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Quench NOVEMBER 2014

Issue 147

Fear and haunting in North Wales

We travelled across the country to meet a self-titled “social worker for ghosts” P.6 CARDIFF’S PREMIER MUSIC FESTIVAL: DIM SWN P.35 HAVE WE HIT PEAK LAD? P.13 QUENCH EAT THEIR WAY THROUGH CATHAYS P.54


sunday 23 noVeMBer 11:00-16:00

Medics Varsity tournaMent 2014

cardiff Medics V Bristol Medics liVe at cooMBe dingle, Bristol tickets ÂŁ10 - including traVel, hog roast & official t-shirt netBall, footBall, rugBy and hockey

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CONTENTS FEATURES 6

No Church in the Wild

We talk about the paranormal with a 96 year old self-titled ‘Social Worker for Ghosts’

COLUMNIST 13

The Sketch

It’s time to welcome the death of the macho-man, says Gareth Evans

CULTURE 14

Lord of the Flies

This classic book is transformed into modern dance piece performed by local boys

16

Diwali Celebrations

The Festival of Light is celebrated across Cardiff; we capture the festivities at the WMC

17

Review: Dave Gorman

PowerPoints! Found poems! Gorman provides a satirical look on modern life

18

Artes Mundi

In its sixth year, this art collection covers the city; an example of modern art at its finest

52

FASHION & BEAUTY 20

Eat Yourself Pretty

Discover the foods that make your skin glow

22

DIY Skincare Recipes

Get your hands dirty with these easy-to-make face masks and body scrubs

23

Dressing For the Occasion

Emily Turner talks about street style and its influence on the latest trends

24

Street Style Fashion & Bloggers

Discover the top 4 bloggers with all the best style and beauty advice you’ll ever need

26

Dressing for the Occasion

The outfit inspiration for those all-important occasions

TRAVEL 28

Unconventional Travel Destinations

Would you let a country’s reputation deter you from visiting it?

30

The Reality of the Wonders of the World

Are they still worth a visit?

32

Lonely Planet

How one guidebook series is killing the idea of independent travel

6

MUSIC 34

New/Newydd

New artists to look out for as per our editors’ recommendations

35

Festival Review: DimSwn

Reviews and interviews from Cardiff ’s premier music festival

38

Festival Review: Simple Things

Coverage from Simple Things Festival, featuring Mogwai, How To Dress Well and more

40

Music Reviews

This month’s live and album reviews, including Taylor Swift and Johnny Marr

42

Interview: Childhood

Veryan Leaper chats to Childhood about their wildest dreams and plans for album no.2

VIDEO GAMES 42

A Match Made in Heaven or Hell?

We all love Hollywood, but does the gaming industry?

43

The Rise of the Simulator

Do we simulate real life more than ever?

44

Review: NBA2K15

The most complete sports game returns for its newest edition!

45

Review: Shadows of Mordor

One does not simply walk to Mordor! Well, er, actually, now you can...

35

FILM & TV 46

The Biopic

Films about real people, is there a need for so much fuss?

48

Bad Movies with Bad Actors

Why does the substandard seem so enticing?

50

Reality Rivals

X Factor, Strictly and I’m a Celebrity - the competition is on!

51

Calling All New Avengers

Is a new Avenger on the horizon?

52

Genre in Review: Musical

The next in our series explores the spectacle of musical movies

FOOD & DRINK 54

Quench Food Evening: Svago’s

Get the low down on Quench’s first foodie event

56

Curry Culture Clash

How much do the British really know about curry?

57

Is it easy to be a healthy student?

Is it easy to be a healthy student on a student budget?

58

Cardiff Coffee Guide

A guide to some of Cardiff ’s best indepedent coffee shops

24

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November

December

The Blackout

Echo & The Bunnymen

Lit

Embrace

11/11/14, £13.00 ADV

13/11/14, £17.50 ADV

Passenger 16/11/14 - SOLD OUT Courteeners

17/11/14, £19.50

Suicide Silence

20/11/14, £12.00 ADV

04/12/14, £26.50 ADV 09/12/14, £19.50 ADV

Follow us on:

January Neck Deep

26/01/15, £10.50 ADV

February Enter Shikari

The Kooks 22/11/14 - SOLD OUT

Chelsea Grin

Pop Punks Not Dead ft. New Found Glory

Dapper Laughs

17/02/15, £19.50 ADV

17/02/15, £10 ADV

22/02/15, £15 ADV

23/11/14, £18.50 ADV

27/11/14, £12.50 ADV

@CARDIFFUNION CARDIFFBOXOFFICE

Treatment ft. Annie Mac 21/11/14 - SOLD OUT

Tonight Alive

For gig announcements, competitions, backstage gossip, and ticket details...

