Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Ke$ha, LMFAO & Alexis Jordan Live in Dublin: A Review

Despite sluggish ticket sales, much hyped pop roadshow Summer Jam brought it's poptastic line up to Dublin's 02 Arena last night for an evening high of teen hormones, screeching girls and surprising amounts of fun.

Stepping into the 02 was a bit like stepping into a huge teen disco where the smell of fake tan, teen hormones and hair gel could have killed an elephant from a hundred yards. Of course being hip, relevant and at one with the young 'uns I was completely at ease and made my way to balcony seats with plenty of appropriate attitude. I'm sorry, I mean to say I scurried to my seat for fear of being lynched by yoofs. 

After some anonymous hip hop duo and Aggro Santos did a decent job warming up the enthusiastic crowd. Alexis Jordan sauntered on stage. I really loved Jordan's debut when it was released earlier this year. A well put together pop album with plenty of charm and a surprising amount of solid tunes, it made a virtue of Jordan's considerable pipes and hints that with enough time she could go on to be quite the huge popstar.

Her short set only confirmed my suspicions. Bounding out on stage Jordan had a level of confidence and sass sometimes missing in her too cute to bear music videos. Whipping her hair and twirling her hips like Beyonce Jr, she nailed many a high note, executed some spot on choreography and oozed presence. After performing a clutch of tracks she was gone but not before belting out a suitably rousing rendition of her first single Happiness. Keep your eyes on this girl, her deal with Jay Z's Roc Nation and production with pop masterminds Stargate hints at big things.

LMFAO were next up and their set was every bit as brash, obnoxious and garish as I had expected. It was also highly enjoyable. Souped up "electro house meets hip hop gone pop" floor fillers were the order of the day from start to finish with rarely a moment for the audience to catch their breath. LMFAO's music is noisy and one note that it's cheeky air and ridiculous outfits that give the whole thing a much needed injection of fun. Joined by band members and freestyle dancers decked in their signature silly leggings and cut off tees they looked like a gang of particularly party hearty clowns let loose with a pile of synths. There was a smoke canon on stage, costume changes and frequent use of the words "party rocking" "the club" "bottle" and "ladies". Cliched it may be but LMFAO spin things into such a goofy, oddly endearing package that you find yourself fist pumping and dropping it low along with them without even meaning too.

Of course the evening's headliner was Ke$ha, the queen of auto tune, the high priestess of trashy pop and She Who Must Have Her Name Spelt With An Ironic Dollar Sign. I am unapologetic in my love for Ke$ha. Before Tik Tok and her insistence on talk singing, she was serving up plenty of intelligent electro pop demos that hinted that the Nashville born starlet had a wit and scrappy quality not usually seen in major label pop divas. She's gone on to become a hugely successful act, managing an impressive run of hit singles from only one album and cheeky added on EP. She's also raised the ire of many a critic with her "wacky" persona, glitter heavy aesthetic and the notion that she might not be that great a singer.

So how does that sort of carry on translate into a live show? Surprisingly well in fact. Opening the show in a light up diamond, surrounded by a bed of synths, branding a light up visor Ke$ha started things on a icy, cyber queen note. A few numbers in she started to stalk the stage like a grubby lioness, all hair flips and swagger. Flanked by a troupe of dancers, backing vocalists and a live bands Ke$ha threw herself into a prop heavy set with abandon. 

The singles had the audience suitably riled up but Ke$ha worked enough of a show into lesser known numbers to keep the crowd in a frenzy. Cannibal was an oddly graphic and moody slice of pop performance with Ke$ha n co. sacrificing a dancer while she drank blood from a prop heart. Dinosaur, her kiss off to sleazy older men and the girls they hit on, involved zimmer frames and Backstabber had her boy dancers throw on wigs and heels for a suitably tranny fierce bit of dancing. Even the requisite slow number Animal had the crowd going with Ke$ha showing that yes, she can sing and quite well in fact.

The hits were all present and correct too with many of the songs sounding a bit thicker and less tinny live which matched Ke$ha's surprisingly sultry stage presence. If you could imagine the trademark Britney sexy shuffle and hair flip move given a dirtier, drunk party girl twist with a thumping electro pop backing, you're halfway to imagining the Ke$ha live show. I was much more impressed than I expected and though it's "bad ass rebel" schtick is obviously tightly rehearsed the lack of inane stage banter and air of messy fun gives the Ke$ha live show an edge over some of her contemporaries.

