Archive for May, 2009

Top Ten Female Singers of All Time

May 25, 2009

 Lists are a divisive thing. I was skeptical about putting this up, I knew there would be accusations of lazy journalism, of utter dire taste in music and general ignorance. So let me state LOUDLY, that this is “MY top ten list”, not an official report of who’s good. Much as I’d like to I’ve no authority on good music, but I do know what I like. I wouldn’t be a huge chart music fan, Beyonce grits me and I’d rather watch Fair city than Lady Gaga(for the record I hate Fair City), but then again I also love Pink and Madonna. While I’d love to state I’ve got very “arty” and prominent taste, I find some “credible” artists such as Fiona Apple and Joanna Newsom alike to listening to white noise; irritating and dull. I simply just don’t get them. I’m not saying they’re bad, I just don’t see what everyone else does. And in turn, if you don’t appreciate these artists, then perhaps it’s not so much that they are bad, rather, you just don’t see what I do.

So here are the top ten female singers of all time-In Paul Cleary’s humble opinion

 

Fee free to comment your absolute disagreement however, in fact, I encourage it…

 

 

10. Cathy Davey

 

Cathy_DaveyRight, so like some other ladies on my list, Cathy is only beginning what I predict to be a long and successful career in Music. I’m standing by my decision to leave her here nonetheless, as her small catalogue reeks of a quality that many artists on the scene for years cannot equal with their greatest hits. Her debut Something Ilk is a fine body of work, but I’m going to concentrate on her follow up, 2007’s Tales Of Silversleeve here. Possibly the best Irish pop album to grace my ears, the album strings 11 silky songs together with Cathy’s consistently heavenly vocals. Reuben has her experimenting with Lycanthropy and Moving is simple and fun pop indulgence. I eagerly await Cathy’s third album, and I’m sure with more material she’ll rise on my list. (I met her not too long ago as well, and she was far nicer that entry number 5 just so you know)

 

 

 

9. Björk

 

She’s had her ups and downs, I found Volta hard to stomach and that swan dress at the Oscars? Really…was it necessary? But for every hard thumping fragment of useless twaddle she’s created, she’s crafted a dozens of fantastical bjork singingbeautiful nonsense that mends forgiveness. Vespertine is her masterpiece, forging a wintry voyage of music boxes, eerie choirs and distant bells. Described as music for the gods, Pagan Poetry is her most underrated song.

Other highlights of her stellar career include the Bond tunes that never were-Bachelorette and Play Dead and the first video ever to be released on dvd All Is Full Of Love. Love her or hate her, none can deny, there’s no one else like Bjork.

 

 

8. Nina Simone

 

nina simonePoor Nina was never going to win any beauty Pageant, but while she may have lacked the external beauty of many of her peers, she was the vendor of one of the most honey soaked and down right gorgeous set of vocal cords that any woman on earth has ever possessed. 

Many have covered her songs, but I have yet to hear that first opening line of Feeling Good sung with a fraction of the heart Nina instilled. Her versions of Mr Bojangles and Here Comes The Sun far outshine their originals and Groovefinder’s remix of her Ain’t Got No was the best song of 2006. RIP Ms Simone x

 

 

7. Siobhan Donaghy

 

Ok so this entry is completely wanton of me. Siobhan is only scratching the surface of her career with only two (solo) Siobhan3albums under her belt, and I actually don’t even think her debut was all that great. But her follow up album Ghosts, released in 2007 is possibly the most underrated 48 minutes of glorious music I have had the pleasure of hearing. It’s a bit Kate Bush which is always a winner with me, but Siobhan also adds a kinky pop zest that is lacking in any commercial music released today. To rewind, Siobhan was one of the original Sugababes, back when they were more about the music and less about the image. Their first album One Touch was uber cool and relaxed, with no chance of setting the world alight. Siobhan, a musician, was content with this, the other girls however felt the need to sell their souls and as their music quality deteriorated, their album sales soared. Ok so they’ve had some catchy tunes, but not one of these songs hold a candle to the epic Medevac, Coming Up For Air and Ghosts. Siobhan, why aren’t you bigger?

