State Magazine Ireland's Music Payload Thu, 02 Oct 2014 09:09:05 +0000 en-US hourly 1 alt-J – Dublin - One step beyond Thu, 02 Oct 2014 09:09:05 +0000 Last time alt-J played Ireland, they were a band on the rise, already feeling as if they had outgrown the 1200 capacity of The Olympia – making for a truly memorable night. Fast forward nearly 18 months and the band have released their second album This Is All Yours to a flurry of media hype and attention. For a band that have risen through the ranks so quickly it is evitable that the ascend to larger venues will come with the territory, but going to an arena with ten times the capacity seems like a daunting transition. Nevertheless, here they at the 3Arena, two albums strong and with an adoring gaggle of fans sitting and standing in the wings.

The band open with first single from the new album ‘Hunger of the Pines’ to high spirits, leaving them to flow in to ‘Fitzpleasure’ with ease. The band weave new and (if you can call it) old material together perfectly, but by the time ‘Matilda’ comes in the rest of the material seems to get lost in the overwhelming settings, leaving important songs like ‘Tessellate’ and ‘Every Other Freckle’ floundering. By now the crowd have lost focus and the connection between band and fans has seemingly disappeared, leaving the band with nothing to feed off on.

They return with a bizzare ‘Lovely Day’ cover that feels out of place in the set and a closing with “Breezeblocks” which gets the crowd back on track and ensures everyone leave on a high note. alt-J are original and experimental, have made two vital albums but they’re far from an arena band yet. Like The XX who have played this venue in recent times, their sound and mood gets lost in the scale of the 3Arena and although they do their best to engage the crowd, there is no level of intimacy or anticipation to the show, which leaves their efforts flat. Until Dublin finds a venue in between this and the Olympia there will be a lot more fresh bands and exciting music getting lost in the rafters.

Photo: Olga Kuzmenko

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Strand Of Oaks…”how can I combine New Order and Black Sabbath?” - Timothy Showalter in conversation Thu, 02 Oct 2014 08:40:14 +0000 One of the hardest working bands in the business today, Strand of Oaks have had a busy few years since their 2009 full debut Leave Ruin. Following the release of their excellent fourth album Heal earlier this year the band are back on the road with their European tour kicking off this week. Ahead of their long awaited return to Dublin, State talks to frontman Timothy Showalter, about the new record and their big night in Whelans on Friday.

Heal seems like your most personal record to date…

Its funny how when I finally broke free from that singer/songwriter mould, I actually just kinda wrote exactly what I was feeling. It’s essentially a diary entry of the lyrics in the record I was a little hesitant to be this honest and kind of be this much of myself because I wasn’t sure if people cared, everyone has their own life and I wasn’t sure they wanted to learn about mine but its pretty validating to see how many people have gotten behind it and how its spread across, people’s reactions have been pretty humbling actually.

You say broke from singer/songwriter mould?

Everybody makes music their own way and I kinda just made three or four records of pretty much the folk approach of taking your own personal experiences and filtering them through other characters. I went as far as writing songs about Dan Ackroyd killing John Belushi’s drug dealer, and weird dragons who were pokes, and it all was about me but I think there was something in my mind that was scared to actually be myself when it came to a record, and when it came time to make Heal I was tired and didn’t want to do that again. I wanted to just make the record I needed to make as opposed to just continuing the trend that I had done before”.

You were quoted to have said that this album was recorded after ‘Period of turmoil and self-reflection’…

That’s a pretty polite way of putting it, I think I just kinda lost my mind at a certain point! We all have those times where we have bad experiences at a certain point in our lives but I think I just had about 10 years worth of bad experiences that I chose not to deal with in a healthy way and they just boiled over last Fall and I couldn’t contain it anymore and instead of going to an insane asylum I decided to make a record so the record was kind of a result of that and is basically like my own version of therapy.

It all seems very nostalgia, influenced by experiences from your youth and growing up.

I had this goal when I made the record that thinking a fifteen year old head banging version of me, a weird kid in Indiana, would I like this record, as a 15 year old and would I be proud of myself cause that’s when I discovered music and was so deep into it. I wanted to make a record that wasn’t nostalgic in a cheesy way hopefully but more like ‘yea, I survived this, I got through this awkward part of my life, leading into my 20s even, and I was eager to write about it but also to put it behind me, just let it be done.

With regards to the record’s production, it seems like you’ve moved a bit more towards electronics.