Ke$ha's next big gig here is her slot on the Sunday of Oxegen. Despite my initial cynicism I can see her tongue in cheek, sparkly romp of a set going down very well with a boozed up festival crowd. Put aside your prejudices and give it a go, the Ke$ha concert experience is quite the ride.

All in all, Summerjam was a enjoyable evening of fizzy pop, the concert equivalent of chugging a 2 Litre Bottle of Fanta and doing dance routines with your mates to whatever song just came on the radio. I've a feeling that the gaggle of teens at the show last night probably have a less wholesome way of spending their time but either way SummerJam does a fine job of providing pop thrills. Here's hoping to a suitably exciting follow up run next year.

Mistaken Identity & Good Work of

Confession time: I don't often get to take part in photocalls. Despite my best efforts photographers and PR agencies don't really call me to stand in Stephen's Green holding a banana and winking seductively in a swimsuit. THEIR LOSS I say. 

So you can imagine my surprise when I ended up at a photocall just yesterday. Now, it was for, a charity I did a video for recently so it wasn't too much of a shock. is a web service that takes about mental health issues for young people in a matter of fact way that is much needed.

Their latest campaign involves Oxegen festival, wellies and just a smidge of spray paint. This weekend in Dundrum Town Centre the team will be styling up festival headed wellies for only a fiver. They'll put stars, hearts and all sorts of lovely things on them. It's a great way for them to raise funds for the charity and everyone who gets their wellies did (technical term) goes into a draw for VIP camping tickets for Oxegen. It's a welly good prize. Get it? Welly go- never mind.

Part of the photocall involved us running around tied together in wellies, leaping over a sign, and working it while holding a wheelbarrow. It was all very exhausting and quite frankly I can see why Naomi Campbell throws phones at people now. Modelling is hard y'all. Despite my flawless model credentials (I am definitely getting the cover of Cosmo in like, Malta or something soon) the real draw was of course Brian and Dara from Spin 1038 who very kindly use their Spin show to give Reach Out a mention.

So, while I was working it for the camera (Tyra Banks came to me in a vision and said... "SMIZE GURL" and "PACK YO BAGS, WE GOING TO JAAPPPAANN") alongside some festival lovelies  little did I know what was about to happen.

In great news for the charity the lads landed themselves on the frontpage of today's Metro Herald. Lovely. Except, hang on -

WHY AM I ON THE FRONT OF THE PAPER?!? Could it be? My moment of fame? Somebody call my agent! Somebody get me an agent! Somebody call someone!

Oh. Hang on:

Cool. Metro's mistake. Thinking I was Brian "Meagher" from Spin (it's MAHER goys). My dreams of front page glory tainted. Obviously this has not stopped me booking high profile interview slots with many high profile publications (which I cannot name right now) and booking numerous high profile appearances at events which I cannot name at this time.

Meanwhile you can get your wellies made all fabulous at Dundrum this week and rock them down at Oxegen. The line up this year is pretty stellar and yours truly will be DJing on Sunday! How exciting. I'll also be standing around saying things like "Um, I was on the front of the Metro Herald once? I'm basically the male Georgia Salpa".

For more on ReachOut click here. If anyone needs me I'll be e-mailing Assets Models begging for a gig.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Bridesmaids: Just As Funny As You'd Hoped

Everytime a much hyped US comedy appears on my radar I find myself getting excited and wary in equal measure. I don't know about you but I find myself regularly disappointed by many flagship comedies. The Hangover left me cold and while I was huge fan of Judd Apatow's TV work (including the oft overlooked teen dramedy Undeclared) many of his own films and produced by efforts let me wanting. One thing in particular grated on me, how such supposedly witty films consistently painted the female characters as shrill, one note harpies with no redeeming qualities.

Bridesmaid is from the same stable but takes a way more female friendly perspective on things. Co-written by it's star and SNL alum Kristen Wiig and actress/screenwriter Annie Mumlo, it had set tongues wagging before it had even set foot in cinemas. Industry sniping about female orientated comedies, hopeful bloggers expecting a feminist friendly flick and more importantly an actress like Wiig, unproven at the US box office opening her first major film.. Bridesmaids had alot resting on it's shoulders. Thankfully it has delivered on it's promise in spades with critical buzz abound in the US and a box office gross well over 100 million dollars.

And so it flies into Irish cinemas on a bed of hype. This was where I start to get nervous. How will it live up the any of my expectations? The trailer impressed and the wealth of talent involved gave me increasingly high hopes. I was lucky enough to view the movie at the Irish premiere. With some of the stars in attendance and a full house it was sort of the perfect way to view it with the big laughs and pithy script drawing many a belly laugh from the capacity crowd.

