State Magazine Ireland's Music Payload Sat, 22 Nov 2014 16:45:33 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 - The district sleeps alone tonight Sat, 22 Nov 2014 16:45:33 +0000 Director: Francis Lawrence
Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Donald Sutherland, Julianne Moore and Philip Seymor Hoffman
Certificate: 12a 
Running Time: 123 minutes
Release Date: November 21st

Ah, the curse of the “Part One” syndrome that has afflicted modern cinema’s literature adaptations. Did the last Twilight movie really need to be a two-parter? Does anyone voluntarily sit down to watch Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows Part One? Did the slim-line Hobbit novel need to be trisected? No, no and no. The difference with Mockingjay is that author Suzanne Collins was apparently told she had six books to work with, until the publishers informed her that Mockingjay would have to be the end of her story, so she had a lot of content to get into not a lot of space. So with that in mind, we can’t really judge the necessity of the movie’s division until Part Two comes out next year.

Catching Fire’s climax brought about the destruction of Katniss’ (Lawrence) home of District 12, but with the help of Plutarch (Hoffman), Gale (Hemsworth) and a few others, she’s been stolen away from the Capitol’s nefarious President Snow (Sutherland) to help the supposedly annihilated District 13 and its leader President Coin (Moore). They’ve been amassing an underground army, and with Katniss as the face of their rebellion, they’re planning to galvanize the other Districts into overthrowing the Capitol. Snow has his own plans in motion though, with Peeta (Hutcherson) being used as his own poster boy for peace, which in this universe means little more than subjugation.

So it’s a little like if Luke Skywalker got into a media war with the Empire, hoping to rally the troops with pirated transmissions and guerrilla camerawork. Returning director Francis Lawrence keeps things humming along throughout an admittedly overly talk-y entry into a franchise whose previous highlights including killer fog and insanity-causing birds, so while it’s never boring, it does feel like a bit of a breather between the pulse-pounding Catching Fire and what is sure to be all out war in Mockingjay Part Two.

One or two action sequences sparsely scattered throughout mean that the focus is now on the performances, and while Lawrence is still as strong as ever, she spends a lot of the movie screaming and crying, which doesn’t make for much of a heroine. Hoffman, Moore and Sutherland are all great in their positions of power, but the double-whammy dullness of Hemsworth and Hutcherson is made even more obvious here, as their roles are expanded on while some of the more interesting characters played by Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks and Stanley Tucci are left barely dangling above the cutting room floor.

While the topical context of propaganda used as a weapon – and the hugely meta moment of the franchise’s own promotional imagery and sound effects being used IN THE MOVIE as propaganda – and the sense of build up for the ultimate finale does give the audience some level of anticipation that the flat-out novel it’s based on was deprived of; we won’t be able to judge Mockingjay until we see it as a whole. As it stands it works as an enticement to see how the series plays out, but until then, this feels like an awful lot of foreplay with very little pay-off.

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La Roux — The Academy, Dublin - "a red hot display of savvy" Fri, 21 Nov 2014 18:23:23 +0000 Tonight the only show in town is La Roux. Not literally, of course. But in every other sense it’s hard to imagine a more exhilarating performance than that of Elly Jackson and her four piece band. Playing to only the second full house of their current tour, the other being London, the retro-heavy synth-pop maestros are on fire from the very start and the fact that this band have somehow slipped under the radar of the gig-going public is nothing short of a travesty. Tonight, a freezing cold Dublin is treated to a red hot display of savvy.

Opening with an absolute killer performance of ‘Let Me Down Gently’ from their second album, this year’s Trouble in Paradise, Jackson and co. are right on point and sound exquisite. The new Academy staging is ideal and the early 80s Top of the Pops aesthetic works perfectly as Jackson shimmies and struts around the stage. The band, neatly dressed and coiffured, are flawless and ‘Fascination’, from 2009’s La Roux allows Jackson to stretch her vocal chords as the melody vaults from high to low. ‘In For The Kill’ pops the crowd as you’d expect and it doesn’t fail to deliver but for the first time in perhaps… for ever, the real joy seems to come from the lesser known tracks; ‘Kiss And Tell’, ‘Sexotheque’ and ‘Cruel Sexuality’ being a case in point. The new songs, like the old songs, are slick and tight over the course of the set and Elly Jackson’s voice is utterly blemish free. It’s better than that, it’s stunning and her control over it leaves nothing to be desired. When she picks up her guitar for an gorgeously funky ‘Tropical Chancer’ there is a sense of awe at just how fucking cool this band are. Not even the goofy palm-tree shades handed up for the crowd can detract from Jackson’s stinging aura of chic.

At this point a special mention has to go to the devastatingly simple stage lighting, four narrow and high intensity spots all angling across Jackson’s face as she stands at the lip of the stage, become the focal point during an extended breakdown during ‘Silent Partner’ and the effect is chilling; her face glowing like some ethereal spirit. It’s not the night’s first phones in the air moment but chances are you’ll see this trick used again and again before the end of next year. And probably for a long time after that too, such was the execution.