I’ve always had a love of synthesisers. I think I’m drawn to them, they put me in a comfortable place when I hear them. What some may call cheesy keyboards I just remember them from watching ’80s movies and remembering being a kid and really liking those sounds and they’ve always been familiar to me. I’ve had this vision for a long time of how can I combine my favourites kinds of music into one record, like how can I combine New Order and Black Sabbath. I don’t know if I pulled it off but I wanted to see if it was possible to put in huge guitars right alongside this 80s electronica that I loved.

It must’ve been fun to mix things up?

The record came from a pretty dark period of my life, but it was the opposite when I made the record, it was one of the most enjoyable experiences ever, just not having any rules in the studio, I was just like ‘I’m gonna do whatever I want’ and once you do that you liberate yourself from restrictions and its just awesome, it just makes you feel good.

What it was like working with renowned producer John Congleton?

I honestly was shocked that he [John] wanted [to produce], as he’s such a busy guy working on so many amazing records. I think he heard some of the recordings and he took time out of his busy life around Christmas time and we worked together. It was such a fluid and fast working environment, we just were on the same page from the beginning. We didn’t talk about it much, we just started mixing records and instantly the connection was made. I was like ‘Yeah, this is what we wanna do’ and we both wanted to take risks and be pretty bold with how the record sounded and as honest as I was with the lyrics, he was just as honest and bold with his production.

Can you see the two of you working together again?

Totally, we’ve been talking a lot and I would love to work with him [again]. It was such a good team, working with John and my friend Ben Verhoren who was another producer. In the future I’d love to make that dream team happen, all three of us together in a room making a record.

And of course the legendary J. Mascis makes an appearance…

I’m still kind of in shock, I hear the song and I can’t believe that my favourite guitarist of all time is playing on it, it doesn’t seem real to me. Again it was such an easy process, J wanted to be on the track and I let him know it sounded like a kind of 90s Dino song and he just was totally down and lay down in like a day. It just worked perfect.

It’s been a long time since you last pitched up in Dublin.

It’s been 10 years now, I’m getting old! I’m kinda sad we’re only doing one show, I thought we were gonna do a few more Irish shows but we’ll make Dublin worth it. If we’re only doing one we’re gonna tear the roof off that place! I’ve heard great things about Whelans too so I’m excited to see that venue.

How do you find playing smaller venues as compared to much larger sets?

Honestly at this stage in my career I’m just excited if anyone buys tickets cause it means that they’re choosing to spend their money, and spend their evening with us and I’m just very grateful for it. Especially now with more people listening to the record and more people are coming out. We’re rapping up our US tour now and we’re selling out shows and I never envisioned my band being like that. It seems like people are reacting so positive to it. I mean, people love the record, but what I’m most excited about is to play it live, just this totally different visceral experience for not only the audience but us as the band. Every night we do something different and we get tighter in the band. Making a record is such a solitary experience but when you tour its such a community that happens and it’s just crazy to think that there’s fans of mine in Dublin and I get to hang out with them soon. I’m pretty grateful right now.

We’re sure you’ll stay for drink afterwards…

Oh there’ll be many drinks! If it’s any indication of the kind of people who come to these shows, people are not coming casually, there’s some real awesome fans that are out at our concerts and we know how to have a good time together!

Just finally, can we expect any new projects/collaborations in the near future?

I’m always making music, always listening to music and right now its difficult for me to write on the road. In my head right now I’m just completely focused on putting on the best concert I can. But I think any time theres down time, I write songs everyday if I’m at home. I’ve got records worth of songs ready to be released so I’m just pumped to get this tour happening and play as many shows and then go back home, make another record and hopefully keep doing that until people don’t wanna listen to me anymore.

Strand of Oaks play Whelans on Friday, October 3rd

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Track premiere: Leanne Harte – Not Another Love Song (Elaine Mai remix) - HWCH v HWCH Thu, 02 Oct 2014 08:20:35 +0000 It’s the second Elaine Mai remix of the week here on State, following her Destiny’s Child reworking on Monday’s mixtape. This time she’s working with a fellow Irish artist, Leanne Harte, giving her ‘Not Another Love Song’ track an upbeat, dancefloor feel. See both of them at HWCH this weekend – Leanne at Bad Bob’s tonight, 9.20pm and Elaine on Saturday in the Twisted Pepper 4.30pm and Meeting House Square 9.40pm. Leanne also plays our Faces of October Guinness Amplify show at the Mercantile on October 11th.