 

 

 

6. Loretta Lynn

 

lorettatexThere aren’t all that many people who can squeeze out 4 sprogs and hold down a full time job as a successful singer songwriter before reaching the age of 20. There’s even less people who can release 76 singles (16 getting hitting number one in the charts) and 51 successful albums, before peaking age the age of 72 with the Grammy winning Van Lear Rose. This is why Loretta Lynn gets number 6 on my list.

Jack White saw the talent shine in Loretta and asked could he produce her 52nd said album. Not abandoning her country roots Van Lear Rose proves good song writing transcends music genre. I’m no huge country fan but Lynn writes such relevant songs that it lacks the common “easy going” tag that often goes in hand. And lyrically she doesn’t pull any punches either, Woman’s Prison cites spousal murder and her duet with White chronicles a one-night stand. Lynn Proves older women don’t need to take a back seat to the Britney’s of the business.

 

 

5. Amanda Palmer

 

I met Amanda Palmer once. She was Ok. I’m also on her Twitter and Myspace, they both reek of pretentiousness.  She’s a bit of an eejit if I’m honest. Twittering endless bullshit and uploading photos of her contorted eyebrowless face, with apher army of devoted fans praising her “ever so alternative coolness”.

So why am I putting her on my top ten list? Well she’s a fucking amazing songwriter that’s why. Cutting her teeth with the Dresden Dolls, their debut was one of the fieriest and most incredible albums I ever came across. Palmer seemed like a cocktail of American Magee’s Alice and Dita Von Teese. Slashing her wrists one moment, masturbating the next, I didn’t even realize the first few listens that it was only piano and drums with the odd bit of production.

 Last year Palmer released her first solo album, “Who Killed Amanda Palmer” it gave her the freedom to indulge in production and boy did she take advantage. The album hops from epic to epic and stops occasionally to respite with a tale of somber. She always avoids overtly depressive tones however, by never taking herself too seriously. This girl is going to get bigger and bigger. I just wish she wasn’t so “cool”.

 

 

 

4. Madonna

 

Oh Madonna, what could I possibly write about her that hasn’t already been written a million other times? Still, there madonna_01his are clearly reasons for this throng of interest, and I’m taking those reasons as rationale to placing her here.

Can she sing? Hmmm, she’s not awful….

Can she write songs?  Haha well she is listed on some of her albums…but did she come up with the cords or did she just bland up the lyrics a tad? Hmmm again.

The reason I’m placing Madonna so high is her incredibly high standard of consistent albums. People are going to disagree with me here I know. But hang on, didn’t you all go out and buy Confessions On The Dancefloor? And didn’t you all love it? Didn’t you relish when 4 Minutes came on in a club? Admit it, it was a highlight song. Ok so you probably hated her American Life phase, but actually (ignoring that 5 minute catastrophe) it was her most eclectic and daring album in years. Music was perfect, Ray Of Light was outstanding, remember Vouge? The best Pop song of all time! Remember Like A Prayer?  The best gospel (sort of) song of all time! Remember Papa Don’t Preach, Holiday, Like A Virgin, Get Into The Groove, Material Girl? Yeah? Now you know why she’s my number 4.

 

 

 

3. Mary Coughlan

 

Who? What?

Yes Mary Coughlan, I’m dead serious about this, and I’m dead proud of Ireland’s paramount singer. Not a songwriter mary coughlan ill(most of the time) Mary has released 15 albums since her simplistic debut Tired And Emotional in 1985. I already wrote a feature on her early on in my blog, so I’ll keep this short(er) but quite meekly, Mary sings songs in a style that I’ve yet to hear anyone else equal. Her Smokey vocals curl around lyrics and take a life of their own. From the big mama pimp of The House Of Ill Repute, to the heartbroken damsel on Double Cross, Mary deserves oceans more credit then she obtains. Well at least she gets it on my blog.