‘Tigerlilly’ and ‘Bulletproof’ provide the encore to a blistering set and there is genuine emotion on Jackson’s face as she and the band take the applause. Having spent the night effortlessly driving the crowd into a frenzy and posing with an air of detachment, the moment when La Roux look sheepishly back at the an adoring congregation is veritably spine-tingling. Very few bands can surprise a crowd like this you can take it as given that this band will be back in Ireland before long. It can’t happen quickly enough.

La Roux photographed for State by Kieran Frost.


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Simi Crowns to support Mos Def at Dublin’s Vicar Street Fri, 21 Nov 2014 15:22:14 +0000 Once upon a time, the phrase “Irish Hip-Hop” would have been considered either an hilarious in-joke or a complex philosophical impossibility.  Thankfully those days are long gone, for Ireland’s blossoming hip-hop scene seems to be going from strength to strength.  Presently, there is no more poignant an example than Dublin rapper and all round good-guy Simi Crowns, who will be supporting the heavyweight champion of hip-hop Mos Def, at Dublin’s Vicar Street this coming Monday, November 24th.  If there were a hook or a chain, this gig would be very much off of it, so, grab a ticket from over here.

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The Homesman - Eyes to the wind Fri, 21 Nov 2014 11:55:25 +0000 Director: Tommy Lee Jones
Cast: Tommy Lee Jones, Hilary Swank, Miranda Otto, John Lithgow, James Spader, Meryl Streep
Certificate: 15A
Running Time: 122 min
Release: November 21st

Set in the Old West, The Homesman tells the story of a petty criminal (Tommy Lee Jones) who owes a debt to a farmer (Hilary Swank) who saved his life. In return he agrees to help her escort three insane woman across country for treatment. The trek will be difficult, and along the way they’ll face danger from Indians, bandits and the landscape itself. Despite their differences they have to learn to work together, as it seems the madness afflicting their passengers might be rubbing off on them too.

A tough Western drama from director/star Tommy Lee Jones, The Homesman pulls few punches when it comes to depicting the darkness of the period. From the disturbing flashback scenes depicting the madness of the three woman (an early scene featuring actress Miranda Otto in particular is sure to send gasps rippling through an audience), to the coldness of the violence, the film paints the time period in stark colours.

But that’s not to say The Homesman is a complete slog. In fact Jones is adept at regularly injecting dry humour into proceedings, so the harshness doesn’t completely overwhelm the viewer. The heart of the film is the relationship between Swank and Jones. She is a headstrong, god fearing woman, but also afflicted by some deep rooted insecurities. He on the other hand is a selfish, drunken idiot with occasional flashes of decency. The tension and interplay between them is where the film shines, and they create a surprisingly touching relationship. Swank in particular does a fine job, and her work is a reminder of how good she can be when given the right material.

The actresses playing the insane ladies also do good work, but as the story rolls on they’re not given much to do but sit quietly, and occasionally grunt. Of the supporting characters there are few that pop out, aside from James Spader, who hams it up in grand fashion as a businessman with one of the worst Irish accents ever to grace the big screen. Meryl Streep makes a brief appearance towards the end, and while she’s typically great, she seems a little wasted on such a small part.

Jones directs with elegant simplicity, letting the performances and the scenery do most of the work. The story is relatively straight forward, but it rarely feels the need to conform to expectations. There’s one surprise twist in the second half that is particularly brave, and sees the story shift in an unexpected way. But thanks to the strong script and Jones’ control over the film’s tone, this turn doesn’t feel jarring or cheap.

Well not quite a classic of the genre The Homesman is a mature, well made Western with strong performances. Some might find the more disturbing moments a little gratuitous, but they are always in keeping with the story and the harsh nature of the period.

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Win Tickets to the Meteor Choice Music Prize in Cork - Glittering prize Fri, 21 Nov 2014 11:27:16 +0000 and the good people at the Meteor Choice Music Prize are giving away two tickets to see this Sunday’s show in Cyprus Avenue featuring Delorentos, Jape and Villagers. Demand for tickets this year has been phenomenal and as they cannot be bought this could be the only chance of catching the performances. All you have to do is answer the following question:

Who won last year’s Meteor Choice Music Award?

Send your answers to before 5pm this coming Friday and the winner will be notified on Saturday evening.

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Mos Def – Black on Both Sides (revisited) - Back in Black next week Fri, 21 Nov 2014 10:12:54 +0000 To commemorate the 15th anniversary of his seminal Black on Both Sides album, Mos Def comes to Dublin for an extremely rare performance on Monday night. The chance to see one of hip-hop’s most notable visionaries live is one which may not come up again for some time so to celebrate, takes a look back at the album which arguably dragged hip-hop into the 21st century….

Shunning aggression and posturing in favour of social commentary, Black on Both Sides is considered one of the first rap albums to speak in positive terms about the art form as well as the plight of those involved with it. Rather than shout the odds like many of his peers, Mos Def took a far more passive approach and in doing so, with the albums laconic, easy beats overlaid with his laid back almost louche rhyming, he became one of the genre’s most remarkable artists. How many rappers before him used faith, soul, love and harmony to make their points? Stretched over 17 tracks and featuring almost as many producers, the album marked a watershed for what it meant to be a hip-hop artist. More specifically, it reassured everyone involved with the music that its future was still in their own hands.

