State Magazine http://state.ie Ireland's Music Payload Thu, 27 Nov 2014 14:28:20 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Anchoress http://state.ie/features/introducing/the-anchoress http://state.ie/features/introducing/the-anchoress#comments Thu, 27 Nov 2014 14:27:48 +0000 http://state.ie/?p=67022 In the vein of such State favourites as Anna Calvi, PJ Harvey and St. Vincent, this is Welsh multi-instrumentalist Catherine Anne Davies. The accolades and critical fawning over her debut single, not to mention the fact that it sold out in 24 hours, is enough to generate interest; but listening to the tracks will guarantee that The Anchoress will be on your radar over the coming year. Listen below and watch this space…

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Little Dragon — Vicar Street, Dublin - Brand new heavies. http://state.ie/live-reviews/little-dragon-vicar-street-dublin http://state.ie/live-reviews/little-dragon-vicar-street-dublin#comments Thu, 27 Nov 2014 11:51:01 +0000 http://state.ie/?p=67004 The dirty, sleazy, soulful electro-funk of Little Dragon should probably come with a health warning; such is its relentless appeal. As Dublin once again provides the location, Yukimi Nagano and band provide the noise. The wonky rhythms and electronic textures of their music is effectively an airborne drug and as the tracks come and go their moreish nature hangs over the crowd like some pulsating invisible cloud.

Deep, rumbling bass, bright, reverberating synth chops and thunderous beats are all held in place by Nagano’s vocals as the self-styled Little Dragon herself seductively stalks the audience from the stage. There is no doubt as to Nagano’s ability to sing on record, but in a live setting she and the rest of the band really come to life and tonight is a case in point. Opening with ‘Please Turn’ drummer Erik Boden is off his drum-stool and pounding life into his snare as the Håkan Wirenstrand, one half of the band’s synth playing duo, builds layers around him. This is an auspicious start to the night and no mistake. The sheer volume of their playing is remarkable but all eyes are on Nagano whose ability to generate cheers and spontaneous pelvic-gyrations from the crowd involves little more than a wave of her tambourine.

“Do you mind if we play a really old song now?” heralds ‘After the Rain’ from 2007’s Little Dragon. Its choppy tempo and oompah-style trills sitting nicely on Fredrik Wallen’s immovable bass line. ‘Killing Me’, from this year’s Nabuma Rubberband, is another of the night’s highlight as it perhaps better than anything else tonight showcases the band’s return from the poppier sound of their last album in favour of the deeper, more experimental sound they were known for. For the most part, the rest of tonight’s set is a heavy-weight and irrefutable reminder of how far the band have come in terms of developing their sound. Featuring only four tracks from their breakthough album, 2011’s Ritual Union, the rest of the set showcases their almost full-circle trajectory into full-on, soulful, bass-heavy electronic musicians par excellence.

Little Dragon photographed for State by Olga Kuzmenko.

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Versive - Versive, chorus, Versive http://state.ie/features/incoming-features/versive http://state.ie/features/incoming-features/versive#comments Thu, 27 Nov 2014 08:00:59 +0000 http://state.ie/?p=67015 Who are you and where are you from?

My name is Kelan O’Reilly, I’m from Dublin, Ireland, and I sing in Versive.

Who are your favorite artists from home?

Would have to say my current favourite Irish act are Only Rivals. I’ve known the guys for years and their songs never fail to impress. They deserve all the success coming their way.

What’s it really like touring?

Touring is great. There’s really nothing better. But it can be tough. Being on the road, getting to play new cities and towns each day and take in the sights is amazing; Being constantly on the go, spending half your time cramped into a tour van with 4 or 5 other people for weeks on end, however, can definitely take its toll. Conditions are not always as pleasant as people might imagine. Hotels are ideal, but unfortunately not always cost effective. Sometimes a nice carpeted floor or a few cushions from a couch are the best you can hope for.

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

I was actually only discussing this with a friend the other day and I would have to say from a technical point of view Vicar Street in Dublin is one of the nicest venues I have ever played. The Academy has always been good to us as well. Oh and back in the day, Eamonn Dorans in Temple Bar, I really miss that place. I’ll never forget the atmosphere in there at a packed show. It was crazy. Other than that though I would have to say Newcastle has always been a favourite of mine. We got to play there a number of times with our previous bands and always got an incredible reception! Hmmm, didn’t really settle on a favourite there did I…

What’s your ideal festival line-up?

The ideal festival line-up for me is filled with punk rock, post-hardcore, pop punk, and a bit of ska for good measure. Not much chance of finding something like that here in Ireland, but luckily there are a few festivals in the UK and Europe that fit the bill every year.

What has been your biggest achievement of the year?

Since this is a new band for us I would have say our biggest achievement has been exactly that – Forming this band, and going on to recording and release our debut EP in the space of only a few months. The fact that people seem to enjoy what we’re doing is a nice bonus.

What was the worst piece of advice you were given?

So far I think we’ve been lucky enough to avoid bad advice… or advice in general really. Maybe we just don’t listen. Maybe we should? But no, I think at this stage, after all we’ve been through with the previous bands we were in, first and foremost we’re just doing this for ourselves. We know what we’re aiming for and what to avoid.

