Elizabeth Watts Five of the best vampire films Time for Games To Grow Up? Mercury Rising
Just how ‘reem’ is reality T.V ? When one reality show door closes another opens. With barely seven days without TOWIE (that’s The Only Way Is Essex to those 10 people in the country that haven’t yet heard of it), we are faced with the prospect of watching a new group of Z-list ‘celebrities’ force animal genitals down their throats in an attempt to revive their flagging careers. This must pose the question: ‘What is reality TV coming to?’ For 1.7 million viewers, TOWIE is, sadly, part of their weekly routine. It comes to something when a planned night out has to be postponed because we are more interested in watching Joey Essex buy shoes two sizes too small for him ‘to keep the crease in them’ (yes that actually happened!) We are definitely not ‘well jel’ of his poor feet. Reality show phrases like ‘well jel’ and ‘Tashing on’ from Geordie Shore have seamlessly slipped into the English language. We dread to think how many teachers have read an essay on how
Mr Rochester thought Jane Eyre was a ‘reem bird’. It is impossible to speak of reality TV shows without mentioning the X Factor, the most frustrating show of all. It can no longer be classed as light-hearted entertainment when the dynamics of the show are making us angry to the point where our Facebook newsfeeds are overwhelmed with comments and complaints. Yet we still continue to not only watch it, but read about it: these shows become embedded in society for the weeks that they are on. Almost every day newspaper front pages are dominated by gossip about contestants and let’s face it, it’s not usually pleasant. Here’s the biggest flaw in reality TV: people become so enthralled in the theatrics of the show that they often forget that these people are real. Hate campaigns are not at all necessary- judges, we are talking to you! Speaking of the judges, hot new judge on the block Gary Barlow has mastered the art of making minutes seem like
hours through his monotonous ‘manc’ drone, which has been so successfully executed by Keith Lemon….”that was absolutely fantastic.’’ His dashing good looks are not enough to save this year’s show from being more tedious than ever. Then there’s the question of money. We are constantly reminded about the recession we are in, so who is actually spending their hard-earned cash on voting for contestants on these shows? It’s certainly not us. However, we still seem to rack up our phone bills by texting our opinions about the shows to others. No matter how much we try to deny it, we are all slaves to the reality show circus. How could we forget, the catalyst for the reality show debacle? Big Brother. Oh yes, the original, once exciting show, which, after 10 years of ups and downs (mostly downs) admitted defeat, and ended in 2010… …Or so we thought. Just when you thought you had finally seen the back of it,
Channel 5 snapped it up and made the whole show even worse. When reality shows are constantly being recycled and regurgitated, it is hard to imagine when they will ever end. Of course, you may be wondering why we are so well informed about these ‘rubbish’ programs. Despite our criticisms, we still continue to put ourselves through watching them for the sake of our own entertainment, because in the end who wouldn’t want to watch someone sleeping, eating (testicles) and crying, to cheer ourselves up after a long, boring day at uni? After all, the best way to make us feel better about our own lives is to immerse ourselves in others. So, who’s got the remote?
Gemma Ricketts & Abigail Burrow
Multi-talented celebrities...well I never
Friday November 18 2011
recently wrote an album review for this publication. The album in question was Music is Better Than Words, a series of Rat-Pack style numbers performed by… wait for it… Seth MacFarlane. That’s right – Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane. I gave the review 9/10 because, frankly, it’s fantastic. And the editors of Fuse’s Music section laughed derisively. Oh, ye of little faith. I admit, it’s easy to dismiss it as a gimmick. What does a man who writes offensive jokes for a cartoon know about big band music? But that same man regularly uses a full orchestra, to great effect, to make that cartoon. He’s also performed at the Royal Albert Hall for the BBC Proms, and received voice training from the same people who trained, amongst others, Barbara Streisand. The man has talent, and I think it’s fantastic that he’s decided to showcase it. And this happens almost as regularly with actors on our side of the Atlantic, too. Look at Hugh Laurie - the fact that his album Let Them Talk became the most pre-ordered album on iTunes was probably thanks to a lot of people who
only know him as “that bloke off House”. But Laurie is an accomplished pianist and guitarist, and the album is a finely crafted piece of work that was well received both here and in the States. And let’s not forget, this can work both ways too – Will Smith, for example, is famous nowadays for films such as I Am Legend, Men In Black, and Seven Pounds, but he carved out his celebrity niche as a rapper called “The Fresh Prince” – it was that success that got him his first television role. Granted, the phenomenon of actors and TV stars releasing albums, or singers becoming actors, does not always work About 50 per cent of the films Justin Timberlake has made have been utter garbage, and whoever thought Katie Price deserved a single should be sent to a very special level of Hell. True talent tends to encompass many genres and we should be a bit less sceptical about celebrities who try to branch out into other art forms. Phil Bayles
In the last issue of Forge Press, Issue 40 Friday November 4, the artwork Fuse used for the front cover was credited to the wrong person. The artwork was in fact done by the lovely Phoebe Hodges from Wearedoes Creative Collective. Fuse are very sorry for making this mistake.
ow did you land your own TV show, Lee Nelson’s Well Good Show?
I sent in clips in to the BBC of me and my best mate and fat legend Omelette messing about. Like one where I broke in to Omelette’s flat at three in the morning, clingfilmed him to his bed, and shoved an entire box of Crunchy Nut cornflakes in his gob. It’s funny ‘coz he’s got a nut allergy. Can you describe the show for someone who’s never seen it? It’s a well mental proper funny half hour for the whole family. Jokes, games, banter, my Nan rapping and my best mate Omelette eating. So where are you going during your tour? I’m going up and down the whole of the UK visiting every crap town I can get to.
Which town are you most looking forward to? London, Shepherd’s Bush Empire. I can’t wait. All my family and mates are going to be there. Get your tickets now it’s going to be the party of the century. You best be quick ‘cos tickets are flying out the door - we’ve just added another show there. You’re from London - what’s the best thing and worst thing about it? London’s got the best of everything. Best nightlife, best bars, best clubs. Even our transport’s the best - London must have the greatest rail replacement bus service in the world. The worst thing is the crime which, to be fair, I ain’t helping with. What do you think of the Olympics coming to London? Have you got tickets?
beach volleyball. We’re in row A and we’re still bringing some binoculars. Which town are you least looking forward to on tour? I don’t want to pick one town in particular but special mention must go to the whole of Wales. Which part of the country do you get the funniest people? Probably Birmingham ‘cos their city’s a bit of a joke. What about grumpiest?
North Londoners. They’re always so unhappy when I nick their phone. Where do you sleep when you’re on tour? Next to which ever bird I get lucky with. Or if I ain’t in the mood, on top of Omelette. What’s the best thing about being on tour? Meeting the fans. They’re proper brilliant. What’s the worst thing about being on tour? I miss my little boy. When I’m on tour without him I’ve got to buy my own ciggies. You’ve got a fiancée - what’s her name and can you tell us a bit about her? Her name’s Amber. And she’s 36F-24-34. What’s your best chat-up line? ‘‘You’re the best-looking girl I’ve ever seen... in your category’’ Your son’s called Stairwell. How come? We done a Posh ‘n’ Becks and named him after where we done it! What would you be doing if you weren’t famous? Not a lot to be honest.
Fuse is not surprised to learn that... Martin Johnson has resigned as England Captain following the shambles that the team got themselves involved in. From jumping off ferries to being felt up by pretty blondes in a bar it was only a matter of time. As a player he was great
but maybe he should leave managing to the big boys. Fuse thinks there is a fine line between... enjoying a day out at the shops and being completely obsessed with finding a bargain. A unnamed woman has become an internet sensation after being filmed trying to climb an escalator. The woman was filmed trying to reach the top floor of Saks Fifth Avenue in New York and since going viral the video has become a massive hit, notching an impressive 400,000 views already. Make sure to check it out.
Fuse is jealous of Forge Radio who were lucky enough to meet... Billy Bragg who came into the station for an interview. Bragg is an alternative singer-songwriter from Barking, Essex. His music blends elements of folk music, punk rock and protest songs, and you can hear the interview with him at ForgeRadio.com
Fuse was interested to learn about... Smashing Pumpkins lead man Billy Corgan is setting up his own wrestling league. Corgan is now the creative director of ‘Resistance Pro’, an independent league whose first venue will be in Chicago on November 25. Corgan’s role in his new company is to develop the story lines that these new wrestlers will be partaking in, so I wouldn’t worry WWE, your fan base is not likely to fall just yet.