Opening track, ‘Fear Not of Man’, besides being fairly heavy on faith, was literally a rallying cry in which Mos Def drives home the fact that hip-hop was the master of its own destiny and not the gimmicky, diluted novelty it had become. A point he carried on into the track ‘Hip Hop’ with its smooth-as-fuck bass line. Only two songs in and the album feels like Summer in the Valley.

‘Ms. Fat Booty’ is the album’s first stand-out track, sampling Aretha Franklin’s ‘One Step Ahead’ and a statement of intent as much as it is a song. Mos Def’s rhyming as slick as it gets and the killer use of breaks throughout are a masterclass. This is what Mos does for the rest of the album, sometimes he is nothing short of majestic and, when everything works, it works to devastating effect.

Not quite flawless, however, are the tracks on which content is traded for texture. ‘Got’ and ‘Umi Says’ tend to drift into lounge jazz – Starbucks style – at the wrong time in the album’s sequence but that’s not to say that they’re not befitting of the album, they just stop it from soaring. Fear not, before long he was back in business with the genius ‘Rock n Roll’ and the epic ‘Brooklyn’ – three songs in one with a different producer for each movement. ‘Mr. Nigga’, probably the track that fortifies the album with greatness, will probably be the track we remember after Monday night not just for the passion and conviction but the joy in it. And this is without addressing it’s message. So Black on Both Sides is an album worth celebrating in its own right, but to have the unique opportunity to revisit it in the presence of its creator is not to be missed.

Mos Def plays in Dublin’s Vicar Street this Monday, November 24th. Tickets are available here.

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Wild Beasts, King Creosote and more join Other Voices Thu, 20 Nov 2014 12:38:09 +0000 New names have been announced for next month’s Other Voices gathering in Dingle, taking place from 12th – 14th December. Wild Beasts, King Creosote, Belgian jazz singer Melanie Di Biasio and French-Cuban twins Ibeyi will perform in the Church of St. James’, while A Lazarus Soul, Daithi, Floor Staff, Marc O’ Reilly and Ye Vagabonds are the first confirmed acts for the Music Trail.

Tickets, once again, will be free and can be won through various online and media competitions.

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u:mack presents Autechre at District 8 Thu, 20 Nov 2014 11:06:06 +0000 One of the most respected and prolific acts associated with the Electronica genre, Autechre are set to make a rare appearance at District 8 on the 19th of December.  Having built a solid reputation for creating glitchy, intricate and inimitable electronic music, the Warp records stalwarts are a fine example of an act whose reputation precedes them, and as a consequence, their live shows are the stuff of legend.  Expect an audio/visual life-changing experience.  Tickets can be found here and are priced at €23.

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Cathy Davey, We Cut Corners for 25th Whelans Xmas Thu, 20 Nov 2014 10:51:14 +0000 Continuing their 25th anniversary celebrations, Whelans will be holding a special Christmas event featuring Cathy Davey, We Cut Corners and more on the 2nd of December.  With a reputation for consistently showcasing the best of Irish music and artists from further afield, this event should be nothing short of sweet, festive goodness.  Davey, presently one of Ireland’s most significant artists, will play a full live set, sharing the evening stage with We Cut Corners, a formidable presence known for their animated live performances and forward thinking brand of jagged rock-pop.  Unmissable, really.  Tickets are €15 and available here, right now.

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Iceland Airwaves 2014 – Sunday plus Off-Venue best-of - Curtain down, lights out. Thu, 20 Nov 2014 08:45:12 +0000 The fifth day. The first four fly by and Sunday, as a safety net, catches you just when the chill of the come-down is cooling your blood. There is still music out there. Pockets of off-venue locations are still delivering. The city, which is usually closed up on Sunday, is wide open and after a late, leisurely breakfast away from the bad hotel coffee and an even later even more leisurely trip to the pool we drop back in the city to see what we can scavenge from the final day.

Like a prize for endurance we are given a Scando-pop masterclass from the Faroe Island’s Byrta. One half of Kiasmos, Janus Rasmussen has a serious way with a brooding pop hook and front woman Guðrið Hansdóttir kills with confidence and good tidings. This discovery at the far end of town was a highlight of the entire weekend, so we’re not washed up yet.

Our first visit to the semi-legendary Kaffinbarin was in time to see some acts from the Bedroom Community – a musicians collective who work from an immaculate studio outside town that we were lucky enough to visit. Then the simple pleasure of bumping into some of the Irish crew drinking a few last Thule’s in the back room, this small, small city is so perfect for the chance encounter.

Tonight, to close the curtain we move out of the city to the Vodafone Hall and as we randomly bump into the Germans from Saturday night we stand together as The War on Drugs take the stage. So well versed and rehearsed in playing, you’re watching a pro-league game from the off. Song after song from an album that becomes a more concrete fixture on the turntable they make you want to rush home straight after and listen to it over again. A perfect chord change, a well nailed lyric “I’m in my finest hour, could I be more than just a fool” and Adam Granduciel’s easy way meld perfect once things get going, a few songs in. Then you just bask in your favourites. Like the opening and closing credits to our year ’Eyes to the Wind’ and ‘In Reverse’ would nearly give you a stroke just from grinning. A perfect setlist and we’re buzzing through the pause in the evening.

