Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Artist Of The Week: A-Ha

Hi all!
Again this week, muscially, has seen me continuing my quest to finish all the songs in my library. Currently, I'm still on the A's, but this week, one artist has popped up more than any of the others. So, let's go back to the 80s and revisit A-ha!
  I didn't know this until I just googled them, but they are actually Norwegian, which is brillaint, as it's one of my favourite countries (they produce great music, judging by their Eurovision outlay), and were active mainly during the 80s. Probably their most famous song, certainly the only one I had heard before I listened to the rest of their discogrophy, was Take On Me. An immensely catchy song (that is easy to sing along to when your parents have gone out. No, I have never done that...) with a brillaint animated music video (one of the best ever produced), it's not hard to see why it became a worldwide smash hit.
   However, the purpose of this post is to demonstrate how some of the rest of their output is just as awesome. The Sun Always Shines On TV was another of the trio's big hits with some great music and some brillaint lyrics. Touchy! is another of my favourite tracks from the band. It's (almost annoyingly) catchy lyrics make it impossible to dislike this song. 
   There are of course many other great songs that the band has produced (such as I Wish I Cared and Butterfly, Butterfly) and the vast majority of them are truly great, but this is a short blogpost. However, I do warn you their songs are addictive in the extreme and very, very 80s. Musically, it's one of my favourite decades, and A-ha are one of the reasons for this.
   However, my favourite track from the band was recorded in 1993 and is called Angel In The Snow, it's an immensely sad, yet so beautiful, and I think it would be perfect for scoring a lovely romantic scene. I just love it.
Thanks,
James

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Artist Of The Week: Fall Out Boy

This past week I haven't been listening to one particular band that much. Instead, I've been going through my library of over 15,000 songs, trying to listen to all of them. This week, I've been going through the A's, so my week has been filled with bands such as ABBA, A-Ha, Amy Macdonald and the Audreys. However, I haven't listen to any of them enough for them to truly classify as artist of the week material. Then, only a couple of days ago, I heard Fall Out Boy's new album, Save Rock And Roll.
   Quite simply, it rules. They're a band I haven't really had a lot of exposure to in the past despite having two of their albums, Infinity On High and Folie A Deux sitting on my computer and being obsessed with Thnks Fr Th Mmrs (which is great for putting the lyrics into conversation and seeing who notices), but then I listened to My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark (Light Em Up) and it was completely revolutionary and utterly brillaint. It's just such a ridiculously catchy song (it's been in my head all week) and I love it to pieces. After downloading the album, I can safely say that the rest of the songs are also up to this high standard.
   The Phoenix is another great song with a fantastic, intense violin backing track and some catchy lyrics ('I'm gonna change you like a remix, then I'll raise you like a phoenix'). It's a headbanger to be sure. Alone Together is a little less intense and ends up feeling like a more average pop-song. This isn't really a problem, especially with lead singer Patrick Stump's wonderful vocals, and it's better than most modern pop songs. Where Did The Party Go is one of my least favourite songs from the album. It just seems less original than the rest of the album.
   But then we have the utterly fantastic Just One Yesterday, which features Foxes (best known for working with Zedd on the track Clarity, which is one of my favourite songs at the moment). It's a beautiful song with a moving message, again augmented by the catchy music and wonderful lyrics. One of my favourite songs off the album. The Mighty Fall is not the sort of song I would usually like, with it coming across as some sort of angry ballad, but it's also quite dancy (it's not hard to imagine this track being remixed to be more dubstep) so another winner.
   Miss Missing You starts like an eighties pop song (which is never a bad thing) and has some great imagery, but the idea of missing missing someone is a relatively common one in pop music, but they tackle it in a way that's immensely enjoyable. The last four songs of the album I haven't got around to listening to as much yet, so my impressions of these are my initial ones, so they might change yet. Death Valley isn't as good as a song lyrically, but musically is just as strong as the other tracks. Young Volcanoes is a great, uplifting song (with a disturbing video) but it's another winner. Rat A Tat is probably my least favourite song off the album. It just isn't up to the standard of the rest of the album. Slightly disappointing, really.
   The final song of the album, the titular track is another fantastic song, featuring Elton John and a simple backing track that builds and builds and awesome, stirring lyrics. It ends up being one of the most beautiful songs on the album.
   Save Rock And Roll is one of my favourite albums I've listened to this year and is an early candidate for Best Album Of The Year. Anyway, here is my favourite track from the album for your listening pleasure!