 

 

2. P!nk

 

The reason I love Pink?

Her originality, her look, her voice, her message,

pinkThe fact that she doesn’t mind looking a bit silly.

The fact that she doesn’t feel the need to be pretty all of the time.

 

I first bought her debut when I was about 14 years of age. I was never a huge R’N’B fan, but as I said earlier on, a good song transcends its genre, and it was an album packed full of them, however it wasn’t until her second album that Pink’s staying power came discernible. Each song beamed a significance to every lonely, gangly and slightly misfit teen, while still remaining firmly in the grasp of easy-to-obtain pop. She has continued a roll of musically fun and inviting albums and although I will admit her latest outing Funhouse lacks the innovation of her preceding material, her latest tour puts all other artists to shame. Singing every note live whilst swinging from the rafters in a pair of stilettos, it’s a spectacle that no one could hope to escape enjoying. There has been somewhat of a smear campaign against her as many cannot distinguish between her and the other offspring of US pop, but if these haters spent ten minutes on youtube observing her live, I guarantee they would be swayed ala St. Thomas and that Jesus chap.

Praise be Pink.

 

 

 

  1. Kate Bush

kate_bush

 

Kate Bush was my first crush. I remember my uncle shoving in a VHS of her videos when I was about 6 and being hypnotized by this wonderful yet oddly frightening harpy. At this time I only liked the fast songs, so skipped The Man With The Child In His Eyes to get to Hammer Horror, and Skipped Wow to See Babooshka. I watched this video constantly; I have a vague recollection of a babysitter (who herself was only about 14) asking me if I wanted to watch a video.  I’m sure the girl assumed I would put on a Disney flick, or The Goonies or something, but instead I put on Kate (which I had craftily stolen from said uncle) I’m sure my babysitter was aghast at what this little boy wanted to watch, and like many people, she clearly didn’t see in Kate what I did, and turned it off after 3 songs.

It wasn’t until my teens however that I explored Kate’s music more deeply, and wasn’t until her 8th album in 2005-Aerial, that I reignited my affair with her music. There is quite literally not one bad patch in her lengthy career. The Red Shoes is weaker perhaps then Hounds Of Love, but by any standards it is still an album of quality. Aerial itself is an exquisite work in subtlety. It’s most dominant songs being the illustrious Coral Room, and the oozing sensuality of Somewhere In Between.

Perhaps part of the appeal with Kate is her lack of sharing the limelight with her art. Her songs are her songs, and she is simply the creator. In a world where more people know Amy Winehouse as a person then as a singer, it’s refreshing to have an artist that puts the music first. It has been nearly 4 years since Aerial came out. Please Kate, don’t make us wait another 4..

Interview with Panti-Queer Notions Festival

May 21, 2009

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Panti “Pandora Bliss”, is there anything this one woman extraordinaire hasn’t done? From founding Alternative Miss Ireland waaay back in 1987, to running her own bar in Capel St., aptly named Pantibar. Panti has even appeared on Maury Povich’s talk show with Comedian Katherine Lynch where she underwent a “drag down”. However thankfully her make under didn’t last and she is to be seen regularly in her bar on Mondays and Thursdays dressed to the nines and entertaining her adoring public.

 

In 2007 Panti added another feather in her cap when she wrote and preformed In These Shoes as part of the Dublin gay theatre festival. After it’s rave reviews and success she followed it up with All Dolled Up, which brought her performance to the next step and sold out every night. Now she has her sights on a third outing to stage with A Woman In Progress. Although the polished and developed version will not hit the stage until the autumn, She is giving a sneak preview in the project arts centre. I spoke to her about what to expect from A Woman In Progress.

 

 

 

In these Shoes and All Dolled up got rave reviews-Do you feel under pressure to raise the bar with the new material?

 I guess a little, In These Shoes was really just an experiment, testing the water using my club background as a theme, so I would consider All Dolled Up as my first proper show. I wouldn’t say there is pressure to raise the bar so much as pressure to develop and bring it further along.