And no grand entry for Wayne Coyne. As huge string lights are draped down making a hose-like forest, The Flaming Lips slowly appear as things are being made ready, very casual-like. Coyne is being his own warm-up guy and there’s an uneventful slip into ‘The Abandoned Hospital Ship’ when they do begin and then the bouncing balls and a confetti downpour and we’re enveloped. Throw a piece of dried fish at any group of Airwaves over the week and you’ll hit a F’lips cynic, their cheery popular demeanour easy to make a stance clear of but despite pleasing crowds they are no crowd-pleasers, or conversely may be the best. A psychedelic stageshow of some rather odd music truth be told is channelled through huge dancing inflatable aliens, Santas and weird fish as the forest of cables burst into light. Five metre inflatable lettering is brought out and as it stands high, the simple trick of throwing a huge FUCK YEAH ICELAND into the crowd creates a stage of the full arena. Almost everyone in the room gets a chance to help hold up the sign during the gig as it floats between the bouncing silver balloons.

In fact you’d be so busy looking to see where it is that you’d nearly miss ‘Yoshimi…’ and ‘Race for the Prize’ being beautiful up on stage. This is no place for any serious criticism or analysis. Somewhere a problem you thought you had is being dissolved by this spectacle, this upper of a curtain-downer. And ‘Do You Realise?’ slips into ‘Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds’ you couldn’t fault the night. Inches of confetti layer the ground and as the lights go up and the Lips depart it’s a hard heart that isn’t softened.

So much seen, yet so much missed. We promise ourselves that next year we’ll see more, do more, run about more and, you know, we probably won’t because you cut your own perfect Airwaves experience however way you play it here. And when all is done, if you’re lucky, you’ll give yourself a day in a rental and drive out of the city where no matter what you have seen in the last five days, nature, on this volcanic rock, will kick its ass. And maybe when you’re leaving your second swim of the day in an outdoor pool in a silent random town you’ll have to pull the car in and step outside and see the Northern Lights shape-shifting above you. And you’ll realize that this is what you came for all along.

Flaming Lips photographed for Airwaves by Alexander Matukhno.



State’s man-in-the-trenches Emmett Mullaney tore around the off-venue’s dimly lit corners at considerable expense to his physical wellbeing this year. He has just recovered to deliver us his favourite five needles from the off-venue haystack.

Tremoro Tarantura – Walking into the Gaukurinn venue on Thursday night I’m confronted by a wall of sound. The first time the Norwegians came to Iceland the Irish monks who lived there fled in terror. This time I’m half tempted to do the same but the sheer power of this band with their slow drum rhythms and industrial like guitars suck me back in. Probably the best act I caught at the whole festival.

Lucianblomkamp – I’m not in the best of shape when I catch this guy on Sunday afternoon in KEX hostel but his intriguing style makes me forget about the hangover momentarily. Here he lays down a selection of downbeat tracks while layering sound upon sound over them and adding reverb-laden vocals and even a violin to proceedings. To cap it all off he even does a cover of Kylie Minogue’s ‘Slow’, a hit co-written by an Icelander, Emiliana Torrini.

Glass Apple Bonzai – The fact that the off-venue schedule is so large and is announced only a couple of weeks before the festival starts would almost lead one to just say to hell with it and not bother to delve in further. That would be a mistake however and Glass Apple Bonzai is proof of it. This is the only show that Daniel X. Belasco is doing of the entire festival so there’s no way I’m missing it. Walking into Dillon Whiskey Bar the sound of ‘80s synthwave takes me upstairs as the Canadian pulls out track after track of synthy goodness in the flavour of Gary Numan.

Odonis Odonis – More Canadians and this time they’re the last act on the Thursday night showcasing some tracks off the excellent new album Hard Boiled Soft Boiled. Think Ministry meets A Place To Bury Strangers down a dark alleyway after closing time. The place goes wild as ‘New Obsession’ is belted out with abandon and beer is spilled all over the stage. Blast beats pummel the ears of everyone inside and by the end of the night the doubters have been converted and the faithful rejoice. Amen.

Greta Svabo Bech – This Faroese songstress has collaborated with such names as varied as Ludovico Einaudi and deadmau5 but here upstairs at the very top of a hotel looking over at Mt. Esja she sits alone with her electric piano. You can hear a pin drop as her hushed voice merges with the haunting sound of the keys. Sublime.


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Video: Jape – The Hearts Desire Wed, 19 Nov 2014 15:55:00 +0000 Giving us the major freak-outs in the best way possible, Jape’s new video for ‘The Hearts Desire’ is a swirling, hypnotic explosion of colour and cool.  The track ain’t half bad either.  Take a look below and quietly contemplate the release of their fifth studio album The Chemical Sea,  due for release on January 23rd.

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Thom Brookes – Boomerang - Second release from Kerry troubadour Wed, 19 Nov 2014 15:29:22 +0000 Taking his time since the release of debut EP Milk in 2013, Thom Brookes returns with another beautifully mournful collection next week. Boomerang features four tracks once more recorded at his Kerry home. A debut album and live dates will follow in 2015.

