State Magazine http://state.ie Music news, reviews, photos, features, films. Thu, 28 May 2015 09:15:55 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Sleep Thieves – Grand Social, Dublin - "Alluring, dynamic atmosphere..." http://state.ie/live-reviews/sleep-thieves-grand-social-dublin http://state.ie/live-reviews/sleep-thieves-grand-social-dublin#comments Thu, 28 May 2015 09:15:55 +0000 http://state.ie/?p=69602 Sleep Thieves don’t just trundle on stage in that meek half embarrassed fashion-they are a band who arrives. No introductory pleasantries, no fiddling around with instruments, as the darkness envelopes the room their complete confidence flickers into life as they bravely open with a new track ‘Is This Ready?’ Their trademark pitch-black electro floods the stage as if they were beamed in from a basement bar in Berlin.

This alluring, dynamic atmosphere is enforced by the captivating self-assured stage presence of lead singer Sorcha Brennan. She bewitches as she coils like smoke around the microphone lead, a tangle of curls, a flash of gold and fringing, twisting – she is a pale ghost conjured up by the throbbing iciness of the album title track and recent single ‘You Want the Night’, her fragile vocals fluttering and soaring through the relentless, grinding beats . With barely time to gain composure the cinematic ‘Ishimura’ is unfurled, it’s snapping synths battling the fog of the stage as it swirls around in motion to the ricocheting, dreamy guitars to a dramatic climax-a soundtrack for a film yet to be made.

Blitzing into the deep sensuality of ‘French Kiss’ it is Anita Lane at her most inky or Bat for Lashes at their most magnetic, the rumbling almost Peter Hookesque bass-line hypnotises as the vocals jump from kittenish vulnerability to full-blooded commandments, it encapsulates that certain brand of black magic that Sleep Thieves can intoxicate a crowd with. The band injects the room with a heavy weather with sombre violent hues. They can create an atmosphere that is so overwhelming and with such intensity and ferocity that breaks out in a live setting like an animal unleashed, that at times it is hard to believe there are only three people on stage creating such a powerful, heady brew.

The chinks of light through this brooding ambience come in the form of the whirring robotics of the Spotify–smashing ‘City of Hearts’, that builds and bursts into metallic beauty amid the aching isolation of the lyrics and the delicate perfection of their bona fide chrome pop moment ‘Sparks’. Every inch of ‘Sparks’ is graffitied with dazzling hooks, the air filling with heady lust as the crowd responds to their siren song about the search for love with cheers and twirls on the sticky dance floor. Old favourite ‘Islands’ is given a muscular live make over, whose irresistible ’80s beats and melody once tangibly recalled images of Winona enrobed in her thrift shop finest staring longingly into the middle distance, it now packs a new forceful punch. It echoes and swoops, the tender melodrama of its lyrics writ large, the pain of loss amplified into a trembling crescendo.

Finishing with the opaque wonder of ‘Oceans’ pulsing with menace, it is the unending battle between their lightness of touch and brawny melodies captured in one song as Sorcha’s pin sharp falsetto snakes around the sinister boom of synth/guitarist Wayne’s Knife-style altered vocals. With that, Sleep Thieves exit the stage acknowledging the audience with heartfelt ‘thank yous’ before disappearing as enigmatically as they arrived. As one of the country’s most exciting and exhilarating live acts we should cherish them before they depart to dominate the cities, dance-floors and hearts of faraway places that are surely to fall under their seductive spell.

Sleep Thieves play Forbidden Fruit on Sunday

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Faith No More – Sol Invictus - Welcome home, my friends http://state.ie/album-reviews/faith-no-more-sol-invictus http://state.ie/album-reviews/faith-no-more-sol-invictus#comments Thu, 28 May 2015 08:52:31 +0000 http://state.ie/?p=69593 Finally, Faith No More return after a break of 18 years. 18 years. That’s millions. When bands disappear and come back like this, it’s almost always a disaster. There’s a danger that they’d be trying too hard, or that they’ve reformed for the wrong reasons: It’s tempting to wonder which one of them has the expensive divorce to pay for, but this doesn’t seem to be the case. Not if you listen to the music. It seems, strangely enough, as if they just want to make music as Faith No More, presumably because during 18 years of a FNM vacuum, they realised that no one else is going to do it.

The reformed FNM is the post Big Jim Martin / Angel Dust iteration, which suits me. Big Jim’s FNM vision was always as a band where the guitar solo featured prominently. After ditching Martin, FNM ditched the guitar solo, cliché that is. There’s guitar on the record, of course, and John Hudson gets his time in the sun, but there’s no shrill posturing. The whole guitar god thing is pretty limiting, and this is a group who refuse to be limited. With Patton’s writhing, screaming, dramatic rendering at the front, you’re best off not being pigeonholed. Faith No More have never comfortably fit within the confines of any one genre, which has been scarier for the music press and average metal/grunge fan than the band.

Opening with the title track, an odd little number pivoting around a piano riff that sounds almost spontaneous, suggests that maybe they’ve diverged from their own particular path. Previous albums liked to start out aggressively, daring you to continue, unsubtly questioning your stomach for the fight. This time you’re lulled into a false sense of security. The second track, ‘Superhero’, wouldn’t have felt out of place on King for a Day or Angel Dust, classic FNM, full of uninhibited, hyperactive vocals, Billy Gould’s trademark propelling, metallic bass, the tinkling piano in the refrain. They’re back, baby. Like they’ve never been away.

The rhythmic chunkiness of ‘Separation Anxiety’ could be a standout, a constantly agitated piece of music that gets under your skin. On ‘Cone of Shame’ Patton’s doing his best Tom Waits, until they change direction and he’s wailing in that way only he can. Like many vocalists trapped in one, constantly fighting with each for dominance. You just never know which Patton is going to turn up, but you know that the passion’s real. Very real. What’s he’s on about? I don’t think I want to know. I don’t think it matters. The lilt of a melodica on ‘Rise and Fall’ is delicious, without seeming ironic or arch. It just works. ‘Motherfucker': The pure brazen joy in the repetition of profanity becoming a mantra. Inevitably, it was the album’s first single. Matador’s treacly black melody is straight from the pre-millennium, peeling back the years. 18 was it? Crikey.

‘From the Dead’ finishes it up. “Welcome home, my friend”, croons Patton. Possibly referring to himself and his bandmates. It has that melodic, mid-seventies, incongruous pop thing they love to tack on to the end of a record; jangling acoustic guitar, a heavenly choir. Proving that along with the muscularity, the humour is still there, and it’s all backed up by pure ability. Yeah, they can still play.

