Veronica Mars Movie Trailer

29 07 2013

Like plenty of other people,I was a bit bummed out when they stopped making the Veronica Mars TV show

You’ll be glad to know though that I’m no longer a bit bummed out, as they’re making a film (*insert yelp of joy here*).

Here’s a trailer.


26 07 2013

Here’s a reprint of my review of the ace Deep Valley album that ran in Hot Press a few issues ago.


Sistrionix (Island)

Key Track: ‘Gonna Make My Own Money’


Release Date: Out Now


Crochet-loving, fuzz-fuelled riff wielding LA scuzz-pop duo Deap Vally deliver their much anticipated debut album this fortnight and the riotous slab of wax is a ridiculously good rock ‘n’ roll romp from start to finish. Bursting at the seams with super-charged primal power and Stooges-infused punk swagger, Sistrionix is a seriously catchy record that boasts hooks by the bucketload as well as plenty of anthems for the post riot grrrl generation (‘Walk Of Shame,’ ‘Bad For My Body’). Musically indebted to 70s and 90s rock, Deap Vally’s sound is as subtle as a punch to the face and singer/guitarist Lindsay Troy’s howls are just the right side of unhinged and highlights include the ferocious ‘Gonna Make My Own Money’ and the sweet and tender (by their standards) album closer ‘Six Feet Under.’



15 07 2013

Here’s a reprint of my recent of the ace Wild Belle album that ran in Hot Press.


Isles (Columbia)


Key Track: ‘Another Girl’


Whenever brother/sister rock steady, ska, blues and pop duo Elliot and Natalie Bergman made their first onstage forays under the guise of Wild Belle at the start of 2012, the classically trained tunesmiths found themselves, for better or worse, clutched to the collective breast of the fashion world. With music makers and lovers having a somewhat prickly relationship at the best of times when it comes to the trendy Wendy’s and dapper Dan’s of that particular scene, the act endured intense scrutiny as people wanted to find out if they had substance to back up their admittedly eye-catching style.


Debut album Isles is their sonic response to the detractors and it’s an 11 track opus full of syrupy melodies that defiantly proves there’s much more to the band than a handful of pretty promo pics. Opening their account with ‘Keep You,’ the tune is a rock steady-infused shuffle which sees nursery rhyme-like vocal hook nuzzle up beside an ace, echoing dub sound and from the get-go it’s clear that they have some serious musical chops. As each song is intended to stand alone like an island (hence the title), every track takes the listener on a musical tour of the globe and there are elements of afrobeat (‘Twisted’) ska (‘It’s Too Late’) and 60s-era British invasion (‘’When It’s Over’) on the opus.


Natalie’s vocals soundtrack the journey perfectly, with her effortless croon calling to mind Amy Winehouse and Gloria Jones during her ‘Tainted Love’ pomp. While Isles does run out of steam a little towards the end, the likes of ‘Happy Home’ (which is bit of a reimagining of XTC’s classic ‘Making Plans For Nigel’) and the bluesy, handclap-driven ‘Another Girl’ should put a smile on even the harshest critics’ mug.




12 07 2013

Really loving this tune right now.If they’re good enough for Mark Radcliffe, they’re good enough for me.



11 07 2013

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




Inspired by the part of our psyche which makes good people do bad things, The Sinister Supremacy is the sixth album from Swedish melodic death/progressive thrash five-piece Darkane and it’s a record which sees them in a ferocious frame of mind. Their first new material in five years, the opus also features the return of singer Lawrence Mackrory (who performed on their debut record Rusted Angel) and the presence of their prodigal son has definitely put a fire back in their bellies. Calling to mind a mix of Chuck Billy, Chester Bennington and mid-period James Hetfield, the frontman’s vocal gymnastics adds excitement to the likes of The Decline and Existence Is Just A State Of Mind and strings, mandolins and keyboards all help stretch the band’s sound, creating a darker, heavier atmosphere throughout. The title track is a classic in the making thanks to a super-fast melodic riff which will leave no head un-banged,while the creepy but cool piano and strings-led instrumental Hate Repentance State is an interesting detour and a welcome part of an album that was worth the wait. [8]



9 07 2013

Here’s a reprint of the ace new Silver Seas album that ran in Hot Press.


