It would never happen in Ireland…

23 07 2009
Barbie, Cindy and Stacy were all about feminism...

Barbie, Cindy and Stacy were all about feminism...

An excerpt from today’s Guardian concerning the ongoing feud for French sunbather’s rights:

“In some areas, the battle goes on. Les Tumultueuses, a group of young militant feminists, are still fighting for topless bathing rights in public swimming pools, denouncing the fact that men and women’s bodies are treated differently. “My body, if I want, when I want” is one of the slogans they have borrowed from the 1970s struggle. Two months ago, when a group of them removed their tops and dived in to Les Halles public pool in Paris, pool assistants tried in vain to get them to cover up.

Previous topless commando raids on public pools have seen police intervene to stop them. Attendants at Paris’s notoriously strict public pools have argued that if toplessness was allowed, swimmers would take more and more liberties such as arriving with no swimming hat or trunks.”

I think “topless commando raids” has to be one of the best phrases I’ve ever heard. Full article here.


Oxegen: Day Three

17 07 2009


Dear Oxegen-info starved readers, please forgive the lateness of my post. That’s what three days of trudging about in the mud, bearing torrential downpours in the name of music research, some, em, light boozing, sleeping in the car and staying up ‘til 5am to debate the finer points of MCD’s organisational skills and communication issues at some sleazy guy’s ‘tent party’ will get you. None of your fancy B&B’s or hotel stays for the Totally Dublin team, we’re dedicated to bringing you the FULL festival experience here (well, apart from a certain indie whizz kid who wimped out with a day pass ;)).

So, day three. The amateurs had crashed and burned and the rain from the day before had driven away the rookies. With Saturday drawing the largest amount of day-trippers, being the only day to have sold out of one day tickets, the crowd had dissipated considerably come dawn and the sun was trying it’s best to come through for us. I was awoken by a light tapping on my cardigan-covered window (which, as I found out, only serves to intrigue people further about what’s behind the window of your car. Countless times I looked up to find a single eye peering through the gaps in my makeshift screen as I tried in vain to have my knacker shower in privacy. Advice – don’t sleep in the car if you value your dignity. If, like me, keeping warm and dry is higher on your list of priorities than maintaining self-respect, ditch the tent and recline your seat). Anyway, the tapping. Some lovely fellow requesting nail varnish. Why, prey tell? To glue the wristband that his friend in the arena had snapped off and sent back out to him. You have to admire the ingenuity of the Irish. I scabbed a smoke in return for a drop of my favourite black lacquer; “not a Johnny Blue or an’thin’ fancy like tha’ though.” And so began another day.


I had decided that Sunday would be a ‘floating day’; a day to drift aimlessly from stage to stage with no pressure or mad dash to catch any particular band. There was one exception: The Specials. Fresh from their lauded Glasto performance, the reformed ska legends’ performance was the main draw of the festival for many of the over 20s and Sunday’s day-trippers. If ever there were a band that deserved sun it was The Specials. After helping to lift millions of spirits throughout the 80’s recession with their iconic two-tone tunes, it looked like they were sent back to help us out of an economic slump once again. Alas though, it was not to be and, as if on cue, the opening bars of ‘Do the Dog’ called forth the rain once again. In probably the heaviest downpour all weekend, it took all of two minutes for revellers to be so thoroughly soaked that there was no point in running for shelter. And with the band belting out hit after hit with all the gusto of teenagers, why the hell would you want to leave? Even the usually po-faced security guards couldn’t help but smile and sing along to the anthemic ‘A Message to You, Rudy’. The rain eased just in time for ‘Ghost Town’ and in the words of Fr. Billy O’Dwyer aka ‘SpinMaster’: “Can everyone please stand for the national anthem.” Well, certainly the anthem of Oxegen ’09 anyway.


The rest of my tent-flitting brought to my ears the audible treats of Friendly Fires, Foals, Jane’s Addiction and The Twang. I even hung out in the Dance Arena long enough to catch the end of Miss Kitten and The Hacker’s set and half of Felix Da Housecat. I knew I’d be a broken woman come Sunday.

