State Magazine http://state.ie Music news, reviews, photos, features, films. Mon, 30 Mar 2015 14:20:11 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Dead Heavys - 'Liquidator' http://state.ie/features/introducing/the-dead-heavys http://state.ie/features/introducing/the-dead-heavys#comments Mon, 30 Mar 2015 14:16:34 +0000 http://state.ie/?p=68678 Some new music for you now and this is something pretty special. This Psych-rock stomper from Waterford’s The Dead Heavys is in the vein of The Black Keys, The Raconteurs, Wolf Mother and even some elements of the Stones in their pomp. Featuring vocals from Solar Taxi singer Aisling Browne the video, directed by Matthew Reilly, is worth the price of admission alone. This is ‘Liquidator’ by the Dead Heavys and it is as good a song as you’ll hear from these shores this year. What’s even better is that you can download it for free here.

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The Go! Team – The Scene Between - Back and perhaps better than ever http://state.ie/album-reviews/the-go-team-the-scene-between http://state.ie/album-reviews/the-go-team-the-scene-between#comments Mon, 30 Mar 2015 13:38:55 +0000 http://state.ie/?p=68661 They were always a strange concept, were The Go! Team. Essentially the solo studio project of Ian Parton, they nevertheless went on to become one of the most dependable live bands on the circuit – a six piece fronted by one woman charisma machine Ninja. The two entities remained largely separate and, while their stage persona continued to thrive, albums two and three never quite captured the magic of debut Thunder Lightning Strike.

After a brief hiatus and wholesale line-up change, Parton was back in the studio to pick up on his solo path. Not everything has remained the same, though, with a songwriting and melody leading the way, backed up – rather than dominated – by a trawl through the sample collection. The approach obviously worked, resulting in the best Go! Team album since that first blast of fresh air came our way. As before, the vocals are sometimes buried frustratingly low in the mix but the melodies are strong enough to win through amongst the clutter. A winning mix of ‘60s girl group pop, hip-hop, punk rock and the sunniest of outlooks, The Scene Between is both a welcome return to action and a wonderful return to form.

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Earl Sweatshirt – I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside: An Album By Earl Sweatshirt - "The more you grasp, the more you want to listen again." http://state.ie/album-reviews/earl-sweatshirt-i-dont-like-shit-i-dont-go-outside-an-album-by-earl-sweatshirt http://state.ie/album-reviews/earl-sweatshirt-i-dont-like-shit-i-dont-go-outside-an-album-by-earl-sweatshirt#comments Mon, 30 Mar 2015 12:21:17 +0000 http://state.ie/?p=68664 Earl Sweatshirt has progressed into a different artist than what was heard on his debut album ‘Doris’.  The monotonous delivery that we were reluctantly becoming accustomed to has been cast aside in favour of a more passionate and natural style of performing on his latest effort I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside: An Album By Earl Sweatshirt.  Many praised his premature level of skill that he introduced us to on his initial mixtape, now though, it seems like all the discussed potential has finally been realised and Earl has now evolved into the mature, intelligent artist we have been waiting to meet.

The production was handled almost entirely by Earl, aside from ‘Off Top’, which was headed-up by his fellow Odd Future member Left Brain.  It is an altogether dark, gritty and fuzzy sound that takes over the whole album.  Echoing drums are often accompanied by eerie synths and low bass lines, all of which aid in creating an atmosphere of perfected melancholy throughout. The only downfalls come in the form of a few ill fitting features; Vince Staples may introduce ‘Wool’ with vicious intent, but Wiki soils ‘AM/Radio’ with his weak appearance.

Earl’s recently acquired higher level of self awareness, both musically and personally, has allowed him to become more comfortable and confident in the studio.  You can hear it in Earl’s voice that he is less doubtful of himself and he is far from the fidgety, withdrawn young man that we saw in the first interviews concerning his return from Samoa.  It’s clear that the culmination of all his experiences has led to this album – a record that many have been waiting to hear from him for quite some time.

It’s not just his sound that has matured but the lyrical content and themes as well.  Earl focuses on relationships with his friends, mother, family and record label and it is can be brutally honest at times.  He goes into detail on very personal matters on tracks like ‘Grief’ and ‘Faucet’, resulting in two of the most personal tracks we may have heard from him yet.  On ‘DNA’ he states he’s “here, there, up and down, low and peaking”, admitting that the new found confidence may not be fully instilled in the doubtful young artist.

Earl has stated that this is the first project he’s released that he can fully stand behind and it shows.  The confidence Earl has in himself and his work, as well as the natural progression that comes with someone who started so young, was all he needed to finally justify all that hype and meet the expectations of those who have been waiting.  While the album may only be 30 minutes long, there is enough buried content for an immediate second or third listen.  The more you grasp, the more you want to listen again.  It is an enthralling record from a rapper who is wise beyond his years and Earl Sweatshirt should prove to be one of the best emcees of our time if this is the standard set for his future releases.

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Castlepalooza celebrates its 10th anniversary, announces lineup http://state.ie/news/castlepalooza-celebrates-its-10th-anniversary-announces-lineup http://state.ie/news/castlepalooza-celebrates-its-10th-anniversary-announces-lineup#comments Mon, 30 Mar 2015 12:06:37 +0000 http://state.ie/?p=68674 Castlepalooza have released the first wave of acts to perform at the festival, which takes place between July 31st and the 2nd of August at Charleville Castle, Co. Offaly.  The full lineup, with a few State Faces of 2015 in there, so far includes:  Adeyhawke, Alex Metric, April Towers, Benihana, Buffalo Woman, Cave Ghosts, Colour // Sound, Columbia Mills, Dear Desert, DVO Marvel, Fight Like Apes, Hare Squead, Hauer, Hercules And Love Affair, Heroes in Hiding, I Have A Tribe, Jape, Joshua Burnside, Kobina, Nialler 9, Not Squares, of Montreal, Overheard, Participant, Rocstrong, Vann Music and Voids, with many more to be announced.  Phew.   Tickets are €94 for the weekend and available here.

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James Bay set for Dublin and Belfast shows http://state.ie/news/james-bay-set-for-dublin-and-belfast-shows http://state.ie/news/james-bay-set-for-dublin-and-belfast-shows#comments Mon, 30 Mar 2015 11:53:42 +0000 http://state.ie/?p=68673 In support of his recently released, critically acclaimed debut album Chaos and The Calm, brooding singer-songwriter James Bay has announced the details of his upcoming headline tour, which includes two Irish dates.  Bay will perform at The Ulster Hall Belfast, this coming October 11th and then follow up with a show in The Olympia, Dublin on October 14th.  Tickets for the events, as well as information on his full run of UK shows, are available here from 9am Thursday.