Alaska (The Lights Label)


Key Track: ‘Roxy’


For the last decade or so, Nashville pop-rockers the Silver Seas have been charming the veritable under-crackers off of a small but strong fan-base with a series of self-released records that could provoke a punch drunk smile out of even the most miserable music fan. Slowly but surely carving out a career as one of the best bands that most of the world has never heard of, the artists formerly known as the Bees (not to be confused with the Isle of Wight-based indie band) have perfected beautiful, breezy, happy-sad tunes that sound timeless and drawn comparisons to Steely Dan and Fleetwood Mac along the way.


Alaska is the trio’s fourth record and it’s tailor made for lovers and loners alike. Opening with the album’s title track, the Silver Seas waste little time giving us some golden moments and it’s a piano-driven number that splices Billy Joel pop sensibilities with a vocal that reminds this reviewer a little of Rufus Wainwright. The lyrics are rose-tinted and awkward in equal measure and lines like “Red flannel shirt/With a sad look in your eye/Spring of ’91 you were the dancing girl/I was the guy behind the drums/You said don’t be so shy” draw you in and keep you there throughout the ten tracks.


There are a multitude of highlights on Alaska and the likes of the percussive ‘Sea Of Regret’ and the ode to 50s sock hops that is the beautiful ‘I’m The One’ all sound like a band in vintage form. ‘Roxy’ is the pick of the near-perfect pack though and the steel guitar and synth-laden ode to London has an irresistible sweetness to it’s sadness and has a chorus that you’ll be humming all year. Definite contender for album of the year.




8 07 2013

Here’s an unedited reprint of my review of the recent Mick Foley stand-up show that ran on Culture Northern Ireland.




Thirty minutes before the doors of the Empire in Belfast open, there’s already a large, snake-like queue of super excited punters waiting to walk into the venue to get up close and personal with this evening’s headline act. People from across the street keep looking over, obviously wondering which act has generated such glee from a few hundred people on a Sunday night. Is it the latest hipster-friendly indie band, performing an intimate club show before they headline festivals across the world, they wonder? Could it be an appearance from the increasingly Damien Thorn-like man-child known as Bieber, they seem to ponder?

No doubt they would be surprised to learn that the faithful are actually congregating outside to see a former professional wrestler (with a litany of injuries longer than Lindsay Lohan’s rap sheet) indulge his increasingly popular alter-ego as a stand-up comic/story-teller, and perhaps they’d even be mildly impressed to find out that recent Hall of Fame inductee, three time WWE champion and best-selling author Mick Foley sold out his Belfast date in 20 hours flat too. You see, much like metal, comic books and tattoos, the often misunderstood world of “rasslin” is an ever-green, deeply rich sub-culture and once you’ve been caught by the grappling bug, well, it never really loosens its grip, as tonight’s attendance ably illustrates.

While to the outsiders, a packed hall of punters all clamouring to hear stories from a man who competed in “Japanese Death Matches,” barbed wire bouts and the now-infamous Hell in a Cell ordeal (where the Long Island native ended up being flung off the top of a 16 feet tall steel construction onto a table below) might seem a little strange, inside the venue it feels like Christmas Eve and we’re all happily waiting for jolly old St Mick to arrive.

To get us in the mood though, there’s a support slot from Coleraine man Martin Mor and his Chinese Burn-like approach to warming up the audience has the place in hysterics. Boasting a brand of comedy that’s bluer than anything this reviewer has ever heard onstage, his frankly filthy material hits the mark more than misses it and while the poor souls in the front rows are put through hell, no-one seems to mind too much and he treats us all to a master-class on x-rated comedy.

Next up, it’s the self-proclaimed Hardcore Legend and he receives one of the biggest ovations in the Empire’s history. “The more you cheer, the less I have to do,” says Foley, flashing that famous gap-toothed grin of his and while he seems a little rattled having to follow Mor’s sledge-hammer like performance, it doesn’t take him too long to settle into the groove.

