State Magazine Music news, reviews, photos, features, films. Mon, 31 Aug 2015 16:26:31 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Premieres and podcasts from Ireland's foremost music site. State Magazine yes State Magazine (State Magazine) Music news, reviews, photos, features, films. State Magazine State’s Faces for Oxjam preview - Stradbally here we come Mon, 31 Aug 2015 16:26:31 +0000 Not only does this Friday see the start of the Electric Picnic, but also our second year as one of the curators of the Oxjam Stage – alongside Abner Browns and Homebeat. Once again we’ve not only handpicked some of our favourite acts of the moment but also partnered with 2FM and the King Kong Club to bring you a line-up that we feel is pretty fine.

Here’s what we’ve got for you:

3pm – Áine Cahill

Kicking us – and pretty much the whole festival – Cahill draws on influences that reach back to the torch singers of the ’40s, while also taking in the likes of Lady Gaga and Lana Del Rey. A classy way to start the day.

4pm – Wolves Of Youth

There’s plenty of guitar music to come over the course of Friday, not least from this Donegal quartet.

5pm – Beware Of You

Taking the volume up a notch, Dublin five piece Beware Of You join us thanks to the King Kong Club. Having already impressed at our monthly Faces night earlier in the year, we’re expected more of the same here.

6pm – Heroes In Hiding

Overall winners of the 2FM Play The Picnic make their first of two appearances over the weekend. We’d very much like to hear this…

7pm – Megacone

Innovative instrumental rock. Nod your head, wake the dead – as Quiet Riot nearly once said.

8pm – Old Hannah

Now expanded to a six piece (plus occasional brass section), Old Hannah’s sound is growing in a similar manner to encompass a lot more than their original folk and bluegrass roots.

9pm – Robocobra Quartet

One of our Faces of 2015, Robocobra Quartet have more than repaid our faith so far. If you saw them at our launch in January, you’ll already know what an incendiary proposition their mixture of spoken word, hardcore and jazz is on stage.

10pm – Not Monsters

While it was the idea of a mash up between CFIT and Punch Face Champions that originally attracted us to Not Monsters, they have rapidly developed into an absolute must in their own right. Let there be rock.

11pm – Seo Linn

We’re especially with the mix of genres at Oxjam this year, and thus we move from heavy, heavy sounds to Irish trad. Seo Linn mix it up, however, and you’ll probably hear a few familiar tunes in a very different setting.

12am – BeeMickSee

We had to wait till the midnight hour to bring your the BeeMickSee live experience, one of the most downright entertaining shows we’ve seen all year. Get down, jump up.

1am – Dah Jevu

Representing the darker side of Irish hip-hop, Dah Jevu have come a long way in 2015 – both on stage and in the studio. This could well be one of those “I was there” moments.

2am – The Winter Passing

After Bitch Falcon’s epic set last year, we needed something special to see us home so we’re delighted that The Winter Passing have stepped up to the task. There’s a lot to live up to but this WILL be unmissable.

And there’s more. The State DJs will be spinning everything from hip-hop and punk to rock ‘n’ roll, soul, pop, funk, world music and metal inbetween bands and also till 4am. Really, where else do you need to be?

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Wild Promises – Passing Ships - Soul sirens Mon, 31 Aug 2015 15:29:43 +0000 Taken from their forthcoming EP, which is due out in October, State Faces alumni Wild Promises have shared the video for their serene, melodic and startlingly accomplished new single ‘Passing Ships’. Speaking of the track and the meaning behind it, Wild Promises have said that “We live our lives so distractedly, forgetting what is important, and being drawn by the light of every passing ship. This is our tribute to staying on course, and sometimes having to leave a place you love to get where you need to be, albeit with a heavy heart. Dedicated to all our Irish brothers and sisters around the world.” Poignant stuff, and with a self-directed video to boot, the Dublin band are certainly owning their destiny.

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Beach House – Depression Cherry - "Despite the moments of overfamiliarity, there is plenty of beauty to be found ..." Mon, 31 Aug 2015 13:00:55 +0000 There comes a point in every band’s career when the law of diminishing returns begins to set in. Depression Cherry is Baltimore dream pop outfit Beach House’s fifth album and they have yet to really alter their tried and tested formula of reverbed guitars, ethereal synths and programmed drums that we first encountered on their self-titled debut almost a decade ago. With 2010’s Teen Dream, the band upped the stakes in the songwriting department and utilised some extra instrumentation, but 2012’s Bloom saw the duo shrink back to the style that they had built their name with – and it appears that its follow-up has continued in mostly that same vein.

It might not have been this way though. The album’s first single ‘Sparks’ hinted that maybe the duo were ready to mix things up a little with Alex Scally’s noisy guitar and distorted synth lines suggesting a My Bloody Valentine influence on proceedings as Victoria Legrand’s lush vocals simmered just below the surface. This early offering, however, proves to be somewhat of a red herring as the rest of the album reverts back to the hazy, floaty aesthetic that Beach House professed from the beginning. 

Not that there still isn’t a lot to enjoy on this record. Despite the moments of overfamiliarity, there is plenty of beauty to be found within these spare, stark songs – particularly on the record’s first half – and the album is rarely less than pleasant. The opener ‘Levitation’ lives up to its title, easing the listener into the album with uplifting synths and Legrand’s delicate vocals earnestly telling us “there’s a place I want to take you”. ‘Space Song’, meanwhile, has a gentle riff that can’t help but lodge itself in your head and the song contains some of Legrand’s most honest and direct lyrics on the LP.

