State Magazine Music news, reviews, photos, features, films. Mon, 06 Jul 2015 22:00:28 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Premieres and podcasts from Ireland's foremost music site. State Magazine yes State Magazine (State Magazine) Music news, reviews, photos, features, films. State Magazine Roskilde 2015 – Day 1 in photos Mon, 06 Jul 2015 22:00:28 +0000 Wednesday began this year’s Roskilde festival and it was photographed for State by Jakob Bekker-Hansen. 


Communions, Roskilde 2015 by Jakob Bekker-Hansen Communions, Roskilde 2015 by Jakob Bekker-Hansen Communions, Roskilde 2015 by Jakob Bekker-Hansen Communions, Roskilde 2015 by Jakob Bekker-Hansen Communions, Roskilde 2015 by Jakob Bekker-Hansen Honningbarna, Roskilde 2015 by Jakob Bekker-Hansen Honningbarna, Roskilde 2015 by Jakob Bekker-Hansen Honningbarna, Roskilde 2015 by Jakob Bekker-Hansen Honningbarna, Roskilde 2015 by Jakob Bekker-Hansen Honningbarna, Roskilde 2015 by Jakob Bekker-Hansen Honningbarna, Roskilde 2015 by Jakob Bekker-Hansen King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, Roskilde 2015 by Jakob Bekker-Hansen King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, Roskilde 2015 by Jakob Bekker-Hansen King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, Roskilde 2015 by Jakob Bekker-Hansen King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, Roskilde 2015 by Jakob Bekker-Hansen King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, Roskilde 2015 by Jakob Bekker-Hansen King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, Roskilde 2015 by Jakob Bekker-Hansen King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, Roskilde 2015 by Jakob Bekker-Hansen Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds, Roskilde 2015 by Jakob Bekker-Hansen Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds, Roskilde 2015 by Jakob Bekker-Hansen Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds, Roskilde 2015 by Jakob Bekker-Hansen War on Drugs, Roskilde 2015 by Jakob Bekker-Hansen-2 War on Drugs, Roskilde 2015 by Jakob Bekker-Hansen-3 War on Drugs, Roskilde 2015 by Jakob Bekker-Hansen-4 War on Drugs, Roskilde 2015 by Jakob Bekker-Hansen-5 War on Drugs, Roskilde 2015 by Jakob Bekker-Hansen-6 War on Drugs, Roskilde 2015 by Jakob Bekker-Hansen-7 War on Drugs, Roskilde 2015 by Jakob Bekker-Hansen-8 War on Drugs, Roskilde 2015 by Jakob Bekker-Hansen-9 War on Drugs, Roskilde 2015 by Jakob Bekker-Hansen-10 War on Drugs, Roskilde 2015 by Jakob Bekker-Hansen ]]> 0
Django Django do Dublin this December Mon, 06 Jul 2015 17:07:47 +0000 Fans of the Scottish four-piece band will be happy to hear that they’ll be bringing their unique mix of psychedelic pop and art rock to Vicar Street in Dublin on December 1st. After their self-titled debut album was released to universal acclaim back in 2012, expectations were high for their sophomore album Born Under Saturn when it was released in May. In typical Django Django fashion, they did not disappoint…

Tickets start at €22.50 and are available right now.

]]> 0
Little Boots’ new album Working Girl stream in full Mon, 06 Jul 2015 16:53:20 +0000 Back in 2009, Little Boots exploded into the mainstream with comparisons to Kylie and other electro-pop queens with her debut album Hands being worked on by the likes of RedOne and Greg Kurstin. Since then, things have slowed down considerably, with Miss Boots taking some time with album number two Nocturnes, redirecting her career trajectory to something a little less chart-friendly and decidedly more experimental.

That continues with her third album Working Girl, with the producers including alt-dance fav Ariel Rechtshaid and chillwave enthusiast Com Truise. For those who can’t wait to get their hands on their own copy when it’s released on July 10th, the full album is available to stream via The Guardian’s website right HERE.

]]> 0
Listen: Sarah Harding (yes, of Girls Aloud) – ‘Threads’ Mon, 06 Jul 2015 16:39:01 +0000 Deny it all you want, Girls Aloud were all kinds of great. They provided the kind of fantastic pop music which seems to be lacking from the musical landscape at the moment, and it was a sad day when they decided to call it quits. Since then, Cheryl and Nicola and Nadine and the other one have all had a go at solo careers, with varying degrees of success. And now, finally, it is Sarah Harding’s turn with her debut single ‘Threads’ from her as yet untitled debut album.

Is the song any good? Well… let’s just say we sincerely hope that the Girls see sense and reform sooner rather than later. If, however, you do find “Threads” to be your jam, you’ll be happy to know that it’ll be available to buy from August 7th.

]]> 0
Zedd takes his tour to Dublin this November Mon, 06 Jul 2015 16:28:50 +0000 Despite being sickeningly young (He’s still only 25!), Anton Zaslavski aka DJ Zedd has already released two hit albums, garnered a few Billboard Chart toppers, holds regular residencies in Vegas, won a Grammy and produced for the likes of Lady GaGa and Ariana Grande.

Fans of the EDMaster will be able to check him out live in The Academy on Thursday 26th November, with tickets going on sale Thursday 9th July at 9am at €25.40 inclusive of booking fee. For those who don’t know who he is, he’s the one responsible for this ear-worm staying in your head a few months back…

]]> 0
Listen: Eminem featuring Gwen Stefani – “Kings Never Die” Mon, 06 Jul 2015 16:15:20 +0000 Movie soundtracker and occasional album releaser Eminem is back spitting rapid-fire rhymes with “Kings Never Die” to accompany the release of the Jake Gyllenhaal boxing movie Southpaw. After the “Guts Over Fear” single appeared on Denzel Washington’s The Equalizer OST with professional face-hider Sia, Marshall has hooked up Gwen Stefani on the second of two singles from the rapper on the Southpaw soundtrack. No Doubt it’ll be a huge hit. The full album is due for release on July 24th, and will also feature tracks from The Weeknd, Bad Meets Evil, 50 Cent and Slaughterhouse.

Meanwhile, Eminem’s first single from the Southpaw movie, “Phenomenal”, has just dropped it’s action-packed, mini-movie music video. Yes, it would appear that today is National Eminem Day. Enjoy!

Eminem – Phenomenal by exclusiveviralvideos

]]> 0
Marina & The Diamonds announce Dublin gig Mon, 06 Jul 2015 15:55:12 +0000 Back in March, Marina & The Diamonds released their latest album FROOT, and in case you didn’t know, we LOVED it. After touring with their fantastic Electra Heart album a few years back, we know that Marina Diamandis can put on an electrifying live show, and waited with baited breath for news of her new album receiving the same treatment.

Happy days then, as Marina will be hitting up The Academy in Dublin on December 2nd! Tickets go on sale Friday July 10th, priced at €27.90 including booking fee and will be over 18’s only.

]]> 0
The Frames – Longitude - Going the distance Mon, 06 Jul 2015 11:15:13 +0000 Longitude, a denotation of length; in this case a measure of time considering The Frames are celebrating their 25th anniversary with sell out performances in both Iveagh Gardens and Live at the Marquee. Veering away from rock and roll clichés, there won’t be a Greatest Hits to help mark the occasion but a mixtape of sorts instead; a hand-picked collection of tracks best representing the last quarter of a century. Serving as more of an introduction, Longitude is a showcase of the band’s favourite tunes, with one new song, a couple of unreleased versions and some unexpected appearances from lesser heard tracks.

