Thursday, 26 July 2012

Crystal Castles: Plague

I love this. I'm so glad they are back with their ravey brand of catacombic screeching techpop. (Those might not be real words but you know what I mean)  'Plague' is a  free download to give us a taster of the long and complicated wait for a third album.  And if Alice and Ethan are in a cooperative mood, they are brilliant live; it was raining and muddy so it was in a strained Wellingtons clad situation I saw them, but they definitely can pull it off with a clashing air of facile and trouble.

There's something rather brilliant about this Canadian duo who seem to do nothing much to promote anything but are always on the radar, despite Alice's occasional stage tantrums and storms and refusal to answer or explain anything they do or even give their album defining titles. The music does it of course, reverb building around something a bit *ahem* Tardis-like that metamorphose towards the end into something sinister and alien sounding amidst Alice cooing melodically and shrieking banshee impression.

So to Crystal Castles III then? Unless of course they do give this new album a defining title. Can't wait.

Free download via Soundcloud

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Bat For Lashes: Laura

The long awaited return of Bat For Lashes. 'The Haunted Man' is out on 15 October.

Bat For Lashes are known for their subject titled tracks and 'Laura' is a subject of beautiful tragedy. It all sounds desperate and melancholy, dancing along to a lonely song, more than superficial stardom for Khan's current muse.

There's something very David Lynch about it all. Who is Laura? Drape your arms around me and wonder, 'you're the train that crashed my heart'. 

Also interesting read over at Spin about the apparent band hangout Twin Peaks Roadhouse.

Mysterious is in and always will be. I don't like the artwork for this release, not sure why but I will let you know when I've had more time to think about it. The song is fabulousness though; dance upon the indie folk lore-ish tables again.

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Purity Ring- Shrines (released on 4AD 24th July)

Every now and then Shrines evokes feelings of shadowy paranoia, spiders’ legs on stilts sat in corners, Groove Armada wearing a pointy chillwave black hat waiting to pounce with their long synthesizer fingers and weird bleep ‘shizzle’ gift wrapped in pretty ribbons. What’s not to like exactly?  Especially Lofticries. Here’s the latest offering 'Fineshrine'; strangely sweet and disturbing all at once.

Parts of this album remind me of Crystal Castles but with more melody, very occasional Bjork quirk blended with indie dubstep-ish qualities, admittedly the first track does sound like a PC start up but be patient.

I’ve run out of words for popglitch and button’ so rather than drag our pop sensibilities through all the tracks… just jump on the album stream here. The guy sings sometimes too, he shouldn’t though, not with that RnB intonation; perhaps it grows on you? Overall Shrines is a goody and Megan’s vocals sound like that of a sugarcoated murderess.

Must Listens:


First Listen: Purity Ring 'Shrines'

Little reminder: purple words are links...jump on them.  x

Angel-A (directed by Luc Besson)

Always tell the truth and know that what’s on the inside matters more. Did Luc Besson swallow a self-help manual? This film was funny and airy enough to hold my attention and captivate with the ridiculous. It was shot in black and white and Paris looked ethereally quiet throughout. With lots of symbolic dark and light, this suited it well and gave it a film noir twist with its lustrous femme fatale like angel and dark oddball sidekick.

Add desperation, attempted suicide, debt, low self esteem, throw in a beautiful angel that chain smokes and makes you look in a mirror and say ‘I love you’ and you have a brilliant film with a message, one that often no ones wants as it assumes some responsibility for ‘shit happens’ and most want to blame everything and everyone for their downfall.

The dialogue intrigues blithely and the film noir humour hits and misses with a shadowy off balance of male/earthly and female/heavenly dynamic; overall it succeeds in its effervescent way. Perhaps the critics are more the disgruntled that don't like art house movies being too commercial or Americanised and particularly led by a supermodel with questionable acting ability. I thought everything about this was unclouded fairy tale entertainment; I liked Angela (Rie Rasmussen) and Andre (Jamel Debbouze) and that is most important for me. He was a short man with many failings and she was his beautiful angel set on a mission to rescue him.

Yes, some shots were a little fashion house but of course they were with a super attractive angelic flouncing around Paris. At no point was anything gratuitous or voyeuristic, her beauty there as a polar opposite of the likeable but compromised proportions and life skills of Andre.

A princess that kisses a frog, an angelic and mortal love affair; shot beautifully in the most romantic city of the world, it amounts to something very pleasing to look at with a message of speak your truth and recognise your own worth.

It also reminded me of being told I was comically tall (how rude!) in a bar once but actually now I see why, especially in the shots of Angela and Andre walking over Parisian bridges at twilight; the director plays well on this. There is a lot of comedy to be had by simply putting a very tall lady next to a short man.