Friday November 18 2011
It’s well exciting although the organisers have been stupid building some of the venues now. Do they not realise what happens if you leave a building empty in East London for 12 months? By the time of the opening ceremony the Velodrome’s going to be a burnt out crack den. Me and the boys have got tickets to the birds’
Q&A : LEE NELSON
Interview. ELIZABETH WATTS
inter, it would appear, is finally upon us as the Sheffield landscape prepares to treat its inhabitants to another delectable few months of dark nights and crisp mornings. However, alongside the wondrous nostalgia of a South Yorkshire winter comes the increased sound of uncomfortable and socially regulated sniffling/coughing/sneezing in lecture theatres across campus. Spare a thought then for graduate Elizabeth Watts who spent the final few years of the last millennium combatting student living whilst attempting to establish a professional singing career. A graduate in Archeology of the University of Sheffield, Elizabeth has since gone on to establish herself as “one of the brightest new talents” in British opera, winning the song prize at the Cardiff Singer of the World competition in 2007. Since that performance she has collected critical acclaim wherever she has performed. While the Guardian has praised her for her ‘immaculate control’ the Financial Times argues that ‘her milky timbre and interpretative maturity’ set her apart from other sopranos of her generation. Despite her success, the Norwich-born soprano has not forgotten the ‘great time’ she associates
Fuse talks to ‘honey-toned’ soprano Elizabeth Watts about uni life in Sheffield and touring Europe. Words: Tim Wood
“Hearing my name read out in Cardiff was unforgettable.”
Friday November 18 2011
with the University and the city. With a career in opera ahead it’s no surprise that whilst at university Watts organised a recital at the city’s cathedral to help fund her study at the Royal College of Music. Nonetheless, she is quick to point out that her education wouldn’t have been quite complete without Sheffield’s nightlife, professing to finely honing her dance skills at The Leadmill. If the Cardiff victory was
1. Favourite singer: Ella Fitzgerald 2. Favourite opera singer: Maria Callas 3. Favourite venue: Leeds Castle, Kent 4. Favourite day-off activity: A walk in the country 5. Favourite TV show: Spooks 6. Favourite flm: Star Wars (Episode IV)
Photo: Pip-PR a confirmation of her talents it certainly didn’t come easily. On the back of performing, strict training and keeping healthy was the added stress of the competition, stress that Watts readily admits gave her some sleepless nights. “Hearing my name read out as the Song Prize winner was unforgettable. “A colleague of mine who also did the competition said it was the experience of a lifetime but not to be repeated, and I concur. It was utterly amazing but such high pressure.” Four years on and Watts’ success has continued, seeing her pick up a Classical Brit nomination whilst performing in and drawing admiration
in Europe’s top concert halls. This relative fame is all taken in stride and it is clear that she has no intentions of letting go of her hard work.
job runs your entire life.” With a return to the University’s Firth Hall on November 15 there came a sense of a homecoming. As a welcome bonus to the
Despite the occasional feeling of “living like a nun”, Watts recognises the position she’s in and reserves her only misgivings for the demands of touring. “The travelling aspect is really tiring and it’s hard being away from friends and family for such long stretches and so regularly. “Obviously there’s no need to get out the violins, but it can sometimes feel like your
recital itself Watts confesses she was looking forward to being “a stone’s throw from some hilarious memories” having lived opposite the Octagon in her undergraduate days. When asked what the future holds for Watts, she remains candid – “There’s so many exciting things but it’s dangerous to mention them in case something unexpected happens...”
“Watts is one of the brightest new talents in British opera.”
However, there is more than enough to betray her modesty. A European tour with the Orchestra of the Age of the Enlightenment, concerts with the Halle and Royal Philharmonic and recitals at the Concertgebouw (Amsterdam) and Wigmore Hall to name a few. The future is clearly bright for yet another of Sheffield’s esteemed graduates. With this in mind it’s wise to consider using a tissue next time you sneeze in a lecture hall, you may be in the midst of a budding opera star. Read a review of Elizabeth Watts: p.15
The Lost Boys (1987)
Words: Tom Fletcher
as anybody ever wondered: When did the vampire - the supernatural being to rule them all, the oppressive blood thirsty lord of darkness himselfbecome so nauseatingly dull? It wasn’t too long ago, you know, that vampires were a creature to be feared rather than fancied.
Thanks to True Blood, Vampire Diaries, Twilight and their irrevocable teenage corruption of one of horror cinema’s favourite themes, audiences the world over are becoming so blasé about vampires that if we were to bump into one in a darkened subway, we’d probably just ask him for a Facebook
Five of the Best. VAMPIRE FILMS
oel Schumacher’s The Lost Boys was one of the most popular teen flicks of the 1980s. Billed as a comedy horror, The Lost Boys tackled the hormonal anguish of its adolescent audiences while still respecting vampire folklore. Darkly comedic but at times brutal, The Lost Boys is a classic example of the bizarre affinity felt between teenagers and vampires, but proof that you can still use this affinity to make a decent film. If for nothing else, watch this film to see Jack Bauer as a vampire.
photo. But, to coincide with the release of the fourth Twilight instalment, Breaking Dawn Part 1 (that’s right; it’s more profitable in two parts, you see?), let’s have a look at some of the classic vampire pictures from over the years to remind us how the vampire can be much more than a dismissible teenage pinup. Whether you’re a vampire fanatic or not, these films are classic examples of one of the most popular horror genres at its best.
Salem’s Lot (1979)
kay, so it’s not a film. But Tobe Hooper’s 1979 TV adaptation of the classic Stephen King novel is one of the most unsettling TV releases of the 20th century. The widely parodied scene of child vampire, Ralphe, floating eerily outside of a bedroom window is still included amongst the scariest scenes in the history of TV and film. Many Stephen King novels have been adapted into films and TV series, but few are as iconic as this.
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on’t worry, I haven’t forgotten you. If werewolves tickle your fancy instead, be sure to check out the unmistakable tour de force of An American Werewolf in London. Unfortunately, six packs are at a premium, but it’s a fantastically freakish werewolf movie all the same, with some genuinely terrifying moments and some marvelous special effects.
hat’s right; the vampire’s first breakthrough into cinema was 90 years ago when German director F. W. Murnau unleashed his adaptation of Bram Stoker’s Dracula into the world. Sure the film is ancient, cracked and without dialogue, but the atmosphere, clever lighting and downright freakish brilliance of the whole thing makes it as creepy today as it was nearly a century ago. The immortal silhouette of the vampire ascending the staircase, claws raised, remains one of the most celebrated images in the history of horror.
rancis Ford Coppola’s adaptation of Bram Stoker’s Dracula stirred up a lot of attention in 1992. The invincible Gary Oldman stars as the eponymous vampire and, despite the iconic villain being more widely associated now with Montgomery Burns, his performance, and that of his supporting cast, including Anthony Hopkins and Winona Ryder, was acclaimed.
Friday November 18 2011
How the class clown of an immature industry matured to become the teacher Words: Arnold Bennett
Friday November 18 2011
ix years ago, perceptions of the videogame industry within the mainstream media were vastly different. Central to this reputation was the work of a single company, Rockstar. Edinburgh based Rockstar North, masterminds of the Grand Theft Auto franchise, couldn’t escape a project without a flood of media attention casting a pejorative eye on their work. Newspapers were quick to brand the franchise as “immature”, as well as highlight the game’s supernatural ability to single-handedly desensitize an entire generation of youths. Hyperbole was the order of the day, and unfortunately, popular perceptions of the videogame industry suffered as a result. Each Grand Theft Auto was released to a swathe of articles warning about the content held within. Reporters were sent to supermarkets as witness to a mass form of manipulation, as teenagers convinced loved ones to circumvent the age ratings and buy the game for them. Picture an elderly woman claiming she genuinely wanted Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas for her own pleasure; all the while a young boy hovers behind her with an unnerving grin. Grand Theft Auto titles, and Rockstar games in general were an industry taboo.
And like all taboos, there’s an anarchistic nature in their consumption. Rockstar should have seen the criticism coming. Naming your game after a criminal charge isn’t the wisest way to avoid controversy. Neither is giving players the power to refund paid sex by murdering the prostitute. Not only that but their 2003 murder simulator Manhunt seemed almost designed to cause outrage. Rockstar employee Jeff Williams openly admitted that there was “open mutiny at the company over that game.” Rockstar was a war zone, and their own game was the dispute.