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Details announced for Yes Fest Marriage Equality gig http://state.ie/news/details-announced-for-yes-fest-marriage-equality-gig http://state.ie/news/details-announced-for-yes-fest-marriage-equality-gig#comments Mon, 30 Mar 2015 11:44:04 +0000 http://state.ie/?p=68670 Fighting the good fight on a subject we’re very passionate about here at State,  the Yes Fest Marriage Equality Fundraiser campaign have revealed the lineup and information for their forthcoming event.  Featuring performances from September Girls (pictured above), Kate’s Party, Cave Ghosts, Sissy and The Winter Passing, the night will undoubtedly do great things for the cause of equal marriage rights in Ireland.  The event, which takes place in the Bello Bar, Dublin, this coming April 30th from 8pm, has a suggested donation of €8 on entry.  A small price to pay for such an important cause and a great lineup, we reckon.  More information can be found right here.

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Michael Shuman of Mini Mansions - "As much of a fun record as I think it is, it’s also very heavy on the content side." http://state.ie/features/michael-shuman-of-mini-mansions http://state.ie/features/michael-shuman-of-mini-mansions#comments Mon, 30 Mar 2015 10:23:26 +0000 http://state.ie/?p=68666 Full time bassist with Queens of the Stone Age, Michael Shuman sure knows a thing or two about the tour circuit and how to promote an album.  However, since the start of the year he has found himself in an entirely different situation as frontman of 60’s-influenced, psychedelic pop act Mini Mansions.  Finishing off their European tour in support of Royal Blood last week, and with their brilliant second album The Great Pretenders recently released by Capitol Records, Michael was in a buoyant, if slightly weary mood after a long three months.

You played your final European date in support of Royal Blood on Wednesday? How did the Tour go as a whole?

It went really well, I’m kinda sad it’s over.  Going into the tour we were a little worried about disparity with our fans and how different the music was but I feel it went really well.

Why disparity among fans?

We were more concerned about the different styles between us and Royal Blood and that it might not go down so well with their fans, but it actually went great and in fairness they were really open minded towards our style of music.

Was it a strange situation to find yourselves in, seeing as you’re used to headlining (with QOTSA)?

I’ve been in all kinds of situations through my life, even with Queens opening up for people. You do all kinds of shows so you have to be willing to adapt to any situation you’re in. I love supporting too! It’s a tough gig trying to win over a bunch of fans every night, and trying to please people who might not want to see anyone else besides the headline act, but we like the challenge and had fun with it.

How did your March 9th Dublin gig in The Olympia go? 

It was amazing! We played two nights in the Olympia which is one of my favourite venues in the world!  The second night especially was probably the best show of the tour.  The Irish are always really great and really up for it it, so it makes us have such a better time when the crowd is having a great time, so we were thrilled!

Any highlights on tour? Funny stories etc? Or does that just stay on tour?

(Laughs) I usually like to keep things private. Ben and Mike are a few comedians so it’s always a good time.

Your new album The Great Pretenders is out on March 23rd. You must be encouraged by the positive reviews it’s getting thusfar?

Yeah. You work really hard on making a piece of art that means a lot to us, spend years writing and recording and mixing, so to have someone applaud or validate you is great. I mean, it doesn’t mean a lot if one person validates you because in the end we’re making the music for ourselves first and foremost, and for our fans.  Don’t get me wrong, if journalists want to applaud us it feels great, it really does, but we’re gonna do what we’re gonna do either way.

Style-wise, would it be fair to say this album is a bit darker, maybe a bit more philosophical than your first LP? 

Yea, I think a big change for us from the first record is lyrically. It’s a lot more emotionally focused, more personal, and touches more on our vulnerable side, real experiences and real feelings, instead of the more fantastical things we used to write about. I think that was a big shift for us and yeah, it is dark too.  As much of a fun record as I think it is, it’s also very heavy on the content side.

When it came to writing the album how did your approach differ as compared to your first record?

With the first one we were a brand new band, writing our first batch of songs as a band and just went in pretty quickly and made a record. We were just like “Let’s do this, we’re ready!”  Whereas with this record we had so much material and ended up recording and mixing like 25 songs and then choosing these 11 songs to make the right record that made sense to us.  There were a lot of songs so I guess this wasn’t as constrained and we had more time to write it.  We were basically just writing over two and a half years and then having this huge amount of material to sort through and piece together.

Why did the final 11 tracks stand out to you over the rest of the material?

I think those were just the best grouping of songs and for the most part they came from the same period of time in writing. There’s a lot of more upbeat songs that didn’t make the record, not because we didn’t feel strongly about them, but just because conceptually as a whole they might not have been the right fit.

Some big collaborations on there. It must’ve been quite something working with the legend that is Brian Wilson on ‘Any Emotions’?

Yea it was a huge, huge deal for us and is something we get to have on our record for the rest of our lives! He’s a huge influence since we were kids, as you can hear in our music and in our harmonies.  Being from California, he’s also a big icon as far as Californian pop music goes so it was a big deal.  Looking back we can’t really imagine that song without him on it.  Not only was he generous enough to do all that but I also think it’s a really great fit.

Was he a hard man to track down?

I guess it was easy enough! (laughs) It wasn’t too hard anyway. It started with a relationship with our record label, we’re both on Capitol, and our guy introduced Brian to Zach our bass player to ask if he could play some bass on his record.  So Zach played on a tune, and they got along really well, and that relationship started, so then Zach asked Brian to return the favour, probably a much bigger favour, and sing on our record.

Of course Alex Turner’s on there too, but you probably found it easier to convince him after previous collaborations (QOTSA)?

For him it’s more like he was there, he was in the studio.  It was more like, because we had decided to do something, and he was there, we said maybe we should try it. It was much more of a natural thing for sure.

In terms of single releases. The video for ‘Death is a Girl’ is out now. Is that likely to be your next single release?

Well it’s weird because that was actually the first song we put out. We decided to put out five singles and their B-sides before the record even came out so there’s no real first single, or second single, its just kind of like all the music is out there.  I know the label want certain songs going to the radio, so ‘Death is a Girl’ being the first song maybe people will go back and listen to it after ‘Vertigo’ or whatever.

Which singles came off best on your tour?

We’ve been closing our set with ‘Freakout’.  People seem to like that one, it’s a head-bomber, you can kinda see everyone bouncing to it.  It’s got that natural drum ‘n’ bass bounce to it so that’s a really fun one to play live.

No real rest period for you guys as you’ve got your US tour coming up pretty soon so I guess you’ll be looking forward to further promoting the album?

Yeah, there’s no rest for us.  It’s gonna be tours back to back, but that’s what we’re ready to do. We’ve been waiting to do it for a long time. We haven’t had the opportunity to tour this much and we want people to hear these new songs so any way we can do that, and play to as many people who want to see us, and even the people that don’t want to see us, we’ll do it!

Have you got anything coming up with QOTSA or are you sticking with Mini Mansions for the next year or two with the new album and everything?

Yeah, we have a lot of time to push on this record and the tour. There will be stuff coming up later for sure but we toured a lot last year for the last record so we decided to take a good chunk of time off. But there’ll definitely be stuff!