 

What would you say are the main themes/context of A Woman In Progress?

 It’s a fish out of water story about the death of gay culture-part story telling/part lecture.

 

 The show in June is a sneak preview, when can we expect to see the polished version?

 The show will probably be on in September/October, exact dates aren’t finalized, but the Queer Notions Festival is treading new water for me just as much as it is for everyone else. I’m trying to suss out what I figure works and what doesn’t. You might say it’s an experiment.

 

Would you ever like to tour with the new show?

 We toured a little with the previous shows. In These Shows traveled to Galway but we brought All Dolled Up to Brighton for a week and also Cork, but the new show is purposefully much more local, very much about Dublin or at least Ireland. So I don’t think it would translate abroad. I doubt we’ll be touring with it.

 

Your material is hard to categorize, would you call them plays?

 You might call them plays…it’s a one-woman show, but what defines a play? There are theatrical elements in it, but there are also rudiments of stand up.

I’m always a bit dubious myself about boxing them into a category.

 

 It’s not something anyone else could play though is it? Only Panti could star in these productions….

 That’s true, but that’s because they’re very personal stories but I do think it would be really interesting to see someone else have a stab at it. It could be fascinating but then it could also fall flat on its face,

 

 Would it have to be another drag act?

 Certainly in all dolled up-the stories are all drag central but maybe it would be fun to see a woman do it.

 

 You opened Pantibar November 2007, how do you balance being an entrepreneur/Entertainer/Writer?

 With great difficulty to be honest. I do always feel like I’m being pulled in different directions, but a fabulous manager runs Pantibar so I’m free to do my own thing most of the time. But of course every Monday we have Make And Do night and every Thursday I have a show.

 

 

 

 

 

 Catch A Woman In Progress in the Projects Arts Centre June 24th

Tickets €15/ €10

 

 

Queer Notions is produced by THISISPOPBABY and runs from Jun 22-27 at Project Arts Centre

www.thisispopbaby.com

 

http://www.projectartscentre.ie

Theatre Review-Careful 10/10

May 21, 2009

Careful_022_sml_medium

It’s not necessarily the simple plot that makes Careful so sharp. It’s not even the dry wit playwright Fiona Coyne infuses into the script that gives it its spice. What made Careful the number one play of the Dublin Gay theatre Festival was the abiding chemistry between the two leading ladies Diane Wilson and Deirdre Wolhuter.

 

To sum up the play in a nutshell, Diane plays Jean, a struggling white actress in South Africa where roles are getting scarce. When she is offered the role of a lesbian in a play that will allow her to travel (to a gay theatre festival in Dublin no less) she enlists the aid of the “only dyke she knows” Leila, a theatre critic and friend of a friend. The two spend an evening together, constantly yo-yoing between tender bonding and fierce dispute. Jean’s ignorance regarding what it means to be a lesbian often sends Leila over the edge yet Leila is not innocent in the offensive division either. When Leila insists that gay people are happier than straight, due to the lack of conformity shackles, Jean dutifully points out they’re friend, the man who introduced them in fact, was clearly not happy when he put a noose around his neck. When the girls reach situations like this it is Jean who comes off as the stronger character, as she can accept criticism without insult, and her invectives toward Leila come from innocence rather then outright vindictiveness. 

 

Perhaps some of the muscle behind Careful, is that it isn’t entirely fictional. Diane Wilson is a, shall we say mature white South African actress in a world where roles for her are getting sparse. The character of Jean was written for Diane, and the play was written to bring her to Dublin. The characteristics of Careful are not hidden; they are in fact included in the unnamed play Jean is rehearsing for. As Careful was written for Diane, the play Jean is rehearsing was written for her. And both plays were written with a mind of bringing them to the Dublin festival. Diane had her work cut out for her as she really plays two roles in Careful, the fictional lesbian who wears a brash accent and describes teenage boys of “smelling like a mixture of dental fluid and stale semen”, and the ever so ladylike Jean, who has breathed through her life on the edge of carefulness.

