Those people who told you The Cure would be better if they sounded more Mumfordy? They were wrong. Now look what you’ve done.
Year: 2015 Director: Justin Benson & Aaron Moorhead
Evan is a young American man whose personal life has disintegrated into a tailspin of bereavement, alcohol and fighting. Staying one step ahead of the police, he books a one way flight to Europe, and washes up in a small coastal town in Italy where he meets Louise. They quickly hit it off, but Louise isn’t all she seems…she is old, very old, and she has to do some unpleasant things to keep going. I’m trying to avoid spoilers, which makes it hard to go into detail, but this is a horror film with real heart, one which doesn’t shy away from some bloodshed or special effects, yet doesn’t rely on them, preferring to concentrate on a slowburning real feeling romance that’s a million miles from the human-loves-supernatural creature cliches of Twilight. Even the ending swerves the predictable and avoids the gross out, going instead for a beautiful final few scenes where the redemptive power of love might just set things right.
Two people talking and falling in love as they walk round scenic European locations clearly owes a debt to Richard Linklater, and if you imagine Before Sunrise remade as » Continue Reading.
A lot of the hype around this SF debut has focused on how it updates cyberpunk for the 21st century. The use of a noir plot in a high tech setting certainly echoes Neuromancer (and Crashing Heaven also shares more than a few structural similarities with that classic), but there’s more than just that old genre at play here. For all the Chandleresque men crashing through doors with guns and running down mean streets, there is also a real sense of the bleak emptiness of space and the beauty of glittering fragile spaceships that Alastair Reynolds would be proud of, and maybe even a nod to Dan Simmons’ Hyperion Cantos. That’s not to say Robertson is a plagiarist. The core SF concept at the heart of this novel is AI, and Robertson runs with this as well as anyone has in recent years, with a treatment I haven’t seen anywhere else. Lead character Jack is an accountant with a military AI residing in his brain, almost the last of its kind. This AI has a name, Hugo Fist, and manifests as a wooden ventriloquist’s doll. Oh, and it’s going to be taking over Jack’s body in the near » Continue Reading.
..is available as a free download for a limited time. I’m sure some others here will be interested. Mine’s coming down as I type. I just hope it’s better than the title or the artwork…
First time at this small festival in the middle of Dartmoor for me. The setting is tremendous, surrounded by the rolling hills and endless skies of the moor. The arena is sited so that wherever you turn the land is there looking over you, so add that to the sunny weather all weekend and you’re off to a winner before a note has been played.
The first act we see on the main stage on Friday night is Martha Tilston. The last time I saw her was in the tent at Bearded Theory about five years ago, where she was a great soundtrack to laying on the grass “savouring” that three days into the festy Sunday afternoon slightly cabbaged feeling. Turns out she’s just as good at the start of the event – lovely singing, great playing and an engaging onstage personality. Next up is Neville Staple, now joined by Roddy Radiation as The Specials reformation continues to fragment. He’s great fun, delivering a set of classics from Jamaica (Pressure Drop) and Coventry (Ghost Town, Gangsters, Rat Race) and all those old songs the Specials covered (A Message To You Rudy, Guns Of » Continue Reading.
The Lantern, Bristol
Japan’s Soil & “Pimp” Sessions are self proclaimed purveyors of “death jazz”. While that may conjure up visions of John Zorn skronking nightmares, there’s nothing here to frighten the horses. The musical lineup of drums, double bass, piano, sax and trumpet is not unusual, but S&P have a secret weapon in their frontman Shacho. He’s not a singer (apart from some spoken word on one number) – his description in the line up is “Agitator”, but really he’s an old-fashioned hypeman, like Flava Flav getting onstage on a cooking night at Birdland. He drives the band and the crowd all night and it’s impossible not to be bowled over by him. The music is high octane jazz played with energy, verve and tons of enthusiasm, as well as no little virtuosity. The brass section barely stop moving over the stage all night, and the whole thing is relentless, exhilarating and uplifting.