“Naming your game after a criminal charge isn’t the wisest way to avoid controversy.” The game, described as an interactive snuff film, tasked players with killing in a variety of gruesome ways with increasing severity. You could use a plastic bag to suffocate your opponent, or cave their skull in with a hammer. The process of utilising everyday
chestrated attack on the industry as a whole, with games lke GTA, Manhunt and Bully vilified and ridiculed through relentless, mainstream, ignorance. But something within Rockstar changed. A new generation offered them a clean slate to write a new chapter in their thus far, muddied history.
tools as weapons was bound to stir a hornets nest, and the national media in the UK quickly mobilised with defamatory intent. They even branded the game responsible for the murder of a teenage boy, Stefan Pakeerah, after his mother said the murderer, Warren Leblanc, a friend of Pakeerah, was “obsessed” with the game. Of course, the murder trial declared that Leblanc’s obsession with the game played no part in the case, yet that didn’t prevent the Daily Mail from leading with the headline ‘Teenager gets life for “Manhunt Murder”. Despite Manhunt being cleared, certain retailers bowed to the media pressure and refused to sell the game. In New Zealand, possession of Manhunt is an offense. The job had been done, no matter what sense it made. Rockstar were the fall guy for an or-
“Rockstar was a war zone, and their own game was the dispute” Firstly they invested. Rockstar integrated Natural Motion’s ‘Euphoria’ animation system into their new ‘RAGE’ game engine. With this engine they built the tools to tell a more immersive, believable story without solely words. Rockstar recognised that your interactions with a game world increase in satisfaction if things react as you’d expect. The first time Niko plowed through the windscreen of his car following an impact in GTA IV, I smiled, and I’m sure countless others did too. Maybe I wasn’t smilling after the tenth time, but that was my fault, not the game’s. More importantly, Rockstar changed how they approached storytelling.
Whereas GTA had often presented stereotypical characters with unambiguous motives, here was Niko Bellic, an immigrant fighting for his future, family and livelihood.
“Rockstar were the fall guy for an orchestrated attack on the industry as a whole” It seemed Rockstar’s influences had shifted from summer blockbuster to HBO production. Rockstar’s work started to resemble
such programmes as The Wire, Deadwood, Mad Men and now The Sopranos. As a point of reference for an extended narrative, that’s a hard list to topple. They didn’t hit GTA IV out of the park from a story point of view, but what they may not have achieved with that particular game they certainly made up for in Red Dead Redemption. Here was a story of the old west as it transitioned into a period of technological change. You played John Marston, bandit turned farmer in a tale of blackmail, bullets and again, family. What this game did that most other’s do not is include a final act on the tried and tested narrative arc. The majority of games ramp up in
difficulty as a left over trait from the emergence of capitalist Arcade Machines designed to take your money the longer you played. Here Red Dead Redemption eschewed that notion and concluded with a period of calm, prior to the games finale, in which you returned to your farm and helped raise your son. You herded cattle, cleared crows from your water tower and tended to the horses. That moment of zen showed a rare strand of maturity within a sea of petulance. All this from the developers of a game called Bully. They’ve just finished publishing LA Noire, a game about the nuances of face to face interaction, featuring Mad Men’s Ken Cosgrove as the protagonist. Sure, the game featured violence and foul language, but that’s accurate to the source material. And there’s also a fine line between experimental failure and cult classic.
The phrase ‘it’s the thought that counts’ is definitely applicable in this scenario. That Rockstar took a punt on such a risky, and ultimately fatal project speaks massively of their ambitions. In a recent interview with Variety Magazine, Co-Founder and Lead Writer Dan Houser summed Rockstar’s transition up perfectly: “If games are to be the next major form of creative consumption, art, cultural expression or whatever the correct term is, then strong narrative has to be part of that. If the mechanics are fine and the story is ridiculous, the experience is much diminished.” If games are to be the next major form of cultural expression, the latest cultural form to be branded ‘art’, then Rockstar are certainly it’s finest custodians.
Familiar shooting elements and car chases do help to sell a unique experience to an increasingly saturated market. There’s no point creating a masterpiece if nobody plays it. And in an industry where Call of Duty consistently tops the sales charts, a game that tasks you with determining a person’s sincerity through a flick of their eyebrows would fail miserably. It turns out that LA Noire did fail. At least in developer Team Bondi’s estimations, or should I say former estima-
“That moment of zen showed a rare strand of maturity within a sea of petulance”
Friday November 18 2011
“As a point of reference for an extended narrative, that’s a hard list to topple.”
tions. The company had to close mere months after the game’s release. It seems Rockstar’s faith was rewarded with a mixture of poor time management and expensive technology.
Interview. MERCURY RISING
s I e r e h T l l A s I Love S
Friday November 18 2011
Sheffield’s new super group, Mercury Rising, invited Fuse round to their studio for a private performance, to hear their forthcoming album and to talk about Luke Skywalker.
Words: Sam Bo lto Photos: Ella Ruth n Cowp
heffield is a city with a rich musical heritage. The Steel City has birthed countless talented and influential bands from Pulp to Arctic Monkeys via The Long Blondes and Def Leppard. And that’s just naming a handful of the best.
“Our songs are very, kind of, wide screen”
Looking to stake their claim amongst the greats is Sheffield’s new super group Mercury Rising. The three-piece consists of Joe Moskow and Stuart Doughty, perhaps best known for their work with Reverend and The Makers, and Steve Edwards who has provided vocals for countless house legends like Bob Sinclar, X-Press 2 and Axwell as well as working on his own projects Lords of Flatbush and The Big Strong Love. Between them they make otherworldly, apocalyptic synth pop
or, to use their own words, music that has “a soulful voice with a hard electronic edge.” In fact, summing up Mercury Rising’s sound is no easy task because what they produce is unique in the truest sense. “I sometimes think it’s like music for film” Edwards explains, “our songs are very kind of wide screen.” Moskow, Doughty and Edwards started working on their first Mercury Rising album back in August. For a project between such established musicians, Mercury Rising’s origin was humble to say the least. “I found you at the top of our road, didn’t I? Getting your tyres changed? That’s how this all came about,” Moskow says, all smiles. “Steve was
“Steve was changing his tyres at the top of a road that looked like Coronation Street” Much of Mercury Rising’s music is vast, explorative and in a way unearthly, particularly in its lyrics, and this is something that Edwards has picked up on. “By the third song I realised I was writing stuff about space and shit; which I don’t usually write about. “It’s all that stuff from being a kid; reading comics and all those old space programmes. You know? Thunderbirds and all that lot. The idea was to write about this fictional character [...] A Luke Skywalker kind of character born on a barren Tatooine-like land and wants to be something. Destined for something, don’t
know what, and just goes off. That was my idea, but they were like ‘Ah, fuck it’. But it’s given it a flavour. It’s a bit proggy in parts, there’s an electronic element. And to say there’re just three of us, you know drums, keyboard bits of guitar but essentially three of us. It’s quite rock ‘n’ roll as well in its attitude.” The band has high aspirations for the music they’ve been creating, the sort of ambition that anyone who takes their work seriously should have; “Its got a chance, I think it’s got a real chance.” The first album is in its final stages and they are already discussing having the tracks reworked and remixed by some of the best names around, even Erol Alkan’s name gets thrown into the discussion. “This is what we wanna do, but there’s a grander view.” Edwards says. There’s a distinct determination from Mercury Rising, they seem to have approached their music with an eye on the bigger picture, they’ve written music to be
enjoyed universally, music that will travel. “It’s very surprising, when I’m abroad,” Edwards explains, “A lot of people have never heard of these acts that here you think ‘oh yeah, they’re quite big them.’ Your O2 size bands.” And it’s perhaps that knowledge that drives Mercury Rising’s desire to create something more universal.
“That was my idea, but they were like ‘Ah, fuck it’” “I still think we’ve got the best bands. We have,” he adds, “but, it doesn’t travel like it used to. “So that’s the plan, for me anyway, to take it, obviously do well here; but it’s a big old world out there. Go out and make them have it; everywhere. That’s got to be the way. [...] the ambition is
to get as many people to hear it as we can.” As we sit in Sheffield’s Stag Works, Moskow plays a selection of tracks from the forthcoming album and tells me a little bit about the history of the studio. Arctic Monkeys recorded an early demo here as did The Long Blondes and Pulp. So it seems a fitting place for this bunch of Sheffielders to put together their debut; a debut that is set for release some time in the New Year. A handful of tracks and a few beers later Doughty, Edwards and Moskow give us a taste of the album, live. It’s powerful music and alongside the space aesthetic the emotional side of Ed-
changing his tyres in the little car place at the top of the road that looked like Coronation Street. We’ve known each other for 15 years haven’t we? We were always like ‘we must do something.’ Let’s get some music together.”
wards’ lyrics comes through. “Love is all there is.” That’s his mantra, and you can hear it echoed in what he sings, particularly in the first song they wrote together, ‘Hallelujah Day.’ The sing along chorus “Love will lead the way” will become one of the bands most memorable hooks. And that emotion once again comes through in ‘Afterglow’, a song fundamentally about death; “Please don’t cry for me / for I have loved.”
“Love will lead the way” It’s obvious that the band loves every second of their latest musical exploit. As they play the last song from the album, Edwards explains “where the concept kind of finishes the next album will start.” So, there will be another album? “Oh God, we’ve already started.”