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HWCH’14 – State’s 15 to see - Your five a day Wed, 01 Oct 2014 21:14:33 +0000 This week Hozier has found himself covered on BBC Radio 1 by Ed Sheeran and watched live by Taylor Swift. This time last last year he was playing the Button Factory as part of HWCH. The chances of this year’s event launching another stratospheric twelve months are probably slim but there’s still an awful lot to look forward to over the next three days. Here’s our pick…


Conor Walsh (Meeting House Square, 9.30pm)

While others may shout to be heard, Conor Walsh’s neo classical keyboard adventures draw you in with quiet confidence.

DVO Marvell (Twisted Pepper, 8.40pm)

Another bold new voice on the Irish hip-hop scene.

Haüer (Twisted Pepper, 10pm)

Dublin-based one man set-up cursed with a weakness for nostalgic ’80s music production and synth-based cinematic film scores.

Old Hannah (Grand Social, 9.30pm)

Sligo quartet combine folk sounds from home with country and bluegrass influences.

Soak (Meeting House Square, 11pm)

Billed as one of the returning heroes, Soak is in fact closer to the rest of the bill than either Fight Like Apes or Ham Sandwich. Latest single ‘B a noBody’ suggests not for much longer however.

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Video: Temper-Mental MissElayneous vs Kill It Kid - Slam poetry meets blues rock Wed, 01 Oct 2014 14:17:19 +0000 Currently on a TV screen near you as part of RTE’s new reality show Connected, Temper-Mental MissElayneous will be on more familiar ground as part of the Lingo Spoken Word Festival later in the month. Always a poet with an interest in music, she’s also contributed a vocal to Kill It Kid’s new single ‘I’ll Be The First’, all through the magic of collaboration app WholeWorldBand.

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All Tvvins Irish tour dates Wed, 01 Oct 2014 12:50:53 +0000 With Adebisi Shank having come to a – premature, in our opinion – end, guitarist Lar Kaye, along with cohort Conor Adams, is turning his attention to All Tvvins. The duo are playing three shows next month, with support from Spies:

Thurs 13 Nov DUBLIN, Whelan’s (Tickets €12 incl.)
Fri 14 Nov BELFAST, McHugh’s (Tickets £10 incl.)
Sat 15 Nov GALWAY, Roisin Dubh (Tickets €10/€5)

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Body & Soul to host Shapeshifters Ball at IMMA Wed, 01 Oct 2014 09:40:58 +0000 Ever the ones to push the envelope, Body & Soul have announced a new event for later this month, taking place at the Irish Museum of Modern Art in Dublin. Presented in association with the Bram Stoker Festival, the Shapeshifters Ball is described as an evening of macabre, veiled mischief and will cross the creative boundaries, with performances from the likes of Scottish hip-hop trio Young Fathers (pictured),Ibiza veteran DJ Tim Sheridan, Ensemble Music, East India Youth and many more.

Guests will be encouraged to arrive in costume, and those that don’t can avail of the complimentary roaming make-up artistry or to rent something suitably ostentatious from the expansive, on-site wardrobes of The Abbey Theatre.

A limited number of tickets are on sale now, priced €39.50.

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Jungle Brothers – Dublin - "Out with the new and in with the old...." Tue, 30 Sep 2014 15:54:54 +0000 Sometime it seems ridiculously mandatory for hip-hop fans to cling on to what is considered old school or classic. Many automatically shun new artists, claiming they could never replicate ‘how it used to be’. It seems like they are just unwilling to accept the genre’s progression, but the passion and skill showcased by the Jungle Brothers may prove them to be right. Maybe it is actually a case of out with the new and in with the old.

It might not have been a sold out show in the intimate settings of the Sugar Club, however that doesn’t stop the group from instantly creating an atmosphere only comparable to a house party with openers ‘Straight Out The Jungle’ and ‘Because I Got It Like That’. Kicking off with two of their biggest hits could be a brave decision but the pace and intensity of the performance only increases, especially when they delve into the garage and drum and bass sampled material, as both the speed of their rhyming and the BPM of the backing tracks are increased.

Both MCs have powerful, distinctive voices and exude charisma and confidence. The make a strong case for age not being a factor by putting more time and energy into their show than most rappers who are half their age. Also quite unlike many of their younger counterparts, they never need to shout to be heard and have no problem in winning over the crowd with a large selection of “party rockin” tracks to choose from their back catalogue. ‘Feelin Alright’ ignites a joyous reaction from both the crowd and the Jungle Brothers as they jump on to speakers and bound from side to side of the stage. All three members, fuelled only by good vibes and Guinness, are beaming from ear to ear and appear to be as happy to be there as the crowd.

