11 11 2014



World On Fire (Warner Bros)


Key Track: ‘Automatic Overdrive’


It’s just over 20 years since perennially top hatted guitarist Slash bowed out from the ongoing soap opera that is/was Guns ‘N’ Roses. However, despite the decades that have passed (and subsequent metric ton of moaning from his former cohort Axl Rose), in a weird way it’s like he never left. For millions of people, he will always be “Yer man from Guns ‘N’ Roses” and judging by the material on his latest solo record, Slash seems just fine with that as World On Fire doesn’t stray too far from the sound that made him a household name.

His third “official” solo record (90s project Slash’s Snakepit was a different beast entirely) Myles Kennedy once again features on vocals and it’s packed with plenty of sleazy riffs to appease the faithful. World On Fire is far from a classic though, as it suffers from way too many songs. At 17 tracks and a running time of a whopping 77minutes, the record tests the patience more often than not and the likes of run of the mill hard rock romps such as ‘Wicked Stone’ and ‘Dirty Girl’ blend into one. ‘Automatic Overdrive’ is a stand-out though, thanks to Slash changing things up with a distinctly NWOBHM-like riff and the title track is an incendiary offering, but overall the record is as bloated as Slash’s ex band-mate.



Had To Be Done….

13 10 2014

Though it pained me to pierce the shrink wrap of this amazing new box-set of Synder and Capullo’s super-creepy ‘Death Of The Family’  story (which came with a mask of the Joker’s ripped off face), I’m kinda glad  I did. *Shhhh* don’t tell anyone….

2014-10-13 12.58.38

Oh and since I’m in a Batman mood-here I am with Bats artist and all-round ledge-bag Greg Capullo.



2 10 2014

I’ve always had a strained relationship with Queens Of The Stone Age. I suppose it stretches back to around this time ten years ago. At that point in my life I had been a fan of head Queen Josh Homme for around a decade. Myself and my brother adored his first (and best) band Kyuss after discovering them via 2fm’s infamous Metal Show. When the band imploded, I was one of “those people” who hastily went out and ordered QOTSA’s split release and from there, although I was initially a little wigged out at Homme’s high-pitched vocals, I loved those first two albums. In fact I was such a fan that I even knew how to correctly pronounce his surname (“Mommy” only with an “H” instead of “M,” kids).

Like most things in life though, my affection for the band waned after a time. Yes, that show with Homme, Oliveri, Langegan et al in Dublin’s Ambassador (circa 2002) was incredible. After that though, things seemed to sour. Mark Lanegan left, Nick was fired and a project that only ever intended to release three records (according to Homme himself) began to tread water and churn out sub-standard shite.

I kept the faith though. At least initially. I’ll admit being offered interviews with Homme (during the middle part of the 2000’s) only for them to be switched to one of his lieutenants at the eleventh hour did grate. Especially when during one of those phoners I was told “Josh has lost his voice and can’t speak to you,” but I could clearly hear him loudly talking for 30minutes in the background while his guitarist Troy whispered two and three word answers to my questions. At that point, our plan was to make Queens and the then burgeoning stoner rock scene as a whole the cover of Alternative Ulster. Needless to say, it didn’t pan out and some nonsense on (the not very alternative) U2 went on page one instead. But that’s a tale for another time.

Over the intervening years, more average albums were inflicted on me and I witnessed a slew of less than stellar QOTSA shows. Then Homme decided to sue his old Kyuss band-mates for playing gigs as Kyuss Lives. An unforgivable act, in my book. Especially as there were plenty of us who never got to see John Garcia, Nick Oliveri and Brant Bjork all onstage together the first time around.

Ever the optimist though, I did have a thimble’s-worth of hope that Homme could reach past heights again. That too drained away after watching QOTSA bore the assembled masses in Belfast’s Odyssey last year though. As I stood waiting for my friend, I saw a gentleman clad in cream chinos, a tucked in shirt and a jumper casually knotted around his neck bop up and down to (the fairly) new song ‘Smooth Sailing.’ He noticed me out of the corner of his eye, no doubt scowling away (my default setting) and-I shit you not-whipped out his air guitar and started beckoning me over to him and his Rugger mates with the arm of his make-believe instrument. It was at that moment I decided that I really needed to stick a fork in it. Queens Of The Stone Age had become the favourite rock band for a generation of people who knew fuck all about the genre. It’s not me, Queens-it’s you.