About 200 people in a 400 capacity room, but there was no hanging around the edges – everybody was down the front, and making enough noise for 2000 people. It’s always magic when you’re part of crowd that is getting » Continue Reading.
A long time ago, Clive Barker wrote and directed (from his own novella The Hellhound Heart), the classic horror movie Hellraiser, a dark tale of deceit, sexual jealousy and betrayal that introduced us to the Cenobites – otherworldly creatures that relish pain, torment and despair. Their leader, Pinhead, became a horror icon but like Freddy and Jason before him, his original impact has been leached away by a parade of increasingly shoddy sequels. This book is Barker’s attempt to reclaim Pinhead, but there’s more riding on it. Much like Pinhead himself, after a spectacular start with the Books of Blood and the fantasy epic Weaveworld, both of which marked him out as a writer of prodigious talent and imagination, Barker’s work has tailed off into a long nose dive of mediocrity. These Gospels have been promised for years, and there were high hopes attached to them, especially with the news that Pinhead’s foil would be another of Barker’s long running characters, the occult detective Harry D’Amour. Supposedly, the original manuscript ran to around a thousand pages, before being cut down to this 350 page book. Which begs the question, considering what has been left in, how bad were » Continue Reading.
What does it sound like?:
Anyone who’s not paid much attention to Sweet Billy Pilgrim since their Mercury-nominated Twice Born Men album will be surprised to hear this. The laptoptronica and knocked up in a shed vibe have gone, replaced by a much more muscular full band sound. The melodies and harmonies remain, as strong as ever, and so do Tim Elsenburg’s songwriting chops. Some of the changing time signatures, heavy riffs and midsong shifts carry a whiff of prog (this is their first album on Kscope), but we’re never far away from a big chorus or disco breakdown. It’s an ambitious record, beautifully arranged and full of strings and brass flourishes that occasionally recall Bacharach. It also has a much bigger part of co vocalist Jana Carpenter, whose bruised voice brings a touch of Americana grit. It’s a sumptuous fully realised modern pop album that will be in the running for my top ten come end of year time
What does it all *mean*?
Goes well with…
don’t know, it went down nicely on a drive to Cirencester and back the other day if that helps
Might suit people who like…
the Steven Wilson tracks that aren’t » Continue Reading.
What does it sound like?:
Taka is best known as the guitarist and chief composer for the Japanese post-rock titans Mono. This is his debut solo album, based on scraps of songs recorded back in 2003 but only seeing the light of day now. The timing is interesting, because this sounds more like the orchestral records Mono are making now than it does the stuff they were doing when these songs were recorded. There’s a distinctly filmic feel to the music, and Taka has said it is heavily influenced by Lars Von Trier’s Breaking The Waves. A piano is the lead instrument throughout, with plenty of strings supporting, and guitar and drums relegated to the background. It’s a much more fragile thing than the bombast of the parent band, with moments of great melancholy beauty.
What does it all *mean*?
Wonderful music, bloody awful title.
Goes well with…
Pondering, drinking something hot from a large mug while watching raindrops running down the outside of the window, unexplained weeping in public.
Might suit people who like…
Mono, obviously, but also the more rock inflected end of modern composition
Bargepole’s ELP thread has reminded me that I was at school with a kid called Emerson, named (his dad’s choice, obviously) after the keyboard spanker. I guess just calling him Keith didn’t cut it. So, Massive, who would be the best and worst rock stars to name your offspring after?
