State Magazine http://state.ie Ireland's Music Payload Sat, 30 Aug 2014 09:36:16 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Steve Earle – Dublin - Satisfaction guaranteed http://state.ie/live-reviews/steve-earle-dublin http://state.ie/live-reviews/steve-earle-dublin#comments Sat, 30 Aug 2014 09:36:16 +0000 http://state.ie/?p=65580 In one of the most elegant venues in Dublin, the setting is modest. A small Persian rug, a plain wooden table and a blue velvet backdrop punctured with white fairy lights. It’s just Steve Earle and his guitar as he begins the set with tracks from his début album, the suitably titled Guitar Town. By the time he reaches ‘I Ain’t Ever Satisifed’, Earle is accompanying himself on harmonica and the audience are a reverent chorus.

This is as elaborate as the instrumentation gets; orange and yellow lights dim and swell, creating a warmth that mirrors Earle’s stage presence. He’s unassuming yet commanding, singing in a warm, gravelly growl that easily envelopes that auditorium usually reserved, he points out, for symphony orchestras. The self-proclaimed ‘chick song’ portion of his set includes ‘Now She’s Gone’, ‘Valentine’s Day’ and ‘Goodbye’- simple, earnest love songs delivered with the intensity of a teenager so engrossed in singing into their hairbrush they haven’t noticed their mom coming into their bedroom.

Earle is a master at developing an intimate rapport with his audience, inviting them into his world through personal anecdotes. Before singing “Goodbye”, a song he shares with Emmylou Harris, he dedicates his rendition to her mother Eugenia (“it’s like that family were dipped in something”) who, he claims, made the best fried chicken in the world. Between references to his past drug use and present sobriety, his current divorce (“If I’m going to keep anything it’s this fucking mandolin!”) and his son, the singer-songwriter Justin Townes Earle (“I’ve learned it’s best not to speak for him”), the gig is charmingly confessional in tone, and the audience are captivated.

There are performances of ‘Feel Alright’ and ‘Hardcore Troubadour’, as Earle jokes about ripping off Van Morrison and delivering them back-to-back at a gig in Belfast. ‘CCKMP (Cocaine Cannot Kill My Pain’), he tells the crowd, reminds him of his enduring sobriety, while songs like ‘Taneytown’ and ‘Tom Ames’ Prayer’ remind us that he is an unparalleled raconteur, weaving evocative narratives through every song. A passionate mini monologue on the importance of arts funding prefaces the most well received songs of the night, ‘Dixieland’ and ‘Galway Girl’ on the mandolin, and a poignant delivery of ‘Jerusalem’ brings the two hour set full circle.

At one point during the evening, he delivers a beautiful, eloquent spoken word introduction to a cover of Townes Van Zandt’s ‘Rex’s Blues’ and speaks of what it is to feel like ‘it’s snowing on your mountain and no place else’. In other words, exactly how it is to be a member of a Steve Earle audience.

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The Grand Seduction - In a Newfound land... http://state.ie/film/the-grand-seduction http://state.ie/film/the-grand-seduction#comments Fri, 29 Aug 2014 16:22:38 +0000 http://state.ie/?p=65562 Director: Don McKellar
Cast: Brendan Gleeson, Taylor Kitsch and Liane Balaban
Certificate: 12a
Running Time: 113 minutes
Release Date: August 29th

Tickle Head, Newfoundland, is a proud, blue-collar fishing harbour. We know this because we’re told in an uneven narration from resident Murray French who paints a romantic view of the community where the happiness of the locals is measured by working hard and Jeunet-esque orgasmic choruses. But that was in the past. Nowadays, with the fishing industry gone, Tickle Head is a town full of men whose pride erodes with every welfare cheque. Hope appears in the shape of a petrochemical plant, promising to restore employment provided they can secure a full-time doctor. Luckily for them, a cricket-loving, coke-snorting one falls right in their laps. Now, if only they could make him stay.

The Grand Seduction is a remake of a 2003 French-Canadian movie of the same name — well, it’s called La grandé séduction. Its plot is essentially a blueprint for a fish out of water story; transplanting a city slicker out to the sticks and waiting for cultural clash comedy to manifest. (Incidentally, remakes from South Korea, France and Italy have all reached various stages of production.) That the doctor is from Toronto and the townsfolk from Newfoundland is irrelevant, although it will have you questioning why everyone sounds Irish except Brendan Gleeson, who’s lost somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean.

It’s a mostly fine experience; there’s a charm and sweetness, and the stranger-in-a-strange-land jokes still manage to land for the most part even if you’ve telegraphed them scenes before. Kitsch and Gleeson make a likeable pair and the supporting cast, including a couple of elderly ladies roleplaying scenes from The Lives of Others, all give it all a good sense of place. With Fubar, co-writer Michael Dowse pretty much nailed on the Albertan metalhead subculture and is clever enough to pick up on the Newfie idiosyncrasies here too.

Yet, it doesn’t all sit so easy. Light-hearted as it may be, its core message is how a motherfracking oil company is the panacea for small town woes — like setting a movie on the Gulf of Mexico where BP get to save the day. Don McKellar handles the pace clumsily too, it feels both drawn out and too short. Kitsch introduction is so sudden, he may as well have been airdropped. The idea shows promise but never really delivers, it’s not the Grand Seduction, it’s the Great Deceit.

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Win a weekend camping pass to Bestival on the Isle of Wight next weekend http://state.ie/news/win-a-weekend-camping-pass-to-bestival-on-the-isle-of-wight-next-weekend http://state.ie/news/win-a-weekend-camping-pass-to-bestival-on-the-isle-of-wight-next-weekend#comments Fri, 29 Aug 2014 16:03:31 +0000 http://state.ie/?p=65576 Maybe you’re sad that you’ll be missing the likes of Outkast, Foals, Beck, Chic, Wild Beasts, London Grammar etc. this weekend because you didn’t get a ticket or couldn’t get off work. Or maybe you’re so excited you’ll want to do it all over again next weekend. Well your luck is in! State have teamed up with Bestival’s Desert Island Disco to offer one lucky, lucky reader a pair of adult camping passes for their epic festival on the Isle of Wight, running from 4th to 7th of September 2014. All you have to do it get yourself over there. ROAD TRIP we say.