What do you do to relax?

Funnily enough I still find listening to music to be the most relaxing thing I can do. Doesn’t matter if it’s a nice atmospheric film score or an aggressive rock album, it all has the same effect! Eating is also good. I like food.

What are you reading?

I have to admit I don’t read much. At the moment though I happen to be reading a graphic novel (hey, it’s better than nothing) called ‘Seconds’. It’s a funny, charming, and insightful story about second chances and existential angst from the writer of Scott Pilgrim. Definitely worth checking out if you’re in to that kind of thing.

How about TV, anything good on the box?

My favourite show of the last few months would have ‘The Leftovers’. It’s quite a bleak show that tackles a lot of deep existential issues (anyone notice a pattern here?), but I found it incredible compelling and oddly uplifting. The performances are probably the best I’ve seen on TV in quite some time. Also, ‘The Walking Dead’. It’s been known to wreck my head in the past with its aimless drawn out storylines, but it actually ain’t half bad this year.

Do you have a favourite YouTube video?

I do actually! It’s a really well made LOST tribute video that sums up the entire story, in chronological order, in just under 9 minutes. All set to a pretty epic song by a band called Anberlin that ties in nicely with the themes of the show.

What website do you visit most?

My most visited website is definitely www.darkhorizons.com It’s just a simple movie/tv news site, but it always has the most up to date information and trailers without resorting to the tacky sensationalism of some other similar sites.

What is your favourite:

Record? – Agh! Yeah, this is always a hard question. Too many great albums. For now I’m going to say Between The Heart And The Synapse by The Receiving End Of Sirens… or Killing Time by Bayside… or…

Song? Has to be ‘The Decline’ – by NOFX

Lost classic song? Probably not a “lost” classic but… ‘Africa’ by Toto! Haha.
Did you see they’re playing Vicar Street soon? Might have to check them out.

Record label? Don’t know if I have one. Back in the day I was definitely influenced by a lot of bands on Fat Wreck Chords, Epitaph and Drive Thru.

Who is your favourite current artist?

I’ve been listening a lot to a new band called PVRIS. They’re kind of poppy with a dark edge but their songs are incredibly catchy, and the singer has a great voice as well.

A new artist that you are most excited about?

Going back to my answer from one of the earlier questions… Only Rivals. They just finished recording their first album and I can’t wait to hear it.

What was the last great gig you have seen?

The last great gig I saw was Twenty One Pilots in The New Academy a few weeks ago. The atmosphere was incredible. Their live show was spot on and so full of energy. They had the crowd in the palm of their hand, interacting with them and getting them involved in very inventive ways.

Worst show?

OH! Emmm… I can barely remember it but… Wheatus maybe? Years ago in the SFX. What was that all about? Everyone went for that one song. Also Staind. Remember them? God that was awful.

What should we expect from your live shows?

ENERGY! Loud songs, good times, and lots of energy.

Versive were photographed by Liam Devine

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BADBADNOTGOOD Rework Future Islands’ Seasons (Waiting on You) http://state.ie/news/badbadnotgood-rework-future-islands-seasons-waiting-on-you http://state.ie/news/badbadnotgood-rework-future-islands-seasons-waiting-on-you#comments Wed, 26 Nov 2014 16:03:47 +0000 http://state.ie/?p=67017 We heard this and thought of you… One of the tracks of the year “reinterpreted” by Badbadnotgood. Frankly, it’s brilliant and there isn’t an insane dance move in sight.

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Lake Malawi – Chinese Trees - "Jangly, bright and really quite catchy..." http://state.ie/features/lake-malawi-chinese-trees http://state.ie/features/lake-malawi-chinese-trees#comments Wed, 26 Nov 2014 13:29:10 +0000 http://state.ie/?p=67010 Rising from the ashes of Charlie Straight, former frontman Albert Cerny has returned to the kind of sweetly tinged indie-pop melodies that are designed to brighten up these most dreary of Winter days, this time in the form of his new band Lake Malawi.  New track ‘Chinese Trees’ is jangly, bright and really quite catchy.  Have a listen and see for yourself, we think you’ll agree.

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Video: Axis Of – Wetsuit http://state.ie/news/video-axis-of-wetsuit http://state.ie/news/video-axis-of-wetsuit#comments Wed, 26 Nov 2014 12:52:18 +0000 http://state.ie/?p=67007 Northern Irish North Coasters and all-round Punk/Alt-rock powerhouse trio Axis Of have released the video to accompany their new single ‘Wetsuit’.  The first track to be taken from their second LP The Mid Brae Inn, ‘Wetsuit’ is a reminder of the riffage that these chaps continue to bring to the table.  Have a look at the video below and sweat profusely in anticipation of the release of their upcoming LP, which drops in early 2015.  We will.

