State Magazine http://state.ie Music news, reviews, photos, features, films. Mon, 27 Apr 2015 15:29:36 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Sharon Van Etten & Sam Amidon – Vicar St, Dublin – in photos - Van the Woman http://state.ie/photo-gallery/sharon-van-etten-sam-amidon-vicar-st-dublin-in-photos http://state.ie/photo-gallery/sharon-van-etten-sam-amidon-vicar-st-dublin-in-photos#comments Mon, 27 Apr 2015 15:29:36 +0000 http://state.ie/?p=69203 From a gorgeous intro set by Sam Amidon to one of Sharon Van Etten’s best evenings – a perfect Thursday night in Vicar St was photographed for State by Olga Kuzmenko.

Sam Amidon, Vicar St by Olga Kuzmenko Sam Amidon, Vicar St by Olga Kuzmenko Sam Amidon, Vicar St by Olga Kuzmenko Sam Amidon, Vicar St by Olga Kuzmenko Sam Amidon, Vicar St by Olga Kuzmenko Sharon Van Etten, Vicar St by Olga Kuzmenko Sharon Van Etten, Vicar St by Olga Kuzmenko Sharon Van Etten, Vicar St by Olga Kuzmenko Sharon Van Etten, Vicar St by Olga Kuzmenko Sharon Van Etten, Vicar St by Olga Kuzmenko Sharon Van Etten, Vicar St by Olga Kuzmenko Sharon Van Etten, Vicar St by Olga Kuzmenko Sharon Van Etten, Vicar St by Olga Kuzmenko Sharon Van Etten, Vicar St by Olga Kuzmenko Sharon Van Etten, Vicar St by Olga Kuzmenko ]]>
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Laura Marling will play The Waterfront, Belfast this coming May 8th http://state.ie/news/laura-marling-will-play-the-waterfront-belfast-this-coming-may-8th http://state.ie/news/laura-marling-will-play-the-waterfront-belfast-this-coming-may-8th#comments Mon, 27 Apr 2015 11:14:53 +0000 http://state.ie/?p=69219 Having recently released her latest album Short Movie to widespread critical acclaim, Laura Marling has had a distinctive and notable evolution from her fragile, folk beginnings.  Now with electric guitar in hand, you can catch Marling live this coming May 8th when she plays the auditorium in Belfast’s Waterfront Hall.  Tickets for the show are priced at £26 and are currently available here.  Whet your whistle with the Dire Straits-esque ‘Gurdjieff’s Daughter’, taken from Short Movie. 

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Of Monsters And Men announce show at The Olympia, Dublin http://state.ie/news/of-monsters-and-men-announce-show-at-the-olympia-dublin http://state.ie/news/of-monsters-and-men-announce-show-at-the-olympia-dublin#comments Mon, 27 Apr 2015 10:06:26 +0000 http://state.ie/?p=69200 Icelandic indie-folksters Of Monsters And Men have announced that they’ll be playing The Olympia, Dublin this coming November 22nd.  Having just announced the details for the release of their forthcoming new album Beneath The Skin, which drops June 5th, we’re expecting a treasure-trove of new music too.  Tickets can be found here from Friday, May 8th.  In the meantime, have a listen to ‘Crystals’, taken from Beneath The Skin. 

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Woody Woodmansey…”they edited out where I threw a drumstick at Bowie” - Putting the band back together http://state.ie/features/woody-woodmansey-they-edited-out-where-i-threw-a-drumstick-at-bowie http://state.ie/features/woody-woodmansey-they-edited-out-where-i-threw-a-drumstick-at-bowie#comments Mon, 27 Apr 2015 09:56:26 +0000 http://state.ie/?p=69191 There’s that iconic scene in Ziggy Stardust: The Motion Picture, when Bowie, before introducing ‘Rock and Roll Suicide’, announces to the crowd that this show will live long in the memory; not only is it show the last in the current tour, it’s the last show the band will ever play. There’s a shocked cawing from the Hammersmith audience, a moment of febrile tension. The band start the song, the opening notes seemingly a little shaky, but they soldier on, admirably building the song up to its expected crescendo.

The story goes that not only were the audience learning of the breakup of the Spiders From Mars, but the actual Spiders were, at that very moment on stage in front of thousands of punters, being handed their P45s. I put it to Mick ‘Woody’ Woodmansey that couldn’t be possibly be true. “No, it’s true. In fact they edited out where I threw a drumstick at him, and it whizzed past his head. I couldn’t see it on the film, and I did look a few times.”

As the song ends Bowie takes the applause and the spotlights, Woody, exhausted looking, clambers off his throne, and with a quick look to the front of the stage, disappears. This was the last time Woody was to play with Bowie – but not play the music of Bowie. For now, together with ex-bandmate Tony Visconti, the pair are hitting the road to play to realise a 45 year old dream, playing The Man Who Sold The World – the record they and Mick Ronson recorded with Bowie in 1970 – in its entirety, along with highlights from the rest of Woody’s tenure on the skins in The Spiders: ‘Ziggy Stardust’, ‘Life on Mars’, ‘Changes’. The hits.

Born in Yorkshire in 1951, Mick Woodmansey still retains that northern drawl. There’s no dourness in him, but rather a jovial need to impart his stories. It would be easy, you think, you harbour a lifetime of bitterness at such an brutal sacking, but Woody’s over it. He’s moved on. He enjoyed himself, and if there’s any regrets, never getting to tour The Man Who Sold The World seems to be the chief one.

“We never did it live, because David was between managers at the time. So there was no money to get it together. We were living on about £7 a week. So we couldn’t go on the road.” Mick Ronson is no longer with us of course, having died of cancer at the age of 46 in 1993, but Visconti and Woody have a assembled an array of musicians to perform the music, including Ronson’s daughter Lisa and niece Hannah Berridge Ronson, along with Rod Melvin, who once played in Kilburn and the Highroads and James Stevenson, who played with Generation x back in the day, among others. It’s an eclectic bunch.

“Some of them got into music because of those early Bowie albums. They’re great musicians, but they’re fans, so they put their heart and soul into it. We were playing and I closed my eyes and it was like Mick Ronson was there, it’s Mick’s sound and Mick’s passion.” Heaven 17’s Glenn Gregory will take on lead vocal duties. It seems an odd choice, you might think. Maybe Brett Anderson, or Peter Murphy or one of those artists who’ve tried their whole careers to actually BE Bowie would seem appropriate. But that could descend into mere karaoke.

“It works, because he’s just being Glenn Gregory. He doesn’t try to Bowie.” Says Woody. “We did it last September and the audience went mental. I hadn’t seen audiences react like that since ’73, to be honest, and I’ve been to a lot of gigs and played a lot of gigs. And it was all age groups as well, 16 year olds with all the Bowie albums to sign and 66 year olds with the albums to sign. It was great.”

Woody speaks highly of Ronson, a player who we both think doesn’t always get the credit he deserves. “Mick was a great guitarist. He was always like that. Even when we were in semi pro bands in Hull, he put the time in. He wanted it to be as good as it could get.” Ronson clearly held Woodmansey in high regard too, recommending him to Bowie when he needed a new drummer. One day Bowie phoned, inviting Woody down to London to join the group. Before he knew it, he was moving in with Bowie and Angie to Haddon Hall, a ramshackle pile in Kent which was, according to Visconti, haunted. Visconti himself lived there briefly in ’69, and has recalled the sexual shenanigans of David and Angie, who were constantly bring conquests back to the house. These shenanigans were overheard, of course, vicarious. Ordinary band members were never invited to join in, which one imagines suited them down to the ground.