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Iceland Airwaves 2014 – Saturday - And now the end is near.... Wed, 19 Nov 2014 13:13:08 +0000 We were so not looking forward to Saturday purely for the FOMO-cert of all the clashing bands this evening and on our morning layabout in the local pool we still could not decide. Plenty of time before that to enjoy the city of Reykjavik itself. Our yearly visit to our favourite record shop, 12 Tónar yields the brand new Jóhann Jóhannsson soundtrack to ‘The Theory of Everything’ and Thursday night favourites Stereo Hypnosis’ latest release. We also make it to the beautiful Kex hostel for the peak of off-venue action as Seattle’s KEXP station takes up residency there and puts on four bands a day. Girl Band are impressing even more in this space, buzzing guitar and Adam Falkner’s yelping vocals getting everyone on their feet and gathered close. And it’s only 4pm.

Another tradition in a local restaurant discovered over the eight years we’ve been coming and with some fish in the belly we are about to make out call on the four way split – we choose The Knife’s last ever show over New Zealand’s Yumi Zouma and heartbreakingly, Future Islands on this, our very own future island. In early and up close we catch most of Samaris again, sparky and crisp up close and always a pleasure to catch. We are buoyant by the time Karin Drejer and her jump-suited squad roll out to a fire-safety troublingly packed room following a cheery pre-show workout. The pace from the off is immense as one of the squad leads us in a marching drum solo, the others connect with bespoke instruments, flying guitars and various electronic elements. This pace runs through ‘We Share Our Mother’s Health’ and the theatre of it all is enthralling. Then slowly the members of the band become the dancers, abandoning their instruments and then all of a sudden we’re in karaoke. The Knife’s question of what a gig is cools the experience of seeing music created before you and with the cloak removed it’s just dancers and infrequently Drejer’s live vocals left. You wonder if anyone actually played anything earlier in the night, and as the thrill dissolves and no-one reclaims an instrument we grin through ‘Silent Shout’ but wish we were closer to the door and thus the simplicity and honesty of Future Islands just across the waterfront.

As we finally pour out we have little to no chance of getting through the doorway to catch Hozier who has wedged the Nordurljos hall so tight. From where we stand his pastoral and polite blues is making a lot of people very happy and the big payoff waits in the last song as a multi-national room beams en masse as ‘Take Me To Church’ lights up.

With the strain of the penultimate night’s push showing we are happy to slip comfortably into Caribou. Nothing sort of a love-in it’s the finest balm a Saturday night could deliver. Lights playfully dancing along, our tired legs do their best and slowly we are lifted out of our fatigue fug, the four days of standing escape our mind and who could fail to be lifted by Dan Snaith’s cheery face as he knows we are futile to resist ‘Can’t Do Without You’. Then ’Sun’s pulse caries us through. And now not done-for after all, we get in early to Dolly bar. Cold beers, no band to look at, some digesting time before meeting friendly Germans in the smoking area and dancing with the crew from The Knife who are celebrating the last evening together as this touring band. And as the hours tick away on the last weekend night of Airwaves 2014 we hold on as much as we can and only leave when the steely eye of the doorman is upon us and the sweeping brushes of the barstaff herd us out into the chilly air.

The Knife photographed for Airwaves 2014 by Matthew Eisman.

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Could This Be Ireland’s Farewell to Morrissey? - “All of the rumours keeping me grounded, I never said…that they were completely unfounded” Tue, 18 Nov 2014 17:27:51 +0000 As Morrissey’s return to Dublin gets closer, and you’ll surely be made aware of this by the growing number of quiffs on your daily commute, so too do the rumours that this will be his swan song as far as live performances go – at least in Ireland, by some way of countenance anyway. But this is nothing new, there have always been rumours and gossip pertaining to his retirement and, until he actually does throw his shirt into the crowd for the very last time, there always will be; that’s a given. Sometimes the rumours stem from the man himself and sometimes they’re posited by his legions of detractors and ill-wishers. But even his most loyal fans have now started to question if they’ll ever get their opportunity to rush the stage and drape themselves over his meaty shoulders before he goes away for good.

So what’s different about this current spate of rumours? Well, as most of us know, several weeks ago and after years of ostensibly sporadic illnesses and hastily cancelled performances, Morrissey announced that he had been receiving treatment to remove cancerous cells from his body. Although as of yet he is still to reveal the forensically and gratuitously detailed minutiae of such matters, things we have rather shamefully come to expect from media-dependent rock stars. You know the type, a 4-page stool-consistency special in Hello or a fly-on-the-wall reality show dedicated to his every belch, etc. There has been little reliable information about the treatment, and indeed the illness, to which Moz has unfortunately had to become accustomed. So what happens in an information vacuum? More rumours. More half-truths and wilder speculation. Lies and blind-luck accuracies. And even though Morrissey is (thankfully) no longer A-Grade gossip fodder, there have still been missives from fan-sites, those “hateful crèches” where stories are made up, misunderstood and eventually reformed as ITK titbits. But one such nugget has attracted the attention of several fan-sites in particular and it involves the imminent and yet supposed retirement of the iconic former Smiths frontman.