Mini Mansions’ The Great Pretenders is out now

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Faces of April details - State brings the noise http://state.ie/features/faces-of-april-details http://state.ie/features/faces-of-april-details#comments Mon, 30 Mar 2015 08:11:11 +0000 http://state.ie/?p=68662 Moving to a Friday for a change, we’re plugging in and turning up the volume for our next Faces show at The Mercantile on Dublin’s Dame St, reflecting yet again the quality of guitar music being made in Ireland right now. Joining us on 10th April will be:

Third Smoke – fresh from their sell-out Whelans show over the weekend, the Dundalk band continue to support their excellent new single ‘Ms Summer Breeze’.

Sissy – lo-fi punks on a Easter tour of the capital.

Terriers – fearsome Cork quartet bring their debut album to town.

Beware Of You – brand new Dublin punk.

Doors are at 8pm and entry is free. Join us on Facebook here.

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The Cribs - "This is probably the album we would have made had Johnny Marr not joined the band" http://state.ie/features/interview-features/the-cribs http://state.ie/features/interview-features/the-cribs#comments Sun, 29 Mar 2015 12:42:12 +0000 http://state.ie/?p=68645 When Yorkshire-born brothers Ryan, Ross and Gary Jarman decided to start a band in 2002 their end goal was modest and unalloyed; to write, record and perform songs. So unostentatious was their approach to music that it was effectively the essence of Northern English habitus – unpolished kitchen-sink values and dreams. Watching the coked-up carcass of Britpop being rolled into the sea as The Strokes, the White Stripes et al were about to show the world how America did indie, bands like The Cribs were anathema to the bloat. It wasn’t long before the major labels were stampeding across the country looking to bag the great white working-class hope. As the band gear up to tour their new album For All My Sisters, Ross Jarman tells State how the band managed to stay true to their ethos despite the whirlwind going on around them.

So you seem to be in overdrive these days. Are you making up for lost time?

It’s just a typical week of release, really. We flew back from SXSW and a kind of residency in New York and landed at something like 6am in Manchester, then headed straight to Leeds for an in-store. We’ve been doing them all week and lots of promo so we’re busy. But yeah, it’s been three years since we recorded and album and a few things have changed for us as a band so there is a sense of having loads to do.

What kind of changes?

We changed labels and after Payola came out it feels like we had a nice little breather, a semi-colon if you like. But we didn’t really know for certain what we wanted to do after In the Belly of the Brazen Bull and having a new label is almost like starting again, like releasing another debut. Although in saying that, there was none of the pressure of a debut. We had almost entirely the same team with us when we moved [labels] and nothing really changed in that sense but we had to think about what we wanted to do so the time off was important to us. What’s cool is that despite the new label, going back to being a three-piece, moving houses etc., the set-up we’ve got and our attitude has never changed at all, really. Things like what’s expected of us, what we expect from the labels and so on. In fairness, it would be stupid of a label – even a major label – to think they could sign us and give us new haircuts, style us or whatever, let alone start demanding that we do things differently. After putting out five albums it’s really hard to try to mould a band into something they’re not, do you know what I mean? We are what we are. It’s probably closer to the truth to just liken it to a funding thing. We have our own label which is under the umbrella of a major so this is probably a more independent deal than we’ve ever had. Sonic Blew is ours and we can do what we want with the money we’re given.

What prompted the label change in the first place?

Our relationship with the old label had come to a natural end. Both sides had fulfilled their obligations and there were changes within the label in so far as the people that we had dealt with were now US-based and were focusing on US releases so we just felt it was time to move on. The new album has kind of tied in with all of these changes so it was just a timing thing. Especially with Ryan living in New York and Gary living in Portland, trying to force an album between …Brazen Bull and now would have been pointless.

Was there any pressure to get something out after signing the new deal?

Not really, it has been so full on since we started the band though, I think the longest gap was two years and we’ve been a band for 13 years. We just wrote it in our own time and recorded it and never once felt like we had to hurry or work on anyone else’s schedule. In saying that, this album took next to no time at all to make. It was recorded in something like a week, then mixed and mastered in another week and now it’s released. Normally there are gaps between sessions and you go off on tour or whatever, this was nothing like that. We wanted this to be an instant thing and that’s what happened in New York.

Your music has a sense of urgency to it, almost like you leave in the perfect imperfections, that’s obviously deliberate then?

Yeah we generally lay the tracks down live, one take. That’s the way it’s always been so overdubs don’t really feature that often. Working with Ric Ocasek was perfect for that approach. I’ll give you an example, we were recording one track live and even though I wasn’t happy with my playing from a technical standpoint, Ric was adamant that this was the best possible version because it gave the song a certain vibe, a feeling. It wasn’t like there were mistakes or anything, we just didn’t want to make it perfect. Overdubs kind of take away from the feel of the songs in these instances so why use them? Fundamentally the songs are all live but only when somebody is having a really hard time with their track, be that drums, guitar or whatever, we’ll consider overdubs. But generally we like the songs to be played live and that gives them a certain sort of feel. Ric didn’t care if they were technically perfect just as long as they had that.

How did you end up working with Ric?

We always have a dream list of people we want to work with and Steve Albini is on it, Edwin Collins is on it, Alex Kapranos is on it, Ric Ocasek is on it and we wanted to work with him since day one. We all listened to The Blue Album by Weezer as teenagers and Ric was massively important on that so we always wanted to work with him. What made it all the better was his enthusiasm for the songs we brought in. Steve Albini was the same, he is a really no-nonsense character and our way of working fits perfectly into that mindset so, I dunno, recording four songs in three days with nothing overdubbed is almost like the only way to go for us.

This explains your Spirit of Independence award then! Has indie music become something else now, though? Something refined?

Indie is such a weird term really, to us it just means keeping control, you know? Not getting carried away with things. I mean, we’ve headlined festivals in the past and we’d turn up in our van and there would be bands who were at the very opposite end of the bill with these massive tour busses and we automatically think what is the point of that? What did they have to give away to get that? To us the idea of being an indie band, whatever that actually means, is to keep control of things and not have to concede anything for the sake of a tour bus or whatever. Stuff doesn’t need to be difficult. We have the same crew who are our mates and we own our own van, that’s enough. And we still rehearse in Gary’s house! But at the end of the day we’re brothers and we have spent our whole lives doing things in a kind of rough and ready way, if that involves sleeping on a mates floor every now and again or traveling in a small van so be it. The day we turn up in a tour bus that’s bigger than the venue you know something is wrong. Winning awards though, that only matters for the sense of recognition.

What would you like to be recognised for?

Nothing but music. We won an outstanding contribution to music award a few years ago but to us it had absolutely nothing got to do with album sales, it felt like recognition of all the things we’ve given up to be in the band. I joined the band when I was 17 so my entire adult life has been about The Cribs and when we’re noted for being independent or whatever it’s because we’ve only ever been about making music and playing it for people who like it. That also explains how we’ve kept going for 13 years. We always want to have a sense of it not just being enjoyable, but having something to contribute too. We never want to be the band who just keep turning up though, there has to be something valuable in it. I mean, some of my favourite bands have been getting progressively worse for years, we’ll know ourselves when the time is right to call it a day. I know it’s a cliché to say this but I really do think that this is our best record, when we don’t feel that we’ll have to rethink things.