Friday November 18 2011
Reviews.RELEASES Los Campesinos! Hello Sadness Wichita 9/10
ello Sadness isn't the title you'd expect to accompany the most accessible Los Campesinos! album yet – but lyrically, it’s spot on. Detailing lead singer Gareth’s most recent break-up, the album chronicles his feelings of grief so comprehensively that you may feel like you’ve just been dumped too. Of course, they’re still the same upbeat indie pop group who penned that one song on the Budweiser advert. ‘Songs About Your Girlfriend’ is a highlight of the album, catchy and fast-paced, favouring tongue-
in-cheek lyrics directed to an ex’s new boyfriend. Songs that have already been paraded around the internet, opener ‘By Your Hand’ and the title-track, are solid parts of Hello Sadness but it’s relieving to hear that they’re by no means false advertising. Whilst there are admittedly low points midway in the album during ‘Every Defeat A Divorce (Three Lions)’ and ‘Hate For The Island’, they are growers, drilling into your head after a few listens. Lyrically Los Campesinos! have stuck to their tried and tested formula of hyperrealism twinned with obtuse metaphors. Descriptions of stretch marks and “the sound of your pissing through the thin walls” permeate closer ‘Light Leaves, Dark Sees Pt. 2’ shortly
after the slow-burning ‘To Tundra’ declares, “Take her body to tundra / Just take me with you as well”. Standout track ‘Baby I Got The Death Rattle’ marries death and sex so perfectly with the line “Not headstone / But headboard / S’where I wanna be mourned”. It starts slow and builds itself up on a sensuous soundscape of backing strings and a strong percussion, proving that the band work best when everyone has a part to play. Kim’s vocals are arguably underused throughout Hello Sadness, but here they fit well. Despite another line-up change, the band sound at their most cohesive, having created a tight album that really is their best one yet. Coral Williamson
fter the sudden and disappointing demise of Birmingham quintet Blakfish, on what looked to many as the cusp of some recognition, comes Light Bearer by &U&I, comprised of three quarters of the previous line up. Aside from the idiotic name, there’s very little ‘boy band’ about this hardcore math rock act. After an enticing opener, these boys are keen to show their instrumental mastery and the pace picks up immediately. It’s gruff and loud but not as relentless as many punk outfits. A lack of memorable hooks, and the straightforward lyrics, can mean that by half way through the record is at risk of blurring and losing impact, but then comes ‘Belly Full of Fire & a Heart Full of Blood’, followed by a mood swing. Chilling harmonies that give The Beach Boys a run for their money are a highlight of the al-
bum. Sadness certainly now sits alongside the anger of their chosen genre, sinister, dark, emotive, but not always punk. So are they going soft? At points in the second half of the album, tracks like ‘Baskerville the Atheist’ sound more like grunge-rooted alt-rock. Lo-fi bouncy riffs and tight snare sounds do remain. But subtly the guitars sing, notes are held, vocals layered and tension is built. A kind of theatricality has entered their work; unlike so many punk records they draw you in before rather intentionally nutting you in the face. Gone are the cheeky, teenage, spoken rants and throaty eruptions of Blakfish, and here is a three-dimensional, full journey of an album. With this undeniable, more palatable, mature progression of their musical output, there are worries that their raucous live performance, for which Blakfish were known so well, will become a bit more sedate. But seeing as relentless touring has again resumed, perhaps these fears are baseless. Liam Deacon
Death Cab For Cutie song from their forthcoming Keys And Codes Remix EP has been released to the internet. Brooklyn band Yeasayer have taken the helm this time, creating a tranquil tropical track. We’re a little unsure if Gibbard’s vocals work as well in the sunny soundscape but the experimental indie band have done the remix justice with the more instrumental sections. We’re also enjoying Mr Scruff’s next single ‘Feel It!’. Featuring some ghostly moaning sampled from Hammer Horror’s disco classic ‘Across The Moor To Studio 54’ it’s a bit of a simpler affair than some of his other work, but is still an absolutely brilliant house track.
The black and white video, where museli and biscuits seemingly become instruments, is also something that needs to be seen to be believed. Finally, whilst we support BBC Children In Need and everything it stands for, we’re not sure we can listen to their charity single this year. The Collective - comprised of Wretch 32, Ed Sheeran, Tulisa, Tinchy Stryder, Rizzle Kicks, Ms. Dynamite, Chipmunk and more - have reimagined Massive Attack’s classic ‘Teardrop’ under the watchful eye of one Gary Barlow. The result is...not something we can print in Now Playing. We prefer charity songs when they’ve got a little bit of humour to them, à la Peter Kay.
Light Bearer Ondryland 8/10
The Water’s Edge Angel Falls 7/10
uke Ritchie’s debut album, The Water’s Edge, is complex and contemplative. What makes it so good is the way Ritchie manages to subtly vary the style of the music throughout the album, keeping a constant emotive, yet upbeat, resonance to all of his songs. The slow and soulful ‘The Lighthouse’ introduces you to the album. This gentle theme is carried on throughout the album by the use of intricate folk-acoustic guitar riffs and Ritchie’s fluid voice. His lyrics also compliment this
Katie Malco & The Slow Parade
he indie folk revival has been somewhat confusing for old-school folk fans. While some absolute gems have appeared, such as American bearded softcore dudes Fleet Foxes (shut up, they're the best band ever), other acts have ranged from the soaring, populist Mumford & Sons to the quiet, more twee Noah & The Whale. And somewhere in this spectrum, you can find Katie Malco. Her brand of Juno-OST folk pop is simple, charming and lovingly orchestrated on a nice variety of acoustic instruments. Her new EP Katie Malco & The Slow Parade is a prime example of this, consistent in sound and esprit, yet varied enough to make it more than just a onetrick pony. Her themes are also remarkably thoughtful; ‘Johnny’ is a ballad from the point of view of Johnny Cash’s first wife, clinging on to an ever more distant
Friday November 18 2011
Alcopop! Records 6/10
feel, such as in ‘Northern Lights’; “the solitude of sleeplessness can be beautiful”. The lyrics are a key component to Ritchie’s folksier songs because this is where the main upbeat feel comes from, which often creates an interesting contrast with the emotive melodies. These lyrics tend to take the mundane or hopelessness of life situations, and highlight the positives that can be drawn from them, sculpting an emotive yet upbeat atmosphere in the album. Ritchie also nicely breaks the album up with rockier songs, which cleverly stop it from becoming an over-emotional drag. These songs tend to carry the same theme as the gentler songs, but there’s a bit of a role reversal between the lyrics and the melhusband. ‘Laa Dee Daa’ is, despite its simple chorus and melody, remarkably ambiguous about what feeling it’s trying to convey, to which the instrumentation provides enjoyably subtle clues. But unfortunately, it’s let down by its ambivalent simplicity, and by the time the eighth “Singin’ laa dee daa, laa dee daa, laa dee daa” has come round, you just want to shoot someone in the face to make it stop. This is the big letdown of the EP; the songwriting is thoughtful, but at times gratingly executed. Malco clearly has quite some talent, but her overuse of cliched tropes (“I will only let you down” later becomes “You will only let me down”. Wow.) and bland major-key cadences are the things that separate her from stated influences such as Sufjan Stevens. While the latter in his folkiest moments always retains a sense of grandeur and emotiveness, Malco never strays very far from the twee folk pop mould, leaving the listener disaffected. It’s a shame, because she clearly is a talented musician. Martin Bottomley
ody, in that the melody is more upbeat and the lyrics deal with the emotive component of the song. Songs like ‘Shanty’ and ‘Song to Sundays’ have a sturdy baseline and a driving melody which creates a strong, upbeat atmosphere. The Water’s Edge is inspiring, maintaining a consistent feel that anyone can relate to. One thing that could bring it down is that no particular songs stand out from the rest, but that’s also an advantage because it makes the album flow. Jack Crisfield Follow us on Twitter @ForgePressMusic
Now Playing ith the abundance
of new releases each week it can be difficult to sift through the shit in search of the gold so Fuse has handpicked some of the musical highlights for you. We love championing local music where we can, so we’re happy to say that Wet Nuns are one of our new favourite bands. Matt Helders of Arctic Monkeys clearly agrees, having recently remixed their single ‘Heavens Below’. It’s a dirty punk slice of bluesy rock ‘n’ roll injected with some electro beats, and we absolutely love it. While we’re on the subject of brilliant remixes, the newest
The Naked and Famous The Leadmill
Saturday November 12
The Naked and Famous: Mark McKay bellists (amongst other things) Battles Ian Williams and Dave Konopka Plug steadily built up a throbbing Friday November 16 sonic wall by aid of loop stations. When drummer John Staattles’ local knowledge nier kicked in, there could be no was stretched to its limit doubt that Battles were on top on Wednesday at Plug, form. as they found themselves Battles’ main selling point was, looking for what to say after and is, their incredible energy, they had twice mentioned the skill, and inventiveness in using fact that their record label was both technique and technology based in Sheffield. to their advantage. “Sheffield is in Yorkshire, right?” Stanier in particular is a mesa visibly tired Ian Williams asked merising sight to behold, smackthe now welcoming crowd just ing the metaphorical shit out of before the encore. his drums and sending beads But Battles had plenty of rea- of sweat flying everywhere, but sons to be tired, just as the crowd staying in absolute control of had reason to be enthusiastic: rhythm, and occasionally delving Both had participated in a daz- into ludicrously off-kilter drum zling display of sonic force, pre- fills. cision, and musical fun. The other two weren’t quite Battles opened their set with as energetic, but nonetheless in‘Africastle’ and the large crowd fused the tight arrangements with watched in rapt attention as the an almost carefree zest, making two guitarists/synth players/cow- the whole performance a lively,