Until next time!
Thanks,
James

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

TV Review: Tales From The Darkside - Season 1 (1983/1984-85)

Tales From The Darkside is one of those odd horror anthology series from the 80s and 90s. However, what makes this one different is that it is produced by the legendary George A. Romero, director of, among others, Night of The Living Dead and Dawn Of The Dead. It is possibly as a result of his influence that this series has a much higher rate of episodes that are actually good.

   Most of the stories within are downright weird, all of them having some sort of nasty twist in the end. Generally, they’re about instances of horror at the domestic level (such as The New Man which is about a man who comes home to find he has a son who didn’t exist before) and most of them have a highly unusual sense of justice. Notable examples of this include episodes such as Pain Killer (an episode about a man who finds that a doctor can miraculously cure his back-pain, but at a horrifying cost), Slippage (everyone starts to forget a man because he never made an impact on anyone’s life), The Word Processor Of The Gods (a man finds he can re-write the past with his typewriter, ‘deleting’ his wife and son in the process, a moral dilemma which the story neatly sidesteps), In The Cards (which suggests that a woman giving nice card readings deserves to die) and the very, very weird If The Shoes Fit… (about a political candidate who acts like a clown and becomes one… maybe. It’s very surreal). 
   Then, there’s the lighter episodes, breathers amongst the darkness of the series. A Case Of The Stubborns (about an old man who is dead but refuses to accept it so decays. His family have to convince him that he’s dead, with a memorably gory ending) is my favourite example of this, but Djinn, No Chaser (a genie drives a couple mad until   an unusual solution to the problem is found) and Grandma’s Last Smoke (a tormented old lady gets back at her family) are also some of the best episodes of the series.
   However, this is a horror series, after all, and there is no shortage of scary stories on hand. Although only two episodes, Inside The Closet (about a girl who finds a monster in the closet, usually regarded as one of the best episodes for good reason) and Answer Me (a phantom telephone call and bumps in the night freak the hell out of Jean Marsh and the audience) are the only two episodes that are almost consistently terrifying, there are several examples of stories that are downright shocking and nasty. Snip, Snip (featuring Bud Cort and a hairdresser playing cat and mouse over a lottery ticket, with a naughty twist), Levitation (a young man wants to see a levitation act, eventually becoming part of it and being blown away by it all… literally) and Bigalow’s Last Smoke (a smoke enters and unusual rehab… in a cage) are all mildly shocking, they are nothing compared to the terror of the Anniversary Dinner. For the first half of the episode, we focus on this lovely old couple who seem perfectly innocent, until their shocking secret is revealed. There’s a palpable sense of terror and apprehension within this story and it has a nasty and ingenious conclusion that has haunted me for days. After watching both this and Paradise Towers (in which evil old ladies try to kill the Doctor’s companion in what was the only good thing about a terrible Doctor Who story), I’ve realised that killer old ladies are freaky as hell. Nasty.
    However, there is one other episode that is noteworthy. The beautiful and moving episode, The Tear Collector, is a great story about moving on from and embracing sorrow. Admittedly, it’s not exactly what the brief of the series is, but it’s a wonderful episode all the same.
   Overall, Tales Of The Darkside is a great example of the sort of anthology horror series that was popular only a decade or two ago, but has since grown out of favour. With the sheer number of quality stories and actors that the series employs, this is a great way to freak yourself out.

