State Magazine Ireland's Music Payload Fri, 19 Dec 2014 12:06:55 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Dumb and Dumber To - How sweet to be an idiot Fri, 19 Dec 2014 12:06:55 +0000 Directors: The Farrelly Brothers
Cast: Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels
Certificate: 15a
Running Time: 109 minutes
Release Date: December 19th

Twenty years has past since the release of the first Dumb and Dumber and in that time has anyone been really anticipating a sequel? Don’t get me wrong I’m pretty sure that they are some very dedicated fans of the original but is there anyone who cares so much about a follow up that they would spend New Years Eve crying tears on their pillow, lamenting another year passed without Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels mugging through jokes about bodily fluids. If you just so happen to be one of those freaks, well good news! Harry and Lloyd are back and they are just as crass, juvenile and dumb as they were twenty years ago. The bad news is that they are nowhere near as funny.

Proving that time is no barrier to the 22 Jump Street thesis that comedy sequels must deliver the same thing again, Dumb and Dumber To sees Harry (Daniels) and Lloyd (Carrey) pretty much re-enact the plot of twenty years ago. This time the road trip is to locate Harry’s long lost daughter, all while delivering a McGuffin and being unwittingly involved in a crime plot. It stills boggles the mind how it took six writers to come up with this script.

Of course the plot isn’t the most important aspect of a film like Dumb and Dumber To, no one would look at a scene of Harry attempting to pull out Lloyd’s urinary catheter and think that it was based on the stage plays of Bertolt Brecht. Yes, the film is immature. Yes, it is very dumb and incredibly stupid. That is to be expected from this film and that isn’t the problem with it and would be pointless to complain about. The problem is while the first film was stupid and immature, it was funny and this just isn’t.

They are a few reasons for that. The first is that they are many parts of the film where the jokes come across as just being mean spirited for the sake of it. This is exemplified by the treatment of Kathleen Turner’s character, where the film seems to relish in making cracks about her appearance. These kinds of jokes undermine what it is that the Farrelly brothers do best when they are on form and that is that between all the gross out humour and slapstick, there is an undercurrent of sweetness to these characters.

Time certainly doesn’t help the film as well. Recreating a film after twenty years was always going to be problematic, so despite the films references to Breaking Bad and TED conferences, Dumb and Dumber To feels like a relic of the past. It often inadvertently reminds you on how much times has changed, never so much as in a scene where Harry and Lloyd shout “Show us your tits” at a young woman on stage at a TED like conference and it becomes clear that these characters are no long child like buffoons that we all knew and loved but have now just become dirty old men.

While Daniels has always been a versatile actor and appears to be enjoying the opportunity to take a break from delivering ultra-serious Sorkin monologues, for Jim Carrey, who since Dumb and Dumber has gone on to grow and develop more as an actor, these types of films which hark back to the rubber face material that made him famous in the first place always feel like a step backward.

In watching Dumb and Dumber To I was reminded of an interview with Supergrass years ago where they mentioned that as they have gotten older the only true way for them to perform their ode to youthful exuberance “Alright” was to change the song to a minor key and sing the lyrics in the past tense. Dumb and Dumber To could have used a least some of this reflection. Instead it ends up looking like a sad attempt to try and reclaim the glories of the past and failing miserably.

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Unbroken Fri, 19 Dec 2014 11:58:47 +0000 Director: Angelina Jolie
Cast: Jack O’Connell, Domhnall Gleeson, Jai Courtney and Garret Hedlund
Certificate: 12a
Running Time: 137 minutes
Release Date: December 26th

Sometimes you don’t have to try very hard for your film to be any good. Given the life story of Louis Zamperini – Olympic record-breaker, sent off into World War II, crash-landing and surviving in the Pacific Ocean for months, then becoming a POW in Japan for years – even Uwe Boll might’ve scored a home run with this movie. Angelina Jolie, after nobody went to see In The Land Of Blood And Honey, is clearly using this as her calling card; “Look at me Hollywood, time to take me seriously!”

Surrounding herself with the crisp, clean cinematography of Roger Deakins, the meticulous composition work of Alexandre Desplat, a screenplay supplied by The Coen Brothers based on a biography that remained a bestseller for over four years and an end credits song by Coldplay, Jolie is aiming high. Oscars high. Also on board are some of the best and brightest young actors working today, with Jack O’Connell continuing his ascent to stardom in the lead role, while supporting characters get ably played by the likes of Domhnaill Gleeson, Jai Courtney and Garrett Hedlund.

The thing is, nobody here seemed to really bring their A-game, all having provided much better work elsewhere, but surrounded by all this talent, it feels like Jolie didn’t really need to try. Despite spending so much time with him, Jolie never really gets under the skin of Zamperini, preferring to idolize him instead of making him human. Early scenes show him as a young upstart, but from then on he’s portrayed as almost saintly, showing a superhuman level for pain endurance and against-all-hope optimism, but nothing more than that. We find out what he did, but not who he is. Ditto for the late arrival antagonist, the POW camp supervisor played by Asian pop-star Mayavi. Yes, he’s super evil and masochistic, but why? Because the film needed a bad guy, and because the script said so.

Not to belittle Zamperini’s accomplishments, or Jolie’s attempts to show us those accomplishments in that most cinematic way possible – something several other big name directors tried and failed to do – but Unbroken just doesn’t try hard enough. A perfectly passable, solid yet unspectacular biopic, and considering the absolutely spectacular nature of Zamperini’s true life story, he deserves better than that.

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We Raise Bears Thu, 18 Dec 2014 15:59:29 +0000 Who are you and where are you from?

We are We Raise Bears and we’re from Dublin

Who are your favorite artists from home?

Lots to choose from – we love Adrian Crowley, Villagers, Halves, 3epkano. We’re always stumbling across something new – the Booka Brass Band were great at Other Voices the other day.

What’s it really like touring?

