State Magazine http://state.ie Ireland's Music Payload Wed, 22 Oct 2014 17:42:14 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Fury - Let's start a war http://state.ie/film/fury http://state.ie/film/fury#comments Wed, 22 Oct 2014 16:15:32 +0000 http://state.ie/?p=66388 Director: David Ayer
Cast: Brad Pitt, Logan Lerman, Shia LaBeouf, Michael Peña and Jon Bernthal
Certificate: 15a
Running Time: 135 minutes
Release Date: October 24th

Brad Pitt. World War II. Killing Nazis. Sharp haircut. We’ve been here before, haven’t we? Its star and the Western inspired story are probably where comparisons between Fury and Inglorious Basterds ends. Tarantino’s fantasy-war movie was a self-confessed version of The Dirty Dozen, with Fury, David Ayer has gone full Rio Bravo. (Incidentally, Ayer’s next movie, DC comic property, The Suicide Squad, is going to be his Dirty Dozen flick.)

Taking place in the last month of WWII, Fury sees Pitt’s Wardaddy, a Sergeant in charge of the titular tank, lead his four-man squadron into battle, facing their own personal Alamo within the confines of an M4 Sherman. On his crew, there’s a religious guy (LaBeouf), new guy (Lerman), volatile guy (Bernthal) and Hispanic guy (Peña). It’s a simple set up, and it mostly works.

Ayer isn’t one for subtlety or subtext in his movies, he likes tough guys in tougher situations. This is a man who re-wrote the history of the Enigma Code as an American discovery; reason or historical accuracy are of no importance.  Still, Fury delivers thrills in spades. The representation of war gorges on the horror genre for some grotesque moments — Lerman’s first job is mopping up the last guy’s face off the seat, heads explode on impact and bodies are flattened like a nightmare Looney Toons cartoon. It borders on the cartoonish — tracer ammo making fire fights look like Star Wars, anyone? — yet enough legwork is done to make you care about the guys inside that metal bucket.

Pitt and Lerman are given the most, and as a result are the highlights. A dinner scene at the midway point has the chance to derail it all but is surprisingly brilliant, giving them moments to shine. Lerman nails the I’m-not-even-supposed-to-be-here nature of his meek typist who gets dumped in a pool of testosterone and told to swim. Pitt’s charisma and tank-oil slicked hair is the kind that would make you head straight into your death and feel you’ve made the right choice. The supporting cast fall into stereotypes but all get their bit. LaBeouf’s Bible surprisingly comes without fanfare or ego, and is a nice reminder that he’s still an actor.

Ayer handles the action adroitly, both inside and out of the tank, and his set piece handling make you wonder what he can do on an even larger. It gives off a huge wallop of both hung-ho America and biting war nihilism, their mantra for dwelling in a tank and killing Germans is “best job I ever had” is tonally confusing. All same, you can’t help but forget it in the clatter of tank missiles and gun fire.

 

 

 

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Mos Def Announces Vicar Street Performance http://state.ie/news/mos-def-announces-vicar-street-performance http://state.ie/news/mos-def-announces-vicar-street-performance#comments Wed, 22 Oct 2014 14:14:00 +0000 http://state.ie/?p=66426 One of hip-hop’s most elusive, articulate, intelligent and, above all else, talented performers has announced that he is returning to these shores for what is only the second time in his 20-year career.

Yasiin Bey, or Mos Def as he most commonly known, will be appearing at Dublin’s Vicar Street on November 24th to celebrate the 15th anniversary of his seminal Black On Both Sides album. It is practically impossibly to overstate the importance of this album and this man to the wider world of hip-hop and that is before we get anywhere near his political and humanitarian plights.

Tickets for this show are priced at €33.50 and €35.50 go on sale this Friday at 9am at usual outlets.

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little xs for eyes de-mix SOSB http://state.ie/news/little-xs-for-eyes-de-mix-sosb http://state.ie/news/little-xs-for-eyes-de-mix-sosb#comments Wed, 22 Oct 2014 14:11:20 +0000 http://state.ie/?p=66424 Returning the favour for the Sounds Of System Breakdown remix of their ‘Kind Hearts’ track, little xs for eyes have de-mixed the electronic outfit’s ‘Mayfly’ – removing the original synth sounds and replacing them with their own range of acoustic instruments and lush harmonies. We think it’s absolutely lovely. They’ve even come up with a pastiche video too….

Just to remind you, here’s the original…

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Faces of November details - From hip-hop to surf rock to electro pop http://state.ie/features/faces-of-november-details http://state.ie/features/faces-of-november-details#comments Wed, 22 Oct 2014 11:17:26 +0000 http://state.ie/?p=66422 Not content with five live shows in October (Guinness Amplify, Lingo Festival and Oxjam), we’re back at the Mercantile on November 1st for our penultimate Faces show of 2014. Joining us will be DVO Marvell, Me And My Dog (pictured) and Florence Olivier. As ever, it won’t cost you nothing but a good time. Get social here.

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Rebecca Collins Album Launch Tonight http://state.ie/news/rebecca-collins-album-launch-tonight http://state.ie/news/rebecca-collins-album-launch-tonight#comments Wed, 22 Oct 2014 09:48:13 +0000 http://state.ie/?p=66421 Having showcased her new album at State.ie’s September Faces, the ever impressive Rebecca Collins will officially launch her remarkable debut album Solar in Dublin’s Sweeney’s tonight. Admission is free and proceedings get under way at 8.30. You can catch Collins and band play the album in it’s entirety – this is not to be missed.