Deirde Wolhuter is not to be forgotten as the carefree and proud Leila, but no one could deny Diane as the rightful winner for best actress in the festivals awards.

 

A poignant and beautiful play debating straight and gay affirmations in a modern South Africa, I look forward to Careful becoming a cult classic.

Mini Album Review-Fischerspooner, Entertainment 8/10

May 21, 2009

Fischerspooner

New York Electropoppers Fischerspooner pull no punches on their third album, simply called Entertainment. With The Killers Producer Jeff Saltzman taking the reins, the record clearly has success in its sight, and why not? Entertainment is exactly what it says on its glittery tin. It’s 45 minutes of pure melodious fun without any ostentatious coolness that often partners itself with dance acts. Book ended with the infectious Best Revenge and Dance En France and phasing out with the primarily instrumental To The Moon, Oh how I hope it gets the attention it deserves.

 

See also

Depeche Mode-Songs of Devotion and Faith

Madonna-Confessions On A Dancefloor

Niall Sweeney Interview

May 19, 2009

Dancing at the Crossroads: Glamour Rooted in Despair

Interview with Graphic Artist Niall Sweeney

 QN_Niall_Sweeney

 

Alternative Miss Ireland is the beauty pageant for those a little too…shall we say unorthodox?…to fit in with Miss World or the Rose of Tralee. Held in March each year, ten to twelve drag queens and kings compete for the coveted crown by dancing, crooning and generally dazzling the audiences. All under the watchful eye of Panti, the legendary host, who herself is the Queen of Irish Drag.

 Since its modest beginning in 1987, graphic artist Niall Sweeney has been fashioning images for the contest. The program, advertisements, calendars, in fact anything AMI related, Niall is responsible. As part of the Queer Notions Festival-the first-ever curated arts festival within Dublin’s Lesbian and Gay Pride celebrations, Niall is giving a lecture on his work with AMI. Showcasing its growth in nightclubs in the late 80’s to its current immense status in the Olympia.

 

 

What can we expect from the lecture?

 

The lecture covers the twenty-two year history of Alternative Miss Ireland. I was just out of college when I co-founded the pageant in 1987 with some friends. In the lecture I examine previous contestants, the competition’s phases, its ups and downs, the many manifestations of Panti, even the relationship of the pageant to a changing Ireland over the years. I scrutinize some of the reasoning behind it, trying to illuminate why exactly we do it relentlessly every year – though we’re not too sure ourselves! It is certainly for the sheer joy – we have created a stage on our own terms and invite all Alternative Misses to come and dance upon it

 

 

How do you approach a new piece?

 

With panic, always leaving it too late

 

 

 

Do you speak with the contestants for inspiration for your images?

 

It depends really, this year all the images were illustrations based on the old Irish Punt, all drawn with markers on a huge scale and reduced down. I usually come up with the images, often with Panti looking over my shoulder. We have notions throughout the year, usually with an Irish twist, Mná Na hEireann etc, and then we really put our heads down after Christmas.

The work is totally voluntary which is ironic, as it consumes far more time then any other project I get involved in all year. It’s a very intense process and once its over we don’t want to even mention AMI until the next year.

 

Miss_Smilin_Kanker_2009

 

Your C.V. includes designs for AMI, The George and Pantibar. It seems you’re the pinnacle for gay Irish graphics, how did you earn such a niche?

 

I’ve been working with Panti for longer then she would probably like to admit. We used to go clubbing together and we founded AMI in 1987. We restarted it again in 1996 so it’s been an ongoing partnership. As a group effort, our involvement is mainly the graphics that, like the show have grown and grown since the beginning.

Had Panti not asked me to do the graphics for her bar I probably would never have spoken to her again (laughs).

 

 

 

And is your relationship strictly business then? 

 

Its one of those things where we know each other so well we don’t even need to discuss what we want done, we just know. We know what each other need and want, and that’s not something you get in most teams, where showmanship meets art. We’ve a great working relationship

 

 

 

 

You’ve been working with AMI since it’s beginning. The contestant’s flamboyancy must be a graphic artists dream. Do any winners stand out?