The music line-up is certainly massive but anyone who’s been to Bestival knows it’s not all about the music, there are incredible must-see attractions like The Port, the Wishing Tree, The Grand Palace of Entertainment, Come Dancing, Reggae Roots, Club Dada, The Ambient Forest, Caravanserai and the legendary Bollywood Cocktail Bar, offering out-of-this-world entertainment, all topped off with a truly mesmerising fireworks finale.

Mail us at giveaway@state.ie telling us what country the Isle of Wight is in (just to make sure you know where you’ll be headed) and we’ll pick a winner on Tuesday. If you’ll already be in the area then tell us that too (it might help, but isn’t essential to win) and you could be heading over! 

besti a5 single side

 

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Merchandise – After The End - People aren't strange enough http://state.ie/album-reviews/merchandise-after-the-end http://state.ie/album-reviews/merchandise-after-the-end#comments Fri, 29 Aug 2014 12:30:08 +0000 http://state.ie/?p=65558 To put the almost ungoogleable Florida band Merchandise’s evolution and eventual arrival at a major label into context, one has to listen to their previous recorded output. Their previous album Totale Nite is five songs long and four of those clock in at over six minutes each. They showed tiny glimpses of where they were going but I don’t think anyone could have imagined this. Each one of their albums has shown an insatiable appetite for re-invention and this one is no different by being so different.

Gone is the drum machine, to be replaced by a real live human drummer; gone is the rough around the edges mope-rock, replaced by an altogether more vibrant, vivid mope-rock. The guitars at times recall IRS-era R.E.M at their jangly best, none more so than on ‘Enemy’ which, when it gets to the chorus, leaves you forgiven for thinking Jimi Godwin of Doves had wrestled the mic from frontman Carson Cox’s hand. But as it races towards the end, there is a middle bit with a noisy harmonica break which is more akin to their previous iteration.

The band sound like a lot of different ’80s bands (at different times Echo & The Bunnymen, The Smiths, Tears for Fears) but they are just little sonic touchstones not wholesale rip-offs. Cox’s vocals have also grown and evolved; rich, toneful and anchoring everything the band do – none the more apparent on ‘True Monument’ and the closing ‘Exile And Go’, majestic in it’s quiet understatement. There are other things to admire here like the funky groove of ‘Telephone’ with a simple but effective chorus and a positively Smithsy guitar riff/intro.

‘Little Killer’ has a catchy chorus but in truth it’s the most straightforward and throwaway track on After The End and the beginning of the album’s slide, taking its foot of the gas with ‘Looking Glass Waltz’ – not in itself a bad tune but doesn’t really stand up to what came before. The title track ‘After The End’, at almost 7 minutes, is too long for it’s own good. They get it back for the aforementioned ‘Exile And Go’, a slow burner with some nice guitars.

After The End isn’t a masterpiece, just the beginning of a new book in the life of Merchandise. And it’s a book that you will be eager to keep reading. They set out to re-invent themselves as a pop band and have gone some way to achieving that, while still maintaining a tiny essence of what made them such an exciting prospect in the first place. The way they are going, it will be impossible to predict what the next album will sound like, but they would be ill-advised to completely abandon what made them grab the attention the first and second time around. This album will garner them a new audience, who may even hate what the band did before, but I for one like a little bit of strange in my coffee.

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Electric Picnic ’14 – State’s 20 To See - Let's get ready to rumble http://state.ie/features/electric-picnic-14-states-20-to-see http://state.ie/features/electric-picnic-14-states-20-to-see#comments Fri, 29 Aug 2014 12:17:27 +0000 http://state.ie/?p=65511 This year’s Electric Picnic kicks off in a matter of hours so, as you make your final preparations, here’s our choice of just some of the names to check out over the weekend….

Alice Boman – 6.30pm, Body & Soul Stage, Friday

Swedish pop but from the gossamer-delicate part of the spectrum, music that is mostly a multi-instrumental textural blend. All bell curves and no sharp edges, it can be either dawn or dusk depending on your mood. It should be fascinating to see what she creates in a live setting.

Blondie – 7.15pm, Main Stage, Friday

Not the tightest live experience around, Blondie have nonetheless earned the right to trot out their sublime back catalogue. Trimmed to a handy hour set, this’ll be a hit ridden way to kick off your festival.

Booka Brass Band – 1.30pm, Rankin Woods, Saturday

Finally starting to get the recognition they deserve, this most unique of Irish bands were designed for this sort of environment – as they demonstrated at their recent Nialler9 / Happenings outdoor show. The sound of pure joy.

Conor Walsh – 11pm Friday / 10pm Saturday, Body & Soul Bandstand Stage

The breathtakingly gentle piano of Walsh echoes some ebony-and-ivory contemporaries such as Nils Frahm and Dustin O’Halloran. The Mayo man’s fresh approach to the piano is a welcome addition to wonderful year of new Irish music we are having, and he’ll be playing two ever-so-intimate gigs over the weekend – on the Bandstand stage in the Body & Soul area on Friday at 11pm and Saturday at 10pm.

Ham Sandwich – 3pm, Electric Arena, Sunday

Two years ago, Ham Sandwich launched a guerrilla raid on the Picnic, playing three shows. In 2014 they can choose to be more selective, safe in the knowledge that they arrive with the wind in their sails following a triumphant Olympia show and their reputation as one of our best live acts secure. The third album work has to start soon but this is their moment, this is their perfect moment.

Jungle – 6.45pm, Rankin Woods, Sunday

Having landed with an almighty wallop this year with their breakthrough single ‘Busy Earnin”, Jungle (pictured) were practically unavoidable for most of the summer. So with one eye on what’s left of it (the summer, not the song) the west London soul revivalists will either be the perfect accompaniment to a sunny day or warm us up while the heavens open.