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Watch We Were Promised Jetpacks performing live http://state.ie/news/watch-we-were-promised-jetpacks-performing-live http://state.ie/news/watch-we-were-promised-jetpacks-performing-live#comments Wed, 22 Oct 2014 09:41:44 +0000 http://state.ie/?p=66420 To celebrate the release of their new album, Unravelling, Scottish band We Were Promised Jetpacks recently performed ‘I Keep It Composed’ for Press Record. If you missed them in Whelans last month, you can get your fix below.

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Listen to Tinariwen’s acoustic EP http://state.ie/news/listen-to-tinariwens-acoustic-ep http://state.ie/news/listen-to-tinariwens-acoustic-ep#comments Wed, 22 Oct 2014 09:36:11 +0000 http://state.ie/?p=66417 Known for their electric guitar attack, Tinariwen have unplugged for their latest release. Inside / Outside: Joshua Tree Acoustic Sessions features five tracks from the sessions that produced this year’s Emmaar album, either recorded inside the house in in Joshua Tree, CA or round the nightly campfire. It’s magical stuff.

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New Music from Subplots - 'Future Tense' http://state.ie/news/new-music-from-subplots http://state.ie/news/new-music-from-subplots#comments Wed, 22 Oct 2014 09:31:37 +0000 http://state.ie/?p=66418 Emerging Irish hopefuls Subplots have just announced details of a new album and lead single. ‘Future Tense’, taken from the forthcoming Autumning, will be released under the band’s own label, Cableattack!! Records – both are available here.

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Free Planet Parade show this Friday http://state.ie/news/free-planet-parade-show-this-friday http://state.ie/news/free-planet-parade-show-this-friday#comments Wed, 22 Oct 2014 09:21:57 +0000 http://state.ie/?p=66415 Back after a not insignificant abscence, Planet Parade are rapidly making up for lost time with a new single ‘You’ll Be Sorry’ and some impressive live shows. The next step comes this Friday, when they play Whelans Upstairs alongside Pockets. Doors are at 8pm and entry is free.

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State Oxjam Takeover live report and photos - Sunday evening in words and pictures http://state.ie/live-reviews/state-oxjam-takeover-live-report-and-photos http://state.ie/live-reviews/state-oxjam-takeover-live-report-and-photos#comments Wed, 22 Oct 2014 08:35:59 +0000 http://state.ie/?p=66401 Now that’s a way to spend a Sunday evening. The final day of the Oxjam takeover at the Oxfam Home store on Francis Street saw four acts perform in front of a large crowd, all making themselves comfortable on the various pieces of furniture spread around the store. Booka Brass Band kicked us off in their usual energetic style, followed by the intense guitar pop of Amidships. Star in the making Rocstrong channelled the sounds of the deep South, Africa and funk rock before the stripped down Come On Live Long duo of Rob and Louise brought the night to a beautiful conclusion. Thanks to all involved for their time and effort.

Oxjam Takeover photographed for State by Anna Kerslake.

 

Oxjam Takeover, Booka Brass Band Oxjam Takeover, Booka Brass Band Oxjam Takeover, Booka Brass Band Oxjam Takeover, Booka Brass Band Oxjam Takeover, Amidships Oxjam Takeover, Amidships Oxjam Takeover, Rocstrong Oxjam Takeover, Rocstrong Oxjam Takeover, Come On Live Long Oxjam Takeover, Come On Live Long Oxjam Takeover, Come On Live Long ]]>
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Serena - Forever delayed http://state.ie/film/serena http://state.ie/film/serena#comments Tue, 21 Oct 2014 19:12:46 +0000 http://state.ie/?p=66383 Director Suzanne Bier
Cast: Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Rhys Ifans, Toby Jones and Sean Harris
Certificate: 15A
Running time: 110 minutes
Release date: October 24th

The story of Serena, the film, may never become fully known to the public. Starring two of Hollywood’s hottest actors, based on a bestselling – and excellent – book, and directed by an Oscar-winning filmmaker, it should be the subject of hype, rave reviews and an avalanche of awards and garlands.

Instead, Serena sat on the shelf for nearly two years, sadly waiting for a distributor. It was filmed, amazingly, before its stars went on to make American Hustle.

When a film is treated this way, it means one of two things. The first possibility is that it’s a gem that’s misunderstood by distributors and studios, and that its weirdness is an unseen asset, like say Idiocracy or The Cabin in the Woods (both of which had distribution problems). The second possibility is that it’s a sub-par film, and one that struggles to appeal even with its star power. Sadly, Serena is in the second camp.

Serena takes place in North Carolina in the 1920s. George Pembleton (Bradley Cooper) and his beautiful new bride Serena (Jennifer Lawrence) own a logging company that employs dozens of local unfortunates. There’s potential conflict in the shape of some locals who want land preserved as a national park; a suspicious sheriff (the always welcome Toby Jones) and an employee of George’s who’s with child.

The Pembletons are taking it in their stride, but how much land is enough, and can they withstand the pressures from outside and inside their marriage?

Serena – the book – is a biblical parable of revenge, environmentalism, feminism, and aspiration. It’s passionate, grandiose and tells its story with grace and black humour. Serena – the film – is flat, listless, miscast, rudderless and ultimately pointless.
In a baffling bid to make the book’s lead characters more sympathetic, the cinematic Pembletons are now defanged, bland and, at times, nonsensical. Lawrence, a fine actress, is hopelessly miscast as the strong-willed, ambitious Serena. While (I guess) the filmmakers and actress are trying to portray cold, level-headed decision-making, Lawrence’s performance is often surprisingly dull and emotionless. Lawrence’s vulnerability, which is one of the actress’s greatest strengths, works against her here. And she’s often stranded by stilted dialogue. Her performance as a log baroness is even occasionally…wooden.