The plot is relatively simple. Permanently down at heel Annie is asked to be the bridesmaid of best friend Lillian (Maya Rudolph) for her forthcoming nuptials. Soon she has to contend with a rag tag group of friends in the bridal party, spearheaded by the neurotic and hyper efficient Helen (played with aplomb by Rose Byrne) and Lillian's future sister in law the gruff, boisterous Megan (Melissa McCarthy gleefully playing against type).  Alongside this is the presence of two very different men in her life, the caddish casual sex buddy (John Hamm) and the earnest cop who seems to have her best interests at heart (Chris O'Dowd, who oozes charm throughout). To say anymore would ruin many of the surprises but suffice to say there are plenty of painfully funny scenes scattered through the proceedings.

The movie was reportedly improvised heavily off of the original script and that loose, chaotic vibe gives the film plenty of verve. Not only that but it manages to flesh out it's characters too. Too many comedies reduce characters to ciphers in pursuit of big laughs. Bridesmaids deftly brings to life it's motley crew of stifled mothers, repressed newlyweds and life long friends with some quiet character moments dropped in alongside the raucous gross out material. Without resorting to Sex and the City style over emoting, Bridesmaids serves up a tale of messed up, confused women groping for some sort of sense in the whirlwind of marriage. But despite this it's not a "chick flick". It has been a bit painful to see the moviemakers insist that this isn't just a "women's film". But, ultimately they're right. Bridesmaids is undoubtedly female orientated but also a brilliant character piece and more importantly very very funny in it's own right.

Bridesmaids is a pure joy to behold, gleefully playing with expectations and also serving up a seemingly endless stream of priceless moments. You owe it yourself to see this film. 

Friday, June 17, 2011

Lady Gaga Releases Edge of Glory AKA THE LADY GAGA WORKOUT VIDEO

So there's a new video from Lady Gaga out. Even when people are sneering at her ridiculous "high concept" videos featuring avant garde blahdy blahdy performance art thingy type stuff I always enjoy a Gaga video. I was especially excited about the Edge of Glory clip. It's such a big, thumping pop song laced with a euphoria and sadness.

BUT the video is a bit of a mess. If I had to sum it up in a sentence I would say it looks like Madonna doing Janet Jackson's The Pleasure Principle on the set of The Cosby Show while THE ACUTAL COSBY SHOW MUSIC IS PLAYING. Except not as good as that sounds. (I'm aware I already tweeted this today but you didn't think I was going to throw away a line like that did you?)

I'm all for a simple, sleek Gaga video but this is clearly a video scrapped together with footage freed of little things like "concept" and "storytelling". Plenty of grumbling online suggests that the elaborate story planned was junked. Shame.

What the video does work as though is a sort of Lady Gaga fronted aerobics class. Seriously.

From my viewing of the video the Lady Gaga workout video involves the following key moves:

- The Freddy Krueger style lean and creep out of a window/side street : an important move for both stretching those muscles groups and creeping people out with your long talon-y fingers

- The Britney inspired sidewalk strut: warms up those ligaments (especially the throw your head back sexily ones ) and leads nicely into..

- The pointing at Clarence Clemmon finger: a great one at parties this. "Everybody point at the guy with the saxophone!"

- The stair / balcony / front porch shimmy: Drape across that stair well! Throw that head back! We're burning calories the Lady Gaga workout way!

- The Sidewalk Crawl: stretch yourself out on that pavement like fashion roadkill

- The Spinning Top : Twirl until you can't twirl no more. Great for working key muscles groups. I'd imagine.

Throw in a couple of hair flicks, some errant fist pumping and repeat ad nauseam for 5 & half minutes.. BOOM. You've just worked out with Lady Gaga. It definitely beats the Britney "Look confused and flip your hair halfheartedly" Spears workout at least.

Tweeting Yourself A Taxi: Twitter Makes Everything Better

Given my further descent into a full on Twitter addiction I am always trying to think of ways in it which it has improved my life. Blagging tweet seats for the fried chicken delights at Crackbird has probably been my favourite so far. Free chicken wings? Don't mind if I do.