They may be the least renowned of the Native Tongues collective, which also included A Tribe Called Quest and De La Soul, but this is what provides the hunger that results in unforgettable shows like this. Not having the same exposure as these groups at the beginning of their career only seems to ignite a fire within them and create a need for the group to prove their worth to just a couple of hundred Irish people, over 25 years after the release of their debut album.

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Northern Ireland Music Prize 2014 shortlist Tue, 30 Sep 2014 11:30:00 +0000 Featuring more than a few State favourites, the shortlist for this year’s Northern Irish album of the year reads as follows:

Alana Henderson – Windfall
Ed Zealous – Wired
Little Matador – Little Matador
Malibu Shark Attack (pictured) – Malibu Shark Attack
Mojo Fury – The Difference Between
More Than Conquerors – Everything I’ve Learnt
Rams Pocket Radio – Béton
Robyn G Shiels – The Blood Of The Innocents
Slomatics – Estron
Sullivan and Gold – For Foes
VerseChorusVerse – VerseChorusVerse
Wonder Villains – Rocky

The winner will be announced at a special awards night at the Mandela Hall, November 15th, which will end with a special presentation to the band Therapy?, who formed in 1989. They will be presented with an Oh Yeah Legend Award for their ground-breaking achievements. The band will then perform their 1994 Troublegum album, which sold over a million copies and was shortlisted for a Mercury Prize.

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Catfish & The Bottlemen to Headline Whelans - Bring the scuzz Mon, 29 Sep 2014 15:26:17 +0000 One of the most stealthily hyped bands of the year are finally starting to follow up on the early promise of their piece-meal emergence. The Welsh rockers have been making waves with their surprise hit ‘Rango’ since the start of they year but without ever fully capitalising on it’s success.

Sounding like a party in a derelict squat attended by the Kooks, The View and The Music these lads have some of that left-of-centre charm last wielded with any real effect by their compatriots Super Furry Animals. Now is our time to see them live as MCD have just announced that the band will be playing in Whelans in Dublin on April 8th, tickets going on sale this Friday at 9am priced at €15 (inc booking fee).

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Morrissey and Marshall – The Workman’s Club - Breathtakingly authentic folk-pop Mon, 29 Sep 2014 13:04:59 +0000 Is the word ‘throwback’ still considered a pejorative term? Maybe it is. Maybe it never was, but it was certainly pregnant with derivative subtleties at one point. Either way, Morrissey and Marshall, the Dublin born but London based troubadours are 100% solid gold throwback. But they do it with such style, easy conviction and, most importantly, with such genuine talent that they are constantly forward looking regardless of whence their musical form comes.

Tonight is a homecoming of sorts, tellingly so thanks to the large swathes of family dotted around the Workman’s Club. This can only be family because no sooner have the band started that the chit-chat between audience and performers resembles the good-natured dialog you might expect at a Christmas dinner. And more so because they’ll tell anybody who looks at them that they’re “related to the lads”. It’s fair to say that the sense of pride in what Morrissey and Marshall have achieved with their sound is as enveloping and universally ambrosial as the sound itself. All of this adds to the Gaslight-tinged aesthetic that can only come from two prodigiously talented folk singers who look, sound and play as if they have just passed a basket around the famous, smoke-filled coffee house. That’s what Morrissey and Marshall do, they play harmonious folk which at times sounds so breathtakingly authentic that they can instantly dissolve surroundings and re-imagine them using little more than the sound of their voices.

Taking the majority of their set from their debut album, And So It Began, it’s two songs in before they are joined by their backing band. Starting with acoustic and electric guitar to guide them the lads expose their voices in a room utterly devoid of intrusive noises. And the effect is chilling, rarely if ever have harmonies been so finely tuned since the days of Simon & Garfunkel. Darren Morrissey and Greg Marshall, however, are infinitely more amenable on stage and seem to genuinely enjoy what they’re doing. Recent single ‘Pack Up Lady’ raises the biggest cheer of the night, naturally, but for a performance so full of highlights it’s unfair to pick and choose. It would be equally as unfair not to give a mention to Eoin Glackin who’s heavy cold played no discernible part in his charming and effervescent support slot.

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Album premiere: Analogue Wave – Casimir - Dublin duo release record #2 Mon, 29 Sep 2014 13:02:58 +0000 The follow up to their 2013 debut n.l.g.W.v., Analogue Wave are back with a harder, darker sound and follow up Casimir. Produced by the duo of Del and Glint themselves, the album was financed by a successful FundIt campaign. Casimir is out now

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State’s New Music Mixtape #25 - Jump around. Get up, get up. Get down. Mon, 29 Sep 2014 12:27:43 +0000 Elaine Mai’s superb remix of Destiny’s Child leads our mixtape this week, further proof that the Galway musician is as adept at reworking the material of others as she is making music herself. Elsewhere we have the latest singles from St Vincent, Kendrick Lamar and Wiley, something new from James Vincent McMorrow, New Yorker Hayley Coupon, the splendidly named Terror Pigeon, London based singer, rapper producer and multi-instrumentalist Turan and many more.