 

 

Different years stand out for different reasons. Sometimes it’s the overall production that etches our memory. Other years there might be one outstanding performance (often not the actual winner). But Miss Shirley Temple Bar stands out as the best all time AMI champion – she’s the Bonnie Langford of AMI! Even though she won years ago, she is the usually regarded as the winner lodged in our minds. A more recent winner that remains in our memory would be Miss Heidi Konnt, and this year’s winner, Miss Smilin’ Kanker, is the kind of tour-de-force that is the soul of the page

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is the first year of Queer Notions, What are you most looking forward to in the festival?

 

Well of course I’m looking forward to Panti’s new show; A Woman In Progress. The festival has a number of ‘works in progress’, such as my lecture, which gives the feeling that it is alive, unpredictable, wild – which seems to be the heart of the idea of Queer Notions – it might even bite!”

 

 

 

 

 

Project Arts Centre

Friday 26 June,

6.15pm,

50 minutes

€12/€8 concession

Rent – An Interview

May 10, 2009

rent

 

 

Rent is more then a musical. It’s an experience. Written in the early 90’s by Jonathan Larson, who tragically died the night before his masterpiece went on stage.

A modern revamp of Puccini’s La Bohème where Paris becomes New York, Painters become filmmakers and TB becomes Aids, Rent is one of the biggest cult stage shows of all time. When DCU drama society put on their own production of the “rock opera” it garnered such rave reviews that they were offered a slot in the Olympia in June. I spoke to Producer Bob O’Mhurcu, on their productions surprise success, and what Rent means to him.

 

 The production in DCU surprised a lot of people with its professionalism and talent.  Was its success expected or was it a fluke?

 I’m not sure I like the term fluke. We put a lot of work into the production, and we knew the level of talent we were working with was huge, however I don’t think anyone expected to be offered a slot in the Olympia. The Association of Irish Musical Societies (AIMS) stated that our production was worthy of the West End, which was amazing to hear.

 

 What were the steps in bringing it from the Helix to the Olympia?

 The credit for that has to go to the Director John Donnelly, who is highly respected in AIMS, winning their best director award 5 times. He has contacts with the Olympia and pitched the play to them, the decision was made very quickly and we were offered the slot in June.

 

What makes this production somewhat special is that all the cast are full time students. Has this ever happened before, where a student production has lead to a national venue?

 To my knowledge no, and I’ve been involved in student drama for five years.  It’s a very exciting time for DCU drama soc, as you can imagine.

 

 Do you yourself have a relationship with the play? A history parce que?

 I lived in New York for four years, and saw rent on Broadway twice. Rent for a lot of people is a way of life “Rentheads” would hang around Nederlander theatre on 40th street in New York, and to this day there is graffiti on its walls saying, “This play changed my life”. Rent had that cultural impact as it touched people.  The play focuses on the lives of 8 individuals who collectively suffer from poverty, aids or drug abuse. There are 3 couples within the group, one straight couple, one lesbian couple and a gay one. The story revolves around a year in the lives of these people. The characters are so richly developed and likable that everyone can relate to at least one of them.

So which character do you relate to most?

 I relate to Mark the most, he is the filmmaker who records the story, you might even call him the narrator-The outsider looking in.

 

Although Rent has been preformed in Ireland before, a lot of people would only know about it through the luke warm ’05 film adaptation. How different is the stage version?

 I don’t know anybody who preferred the film to the play. Rent was made for stage and something major got lost when it was adapted for the big screen. For one thing the film left out some major songs such as Christmas Bells: A six minute long song with a dozen vocal lines harmonizing across each other. It needs to be seen live to be fully appreciated.

Another song that was (sinfully) left out of the film is Contract. A highly sexually explicit song that gives weight to Angel’s character, but I can’t reveal what its about…it’s a big spoiler for people who haven’t seen it yet.