Many businesses talk about their "social media strategies" which usually amounts to throwing a Facebook logo on the corner of their latest ad for no reason. Slick stuff. I heard about a new campaign that launched recently though that is actually quite clever. (AMAZING NAME ALERT) sell used cars but have decided to branch out into offering a free Twitter taxi service which you can book via their Facebook page or Twitter. it's a gimmick sure but if you need to get somewhere on Friday between 4 and 9pm in the next 2 months and want to chance booking, it's a handy number. It may not be as tasty as a hot chicken dinner but it'll at least get you from A to B.

With hashtags from Job Fairy to Ticket Fairy making Twitter The place to catch a bargain, what other services could be offered up via a cheeky twitter deal? As it stands you can blag a free meal, concert tickets and a job? Whatever next?

If I knew that I wouldn't be spending my time tweeting pop lyrics and moaning that I'm hungry on Twitter now would I? I bet Bill Cullen knows though. Look at him there, flogging Tweet Taxis, confident in the knowledge that he's very rich. Hmph.

Head over to for more info or check out their Twitter. And if you see me on your travels giz a lift will ya? Or at least throw me some chicken wings.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Last 2 Movies I've Seen: No. 2: X-Men : First Class

To conclude my exciting new segment The Last 2 Movies I've Seen (ha) here are my thoughts on the new X-Men prequel (which of course many of you have already seen. Always up to date, that's me). 

X-Men: First Class

I have been a huge X-Men fan for years. I spent years regularly reading the comics, particularly enjoying the Chris Claremont/John Byrne run which is still my absolute favourite. As such, I've always had a soft spot for the X-Men movies. I remember watching the comics I'd spent so long reading finally crossing beyond the mainstream following of the cartoon to an older, cinema going audience. 

It's easy to forget just how important the first X-Men movie was. Reinvigorating the comic book movie franchise and making Marvel see the film potential of it's vast back catalogue, it was a slick piece of fantasy filmmaking that lead to an equally impressive sequel. Sadly the third film derailed the whole enterprise. After the assured direction of Bryan Singer, X3 fell flat at the hands of Brett Ratner, who delivered a serviceable action film but one with none of the depth of the previous films. I've avoided the Wolverine prequel since it's release awhile back purely because I couldn't further taint my X-Men movie memories. Thank god then for First Class which attempts to bring the series back to it's roots.

For the most part it can be seen as a success. Getting into the backstory of both Professor X and Magneto is a stroke of genius, fleshing out both characters while providing more screen time for fan faves such as Mystique, Moira McTaggert, Beast and Emma Frost. 

Following a 40s based prologue, the plot unfolds in the early 60s and sees a pre-Magneto Eric Lensherr (Michael Fassbender) out for the blood of the man who tortured him and his family in the Nazi concentration camps. Meanwhile a young Professor Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) spends time drinking, womanising and acting the cad alongside his best friend Raven (soon to be Mystique, played with aplomb by Jennifer Lawrence). When the US government, at the behest of Rose Byrne's Moira McTaggert, realise they need a genetic mutation expert, Xavier is drafted in, convincing Eric to join him when their paths cross in pursuit of Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon). What follows is an a race to stop World War 3 with plenty of interpersonal drama scattered along the way.

Thankfully the solid storytelling of the previous films returns here. Director Matthew Vaughn, originally slated to direct X3 and famed director of Kick Ass (among others), injects the affair with plenty of energy. Weaving together characters with aplomb, First Class creates an impressive story with some excellent casting giving things a gravitas sometimes missing from comic book movies. 

Jennifer Lawrence is particularly good, slowly peeling away the layers of Mystique to make you understand why she ends up the way she does. That said, the double act of Fassbender and McAvoy steals the show. Both ooze leading man confidence tempered with an unusual amount of vulnerability that gives their friendship a earthy, believable air. Rose Byrne is likeable and convincing though underused, Nicholas Hoult does a good line in tortured geek, Kevin Bacon glowers magnificently as the villainous Shaw but sadly January Jones fails to convince as the icy Emma Frost, instead coming across as wooden and uncomfortable.

The 60s setting and grandeur of the proceedings lead to the odd uncomfortably cheesy moment but for the most part this is tonally on the button. The action sequences and CGI are full on and enjoyable with the solid storytelling and characters giving proceedings an emotional impact beyond your usual blockbuster. And unlike X3 which groaned under the weight of too many characters, First Class does a fine job of having many mutants and enough moments scattered throughout for everybody to shine.

Undoubtedly a return to form, X-Men : First Class is a fitting entry into the series and a brilliant summer blockbuster in it's own right. It'll be interesting to see just where the series goes next but for now Matthew Vaughn can be proud of creating a film that will tick the boxes for comic book geeks and general movie-goers alike. 