Which leads me to this post, re-publishing a review I wrote of QOTSA in Belfast during the summer that ran in Hot Press. I’ll be honest, I pitched to review the show purely for the presence of Brody Dalle (I adored the Distillers) and fully expected another flaccid affair from Homme and co. While I wasn’t completely eating my words by the gig’s climax, it was definitely the first QOTSA show I’d enjoyed in years and left me hopeful that maybe, just maybe, they might have a surprise or two left up their sleeves. And it’s the hope that gets you, folks…



Zane hiking around the house

Ok, full disclosure. I’ve felt that ever since Nick “Rex Everything” Oliveri and Mark Lanegan departed a decade ago, it’s been a series of diminishing returns for desert rockers Queens Of The Stone Age. However, while bloated albums like Era Vulgaris have disappointed way more than delighted, I’ve always desperately hoped that Josh Homme and Co. would prove me wrong. Simply put-he’s one of the founding members of the seminal Kyuss, he has more than earned a second chance.

After being warmed up with a storming set from leather-lunged punk Brody Dalle that features some absolute gems from her Distillers days (‘Sick Of It All,’ ‘Die On A Rope’), it was time for Queens to show us their riffs. Opening with the menacing ‘You Think I Ain’t Worth A Dollar, But I Feel Like A Millionaire,’ the track is a thrillingly thuggish experience live. Break-through single ‘No-One Knows’ keeps the excitement levels up to 11 and ‘My God Is The Sun’ and ‘Monsters In The Parasol’ ensure we’re off to a neck-bothering start.

Sounding brash, ballsy and occasionally utterly brilliant, QOTSA excel in an open air venue and tonight they more than make up for that awful Belfast, Odyssey gig nine months ago which felt more like a wake than a rock show. There are still a few wobbles tonight though. Newie ‘I Sat By The Ocean’ and ‘I’m A Designer’ are dreary efforts and there is nothing from their self-titled first (and best) album in the set, but there are encouraging signs that Homme isn’t merely going through the motions and is still a punk at heart.

He berates the heavy handed bouncers, slags off the “free-loaders” in the nearby apartment blocks and in ‘Feel Good Hit Of The Summer’ he has a true rock anthem that will never age. Finishing with ‘A Song For The Dead,’ QOTSA’s third ever Belfast show feels more like a triumph than a failure overall and this old school Kyuss and Queens fan left feeling hopeful for their future for the first time in years.



30 09 2014

Here’s a reprint of my review of the new Death From Above 1979 album that ran in Hot Press.


The Physical World (Fiction)


Key Track: ‘Government Trash’


It’s been a full decade since trail-blazing dance-rock duo Death From Above 1979 last released an album. During that time, the pioneering sonic pugilists have seen many pretenders and successors (such as Test Icicles and Royal Blood respectively) appear to challenge their throne. No-one does that neck-bothering, chunky riffs and hyper-active hooks combo quite like Sebastien Grainger and Jesse F. Keeler though and The Physical World announces their return in rousing style.

Cutting to the chase, anyone eager to hear a huge growth in sound from their ferocious debut You’re A Woman, I’m A Machine should head elsewhere. Adopting a similar ethos that made the likes of the Ramones, the Misfits and AC/DC global icons, Death From Above 1979 opt to stick to what they’re good at and it makes for an exciting and exhilarating listen. Opening with ‘Cheap Talk,’ the track’s biting bass and colossal grooves prove that they haven’t missed a beat despite their hiatus and the break-neck ‘Government Trash’ and the tellingly titled ‘Always On’ are breath-taking rock songs. Perverted power ballad ‘White Is Red’ offers something of a departure for the duo, but mostly The Physical World is all about riffs that could crack the sky and tunes that are tailor-made for the mosh pit. Here’s hoping it won’t take them another ten years to make a follow up.




16 05 2014

I was asked to write a TV column for Hot Press a few weeks ago. The title says it all really, kids. Here’s a reprint.




Ever since I was a child I’ve had a fascination with all things frightening and creepy (think Count Dracula and demons from the eternal pit rather than Eamon Dunphy in drag there, folks). For years I’ve been positively thrilled and terrified in equal measure by macabre tales told via the medium of film, novels and comic books. In recent times, the humble tellybox has also become relied upon to provide solid instalments of spooky stories too and this rekindled love affair between horror and the small screen has yielded some pretty spectacular results, I have to say.


Though I am still currently mourning the end of the sublime, Jessica Lange-led American Horror Story: Coven, the present mainstream fascination with the darker side of life means that there have been plenty of programmes to keep me contented while I wait for the Hallowe’en debut of Freak Show, the fourth chapter of the series. One of those shows is Bates Motel on Universal.


Telling the story of a teenage Norman Bates and his mother Norma (altogether now- “MOTHERRRRRR!!”), series two of this prequel to the Hitchcock film Psycho has just started at the time of writing and I’ve been soaking up every minute of this diabolically good drama. Set in modern day America, it’s essentially a dark love story between two psychologically damaged characters. One of my favourite things about the programme is the handling of future serial killer Bates’ origins as we’re not quite certain if Norman has always been, well, a psycho, or if his mother made him this way. At least not at first anyway….