The second half of the album is unable to keep up the momentum however. ‘PPP’ feels overlong and its circling, arpeggiated guitar never builds to the emotional climax that it aims for while ‘Bluebird’ is nothing that the band have done better elsewhere. The instrumentation on the album seem to be noticeably cleaner and less reliant on reverb compared to previous Beach House releases, stripping away some of the grandiose feeling that was present on the group’s previous efforts.

Overall, the record makes for an enjoyable listen, and is a solid addition to Beach House’s oeuvre, even if it doesn’t quite reach the heady heights of the band’s best work. Beach House’s music will always sound gorgeous, but here’s hoping that the duo look to challenge themselves a little more on their next effort.

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The Clameens – Techno - Pump up the jam Mon, 31 Aug 2015 11:46:24 +0000 Still in their teens, Derry four-piece The Clameens have started to see the kind of success that can take years, and whether it’s down to pure graft or their infectious indie sound, they’re sticking around. Whatever the case may be, ‘Techno’, the first track taken from their forthcoming EP of the same name, is bouncy and full of the youthful energy you’d expect from the lads. Techno is out this September 11th via 25 Hour Convenience Store and you can catch The Clameens at Electric Picnic on September 6th.

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No Escape - Long may you run Mon, 31 Aug 2015 11:41:44 +0000 Director: John Erick Dowdle
Cast: Owen Wilson, Lake Bell and Pierce Brosnan
Certificate: 15a
Running Time: 103 minutes
Release Date: September 4th

Owen Wilson and Lake Bell are heading to “somewhere in Asia” with their two daughters to completely transplant their lives and for Wilson to work for some giant international water company. They meet Pierce Brosnan on their flight, and again in the airport, offering them a lift to their hotel because he’s staying in the same place. They’ve barely had twelve hours to acclimatize when there’s a massive civil uprising in the wake of the assassination of the country’s prime minister, and the family find themselves on the run from a small army of American hating soldiers.

Truth be told, No Escape feels like a zombie movie in more ways than one. Firstly, it’s a product of The Dowdle Brothers, who cut their Hollywood teeth on decent US zombie remake Quarantine. Secondly, the people chasing the nice American family are given little more depth than most walking dead characters; just catch the heroes and do something violent to them. Thirdly, and most importantly, is that zombie movies are often brilliantly reflective metaphors of their time, but No Escape’s message upsettingly appears to be White People = Good, Everyone Else = Bad.

It’s such a shame because the first half of the movie is relentlessly tense, as Wilson gets caught up in the initial coup, then a prolonged escape from their five-star hotel, culminating in a supremely taut rooftop scene. However, once the film drops the charade that the rebels are fighting for a cause, but instead seemingly exist solely to kill this nice American family, all sense of empathy goes out the window, replaced by some tasteless political malarkey about conglomerates ruining third world countries (“They’re actually the fourth world now, honey.” Ugh).

Further missed opportunities abound as Wilson and Bell do pretty well in a genre outside of their normal comfort zone, their kids aren’t completely unlikeable brats (unlike those completely unlikeable brats from, say, World War Z), and the former Bond has a swell time popping up irregularly as a Pierce ex machina to save the day and deliver the only levity to be found throughout the film.

While some directors can handle the strain of making entertainment actually mean something, these writer/directors – who followed up Quarantine with the M Night Shyamalan-scripted Devil and the hilariously bad As Above So Below – clearly aren’t up to the challenge. Thrills and spills? Yes. Subtext? No. Perhaps they’d say it best if they said nothing at all.

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More Electric Picnic stage times revealed Mon, 31 Aug 2015 09:06:19 +0000 With only a few days to go, some more stage times for this year’s Electric Picnic are out – taking in the Main Stage, Body & Soul Main Stage and Rankin Woods:

Friday, September 4th

Main Stage

18:00-18:45: Ham Sandwich
19:15-20:15: The Coronas
20:45-22:00: Grace Jones
22:30-00:00: Underworld

Body and Soul

16:15-16:45: Damsel
17:15-17:45: Joni
18:15-19:00: New Valley Wolves
19:30-20:15: Daithi
20:45-21:15: Simi Crowns
21:40-22:30: CLU
23:00-23:45: Bleeding Heart Pigeons
00:15-01:00: Ho99o9
01:30-02:15: Vaudou Game
02:45-03:30: LA Priest

Rankin Woods

Despacio (James Murphy and 2ManyDJs)

Saturday, September 5th

Main Stage

13:00-14:00: Yurodny
14:30-15:00: Bry
15:45-16:45: The Riptide Movement
17:15-18:15: Future Islands
19:00-20:00: George Ezra
20:30-21:30: Hot Chip
22:00-23:00: Sam Smith
23:30-01:30: Blur (photographed for State by Ste Murray)

Body and Soul

12:00-12:30: Big Jelly
13:00-13:30: Frankenstein Bolts
14:00-14:30: Formidable Veg Sound System
15:00-15:30: Silences
16:00-16:30: GIRO
17:00-17:45: Bitch Falcon
18:15-19:00: I’m Your Vinyl
19:30-20:10: The Hard Ground
20:40-21:15: Everything Shook
21:45-22:45: Meltybrains?
23:15-00:15: Natalie Prass
00:45-01:30: Tanya Tagaq
01:50-02:30: EMBRZ
03:00-03:45: Shamir

Rankin Woods

14:15-15:00: We Cut Corners
15:30-16:00: Declan McKenna
16:45-17:30: SOAK
18:00-19:00: The Staves
19:30-20:30: Battles
21:30-22:15: Yasiin Bey
23:00-00:00: Jon Hopkins

Sunday, September 6th

Main Stage

13:00-14:00: Dublin Gospel Choir
14:30-15:15: Legend
15:45-16:45: Jurassic 5
17:30-18:30: The Boomtown Rats
19:00-20:00: Interpol
20:45-20:00: Manic Street Preachers
22:30-00:00: Florence and the Machine

