every piece of fiction since. Perhaps that’s an exaggeration, but for a book where essentially nothing happens, its cultural impact is both amazing and spectacular. The novel follows red-hatted teenager Holden Caulfield as he wanders the streets of New York, declaring some people phonies, and generally not getting up to much apart from being confused and angry about his life, all in his unique youngster vernacular. He feels isolated from both the worlds of adults and of children, and is stuck in an emotional limbo, not knowing what to do apart from converse with disinterested prostitutes and judge everyone in sight. The popular complaint against the book is that the 17 year old protagonist is irritating, self-obsessed and full of angst. But what these critics seem to have forgotten about this 17 year old is that he is, in fact, 17 years old. You may think most of Holden’s opinions are immature, which is completely fine because why should you have to agree with him? Part of the appeal of the book is rereading it, your opinion of Holden changing as you yourself grow up. Also, thanks to the J.D Salinger lack of trust in the film industry, there’s never been a film adaptation, so your brain can imagine whatever kind of angsty teenage adventure you like without Hollywood’s glossy version encroaching on your brain-thoughts. It’s a book that’s great when you’re a teenager, but even better as an open-minded adult.
What’s on: uCD Cinema Monday
Week 7: 04/03/2013 - 08/03/2013 I Give it a Year
Zero Dark 30
Finding Nemo (Filmsoc) Z (Filmsoc)
Tickets to I Give it a Year and Zero Dark 30 are €5 for students and €6 for non students. Tickets to Warm Bodies are €4.50 for students or €5.50 for non-students. Society screenings are free for members. Tickets for screenings are available at the student centre desk 30 minutes before the screening, 50¢ discount for Filmsoc members.
+ special guest Hozier
FRANK TURNER AND THE SLEEPING SOULS
S AT 1 1 M AY
03 MAY 2013 e25 (inc.bkg.fee)*
SUN 14 APR 13 €15 (INC.BKG.FEE)* www.lowerthanatlantis.com
SUNDAY 14 APRIL 2013 THE SUGAR CLUB TICKETS e15 (INC.BKG.FEE)*
BRITISH SEA POWER
TUE 07 MAY 2013 THE ACADEMY TICKETS e20 (INC.BKG.FEE)*
NEW ALBUM ‘MACHINERIES OF JOY’ OUT MONDAY 1 APRIL.
WED 24 APR 2013 THE SUGAR CLUB TICKETS €13 (INC.BKG.FEE)*
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