31 03 2013

Here’s a reprint of my review of that lovely DC Comics table book I blogged about a few weeks ago.




Chronicling the early days of the so-called “Golden Age” of comics (which foisted, among others, the world’s first super-hero Superman out onto the public realm, forever changing pop culture in a single bound) this over-sized, painstakingly put together coffee table book charts those tentative first forays of Batman, Wonder Woman, Captain Marvel and many more. The first of five volumes charting the continuing legacy of the publisher, former DC editor and writer Paul Levitz really pulls out all the stops to reprint the best bits from the company’s past (as well as some of the most bizarre). Including an insightful interview with the recently departed and hugely influential artist Joe Kubert and packed with a veritable treasure trove of old covers, photos and stories, the book is a must for fans of the sub-culture and packs a punch as powerful as the Man of Steel himself.


METAL HAMMER REVIEW: Finntroll ‘Blodsvept’

30 03 2013

Here’s a reprint of my review of the new Finntroll record that ran in Metal Hammer.




This month, those genre-straddling, loveable lunatics Finntroll return with their sixth full length effort and it’s an opus which sees the Helsinki-based seven-piece eschew a less polished production in favour of a rawer, more visceral approach. A record which sees them continue to skillfully walk that tightrope between playful tongue in cheek nods and winks and downright mad as a bag of hammers insanity, the band’s blend of Finnish folk music, heavy metal and rock ‘n’ troll has never sounded better than is has on the 11 track affair. Opening with the ominous sound of something unearthly walking through woods, the band waste little time delivering batshit crazy sea shanties (Ett Folk Forbannat) and hellacious humppa-infused anthems (Mordinnen) and they even add some dueling banjos, which shred with the best of them, on the awesome Skogsdotter, reaffirming that underneath all the over the top schlock lies a band with real musical chops. While at times Blodsvept can get a little too ambitious (Tva Ormar features a riff that sounds just like the Inspector Gadget theme) the band hit the target more often than miss it and if you embrace the madness from the start then you’re in for a treat. [7]



The Wolverine Trailer

27 03 2013

Yes, the first Wolvie solo film was a load of old trunks (that I still quite enjoy anyway) but the just-released new trailer for the second one looks ace. #Snikt

Suicidal Tendencies ‘Cyco STyle’

26 03 2013

Here’s the new single from Suicidal Tendencies’ first album in 13 years and lo, it is bitchin’

Hot Press Album Review: Axis Of ‘Finding St Kilda’

25 03 2013

Here’s a reprint of my review of the new Axis Of record.


Finding St Kilda (Smalltown America)

Three and a half stars

Key Track: ‘Aung’


Ok, let’s get the big-eared pachyderm out of the room nice and early. Yes, it has seemed to take an eon for Portstewart-born but Belfast-based trio Axis Of to release their debut offering, but the riotous slab of wax was most certainly worth the wait. Not quite a “punk” record, but an opus steeped in the values of that scene, Finding St Kilda is full of pleasingly prickly choruses, riffs which could level a mountain and oodles of goose-bump-inducing outsider anthems. Featuring 11 tracks over the course of 34 minutes, Axis Of’s first record sees the band not so much wearing their hearts on their sleeves, but rather nailing the still beating ventricles to the slab of wax for the world to see and the passion and belief in what they’re doing informs the music with a thoroughly righteous sense of purpose.


Opening with ‘Cardiel,’ the song is a punchy effort packed with gang vocals, a nursery rhyme-style melody and even a nod to ‘So You Wanna Be A Boxer’ from Bugsy Malone and it leaves us without a shadow of a doubt that they’ve come out fighting from the get-go. Album highlight is ‘Aung,’ which sees a fuzz-laden, decidedly groovy riff do battle with a superfast hardcore punk chorus, but ‘We Dine On Seeds,’ which boasts a badass brass section at the halfway point of the song, gives it a run for its money.