Vintage Trouble Plug
Friday November 11
unique experience. At times Battles emphasised the rock aspect of math rock and bombarded the listener with a delightful deluge of distorted dissonance, but for most of the time, the cheerful, yet sometimes menacing grooves of new album Gloss Drop proved for many to be an irresistible invitation to dance with a ridiculously broad smile on their faces. Two classics from before the departure of ex-member Tyondai Braxton, ‘Atlas’ and ‘Tonto’, found their way into the setlist in a revamped form, perfectly preserving their infectious charm but skilfully adapting them to the new Battles sound. This, quite frankly perfect, set was a tiny bit diminished by a slightly superfluous encore and a partially passive audience, but Battles still delivered a fantastic performance. Martin Bottomley
Hyde & Beast The Harley
Monday November 7
Vintage Trouble: Joanne Butcher
he low-key psychedelia of Slow Down is transformed when played live by the addition of four more band members, although on The Harley’s small stage things look a little cramped. The group launch into ‘If You Could Buy Me Anything’ with aplomb, but something’s not right. The place is deserted. Barely more than a dozen turn up during the evening, and it sets a worryingly lacklustre tone for the night. With only one album to focus the setlist around, Hyde & Beast quickly run through fan favourites such as ‘Never Come Back’ and ‘You Will Be Lonely’, with the latter being a real highlight of the evening. The band members are polite, taking a quick break to say hi to the sparse crowd before diving into ‘Trees Are Falling’,
Battles: Sam Bolton which is given a phenomenal extra layer of sound. There’s a couple of treats during the night; Hyde & Beast end things with a rendition of Savoy Brown’s ‘Train To Nowhere’, with drummer Neil Bassett sporting an utterly bizarre expression of joy on his bearded face as they finish. It’s a lovely way to conclude the set, but the real standout song of the night is their unnamed new tune, which they precede with laughs and a disclaimer that “things might go pearshaped”. They couldn’t be more wrong, as the song gets some of the loudest responses of the night and is proof that, small though it might be, the crowd is enjoying itself to the fullest. We’re left with the hope that one new song could turn into an album’s worth, and perhaps on their next tour, Hyde & Beast will draw the crowd they deserve. Coral Williamson
from blue to black, he kept the show going with an unrelenting fervour. On guitar was Nalle Colt whose fingers skated effortlessly across the frets, mixing the tender blues with a gritty, hard rock sound. Rich Barrio Dill and Richard Danielson seemed to take the back seat, instead providing a solid base for the music to flourish and allowed the group to create an incredible rhythmic synergy. The set demonstrated how Vintage Trouble could be the masters of pace, threading a repertoire of wild swing tunes about sex and whores with soothing, soulful ballads. The final song was thick with slick guitar solos and destitute lyrics about rejecting a past love. Where other 50s-inspired bands have failed, it seems Vintage Trouble have succeeded, resisting the urge to fall into parody and performing with a sincere passion for the music.
the most memorable. But if dream pop and shoegaze are your thing then The Naked and Famous are an enjoyable live band. Their performance was flawless and tight. In stark contrast with the crowd, who were raptuous, The Naked and Famous wore a serious face throughout the set. This made it difficult to know whether or not they were actually enjoying themselves and they seemed unwilling to interact with the crowd. It was not until they return for their two song encore that they say anything to the crowd at all. On the whole the band let their music do the talking and the anthemic ‘Young Blood’ provided a rousing end to their set that had the audience hanging off every lyric. While the majority of the crowd were more than satisfied others remained less convinced. With a slightly re-ordered setlist and a second album, The Naked and Famous could trim the fat from their performance and make the step from being a good band to see live to a great one. Mark McKay
Friday November 18 2011
onight Plug plays host to Vintage Trouble; a fourman band from Los Angeles who play electric rock’n’roll, blues and soul. Recently crowned the winners of Classic Rock magazine’s ‘Best New Band’, a buzz of excitement was circulating around Plug and the crowd soon began securing their places on the dance-floor. When the band finally arrived they bolted straight into their first track. The place immediately exploded with the sound of raw lead guitar and pulsating drums, finished off perfectly with the rich, captivating voice of front man Ty Taylor. Oozing an irresistible charisma and unafraid to interact with the audience, Taylor became the life and soul of the show. Even when sweat literally drenched his suit
his year has been massive for The Naked and Famous. The release of the album Passive Me, Aggressive You catapulted the band head first into a world tour that has not yet stopped to catch its breath. But you couldn’t have guessed that from their perfomance tonight. The Naked and Famous maintained high energy levels throughout their performance, although at times they did appear to be simply going through the motions. Playing arguably their best and most well known track ‘Punching in a Dream’ second was a brave decision but it paid off and the crowd were jumping to every beat. The best of their set comes when their influences of 1980’s synths and reverb forge an ambient union with contemporary electo beats on ‘Girls Like You’ and ‘No Way’. Although there are plenty of killer moments during the set, there is perhaps twice as much filler and the singles are by far
Reviews. the rum diary
Dir: Bruce Robinson 6/10
he Rum Diary is Bruce Robinson’s screen adaptation of Hunter S. Thompson’s semi-biographical novel with Johnny Depp playing the heroic and, more often than not, drunk Paul Kemp. Kemp is a wild, out of control and almost alcoholic journalist who leaves the Eisenhower-era United States for Puerto Rico. Although Kemp has failed as a novelist in the States his CV is creative and fictitious enough to land him a job working for the almost bankrupt San Juan Star. A paper which caters for the American tourists and ex-pats. The Star’s Editor, Lotterman (Richard Jenkins), launches into a diatribe about how important Kemp’s job of writing horoscopes is in keeping the paper solvent. But Kemp is barely interested in this role at the paper. Instead he sets off on a rum fuelled mission with the Star’s photographer Sala (Michael Rispoli) to uncover the exploitative and corrupt nature of the multi-million dollar US corporations that are based on
the island. But Kemp is lured into bed by real estate tycoon Sanderson (Aaron Eckhart) who represents the same organisations Kemp hopes to expose. Kemp predictably falls in love with Sanderson’s girlfriend, Chenault (Amber Heard), who has a penchant for swimming naked and mermaid impersonations. Kemp’s character is based on Thompson’s own experiences in his early 20s. Depp may be on the same side of Kemp’s morality but unfortunately he is on the wrong side of youth to portray Kemp’s youthful wideeyed idealism. But in the alcohol laced, car chasing and fire breathing scenes Depp brings Kemp’s character alive and Depp proves he can still carry the role of the fanatical rebel. The plot is slightly rambling and sometimes aimless with too much emphasis on Sanderson, Kemp, and Chenault. There should be more focus on Moburg (Giovanni
Ribisi), a journalist from the Star who has plunged head first from the alcohol and narcotics tree, bringing every branch of debauchery down with him. Ribisi owns every scene he’s in and the film would have only benefited had he had a more central role. Credit should be given to Robinson for making use of Puerto Rico’s features to create a visually impressive production. He even makes cock-fighting look wonderful. The Rum Diary will not be the cult classic that Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is. But if you’re a fan of Johnny Depp, Hunter S. Thompson or blonde women who impersonate mermaids then it doesn’t matter that the film isn’t a classic, it’s still worth viewing. Mark McKay
rofessional sceptic, atheist, and exposer of fake mediums Florence Cathcart (Rebecca Hall) is persuaded to visit a boys’ boarding school to investigate the death of a pupil amid various ghost sightings, but things take a turn for the worse when inexplicable things start to happen. When the boys go home for half term, she is left with schoolmaster Robert Mallory (Dominic West), scary old matron Maud (Imelda Staunton), and a child that looks weirdly like Steve Coogan (Isaac Hempstead Wright) to investigate. This plot proves to be, while not predictable, fairly unsurprising in its content, but remains engaging throughout as we discover more about Florence’s past, and the events that transpired in the sinister house-turned-school. There are a few loose ends, and moments when disbelief has to be suspended further than is comfortable, particularly towards the end, but the strength
Friday November 18 2011
Dir: Nik Murphy 7/10
of performances from both the core and supporting cast is enough to carry it through. The Awakening is very similar in themes, content, and miseen-scène to 2001’s The Others and 2007’s The Orphanage, but doesn’t suffer for these comparisons. In many ways it is an amalgamation of these two films, but doesn’t feel like a cheap remake, measuring up to the high standard of creepy, child-based,
supernatural horror thrillers with a “The...” title set by these two films well. The post World War One theme is particularly reminiscent of The Others’ setting in war-torn Jersey. Despite its three million budget it succeeds in being visually impressive, and there is no respite from the perpetual gloom. It uses all the genre clichés you’d expect from a ghost film set in a big, empty school in the 1920s: periods of quiet punctuated
by loud bangs, unexplained occurrences, a chilling sense of sheer isolation, a creepy creepy soundtrack, and pale, serious children being pale and serious; but uses them well, and will probably have you jumping out of your seat as a result. There is no single thing that stands out about The Awakening, but a combination of good acting, visual flair, and edgeof-the-seat thrills makes for an enjoyable couple of hours.