 

Rent deals with Aids, Poverty and Drug abuse, and when it was released it struck cords with the youth who lived with these things in everyday life. Has it dated somewhat?

 No, it’s not at all dated. The poverty and drug elements are still very prevalent in today’s society. The Aids element has perhaps quieted in the past 15/20 years as people have become very relaxed about aids. I know medication has improved tenfold and it is possible to live a comparatively healthy life- it’s not the guaranteed death sentence it was in the 80s. At the same time, Aids does kill, and Rent has always had that sense of meaning with sufferers of Aids. It is a very emotional show and its unlikely there will be a dry eye in the house at its climax.

 

And why should people go to see Rent?

 It’s an experience that needs to be seen live, its emotional, funny, profound and I wouldn’t feel hesitant to even say unmissable. 

 

 

See Rent in The Olympia Theatre

June 15th-20th

Broken Nails-Theatre Review 7/10

May 8, 2009

 

Broken_Nails_-_3

 

 

What do you get if you cross the Muppets with Marlene Dietrich? That’s not a question many people will have really pondered before now, however the result is the beautiful one woman play Broken Nails, that came to Dublin for the first week of the Gay Theatre Festival.

In Broken Nails, we catch a glimpse of Dietrich’s last few days in her Parisian apartment with only her smitten maid for company. Both roles are played by the deft Anna Skubik, who slips between the meek servant and proud star with such ease that you forget there is only one woman on stage. Dietrich herself is a life size ventriloquist puppet and the play showcases themes of fading beauty and forthcoming death. While the interaction between the maid and Dietrich show off Anna’s puppetry skills, Broken Nails really shines in its musical numbers. Dietrich’s reflection of her life leads to her singing many songs she never got the chance to perform on stage such as Peggy Lee’s Fever and La Vie En Rose. Not renowned for her particularly amazing vocals, none can deny Dietrich certainly had a unique voice, and Skubik captures her essence so exquisitely that I found myself mentally accusing her of miming, accusations that fell flat. She was just that good.

Unfortunately this wonderful little play was held in Outhouse theatre, which is little more then a room with chairs. Six rows from the front should earn one a good view you would think, however I found myself twisting and stretching for the duration of the play to get a glance at the action. A pity such a charming play could not have been held in a more deserving venue.

Album Review Alphastates – Human Nature 7/10

May 6, 2009

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Human Nature, characterized by Madonna as a rebuttal to apologize for her Sex Book, with Alphastates however it is the title of their 2nd album, a follow up to their ecstatically received debut Made From Sand. Whilst album no.1 seemingly snuck under the radar to impress, Human Nature cements their reputation as one of the freshest bands on the Irish scene.

 Balancing on the rafters between electronica and rock, their second offering suggests a steady growth without losing the hazy rifts that made them stand out from the throng.

The first track (also the title track) initiates the tone of the album mixing breezy verses into the scratchy chorus. Elements of Goldfrapp and Frou Frou are evident but singer Catherine Dowling’s whispery vocals ads an icy ambiance that exudes other bands of their genre.  Taste is beautifully breezy pop and the infectious Champagne Glass could be the Irish theme song of the summer. Human Nature peaks with Swimming, a stunning slow set that embarks like a calm lake yet builds to a tempestuous current with vicious violins.

The album loses some of its appeal towards it’s close however.  It’s heavy production gets slightly cyclical, and Dowling’s salty vocals, which at first allure you, grow weary. Still, they are a band with a future and there is enough spice in Human Nature to warrant gratification with repeated listening.

Oh, and for those of you attracted to album artwork. Artist Stephen Scott has fashioned one of the most handsome album sleeves this side of ever. Think 1950’s “Our Boys Annual” except; the boys all have bloody noses/monkey heads/raccoon tales etc. Very “Enid Blyton meets magic mushrooms.” And if that doesn’t bubble your curiosity, nothing will…

 

 

 

See Also

Goldfrapp-Black Cherry (Mute)

Garbage-Garbage (A&E)