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Ewen Friers recounts the fraught story of Bella Pacifica, the third album by Axis Of.

In early 2016 I sat on a Provence-bound flight, awash with a strange feeling of relief, sadness and optimism. With the sweat on my forehead barely dry from the show the night before at the Limelight, I had rushed the Axis Of gear to our lock-up on the North Coast and closed the door on it for good before heading to City Airport, waving goodbye to Mr Tayto and heading for sunnier climes. Continue Reading…

The 19-year-old says that she’s absolutely voting Green. Moments later, a 92-year-old tells them she will read the party leaflet and have a good think about it. These doorstep reactions are noted on the campaign sheet and to the team moves from Kingsway towards Parkvue Manor and potential victory. Electioneering is on.

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A question-and-answer session with Rory Friers about the making of And So I Watch You From Afar’s Jettison album and the pioneering audio-visual experience that launched it.

By Addison Patterson. Continue Reading…

“I was dreaming in my dreaming

Of an aspect bright and fair

And my sleeping it was broken

But my dream it lingered near…”

Patti Smith, ‘People Have The Power’

Patti Smith, Conor Hall, Belfast, 2003. Image by Stuart Bailie

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Gavin Martin, 1961-2022

March 13, 2022

Gavin Martin, 1961-2022. Music writer, NME mainstay, poet, cuss, proclaimer, natural mystic. Raised in Bangor, Co Down. Co-founder of the Alternative Ulster fanzine with Dave McCullough (also RIP). First published in the NME letters page when he was 13. Wrote for the paper when he was still at school at Bangor Grammar. Moved as a teenager to London to work alongside Tony Parsons, Julie Burchill and Danny Baker. Continue Reading…

We hear that Ukrainian writers are holding out in basements and some are offline for their own safety. In Odessa, they’re working on a literary magazine between bombardments. Several authors are in exile, understandably anxious about their family. And tonight we’re glad to know that some of these artists are viewing a live stream of a tribute night at the Lyric Theatre, Belfast.

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Charlie Hanlon is laughing in the corner of a quiet cafe in Belfast. In a few days time the singer-songwriter from Downpatrick will celebrate his seventeenth birthday, a milestone for more reasons than one.

“It’s going to be two years since I wrote ‘I Lost Myself’. I remember so clearly writing that song on my fifteenth birthday. I didn’t want to have a party, I just wanted to sit with my guitar and record. I stuck a demo of the track on Soundcloud and the next day ATL Introducing played it, I couldn’t believe it. I remember asking myself ‘how have I blagged this one?’. It was such a feeling, that was the start for me.”

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Wynona Bleach led me to learn of saudade – an untranslatable Portuguese term designed to capture a simultaneously melancholy and euphoric nostalgia. According to one particular Portuguese writer it is – “a pleasure you suffer, an ailment you enjoy.”

Wynona Bleach make music which shouldn’t sound as it does. They nod to faintly miserable bands, most of whom peaked during that most confusing decade (the 90s) – Smashing Pumpkins, My Bloody Valentine, Slowdive and the like. The lyrics are often quite dark, the artwork a touch goth, the videos a little creepy. It absolutely should not be fun.

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In 1992 Brian Eno delivered a lecture called Perfume, Defence and David Bowie’s Wedding. The last part of the talk was about his David and Iman declaring their love, in Florence. This moment also fetched an exclusive media deal for Hello magazine. Eno presented the celebrity manoeuvres of the day in a diagram form. He saw it as a ritualised, kabuki theatre – public and yet strangely private. It was transactional, but little was delivered.

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The binary system of politics in the north of Ireland is dying. We’re now witnessing the last thrash of the old dragon’s tail. Horrible, but going be over soon, if you want it. Agitate, educate, organise. Vote the monsters out. #AlternativeUlster