The Fleece, Bristol
I suppose the apt word for Gaz Brookfield is troubadour. He is notorious for his relentless touring (a quick check of his website shows a mere 73 gigs lined up for the rest of the year), which has seen him build up a fanbase dedicated enough to make sure this show sold out back in January, helped by some high profile supports to the likes of Levellers and appearances at almost every festival you can think of. This is a hometown show to launch his new album, True & Fast, and unusually he is accompanied by a full band (with a star of a fiddle player). He’s a strikingly direct songwriter, whose enthusiasm and enjoyment are infectious and thrown back at him a hundred times over by this partisan crowd. The show starts with a high octane rip through new song The Diabetes Blues, a lament for the effect of said diagnosis on his drinking habits, and doesn’t let up for the next hour, until a massed singalong of his West Country Song brings the curtain down. In between we’ve had songs that are witty, angry, autobiographical and romantic. Good stuff.
Catton Hall, Derbyshire
This is my sixth Bearded Theory festival. It’s grown from a friendly farmer’s field to this 10,000 capacity event in the grounds of a stately home, but along the way it has always kept a brilliant chilled (sometimes downright cold – it is mid May in Derbyshire) family friendly vibe. It’s an unashamedly hippy festival – if you are allergic to Levellers T shirts this is not the place for you – that my friends and I love.
We drive up from Gloucestershire and get to the Hall just after gates open. The usual slog carrying tents and essential supplies (booze) from the car park, but once it’s done time for a can of cider and some music. There’s a few bands on in one of the tents for the early arrivals, so we get to enjoy Zombie Met Girl. I’ve always had a soft spot for ZMG, not least because they obviously own the same Dead Kennedys and Cramps albums I do (and because their upcoming album is called Super Atomic Werewolf Chicks On Motorcycles, which is obviously the best name for an album ever). Next up is The Bar-Steward Sons Of » Continue Reading.
Just had the following email from a teacher friend:
Am teaching a course on 20th (social) history…..I want to do it via protest songs and show them how they reflect the Zeitgeist/body politic etc and reflect the youth of the time.
I have The Specials (Ghost Town) lined up to do unemployment/racism etc, this gem from a little known Sunderland band
for the Poll Tax riots and Dylan (Masters of War) to do anti-war 1960s etc. Can you think of any more that really hit the nail on the head and sum up a social trend/protest movement/key point in 20th century history?
Well, AWers, can you?
This looks like it could be really good.
The history of Bristol’s reggae sound systems is the focus of a new exhibition opening at Colston Hall next month. Curated by Mandeep Samra and Clarks in Jamaica author Al ‘Fingers’ Newman, the display aims to shed light on a part of UK history that “has meant so much to so many people, yet has been largely overlooked by mainstream historians,” they say.
“The fourth instalment of George Miller’s punky post-apocalyptic ‘Mad Max’ saga feels like a tornado tearing through a tea party. In an age of weightless movie spectacles, here’s a movie that feels like it was made by kidnapping $150 million of studio money, fleeing with it to the Namibian desert, and sending footage back to Hollywood like the amputated body parts of a ransomed hostage.”
This is a good read on the early days of CD leaking, from the New Yorker:
My inner eight year old just exploded
Responding to @Rosbif’s take on Cloud Atlas in the Blogger Takeover made me think of this old saw. FWIW I reckon Cloud Atlas was a good try, but what other books are out there that would be difficult to film decently? Or what ones have been filmed that really really shouldn’t have been?
I think Nabokov’s Pale Fire might be actually impossible to film, and it probably would have been a good idea if David Lynch had walked away from Dune (instead of the new Twin Peaks – boo!). I’m sure the Massive can think of many more…
This is one for the more adventurous Americana fans on this site!
Kentucky’s Panopticon are highly regarded for their melding of the state’s native bluegrass music with black metal. It’s not so daft as it sounds. There has long been a strain of black metal that has romanticised the natural beauty and folk music of the Scandinavian countries where it originated, so it makes sense for American practitioners to use their own traditional musics. Panopticon is a one man band – Austin Lunn plays every instrument, from the screeching tremolo assaults, soaring riffs and brutal blast beats of the more BM moments to the banjo picking, alternatively reflective and driving. The last but one album, Kentucky is themed around the lives of coal miners in the state, and has a solid pro-union message, with sampled reminiscences from former miners, and versions of the labour songs Which Side Are You On? and Come All Ye Coal Miners. It’s great stuff, and a million miles from the preconceptions of BM being all Nazis, corpsepaint and church burning. The linked video is this record – enjoy (and if you do, their latest album Roads To The North is very good indeed, and has » Continue Reading.
