Part of my job as a music journalist involves reviewing albums. Some of the albums that I review are by Irish artists, some are by international artists. Some reviews are positive, some are good, some are middling, some are negative. The range of positive-to-negative album quality is vast, and I certainly don’t discriminate based on where an act or band is from (I don’t buy into the ‘treating Irish artists with kid gloves’ debate, but that’s a blog post for another day).
I occasionally get amusing hate-tweets/emails from disgruntled fans who have a bone to pick with my negative review, but rarely the actual bands themselves. Recently, I happened to review two Irish albums for The Ticket in relatively quick succession. I didn’t like either album for different reasons, and said so in my two-star reviews of both. What inspired this blog post was the reaction from both acts (who I’m not going to name, because it’s irrelevant). Continue reading
Originally published in The Irish Times, September 14th 2012.
TO DESCRIBE Brandon Flowers as “your run-of-the-mill rock star” would not be entirely truthful. Sitting across from The Killers frontman and his wild-haired bandmate Dave Keunig, it’s impossible to suss what Flowers is really thinking. It seems clear that he’s not a fan of interviews; he constantly glances towards the dressing room door (plotting an escape route, perhaps?), answers most questions curtly and seems generally guarded and somewhat reserved. He looks younger than his 31 years, his voice retaining the twang of his Nevada upbringing, his laugh more of a nervous, high-pitched titter. While the leaders of most rock bands naturally ooze charisma, Flowers’ cagey private persona seems at odds with the man who, an hour later, takes to the stage at Electric Picnic to deliver a supremely selfassured headline set.
Originally published in The Irish Times, November 2nd 2012.
IT’S NOT THAT David Gedge is tired, but being the sole member of an iconic 1980s guitar band for almost three decades does tend to wear one down. As frontman of The Wedding Present, the band that Gedge formed in 1985, he has been almost exclusively responsible for its input (there have been numerous line-up changes over the years) and output (that’d be the nine albums released since 1987’s George Best, not including his releases under the Cinerama banner).
Not that he’s complaining, mind. Now 52 and in full retention of the Leeds brogue that decades of touring worldwide has failed to erode, Gedge is fully accepting of his fate. Continue reading
Originally published in The Irish Times, May 25th 2012.
“First of all, I’d like to know what other band in the world gets called ‘dadrock’? What other band is there? I don’t know why Wilco’s the only band that gets called that. It seems absurd to me. I think it’s fuckin’ ridiculous.”
Yikes, I’ve been a terrible blogger this year. Sorry. Will definitely try harder in 2013. In the meantime, here’s a feature I recently dug out from the bowels of my MacBook, which was commissioned for a magazine but never published. (Grrr). It’s from two years ago, so my selections probably aren’t very up to date – but it was fun to hear their backstories. Merry Christmas!
IT ONLY TAKES five years to become a cultural phenomenon. Nobody is more aware of that than Steve Chen, Jawed Karim and Chad Hurley, the three former PayPal employees who founded YouTube in 2005. These days, YouTube is as much an integral part of the internet as Google, Facebook and Wikipedia; it has made stars out of keyboard-playing cats, lightsaber-wielding teenagers and was even where one of the world’s biggest popstars, Justin Bieber, was first discovered.
But that doesn’t mean that our little kooky corner of the world wide web has been forgotten about; Ireland’s internet stars are just as noteworthy as their international counterparts. Here’s a selection of rising and established YouTube stars; and nary a Riverdancer in sight, either.
Originally published in The Irish Times, September 3rd 2012.
Where do you start after a six-year absence? If you’re Grandaddy, you start with the hits. The Californian indie-rock quintet have made Electric Picnic one of the stops on their month-long reunion lap, but rather than forcing new material on an expectant audience, this was a complete exercise in crowd-pleasing.
Opening with El Camino’s in the West, Jason Lytle and Co may not say a whole lot to the crowd, but with tunes like a Now It’s On, AM 180 and The Crystal Lake in your canon, why waste time with niceties?
Aaron Burtch amusingly puffs away on a cigarette hands-free as he drums, and Lytle swigs from a bottle of wine between songs; they’re having fun and it’s like they’ve never been away. How about you stick around a little longer, guys? Continue reading
Originally published in The Irish Times, April 20th 2012.
THE FIRST THING you think of is Freud. Then, noticing the relaxed posture, Elizabeth Taylor’s Cleopatra, or perhaps a painting by some Renaissance artist. It’s not quite clear whether Rufus Wainwright is waiting to be psycho-analysed or pampered, but stretched out on a sofa in a room of a trendy London hotel, the singer/songwriter certainly looks comfortable.
“He felt like he was coming down with something yesterday, so he did most of his interviews lying down,” his publicist explains. And today? “Oh no, he feels fine today. He’s just relaxing.” Continue reading