Surely the temptation is there to take the luxury option?

Not really, no. I think the reason that people buy our records is because we don’t have anything going on besides what’s at the core of what we are. You rarely hear of us in the mainstream media, we’re nothing more than lads in a band and I think that means something to people. Our fan base has never changed, it has grown, but it has never really altered. We take our music to people in a van that right now is parked on a driveway. Obviously that’s important to what the band is because you take nothing for granted.

Was it strange to have Johnny Marr as a band mate? How did it happen?

It all happened very naturally. Gary had moved to Portland a few years back and was over at [Modest Mouse frontman] Isaac Brock’s house and Johnny Marr was there. They were the only two Brits there so naturally started talking and over time they became really good mates. And as anybody who has ever been in a band will know, when you meet somebody who plays and you get on well you’ll more than likely end up jamming or trying out songs together. It’s the same with Johnny and us. He came over to Gary’s house one day while we were rehearsing and stayed in the band for four years. But the intention was only ever to write one track and maybe release it as a single. Over the course of the week we had written five and eventually he came out on tour with us after recording an album.

Is reverting back to three-piece like returning to your roots?

Yeah kind of, he brought so much to the band that when I look back over that time we were almost a different band entirely with Johnny. He’s that kind of guitarist, he is so creative and he can change everything. But we felt so creative having him as a member that we never wanted to put a timeframe on it or a cap on it after that. It’s fair to say though that The Cribs before and after Johnny are slightly removed from who we were during that time. I feel now that in terms of continuity For All My Sisters is the album we would have made had Johnny Marr not joined the band.

For All My Sisters is available on Sonic Blew / Sony Red now and you can see The Cribs live in Whelans on May 18th. Tickets are available here.

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Longitude Festival reveals daily breakdown and more main acts http://state.ie/news/longitude-festival-reveals-daily-breakdown-and-more-main-acts http://state.ie/news/longitude-festival-reveals-daily-breakdown-and-more-main-acts#comments Sat, 28 Mar 2015 17:34:22 +0000 http://state.ie/?p=68650 Longitude Festival, which takes place this coming July 17th – July 19th, at Marlay Park, has revealed the day to day breakdown of its lineup (see image above).  They’ve also revealed the following new additions – Nick Mulvey, Raury, Drenge, Petite Noir, The Bohicas, Wyvern Lingo, Young Wonder, Daithi, Subplots, Princess and Spies, with more to be announced soon.  Tickets and ticket pricing options can be found right here.

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The Band featuring at Classic Vinyl Sunday at the Twisted Pepper http://state.ie/news/the-band-featuring-at-classic-vinyl-sunday-at-the-twisted-pepper http://state.ie/news/the-band-featuring-at-classic-vinyl-sunday-at-the-twisted-pepper#comments Fri, 27 Mar 2015 16:59:04 +0000 http://state.ie/?p=68649 Fans of the The Band can once again experience the glory of Robbie Robertson, Rick Danko and co. at their finest as Classic Vinyl Sunday features their eponymous second album this weekend. The event as ever will involve a panel discussion and a chance to hear the album on vinyl in full as well as an interview with Irish singer/songwriter Gavin Glass who’s album Sunday Songs is out now.

You can buy tickets for the event here.

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Sleater-Kinney – Vicar St, Dublin - "One of the year's most exciting bands, history or no history..." http://state.ie/live-reviews/sleater-kinney-vicar-st-dublin http://state.ie/live-reviews/sleater-kinney-vicar-st-dublin#comments Fri, 27 Mar 2015 15:11:45 +0000 http://state.ie/?p=68642 Despite what recent events might have you believe, it’s doubtful whether the world spent the years between 2007 and 2013 discussing the merits of Call The Doctor as opposed to The Hot Rock or One Beat. Yet the news that Sleater-Kinney were to restart their career (they never actually split up) created such a buzz that you’d swear they were one of the most important bands of the last twenty years. Not that they weren’t for some people of course, just not on a level that the chatter would seem to suggest. Then came No Cities To Love and the realisation that, history or no history, Sleater-Kinney were one of the year’s most exciting bands.

State has been here before. On 3rd September 1998 to be exact, having climbed four flights of stairs at Kings College in London to see them on the the Dig Me Out tour. We were genuinely excited to be there, the band were… well alright. Seventeen years later and there’s a similar feeling of anticipation in Vicar St and again the band are… alright, for the first half at any rate. While they’re certainly playing with the well drilled punk rock precision of a band on the last night of a huge European tour, something’s missing. There’s no real connection with the audience, no sense of occasion. It’s all a bit familiar.

Thank God then, for what happens next. Having established that a little twisty guitar will go a long way, the more measured sound of ‘Get Up’ leads into the choppy, tribal rhythm of ‘One Beat’. The crowd start chanting in praise of drummer Janet Weiss, the ice is broken and at last we’re off. What follows is simply incredible. Corin Tucker’s declaration that they’re happy to be a band again is born out most of all by Carrie Brownstein. High kicking, strutting, rolling around and balancing on Weiss’ bass drum, she is an astounding performer akin to Wilko Johnson in his prime. As nice as it is making an acclaimed TV show, there is nowhere in the world that she belongs more than on stage.

New songs sit perfectly alongside old as they blast their way through the second half, culminating in a five song encore that takes in a funky ‘Gimme Love’, the folksy ‘Modern Girl’, a thrashy ‘Dig Me Out’ and sprawling ‘Let’s Call It Love’ before ‘One More Hour’, the song that details the demise of Tucker and Brownstein’s personal relationship, brings proceedings to euphoric close. They moved on from that and mercifully their band has moved on from being out love with their own music. Forget the past, the real Sleater-Kinney story starts here.

Sleater-Kinney photographed for State by Shannon McClean

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Third Smoke – Ms Summer Breeze - "A stomping pop tune performed with passion and style..." http://state.ie/features/third-smoke-ms-summer-breeze http://state.ie/features/third-smoke-ms-summer-breeze#comments Fri, 27 Mar 2015 13:51:19 +0000 http://state.ie/?p=68644 Launched tomorrow night Upstairs at Whelans (it’s sold out though, so if you snoozed, you lost), the new single from Dundalk’s Third Smoke is a gem – a stomping pop tune performed with passion and style that marks them out as yet another homegrown name to keep an eye on. Buy the single here.

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The Jayhawks’ Mark Olson Coming to Dublin http://state.ie/news/the-jayhawks-mark-olson-coming-to-dublin http://state.ie/news/the-jayhawks-mark-olson-coming-to-dublin#comments Fri, 27 Mar 2015 13:31:02 +0000 http://state.ie/?p=68643 As the founding member and frontman of legendary US country stars The Jayhawks Mark Olson has provided us with some outstanding music over the last 30 years. As a solo performer he has been equally as prolific and has announced that he, along with his partner Ingunn Ringvold, will be coming to Dublin to perform their new album Good-bye Lizelle. You can catch Mark in the Mercantile on April 17th, tickets are just €12 and available from here.