Cooper fares better, definitely, and is more at home in his role as the confident entrepreneur. But while he manages to muster up some charisma and steel, his character too, is surprisingly devoid of personality.

This is also a stain on the CV of its director, Suzanne Bier, who made the fine Love is All You Need and the awesome In a Better World. Maybe this might have worked if (as originally planned) it was made by Darren Aronofsky with Angelina Jolie in the lead?
To be fair, the sterling supporting cast all do decent work. And, again in the interest of fairness, this was a mighty project to take on and needed a bigger budget than they seemed to have, which might explain why it feels hemmed in when it should have had the epic sweep of a John Ford western.

The good news for all concerned is that bad films usually disappear soon after release. Within a few months, this film will be forgotten like burned timber, and Lawrence can resume her career as this generation’s big screen sweetheart.

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Incoming – Simone Felice - He's a New York City Boy http://state.ie/features/incoming-simon-felice http://state.ie/features/incoming-simon-felice#comments Tue, 21 Oct 2014 14:27:38 +0000 http://state.ie/?p=66395 Who are you and where are you from?

Simone Felice, Palenville, Catskill Mountains, New York

Who are your favorite artists from home?

John Herald, Bob Dylan & The Band

What’s it really like touring?

It’s a weird gypsy reality, a time warp, a dream come true, a curse…

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

Leap Castle, Roscrea

What’s your ideal festival line-up?

Jimmy Hendrix with the original Experience, Sandy Denny Solo, Eliot Smith, all the restless, miraculous ghosts…

What has been your biggest achievement of the year?

I brought my little daughter to the sea this summer for the first time and we saw whales… Also I just received my first gold record last week from Columbia Records for my work on The Avett Brothers‘ album I & Love & You

What was the worst piece of advice you were given?

‘Try a few of these…’

What do you do to relax?

Obscenely long walks in the woods

What are you reading?

The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher by Hilary Mantel

How about TV, anything good on the box?

The final season of Boardwalk Empire!!

Do you have a favourite YouTube video?

The drummer that’s in the wrong band

What website do you visit most?

New York Times

What is your favourite:

Record? Blue, Joni Mitchell

Song? ‘Fruits of My Labor’, Lucinda Williams

Lost classic song? ‘Who knows where the time goes’, Sandy Denny

Record label? Team Love

Who is your favourite current artist?

The National

A new artist that you are most excited about?

James Blake

What was the last great gig you have seen?

Jackson Brown Solo acoustic at the Palace in Albany NY

Worst show?

Lou Reed & Metallica

What should we expect from your Irish shows?

Strip Tease, Harmonium, Secrets

You can see SimoneFelice live in Dublin’s Workmans Club on October 29th. tickets are €18 and available here

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Thurston Moore – The Best Day - "from one plane of sonic existence to the next" http://state.ie/album-reviews/thurston-moore-the-best-day http://state.ie/album-reviews/thurston-moore-the-best-day#comments Tue, 21 Oct 2014 13:31:30 +0000 http://state.ie/?p=66392 The ubiquity of Thurston Moore’s presence on the alternative music scene over the last thirty years is such that it’s almost a surprise that The Best Day is only his fourth solo album. That’s not to say that Moore hasn’t been busy since Sonic Youth disbanded – quite the contrary; with a slew of collaborations and live tours, Moore is also a perennial presence on practically every rockumentary ever made.

He has always had a canny knack for surrounding himself with stellar collaborators, and co-conspirators on this outing are Nought’s James Sedwards on guitar, My Bloody Valentine bassist Deb Googe, and Sonic Youth sticksman Steve Shelley. With this full band complement, The Best Day shares more in common with Moore’s Chelsea Light Moving project than the restrained acoustic leanings of 2011’s Demolished Thoughts, or even Psychic Hearts’ initial forays into new wave punk poetry.

Where Chelsea Light Moving’s 2013 self-titled record was a vehicle to channel Moore’s love of Beat poetry, more overtly literary in its lyrical content, The Best Day is more like a refined version of Moore’s and drummer John Moloney’s freeform improvisational material under the Caught On Tape banner from the same period. Here he has an equally fine foil in Sedwards, their guitar lines encircling one another to the point of coalescence on the album’s protracted hypnotic passages. He and Moore echo Keith Levine in the metallic clangs and chimes of ‘Speak To The Wild’, opening the album with a track that comes close to the ten minute mark then following it with one that exceeds it.

The repetitive guitar riffs of ‘Forevermore’ flourish into myriad noise layers just as the bass suddenly uproots from its deep anchor pulse to become the overt driving force of the song after the midway point. It moves from one plane of sonic existence to the next, shifting in power and then pulling back, a constant surge-and-restrain motion. Songs are lengthy, but becoming embedded in the folds of the band’s extended workouts is the album’s chief pleasure. Moore’s and Sedward’s prowess on their instruments mean that that the subtle inflections and deviations from the root of a riff provide a constant source of invention and discovery.

The guitarists take a more pared back approach as ‘Vocabularies’ opens with a suffocated squeal of steel, flesh and fret. The 12-string meanders around various melodic twists and turns, at times precise picking, at others power chord riffing. ‘The Best Day’, in comparison, is scuzzy rock’n’roll; ‘70s spit, grime and glam according to New York Dolls. Moore announces himself on ‘Detonation’ with a rising Lydon-esque snarl of “Clandestinity”, before the shade of Iggy takes over and the guitars perform their dissonant dance. ‘Germs Burn’ features the same clipped, concise lyrics in the punk poetry vein of Chelsea light Moving’s ‘Lip’, each barked line both a standalone punctuation and part of a larger image (”Long night/Negative light/Start a fire/Stop a fight”) until the vocals take a back seat to let the two guitars scour the album to a close.