Body and Soul

12:00-12:30: The Inishowen Gospel Choir
13:00-13:30: Shookrah
14:00-14:30: Rosie Carney
15:00-15:45: Iron Mountain
16:15-16:45: Dear Desert
17:15-18:00: My Tribe Your Tribe
18:30-19:15: Hayes & Leslie
19:45-20:30: Plutonic Dust
21:00-21:45: Buffalo Woman
22:15-23:00: Young Wonder
23:45-00:45: Hundred Waters
01:30-02:30: Puts Marie
03:00-03:45: Hare Squead

Rankin Woods

14:30-15:15: Here We Go Magic
15:45-16:30: Thomston
17:00-17:45: MS MR
18:15-19:00: Gavin James
19:30-20:30: MK
21:00-22:30: Paul Kalkbrenner
23:00-00:00: Le Galaxie

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New Music: Macklemore & Ryan Lewis – ‘Downtown’ featuring Grandmaster Caz, Eric Nally, Kool Moe Dee & Melle Mel Fri, 28 Aug 2015 16:07:16 +0000 Just a few weeks after his duet with Ed Sheeran was released, Macklemore and production partner Ryan Lewis are back with their first proper single for their sophomore album, and it’s very much business as usual. ‘Downtown’ is in the same vein as ‘Thrift Shop’, throwing funny, inoffensive one-liners all over the place, bragging about his new form of transport – The Moped.

Also on board the track are some old-school hip hop legends, a very Mark Ronson-esque production, and a highly entertaining video (see below). No other details just yet on their follow up to hugely successful The Heist album, but expect a release before the year is out.

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Lissie headlines Whelans gig this December Fri, 28 Aug 2015 15:54:55 +0000 After the release of her two albums Catching A Tiger in 2010 and Back To Forever in 2013, Illinois-born county-rock star Lissie has garnered quite the cult following in these neck of the woods. Happy news then that she’ll be bringing a solo acoustic set to Whelans in Dublin on Thursday December 3rd, with tickets going on sale Friday 29th August from €18.

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Justin Bieber’s new Skrillex-produced single ‘What Do You Mean?’ is not what you’d expect Fri, 28 Aug 2015 15:47:09 +0000 Getting on board with a Bieber single is … difficult. Separating art from artist can be beyond our human capabilities when it comes to certain, uhm, “artists”. But when Bieber teamed up with Skrillex/Diplo dream-team Jack U a few months back for the kinda-awesome ‘Where Are You Now?’, chances were that the Biebz was about to take his sound in a new, potentially good direction.

To that end, we have the first single from his as-yet-untitled forthcoming album, which is rumoured to feature Diplo, Drake and even more Skrillex. So what you reckon? Can you keep the gag reflex in check long enough to potentially enjoy ‘What Do You Mean?’

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Kíla —Whelans, Dublin - "Transcending the now..." Fri, 28 Aug 2015 15:17:48 +0000 Do you remember your first time? That moment when your innocence was lost? When you stepped across that line, that Rubicon that couldn’t be uncrossed? A formative, life changing rite of passage that meant you would never be quite the same again. My moment of de-flowering found me leaning against a canteen wall out in UCD in the halcyon days of the early ’90s. Way back when nobody had an arse in their trousers, all one had for warmth was a threadbare lumberjack shirt on ones back, a pair of docks on the feet for ballast (to stop the slightest breeze from blowing your skinny ass away), a 2 litre of Linden in one hand and a dog on a string in the other. Ah, simpler times for simpler people.

I was but a lowly fresh faced undergrad out for a nights frolicking and merriment, when I was caught unawares and waylaid by a gang of marauding troubadours from South County Dublin. An innocent lad fresh from the bog, I didn’t stand a chance against their wily charms and otherworldly experience. Like a lamb to the slaughter they took full advantage of me on that fateful night.

Yep, we all remember our first time. That moment when a band shook us to the core. When they reached out and hit us full square in the solar plexus, forging an indelible connection. Our eureka moment. All others, and there were to be many others, would pale in comparison. For me it was that night out in Belfield, the first time I had my tiny little mind, body and soul blown by Kíla.

Those raggle taggle gypsies ensnared and enchanted me with their heady fusion of trad, folk, Afro and god only knows what else they threw into the mix. Even at that early stage in their career they were more than a match for those who had pioneered and blazed the trail of Celtic music before them. They were more relevant, global and forward looking than Planxty, less laddish-cock-rock than the Horslips and they had more chops, wit and groove about them than even the mighty Moving Hearts. I was pulled in right from the get-go and they quickly became my go-to band for a bit of the auld craic, damhsa agus ceol. I’ve lost count of how many times I saw them over the next few years, the madness and badness all blurring into one. But I can honestly say that I have never seen them phone it in and that every gig was a great night out that usually  involved copious amounts booze, good times and whatever you’re having yourself.

But, like the good Catholic lad that I am, I lapsed and myself and Kíla parted ways. Not so much an excommunication or a divorce, more like a growing apart. They kept on doing their thing, getting bigger and better at it, and I got caught up in the things that “grownups” are supposed to get caught up in. So it’s with a wee bit of trepidation and a lot of anticipation that this Citizen State finds himself once more in a packed sweaty room, this time Whelans, waiting for Kíla to take to the stage. As I look around, I see a few vaguely familiar faces and a lot of not so familiar, the old vanguard mixing it up with the new.