Kate Boy – 12.30am, Body & Soul Stage, Saturday

There are more right angles in a Kate Boy track than in the leaving cert maths syllabus. Upbeat year mysterious, Swedish pop in every colour of dark grey and silver, dance music for people who know you can’t dance in heels and a stage show of back-lit silhouetted mastery. A perfect parcel.

London Grammar – 9.30pm, Electric Arena, Saturday

It’s been a short whirlwind ride around the world a few times in the last year for these guys, growing in stature as a live entity each time they pass us. Their simple set-up belies the multi-layered feel of a bigger band, and it’s Hannah Reid’s annunciated vocals that you’ll want to wash over you in Stradbally. A tender wave of heart-rending torch songs for the modern age.

Outkast – 10.15pm, Main Stage, Sunday

Having recently reformed and fresh from bestowing plaudits upon Kate Bush, Big Boi and his OutKast compatriot Andre 3000 bring their unique sound to Stradbally for what is surely going to be one of the gigs of the year. Their jazzy, funky and altogether unique take on hip-hop has had people shaking it like a Polaroid picture for years now and finally an Irish crowd will have the pleasure of doing it for real.

Oxjam Stage – Friday, Saturday, Sunday

In previous years, the Oxjam Stage has simply been an open mic affair but this weekend will see ourselves, Homebeat and Abner Browns take the programming reigns. See the full run down here.

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Rankin Stage times http://state.ie/news/rankin-stage-times http://state.ie/news/rankin-stage-times#comments Thu, 28 Aug 2014 09:24:31 +0000 http://state.ie/?p=65569 More Electric Picnic details:

Saturday
11.10pm-12.30pm: Le Galaxie
10pm-11pm: Omar Souleyman
8pm-9.30pm: Annie Mac
6.45pm-730pm: Walking On Cars
5.30pm-6pm: Cathy Davey
4.15pm-5pm: Twin Shadow
2pm-2.45pm: Vann Music
1.30pm-2.15pm: Booka Brass Band

Sunday
11pm-12pm: The Minutes
9.30pm-10.30pm: Kelis
8pm-9pm: Flume
6.45pm-7.30pm: Jungle
5.30pm-6.15pm: Neneh Cherry
4.15pm-5pm: Stephen Malkmus
3pm-3.45pm: Jenny Lewis
1.45pm-2.30pm: Acrobat

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State’s Faces for Oxjam showtimes - Bringing our favourite new music to Electric Picnic http://state.ie/features/states-faces-for-oxjam-showtimes http://state.ie/features/states-faces-for-oxjam-showtimes#comments Thu, 28 Aug 2014 09:04:50 +0000 http://state.ie/?p=65565 The sun is shining (for the moment), the Electric Picnic is round the corner and all is right with the world. We at State are particularly looking forward to Saturday night, when we host the Oxjam tent – presenting a live version of our ongoing Faces series.

Here are all the details:

5.30pm Voxx
6.25pm Punch Face Champions
7.20pm Jelly Mouth
8.10pmOtherkin
9pm Hare Squead
10pm The Wonder Villains
11pm The Clameens (replacing Amdiships)
12am The Notas
1am Beach
2am Simi Crowns
3am Bitch Falcon

Friday will see Homebeat choosing the line-up, while Abner Browns curate on Sunday. See below for the full run down.

oxjam

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Million Dollar Arm - Every pitcher tells a story http://state.ie/film/million-dollar-arm http://state.ie/film/million-dollar-arm#comments Wed, 27 Aug 2014 17:46:00 +0000 http://state.ie/?p=65559 Director: Craig Gillespie
Cast: Jon Hamm, Bill Paxton and Lake Bell
Certificate: PG
Running Time: 124 minutes
Release Date: August 29th

Based on a true story, well as true a story as Disney would allow, Million Dollar Arm focuses on sports agent J.B. Bernstein (Jon Hamm) who in an effort to save his struggling agency, comes up with an idea to start a reality show in India to try and find cricket bowlers and turn them into baseball pitchers. Selling the idea to Chang (Tzi Ma), an Asian businessman who is looking to invest in Asian athletes, Bernstein travels throughout India eventually finding two hopefuls, Rinku (Suraj Sharma) and Dinesh (Madhur Mittal). Soon they head back to the U.S. for training in the hopes of being signed to a major league team.

One issue that the film has is with the character of Bernstein. This is not down to the performance of Jon Hamm who delivers all the charm of Mad Man’s Don Draper, albeit a Disneyifed non-smoking, less alcoholic version, and remains a very watchable screen presence throughout. It’s down to the fact that the storyline for Bernstein is nothing more than a typical redemption story. From the very beginning we can tell how everything is going to turn out. He lives a bachelor lifestyle, sleeping with numerous models; I wonder if he will learn to settle down, especially since his good looking tenet/neighbour (Lake Bell) seems to have an interest with him? Workaholic? Surely he’ll realise there is more to life than work. And I wonder if having to take care of two Indian teenagers will teach him all about responsibility? Does the Pope shit in the woods?

Another problem with Bernstein is that the character’s arc, going from riches to slightly less riches and back to riches again, is not the most relatable story. When the characters idea of a sacrifice is to trade in his sports car for a five door family car, it is quite a challenge to really sympathise with him. Ultimately there is something rather hollow about a wealthy person realising that there is more to life than money.

Perhaps the film would have been more interesting should the filmmakers had decided to focus more on the two Indian players instead. Having come from poor backgrounds, what they go through is a life changing experience and the performances of Sharma and Mittal, both would be best known in the west for their work in Life of Pi and Slumdog Millionaire respectively, are likable for an audience to engage in. Sadly, as the film decides to focus its attention on the generic first world problems of J.B. Bernstein, their story is relegated to a sub-plot while their characters are more often used as vessels for a series of culture clash gags.