Despite being a Moore solo outing, The Best Day feels more like the sum of its parts, a band effort in the true sense, with Sedwards particularly adding depth and texture to Moore’s atypical guitar style. Seemingly rudimentary rock songs are spiked with intertwining layers and pitching tempos, elongated and trance-like at one juncture and proto-punk at the next. Moore will no doubt change things up again on his next venture; the style of The Best Day may prove too conventional to hold his attention in light of his restless post-SY experimentations. Until that day, though, this album will do nicely, and we can all revel with Moore in its glorious entanglement of guitars.

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The Antlers…”still the same band but just prettier” - Plus win tickets to the Olympia http://state.ie/features/the-antlers-still-the-same-band-but-just-prettier http://state.ie/features/the-antlers-still-the-same-band-but-just-prettier#comments Tue, 21 Oct 2014 12:12:25 +0000 http://state.ie/?p=66384 One of the most progressive bands of the last decade, The Antlers may have indeed reached a zenith with their mature and delicately composed fifth studio album Familiars, released last June. Currently embarking on a European tour, which includes a stop over in Dublin’s Olympia Theatre, the band’s main musical orchestrator Darby Cicci took some time out to discuss the new record with State, and where he feels they now find themselves at as a band.

“Its definitely a step forward for us creatively’. Darby remarks about Familiars. “We really tried to take our time with this one and explore, not really other styles of music but other ways to influence music we’ve already been making in a new way. I’ve been really kind of obsessed with jazz and different palettes of sounds and different regions of World Music, in Africa, Nigeria and Jamaica of course, without really trying to play any of those styles but trying to influence it with that type of palette. I think taking our time and trying to allow ourselves to make longer pieces and not really put ourselves under any pressure to make any kind of pop structure or music that we would really try to make successful or try to sell records with or get lots of radio play. Its sort of the antitheses to that.”

Having come to prominence as a generally radio-friendly indie rock band, The Antlers have diversified their style as their career has progressed, experimenting with a wide range of different musical genres and concepts, something Darby proceeds to reminisce about. “A lot of things we were working on in (second album) Burst Apart were sort of rooted in pop music. I love the record but, [when making it] we were feeling a little more pressure. It’s a very strange experience to have just one record, Hospice, do remarkably well and then following that up with a consecutive record that’s not based in a conceptual piece, I think we were looking for lots of ways to go.”

“So making this record was the first time we’d really gotten past those hurdles and allowed ourselves to explore the creative side of what kind of music we actually want to make, and get a little past that early career trying to drive yourself to solidify your stake in the music industry and just to keep it going as a career. Its a tricky career to keep going and theres a lot of bands that just disappear quite quickly and I think we were a little worried about that”. The Antlers are no strangers to innovation, but judging by Familiar’s intricate composition and unique sound, you would be forgiven for thinking that recording the album may have been a highly complex process. According to Darby however, inspiration came almost as second nature to him.

“On this record we really worked and it allowed us to explore things we were more interested in emotionally rather than putting expectations on ourselves”. he enthusiastically asserts. “We embraced improvisation a bit more (on the record). Instead of writing parts and practicing them until they felt comfortable I think I really tried to embrace a lot of the idiosyncrasies you get when you just lay off the top of your head and really try to capture those interesting elements, those little sparks of sound or music. When I listen to records I really connect with those more than anything, more than the songs or the record’s concepts. I connect to little moments, little special sounds and melodies that awaken from something inside you and I really tried to push myself to find those in my own work rather than thinking of myself as some some sort of authority on what I’m supposed to write, but exploring enough so I can be my own audience as well.”

Being the band’s primary musical composer, Darby is renowned for his tremendous talents with musical arrangements, but did he get any additional help this time around? “A little bit I would say” he cooly admits. “After doing a lot of the arrangements on most of the songs there were a couple of things that I thought would really balance it out and really fit perfectly. On a couple of songs theres a cello that seemed to fit so perfectly and I can’t play the cello for shit and not going to try, so I brought our friend in to play on a couple of tracks.

“I wanted to add a couple of extra elements, (to the horn arrangements), a little trombone, which I’m also not good at, and a friend of mine John who plays some saxophone as well. It’s not really the bulk of it, but it definitely balances and gets a lot of the trumpet arrangements out in a full way. Adds a little more communication between those sounds.”

Although Familiars, like previous Antlers recordings, has been widely praised for its inspiring lyrical content Darby insists that it’s the music takes precedence during recording. “For me, we really pretty much make the whole record before the lyrics come into it so its one of the last elements that gets added in. All of the music and arranging I do is based purely from a musical perspective and then Peter (Silberman) writes the lyrics based on those songs that are there. There’s not a song written first that I then arrange, its definitely an instrumental piece with little breaks that we know who’s going to be singing and Peter works on that separately”.

So on to the European tour then, which kicked off in Brussels back on October 1st. Darby has already noted Berlin, Amsterdam and Aarhus in Denmark as highlights so far, but are the band looking forward to their Dublin date in the Olympia? “Absolutely”, he exclaims. “Dublin’s just one of the best places. We’ve always had a really overwhelming support from people there. Every time we go except something out of the show and theres always more people, their always more excited, it’s always louder. It gets pretty overwhelming I think, and being at the end of tour it’s gonna be pretty special”.

A sell-out crowd is expected at the Dame Street venue on October 30th, but considering The Antler’s stylistic evolution over the last few years, what exactly can the band’s Irish fan base expect from the gig? “We have a different show now, we’re less of a rock band these days” professes Darby. “Last time we played their we played loud and we had a different member on guitar and were much more of a rock band. Nowadays I play trumpet during the show and our new fourth member is primarily a horn player too. The whole show’s just lighter, more spacious, more delicate and just more evolved for us. We don’t just bash chords away and kick out the songs, its a much more refined show now, theres a lot more layers and texture and delicacy. If you’ve seen us before I think you’ll see quite a different version of us. Still the same band but it’s all just prettier I think.”