Most Amusing Episode: A Case Of The Stubborns
Most Terrifying Episode: Answer Me
Most Shocking Episode: Bigalow’s Last Smoke
Most Emotional Episode: The Tear Collector
Most Confusing Episode: If The Shoes Fit…
Favourite Episode: Anniversary Dinner
Favourite Moment: The conclusion of In The Closet
Overall Rating: 8/10

Monday, 17 June 2013

Film Review: Imagine Me & You (2005)

This film is that very, very rare thing; a modern widely released romcom that is about a couple other than a man and a woman and a gay film with a beautiful happy ending. There's a fairly worrying trend within gay films (or at least the ones I have seen so far) that the couples within always end up seperating or their fate is left ambiguous. A major reason for this could be that they are mainly coming out stories, stories of the search for acceptance. What differs this film (and others which have a more hopeful ending) is that it focusses on the love story at the film's core. It makes it a for more uplifting experience, as throughout this film, you get the feeling that these two women are destined to be together. It helps significantly that the two leads are such wonderful actresses and have an incredible connection that just lights up the screen whenever they are together. Piper Perabo is an incredibly skilled actress, but her love interest is the great Lena Headey with a performance that grounds the film, stopping it from becoming too soppy (which is always a danger with romcoms), and almost making me forget that she also plays Cersei in Game Of Thrones, a completely different role. All of the characters are sympathetic and it has a wonderfully upbeat soundtrack, with a final scene that had made me laugh and filled me with optimism about the hope of finding true love. Absolutely one of the best films I've seen about gay issues possibly because it doesn't touch on them. This is far more than a 'gay' movie, it's a beautiful, uplifiting romance. Highly recommended.
VERDICT: 9/10
I think you know immediately. You know, as soon as your eyes….Then everything that happens from then on just proves that you had been right in that first moment, when you suddenly realised you had been incomplete and now you are whole.   
- Luce, Imagine Me & You

Thursday, 13 June 2013

Artist Of The Week: Le Kid

Ah, music. I listen to far too much of it. Really, it's a problem. Anyway, because I realised that I listen to a lot of bands, singers and music that no-one has heard of, I thought I'd start up a new regular blog thing, where I draw your attention to a band that I think rules. Let me know what other singers to listen to, so I can have an even bigger problem. Jokes :)
   Anyway, let's start with the one I'm obsessed with this week. Last week, I went on a massive YouTube download fest, using Wikipedia's list of gay singers as my guide (yes, really) and somehow, despite this band not being on that list, I discovered this band, Le Kid.
   According to Wiki, they're a Swedish pop band that formed in 2008, but most of their songs are from their debut album Oh Alright (which is almost impossible to find. It is on Amazon, though, but expensive) and quite simply they're completely awesome.
   From first hearing the song 'We Are The Drums' (which has such a great pop, dancy beat. Links are to Youtube clips by the way), I almost instantly became obsessed with them, but then when I saw the video for 'We Should Go Home Together' (linked below), it was freefal into obsession. That song is wonderfully, ridiculously catchy (like most of their songs actually) and has a fantastic video (featuring some very attractive men in skimpy clothing and the female singers of the band in sailor outfits. C'mon this has huge gay following just waiting to happen!
   Most of their other songs are equally as good. 'Mercy, Mercy' was a song I initially didn't like as much, but it's growing on me (with a brillaint beat and catch cry; "We are the L-E K-I-D, the only thing your momma ever want to see!"). 'America' and 'Oh My God' I haven't listened to enough, but they already sound fantastic. Oh, and all of the other songs on the album rule.
   Rounding out their discography is 'Human Behaviour' (which clearly has been influenced by Madonna's 'Hung Up' and 'Phyiscal' but has a great dancy feel) and this year's single 'We Are Young' which is one of my favourite songs of theirs.
   Anyway, Le Kid rules, so get on it. Oh and to prove it to you, here's the video for 'We Should Go Home Together'.
See I told you they were awesome!
Thanks,
James