As mentioned by, well, almost every other Oxegen reviewer, Friendly Fires were the find of the festival. One of those bands who had been tarred with the collective ‘next big thing’ brush, thanks to their fantastic single ‘Paris’, they had been simultaneously chewed up and spat out by much of the wider media until now. With many ambling in to see them as a precursor to follow-up band Foals, they stole the thunder of the critically acclaimed ‘math-rockers’ (yes, everything MUST be slotted neatly into a genre; otherwise journalists get confused and run out of adjectives). Expect to see the initial interest in the band rejuvenated and download sales surge. Incidentally, Foals rocked too.


I spent a few songs at the O2 Stage for Jane’s Addiction but, not being overly obsessed with the band, Dave Navarro and Perry Farrell’s combined creepy demeanours (complete with botox, bare torsos, kiss-blowing, tongue-waggling and leather- clad ass-shaking) were enough to make me too nauseous to stick it out for favourites such as ‘Been Caught Stealing’, ‘Three Days’ and ‘Jane Says’. What they did do was drive me to the afore-mentioned Dance Arena. Perhaps deterred by Fever Ray’s earlier performance, most of the hard-core ravers and yip-heads had scarpered and everyone was in good spirits for top DJ’s Miss Kitten and The Hacker and Felix Da Housecat.


Topping the night off was a fantastic performance from stalwart lad-rockers The Twang who, despite playing to a tiny crowd due to a time clash with festival headliners The Killers, put in an energetic and admirable performance. Refreshingly devoid of airs and graces, The Twang ironically headlined the Hotpress New Bands Stage, despite being around long enough to have earned the small cult following that worshipped them with more adoration than that of all of the passing Killers fans put together.

And so ends another Oxegen. Countless grumbles of “never again” could be heard as the mass exodus from Punchestown took place today. But I know, you know, and the dogs on the street know that after weary bones have been soaked, stomach grumbles have been satisfied and headaches subsided, the memories of the incredible performances will far outweigh those of mud, rain and the indignity of being herded like cattle and, come next July, thousands will be out welly-shopping once again in preparation for what has truly become a rite of passage for Ireland’s youth.


Oxegen: Day Two

17 07 2009

They said it was going to happen and it did. The heavens opened yesterday afternoon inducing mud-drenched mayhem throughout the Oxegen site. There was no sign of the ‘extra provisions’ that MCD had purportedly put in place to ensure things ran smoothly should the inevitable happen and, needless to say, the masses descended upon the largest tent, the Heineken Green Spheres. Never fear though, your trusty concert promoters were on hand to put the kybosh on those who had the audacity to seek shelter and proceeded to block off all entrances to the tent. Safety reasons, perhaps, but it wasn’t exactly bulging at the seams. Thankfully, some kind soul inside pulled up the side of the tent and about a dozen drenched souls made a break for it behind the turned backs of the security guards, myself included. Ahh… getting one up on the security guards – nothing like it. The repercussions of my need for shelter were threefold. On the downside, my illusion of one of my favourite musicians of recent years was well and truly shattered. Ok, so Pete Doherty has never been a reliable performer but when he’s on form he commands a room like no other and his stage presence can be enough to give you shivers. Not so the drunken (or other) mess who stumbled onstage with a guitar last night and proceeded to half-sing songs from his fantastic new album, ‘Grace/Wastelands’ before forgetting the words and launching into Libertines songs for his blindly adoring fans who must have been as out of it as he was to deem him worthy of their applause. His lack of effort to even feign sobriety was insulting, especially when you compare this to the effort that some of yesterday’s other acts went to for their slots. Afterwards a fan stumbled on my shoulder, wide eyed and ecstatic, declaring “Fucking hell, did you see that? Acoustic Pete Doherty – Class! Brilliant!” proving that no matter what he does he’ll still have an army of disciples that will tolerate the most shambolic of performances.


On the upside, I was torn between Elbow on the Main Stage and TV on the Radio in the Green Spheres when the hurricane that was forming in the distance outside made up my mind for me. TV on the Radio were unbelievable. Wonderfully flamboyant and fantastically fluorescent, Tunde Adebimpe was the perfect frontman to lift the spirits left so dampened by a combination of the rain and the aforementioned shambling baby. TheYeah Yeah Yeahs are obviously big fans as they legged it over quicksmart after their set to dry off and watch TV on the Radio from side stage.
Leaving Bloc Party and the Kings of Leon to the masses, I stuck around to watch thePet Shop Boys perform the songs I loved as a seven-year-old bopping around in my mother’s legwarmers and, my God am I glad I did. I’d heard great things about their stage set-ups and choreography but, having never seen them before, I didn’t know what to expect. The set up was mind-blowing, awesome, indescribable. I nearly cried at one point, seriously. Think neon, tumbling cubes, dancing skyscrapers, robots and umpteen costume changes. Incredible. Whether you’re a fan or not, you have to put Pet Shop Boys on your ‘to see before I die’ list. It’s imperative that you do that.