“It’s a much more intimate show and having so many different songs from our catalogue to draw from we can get a whole lot more dynamic out of it. It’s definitely more relaxed, we’re all more relaxed when we play this set, we actually play a little quieter now and I think its just more interesting over all”.

The Antlers play The Olympia Theatre on October 30th. To win a pair of tickets email giveaway@state.ie with your details by 5pm on Tuesday 28th October.

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Latest gig news – PSB, Flying Lotus, Ryan Adams & more http://state.ie/news/latest-gig-news-psb-flying-lotus-ryan-adams-more http://state.ie/news/latest-gig-news-psb-flying-lotus-ryan-adams-more#comments Tue, 21 Oct 2014 11:53:23 +0000 http://state.ie/?p=66375 Dates for your diaries:

Public Service Broadcasting (pictured) – Belfast Mandela Hall (3rd May), Dublin Button Factory (5th)

Speech sampling duo promote second album The Race For Space.

Flying Lotus – Vicar St (19th April)

Full band and AV show.

Annie Mac – Twisted Pepper (3rd December)

A sort of homecoming.

Dropkick Murphys – Vicar St (17th March – early and late shows)

Where else would they play on this date?

Liars / Wife – Button Factory (26th October)

James Kelly joins the Beatyard bill.

Ryan Adams – Cork Opera House (March 3rd), Olympia Theatre (5th)

Album number fourteen presented live.

Glass Animals – Academy (14th March)

Return to the capital after the weekend’s Whelans sell out.

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Win Tickets to see The Minutes http://state.ie/listings-gig-news/win-tickets-to-see-the-minutes http://state.ie/listings-gig-news/win-tickets-to-see-the-minutes#comments Tue, 21 Oct 2014 10:25:29 +0000 http://state.ie/?p=66374 MCD and State.ie are giving away two tickets to see the Munites live in Whelans this Sunday, October 27th. All you have to do is answer the following question:

What is the name of the Minutes new album?

Send your answer to giveaway@state.ie before 5pm on Friday and we’ll notify the winner. Tickets for the gig are €15 and are available here.

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Swords release limited edition live EP http://state.ie/news/swords-release-limited-edition-live-ep http://state.ie/news/swords-release-limited-edition-live-ep#comments Tue, 21 Oct 2014 10:20:33 +0000 http://state.ie/?p=66372 Currently working on material for a new album, Swords give us a glimpse of what’s to come with a new EP, available for a two week period from today. Live at Smalltown America was recorded at the label’s Derry studios and features four new songs and plus the track Wicklow from their album Lions & Gold. Get yourself a copy here.

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The Amazing Snakeheads – Dublin - Where is my knife? http://state.ie/live-reviews/the-amazing-snakeheads-dublin http://state.ie/live-reviews/the-amazing-snakeheads-dublin#comments Tue, 21 Oct 2014 10:05:33 +0000 http://state.ie/?p=66370 What can be said about The Amazing Snakeheads that doesn’t make them sound like a pastiche? That they are aggressive? Nah, that’s too gimmicky, too much like The Fall. Confrontational? Nope, that makes them sound like the New York Dolls with all their shock-generating garb. Threatening? That’s a bit Birthday Party-era Nick Cave. What the Amazing Snakeheads are is the exact right thing at the exact right time. A truly unique live experience and the band you should try to see as soon as you possibly can.

The past year has seen band-members leave, re-join, fall out and fall apart but with the critical levels of raw, undiluted and ostensibly real shit, spit and blood-curdling aggression from this Glasgow three-piece it is no surprise whatsoever. How Dale Barclay can walk off-stage after these performances and not get into rows is probably something he very recently learned how to do. How he doesn’t walk off-stage and start throwing pint glasses around Frank Begbie style is another thing altogether.

Tonight, in Grand Social, is only the second time the band have played here and the first time since replacing their original drummer who’s departure was announced by Barclay in a Facebook post. Not that this matters, because when these lads take to the stage, stripped to the waste, black wife-beaters, sovvies and tattoos gleaming in the bleak light, all else is forgotten. They look the part and that’s because they are the part. Most importantly, though, is that they have the songs to back all of this up.

In no time at all Barclay is in the crowd – staring people down and simultaneously looking right through them. His face is contorted into undisguised rage and when he’s singing “where is my knife?” there are more than a few eyes to the floor amongst the crowd. Their playing is loose, that much is true, but like the Sex Pistols, the Ramones and The Dolls before them, it’s part and parcel of the complete package. The playing is good, just not locked in. This is countenanced by some genuinely thrilling songs, ‘Where Is My Knife?’, ‘Here It Comes Again’, ‘Every Guy Wants To Be Her Baby’ and ‘Flatlining’ are absolute killers, combining the quiet-loud-quiet sound of Pixies with the deranged theatrics of…actually, nobody has ever done this as authentically and originally as Dale Barclay. There are very few audible effects going on, the guitars are rarely distorted above a cursory level – instead they use clean and un-augmented sound to offset the rumbling bass and frenetic drum fills.

So, avoiding pastiche, it’s hard to do. But that’s only because pretty much everybody who has done this before The Amazing Snakeheads has looked as though they’re doing it for effect. These boys looks like their playing and singing just to keep themselves from ripping somebody’s head off. As the Buckfast is passed between them, and Barclay points, sneers and one-eyed growls his way through their 40 min set, this is the kind of gig you’ll talk about for a long, long time.