Expensive. And you end up eating chips. A lot

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

Whelans and the Workmans Club are always great. We enjoy playing in small, unusual places too. We’ve done a few house gigs, which are always fun.

What’s your ideal festival line-up?

We’ve never seen Nick Cave play, so he’d be first on the bill. Radiohead to headline. Brad Mehldau would do a solo set. Other Lives, the National, Midlake and Beirut would be on it too. Super Furry Animals reformed with a set from Fourtet later on. Tim and Jeff Buckley also raised from the dead just to play it. Stewart Lee would play the comedy tent.

What has been your biggest achievement of the year?

We are just completing our first EP to be released in Spring 2015. It’s been a long, hard slog but we’re nearly there.

What was the worst piece of advice you were given?

Get on the “property ladder”. We didn’t.

What do you do to relax?

To be honest – probably drink. We enjoy a few beers. Although, we enjoy seeing live music and watching films. The former usually involves our preferred method of relaxation.

What are you reading?

“Capital in the 21st Century” – by Thomas Piketty, a French economist. It’s been the buzz economics book of the last year. It deals primarily with the issue of inequality today, which is fascinating.

How about TV, anything good on the box?

We are not big TV watchers. Masterchef and Classic Who Wants To Be A Millionaire are always worth a watch, although there is nothing we watch religiously.

Do you have a favourite YouTube video?

Too many to choose from – hours are lost travelling around that website.

What website do you visit most?

Apart from YouTube, maybe It’s a website for music instruments and gear. Or We’re always on the lookout for a deal on equipment.

What is your favourite:


Radiohead’s OK Computer. Powerful, intelligent, interesting music.


It really depends on the mood. Let’s go with the National’s Bloodbuzz Ohio today.

Lost classic song?

Let’s go with Volunteers by Jefferson Airplane, although I don’t know how lost it is.

Record label?

Domino – some great artists on it.

Who is your favourite current artist?

Again, that really depends on the mood, but let’s go with the National as we’re in that mood.

A new artist that you are most excited about?

Young Fathers were great at Other Voices.

What was the last great gig you have seen?

See previous answer.

Worst show?

We were at a poor show in the Olympia recently, but would rather not say who was playing out of politeness.

What should we expect from your Irish shows?

Emotionally driven songs, politics, harmoniums, stories, harmonies and lots of reverb. In the new year we’ll be growing from 2 to a full band, but, at the moment, the 2 of us can make quite a big bang.

You can catch We Raise Bears in Dublin’s Workman’s Club tonight, December 18th.

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State’s Albums of 2014 - The soundtrack of lives Thu, 18 Dec 2014 09:03:55 +0000 We began the year with Stephen Malkmus’ marvellous Wig Out At Jag Bags and ended it yesterday with the equally engaging Pinkprint from Nicki Minaj, along the way reviewing all the major (and many not so major) album releases of 2014. It’s time for the State writing team to offer their top fifty records of the year and, as ever, we’re delighted to bring you as diverse a selection as you could wish for. Encouragingly – and completely in keeping with our own outlook – there’s a healthy slice of homegrown music on offer, proof that Ireland is still punching above our weight. Time to move forward now but, before we do, enjoy one last long, lingering look to the past twelve months….

50. MogwaiRave Tapes
49. HookwormsThe Hum

48. ClarkClark
47. BanksGoddess
46. Azealia Banks Broke With Expensive Taste
45. iamamiwhoamiBlue
44. Angel OlsenBurn Your Fire For No Witness

43. THE GOASTTMidnight Sun
42. Todd TerjeIt’s Album Time
41. RoyksoppThe Inevitable End
40. Little DragonNabuma Rubberband
39. CaribouOur Love

38. DelorentosNight Becomes Light
37. The MinutesLive Well, Change Often
36. Lykke LiI Never Learn
35. Wye OakShriek
34. LuciusWildewoman

33. The Hot SprocketsBrother Nature
32. Royal BloodRoyal Blood
31. Catfish & The BottlemenThe Balcony
30. Hamilton LeithauserBlack Hours
29. KormacDoorsteps
28. WarpaintWarpaint
27. Taylor Swift1969
26. Malibu Shark Attack!Malibu Shark Attack!

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New music from Swing Hero Wed, 17 Dec 2014 16:41:55 +0000 In the spirit of giving; ’tis the season and all; LA’s Swing Hero have shared their brand new, debut EP You’ve Never Been So Alone.  Don’t let the heavy title fool you though, their first effort is a warm, melodic slice of heartfelt rock that manages to still pack a punch.  Tight drums, overdrive saturated guitars and thoughtful lyrics, all wrapped up with a classic Smashing Pumpkins vibe.  The whole package, really.  Have a listen to You’ve Never Been So Alone below.

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Watch the Simi Crowns gig trailer - Big weekend for Irish hip-hop ahead Wed, 17 Dec 2014 12:08:51 +0000 This weekend sees a gathering of the hip-hop tribes at the Opium Rooms, with three of the country’s most exciting artists playing the Opium Rooms over two days. God Knows + mynameisjOhn support Run The Jewels on Sunday night, while it’s an all homegrown affair on Saturday when Simi Crowns plays the venue, with support from ProFound plus DJs, a street art exhibition and dance performance from the Deuce Allstars. Tickets are on sale now priced €10.

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Clark to bring ‘Phosphor’ live show to District 8 Wed, 17 Dec 2014 11:05:59 +0000 Having seen some major success from his latest release Clark, his seventh LP for Warp, Chris Clark has been in the workshop tinkering with his live show.  ‘Phosphor’ aims to provide a darker, more club orientated performance than his previous atmosphere focused shows.  Clark will be bringing ‘Phosphor’ to District 8, Dublin on December the 27th for its Irish debut.  Support comes from Sunken Foal and DeFeKT and tickets, priced at €15, are available here.  Take a sneak peek at what to expect below.

