Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category


Originally published in The Irish Times, September 3rd 2012.


Electric Arena

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



“It is with great sadness that we announce that Alternative Ulster was unsuccessful in securing Arts Council funding for 2012/2013. As a result, AU Magazine is being put on hiatus. The website will continue to be run on a voluntary basis, and AU will continue to promote the best of Northern Irish and Irish music, culture and lifestyle in every way it possibly can.”

I was so, so saddened when AU magazine editor Chris Jones broke this news earlier this week. For the past nine years – and especially the five or six that I’ve been reading it – AU has been a beacon of Irish music journalism, setting a bar that no other Irish magazine came close to reaching in terms of the quality of writing, the beauty of its design and the scope of both music and non-music features alike that it covered. And it was free. FREE! It’s the sort of magazine you’d pay good money for in any other country, which makes it seems doubly bloody unfair that such a quality magazine falls by the wayside, when there’s so much inferior crap being published elsewhere.

On a personal note, I feel extra sad, because AU were one of the first magazines to take me under their wing when I was a rookie music journo. Former editor Francis Jones took a chance on me, and gave me feature assignments with big bands when no one else would. Chris has been equally generous and supportive since he took over the reins a few years ago. I had my first-ever cover feature – an huge milestone in any journalist’s career – with AU in 2008. In recent years I haven’t contributed more than the odd feature and a smattering of reviews to every issue, but I’ve thoroughly enjoyed reading it cover-to-cover whenever it landed in the stack by Tower Records’ front door every month, and I’ve been proud to have my name associated with it for so long. For a magazine that’s run on what I assume is a comparatively tiny amount of advertising revenue (along with the now rescinded grant) and a hell of a lot of goodwill, it has been an amazing achievement.

So I want to publicly thank publisher and editor-in-chief Jonny Tiernan, Chris, Francis and everyone else involved behind the scenes with AU for their amazing hard work in keeping the magazine going for so long. The website ( will continue on a voluntary basis, but here’s hoping there’s some way back at some point in the future.


Originally published in The Irish Times, July 4th 2011

ANONYMITY CAN be a precious commodity. In today’s information-overloaded world, where we can find out practically anything about anyone we know, or even delve into a complete stranger’s life thanks to social networks, it seems the need for privacy grows by the day. Continue reading


Buried treasure (def.): Something, having been concealed for a long time, which later is found and is profitable

IF EVER there was a buried treasure, it’s Eugene McGuinness. I’ve been foisting this young lad on anyone who’ll listen since I discovered his debut mini-album ‘The Early Learnings of…’ a few years ago and fell completely in love with it. Continue reading