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Video: Runaway Go – Ashes http://state.ie/news/video-runaway-go-ashes http://state.ie/news/video-runaway-go-ashes#comments Wed, 26 Nov 2014 11:44:27 +0000 http://state.ie/?p=67002 To mark the announcement of their debut album, Belfast’s Runaway Go have released the video for ‘Ashes’, the first single and opening track from the highly anticipated, upcoming LP Alive.  Beginning with ‘Ashes’, a sweet, melody filled indie-pop gem, the band will release one track a month for the next 9 months, giving fans the opportunity to hear the album in it’s entirety before the official release.  A bold move, but we think it’ll pay off.  Watch the rather lovely video for ‘Ashes’ below.

 

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Slane date announced; Hozier and Kaiser Chiefs join bill http://state.ie/news/hozier-and-kaiser-chiefs-added-to-line-up-for-slane-2015 http://state.ie/news/hozier-and-kaiser-chiefs-added-to-line-up-for-slane-2015#comments Wed, 26 Nov 2014 09:25:44 +0000 http://state.ie/?p=67000 Foo Fighters, who have already been confirmed as headliners for Slane Castle 2015, have been joined on the bill by Kaiser Chiefs and Hozier with more names yet to be added. Tickets for the event, scheduled for Saturday May 30th, will go on sale on December 1st at 9am from Ticketmaster and usual outlets priced at €79.50 incl. booking fee.

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Jennifer Evans — Whelans, Dublin - "The perfect remedy to a dreary winter..." http://state.ie/live-reviews/jennifer-evans-whelans-dublin http://state.ie/live-reviews/jennifer-evans-whelans-dublin#comments Tue, 25 Nov 2014 19:00:34 +0000 http://state.ie/?p=66938 Friday night in Whelans and a small, but enthusiastic crowd have piled into the venue, fresh from battling the elements outside. Cold, wet and slightly miserable, many are in need of a suitable tonic to lift their spirits ahead of the weekend. A cozy performance from Galway folk singer Saileog ní Cheannabháin takes the edge off slightly, but the punters will have to wait until after 9.30 to hear the soulful sounds of the main act. When the small stature of Jennifer Evans (here to launch her EP Works From The Dip & Foul) finally does appears on stage, her quietly assured presence alone seems to draw a hush from the crowd.

She begins with album opener ‘Uncomfortable Word’, a smooth and upbeat jazzy effort that settles the audience almost immediately. Three songs later and her lush vocals, zippy guitar rhythms, and fluctuating melodies have them hooked as Evans perfectly bonds with the venue’s brooding intimacy. The sombre sound of ‘My Own Assassin’ has an intoxicating lull on the room, while the jazz-influenced ‘Promises’ and ‘After Berlin’ are performed to dreamy and delicate perfection. While her excellent vocal range is apparent throughout the night, it would be unfair to describe Evans as merely a voice. With the night’s atmosphere finally beginning to take hold, her dynamic work on the rhythm guitar becomes apparent while she also begins to demonstrate the full extent of her confidence as a performer. Although a slight interruption midway through leads to some unrest in the room, Evan’s doesn’t panic by engaging directly, preferring instead to reel us back in with the sultry downbeat ballad ‘Your Cause’. After proving her ability to control the stage, Evans slowly begins to let her band take more of an active role on proceedings, carefully choosing the right point to reign them back in. Although her stripped-back version of ‘Unfinished Sympathy’, a track that works wonderfully on the album, doesn’t have the desired effect on the crowd, there’s no doubting the power of her rendition of the blues-inspired belter ‘Chilly’.

Having exhibited the best of what her new EP has to offer, Jennifer then winds us down with exterior tracks like ‘Very Fond’ and the gripping ‘The Rush to the Theft the Ache’, before finishing in a stylishly precipitous manner to great appreciation from the now sanguine crowd. The perfect remedy to a dreary winter’s night.

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Portico http://state.ie/features/introducing/portico http://state.ie/features/introducing/portico#comments Tue, 25 Nov 2014 14:39:59 +0000 http://state.ie/?p=66949 Enveloped in the kind of ambient, textured sound we’ve come to expect from James Blake, this is Portico – having ditched the Quartet suffix – and their new track ‘Bright Luck’. And what it does is leave you in no doubt as to just how talented this jazz-inspired electronic three-piece are. Featuring vocals from Jono McCleery, who appears right throughout the album along with Jamie Woon and Alt-J’s Joe Newman, this is one of the most ethereal, haunting tracks you’ll hear all year. Enjoy!

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Home Beat, Blue Moon Present Lost Wednesday series at the RHA http://state.ie/news/home-beat-blue-moon-present-lost-wednesday-series-at-the-rha http://state.ie/news/home-beat-blue-moon-present-lost-wednesday-series-at-the-rha#comments Tue, 25 Nov 2014 12:59:21 +0000 http://state.ie/?p=66947 This Wednesday, November 26th, Home Beat is teaming up with Blue Moon for the second in the RHA’s series of Blue Moon Lost Wednesdays.  Showcasing some of Dublin’s most innovative creative forces, the Royal Hibernian Academy will play host to music from the likes of Somadrome and Sleep Thieves, art from the Futures scheme (a mix of 14 emerging Irish artists) and Karl Burke, as well as live visuals, food, and of course, a healthy supply of Blue Moon craft beer.  As an added bonus, the nice chaps from guerrilla printers The Journeyman Project will be screen printing pretty much any garment you want (within reason), for free.  Tickets for the event are €15 and can be found here.