When the entertainment abated, the band soundproofed the basement and began work on the songs that became The Man Who Sold The World. Woody and Visconti can claim some ownership over the tunes on the record, despite the publishing listing Bowie as sole author. The tunes were given structure by the band, jamming from sketches Bowie had, and Bowie would then scribble some lyrics and put together a melody. The album was a melting pot of ideas and influences, from the Hendrix inspired guitar noodles of ‘She Shook Me Cold’, to the folk revivalist ‘After All’, a song that harked back to recent, hippy, Bowie. Sexual misadventure (‘Width of The Circle’) and Nietzschean imagery (‘The Supermen’, featuring Woody’s booming toms) were the order of the day. It must have a wild ride for a lad from Hull, barely out of his teens.

“Coming from Yorkshire, we were musician-musicians. We didn’t dress up. Meeting David it was like, this guy dresses up! Even for breakfast! When I first met him he had a rainbow t-shirt on, hair down his back, bangles on, red corduroy trousers. Shoes with red stars painted on them. I thought, bloomin ‘eck, he’s more dressed up than my girlfriend. But we chatted for a few hours and he played stuff, and we thought this guy can write, and he means it. Mick and I had never really met anyone that determined. He was assuming he’d made it already. That was something we were still going for. We were wondering what you need to make it, what’s the missing ingredient. We thought you’d do it, and someone would tell you you’d made it. We’d got it the wrong way round.”

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Editors announce two Irish dates for October http://state.ie/news/editors-announce-two-irish-dates-for-october http://state.ie/news/editors-announce-two-irish-dates-for-october#comments Mon, 27 Apr 2015 09:39:56 +0000 http://state.ie/?p=69198 Moody indie-rockers/Joy Division reincarnates Editors have been pretty quiet since 2013’s The Weight Of Your Love, apart from a nifty secret release on Record Store Day a few weeks ago.  The band tweeted a challenge to find their latest track ‘No Harm‘ on a compilation album, which was subsequently discovered, and gave fans a fresh batch of hope for more new material.  Now, they’ve announced two Irish dates as part of their wider tour – October 9th in the Limelight 1, Belfast and October 10th, at The Olympia, Dublin, fanning the flames of a forthcoming new album.  Tickets can be found here from Thursday.

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LA hardcore outfit The Bronx set for Limelight 1, Belfast http://state.ie/news/la-hardcore-outfit-the-bronx-set-for-limelight-1-belfast http://state.ie/news/la-hardcore-outfit-the-bronx-set-for-limelight-1-belfast#comments Mon, 27 Apr 2015 09:24:46 +0000 http://state.ie/?p=69195 Californian hardcore punk-rockers The Bronx have announced that they’ll be playing the Limelight 1, Belfast, this coming May 27th.  With a string of heavier-than-though albums under their belt, The Bronx may well also throw in some of their other work at the show – they’ve released a few mariachi albums under the clever disguise of Mariachi El Bronx.  Tickets can be obtained here from Wednesday.

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Best Coast – Californian Nights - Feel the sunshine http://state.ie/album-reviews/best-coast-californian-nights http://state.ie/album-reviews/best-coast-californian-nights#comments Mon, 27 Apr 2015 09:05:16 +0000 http://state.ie/?p=69153 “California nights make me feel so happy I could die” croons Bethany Cosentino, halfway through their third album of the same name, a record that reads like a love letter to Best Coast’s native state and is just a sun kissed as California itself. It opens with the usual themes of loss and nostalgia that made previous albums Crazy For You and The Only Place so engaging (‘Feeling OK’ and ‘Fine Without You’ have the same frenzied, forlorn attitude as ‘Boyfriend’ and ‘Goodbye’) but as Californian Nights progresses we see the band have matured both vocally and musically.

Tracks ‘Sleep Won’t Ever Come’ and ‘Wasted Time’ hint at a darker subject matter than their previous lyrics of romantic confusion and adolescent boredom. The title track is the stand out moment and sees the band at their trippest, using their fuzzy guitars to engulf Bethany’s voice. The love this duo has for their home is clear and although there are some glimpses of a changing band, California Nights is ultimately the perfect summer album, something Best Coast do perfectly.

The mood of California Nights has been summed up by Bethany in a recent statement – “in LA, or maybe just personally to me, when the sun sets – I feel like there is a large sense of calmness in the air, and I feel like everything that happened to me prior in the day, whether crappy experiences or good ones, at night, it all goes away and I sink deep into this different kind of world”.

Luckily for us, Best Coast have bottled that feeling and invited us into this world.

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Wheatus announce 15th anniversary show in Belfast http://state.ie/news/wheatus-announce-15th-anniversary-show-in-belfast http://state.ie/news/wheatus-announce-15th-anniversary-show-in-belfast#comments Mon, 27 Apr 2015 08:58:03 +0000 http://state.ie/?p=69193 Former ‘Teenage Dirtbags’ and all-round American pop-rockers Wheatus have announced they’ll be playing a show at Belfast’s Limelight 2 this coming September 25th, to celebrate the 15th anniversary of their debut album.  They will ,of course, be playing said self-titled album in full, and probably some other stuff too.  Get nostalgic and grab a ticket here from 9am this Friday.

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Le Galaxie – The Academy, Dublin – in photos - Welcome to Miami http://state.ie/photo-gallery/le-galaxie-the-academy-dublin-in-photos http://state.ie/photo-gallery/le-galaxie-the-academy-dublin-in-photos#comments Sat, 25 Apr 2015 15:09:17 +0000 http://state.ie/?p=69174 Launch night of their first major label album, Le Galaxie set Le Club free in an impressive cascade of fluro-pop. The sort of night when a tech issue turned into a mass singalong to 2 Unlimited’s ‘No Limits’, and where a grand finalé turned into an Andrew Lloyd Webber tearjerker. And we haven’t even touched on the saxophone moments! Leah Carroll got into the sweaty Club pit with a DSLR to get these shots for State.

Le Galaxie, The Academy, Dublin by Leah Carroll_26 Le Galaxie, The Academy, Dublin by Leah Carroll_25 Le Galaxie, The Academy, Dublin by Leah Carroll_24 Le Galaxie, The Academy, Dublin by Leah Carroll_23 Le Galaxie, The Academy, Dublin by Leah Carroll_21 Le Galaxie, The Academy, Dublin by Leah Carroll_18 Le Galaxie, The Academy, Dublin by Leah Carroll_15 Le Galaxie, The Academy, Dublin by Leah Carroll_14 Le Galaxie, The Academy, Dublin by Leah Carroll_12 Le Galaxie, The Academy, Dublin by Leah Carroll_10 Le Galaxie, The Academy, Dublin by Leah Carroll_8 Le Galaxie, The Academy, Dublin by Leah Carroll_5 Le Galaxie, The Academy, Dublin by Leah Carroll_3 Le Galaxie, The Academy, Dublin by Leah Carroll_1 Le Galaxie, The Academy, Dublin by Leah Carroll ]]>
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Fight Like Apes are bringing YOU to the party http://state.ie/news/fight-like-apes-are-bringing-you-to-the-party http://state.ie/news/fight-like-apes-are-bringing-you-to-the-party#comments Fri, 24 Apr 2015 22:12:59 +0000 http://state.ie/?p=69171 In a rather unusual, but very classy move, Fight Like Apes have opted to bring you to their upcoming album launch shows.  The band will take over Charleville “Castlepalooza” Castle, Tullamore for three nights on May 21st, 22nd and 23rd and will run buses from Belfast, Dublin, Cork, Galway and Limerick, with the details as follows:

Dublin (The Custom House, Custom House Quay) @ 8pm THURS / FRI / SAT
Cork (St Patrick’s Quay, across from The Metropole Hotel) @ 7pm THURS / FRI / SAT
Galway (The Cathedral) @ 7.30pm THURS / FRI / SAT
Limerick (Strand Hotel, Ennis Road) @ 7.30pm – THURS ONLY
Belfast (The Europa Hotel) @ 6.30pm – FRI ONLY

Buses will return from Charleville Castle at 1.30-2am each night.  It should also be noted that the buses will not depart from their respective locations unless there are 50+ seats on each vehicle filled.  To be fair, they’ll likely fill up quickly given it’s Fight Like Apes launching their new album.  They’ll also send you a link to print out a jazzy mask once you register and get tickets, which are €33 and are currently available here.  Oh, and it’s BYOB, so, you know, no excuses really.