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Ryan Adams – Ryan Adams - "Fails to incite any real reaction..." Mon, 29 Sep 2014 12:04:26 +0000 Maintaining the exact (and I mean exact) same tempo for all eleven of its tracks, Ryan Adams doesn’t make it easy to differentiate one song from the next on his latest, self-titled release. Through his first LP since 2011, a three-year break that is uncommon for the prolific songster, Ryan Adams transports us back to the golden age of the 80’s where all you needed were three chords and a denim jacket to be a rock star.

The album opens with ‘Gimme Something Good,’ which proves a very promising start. The slow-rock jam features the sultry angst we have come to associate with Adams and rocks a thick refrain: “All my life been shaking been wanting something/Holding everything I had like it was broken/Gimme Something Good…” Then we venture into the watered-down space of ‘Kim.’ Lots of leaves falling on streets as people leave each other. ‘Wrecking Ball’ brings us back into Heartbreaker territory as a bruised ballot, “Hey, you’re my wrecking ball/Won’t you come and maybe knock me down tonight?” It reminds us that Adams is as he always has been – a glutton for punishment.

Then there is a downturn at ‘Stay With Me’. At around this point in the record you begin to realize that the poor snare drum player (Jeremy Stacey) hasn’t gotten a break. Cracking on the 2nd and 4th beat of every measure with a maddening reliability – you begin to feel like a mental patient who overhears each tick of the clock. We are saved with ‘Shadows’, a deceptively simple number that swiftly sweeps into a lyrical and musical sophistication that we haven’t yet heard on the record. It is as straightforward as the other songs, but shows us the difference between being simple and being elementary. Back down we go again with yawn-inspiring trio ‘Feels Like Fire,’ ‘I Just Might,’ and ‘Tired of Giving Up’. These take us back to the arena of blasé and land us finally in ‘Let Go’ – a radio-friendly, spacious number that fails to incite any real reaction.

Landing somewhere on the border of adult contemporary and rock, this record is milquetoast at best. As always, Adams sounds comfortable and confident behind the mike, a veteran in the art of sultriness. But Ryan Adams the album lacks the defining impression of Ryan Adams the singer, and results in leaving you unimpressed. It’s not that he owes us anything more than a simple record – he’s proved time and time again that simple is his strong suit. But this album isn’t just simple, it’s uninterested and somehow beneath him. However if we know anything about Mr. Adams, it’s that he will be back shortly with another record and another bone to pick.

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Aphex Twin – Syro - "Often imitated but never equalled..." Mon, 29 Sep 2014 11:11:07 +0000 An artist who is often imitated but never equalled, the promotion for Aphex Twin’s Syro, which included a blimp and releasing details on the deep web, was some of the most original this year, and that’s even after we all woke up with a new U2 record on our iTunes. He clearly isn’t one to do things in a conventional manner and just about every song on what is his first album in 13 years testifies to this.

Many tracks have erratic qualities that keep you on the edge of your seat and it is rare to find two bars that are repeated. Even ‘XMAS_EVET10’, which clocks in at over 10 minutes, manages to completely avoid becoming repetitive. Instead of reprising sections of the songs, he adapts and manipulates the same sounds to his own abnormal liking. It may seem easy for Aphex to fall into the category of IDM, but his sound is too versatile to be tied down to any one genre.

Every song fits in with the sound of the album while still remaining its own entity. ‘Syro u473t8te’ is one of a few tracks that have traces of funk over his signature scattered drum patterns and ‘180db_’ wouldn’t sound out of place at a rave in the 1990s. ‘PAPAT 4’ sums up the sporadic style of Syro as it goes from ambient and relaxing, to furiously fast drums and then back again. Part of his success is due to this eccentric style and it is what makes this such an intriguing listen.

Album closer, ‘Aisatana’, is the most stand alone track on the album as he casts aside his various electronic instruments in favour of melancholic piano chords, accompanied only by the sounds of birds chirping. It is a blissful end to an otherwise captivating, chaotic and stereotypical Aphex Twin album. Each track is packed with enough character and variety to make you want to remember some of the ridiculous song titles for another listen.