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Yasiin Bey (Mos Def) — Vicar Steet, Dublin - "The most relaxed man in the room..." http://state.ie/live-reviews/yasiin-bey-mos-def-vicar-steet-dublin http://state.ie/live-reviews/yasiin-bey-mos-def-vicar-steet-dublin#comments Tue, 25 Nov 2014 12:10:54 +0000 http://state.ie/?p=66934 If recent reports are to be believed the crowd in Vicar Street tonight can expect to wait somewhere in the region of 9159 hours between Simi Crowns‘ tour-de-force opening act and the arrival of Yasiin Bey. Thankfully, such reports are inaccurate and this goes for their less than flattering descriptions of Bey’s (the artist formerly known as Mos Def) performances too. On time, on point and on fire, the former Black Star is all business tonight and literally has the crowd falling into line.

Not long after Bey shuffles on stage, fedora hat atop a towel atop his shorn head, throwing rose petals around the stage, does one over-zealous fan decide he might as well join him. Queue scuffles from assorted security guards and venue staff before Bey calls for his would-be accomplice to be brought back on stage. Bearing resemblance to that infamous moment when James Brown literally suppressed a riot by castigating stage invaders in Boston, Bey spends about three minutes calmly appealing to the guy’s better judgment before gently asking “why do you think that your enjoyment is more important than everybody else’s?” The poor lad poses, tries to hug Bey, attempts to appear in any way relaxed but ultimately has the expression of a kid who has been called in front of the classroom to explain skidmarks on his P.E. gear. He means no harm, and receives none – but this is a lesson in humility over hubris from the most relaxed man in the room.

Anyway, from here on in Mos Def has the crowd firmly on side and the show is formidable. Largely performing tracks from his debut album, the seminal Black on Both Sides, the two-man DJ team are submerging the venue in heavy bass as Mos delivers his trademark laid-back rhymes. His effortless delivery, at times jolted into more fast-paced and expressive rapping than some would expect, sounds crystal clear and heartfelt. Although he doesn’t perform Black on Both Sides in its entirety, as billed, he does cover more of his back catalogue than expected giving him a chance to skip between delivery styles when necessary. ‘Ms. Fat Booty’, ‘Got’, ‘Umi Says’ and ‘Speed Law’ are all present, as are ‘Casa Bey’, ‘The Undeniable’ and ‘Travellin’ Man’ from his later albums. There are moments when his medleys are perfectly judged but there are also a few occasions when his better known hits, and let’s face it – we want to hear the hits – are wedged too snugly into the drift to really resonate. As the show is nearing its end, with Yasiin Bey spinning on the spot, the crowd are visibly hoping for more. House lights on, equipment in varying stages of deconstruction, nobody apart from maybe poor Darryl The Stage Invader will leave tonight’s performance feeling anything but love for Yasiin Dante Mos Def Terrell Smith Bey.

Yasiin Bey / Mos Def photographed for State by Mark McGuinness.

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Iggy Azalea — Reclassified - "the new additions are mostly winners" http://state.ie/album-reviews/iggy-azalea-reclassified http://state.ie/album-reviews/iggy-azalea-reclassified#comments Tue, 25 Nov 2014 12:00:59 +0000 http://state.ie/?p=66937 Almost seven months to the day since The New Classic and it’s become abundantly clear that Miss Azalea has made an impression. Involved in some of the catchiest and most popular songs of the year, Iggy also bypassed Lil’ Kim to become the female rapper with the longest number one on the Billboard charts, and joined The Beatles to be one of the very, very, VERY few artists to have a song at number one and number two in the charts at the same time. Her popularity is made even more apparent by her headlining SNL with Jim Carrey, as well as becoming a prime target of shadiness by Snoop Dogg, Nicki Minaj and Eminem. It truly is Iggy Season, but for those who already bought The New Classic first time round, is there enough of a reason to return to the snazzed-up re-release?

The new additions are mostly winners, with album opener ‘We In This Bitch’ channelling early 90’s Puff Daddy and Notorious B.I.G. thanks to the menacing guitar licks and Azalea rhetorically asking “What’s a world like with no I-G-G in this bitch?” Then there’s ‘Iggy SZN’, built on hand claps and a deep electronic buzz, which will sound great in a high tempo Zumba class. The rest of the new additions follow the winning formula that Iggy applied to ‘Fancy’ and ‘Black Widow’, bringing in a (usually quite famous) female vocalist to cover the chorus so Azalea can look after the rap verses. First single ‘Beg For It’ bounces around on echoed synths and hollowed-out bass, while Danish artist MØ brings in a uniquely chilly sexual confidence. Jennifer Hudson joins in for the piano driven throwback ‘Trouble’ which is perfectly pleasant and jaunty – or in other words, totally forgettable – while ‘Heavy Crown’ brings Ellie Goulding on board for a rockier sound than we’re used to from Iggy, and one that doesn’t entirely suit her rap style.