Flitting past the Kings of Leon as they blasted out generic stadium rock from their new album (although I did catch a bit of ‘Charmer’ which was incredible, as all their stuff from the first three albums is), I arrived at the O2 Stage just in time to see the main Bad Seed himself arrive on stage with the deliciously sinister air that seems to envelop him. Unsurprisingly, the crowd consisted of die-hard fans and Nick Cave didn’t disappoint. Cave was joined on stage by Shane McGowan for his encore.

Today’s line up is poptastic with the likes of Katy Perry, The Ting Tings and Lady Gaga all on the bill. Rumour has it that a pink Vespa has been thrown into Gaga’s props room and her runners have been dispatched to find “suitable underwear to ease chaffing from whips and chains”… not sure how Betty from Naas Ladies Fashion Boutique will react to that particular request but it’s gonna make for one helluva show. I’m going to be firmly planted in the pit waiting for The Specials to top their awesome Glastonbury show and put a little ska-induced spring back into my weary, unshowered step. Check in tomorrow for a full update and keep an eye out for tweets throughout the day.


Oxegen – Day One

17 07 2009

The first gig I ever went to without my parents was Blur’s 1995 RDS appearance. My mother made me bring a padlock to secure my jacket around my waist lest I get torn limb from limb in the crowd at “one of those wild concerts”. Naive, wide-eyed and stone-cold sober, I didn’t know what to expect. Thanks to a well-tested combination of clambering over shoulders, diving through legs and downright pigheaded ignorance, my tween sidekick and I managed to get right up to the barriers; it’s a method I still swear by today and last night it served me well once again as I found myself, 14 year’s later, within touching distance of Damon. Well, almost. Kicking things off with ‘She’s So High’ and leading straight into ‘Boys and Girls’, the crowd were whipped into such a frenzy it didn’t matter ithat most of them were still in nappies when the band had their heyday. After Glasto, Hyde Park and now Oxegen, Blur have cemented their status as timeless band. With all the energy and boyish good looks of teenagers, 40-somethings Albarn and Coxon leapt about the stage like springboks on speed to ‘Parklife’, ‘Song 2’, ‘There’s No Other Way’ and stared in awe and gratitude at their adoring crowd before emotionally, almost tearfully, performing their unforgettable encore ‘The Universal’, during which Damon leapt into a crowd that surged forward to grapple at any piece of his body available. I think I copped a feel of his shin. Alex James remained cool, aloof and extremely competent as usual. Some things never change. This was it people, this was the big one. You can have your Killers and your King of Leon; Blur are this weekend’s true headliners. If you were there, you’re going to be recounting it in your ‘best ever gigs’ list in 30 years time as you sit around some oul fellas boozer with your mates who are still gonna be raging that they missed it.

In other news…


Lily Allen charmed her way through a great set with her undeniable adorableness and unassuming demeanour making up for what she lacked in volume. Quiet as a mouse or blame it on the sound system? Maybe a combination of the two.


Fight Like Apes played to a half-packed Green Spheres tent as they blazed their way through songs from their love-it-or-hate-it album with demonic energy. MayKay gave it her all as usual proving once again what a fantastic frontwoman she is. The crowd went beserk along with her to ‘Lend me your Face’ and ‘Do You Karate?’ in particular. Mad shower of fans altogether.

The gaps in my evening consisted of getting the stage times wrong and missing the Fun Lovin’ Criminals, wandering over to see Pendulum ripping up the stage and taking a quick peek in the Dance Arena. I didn’t stay long… it’s a whole other world in there, maybe by Sunday I’ll be worn down enough to brave it. Until then, I’ll be scouting about for goss, trying to avoid Abrakebabra, falling over drunk teenagers and generally drinking in the festival atmosphere which, in true Oxegen style, is suddenly starting to look very muddy indeed!