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Ensemble - Come together http://state.ie/features/ensemble http://state.ie/features/ensemble#comments Fri, 27 Mar 2015 13:03:20 +0000 http://state.ie/?p=68638 One of the boldest new innovations on the Irish scene in years, Ensemble are a collective of like minded individuals from across the musical spectrum. As they prepare to launch their own monthly night, we spoke to Rob Farhat about crossing boundaries, the state of Irish music and what inspired them in the first place…

“We felt that, while there’s a huge amount of amazing music coming out of Ireland, a lot of it doesn’t get the support it deserves. When you look at the Irish acts doing well abroad, barring a few exceptions they’re mostly relatively commercial, radio-friendly acts. Not that there’s anything wrong with that kind of music doing well, but we just think there’s room for more success stories for more unusual artists too, and we want to help make that happen”.

How did your previous experience influence the idea?

“We’ve been working together since college, where we ran the Trinity Orchestra and did stuff like this and this. We’ve worked on a few other projects together since then, but after college we spent a couple of years working at the Dublin Web Summit (Rob Farhat) and Riverdance (Rob Kearns). While there we both got some seriously high level marketing and production experience respectively, giving us the skills to be able to run a (hopefully) solid business and in some respects be ahead of the curb, for example when it comes to using online marketing where the music industry is still quite behind the times.

Individually, prior to that we both studied classical music to a fairly high standard, and considered pursuing it professionally but were put off by the elitism and formality around it. As we worked together we found our feelings on this were pretty mutual, and as such it’s influenced the kind of music we work with and how we present it. More on that later”.

You felt that the Irish music industry wasn’t reflecting enough of what was really happening?

“Yes. For the most part, the Irish acts that have good management and label support here are fairly “safe”, while acts that are producing more “risky”, left-of-centre stuff have to self manage or set up their own small labels on the side. We’re trying to combine the best of both worlds.

It’s especially apparent when you look at what Irish artists are getting international label deals – they’re mostly with the majors whose tastes are naturally rather conservative, while the more unusual Irish artists that get signed to smaller indie labels tend to be once-offs who’ve gone down a road less travelled. But there’s not nearly enough of those examples, for the most part Irish bands/artists that are doing really innovative things are struggling to get attention beyond their core following here”.

Is that mainly for certain types of music?

“Broadly speaking, we like to work with artists who “cross genre lines”, and for the most part that means artists with a classical or jazz background (like ourselves), who use that to influence the music they write. For example Loah, who is a soul singer with classical training and African roots. The idea of a “genre” is becoming less and less relevant as musicians don’t really think in those terms any more, and audiences are becoming more genre neutral too. But the musical “establishment” (the major labels, promoters, etc.) still thinks in those terms, preferring to box music into predefined corners. They need to catch up.

One particular focus of ours is putting on classical music in non-traditional settings. It’s the music we both grew up deeply engrossed in, but the classical music world is largely failing to engage with our generation because it’s so stuck in it’s old ways. What we find is that for people our age who consider themselves “music aficionados” but haven’t got into classical music, it’s not because of the music itself but the presentation. They’re put off by the formal rigidity of it. So we try to put on classical events in more modern spaces, do away with strict seating arrangements, bring in interesting lighting, visuals, and the like. So far it seems to be working and we’re getting a much younger audience coming to classical events that you’d see in the traditional classical venues”.

The Irish underground seems to have a lot to offer, what do the artists need to do to make themselves heard?

“Irish bands need to avoid focusing just on Ireland too much. For any small country, there’s always the risk of becoming a big fish in a small pond and then struggling to go beyond that – it’s an issue that’s not unique to Ireland and it’s not unique to music or the arts either. I see Irish bands who do really well within Ireland, but then struggle to translate that abroad, and I think if you become super successful in a small country then when you try to bring that abroad afterwards, it’s almost too late – people wonder why they haven’t heard of you and think your appeal must be unique to your locality. That’s why it’s important to try and get yourself out there at least in the UK from an early stage – you look at some of the recent success stories like Girl Band and they’ve done just that, and they’re almost more popular over there than they are here even though they’re still to release an album.

I also think Irish bands need to avoid making their “Irish-ness” their biggest selling point in their marketing. I go to showcase festivals abroad a good bit and the most talked about Irish bands over there are getting attention for their music, not for where they’re from. The fact that they’re Irish is irrelevant. Whereas in my opinion bands that heavily emphasise their Oirish-ness don’t get taken quite as seriously – rightly or wrongly. This may sound a bit unpatriotic, but it really isn’t – what I’m saying is that Irish musicians deserved to be judged on their merits, not on their geography.

Other than that, I really just think that both from a musical and marketing POV, bands need to embrace their individuality and not try to copy from other examples what think might be a path to success. There is just so goddamn much music out there, you really need to try and set ourself out as something unique, and besides, by trying to emulate others you might not be playing to your strength. Having influences is of course essential and part of the creative process, but make sure those influences are genuine rather than based on what you see as being successful or trendy right now. Take a risk, it might not work out but you’re far more likely to stand out”.

You’re tying together the creative and industry side of things…

“Yeah, well I guess we’re trying to combine the best of both worlds – applying the good management, marketing, and production of the core music industry to the most creative musicians, while taking a very pro-artist approach. Our relationship with the artists we work with is very much a collaborative one – we don’t tell them what to do, we make decisions with them on every level: gig venues, ticket prices, artwork, social media… the works”.

What’s the plan for the monthly gigs?

“The idea is to serve as a testing and tasting ground – for new and established artists to preview their new material, and for audiences to get a little taste of what bigger things are in store down the line. Most of the artists that play at it, we’ll be doing something more major with in the coming 12 months.

Each concert will revolve around a loose musical theme or sub genre. Our first one this Friday, which features Niwel Tsumbu’s RiZA (pictured) and Tommy Hayes + Matthew Noone’s AnTara, sees two ensembles who combine the influences of music from a far off land with roots that are closer to home. Our next will feature a few very exciting solo electronic artists, and the following a few acts whose music uses the violin in unique and different ways.

Also joining us is the one and only Donal Dineen, who’ll be interviewing Niwel at the start of the evening. For now it’s just a small part of the event, but later on the plan for it is to become a standalone session where Donal hosts a public discussion on Irish musicians and artists’ creative processes. We’ll have more on that soon…”

What else is happening for Ensemble?

“A lot. Later this year we’ll have our first release as a label – on vinyl and digital. From the start our main intention was always to be a record label, but we didn’t want to rush into it until we learned a bit about the industry and our artists developed enough to justify it. We’re also starting a membership scheme, for whom we’ll be organising workshops and advice sessions and the like, as we really want to build a community of musicians and music lovers. Plus we’ve got a number of large scale gigs in the works, curating stages at a couple of festivals, as well as starting a small city festival of our own… We have a tendency to take on too much but hopefully you’ll be able to come back to me in a year’s time and we’ll have all those boxes ticked…”

Ensemble’s first monthly residency gig in BLOCK T – the ENSEMBLE ASSEMBLY – is on tonight, featuring RiZA, AnTara, and Donal Dineen. Full details + tickets here.