Kíla assume position and take to the boards with their usual quasi-shambolic seemingly haphazard grace and we’re invited to summon the perennially tardy Dee to stage (somethings never change). Finally, with all eight members sardined on stage, they open with ‘Half Eight/Leath ina dhiaidh a hOcht’ and we’re off. There are a couple of members in absentia tonight; most notably Eoin Dillon isn’t present for piping and whistle duties. His place is ably filled by “James from Shankhill”. And whilst Eoin’s loss is akin to Richards not playing a Stones gig, James is more than up to the task and the looks of delight and disbelief in equal measures on his face are quite infectious.

‘Suas Sios’ follows and the musical moves from simmering to bubbling as Kíla move up through the gears and up the ante.. The pace slackens as we’re invited by Ronan to “talk quietly a little quieter” as they showcase the first of two pieces tonight from the soundtrack of ‘Song of the Sea’. Dutiful attentiveness over and the audience are rewarded with the proggy ‘The Length of Space’. If Neu! ever did a trad piece it would surely have sounded like this. At this stage the dance floor of Whelan’s is a-slithering and a-sliding. The tops of pints ending up splashed and sloshed on the floor, as the good people of planet Kíla, the dancers and chancers, the wasters and the wasted, get their collective freaks on. You could power a small city for a year on the energy being generated by both the band and audience here tonight.

Proceedings continue at a fair clip and climax pre-encore with ‘The Skinhead Reels’ and I swear to Sweet Baby Jesus they almost lift the roof the place. Despite their nods to modernity, there’s something ancient, pagan and intrinsically Celtic about Kíla. They tap into your primordial core as they brew up their musical maelstrom. They reach into your soul and lift you up, transcending the now. The lines between performers and audience blur as they feed of us and we feed of them. Each party driving the other onwards and upwards, inescapably bound together as we become enraptured in the carnival-esque cycle of the ceili. After a quick breather they return with ‘Tog e Go Bog e’. The interplay between Ronan’s direct style of sean-nos nua and his cohorts plaintive vocal responses prove to be as evocative as ever. It’s a perfect ending to what has been an almost perfect evening.

If Kíla didn’t exist we’d have to invent them and we would fail miserably for there’s more magic, mischief and melody between their jigs and reels, Horatio, than are dreamt of in our philosophy. But they do exist and our lives are all the better for it. Go raibh maith agaibh a cairde and see you soon!

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Watch Overhead, The Albatross – Big River Man Fri, 28 Aug 2015 12:34:08 +0000 Live videos can be tricky. How do you capture the wild, magnetic force of a group of musicians giving it stacks in all their animalistic glory? Apparently, you get the guitarist to direct. It certainly seems to have worked wonders for the new single from Overhead, The Albatross. ‘Big River Man’ is a triumph of post-rock complexity and not only is it absolutely compelling, its epic nature will leave you suitably exhausted. Cue the ‘ol shivering spine.

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Happenings & Nialler9 begin Minimum Maximum events Fri, 28 Aug 2015 12:05:10 +0000 Starting tonight in the amphitheatre at the Civic Offices at Dublin’s Wood Quay, Happenings and Nialler9 present Minimum Maximum will showcase the best in new music. With a lineup including I Have A Tribe, Stomptown Brass, Interskalactic and HARE SQUEAD, and the open-air goodness of the amphitheatre, the run of Friday night shows over August and September should be nothing short of excellent. Take a look at the details for the three shows:

Friday August 28th
I Have A Tribe
Stomptown Brass
Saint Sister

Friday September 11th
Katharine Philippa

Friday September 25th
HARE SQUEAD (pictured)
Attention Bébé

Each event begins at 6.30pm, is just €5 at the door and, since it’s a public space, the shows are strictly no alcohol.

Hare Squead photographed for State by Mark McGuinness

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45 Years - Silver threads among the gold Thu, 27 Aug 2015 21:10:27 +0000 Director: Andrew Haigh
Cast: Charlotte Rampling and Tom Courtenay
Certificate: 15A
Running time: 95 minutes
Release Date: 28th August

Relationships interest Andrew Haigh. His debut feature, Greek Pete, documented a year in the life of a London rent boy and his various customers, while his sophomoric effort, 2011’s acclaimed Weekend, looked at a fleeting encounter between two young men in Nottingham. For his third film – and his first since he decamped to San Francisco to create the HBO series Looking – the writer-director turns his eye to an altogether different type of romance.

Kate (Charlotte Rampling) and Geoff (Tom Courtenay) are a childless couple in their seventies happily living out their twilight years in rural Norfolk. Their idyllic existence is interrupted morning when Geoff receives a letter informing him that the body of Katya, an ex-girlfriend of his who died in 1962, has been discovered in an Alpine crevasse. The revelation has a profound effect on both of our protagonists: Geoff goes rooting in the attic for old photographs and memories of Katya while Kate begins to wonder what might have been if her husband’s late lover had never been lost in the Swiss Alps.

Adapted from a short story by David Constantine, the 45 Years of the title refers to the couple’s upcoming wedding anniversary (their fortieth had to be cancelled due to Geoff’s illness) which they will celebrate with a long-delayed party amongst friends and family in five days’ time. The film moves along with a slow, purposeful melancholy and never opts for the obvious or overblown recriminations that you might sense are in the offing. Instead, the power lies in its quieter moments – desperate looks, thoughtless answers and the things that are left unsaid.

While the subject matter might seem to be a marked departure from Haigh’s previous efforts, there are still a number of similarities that run through his work. Like Weekend, it’s a two-hander and the internal workings of our characters are slowly revealed through intimate, layered conversations between our two leads. The films serve as interesting companion pieces, Haigh has now examined love in both its first rushes and its final throes.