If, like Big Jim, you consider The Real Thing to be the apex off the group’s achievement, you may be disappointed. While this isn’t a forage into the future, it certainly isn’t a hark back to the days of Bermuda shorts and catchy pop-metal. Lacking the technical gadgetry that almost ruined Album of the Year, (but didn’t) the closest antecedent is King For A Day. So either they’ve not moved on in 20 years, or they were decades ahead of their time. The things is that they’re just unique, no one else really sounds like FNM, and all the Black Sabbath cover versions in the world can’t hide the fact that they can’t help but sound like themselves. Their peculiar chemistry is exactly what I wanted from this record. Sneering, sardonic, loud, hyperactive, unable to stick in any one musical rut. And Patton, he’s still weird, he’s still angry, even if he’s not. He’s still got it. They all do. Thank god.

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Spy - Secret agent woman http://state.ie/film/spy http://state.ie/film/spy#comments Wed, 27 May 2015 21:13:56 +0000 http://state.ie/?p=69596 Director: Paul Feig
Cast: Melissa McCarthy, Jason Statham, Rose Byrne and Jude Law
Certificate: 15a
Running Time: 120 minutes
Release Date: June 5th

While she’s certainly received and deserved a lot of praise for her natural comedienne talents, Melissa McCarthy doesn’t really have the CV to back it up. She stole most of the scenes from Bridesmaids, but elsewhere she’s been teamed up with the likes of Sandra Bullock, Jason Bateman and Susan Sarandon, for the sliding scale of quality that was The Heat, Identity Thief and Tammy. Nobody you know actually seems to watch Mike & Molly, and the less said about her cameos in This Is 40 and The Hangover Part III, the better. Spy represents her first proper leading lady role, but it’s only when she’s paired up with another fantastically funny actress does the film really take off.

McCarthy plays the assistant to CIA operative Jude Law, always in his ear, directing him to safety from explosions and bad-guys, all from the safety of her cubicle in Langley. When his cover is blown by big bad guy and nuclear bomb owning Rose Byrne, the CIA need to send someone in that the bad guys don’t know about, which results in McCarthy jaunting all over Europe is search of Byrne. Also in tow is Jason Statham, another CIA agent who is super annoyed the mission wasn’t given to him, and goes rogue to prove his worth.

Written and directed by Paul Feig – who previously worked with McCarthy on Bridesmaids and The Heat, and will reunite again on Ghostbusters III – there is something incredibly safe about Spy, despite the surprisingly high violence quota. Everything from that title to the obviousness of the jokes (McCarthy thinks she’s going to be given a sexy new identity, but is given the world’s worst make-under, or McCarthy crushing hard on Law’s suave spy and him having no idea of her intentions, for example) to some of the more random asides (the CIA has a bat-infestation problem, or a long scene involving 50 Cent and Miranda Hart that goes nowhere), and there’s a fear that Spy will be added to the forgettable junk-pile with Will Ferrell’s Semi-Pro or Tina Fey’s Date Night.

But then, FINALLY, McCarthy is given a protracted scene with Byrne in a casino, and the entire film magically comes to life. Their immensely funny back-and-forth is truly hilarious, and from that point on, Spy is saved. This, coupled with Statham’s surprising knack for comedy (“The woman I loved was thrown from a plane, and hit by another plane on the way down!” he explains when asked why he’s such a hard-ass), makes it the best movie McCarthy has done since Bridesmaids. That’s faint praise, sure, and it’s still not the movie to match her talents, but it’s definitely a step in the right direction.

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Man Up - Love will tear you apart http://state.ie/film/man-up http://state.ie/film/man-up#comments Wed, 27 May 2015 20:56:55 +0000 http://state.ie/?p=69599 Director: Ben Palmer
Cast: Simon Pegg, Lake Bell, Sharon Horgan and Rory Kinnear
Certificate: 15a
Running Time: 88 minutes
Release Date: may 29th

We all know and love Simon Pegg from his Three Colours Cornetto series. Lake Bell was fantastic in the indie hit In a World…, while Sharon Horgan blew us all away in Channel 4 series Catastrophe. This impressive cast is watched over by director Ben Palmer, previously of The Inbetweeners Movie. Basically, Man Up is a reminder of all these other, better projects you’d be better off watching instead.

Bell plays a cynical, 30-something who has basically given up on the idea of ever falling in love, until she bumps into Pegg in a train station. He believes she is the blind date that he’s been set up with, while she actually has found someone she kinda likes and doesn’t correct him. Over the course of the day they go drinking, play bowling, run into exes, slowly start to fall in love… but that cloud of who she really is, plus her parent’s 40th wedding anniversary party that has been organised by her sister (Horgan), is hanging over them throughout.

The genre of rom-coms need a certain magical level of disbelief for them to work in the first place, as only so many relationships can endure serendipitous meet-cutes and airport chases with public declarations of love. Man Up bursts through that glass ceiling of belief though, reaching almost sci-fi levels of coincidence and happenstance occurrences, forcing the audience to make an appointment with their ophthalmologist immediately after the movie ends, such is the level of eye-rolling they’ll be performing.

Scenes are set-up like the laziest of sit-coms – a mad dash through London to find a missing bag is a particular low-light – and due to this, you’ll find that the laughs come thin and slow. If it weren’t for Pegg’s easy charm, Bell’s impressive comic timing and Horgan’s innate likeability, Man Up would be borderline unwatchable. This is candyfloss cinema; yes, it looks fluffy and fun, but 90 minutes later and you’ll feel like getting sick.

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SOAK – Before We Forget To Dream - "A record most established performers would be proud of..." http://state.ie/album-reviews/soak-before-we-forget-to-dream http://state.ie/album-reviews/soak-before-we-forget-to-dream#comments Wed, 27 May 2015 11:45:01 +0000 http://state.ie/?p=69588 Being a nation that churns out endless amounts of trad/folk singer-songwriters, it is always refreshing to unearth a real gem in the category. The affecting full length debut by SOAK, aka Bridie Monds-Watson, falls under such a description. Heralded as ‘One To Watch’ as far back as 2013, there has been much expected of the plucky 16-year old Derry native, and, with the benefit of hindsight, she was well worth the wait. A brittle, yet highly accomplished portrait of a teenage girl in the most vulnerable period of her life, Before We Forget To Dream is a record most established performers would be proud of, never mind one in the embryonic stages of her career.

Watson’s shrill, almost childlike vocals and unconcealed Derry accent depict a youthful, sometimes fragile innocence, with her songs displaying remarkable maturity throughout. The reflective nature of ballads like ‘Blud’ and ‘B a Nobody’, a heart-breaking portrayal of teenage isolation, emanate a palpable sense of purity, as does the tender melancholy of songs like ‘Wait’, ’24 Windowed House’ and the haunting ‘Shuvels’. Quirky pop jingle ‘Sea Creatures’, last year’s EP title-track, carries an unexpectedly deep meaning along with it’s sprightly melody and lyrics, while the upbeat ‘Reckless Behaviour’ paints a vivid portrait of teenage life that any young girl could both identify, and empathise with.