This is not to say that the film terrible. The performances are pretty solid and they are some good supporting turns by Bill Paxton as a Zen like pitching coach, and Alan Arkin gets a couple of decent laughs as a cranky old baseball scout. All this however cannot overcome the formulaic nature of the film that makes it pleasant enough to watch but struggles to leave any impact after.

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Electric Arena stage times http://state.ie/news/electric-arena-stage-times http://state.ie/news/electric-arena-stage-times#comments Wed, 27 Aug 2014 11:25:13 +0000 http://state.ie/?p=65556 The next set of details for this weekend’s Electric Picnic:

Friday
10pm-12pm: James Murphy

Saturday
12.30pm-1.45am: SBTRKT
11pm-12pm: James Vincent McMorrow
9.30pm-10.30pm: London Grammar
8pm-9pm: Metronomy
6.30pm-7.15pm: Clean Bandit (pictured)
4.45pm-5.30pm: We Cut Corners
3.15pm-4pm: Raglans
1.45pm-2.30pm: Daniel James

Sunday
10.30pm-12am: Mogwai
8.30pm-9.45pm: Hercules & Love Affair
7pm-8pm: St Vincent
5.30pm-6.30pm: The 1975
4.15pm-5pm: Laura Mvula
3pm-3.45pm: Ham Sandwich
1.45pm-2.30pm: Nick Mulvey

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Faces of the Week: Jelly Mouth - Shake it like a Polaroid picture http://state.ie/features/faces-of-the-week-jelly-mouth http://state.ie/features/faces-of-the-week-jelly-mouth#comments Tue, 26 Aug 2014 22:56:18 +0000 http://state.ie/?p=65554 Formed in January 2013 around the songwriter and vocalist Daniel O’Neill, Jelly Mouth are certainly an interesting addition to the Dublin scene. In the grand tradition of acts such as Sultans Of Ping FC, the Rubber Bandits and other great Irish eccentric, their songs catch the attention thanks to the unpredictability, comic and eccentric elements within. Winners of the King Kong Club’s recent competition, the band play State Faces for Oxjam at the Electric Picnic on Saturday night.

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Sin City: A Dame to Kill For - Black and white town http://state.ie/film/sin-city-a-dame-to-kill-for http://state.ie/film/sin-city-a-dame-to-kill-for#comments Tue, 26 Aug 2014 15:52:00 +0000 http://state.ie/?p=65545 Director: Frank Miller and Robert Rodriguez
Cast: Mickey Rourke, Josh Brolin, Jessica Alba, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Eva Green
Certificate: 16
Running Time: 102 mins
Release Date: August 25th

Frank Miller and Robert Rodriguez reunite for the sequel to 2005’s Sin City. Based on Miller’s series of graphic novels, A Dame To Kill For follows its predecessor’s lead by tackling multiple storylines, in this case two from Miller’s books and two that he wrote specifically for the movie. We are also, as before, treated to an unparalleled ensemble cast, it would seem every A-lister in Hollywood was eager to be associated with it.

Super-stylised, in stark black and white, with flashes of colour, the film visually emulates a comic-book, with graphic ultra-violence to boot. In tone the film is reminiscent of pulp noir; gumshoe detectives with gravelly voices saving damsels in distress. In fact there may not be any gravel left in Hollywood after this outing, with every male actor determined to groan their way through proceedings a-la Tom Waits.

What is notable is that male characters are the only ones to get internal monologues; we see Sin City through their eyes. While there are physical, violently powerful women, only Eva Green’s character is a match for this male dominated world, and even she can only succeed by using her body; in fact her breasts should really have their own billing as they are as much a focus of the camera’s gaze as anything else on screen.

The violence is cartoonish, yet a severed head at one point brought a bit of a wince and a thought that perhaps audiences today are surrounded by too many real life acts of barbarity to relish this any more. Sin City is an empty moral shell, perhaps a more accurate reflection of society than we would wish.

In terms of pure entertainment, A Dame to Kill For is lacking. The original Sin City was fresh and stunning, like nothing we’d seen before, the effect is lessened when repeated. The comic book feel also leads to some oddly static scenes, where the camera lingers a little bit too long, as if waiting for us to turn the page.

It’s hard to call the performances in this one, as the actors really ham it up. A wildly melodramatic performance from Eva Green steals the show, while Gordon-Levitt is sadly underused after a promising opening. Powers Boothe, as usual, is a flawless, grinning villain, but the rest of the cast phone it in. While the plots aren’t complicated, if you haven’t seen the first instalment, and in fact if it’s not particularly fresh in your mind, you will struggle to keep up at points, as there are many references to it, not least a ghostly Bruce Willis, who may well have wandered in from The Sixth Sense.

In all, Sin City: A Dame to Kill For is a competent sequel, but really one for the die-hards that brings nothing new to the table.

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Scroobius Pip brings Speech Development to Dublin http://state.ie/news/scroobius-pip-brings-speech-development-to-dublin http://state.ie/news/scroobius-pip-brings-speech-development-to-dublin#comments Tue, 26 Aug 2014 10:50:59 +0000 http://state.ie/?p=65552 Soon to be at a loose end following the end of his partnership with Dan Le Sac, Scroobius Pip is focusing on his own Speech Development label – taking two of the acts on a tour that calls at the Workman’s Club on November 20th. B Dolan (pictured) and warrenpeace will be representing the music side of things, with Pip hosting and DJing. Tickets are on sale now.

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Samhain Festival returns http://state.ie/news/samhain-festival-returns http://state.ie/news/samhain-festival-returns#comments Tue, 26 Aug 2014 10:26:55 +0000 http://state.ie/?p=65550 Presented by the dream team of Archetype, Hidden Agenda, Bodytonic, & Bedlam, the Samhain Festival is back for a second time on October 26th. Taking place in the new venue of Loughcrew Gardens, Co, Meath, the bill so far features Jon Hopkins (pictured), John Talabot, Maya Jane Coles, Booka Shade and Jimmy Edgar, with more acts to be announced.

Early Bird tickets are on sale now priced €35.