This record is an unconventional one from the beginning though. Glen Hansard is known for being particular and yet the track listing here is disorderly – the songs are misplaced and yet to the band, they are in the exact order they should be listened to. The album opens with crowd pleaser ‘God Bless Mom’ and builds upwards from here with re-recorded versions of the iconic ‘Revelate’ and ‘Fitzcarraldo’. This surge of energy serves its purpose and is once again diffused by the melodic meanderings of ‘In The Deep Shade’ – the instrumental introduction from For The Birds.

Arguably, the beauty of The Frames as a collective is that they themselves are fragmented and have never been ones to shirk away from that. Sporadically releasing albums and touring, they have always retained the loyalty of their fanbase; regardless of roster changes or hiatus’ to develop solo projects like The Swell Season. They always return and always do something to improve their game, particularly in a live setting.

Moving through ‘Lay Me Down’, a beautiful track about burning love letters and into ‘People Get Ready’, a slow-burner that has been a live triumph before finally reaching the strangest inclusion, ‘Ship Caught In The Bay’; a complete afterthought from the latter half of Burn The Maps, an album which gave us songs like ‘Locusts’ and ‘Fake’. All of which serve as a precursor to The Frames new track ‘None But I’ which is lyrically one of the most intriguing and involving songs from The Frames; asking questions like “Who rose to meet the morning? Who learned the river’s name? Who told us that our blood was not the same?” It’s a strong indication that the band still have direction and hopefully we’ll be treated to some new material after some touring and a return to the studio.

The Frames D.I.Y attitude towards growth and success in the Irish music industry has been the model for many that have risen in the last 15 years and we have a lot to be grateful for in that regard. Their formula for success seems to have been sincerity and perseverance as 25 years later that’s still paying the bills and still inspiring them to push themselves. Longitude serves as a great introduction to The Frames. It mightn’t include all of their best work but it certainly whets the appetite for the undiscovered and the forgotten. 

]]> 0
AC/DC – Aviva Stadium, Dublin - Hells Bells Mon, 06 Jul 2015 08:45:58 +0000 As the Juggernaut that is the AC/DC Rock or Bust tour rolls into Dublin it can only mean one, two, four things; bells, cannons, inflatable dolls and rock hard riffery. On one of the finest evenings of the year the faithful make their way to the Aviva Stadium in anticipation of what is surely a highlight of the rock calendar.

It’s been an interesting and no doubt turbulent few years for AC/DC; one which saw the retirement of Malcolm Young due to the onset of serious illness, years of hard living having finally and sadly caught up with him. More bizarrely, ex-drummer Phil Rudd found himself in front of the beak in New Zealand for apparently, eh, being too hardcore, let’s say. The most serious charge against him having since been dropped, the ongoing legal issues have meant that AC/DC are touring with their drummer from the early ’90s, Chris Slade, with the Young brothers’ nephew Stevie Young replacing Malcolm and long-time bassist Cliff Williams completing the line-up.

But while Malcolm, described as the businessman of the band and the main riff-writer once held sway at the backline, front of house has nearly always been about Angus Young and Brian Johnson. Exploding onto the stage in front of a line of Marshall stacks, Angus, still in his school uniform and Johnson, still with a voice like a disused quarry, open with an ecstatically received performance of the title track of last year’s album Rock Or Bust.

From here on it’s a selection of mainly classics with some newer songs thrown in for good measure. The seminal ‘Back in Black’ comes early in the set. Thirty minutes and 6 songs in the band hit their stride with ‘Thunderstruck’ and fully settle into delivering a rock master-class. They can do no wrong as they pump out undeniable classic after classic, ‘High Voltage’, ‘Hells Bells’ accompanied, as always, by a huge bell hanging from the stage roof. It’s notable that on this occasion Johnson declined to swing from the bell, perhaps in deference to his 67 years. Angus delivers a somewhat shortened but still blistering face-melter on ‘Let There Be Rock, although thankfully he’s dropped the striptease from the act. The band bow out for the evening with ‘For Those About To Rock’, complete with cannons firing. If this is to be their final performance, they’ve gone out with an unholy bang.

AC/DC and Vintage Trouble photographed by Paulo Nuno.


ACDC 1 state ACDC 2 state ACDC 3 state ACDC 4 state ACDC 5 state ACDC 6 state ACDC 7 state Vintage Trouble 1 state Vintage Trouble 2 state Vintage Trouble 3 state Vintage Trouble 4 state Vintage Trouble state ]]> 0
Neil Diamond — 3Arena, Dublin - "You can keep Jesus Christ. That was Neil Diamond... truly the 'King of the Jews" - Alan Partridge Sun, 05 Jul 2015 10:27:30 +0000 You can say what you want about Neil Diamond but you can’t deny that there’s a little bit of class underneath all that sequinned, hair-sprayed cheese. From his thinning grey hair down to his soft-shoe shuffle, pumps the blood of a showman and after what must be tens of thousands of live shows he still wants you to feel his appreciation. But there is still a lot of cheese to get through, that’s not going to change.

‘Forever in Blue Jeans’, ‘America’, ‘I’m A Believer’, ‘Red Red Wine’, ‘The Art of Love’, ‘Sweet Caroline’, ‘A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You’, ‘Girl, You’ll Be A Woman Soon’, and ‘Hello Again’ are the hits and he plays them. They are good and so they should be, anything less would have been unthinkable and let’s be honest, for the average non-devotee of the Brooklyn crooner there would be no other reason to see him live. His voice is unmistakable and now irrevocably moulded by time. He is 74 years old after-all (“all this screaming from women makes me feel like I’m 70 again”, well played, sir) but he isn’t here to win over any new fans or set the world on fire, he’s here to wheel out the classics and give us the chance to sing along freely and passionately. The video montages during ‘Brooklyn Roads’ and ‘Coming to America’ are diced and spliced home movies depicting a very young Diamond playing with his parents and sibling and tell the tale of his family’s migration to the US. As the reel catches up with real time, a greying, older, more contemplative vision of him is shown. It portrays Diamond in a light you might not actually have considered previously and the measure of poignancy it gives the songs is not to be discounted. Underneath all the schmaltz you’ll see the life of an extraordinary songwriter and do not be surprised if it alters how you’ll hear his music.

He might not be everybody’s cup of tea, and there is probably an element of sneery disregard for a man you can imagine your Grandmother saying something like “he’s very nice” about. But he still records new music and it still sounds like Neil Diamond, so you have to ask yourself what’s wrong with him hamming it up for his audience? What’s wrong with enjoying these songs which are undeniable classics? Sure if Fleetwood Mac, The Who and AC/DC can shamelessly engage their shtick at their age, why can’t Neil Diamond? Afterall, he is possibly the only artist ever to have his work covered by both Elvis and The Fonz.

]]> 0
Roskilde Festival 2015 – Day 2, Thursday - Ladies' day Sat, 04 Jul 2015 12:32:02 +0000 We kept a lid on it the previous night so our heads are good but our legs are already feeling the effects of a walking/standing routine. Yet today is a marathon of good things. We spend the morning sitting, sipping some Danish fizzy orange and watch our friends drink their newly invented cold press iced Irish coffee, which is surprisingly drinkable at 2pm. The skies are still cloudless and with the weather climbing into the mid-to high 20s we are keeping whiskey off the menu for the moment.