March The Stranglers

10/03/15, £23 ADV

or visit: CARDIFFBOXOFFICE.COM All tickets subject to booking fee


Quench EDITOR Sum Sze Tam

editor@quenchmag.co.uk @QuenchMag

DEPUTY EDITOR Chloe May FEATURES Aimee-lee Abraham Jason Roberts COLUMNIST Gareth Evans

features@quenchmag.co.uk @Quench_Features

@_GarethEvans

CULTURE Elouise Hobbs Jasmine Freeman

culture@quenchmag.co.uk

FASHION & BEAUTY Franciska Bodnar Nicole Petty

fashion@quenchmag.co.uk

TRAVEL Olivia Waltho

travel@quenchmag.co.uk

MUSIC Charlie Mock India Thomas

music@quenchmag.co.uk

VIDEO GAMES Alex Glazer

videogames@quenchmag.co.uk

FILM & TV Aaron Roberts Charlie Andrews

film@quenchmag.co.uk

FOOD & DRINK Emma Giles Kathryn Lewis

food@quenchmag.co.uk

HEAD OF DESIGN Emilia Ignaciuk

design@quenchmag.co.uk

ART EDITORS Franciska Bodnar Naomi Brown Eleanor Duffy Lucy Okell Olivia Thomas Georgia Hamer

@QuenchCulture

@Quench_Fashion

@Quench_Travel

@QuenchMusic

QuenchStreetStyle

Quench_Travel

QuenchMusic

@QuenchGames

@QuenchFilm

@Quench_Food

QuenchFoodCardiff

@frankiebods @honeyandbrown @eleanorduff y @lucyokell @oliviadthomas @georgialeehamer

SPECIAL THANKS TO Gavin Morrison, for making our dreams of travelling up to Bangor to interview a fascinating old man come true; Urban Tap House, for putting up with and playing host to our debaucheries throughout DimSwn; Patrick Swayze, for bringing us Dirty Dancing; Everybody involved with DimSwn especially The Rest is Noise PR; Taylor Swift for being, well Taylor Swift; Aelwyn Roberts, for giving us an insight into his world despite only just having come out of hospital; Olivia Thomas, Aaron Roberts, Aimee-Lee Abraham, Jason Roberts, Charlie Mock, Emily Giblett, Olivia Waltho, Alex Glazer, Emma Giles and Elouise Hobbs for keeping us company late into the night.

EDITOR’S N O T E In which the editor rants about something she’s subjected all her friends to in the past few weeks, and thinks about what really matters in third year (but also to other years at university too) We don’t discuss academic issues enough in Quench, even though we are a publication created solely for students. Perhaps it’s because of the “entertainment & lifestyle” category we run under; because we function more as a distraction from the everyday, mundane, and boring bits in student life. So I’ll give it a go. We’re not qualified to discuss the particular, nitty-gritty parts of your studies - not Noam & Chomsky’s propaganda model for journalists, or Marx’s theory of the base and superstructure, for example - but there are social aspects of studying at the same university we can all bond over. Like lecturers. Lecturers: treat us as adults, and we will respond as such. Some have really caught the knack for this, and earns respect from us at a skyrocketing rate, till they achieve a deity-like status amongst their students. They speak to us as equals, ask rather than order, and feel not the need to impose their superiority, but rather, to share it. Some lecturers, though, still can’t seem to understand that we no longer consider ourselves as children, and that being firm is not the same as being condescending. Obviously, I know that these lecturers are few and far between; and much of the time, it’s a matter of an incompatible style of working between student and teacher. However, I’d like to think that the basic requirement in a productive professional relationship is mutual respect, and I think it’s a shame that even in my third year there are still academics who can’t display this sort of behaviour. I’m aware that it’s easy enough to complain about something when you’re on the receiving end. And I wouldn’t still be here if there weren’t enough lecturers at Cardiff University who I thought were worth staying for; and there are plenty. It’s the existence of the minority that irk me. Perhaps it’s an unrealistic sentiment; but for the money I’m paying (international student fees have been rising by £800 every year - watch you don’t spit your coffee out all at once), I could be getting a better deal. I don’t think that’s too much to ask, is it? Speaking of money, I still remember my first month in Cardiff (incidentally, my first month in Great Britain), when I was most struck by three things: how perturbingly low all the buildings were, how wet and cold it was, and the fact that basically everybody had held a proper paying job before. I’d never worked a day in my life. All the money I had was from pocket money, or from “red packets” - a neat little practice in Chinese culture where elders present money-filled “red packets” to their kids on special occasions. (For a country that’s supposed to run on the values of common ownership, China’s age-old traditions sure still