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Electric Picnic Main Stage times http://state.ie/news/electric-picnic-main-stage-times http://state.ie/news/electric-picnic-main-stage-times#comments Tue, 26 Aug 2014 09:40:08 +0000 http://state.ie/?p=65548 The full details of this weekend’s Electric Picnic are starting to emerge. Body and Soul have posted their running order here and now we have the main stage times:

Friday

10.45pm-12am: Pet Shop Boys
9pm-10.15pm: Foals
7.15pm-8.15pm: Blondie
6pm-6.45pm: The Strypes
5pm-5.30pm: Tvvins

Saturday

12.30am-1.45am: Chic
10.35pm-11.50pm: Portishead
8.45pm-9.55pm: Paolo Nutini
7pm-8.05pm: Bombay Bicycle Club
5.30pm-6.25pm: Hozier
3.45pm-4.45pm: Wild Beasts
2pm-3pm: The Stranglers
12.30pm-1.30pm: Trinity Orchestra

Sunday

10.15pm-12am: Outkast
8.30pm-9.45pm: Beck
7pm-8pm: Lily Allen
5.25pm-6.25pm: SimpleMinds
3.50pm-4.50pm: Sinead O’Connor
2.20pm-3.20pm: The Wailers
1pm-2pm: Dublin Gospel Choir

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It’s Miller Time - A comic book doyen's troubled relationship with Hollywood http://state.ie/features/its-miller-time http://state.ie/features/its-miller-time#comments Mon, 25 Aug 2014 17:16:27 +0000 http://state.ie/?p=65506 Frank Miller was once like the old blues musicians whose work was shamelessly plundered by early rock bands but the last decade has seen him finally achieve public recognition in his own right.

The comic book writer and artist has emerged as one of the biggest influences on modern comic book films and he remains very much at the heart of what is now a mainstream genre. It’s easy to forget that he once turned his back on the film industry following his frustrating experiences as the scriptwriter for Robocop 2 and Robocop 3.

“I learned the same lesson,” Miller later recalled.

“Don’t be the writer. The director’s got the power. The screenplay is a fire hydrant, and there’s a row of dogs around the block waiting for it.”

Miller was one of the pioneers who revolutionised the world of comics in the eighties and nineties. Sanitised, spandex-wearing heroes were replaced by antiheroes and the new books’ psychological complexity, provocative themes and social commentary started to attract an older audience.

Miller made his name as a writer and penciller on Marvel’s Daredevil, rebooting the character and introducing a darker tone and a violent, noirish edge. He also introduced a new character called Elektra before brutally killing her off in a shocking storyline.

However, he would have no direct input into the lacklustre Daredevil and Elektra films that were released in the early 2000s.

It would be his reinvention of Batman in 1986 that would reclaim the character from the camp stylings of the sixties TV series and continue to influence big screen adaptations of the character.

Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns was a seminal miniseries that featured an ageing Batman coming out of retirement to renew his war on crime. Batman was re-imagined as a morally ambiguous anti-hero whose borderline psychosis and vigilante methods were portrayed with a previously unseen maturity and brutality.

The book would redefine the character for future generations and pave the way for Tim Burton’s Batman in 1989, often cited as the forerunner for the modern superhero film.

His follow-up, Batman: Year One, portrayed a gritty, realistic take on Batman’s first steps as a costumed vigilante and it would prove to be an obvious inspiration for Christopher Nolan’s reboot of the franchise.

Just before Batman Begins was released in 2005, Miller finally broke into Hollywood on his own terms when director Robert Rodriguez convinced him to attempt an ambitious adaptation of one of his classic comics.

The neo-noir tales of Sin City feature anti-heroes, call girls, corrupt officials and distinctive black and white visuals that seemed to defy an on-screen adaptation. Rodriguez produced a short test sample of what he planned to do and Miller was sold, not least by the chance to join Rodriguez behind the camera and finally get access to the seat of power.

The resulting film brilliantly captured the essence of the books and its success offered a form of redemption following his bitter experience on the Robocop films.

Sin City was followed by an adaptation of 300, Miller’s gory but poetic tribute to the Battle of Thermoplylae. The striking artwork and bloody passion of his book was translated onto the big screen in 2006 by Zac Synder, whose stylised approach brought the pages to life. It proved to be a major box office hit and added to the growing fanbase that was now seeking out the writer’s published work.

The one speed bump on Miller’s cinematic career was his solo directorial debut, an ill-judged adaptation of Will Eisner’s work called The Spirit. It was a critical and box office flop but it wasn’t enough to derail his forward momentum.

A sequel to 300, based on his comic Xerxes, was released earlier this year ahead of the much anticipated Sin City sequel,Sin City: A Dame to Kill For.

Meanwhile, Miller’s wider influence continues to resonate in the cinemas as DC and Marvel repeatedly mine his back catalogue.

The recent Wolverine sequel was set in Japan and it borrowed liberally from the clawed mutant’s first solo run, which was pencilled and co-plotted by Miller and written by Chris Claremont. The spin-off helped to establish Wolverine’s identity outside of the X-Men and the enduring popularity of the character would see him take centre stage in most of the X-Men films.

Meanwhile, the upcoming Batman vs Superman is set to reference Miller’s work once again. It features an older Batman and a storyline based on the rivalry between Batman and Superman, a theme first established in the The Dark Knight Returns but extensively explored in the comic book world ever since.

Maybe his recent success has helped but Miller remains remarkably magnanimous about his work for DC and Marvel being constantly looted for ideas. He recently cited the creators who inspired him and described himself as a “contributor to the collective force.”

“But I wouldn’t mind if they bought me a car,” he added.

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Queens of the Stone Age – Belsonic, Belfast – in photos http://state.ie/photo-gallery/queens-of-the-stone-age-belsonic-belfast-in-photos http://state.ie/photo-gallery/queens-of-the-stone-age-belsonic-belfast-in-photos#comments Mon, 25 Aug 2014 12:37:56 +0000 http://state.ie/?p=65512 Queens of the Stone Age, The Minutes and Brody Dalle photographed for State at Belsonic by Olga Kuzmenko.