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Nicki Minaj – The Pinkprint - "She may have finally succeeded in creating a great hip-pop album..." Wed, 17 Dec 2014 10:11:54 +0000 A personal album from the lady who invited us on to her Starships to admire her Super Bass doesn’t sound all that appealing, but it’s not as if Onika Minaj hasn’t deserved the opportunity to bare her soul. Only three albums in, is there any other female artist out there making as much of a cultural impact in such a small amount of time? The biggest problem with Nicki’s output to date has been successfully meshing together her big fun and fizzy tunes with the harder edged rap star image but, with The Pinkprint, she may have finally succeeded in creating a great hip-pop album.

Everything about the record seems to arrive in groups of three, kicking off with the bracingly honest opening trio of songs ‘All Things Go’, ‘I Lied’ and ‘The Crying Game’. Dealing with deaths in her family, her own ticking biological clock, and then duetting with Jessie Ware to confess about her abusive relationships (“Saying we had enough / but enough of what? / Another slap to the face / another uppercut / I’m just abusive by nature / it’s not because I hate you”), this is the most emotionally raw rap songs from a major artist since Eminem’s ‘Cleaning Out My Closet’.

Next up, a threesome of explicitly ratchet sex anthems, the kind that only Minaj seems to be able to get away with these days; ‘Get On Your Knees’, co-written by Katy Perry, scuffs up Ariana Grande’s squeaky clean image as she chants about cunnilingus, while Beyonce returns the favour for the ‘Flawless’ remix by showing up on ‘Feeling Myself’, an ode to masturbation (both metaphorically and literally) in much the same vein as Tweet’s ‘Oops Oh My’ back in the day. Then we get Drake, Lil’ Wayne and Chris Brown (another threesome) on ‘Only’, who all tell us how they never had sex with Nicki, but they all totally want to.

Not forgetting about the dance-floor entirely, there’s also a trilogy of club-bangers to be found. ‘Trini Dem Girls’ finds Nicki reminding us of her cultural origins, over an incredibly addictive hand-clap beat. We’ve all heard ‘Anaconda’ a million times by now, but within the album it doesn’t feel quite so silly and throwaway, and then there’s ‘The Night Is Still Young’, which actually sounds quite a bit like ‘Starships’, which is both a good thing (because it’s still a whopper tune) and a bad thing (because it’s a whopper tune we’ve heard already).

The hip-hop quota is filled by the Lil’ Kim-gone-trap ‘Four Door Aventador’, the horn-driven ‘Favorite’, and the Alicia Keys-sampling ‘Buy A Heart’. None of these go all out rough like Nicki did on the likes of ‘Beez In The Trap’ or ‘Roman’s Revenge’, but those who’ll accuse her of dulling her own edge won’t notice that she’s simultaneously hardening up her poppier material.

While Nicki can still rap rings around most of her competition, lyrically smarter and more inventive than pretty much anybody else in the rap game right now, the same can’t really be said of the production on here. Sound designed to within an inch of its life from some of the biggest names – Dr. Luke takes on five of the tracks, while Mike Will Made It, Polow Da Don, Da Internz, Boi-1da, Alex da Kid and Hit-Boy are also on board – there isn’t much in the way of originality.

We’d all been hoping that someone would be the natural successor to Missy Elliott’s always changing, always forward-thinking sound, and Nicki seemed like the most likely candidate. Instead, The Pinkprint finds Nicki merely refining the sound she’s cultivated on Pink Friday and Roman Reloaded. While that’s not bad thing, as everything Minaj tries her hand at here is pulled off effortlessly, and she’s left her own emotional comfort zone this time round, next time it’d be interesting to see her take some real risks without the safety net of her own tried-and-tested formula.

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Full Midnight Mass details - Next week's end of year bash Tue, 16 Dec 2014 15:51:09 +0000 This day weeks sees our annual State Midnight Mass at the Mercantile Venue on Dame Street, our final live event of the year. Entry is free but with ourselves and the acts donating their fees to the Marriage Equality campaign, we hope that you’ll find a few spare quid to throw into a passing bucket.

The times for 23rd December are as follows:

9pm Lyttet

9.40pm slow skies

10.20pm Aoife Underwater

11.10pm Planet Parade

12am Nanu Nanu

As ever, be prepared for the odd special guest who may drop in…

State Midnight Mass 2014_Web

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State’s Tracks of 2014 - Music makes the people come together Tue, 16 Dec 2014 10:00:23 +0000 Continuing our review of the year, the State team have nominated their favourite fifty tracks of the past twelve months. From pop to hardcore, Ireland to Australia – it’s as mixed a bunch as we’ve come to expect. Dive into to our three and a half hour playlist, presented in no particular order, and revel in the beauty of music – even if we couldn’t include this.

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The Minutes – Supernatural - Are you ready to testify? Mon, 15 Dec 2014 17:56:43 +0000 2014 has been a good one for The Minutes, with the release of their second album Live Well, Change Often and yet more memorable live shows. There’s one more of the latter to come at the Workman’s Club on New Year’s Eve and the long player has also got more to give, in the shape of new single ‘Supernatural’ – complete with this evangelical video.

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New ASIWYFA live video and photo exhibition - Mon, 15 Dec 2014 16:58:37 +0000 Approaching their tenth anniversary and the release of album number four next year, there’s increased activity on the And So I Watch You From Afar front. Ahead a larger project in 2015, Thursday night sees a work in progress launch for No Parachute, a visual document from the band’s Rory Friers and tour manager Graham Smith. Featuring photographs such as the one above, Established Belfast will host a selection of the work for three days.

State is also chuffed to bring you an exclusive video premiere of the band playing at the Arctangent Festival, courtesy of Small Pond Recordings. All of which whets are appetite for their imminent return to action…

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Avicii Named as Marlay Park Headliner for July 2015 Mon, 15 Dec 2014 12:32:25 +0000 Superstar DJ and world EDM sensation Avicii has just been announced as a headliner for next year’s Marlay Park gig series; taking to the stage on Friday, July 3rd. Support will come from Rudimental with more names to be added.