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Lady Gaga – Dublin - "The life-cycle of pop has become squeezed at its glittery edges..." http://state.ie/live-reviews/lady-gaga-dublin http://state.ie/live-reviews/lady-gaga-dublin#comments Mon, 20 Oct 2014 16:45:20 +0000 http://state.ie/?p=66364 ‘For those of you who are just here for the hits I suggest you grab a Guinness, grab a Little Monster and head for the bar. This is our fucking artRAVE!’ Mother has arrived and she is angry. Who can blame her? The party has been pooped long before the storm clouds burst outside the 3Arena. With tickets available at the door, spacious floor room and the lack of the grand spectacle of the Perspex runway that connects the Lady to her fans, this is hardly a Monster’s Ball but more an artRave in miniature, the bubble sadly popped.

This is not the rabid Irish crowd that once ravenously clawed for Lady Gaga, selling out as many as three nights in a row in the same venue only four short years ago. This is not the day-glo kawaii celebration danced out all over the rest of the tour, the Dublin artRave instead transformed into a strutting, head cocking act of defiance. It’s a relentless attack against the arms folded, dour couples dotted all over the arena waiting impatiently in ignorance for a completely different show to happen, a love-letter to the boy dressed up as an S&M swine, the girl covered in a veil of lace with a wonky wig. Gaga stands legs a-kimbo sea-shell bikini askew and spits out the names of her biggest hits like a scorned lover ‘Just Dance, Poker Face, Bad Romance, Marry the-fucking-Night!’ she rages into the darkness as if attempting to remind the crowd just who they are witnessing. This surly segment of the artRave takes a bizarre twist as just after she has admonished the pay-day, daytime radio stooges who gave up on her, she almost panderes to them by pulling out her old wigs and outfits to blast out those very hits. The life-cycle of pop has become squeezed at its glittery edges when a star begins to reference themselves from only two tours ago.

It is an uncomfortable sight to witness the normally uncompromising, forthright diva turn dead-eyed, reduced to going through the motions for the masses especially when the artRave doesn’t really require the now almost tacky trump of ‘Just Dance’ or the cheese of ‘Telephone’. The artRave should be all about ARTPOP, an album that possesses moments of unbridled euphoria that become glorious Technicolor when unleashed live.

Gaga is at her best and most enjoyable when she’s bombastic and bold, as the two words SEXXX DREAMS dominated the giant scrolling screen the heat sizzled from the stage as the horny love child of Prince and Janet boomed over the crowd, the Lady comes alive as the army of dancers clad in latex pulled her round on a pink inflatable bed. Tracks like the goofy genius of ‘Venus’ became pop pantomime as Little Monsters cry ‘don’t you know my ass is famous!’ as a crazed choir. The unexpected highlight is ‘Mary Jane Holland’, a silly tribute to getting wasted transformed into a gleeful moment of Gaga branded genius. It’s a reminder of why she stands apart from the empty sex mannequins that litter the charts. The performance is pure uninhibited fun, a triumphant moment of her original brilliance, her humour and fearlessness. No one can imagine pouty mini-pop Ariana Grande screaming ‘That’s me MOTHERFUCKERS!!’ then promptly balancing a chair on her head whilst dancing down the stage with two other pieces of furniture swinging out of her. It’s the deranged joy of Gaga wrapped up in a jumbo marijuana leaf.

Whilst the ARTPOP tracks grind together like a well oiled machine in motion, the night becomes slightly unstuck when the quieter moments crept in. Apart from a chilling note-perfect rendition of ‘Dope’, the emotional slowed down version of ‘Born This Way’ replete with a sobbing fan by her side and a jazzy cover of Nancy Sinatra’s ‘Bang Bang’ lose the ethos and momentum of the rave, which could have been seamlessly improved by a much needed injection of ‘Schiebe’, ‘Dance in the Dark’ or ‘Heavy Metal Lover’. The jarring Shania twang of ‘You & I’ should have been jettisoned for the full sledge-hammer brute of ‘Judas’, instead of just a chorus and verse flung into the mix.

The night is suspiciously low on Born This Way moments, a puzzling misstep as its dark techno throb is the gateway drug to the intense bruising electro of ARTPOP. Finishing with the triple whammy of ‘Bad Romance’, ‘Applause’ and ‘Swine’, this is the artRave as it should have been: a manic, unhinged assault, a colossal kaleidoscopic pop-fantasy slammed into your eyes and ears leaving your nose bloodied, a courageous battle-cry that bares its teeth in the face of the casual ‘fan’. No half measures accepted. Without compromise, without doubt, only pure faith in the wizard behind the curtain and the next step she will take on this crazed journey.

Lady GaGa photographed by Barry Brecheisen/WireImage

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We Cut Corners – The Academy, Dublin – in photos http://state.ie/photo-gallery/we-cut-corners-the-academy-dublin-in-photos http://state.ie/photo-gallery/we-cut-corners-the-academy-dublin-in-photos#comments Mon, 20 Oct 2014 16:20:32 +0000 http://state.ie/?p=66366 A sweet night in Dublin with the duo, photographed for State by Mark McGuinness.

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Sleater-Kinney announce Vicar St gig http://state.ie/news/sleater-kinney-announce-vicar-st-gig http://state.ie/news/sleater-kinney-announce-vicar-st-gig#comments Mon, 20 Oct 2014 13:50:55 +0000 http://state.ie/?p=66362 Now here’s a bit of good news for a Monday, the reformed Sleater-Kinney are to play Dublin on March 26h as part of their tour on the back of new album No Cities To Love, due in January. Tickets go on sale this Friday October 24th, 9am priced €30.