It is through these thought-provoking intricacies, together with the subtleness of the acoustic melodies and the poignancy of the lyrics, that the real beauty of Before We Forget To Dream shines bright, even if it isn’t the most alluring album musically. A wonderfully authentic debut from an artist with a big future.

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002 – Girls Still Run The Show - The state of female popcast http://state.ie/features/002-girls-still-run-the-show http://state.ie/features/002-girls-still-run-the-show#comments Wed, 27 May 2015 10:46:25 +0000 http://state.ie/?p=69581 Following our Ham Sandwich interview last week, the second edition of our podcast takes on the always weighty topic of pop music – in particular the female artists who continue to lead the way. To discuss such a topic we could think of no better people than our own Jennifer Gannon, who has written extensively on the subject for State, and freelance journalist Louise Bruton. Hosted by our editor-in-chief Phil Udell, the pair discuss everything from the Ronnettes to Taylor Swift – including why Charli XCX is the future, the genius of All Saints and the reason that the boys get it SO wrong. Download or stream below and join us next week when we talk to Public Service Broadcasting.

Producer: Brendan Rehill
Theme: Kobina

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Third Smoke to support Ham Sandwich at Olympia http://state.ie/news/third-smoke-to-support-ham-sandwich-at-olympia http://state.ie/news/third-smoke-to-support-ham-sandwich-at-olympia#comments Wed, 27 May 2015 08:42:32 +0000 http://state.ie/?p=69580 Having impressed us at our Faces of May show, Third Smoke return to Dublin on Friday night as special guests of Ham Sandwich. It should be quite the night at the Olympia Theatre, with the headliners still in celebratory mood following the success of their Stories From The Surface album. A few tickets are still on sale, priced from €20.

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Beach House announce Dublin and Belfast dates http://state.ie/news/beach-house-announce-dublin-and-belfast-dates http://state.ie/news/beach-house-announce-dublin-and-belfast-dates#comments Wed, 27 May 2015 08:33:32 +0000 http://state.ie/?p=69577 With a new album Depression Cherry due at the end of August, Beach House head out on the road in the autumn and will be swinging by Ireland for a couple of dates. The Baltimore duo play Mandela Hall, Belfast (Oct 24th) and Vicar St (25th). Tickets go on sale on Friday.

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Irish Festivals ’15 – the acts to see - Here comes the summer seventy http://state.ie/features/irish-festivals-15-the-acts-to-see http://state.ie/features/irish-festivals-15-the-acts-to-see#comments Tue, 26 May 2015 14:52:53 +0000 http://state.ie/?p=69492 So here we are, at the beginning of yet another Irish festival season. Those who remember when it was just one or two events will still find it staggering just how much the circuit has grown over the years, while younger readers will expect the cream of international talent. The latter is certainly there, alongside new names and the usual very healthy selection of Irish acts. We’ve picked seventy of the artists you’ll find at the various multi-stage events (meaning we’ve passed over a few curated city gatherings and major one off shows, the old faithful Slane excepted). We’ll also update this over the summer so keep an eye. In the meantime let’s start with a familiar name…

Ash (Slane, Indiependence)

Eight years may be an awful long time to be away, but plenty of big stage experience and a killer new album will see the Downpatrick trio home and dry.

Austra (Body & Soul)

With a new record on the way get ready for the unfamiliar, although the Austra live experience is a memorable one whatever the material on offer.

Battles (Electric Picnic)

Longtime Warp Records mainstays, Battles really push the boundaries of what can be done with a set of instruments and an FX station. Their live shows are ferocious too, so prepare for aural hypnosis.

Benjamin Booker (Longitude)

Returning to Ireland for the second summer running, New Orleans garage blues man Booker will be looking to repeat the success of his EP ’14 showing.

Bicep (AVA Belfast)

Cleverly adopting the revivalist house sound before it got saturated, Bicep have managed to keep ahead of the game in terms of production, style and genre bending. A truly dynamic duo.

Bitch Falcon (Knockanstockan, KFest)

How they’ll adapt to life as a trio remains to be seen, but we suspect that Bitch Falcon’s upward trajectory can only continue this summer.

Blur (Electric Picnic)

A far more suitable outdoor setting than their last Irish visit to Killmainham, Blur also arrive as a going concern again – albeit for the time being. How this works will no doubt depend on their choice of set-list and how they balance the crowd pleasers with the more interesting elements of their history.

Booka Shade (Forbidden Fruit)

Hopefully they’ll thrash out some live percussion alongside their dreamy synths and syncopated beats. They haven’t let us down so far.

Curtis Harding (Electric Picnic)

When you name your debut LP Soul Power you better be able to live up to the expectations. Atlantan Harding does it with ease.

Dah Jevu (Life, B.A.R.E. In The Woods)

The delectable pairing of Bobby Basil and Tafari Pesto, Dah Jevu are quickly becoming one of Dublin’s most interesting hip-hop acts. With their off-centre sound, they’ve got the right recipe (sorry) for their festival appearances this summer.

Dan Deacon (Body & Soul)

There aren’t many better live performers in the electronic world than Deacon, so get ready for some serious audience participation.

Danny Brown (Longitude)

The eccentric rapper is back in Marlay Park for the second year on the trot, although this should suit him a lot better than last summer’s Macklemore/Ellie Goulding support slot.

Derrick Carter (Life)

A genuine legend, you won’t find many better opportunities to lose yourself over the coming months.

DJ Nu-Mark (AVA Belfast, Life)

Also appearing later in the summer with his J5 cohorts, Ireland will have three opportunities to witness one of the world’s greatest hip-hop DJs in action.

Earl Sweatshirt (Forbidden Fruit)

Having really upped his game on his last full-length release and with a hearty back catalogue, Earl Sweatshirt is going places quickly. Catch him on his meteoric rise.

Elephant (Another Love Story, Hollow Sounds, Castlepalooza)

A quietly engaging presence on stage, Dundalk’s Shane Clarke is wonderfully at odds with current Irish trends and is all the more delightful because of it.

Embrz (Longitude)

Jack Casey, AKA Embrz, is one of those producers who seems to have popped up from nowhere and, with a serious sound and an ear for a great remix, we’re glad he has. You’ll be too, should you catch him at Longitude.

Fat White Family (Electric Picnic)

Gnarling, ragged and visceral to the point of frank debauchery, Fat White Family are arguably the fiercest outfit to grace the contemporary music scene since Shaun Ryder straightened himself up. Guitars, electronics and vocal histrionics…what’s not to like?