It is, on the whole, a well made addition to the genre which brings new ideas to what could have been another stale ghost story. While not revolutionary in its premise, it is definitely worth a look if you enjoyed films like The Others, The Orphanage, and The Sixth Sense and fancy some chills. Alex Chafey
Dir: Sarah Smith 7/10
he release of Arthur Christmas all but confirms that the commercial powerhouse that is Christmas is now a two-month festivity. However, what could have been a sickeningly heavy-handed message of Christmas cheer is a winter warmer that will certainly
see off the American competition of Alvin and the Chipmunks: ChipWrecked, Happy Feet 2, and Puss in Boots (the Shrek spin-off). Arthur Christmas is British animation house Aardman’s (of Wallace and Gromit fame) first animated feature film with Sony Pictures Entertainment, and by all accounts it seems a partnership that just works. The film uses 3D effortlessly, keeping it fun for the kids yet maintaining the depth of quality that 3D was originally brought
in for. Put that alongside a script that balances a humour for all audiences, and this is definitely a Christmas offering Aardman can be proud of. It is the current Santa’s (Jim Broadbent) 70th Christmas delivery, but he’s lost the love of the game. He sits as a “figure-head” leader, whilst the real Christmas is orchestrated back at the North Pole by his hyper-organised, highly ambitious eldest son,
withnail & I
Dir: Bruce Robinson Year: 1987
Perfectly coupled with Paul McGann (‘& I’, or Marwood), and featuring brief but remarkable appearances from Richard Griffiths (Uncle Monty) and Ralph Brown (Danny) there’s nothing left to be desired. The soundtrack won’t disappoint either; when you hear the opening chords of Jimi Hendrix’s ‘All Along the Watchtower’, you can’t help but tap your foot and give a little smirk. The film is nothing short of a masterpiece. It’s got it all; the script, the actors, the outrageous amount of alcohol, a Camberwell Carrot (consisting of twelve spliffs) and a bit of lighter fluid. If by the end you’re not banging your hands on the table and shouting “we want the finest wines available to humanity. We want them here, and we want them now!” then you need to watch it again. I suggest the film-based
drinking game, which entails matching Withnail’s boozing, drink for drink. If you manage to get through the entire film, trust me, you’ll be nodding along in painful nausea when Withnail
moans “I feel like a pig shat in my head.” Possibly one of the greatest film ever made? I’ll let you be the judge of that. Nicky Crane
e’ve gone on holiday by mistake! Hilarious in every sense of the word, it’s not surprising Withnail & I has cultivated an unrivalled cult following. Two Camden-dwelling, unemployed, alcoholic actors take to the countryside to rejuvenate, only to find themselves stuck in Uncle Monty’s remote cottage, hungry and miserable. Get ready to quote this film to death; Withnail’s dry English wit, Marwood’s cynicism, and Uncle Monty’s patent homosexuality makes for an endless amount of genius one-liners. Set in ‘60s London, the 1987 film, originally intended as a novel, is a loose autobiographical account of director Bruce Robinson’s life as a young actor. Richard E Grant, who is surprisingly a teetotaller, plays Withnail, giving the performance that would kick-start his career.
Friday Friday November October187 2011
time but afterwards there’s an incredibly hollow feeling as you realise that the same basic gag has been pulled before by exactly the same team. Still, as with Extras, it looks like the guest stars are going to be the highlight of this series. This first episode saw Liam
his disbelief, they have no idea who he is. Just like the show in general is channelling the spirit of previous Gervais/Merchant projects, there is always something uncomfortably David Brent about Davis’ performance. You laugh at his misfortune at the
Series Premiere BBC1 6/10
the small man’s syndrome that comes with it. There is physical comedy but it all compliments humour that is a lot more universal in nature. For example in one scene he’s too short to talk into a building’s intercom and has to ask a stranger to do it for him only, to
Nighy who steals the show as the wisecracking curmudgeonly Grandsanta (Santa’s 136-yearold father). Whilst visually it may not be in the same realms of Pixar’s blockbusters, the Aardman stamp shines through and you can’t help but get drawn in for the journey. Trying to catch their audience early before the big money blockbusters ship over from America, Arthur Christmas sets a surprising early release date of November 11, but despite what Littlewoods and all other stores would have you believe, it is far too early to truly enjoy any Christmas offering. The story’s plot isn’t anything unexpected, and unfortunately it did peter off a bit just before building up towards the delightful end. However, don’t let this dissuade you from going to see it, it is certainly better than the usual contributions aimed towards kids at this time of year, and definitely one that is worth watching. Just maybe give it a month until a more appropriate time.
Neeson taking the reins and he very much steals the show as he pitches a unique brand of stand -up to Gervais and Merchant (playing themselves, of course). It would be well worth watching the show simply for these scenes if they are going to stay just as distinctive as this week’s was. If Life’s Too Short is going to be as ground-breaking as Gervais and Merchant’s other projects it needs to find its own voice very quickly. There are laughs in this first episode but it’s uncertain about how long they are going to be able to keep it up. Seeing Davis insist he is a star only to have him fall out of a car that’s much too big for anyone is only funny the first time. When the same joke is made a third or fourth time it’s going to get tiresome. Tom King
LIFE’S TOO SHORT
ith Extras Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant perfected the art of turning guest stars into hilarious parodies of themselves. In Life’s Too Short they’ve decided to do it again, focusing on a fictional version of the ‘UK’s go-to-dwarf’, Warwick Davis (you know, he played an Ewok in Return of the Jedi; he is definitely not Mini-Me). This is done through a mockumentry following Davis’ life as he fuels his delusions of stardom only to have them predictably crushed. From the beginning the focus isn’t so much on Davis’ size but
Steve (Hugh Laurie). As delivery commences, the S-1 (the modern day sleigh) flies into position and hundreds of elves descend from its camouflaged underside to set about into an action sequence James Bond would be jealous of. But it is not until a small girl’s bicycle is accidentally pushed off the conveyor belt, and Christmas seems destined not to reach one house in Trelew, Cornwall, that the true protagonist reveals himself. The bumbling Arthur (James McAvoy), with the help of Grandsanta (Bill Nighy) and squeaky wrapping elf Bryony (Ashley Jenson), set about to make sure that Gwen (Ramona Marquez) does have her Christmas after all and her present is delivered on time, the old-fashioned way. Boasting some of the best British talent old and new, full credits have to go to director Sarah Smith who encourages some good vocal performances. From young Marquez who, however briefly, pitches her lines with the same irreverence that makes everyone adore Karen of Outnumbered, to the older
Reviews. grand theft auto: san andreas PC/PS2/XBOX
he Grand Theft Auto (GTA) series of games has long been the industry standard of, well, GTA-like games; free-roaming gangster shooters with racing, flying and everything in between. We here at Fuse think it’s about time to stop off at (potentially) the greatest GTA game of the series, San Andreas. What with the new GTA V trailer showing a return to San Andreas (although the other cities and areas are still unconfirmed), it is important to return to Green Street and the exploits of Carl “CJ” Johnson to really understand how momentous the return to GTA’s spiritual home is. Whilst San Andreas’ younger brother, GTA IV, probably managed a denser, more detailed world, it just doesn’t manage the scope of San Andreas’. Flying to the top of Mount Chiliad in a stolen jet, with Queen blasting out the stereo and dozens of police helicopters in pursuit is something you don’t forget in a hurry. What really brought the world to life, however, was its differentiation – hilarious old ladies who scream obscenities at you, nearconstant cop chases, street bat-
tles, guns, gangs and mayhem; you will struggle to say, at any point, “Yep, I feel like I’ve gotten all I can from this game”. But beware; San Andreas is unforgiving. There are missions which aren’t so much difficulty spikes as difficulty mountains and you’ll often find yourself wandering through the desert because you were a bit ambitious with that triple backflip on a moped. But these problems are part and parcel with the game’s true genius: the beauty of San Andreas lies in the pure freedom unrepentant crime offers you. Stealing the nearest vehicle, then driving until you can steal something a bit better. If someone cuts you up on the motorway, you can just lean out the window and pop their tires with an Uzi. San Andreas remains a milestone for openworld gameplay, with the kind of freedom that you can’t (and probably shouldn’t) have in real life. Corridor shooters and racers on walled tracks are fun, but fail to hold your interest much longer than the first “Ooh, aah” moments. San Andreas, as with almost all GTA titles, is known for its more explicit content (the “hot coffee” minigame hack, in particular), but is remembered as one of the finest games to ever provide a 502 mile open world and say “go”.