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State Faces of September details - Musical life post Stradbally http://state.ie/features/state-faces-of-september-details http://state.ie/features/state-faces-of-september-details#comments Mon, 25 Aug 2014 09:20:24 +0000 http://state.ie/?p=65509 Not content with hosting the Saturday night for Oxjam at the Electric Picnic, our regular monthly Faces night returns to the Mercantile on 6th September for another evening of quality new music. Our guests this time round are alternative guitar types Otherkin, Popical Island mainstay and now solo artist Paddy Hanna (pictured) and Rebecca Collins, last seen here as a member of Danish band The Unusual History of Ether. Doors are at 8.30pm and it’s free in.

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Lucy - Push it to the limit(less) http://state.ie/film/lucy http://state.ie/film/lucy#comments Sat, 23 Aug 2014 13:24:52 +0000 http://state.ie/?p=65503 Directors: Luc Besson
Cast: Scarlett Johansson, Morgan Freeman and Choi Min-sik

Certificate: 15A
Running Time: 89 minutes
Release Date: August 22nd

Luc Besson has walked the line between absurd and brilliant over and over in his career. He brought us The Fifth Element and the equally brilliant Leon, but last years The Family was a low and Taken 2 wasnt much better. Where Lucy sits in the pile is not necessarily all that clear but then Besson in this form is hard to explain anyway.

Lucy is young and enjoying life in Taipei, shes just having fun so why not. Well thats not exactly the right way to think about it because her attitude finds her waking up in the company of some very nasty people who place a package of drugs in her abdomen. At gunpoint and with a belly full of synthetic drugs, Lucy has no choice other than compliance. When a chemical reaction occurs with a large amount of the drugs entering her system, her brain starts to develop at an unfathomable rate. We are then exposed to the full potential of the human brain as Lucy goes through a number of mental and physical changes. In order to ensure she doesnt drop dead from the impact of the drugs Lucy pursues the other drug mules to Paris where all hell breaks loose as the Taiwanese drug lord follows her in order to retrieve his product.

Scarlett Johansson has had a pretty good year to date starring in Her and Under The Skin, arguably two of the best movies of the year, and she delivers the goods again in Lucy. She is more than capable of handling the action scenes as exemplified by her role in The Avengers so when she does start kicking ass she knocks it out of the park. Morgan Freeman is basically just playing himself so theres little to add on that front and Choi Min-sik is almost pantomime in his delivery of mob boss Mr. Jang, but he makes it work.

The real strength in the overall production is the direction and editing by Besson. He is aided by some fantastic cinematography by Thierry Arbogast but it really works because Besson edits it into a frenetic series of scenes that perfectly fit the 89-minute running time. The cut fits the tempo and they dont faff about trying to explain the science so if youre truly along for the ride youre not going to give a toss. One car chase scene in Paris is the best car chase weve had since The Bourne Identity blew our minds on the streets of Paris in 2002.

It looks great, it features some excellent camera work and if you love not giving a damn about the finer details, then Lucy is where its at. Jump on board and enjoy the ride.

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What If - Manic street creature http://state.ie/film/what-if http://state.ie/film/what-if#comments Sat, 23 Aug 2014 12:58:59 +0000 http://state.ie/?p=65500 Director: Michael Dowse
Cast: Daniel Radcliffe, Zoe Kazan, Mackenzie Davis
Certificate: 15a
Running Time: 102 minutes 
Release Date: August 22nd

What If takes a whimsical look at the dreaded “friend zone” but it wears its romantic idealism on its fashionably threadbare sleeves.

Daniel Radcliffe stars as Wallace, a medical school dropout whose cynical attitude to love is tested following a chance encounter with an animator named Chandry (Zoe Kazan). Unfortunately, Chandry has a long-term boyfriend named Ben so a will-they-won’t-they dynamic ensues when the pair try to enjoy their shared connection as platonic friends.

The film’s collection of oddball characters might swear and drink and deliver sarky lines but they also come complete with the obligatory hearts of gold. Their carefully-constructed “realness” can seem almost too perfectly imperfect at times but a smart script, a steady supply of witty one-liners and some good characterisation quickly draws the audience in.

There is an obvious on-screen chemistry between Radcliffe and Kazan and their off-kilter banter and easy intimacy forms the basis for a believable friendship, even if the sexual tension fails to set the screen on fire.

The former Mr. Potter is unlikely to carve out a new career as a romantic lead. There hasn’t been this much awkward Englishness on display in a rom-com since Hugh Grant was in his prime. Radcliffe does sincerity better than most but he often ends up looking a tad jittery when he’s trying to convey passion or vigour.

However, Kazan is excellent in the role of Chandry, managing to subtly convey her internal conflict as she balances her responsibilities to her boyfriend and her conflicted attachment to Wallace. She brings a mischievous innocence to the role and acts as the emotional anchor for proceedings.

Girls‘ Adam Driver exudes effortless charisma as Wallace’s best friend and his relationship with his girlfriend Dalia (Megan Park) also provides a counterpoint to the leads’ repressed desires. The former’s carefree, passionate sex-on-the-kitchen-table approach offers a much-needed foil to Wallace and Chandry’s goofy conversations and chaste urges.

The unfortunate Ben (Rafe Spall) ends up being a bit of a caricature by comparison, getting just enough personality to be sympathetic but not enough to divide the audience’s loyalty.

The film boasts plenty of clever dialogue, even if some of the exchanges can seem a bit over-scripted, and it manages to inject some genuine personality into the main characters. The AC Newman score, the Toronto backdrop and the subtle use of animation all give it a distinctive look and feel and create a fitting backdrop for its protagonists.

The bawdy humour combines with the indie tone to make the film a fairly pleasing affair as it tries its best to escape the cloying shackles of the genre. One of What If‘s most redeeming features is the way it focuses on the journey rather than the destination. Sadly, it doesn’t take long for the rom-com conventions to gallop over the horizon and much of the film’s energy dissipates as it drifts into the more cuddly realm of romance.