Fight Like Apes (Castlepalooza)

One of the most dependable acts on the circuit, now bolstered with a new bunch of songs and the sheer delight of being back in the game – plus a top five album to boot.

FKA Twigs (Electric Picnic)

A last minute cancellation in 2014, Tahliah Barnet will hope for better luck second time around.

Florence & The Machine (Electric Picnic)

EP isn’t ever really about the headliners but even so does manage to balance credibility with mainstream appeal. In need of an impressive return to the fray, Florence will want to deliver the goods.

Foo Fighters (Slane)

FOO FIGHTERS AT SLANE. ’nuff said, really.

Future Islands (Electric Picnic)

If you weren’t lucky enough to see Future Islands in Vicar Street last year, or any of their pre-Singles gigs, now is your chance. Truly one of the most electrifying live acts you’ll ever witness.

Girl Band (Longitude, Electric Picnic)

A dynamic presence on last year’s round, Girl Band have only grown in confidence in the interim.

Glass Animals (Longitude)

Building a substantial audience here under the mainstream radar, Marlay Park should prove a celebratory victory lap for the Oxford quartet.

Gold Panda (Life)

It’s been a while since we heard anything from Gold Panda, but that’s not to say he hasn’t been busy. Here’s hoping he pulls some MPC magical tricks from his hat at Life.

Ham Sandwich (Indiependence)

Not as prominent as in recent years, it’s just the sole Irish outing for one of the best live bands in the country so make the most of it.

Hare Squead (Castlepalooza)

Experiencing their first year on the festival circuit, the Dublin hip-hop trio and extended musical family will make the most of every single second.

Hector Bizerk (Knockanstockan)

Like Ireland, Scottish hip-hop has found it hard to break through but is getting new respect in the wake of Young Fathers extraordinary work. Hector Bizerk are an equally interesting and dark prospect, one of the few international visitors to the Wicklow weekender.

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Toto – Vicar St., Dublin – in photos - Hear the drums echoing tonight http://state.ie/photo-gallery/toto-vicar-st-dublin-in-photos http://state.ie/photo-gallery/toto-vicar-st-dublin-in-photos#comments Tue, 26 May 2015 14:41:01 +0000 http://state.ie/?p=69511 The old rockers of Toto packed out Vicar St on what was quite a special night throughout the city. One wonders if they had any idea that a mere three hours after they finished their set, 1800 of the happiest people in the world raised the roof off the Tivoli Theatre – just 50 metres away – as Mother Club’s YES party dropped one of their biggest anthems, and Toto’s biggest hit. A moment of celebrating an incredible day by blessing the rains down in Africa.

Toto photographed for State by Paulo Nuno.

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Fucked Up, Strong Boys and Bitch Falcon – Hangar, Dublin – in photos - Visceral visuals http://state.ie/photo-gallery/fucked-up-strong-boys-and-bitch-falcon-hangar-dublin-in-photos http://state.ie/photo-gallery/fucked-up-strong-boys-and-bitch-falcon-hangar-dublin-in-photos#comments Tue, 26 May 2015 13:14:12 +0000 http://state.ie/?p=69525 A photo essay from a brilliant night – you’ll be sweating just looking at this gallery.
Fucked Up, Bitch Falcon and Strong Boys photographed for State by Olga Kuzmenko.

Bitch Falcon supporting Fucked Up, Hangar, Dublin by Olga Kuzmenko Bitch Falcon supporting Fucked Up, Hangar, Dublin by Olga Kuzmenko Bitch Falcon supporting Fucked Up, Hangar, Dublin by Olga Kuzmenko Bitch Falcon supporting Fucked Up, Hangar, Dublin by Olga Kuzmenko Bitch Falcon supporting Fucked Up, Hangar, Dublin by Olga Kuzmenko Bitch Falcon supporting Fucked Up, Hangar, Dublin by Olga Kuzmenko Strong Boys supporting Fucked Up, Hangar, Dublin by Olga Kuzmenko Strong Boys supporting Fucked Up, Hangar, Dublin by Olga Kuzmenko Strong Boys supporting Fucked Up, Hangar, Dublin by Olga Kuzmenko Strong Boys supporting Fucked Up, Hangar, Dublin by Olga Kuzmenko Strong Boys supporting Fucked Up, Hangar, Dublin by Olga Kuzmenko Strong Boys supporting Fucked Up, Hangar, Dublin by Olga Kuzmenko Strong Boys supporting Fucked Up, Hangar, Dublin by Olga Kuzmenko Fucked Up, Hangar, Dublin by Olga Kuzmenko Fucked Up, Hangar, Dublin by Olga Kuzmenko Fucked Up, Hangar, Dublin by Olga Kuzmenko Fucked Up, Hangar, Dublin by Olga Kuzmenko Fucked Up, Hangar, Dublin by Olga Kuzmenko Fucked Up, Hangar, Dublin by Olga Kuzmenko Fucked Up, Hangar, Dublin by Olga Kuzmenko Fucked Up, Hangar, Dublin by Olga Kuzmenko Fucked Up, Hangar, Dublin by Olga Kuzmenko Fucked Up, Hangar, Dublin by Olga Kuzmenko Fucked Up, Hangar, Dublin by Olga Kuzmenko Fucked Up, Hangar, Dublin by Olga Kuzmenko Fucked Up, Hangar, Dublin by Olga Kuzmenko Fucked Up, Hangar, Dublin by Olga Kuzmenko Fucked Up, Hangar, Dublin by Olga Kuzmenko Fucked Up, Hangar, Dublin by Olga Kuzmenko Fucked Up, Hangar, Dublin by Olga Kuzmenko Fucked Up, Hangar, Dublin by Olga Kuzmenko ]]>
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Forbidden Fruit stage times http://state.ie/news/forbidden-fruit-stage-times-2 http://state.ie/news/forbidden-fruit-stage-times-2#comments Tue, 26 May 2015 11:26:54 +0000 http://state.ie/?p=69523 Here you go then, get planning for the festival season’s first big weekend…

SITE MAP RUNNING ORDER FF

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Fucked Up – Hangar, Dublin - Brutal and brilliant http://state.ie/live-reviews/fucked-up-hanger-dublin http://state.ie/live-reviews/fucked-up-hanger-dublin#comments Tue, 26 May 2015 11:12:31 +0000 http://state.ie/?p=69515 Arriving early to Hangar, State inadvertently catches Bitch Falcon sound checking and feels a touch embarrassed for intruding. The Dublin trio eventually battle through some sound issues and a slowly-emerging and polite crowd in tremendous fashion, their brand of sludge-covered grunge registering as both inspired tribute and inspirational statement. ‘Wolfstooth’ in particular proves quite the hypnotic gambit. Lizzie Fitzpatrick makes for a wonderful contradiction, a focused banshee when engaged in furiously playing off Converge-esque bass lines and armed with the demeanour of a polite schoolteacher in between. There’s little polish here, nor is there any real need for it. What we do have in their nascent state is arguably the most intriguing proposition in the country right now. May they never be complete, may they never be content.