Tickets for the show are priced at €46.95 incl booking fee, available from Ticketmaster and usual outlets from 9am on Thursday, Dec 18th.

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State’s Films of 2014 - The year in celluloid... Mon, 15 Dec 2014 10:20:54 +0000 For those who discuss film, it seems that conversations are slowly shifting from what you saw to what you will see, sometimes months or years down the line. The fanfare around unheard of comic-book titles being adapted and released when you’ll be very old, and hype of existing franchises getting a new title has become a bell jar, sucking the oxygen out of the discourse of the here and now. You’d be forgiven for thinking that 2014 was a mere palette cleanser for 2015. It’s a bloody shame as this was a very fine year indeed. There were surprises everywhere: Tom Cruise became likeable again, Scarlett Johansson became the queen and ruler of science fiction, a movie about some teenage punks from Sweden was the year’s most charming outing. We had incredible breakthroughs from Lupita Nyong’o, Jack O’Connell and Jeremy Saulnier. Blockbuster season was, for the most part, to a very high standard. And hey, any year that starts with new work from the Coens and Scorsese and ends with an ambitious (if inherently flawed) Christopher Nolan movie can’t be all that bad.

We here at State have all had a say on what we thought was best and the 20 movies below were the outcome. Some of your favourites might be here, lots probably are not. So why not tell us yours in the comment section below.

20. ’71

A lean, mean, gripping thriller, ’71 follows Gary, a young British soldier in Northern Ireland in the eponymous year. On his first day, Gary’s separated from his squad and, in the increasing chaos of the riots, is left behind and lost in this strange, disorienting and dangerous city.  ’71 is politically aware and feels authentic, but it is not a political film. This is a thriller about a man desperate to survive the night. As such, it has more in common with Apocalypto or Behind Enemy Lines than it has with In the Name of the Father. Because this is a British indie film with no big stars, the stakes feel real – nobody seems safe or trustworthy on this brutal night. Jack O’Connell is superb in the lead – bringing conviction, determination and terror to his role. And there’s fine support from mean-faced Sean Harris and from the sympathetic Sam Reid. (Joe Griffin)

Patrick Townsend found favour with ’71 too. Read his review from October here

19. 12 Years a Slave

12 Years a Slave is undoubtedly a landmark movie and in its depiction of life in servitude we are dropped unapologetically straight into the personal hell of Chiewetel Ejiofor’s Solomon Northup. McQueens visceral depiction of life in the slave trade of North America is traumatic for the audience, but understandably never shies away from telling the truth. Ejiofor’s performance earned him many plaudits, but the support cast of Lupito Nyongo and Michael Fassbender are phenomenal with Fassbender disappearing into the role of the sadastic slave owner Epps. Brilliantly acted and directed, 12 Years a Slave is one of the classic movies of our time.  (Brian D’Arcy)

Read Hilary A White’s five-star review from January here.

18. Tracks

“There are new kinds of nomads, not people who are at home everywhere, but who are at home nowhere. I was one of them,” Robyn Davidson (Mia Wasikowska) confides early on in John Curran’s sumptuously-painted portrait of a free-spirit wishing to dissolve into the heat haze. Desperate to break away, the young Queenslander set off in 1977 with four camels and a dog to walk across 1700 miles of parched Australian nothingness. Like his subject, Curran puts one foot in front of the other, tracking Davidson, her animals and the odd acquaintance, and lets the mesmeric scorch of the desert burn itself into your mind. Don’t be alarmed if a woozy, intangible quality hangs in the air as the credits roll. (Hilary A White)

Ronan Brennan’s view fell somewhere in the middle with this one. Read his review from April here.

17. Starred Up

Starred Up immerses you in a world of harrowing violence and explosive machismo as it tells the story of a volatile young offender (Jack O’Connell) who ends up in the same prison as his estranged father. The film exposes the brutalising effect of incarceration on inmates and staff and the methods that both groups employ to maintain their status within the system. O’Connell gives a nuanced portrait of thwarted potential as Eric, an emotionally stunted and rage-filled teen with a prodigious understanding of what it takes to survive inside.Eric’s violent clashes with guards and inmates inevitably puts him on a collision course with his father Neville (Ben Mendelsohn). Their attempts to develop their fractured relationship lies at the heart of the film and the scenes with the two leads crackle with Oedipal tension. Starred Up examines themes like rehabilitation and redemption and contains plenty of black humour but it is the heavyweight performances of the two leads that drive it forward. The film portrays prison as an unforgiving cauldron of tribal loyalties, twisted agendas and predatory instincts but the father/son relationship becomes a welcome beacon of humanity against this toxic backdrop. (Dermot Keys)

16. Edge of Tomorrow

While the trailers sold Edge of Tomorrow as a gloomy sci-fi take on Groundhog Day, where Tom Cruise’s soldier keeps reliving the same day while fighting off an alien invasion, the end product was something much smarter and surprising. While it’s got all the action and explody things you’d expect, it also has likable characters, dark humour and a sense of playfulness. It’s also the first movie to transplant videogame logic to a film in a natural way. You have respawning, training scenes, vehicle sections and even boss fights. And people who complain that Cruise never dies in a movie will have a lot of fun here, as he meets various grisly ends only to start all over again.  Edge of Tomorrow is a nice remainder that even a mega budget blockbuster can still yield some surprises.  (Paddy Cotter)

Anthony O’Keefe  enjoyed this one as well, read his review from May here

15. A Most Wanted Man

The spy novels of John Le Carre depict the job as a humdrum, hair-greying one, a world away from vodka martinis, saucy Russian agents and sports cars. Anton Corbijn’s nocturnal, contrast-heavy tones are the perfect canvas, then, upon which to render his tale of a chain-smoking Hamburg intelligence agent (Philip Seymour Hoffman) trying to join the terrorism dots after a mysterious stranger arrives on the dockside one night. Most of its 122 minutes quake with intensity, from the muted to the white hot, while Corbijn’s lenswork and a bright, understated screenplay by Andrew Bovell give everything a sense of smouldering desperation. What a way to remember Hoffman. (Hilary A White)

Patrick Townsend rated this highly too, check out his review from September here.

14. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

For added effect, please imagine the following conveyed through sign language by an impressively emotive CGI ape: The term ’thinking man’s blockbuster’ is almost as trite as its opposite number ‘leave your brain at the door’, but the term feels oddly appropriate for this story of a clan of super smart monkeys—excuse me, apes—battling for their place in the world. From the uneasy serenity of the dialogue-less opening twenty minutes to the sickeningly inevitable bloodshed of the film’s brutal man vs ape finale, Matt Reeves has crafted a captivating and human tragedy from the most unlikely of source material. Ceasar’s continuing odyssey transcends it clumsy prebootquel (sequel to a reboot that’s also kind of a prequel) roots to become some of the most thought-provoking science-fiction we’ve seen in years. You can stop imagining that ape now. (Jason Coburn)

Dave Higgins was all in on the chimp chaos too, his review from July is here.

13. Blue Ruin

Blue Ruin leaves you in little doubt about the real perils of seeking vengeance as it inverts the stylised cliches of your typical revenge thriller in favour of a sweaty, bloody retelling. Director Jeremy Saulnier helms one of this year’s most original films with this tale of a beach bum’s botched attempt to avenge his parents’ murder. Dwight (Macon Blair) is a welcome addition to cinema’s roster of iconic losers, a lost soul who is woefully unequipped to deal with the messy consequences of his actions. Saulnier has a rare ability to dwell in the moment and he builds the suspense by giving everything time to breathe at the start of the film. It doesn’t take long for this sense of immediacy to translate into an awkward, claustrophobic tension as he then raises the stakes. The film’s gorgeous visuals and Saulnier’s clever technical skills provide a striking counterbalance to the bloody events that unfold and add to the lingering sense of poignancy. Mixing elements of brooding arthouse beauty with grindhouse terror and Hitchcockian suspense, Blue Ruin is powerful story of a flawed man who sows the seeds of his own downfall. (Dermot Keys)

12. The Raid 2

The Raid did something spectacular for cinema, turning arthouse movie theatres into a version of the old ECW Arena in South Philadelphia,where every punch, kick and impalment on broken doors garnered jaw-dropping awe and the desire to start a “holy shit” chant. For its sequel, Gareth Evans pulled in all manor of nods to modern film makers — Lynchian red rooms and bad teeth, sprawling Scorsese crime narratives and Park Chan-wook’s penchant for claw hammers — to demolish the confines of the originals tower block and expand outward, taking all of Jakarta with him. Its set-pieces are magnificent and many, beginning with a bonkers mud-bath prison riot and climaxing in a viscera soaked Streets of Rage homage. This was a year we went to other dimensions, loved a humanoid tree and realised Channing Tatum was actually a good actor, but nothing sparked the level of shock and incredulity of The Raid 2. (Dave Higgins)

Paddy Cotter loved this one too. Check his review from April here

11. The Guest

The darkly-comic sleeper hit The Guest was one of this year’s great little surprises. A love letter to the 1980s thriller – its director describes it as a cross between Halloween and The TerminatorThe Guest centres on a mysterious and charismatic ex-soldier, David, visiting the grieving family of a fallen comrade and being drawn into their lives as a surrogate brother and son. So far, so heart-warming… until he begins coolly and calmly fighting the family’s personal battles with slick ultra-violence and it becomes clear there’s more to David than meets the eye. The Guest offers a slow-burning twist on the home invasion genre, its retro soundtrack as gloriously-paced as its big set-pieces, which include a diner explosion, a clothes-line shootout, and the film’s exhilarating denouement in a Halloween haunted house. Topped off by a star-making central performance from Dan Stevens, clearly destined for great things, it’s probably the most fun I had in a cinema this year. (Stacy Grouden)

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Sun Kil Moon – Button Factory, Dublin - "Even the Christmas carols he covers become weighed down with added poignancy..." Mon, 15 Dec 2014 08:40:44 +0000 It must be a somewhat perplexing year to be a Mark Kozelek fan. With the relative success of this year’s extraordinary album Benji, the former Red House Painters frontman (going under the Sun Kil Moon moniker tonight) has gone from ‘criminally underrated’ status to a singer-songwriter who, at last, is getting his just rewards on a slightly wider scale. It’s a ‘told-you-so’ moment for those who have been there since he started out over two decades ago.

There’s a sense early on at the sold-out Button Factory that Kozelek is enjoying this newfound attention, too. He has brought a band with him on this tour: a keyboardist and a second guitarist, and for the first batch of songs Kozelek doesn’t even play guitar himself, instead beating a small drum-kit with one hand and singing while his band to the spadework. It’s an odd sight. In recent years he took the minimalist approach to touring, performing only with his Spanish guitar but the piano and extra guitarist give his songs added heft in a live setting. So opener ‘Hey You Bastards I’m Still Here’ is unsettlingly raucous. It’s followed by a rough and ready cover of The Misfits’ ‘Green Hell’ before calm is restored with the bittersweet ‘Micheline’ from this year’s Benji. The sharp contrasts in tone and style evident in just the first three songs will continue for the next two hours or so but it’s the unflinchingly raw accounts of pointless deaths (‘Carissa’) to fears of how to deal with the inevitable passing of a loved one (‘I Can’t Live Without My Mother’s Love’) that have the greatest impact. Another cut from Benji ‘I Watched The Film The Song Remains The Same’ is quietly devastating as Kozelek sings of the regret he still feels after he punched a classmate in the schoolyard. Even the Christmas carols he covers become weighed down with added poignancy.

