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since 22/09/2002


Iguaçu Falls 12/06/2004

A Drop In Time

Iguaçu Falls The Iguazu falls ranks as one of South America’s foremost attractions. It’s easy to see why after spending a day there, you will be spellbound. The falls are situated in one of Argentina’s best national parks, Parque Nacional Iguazu in the North East of the country. The closest town to the falls is Puerto Iguazu, which survives purely from the tourist business but is itself beautifully serene. The Falls came into being after a rush of lava (made up of basalt rock) suddenly stopped mid flow with the result that a huge natural cliff was created. This sheer drop happened to be spread over several kilometres and when the waters of the Rio Iguazu (river) plummet from the edge the result is a scene taken from a movie endowed with eye-popping special effects. Puerto Iguazu The closest town to the falls comes complete with huge tracts of forest in the background. While Puerto Iguazu is a lovely town to relax in anything more than 2 days could lead to boredom. As you would expect being so close to iguazu, there is a huge amount of accommodation available. Upmarket and budget hotels line up side by side so it’s no too difficult to pick the right option. As is our eternal lack of funds we could be found at the lower end. That said our hotel, residential lilian, was very comfortable and proved to be excellent value for money at 25 Peso's ($, just under 10 euro). Residential lilian operates on a self-catering basis so their kitchen comes with all the amenities. Our ensuite ...

Bandwagonesque - Teenage Fanclub 26/08/2003

Everything Flows

Bandwagonesque - Teenage Fanclub What set of songs have enough pure lyrics to make Status Quo hip, contain enough jingles to keep Match of the Day's goal round up soundtracked for decades and averages a generous sack load of sunny emotions per wondrous ditty? Well the answer all lies within Teenage Fanclub's sophomore album 'Bandwagonesque'. Magically conceived from some Boy Hairdressers and a few Bmx Bandits Teenage Fanclub released their debut 'A Catholic Education' in 1990. While this effort was hardly world beating it set up the Glaswegians for their proper debut 'Bandwagonesque'. While 'A Catholic Education' was recorded in a week, the band decided that a change of scene (Liverpool) and a little more time (a month) might have the desired effect. They brought in producer Don Fleming and the quartet of Norman Blake, Gerard Love, Raymond McGinley and Brendan O'Hare set about fashioning one of the albums of the nineties. For the uninitiated TFC descend from pops highest altar. Big Star are the bands prime motivation but imagine a contemporary Byrds with a grittier edge and you have a good idea of the ground being furrowed. Over the years Teenage Fanclub have stayed loyal to this early blueprint, perhaps adding a softer melodic edge as a new millennium approached. 'Bandwagonesque' arrived in late 1991, caught up in the scorching trail that was grunge. While it was not entirely out of place at the time its dedicated bow to cast iron melodies meant that it came across as a cuter younger sister. The ...

Big Romance - David Kitt 02/06/2003

Get Your Kitt On

Big Romance - David Kitt The seemingly endless stampede of acoustic flag bearers takes on an Irish dimension with the release of David Kitt's proper debut album 'The Big Romance'. Kitt has already released a mini-album that he recorded in his bedroom (if you are about to tune out, hang on it's worth it I promise you!). That e.p. featured 'Another Love Song' that has attained legendary status in his hometown (Dublin) and more particularly his favourite venue, Whelan's of Wexford Street. David Kitt is the son of politician but thankfully his songs are based on more trivial matters. While Kitt grabs all the attention, some recognition must be given to his band. Diarmuid Mac Diarmada whose inspirational moments on the sax and clarinet are omnipresent on the album. Paul Smyth is the electronic wizard who has helped reshape Kitt's sound from its earthy lo-fi beginnings. David Kitt's vocals aren't exactly unique. They resemble an modern Nick Drake (yeah another one!) and give off the impression of a master not having to reach too hard to find his range. In saying that they are wonderfully balanced and after a time they really stick in your head. Perfect for those drizzly winter mornings stuck in traffic when you're in need of a comfort fix (in other words every morning in Dublin!). The album opens with 'Hope Street (Brooklyn, N.Y.)' which has been tried and tested over several years of constant gigging. It is perhaps Kitt's most obvious song, with the most primitive of beats and a circular ...