If you can get the Gold channel, POLICE SQUAD is on right now. They are showing two episodes every Friday night. This makes me very happy.
after reaching 200k subscribers on Soundcloud. I don’t know a lot about them, but Rinse FM says: Grounded in hip-hop but equally comfortable wandering further afield, the effect is immersive and trippy, with abstract rhythms and blunted funk wrapped around cosmic soul, jazz and gauzy electronics, and according to FACT: Soulection has developed a reputation as a melting pot of styles and influences. Whilst it remains firmly grounded within the realms of hip hop, the label also weaves elements of soul and dance music into its diverse output. Since its establishment, the label has released music from North America, South America, Europe and Australia.
Worth a punt, I reckon. You can get it here
Colston Hall, Bristol
This is the last night of the Bristol Jazz and Blues Festival, a New Orleans themed day. And if you’re doing Nawlins, you need the Doctor. Filing into the auditorium we are treated with the sight of Mr Rebannack’s skull roadie sorting out props on the piano before his band, led by ace trombonist Sarah Morrow take the stage and kick up an introductory groove. Dr John hobbles to the piano in feathered top hat, walking with two canes (both covered in trinkets and fetishes, obv), and kicks off Iko Iko. It’s not quite jazz, not quite blues, not quite funk, and sets the tone for the rest of the night, all swampy voodoo with enough room for a Professor Longhair break. The rhythm section are very good, especially the drum workout on Walk On Gilded Splinters, and there’s some lovely Hammond as well. Pee Wee Ellis sat in for a couple of tunes near the end (he’d played an earlier set at the festival (my excitement at seeing one of James Brown’s sidemen was only slightly lessened after the gig when I discovered he lives just down the road in Frome these » Continue Reading.
Year: 2014 Director: Shinobi Yaguchi
Yuki Hirano has just failed his university entrance exams, and been dumped by his girlfriend. After a drunken night out with his college bound friends he stumbles upon a flyer for a one year forestry course. In no small way encouraged by a picture of a pretty girl on the front, he signs up, and leaves the busy metropolis for rural Japan on a succession of smaller and smaller trains. The first intimation of disaster comes at journey’s end, when he realises there is no cellphone signal at his destination shortly before his first encounter with a pit viper…
We follow him though a month’s training, and several failed escape attempts, until he takes an apprenticeship that turns out to be under Iida-san, the toughest of his instructors and the one with least patience for pampered city boys. Even when he finds the model from the pamphlet cover she is scornful, believing he will head back to Tokyo as soon as he can. It’s probably no great surprise to say that as the year progresses he becomes more enamoured of the rural life, and begins to integrate with the village, but the pleasure is in » Continue Reading.
Year: 2009 Director: Yoshihiro Nakamura
In 2012, a giant comet is about to hit the Earth, bringing total devastation. Japan is expected to be totally submerged by a huge tidal wave. The population have fled to high ground, but as one doom loving character reminds us, that won’t help. The streets of Tokyo are deserted. But one small record shop is still open, and the owner is confident the apocalypse will not come. His certainty is rooted in Fish Story, a forgotten record made in the 70s by a band no one remembers. This song will save the world, he insists.
A good chunk of the film is the story of Gekirin. They are a proto punk band, stealing a march on the Sex Pistols by twelve months, but this is 1975 Japan and no one is interested. They gradually succumb to low sales, record company antagonism and a dispute with their singer, but not before recording the song Fish Story. The song disappears without a trace, but other parts of the film set in 1982, 1999, 2009 and 2012, just hours before the comet’s impact, follow its afterlife, and show how it does indeed save the world.