the elder scrolls v: skyrim PC/XBOX 360/PS3
Friday November 18 2011
f you want to leave university with a degree, do not buy Skyrim. If you have a job you want to keep, do not buy Skyrim. If you have any relationships you hold dear, do not buy Skyrim, because this game - much like the dragons, bandits, or any of the many other monsters and baddies contained within it - wants your life. And given the slightest of chances, it will take it and never give it back. After a brief sabbatical to the Capital Wasteland in 2008’s Fallout 3, Bethesda Game Studios have returned to the fantasy world of Tamriel in this, their fifth Elder Scrolls game. If you’ve played Morrowind or Oblivion, you’ll know what to expect. If not, the general idea of The Elder Scrolls is that you are presented with a vast, rich, and diverse fantasy landscape, and simply left to do what you want and be what you wish to be. If you want to save the world, you can. If you want to be a mass murderer, you can. If you want to hone your skills at the forge and become a master blacksmith, you can. If you want to join the Thieves Guild and steal everything that isn’t bolted down, you can. Or if you just want to hunt game, catch salmon, and harvest lavender, you can do that too. Complete and utter freedom is the order of the day here. Set 200 years after Oblivion in the northern province of Skyrim, the game drops players smack in the middle of a civil war. And to make matters worse,
uncharted 3: drake’s deception PS3
his time two years ago, Naughty Dog delivered its sequel to the 2007 Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune with Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, a perfectly polished game of excellent visuals, gameplay and overall cinematic experience pieced together to create an instant classic that won countless game of the year awards, achieved record sales and critical acclaim. November sees the release of their third outing with loveable adventurer Nathan Drake in Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception. This time around, Drake is off following the trail of his ancestor Sir Francis Drake to find Iram of the Pillars, the Atlantis of the sands. Chloe and Elena both make a return while Drake and Sully take centre stage as we explore their past links with the clandestine villain Catherine Marlowe, an eerily unsettling Will Tait presence, who outwits Drake at every turn with her occult trick-
dragons - long thought to be extinct have reappeared with the sole intent of setting the world ablaze. However, as you progress through the story (if you want to that is, you can ignore the main quest completely if you want), you discover that you are Dragonborn, the last in a race of mortals with dragon blood and the ability to harness dragon powers through the absorption of vanquished dragons’ souls. So, naturally, it falls on you to not only win the civil war for whichever side you choose, but to kill every single scaled beast patrolling the skies. Now this all sounds like a high fantasy Dungeons and Dragons-esque geek-orama, but Skyrim’s fully realised landscape and its gargantuan cast of multidimensional characters makes the whole set-up totally believable to the point where you don’t even bat an eyelid when you cross paths with a man with a cat’s face. That’s a feat in and of itself. Graphics play a huge role in selling any videogame experience, and those who have played any of Bethesda’s old games will know it’s not exactly their strong suit. Breathe easy, the plasticinefaced characters of Oblivion and
ery. The story follows the same pattern as Among Thieves, settling in with some globe-trotting; from London, to France, to Syria before finally making chase to the lost city. This diversity of environments makes for a refreshing mix compared to the generic grey and brown warzones of most modern games, though sometimes the locations can feel somewhat disjointed from the story as a whole. That said, the roller-coaster ride that comes from each setpiece is exactly what video games were made for; a desperate escape from a burning building as flames rush around you, running from torrents of water through a sinking ship or streaming through the air from a nose-diving jumbo jet are all moments that leave you reeling from the sheer scale of spectacle and emersion. In between all the action the game is paced excellently, with crashing moments of last minute escapes and brushes with death being met by calmer moments allowing you to catch your pixelated breath. All of this is helped along by the absolutely astounding visuals on display. The level of detail in cut scenes reaches such nu-
the robotic movements of Fallout 3 have been eradicated – for the most part. But any graphical hitches, like the odd floating mammoth or some pixelated shadows, don’t break your sense of immersion when you consider Skyrim is possibly the largest and most detailed open world environment ever found in a game. Sure, if you press your nose against a rock or a tree, the textures reveal themselves to be rather low-res, but taken as a whole, the scenery is breath-takingly beautiful.However, all of these graphical advances would be pointless if the game wasn’t fun to play. Thankfully, the gameplay in Skyrim is as much an improvement over Oblivion as its graphics. The basics are the same – you wander about getting quests by talking to random people and then head off into the big bad world hacking, slashing, zapping, and burning everything that stands between you and your goal – but everything that was wrong with Oblivion, like the repetitive combat and quest structures and the awful levelling system, has been fixed. Unlike Oblivion’s class system which forced you to choose your play-style from the off, Skyrim allows you to make those
ances of performance from the animators and motion-captured cast that any preconceptions of amateur videogame dramatics are washed away. Puzzle sequences of the game, based on perspective and optical illusions, also go to show the leaps and bounds the game has taken visually since its first iteration, with Naughty Dog bringing it into the gameplay with confidence. The game world is brought to life at every moment: desert sand pours, fire crackles and a swelling ocean give a look so realistic that it is almost to the point of distraction from the game itself. This is a game with a height of detail so immense that you will often stop just to admire the view. It is a sad fact that Uncharted 3 stands in the eclipsing shadow of previous edition Among Thieves, because Drake’s Deception is a game with very little to fault and so much more to offer. And with a co-op and competitive multiplayer that now includes offline split screen (a feature sadly missing from the last game) it garners longevity of play to an already astounding game making it a true joy to play. Elliot Hardman
choices as you play. You level up abilities by using them. So if you are a heavy armour two-handed sword kind of guy but you decide you want to dabble in some sneaky archery or some magic, you can. Nothing is off limits. Simply, with its slick and intuitive interface and evolved gameplay, Skyrim is the tightest and most streamlined entry into The Elder Scrolls series, allowing anyone to pick it up and play instantly but with enough variety to keep players glued well into hour number 142. The depth and breadth of content in this game is, frankly, astounding, especially when put up against games like Uncharted and Modern Warfare whose single-player campaigns can feasibly be completed in a single sitting. But with Skyrim you can spend hours upon hours simply exploring the wilderness and you can never go too far in any one direction without discovering something new. The sheer size of this game is mind-boggling. Skyrim is not perfect. There are glitches, bugs, and freezes that force you to reset the game, but the only real problem with the game is it sucks up every free second you have. But when you’re having so much fun hunting Frost Trolls, carrying out assassinations for the Dark Brotherhood, and raiding bandit hideouts, you won’t care that you’ve missed all of your essay deadlines and you no longer have any friends. Tom Wardak Read our review of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 online on ForgeToday.com
heffield International Artist’s Book Prize is an exhibition like no other; a book cast in glass sits alongside a book carved from wood, books made from plastic compete against delicate books of handmade paper, there’s even a book made of pillows. Forget your preconceptions of what makes a good book, at Bank St. Arts looks rank just as high as content. The idea of a competition was born out of conversations with participants and visitors to the Leeds Artist’s Book Fair. There was no artist’s book prize in the UK at the time, the aim was to do much more than simply run a competition. Rather, the prize was more the context for encouraging visitors to the show to actually view the books on display and spend time with the exhibits rather than the cursory glance works frequently get within a gallery exhibition context. So, the decision was taken to make the visiting public judges of the Prize with all visitors asked and encouraged
And a little about yourselves. As you probably guessed from that spiel, we are a group of pretentious second year students with nothing better to do…
To me, the Beat Generation was
seemed boundless, especially in Handel’s Semele aria “O sleep.” Placing the sound expertly on the mask of her face, Watts was able to create a resonance that seemed to come from outside of her and was thoroughly spine tingling. Her runs were also fluid, well connected and accurate. Credit must also be given to the seamless and masterful Laurence Cummings, who accompanied Watts delicately and professionally. During his solo harpsichord suites and cantatas, Cummings maintained the interest of the audience by giving expression to the left-hand melodies, highlighting the bass perfectly with complementary flourishes in the treble. The evening was insightful, engaging and entirely entertaining. University of Sheffield was privileged to be host to such beauty and professionalism in music.
the moment and book-wise I’m reading Fernando Pessoa’s The Book of Disquiet. Adonis: I’m listening to a lot of Devendra Banhart and Earl Sweatshirt (free Earl). I’m also reading the original scroll version of Kerouac’s On the Road.
to have such a large online following , we feel that this experience can be impersonal; you can only express so much in a letter or email. To meet and work with our contributors on a more local level is what we’re aiming for.