Holdovers like the snarlingly self-empowered ‘Work’, warped earworm ‘Bounce’ and the closest Iggy has yet come to a ballad, ‘Change Your Life’, are all still belters, but the double-downer buzz of ‘Don’t Need Y’All’ and ‘Rolex’ could easily have been replaced by much better tracks that have been inexplicably left off, like the bonkers K-Pop brilliance of ‘Goddess’, the ska-era No Doubt channelling ‘Lady Patra’ or the ratchet-as-all-hell ‘Fuck Love’.

Just like her first time out with this album, Iggy has a problem; trying too hard to please herself AND please commercial radio. Only one song veers above four minutes long, with all the rough, experimental edges of The New Classic sanded down and replaced with big featuring artists and even bigger hooks. Nothing wrong with that, as some of the singles here will have the clubs hopping over the next few months, but with Nicki Minaj pushing out the boat on sexual politics, Azealia Banks testing the limits of hip-hop and Angel Haze using the genre to tell some very personal and universal stories, do we really need just another chart-botherer?

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Mastodon – The Academy, Dublin – in photos http://state.ie/photo-gallery/mastodon-the-academy-dublin-in-photos http://state.ie/photo-gallery/mastodon-the-academy-dublin-in-photos#comments Tue, 25 Nov 2014 11:17:24 +0000 http://state.ie/?p=66911 Mastodon certainly don’t lack confidence or presence and on this night in Dublin’s Academy, with the mid-section of the set filled solidly with songs spanning most of their back catalogue, it all fits seamlessly together. At times prog, at times classic rock and at times fused noise, they are always entertaining – no dead air, and all laid down over a tapestry of relentless drumming.

Mastodon photographed for State by Olga Kuzmenko with reporting by Jason Kennedy.

 

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Hear Daithí’s Remix of Azaelia Banks’ ‘Chasing Time’ http://state.ie/news/hear-daithis-remix-of-azaelia-banks-chasing-time http://state.ie/news/hear-daithis-remix-of-azaelia-banks-chasing-time#comments Mon, 24 Nov 2014 15:42:25 +0000 http://state.ie/?p=66910 How can you make something great even better? This is how…

The seemingly ever busy and ever impressive Daithí has worked his magic once again, this time on the Azaelia Banks track ‘Chasing Time’. You can check it out below.

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Midnight Mass for Marriage Equality - Love action http://state.ie/features/midnight-mass-for-marriage-equality http://state.ie/features/midnight-mass-for-marriage-equality#comments Mon, 24 Nov 2014 15:15:43 +0000 http://state.ie/?p=66908 After an amazing year for State live shows (even if we do say so ourselves), 2014 comes to an end with our annual Midnight Mass at the Mercantile. This year it’s a fundraiser for Marriage Equality ahead of next year’s all important referendum. The bill features Nanu Nanu, Planet Parade, slow skies, Aoife Underwater and maybe the odd special guest. Keep in touch on Facebook here.

Entry is free but we hope you’ll spare a few quid for the cause. And please don’t forget that tomorrow is the last day to register to vote. Find out more details here.

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B. Dolan / warrenpeace – Workmans Club, Dublin - A weapon called the word http://state.ie/live-reviews/b-dolan-warrenpeace-workmans-club-dublin http://state.ie/live-reviews/b-dolan-warrenpeace-workmans-club-dublin#comments Mon, 24 Nov 2014 10:48:03 +0000 http://state.ie/?p=66906 Opening a new chapter in his career without long term musical partner Dan Le Sac, Scroobius Pip is back out on the road this time showcasing the wares of his Speech Development label. At the beginning of the night, however, there can be little doubt that the majority of the crowd were here for the boss, a indication of the loyal following he has built up on both sides of the Irish sea. He’s happy to meet his public, tending the merchandise table and providing an all-too-brief spoken word intro comprising some greatest hits (including fan favourites ‘Magician’s Assistant’ and ‘You Will See Me’) we enter the first act proper of the night, warrenpeace. The duo use guitars and heavy synth bass to make hair vibrate and tinnitus inevitable, especially during vocalist Buddy Peace’s howling down the mic during choruses. Despite the initial diplomatic crowd reaction, their kinetic display of guitar riffs and a stenographer-like ferocity at the drum machine seems to win over many as the set goes on, augmented by onstage collaborations with Pip and singer Natasha Fox, followed by a Dizzee Rascal cover closer making this one of the most surprisingly impressive parts of the entire night.

After another brief DJ set by Pip – acting more like a breather for the crowd than a legitimate act – it’s time for headliner B Dolan. For the first time on a European tour he is accompanied by a full band, including warrenpeace themselves. With a decent chunk of the label now on stage, this alliance of performers acts as more than the sum of their parts. Dolan practically leans into the audience as he brandishes new tracks from his forthcoming EP and past hits, though is also comfortable momentarily standing back as others command attention. With a more established catalogue behind him the crowd find it easier to relate, especially during old favourites like ‘Bleed Your Customer’ and ‘Film the Police.’ Dolan also shows he is a person who knows how to have fun with his crowd; highlights included an impromptu hip-hop dance-off with a member of the crowd and asking for the entire stage to be lit by only the crowd’s phones, obliged by all.