Taking a punt on one song we heard, we land over to the small Gloria stage. An intimate room, it hasn’t quite gotten as sweaty as it can do and Ezra Furman also takes a little warming up. From Chicago, his croaky, high voice and giggly theatrics bring a little of vaudeville to, say, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. Lipsticked and skinny, in a little red dress, he does settle into the show as he rolls through the long set. The sound is big and brassy thanks to a rock-solid band and a saxophone powerhouse beside him, a buff fellow with shocking pink hair. It’s cheery, and somewhat carnivalesque in its indie slant and like a waterslide into the day. Plus his ‘My Zero’, the song that tempted us there, is storming.

As smartly attired, yet in the more traditional rock star’s black suit, Father John Misty goes straight from nothing to feverish in the Avalon tent – a place bejewelled with huge squares of rigging and lights which we’d see at full effect later in the day. The sound is as close to perfect, a big warm enveloping thing. Misty is similar. He’s straight into the crowd from the off. On his knees for half of it. He’s up on the drum kit too, and faultlessly bringing the wide, rammed tent into his room.

Outside there’s a cold beer to be rescued from the many queueless Tuborg bars and as we cross the main field it’s Ryan Adams filling that gap in the day when traditionally only mad dogs and Englishmen stand out under the unrelenting sun. It’s either a breeze or Adams balmy rock but we have a chilled moment of pause, leaning on a barrier with with ‘Come Pick Me Up’ washing around us.

It’s six and as the day slightly cools St. Vincent’s stage awaits, with close to 13,000 people in the Arena. Our favourite festival tent anywhere, when you hit it right here you feel it all the way to the back of your neck. Annie West is sight for sore eyes, she appears in a perforated black cat suit, white guitar and a look you could set your watch by. She rules this guitar like a monarch and within minutes has shredded all the mornings music to pieces. She floats about the stage on heels, like a perfected android. She knows all about show, yet is above a cheap thrill and so far beyond a rock gig. Completely given over to her, she clambers onto a security guards shoulders before taking in a tour of the front row with guitar – picking up inflatable headwear on the way before having a feint at the closing. Insert row of heart emoji here.

But the heart was to be fed more. First of the Irish interest was Soak in Gloria’s cosy setting. There’s lines and lines out the entrances, a few fellas with a tricolour disappointed at not getting in. Inside, the place is packed and the polite Danes are at their best. But though Soak’s songs have that gentleness to them, the expert live band set-up and meatier sound of the new album. Through a great venue sound and lights, Bridie just captivates and from ‘Blud’ onwards everyone is rapt. ‘B a noBody’ is shivery. We’re flushing and smiling too and it plays out so well, this full tent in the middle of Denmark’s rock festival and everyone swooning to Soak.

Florence Welch knows how to dress for the weather (white linen) and also has her festival crowd-pleasing down to a T. Some of ‘Lungs’ big hits make early appearances on the main Orange stage and she’s another one straight into the pit, and the crowd. Maybe it’s a way of getting out from under the hot lights but whatever it was it spurned a thousand selfie-with Instagram posts from the Danish front row. From the extrovert to the introvert, Mike Hadreas has before hidden behind his piano, sitting low on stages but now he it bringing a bolder Perfume Genius to the fore and he’s standing tall. Still, he twists his mic lead nervously and you can’t tell if his facial expressions are because of feedback or his inner on-stage demons. All this is overcome throughout, to an audience both jocks, nerds and the middle ground of young, pretty Danes relaxing in the sun just outside the tent. (Lots of references from the stages about the attractiveness of the gen pop today.) Hadreas coaxes a cheerier festival feeling from his often heart-wrenching songs, and it was ‘Hood’ whose pounding peaks and bare-piano drops encapsulated it, warm and strong.

Back in Pavillion and Jungle have use a curtain to cover the stage pre-show. Packed back to the tent pegs there’s a we’re-ready-to-dance-now excitement around. When it openes and they pour into ‘Platoon’ it’s a party. The huge lighting rig is a stunning array of searchlights and all manner of beams on chase patterns that you could dance to on their own. It’s the palms-up hour of the day, every single corner of the tent dancing – modesty is nearly always the first to leave – and when ‘Busy Earnin’’ brings its inevitable peak you can feel a tent of endorphins kick right in.

At least the three lads with rather more success and money than you might expect put that cash back into a stage show and hiring the best lighting engineer you can get. Muse have what looks like the best rock show. They have the biggest confetti bombs and even throw out huge black balloons to bounce about the crowd. They are still a bit ‘everybody now’ in parts and have stuck to a tight formula from day one but your eyes won’t be bored. Plus, that kid inside State that still puts up band posters gets a sort of Cirque-du-Soleil-with-guitars thrill out of ‘Starlight’ and ‘Time is Running Out’, bombastic and loud across the vast site.

A true test of the kind of person you are appears when you face Die Antwoord. We were fascinated but very, very scared. They make Slipknot look like a kids party. Displaying true tattooed commitment to his concept, Ninja appears in a yellow animal suit, tying it off to reveal his torso, inked like DeNiro in Cape Fear. Yolandi is up and down the stepped DJ desk where their cartoonishly deformed dj mans the music. It’s seriously polarising but there’s tens of thousands along for the ride at the Orange stage. No Muse-like come-all-ye action here, you’re in constant threat of Yolandi physically hurting you and Ninja providing the coup de grace. They certainly bring their hardcore take on fear through harsh-accented hip-hop-of-sorts to the main stage expanses, though it might be a bit too conceptual to engage with. Still, you can’t deny the fun of ‘Rich Bitch’ etc. and the theatre at work behind it.

Out of nowhere our second wind comes just in time for the last call. Spilling into Arena we’re off to catch Hot Chip close down Thursday, which at 2am on this packed day is just what we need. It’s a Hot Chip Dance Classics set. Over an hour of dancing, everyone in amazing form. The band are cannoning out the hits ‘Over and Over’, ‘One Life Stand’, ‘Ready for the Floor’. Their touring drummer Sarah Jones is a fulcrum, and the happiest sight, smiling from under her baseball cap and raising the beats of the more tempered songs up a level. Nothing lest than the perfect closing act, they never drop the ball and for next level joy to box off the night, it’s a cover of Springsteen’s ’Dancing in the Dark’. We are set up for either tents or more cocktails, common sense and carpe diems and after a show, and a day, like that – who could be sensible.

 St. Vincent photographed for State by Jakob Bekker-Hansen


]]> 0
Terminator: Genisys - Don't call it a comeback Fri, 03 Jul 2015 16:26:59 +0000 Director: Alan Taylor
Cast: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Emilia Clarke, Jason Clarke, Jai Courtney and J.K Simmons
Certificate: 12a
Running Time: 126 minutes
Release Date: July 3rd

At movie number five, Terminator: Genisys is the rubber match, the decider whether a much-loved and recently maligned movie series is predominantly good or bad. After 09’s Salvation sucked all the life out of the dwindling franchise — less cybernetic organisms and time travel, more growling Christian Bale and deforestation — little was left to say or explore. A reboot then, was always on the cards.

