New AU out nai!

September 3, 2010

As you see above, the new issue is out throughout Belfast. The list is:

Katy Daly’s, Lavery’s, QUBSU, Maggie May’s, Clement’s (city centre), Auntie Annie’s, Filthy McNasty’s, White’s Tavern, Clockwork Orange, Best Vintage, Forbidden Planet, Urban Outfitters, HMV (city centre), Viva Retro, Duke of York, Dark Horse, Black Box, John Hewitt, Music Matters and the Empire.

Subscribers’ copies are out and everyone else will be stocked next week. So there. The cover is up there *points* and includes lots of good stuff, as you would (hopefully) imagine. I didn’t actually write much of it this month (delegation ftw) but I did review albums by !!! and Adebisi Shank, as well as write the unsigned section (feat. The Alice Kona Band, Isobel Anderson and We Are Losers. And the odd other bit and piece.

I’m going to take this opportunity to plug the fantastic Ms Anderson here, actually. Review below, and Bandcamp link before that. Listen and order the CD. Go on.


A native of Brighton but now living in Belfast, 26-year-old Isobel Anderson is a talent that deserves greater recognition, and given a bit of luck this might be the release to do it. Over eight songs, she lays bare her soul, accompanying her utterly captivating voice and evocative lyrics with beautifully played guitar and autoharp. Folk it may be, but this is not mere background music – there’s an almost carnal intensity to songs like ‘Morveren’s Lullaby and ‘Love Note’, as well as an ever-present hint of sonic adventure. Subtle little effects drift into the mix, vocals and instruments are layered and layered again, and the songwriting is superb throughout. Very highly recommended.



Hello again…

August 31, 2010

Ah, I knew that would happen. A couple of months of relatively busy activity on my shiny new blog and then… silence. Pathetic. Anyway, I’ve been thinking I should blog again and I have good reason for it.

First of all, to tell you that the new issue of AU will be out at the weekend. It’s our first since the Wilco issue and our summer break and it’s full of all the usual good stuff plus a few new ideas and some new writers as well. I’ll blog again when it’s out (promise). In the meantime, you can read the last five issues on whatever you are using to read this by clicking here.

Secondly, I was sent this music video today and I feel compelled to share it. The act is Tropics (pictured above), a new signing to Planet Mu Records, who seem to be on a bit of a roll at the minute. The last new act I heard from them was Solar Bears, a Dublin duo whose debut album She Was Coloured In is fantastic in a Boards of Canada-go-Krautrock kind of way. Tropics operates in a similar kind of headspace – all dreamy and woozy, but rather than Kraut it’s got more of a heady disco feel to it, along the lines of Blondes and Teengirl Fantasy.

The video below is of ‘Soft Vision’, from an upcoming EP of the same name. It also works as 90s nostalgia, because it reminds me of a Timotei ad. Either way, it’s a winner.


James Murphy interview (October 2007)

April 5, 2010

The main reason this blog has been so quiet of late is that I’ve been pretty heavily consumed with work for AU. The new issue of the mag (the second this year) goes to print on Wednesday and it’s been hectic times with an office move and the fact that I didn’t start full-time until last Monday, leaving Jonny and Kim with a lot of slack to pick up on their own.

However, we’ve pretty much got there and it’ll feel great to get the mag out (hopefully at the weekend) and get cracking on the next one – the first I’ll be working on full-time. Yowza.

As a wee preview of the next issue, then (nudge nudge, wink wink), here’s an old interview with James Murphy that I did in the autumn of 2007. I’ve been a massive LCD fan since I heard Losing My Edge and Beat Connection back in about 2002, so it was pretty exciting to get the chance to speak to him, and he didn’t disappoint. Affable and chatty to a fault. Total man-crush material.

Read the rest of this entry »


Heads-up: Ganglians

April 4, 2010

Fucking hippies…

I know I’m hardly quick out of the block with this lot (Pfork were giving them love last summer), but they only blipped onto my radar a couple of weeks ago, so gimme a break OKAY?!