Strong Boys, hampered by instant technical difficulties, a lengthy delay in which everyone looks terrified and a low-rent aggro Rob Halford impersonator for a frontman, haven’t a hope though there’s something oddly avant-garde about them kicking right back into their opening track after four minutes of dead air.

Damian Abraham should have been a professional wrestler. Blessed with a huge amount of charisma and a penchant for taking the action to the heart of the crowd, the Fucked Up leader tonight at least gets a fitting chance to pay homage to the squared circle. As polling stations across the country prepare to sign off for the evening, Abraham “kicks things off right” by leading the crowd in Daniel Bryan-esque ‘YES!’ chants, his arms pointed high above his equality-emblazoned forehead before ‘Queen of Hearts’ steals in and the place goes appropriately apeshit. It’s as blistering a beginning as you could hope for, nervous energy swapped out for screaming catharsis.

By the time ‘Sun Glass’ hits, Abraham is right there growling in front of you one minute and a disembodied voice across the room the next. Occasionally, you catch sight – and grasp – of a microphone cord that will at one point be wrapped so many times around his head he briefly resembles one of the lesser-imagined Cenobites from the Hellraiser series. ‘I Hate Summer’, meanwhile, is trailed by a heartfelt sermon on antidepressants and the apparent weight-loss benefits of marijuana. Abraham looks notably trimmer tonight, though he’s lost none of his presence. He’s quite the orator, too, peppering a fast-paced set with clever and authentic Dublin-based asides. An attempt to explain the minutiae of hometown WWE superstar Sheamus’ character falls largely on confused ears but there’s a hearty cheer for the notion that Fucked Up are the perfect cross between Paranoid Visions and Horslips.

Time passes as a shirtless Abraham continues to discover new corners of the building, returning to the stage with a crown of candle wax, the letters on his head smudged now. Fear not, for one of the many disciples in the front row manages to keep hold long enough to scrawl out a clear ‘YES’ on the singer’s side. No mean feat, given his restlessness. Somewhere in between, Abraham will address his look, noting that tracksuit pants at a social function – ‘The Drake Rule’ – is nothing to be afraid or ashamed of. ‘Led by Hand’ is a stormer, as are ‘Turn the Season’ – the line “Never been as happy as I am today” especially loud under Hangar’s roof – and a spectacular ‘The Other Shoe’. The mood is buoyant even as ‘Police’ wraps things up, a matter-of-fact Abraham admitting that he wasn’t sure of how he felt about admonishing law enforcement when guitarist Mike Haliechuk wrote it 15 years ago. Now it comes with stark poignancy, a bittersweet kiss goodnight.

Earlier, Abraham off-handedly mentioned how he used to work in a bar. “Julian Casablancas tried to make out with me”, he recalled before noting how he used up his best story too soon. Not so, for the Fucked Up story continues to be written. Having them brutally and brilliantly kick off a truly monumental weekend in this country made for one hell of a fresh chapter.

Fucked Up photographed for State by Olga Kuzmenko

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Little May - Personal training's loss is music's gain http://state.ie/features/little-may http://state.ie/features/little-may#comments Tue, 26 May 2015 10:59:43 +0000 http://state.ie/?p=69519 Who are you and where are you from?

I am Hannah Field from Little May. Sydney, Australia.

Who are your favourite artists from home?

Presently I would have to say Gang of Youths, Cloud Control and Dorsal Fins.

What is it really like touring?

Really fun but also pretty exhausting. You live on top of each other for what can be a pretty extensive period of time. It’s just really a matter of keeping perspective and reminding yourself that everyone is in the same position/are experiencing similar feelings. Touring is a mixture of incredible highs and a few lows here and there.

Favourite city to play?

I love touring Australia. Brisbane always has a really incredible energy for some reason. Touring internationally is also incredibly amazing – we all feel very lucky.

Biggest achievement so far?

One of our greatest moments was playing at Splendour in the Grass last year. It’s an amazing tastemaker festival in Australia, and it’s always been a dream to be on the line up with a selection of some incredible artists. Playing CMJ in New York was probably the most insane experience though – we played a couple of showcases a day, so we were literally packing up and then packing down and sprinting up the road to do it all over again.

Worst advice ever given?

My own advice to myself many years ago of “you should definitely become a personal trainer”. Worst idea ever.

What do you do to relax?

To relax I like spending time with good people who I like. Maybe going for dinner with them.

What are you reading?

How to Make Gravy – Paul Kelly

What about TV?

Haven’t had TV for a while now but when I’m at home I watch cooking shows with my Mum.

Favourite….record?

At the moment I’m listening to Paul Kelly – Live, May 1992.

….Song?

‘Run My Mind’ by Robert Muinos.

….lost classic?

It’s not lost but it’s a classic.

…record label?

Dew Process are pretty cool – I’m biased, obviously

….current artist?

Blake Mills.

…new artist?

I’m really excited by Gang of Youths. They’ve been around for a little while and are a bunch of legends. Their debut album is the best thing ever. Definitely worth many listens.

The last great gig you saw?

I went to Boogie festival recently and got to watch Dorsal Fin’s set. They are so great live. I also have a big crush on the guitarist. Watching them is just like being at a really loose party.

Worst show you’ve played?

The worst/best show that always sticks out in my mind when we played a pub festival in Paddington, Sydney a few years back now. We were in a bistro area at the back of this particular venue. Babies were crying. Liz was behind a big pole. We mixed ourselves. It was hilarious.

Little May play Voodoo Belfast tonight (26th) and the Academy 2 in Dublin tomorrow.

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Ash – Kablammo! - Let's party like it's 1977 http://state.ie/album-reviews/ash-kablammo http://state.ie/album-reviews/ash-kablammo#comments Tue, 26 May 2015 10:06:21 +0000 http://state.ie/?p=69517 There must be something in the air. How else can you explain the extraordinary run of Irish albums in 2015? From ASIWYFA to Young Wonder, it’s already been a bumper year, and it’s not even June yet. Even so, few would have been anticipating that a new record from Ash, eight years after they declared they were leaving the format behind, would be one to add to the list. Here was one career that seemed to have fizzled to a halt, leaving some sweet memories along the way.