Genisys, directed by Thor: The Dark World and Game of Thrones vet Alan Taylor, is more than a reboot though, working more like a retcon of the entire universe, akin to how comic books hit the reset button only to find that established lines, tropes and constructs have been warped. The familiar sight of a nuclear wasteland California is there, along with T-800s crushing skulls and John Connor (Jason Clarke) sending Kyle Reese (Sam Worthington, rebranded as ‘Jai Courtney’) back in time to both save his mother Sarah (Emilia Clarke) and sire him. It’s at the jump to the 1980s where things get strange as Genisys doesn’t look to rehash James Cameron’s original but gate crash the actual movie with a whole new agenda. There’s the familiarity of mohawked punks, the T-800 Model 101 (a young CG Schwarzenegger), the department store and hi-top Nikes; but then there’s an older Model 101 — affectionately named Pops (an aged, non-CG Schwarzenegger) — acting as a guardian for a fully militarised Sarah Connor and a T-1000 thrown in to boot. It’s the best sequence on offer, playing out like a massively budgeted fan fiction romp.

From there, things get more colluded, messy and daft. Sarah, Kyle and Pops orchestrate a time-travel jump to 2017 to stop Genisys, a multi-platform operating system that is a smokescreen for malevolent all-humans-must-die virus Skynet, from being brought online by Cyberdyne. Put simply, they have to blow up Google to stop an Android update. The time-jump sparks a chase sequence that doesn’t let up even briefly as they’re chased by another Terminator, the T3000, which uses nanobot technology to deus ex machina itself out of any situation.

Taylor has made a career for himself as a steward of established properties and he ensures Genisys uses the same visual language of previous instalments — particularly in the painstaking accuracy of the 80s scene — but doesn’t have anything new to stamp on the franchise. In his defence, he’s working off a script that asks a lot of its viewer. The Terminator‘s time-travel paradoxes have always been a challenge but adding in the creation of a different timeline certainly doesn’t help.

Arnie makes a respectable return, having just enough presence to still feel a physical threat and extending on the more human side he approached in T2 with out descending into the camp farce of Rise of the Machines — his constant fatherly badgering of Sarah to ‘mate’ with Kyle Reese is hilarious and incredibly creepy. Clarke makes a decent stab at approaching Linda Hamilton’s toughness, showing that’s it’s not just her TV children that can spit fire. She’s a mismatch with Courtney, who lacks any of the charisma or guile to have you believe the two were meant to be great lovers.

So how exactly does Genisys tilt the scales between good and bad for The Terminator franchise? To cheat, I’d use its convoluted alternate timeline to answer. There’s a timeline where your expectations are quite low and don’t feel the original text sacrosanct. In that world lies a perfectly suitable blockbuster. In the other, where the T 800 stands as a God and Sarah Connor a queen, it’s best to give it a hard pass.

]]> 0
Electronica - Sound spectrum Fri, 03 Jul 2015 13:56:38 +0000 This week, keeping in line with the rotational nature of the feature, we’re bringing you the best new releases from the realm of electronica (and a classic that we’ve been digging again as of late).  Seeing as how it’s a Friday too, we’d like to help you get into the weekend spirit, so there’s a bit of house, a bit of big-bass techno and a bit of dance-floor weaponry that should get the blood pumping. In any case, we hope you enjoy the selection.

Having gone through a very public transformation, Crystal Castles have returned sans Alice Glass but with new vocalist Edith.  They released ‘Frail’ earlier this year to mixed reviews but ‘Deicide’ sees the futuristic synth smashers back on anthemic form.  It’s a bit of a nod to balearic trance, but we’ll forgive them that.


Everybody, meet Dax J.  This young British techno producer, having fled to Berlin to be closer to the European heart of industrial techno, is a forward-thinking producer with a decidedly futuristic aesthetic.  Heavy and relentless, ‘Escape The System’ is immediately commanding and should do nicely in soundtracking the rise of the machines. For now though, it’s a late-night call to dance.


On a slightly quieter note, if you haven’t heard ‘Go’, the new release from The Chemical Brothers, then you’re in for a treat.  Featuring Q-Tip on vocal duties, it’s an energetic slice of summery goodness.  The Michel Gondry directed video is a bit lush too.


Belfast’s Bicep can do little wrong, and their latest EP Just sees a bit of a break from the norm.  It’s more balanced and certainly much lighter than a lot of their output. Title track ‘Just’, with its breaks, analog synth sounds and warm tones, is guaranteed to be huge this Summer.


And now a blast from the past… This is Aphex Twin at his most considered.  Taken from Selected Ambient Works 85-92, ‘Xtal’ is a reminder of the creative force that Richard D James has held for decades. A perfect accompaniment to a much needed chill-out after a good weekend’s partying.

]]> 0
All day Block T party tomorrow at District 8 Fri, 03 Jul 2015 13:53:01 +0000 Boasting a varied and impressive lineup of Ireland’s finest, tomorrow’s Block T 5th Birthday party will feature performances from I Am The Cosmos, Donal Dineen, Hauer, Lasertom & The Blast Crew, Rusangano Family, Trinity Orchestra and many more. With food, drink, visuals, superb music and tickets just €22.50 and available here, you’d be mad to miss this one.

]]> 0
The North Sea – Anniversary - Making waves Fri, 03 Jul 2015 12:12:21 +0000 We chatted with The North Sea before and it’s apparent that they have admirable tastes.  Mmoths, Buffalo Sunn and All Tvvins in the Irish camp; Roy Orbison, Tame Impala and Jamie xx in the other.  It’s odd then, that their debut full-length Anniversary bears more than a bit of Jonny Marr about it than it does ‘ol Jamie.  Still, that’s not a bad thing, we’re talking about taste rather than influence and as such Anniversary is steeped in confident and intelligent compositions and stikes immediately with its mission statement.

There are moments of riotous sound juxtaposed with quieter considerations and they’re all wrapped up in Eoin Kenny’s youthful, energetic vitriol.  ‘I Promise’ and its angular guitars makes for a promising start to the ten-track record; the drumming is tight and hypnotically rhythmic at times, the bass nuancing Kenny’s wistful vocals.  ‘December’ ramps up the genre-splitting ethos of the band by gnarling the post-punk mentality into something with a lighter touch, while ‘In Love’ and ‘Vulnerable’ work to show The North Sea in a more contemplative light, prone to the same existentialist realities that plague the rest of us.  There are traces of everybody from Editors to Suede hidden away in Anniversary. 

If anything this brings the music home, so to speak, and therein lies the beauty of Anniversary; it seamlessly flits from one extreme to the other without jarring the listener and as such makes for a rewarding listen.  It’s fair to say that while Kenny and co. might well be beginning to find their feet proper, they’ve made a promising, and now very public, first step in doing so.  Now comes the dreaded second album, but we’re quite confident The North Sea won’t have too much trouble with that.

]]> 0
Roskilde Festival 2015 – Day 1, Wednesday - Mr Blue Sky Fri, 03 Jul 2015 09:22:46 +0000 The corner of Europe’s heatwave is perfectly timed to brush off the west side of Denmark, throwing perfect blue skies over the festival site as we approach. A lucky weekend, the festival is now synonymous with good weather but you won’t beat mid-20’s and cloudless. This year, the festival has been been pulled back to run Wed – Sat instead of the Thurs – Sun of previous years. It means one more day to take off work for the salaried wanting to go, but means nothing to the tens of thousands of fresh graduates who have been queuing over last weekend to just get onto the campsite on Monday.