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James Bay – Chaos and the Calm - "More the soundtrack to a rainy afternoon than a tempest..." http://state.ie/album-reviews/james-bay-chaos-and-the-calm http://state.ie/album-reviews/james-bay-chaos-and-the-calm#comments Fri, 27 Mar 2015 12:09:08 +0000 http://state.ie/?p=68610 For those of you who subscribe to radio in any capacity, James Bay’s debut album will come as no surprise. The Brit Critics Choice Awardee has recently been lauded as the next big thing and with the success of his second single, ‘Hold Back the River’ has been kicked into full throttle with an English Arena tour plus American and European dates that including a stop at SXSW. His performance in an Austin Church wasn’t the first time he’d been down south either; recording his first album in Nashville with Jacquire King (Tom Waits, Kings of Leon) the influence both geographically and stylistically are undeniable.

His soulful pining has won favour with thousands but Chaos and The Calm has far too much of the latter to be anything but an disappointingly anthemic debut. Channelling the likes of James Morrison and The Brothers Followill, Bay offers his own insipid form of “rocking out” that’s more the soundtrack to a rainy afternoon than a tempest. Opening with ‘Craving’, he offers a perspective on yearning for something more; it doesn’t break the mould musically but a solid foundation shows off an impressive range moving from raspy bellows to soft falsetto. Later track ‘Incomplete’ goes beyond again to show how powerful and confident he can be in his higher scale.

Lead single ‘Let It Go’ begins with promise but falls flat quite quickly. Holding a listeners attention is difficult and at times some tracks become far too self indulgent to seem relatable – as a young man of 24 it’s hard to even believe he has experienced some of the labours of his writing. ‘If You ever Want To Be In Love’ however is a soulful blues endeavour and not just thanks to the presence of a slide guitar either; the vocal swell in each chorus adds a conviction to the worn out cliché of unrequited love and works to Bay’s advantage. As Damien Rice proved with The Blowers Daughter it takes little lyrical complexity to write a moving song and ‘Move Together’ is no different; there’s a beautiful cadence to the words as he repeats, “How we gonna move together? Just come close”.

His talent as a storyteller is well defined on the more raw, stripped back songs such as ‘Scars’ and ‘Need The Sun to Break’. Breaking out from those tender moments, the up-tempo ‘Best Fake Smile’ and ‘Collide’ show a more ballsier approach to writing. No doubt it’s these tracks which will rile festival goers this coming season and provided he works on his stagecraft, will raise him to new heights.

The charts are awash with solo male artists at the moment and it takes something special to define yourself from the rest. Hozier fell into the pitfalls of being lost on a huge stage as one man with great talent; only time will tell but it’s Bay may also fall victim to. He offers more than the criticisms of being “James Blunt with a hat” but James Bay has a lot more living to do before he writes an album that will stand up of his own accord.

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Forbidden Fruit announces new stage, more main acts http://state.ie/news/forbidden-fruit-announces-live-live-workshop-stage-more-main-acts http://state.ie/news/forbidden-fruit-announces-live-live-workshop-stage-more-main-acts#comments Fri, 27 Mar 2015 11:32:57 +0000 http://state.ie/?p=68633 Forbidden Fruit Festival have announced a new addition, The Live Live (Workshop Stage), a brand new collective formed to showcase the very best in up and coming live performances.  Officially launching Thursday, 21 May in The Button Factory with RY X & Frank Wiedemann’s new band The Howling, they follow up a week later at Forbidden Fruit 2015 with a stage featuring the likes of the Fatima & The Eglo Band, folk-electronica duo Whilk & Misky, MC Melodee, Dublin electronic vocalist Blooms and dream-pop trio Sleep Thieves.  State favourites Rusangano Family, folk rockers Heroes In Hiding and finally, the eclectic stylings of Rocstrong.

Plus, two more main acts have been announced for the festival, Floating Points and the most excellent student-led Trinity Orchestra, who will be performing on Saturday, May 30th and Sunday, May 31st, respectively.  Have a look at Trinity Orchestra playing tracks from Gorillaz Demon Days LP, which they’ll be recreating at Forbidden Fruit.  It’s great –

Tickets for the festival, as well as pricing options, can be found here.

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Listen to Fight Like Apes’ new single http://state.ie/news/listen-to-fight-like-apes-new-single http://state.ie/news/listen-to-fight-like-apes-new-single#comments Thu, 26 Mar 2015 15:41:05 +0000 http://state.ie/?p=68630 May 15th is the release date for Fight Like Apes, the third album from MayKay, Pockets & co. Previewed at their recent Sugat Club show (photographed above by Olga Kuzmenko), the next single ‘Pretty Keen On Centrefolds’ is on a radio near you now, out on May 8th and streaming below.

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Otherkin - "They deserve the world and everything in it" http://state.ie/features/incoming-features/otherkin http://state.ie/features/incoming-features/otherkin#comments Thu, 26 Mar 2015 14:39:54 +0000 http://state.ie/?p=68623 Who are you and where are you from?

I’m Luke, singer and string-strummer with Otherkin. I’m from Hayestown which lies just outside Slane. You can hear the concerts from my house. Hopefully you’ll be able to hear me from there soon.

Who are your favorite artists from home?

Squarehead are a band who I always come back to. We stage gigs in our house every three months and I was only chuffed when they agreed to play one. I’m also into Princess, Other Creatures and a recently formed outfit called m(h)aol.

What’s it really like touring?

Exhausting, disorientating, toxic and a whole heap of fun. We’ve toured Ireland so far and loved every minute of it, and we can’t wait to spread ourselves further. It’s yourself and three of your best mates on the road, living in each other pockets and bringing your music with you, it’s difficult to hate.

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

We played in Cypress Avenue, Cork with Palma Violets last year and the crowd was fantastic. That’s the clincher for me, regardless of the standing of the venue itself, if the crowd isn’t into it then it’s difficult to loosen up and enjoy it. If the crowd’s with you then you’re golden. Cork’s always been good to us.

What’s your ideal festival line-up?

My iconic-indie-institution-now-reformed-without-an-album-to-support-band would be Pavement. My critically-acclaimed-yet-lumped-with-a-midday-set-band would be Tame Impala. My token rapper would be Kendrick Lamar, that man is untouchable.

What has been your biggest achievement of the year?

We were featured in the Radar section of one of the latest issues of NME, which is a tick off the bucket list. Ask me again when we’ve been asked to do the Late Late Show.

What was the worst piece of advice you were given?

People don’t really offer me advice. I don’t know why. I could probably use it, I’m just as clueless as anybody else.

What do you do to relax?

ASMR videos. I once watched around 20 videos of Japanese woodblock print-maker David Bull sitting at his carving bench producing these blocks in order to commission some prints. I had no prior interest in any of that kind of thing but goddamn it, those videos completely dissolve any stress or anxiety that you might have.

What are you reading?