As befits an album with such a title, the Downpatrick trio’s sixth long player hits you hard from the off. Often the sound of a veteran band trying to recapture past glories is simply an embarrassment but here Ash have managed to plug into their younger selves with great success. As such, Kablammo! is a huge amount of fun. Having explored the raw emotion of his father’s passing on last year’s Lost Domain solo work, Tim Wheeler has returned to his lighter side – making the tricky process of producing thrilling simple fizzy pop tunes look easy. The record dashes from highlight to highlight, the energy reflected by song titles such as ‘Let’s Ride’, ‘Free’, ‘Go! Fight! Win!’ and ‘Hedonism’.

Yet it’s not all foot to the floor guitar rock. ‘Moondust’ and ‘For Eternity’ are both lovely ballads, the former especially memorable, and on ‘Dispatch’ they find a groove that sounds completely outside of their comfort zone and works all the better for it. By adding elements of the mature lives to the joyous teenage noise that they first created, Ash have found a new way to move forward. It’s good to have them back.

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Young Wonder – Whelan’s, Dublin – in photos - Giving Birth in the capital http://state.ie/photo-gallery/young-wonder-whelans-dublin-in-photos http://state.ie/photo-gallery/young-wonder-whelans-dublin-in-photos#comments Tue, 26 May 2015 08:49:08 +0000 http://state.ie/?p=69510 Celebrating the release of their wonderful debut album Birth, Young Wonder arrived in Dublin on Friday night and were in typically fine and exotic form.

Young Wonder photographed for State by Leah Carroll.

Young Wonder, Whelans, Dublin by Leah Carroll_37 Young Wonder, Whelans, Dublin by Leah Carroll_35 Young Wonder, Whelans, Dublin by Leah Carroll_29 Young Wonder, Whelans, Dublin by Leah Carroll_28 Young Wonder, Whelans, Dublin by Leah Carroll_39 Young Wonder, Whelans, Dublin by Leah Carroll_25 Young Wonder, Whelans, Dublin by Leah Carroll_6 Young Wonder, Whelans, Dublin by Leah Carroll_8 ]]>
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The Prodigy & Public Enemy Irish shows http://state.ie/news/the-prodigy-public-enemy-irish-shows http://state.ie/news/the-prodigy-public-enemy-irish-shows#comments Tue, 26 May 2015 08:39:05 +0000 http://state.ie/?p=69513 Now here’s a double bill we didn’t see coming. The Prodigy have announced two Irish shows for the end of the year, complete with Public Enemy as support. See the pairing at Dublin’s 3Arena on November 30th and the Belfast Odyssey Arena on Dec 1st. Tickets for both shows go on sale this Friday.

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Soja for Dublin’s Academy http://state.ie/news/soja-for-dublins-academy http://state.ie/news/soja-for-dublins-academy#comments Mon, 25 May 2015 11:18:28 +0000 http://state.ie/?p=69498 Hailing from the vibrant Washington DC reggae and dub scene (home to Bad Brains amongst others), Soja follow last summer’s sold out show in the capital with a date at the Academy on 19th August. Touring in support of their new Amid the Noise and Haste album, tickets go on sale this Thursday 28th.

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Florence & The Machine – How Big How Blue How Beautiful - More of the same on album number three http://state.ie/album-reviews/florence-the-machine-how-big-how-blue-how-beautiful http://state.ie/album-reviews/florence-the-machine-how-big-how-blue-how-beautiful#comments Mon, 25 May 2015 10:27:08 +0000 http://state.ie/?p=69495 Let us not beat around the bush here; the primary reason we love Florence is because of her yelling. That magnificently melodic maelstrom that she manifests within all of her greatest hits, like a mad-woman shouting at a hurricane, it’s fantastic stuff. These days, four years is a long time to go between albums but with 2011’s Ceremonials spawning six huge singles, plus that hook-up with Calvin Harris (not to mention a unique sound in today’s popscape) it’s unlikely anyone was going to be forgetting her in a hurry. Recruiting producer Marcus Dravs solely due to his work on Bjork’s 1997 album Homogenic, Welch is refining her sound further still on album three, focussing on that balance between organic and electronic.

That alchemy is apparent immediately, with album openers ‘Ship To Wreck’ and ‘What Kind Of Man’ both containing that old-school Florence emotional prowess and eerily powerful delivery. Next up, the title track is definitely imbued with Goldfrapp’s influence (Will Gregory provides bass arrangements for the album), as a bit of a breather after the opening one-two punch, but then it’s back to business as usual on the stompingly raucous ‘Queen Of Peace’.

Throughout the album, when she’s not giving welly with that yelling, she’s winding herself up tight over tracks like ‘Various Storms & Saints’ or ‘Long & Lost’; you can actually feel Welch coiling tautly around the melody, all build up and very little of that cathartic climax we all know and love her for. Even when she’s playing it relatively low-key, you can’t help but feel the tension building, as the listener has a Pavlovian expectation for the roof to be tore off, and for it not to arrive when we expect it to.

When the tracks do arrive upon which she unleashes The Yelling the effect is compounded ten-fold, and by golly, does Florence have a lot to yell about. The man she loves (‘Caught’), the man she wants to love (‘Third Eye’), the man she used to love (‘St. Jude’) … even love as an ideology itself gets a good seeing throughout. Then there’s the likes of ‘Delilah’, in which she develops a bit of a girl-crush on someone who’s a little too party-hard, or closing track ‘Mother’ which is filled with descriptions (“Mother / Make me / A bird of prey / So I can fly over all of this”) which are delivered with pure anger and we’re never quite sure are intended as compliments or insults.

The only issue with How Big How Blue How Beautiful is that while The Machine ain’t broke, Florence has no desire to fix it… nor to update it. Most of the tracks on here would’ve easily slotted on to Lungs or Ceremonials, such is the lack of progress since Welch exploded into our lives. We’re not quite at the stage where she’s beginning to sound a little too samey – primarily because she sounds so unlike anything else out there right now – but how many more albums that sound exactly the same before we do? Thankfully it’s not a problem Florence has to deal with right now, but it’s definitely something to be weary of on the horizon.

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Another Love Story details announced http://state.ie/news/another-love-story-details-announced http://state.ie/news/another-love-story-details-announced#comments Mon, 25 May 2015 10:08:05 +0000 http://state.ie/?p=69494 A small but perfectly formed weekender at Kllyon Manor in Meath, Happenings and Homebeat’s Another Love Story is to make a return on 21st – 23rd August.