The last time Mick was here, the material for his show was a little broader in scope and he was clearly keen to attract a less wrestling-centric crowd. However, after a stint at the Edinburgh Festival where he under-went something of an epiphany, this tour sees him embrace his history and the performance, sub-titled Tales From Wrestling Past, is tailoured towards an audience who have grown up watching him shed blood, sweat and tears (then a little more blood for good measure).

Stories about Jake the Snake Roberts’ toilet habits and Diamond Dallas Page’s penchant for nudity are all told (and received) warmly and while some may argue that a show solely centred around the wrestling world may be a little off-putting for those who know little of it, this reviewer thinks Foley made a wise decision relying on his strengths. After all, you don’t see Slayer play country songs in an effort to appeal to a broader audience-so why should a wrestler tip-toe around a subject that 95% of his audience want to hear about?

A massive point of Mick’s appeal is his inherent sweetness. His anecdotes are told to amuse rather than annoy and his recollections aptly sum up the weird and wonderful sub-culture (he’s probably one of the only men on Earth who will wax lyrical about being slammed through a flaming table and make it seem like a warm and fuzzy experience). Telling a tale about a time where he attended an adult performance in Amsterdam alongside some fellow wrestlers, he grins when he remembers one of his peers noticed the nude performer was wearing a knee brace and, clearly feeling a kinship, said, “Look-he’s working hurt, too.”

While at times the opening night of his latest tour seems a little hap hazard (mid-way through he randomly takes an impromptu Q and A session before resuming his set), Foley’s undeniable charisma combined with his fond recollection of his storied career make for an unforgettable evening and, much to the delight of the champ’s doctors no doubt, he didn’t have to take a single steel chair shot to the head to give us value for money.


5 07 2013

Here’s a reprint of my review of the new Alice In Chains album that ran in Hot Press.


The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here (Virgin)


Key Track: ‘Low Ceiling’


For so many reasons you have to admire Alice In Chains’ massive set of balls. Not only have the seminal Seattle band made the doubters eat their words by reforming with their dignity intact, they’ve managed to pull off the near unthinkable and found a singer (William Duvall) who is up to the task of carrying on from where the dearly departed former frontman Layne Staley left off. They’ve also done it all on their own terms and taken the time needed to make new music rather than giving in to the temptation of accepting a quick pay-day and embarking on a nostalgia-riddled tour of the usual rock festivals and for that, we tip our collective caps in admiration.

The Devil Put The Dinosaurs Here is the band’s second record since their resurrection and it’s a typically dark and brooding opus full of Jerry Cantrell’s trademark sludge-laden riffs and diabolically good harmonies. As with any Alice album post their iconic ’92 LP Dirt, the band’s fifth full length is one that requires (and deserves) time to incubate. A much more rewarding listen than ’09’s Black Gives Way To Blue, this album is focused and confident and there are plenty of treats on offer.

Album opener ‘Hollow’ is vintage Alice and full of that primal power of old, while ‘Voices’ could be a relative of the Jar Of Flies classic ‘No Excuses.’ There are a few gambles on the record too, with the band trying their hands at country (‘Scalpel’) and poking fun at not only the moral majority (“The devil put the dinosaurs here/Jesus don’t like a queer” they observe on the title track) and themselves (“Old Mr Fun is back/Wonder where he’s been hiding at?” they croon on the stand-out ‘Low Ceiling’) while elsewhere DuVall gets time to shine (‘Phantom Limb’).

Granted, the spectre of Staley never really leaves the record and they don’t quite match the sheer genius of the likes of ‘Man In The Box,’ but there’s no denying that it’s good to have the ‘Sludge Factory’ back in business.



4 07 2013

Here’s a reprint of my review of the new Sabbath album that ran in Hot Press.