The new self-titled album is out May 15th.

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Teasers for Teasers and the Death of Movie Marketing - Coming sometime in the distant future http://state.ie/features/teasers-for-teasers-and-the-death-of-movie-marketing http://state.ie/features/teasers-for-teasers-and-the-death-of-movie-marketing#comments Fri, 24 Apr 2015 12:53:40 +0000 http://state.ie/?p=69168 Imagine you’re reading through your favourite movie review website (ahem), check out their review for the latest big budget blockbuster. You click on the link, and there it is:

Starring your favorite actor….. the role was so perfectly suited that it seems almost shocking that… some of the biggest set-pieces you can imagine, however they still… All in all though, there’s really only one way to describe this movie… Full review tomorrow!”

WHAT THE HELL?! That’s nothing! It’s just wannabe click-bait harbouring as product! And, unfortunately, that’s exactly the ouroboros of movie marketing that we’ve somehow been caught up in lately.

Trailers for movies have always been a highlight for cinema fans, even if of late you’d be hard pressed to head to your local cinema with less than half an hour of adverts and junk in front of the main event. Things seemed to reach fever pitch back in December 1998, with the release of giant gorilla Disney-dud Mighty Joe Young; an unloved and mostly forgotten Charlize Theron starring family movie, that just happened to be the first movie to show the trailer for Star Wars: Episode One – The Phantom Menace. Paying customers were coming in to watch the trailer, and then leaving before the movie even began. Prior to the advent of wide-spread high-speed internet access, this was pretty much the only way to see movie trailers in the late 20th Century, and back then the gap between the December ‘98 trailer premiere and the May ‘99 movie premiere was almost unheard of, as nobody had set their stalls out that early before.

One and a half decades later, and we’ve got Star Wars: The Force Awakens on the horizon. Teaser trailer one was released fifteen months before the movie’s release, while teaser trailer two was the lynchpin of a weekend long Star Wars Celebration in Anaheim, California. Fans around the world piled into their local cinemas to enjoy the live satellite link of director JJ Abrams answering inane, details-free questions about a movie nobody has seen yet, actors old and new came out to reveal information most people had already guessed, and the entire event culminated with 100 seconds of new teasing footage for a film that still isn’t out for another eight months.

Of course, Star Wars wasn’t alone lately in the long-lead promotional materials, as Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice proved to be even more inventively annoying. Director Zack Snyder took to his Instagram account to show a twenty second teaser for his new movie, simultaneously announcing that a few days later customers could buy tickets to an IMAX screening of the full teaser trailer in their local cinemas. Almost graciously, some sneaky pirate recorded and uploaded a pretty decent version of the teaser before then, forcing Warner Brothers’ hand to stick the full HD version up online a few days early.

We’re sure that whichever Hollywood executive came up with the idea of ‘Teaser Trailers For Teaser Trailers’ was promptly promoted and hailed the new king or queen of movie marketing; for audiences with access to Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram or any number of mobile app, they’ve turned a previously beloved aspect of fandom into an absolute chore. Leading up to the release of Avengers: Age of Ultron, anyone near a cinema or television were bombarded with multiple different full-length trailers and TV spots, which resulted in many of us feeling like we’d already seen most of the movie. In fact, so ingrained is the idea of being pummelled by relentless advertising, that the relatively light campaign behind Fantastic Four – not a single frame, poster, teaser or trailer was released until January, a “meagre” seven months prior to its August release – that instead of finding it refreshing, we quicker assume that Fox has a dud on their hands and can’t fully commit to supporting it properly.

This overload of new media advertising is already showing signs of fatigue, as Terminator: Genisys had fans tweet #TerminatorUnlock to get a new trailer launched, and when enough people tweeted the hashtag, Paramount would stick it up online. Fifteen hours passed before the required number was reached, betraying a lack of immediacy or interest, especially considering the all-consuming, virus-like nature that usually goes hand in hand with this kind of Twitter marketing stunt. Whether this was down to people just not wanting to see the new trailer (probably for the best, considering the MASSIVE SPOILERS it contained), or the finished film itself, but either way, the signs aren’t great.

It’s not all bad, as the Ant-Man teaser trailer – shown in teeny tiny Ant-Size – was actually a cute spin on the idea, while the first trailers for Mad Max: Fury Road, Tomorrowland, Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation and Spectre were all impressive enough to warrant a Facebook share and a retweet, but even then some of them were clouded by the pompous fanfare of their arrival. The new Mission movie trailer was preceded by a ‘teaser for a teaser’ just one day earlier, while Spectre had a massive press conference to announce the cast and title, then a plain poster with just the logo, then another poster with nothing more than Bond in a turtleneck, then countless behind the scene photos and stunt videos, and then we got the teaser.

As a general rule of thumb lately, big budget blockbusters spend up to half of the production budget on promotional materials. So for the likes of Furious 7, which cost $250 million to make, it’ll cost an additional $125 million to promote. While that gamble has paid off handsomely in this case, and Hollywood does seem to be of the opinion that you gotta spend money to make money, it usually results in a movie that’s already been so stuffed down the audience’s throat prior to release that interest in the finished product has already waned months before it hits cinemas. We’ve not even hit the summer season properly yet, and already Jupiter Ascending (estimated loss: $90 million), Seventh Son (estimated loss: $75 million), Blackhat (estimated loss: $80 million), Mortdecai (estimated loss: $60 million) not only proving to be massively in the red, but they’re some of the biggest flops of the decade to date, with Child 44 (estimated production & publicity budget: $75 million, current worldwide box office: $3 million) surely set to join them soon enough.

So after all that, think back and answer us this: When was the last time you seen a properly fantastic trailer? When was the last time the general public was as enthralled as a marketing campaign as, say, The Blair Witch Project’s fake ‘missing person’ website, or Cloverfield’s teasing virals which had us completely clueless as to what the movie’s genre was, never mind the exact nature of the plot? Right now Hollywood marketing is the drunk girl or guy at the party, showing their boobs or butt to anyone who’ll look, dying for attention and hoping to leave an impression. What they need to remember is that subtlety is sexy; make your audience work for it, leave us wanting more, and we’ll arrive in droves.

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September Girls - They got the beat http://state.ie/features/september-girls http://state.ie/features/september-girls#comments Fri, 24 Apr 2015 11:23:31 +0000 http://state.ie/?p=69166 There’s been an awful lot of activity in the September Girls camp of late, with a string of UK and Irish dates alongside A Place To Bury Strangers to follow their late 2014 Veneer EP. The band support the Cribs in Belfast and Dublin next month but first comes an appearance at the Yes Fest Marriage Equality gig at the Bello Bar on 30th April, along with Kate’s Party, Cave Ghosts, Sissy and The Winter Passing.

We asked each member to provide us with some weekend listening….