Nothing at the minute because I’m studying for exams and really struggle with multi-tasking but the last book I read was For Whom The Bell Tolls by Hemingway which was wonderful and I plan on getting stuck into Galapagos by Kurt Vonnegut once I get some breathing space.

How about TV, anything good on the box?

I don’t tend to watch TV, mainly because I’m concerned that a new series of something would absolutely consume all of my free time. I quite enjoyed the recent BBC4 documentary on the Strypes which shared some brutally honest insights into where they’re at at the minute. I also watch ‘Girls’.

Do you have a favourite YouTube video?

Musicwise, Deerhunter Live at the Interface is something I make sure to revisit every month. I’m also an absolute sucker for any Letterman (Spoon playing Inside Out is a favourite), SNL (Kanye with Black Skinhead) or Jools Holland (Joanna Newsome doing ’81) performance.

What website do you visit most?

State.ie. Of course.

What is your favourite:

Record? I can’t deny the impact that Is This It by the Strokes had on my musical development. There are more touching records, there are more powerful and emphatic and important records, but if anyone produces a collection of 11 pop-rock nuggets as ferociously catchy and expertly crafted as the 11 on Is This It then they deserve the world and all that’s in it.

Song? ‘Tomorrow Never Knows’ by the Beatles knocks me out every time. Absolutely cosmic.

Lost classic song? ‘I’ve Told Every Little Star’ by Linda Scott has been pinging around my noggin for the last couple of weeks.

Record label? I’ve always been taken with Domino. They don’t seem hollow, or superficial, or stifling. They operate the way a record company should operate, with warmth. In the US, I like the output of Captured Tracks, and historically I think Creation Records deservedly forged a legacy for themselves.

Who is your favourite current artist?

I think Jai Paul is the future of pop music, I think Kendrick Lamar is the future of rap music and I think Girl Band are the future of ‘rock’ music.

A new artist that you are most excited about?

Jai Paul is yet to deliver a real debut album so I suppose he could be considered new. That man deserves a pedestal.

What was the last great gig you have seen?

Caribou’s show in Vicar Street last year was quite special.

Worst show?

Although I enjoyed it immensely at the time, I’m not sure Kanye West’s Marlay Park concert was actually very good. Caught the majority of Pixies set a couple of days before/after also, that was garbage. Huge Pixies fan but Christ they really phoned that one in.

What should we expect from your Irish shows?

Rowdiness, raucousness and a smattering of immediate, honest rock songs with sticky melodies. We play the Grand Social on the 2nd of April with Pockets and No Monster Club. Do join us.

Otherkin launch their new single in Dublin’s Grand Social on Thursday, April 2nd.

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The Tale of the Princess Kaguya http://state.ie/film/the-tale-of-the-princess-kaguya http://state.ie/film/the-tale-of-the-princess-kaguya#comments Wed, 25 Mar 2015 22:05:44 +0000 http://state.ie/?p=68619 Director: Hidekazu Sato & Akira Miki
Cast: Isao Takahata, Hayao Miyazaki, Joe Hisaishi,Yoshiaki, Nishimura & Toshio Suzuki
Certificate: G
Running Time: 86 minutes
Release Date: March 27th

The original Japanese release plans that Studio Ghibli had for Isao Takahata’s latest film, The Tale of the Princess Kaguya, was for it to come out on the same day in the summer of 2013 as Hayao Miyazaki’s The Wind Rises, mirroring the simultaneous release of their films Grave of the Fireflies and My Neighbour Totoro twenty five years previously. Alas this was not to be, all for the reason quite common when it comes to the development of Takahata’s films; production delays, in this case it was that the storyboards had yet to be completed. Since that time The Wind Rises has had its international release, Miyazaki has announced his retirement (though whether or not he sticks to this retirement is still up to debate, after all according to his long time producer Toshio Suzuki this is roughly the sixth time he had plan to retire) and the future of Studio Ghibli remains uncertain having ceased productions, they say temporarily, after the release of When Marnie Was There in July of last year. Should this really be the end of Studio Ghibli only time will tell, but with Princess Kaguya, the studio has released possibly one of the crowning achievements of its already illustrious history, delivering a film that is stunningly beautiful in every sense of the word.

Based on a tenth century folktale, The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter, thought to be the oldest Japanese folktale known to exist, Princess Kaguya tells the story of a bamboo cutter who discovers a tiny girl, less than the size of his palm, hidden within a luminous bamboo stem. Taking her home, he and his wife are surprised when suddenly she transforms into a baby, where the bamboo cutter and wife decide to raise her as their child giving her the name Princess. She grows quickly, leading to her nickname ‘Takenoko’ meaning little bamboo from the local children. While the girl revels in her idyllic countryside surroundings, her father, upon discovering pieces of gold and fine clothing within other bamboo shoots, believes she is deserving of a so called better life, uses the gold to buy a large house in the city to integrate her into the customs of the elite. Given the formal name of Princess Kaguya, she longs to escape back to the countryside and back to the beauty of nature.

It is a conflict between the desire of personal happiness and freedom with the rigid class structure and conformity of society. Princess Kaguya is appalled by formalities expected of higher-class women in the Heian period of Japanese history, where woman must pluck out their eyebrows, dye their teeth black and isolate themselves from everyone, even at a celebration in her honour. It is in these sections of the film that resemble the themes of the period films of the great Japanese director Kenji Mizoguchi, who looked at the past to highlight the injustices of the present. The injustice here is how the restrictions of the patriarchal system forces women to deny their own true selves in order to appease both men and their social class. While Kaguya manages to find a way to rebel against the appearance and the behaviour of this system, she is heartbroken to see the effects of this system in a scene when after finally getting a chance to visit the countryside and joyously playing below some cherry blossom trees, her joy is suddenly snatched away after accidentally bumping into a local peasant child, the child’s family desperately apologise to her before leaving her and continuing along their way. Seeing this family, a family that resembles the same type of people with whom she grew up with, grovel towards her and treat her as a superior, destroys her as she discovers that while see can leave the city, she can’t abandon the constraints of society.

As always with films from Studio Ghibli, the animation is absolutely sublime. While in contrast with the rich colour palette of Miyazaki’s films the animation style found here in Princess Kaguya – done in a watercolour design that resembles traditional Japanese scroll art — could be seen at first glance as looking minimalistic, the film is rich in wonderful details. An early example is a scene where the infant Kaguya crawls and rolls around the floor, imitates the hopping of a frog and then learns to stand and walk. While the character design is just fabulous, what is wonderful about this scene is that it portrays how quick the passage of time is within a young child’s life. In another wonderfully animated scene, during the celebrations being held in her honour, Kaguya dreams of running back to her original home, her journey depicted within a impressionistic background of broad dark strokes showing her inner turmoil in quite a stunning way.

Apart from one false note, in which the death of a minor character is depicted in a comical manner that comes across as jarringly mean-spirited, the fact that The Tale of the Princess Kaguya can hold its place along the finest films produced under the Studio Ghibli banner is a testament to its overall strength. Boasting gorgeous visuals alongside deeply resonant undertones that touch on the ideas of childhood, female identity, parenthood, social class, life, nature and the passage of time, it is a film that is full of the joy and sadness of life, all through a magic lens that makes it incredibly profound and deeply melancholic.