There’s an awful lot of talk about the decline of peoples’ appreciation of literature. Thoughts? The instaneous forms that media and entertainment have become as a result of modern technology mean that most people don’t have the patience to read a book anymore. Indeed, people can access anything they want to at the touch of a button: they can communicate, watch and listen to whatever they want, whenever they want. Unfortunately, books don’t fit into this model. People don’t want to have to read 200 pages before something becomes apparent to them.
You’re looking for contributors. How can people get involved? If people want to get involved, they can email their work to: email@example.com or check us out on our Facebook page: www.facebook.com/deadbeatsliteraryblog
The Dead Beats Literary Blog all about subverting social norms, experimentation and enjoying the new freedoms of post-WW2 America. Do you think the spirit and values of Beat writers can still be relevant today? You are quite right in saying that there are certain values that are synonymous with the Beat literature of the time, today. We believe that this spirit can still be relevant given the public-spending cuts from above at the moment. The group itself isn’t a political movement, however, the space it provides for inspired and inspiring literature is a facet we’d like to emphasise. When we met you told me about plans for a poetry reading, any events in the pipework? And how can people find out about them? Dead Beats and its best friend Hand Of, a Sheffield promo outfit, will be putting on an exciting night of live poetry and tasty dj sets. Poetic imaginations realise both acoustic and digital implications, and the result is something between a spewing volcano and a warm feather duvet. Confused? Good. What are you reading/listening to? Jack: Currently listening to The Weekend’s mixtapes with smidgeons of The Smiths thrown in for good measure. My book at the moment is Philip K. Dick’s seminal novel, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?. Alex: I’m heavily into Bob Dylan at
Tell me a little about what you envisage for the future of the blog? And for yourselves? We’d like to expand our physical presence in Sheffield; although it is great
Any other messages for potential contributors? We’d say to contributors ‘simply explore the depths of your creativity’. Dead Beats is all about M testing the limits of literature and the more experimental a piece is, the better. Further, don’t worry if you’ve never written before — experience really is not an issue. More reviews online at: ForgeToday.com
What inspired you to start this project? Personal inspirations? Do you see it as a creative outlet? The three of us initially began sharing essays and fragments of pieces we’d written. We found that we quite enjoyed the shared experience of literature and we sought a medium through which to share our work with others. We uploaded a few of our own pieces to the blog, and although it worked well as a creative release, the project operates better as a creative inlet; we get to read and respond to a wide variety of work rather than focus on what we create ourselves.
illing Firth Court with her rich, passionate and versatile voice, Elizabeth Watts produced an evening of late Baroque decadence which was both breathtaking and beautiful. Presenting a programme of Alessandro Scarlatti and George Friedrich Handel, the concert was a perfect balance of melancholic cantatas, virtuosic harpsichord suites and feisty opera arias and recitatives. Having studied Archaeology at University of Sheffield herself, Watts looked comfortable and confident returning to the University and was greeted with excitement by a fully attended audience. The concert was well rounded and arranged into a balanced mixture of performance, contextual information, explanations of baroque harmony and the odd quirky story. Watts particularly flourished in the energetic and spirited Tigrane arias, where her acting of the text was at its best. What was especially outstanding was Watts’ breath control, which
Friday November 18 2011
First off, tell me a little about the project. Under the moniker Dead Beats, we created a blog which would provide a space for unpublished writers, especially young (student) writers, to share their work. Taking cues from the countercultural literary sentiments of the Beat Generation, we hope to rekindle the selfexpressive and socially aware messages they articulated. In light of the cuts to the arts, we’d like to call back to a time when literature was still relevant and still vital.
to vote for their favourite book. This year’s prize has finally come to its conclusion. Over 170 artists from 22 different countries submitted books, resulting in more than 500 votes being cast to determine who was substantially more arty than the other entrants. And the winner is; Kaho Kojima’s A Drop Of A Cloud. Originally from Japan and now based in London, Kojima is an artist whose work includes printmaking and illustration. She has participated in the London Artists’ Book Fair annually since 2004. Her work is in public collections such as the Tate Gallery Library. This year’s International Artist’s Book Prize is over, however Bank Street Arts is home to a permanent large collection of Artists Books, primarily made up of donated books from Artists Book Prize entrants.
Reviews. International Artist’s Book Prize
ZUMBA is a new fun type of dance which has hit the scene! It’s the latest dance craze to sweep Sheffield and it’s guaranteed to stay. Zumba originated in Columbia and is a hot fusion of hypnotic Latin rhythms.
Sunday November 27: Bridesmaids; 7:30pm
Tickets cost £2.50 and can be bought from the Union Box Office or Union Shop.
Annie’s life is a mess. But when she finds out her lifetime best friend is engaged, she simply must serve as Lillian’s maid of honour. Though lovelorn and broke, Annie bluffs her way through the expensive and bizarre rituals. With one chance to get it perfect, she’ll show just how far you’ll go for someone you love.
Saturday November 26: Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides; 3:30/7:30pm
The class promises to be an absolute blast, one exciting hour of energizing movement and calorie burning exercise. Join the Latin party and learn routines taught by a professional teacher from Dance Star UK. Please wear trainers and bring a bottle of water.
All films are shown in the Students’ Union Auditorium.
Friday November 25; 3.45-4.45pm £2.75
Captain Jack Sparrow (Depp) crosses paths with a woman from his past (Cruz), and he’s not sure if it’s love or if she’s a ruthless con artist who’s using him to find the fabled Fountain of Youth. Jack soon finds himself on an unexpected adventure.
Friday December 2: Cowboys & Aliens; 7:30pm In 1873 a loner (Daniel Craig) awakens with no memory of who he is or how he got there,
the only hint is a mysterious shackle around his wrist. The townsfolk of Absolution don’t take kindly to strangers, but the town’s social barriers soon break down when marauders descend from the sky and start abducting the towns people. Saturday December 3: Captain America: First Avenger; 3:30/7:30pm A World War Two adventure about a U.S. soldier-turnedhero (Chris Evans) who gains strength and agility far beyond that of a normal human being after taking an experimental super-serum. This is one of the summer’s best films.
Fuse’s four for the fortnight Jools Holland: Sunday December 4 @ Sheffield City Hall; £34.50; 7.30pm
Fixes and Troumaca: Wednesday November 23 @ Forum; Free; 8pm
Jools Holland has announced that he has invited UK pop icon Sandie Shaw back out on the road with his Rhythm & Blues Orchestra as guest vocalist for the autumn/winter tour. Jools Holland will perform tracks spanning his entire solo career as well as songs taken from his latest album Rockinghorse which was released last November.
Fixes are a new Oxford five-piece Sonorous melodies and creative musicianship blend together to make music that is thoughtful and uplifting.
The album includes unique collaborations with some of the world’s most notable singers including Booker T.
An experimental surf dance quintet. Whilst experimenting with the fundamentals of Japanese dance music Fixers blend the sixties psychedelic childlike innocence of Brian Wilson and Bruce Haack with the spaced out eighties avant-garde dance of Arthur Russell, Kate Bush and Tom Tom Club.
Troumaca The tropically inspired 5 piece from Birmingham via St Vincent fly the flag of both classic British indie and and cutting edge UK dance music.
Imedla May: Tuesday Novemner 22 @ O2 Academy Sheffield; £23.30; 7pm Imelda May, born in Dublin and raised in the Liberties, may be an unknown name to some, but to many she is already a superstar. She is unmistakable both in her music (a fusion of surf guitars, blues and rockabilly that wouldn’t be out of place in a David Lynch film) and her style, with a solitary curl and shock of blonde in her jet black hair. In Ireland, her debut album Love Tattoo, which she recorded and released on her own label, has gone Triple Platinum. She has shared a stage with U2, Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Van Morrison, Scissor Sisters, Lionel Richie and, most recently, the first lady of rockabilly, Wanda Jackson.
Friday November September18 162011 2011
Pioneering sounds that have formed from the development of UK bass music fused with tropical riffs, dubby bass lines and big guitar leads, Troumaca are at the heart of where UK music is going
And now, with the release of her new album Mayhem, she is about to go stellar.
Bryan Adams: Thursday December 1 @ Motorpoint Arena Sheffield; £39.50; 7.30pm Rock superstar Bryan Adams, shall be plugging in once again and hitting the road with a full band to celebrate the 20th Anniversary of his 3 times platinum selling album ‘Waking Up The Neighbours’. After the phenomenal success of his ‘Bare Bones’ solo-acoustic tour last year, Bryan will be hitting the road for a full arena tour of the UK stopping at 12 cities across the country, this time with a full band. He will be performing a set that will honour not only the 20th Anniversary of ‘Waking Up The Neighbours’, but also his endless catalogue of anthemic hits including “Cuts Like A Knife”, “Summer of ‘69”, “Kids Wanna Rock” and “Number 1 smash hit ‘(Everything I do) I Do It For You’. He has sold over 65 million records, toured six continents and achieved Number 1 status in over 40 countries around the world. He has been nominated for, and won several Academy Awards, Golden Globes and Grammy’s.