Midway through the set, Kozelek – seemingly now bored of playing the drums himself – asks if anyone can join him to take over. An 18-year-old called Jake dutifully obliges. And then something extraordinary happens: Kozelek pays the kid 500 euro for his services. Jake shakes his head in disbelief, as do the audience. In another touching moment, he hugs Jake’s father at the end of the show. So beneath the image of a supposedly moody, War On Drugs-hating misanthrope lies a kind-hearted softie. Who knew? As 2014 comes to a close, Kozelek has possibly pushed other contenders aside for gig of the year, stealing the crown at the last minute. God knows, he deserves it.

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Peter Gabriel – 3Arena, Dublin – in photos - He was something to observe Fri, 12 Dec 2014 22:28:12 +0000 Peter Gabriel’s warm and grand night at the 3Arena photographed for State by Olga Kuzmenko.

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Ben Howard – Olympia, Dublin – in photos Fri, 12 Dec 2014 22:01:07 +0000 Ben Howard photographed for State at the Olympia, Dublin by Mark Earley.


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Gruff Rhys - "I had some ideas for a book... it ended up being an album" Fri, 12 Dec 2014 13:15:09 +0000 Not to over-egg the batter, but these days there is a distinct lack of creativity and imagination amongst those we expect great things from. Publicists, managers, gurus etc. all tend to work things to a specific agenda and in doing so have eliminated the need for their ‘subjects’ to think. Thankfully there is Gruff Rhys. A man who, since the first Super Furry Animals album at least, has innovated his way through everything. Albums, books, films, puppets… “Things just seem to come along, don’t they? Sometimes I start one thing and something else takes my interest.” When trying to understand the erstwhile SFA front-man, State is more than aware of how he traverses the topic of creativity. Something which Rhys has in spades and something which clearly drives him forward. “It’s just about going along with it, accidents happen and unexpected things come along and they can inspire me to do something else.” Case in point. Start one thing, find another thing, do that thing. This is Gruff Rhys.

This year, Gruff released his 4th solo album, American Interior. like the previous solo efforts he has given us, this is a concept album focusing on the endeavours of one person. During his stints as one half of Neon Neon he brought us tales of John Delorean and Giancomo Feltrinelli. During his time as SFA frontman he told us all about the man who doesn’t give a fuck. Right now he is telling us about John Evans. What is it about the lives of others that inspires him? “This thing [American Interior] has been going on for about three years now, and it’s pretty over the top but like the rest it just happened.” Just happened? “Well, I’d been working on a film called Seperado and the story of John Evans took my interest. It came about by accident, obviously. I had some ideas for a book but it ended up being an album. Like the Neon Neon albums, I was working on something and ended up falling into the jail of biographical albums. Again, by accident. Concept albums have somehow gotten a bad name and I’d rather look at them as something else; biographical albums. Actually Neon Neon have fallen into a trap of making nothing but biographical albums. Set in the future!”

Getting back to John Evans, the topic of Rhys’ most recent album, trying to pinpoint exactly what he achieved is a tricky prospect. “Basically he took a journey between 1792 and 1799, looking for a lost tribe of Welsh people in America. It was a glorious failure and he found nothing. But in saying that, he arguably changed the shape of America – the history of American people, like St. Brendan did… ha! But he landed in Omaha, Nebraska and when I got there I just recorded whatever songs I had, the majority of them were inspired by him. I think there were nine songs, something like that, and myself and a friend of mine recorded drums, guitars and vocals and eventually it became American Interior. I’d been on tour at this point and I’d spoken to lots of people, experts, Welshophiles, about him so I put everything into the book, some of the stories became songs. My friend Dylan [Goch] had been documenting everything and decided to shape it into a film.”

So what is it about being Welsh that Rhys finds so inspiring? Rather than looking at it as nationalism, he prefers to identify it as a form of cultural heritage. “Obviously I grew up speaking Welsh, completely immersed in Welsh heritage. But I was always interested in subversive ideas, the idea of DIY anarchists, and I’d be 100% behind the idea of a Welsh state – separate from everything else. The funny thing is, we only speak Welsh because of a clerical mistake. Somebody wasn’t doing their job. Some of the traditions we have came about bout because of an error.” Far from a haphazard interest, there is still logic behind Rhys’ motions. True to form, he looks at the failure of John Evans’ expedition as success. “His entire journey was a failure, there was no Welsh tribe. He found plenty of native American tribes, but after five years of looking he had to give up.” Speaking of giving up, is there any point in SFA fans holding their breath for a new album? “Who knows. Generally we write stuff alone which is probably the conventional way. Then see what can be done with it, but now we all have families and it’s hard to commit to a full time anything. We were a band for 15 years and it was incredible, if we can get it together again we will.”

Gruff Rhys plays Dublin’s Pepper Canister Church on December 16th and 17th. Tickets are available here.

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Mixtapes From The Underground Fri, 12 Dec 2014 13:14:28 +0000 Who are you and where are you from?

We are Mixtapes From The Underground, A live hip hop collective from Dublin.

Who are your favorite artists from home?

Fellow emcees Lethal Dialect, Misselsyneous, Costello and GI.

What’s it really like touring?

We haven’t toured a whole lot as we’re all full time musicians but we’ve played around the country a good bit. It’s great being able to take your music to new places and meet new people. Very rewarding.

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

We love the Workmans Club Dublin and The Triskel in Cork

What’s your ideal festival line-up?

Something with a good mix of everything. Most Irish festivals rely on the draw of indie bands/dance acts, so we’d like to see more hip hop, funk/ soul and world music going on.

What has been your biggest achievement of the year?