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State Faces of 2014: Guinness Ampify edition details - Turn it up Mon, 29 Sep 2014 10:49:43 +0000 The State Faces live shows are back on October 11th, featuring more of our favourite homegrown bands performing live at the Mercantile Venue on Dublin’s Dame Street. This time round we’re teaming up with Guinness Amplify to bring you four acts, all for free:

Ghosts (pictured) – dark, melancholic songwriting meets bass heavy, dancefloor productions
Leanne Harte – eclectic solo performer takes another turn
Dah Jevu – more quality hip-hop from the burgeoning Irish scene
Annie Graham – Aphrodite Lion collaborator in solo guise

Doors are at 8pm and you can join us on Facebook here.

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Get Thom Yorke’s new album now Fri, 26 Sep 2014 15:31:31 +0000 A man with form for surprise releases, Thom Yorke has announced that his new album Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes is out and available to download through BitTorrent here.

A statement reads:

As an experiment we are using a new version of BitTorrent to distribute a new Thom Yorke record.

The new Torrent files have a pay gate to access a bundle of files..

The files can be anything, but in this case is an ‘album’.

It’s an experiment to see if the mechanics of the system are something that the general public can get its head around …

If it works well it could be an effective way of handing some control of internet commerce back to people who are creating the work.

Enabling those people who make either music, video or any other kind of digital content to sell it themselves.

Bypassing the self elected gate-keepers.

If it works anyone can do this exactly as we have done.

The torrent mechanism does not require any server uploading or hosting costs or ‘cloud’ malarkey.

It’s a self-contained embeddable shop front…

The network not only carries the traffic, it also hosts the file. The file is in the network.

Oh yes and it’s called

Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes.

Thom Yorke & Nigel Godrich

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Lingo Festival launches programme - Spoken word event includes State hip-hop shows Fri, 26 Sep 2014 14:52:19 +0000 Ireland’s first ever spoken word festival takes place next month, and State is delighted to playing our part. The Lingo programme is available to download here, with the likes of Polarbear (pictured), All Ireland Slam Champion John Cummins, the Brownbread Mixtape, Wasps vs Humans and more performing at various Dublin venues between 17th – 19th October. Our role is to curate two nights of hip-hop at the Liquor Rooms, DVO Marvell / Profound (18th) and Dah Jevu / Simi Crowns (whose new video you can watch below) (19th).

Tickets are available now from

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Adebisi Shank – Whelan’s, Dublin – in photos Fri, 26 Sep 2014 14:01:42 +0000 Bear witness to the first of two farewell gigs in Whelan’s for a band that State have been with since the beginning, seven years ago – Adebisi Shank.

Photographed for State by Kieran Frost.

Adebisi Shank at Whelans by Kieran Frost Adebisi Shank at Whelans by Kieran Frost Adebisi Shank at Whelans by Kieran Frost Adebisi Shank at Whelans by Kieran Frost Adebisi Shank at Whelans by Kieran Frost Adebisi Shank at Whelans by Kieran Frost Adebisi Shank at Whelans by Kieran Frost Adebisi Shank at Whelans by Kieran Frost ]]> 0
Hozier – Take Me To Church (Live at Electric Picnic) - Part 3 of our State video exclusive Fri, 26 Sep 2014 11:23:46 +0000 To round off our week of exclusives here at State we bring you you the third and final installment of our footage of Hozier at this year’s Electric Picnic, beautifully shot by Musicians With Cameras. A big thank you to everybody involved with making the videos and we hope you enjoyed them.

You can buy Hozier’s debut album here.

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Lake Of Stars - “Malawi does not want to be known as the place where Madonna adopts babies....." Thu, 25 Sep 2014 21:42:32 +0000 It’s a balmy evening in the 17th least developed country in the world. From a wooden stage dreadlocked reggae artist Sally Nyundo calls out: “It doesn’t matter if you’re black or white.” The crowd sways. Crickets and monkeys chatter in the surrounding trees. Spirits are both high and cheap. This is Malawian festival Lake of Stars, and it posits a question: why do Western celebrities donate schools or give money or adopt babies from developing countries, but never play gigs in them?

Challenging the status quo, this event was first organised in 2003 by British Will Jameson, who says his relationship with the country began accidentally.“Malawi was kind of chosen for me. I was going to go to Australia or New Zealand (on my gap year), but they were all full, so they said Malawi, and I said where the hell was that?”