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Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh – Dublin - The musical story of a new Irish wayfinder http://state.ie/live-reviews/caoimhin-o-raghallaigh-sugar-club-dublin http://state.ie/live-reviews/caoimhin-o-raghallaigh-sugar-club-dublin#comments Mon, 20 Oct 2014 10:16:10 +0000 http://state.ie/?p=66356 In the cabaret room of Dublin’s Sugar Club is Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh, seemingly the hardest working musician in Ireland these days. You can hardly keep up with the bands he appears in and tours with, bringing the beguiling sounds of his custom made hardanger d’amore fiddle to a variety of musical approaches in what might clunkily be described as Avant Trad. While The Gloaming held a more central course, his own work is quite out there and could easily exist between trad, free jazz and Aphex Twin. It’s a delight then, as we are just getting used to how to spell his name, that we get a show such as this Music Network event – not a gig per se, but a potted history of his arrival at the instrument itself and the way he plays it today.

So polite and affable a gent, he begins with an intro through three fiddles on stage, and through three pieces he shows his progression from the straight-up four string fiddle through the hardanger. And then to the hybrid of that and the viola d’amore that he now plays, with its resonance strings and bespoke carvings. His chat is soothing and informative and the music interspersed is a range of traditional and his own, but all played in his fingerprint style. He is a player now committed to a style where the bones of a journey are begun and he just goes with it, building and almost improvising the style as it makes sense along the way. What he plays and how he does it whirls you in so that it seems almost mediative.

The film part of the evening arrives and we meet some pre-recorded friends and influences filmed by Caoimhín himself in a calm, soft black-and-white. He duets live to these recordings, which works remarkably well, matching with the informal way he has filmed it. A harpist finds ambient music as the wind rushed over his strings, a neighbour’s dancing taps out an unusual variety of percussion on various house-and-garden surfaces and the man who introduced him to the hardanger, Dan Trueman appears too. On record this music can sometimes require a brave and open ear, but live it can just wash over you and sweep you along with it. The images never distract from the music and he uses footage to back up his solo playing too. Shots of an Ireland he keeps being in awe of.

An evening inside the man’s world, it was itself a brave show to put on and full credit to Music Network for bringing an evening like this around the country. To know more about the guy, the instrument and the world behind the beguiling music makes is all the more richer when it’s listened to it again. Though on the night it wasn’t quite possible to lose yourself completely in the sounds because of the storytelling which emerged after almost every track. That will be for another day. For now there was enough music, and a big picture that emerged that made a quiet Tuesday night quite wonderful.

Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh photographed by Dara Munnis

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The Judge - And justice for all http://state.ie/film/the-judge http://state.ie/film/the-judge#comments Fri, 17 Oct 2014 19:26:53 +0000 http://state.ie/?p=66344 Director: David Dobkin
Cast: Robert Downey Jr. Robert Duval, Vera Farmiga, Vincent DOnofrio, Jeremy Strong, Dax Shepard, Billy Bob Thornton
Certificate: 15A

Running Time: 141 mins
Release Date: Ocotber 17th

Hank Palmer (Downey) is a big city lawyer who makes a lot of money defending guilty men and getting them out of jail time. He is the best in the business, but a bitter disappointment to his father Judge Joseph Palmer (Duval) who rules the small town of Carlinville, Inidana. When Judge Palmer is involved in a hit and run accident that he doesn’t recall, he must choose between a son he deems morally corrupt and the local antique dealer/lawyer as his representation for his court date. The fact that they can hardly stand to be in the same room as each other, and that Hank suspects him of drinking the night of the accident, means the task is even greater. The only way to ensure Josephs innocence will be Hanks representation, but their damaged relationship may inhibit any chance they have to save Joseph from jail time. 

On paper this seems like a pretty run of the mill idea that has the opportunity to surpass its mediocrity though strong casting, but the addition of a director with a less than stellar back catalogue and things start to go awry. Dobkin is responsible for such films as Fred Claus, The Change-Up, Shanghai Knights and The Wedding Crashers; which is not the ideal background when attempting to bring a poignant and dramatic story to the screen. It is in this regard that the film really fails to deliver, as the tone swings from drama to comedy  one downright slapstick moment – and back to poignant heart-string pulling emotionality. It fails to nail its colours to the mast as it attempts to be too funny at inappropriate times and tries to drill the poignant moments for all they are worth. 

Despite failing to find its feet in defining exactly what it wants to be, Duvall and Downey are decent in their respective roles. There is a sense that Duvall is channelling a little bit of Clint Eastwoods Walt Kowalski (Gran Torino) as he grumbles at everything in sight and treats Hank with utter disdain. Downey Jr. is quite good and although his character seems to have it all sewn up, we soon learn that he is a deeply damaged and vulnerable character. There are one or two marquee scenes in which he breaks away from his smart mouth Tony Stark act and delivers some memorable moments, one particular scene with Duvall in the family kitchen is as good as he has been in quite some time. That said, one or two decent scenes do not bridge the gap and lift it out of mediocrity.

The support cast are good throughout, with Farmiga and DOnofrio playing their roles as high school sweetheart and angry brother with ease. The score and cinematography go for the poignant and artistic angles respectively and although there are some nice wide shots of the Indiana farmlands, it all feels a little forced.

One of the films major failings is the attempt to shoe horn in too much story to flesh out the two and half hour running time. There are a number of unfinished threads in the mix and there is also a plethora of unnecessarily long and saccharine scenes. The courtroom drama is decent for the most part, but it suffers from the above, especially when it turns into a family therapy session when Joseph takes the stand.

Brimming with potential and in love with its own pathos, The Judge is bloated and uneven. That said, there are still some decent moments in the mix and Downey Jr. hasnt lost any of his natural talent, its just not as good as it could be.   

