AU Issue 56

7 05 2009

The new issue of AU is currently out of the shelves and features Gallows on the front cover, written by yours truly. It’s my first cover in over a year and my seventh in total (not including contributions to ‘top 50’ type issues). As some who read Dead Horse know, I’ve been with Alternative Ulster since (more or less) day one in the winter of ’02. In those days the intention was to launch a website that focused on reviewing/interviewing local unsigned acts who were ignored by the mainstream press, but that ultimately mutated into the magazine we know and love today.

Over the last six and a half years I’ve been a part of some features I’ve been really proud of (my Gossip cover still ranks as one of the best things I’ve written) and some things I really haven’t (my pro-riot grrrl piece didn’t pan out like I wanted it to thanks to a cover photo that totally missed the point of the article and unfortunately ended up looking like some paedo’s wet dream. *Shudder*).  I’ve left a few times but I always seem to come back eventually and I’ll probably be involved with the magazine until it ultimately runs its course.

Anyway, I digress. I’m very happy with how the Gallows interview turned out and despite a few niggling things design/editing wise, I think I can be proud of it so check it out if you get a chance and let me know what you think.





Girls Girls Girls

7 05 2009

I fucking love Girls Aloud. A few weeks ago I was charged with the task of defending them in the Telegraph ahead of their gig at the Odyssey and here’s a reprint.

In Defense of Girls Aloud

I first fell for the all too obvious charms of Girls Aloud back in ’02. At the time, the band were formed right before my eyes by way of Pop Stars: the Rivals and, much to the chagrin of train-loving cheesy song merchant Pete Waterman, his boyband One True Voice never stood a chance when Louis Walsh’s five-piece (Kimberly, Nadine, Nicola, Sarah and Cheryl) belted out ‘Sound of the Underground’ for the very first time.

 Now I know what you’re thinking. You’re already assuming that my affection for the feisty pop band lies in a deep rooted (steady on!) appreciation for their gravity defying mini-skirts and pins that Bettie Page herself would have been proud, but you’re wrong. You see while admittedly the charms of Kimberly et al is as obvious as a high-waisted trouser joke round Simon Cowell’s gaff, it’s the band’s unique sound that gets this writer all hot and bothered.

 Up until Girls Aloud, commercial bands were a boring breed. Seemingly content with churning out covers of Bee Gees songs (courtesy of Stock, Aiken and Waterman) these translucent pop idols never put much thought into their music and were more concerned with pulling a cheeky pose for Smash Hits magazine and telling pre-pubescent girls they “love animals and stuff” than singing a song that make people want to dance. Girls Aloud changed all that. From their very first single, the quintet hit the ground running and ‘Sound of the Underground’ shocked everyone with its fusion of drum and bass, surf guitar and lyrics that made very little sense (but sounded oh so right).

Thanks to their writer/producer Xenomania, the band had a style all of their own and over the last decade they’ve rewritten the rule book on what you can and cannot do on a pop record. It also helps that four of the girls have really distinctive voices (sorry Sarah) and can take lyrics like “Baby, I miss you, so tell me, is she really that beautiful?” on ‘Whole Lotta History’ and sing them so passionately it would make Mr T break down in tears and blub like a baby.

And while the girls themselves have little in the way of musical training (bar childhood singing lessons and hands on experience performing throughout their youth) their keen ear for a tune has aided them in choosing some pretty stellar singles in the past and the final decision of which tracks they actually sing rests of their heads, proving they’re not merely songbirds for sale. Begrudgers may mock the idea of them working with a producer and giving little input into the actual songwriting process, but considering some of the best pop bands in the world had a similar sven gali behind them (the Supremes, the Shangri-Las, the Ronettes etc) I genuinely don’t care where the songs come from-just as long as they’re good.

I often find when I tell people of my love for Girls Aloud’s songs they look at me like I’m that dude who worked at the chicken factory on the X Factor. For some reason, there are a fraction of people who think it’s uncool to listen to hook-laden harmonies and inventive song structures simply because the teeny boppers like them too. Well it’s their loss, because Girls Aloud have been making some of the most exciting music in the last few years, splicing genres, experimenting with styles and generally never putting a Jimmy Choo clad foot wrong. So, ladies and gentlemen, I can unequivocally state with pride that I’ve been a Girls Aloud fan from day one and if you can’t hear the sheer genius of tracks like ‘the Promise,’ ‘Love Machine,’ ‘Something Kinda Ooooh’ and ‘Call the Shots,’ well then that’s your loss. You should probably go and share your feelings with Pete Waterman. I hear he has a lot of time on his hands too…

 Edwin McFee