It is shot with minimal flourishes and a sense of greyness pervades over things with nothing about the elderly couple’s lives feeling overtly adorned or calculated. Haigh will soon end his US adventure and return to London after a two hour special episode of Looking to tie up the loose plot strands of the recently cancelled TV show. Here’s hoping that television’s loss will be cinema’s gain.


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Foals – What Went Down - "It's so good to have them back, and in form like this..." Thu, 27 Aug 2015 10:07:47 +0000 The immediacy with which Foals‘ new album starts, a yelp of “I buried my heart in a hole in the ground”, is such a statement of intent from the band that only a fool could ignore it. ‘What Went Down’ is a frantic, driving, surging opening salvo and the unmistakable voice of Yannis Philippakis is right there at it’s unnerving best; Foals mean business with this album. It’s so good to have them back, and in form like this…

‘Mountain At My Gates’ is a slightly less forthright entity, instead it kind of shuffles into life with brittle Vampire Weekened-style guitars. Once again the vocals are the center-piece and before the rhythm of the track lulls you into a false sense of security the inevitable crunch of guitars falls on you, hard. All cliché aside, producer James Ford has succinctly managed to capture the dynamic force of Foals’ live performances and blend it into some deft arrangements. So far this is Foals’ most direct, most intriguing work to date.

‘Birch Tree’ sounds like a grown-up version of what The 1975 might be like if Chris Martin started writing their hooks. Philippakis is at his languid best for once yet the song almost houses guitar-led dance rhythms – a la Talking Heads. ‘Give it All’ is a pivot point on the album and its introspective theme of regret, remorse and distance gives it the perfect amount of pathos. It’s a festival epic in the making. Florence Welsh herself would be proud of the marching drums, soaring, airy melody and other-worldly choral refrains. It might not lift, exactly, but has the legs to if it wants. Kind of like Shakespeare writing his plays to be watched and never read, sometimes you get the impression that some songs were only written to be performed live.

What the first half of the album has in sheer power, the second half has in it’s swerving, meandering melodic thrusts. ‘Snake Oil’, admittedly not the strongest point in the work, is slightly shown up by the album’s opening tracks. Such is the quality of the opening half that anything even remotely beneath that standard appears in profile. Similarly ‘Night Swimmers’ gives us more of the guitars for which Foals are renowned, it’s just slightly lacking in depth. But we’re nit-picking here. This is arguably the most complete album that the Oxford band have made to date. ‘London Thunder’, the only verifiable ballad on What Went Down, will remind you of Gary Jules’ ‘Mad World’ in its production but it’s a lovely respite before the album finishes with a seven-minute display of anguish and emotion in ‘A Knife in the Ocean’.

So Foals are back. And even if the teasers and snippets they’ve been feeding us all year gave us a slightly lop-sided indication of what was coming, they’ve come up with the goods and no mistake. The album is thematically diverse and powerful enough to leave a mark. There are highlights and lowlights but it’s a killer of an album and already an instant classic.

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Deerhoof – The Black Box, Belfast - "Admirers have long maintained that no two Deerhoof shows are the same." Thu, 27 Aug 2015 08:43:53 +0000 “That drummer’s on the right side of mental” a friend observes as we watch Deerhoof’s Greg Saunier attack his drum-kit with the relentless, cheerful ferocity of a man with an axe, a vendetta and a spare half hour to kill.

It’s maybe an interesting distinction to make from the “wrong” side of mental, but she’s only reacting to the sheer hypnotic mania of his playing. Saunier’s seemingly crazed syncopated/ dislocated barrage is the engorged spleen of the Deerhoof sound. At the turn of a sixpence, they’ll segue from this frantic Can-with-the-heavy-blues drum-pummelling to mellifluous rhythms, light and regular. That’s when the theatrically diminutive Satomi’s sing-song vocals flutter over the music, like a creepy child reciting long best forgotten nursery rhymes. 

Over 12 albums and 20 odd (very odd) years, Deerhoof are a band who haven’t been afraid to “mix it up”. Cheerfully slashing and crashing styles with such mischievous abandon, that it’s downright endearing. Their wilful refusal to play the rock game (it’s more scissors paper rock in their case) means that they haven’t sanded down the edges of their sound, album after album, like most of their “alternative” contemporaries. Instead, they’ve cleaved to the quaint notion that sounds can and should collide uncomfortably. And collide they do tonight – often several times within the notional bounds of one of their songs.

With the mighty twin guitars of John Dieterich and Ed Rodriguez throwing sonic shapes on stage, from atonal chainsaw through barbed wire noise to lolloping Peter Gunn Theme blues attacks, they’re constantly and endlessly interesting. For all their jazz tendencies, there’s also lot of wholesomely conventional riffage contained within the rattle bag of Deerhoof’s sound. In the midst of this warm cacophony, it is the professionally deranged Saunier and the sweetly subversive Satomi that don’t so much steal the show, as openly purloin it in plain view. 

Admirers have long maintained that no two Deerhoof shows are the same. That’s as much to do with the band’s audience interactions as it is with their healthy disrespect of the “set text” of the studio recordings.

Between winning, expertly deconstructed songs like ‘Paradise Girls’ and ‘Perfect Me’, Saunier’s anti-stand-up ramblings at the mike are something of an arresting oddity. Whether he’s taking about his nerves in that slightly whiny affected Emo Philips drawl or babbling thus: “None of the Toronto shows that I’ve ever played have I seen James there. Marie was busy in college… Rory – get your act together man…” it’s all part of the art of the thing.