Getting into studio to record for two days. We’re all so busy and have so many members, it’s difficult to get everyone together so it’s great when we take a few days off and lay down some tracks.

What was the worst piece of advice you were given?

Never really had any bad advice given. It takes a while to get used to how the scene works but we’re all wise enough now that we know what’s up.

What do you do to relax?

Netflix. That is all.

What are you reading?

Easy Riders and Raging Bulls.

How about TV, anything good on the box?

Utopia was awesome. Hopefully whoever takes it over doesn’t mess it up!

Do you have a favourite YouTube video?

So many to choose from… The crate diggers series on Fuse’s channel is excellent.

What website do you visit most? looking for music gear

What is your favourite:

Record? J Dilla-The Shining
Song? FlyLo- Tea Leaf Dancers
Lost classic song? I heard it through the grapevine- Gladys knight & The Pips version.
Record label? Stones Throw/ Anticon

Who is your favourite current artist?

Tuneyards. Amazing fusion of Afrobeat, folk and hip hop and one of the best live acts ever.

A new artist that you are most excited about?

A few Irish acts that are killin’ right now are Bitch Falcon, Loah, Feather and Zaska. Serious home grown talent right there!

What was the last great gig you have seen?

Jurassic 5 at Vicar St and Portishead at The Electric Picnic

Worst show?

Death Grips in Whelans. No Zach Hill and no explanation for his absence. Bad form.

What should we expect from your Irish shows?

To have fun and to dance your asses off!

Mixtapes From The Underground play Dublin’s Workman’s Club on December 13th, admission is €7

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Longitude returns in 2015 Fri, 12 Dec 2014 09:29:11 +0000 Having gone from strength to strength over the past couple of years, it’s perhaps no surprise to see the return of Longitude in 2015. The festival will take place in Marlay Park from July 17th – 19th. The first round of acts will be announced on January 23rd with tickets going on sale on Friday 30th.

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AC/DC announce July Aviva show Fri, 12 Dec 2014 09:04:20 +0000 Following the release of their Rock Or Bust album, AC/DC opt for the former with the confirmation of live dates for next year, including the Aviva Stadium on July 1st. Tickets priced from €87.50 go on sale from this Wednesday.

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Elton John – 3Arena, Dublin - "Peerless beauties are served up like a never ending selection box..." Thu, 11 Dec 2014 13:21:11 +0000 Shuffling onstage like a Faberge teddy bear enrobed in a glitzy dressing gown, his sequence encrusted frock coat festively twinkling in the darkness- it’s time to step into a Sir Elt’s Christmas. With his piano stool firmly affixed to the floor to avoid any further legs akimbo escapades like last week’s tennis tumble he launches into the proggy wig out of the ‘Funeral for a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding’ segment from Goodbye Yellow Brick Road. Its elongated piano noodlings may not have been the intro expected but any fears of an ‘eclectic’ set list were demolished by the familiar 70s thump of glam-chugger ‘Bennie and the Jets’.

Sadly Bennie in all her electric boots and mohair suit glory could not raise more than a smattering of polite applause from the bizarrely rigid audience (who would make the Late Late show zombies look like overheated One Direction fans) it can be difficult to summon an atmosphere in cavernous arenas but when an artist as vibrant and flamboyant as Dame Elton is glittering on stage bauble-like banging out an exhaustive array of solid-gold hits, it seems strangely inconsistent that a large percentage of the audience seem like they’d rather be listening to the CD in their car on the way home. Perhaps the insistence on an all seated show inhibits the more enthusiastic fan or maybe Elton John aficionados show their appreciation by being in a near catatonic trance-like state? Reginald soldiers on regardless, doling out a perfunctory ‘Candle in the Wind’ and a blistering ‘Levon’ in quick professional succession before delivering an emotional ‘Tiny Dancer’ with a heartfelt dedication to six year old cancer survivor Lily-Mae Morrisson and her family.

Mining the brilliance of the Bernie and Elton ’70s songbook, peerless beauties are served up like a never ending selection box. The soft rock swoon of ‘Daniel’ with its breezy flute-style mellotron injecting a dose of summer wind into the bone-chilling night, before the majesty of ‘Goodbye Yellow Brick Road’ is unleashed in all its Technicolor pomp, sounding excitingly fresh and vital for a song celebrating its 40th anniversary. Although somewhat distractingly its psych- splendour is marred by the introduction of possibly the cheapest looking visuals this side of Winning Streak, a symbolic tour of Elton throughout the years ending with an image of his children appearing from an unfurling sunflower. Yes, it may be all about the serious business of ‘the music’ for Elton but the employment of an artistic show director such as Kylie’s inventive powerhouse William Baker- could give a live performance of this magnitude the visual gravitas it deserves instead of the disappointment of it looking like a dodgy screensaver from the bleak Encarta days.

However, crappy visuals aside nothing can take away from the glowing warmth of pop at its most perfect when Elton casually drops in show highlight ‘Rocket Man’, his voice weathered and weary adding another dimension to the stinging lyrics of isolation and loneliness. Any artist with a piano can be compared to Elton John these days but until Gaz Barlow manages to create something sonically bursting at the seams with a colossal sense of yearning and melancholy that are crammed into ‘Rocket Man’’s five minutes he might as well just go back to tax diddling and Tory trumpeting.

The crowd finally awakens during a finale of fun time hits with Elton jumping from his seat to encourage a rash of ferocious Mam Dancing to the vicious ‘Bitch is Back’, a silly ‘Crocodile Rock’ sing-a-long and the coked-out ‘I Will Survive’ rage of ‘I’m Still Standing’. Finishing with a Vegas-style Lion King mega mix of ‘Circle of Life’ and ‘Can You Feel the Love Tonight?’ it may not have been the festive cracker some desired but instead was a comforting aural hug goodbye from pop’s own Father Christmas, spreading some much needed sparkle into the bitter December eve and managing to thaw out some frosty hearts in the process.