Speaking of Norman’s dear old ma, Vera Farmiga lights up the screen as the misguided, occasionally mental Norma. In some ways, Bates Motel is her show as she steals every scene she’s in. Despite playing a character with more mental problems than Jay Z (yes, that would be 100 or so), Farmiga makes her sympathetic and funny and thanks to her performances you almost forgive her controlling, borderline incestuous ways. With a third series already confirmed (sorry, I still can’t quite bring myself to use the American term of “season”), it’s looks like Bates Motel will be open for business for the next few years and I can’t wait to see where it all leads to.


Just as I was welcoming a new show in through the doors of Castle McFee this fortnight, I have also been bidding one adieu. Fox’s The Walking Dead drew to a close recently and while some have been moaning louder than the titular cadavers over the final episode of series four, I must admit I’ve been enjoying the continuing journey of Rick, Michonne et al.


Admittedly part of that reason is due to a feeling of loyalty for the source material, ie-the Image comic penned by Robert Kirkman and drawn by Charlie Adlard. I’ve been reading the book since my brother handed me the first issue ten years ago (it’s now valued at $10 000 and yes, I am insanely envious over this matter), and although the mainstream success of the TV translation has surprised and slightly bewildered me, it does my cold, black heart good to see a then unknown comic become a pop culture phenomenon.


But back to the TV show. After weathering the storm that was series two (seriously, if Rick’s son Carl had followed orders and never the left the house I swear nothing would have happened during the 13 episodes other than farmer Hershel licking his lips a lot and talking about the Baby Jesus), the fourth instalment has been an enjoyable affair. Informed by the source material more than ever, I liked getting to know some of the group of survivors a little better and without spoiling anything for those who haven’t watched the final episode yet, all I’ll say is let’s just hope Rick Grimes’ gang hasn’t eaten the meat at Terminus by the time we rejoin them for series five…


Bye Bye 2013

31 12 2013

Well, here we are again…the final night of the year. 2013 turned out to be a crazy busy one, but a really fuckin’ fun one too. There were loads of gigs, some great music and I did some of my favourite interviews to date. What follows below is some photos that summed up the year, the usual end of year albums/singles lists and other bits and pieces.

Thanks to all the bands, promoters, PRs and mates who hooked me up with records, gigs and good times.Here’s to 2014!

2013: The Year In Photos (and the odd You Tube linky).

2013 kicked off with a trip to Derry to cover Other Voices. The Tourist Board hooked me up with my own suite at the hotel. I felt like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman (without doing the sexy stuff for cash-money obviously…)

I got to hang out with the Hardcore Legend (and Mick Foley). That’s a joke for my big brother…

I got FREE comics!

Was on the telly (again).

Said goodbye to Roberto.Sniff.

Headed back to Derry for One Big Weekend.

Sampled the delights of the private box of the Olympia while watching the Gaslight Anthem.

Caught up with the Kings Of Leon

Had a blast at the Dublin Comics International Expo *insert Greg Capullo fanboy scream here*

Said goodbye to Clive Burr. R.I.P.

Had a great time interviewing wrestlers like Fandango and Dolph Ziggler

And of course meeting them too (backstage at the Odyssey)

Witnessing the resurrection of Rocket From The Crypt and Black Sabbath was especially ace too.

Aaaanndddddd I finally got my hands of the Iron Maiden beer!

And lastly, but certainly not, um, leastly, here’s my top 20 albums of the year, plus tracks of the year!

Albums of the Year (in order). 

Valient Thorr ‘Our Own Masters’

Pure Love ‘Anthems’

The Night Marchers ‘Allez Allez’

Clutch ‘Earthrocker’

More Than Conquerors ‘Everything I’ve Learnt’

Best Coast ‘Fade Away’

Dropkick Murphys ‘Signed and Sealed In Blood’

Paramore ‘Paramore’

Chvrches ‘The Bones Of What You Believe’

Jetplane Landing ‘Don’t Try’

Vista Chino ‘Peace’

Wild Belle ‘Isles’

Haim ‘Days Are Gone’

The Silver Seas ‘Alaska’

Disclosure ‘Settle’

Yeah Yeahs Yeahs ‘Mosquito’

Motorhead ‘Aftershock’

Deap Vally ‘Sistrionix’

White Denim ‘Corsicana Lemonade’

The Answer ‘New Horizon’


Singles of the Year

Paramore ‘Still Into You’

Rihanna ‘Stay’

Tegan and Sara ‘Closer’

Chrvches ‘The Mother We Share’

Haim ‘Forever’

Empty Lungs ‘Running In Circles’

Katy Perry ‘Roar’

Chvrches ‘Gun’

Iggy Azalea ‘Work’

The Silver Seas ‘I’m The One’


4 11 2013

Have to say, I’m happy how my cover story with Kings Of Leon turned out.