Paula: Sheer Mag – ‘What You Want’

I’m totally obsessed with this song at the moment.I don’t really know much about them other than the fact they are from Philadelphia and this song was the lead track on an EP released late last year. Not quite ’70s style power pop, but not quite punk either, it lies somewhere between Thin Lizzy and The Runaways. It’s very riff-y, with a touch of classic rock and super catchy vocals. Believe me, that description wouldn’t sell it to me if I saw it written down either, but I think this might be the best thing I’ve heard this year so far.

Caoimhe: Nirvana – ‘Something in the Way’

I’m currently obsessed with Nirvana since seeing Montage of Heck. I’m looking at them in a new light. I’ve always loved this song but it means more now. It’s just so, so lonely. Kurt’s vocals are so strong and full of sadness. His vocal melodies always lean towards a darker, more interesting place. It’s a really hypnotic song.

Jessie: Haunted Hearts -‘Something That Feels Bad Is Something That Feels Good’

This is the side project of husband/wife duo Dee Dee from Dum Dum Girls and Brandon from Crocodiles. It’s ’80s dreamy gothy synth pop, with lots of chorus and noise, clearly inspired by JAMC and The Cure. I’ve always been a fan of boy/girl intertwined singing and the underlying steamy chemistry between these two comes through in the music.

Lauren: Juliana Hatfield Three – ‘Little Pieces’

Become What You Are is one of my favourite albums. It’s one that I loved back in the day but forgot about for a while, then rediscovered with renewed affection. This is the second to last song and it always somehow comes as a pleasant surprise every time I go back and listen through the album. The song is made up of ‘little pieces’ itself, each one lovelier than the last. The simple backing vocal on the refrain gets me every time.

Sarah: Sleater Kinney – ‘One Beat’

I went to see them a few of weeks ago at Vicar Street and since then I’ve pretty much only listened to them. I’m sort of obsessed with ‘One Beat’, from the album of the same name. The song starts and is built on this one drum pattern, one beat, which is constant throughout. I love the vocals, they’re so strong and there’s a certain urgency to them, it’s sort of anthemic. I think Corin and Carrie’s call and response is executed really well here.

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Squarepusher – Damogen Furies - "...as blistering as it is compelling." http://state.ie/album-reviews/squarepusher-damogen-furies http://state.ie/album-reviews/squarepusher-damogen-furies#comments Thu, 23 Apr 2015 12:54:04 +0000 http://state.ie/?p=69158 Tom Jenkinson, AKA The Pusher of The Four Right Angles, otherwise known as Sqaurepusher, is evolving as swiftly as the Artificial Intelligence that will ultimately herald man’s untimely demise.  Jenkinson, true to form, has (probably) unintentionally provided the soundtrack for said forthcoming dystopian scenario with his latest release Damogen Furies.  He’s been around the block, that’s for sure.  He knows what he’s at, another certainty, and he’s come a long way from the ‘Do You Know Squarepusher?’ or the ‘Hello Everything’ days.  Damage Furies, in fact, displays a complete dichotomy to his earlier dabbles in strange, jazz-fusion tinged electronica.  What it also displays though, is Jenkinson’s complete and utter devotion to pushing the boundaries of electronic music production.

After all, this is a record that has, in a way, been 10 years in the making.  The mission statement is simple – Tom Jenkinson wanted to make a record that was totally comprised of his own programming; a rejection so to speak, of the “off-the-shelf instruments and the limitations that come with them” as well as each track completed live in one sitting.  Damagon Furies, then, is an exercise in creative originality and sonic experimentation that relies on the guidelines long upheld by its creator.  What’s more, despite the rather complex approach, there is an accessibility to Damogen Furies that is a surprising twist.  ‘Stor Eiglass’ or ‘Rayc Fire 2′ for example, are tracks that tow the line between Skrillex (I know) style bass-breaks and uplifting, synthesiser led melodies.  To call it a pop-orientated approach would be sacrilege to Jenkinson’s legacy, but there are certainly moments where the classic Squarepusher syncopations are dispensed with in favour of tracks that build and balance-out in a more conventional mode.

The charm of the olden-days isn’t completely lost though, and fanboys (this critic included) can and will attest to this.  There are times when Damogen Furies is as blistering as it is compelling.   ‘Exjag Nives’ for example is as kaleidoscopic and aurally pounding as ‘Come On My Selector’ but it’s more contained; more refined.  The breakneck technicality of his earlier work is alive and kicking too, ‘My Red Hot Car’ is reincarnated to a degree throughout this album, but the machismo is well and truly disposed of.

Squarepusher has built a solid record with Damogen Furies and it’s interesting that he chose to record the album in the method he has, although, Jenkinson’s increasingly technical live shows will surely communicate his vision better than a home listen ever could, and that’s perhaps the only downfall to an otherwise splendid listening experience.

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Laura Doggett - Pop music has a new heroine http://state.ie/features/laura-doggett http://state.ie/features/laura-doggett#comments Thu, 23 Apr 2015 12:31:27 +0000 http://state.ie/?p=69154 Described by the Times as “pop’s most intriguing new female artist”, Laura Doggett is certainly staking a claim for our attention. Blessed with a striking voice, her music is dark and seductive, yet also rousing and upbeat. New EP Into The Glass comes our way on May 11th and State will make sure to check her out at the Great Escape this year. Fingers crossed for a certain Irish festival announcement too.

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Built To Spill – Untethered Moon - "An aural big bang..." http://state.ie/album-reviews/built-to-spill-untethered-moon http://state.ie/album-reviews/built-to-spill-untethered-moon#comments Thu, 23 Apr 2015 10:44:28 +0000 http://state.ie/?p=69150 It’s just not in Doug Martsch’s nature to do things on a small scale. On their eighth album, and their first since 2009’s There Is No Enemy, Built To Spill announce their return with an aural big bang. A big, wavering guitar chord just under a minute and a half into opener ‘All Our Songs’ seems to mark the album’s true beginning; the cosmic, epic sound that Built To Spill can muster like no-one else. “And I found a place/ Where I know I’ll always be tethered/And I knew when I woke up/ Rock’n’roll will be here forever” is a comforting earthly concern amidst Doug Martsch’s more existential meanderings, paraphrasing ‘Hey Hey, My My (Into The Black)’ and kicking off an album that frequently courts the dense guitar wrangling of Crazy Horse. The song’s coda, then, is simply a big, pummelling, shit-kicking statement: Built To Spill are back.

The album is littered with references to space, much like Bossanova and Trompe Le Monde-era Pixies, but where Frank Black’s wishful travelogues seem like awestruck odes to the cosmos and its inhabitants, Martsch’s explorations are deeply personal and introspective (as Built To Spill’s album’s tend to be); inner space explored from the greatest of thematic distances. He has always had a knack for the juxtaposition of themes – at times achingly tragic, often esoteric, yet always life-affirming in the execution. ‘Living Zoo’ seems to take its guitar cue from M.I.A’s ‘Paper Planes’, a song the band were fond of covering live, gradually accelerating from the intro to its stratospheric “On the way to Mars/ We can reminisce” and becoming grungier as it approaches its destination. Conversely, ‘Some Other Song’ – a sweet love song that has much in common with Perfect From Now On’s swooning mid-tempo heartbreakers – brings things back to the hearth (“I can’t wait to get back home to you”).

Fuzzy, scratched melodies suddenly dissipate to let Martsch ask futile questions through ‘So’, and the band answer them with screaming, glorious guitars. A sparser guitar line provides the hook on ‘C.R.E.B’, an acronym for ‘cAMP response element-binding protein’, one involved in the long term memory process. “I never meant to forget you/ I always forget people I really like” he admits as the vocal pitches high into the ether on each lamenting sentence.