On the line-up for today is Pete(r) Doherty, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Elbow, Eagles of Death Metal, TV on the Radio, Regina Spektor, Pet Shop Boys, Messiah J and the Expert, Doves, Kings of Leon and, one I definitely won’t be missing, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. Totally Dublin’s team of Oxegenarians will be Tweeting from the site all day with news and updates and you can check back tomorrow on this here blog for a breakdown of the day’s events as they unfolded, the morning after the day before style. Right, I’m off to grab a breakfast roll and watch the Saw Doctors.

Phoenix: Interview with Thomas Mars

17 07 2009

Every summer has a sound. Last year, Vampire Weekend and MGMT soundtracked festivals and barbecues the world over and now, at the dawn of summer ’09, it’s starting to sound like Phoenix could very well be the band of the season. The French quartet cut their teeth as fellow countrymen Air’s backing band for the soundtrack of 1999s critically acclaimed movie The Virgin Suicides, which incidentally was how lead singer, Thomas Mars, first met his girlfriend and baby-mama, director Sofia Coppola. Drummer Laurent Brancowitz joined Phoenix after leaving his former band with Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo, who would later go on to become dance duo extraordinaire, Daft Punk. Thanks to their lofty associations, Phoenix have gone on to garner a devout army of fans and with release of their latest album Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix, an effervescently playful album of clever pop sensibilities, it looks like these Frenchmen are showing no signs of letting up. Totally Dublin spoke to an excitable Thomas Mars just hours before Phoenix kicked off their festival season at Barcelona’s Primavera and, by the sounds of things, Phoenix are ready to launch an all-out pop assault on the ears of anybody who happens to come into contact with a radio this summer.

You’re touring on the back of your latest album, Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix. Can you explain where the title of the album came from?

I think it’s because we grew up in Versailles and the weight of the past there is so overwhelming that, in a way, the only way to exist is if you do something like this. There was a Jeff Koons exhibition at the Palace of Versailles that we loved. The fact that you can see Michael Jackson’s painting with his monkey in Louis XIV’s bedroom; the whole city was like a museum on standby. It’s the idea that you take something very iconic and just mess with it, like the moustache on Mona Lisa.

The lead single from the album, Lisztomania, also has its roots in the past. What is Phoenix’s obsession with days gone by?

I think that there were so many French bands who, when they sang in English, were really just translating; they would be talking about Cadillacs and Jukeboxes, things that were really American. We went in the opposite direction. I don’t think it’s something conscious but we want to talk about our everyday life. Things like historical figures are very appealing to us and we like to mix things that shouldn’t match. There is something satisfying about two things that are not supposed to glue but you manage to put them together; like Franz Liszt with a modern synthesiser and guitar riff. We were happy to put those things together.

I believe that you were offered a French Legion of Honour, which you declined. Can you tell us about that?

(Laughs) How did you know this?

It’s a secret.

You know, Churchill would say [about the Legion of Honour] that you accept it but you do not ask for it – people usually have to ask for it – he said that you accept it but you do not wear it. I think that’s the classiest way to do it because you don’t offend anyone but at the same time you’re not trying to pretend you’re someone that you’re not. It’s the same with awards; for us it would be a very depressing moment because it wouldn’t be an achievement, it would be more like the end of something.

Your songs have a very playful, almost childlike element to them. Do you have a very carefree attitude to the recording process?

No, it’s not fun at all! Our lives are a lot of fun and we really enjoy being together but in the studio it’s different. The best moment is in the end when you know you have the record and you can share it with your friends and the band before people can hear it. But when we are making music it’s like we need to be in some sort of a trance; we need our egos to be tired, we need our bodies to be tired, we need our systems to be so exhausted that there’s no exception. Everything has to come from an exhausted body and then you realise, when you hear it in song, that what you’ve come up with is so different from who you are. That’s what we like most, things that surprise us.

For an extended interview check out the next, Phoenix-adorned issue of Totally Dublin. Their latest album, Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix is on good record shop shelves now.