Giving an ear to the official Spotify playlist for the festival last week, we liked the sound of locals Communions and walked through the warm site to the furthest stage – Pavillion – to let them open our long weekend. Picking up every ’90s trope from Slowdive to Chapterhouse, it’s a combination that works fairly well, if a bit unfiltered and while the songs they write are anthemic to some extent, they do fall a little flat without recognisability.

Perhaps we need King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard to psych us into this sprawling festival. Long, almost endless wig-outs from the off from four or more guitars licking away. The Australians just disappeared into a swirling sea straight out of the traps and while there were some already-swirling young Danes lost in it completely, we were cheered but had yet to click in. We first saw them in a cinema in wintery Iceland and were overjoyed, but in the early evening heat we left them for the reliability of a burger and beer nearby and were happy listening to them on the breeze instead. We did a walk-past Noel Gallagher who was mid-‘Masterplan’ – yet these days it’s hardly enough to steer you into the tent with so much else on offer.

An unfortunate clash was what we faced next, as we were keen to see both Honningbarna and Pharrell. The State team split and as one half was approaching the Norwegians there looked to be some security issue. The stage was full of audience members and one was climbing high up the rigging on one side. On closer inspection it was frontman Edvard Valberg doing the climbing and the crowd were being beckoned up by the band. When he descended and grabbed his cello, the band burst into action and the whole stage just went loo-la. These guys have never let us down and will deserve statues built in their honour some day.

Meanwhile, the perfect summer high is pouring out from the Orange stage. Pharrell, with his polite, take-home-to-your-mother attitude, has tapped into the rich seam of gold at Roskilde. While he hasn’t brought a Dubai-sized stage show, he has brought dancers having fun, a small stage invasion of boys, a large stage invasion of pretty ladies and he covers enough ground to look everyone in the whites of their eyes – shouting-out to the back and sides and bringing everyone into the party. There’s a burst of ‘Milkshake’, of ‘Hot in Herre’, and there’s the throwback party favourite of N*E*R*D’s ‘Lapdance’. But if you want to even imagine the extent of the summery lift that he brought in the second part, just feast on the idea of ‘Lose Yourself to Dance’ falling into ‘Hollaback Girl’ through ’Drop It Like It’s Hot’, ‘Blurred Lines’, ‘Get Lucky’ and ‘Happy’ and a confetti gattling-gun fired up and over the tens of thousands.

While this was happening the War on Drugs were giving a fairly intense show but through sound so muddy that you could barely recognise the beginning of songs, and the guitar lick at the break of ‘In Reverse’ was completely lost. Having seen them three times now, we stood there while Pharrell was painting colours across the site, somewhat sad at our decision to move. As so often at festivals, where choice and FOMO will eat you up, it’s better the devil you have never seen before. Still and all, it’s hard to feel anything but warm and fuzzy as the bars bustle till the early hours, and you feel that it’s only at Roskilde where you’ll meet a Dane, with a mother from Belfast, who looks for all the world like a white Forrest Whittaker. It’s never boring here, that’s certain.

Pharrell photographed for State by Jakob Bekker-Hansen.

]]> 0
Northside Festival – Aarhus, Denmark - Review and gallery from Denmark's fast-growing sustainable music festival. Thu, 02 Jul 2015 16:01:09 +0000 It’s Friday, the first day of State’s third year at Northside and we’re blessed with sun, no wind and 20 degrees. And, the music program isn’t bad either.  With circles around names like José Gonzales, Death Cab for Cutie, Mø, FKA Twigs, Alt-J and Grace Jones for tonight, the final piece of this puzzle is a pint – seeing how Northside is one of the more “grown-up” festivals. Organic beers, cocktail bars, wine bars, a champagne and oyster bar; we’re certainly enjoying the upper echelons of festival-going.

Last year, Ry X featured as the opening act and it seems the festival is repeating the soft beginning with a quiet and beautiful performance courtesy of Swedish singer José Gonzalez, followed by Danish pop & soul singer Barbara Moleko (a replacement for Earl Sweatshirt who cancelled at the last minute). Later in the afternoon we make a beeline for Death Cab For Cutie in the Blue Stage to give us an able mix of old and new material.

And so, tanked up on our very “grown-up”, craft-brewery organic beer and a famed Northside burger in hand, we decide between Alt-J and FKA Twigs who are tragically scheduled at the same time. We decide on the latter, who after a few hiccups, enters the stage in a transparent, white gown beset with a dramatic green cape. FKA Twigs’ fragile falsetto works seductively, making for a beautiful contrast to the heavy bass driven beats that spur her on. With ‘Video Girl’ and her sensual dancing we’re transfixed and intrigued after just two tracks, but after the fifth we’re firmly in the palm of her hand.

State are soon in for a similar experience as we head for Grace Jones (67 and performing topless, go Grace!). Wearing nothing bar high-pants and white striped body-paint, Jones’ performance immediately tows the line between concert and sideshow, but she persists with the party mentality and eventually we’ve joined her in the festivities. Her charm and eclectic style are hard to resist as we dance to her smoky, heavily-partied out vocals; she gives us the gory details with her tales of a wild-lifestyle lived between songs.

Jones rounds off our evening accordingly, and given our “mature” festival etiquette, it’s off to the hotel for a lovely wash, a lovely sleep in a real bed and a fresh start to the day that lies ahead.  No camping for State at Northside, we’ll have you know.  We awake on Saturday to find the gorgeous weather has abandoned us and for the rest of the day the rain comes’a’pouring.  Fortunately, we’ve come prepared in our rubber boots, knit-sweaters and raincoats and it’s a pleasure to see a lot of young, up-and-coming Danish bands like Broken Twin, S!vas, Scarlet Pleasure and The Minds of 99 filling the stage on this gloomy afternoon.

Again though, we’re plagued by the scheduling dilemma. Antony and the Johnsons on the main stage or Wolf Alice on the smaller P6 Beat stage? We follow our hearts to Antony and the Johnsons who are accompanied by the local Aarhus symphonic orchestra. It makes for a poignant experience as the rain becomes a befitting backdrop for Antony Hegarty’s melancholia-drenched songs, although, we’re needing a pick me up by the time he’s finished and what could be better than some Icelandic house from GusGus and the legendary Underworld to finish off Saturday with serious techno?  Not a lot. 

Sunday, and the last day of the festival, we’re immediately met by Trash-Talkers (charity volunteers who help in keeping the refuse to a minumum).   It’s all part of Northside’s strong, sustainable ethic that a lot of other festivals would do well to take heed of.  We’re enthused for today’s music program and thankfully it’s a packed schedule with all manner of genres. Soul, folk, alternative-rock, blues-rock, electronic, pop and the classic singer-songwriter vibe all see the stage throughout the day.

Firstly, American soul band St. Paul and the Broken Bones give us the perfect start to Sunday and we soon forget the miserable weather of the previous day.  In Denmark they talk a lot about the weather, so State are happy to report that it didn’t rain, but was a little colder.  We’re not advocating a new career path, but we just like to make sure you know the facts. The weather facts. On a different note, it’s time for John Grant and it’s clear he has a lot of love for Denmark.  He’s vocal about it between tracks and clearly glad to be here; presumably as much as we are given Grant’s warm and energetic performances of his epic and melodic ballads before a rapturous rendition of ‘Pale Green Ghosts’.

In a similar vein, Matthew E White plays for 40 minutes with his band and focuses on latest release Fresh Blood, albeit with the same kind of stripped-back sensibility we saw with Grant.  It’s a compact performance and the joy White and band obviously take in performing is infectious.