Give it a go if you missed it the first time and like films with angels (clue: It's a Wonderful Life and Wings of Desire)

Saturday, 14 July 2012

Shame- Steve McQueen/Abi Morgan

Warning: spoilers and rude words.

I joked about watching this film a few weeks back, too many hilariously unfunny jokes about Fassbender’s manhood put me off; however, having watched it now, it was deeper than I expected. Note to self, trailers and reviews ‘best’ bits are often the worst bits. But please keep reading here of course.

This film was realistically brilliant; seedy, depressing, unromantic, lacking in intimacy, occasionally (the running scene) reminded me of an action movie, then it had hints of Sex and the City (naturally), some humour, some uncomfortable points but mostly humanity and relationships and its failings. And Carey Mulligan was au fait with messed up, such a dimpliscious lovely, and this with only a hint of an English accent, sat on a sofa once, slightly cracking up then (SPOILER) slashed her wrists. (She also sang for a bit too long)

Meanwhile Brandon (Fassbender) wanks, pulls, wanks, watches porn, wanks, uses prostitutes and so on and so on. Throughout there is an overwhelming sense of tragedy and loneliness to which dismally, he exercises control over, spiralling out of control when his sister ‘Sissy’ turns up and creates havoc with her contrasting haphazardness and emotion. We see men and women, people generally, deal with unyielding love so differently, to cut off completely or hang on to desperately.  Both in this situation cause promiscuity, physically and emotionally. Dystopic love.

Don’t expect a journey with this film; it’s a repetitive pattern of bad behaviour that comes from something purer that most will judge. If you want a comfortable film and happy ending, this one isn’t for you.

Its interesting and surprising though…and not just about sex. Its about patterns of behaviour to cover up old patterns of behaviour while not really dealing with what’s causing the pattern of behaviour in the first place, you know when people talk of magic realism, this one’s real realism. Good old-fashioned shameful carry ons.

Perhaps the answer is not to feel shame.

The Secret in Their Eyes- Juan Jose Campanella (adapted from a novel by Eduardo Sacheri)


The Secret in Their Eyes is a film of mystery.  Its beauty is blurry, a love story thrown in a blender of oppressive and corrupt politics flicking from Argentina of 1974 to now-ish. Ignoring the oddly misplaced football CGI bit that was its stand out point for looking oddly misplaced, I liked this film for its fairy tale format muddled into a thriller with sporadic violence. Indefinable even with a broad world cinema tag, it tells stories of passion, obsession, and memories, lost opportunity woven into a crime that the main character can’t let go.

Benjamin Esposito, a retired crime investigator and wannabe novelist, requests the reopening of a case that has haunted him for 25 years; the brutal rape and murder of a young, newly married school teacher. While befriending the devastated husband Morales, he’s sees love in his eyes that will never die with his young wife’s memory. This haunts Esposito and parallels his growing feeling for his boss Irene Menendez Hastings. While he obsesses over the young Morales loss opportunity of a love filled life, he fails to see his own happiness and fulfilment slipping away until he starts his novel; his cathartic journey with a typewriter that’s malfunctioning 'a' key drives him to distraction.

It’s a simple story really, a story of love and how men deal with it. The women are mostly bystanders for their angst in this one. The tragedy of Morales and his wife is that he doesn’t continue to live, he (SPOILER) imprisons her killer and lives a life as gaoler of misery, a recluse with photographs of his young beloved sitting on the side as he ages alone in a turmoil of guilt that he could never ‘rescue’ her. The tragedy of Esposito is he loves, and undecided as to whether to challenge social convention, backs away, wastes time while Irene ‘waits’ and meanwhile marries and has children with someone else. It gets complicated (which sounds so much better in Spanish) and she continues to wait…then he finally makes a decision, after many affairs. This slightly annoyed me.

Meanwhile Irene notes the main suspect of the murder (a biggie on the sub plot factor) looking down her top, goads him into a confessional using the age old tactic of humiliation and questioning his manhood. Where was Irene’s daring with Benjamin; professionally Irene is formidable, personally she is unfulfilled and passive.

What is also apparent in this film is that men don’t forgive easily; retribution and suffering can only make their peace, whereas women forgive to make peace, even in extreme violence (The Crying Tree, Room…books where women forgive in extreme crime but men posture and seek vengeful peace). There are exceptions to the rule, this film could easily be compared to The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, (especially re the use of photographs to solve a mystery)  yet the character Lisbeth Slander, the victim of crime is more active, more vengeful and her waiting for the man of her affections is less passive than the subdued passion of Irene in this story. The story of Liliana Coloto is merely beautiful food for worms, possibly the more depressingly realistic outcome in a film centred on the violation of a young woman.