Given that this is a prequel much of the fun is in watching the proceedings build towards certain key moments. Vaughn understands this and offers plenty of fan friendly moments.

The Last 2 Movies I've Seen: No. 1: Last Night

I seem to be on a roll of seeing movies in the actual cinema of late. I'm mildly impressed with myself and have decided to review whatever I see in an attempt to make myself see more movies. I'm bullying myself basically.

Last Night

Myself and my flatmate watched the trailer for this only last week and suddenly I realised it was out in the cinema. Can't you tell that I'm on top of my movie news? Ahem. Anyway, the subtly sexy trailer and strong cast really made me want to see how it would all unfold. 

A low key relationship drama, it sees young couple Joanna (Keira Knightley) and Michael (Sam Worthington) squabble over Michael's interest in a glamourous new co-worker Laura (Eva Mendes), before he heads on a business trip. While Michael spends time away from home Joanna bumps into an old flame Alex (Guillaume Canet) and soon finds herself ruminating on a love affair that never was while her husband flirts with temptation. 

The plot, what little there is, does not neccessarily drive this slow burning romantic drama. Ultimately, despite some neat cameos, this is a foursome with Knightley and Canet weaving flirtatious rings around each other while Worthington and Mendes hammer out a tentative but intense bond. Last Night isn't afraid to play with audience expectations and build tension and once it gets past a stiff and overly talk opening act, it crafts plenty of romantic and melancholic moments. 

Knightley and Worthington clash more than they sizzle as a couple but once they meet their respective temptations that seems to be the point. Both Joanna and Michael reveal whole new sides to their personalities when they meet their prospective lovers. But, this isn't a movie about a couple cheating on each other and to say any more would ruin much of the enjoyment. 

What this film does deliver is a engrossing portrait of love and desire and lets a fine ensemble play to their strengths. Knightley is jittery and beguiling as she revels in the easy charm of Canet's character while Worthington plays an emotionally complex male understandbly unnerved by the confident yet subtle sexuality of Mendes' Laura. Writer/director Massy Tadjedin has created a movie that doesn't patronise the audience and so you'll find yourself playing out a fair few moral dilemmas in your own head throughout.

A clear attempt at counter programming a summer of noisy action flicks, boisterous comedies and superhero flicks Last Night is an intelligent and powerful drama piece. While not quite as clever as it likes to think it is it offers up some interesting characters and has a hypnotic, easy rhythm that will draw you in. 

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

A Neon Tinged Feast At Body & Soul

Attending last year's Body and Soul festival was one of the best things about last summer for me and I'm suitably raging I can't attend this weekend's festivities. It's an eclectic, chilled out experience and every bit as daft, engaging and entertaining as you would hope.

The line up and buzz about this year is building and it's easy to see why. One particular highlight that I really wish I could check out comes courtesy of the rather brilliant Queens of Neon. They've been thrown lavish tea parties and other food-fun-meets-creative-madness events for a few years now and have quite the reputation.

For this year's Body and Soul festival they've a lavish banquet for 200 people planned in the festival forest ground. You'll have to book ahead of time but a five course festival in such lush surroundings is surely to be a treat.

If that hasn't convinced you then the viral video they've done might just tip you over the edge. A trippy, surreal mish-mash of colours and food it'll have you drooling and booking tickets in no time.


For more on the event click here and check out the Queens of Neon online here.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Spin That Record - Top Tunes Circa May/June 2011

A simple one this, a list of the tunes, remixes and such I'm digging at the moment. This isn't necessarily the coolest tunes, the newest ones, it's just whatever has lodged in my head, gotten repeat plays etc over the last while.

Top of The World feat. Dev - The Cataracs

Who Says - Selena Gomez and the Scene

Beat Of My Drum - Nicola Roberts

Prophet (Better Watch It) - Rizzle Kicks

I'm The Fool - Soundgirl

Turn It Up - Taryn Manning

Asthma Attack - cocknbullkid

Bass Down Low feat. Tinie Tempah - Dev

Heavy Metal Lover - Lady Gaga

We Are Stars - The Pierces

Too Close (Nadastrom Remix) - Alex Clare

Right There (The Sound of Arrows Remix) - Nicole Scherzinger

Notorious - The Saturdays

Moment 4 Life feat Drake - Nicki Minaj

Forbidden Fruit Festival: My Wholly Unprofessional "Review"

Forbidden Fruit, the first of many a music festival to take place in Ireland this summer was seen by many as the kicking off festival season. And instead of bailing down to some country location, tent in hand and a song in your heart, Forbidden Fruit offered Dubliners the the chance to sample various stages of music, overpriced falafel (Does anyone actually eat falafel?) on their doorstep. Basically, go see some cool bands and then sleep in your own bed at the end of each day. What's not to love?