First surfacing in any serious way in 2012, after decades of struggling to find/hold on to a record deal, Morrissey told the world that he planned to retire in 2014 at the ripe age of 55. As is his wont, though, he fairly quickly changed his mind and retraced these sentiments. He had after all spent years in the cultural wilderness bearing as much significance to modern music as Mike Joyce – surely he was entitled to change his mind now that the world was listening again. But this being Morrissey, it’s not as simple as that. His later statements that he had been advised to retire repositioned the whole issue as something outside of his control. Yet anybody with a passing interest in the Pope of Mope would know that advice to him, let alone advice on his music career, is anathema. Simply put, he does what he wants. If several years spent roaming the plains of indie has-beens and outsiders couldn’t convince Morrissey to call it a day, somebody ‘advising’ him to do so stood a burger vendor’s chance at a Moz gig of being taken seriously.

But now, in light of his recent revelations and in the wake of a fairly comprehensive autobiography, perhaps Morrissey is finally and seriously considering life after music. Having already stated that he is “now at an age when I should no longer be making music”, and having ploughed through even further struggles with a record label, what more does he have to achieve? This, obviously, is a rhetorical question but it raises some debatable issues. What IS left for Morrissey to do? Well, it’s not about money, it’s not about success and it’s not about unfulfilled potential, what it possibly boils down to is that it’s still all about him and how he wants things to pan out. Just look at the issues around the publication of his autobiography to understand just how much clout his whims and insistences carry. And what better voice to actually listen to than the one your own physical well-being speaks through?

Making music and touring the world performing it is all he has ever wanted to do – that we know of. Yet he has been doing that for the last 30 years and his fans would surely wish for him to do it for 30 more. But again, it’s all about him, he isn’t giving anything back to the fans, so to speak. Nor should he have to. Touring is what he wants to do and that’s why he does it. But now that the series of hospital stays and their implications have been fired into the public sphere, perhaps it’s him and what’s happening inside of him that will finally bring the curtain down. No record label, manager, band member, band mate, partner or spirit in the sky has ever been able to tell him what to do. So of all of those half-truths, speculations, lies and blind-luck accuracies, is this the one that supports its own weight? There is absolutely zero possibility of a Smiths reunion and very few Smiths fans would actually wish to see one. He once again has no record label and probably scant possibility of signing one. But most tellingly, he is no longer the young man he once was and his body is emphatically and irrefutably telling him so – and who or what else has he ever listened to?

You can catch Morrissey live (perhaps for the last time…) in Dublin’s 3Arena on December 1st. Tickets are available here.

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Iceland Airwaves 2014 – part 1 – in photos - Deep breath... Tue, 18 Nov 2014 16:55:50 +0000 An auspicious beginning to Airwaves 2014 was photographed for State by Jakob Bekker-Hansen.

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Video: Public Service Broadcasting – Gagarin Tue, 18 Nov 2014 15:05:48 +0000 Having dealt with earthly matters on their Inform-Educate-Entertain debut, Public Service Broadcasting look up for next year’s The Race For Space LP. New track ‘Gagarin’ gives us a taste of what to expect, complete with a suitably funky, astronaut themed video. See them in Dublin and Belfast next May.

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Orla Gartland for Sugar Club takeover Tue, 18 Nov 2014 13:01:10 +0000 Dublin indie-pop songstress Orla Gartland has announced that she’ll be taking over The Sugar Club on the 15th of February for two shows in one day.  With supporting credits for the likes of Bastille, John Newman and Kodaline, as well as having won-over the festival crowds at Electric Picnic and Independence, Gartland is quickly becoming a sought-after talent.  The two performances will take place at 3pm and 8pm respectively, with the former for over 14’s and the latter a strictly over 18’s event.  Tickets for both are €10.50 and are available here from Friday, 21st of November from 9am.

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Lykke Li – Vicar St, Dublin - "Tragic troubadour turned triumphant hero...." Tue, 18 Nov 2014 10:10:05 +0000 There are moments on I Never Learn, Lykke Li’s latest album, that can feel like you are being aurally flayed. It’s a collection of songs that sound so raw and painful it feels like a layer of flesh being torn away leaving exposed the bloodied sinew. They are nocturnal oaths whispered to the self on tear stained pillows, fragile diary entries scribbled in deep sadness, not venue cramming, air-punching sing-a-longs that ignite an audience. To reveal this vulnerability in a live setting night after night on tour is a special form of musical madness that can destroy even the most focused of artists.

This could explain the air of trepidation in Vicar Street as Lykke appears on the pitch black stage shrouded in a dramatic cape-type affair looking like Stevie Nicks on downers, strips of shadowy silk billowing around her as she mournfully croons the tragic title track. Moody opener dispensed with, the band kicks into life pounding through the Scandi- Spector thump of ‘Sadness is a Blessing’ as Li ties herself up in a variety of origami shapes. Recent single ‘No Rest for the Wicked’ comes alive with flashes of light pulsing through the darkness like lightening striking through the stormy weather of the doomed coupling Li evokes. Her voice straining and cracking as she cries out ‘Lonely –I-I’m so alone now’ the picture of the fallen siren. Pulling out a particularly apt cover version of Drake’s heart-crushing ode to unrequited love ‘Hold On We’re Going Home’ she spins it into a Nico–toned irresistible slice of gloom-pop that sounds like it was crafted for her half-sob vocals.