Alas, our perfect Sunday start doesn’t quite survive in the afternoon and we’re a little bit disappointed at the performances by George Ezra and Calexico.  We have a lot of time for these guys, but something just doesn’t click today and Ezra doesn’t quite live up to the hype that surrounds him while Calexico appear quite sullen – there’s a certain enthusiasm lacking on and in front of the stage.

Maybe it was us, maybe it was the three-day hangovers kicking in early, but we’re looking for revival and it isn’t until the last act of the day that we’re reinvigorated.  It is, of course, up to the Black Keys and it does, of course, work.  Their dirty, blues-rock sound is straight out of the garage and they do it so perfectly that our recovery is nothing short of miraculous.  Frankly, it was the best possible ending to a fantastic Northside Festival 2015, but it wasn’t the best Northside we’ve been to.  There’s always room for improvement and State are confident Northside will do so as we look forward to returning next year.


MØ - Johanne Teglgård Olsen© Wu-Tang Clan - foto- Johanne Teglgård Olsen© Matthew E. White - Photograph Peter Kirkegaard Calexico - Photograph Peter Kirkegaard The Minds Of 99 - Photograph Peter Kirkegaard copy The Jesus And Mary Chain - Photograph Peter Kirkegaard The Minds Of 99 - Photograph Peter Kirkegaard GeorgeEzra_Photo_AnnaTarpKlode©-1-3 ScarletPleasure_Photo_AnnaTarpKlode©-1-3 Alt-J_Photo_AnnaTarpKlode©-1-9 antony and the johnsons --- Photo Morten Rygaard© BenHoward_Photo_AnnaTarpKlode©-1-5 benhoward2_copyright_stinerasmussen E_GeorgeEzra_Photo_AnnaTarpKlode©-1-5 Interpol - ©Thorsten Iversen - 1 Interpol - ©Thorsten Iversen - 6 John Grant - ©Thorsten Iversen - 3 Jose Gonzales_Photo_AnnaTarpKlode©-1-6 Placebo - ©Thorsten Iversen - 3 S!vas - ©Thorsten Iversen - 6 S!vas - Publikum - ©Thorsten Iversen - 1 Seasick Steve - ©Thorsten Iversen - 3 Seasick Steve - Publikum - ©Thorsten Iversen - 4 The Black Keys - ©Thorsten Iversen - 4 Underworld - Jonatan Nothlev ©_2 Wolf Alice ny. Bea Brix © Wolf Alice ny. Fotograf Bea Brix © ]]> 0
Amy - Tears dry on their own Thu, 02 Jul 2015 11:05:16 +0000 Director: Asif Kapadia
Certificate: 15a
Running Time: 128 minutes
Release Date: July 3rd

Sometimes it feels like there is nothing left to be said. The short, desperately sad life story of Amy Winehouse was mashed into every tabloid newspaper each day, rolling through the collective mind’s eye thanks to Sky News, Heat magazine, and the Daily Mail’s Sidebar of Shame. It was a piñata filled with inevitable pain and destruction just waiting to be smashed. Isn’t it enough? Hasn’t the corpse been feasted on? The bones of a young girl sucked dry sating the celebrity obsessed? It’s not as if the general public aren’t aware of the fact that her slim legacy amounts to more than just a giant beehive & a substance abuse problem. This is the recent past, not some dusty, obscure history dragged into the daylight. Back to Black jostled with Rihanna in the charts; her contemporaries are very much alive. Is there a point to all this freshly-minted nostalgia?

The Amy Winehouse story cannot be moulded into a blank hagiography; it has too many sharp edges and heavy clouds of darkness that shouldn’t be avoided and yet should not suffocate her dazzling artistry. Asif Kapadia’s documentary is not a sanitised, cautionary tale or a re-hash of clips, talking heads and headlines. Instead it is an uncomfortable journey that sets about piecing together Amy’s story from those who knew her, amalgamating voices of friends, family, record executives, management, journalists and lovers attempting to assemble a collage of a complex life. These voices are ghosts themselves. The faceless soundtrack to images, tabloid photos, home movies, family photos and live videos of the singer filling up every inch of the screen, she is hardly ever absent from view, the unblinking camera attached to her like an umbilical cord.

These voices jostle against each other, sometimes fighting for attention to be heard as the authoritative ‘truth’ on a certain matter, sometimes in their oblivious bluntness uncovering a painful reality — in one telling moment her father Mitch states that his departure from the family when the singer was a child “didn’t seem to affect Amy.” The film then emblazons cutting lines from her soul searing track ‘What Is It About Men?’ across the screen acting like a stinging rejoinder. The narrative of the documentary is almost built around the brutal, desperate line from her hit ‘Tears Dry on Their Own’ – “I should have been my own best friend/ I fucked myself in the head with stupid men.”

The men being her own father Mitch and her one time husband Blake Fielder-Civil; who are painted in shades of villainy in glorious Technicolor, playing the twin roles of protectors and pimps along with the Hydra headed beasts of vacant record company executives eager to keep their precious hamster on the wheel, unquestionably spinning gold.

Although the jabs and blows are not solely reserved for the people directly in Amy’s orbit, as it implicates the viewer as a ravenous consumer, drawing the audience into the modern world of familiar grim voyeurism, watching too closely as she quickly moves from jazz club wunderkind to tabloid trash in a head spinning blur. The heat of the flashbulbs are felt bouncing off the screen, the audience as willing collaborators in this seemingly never ending circus of doom as the camera almost pornographically hones in on her ever shrinking frame, over and over.

Amidst this bleak, bruising commentary, chinks of light are provided by not only her devastating talent – her voice bursting into life at the film’s opening with her bluesy rendition of ‘Happy Birthday’ aged 14, or the pin drop beauty of ‘Love is a Losing Game’ performed at the Ivor Novello Awards – but her dynamic personality. Halfway through the documentary, there is a perfect, poignant moment where the three versions of Amy Winehouse converge. Standing on stage in London’s Riverside Studios about to be beamed live via satellite into the 2008 Grammy Awards she twinkles, like the familiar pop caricature, all beehive & eyeliner tugging at her dress, slagging off Justin Timberlake. Her eyes widen in a charmingly vulnerable display as she watches her hero Tony Bennett walk onstage – ‘DAD TONY BENNETT!’ she half- grimaces, a bundle of childish nerves before staring in disbelief as she bags the award. Later amidst the cheers and celebrations she forlornly admits to her best friend that all of it means nothing without drugs. The respected artist, the loving daughter, the unhappy drug addict encapsulated in under three minutes.

The overwhelming frustration felt seeing the fantastically cheeky, mouthy girl brimming with wit and intelligence, rolling her eyes at the mere mention of Dido, disintegrate into a zombified Keatsian nightmare half in love with death, is the story’s true tragedy. The dichotomy between her outward strength and desire for artistic control and her emotional vulnerability and recklessness is littered throughout the documentary.  Ultimately she fulfilled the myth, the role of the damaged soul in the mould of her heroes Billie Holiday, Dinah Washington and Ronnie Spector that she wore as a badge of authenticity in a world of perceived vacuity. Her own attraction to destructiveness is never shied away from but is at times slightly obscured in favour of the easy cartoon monstering of the ridiculous Fielder-Civil.