The album’s shortest track, ‘Horizon To Cliff’, is also one its most affecting; a gorgeous plea to “forget your heart is haunted” with the briefest of reverbed guitar solos. Guitars are front and centre throughout Untethered Moon; Jurassic chords and whines, beefed-up fuzz, and a plethora of bristling, duelling passages and modified riffs. ‘When I’m Blind’ features a chopping Dr Feelgood guitar riff that starts to mutate as it goes; splintering into shards of sonic chaos. What starts out as a screeching, skittery solo over the solid rhythm section transforms as Martsch flexes his experimental muscle to elicit varying degrees of harshly melodic, almost confrontationally abrasive tones from his guitar. The whole thing stretches to command the album’s latter section, collapsing in a rumble tumble morass of noise before once again bursting to life; regaining intent to take the song full circle with a proggy, eastern-tinged twin guitar riff.

Musically, and even with the inventive melodic twists led by Martsch’s chameleon-like guitar sounds, Untethered Moon may be the most straightforward album they’ve made since There’s Nothing Wrong With Love. When Martsch sings “And now it seems like the only thing on my mind/ Is getting all these things off my chest before I die” on ‘Another Day’, though, it’s a validation that this is a collection that takes the same cathartic journey as Built To Spill albums past. Even when referencing the smallest particles and the farthest stars, Martsh ultimately relates everything back to the things that he has the least control over – the hippocampus and the heart; flawed, untethered organisms.

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Memories of a SxSW spent with Meltybrains? - We've come a long way, baby http://state.ie/features/memories-of-a-sxsw-spent-with-meltybrains http://state.ie/features/memories-of-a-sxsw-spent-with-meltybrains#comments Wed, 22 Apr 2015 14:07:18 +0000 http://state.ie/?p=68979 As we look forward to the beginning of the summer festival season here at State and all of the opportunities for Irish bands and artists that it will undoubtedly include, how could we forget the amazing job that Meltybrains? (and more) did for showcasing Irish music at last months SxSW festival? Thankfully, our roving photographer Mark McGuinness was there with the band on their wider tour and was able to capture some of the magic as well as give us this fond report of the experience.

Last month I was lucky enough to experience one of the biggest music events in the world, SxSW in Austin, Texas. As fortune would have it some very good friends of mine, Meltybrains?, were just about to start their Spring tour so I jumped on board and spent the next two months travelling with them; documenting their entire journey. The last two months have been fast, dirty and profoundly sleep deprived, but probably the most fun times I’ve ever experienced.

We arrived in Austin a day early meaning that we had some time to adjust before all of the other bands and shows began. It also meant that we got to catch some of the interactive happenings that were still going on when we arrived. The troupe consisted of Meltybrains?, their sound engineer James, stage tech Jack, moral supporter Kyle and myself. We found ourselves staying with a local couple who were great – Heather and Dave love music so much that they let bands stay with them for the duration of the festival, which makes it so much easier for bands to travel over and not have to worry about the added cost of a hotel. Thanks to our hosts’ generosity we found ourselves staying alongside a Japanese punk duo, as well as a cast of members from other bands from all over the world.

Day one was spent walking around handing out some of the 500 Meltybrains? masks that came over with us, as well as getting to know how everything worked, getting passes and just generally exploring the city. Musicians were pouring into Austin from all over the world but it was still pretty tame as no official shows were happening until the next day. Meltybrains? had been playing shows in Austin on a previous American tour so they knew some places to check out that night and we kind of just floated around listening to street bands and checking out venues.

Meltybrains? being interviewed

Our second day started off with Buraka Som Sistema from Portugal. Having already met them on the flight we got to know them a bit better. We stumbled across one of their shows down near the convention centre and it was the perfect introduction to the music of SxSW – they have so much energy it just cleared away any jet lag we may have been suffering from and put the lads in good stead for what was to come over the next few days. A lot more bands started to arrive at this point and everyone seemed to just be killing time until 8pm – official showtime. This, it must be said, is the most surprising thing about touring, there is a lot of waiting around. Waiting to meet people, waiting for soundcheck to start, waiting to arrive in a city…. just waiting. Naturally, we ended up discussing anything and everything over the course of the tour.

That night we went to Japan night with the idea of seeing Perfume. Although we didn’t get to see them in the end we did learn a lesson that I wish we knew before we arrived. All the venues run a really strict capacity limit, which I guess makes sense, but it makes seeing bands in different venues really difficult – you need to pick one spot and after a certain time, just don’t leave or else you will spend your night in lines rather then listening to bands. We did get to catch some pop bands at the Japan night before we left though, which was cool. Later, we were at a loose end and running out of time to get into another venue but Buraka Som Sistema were playing close by and we knew it was going to be a good show. We went to that and saw them for the second time in one day, which became a habit of sorts on this trip. Their Elesyium show was nuts and everyone in the city was pretty hyped up for the start of the festival anyway, so when you mix that with a band like this you get a pretty special show.

BSS @ Elysium

Day three was Micheàl’s birthday and also the first Meltybrians? show at the Irish Showcase in Maggie Mae’s. We decamped to the convention centre during the day to catch some showcases – which is a completely weird experience. Bands are put up on stage and it’s kind of like a cattle market with industry people just sitting there quietly. I didn’t wait around too long as it’s back on the streets and bars that you see the bands, so I just went around until it was time to soundcheck. The Irish Showcase was a great night; Fight Like Apes, All Tvvins, Meltybrains?, Orla Gartland and James Vincent McMorrow were all on the line up. I’m a big JVM fan so it was pretty cool to see him play in such a small and intimate venue. Towards the end he even left the mic and just filled the room by himself. We went out to celebrate Michàels birthday which led to a… slow morning the next day.

Day four was definitely a slow starter but we made the right choice by going to see Girl Band play the Brooklyn Vegan showcase. This started a Girl Band binge which turned into four shows in two days. People have asked me if I regret not just seeing them once and then going to see other acts and I don’t at all. We went to go see Girl Band play at Mohawk House of Vans again that night and then stopped off to see Le Galaxie at Maggie Mae’s before calling it quits.

Day five was one that had been hyped for a while… It was the Full Irish Breakfast morning which has been a SxSW tradition for over 10 years now. All of the Irish bands get together in BD Riley’s and just go all day long. I got to see Girl Band, Meltybrains?, Buffalo Sun, Dott and Fight Like Apes. The standout act being Meltybrains?. When you go to a Meltybrains? show, everyone who is there usually understands what they are in for so it’s not too often you get to see them play to a room of people who have no idea what they are about to experience. The guys played a great show and even though some people in the crowd looked a bit confused, everyone was into it. Brian jumped out of the window during one of the songs and almost wasn’t allowed back in to finish the set so had to convince the doorman he was actually due on stage before being allowed back in. After we left the Full Irish Breakfast it was on to the Stones Throw party later that evening.

After a few acts we went on to see the Hot Chip show. When more established bands release and tour new music it makes sense for them to play the new music which isn’t always something that causal fans appreciate. Luckily, Hot Chip played pretty much their entire back catalogue mixed in with some new stuff. It was a cool show and was sponsored by a vodka company… so things started getting kind of messy towards the end.

The next day, we got everyone in the house together and did some group shots before shooting off to see Zarigani$ play in an Indian restaurant on the side of a highway. This was probably the most SxSW experience of the lot. As the first chords were played and I shot the first few frames it just dawned on me where I was and what was happening. I was watching two timid Japanese girls lose it on stage in a sort of speed, new-wave sound in a shed on the highway which also acted as an Indian restaurant. It was beyond surreal but this is what the festival can do. It was also the point where I stopped worrying about trying to get to certain shows and being in certain venues – the best thing about this festival is stumbling across new music that you would never have listened to in the first place and enjoying it. Out of all the bands I saw over this trip, Zarigani$ are probably the band I’ll go out of my way to see again.