These songs are maybe the soundtrack of a broken soul but onstage Lykke Li does not exactly fulfil the ideal of the delicate, wounded artist, instead the cathartic nature of the songs seem to fuel her physical performance like a visceral emotional rage. No standing still in the shadows for her, she vaults around the stage, thrashing cymbals with her sleeves and with raised fists commands the audience to ‘COME ON!!’ several times momentarily turning into a Swedish Richard Ashcroft.

The thunderous break down of mega-hit ‘I Follow Rivers’ sees her cast a silhouette with a tambourine in one hand, drumstick in the other manically conducting the crowd into a frenzy as the familiar Knife-style percussion takes over. Later, managing to relax into the night she dedicates songs to ‘all the heartbroken’ before jokily referring to ‘Never Gonna Love Again’ as a ‘power-ballad’, which is rewarded with a sea of raised lighters and phones. The kohl-eyed one cracks a grin introducing some wry-humour amid the sober lyrics about ‘lonely highways’ and the chilly terrain of fraught relationships.
The night reaches its fevered, volcanic apex with the screens filling up in blood red for a riotous version of ‘Rich Kids Blues’ with the keyboard riff morphing into a creepy demon love child of Clinic and DJ Shadow coiled over furious Mo Tucker rhythms creating a much more menacing version than the meeker original. This is followed by the K.O sucker-punch of Wounded Rhymes whip-cracker ‘Get Some’ with its trashy beat and smouldering lyrics inducing the crowd into throwing some frankly illegal shapes for a Sunday night, in praise of the shape-shifting chanteuse spiralling dizzyingly in front of them. Thanking the audience for helping her through the tough task of this particular tour she disappears back into the inky night alone, tragic troubadour turned triumphant hero dancing through the darkness.

Lykke Li photographed for State by Kieran Frost

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apostrophic Mon, 17 Nov 2014 22:34:53 +0000 Hailing from Vancouver, apostrophic (Colin O’Hearn by day), is creating the kind of dreamy, ambient soundscapes that one might attribute to living in a location as naturally beautiful as British Columbia.  O’Hearn’s mantra is a straightforward one: employing a mixture of hardware and software, the creative end is to make music that unfolds like a film or a dream before the listener, to evoke in the listener a personal narrative; a connection.  His debut EP, FLA, does so with ease; nestling sonically between early Boards of Canada and Bibio.  Ranging from atmospheric pad progressions to synthesised, lush and gentle breaks, O’Hearn seems to have a knack for constructing well-contained, evocative sounds, and if the tracks below are anything to go by then we can’t wait for more.  FLA is out now courtesy of Romeda Records.

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New Music from Meltybrains? Mon, 17 Nov 2014 17:01:51 +0000 As gears up to announce it’s Faces of 2015 over the next few weeks, 2014’s alumni continue to go from strength to strength. Noted for their creativity and interactive live shows, Meltybrains? have deservedly grown into their reputation as innovators; the quality of the music on this double A side should surprise nobody. You can have a listen to one of the tracks, ‘IV’ below.

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Ritchie Egan, Hillary Woods and Bill Blood at DeBarra’s Mon, 17 Nov 2014 15:54:26 +0000 Rapidly becoming one of Ireland’s more legendary venues, DeBarra’s in Clonakilty will host a night of lo-fi folk from some unlikely sources this December. Jape’s Ritchie Egan, Bill Blood of the Redneck Manifesto and Hillary Woods will all appear on December 21st for unique performances of the quieter tracks in their respective back catalogues.

Tickets are priced at just €10 and are available from here.

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Los Campesinos! – When Christmas Comes - Ho! Ho! Ho! Mon, 17 Nov 2014 15:51:51 +0000 Getting us well into the festive spirit, Los Campesinos! have shared ‘When Christmas Comes’, the lead single from their upcoming Christmas EP  ‘A Los Campesinos! Christmas’, released on December 8th.  Picture an open fire, twinkling tree lights and the scent of mulled wine wafting in from the kitchen, all while getting into the true spirit of the season by listening to some sweet Los Campesinos! melodies.  A definite stocking-filler.


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Slash feat. Myles Kennedy and The Conspirators – 3Arena, Dublin – in photos - The lone gunman. Mon, 17 Nov 2014 15:09:25 +0000 Slash feat. Myles Kennedy and The Conspirators were photographed at the 3Arena, Dublin for State last week by Paulo Goncalves.

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Ballet School - Welcome to the North Mon, 17 Nov 2014 12:20:28 +0000 Who are you and where are you from?

I’m Rosie from Ballet School. I was born in Belfast, raised in Antrim

Who are your favorite artists from home?

My fave Irish artist of all time is Sinead O’Connor. I send her psychic protection all the time. If you need proof of her genius listen to the live versions of ‘The Last Day of Our Acquaintance’, the full voice 5th octave final chorus makes me cry.

What’s it really like touring?

Touring is hard work. I never party on the road ‘cos of my voice. I miss simple things like taking a long bath and being girly. I can’t wait til I can afford on-the-road glam squad. Lol.

What’s your favourite city/town/venue to play?

