Review: Erasure Rating 90%

Review: Erasure

Erasure are my brother’s favourite band yet they’ve always been a take it or leave it band for myself. I know so many people consider Vince Clarke a musical genius but I just find the retro-shanty synths out of date with my own, more modern, tastes. Please don’t forget that that’s my opinion and I am mostly always wrong.

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Review: All Night Horror Madness Rating 98%

Review: All Night Horror Madness

As the night approached, I couldn’t believe it’d been a whole year since the last All Night Horror Madness at the Cameo. What’s more, I was reminded earlier in the day that I had press tickets for Erasure at the Usher Hall that very same night and now had to cram the gig in before attending an all night movie marathon!

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Review: Fischerspooner – SIR Rating 98%

Review: Fischerspooner – SIR

Bathed as we are in easily digestible content across multiple streaming platforms, it’s easy to forget that some artists work best within entire albums. I’ve found Fischerspooner to be one of these bands. While their hit single Emerge back in 2001 (oh god I’m old) absolutely floored me and introduced me to the world of electroclash, I remember struggling to get much else out of the album #1. Years went by, Odyssey came out, and this time their sound clicked with me. I returned to #1 and found every song was a joy. I guess what I’m saying is Fischerspooner demand multiple listens and their latest album SIR is no different.

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Review: Loveless Rating 89%

Review: Loveless

If a pleasant, uplifting trip to the pictures is what you’re after, Andrey Zvyagintsev’s Loveless is not the film for you. It’s there in the title: this is a tale of despair and – you’ve guessed it – lovelessness. Don’t let me put you off though. It’s a brilliant film, and has received high acclaim throughout the film industry, even if it was unlikely to please its country of origin. Cannes awarded it the Jury Prize, and it has been nominated as best foreign film in the Oscars, despite its lack of happy ending.

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Review: Sal by Mick Kitson Rating 85%

Review: Sal by Mick Kitson

Mick Kitson’s debut novel Sal, out this March from Canongate, tells the story of eponymous teenager Salmarina, who after enduring years of abuse by her mother’s boyfriend is forced to take matters into her own hands when he threatens her younger sister, Peppa. She must stop him and flee and, at all costs, she and Peppa must stay together. The book follows the girls’ flight into the depths of the Galloway forest park. Kitson’s spare, McCarthyesque prose tugs the reader along with highly textured procedural details; the making of a camp, the building of a shelter, the gutting of an animal–or a man.

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Review: The One Ensemble & Nerea Bello, Celtic Connections 2018 Rating 95%

Review: The One Ensemble & Nerea Bello, Celtic Connections 2018

Running late to The One Ensemble’s performance for Celtic Connections (due to snow-struck train delays) I realised taxi would be the only way I’d get to The Glad Cafe on time. As fortune had it, my taxi driver was from Rome, so our talk turned to the evocative peals of the differing strains of Italian folk songs from Sardinia, Calabria, Puglia and Sicily, known to modern ears through Alan Lomax and Diego Carpitella’s 1950s field recording trips. Much of this music is dying out, and few seem keen to continue the oral traditions.

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Review: Bright Light Bright Light Rating 88%

Review: Bright Light Bright Light

Having spent the last week listening to space rockers Monster Magnet I had completely forgotten that I had tickets to see both Bright Light Bright Light and Erasure at the Usher Hall on Saturday. I was a little concerned that being in a rock state of mind would in some way dampen my enjoyment of 80s-tinged pop. There was no need to worry.

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Review: The RSNO at the Movies – The Music of Star Wars Rating 100%

Review: The RSNO at the Movies – The Music of Star Wars

From the first resounding notes, it was obvious that this concert was something special. What better way to experience the famed music from the Star Wars than in the form in which it was created? The RSNO left no note untouched in their astounding performance of these rich suites. I could almost see the opening scene scrolling in front of my eyes as the main theme kicked us off before moving into the hopeful melody of Luke Skywaylker’s theme. The orchestra were impeccably timed; their bows pulsing in perfect rhythm to announce the arrival of the Imperial Star Destroyer. The conductor for this special evening, Richard Kaufman, lead us triumphantly through several of the best-known suites including Yoda’s Theme, March of the Resistance and Anakin’s Theme.

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Review: Feel Free by Zadie Smith Rating 95%

Review: Feel Free by Zadie Smith

After the success of her bestselling novel, Swing Time (published in November 2016), Zadie Smith is back with her second essay collection, Feel Free. Those who have read Smith’s earlier essay collection, Changing My Mind, or any of her many magazine and newspaper articles (many of which are reproduced here in Feel Free) will be familiar with what constitutes a Zadie Smith Essay. As the book’s title, and her earlier collection’s title, suggest, Smith’s essays are an exercise in intellectual freedom. The scope of Smith’s subject matter is swung wide open as she effortlessly moves from wrestling with the political fallout of Brexit to an interview with Jay Z, to examining black consciousness in Jordan Peele’s film, Get Out, to the symbolic ramifications a second bathroom has to the British middle-class, to meeting Justin Bieber.

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Review: Words and Music by Willy Vlautin, Celtic Connections 2018 Rating 84%

Review: Words and Music by Willy Vlautin, Celtic Connections 2018

One of the first questions faced that evening when I asked if I was in the correct venue for the Celtic Connections Willy Vlautin gig, was, “how do you know him? As a musician or a writer?” In all honesty I was not aware of his music or his work with Richmond Fontaine, and was better aware of film-adapted novels such as The Motel Life. Discussing his new novel, Don’t Skip Out On Me, Willy Vlautin enriched the evening and his audience as a balladeer and storyteller immersing them into his written and musical worlds.

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Review: Lord Huron and The Weather Station, Celtic Connections 2018 Rating 76%

Review: Lord Huron and The Weather Station, Celtic Connections 2018

Another Celtic Connections gig, another night of musical anecdotes and tight performances from Hackney-based Flyte, Canadian The Weather Station, fronted by Tamara Lindeman, and Los Angeles-based Lord Huron, who wonderfully headlined the evening to what seemed like a packed-out venue. Lord Huron, whose tracks are entirely fictional, inspired by Western novels and the likes of Kurt Vonnegut, filled the room with wonderful words and music that held it together with blues, country and folk music, creating a beautiful vibe amidst the audience.

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