Fifty Dead Men Walking: Interview with Jim Sturgess

17 07 2009

A certain amount of pressure and stigma can often be attached to the loaded phrase ‘The Next (insert uber-famous actor/singer/chef here).’ For Jim Sturgess, his youthful exuberance and cheeky grin has already earned him the encumbering moniker of ‘The Next Colin Farrell’. The reality is that, despite a shared starring role in Peter Weir’s forthcoming film The Way Back, the two share very few similarities beyond their big brown eyes. Jim seems as far removed from the former foul-mouthed lothario as possible. The suite in The Clarence,

where I met with Jim to discuss his role as Martin McGartland in the upcoming Fifty Dead Men Walking, seemed to dwarf his burgeoning celebrity due to the simple fact that, although quietly confident, his unassuming personality seemed more likely to be at home in one of the neighbouring pubs or cafes than by the monstrous roaring fireplace and strategically positioned movie poster. The reality is, after hours of interviews and a 5am wakeup call, Jim is still ridiculously polite, giddily enthusiastic about his career and oozing effortless star quality. It was obviously this ‘je ne sais quoi’ that entranced his agent, who took him on without ever having seen him act. It was probably also what landed him his first starring role as Jude in the Beatles musical, Across the Universe. Since then Jim has garnered both acclaim from his fellow actors and a multitude of cooing teenagers. It must have been quite an honour for Jim when his self-confessed childhood hero turned colleague, Sir Ben Kingsley, said of him: “He’s very special. He seems to be devoid of narcissism, which is very healthy

and he’s a great role model for his peers too, who, because of celebrity, are very susceptible when they’re young actors.” Not content with being globally recognised as ‘that guy from 21′, Sturgess has turned his attentions to some more challenging roles, the most recent of which to hit our screens is Fifty Dead Men Walking, which charts the rise and fall through the highest echelons of the IRA by Martin McGartland, a cheeky petty criminal who was recruited as an informant by the British Special Branch in Northern Ireland. The ever-sensitive nature of the true story being portrayed along with the fact that McGartland is still alive, and still on the run today, make the film all the more poignant. So how did Jim handle his time as an Irishman?

Was it difficult to portray a real person? Did you feel that you had to be loyal to him rather than having the freedom to create a fictional character?

It was a bit of both really. Because I’d never met Martin McGartland, or spoke to him, for me it was the same job really as bringing a fictional character to life. I just worked with what I got off the page, the story as it was given to me. I never felt bogged down by having to copy his mannerisms and ‘be him’ as a person.

Did you feel any extra pressure to act like him from the people who knew him?

It was important for me to focus on what I had to do. There was pressure but it was fascinating reading his true account, it was fascinating to speak to people who had interacted with him. I love all that stuff. It’s a given thing and it’s fantastic to be given that opportunity when you’re acting and trying to find information about the person you’re playing so I was kind of excited. And yeah, there is a responsibility to tell a story, but it comes from everybody that is involved in the film, so I didn’t feel any extra pressure than them. We were just all telling the story that the director, Kari [Skogland], had written and we were all learning as we made the film.

How did you prepare for the role?

Well first I read the script and the script is the story that you’re going to tell so… Then I read the book which is his version, his account, in his words, which was interesting to read first and then come to Belfast and hear different points of view on the same story. It was interesting to see how he perceived himself compared with how other people perceived him.

How were you received in Belfast? Did you experience any hostility due to the nature of your role?

We kind of did. I was so caught up in the making of the film that it was probably a lot scarier than I actually gave it credit for at the time. Looking back, we were actually in some pretty dangerous, rough areas where it was very delicate still, where I’m sure a lot of families were affected by McGartland personally. I know from speaking to Kari afterwards that there were times when they were a bit worried about me but I was blissfully unaware.

Has your understanding or perspective of the Troubles changed at all since making the film?

Yeah, my take on it all before was coming from an Englishman who grew up as a very young kid in the 80s so my only sort of understanding was of this terrorist organisation that blew up various buildings. You would hear stories, y’know? But I was very young and they were presented to me through the media, because I was in England, as brutal terrorists.

My opinion has changed in the sense that I now understand, and it took me being there to understand, that there was a cause that was being fought for, it wasn’t just brutal terrorism. I never condone violence, ever, so it was very hard meeting some of these very infectious characters that we met who were full of life, very funny people, great to be around, family men. You kind of warm to them in a strange way but then you’re given the realisation of what happened and the level that they were prepared to go to for their beliefs. That really helped me to understand the mass of complications and complexities and the grey areas that surround right and wrong. What I liked about the film was that you had all these characters wondering what the right thing or the wrong thing was to do in a very complex situation.

You have worked with Sir Ben Kingsley and Kevin Spacey amongst others. How has it been working with actors of such high calibre?