Live acts:

Loah | Leo Drezden | Come On Live Long (pictured) | I Have A Tribe | Valerie Francis | Attention Bébé | Buffalo Woman | Margie Lewis | Ye Vagabonds | Tandem Felix | Paddy Hanna | Elephant | Tomorrows | SignA | Sun Collective | Anna Mieke | Kiruu

DJs:

David Kitt (Permanant Vacation) | Neil Flynn (Lossless) | Sally Cinnamon | Andrew Kearny | Tim O’ Donovan | Nialler9 | T/A/S/T/E | Dj Hula Hoops | ALS Djs | Vinyl Love

Occurrences and Corners :

Talks | Walks | Yoga | Qui Gong | Theatre | Roland’s Cinema D’amour | Glitteration Station by The Cat’s Meow | Guerilla Aerial | The Love Summit | The State Of The Nation | The Deepest Darkest Woods Stage | The Teenage Crush Bar | The Library | The Parlour Room

Tickets :

Weekend camping – Early Bird €85 / Regular €110 / Last Dash (Late bookers & price on door for weekend, if available) €130

Glamping (does not include weekend ticket) : 4M Tent (sleeps 4) €180 5M Tent (sleeps 6) €280 / Bed & bedding Extra – please see website.

Sunday Family Tickets : (Mum, Dad + Children Under 12) (Limited and will be available closer to the time) €40

No 12 – 18 year olds unaccompanied.

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Poltergeist - The house they live in http://state.ie/film/poltergeist http://state.ie/film/poltergeist#comments Fri, 22 May 2015 17:15:53 +0000 http://state.ie/?p=69456 Director: Gil Kenan
Cast: Rosemarie DeWitt, Sam Rockwell, Jared Harris and Jane Adams
Certificate: 15a
Running Time: 93 minutes
Release Date: May 22nd

Although its authorship has been debated ever since its release, the original Poltergeist, an undisputed horror classic, was the perfect marriage of writer-producer Steve Spielberg’s family unit drama and sense of wonder with director Tobe Hooper’s grimy grindhouse approach. What’s strangest about its remake is that in a time of re-threads of familiar properties, that it hasn’t come any sooner. Now seems the perfect time for it too, where its focus on spectral malevolence in the home — already  a huge success for Paranormal Activity — and an update of ghosts in the TV shifted to laptops and smart phones.

The people behind it seem intelligent choices to update too: horror maestro Sam Raimi produces; Gil Kenan, whose previous works include spooky home film Monster House and spooky home short film The Lark, directs the parlour tricks; The Others Javier Aguirresarobe cinematographer lenses it; and its got Pulitzer Prize winner David Lindsay-Abaire handling the script duties. And that’s to say nothing of small but impressive cast of DeWitt, Rockwell, Harris and Adams. Yet where the original traded on marvel and terror, its predecessor is a showcase of cynicism and banality.

Recently laid off by those corporate fat cats at John Deere, Eric Bowen (Rockwell) packs up his family to move to a smaller and more affordable home while he tries to get back on the employment ladder. It’s your typical American suburban neighbourhood and home; it spans three floors, has a large garden and garage but is just not like the last place for them. Almost immediately, strange things start to happen before the Bowen’s daughter, Madison, is absorbed into the TV by the spirits of the undead the Bowen’s house just happens to be plonked on top of.

Poltergeist‘s main issue is how it follows the original’s exact beats but strips away everything that rounded it out and made it feel fun. It’s tonally not right, unable to decide whether it wants to make you laugh or terrify you — its biggest scare, no joke, involves a squirrel. It leans a little too heavy on recent horror success like Paranormal Activity and Insidious, even creating a weak CG fun-house version of the latter’s astral plane. Rockwell and DeWitt lend indie credibility but are given short shrift, struggling with lame character tropes of struggling writer and unemployed father.

There are some nice touches, like Aguirresarobe’s camera haunting the frame and the 3D being surprisingly eye-popping. Jared Harris, as a spectral chasing reality celeb, is tremendous fun, shambling through like a wedding of  vagrant sea captain and Brendan Grace’s father of the bride skit. Still, for fans of the original, you’ll pine for it instead, for newcomers, you’ll wonder what all the fuss was about in the first place.

 

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Villagers — Olympia Theatre, Dublin - Yes, indeed. http://state.ie/live-reviews/villagers-the-olympia-dublin http://state.ie/live-reviews/villagers-the-olympia-dublin#comments Fri, 22 May 2015 13:08:51 +0000 http://state.ie/?p=69483 There is something pleasant about the seating arrangements in the Olympia. No doubt the performers quite like the gentle, easy atmosphere it creates and for Conor O’Brien’s Villagers, in front of a plain black and markedly understated backdrop, they are serenity personified.

A little nod to a YES badge here, a bit of chit chat with the crowd there and a few very specific dedications, it’s all in a night’s work for O’Brien. His assured playing is only bettered by his vocals which have, over the last two years, become an instrument in themselves. ‘Set the Tigers Free’ and ‘Nothing Arrived’ are early highlights and some fine actual instrumentation – a harp, double bass and trumpet playing drummer, no less – adding some warmth to an already rounded and compelling bunch of songs. So familiar-sounding are these tracks tonight it is easy to overlook that the majority are taken from Darling Arithmetic, and are ostensibly brand new. Maybe it’s O’Brien’s voice, maybe it’s the setting, or maybe it’s the songs themselves, but Villagers’ strength seems to come from how disarmingly quaint and embracing the songs feel and sound.

‘So Naive’, ‘Everything I Am Is Yours’ and the beautiful ‘The Soul Serene’ (aptly) provide further examples of just how developed Villagers’ songwriting is. Tonight the songs are calmer and somehow manage to seem less insistent than their recorded incarnations, and that’s saying something. Neither the band nor the tracks can be described as anything that doesn’t evoke warmth but everything seems to fit, the venue, the crowd, the band. If only all gigs could be like this.

Villagers photographed by Kieran Frost

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Agitate! Educate! Organise! - The Yes campaign and the Irish music scene http://state.ie/features/agitate-educate-organise http://state.ie/features/agitate-educate-organise#comments Fri, 22 May 2015 09:57:09 +0000 http://state.ie/?p=69434 “Wearing badges is not enough, in days like these….” (Billy Bragg, ‘Days Like These’)

You don’t need me to tell you what’s happening in Ireland today. The chances are that you’ll have a strong idea of what you think about it. While any with an opposite view may well be keeping it to themselves, it would seem that the music community is fully behind a Yes vote. Given the demographic of those involved that’s perhaps no surprise, yet the past few months have seen a change on the Irish landscape. As with many other sectors of our society, musicians have been ready for the fight.

For the big names, this has involved the usual pledges of support, reaching a worldwide audience via social media – of which Hozier’s was particularly moving. Even dear old Bono got it right for once. Yet it’s at the grassroots level that the most impressive work has taken place. It was just over a year ago that Le Galaxie, Ships and Daithí hosted the Love System fundraiser at Dublin’s Academy, even longer when the likes of Heathers were playing smaller benefits. Back then it was impossible to predict just how intense the campaign would become, that what seemed such an obvious step would be argued against in such a manner. Even when we staged our own show at Christmas it seemed that this would be a straightforward process.