At this point the final appearance by Pip for their 2011 collaboration ‘Soldier Boy (Kill em)’ feels more of an unneeded cherry on an already satisfying cake. All the acts of the evening can certainly rest easy knowing that attention at the merch table is far more distributed after the show ends. Pip may bring bring the crowds, but it’s his label that keeps them.

B. Dolan photographed for State by Kieran Frost

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The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 - The district sleeps alone tonight http://state.ie/film/the-hunger-games-mockingjay-part-1 http://state.ie/film/the-hunger-games-mockingjay-part-1#comments Sat, 22 Nov 2014 16:45:33 +0000 http://state.ie/?p=66903 Director: Francis Lawrence
Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Donald Sutherland, Julianne Moore and Philip Seymor Hoffman
Certificate: 12a 
Running Time: 123 minutes
Release Date: November 21st

Ah, the curse of the “Part One” syndrome that has afflicted modern cinema’s literature adaptations. Did the last Twilight movie really need to be a two-parter? Does anyone voluntarily sit down to watch Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows Part One? Did the slim-line Hobbit novel need to be trisected? No, no and no. The difference with Mockingjay is that author Suzanne Collins was apparently told she had six books to work with, until the publishers informed her that Mockingjay would have to be the end of her story, so she had a lot of content to get into not a lot of space. So with that in mind, we can’t really judge the necessity of the movie’s division until Part Two comes out next year.

Catching Fire’s climax brought about the destruction of Katniss’ (Lawrence) home of District 12, but with the help of Plutarch (Hoffman), Gale (Hemsworth) and a few others, she’s been stolen away from the Capitol’s nefarious President Snow (Sutherland) to help the supposedly annihilated District 13 and its leader President Coin (Moore). They’ve been amassing an underground army, and with Katniss as the face of their rebellion, they’re planning to galvanize the other Districts into overthrowing the Capitol. Snow has his own plans in motion though, with Peeta (Hutcherson) being used as his own poster boy for peace, which in this universe means little more than subjugation.

So it’s a little like if Luke Skywalker got into a media war with the Empire, hoping to rally the troops with pirated transmissions and guerrilla camerawork. Returning director Francis Lawrence keeps things humming along throughout an admittedly overly talk-y entry into a franchise whose previous highlights including killer fog and insanity-causing birds, so while it’s never boring, it does feel like a bit of a breather between the pulse-pounding Catching Fire and what is sure to be all out war in Mockingjay Part Two.

One or two action sequences sparsely scattered throughout mean that the focus is now on the performances, and while Lawrence is still as strong as ever, she spends a lot of the movie screaming and crying, which doesn’t make for much of a heroine. Hoffman, Moore and Sutherland are all great in their positions of power, but the double-whammy dullness of Hemsworth and Hutcherson is made even more obvious here, as their roles are expanded on while some of the more interesting characters played by Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks and Stanley Tucci are left barely dangling above the cutting room floor.

While the topical context of propaganda used as a weapon – and the hugely meta moment of the franchise’s own promotional imagery and sound effects being used IN THE MOVIE as propaganda – and the sense of build up for the ultimate finale does give the audience some level of anticipation that the flat-out novel it’s based on was deprived of; we won’t be able to judge Mockingjay until we see it as a whole. As it stands it works as an enticement to see how the series plays out, but until then, this feels like an awful lot of foreplay with very little pay-off.

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La Roux — The Academy, Dublin - "a red hot display of savvy" http://state.ie/live-reviews/la-roux-the-academy-dublin-2 http://state.ie/live-reviews/la-roux-the-academy-dublin-2#comments Fri, 21 Nov 2014 18:23:23 +0000 http://state.ie/?p=66884 Tonight the only show in town is La Roux. Not literally, of course. But in every other sense it’s hard to imagine a more exhilarating performance than that of Elly Jackson and her four piece band. Playing to only the second full house of their current tour, the other being London, the retro-heavy synth-pop maestros are on fire from the very start and the fact that this band have somehow slipped under the radar of the gig-going public is nothing short of a travesty. Tonight, a freezing cold Dublin is treated to a red hot display of savvy.

Opening with an absolute killer performance of ‘Let Me Down Gently’ from their second album, this year’s Trouble in Paradise, Jackson and co. are right on point and sound exquisite. The new Academy staging is ideal and the early 80s Top of the Pops aesthetic works perfectly as Jackson shimmies and struts around the stage. The band, neatly dressed and coiffured, are flawless and ‘Fascination’, from 2009’s La Roux allows Jackson to stretch her vocal chords as the melody vaults from high to low. ‘In For The Kill’ pops the crowd as you’d expect and it doesn’t fail to deliver but for the first time in perhaps… for ever, the real joy seems to come from the lesser known tracks; ‘Kiss And Tell’, ‘Sexotheque’ and ‘Cruel Sexuality’ being a case in point. The new songs, like the old songs, are slick and tight over the course of the set and Elly Jackson’s voice is utterly blemish free. It’s better than that, it’s stunning and her control over it leaves nothing to be desired. When she picks up her guitar for an gorgeously funky ‘Tropical Chancer’ there is a sense of awe at just how fucking cool this band are. Not even the goofy palm-tree shades handed up for the crowd can detract from Jackson’s stinging aura of chic.