It’s been great! They’re all so different and they all bring such different energies to work. Ben Kingsley is genuinely one of my favourite actors. Just seeing all of the different characters that he played you know that he will always be seen as one of the greats. So I was most excited about working with him. My character and his character have such a great connection so we got to have that off camera and on camera.

How did you begin acting?

I was in Manchester and I wrote and performed a one-person play at a small theatre there and luckily, by fluke, an actor happened to see me in the play and said “I want to recommend you to my agent in London.” My first job was a commercial, then I did a few TV parts; I was a jobbing actor working in a shop selling sneakers and trying to act. I used to run off to

auditions in my lunchbreak. Then I joined a band for a few years and when that ended someone told me about an audition for a Beatles musical, Across the Universe, and I managed to get the part in that.

Do you think that, had you not got the part, you would have pursued a music career?

I think so, yeah. They’re the only two things that I was ever really any good at. I wasn’t very good at school, I didn’t really concentrate in class, but whenever it was drama or music – something creative – I dived into it. I always hoped I would go into a creative field.

So, what was your band like?

We were called the Dilated Spies. There were seven of us and it was very electronic. I guess New Order would have been an influence. When I moved to Manchester I thought “oh yeah, I’ll go to Manchester, pretend to do this course, hopefully start a band.” I wanted to start a band and be the next Ian Brown but it didn’t quite work out like that!

Do you think that music is something that you will pursue in the future?

Yeah, for me it hasn’t gone away. I still write music and play music and most of my friends are musicians so it’s still a very big part of my life.

I believe your girlfriend is a musician too?

She’s in a band, yeah, La Roux. It’s all kicking off for them. She ran a vintage shop in Camden Market for a while and that was impossible because when I was away she couldn’t get away from the shop so there would be long periods of time where we didn’t see each other. Now when she’s off doing her thing I’ll come find her or she’ll come find me.

What’s next for you?

I’m flying to Bulgaria to film a Peter Weir film. He’s making this great film about a group of prisoners who escape from a Russian labour camp in the Second World War. They basically

escaped out of this camp and went on this huge walk across Siberia across deserts and across the Himalayan Mountains and eventually were rescued in India. They did the whole thing on foot and survived. The film is with Ed Harris, Colin Farrell and Saoirse Ronin.

Words by Sheena Madden

Originally published—interview-with-jim-sturgess-24.html

Kasabian ~ West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum

17 07 2009

Kasabian’s long-standing alignment with the Gallagher brothers has been both the making and the ruin of them. It seems that, try as they might, their name cannot be mentioned in a sentence devoid of ‘Oasis’ and ‘lad rock’ utterances. Unfortunately for them, the critics’ disdain towards the

original mad fer it Mancs has pushed them into a corner so tight that they’ve had to rabbit punch their way out of it.
West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum sees them break free of the stoic grey area that their ‘difficult second album’, Empire, left them in. “The third record is the one you’re judged on” declared Serge Pizzorno, the band’s guitarist, keyboard player, songwriter and lynchpin. Perhaps it was under the weight of this knowledge, then, that the band decided to draft in whiz kid producer and Gorillaz co-creator, Dan the Automator. What Dan’s

done here, it seems, is channel the indiscriminate mass of raw ideas that Kasabian have brought to West Ryder into an actual coherent album. The Kinks-esque psychedelica of Thick as Thieves and West Ryder/Silver Bullet flow from the eastern strings of Where Did All the Love Go? via the Krautrock-tinged Swarfiga’with the cocksure confidence that their self-titled debut delivered. Despite being a more experimental and perhaps softer record, there are still plenty of examples of Kasabian at their original and swaggering best here. The big, brash beats of album opener Underdog and first two singles, Vlad the Impaler’and Fire, will satisfy any yearning for the heavy bassline / looping groove days of LSF or Processed Beats.

, so Tom Meighan’s voice probably wouldn’t even get him through to the second round of the X Factor, but who the hell wants more generic crooners who can belt out yet another flawless rendition of You Are Not Alone? In a musical era of avant-garde minimalism, 80s nostalgia, and production-line pop your average hardworking bunch-of-lads-in-a-band get a raw deal. West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum is as mental, raw and sketchy as its name suggests. It’s also probably one of the best albums you’re likely to hear this year.

Sheena Madden

[Published in Totally Dublin, July 09]