Review: The Sparsholt Affair by Alan Hollinghurst Rating 83%

Review: The Sparsholt Affair by Alan Hollinghurst

The Sparsholt Affair opens in the manner of thousands of other books. It’s the early 1940s, the war is raging and we, the readers, are midst an Oxford college getting introduced to a handful of characters. We encounter the title character David Sparsholt immediately as a mere ‘shadow’ seen through the window and the first part of the book, which is divided into five altogether, is mainly focused on the small circle of male protagonists and their fascination with the figure of David Sparsholt. But if you think that the book’s focus is David you are wrong for his name is a symbol of a much bigger topic, a movement and its history that has slowly but steadily changed for the better: the gay movement.

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Review: The Drift Rating 86%

Review: The Drift

The Drift is a stunningly poignant journey through history, through Scottishness, identity, and grief. Writer and performer, Hannah Lavery, after her Edinburgh Fringe show has been picked up by the National Theatre of Scotland to tour this woefully nostalgic spoken word show.

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Review: Keane Rating 55%

Review: Keane

If you’re British, it’s probably a no-brainer for you to predict the audience mixture flocking to Keane’s concert at Edinburgh’s Usher Hall: comfortable, marginally hip sexagenarians, with or without their late-30s children who might’ve brought their undergrad children along to a nice family trip-cum-gig. But for a Central European like myself, who has known Keane’s 2004 debut album Hopes and Fears as a popular companion to wistful teenage escapism, the demographic comes as a wee surprise (it’s a whole different world out there on the continent). Another surprise is that even though their newly released Cause and Effect follows a seven-year break, Keane can still pack a venue from top to bottom. Their supporting act Marie White, a fellow East Sussex export, opens the gig with an easy-breezy fusion of sunny R’n’B, emotional vocal flourishes, slightly generic piano chords and some snare drum embellishments for that extra hint of drama.

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Review: Big Thief – Two Hands Rating 88%

Review: Big Thief – Two Hands

This Friday sees the release of Big Thief’s Two Hands, their LP, hot off the release of U.F.O.F. Big Thief’s second release in 2019, Two Hands is compiled of Side A and Side B, reminiscent of listening to vinyl. Delicate and somewhat ethereal the album is a joy to listen from start to finish.

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Review: Dan Mangan and Murray A. Lightburn Rating 69%

Review: Dan Mangan and Murray A. Lightburn

Supported by The Dears frontman, the soulful Murray A. Lightburn, Dan Mangan was given the opportunity to please his loyal fans, and fellow Canadians with a gig in the West End of Glasgow. Following the release of his newest LP, More or Less, which came out late last year, Dan Mangan has been performing solo shows across the UK including Glasgow’s Hug and Pint.

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Review: Keane – Cause and Effect Rating 40%

Review: Keane – Cause and Effect

You’re probably thinking what we’re all thinking: Keane are still around? Indeed, the once wistful-eyed, award-raking synth pop rock boys from East Sussex, now all in their late 30s and 40s, hit the road again with their newest release Cause and Effect after a 7-year break. Stylistically, the album doesn’t mark new territory for the band but combines reliable Keane staples like Tom Chaplin’s emotionally stripped voice, catchy piano chords and radio potential with occasional X-Factor banality and some surprisingly moving gems. Warning to the musical snob: you’re about to read an analysis of new Keane songs. I warned you.

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Review: Scotia Extremis,  Poems from the Extremes of Scotland’s Psyche Edited by Andy Jackson and Brian Johnstone Rating 90%

Review: Scotia Extremis, Poems from the Extremes of Scotland’s Psyche Edited by Andy Jackson and Brian Johnstone

Edited by poets Andy Jackson and Brian Johnstone, Scotia Extremis is a poetry anthology, which seeks to explore the ‘soul of Scotland’ through a selection of poems specially commissioned from poets from all around the country. The anthology’s title is inspired, in part, by the following line from Hugh MacDiarmid’s great early poem, A Drunk Man Looks at the Thistle:

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Review: Moon Duo – Stars are the Light Rating 87%

Review: Moon Duo – Stars are the Light

Ethereal with soothing tinkles, and scattered synth, Stars Are the Light is a fantastic new offering from the American psych explorers Moon Duo, marking a progression into significantly new territory with this seventh LP. From a preoccupation with the transcendental and occult that informed Ripley Johnson and Sanae Yamada’s previous guitar-driven psych rock, Stars Are the Light sees the band morph the abstract and metaphysical with the otherworldly vibe, which they effectively establish on this eight-track album.

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Review: One Man, Two Guvnors (National Theatre Live) Rating 90%

Review: One Man, Two Guvnors (National Theatre Live)

For the first five minutes, watching a stage play on a screen in a theatre is weird. But after that we forget and we immerse – bar the odd zoom in and theatrical bits of acting. It’s a long one at three hours and ten minutes (including a 15-minute interval) and to begin with, doesn’t seem to be a piece that can carry that duration. The opening scene is a dull bit of exposition, slightly over-egged by a few of the cast who seem to be better suited for the distance of stage than screen.

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