November 12, 2012

The Avett Brothers In England

Writing about web page

One of my favourite bands, the Avett Brothers, are coming to Europe in March as part of their tour to support their new album, The Carpenter. I have seen them perform live in the past and they put on an excellent show. I look forward to seeing them in either Manchester or London.

November 11, 2012

Five Films That Can't Come Soon Enough

Hyde Park on Hudson - 7th December 2012This will either prove to be terrible or brilliant. Bill Murray is Franklin D. Roosevelt and Laura Linney his mistress in the film that focuses on the visit of King George VI and his wife - the Queen Mother to you and me - to the United States, the first ever by a British monarch, mere months before the outbreak of World War Two. Judging from the cast and context, it's meant to be a comedy, and I really hope they pull out the laughs or this will fall flat on its face. Neither FDR nor King George deserve that. (NB: When I saw a film about FDR was coming out, I thought it was this one. Sadly not.)

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey - 14th December 2012If this needs explaining, you must have been living in Gollum's cave for the past fifteen years. The Lord of the Ringstrilogy is generally accepted as one of the best trilogies out there. The acting wasn't brilliant, but for the most part, the casting was spot on, and the visual effects and music made the eye so elated the ears were drowned out, pun intended. Martin Freeman takes on the role he was perhaps born for, as no-one has ever looked more suited to being a hobbit, whilst Peter Jackson directs and Ian McKellan returns to the role he was perhaps born for. Much of the cast from TLOTRreturn too, but for me it's the booming British voice of Benedict Cumberbatch as the dragon Smaug that's something to look out for. I don't know if you can be attracted to a dragon by its voice alone, but I'll let you know. My only concern is why they've split the book into three films - having read it, I'm not sure this is necessary.

Django Unchained - 18th January 2013Again, no introduction needed. Directed by Quentin Tarantino and set a few years before the American Civil War, Django Unchainedfollows the story of the slave Django (Jamie Foxx) and the bounty hunter who bought him (Christolph Waltz) as they trek across the country in search of the Brittle Brothers, in exchange for which he will help Django free his wife from the plantation owner Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio). As if that description didn't give you enough to go on, the cast is pretty much unparalleled, with Tarantino regular Samuel L. Jackson, Kerry Washington and Jonah Hill making appearances. It's been four years since the last Tarantino spectacular. Let's do it again.

Lincoln - 25th January 2013Steven Spielberg directs Daniel Day-Lewis out of hibernation and into the figure of arguably the greatest American President in history. The film focusses on the last few months of the Civil War, which would prove to be Lincoln's last. Loosely based on the very accomplished and absorbing book Team of Rivalsby Doris Kearns Goodwin and starring Day-Lewis alongside Joseph Gordon Levitt and Tommy Lee Jones, it seems everyone involved in this film has three-worded-names. I just don't see how it can fail, and I really hope it doesn't.

The Great Gatsby- 10th May 2013This is a long way off yet, but the trailer promised Christmas so I got far more excited than I should have. This gloriously lavish adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald's classic has all the makings of a great film - Baz Luhrman, tonnes of money, and strategic casting, with Leonardo DiCaprio as Gatsby, Carey Mulligan as Daisy and Tobey Maguire as Nick. In addition, Adelaide Clemons, who played Valentine in BBC's Parade's Endalso stars. The modern music in the trailer (Kanye West/Jay-Z and Jack White) suggests this will have huge appeal to today's crowd, whilst still maintaining the glamour of the 1920s. Can't wait.

Others to Watch: Life of Pi, because I'm intrigued to see how the book will translate onto the screen; Oz: The Great and Powerful, because it has a seriously hot cast; Robot and Frank, because it looks funny, heart-warming and intriguing; The Host, because I'm a sucker for that teenage sci-fi nonsense; Man of Steel, because it's Henry Cavill in lycra; I, Frankenstein, because I love the book and the plot sounds like they've mashed up Paradise Lostwith the original novel.

Don't You Forget About Me – Mercury Prize 2012

by Francesca Peak

Last Thursday, in what was an utterly predictable and, according to The Guardian, ‘subdued’ ceremony at the Camden Roundhouse, alt-J took home this year’s Mercury Prize for their debut album An Awesome Wave. They were everyone’s pick to win mainly because their album was different and yet accessible to all and mainstream enough to dominate Radio One’s playlist for the past month. Their set was the busiest and one of the best at Bestival this September and no doubt their fan base will only grow thanks to the Mercury Prize. They were good winners, their album is very deserving, and I’m happy for them.

On an entirely personal note, there was another album I enjoyed far more and which I think must have been a close runner-up. Jessie Ware had featured on a few SBTRKT album tracks, Sanctuary and Right Thing To Do, but her first solo single Strangest Feeling failed to make any impact on the charts last year. It was only with this year’s release Wildest Moments that the 28-year-old has really started to shine. I first became aware of her this summer and made her set at Bestival one of my priorities – and what a smart choice that was. Her set was atmospheric, ethereal and beautiful, and led me to get her debut album, Devotion.

Like many others on the Mercury shortlist, Devotion’s strongpoint is that it’s a collection of great songs that, more than anything, creates a certain atmosphere which, in Ware’s case, is solemn, peaceful and moving. It’s got enough variation in pace, subject matter and tone to avoid listener boredom, and there’s something unique you can’t pinpoint about her. Standout tracks Wildest Moments, 110% and the fun Sweet Talk provide pillars for the album that drifts between pop-funk and soft ballad. With the vocal range of Adele, electro-soul of The 2 Bears and breathy tones of The xx, Devotion is easy to pick up but impossible to forget.

Now for something completely different. The indie-pop band Django Django first entered my consciousness when Database remixed Default, changing the tone completely from sombre electro-pop to groovy dance. Their self-titled album only reached number 33 in the UK chart, but I would hope that we can look past chart rankings in this day and age. There are so many parts to this album; the choral-esque vocals that create beautiful harmonies throughout, the use of African sounds and the creation of thirteen seemingly different songs that blend into one.

It’s difficult to pick stand-out tracks, but Waveforms, which has been around since last year, is a favourite, as are Life’s a Beach and The Storm, which have carried me through many a weary car journey. The album is almost tribal, thanks to the use of a range of instruments, collective vocal sounds and the way it makes you move and want to clap, without really knowing why. It’s like a cross between The 2 Bears’ Bear Hug, Kanye West’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy and Next Girl from The Black Keys. Don’t ask, just listen.

November 01, 2012

The Boss for Obama

After initially seeming to stay out of the 2012 Presidential campaign, last month New Jersey's finest threw his weight behind Obama.

He explained his reasons for this:

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