From here we just found ourselves wandering around again, down to the famous Rainey Street in Austin, before heading back to BD Riley’s to see Zarigani$ again, as well as their friends Bo-peep, who were one of the loudest, most chaotic bands I’ve ever seen. Their show can only be described as wild, with people jumping through the open windows onto the stage from the street and the lead singer almost getting her head knocked off by a ceiling fan while jumping up and down on a table. Now it was time for the last shows of SxSW, so we ended up going to the NME showcase which Girl Band were headlining. The first act we saw was Glaswegian hip-hop group Hector Bizerk who were really cool. I can’t say that I’m big into the Glaswegian hip-hop scene but this would make me want to give it a shot. Their sound is unlike anything I have heard before and that could be down to the accents but it was great, so check them out if you can.

It came to Girl Band show number four for us and it was the best one yet; everything came together and the guys were just great. I don’t really have a lot else to say except go and see them live, there is just such a rawness to their live show that needs to be seen in person.

And, of course, our final day in Austin was spent shopping, eating, dressing up as cowboys and travelling back home. Phew.

 

Through the plane window Through the plane window Road sign on 6th street Tech at interactive Brian on a greenscreen Meltybrains? being interviewed Stage-tech Jack on the ground Dunny opening instruments Meltybrains? in a bar on 6th street Another band at SxSW 6th street Street band on 6th street Micheàl conducting business Ben, James, and Brian walking into Austin Buraka Som Sistema Buraka Som Sistema Meltybrains? dancing at BSS Melthbrains? and BSS after the show Street band Street band Unicorn Wolf playing a violin Silent Diane @ Japan day BSS @ Elysium BSS @ Elysium Waking up Laura Marling showcase in the convention centre Posters for shows SxSW Through the window #1 ‘Blarney Stoned’. Jack and Klye were part of the crew so while Meltybrains? were off a talks and meetings we were at a loose end. The guys started an Irish clubland act called ‘Blarney Stoned’, this is their first press shot. Through the window #2 Through the window #3 6th street Bar band on 6th street Food truck on 6th street Random latin dance circle Demos thrown on the street SxSW Fight like Apes @ Maggie Mae’s Fight like Apes @ Maggie Mae’s Fight like Apes @ Maggie Mae’s Pre-show yoga with Meltybrians? @Maggie Mae’s Micheàl warming up @ Maggie Mae’s All Tvvins @Maggie Mae’s All Tvvins @Maggie Mae’s All Tvvins @Maggie Mae’s Meltybrains? @ Maggie Mae’s Meltybrains? @ Maggie Mae’s Meltybrains? @ Maggie Mae’s Meltybrains? @ Maggie Mae’s Meltybrains? @ Maggie Mae’s Meltybrains? @ Maggie Mae’s Meltybrains? @ Maggie Mae’s Post-show birthday party in the green room @ Maggie Mae’s Post-show birthday party in the green room @ Maggie Mae’s Orla Gartland @ Maggie Mae’s James Vincent McMarrow @ Maggie Mae’s James Vincent McMarrow @ Maggie Mae’s James Vincent McMarrow @ Maggie Mae’s Meltybrains? Masks Slow morning after Micheàl birthday party Girl Band @ Brooklyn Vegan Girl Band @ Brooklyn Vegan Girl Band @ Brooklyn Vegan Girl Band @ Brooklyn Vegan Sign at Brooklyn Vegan Texas Tattoo @ Brooklyn Vegan Water coolers @ Brooklyn vegan GirlBrains? Supergroup Sign @ Brooklyn Vegan Le Galaxie Girl Band loading in at BD Rileys Girl Band @ BD Rileys Girl Band @ BD Rileys Girl Band @ BD Rileys Buffalo Sunn @ BD Rileys Dott @ BD Rileys Meltybrains? @ BD Rileys Meltybrains? @ BD Rileys Meltybrains? @ BD Rileys Meltybrains? @ BD Rileys Meltybrains? @ BD Rileys Meltybrains? @ BD Rileys Meltybrains? @ BD Rileys Meltybrains? @ BD Rileys Meltybrains? @ BD Rileys Fight Like Apes @ BD Rileys Fight Like Apes @ BD Rileys Brogan Bently @ Stones Throw party Brogan Bently @ Stones Throw party PB Wolf @ Stones Throw party Hot Chip The floor after Hot chip, it was sponsored by that vodka company All our housemates Meltybrains? Zarigani$ at an Indian restaurant Zarigani$ at an Indian restaurant Zarigani$ at an Indian restaurant Tadhg singing with Zarigani$ The only place for Micheàl was the ice box Standing around after a show Sending late Mothers day cards home Zarigani$ in the crowd with Girl Band and Meltybrains? @ BD Rileys Zarigani$ @ BD Rileys Bo-Peep @ BD Rileys Bo-Peep @ BD Rileys Bo-Peep @ BD Rileys Bo-Peep @ BD Rileys Bo-Peep @ BD Rileys Bo-Peep @ BD Rileys Hector Bizerk @ NME showcase Hector Bizerk @ NME showcase Hector Bizerk @ NME showcase Girl Band @ NME showcase Girl Band @ NME showcase Girl Band @ NME showcase Girl Band @ NME showcase Capitol building from the back seat of a taxi Wristbands Map of Austin Dunny packing away the glockenspiel Jack Meltybrains? mask on the floor Last view of Texas BackstreetBrains? getting a connecting flight in London Micheàl waiting to be collected

 

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Le Galaxie – Le Club - "Looking backwards and reaching forwards..." http://state.ie/album-reviews/le-galaxie-le-club http://state.ie/album-reviews/le-galaxie-le-club#comments Wed, 22 Apr 2015 10:28:31 +0000 http://state.ie/?p=68933 To be fair to Le Galaxie, they’ve been doing this since before it was considered cool. The retroactive re-consumption of synth-pop has been doing a bit of a number on recent chart hits and movie soundtracks, but fans will know they’ve been sound-tracking our neon-tinged nights out for some time now. It’s a Chicken-Or-The-Egg situation, new fans will find reflections within the current spate of ’80s throwbacks, while some of the previously unheard tracks on Le Club do in fact sound as if they’ve been aligned to fit snuggly within the current modern retro sound.

Bad stuff out of the way first: lead single ‘Le Club’ was a bizarre choice as a call-to-arms for this, their first major label album. The lightness of touch in most of Le Galaxie’s other tracks is missing here, coming off a little too try-hard to be Le Cool. Then there’s opening track ‘Put The Chain On’, a great melody almost ruined by frontman Michael Pope’s bizarrely earnest vocal delivery of near-nonsense lyrics (something which isn’t really a problem elsewhere on the album), and we wind up with a song that might’ve been performed by the Soronprfbs.

Thankfully, almost everything else here is the perfect mix of considered humour and light-hearted seriousness that Le Galaxie balance out so well. Fans of the endlessly gigging group will already be aware of the relentlessly funky ‘Humanise’, the chanting euphoria of ‘Streetlife’, or ‘Love System’ which really sounds like it belonged on the soundtrack to Drive and potentially been the best song on there. The perfect dichotomy of the album, between fun and serious, between light and dark, between looking backwards and reaching forwards, is what ensures we never near boredom when listening. It’s there in the barely two minute run-time of the menacing, guitar-tinged ‘Lucy Is Here’, and it’s there in there nearly seven minute, ever-evolving, sun-licked instrumental closing track ‘Freeway Flyer’. More explicitly, back-to-back tracks ‘AM LA’ and ‘PM LA’ show two sides to the same coin; the former built on a beat that will bring to mind the Whitney Houston singing over the theme tune to Beverly Hills Cop to create instant nostalgia; the latter owes a debt to Giorgio Moroder, the ever building BPM and repeated lyrics of “The city’s got my back / So we can love each other” making it almost custom built for substance assisted secret rave love-ins.