Jameson thinks that the best way to combat the negative perception of Africa is through arts and music. “There’s a thriving middle-class and some of the fastest growing economies are in Africa and if we can get the celebrities and the artists to back things like this, that’s the best way of saying that these countries are doing positive things. Rather than Madonna going in trying to build schools we’re saying OK, this country can host something. It’s a world-class venue.”

During 2010′s festival, the Malawian tourism minister skydived onto the lake shore before issuing a commandment. “Malawi does not want to be known as the place where Madonna adopts babies. This is a country with swagger. I hereby issue a ministerial directive ordering everyone to enjoy themselves.”

Here the colour scheme is different. The earth is dusty red, the sky is bright blue. Musicians mix with attendees mix with musicians: planning future collaborations, handing out new CDs. One of the most notable differences between the local and international acts is the origins of their instruments. Proudly wielding homemade guitars, the Malawi Mouse Boys – so called because they divide their time between creating music and catching and barbecuing rodents – also percuss on plastic bowls and Coke cans. After their set they declare their intention to come to Ireland, with part-time salesman Josef promising “When we visit we are going to bring mice. They are nice. When you get that animal and eat it, ah you feel good.”

As Kenyan band Sauti Sol emerge in black and dedicate a song to their fellow citizens killed in the Westgate Mall attacks, a sense of unity seems ubiquitous. We are all the same; we are sharing this experience; we exist under an identical sky.

Plus, if you live by the mantra that happens at a festival stays at a festival, this country’s relative anonymity is ideal. “In terms of these events it’s perfect because it’s stable, warm, friendly,” Jameson says. “It’s not a huge country either, so for travelling around you could see a lot and do a lot in two or three weeks.”

This year South African hip hop artist Reason, Zimbabwe’s Tariro neGitare, and Kenyan Afro-house DJ Jack Rooster will perform, along with the UK’s Cable Street Collective and many more. The festival also includes a programme of comedy, theatre, exhibitions and speakers, and a conference that gathers together artists and development workers to discuss how to use culture and the arts to empower a country where 61% of the population live on less than €1 per day.

Travelling to the airport, long after the stages have been dismantled and the volunteers disbanded, my taxi-driver asked me what my favourite type of music is. “Mine is blues music… like Westlife!” he added, and pulled out a Coast to Coast CD. When I asked him whether the band had ever played in the country, he laughed. “Malawi is too poor for Westlife.”

Lake of Stars might be missing the biggest lights, but its atmosphere contradicted his conviction. You can never be too poor for music.

Lake of Stars takes place this weekend in Mangochi, Malawi. Tickets are 31,000MK (about €58).

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The Lost Brothers – New Songs Of Dawn and Dust - "Reads like a dusty Western...." Thu, 25 Sep 2014 15:45:34 +0000 The word folk is tossed about haphazardly whenever an Irish person picks up a guitar these days. The distance between Dublin and Appalachia grows shorter with each passing open-mike night and the genre has been watered down to the point of near-impotence but ever so often you come across musicians who will champion simplicity over embellishment, who use only what they need and nothing more to get to the end of a song. This is what The Lost Brothers have achieved in their latest venture New Songs of Dawn and Dust, and have effectively reminded us what folk was meant to mean when it meant something.

Mark McCausland and Oisin Leech teamed up in 2008 for their debut album Trails of the Lonely, the first of a musical trilogy that ended with their critically acclaimed record The Passing of the Night (2012). New Songs of Dawn and Dust is the start of something new for the band. It is stunningly produced by fellow musician Bill Ryder-Jones and reads like a dusty Western.

The record opens with wordless waltz ‘Spanish Reprise’, a lullaby heard before waking perhaps, followed by what is the happiest tune on the record ‘Days Ahead’. Already we’re treated to Leech’s gravely vocals and McCausland’s searing harmony line. It’s fair to say that not since Gillian Welch and David Rawlings did two voices make so much sense. We go on to ‘Soldier’s Song’, a country anthem reminiscent of the late-great Pete Seger and perhaps accidentally poignant in these times. “I was a soldier in that old war/ They never told me what I died for.”

The album takes a turn at the second instrumental, ‘Nocturnal Tune’. We proceed into the underground of love and the aftermath of a hopeful waking. ‘Poor Poor Man’ and ‘Hotel Loneliness’ remind you of Hank Williams on one of his more depressing days. The downturn pauses at ‘Between the Crow and the Rat’, an exceptional moment of the record that balances somewhere between the opening of a Hitchcock film and a John Cage experiment. The album ends with ‘Stones Throw’, which will no doubt end the lucky night of a few thousand concertgoers this autumn.