I decided to head along to day one in an attempt to soak up some festival cool, expose myself to the sort of music I frequently read about but rarely see live and also laze about in the sun staring at hot indie boys. Many a muso-head told me that the Sunday line up was like, so,much better? but for me Saturday had the best spread of dance/rock/Irish acts.

Thankfully the festival was "boutique" (whatever THAT means) meaning it was easy to navigate and you could plonk yourself between stages and tents with ease. The atmosphere was great although the grumbling about the lines for drinks threatened that peace. While I can see why people would be frustrated by bar delays I still fail to see why they couldn't just go see and a band instead. Oh well.

Bands wise this is my (not entirely scientific or highbrow) breakdown of who I saw:

Bitches With Wolves :  I rave about this bunch all the time but can you blame me when they're so bloody amazing? Having caught BWW live a few times now it's been a joy to watch their show get better and better each time. The tunes were all there, including a newbie Rewind, a 90s house flavored number with a melancholic air. Great stuff. BWW are down to play many an Irish festival this year so do make it your mission to see them.

Jape: Confession time, I sort of spent half of this set rambling on with mates, bumping into friends so my attention was split but what I do remember was a jaunty, indie dance set that got the main stage hopping relatively early on in the proceedings. Fun.

Bombay Bicycle Club: I'd heard a tune here and there by these critical darlings and so was excited to see them live. Sadly they didn't really grab my attention, though the feel good, Vampire Weekend air to the set and a couple of key tunes clearly went down well with the crowd around me who were are all cooler than I could ever hope to be *clutches Britney album to chest, cries a single salty tear*

Wild Beasts: I interviewed these guys last year at Oxegen and they were suitably lovely. New album Smother has had many a rock journo foaming at the mouth (I guess they had to take a break from listening to Born This Way on a loop? Riiiight?) but it's a style of folk infused guitar pop that's not necessarily my thing. But between earnest chats and avoiding spilling Bulmers from passers by I found myself really enjoying their set. (If you feel like this all too insightful, I completely understand)

Beardyman: Myself and festival partner in crime Sarah where very aware that this was an act we were really "supposed" to see. But given that we'd sat ourselves between his tent and the main stage we settled for listening to a chunk of his set from just outside, with a capacity crowd piling in. We couldn't resist a few minutes inside for a sneaky rave up. The crowd were suitably in awe of the beatboxing, head spinning show on stage and I could see why. I couldn't quite brave the party hearty crowd for too long but this was great fun. I completely get the hype now. 

Aeroplane: clearly where me and Sarah decided to man up and just go up to the front in advance and have a proper dance fest. So that's what we did. A DJ set fueled by remixes, thumping French house and an infectious audience made this a highlight of my weekend. I did spy the lovely Cock and Bull TV filming and a had a moment of fear, picturing the awful crowd shots of my dance moves.. but hey. Worth it.

Flaming Lips: I've never really been a fan of this band's psychedelic rock but have always wanted to catch their visually explosive live show. And what can I say, it was suitably impressive. Although fifteen minutes in, after a stage full of costumed dancers, lasers, a giant screen, Wayne Coyne flying into the audience and giant balls everywhere it felt like we'd seen most of the what they had to offer so we cut our losses and decided to have a mooch around.

The Subs: which lead us to catching the majority of The Subs' set. I knew very little about them before I went but part DJ set-part noise punk poppers The Subs were brash, obnoxious, unsubtle, silly and lots and lots of fun. Sadly, their studio cuts of their frenetic electro rock doesn't have the same bizarre energy of their visually arresting and thrilling live show. Still, if you see The Subs on a festival line up, go, disengage your brain and flail like a maniac. You'll love it.

Alongside this decent line up I enjoyed a properly brilliant organic burger (oh, music festivals), briefly danced on a disco bus (boom), had an impromptu dance party to a Frankie Grimes DJ set and even had a few lovely people come up to me about Following Fade Street. Forbidden Fruit, for me was plenty of fun and by all accounts did a decent job of entertaining the music starved masses. I'm excited to see what they get up to next year. Keep an eye on CockandBull TV who will be uploading videos and pictures from the festival over the coming weeks too. You can one below and their amazing Flickr photostream with images by Peter Fingleton. Wahey.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Being "Enthralled" by The Dirty Epics. Ahem.