What If is like the craft beer of rom-coms, offering a more understated and bespoke alternative to the bland flavours and polished uniformity of the usual offerings. At the end of the day, it may contain many of the same basic ingredients but its quirky charm and quickfire humour makes it stand out from the crowd.

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Queens Of The Stone Age – Belfast - THIS IS GOING TO ROCK http://state.ie/live-reviews/queens-of-the-stone-age-belfast http://state.ie/live-reviews/queens-of-the-stone-age-belfast#comments Fri, 22 Aug 2014 16:27:09 +0000 http://state.ie/?p=65493 Tonight, as the penultimate Belsonic event graces Belfast city, Custom House Square is hosting the inimitable Queens of the Stone Age, one of the biggest bands to have ever been involved with the annual mini-festival. Approaching the open air venue which is nestled between the city’s Cathedral and Titanic quarters, the atmosphere surrounding the square is one of giddy excitement and there is something distinctly carnivalesque in the air. It’s early days and the gates won’t open for some time, so, we sit directly across from the venue and watch as fans old and young descend upon the gates, biding their time. So far, scores of people are meeting and greeting whilst ear to ear grins convey the youthful eagerness that bonds them. Soon, scores of people turns to hundreds and as we make my way in through the gates, the general consensus from overheard chattering seems to be that “THIS IS GOING TO ROCK.”

Which, as first The Minutes get going, is an accurate description. The Dublin rockers do a grand job of warming up the growing crowd with their pummelling riffs and thrashing drums, followed by Brody Dalle and her ensemble. Cutting an imposing figure on stage with bleach blonde hair and head to toe black garb, Dalle (better half of tonight’s leading man) works through a selection of her solo tracks as well as throwing in some well-knowns from her days with The Distillers. Dalle and her band are raw, energetic and snarling. The crowd, now bloody massive, are suitably entertained and an ever expanding sea of fists-in-the-air confirms this. As they leave the stage, the tension is tangible and the wait for the main course feels like forever.

This is a crowd who want their eardrums immediately smashed and their souls shaken. Anticipation does not do this feeling justice. Someone at the front spots the instrument and equipment change-over causing a ripple of hollers and roars that rips through the crowd. This is it. This is happening. They emerge. Josh Homme, towering and confident, leads the band into the opening track ‘You Think I Ain’t Worth A Dollar, But I Feel Like A Millionaire,’ sending the crowd into hysterics. Then, as the opening bars of ‘No One Knows’ start to ring out, the near capacity square becomes frenzied. Homme and co. are a tight unit, blasting out tracks from their back catalogue with urgency and technical superiority. These are musicians whose aim is to send the crowd insane, and, as ‘Monsters In The Parasol,’ ‘I’m Designer’ and ‘Little Sister’ are run through, the evidence points to a job extremely well done.

The focus tonight is certainly pinpointed on their wider catalogue, although there are of course some select tracks from their latest full-length, ‘I Sat By The Ocean,’ and ‘If I Had A Tail,’ amongst others. People are maniacally head banging, jumping around like chuffed lunatics and the atmosphere couldn’t be better. This is hypnotic and heavy, built on those uniquely fuzz drenched riffs and frenetic drum hits; it’s pure powerhouse rock. There are moments of interaction too though, with Homme addressing some of the onlookers (and their dog, “I love you, you fucking puppy!”) from the surrounding apartments. He’s good with the crowd as well, although to be fair, he doesn’t really have to be considering the heavenly noise his band are producing. They run through some more classics, including ‘Feel Good Hit Of The Summer,’ ‘The Lost Art Of Keeping A Secret,’ and a particularly gnarly rendition of ‘Go With The Flow.’

At this point, there is no return. We have been truly and thoroughly rocked and as the band leave the stage, the ever reliable mantra of “ONE MORE TUNE!” is repeated until it no longer makes sense. It works though, and Queens of the Stone Age return to the stage to treat us with ‘Make It Wit Chu’ and finally, the blistering, frantic ‘Song For The Dead,’ which is by far the highlight of an extremely satisfying evening. Rapturous applause and a chorus of growled “YEEEOOOO’s” concedes that the crowd have enjoyed every minute of this evening in the heart of Belfast. Darkness shrouds the stage and we take our leave, panting, exhausted but good lord, completely fulfilled. Queens of the Stone Age – you have wrecked us in the best possible way.

Photo: Olga Kuzmenko

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Basement Jaxx – Junto - Where's their head at? http://state.ie/album-reviews/basement-jaxx-junto http://state.ie/album-reviews/basement-jaxx-junto#comments Fri, 22 Aug 2014 16:16:42 +0000 http://state.ie/?p=65494 Returning after a five year hiatus – even with seven successful albums behind you – is a daunting prospect for most but, if Junto is anything to go by, Basement Jaxx aren’t bothered. It’s evident pretty early on that the veterans are not out to break any moulds or to fit in with the current electro crop either. They’re here to do what Basement Jaxx do best – make people get up and dance.

From opener ‘Power to the People’ on, Junto is all about positivity and uplifting the listeners. Filled with steel tropical drums and background chanting, the song goes round and round over the five minute mark which, by the time you get off, leaves you feeling a little dizzy and nauseous. ‘Unicorn’ offers some light relief, but there is more sugary sweet dance in new single ‘Never Say Never’, attempting to mix ballad vocals with hyper beats. ‘We Are Not Alone’ and ‘What’s The News’ blend in together in one wishy washy, forgettable mess and both feel completely unnecessary. ‘Summer Dem’ is an irritant with bizarre Scottish vocals and an ’80s feel and it’s easy to imagine a kitsch ‘Oh My Gosh’ style video to accompany it.

‘Buffalo’ is the duo’s dubstep test and acts as an interlude, but proves to be one of the strongest tracks – if only for the fact that it ends where the other songs begin to become overbearing. The second half fizzles rather than pops with Basment Jaxx more keen to show there diverse sound rather than create anything worthwhile. ‘Love Is At Your Side’ is a disappointing closer, sounding far to generic and lo – fi for a band that have brought us a succession of dancefloor classics.