Elsewhere, ‘CNNXN’ fell off the back of the ‘Hotline Miami’ OST, and unlike ‘Put The Chain On’, Pope’s vocals are harnessing the oddness of Neil Tennant and Brandon Flowers to equal, fantastic effect. ‘Tell Me Twice’ uses a slightly more modern beat and gorgeous female vocal that will draw comparisons to the likes of Rudimental, Disclosure or Clean Bandit, but Le Galaxie keep their time-stamp on, making sure it’s still very much their own thing. Album highlight ‘Chaffeur Of Love’ has Pope trading sexily delivered non-sequiturs with a breathless female vocal (“Too hot! Love kills! Casio! No-no!”) over an aggressive synth and Caribbean metal drums, while ‘Carmen’ takes its time coming and going – almost a minute of waves sleepily washing ashore on either end – with an ode to holiday sex and romance sandwiched between.

Although when it comes Le Galaxie, who can really tell what most of these songs are actually about; taking such joy in making as little sense as possible, making your brain jump through hoops for potential definitions while lighting up your memory banks with sounds from over thirty years ago. The only thing you can be certain of is that they’ve harnessed and mostly refined their sound, and Le Club sounds like nothing if not the soundtrack to a long, hot, sweaty summer night.

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Old Hannah – West - Major progression meets original charm http://state.ie/features/old-hannah-west http://state.ie/features/old-hannah-west#comments Wed, 22 Apr 2015 08:39:11 +0000 http://state.ie/?p=69145 Taken from their upcoming Iron and Wood EP, Old Hannah’s new single is an absolute beauty. Produced by Solar Bear / Leo Drezden’s Rian Trench – the EP also features guest musicians including Steve Wickham of the Waterboys – there’s clearly some major progression going on (the brass gives it a particularly delightful old time feel) – all while still retaining their original charm. See them launch the EP at the Button Factory on 8th May.

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Avengers: Age of Ultron - Master of puppets http://state.ie/film/avengers-age-of-ultron http://state.ie/film/avengers-age-of-ultron#comments Tue, 21 Apr 2015 21:02:06 +0000 http://state.ie/?p=68987 Director: Joss Whedon
Cast: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth, Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Mark Ruffalo, Jeremy Renner, Elizabeth Olsen, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, James Spader, Cobie Smulders and Samuel L. Jackson
Certificate: 12a
Running Time: 141 minutes
Release Date: April 23rd

This year marks the 15th anniversary of the release of Bryan Singer’s X-Men, a movie which  kickstarted the commercial and cultural success — sorry, Blade — of Marvel properties on the big screen. At the time of its release and Sam Raimi’s Spiderman, which followed two years later, there was an undoubted sense of wonder and (ahem) marvel at what you were seeing on screen. The first time Wolverine unsheathed his claws, an optical blast from Cyclops and Spidey web-slinging through New York for the first time were an intravenous hit of dog-earred comics and Saturday morning cartoon nostalgia. Their success revolutionised blockbusters, bringing terms like franchise and shared cinematic universes into the Hollywood lexicon and gave increased demand for bigger budgets, casts and sense of epic. 2012’s The Avengers became the bacchanalian apex of it, teaming up a glut of heroes fastidiously introduced through their own movies. By default, its sequel Age of Ultron is now the largest to date. (For now, anyway.)

With a cast approaching The Wire size scale and plots that traverse solo movies and two TV shows, if ever there was a case for a ‘Previously On…’ at the beginning of a movie, it’s Age of Ultron. After the Battle of New York (The Avengers), the disintegration of S.H.I.E.L.D. (Captain America: The Winter Soldier), Tony Stark’s PTSD and obsessive creation of multiple Iron Man suits (Iron Man 3) and whatever happened in Thor: The Dark World, the Avengers are back together attacking  H.Y.D.R.A. base in Sokovia, attempting to retrieve Loki’s scepter from the gloriously monikered Baron von Strucker (Thomas Kretschmann). (It’s a incredibly entertaining way to open as Ben Davis’ camera glides in one take through each member showcasing their talents before ending in them all leaping into battle in slow motion. It’s a great sight to see them actually acting as a team too, notably Thor and Captain America’s shield and Mjonir combos.) Stark, fearing for another Chitauri invasion, seeks to put a bouncer at the door of club Earth and creates the Ultron programme, a robot army that goes horribly wrong when it becomes sentient and bloviates in the tone of James Spader, hell bent on human extinction.

Ultron is probably a good jumping off point for what doesn’t hit its marks. The MCU has thus far been pretty light on memorable villains outside of Tom Hiddleston’s outstanding Loki and Ultron can be added to the pretty underwhelming heap along with Whiplash, Abomination, The Winter Soldier and Elf Christopher Eccleston from Thor 2. On face value, having Spader play a pompous, arrogant murderbot seems like gangbusters but when his voice is vocoded through the blockbuster standard of this-is-what-robots-sound-like, it could be anyone, he sounds more like Paul Giamatti for most part. And then there’s his design, that rips out any tangible attachment and evokes The Terminator and those god-awful Transformer movies. The addition of the Maximoff twins, Pietro and Wanda, doesn’t amount to much outside of hokey Eastern European accents and Aaron Taylor-Johnson looking like the love child of a surfer bro and a Taken villain.

With Cap, Iron Man and Thor all afforded their own outings, Whedon shines the focus on the characters who share the same poster space but were left with not a lot to do last time out. In the case of Black Widow and Bruce Banner’s growing relationship, it’s the movie at its finest. Johansson and Ruffalo’s range and nuance is galaxies beyond this but they add real emotion and depth, like Black Widow has to subdue the Hulk with a lullaby to coax Banner out of his feral rage. On the other hand, Whedon brings back Falcon and War Machine to show that black superheroes matter but can’t find them anything to do except attend a cocktail party. Then there’s a sub-plot that continues Hollywood’s obsession with mid-movie acts in dusty country houses that tries to create feelings for Hawkeye that really just kicks the can around before a final battle.

And of that final battle, Whedon makes some welcome tweaks to make it moderately more palatable. But really, it’s just adding a little more seasoning to a meal you’ve eaten a thousand times. The MCU third act by committee has been wanton annihilation of a major metropolitan landscape or a robots by the boat load, Age of Ultron gives you both. It doesn’t want to just pummel a city from above, it wants to pummel the earth from above with a city. That said, it’s refreshing to see the Avengers actually spend some time actively looking to save civilians but outside of that, it doesn’t half drag on. Another major Marvel property, Daredevil, debuted on the small screen a couple of weeks back and its approach to fight scenes, people socking each other in the kisser repeatedly and feeling the effects, was more personal and suspenseful, perhaps the movies will take note.

In an interview with Vulture, Whedon claimed that making Age of Ultron almost killed him, so that he’s moving on makes sense from a creative and health standpoint. Making movies for Marvel is like a bigger budget TV world, there’s no room for auteurs when future projects demand your script includes trips to Wakanda, creating fissures for a Civil War and crowbarring in an Infinity Gauntlet. It’s a hell of a farewell though that’s ripe with a humour missing from other super-properties — in particular, a running joke about Captain America’s aversion to bad language is fantastic. Studio notes and scale of scope might mean the sense of wonder might be gone, but that doesn’t mean you still can’t have fun.