Equally, Satomi’s idea of a traditional sing along involves getting the somewhat reserved crowd singing “Panda Panda Panda China!” along to the deceptively arrhythmic ‘Panda Panda Panda’ is as awkwardly absurdist as it sounds. It’s part of an encore that also includes an uplifting ‘Oh Bummer’ which concludes in a beautiful feedback loop and ‘Mirror Monster’ – all squelchy, crunching bass, and Satomi’s freewheeling arms, like a mini-air traffic controller. The rapt not rapturous crowd politely calls for more.

“Mixing together! Belfast is ok! But much quieter than last night!” She sweetly taunts us in our semi-soporific awe, but like a lot of Deerhoof tonight, you’re unsure whether it’s just more performance or point of view. We don’t mind either way with an hour and a half of this band.

“I want to put her in my pocket” my enthusiastic female friend pipes up again, in another slightly unfortunate if spontaneous reaction to the wonders on the stage.  But as Deerhoof proved again at The Black Box, you’d be as likely to trouser mercury.

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The Jimmy Cake – Master - "It pushes and pushes the listener...." Wed, 26 Aug 2015 15:36:11 +0000 The Jimmy Cake don’t do things by half. When they wanted to make a lush, orchestral album they came up with the masterful Spectre and Crown. When they wanted to take a break, they went away for seven years. Now it’s time for them to come back and, guess what, they’re doing it it very much on their own terms.

Master is a massive record. It’s huge. It’s enormous. It’s very big indeed. And it only features three songs. Mind you, each of them are pretty much albums in their own right. ‘Death Can Fuck Off’ (premiered on State last week) is simply astounding, a thirty minute track that melts your head with its sheer power. Replacing the strings and brass of Spectre and Crown with harsh sounding synths and a brutal, pounding rhythm section, it pushes and pushes the listener – daring them to either go big or go home. With a recurring, repetitive motif it’s hardly the easiest of listening but is all the more rewarding for it. Drawing you in, disconcerting you even, it’s one of the most astonishing pieces of music to emerge from these shores in a long time.

Following such an achievement is a tall order, and in truth Monster doesn’t quite scale those heights again. It comes pretty close though. After an even harder start, ‘Observatory Destroyer’ slows things down almost to a halt but loses none of the intensity. In contrast, the fifteen minute ‘Teen Mist’ feels like a punk pop sprint – albeit one that lasts as long as five Clash single played back to back.

They may be the elders of the Irish post-rock scene but The Jimmy Cake still have a few tricks to teach the young bucks. Ever evolving, in a scene where bands can so often merge into one, they have produced a record that stands alone. Suddenly that seven year gap makes sense. After all, you can’t rush genius.

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015 – Sex and Cinema - Don't you know that it's different for girls? Wed, 26 Aug 2015 08:35:02 +0000 This week’s podcast delves into the world of celluloid for the first time, with our film editor Dave Higgins joined by Dave Hanratty and Stacy Grouden to discuss how Hollywood treats sex in 2015, particularly when it involves female characters (as demonstrated by the certification given to The Diary Of A Teenage Girl (pictured)), and why the natural human act seems to be considered a lot more subversive than violence.

Subscribe to the podcast.

Producer: Brendan Rehill
Theme: Kobina

]]> 0 This week's podcast delves into the world of celluloid for the first time, with our film editor Dave Higgins joined by Dave Hanratty and Stacy Grouden to discuss how Hollywood treats sex in 2015, particularly when it involves female characters (as demo... This week's podcast delves into the world of celluloid for the first time, with our film editor Dave Higgins joined by Dave Hanratty and Stacy Grouden to discuss how Hollywood treats sex in 2015, particularly when it involves female characters (as demonstrated by the certification given to The Diary Of A Teenage Girl (pictured)), and why the natural human act seems to be considered a lot more subversive than violence. Subscribe to the podcast. Producer: Brendan Rehill Theme: Kobina State Magazine yes 50:22
Mini Mansions – The Workman’s, Dublin - "While their stage may be small, their sound is anything but..." Tue, 25 Aug 2015 23:32:39 +0000 A Monday night slot in one of Dublin’s smallest live venues may not sound hugely appealing to some, but apparently no one told Mini Mansions. Widely praised on their last visit to the capital back in early March – supporting Royal Blood at The Olympia – the Californian trio know exactly what’s expected of them on their return, and they’re in no mood to disappoint.

While the argument could be made that a gig as roundly advertised and quick selling as this would have suited a larger arena, it is one that’s promptly thrown out the window once the band starts to play. ‘Double Visions’, one of the many intensely rhythmic tracks from the excellent The Great Pretenders album, makes for an electrifying opening, with Michael Shuman, Zach Dawes, and Tyler Parkford all displaying their musical and vocal talents in wonderful symmetry. This is followed, much to the glee of the already bouncing Workman’s crowd, by the dainty, upbeat vibes of single release ‘Death Is A Girl’, a song that encapsulates the band’s experimental inclinations as much as their melodic prowess.

While their stage may be small, their sound is anything but as Mini Mansions, now fully announced, treat us to a riveting, thoroughly accomplished performance based as much on delicacy as it is on hard-hitting rhythms. Watching the raucous, multi-instrumental talents of Shuman, combined with Parkford’s whimsical synth and Dawes’ thrusting, at times manic, bass-playing, it’s difficult not to get excited.

Whether they’re blowing us away with explosive noise-rock screamers like ‘Geronimo’, ‘Honey, I’m Home’, and ‘Mirror Mountain’, soothing us into submission with the weirdly mellow sounds of ‘Creeps’ and ‘Heart of Stone’, or enlightening us with impromptu, yet wholly inspired, cover versions of Sparks’ ‘Sherlock Holmes’ and Blondie’s ‘Heart Of Glass’, Mini Mansions emanate an assured level of coolness and charisma that most modern bands could only dream of.