I've been doing bits and pieces for RTE's Red Radar music blog over the last few months and you can catch a piece I wrote about the new single from The Dirty Epics here. There is an also sidebar about pop vocabulary but listen, it's important to tackle the big issues.

You can watch the video for Enthralled below. It's rather good:

How I Made Lily Allen Laugh. Kind Of.

Lily Allen became of an instant pop sensation when she debuted with Alright Still, some fine singles and plenty of attitude circa 2006. After a blaze of chart glory, including a triumphant second album Allen announced plans to leave music.  

This generated plenty of eye rolls but it seems like she wasn't lying. Allen hasn't hinted at returning to music as yet. Instead she's become a prolific tweeter and started a boutique with her sister Sarah Owen in London, Lucy in Disguise, the story of which was profiled for a fly on the wall C4 documentary earlier this year.

Now, Lucy in Disguise has been turned into a clothing line, launched here in Brown Thomas last week. Inspired by the vintage clothes they grew up on and also stocked their latest business venture with, it's a neat spin on the celebrity clothing line angle (particularly given Allen's previous much maligned work with New Look). 

The launch last week saw Lily and Sarah fly into meet the assembled press and take some snaps. The lovely Mikey Robinson asked me along and I duly said yes. I thought we were being asked along to some weird press call. When we got there we realized we were in line for a snap with the pair. Gas.  

It was clear that Lily wasn't over the moon about having to stand for endless pictures. Not that this is a bad thing. She was friendly, polite and clearly grateful that people were there to see her. But Lily Allen has always strained at the seams of fame, uncomfortable with the attention but understanding how it's changed her life for the better in some ways. She's not a picture perfect celebrity, smiling away while inside they'd rather be on the sofa sipping Fanta, watching Gossip Girl and being fed jellybeans by a harem of topless men (Did I just write down how I'd like to spend my every waking day? MAYBE).  

Meeting her too then is an equally interesting experience. You're not starstruck meeting Lily Allen, you feel like you already know her. Her wry lyrics, her candid and humorous way of dealing with the press means that she's put herself out in the open time and time again.

And so my exchanges with Miss Allen were typically hilarious. When she saw my Animal House t-shirt she immediately remarked "oh that's one of my favorite films". And here was the awkward bit. I haven't seen it (I know. I know) Cue awkward mumbling from me. Then the following gem: "So, are you having fun?" I asked dryly, knowing she was bit at ease "Um, not really" she giggled. "That's ok, I like that you were honest. I'd be worried if you were like "Yaahhh, it's amazing"'. Allen laughed, a sort of "well duh" laugh. It was a bit awkward but also hilarious. It completely matched what I felt I knew about her. It was tongue in cheek, likable but also a bit unsure what to make of the circus around her. In essence, it was a true Lily Allen moment.  

Well, either that or I just acted like a dickhead and she responded as such. Who knows? Either way the photo that was snapped while this exchange took place was suitably hilarious:   

Sadly I didn't get to make a tit out of myself with Sarah. Maybe next time I can elicit an awkward laugh. 

Still, it was an interesting experience. Big thanks to Mikey for bringing me along (if you're not following him on Twitter by now, please do so. Quality tweets guaranteed). As soon as I finish this, the four of us are off to hit up the clubs and be famous mates 4 life. Fact.  

Also, if you're into that sort of thing (i.e. you are a girl who can actually wear vintage inspired dresses) the dresses themselves seem quite lovely. This recent spread from Elle UK is a good way to get a feel for the pieces. 

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Lady Gaga - Born This Way : A Review

Whether you did you own personal review 5 minutes after it leaked or would rather slice off all your extremeties than hear 5 seconds of it there's little ignoring the titanic hype, media push and sales Lady Gaga has drummed up with 3rd album Born This Way. Reviews have been mixed but that's hardly news. Gaga's previous records were met with varying critical response as is par for the course with any mainstream pop release. Now that we've had the chance to digest and watch it set the charts alight, does this album live up to the hype?

Sorta. One thing is for sure Born This Way is clearly Gaga's attempt to branch out musically. It does a fine job matching the big, brutally efficient choruses that are her trademark with weirder moments. Born This Way is a pungent, dense affair rippling with Springsteen references, variations on commercial dance music and Gaga singing in a myriad of registers. It is gleefully lacking in subtlety and is all the better for it. 