One look at the number of inflammatory No posters around every town in Ireland indicates how that has changed. It’s always easier to sell a negative than a positive (just take a look at most political campaigning) and so the argument that “well, it’s just fair isn’t it?” has been countered by a string of emotive points – albeit ones based on false premises. Some behind the Yes vote, however, have responded by getting out and doing what they know best.

Thus recent weeks have seen a growing number of benefits taking place, drawing in performers from across the board. Noticeable however has been the punk and hardcore community, lending a musical edge to the political ideology. It helps that for many of the band members involved this is an issue that affects them personally, giving these shows an added urgency. Whatever the motivation, the likes of Kate’s Party, The Winter Passing, Sissy, September Girls, Val Normal, Homecomings, Fang Club and more have brought the ethics and drive of their DIY scene to bear on the situation. They’re not the only ones of course (given the nature of the debate, inclusivity has been the key) but their involvement has crystalized what has been so special about all this. Replicate this in the worlds of sport, literature, film, TV and Irish society in general and you have an undeniable sense that this will be a turning point in our cultural identity.

What, though, happens come tomorrow? This has been too positive, too important to let it fade away in victory or defeat. The nature of such protest means that any movement will always need an opposite to define itself against. There are plenty of those about. The political system may not inspire strong feelings either way but this experience has proved what can happen when people feel they have the power and there are still battles to be won (here looks like a good place to start). Alliances have been formed, points of view exchanged and, perhaps, a new dawn has broken. After all…

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The Cribs – Whelans, Dublin - "A delivery that remains reliably damaged...." http://state.ie/live-reviews/the-cribs-whelans-dublin http://state.ie/live-reviews/the-cribs-whelans-dublin#comments Fri, 22 May 2015 09:56:49 +0000 http://state.ie/?p=69481 Andy Lee has seldom seen nights like this. The world champion boxer only just managed to remain on his feet after 19 rounds of glorious melodic punk from the Jarman brothers, aggressively delivered amid ferocious moshing, furious pogoing and the incoming jabs of crowd surfers’ trailing legs. Opening with ‘Mirror Kissers’, The Cribs spit out their disgust from the off at “the mirror kissing ways of the hipster type” and reaffirmed their steadfastness in sidestepping any scene in which to pigeon-hole them. It is this resoluteness that has become their trademark and the catalyst to their 13-year longevity whilst others have fallen by the wayside.

A rousing ‘Come On, Be a No One’ further emphasised their objectives, hollered back at the brothers with wails of “for youuuuuu” by a sweat-drenched audience loyally onside throughout. “This is definitely the best night so far,” Ryan Jarman noted half-way through. “You guys are really up for it.” And they certainly are, as fan favourites ‘Watch Trick’ and ‘What About Me’ are interspersed with familiar singles such as ‘Cheat On Me’, ‘Our Bovine Public’ and a superb ‘We Share the Same Skies’, dedicated to Lee.

What impresses most is how easily the poppier hooks off For All My Sisters slot into a familiar set, particularly the deliriously infectious indie of ‘Burning For No One’ and the lovelorn frustration of ‘Diamond Girl’. Anyone hesitant about a sheen of polish being applied to the band’s output will be reassured by a delivery that remains reliably damaged. The Cribs haven’t strayed too far from their punk parameters.

This is rammed home by a closing salvo that includes ‘I’m A Realist’, ‘Hey Scenesters and ‘Men’s Needs’ (for which the most vicious moshing was reserved). Some will have been surprised of the band’s return to a smaller venue in a year when they’ve released perhaps their most accessible record, but then the trio have never followed a prescribed pattern. While the venue may have been near sold-out, this truly independent trio are anything but.

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The Vaccines – English Graffiti - "Charms the listener in ways previous albums haven’t..." http://state.ie/album-reviews/the-vaccines-english-graffiti http://state.ie/album-reviews/the-vaccines-english-graffiti#comments Fri, 22 May 2015 08:59:20 +0000 http://state.ie/?p=69474 “The only thing worse than being talked about,” to lazily begin with an Oscar Wilde quote, “is not being talked about.” Or in the case of The Vaccines, being talked about too much. Their 2011 debut, while warmly received, fell short of the ‘Album of the Year!’ ballyhoo that early previews led many to believe. At best, some saw their failure to break wider audiences a disappointment. Others sceptically labelled them a misfire, pretenders to the indie-rock throne. Although they have yet to achieve world domination, The Vaccines have always maintained a consistently good quality and continue the momentum on their third outing. The difference now is a change to a more self-assured swagger in the songwriting that charms the listener in ways previous albums haven’t.

The first hint of this change of attitude is, of all places, their album cover. Gone are the pouting, prepubescent-looking models of their first two albums. Now we have the band front and centre, drinking, lead singer Jay Jay Pistolet sticking his tongue out, and if you look hard enough, a smirk. This perspective carries into their opening trio of songs; fun, grandiose hooks that pay little attention to maintaining any previous stilted indie credo. This is most obvious in their lead single ‘Handsome’ which sounds like The Vaccines parodying The Vaccines. The chorus “I got so down I held the world to ransom… thank God I’m handsome” works like a sly turn to the camera, reassuring us they’re fully aware of what they are to many people and the artsy-indie shadow they need to escape.

Helping them on their way is producer Dave Fridmann, who worked previously with the likes of Flaming Lips and MGMT. His influence results in a far more diverse sound on this album than the others previous; ‘Minimal Affection’ has the likeable indie-electro feel of an early Strokes record, while ‘(All Afternoon) In Love’ and ‘Want You So Bad’ may be mistaken for lesser-heard Blur tracks. Nonetheless, nothing sounds like an impression. Perhaps Fridmann may also take credit for a more elegant energy through the album. Whereas the earlier albums would almost emergency brake into quieter songs, this album has a more gentle descent in tempo for the gentler melodies.

Overall, the songs on English Graffiti are a pleasant move away from our previous notions of what this band is capable of. The only exception to this is ‘Give Me a Sign,’ the penultimate closer that verges too far into ’80s power rock. Granted it has a cheesy charm to it, but after nine tracks of pigeonhole-busting it’s disappointing to hear them play to the arena-rock crowd.

The Vaccines may have missed their chance to be The Next Best Thing, but neither are they resigning themselves to become yesterday’s news. These songs show a more assured identity than the band that released an album a year after it formed. At last, this may be the record to quieten the remaining anti-vaccers.

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