13 (Vertigo)

Key Track: ‘Damaged Soul’



Even as recently as a year ago, most metal fans with a thimble-full of knowledge on Black Sabbath would have scoffed at the idea that they’d be releasing a brand new studio album in 2013. A band that have had more bust-ups and break-downs than the entire residents of Coronation Street, the Brummie legends’ lives really has been just like a soap opera over the decades. They’ve sued each other, survived cancer and various other near-death experiences, snorted anything they could get their hands on and been involved in generations-worth of slagging matches. Despite all the bitterness, bad blood and poop-filled boxes posted to ex-band members however, one thing always remained pure and that was their music and 13 (their first full length record to feature Ozzy Osbourne, Tony Iommi and Geezer Butler together since ’78’s Never Say Die!) sees the band try to rekindle that spark that birthed a genre.


Featuring eight tracks, 13 is an incredibly self-referential record and over the course of 50minutes there are plenty of nods to some classic cuts from the Ozzy-era of Sabbath. ‘Zeitgeist’ bears more than a passing resemblance to their beautiful sci-fi lullaby ‘Planet Caravan,’ while the harmonica on ‘Damaged Soul’ calls to mind ‘The Wizard,’ and the riff-laden album resonates with a defiant “if it ain’t broke” mentality.


Iommi’s guitar playing is immaculate throughout and his blistering solo on ‘Loner’ is up there with his best work and Ozzy’s voice is nice and eerie, holding together for the most part. While it almost goes without saying that 13 isn’t as good as the standard-setting Master Of Reality or Heaven And Hell from the Dio-era, the record is a welcome new chapter in the band’s story and here’s hoping they can get drummer/founding member Bill Ward back into the fold for its follow-up.



2 07 2013

Here’s a reprint of my review of BBC Radio One’s Big Weekend that ran in Hot Press.



Boasting a bill that would make the Norse Gods of Valhalla whisper “hold on a second lads, this looks like it could be too much fun for us,” BBC Radio One’s Big Weekend is back in Derry with a bang and it’s crammed full of performers that would make the most pickiest festival punter’s mouth water. Hot Press has arrived bright and early on Sunday for the best line-up of the last three days and we’re just in time to see 30 Seconds To Mars scamper onstage. Led by singer, actor and former squeeze of Angela Chase (google it) Jared Leto, the band have grown into bona fide headliners over the last decade and open the main stage in style, provoking mass singalongs to ‘The Kill’ despite the 1pm start.


Sadly we miss Haim due to a scheduling clash, but we catch popstrels Little Mix and their canny cover of En Vogue’s ‘Don’t Let Go’ impresses. Miles Kane is up next and he strides on to the In New Music We Trust stage clad in a fetching white suit which makes him look like the coolest ice-cream man on earth. ‘Inhaler,’ newies ‘Give Up’ and ‘Taking Over’ sound massive thanks to some amped up riffs that are fuzzier than a two year old tooth-brush and he looks ready to take things to the next level.


Wretch 32 on the other hand struggles to work the crowd and as a result there’s a mass exodus over to the INMWT stage as people want to get up close and personal with Macklemore & Ryan Lewis. In fact, such is the excitement for the rapper, they’ve had to close the doors and refuse entry to hundreds (if not thousands) of punters, making for one of the most electric atmospheres this writer has experienced in moons. Looking like he hasn’t a notion what time or even day it is, the jet-lagged hip-hopper is welcomed like a hero and he returns the favour by dropping ‘Thrift Shop’ nice and early and the venue erupts.’One Love’ ably proves that you can be a mainstream rap act and not be a sexist, homophobic wanker, while ‘Can’t Hold Us’ sounds monstrous as the festival go-ers pogo as one causing the tent to quiver and shake like a blancmange on a bouncy castle and it feels like a watershed moment for the performer and one many won’t forget.


Jake Bugg is an odd way to come down from Mackle-Mania, but it oddly works, though Jessie Ware doesn’t quite hit the spot as we’d hoped she would. Paramore though, are a revelation and bursting with pop punk hits, putting on a world beating performance. Hayley Williams, as ever, is a joy to watch and ‘Misery Business,’ ‘Into You’ and more all sound immaculate.


After catching a bit of the robotic Vampire Weekend, Bruno Mars closes the star-studded event in style with a polished, hit-laden performance that proves he deserves his spot as the current prince of pop and as fireworks light up the night sky, we keep our fingers crossed it won’t be another nine years until the festival is back in the north.