Magnetic Island (Australia) 28/05/2003

Opposites Attract

Magnetic Island (Australia) Magnetic Island is one of Australia's many national parks and was named by Captain Cook who found that his compass went haywire when he sailed close to its shores. The island lies in the South Pacific just 8 kilometres from the Australian city of Townsville on the coast. In a country that has done a good job at attracting the hoards to its island retreats, Magnetic Island remains a wonderful exception. Its proximity to the mainland and its laidback attitude make for one long picture postcard break away from it all. Getting to 'maggie' is easy. There are at least a dozen sunferries services from the flinders street east terminal in Townsville's city centre. The journey only takes 30 minutes and the ferries are comfortable, timely and provide as much free tea and coffee as you can drink. The return fare is a little pricey for the distance at $5 but for the unrivalled beauty that awaits it is worth it. The main port of entry on the island is Picnic Bay, a coral fringed harbour with warm waters and good views of townsville and the surrounding hills in the distance. The island is currently experiencing its driest summer for 2 decades which is something considering that there are 320 days of sunshine every year. When you see the locals struggling in the midday sun you've got to wonder how temperate climate fragiles like us could survive it. But survive it we did, even if most of our bodily fluids seeped from our deluged pores for the duration of our stay. PICNIC BAY ...

Mars Audiac Quintet - Stereolab 23/05/2003

Creative Labs

Mars Audiac Quintet - Stereolab If the thrill of distant adventures in stereoland is your want then 'Mars Audiac Quintet' is the planet you should visit. Futuristic music that sounds like it was created back in a time when the instruments being used had not been invented. Confused, well you listen to this album and you'll know what i mean. Fronted by the positively frothy laetitia sadlier whose dulcet french tones orbit around beautifully spaced moog surfaces. Most of the tunes appear to be of a similar repetitive nature, so much so, that dizziness after the 'lab is almost inevitable. Tim Gane who writes the music used to be in scottish indie group McCarthy and met Sadlier at one of their gigs. This dreamlike meeting meant that when mccarthy finally split up, Stereolab was born. Stereolab have been experimentalists from the start and are infused with a super electric spirit that recalls the easy living and good vibes of 1969. Never a band to jump on a bandwagon they have ploughed their own furrow for almost a decade now. In recent years they have tended to release ever increasingly obscure records like the 'Music for the Amorphous Body Study Centre' experiment which attempted to create a visual for their sounds. 'Mars Audiac Quintet' has a fairly clear mission, however, to stun the senses with straight forward alien pop sensibilities. To a large extent it succeeds with distinction but taken as a whole this record does suffer a little from the law of diminishing returns, i.e. too much of it and ...

Bryter Layter (Digitally Remastered) - Nick Drake 14/05/2003

Simple As A Gecko, Steady As A Rock

Bryter Layter (Digitally Remastered) - Nick Drake Nick Drake's second album followed in the comet trail left by his wondrous debut 'Five Leaves Left'. Released in 1970 it shows little sign of ageing and despite being name dropped by all and sundry it largely remains an undiscovered classic. For students of the Belle & Sebastian school of melodic folk there is a seam of material awaiting you from this sadly underachieving (in his lifetime anyway) soul. With Drake's extraordinary predication for not telling things as they are the opening cut is dutifully named 'Introduction'. And what a majestic beginning it is too. The orchestration is as pretty as is imaginable being ably directed by Richard Kirby who was responsible for all the lush arrangements on the album. 'Bryter Later' reveals a large quotient of instrumentals, yet their presence ups rather than slows down the ante. For such a supposed recluse it seems that Drake had little difficulty on counting on help from his contemporaries. For most tracks the acclaimed Richard Thompson fiddles about on guitar while the enigmatic John Cale (the Velvet Underground) adds in piano, organ and celeste asides. Drakes oft conveyed world weariness is beautifully coloured by the jaunty playing. You'll find 'Hazy Jane 11' on 'Way To Blue' (a compilation) so its fluid escapades will hardly be new but that's not to say that they aren't welcome. The Van Morrison type trumpet fest shadows the bouncy percussion and Drake delivers a hearty attempt at vocal hop scotch. 'At The Chime Of ...