When we played Portland I really said a wee prayer to thank the hundreds of indie bands who have laid the tracks on the us indie touring circuit for the past thirty years. We played Mississippi studios and everything about the place including the staff and the PA was awesome. This is cos the pacific NW was built on the sweat of local touring bands and their needs.

What’s your ideal festival line-up?

Of the still living – Fleetwood Mac. Mariah Carey. Madonna. Part of me wants to say the Cocteau Twins reforming. But I wouldn’t even tempt fate. Myself and Michel argue about The Smiths reforming all the time. I wouldn’t put Morrissey through it. His youth is gone.

What has been your biggest achievement of the year?

Staying alive.

What was the worst piece of advice you were given?

I can’t tell you because I’m very loyal.

What do you do to relax?

I watch asmr videos on YouTube and sample them and mix them into gospel music and Aphex Twin. I wash my face with brown sugar and lemon juice and sit in the tub for like two hours. I hang out with my boyfriend while he’s doing something and follow him around like a wee lamb. There’s nothing more relaxing than watching other people do stuff. Cats know this. That’s why they so chilled.

How about TV, anything good on the box?

Game of Thrones

What website do you visit most?

I’m always on YouTube Instagram and ohnotheydidn

What is your favourite record?

I can’t choose a fave record! But right now I need chill vibes cos I’m on tour so in the van I listen to a lot of Aaliyah. Her last record. That terrible lifetime biopic came out and everyone is dragging it. But not even that mess can tarnish the exquisite light of goddess Aali. The was so regal. Same regal vibe that Whitney had. Her mid range was like velvet and she had, in my opinion, the greatest head voice/falsetto range in the history of r’n’b. Her diction was just so good, her phrasing so precise. Just the elegance. She’ll live forever bc her music was so good. But she herself was just the definition of a star. Same insane charisma and presence of someone like Dietrich. That quality is so rare. Believe.

What should we expect from your Irish shows?

Our Irish shows are gonna be triumphant but also bitter sweet. The last time we played Ireland my dad came to see us and he has since passed away.

And we’ll be staying with Terry Hooley and his partner Claire at their house so I’m really looking forward to that. Ireland/Northern Ireland is, hands down, the greatest place on earth. I love coming home.

You can catch Ballet School live in Dublin’s Workmans Club this Friday (November 21st), tickets are €12.50 fee and are available here.

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Foo Fighters – Sonic Highways - "Could be better..." Mon, 17 Nov 2014 11:57:18 +0000 Dave Grohl is never far from the media’s attention and there’s no doubt as to why. As one of the largest personalities to contribute to music in the last two decades, Grohl and the musicians he chooses to associate himself with have inspired many over the course of a twenty year history. Now it’s time to take a look back, with Foo Fighters’ latest musical endeavour is a cross country journey to take influences and write a song to represent each break along the way in Chicago, Washington D.C, Nashville, Austin, L.A, New Orleans, Seattle and New York.

Sonic Highways opens with ‘Something from Nothing’ immediately showcasing Grohl’s range. He easily transitions from tentative murmurs into the mid range and ends in his signature bellow. Grasping at breaths, it’s a strong opener but takes a short while to break in – led by a ‘Holy Diver’-style guitar riff laid over some pretty questionable Stevie Wonder-esque keyboard funk.

‘Congregation’ is one of the early indications that Foo Fighters have a strong suit and it lays in melodies. This proves to be one of the highlights only emphasised by the inclusion of country and western giant Zac Brown. At times there are hints of the past, ‘What did I do? God as my Witness’ – a steady blues laden guitar accompanying Taylor Hawkins’ rhythm is all these guys need when it leads to such a triumphant crescendo of “God as my witness, yeah it’s gonna heal my soul tonight”. It’s the first real anthem of Sonic Highways and is the personification of how the Foos can juxtapose soft ballad-like writing with the full throttle rock approach.

‘Subterranean’ is one of the last pit stops on the band’s journey; a contemplative piece that acts as respite before reaching the destination and aptly recorded in Seattle where Grohl first found success with Nirvana. Unfortunately, at this stage the car is hot and the AC is broken. For a track like ‘Subterranean’ to work it has to be sincere. The penultimate track seems, at times, lazy and although its broody nature is understandable and each track so far has inhaled its surrounding to give breath to the Foo Fighters’ impression of that sound, there are still a lot of ‘could have been’ moments when listening to this record.

Luckily the destination is worth the wait and for the second time, you feel as though Sonic Highways is worthwhile. Opening sans Grohl, building to what sounds eerily like an M.I.A cover of ‘Paper Plans’ it isn’t until the three minute mark that they stamp two capital Fs across the track. Finishing fantastically, this song leaves high expectations for their live performances; they can easily drag a ten minute performance from this one piece of writing and the fans are likely to lap it up.

All in all, it takes far too long for Sonic Highways to actually gain any sort of pace and although the concept in general is quite remarkable, the ultimate outcome could be better. Hugely successful collaborators slip by far too easily on the album format without the listener being made aware; names like Joe Walsh (James Gang/Eagles) on ‘Outside’ is a huge inclusion and I’m sure in the accompanying documentary piece this is one of the focal points. The project itself will no doubt be as successful as Grohl’s last, Sound City, but possibly it was better left to HBO to release this as an accompaniment to their work rather than vice versa.

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