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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles - Shell awaits http://state.ie/film/teenage-mutant-ninja-turtles http://state.ie/film/teenage-mutant-ninja-turtles#comments Fri, 17 Oct 2014 19:07:46 +0000 http://state.ie/?p=66341 Directors: Jonathon Liebsman
Cast: Megan Fox, Will Arnett, William Fichtner, Johnny Knoxville, Noel Fisher, Tony Shalhoub, Jeremy Howard, Alan Ritchson

Certificate: 12A
Running Time: 101 mins
Release Date: October 17th

An evil group of criminals known as The Foot have been terrorising New York City and stealing strategically valuable items in an effort to bolster their plans to take the city in the name of their leader, Shredder. When TV news reporter April ONeill (Fox), who usually covers outdoor aerobics, stumbles across a foot clan robbery, she witnesses something that she simply cannot explain. When she brings the story of a vigilante working by night to save the city to her editor shes laughed out of the building. A second encounter reveals that the vigilante heroes she has been seeking are in fact a group of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. (See what I did there?) With the city under siege and plans afoot to release a deadly toxin, it us up to the juvenile heroes to save New York  with the help of a number of branded products carefully placed to ensure they get more screen time than Foxs chest. 

There are few of us, in our mid thirties, who can escape the original version of the TMNT. As children we could identify with the differing personalities; there was always an angry one, a Raphael; or an intelligent one, a Donatello and Liebesman has managed to recreate the personalities very well. There is a familiarity that isnt hard to deliver, but not delivered would have fans screaming from the rooftops. In addition to this, the motion capture of the Turtles is top drawer and the CGI used to create them also delivers the goods. Box ticked on that front, followed by epic failure in the delivery of a baddie that we never get to know or understand. It is taken for granted that everyone will know about Shredder so theres no real need to flesh out his background or give him motive. Wrong. You can argue you dont need to know, because its a film about mutant turtles with ninja skills, but if you are reimagining a franchise then you really do need to know.

That Megan Fox is a talentless waste of space is one of those things we just take for granted these days and she doesnt let us down as she brings another vacuous and boring performance to the screen. Add to this the utter waste of Will Arnett and it makes it even harder to watch the pair of them on screen together. Arnett is one of the most talented comic actors in TV and film and he doesnt get a sniff of a laugh throughout, it is painful. 

Product placement has become commonplace in film and television, you dont let it get to you and it normally fades into the background. Unfortunately in this case you simply cannot escape the products that fill large amounts of the screen and in one particular scene shamelessly plug a pizza, going as far as listing the ingredients. Given the fact that the Turtles love pizza,a it was an obvious way to get some extra cash in the door, but its still unforgivably bad. 

Having delivered the Turtles so well, Shredders suit/costume is pretty shoddy — that said the fight scenes with the Turtles are shot well and the climactic battle is quite good. The fact that it is shot in daylight rather than darkness  like most of its competitors in this genre  is a welcome change. 

The product placement will induce rage in anyone over the age of 18 and the lack of a good quality Vanilla Ice soundtrack doesnt help, but NYC looks stunning throughout and the final showdown is decent. There is good and bad on show throughout, but in terms of big screen CG heavy superhero blockbusters it doesnt measure up. Dont Go Ninja Go.

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The Allah-la’s – Dublin - "There are no surprises" http://state.ie/live-reviews/the-allah-las-dublin http://state.ie/live-reviews/the-allah-las-dublin#comments Fri, 17 Oct 2014 13:09:29 +0000 http://state.ie/?p=66338 Its Sunday evening, it could be the last balmy of the year for us. The weather is unseasonably warm, there is a good buzz around town and the Allah-la’s are in town to soundtrack it all for us. For what is their first Irish show the Workman’s club is heaving with fans who surely had their interest piqued by the surfy, California-retro style and laid-back, harmony-rich 60’s rock of the bands self titled 2012 LP.

Tonight the band are well-rehearsed, slick and every so slightly more in your face than on their albums. Songs like ‘Catamaran’, ‘Tell Me What’s on Your Mind’, ‘Long Journey’, ‘Don’t you Forget It’ & ‘Had it all’ all get the live treatment and sound great, maybe even better than the record and are met with raucous cheers. They remind us why we like this band. But over the course of a gig the audience needs to be captivated, entertained and enthralled, needs to be kept on edge. It’s clear that in between the ‘big songs’ a creeping sense of ennui and unease is beginning to permeate the crowd. By the half-way point of the show, the audience has dissipated quite noticeably.

What it comes down to is the fact that a lot of their songs sound similar, are probably in the same time-signature and offer little in terms of dynamics. There is no up and down, no ebb and flow. There are no blistering solos, no crazy drum fills. It’s all a little too nice and polite. There are no surprises.

To their credit, they continue on undeterred and maybe unaware of what’s going on down on the ground, vocalist Miles Michaud is giving it his all. Instrumental tracks like ‘Sacred Sands’ and ‘Ela Novega’ sound somewhere in between the incredible bongo band and Dick Dale and work well in this setting. By the end of the gig, the drummer has swapped places with the singer and the percussionist has stood up and made himself known to the crowd. They’re doing well, but it could be so much better.

The Allah-la’s have a sound and they are bound by it. But they shouldn’t be. They should also be inspired by that sound. Judging from tonight they are all accomplished musicians and their harmonies are, at times, a thing of beauty. Their second album has just come out and it sounds very similar to the first one. Retro can only get you so far and maybe that is the problem. Unless they rip up the Allah-la’s rulebook quite soon they will burn brightly for a moment, then politely fade away in the background, into the realm of unmade Tarantino movie soundtracks and or 60’s revival parties.

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