At this point a special mention has to go to the devastatingly simple stage lighting, four narrow and high intensity spots all angling across Jackson’s face as she stands at the lip of the stage, become the focal point during an extended breakdown during ‘Silent Partner’ and the effect is chilling; her face glowing like some ethereal spirit. It’s not the night’s first phones in the air moment but chances are you’ll see this trick used again and again before the end of next year. And probably for a long time after that too, such was the execution.

‘Tigerlilly’ and ‘Bulletproof’ provide the encore to a blistering set and there is genuine emotion on Jackson’s face as she and the band take the applause. Having spent the night effortlessly driving the crowd into a frenzy and posing with an air of detachment, the moment when La Roux look sheepishly back at the an adoring congregation is veritably spine-tingling. Very few bands can surprise a crowd like this you can take it as given that this band will be back in Ireland before long. It can’t happen quickly enough.

La Roux photographed for State by Kieran Frost.

 

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Simi Crowns to support Mos Def at Dublin’s Vicar Street http://state.ie/news/simi-crowns-to-support-mos-def-at-dublins-vicar-street http://state.ie/news/simi-crowns-to-support-mos-def-at-dublins-vicar-street#comments Fri, 21 Nov 2014 15:22:14 +0000 http://state.ie/?p=66886 Once upon a time, the phrase “Irish Hip-Hop” would have been considered either an hilarious in-joke or a complex philosophical impossibility.  Thankfully those days are long gone, for Ireland’s blossoming hip-hop scene seems to be going from strength to strength.  Presently, there is no more poignant an example than Dublin rapper and all round good-guy Simi Crowns, who will be supporting the heavyweight champion of hip-hop Mos Def, at Dublin’s Vicar Street this coming Monday, November 24th.  If there were a hook or a chain, this gig would be very much off of it, so, grab a ticket from over here.

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The Homesman - Eyes to the wind http://state.ie/film/the-homesman http://state.ie/film/the-homesman#comments Fri, 21 Nov 2014 11:55:25 +0000 http://state.ie/?p=66715 Director: Tommy Lee Jones
Cast: Tommy Lee Jones, Hilary Swank, Miranda Otto, John Lithgow, James Spader, Meryl Streep
Certificate: 15A
Running Time: 122 min
Release: November 21st

Set in the Old West, The Homesman tells the story of a petty criminal (Tommy Lee Jones) who owes a debt to a farmer (Hilary Swank) who saved his life. In return he agrees to help her escort three insane woman across country for treatment. The trek will be difficult, and along the way they’ll face danger from Indians, bandits and the landscape itself. Despite their differences they have to learn to work together, as it seems the madness afflicting their passengers might be rubbing off on them too.

A tough Western drama from director/star Tommy Lee Jones, The Homesman pulls few punches when it comes to depicting the darkness of the period. From the disturbing flashback scenes depicting the madness of the three woman (an early scene featuring actress Miranda Otto in particular is sure to send gasps rippling through an audience), to the coldness of the violence, the film paints the time period in stark colours.

But that’s not to say The Homesman is a complete slog. In fact Jones is adept at regularly injecting dry humour into proceedings, so the harshness doesn’t completely overwhelm the viewer. The heart of the film is the relationship between Swank and Jones. She is a headstrong, god fearing woman, but also afflicted by some deep rooted insecurities. He on the other hand is a selfish, drunken idiot with occasional flashes of decency. The tension and interplay between them is where the film shines, and they create a surprisingly touching relationship. Swank in particular does a fine job, and her work is a reminder of how good she can be when given the right material.

The actresses playing the insane ladies also do good work, but as the story rolls on they’re not given much to do but sit quietly, and occasionally grunt. Of the supporting characters there are few that pop out, aside from James Spader, who hams it up in grand fashion as a businessman with one of the worst Irish accents ever to grace the big screen. Meryl Streep makes a brief appearance towards the end, and while she’s typically great, she seems a little wasted on such a small part.

Jones directs with elegant simplicity, letting the performances and the scenery do most of the work. The story is relatively straight forward, but it rarely feels the need to conform to expectations. There’s one surprise twist in the second half that is particularly brave, and sees the story shift in an unexpected way. But thanks to the strong script and Jones’ control over the film’s tone, this turn doesn’t feel jarring or cheap.

Well not quite a classic of the genre The Homesman is a mature, well made Western with strong performances. Some might find the more disturbing moments a little gratuitous, but they are always in keeping with the story and the harsh nature of the period.

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Mos Def – Black on Both Sides (revisited) - Back in Black next week http://state.ie/features/mos-def-black-on-both-sides-revisited http://state.ie/features/mos-def-black-on-both-sides-revisited#comments Fri, 21 Nov 2014 10:12:54 +0000 http://state.ie/?p=66880 To commemorate the 15th anniversary of his seminal Black on Both Sides album, Mos Def comes to Dublin for an extremely rare performance on Monday night. The chance to see one of hip-hop’s most notable visionaries live is one which may not come up again for some time so to celebrate, State.ie takes a look back at the album which arguably dragged hip-hop into the 21st century….