Go buy it, y’hear?


1 04 2013

Here’s a reprint of my Primal Scream review that’s in this fortnight’s Hot Press (as well as on the web).



As Derry’s year-long City of Culture celebrations continue to gather pace, it’s perhaps not surprising that organisers opted to ask Primal Scream (AKA one of the greatest party bands on the planet) to help end March with a bang. No stranger to the odd hootenanny or three myself, your humble Hot Press reviewer has made the trip up to the north-west too and as soon as I step inside the newly erected Venue (which is a cool, igloo-like structure that resembles the Iceberg Lounge in Gotham City) there’s a palpable sense of excitement among the thousands in attendance. Of course, who can blame them as this evening we’re getting to see something special as the band are set to air at least a handful of exclusive cuts from their as yet unreleased David Holmes produced tenth album More Light.

Shambling onstage at the stroke of half nine (being punctual can be roll ‘n’ roll too, kids) frontman Bobby Gillespie greets us all in his own imitable fashion (“Let’s fuckin’ have it!”) before starting things off with the brand new ‘2013’ and it’s an absolute belter. Sounding a little like Quadrophenia-era Who, the song features some ace E Street-band-esque sax and it’s a soul-infused, space rock classic in the making. The beat-heavy ‘Swastika Eyes’ and the “are they playing this already?” ‘Movin’ On Up’ keep things cooking nicely and the band are clearly keen to kick off the latest album campaign in style.

As fun as it is hearing songs from the now iconic Screamadelica, personally this writer is more intrigued by what they’re currently doing with producer David Holmes and while the epic newie ‘Relativity’ won’t break the music world in half, their up-coming single ‘It’s OK, It’s Aright’ could very well be one of the biggest tracks in their career. A swaggering, rock ‘n roll number which comes complete with a Ronnie Lane-robbing “oooh la la” refrain, Bobby looks suitably chuffed with himself after they finish it, and quite rightly too. “That’s a stone cold classic that could make a blind man see and a dead man walk,” he declares cockily, before treating us to another tune off More Light called ‘Culturecide.’

Dedicated to Holmes, who warmed the crowd up earlier with a DJ set, the track is a dense, typically bug-eyed effort from Primal Scream that’s heavy with hip hop and Blaxploitation influences and it’s a dark number that confuses the crowd a little. Ever the canny frontman though, the singer lifts things with the gospel-tinged ‘Come Together’ and the cow punk favourite ‘Country Girl,’ while repeating the phrase “ ‘MONNN DURRRRRRRRAY” ad infinitum (which for those of you who aren’t fluent in Bobby Gillespie, roughly translates to “let’s all have a wonderful time, Derry”) and before we know it, it’s all over.

But not before we hear an encore filled with Scream classics like ‘Loaded,’ ‘Jailbird’ and ‘Rocks’ to send the faithful home happy and they’re a hat trick of songs which prove that the band did much more than take a boatload of drugs over their 30 year existence. In fact, contrary to most acts, Bobby and the boys (and lady bassist) only seem to get better with age and judging by what we’ve heard tonight, album number ten will be up there with their best.



‘Gallows’ Review (Hot Press)

18 10 2012

In a week or so I have to start putting together a list of my favourite records of 2012 for the magazines I write for and this bad boy will almost certainly be up there near the top.

Here’s a reprint of my review of the insanely good new Gallows LP that ran in Hot Press a few issues ago.


Gallows (Venn Records)

Four and a half Stars

Key Track: ‘Vapid Adolescent Blues’


In many ways Gallows’ third record is a massive fuck you to anyone who doubted the band could continue delivering neck-bothering pit anthems in the wake of the departure of their iconic frontman Frank Carter. A snarling, scintillating slab of sonic violence that is so joyously abrasive it should come with a government health warning, new recruit (and former Alexisonfire man Wade MacNeil) effortlessly conducts the carnage throughout 11 tracks, invoking the likes of Poison Idea, Agnostic Front and Sick Of It All yet still sounding like their very own monster. There are numerous highlights on this incendiary release-‘Vapid Adolescent Blues’ is one of the best punk songs this writer has heard in years and ‘Everybody Loves You (When You’re Dead)’ is a riotous mash-up of Murder City Devils’ swagger and all-out smash-mouth hardcore, but pretty much everything is essential listening. Highly recommended.


Fame At Last…..

21 09 2012

Picked up the new Hot Press last week and spotted I got mentioned in the Phantom pages.I feel like a bearded,tattooed Grainne Seoige.