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Stairwells - Dublin hardcorers on the greatest things in the world http://state.ie/features/incoming-features/stairwells http://state.ie/features/incoming-features/stairwells#comments Wed, 25 Mar 2015 16:47:01 +0000 http://state.ie/?p=68612 Who are you and where are you from?

My name is Ian Kelly. I’m from Finglas in Dublin and I sing in Stairwells.

Who are your favorite artists from home?

My favourite Irish band is The Winter Passing from Roscrea. I also listen to bands like Driveway, Over Being Under, Fang Club, Boardwalk and Frustration.

What’s it really like touring?

It’s pretty great to be honest. You get to see a new place every single day and meet a lot of like minded people while getting to experience different cultures. There’s also lots of free time for exploring, seeking out weird food and there’s a lot of time for catching up on reading in the van. Oh and did I mention you get to play your songs to people that live hundreds of miles away. Greatest thing in the world.

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

My favourite place to play is Regensburg, Germany. Coolest most chill place I’ve ever been. Beautiful city, lovely people, great food and one of the only places I’ve been that I liked more than Dublin. My favourite venue though is the Banshees Labyrinth in Edinburgh. It built in the old Edinburgh dungeons and is creepy as hell. My old band played there on Halloween a few years back and they have a cinema in the venue so I watched the Exorcist before we played haha. Pretty cool.

What’s your ideal festival line-up?

Taylor Swift, Jimmy Eat World, Paramore, The Wonder Years, American Nightmare, (old) Green Day and a bunch of other bands like that.

What has been your biggest achievement of the year?

We pretty much finalised our line up in October 2014 and started writing songs and we put out our first album for free at the start of March so I guess that’s a pretty cool achievement? We ran out of the 200 free downloads bandcamp give you a month in less than a day. I know none of us expected anything like that. It was really awesome. It’s been a lot of fun doing this band and I’m excited to see what else we can do this year.

What was the worst piece of advice you were given?

An old band of mine pulled out of a really cool opportunity before because we were told we were going to lose money on it, but if you’re in a band and you think that you’re not going to lose a heap load of money at the start you are dreaming haha. Music is a labour of love and you need to go into knowing that you’re going to to spend every spare penny you have on it and probably not going to see any of it back and if you do?? Then happy days.

What do you do to relax?

I read a lot of books, hang out with my friends, see movies and just other everyday things that most people do.

What are you reading?

I just finished Post Office by Charles Bukowski and it was really cool. I’m currently reading The Opposite Of Loneliness. It’s the collected works of Marina Keegan who died in a car accident 2 weeks after she graduated from Yale. She was due start a job at the New Yorker and I’m in love with everything I have read so far.

How about TV, anything good on the box?

I just started watching the Blacklist and it’s so good. Apart from that I’m currently watching The Flash, Arrow, Agents of Shield, Ghost Adventures, The US Office and Under the Dome. Lost is the greatest show ever made.

Do you have a favourite YouTube video?

I do. Stone Cold ET is by far the greatest thing to ever happen to the internet haha.

What website do you visit most?

I guess all the usuals like FB, Twitter and Tumblr. Apart from that I check out some blogs about abandon places, unexplained events and other stuff like that.
If you’re into collecting records and US hardcore from the 2000’s you should check out this blog.

What is your favourite:

Record? Fireworks, Gospel

Song? Into It. Over It. – ‘Augusta, GA’

Lost classic song?

O’Connell’s, ’74/75′

Record label?

Run For Cover

Who is your favourite current artist?

The Wonder Years. They are one of the only bands that I listen to that have got better with every new release. They are recording a new album at the moment and I can’t wait to hear it.

A new artist that you are most excited about?

The Winter Passing from Roscrea. Not new to the Irish scene but they’ve just signed to 6131 records in America and I’m so excited to see what they do over the next couple years.

What was the last great gig you have seen?

The Wonder Years in Fibbers last year was pretty special. That band is pretty huge right now and it was cool to see them in such a small venue. The warmest I’ve ever been in my life haha.

Worst show?

Hmmm that’s a hard one. When Balance and Composure played in Fibbers a while back the singer must have been really sick because his voice kept going so that was hugely disappointing.

What should we expect from your Irish shows?

I would say that we set out to have a fairly fast paced emotional set, while incorporating a few slow intense moments that pull the whole thing together.

Stairwells’ eponymous album album is out now and you can catch them live at The Mercantile on Saturday 4th April with special guests The Winter Passing, Axecatcher & Homecomings.

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Nick Kelly’s Alien Envoy set for The Button Factory, Dublin http://state.ie/news/nick-kellys-alien-envoy-set-for-the-button-factory-dublin http://state.ie/news/nick-kellys-alien-envoy-set-for-the-button-factory-dublin#comments Wed, 25 Mar 2015 15:05:05 +0000 http://state.ie/?p=68615 Nick Kelly, formerly of The Fat Lady Sings and currently of musical collective Alien Envoy, has announced that he and his full band will be performing at The Button Factory this coming May 15th.  The show will open with a solo set from Nick, who will be playing songs from his back catalogue with former outfit The Fat Lady Sings, before going on to perform with the collaborative project Alien Envoy.  Tickets are €16 and are available now, here.  If the video below for Alien Envoy’s ‘Resolution’ is anything to go by, then expect the eclectic.

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Blur live gig streaming tonight http://state.ie/news/blur-live-gig-streaming-tonight http://state.ie/news/blur-live-gig-streaming-tonight#comments Wed, 25 Mar 2015 14:23:48 +0000 http://state.ie/?p=68613 There’s a new Blur album on the way (as well as a certain Irish festival appearance, if rumours are to be believed) and the band have certainly kicked back into gear. Friday night saw them play to the Mode club in London to an audience of 300 and the show is set to stream online tonight from 8pm. Watch it below.

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Watch new Meltybrains? live video http://state.ie/news/watch-new-meltybrains-live-video http://state.ie/news/watch-new-meltybrains-live-video#comments Wed, 25 Mar 2015 12:30:29 +0000 http://state.ie/?p=68609 Another Irish band causing a stir overseas at the moment, Meltybrains? played the Pepper Canister Church last month – the perfect setting for their other worldly sound. Video director extraordinaire Bob Gallagher was on hand to capture the night’s events.

Meltybrains? photographed for State by Mark Earley

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Ambience Affair – Prophet - Atmospheric return for Dublin band http://state.ie/features/ambience-affair-prophet http://state.ie/features/ambience-affair-prophet#comments Wed, 25 Mar 2015 11:19:53 +0000 http://state.ie/?p=68607 It’s been a while since the release of their excellent debut album Burials so we’re glad to report that Ambience Affair are back in action, with a follow up planned for later in the year. ‘Prophet’ is the first taste, supported by live shows in Bello Bar, Dublin on Friday April 10th and Coughlan’s Live Cork on Friday April 17th.

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