Amy is a documentary that asks critical questions about fame and the responsibility that all parties have in the modern star making process; from the family to the record company to the press and the consumer. How much is too much? Who grinds the machine to a halt?  As the excruciatingly raw and divisive final image of her tiny body being carried from her home disappears from the screen, it would seem that in the end those answers should not have been that difficult to voice.

]]> 0
Son Lux – Bones - The bare bones Thu, 02 Jul 2015 08:57:05 +0000 Ryan Lott and friends, AKA Son Lux, are difficult to pin down.  Having gone through various transformations, albeit within the same cinematic-sound milieu, they’re decidedly abstract enough to place outside of conventional recording artist territory yet have been responsible for well-known mainstream projects.  Lott’s success, as such, seems to convey that while comfortable in creating soundscapes for film and TV, he’s just as confident in using those same motifs to extract himself and Son Lux farther from middle-ground.

As is the case with Bones, their (his, really) fourth full-length effort.  An airy blend of ambient synth-pads and Bowie-esque vocal strains are underlaid with heavy percussion and fractured electronic sensibilities.  ‘Change Is Everything’ is anthemic and towering, but whether it is a natural progression from anything on Lanterns is debatable.  ‘Flight’ is arguably a better indicator of the modus operandi at play through Bones and as such commands the attention with swift, ruthless percussive shifts and stabbing, rhythmic synthesisers.

For a fuller representation of the compositional aptitude Lott clearly has, head for ‘You Don’t Know Me’ with its bluesy vocal line and melodic, echoing overlay that treads carefully through mortar-bomb drum smashes and sawtooth waves.  The dynamic seems straightforward; it’s gentle then brash, melodic then angular, but it’s pulled off with such grace that it works as both an intriguing middle-point to the record and as the strongest track overall.  That’s not to say that Bones is let down too much by the enveloping songs, but it feels unsettled and grasping at times; as if there is something just out of Lott’s reach that he can’t quite translate.

Still, this is a fine record from a fine musician (and his crew) and there are plenty of captivating moments that creep up on you.  The title track or penultimate ‘Now I want’ for example.  In any case, it’s a strong effort and certainly worthy of your time.


]]> 0
Taylor Swift – 3Arena, Dublin - The new queen of pop touches the sky Wed, 01 Jul 2015 16:05:37 +0000 “You are watching the greatest living pop star on the planet”. Taylor Swift doesn’t actually utter those words tonight, as a second night in Dublin brings the European leg of her 1989 World Tour to a close, but you would forgive her for any feelings of satisfaction. Six years after her big night at the VMAs was brought crashing down, the narrative of last weekend is one that few could have imagined. While she was wowing the masses at London’s Hyde Park, down the road a certain rapper was collapsing under the weight of his ego. It’s symbolic of the way her career has exploded since the release of 1989 last year, a commercial leap and turn around in public and critical opinion that would have been hard to imagine during the days of ‘Trouble’ and ‘We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together’.

Spend a night in her company and it’s easy to see why. This is not just one of the best pop shows we’ve probably ever been too, not just one of the best arena experiences but one of the best gigs period. A spectacular in every sense of the word, it’s an all singing, all dancing extravaganza and, while such an approach has become the norm at this end of the musical spectrum, none have managed to do it with such charm or style. The opening sensory blitz of ‘Welcome To New York’ out of the way (complete with each audience member’s flashing wristband going haywire), it’s only three numbers before the first of the big hitters arrives in the form of ‘Blank Space’, the walkway that cuts through the venue allowing Swift the opportunity to get up close in personal with the majority of the crowd at some point. It’s followed by a dark, brooding tune that sounds familiar, even if we can’t place it at first. Then the “cold hard ground” lyric kicks in and you realise that it’s ‘Trouble’, reimagined in a Marilyn Manson fashion that is utterly fabulous.

The message is clear, the Taylor that you thought you knew is gone and she might not ever be coming back. She states as much by taking ‘Love Story’ and updating it to fit the 1989 palette, electronic pop where once was country. A good song’s a good song though, and the new version is a winner. As is this new, improved Taylor Swift. She neatly sidesteps any of the off stage issues that have arisen over the years to talk to her adoring audience about more personal matters. As sweet as they come, you almost believe her when she says that she recognises some of the faces from Instagram and online chats, and that she knew they just had to finish the European tour in Dublin, Ireland (nothing to do with standard touring logistics then), the monologues given an even more schmaltzy feel by the cheesy backing keyboards that accompany them. Any more weighty issues are left to the recurring video messages from a series of high profile friends – some people we’ve never heard of plus really quite witty interjections from Haim, Lena Dunham and Cara Delevigne – about how great their celebrity pal is.

A total pro who knows exactly where the cameras are at all times and what smile or sideways glance, the doubts that maybe she’s just a cog in this well oiled machine are banished as she strides down the – now elevated – walkway strumming an acoustic guitar, she delivers a solo acoustic version of Red’s ‘Holy Ground’ that is as powerful as it is simple, reminiscent of her marvellous Civil Wars collaboration and a hint that the old, Nashville Taylor still lurks somewhere. Then she name checks Imogen Heap before ‘Clean’ and jumps onto a keyboard for the aforementioned ‘Love Story’.

From then on in, it’s gold all the way. ‘Bad Blood’ gives way to a metal version of ‘We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together’, led by the singer on electric guitar against a ‘Seven Nation Army’ aping video projection. Then it’s another costume change and behind the piano to point out that those who criticise her writing style for being “basic” (as bitter as she gets), a wistfully epic ‘Wildest Dreams’, a mighty sprint through ‘Out Of The Woods’, another video testimony and then, inevitably, the whole room getting onto its feet for ‘Shake It Off’, the singer and dancers hoofing it up old style as the walkway spins in the air and the confetti tumbles from the roof.

A few weeks ago, when we discussed Swift and the rest of the pop pack on the State podcast, the opinion was that there would never be another artist who – in terms of longevity – could put together a career to match the likes of Madonna, Michael Jackson or Bruce Springsteen. As we wake the next morning to find our wristband still glowing, a tangible reminder of the night before, you have to wonder if Taylor Swift might be the exception that proves the rule.

Taylor Swift photographed for State by Olga Kuzmenko. See more here.

]]> 0
More music added to line-up for Belfast Maritime Festival Wed, 01 Jul 2015 15:24:56 +0000 Already boasting a fine lineup of local musical talent, Belfast Maritime Festival now has even more music courtesy of Heineken Presents. Beginning tomorrow and running until Sunday, the new acts added to the roster are The Russian Dolls, The Mindbenders, El Dude Brothers, Parachutes, Puzzles and many more.  A full list of the additions can be found here.  Ahoy indeed.

]]> 0
Magic Mike XXL - Grindin' Wed, 01 Jul 2015 14:42:41 +0000 Director: Gregory Jacobs
Cast: Channing Tatum, Joe Manganiello, Matt Bomer, Kevin Nash, Jada Pinkett-Smith, Donald Glover and Amber Heard
Certificate: 16
Running Time: 115 minutes
Release Date: July 3rd

2012’s Magic Mike was a pleasant surprise, a movie about male strippers that went beyond buff bods and babes to interrogate the sale of male sexuality at a time when manufacturing and construction jobs were in decline in the post-recessionary US. Stephen Soderbergh served up the dark side of debauchery and excess that came along with the lifestyle led by Mike and his boys, and our titular protagonist’s progression from this world to one in which he runs his own custom furniture business and is ready to settle down is viewed as a positive, aspirational and mature move.