Shunning aggression and posturing in favour of social commentary, Black on Both Sides is considered one of the first rap albums to speak in positive terms about the art form as well as the plight of those involved with it. Rather than shout the odds like many of his peers, Mos Def took a far more passive approach and in doing so, with the albums laconic, easy beats overlaid with his laid back almost louche rhyming, he became one of the genre’s most remarkable artists. How many rappers before him used faith, soul, love and harmony to make their points? Stretched over 17 tracks and featuring almost as many producers, the album marked a watershed for what it meant to be a hip-hop artist. More specifically, it reassured everyone involved with the music that its future was still in their own hands.

Opening track, ‘Fear Not of Man’, besides being fairly heavy on faith, was literally a rallying cry in which Mos Def drives home the fact that hip-hop was the master of its own destiny and not the gimmicky, diluted novelty it had become. A point he carried on into the track ‘Hip Hop’ with its smooth-as-fuck bass line. Only two songs in and the album feels like Summer in the Valley.

‘Ms. Fat Booty’ is the album’s first stand-out track, sampling Aretha Franklin’s ‘One Step Ahead’ and a statement of intent as much as it is a song. Mos Def’s rhyming as slick as it gets and the killer use of breaks throughout are a masterclass. This is what Mos does for the rest of the album, sometimes he is nothing short of majestic and, when everything works, it works to devastating effect.

Not quite flawless, however, are the tracks on which content is traded for texture. ‘Got’ and ‘Umi Says’ tend to drift into lounge jazz – Starbucks style – at the wrong time in the album’s sequence but that’s not to say that they’re not befitting of the album, they just stop it from soaring. Fear not, before long he was back in business with the genius ‘Rock n Roll’ and the epic ‘Brooklyn’ – three songs in one with a different producer for each movement. ‘Mr. Nigga’, probably the track that fortifies the album with greatness, will probably be the track we remember after Monday night not just for the passion and conviction but the joy in it. And this is without addressing it’s message. So Black on Both Sides is an album worth celebrating in its own right, but to have the unique opportunity to revisit it in the presence of its creator is not to be missed.

Mos Def plays in Dublin’s Vicar Street this Monday, November 24th. Tickets are available here.

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Chet Faker — The Academy, Dublin - "Raw talent" http://state.ie/live-reviews/chet-faker-the-academy-dublin http://state.ie/live-reviews/chet-faker-the-academy-dublin#comments Fri, 21 Nov 2014 00:00:18 +0000 http://state.ie/?p=67005 There is something about mid week gigs that can really disrupt the enjoyment of a concert. People seem slightly on edge, all too aware of the responsibilities that besiege them in the morning. But on this Tuesday night, Australian native Chet Faker has somehow managed to make the crowd forget their worries with wild abandon. It’s a sell out show and people seem to be wedged in every corner of the Academy as the man of the night takes to the stage.

It’s just him and his keyboard and a sea of production equipment, but it is impossible to take your eyes of him. He’s completely engaging and by the time ‘I’m Into You’ comes around four songs in, everyone is hooked. He whips out an onslaught comprised of ‘Terms and Conditions’, ‘Cigarettes and Chocolate’ and ‘No Diggity'; basically ensuring that everyone is up, singing along and dancing. He chats to the audience in between songs his voice low yet clear, giving the show the intimacy of a pub gig.

Chet Faker has pure belief in his own talent, he doesn’t need the backup of a distracting lights show or a backing band. He lets his voice, gravelly and crisp, do all the work and when he closes with an acoustic version of ‘Talk Is Cheap’ it is clear that this man embodies raw talent. Soulful, exciting and sweet if all too short, Chet Faker puts on a truly special show. Even on a Tuesday night.

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Wild Beasts, King Creosote and more join Other Voices http://state.ie/news/wild-beasts-king-creosote-and-more-join-other-voices http://state.ie/news/wild-beasts-king-creosote-and-more-join-other-voices#comments Thu, 20 Nov 2014 12:38:09 +0000 http://state.ie/?p=66877 New names have been announced for next month’s Other Voices gathering in Dingle, taking place from 12th – 14th December. Wild Beasts, King Creosote, Belgian jazz singer Melanie Di Biasio and French-Cuban twins Ibeyi will perform in the Church of St. James’, while A Lazarus Soul, Daithi, Floor Staff, Marc O’ Reilly and Ye Vagabonds are the first confirmed acts for the Music Trail.

Tickets, once again, will be free and can be won through various online and media competitions.

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u:mack presents Autechre at District 8 http://state.ie/news/umack-presents-autechre-at-district-8 http://state.ie/news/umack-presents-autechre-at-district-8#comments Thu, 20 Nov 2014 11:06:06 +0000 http://state.ie/?p=66875 One of the most respected and prolific acts associated with the Electronica genre, Autechre are set to make a rare appearance at District 8 on the 19th of December.  Having built a solid reputation for creating glitchy, intricate and inimitable electronic music, the Warp records stalwarts are a fine example of an act whose reputation precedes them, and as a consequence, their live shows are the stuff of legend.  Expect an audio/visual life-changing experience.  Tickets can be found here and are priced at €23.

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