 

 

 

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Alabama Shakes – Sound & Color - "Sultry, rampaging, sunny, pained, composed, despaired" http://state.ie/album-reviews/alabama-shakes-sound-color http://state.ie/album-reviews/alabama-shakes-sound-color#comments Tue, 21 Apr 2015 13:18:42 +0000 http://state.ie/?p=69142 Perhaps the modern revival of Southern Rock, especially compared to its cousins in the broader rock genre, is down to its genuine self-confidence and a combination of seasoned artists getting their commercial dues (Black Keys, the solo Jack White) then buoyed by new acts keen to maintain momentum. Alabama Shakes stood out with their 2012 debut Boys & Girls through a unique combination of lead singer Brittany Howard’s outstanding soulful voice and an assured, scaled down sound not too dissimilar to early Kings of Leon. Three years later their follow-up Sound & Color is a wonderfully eccentric and progressive album that allows you to fall in love with them once again.

Resisting immediately returning to the studio appears to have worked in their favour. Within the three year gap between releases Alabama Shakes haves calmed down without conceding impact. The opening three tracks feel calmer, more placated. Even ‘Don’t wanna fight’, the funk-flavoured lead single, sounds as though the band barely mustered the energy for that recording. Howard’s strained shriek at the beginning is perfectly evocative of someone “attacking, defending, until there’s nothing left worth winning.” What’s particularly noticeable going through the album is how every element of the band is given room to breathe; a dull, finger-plucked bass or a reverbed guitar are given equal opportunity to carry our attention. This never would have happened during their first effort, where they were just short of banging pots to keep our heads turned their direction.

Maybe it was a tad cliché to say that the band separate themselves with a female vocalist, but they do. Aside from offering the welcome female perspective in a genre filled with Mommas and Baby Girls, mother of God – that voice. Sultry, rampaging, sunny, pained, composed, despaired; she can do it all. She get to use it too as the album sleekly slips into full eclecticism in the second half. From the Southern Gothic tinged ‘Gimme all your love’ to the Tracy Chapman-esque ‘This Feeling’ you can hear the band subtly, but steadfastly, evolve. Then ‘Guess Who’ comes on, sounding like sped-up Bossa Nova. Had anyone told them that second albums are supposed to be difficult? A late centrepiece comes in the form of ‘Gemini’, a disorientating walk through the apocalyptic wake of a landscape either biblical, romantic, or social. Her last words ‘I gave you everything’ hangs in the air, open to interpretation as the song drags itself on until there is no oxygen left.

Their debut was unique enough that even after this amount of time they could be justified in repeating themselves a little bit. While this is undoubtedly the same band as back then, Alabama Shakes have done enough on these twelve tracks to establish a standard for peers to follow.

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Watch Sissy cover The Replacements http://state.ie/news/watch-sissy-cover-the-replacements http://state.ie/news/watch-sissy-cover-the-replacements#comments Tue, 21 Apr 2015 11:39:09 +0000 http://state.ie/?p=69136 Recent guests at our Faces of April show, Sissy released a timely cover of The Replacements’ ‘Androgynous’ as part of this year’s Record Store Gay album. Watch them pretend to play the song below and for real at next week’s Yes Fest! at the Bello Bar.

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Young Wonder album details, Irish dates http://state.ie/news/young-wonder-album-details-irish-dates http://state.ie/news/young-wonder-album-details-irish-dates#comments Tue, 21 Apr 2015 10:08:51 +0000 http://state.ie/?p=68997 Conspicuous by their absence of late, Young Wonder finally return to action with a set of Irish shows next month. The reasons for their silence will no doubt become clear, as the duo will use the gigs to mark their debut album Birth, released on May 18th. Tickets for Dublin go on sale tomorrow morning at 9am.

The dates in full are as follows:

16th May- The Savoy, Cork
22nd May – Whelan’s Dublin
29th May – Roisin Dubh, Galway
30th May: Dolan’s Upstairs, Limerick

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The National Concert Hall announces Summer Season lineup http://state.ie/news/the-national-concert-hall-announces-summer-season-lineup http://state.ie/news/the-national-concert-hall-announces-summer-season-lineup#comments Tue, 21 Apr 2015 09:57:49 +0000 http://state.ie/?p=68998 Dublin’s Nation Concert Hall have announced the initial lineup for their Summer Season of events, which includes performances from Emmylou Harris, BelleX1, Saint Ettienne and more.  Having certainly set a high standard over the years with their annual run of Summer events, be assured that this years Summer Season is as enticing as it ever has been.  The full run so far is as follows, with events segmented into Summer/ESB 2015.

4 July – Fiesta Mexicana – The Folkloric Ballet of the University of Guadalajara

11 July 8pm – Mary Chapin Carpenter

17 July 8pm – Art of the Song: Carole King’s Tapestry

19 July 8pm – An Evening with Emmylou Harris & Rodney Crowel

2 July 8pm – Ladysmith Black Mambazo as part of ESB LIVE 2015 

8 September 8pm – Saint Etienne – Foxbase Alpha as part of ESB LIVE 2015 (pictured)

25 October 8pm – BellX1 as part of ESB LIVE 2015

Information on all of the upcoming events, as well as ticket prices, can be found here.

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Unique music auction in aid of homelessness announced for Whelans http://state.ie/news/unique-music-auction-in-aid-of-homelessness-announced-for-whelans http://state.ie/news/unique-music-auction-in-aid-of-homelessness-announced-for-whelans#comments Tue, 21 Apr 2015 09:07:25 +0000 http://state.ie/?p=68995 The Monster Irish Music Auction has just been announced as a new initiative to raise money to combat homelessness, with Irish bands and musicians being asked to donate signed copies of albums, vinyl records and more.  Once a sizeable collection has been reached, it will then be auctioned off in one massive lot to the highest bidder, with the aim to raise at least €25,000 for division across the four provinces.  The brainchild of Peter Meade, who has already seen success running similar initiatives from Abner Brown’s Barber Shop and more, this is his most ambitious project yet and will be held in late June at Whelans and streamed live over the internet.

In a band?  Solo artist?  Want to get involved?  Then we urge you to support the cause by sending signed CD, Vinyl or merchandise to any of the following addresses: 

Inner City Helping Homeless, 37 Killarney Court, Dublin 1

Man in Hat, c/o Abner Browns Barbershop, 6 Rathgar Road, Rathmines, Dublin 6 

K Black, c/o Mercantile Hotel, 28 Dame Street, Dublin 2

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(r) - Italian maverick embarks on Irish tour http://state.ie/features/r http://state.ie/features/r#comments Tue, 21 Apr 2015 09:00:13 +0000 http://state.ie/?p=68993 A darling of the Italian underground, Fabrizio Modonese Palumbo is a member of the electro-acoustic project Blind Cave Salamander along with Paul Beauchamp and cellist Julia Kent and of Almagest! with singer/actor Ernesto Tomasini, as well as being one of the founding members of the experimental cult band Larsen. A prolific performer and collaborator, he is currently involved musically with the likes of Ben Chasny of Six Organs Of Admittance, Xiu Xiu, Little Annie, Carla Bozulich and Jochen Arbeit.

If that all didn’t take up enough of his time, Palumbo is about to make first visit to Ireland with the project (r), a mighty cocktail of introspective-ambient-noise and lyrical song-writing. He’s joined on all dates by Laura Sheeran (soon to release her third solo album) and Tenro, a collaboration between Marc Aubele (Nanu Nanu, Pigg, Bellx1) and Brian Conniffe (Catscars, Patrick Kelleher, JG/BC).

See all three acts at the following dates:

April 30th Clonakilty, De Barras
May 1st Cork, Community Printshop
May 2nd Galway, Roisin Dubh
May 3rd Dublin, Unit 1 (invite only – contact unit1innit@gmail.com)

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