Giant Steps - Boo Radleys (The) 11/05/2003

One Giant Leap For Mankind

Giant Steps - Boo Radleys (The) For many the Boo Radleys will always be remembered for their throwaway hit 'Wake up Boo'. This song does not even come close to defining what an important band they were. Its success proved to be a double edged sword. Those looking for more of the same were disappointed, while those looking for something a bit more tangible would have been put off. Martin Carr, much admired drinker and now steering the Brave Captain ship was able to conjure melodies at will and provided the ammunition for Sice's magnetic choirboy vocals. 'Giant Steps' released in 1993 represents the Boo's at their imperious zenith and is undoubtedly one of the albums of the nineties. Such a strong statement can only be rationalised by listening to its mammoth scope and innovative directions. Ideas are packed like sardines into each if its 17 tracks. At times it shuttles about with abandon scaring small creatures that are within listening distance. Many find it unkempt but a small amount of patience reveals a luxurious wealth of winning ideas. No wonder it got the album of the year in several magazines in 1993. No other album stood a chance. At first the eclectic wanderings on 'Giant Steps' are overbearing and indeed can be too much to take in. It is only after you've ingested the frentics and become aware of its scattered approach that you realise what an album you have on your hands. The opener 'I Hang Suspended' was a minor hit but is likely to blow you away on a tide of rushing guitars and the ...

Fatal Attraction DVD 10/05/2003

A Real Pot Boiler

Fatal Attraction DVD Sixteen long years after it scared the pants back on unfaithful husbands, Fatal Attraction remains an immensely enjoyable and powerful thriller. It was a box office smash at the time of it's release and made household names out of it's two leads. Dan Gallagher (superbly played by Michael Douglas) is the happy family man who is a successful lawyer. A chance encounter with Alex Forrest (Glenn Close) at a party, strokes his inner passions and when the opportunity arises to follow through on them he does little to resist. A one-night fling quickly turns into a weekend lovefest. Fatal Attraction's celebrated sex scenes might seem a little tame by today's standards but at the time they set many a tongue wagging among the steadfast one position couples of the world. Previously, sexual encounters had largely been filmed within the confines of the bedroom. Douglas and Close introduced such fine theatres of lust as the rundown lift shaft and the cosy kitchen appliance. The sex itself was primitive and frantic and left the oily pair panting in appreciation at the very end. As the weekend progresses it becomes obvious that the couple see their relationship panning out in different ways. Alex has fallen for Dan hook, line and sink-er (quite literally actually, tee hee) but Dan is keen to return to the normality of his home life. As Dan tries to break all ties, Alex continues to call him and even makes some not so indiscreet visits to his office and home. Realising the ...

What Lies Beneath (DVD) 27/04/2003

Sex, Lies and Taps

What Lies Beneath (DVD) 'What Lies Beneath' is another addition to the supernatural thriller genre and is semi-successful in its objective of sending a few shivers down your spine. Harrison Ford and Michelle Pfeiffer play Claire and Norman Spencer who on the surface at least are the perfect couple. It is remarkable how Ford has aged over the last couple of years and in this film looks incredibly haggard. He also gives off the impression that he couldn't be bothered even acting. His performance is as leaden as Mel Gibson's armoury in 'The Patriot' and watching him is almost a chore. If they ever get him to play Indiana Jones again I will be astonished as seeing his attempt at running in the film raised more than a few chuckles. Pfeiffer playing the adoring housewife is a bit more convincing, in a dull sort of way. The film is set in an idyllic lakeshore mansion, which has been recently renovated. When the couples only child, Katlin goes to college Mrs. Spencer is left alone in the house during the day. Bored at the prospect she throws herself into the comings and goings of her new neighbours who are either locked in love or a slagging match. When the woman disappears Claire increasingly believes her husband may have murdered her. As her suspicions grow she begins to feel a presence in the house. As noises become visions Claire slowly begins to believe that the missing woman’s ghost haunts their house. All through her traumatic episodes Norman is less than impressed and resorts to ...