If there are any criticisms we could make of Finding St Kilda it would be that the constant shift in dynamics can get a little predictable (‘Mapping St Kilda,’ ‘Stan Winston’s Rough Seas’) and at times they’re almost packing too much in, but the vocal performance from Ewen Friers throughout helps makes Axis Of a band to believe in and it’s one of the best debuts this writer has heard in moons.


Clive Burr R.I.P.

15 03 2013

A couple of days ago, Clive Burr, drummer on Iron Maiden’s seminal first three albums passed away.

I was lucky enough to be at this gig, front and centre, in 2002 and it was an absolute privilege to see the great man in person.R.I.P.

Hot Press Live Review: Other Voices

11 03 2013

Last month I decamped to Derry to check out the filming of RTE’s music programme Other Voices. As well as some ace gigs to watch, I was put up in the Erin Suite (later renamed “the Edwin Suite”) which featured multiple tellys, my own living room complete with dining table/three piece suite and a class view. Check it out. Nice eh?

Anywho, here’s a reprint of the review that ran in Hot Press. Looking forward to getting back to Derry again at some stage this year.



Unless you’re currently residing in a galaxy far, far away, you’ll no doubt be aware that Derry has been declared the UK City Of Culture for 2013. With a veritable shed-load of events planned to celebrate the title, the Maiden City looks set to become a Mecca for music fans across the island and this weekend RTE’s Other Voices joins in the fun with a visit to the Glassworks. Taking a brief break away from its usual home in Dingle, the programme makers have assembled a stunning array of acts to perform on the intimate stage (which is bedecked with huge, lyric-branded plastic hearts) and Saturday’s night’s line-up is arguably the best of the lot, which is handy since Hot Press has just arrived to get an eyeful.


On first are Dublin quintet Little Green Cars who play a clutch of songs which all sound like future world-beaters. Just over a year since they first performed on Other Voices (an appearance which they described as “the highlight of their lives”) the band have grown in confidence and talent and their brand of emotive, folksy tuneage could put goose-bumps on-top of your goose-bumps. ‘The John Wayne’ in particular is a beautifully ragged tear-stained threnody and judging by the rapturous reaction tonight it looks like they’re set to join Mumford & Sons and Of Monsters And Men in the charts and hearts of the globe.


Next up is local lass made good Bronagh Gallagher who performs a batch of soul-infused songs backed by an ear-gasm inducing brass section and full band. Paying tribute to the likes of Al Green and Percy Sledge while putting her own stamp on things, the loved-up set takes us back in time to a bygone era and sees the be-fringed performer happily playing the role of torch singer and there’s a real warmth to the likes of ‘Not A Star.’


California-born but Manchester-based chanteuse Jesca Hoop is a different prospect altogether. Clutching her white guitar and sporting decidedly mad granny-esque hair, it seems like it’s not just her music that’s a square peg in a round hole, but that’s ok because we like “different” and the change of pace from nu-soul to unassuming Bjork and Kate Bush-inspired oddities is a welcome one. ‘Born To’ is a bona fide outsider pop classic that’s full of hooks that ache and it’s a real highlight in her short but sweet set.


Welsh warbler Marina And The Diamonds closes tonight’s broadcast in style with a stripped back collection of songs culled from both of her albums. Back to black (hair, that is), the singer tells us she’s a little nervous as she’s spent the last month or so doing nothing but “watching Jeremy Kyle” but you’d never know it as she prowls cat-like around the stage belting out ‘Bubblegum Bitch’ and ‘Hollywood’ like she’s the long-lost daughter of Brian Ferry and the low-key setting really highlights just how good her voice is.


After the broadcast, we spill out into the night to check out the Other Voices Music Trail and honourable mentions go to Wyldling, whose set at the Icon re-affirms that they’ve one of the best front-women in the country and Triggerman, whose blues-imbued, riff-laden rock lays waste-almost literally-to the heaving Mason’s bar and as first date’s go, Other Voices’ weekend in Derry is up there with the best of them.