Yet Magic Mike XXL sees Mike (Tatum) in a rut, struggling through his day job, dumped by his dream girl, his only release busting a move in his workshop to an audience of angle grinders and table saws. So when he discovers his old friends in the Kings of Tampa troupe (Manganiello, Bomer, Rodriguez, Nash) are travelling to Myrtle Beach to do a farewell performance at a stripper convention (yes, really), he can’t resist going on the road to do one more show.

With Alex Pettyfer’s mopey newcomer Adam gone this time around, the focus is much more on the members (…sorry) of the supporting cast, the aspect of this film that is most improved from its predecessor. The cast have great chemistry, and there’s a neat, clean synergy between each character’s personality, aspirations and dance style. Lively, engaging choreography plays to each actor’s strengths: Dancer and former stripper Tatum is given nimbler, more athletic moves, while Manganiello – who steals every scene he appears in and is arguably the MVP here – has routines which play to his power and build, Rodriguez’ to his lithe physique, and Bomer, not a trained dancer, is most effective when slinking seductively around crooning at ladies.

Aptly for a summer blockbuster, XXL is not unlike a superhero movie, its protagonists a witty motley crew of incredible physical ability who don costumes to perform thrilling feats. It’s also not unlike a superhero movie in that the plot often suffers at the expense of spectacle and glamour, occasionally feeling more like a YouTube playlist than a structured narrative. Arguably, this greater emphasis on dancing and extravagant performances in XXL is just a shift in focus; though one could counter, it’s a victory for style over substance. There are some hints of the emotional intelligence of the first, with some nice commentary on costumes and routines, and humorous call-backs and meta-references worthy of Tatum’s Jump Street series, but for better or worse, XXL ultimately becomes the film many presumed Magic Mike would be: Bigger, bolder, and buffer.

If one was to be cynical about it, you could accuse Jacobs and co. of overly pandering to these expectations and to their audience – the sheer range of women ‘worshipped’ and ‘healed’ by Mike and his crew’s heady mix of emotional support and physical attention looks like a checklist of potential demographics for this film. And though it’s exciting to see women of all ages, races, and dress sizes exalted by the Kings of Tampa, the characterisation of these female characters is slight. Jada Pinkett-Smith’s Rome is the most interesting and tellingly, her role was originally written for a man. (Though let’s not even get into the politics of how a man named Rome, operating a private palatial strip club in which black men dress like gladiators would be perceived ideologically.) Pinkett-Smith also has incredible chemistry with Tatum, much more so than his ostensible romantic interest Amber Heard, a comprehensive collection of hipster clichés that never really comes alive behind the eyes.

With its narrative going off-road in the name of ambitious set-pieces and jokes, XXL may be much more of a party movie than its smarter older brother, but its fun, warmth and good humour is solely needed to repair the name of male camaraderie in the wake of the Entourage movie.

]]> 0
007 – And music for all…? - Just how accessible are our festivals and venues Wed, 01 Jul 2015 11:24:34 +0000 The Irish summer is in full swing, musically if not weather wise anyway, and the chances are that most State readers will have made it to at least one festival by the time autumn comes around. It’s also likely that you’ll have taken it for granted that you can come and go pretty much as you please and see what you want. That’s not the case for everyone, though, as journalist Louise Bruton knows more than most. A wheelchair user, she has detailed her experiences on the Legless In Dublin blog. She joined our editor-in-chief Phil Udell and podcast regular Jennifer Gannon to discuss large scale events and Irish venues in general, plus why you very rarely see disabled musicians in bands.

Subscribe to the podcast.

Producer: Brendan Rehill
Theme: Kobina

]]> 0 The Irish summer is in full swing, musically if not weather wise anyway, and the chances are that most State readers will have made it to at least one festival by the time autumn comes around. It's also likely that you'll have taken it for granted that... The Irish summer is in full swing, musically if not weather wise anyway, and the chances are that most State readers will have made it to at least one festival by the time autumn comes around. It's also likely that you'll have taken it for granted that you can come and go pretty much as you please and see what you want. That's not the case for everyone, though, as journalist Louise Bruton knows more than most. A wheelchair user, she has detailed her experiences on the Legless In Dublin blog. She joined our editor-in-chief Phil Udell and podcast regular Jennifer Gannon to discuss large scale events and Irish venues in general, plus why you very rarely see disabled musicians in bands. Subscribe to the podcast. Producer: Brendan Rehill Theme: Kobina State Magazine yes 22:50
Lonely The Brave announce Dublin gig Wed, 01 Jul 2015 10:58:20 +0000 Rock fans rejoice, as one of the most talked about new bands are about to descend on Dublin with their critically acclaimed sound. Lonely The Brave will rattle the speakers of The Academy on November 6th for €16.50 (over 14s only), and tickets are due to go on sale Friday July 3rd at 9am.

Having already made fans of Black Rebel Motorcycle Club and The Deftones with their much-loved debut album The Day’s War, expect this to be one of those gigs where you get to see “Oh, I seen them before they were huge and filling out arenas, in this tiny, intimate setting…”

]]> 0
Hudson Mohawke – Lantern - Web of sound Wed, 01 Jul 2015 10:10:41 +0000 Depending on your school of thought, being “Kanye’s secret weapon” is either fairly accusatory or a commendable accolade.  In any case, it doesn’t seem to have creatively exhausted Glaswegian producer Hudson Mohawke.  Sure, there are credits to his name that construct a vision of a mythic, sound-lab interloper, akin to most of Warp’s roster in fairness, but when we take a step back and observe his rounder back catalogue (thanks Discogs), Ross Birchard appears every bit the restless commander of the fluidity of style and genre.  Lantern, Birchard’s second full-length effort, is transparent in portraying as much and does so with a bank of familiar components in a fresh, forward-looking manner.

So, let’s talk pop.  And electronica.  And R & B, albeit with a healthy nod to a futurist aesthetic.  It’s all here and more and as such paints Birchard and his music in the most technicolour of hues.  Flitting between non-formulaic electronica and staggered pop music seems an effortless pursuit within Lantern.  The juxtaposition of tracks like album opener ‘Lantern’ and ‘Very First Breath’ ft. Irfane compound elements of of various generic tropes into composed sound vignettes, much to the producer’s credit.  Rough and ready hip hop via Clams Casino is preceded by airy, crescendo laden synths.  It should be said though, that this is one of Warp’s more progressive releases as of late.  In fact, it could be argued that this one of their most progressive ever, given the complexity with which many, if not most, of their artists operate; more Jamie Lidell than Richard D. James.

Technical dexterity aside, this is a solid record and bears all of the hallmarks of a producer just having fun.  ‘Ryderz’ and its soul-tinged sampling and foray into breakneck, staggered beats; ‘Kettles’ and the anthemic electronic brass section rising to a grandiose, regal melody that’s nuanced with twinkling xylophone; or 8-bit madness meets crunk-style beats on ‘Shadows’. ‘System’ ups the game in the same respect – maniacally tying up any loose ends of ill-fitting genre expeditions that have been heard before it.

The problem is it’s hard to determine where exactly this record fits.  Headphones in the living room?  The pulsating rhythms heard on the club dance-floor?  Maybe, but maybe not.  It’s at times too furious a mix to enjoy, but perhaps that’s where the significance is; there’s no bundling Hudson Mohawke into a box just yet and if that doesn’t garner interest for future releases, we’re not sure what will.

]]> 0