Worst Case Scenario - dEUS 21/04/2003

Violin Conduct

Worst Case Scenario - dEUS Deus are from Antwerp in Belgium and demonstrate a skewed musical momentum usually produced from downing 2 barrow loads of rich chocolate. Their sound is as innovative as it is adventurous and this, their debut album set them up as true alternative heroes. Deus create nervous, frolicking, diverse music that is so off-kilter it could likely damage sound systems used to bland daytime radio schedules. The brightest moments on this album are undoubtedly the three singles but the quality is consistently high all the way through. Blending tattered Velvet Underground violin splinters with a ramshackle beat 'Hotel Lounge (be the death of me)' is music on a grand scale. Off-beat and unlikely to attract your attention at first, it has innate self-belief that will eventually win you over. Rudy Trouve's has a way with a guitar that somehow makes it sound like a second vocal. Like his name he always finds his mark. 'Suds and Soda' gets it inspiration from the unlikeliest of sources. Tom Barman shouts as the frazzled Venus in Furs blizzard behind him erupts. As the clouds part and the decibels drop sanity is restored and the listener basks in the serenity until the mayhem returns again. Ok it sounds almost nightmarish but it is rather fine. 'Via' is a little more straight forward but is so dynamic its like sticking your head in the washing machine without having to worry about the inevitable head injuries. The title track 'W.C.S. (first draft)' is a mildly funky number that ...

Deserter's Songs - Mercury Rev 20/04/2003

Mercury Rising

Deserter's Songs - Mercury Rev And right out of the blue came Mercury Rev. Nearly men, who had crafted several flawed albums, until the magical opus that is 'Deserters Songs' reared its head. Add this album to their unforgettable intimate live performances and Mercury Rev rightfully hold pride of place on the a-list of innovative artists. I've always liked 'Boces', one of Mercury Rev's previous albums, because it was it was full of brilliant half ideas. What it lacked in focus, it made up in energy. Songs like 'Something For Joey' will always hold a special place in my heart. 'Deserters Songs' is a different proposition altogether, however. Where Mercury Rev once fumbled (with some success) in the dark, they now provide the bright lights for an art form in serious need of reinvention. 'Holes' kicks off proceedings in reflective mode. Lacking a distinct beat, this song turns the blueprint for modern music on it's head. Imagine floating high above the clouds and somehow catching a glimpse of several angels practising for that great gig in the sky. The quality of instrumentation is quite staggering, but what is more surprising is the sight of four men in their late thirties, one called Grasshopper, dictating matters. With a vast array of instruments being introduced at close intervals throughout 'Deserter Songs' it's not surprising that some of the tunes sound otherworldly. Take 'Endlessly' for example. Could it be those chamberlin strings, them woodwinds, the wurlitzer, that mellotron or perhaps ...

General: Bangkok 20/04/2003

Transport in Bangkok

General: Bangkok Bangkok is a city that tends to have longer rush hours than others. On some days rush hour becomes rush afternoon and on occasions stretches into rush evening as well. With these chaotic forces conspiring against you none of the modes of transport available in Bangkok are likely to be a better choice so your decision is likely to be open to chaos. Here is a rundown of the choices available in no particular order. Taxi In the early nineties taxi-meters were introduced to try and prevent taxi men from fleecing unsuspecting farangs (us). This means that you can keep an eye on the mounting baht bill as you travel to your destination. Of course taxi meters don't stop the driver from taking the long way around. After a few dubious journeys that seemed to take circular paths we decided to start asking how much it would take to get to our destination before we sat in to the car. This way you get to bargain on the price and if you beat it down far enough you can be sure that he'll drive like he's possessed to get you there quick. Incidentally the driver normally leaves the meter off when you do this. On the whole taxi-meters in Bangkok are much cheaper than at home. Most journeys within the city shouldn't cost much more than 3 or 4 euro, in saying that the traffic jams are likely to extract quite a bit of your mind. The taxi drivers themselves are quite a patient bunch. Their lack of English often means that conversations can range from the indecipherable to the ...