Anyway, Ganglians (nice name – Google it if you don’t know) are four blokes from Sacramento, California who make wonderfully woozy, slightly psychedelic indie-pop. Their debut full-length Monster Head Room comes out here in May and it’s an absolute winner – they are contemporaries of the likes of Crystal Stilts and Wavves, and there’s a certain stoned, lo-fi sensibility that they share with those acts, but their music is almost symphonic at times.

In actual fact, I’m wondering whether you can even call it lo-fi, such is the depth of sound they conjure. The record is languid and sonically rich and the harmonies are nothing short of wondrous. The Beach Boys are clearly an enormous influence (cleck out ‘Lost Words’ and especially ‘Try To Understand’) but they have too much about them to be dismissed as mere copyists, specifically a tendency to allow their songs to collapse in on themselves, so you rarely feel that they are totally under control.

The band are in Ireland at the end of May (Whelan’s in Dublin on the 21st, the Menagerie in Belfast on the 22nd), so it’ll be intriguing to see whether they can reproduce the hazy tunefulness in the live setting.

Free download on Pitchfork.


AU62: Snow Patrol album review

April 4, 2010

Yeah, I don’t like them much these days…


Speaking to Gary Lightbody for this issue’s cover feature, it’s striking just how sure he is that Snow Patrol are getting better and better all the time. It just isn’t true. If anything, it’s been downhill ever since Final Straw, and this compilation is aural proof. Take the new single ‘Just Say Yes’, one of three brand new songs among the 27 other singles, album tracks and rarities jumbled up for your delectation. Put simply, the band sound like a lobotomised The Bravery. It’s limp, phoned-in rubbish and the attempt to whack a load of synths onto it in the apparent belief that it makes them sound relevant and edgy is outright laughable.

Then consider the band’s recent singles – ‘Crack The Shutters’, ‘The Planets Bend Between Us’, ‘Take Back The City’ (okay, kudos for managing to fit in two different choruses on that one). Can anyone honestly, with a straight face, claim that these songs, slick as they are, hold a candle to the classic ‘Starfighter Pilot’ (a sister song to Ash’s ‘Angel Interceptor’ and a close cousin of ‘Teenage Kicks’), ‘Ask Me How I Am’, or ‘On/Off’? And that’s just the early tracks that made it onto this compilation – whither ‘One Night Is Not Enough’, ‘Wow’ and the sumptuous ‘If I’d Found The Right Words To Say’?

And before you start moaning, this isn’t about snobbery or jealousy. The career-making Final Straw deserved its success, and it’s represented by three very good songs in ‘Spitting Games’, ‘Chocolate’ and ‘Run’ (two versions). But, as much as Lightbody denies it (and he does), you can’t shake the notion that the runaway success of ‘Run’ has mapped out the rest of the band’s career for them. Suddenly, Lightbody finds himself capable of writing glossy, radio-friendly anthems, and the crunchy rockers and scratchy indie-pop of old – full as they are of wit, charm, subtlety, heart and soul, can get stuffed. Hence, the execrable ‘Chasing Cars’.

Hearing all of this gloop mixed in among the best of their work makes for an entirely dispiriting experience, and that’s before you even consider all the great songs that have had to make way for the likes of ‘Hands Open’ (in which it sounds like they literally can’t wait to wheel out the chorus) and ‘Signal Fire’. Up To Now can only be recommended as an entry point for people that think the band formed in 2004. But it’s best avoided, really. Chris Jones




AU62: Snow Patrol cover feature

April 4, 2010

Bit of a delay on this one…

The feature ran as the cover for the last AU of 2009. It was a great chance to speak to Gary Lightbody, especially as the quality of his music seems to be in inverse correlation with the success of his band. Not that I quite told him that. But the most striking thing I took away from the conversation was his resolute belief that the band is on a steadily upward curve. As I hopefully make clear in the piece, I don’t believe that for a second… Read the rest of this entry »


AU Mag is now available on yr computer screens

February 22, 2010

Yeah, what Mr Headline said.

Click here to read the entire issue for nothing on screen.

And click here for more details on the new issue and the recent changes to the mag. Happily, several stockists have already run out of their allocations, and the feedback has been extremely positive.

Also, a list of stockists is gradually being added to here.

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