In working almost exclusively with producers Fernando Garibay and DJ White Shadow, Gaga has crafted a more cohesive and consistent vision than most popstars manage with a new release. Gaga has taken a concept and seen to it's logical endpoint. That concept is a loud brash journey of self acceptance, preach-y self love messages and belting vocals of course but still...

Born This Way is a high-octane, exhausting listen but it's also brimming with warmth, fun and plenty of perfect pop moments. It's clocked up a hugely impressive first week of sales but whether it has the same wide appeal of it's predecessors is debatable. This is still a shameless-y "pop" album but one that veers from the slightly more conventional moments of The FameThe Fame Monster.

Overall: Various shades of amazing. Let's do a track by track shall we?

Track by track

Marry The Night : Suitably epic and melodramatic opener. Like Whitney Houston riding a motorcycle while wailing over electro beats. Sets the scene perfectly.

Born This Way: A song that improves immensely in context of the album. A breezy, infectious disco-throwback-meets-modern-day-pop charmer.

Government Hooker : Britney style sleaze shot through with tongue in cheek political references and plenty of attitude. The first of many songs to see Gaga play with a different register and thumping electronic production.

Judas : Some have been harsh on this but it's fast become one of my favourite Gaga singles. Relentless, chaotic but also brilliantly conceived. I have a feeling this will be looked back on as a bit of a Gaga classic in a few years.

Americano : Demented Mariachi meets club pop tune with "political overtones". On my first listen to this I was twirling my kitchen using my pots and pans as maracas. If that's not a sign of a cracker I don't know what is.

Hair : I can't decide on this one. It's sweet but also produced in such a way that the hook gets buried in over cooked 80s sitcom instrumentation. A bit too slight although the Cyndi-Lauper-on-speed-vibe of it is appealing.

Schie├če : The closest this album gets to heavy electronica. German style gibberish, infectious  melodies and a relentless pace add up for a track that feels instantly Gaga and completely different from everything she's ever done.

Bloody Mary : Amazing and one of the strongest tracks on the album. Retreading the lyrical themes of Judas over a mournful mid tempo synth rumble and some monk chanting. A icy, ear-worm of a tune.

Black Jesus (Amen Fashion) (Bonus Track on Deluxe Edition) : Very much a bonus track. A fluffy and harmless ode to fashion, working it etc etc. Easy to see why this was left off the standard album but it is still fun.

Bad Kids : I wasn't sold on this at first but unlike Hair this wears it's "love yourself misfit" vibe so much better and is actually one of the best melodies on the album. Like a Madonna album track circa 1983. Sweet and charming.

Fashion Of His Love (Bonus Track on Deluxe Edition) : as has been widely pointed out sounds very like Whitney Houston's I Wanna Dance With Somebody. This is an enjoyable romp with R&B goes dance pop tones, if hardly earth shattering.

Highway Unicorn (Road To Love) : Horrific title aside, this is brilliant. Channels the rock'n'roll vibe Gaga references so often with a soaring, fist pumping melody and a sense of urgency.

Heavy Metal Lover : This is my personal fave. Dense electronic textures sidle on a Kylie style hook with plenty of sexy overtones. A song half grunted over juddering electro shouldn't work this well but this is brilliant. Another example of Gaga doing pop music in a different way to her earlier work but still attaching a solid gold hook to it.

Electric Chapel: More highway rock'n'roll meets electro pop. Brims with a strange sense of ceremony and energy and brilliantly sets the scene for the closing moments of the album

The Queen : As close the entire project gets to a stinker. The variation in tempo is a welcome change of pace on such a thumping body of work but it's also grating and underdeveloped. A missed opportunity.

You and I : Gaga's most Queen moment yet. Brian May turns up on guitar and it also "contains elements" from Queen's We Will Rock You. The chorus is the stuff Elton John dreams about at night and the vocal is among Gaga's best, earnest, endearing and euphoric. Thankfully the studio version adds enough oopmh without taking it's magic away. Lovely.

The Edge of Glory : A stunner. A rip roaring tale of living life to the very last, like a hybrid between Bruce Springsteen & Bon Jovi coated in Madonna gone mad vocals. Some of have criticised the sax solo as twee and self indulgent. In truth it's a moment of genius perfectly suited to the earnest throwback nature of the tune. Likely to be the next huge Gaga hit. (well, it technically already is. but still)

There you have it. At the rate this lady is going who's to say we won't have another Gaga album in oh, say, 6 months. For now Born This Way stands up as an exciting slice of bonkers pop.