So this film does offer a pallet for both sexes in that it has intrigue, romance, violence, revenge, passion, sport and art… clever Campanella really. Not enough women in this for me personally, there’s three; a dead one, a beautiful one and a batty old one with a dog.  And in two hours of film, I would have liked to have seen Isidoro Gomez’ build up to the ultimate crime of rape and murder. From the little I know about killers is they build up to it, and this build up to Lilliana’s death was not covered, in fact she let him in, which is the more interesting story in my opinion.

However, the love stories were told, parallel, without gush and over sentimentality. Not a perfect film but a good one…where’s the fun in perfection anyway?

Monday, 9 July 2012

Frida-directed by Julie Taymor

It’s been so rainy for summer and I have a teeny tiny person to sit and feed for hours so I’ve been watching films, new and old. A biopic of Frida Kahlo, the surrealist painter was just perfect, via lovefilm, one of my new favourite things. Famously, she had a monobrow and more than your average upper lip hair for a lady; more importantly though, she was an amazing artist, woman, lover and participant in life, hers being short-lived at only 47 years.

Frida Kahlo’s self portraits were her trade and breath along with her love of Diego Rivera, who in Liz Taylor fashion, she married twice despite his infidelity, of many amongst whom were her own sister. Frida’s affairs with many women and Leon Trotsky, interestingly that one was politically and scandalously documented, she eventually led a life of free passion; some might say promiscuity, her only loyal lover, her art.

A life tinged with tragedy that filmically, it was easy (although took forever to get to fruition); already crippled in childhood from polio, then hit by a tram, then married to a creative and complicated older man who could not stay faithful, then gangrene dramas later, an amputee, left bedridden, Frida ordered her bed be carried to her final exhibition; that is a story.

Of course she then became a feminist icon of the status that even Madonna wanted her part, had a scrap with Jennifer Lopez over it, then eventually, the very lovely Salma Hayek (of stripper vampire fame From Dusk Til Dawn, the worst film I’ve ever had the misfortune to watch) landed beautifully in the part. Why this film took so long is a mystery. I guess probably as Frida Kahlo was just a bit tricky for Hollywood protocol to take on.

Kahlo celebrated her difference by exaggerating it in her self-portraiture, her monobrow, her moustache, her withered leg, in reality were barely there in the life of a woman that shone with vivacious animation. This film did that sort of energy justice in my opinion, faithfully accurate yet wary of realistic boringness; Frida could not be anything of the sort and triumphantly lived. Magical and real, so it was fitting.
It’s a good film if you missed love x

Saturday, 7 July 2012

Funny Electronic Ladies...


So first off let’s get the Bjork thing over with; she, that is Christina McGeehan, is a bit Bjorkish in that she’s a bit Bat for Lashes but with more buttons and less strings and possibly Glasser like…if you bought Biophilia and felt a little confused, you might like this.

Her album ‘Totem’ is based around spirit animals, take a guess with ‘Howl’ then. I like it. I’m undecided about the video as I like cute animation but I kept thinking of Albarn’s ‘Gorillaz’ and then it all became far too animal ‘point making’ centric. I like horses, where are the horses? The last horse I saw in a video was in this one. I also love Santigold.

The album ‘Totem’ is out now, jump to the BEEB review for tasters.

Planningtorock- Patriarchy over & out

And then Planningtorock  came out with a new single 'Patriarchy over & out' which in a demographic of people around me has mean't  I've been sentenced to headphones...indefinitely. But I love this. Yes, her vocals are a little uncomfortable for some, but just listen again. Her album is amazing as was her contribution to The Knife's electro opera. Said track is soundclouding here as the upload to youtube was a static I needed more time to think about...

Gazelle Twin- When I Was Otherwise

Meanwhile Gazelle Twin who is very funny, a lady and electronic (funny weird, not funny haha, although I'm sure she is witty) clearly has a naughty favourite friend with a button and a new video for her album ‘The Entire City’ (not a euphemism for anything, honestly) and this sounds like Depeche Mode’s beautiful step sister rather slowed down.

I’m experimenting with minimalist blogging again. I also love this tumbly for heads up on music. I dedicate this post to my readers in the county of that big space around Greater Manchester, mostly as that's where Planningtorock was birthed...and to anyone that gets the children's televisual metaphor going on. There are times when I am tempted to merely say 'This sounds good so listen to it. End of' .

Links related:

TOTEM on Brainfeed