Junto reads like a greatest hits album without any great hits. A band who are clearly delighted to be back making music, in the excitement they’ve ended up producing an album of predominately filler with songs that are too long and repetitive. With no stand out, generation defining tracks, this unfortunately just doesn’t cut it.

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State’s New Music Mixtape #20 - Friday we're in love http://state.ie/features/states-new-music-mixtape-20 http://state.ie/features/states-new-music-mixtape-20#comments Fri, 22 Aug 2014 14:34:37 +0000 http://state.ie/?p=65491 There’s noise a plenty on this week’s mixtape, from Athens based duo Cancers (pictured) through to Perfect Pussy’s Sugarcubes cover and new music from Mazes. There’s also album tasters from Caribou, The Twilight Sad and Peaking Lights, the dark folk of Little May, a very different version of Black Flag’s ‘Breakdown On The Beach’, something very, very cool from Wampire and more. Have a good weekend.

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Getting Heard…can Irish music reach the masses? - The State of the Nation Address at this weekend's Another Love Story http://state.ie/features/getting-heard http://state.ie/features/getting-heard#comments Fri, 22 Aug 2014 07:46:02 +0000 http://state.ie/?p=65447 The Irish music scene is in particularly rude health at the moment. As a State.ie reader, you’ll most probably have noticed – being that we bring you a monthly live triple bill at State.ie’s Faces series, plus twenty fine new acts every January and another new Face each and every week. Of course, we’re not the only ones as all our colleagues in the digital world throw their weight behind a plethora of acts too. Turn on your radio late at night – an archaic concept I know – and you’ll find the likes of 8Radio, TXFM, Dan Hegarty, Colm O’Sullivan and Paul McLoone doing their bit. So, all’s well then?

To an extent. With all the best will in the world, none of this is going to propel an act to a mass audience – although it might prove a starting point. The problem is that the breakdown of the music industry has created the sort of inequity in resources that the Premier League would be proud of. We’ve seen that Irish acts are more than capable of making a name for themselves – look at the recent success of Imelda May, Kodaline, The Script, Villagers and growing stature of Little Green Cars, Delorentos and Walking On Cars. What connects them is the support of a major, or at least influential, record label. Even in these days of the democratisation of music, it’s hard to see any new act achieving any substantial success without the support of the old guard. Take a look at our Too Good To Be Forgotten feature to see how things have changed since the days when the likes of Power Of Dreams could pick up a major deal with ease.

On Twitter last week, the Planet Mu signed Solar Bears were decrying the lack of labels in Ireland. They have a point. The demise of the Richter Collective did leave a gaping hole, with perhaps only Psychonavigation, Out On A Limb, Reekus, Delphi, Rubyworks, Smalltown America and Popical Island – itself a collective more than anything else – still flying the flag. As fine work as these and others do, the artists represent only a tiny proportion of the acts active at the moment.

It’s the same story when it comes to gigs. At the top sit the main two promoters, at the other end a loosely connected collection of venues, live nights and dedicated individuals and groups. Again the middle ground is lacking, a space where acts can play beyond their own boundaries and find a new audience. Bodytonic, Skinny Wolves and Choice Cuts have built their own niches through a commitment to quality shows and have constantly expanded, while Homebeat recently took Carriages on a national tour and this weekend will join with Happenings to stage the Another Love Story festival. Venues and promoters in Cork, Galway, Belfast and Limerick work tirelessly to give acts a break too.

Again then, what’s the problem? For a small country, Ireland has a remarkably inventive and creative music scene. Some amazing music is being made, music that deserves to be heard by more than just those in the know or who are prepared to go and hunt it out. While some are producing sounds that by their very nature are going to find them a select audience, there are some potentially major names in our midst – from the hip-hop of Hare Squead and Simi Crowns to the dance of Kormac and Daithí (signed to Sony in Ireland), the haunting Somerville, the alien pop of Nanu Nanu, the furious Bitch Falcon and many more. People WILL love this music, they just need to come across it. It’s taken Ham Sandwich a decade and going through more crap than most, but their Olympia sell out in April proves as much.

Yet should this be something that bands should worry about? Is the mainstream really something to strive for, dominated as it is by soundalike pop and dance music? It’s not a question of competing with Taylor Swift but one of scale. The subject of musicians getting paid reared its head again over the summer yet if more people downloaded the music, bought the records and went to the gigs, would that not get the money flowing?

There’s one name I haven’t mentioned. On July 4th 2013, State premiered the EP by a new Irish artist signed to the Rubyworks label. A couple of months later we did the same with the video. Now signed to Island records, Hozier has just been added to the BBC Radio 1 playlist. The glass ceiling can be smashed, we just need to make sure it happens more often.

Getting Heard will be the subject of the State.ie of the Nation Address at Another Love Story on Saturday at 4.30pm – featuring Emmett Condon from Homebeat, Stephen White from The Last Mixed Tape, Roger Quail from Rubyworks and Davey Moor from little xs for eyes.

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No Spill Blood and Deafheaven – Whelans, Dublin - A thousand words - in pictures http://state.ie/features/photo-special/no-spill-blood-and-deafheaven-whelans-dublin http://state.ie/features/photo-special/no-spill-blood-and-deafheaven-whelans-dublin#comments Thu, 21 Aug 2014 19:44:04 +0000 http://state.ie/?p=65472 An intense narrative from the recent Whelan’s gig, the plot played out by No Spill Blood and Deafheaven on the night, captured on camera for State by Olga Kuzmenko.

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Sinead O’Connor – NCH, Dublin – in photos http://state.ie/photo-gallery/sinead-oconnor-nch-dublin-in-photos http://state.ie/photo-gallery/sinead-oconnor-nch-dublin-in-photos#comments Thu, 21 Aug 2014 19:24:47 +0000 http://state.ie/?p=65461 The indefatigable Sinead O’Connor photographed for State at the National Concert Hall, Dublin by Paulo Goncalves.

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