Elton John photographed for State by Kieran Frost

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Allyson Ezell – Beat This Drum - Drums can't be beaten Thu, 11 Dec 2014 12:20:15 +0000 Quirky American-French pop songstress Allyson Ezell has kindly shared her new single ‘Beat This Drum’ with ahead of its release on January 19th.  Jazzy, percussive and stripped back to the core, ‘Beat This Drum’ is an ample indicator of Ezell’s talent for vocal arrangement and individualistic style.  Have a listen and you’ll see what we mean.

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Bastille – Vs (Other People’s Heartache, Pt.III) - "Predictable and formulaic..." Thu, 11 Dec 2014 11:17:16 +0000 Judging by the comments from Bastille frontman Dan Smith prior to the release of their new remix album Vs, you get the impression the band weren’t really intending to put out a meaningful record. Smith’s assertions that their latest project was mainly about “working with as many people as possible”, and “having fun”, say little but speak volumes, ie. that Vs was meant as nothing more than a pre-Christmas money spinner. Sadly for the rest of us, these affirmations prove highly accurate as the 9-track LP plays out in the most predictable and formulaic of fashions. On their relishable, albeit limited, debut record Bad Blood, Bastille demonstrated a canny ability to use aspects of both mainstream and retro pop to their advantage, quickly becoming a Youtube and Spotify sensation in the process. Here, however, the band fall far short in delivering anything meaningful, or even slightly unanticipated, preferring instead to just go through the motions with laboriously overlapping tunes like ‘The Driver’, ‘Axe to Grind’ and ‘Torn Apart’.

Although the record was essentially intended as a mix tape, the limited nature of both the remixes, and the numerous collaborations, means it just ends up sounding like a Bastille record with a few guest appearances. With the exception of the excellent Angel Haze, whose voice is indeed a ‘Weapon’ on the said track, the majority of the other collaborators are reduced to mere bystanders such is their lack of prominence.

HAIM, one of last year’s most popular acts, are barely identifiable on fizzy pop number ‘Bite Down’, while the presence of Lizzo, another of last year’s breakthrough artists, is dumbed down to a 20 second verse on the 80 second remix of ‘Torn Apart’. Even the interesting revisiting of ’90s Britrockers Skunk Annansie, on album closer ‘Remains’, sounds painfully forced, not to mention slightly obscure. Given Bastille’s meteoric rise to prominence last year they may feel entitled to some breathing space between albums, with their latest material expected to be lapped up by their devoted fan base nonetheless, but for a band that is essentially ‘all about production’ there’s very little to get excited about here.

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Peter Gabriel — 3Arena, Dublin - "This feels like a warm hug" Thu, 11 Dec 2014 10:32:03 +0000 At 8pm tonight Pater Gabriel walks onto an otherwise unmanned stage looking like a roadie. Head bowed, he walks to the mic a the front of the stage and one person at a time the crowd realise that this is the man they’ve paid to see rather than a tech. Slowly and forcibly the applause creeps across the audience as only the handful of hardcore fans at the front – “I recognise a few of these faces, this feels like a warm hug” – have actually been privy to Gabriel’s appearance until he speaks. He is here to introduce two members of his band to a half empty arena, the frighteningly talented Jennie Abrahamson & Linnea Olsson. Strictly speaking they’re not a duo, just two solo performers – a cellist and a xylophonist – with remarkable voices and their own individual songs to match. They’re Gabriel’s backing singers but fully deserve their 15 minutes.

By the time Gabriel is back for his own show, which is in three parts, the arena is full and there is a middle-aged giddiness as the audience swap stories about what they saw, when they saw it, and the odds of seeing it again. One punter gets into full on “this one time, at band camp…” mode about each band member and their respective side projects. Such is the depth of their fandom, these people are genuinely ecstatic to see the former Genesis frontman and have no problem showing it. “The appetiser”, as Gabriel calls the first part of the show, “will be played with the lights on, I want people to feel like it’s a rehearsal”. Which it is, to some extent. So new is the opening song ‘What Lies Ahead’ that the lyrics are only half finished. ‘Come Talk to Me’, a thrilling version of ‘Shock The Monkey’ and ‘Family Snapshot’ complete part one of the set and it’s only now does the famously innovative Peter Gabriel make use of his army of lighting technicians.

“The entrée” starts with ‘Digging the Dirt’ and a rousing performance of ‘Secret World’. His band, featuring Manu Katché, Tony Levin, David Sancious and the ever present David Rhodes, sound every bit as crisp and punchy as you might imagine after years of playing together. They join in with Gabriel’s dancing and displays of showmanship but not until ‘Solsbury Hill’ do we really see them shine. The song is an uplifting miracle at the best of times but here, now, it is absolutely wonderous. The band smile and thrive on the response from the crowd, as does the man himself. Next course, “the pudding” – Gabriel’s 1986 classic album So in its entirety.

‘Red Rain’ sounds incredible and the stage lighting is a highlight of the show, but the kicker is the undeniable classic ‘Sledgehammer’. Gabriel struts from one side of the stage to the other and his tongue-in-cheek ode to sex sounds formidable. The famous chugging rhythms and cascading horns are reminders of how massive this song was and it is no wonder that it resonates so much with the crowd. The ecstatic joy, once confined to the die-hards at the front, is now rippling around the old Point Depot like an electric Mexican wave. For ‘Don’t Give Up’ we get to hear Jennie Abrahamson take the place of the hitherto irreplaceable Kate Bush. Abrahamson sounds every bit a good live as Bush did on the track and her and Gabriel’s choreographed ‘dance’ is as beautiful as it is respectful to the video. So, So, still sounding great and it’s maker still in fine form. As tonight wraps up the tour, and ‘Biko’ wraps up tonight, Peter Gabriel has served up a veritable feast for the ages.

Peter Gabriel photographed for State by Olga Kuzmenko.

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