The Lost Brothers are nuanced to the point of importance. It is a humble and deftly executed record. They did not land on this album arbitrarily. They have gone to the edge of something and returned, polishing the stones of Woody Guthrie and The Delmore Brothers and then building a castle of their own. Like a nice wine that lingers long after the swallow, New Songs of Dawn and Dust expands after the first hearing. They are innovative in adopting and defecting. In this way, they are truly folk. And for this reason, they deserve our attention.

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Lethal Dialect x JackKnifeJ – 1988 - "One massive leap forward..." Thu, 25 Sep 2014 07:37:49 +0000 Gone are the days when even informed opinions on Irish rap could be summed up with a chuckle, a bit of banter about Limerick’s comedy scene and the name checking of a cringe worthy assortment of misguided bedroom ‘talents’. Largely bought into our public consciousness by RTE drama Love/Hate, the embers of a pre-existing scene have slowly sparked to life over the past few years. Lethal Dialect, together with the likes of Temper-Mental Miss Elayneous, Rejjie Snow and rap battle stars like Redzer have had a lot to do with that growing profile. In this third full-length, released two and a half years after LD50 Part II, Lethal Dialect steps up onto an entirely different playing field. 1988 no longer falls into the category of ‘promising’; it’s become memorably classy.

Dialect’s key assets remain the same. The album’s crammed with tightly intelligent and insightful lyrics; they take a little deciphering, but tell tales of urban life that seem more intent on being genuine than being cool. The beats are varied and often surprisingly soulful, incorporating jazzy asides and sharp drum solos alongside a few clever samples. The collaborations are smartly chosen: Damien Dempsey’s distinctive vocal adds soul to ‘Brave’, but Jess Kavanagh, featuring across several tracks, offers a gorgeous and natural match on ‘Headstrong’ and ‘26 Laws’ in particular.

In fact, at first listen Kavanagh may even be the best thing about 1988, though it’s hard not to get caught up in the nuanced lyrics Lethal Dialect himself has nailed so firmly to the mast. The whole is like a plea; reflective when it comes to past mistakes but oozing hope and heart for the future. Tales range from the hardened teen anthem of ‘School Dayz Are Over’ to heftier themes of lofty ambitions and facing responsibilities. For all the record’s quality, relative to Lethal Dialect’s previous two releases, what often stands out is just how intelligently put together the whole thing is.

Producer JackKnifeJ no doubt played a role in certain moments that are genius in their layering. ‘Beast Mode’, for example, unfolds over the top of Layo & Bushwacka’s ‘Love Story’, which sounds awful in print but has the same natural fusion in rhythm that 2 Many DJs have made a career out of. ’13 Til Infinity’ features an unlikely echo effect that sounds fresh from a mellow Fugees number, and the balance between Dialect’s vocal and its accompaniment doesn’t clutter as it has sporadically in the past. The general improvement in production and sound clarity from the previous two albums is astounding.

That’s not to say 1988 is flawless. If we were feeling picky, the spoken aside ‘The Shark Interlude’ – a ‘meeting’ with a money-hungry record exec – is exactly the kind of silliness that can detract from a rap record once you’ve listened to it more than half a dozen times. Dialect’s vocal, sharp as its distinct North Dublin edge is, also lacks the tonal and stylistic variety he might need to make a true blockbuster (made up for to some extent by those quality guests). But picking on minor flaws is splitting hairs. This is compelling, and one massive leap forward.

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Hudson Taylor – World Without You - A State street exclusive Thu, 25 Sep 2014 07:09:48 +0000 Rare visitors to our shores these days, Hudson Taylor took advantage of a recent trip home to Dublin to revisit their musical past with a busking session on the city streets. The difference now of course is that their appearance provokes a reaction that most performers could only dream of. State sent Andrew Jordan and his crew along for the ride.

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Faces of the Week: The North Sea - Love to love them baby Wed, 24 Sep 2014 14:50:41 +0000 Formed in 2010, Dublin four piece The North Sea have taken their time in preparing their debut album – not due until the Spring of 2015 but previewed this week with new single ‘In Love’. Describing themselves as “quiet lads who make a lot of noise”, their music reflects that opinion. With the experienced production hand of David Odlum guiding sessions at the Black Box Studios in France, The North Sea are finding their voice slowly but very surely.

See them at the following shows:

25th Sept Dublin Tower Records (6.30pm)
26th Sept Dublin BelloBar (€10 ticket at door includes free limited edition 7” single of ‘In Love’)
2nd Oct Galway Rosin Dubh
10th Oct Limerick Cobblestone Joe’s
30th Oct Belfast Voodoo

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