Same as it never was


ANYTHING bearing the name Sean O'Neill gets the plastic cover ripped straight off it and put post haste on the turntable. The man who brought use so many wonderful moments with first The Undertones and then That Petrol Emotion, is always a force to be reckoned with it and he sure ain't let us down with his new band, Rare.

The Derry four piece, which evolved out of a community based network known as the North West Musicians Collective, has come over all tripchoppy on the debut single, using loads of loops, hip hop beats and dub sounds all topped with Tom Verlaine type guitar noises. Bit of a musical change there, Sean?

"Not as much as people as think, actually. If you listen to Petrol Emotion songs like Big Decision, you'll see that sort of sound was creeping in even then but what really influenced the musical direction of this new group was listening to Blue Lines by Massive Attack and thinking this is the sound of the future. I've always listened to a lot of black music and dance music so this is just a progression," says Sean.

Sean, who's also been listening to a lot of Tricky and The Young Disciples of late, favoured a quiet warm up period with Rare (understandable, given the high profile of his previous bands), and the band spent a few years getting their sound right and playing locally before venturing down to Cork for last year's Cork Rocks where they put on a storming show, got spotted by a record company person and were immediately signed to a label called Equator which has strong ties with the massive distribution network, Pinnacle.

The single, Something Wild, trips off into Massive Attack land and is distinguished by a very strong vocal performance by lead singer, Mary Gallagher. Spookily enough, the B side, Same As Always comes over all Portisheady, something which annoys Sean. "We had written that song before the Portishead album came out, so it's going to be quite annoying if people start picking; up on that comparison," he says.

Something Wild is released on the 22nd of this month and is well worth a listen if you want to find out where Sean O'Neill is these days, musically speaking. Already playlisted on, BBC Radio 1 (you'll probably only hear it down here on the Fanning show) the band promises a second single next month, an album later this year band a tour quite soon.

"I WOULDN'T say that we're single handedly reinventing sensitive guitar pop," says Martin Rossiter of Gene, but they're pretty close to it. Stupidly dismissed as The Australian Smiths, there's a lot more to Gene than the sum of their influences (Small Faces, Smiths) as evidenced on their new See The Light album (not exactly new, it's a collection of singles and B sides).

Their re released debut single, For The Dead, is back in the charts and they start a "Tour Of The British Islands" this weekend with dates in Belfast's Mandela Hall tonight and Dublin's Mean Fiddler tomorrow night - get there for 9 p.m. because The Divine Comedy is supporting.

EX PIXIE Frank Black will jolt a few memories when he plays the Olympia in Dublin on January 27th - more from him nearer the date ... You don't expect too much from a bunch of gravediggers in a remote Swedish town, but The Wannadies have released a startlingly good album in Be A Girl. Single handedly reversing the damage caused by Ace Of Base and Roxette, they come over like a blissful mix of The Buzzcocks and Dodgy on this highly recommended platter. Described, rather unequivocally, somewhere as "the best band in the whole world ever", give them a try on one of those listening post things ...