Seemingly oblivious to the uncomfortable humidity levels building in the heavily cramped room, the band remain perfectly poised. A slick rendition of radio-favourite ‘Vertigo’ nicely paves the way for a riveting conclusion that includes a mellow-as-you-like performance of a Brian Wilson-less ‘Any Emotions’, followed by the unmistakably catchy sounds of bombastic album opener ‘Freakout!’

Given the scale of the gig an encore seems unlikely, but in spite of Shuman’s sly admission that the band don’t know any more songs, enigmatic debut album favourite ‘Majik Marker’ provides a fittingly zany conclusion to what has been an intensely captivating performance.

Mini Mansions shot for State by Olga Kuzmenko.

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Mini Mansions – Workmans, Dublin – in photos Tue, 25 Aug 2015 23:30:31 +0000 Mini Mansions shot for State at the Workmans, Dublin by Olga Kuzmenko.

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We Are Your Friends - Dumb-step Tue, 25 Aug 2015 23:03:00 +0000 Director: Max Joseph
Cast: Zac Efron, Emily Ratajkowski and Wes Bentley
Certificate: 16
Running Time: 96 minutes
Release Date: August 28th

Bro, do you love EDM? You don’t?? Dude, do you even bro?!?! Because if you don’t live your life one Skrillex or Major Lazer track at a time, then We Are NOT Your Friends, bro!

Basically, that little dude from High School Musical has gotten all buff and he wants to bro out with his bros all the time, but he’s also a DJ and he wants to produce that one Gnarley Davidson track that will help him blow up. So then he bumps into that creepy plastic bag dude from American Beauty, but he’s cool now because he’s basically an American David Guetta and he wants to help out. But his girlfriend is that chick who got ‘em out for that ‘Blurred Lines’ video and High School Musical wants a piece of that but he doesn’t want to piss off American David Guetta. It’s, like, a full on dilemma, bro.

The director is that grey-haired dude on that MTV show about people using the internet to get people to fall in love with them without ever meeting them, and that show is SUPER realistic, so you just know that this movie is totes legit too, bro. High School Musical’s bro-tourage are just like our real friends in real life; the dude who is angry at everyone, the dude who wants to make it as an actor, the dude who will have to die to prove the seriousness of a situation. We feel really sorry for High School Musical because he has a tough life partying with his friends and getting out-of-this-world opportunities with American David Guetta and wanting to steal his Blurred Lines boo and generally just looking and acting like a handsome mannequin. It’s tough bro, we feel you!

Seriously though, the tuneage involved in this movie is, like, a religious experience. Alesso even brought High School Musical back to class to show him how to mix and spin properly, so now this actor is almost as good as Paris Hilton – his DJ skillz are THAT tight! If you do bro and you do love EDM and you do want to see Blurred Lines video boo dancing in slow motion, then there’s no reason not to give this movie five stars and give it all of the Oscars right now! Unless you’re actually looking for, like, I dunno, a “good movie” with an “interesting, original story”… but we ain’t here for that! Bass-drop!

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New Music: HÔN – ‘Honeydream’ Tue, 25 Aug 2015 22:25:43 +0000 Jeez, those Scandinavians don’t half know how to put together a great heartbreaking electro-ballad, do they?! Here we have the new single from HÔN from his upcoming album White Lion, which is garnering him comparisons to the likes of Chairlift, Beach House and Burial. To us, we’re imagining if Robyn was a man, produced by Miike Snow, and they had a massive career in the mid-’80s, this is what would’ve been created.

‘Honeydream’ is the follow up to HÔN’s first single ‘Silent Love‘ which was dropped back in June. There’s no word yet on the release date on White Lion, but we’ll certainly be keeping a close eye on this artist from here on out.

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Django Django release video for latest single ‘Pause Repeat’ Tue, 25 Aug 2015 22:12:33 +0000 Going from strength to strength on the back of their sophomore album Born Under Saturn, here we have the video for Django Django’s latest single ‘Pause Repeat’. Filmed on mobile phones over 24 hours and merged using stop-motion video and animation provided by Dan Brereton (of Superman/Batman fame), it’s quite a thing to behold.

Fans of the band will be happy to know that they’ll be performing here soon as part of Electric Picnic, while tickets to their gig in Vicar Street this December are on sale now, with more information about that show available right here.

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Hitman: Agent 47 - Kill joy Tue, 25 Aug 2015 20:51:17 +0000 Director: Aleksander Bach
Cast: Rupert Friend, Hannah Ware, Zachary Quinto and Ciarán Hinds
Certificate: 15a
Running Time: 96 minutes
Release Date: August 28th

This represents Hollywood’s 29th attempt (we counted) at making a good movie out of a good video game, so really the law of averages should’ve kicked in by now. Historically, the best reviewed “Based On A Video Game” movie is 1995’s Mortal Kombat, a movie that’s only good because it doesn’t seem to realise how bad it actually is. Eight years ago, cinema tried it’s hand at a Hitman adaptation with Timothy Olyphant and Olga Kurylenko and a talented European director, all of whom were hobbled by a terrible script. This time, there’s a lesser known actor (Rupert Friend) and a borderline completely unknown actress (Hannah Ware) and a completely untested European director, all of whom are hobbled by a terrible script… from the same writer as the original Hitman movie. Well played, Hollywood.

There’s no point in anyone complaining about video games movies all being crap when they’re not given a chance to begin with. A story about genetically modified assassins shouldn’t be THAT hard to get right, but somehow debut director Aleksander Bach has found a way to fudge it up. While he can’t be blamed for screenwriter Skip Woods dodgy plotting and dialogue, even the action scenes aren’t well handled thanks to the manic-ADD camerawork and crappy CGI. The endlessly bland shoot-outs consist of all the henchmen having worse aims than most Stormtroopers, while the slower scenes involve Friend clenching his jaw and Ware constantly crying and that’s about it.