Joshua Tree - U2 19/04/2003

A Sort Of Throne Coming

Joshua Tree - U2 U2's sixth album is unquestionably their most accomplished. It was released in 1986 in the wake of an incendiary performance at Live Aid, the year before, that saw them catapulted into the realm of genuine contenders. Their previous albums had the melody and fire but lacked that swagger of invincibility that the Joshua Tree so espoused. 'Where The Streets Have No Name' is as good an opener as you're likely to get. Searing like dead heat its huge organ drenched beginning is gradually torn apart by the Edge's sprinkling guitar inflections. The vocals could have proved disappointing after such an epic awakening but the energy that fuels Bono's outpourings is exemplary. Up there with some of the best opening tracks of all time. The sweeping gestures of the grand opening are toned down a little as the subtle intricacies of 'I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For' hint at something deeper. It's funny how this song eventually found its true form in a gospel context but the original format still sounds classy despite the grating attempt at being in love with the world that the video depicted. 'With Or Without You' went to number one and our little nation wept. Hearing it recently on an episode of 'Friends' brought home the inert power that this song wields. For so long it is quite and unassuming but underneath a huge beating heart fights to have its opinion heard. The first highlight in an album of hair raising moments has a stirring guitar escapade spin the whole ...

Contino Sessions - Death in Vegas 09/04/2003

Deserter Songs

Contino Sessions - Death in Vegas Riding on the back some impressive critical reactions, I went out and bought this album without even hearing a single track. I always find this exciting, as you never really know what to expect when the laser hits the groove. More often than not if there is a common consensus that an album is quality it's worth taking the risk. The album opens with the impressive desert drawl 'Dirge', which has a hypnotic groove generated by the sweetest guitar strum and cowgirl vocals by the divine Dot Allison. Every smoke filled indie dive should have it on its pre-gig playlist. There is sublime Orbital leanings on 'Flying', all oblique synth moments on a bed of crispy fresh guitars. This music is so dead cool and unassuming you could be forgiven for thinking the heavens had opened up and given us a taste of what's going on, on the great turntable in the sky. If you were to try and categorise their music Death In Vegas could be neatly positioned beside Primal Scream. The fact that Bobby Gillespie guest vocals on 'Soul Auctioneer' only proves that there is a mutual admiration society going on between the 2 bands. It's just a pity Sir Bob had to pick such a weak track to add his tuppence worth. It is just the right side of dull but is as forgettable as an ageing goldfish. The celebrity love-in continues with 'Aisha' sung by Iggy Pop. It has all the ingredients of a wild, dirty weekend and is positively menacing. But then, that wallowing far-eastern snake charmer sound finds an ...

Nevermind - Nirvana 30/03/2003

On a Different Plain

Nevermind - Nirvana Not many albums can be described as genre defining but Nevermind clearly set out the blueprint for grunge. Containing the epic 'Smells Like Teen Spirit' it capitulated lead singer Kurt Cobain into the spotlight and cast him as the quasi spokesman for Generation X. Cobain who suffered from excruciating stomach pains was a tortured soul unprepared for the baggage of success that Nevermind (and sociopath girlfriend/wife Courtney Love) achieved. In a live setting Nirvana created an immense performance often leaving the stage bloodstained and instrument less. Pent up anger and adrenaline fuelled energy meant that no guitar, no matter how expensive, stood a chance. Nirvana were a product of disaffected youth entering the real world with no prospects. That is not to say that Nirvana were all doom and gloom, 'In Bloom' had a very clever video with Nirvana's three members decked out in not so perfect hairstyles and Nevermind itself had a cover design that intelligently punched capitalist America in the ribs. Butch Vig (who went on to form Garbage) produced Nevermind on the David Geffen Record Label. Prior to Nevermind, Nirvana had had some success with the album 'Bleach' on Sub Pop Records but it was the follow up that moulded their legend. It's hard to believe that Nevermind is 11 years old now but it still stands on its own two feet as a true original. Characterised by expansive guitar riffs many of the tracks display Cobains strained vocal struggling to be heard above the ...
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