The plot to the actual video-games had more depth than this, and crucially their most entertaining aspect – the hugely entertaining and original assassinations – have been dropped from the movie. Instead we’re given a low-level Luc Besson story mixed with some less-than-subtle inspiration from the first two Terminator movies. There’s psychic powers and father issues and subdermal metallic skin and somehow Zachary Quinto, Ciaran Hinds and Thomas Kretschmann are involved. There’s a plot-twist that isn’t so much a plot-twist as it is the only conceivable place for the plot to go to. Everything that happens in the story, from conversations about passports to a street shoot-out with zip-lines, involves characters knowing information they would have no conceivable way of knowing. Every scene finds the plot backed into impossible corners, only for the film to shrug its way out of them. All of this and the people involved can’t even be bothered to inject a Mortal Kombat level of fun. Everything is so po-faced and serious, attempting a Bourne-like tone but without the director, actor or writer prowess to pull it off.

It certainly doesn’t help that The Transporter Refueled – an ACTUAL low-level Luc Besson story about a man with no hair and in a suit and who can be hired to do dangerous things – is out in just a few weeks, and Hitman: Agent 47 certainly doesn’t help the video-games to movies argument. Duncan Jones and his Warcraft next June will hopefully be the one to break the tide. In the meantime, this deserves a bullet in the back of the head, putting it and all of us out of its misery.

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Titus Andronicus – The Most Lamentable Tragedy - I see a darkness Tue, 25 Aug 2015 20:08:59 +0000 If you were so inclined, there’s a lot to put you off with regards to Titus Andronicus’ fourth album. After all, describing a record as a five act punk rock opera is enough to set alarm bells ringing. It’s not exactly a new concept mind, with both Green Day (American Idiot, now an actual stage show) and Fucked Up’s David Comes To Life both promising something similar. Certainly it suggests that the band who specialise in punk rock solutions are continuing to expand their horizons.

And how. For it’s opening moments, The Most Lamentable Tragedy sounds like your typical snotty American punk rock record, with huge hints of Stiff Little Fingers on ‘No Future Part IV: No Future Triumphant’, but – with a running time of 93 minutes – there’s plenty of room for manoeuvre. An oddly classic rock feel appears on more than one occasion, with fellow New Jersey resident Bruce Springsteen a clear influence, and Titus Andronicus cast themselves as a band whose sense of history stretches beyond 1976.

Things take an even more strange turn in the album’s second half, after the minute’s silence of ‘[ intermission ]’. There are ballads (‘No Future Part V: In Endless Dreaming’), celtic pop (‘Come On, Siobhán’), tracks as short as a minute (‘Please’) and as long as nine (‘(S)HE SAID / (S)HE SAID’), an eerie reading of ‘Auld Lang Syne’, a cover of the Pogues’ ‘A Pair Of Brown Eyes’, before closing with the dark folk of ‘Stable Boy’. Musically, it’s a tour de force.

But for the concept to totally work, the words would have to match this ambition. While not quite as impenetrable as the Fucked Up record, the narrative of a hero who is visited by his doppelgänger and goes through subsequent life experiences isn’t all that clear. The sense of singer Patrick Stickles drawing from his own experiences of depression is unavoidable though, with his screams of “I lost my mind” and “let me show you my fatal flaw” opening a door on a troubled world. He may have chosen to articulate it through fictional device, but there’s no doubting this is a very personal story

A record designed to be listened to from start to finish, it’s also one that probably needs to be owned on triple vinyl – studied as much as any work of art. So don’t be put off by the concept, The Most Lamentable Tragedy is a most assured triumph.

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Oliver Cole – Year of the Bird - "Like a pebble dropped in a pond, the collection dilates and extends." Tue, 25 Aug 2015 16:49:38 +0000 On the first listen, Oliver Cole’s sophomore album is a great record. On the second, it’s a revelation. Five years after the release of his solo debut We Albatri, the former Turn frontman has effectively rewritten the book on Irish songwriting for himself and anyone else making music in their kitchens.

Year of the Bird was produced in Cole’s Dublin home over the past two years. It was largely a solo endeavor but Cole had some help from friends Gemma Hayes, Glen Hansard, Gavin Fox and Binzer Brennan. His efforts have created, not so much a record – but a landscape. The production value is stunning – all tracks were recorded in one take without the use of “Pro-Tools trickery.” Like a pebble dropped in a pond, the collection dilates and extends.

“I want to make music that both engages and challenges the listener, which sucks them in and takes them somewhere,” says Cole. 

His lyrics are simple, sometimes worryingly so, but he uses every inch of the track with no space unaccounted for. Cole is dealing in an economy of parts, each sound delicately placed and thoughtfully treated in order to build a greater whole.

What results is a home-grown musical mythology, one that is both lovely and sophisticated. The tones are sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes haunting. But the overall temperature of the record remains warm on your face.

Like a dream, Year of the Bird would disappear in the retelling, but it would be wrong not to mention the title song. The eight minute tune (almost) closes the record at #9 and is quite simply one of the best tracks you will hear this year – or ever. Cole’s fingers drive the song up and down the neck of the guitar, eventually landing in a shiver-inducing pool of rhythms and tones. It is an exceptional piece of work.

Inspired by the birth of Cole’s daughter, Emily Wren, Year of the Bird certainly sounds like the beginning of something. It introduces you to a world of clean air and sharp corners, rumours and thieves, pretty girls in bars – it takes you for a walk around and then brings you safely back home.

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