differentiate people based on capital.) The value of dolla in these red packets can go from a couple of quid up to a couple hundred quid, depending on how rich your aunts and uncles are. But back to Britain. What was this culture of working when you were still under your parents’ care? How were they brave enough to put themselves out there? How did they find such opportunities? How did they know how to do different jobs? I had enough trouble making phone calls to strangers and ordering from Mackey-D’s as it was. I was a complete child by comparison. Since then I’ve come to understand things better. First, people in the West place a much bigger deal on self-sufficiency and independence, whereas I’m used to a much more collectivistic culture and my parents have no qualms with funding me completely. Many of my friends here who are being financially supported by their parents are generally given the minimum, and expected to be resourceful if they want extra. Second, some of the students here simply have to work in order to sustain their living costs and tuition fees So, to alleviate my feelings of inferiority, I took on a part-time job a few weeks ago. If you’re a student who works alongside your studies, know that you were my inspiration for taking on the same challenge. The job itself was really good: paid the living wage, my colleagues were really nice and the work was related to something I potentially want to do in the future. I quit the job a few days before this issue went to print. I’d come to the conclusion (as many have before me) that the extra money was lovely, but wasn’t quite worth the time I put into it - not amidst Quench, not amidst my studies, and certainly not worth sacrificing what little time I had for my friends and loved ones. Being in third year really changes your perspective. I mean, I was going to spend the rest of my life working anyway, right? In all honesty, I think this applies to everybody at university unless you’re working towards an academic career: unless you genuinely cannot get by without the money you earn from a part-time job, make the most of your time at university. You’re old enough to properly enjoy yourself and do amazing, fulfilling things, but not quite yet old enough to have all the obligations of real life on your shoulders, like a proper nine to five job, or a mortgage. It’s a rare period where you’ll have the time to do the things you genuinely want to do, and with fewer limitations than if you were a working person. They may be amateur attempts; they may be crazy, and riddled with mistakes, but they’ll be worth doing nonetheless.

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Words: Aimee-lee Abraham and Jason Roberts Photos: Lubna Anani

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FE ATURES

no ChurCh in the Wild deep in the heart of north Wales there lives a man who used to talk to ghosts. now retired, he spoke to us about the paranormal, drug addicts, and manuka honey. his name is J. Aelwyn roberts, and this is his story. You know the saying: when life gives you exorcists, you make magazine features.On a quiet Tuesday morning, an emåail from a man claiming to be a retired ghost hunter somehow landed in our inbox. Not a scrawled letter laced with dirt jammed in the letterbox; not a threatening throaty phone call; not a dark prophecy delivered to the media office via a possessed ventriloquist dummy acting as a mouthpiece. It was a polite email containing absolutely nothing out of the ordinary, apart from the extraordinary subject matter. Clearly our supposed ghost-hunter was a man ignorant of classic horror-film convention. It would later become apparent that Joseph Aelwyn Roberts was a man who didn’t particularly care for convention of any sort. The Quench mailbox gets a wide variety of emails every month. An array of pitches from aspiring writers, a barrage of promotional material from PR robots who can’t spell our names, as well as occasional hate mail from people can’t spell their own names. The last thing we expected to find nestled there was an invitation to interact with a man who previously cast out demons for a living. The natural reaction isn’t to take this sort of stuff seriously, and for a long time we didn’t. We joked about getting him to exorcise the media office, or even our own houses, tossing coins to decide who would take on the risk of giving their address to a potential lunatic. If nothing else, we figured we could always try and sell it to VICE. But eventually, fuelled more by curiosity than a desire for content, we did a little digging. Our man had written books. Quite a few of them as it turned out. Maybe we were onto something? Anyone can email you and tell you they’ve talked to ghosts, but it takes dedication to publish such an extensive list of literature on the subject. We wanted to meet him. After a number of failed attempts to contact him we finally

managed to speak to Aelwyn on the phone. It transpired that he wasn’t in his seventies as we had initially thought, but was in fact ninety-six years old. Our dreams of witnessing an exorcism on our own turf were immediately destroyed as we realised he wouldn’t be travelling all the way to Cardiff at such an age, let alone performing a ritual as strenuous and demanding as an exorcism. It also emerged that his sidekick, a medium confusingly named Elwyn Roberts, had died ten years previously. Finding this out during our very first conversation, after directly requesting that Elwyn attended the interview session, was painfully awkward. Elwyn had acted as the middle-man in the ghost hunting machine, allowing Aelwyn to communicate with the dead despite his own lack of psychic ability. Without him, Aelwyn could no longer partake in investigations. The whole idea had morphed into a logistical nightmare. If he couldn’t come here, we’d have to go there. “There” being the (very literal) other end of the country. Challenge accepted.

“You know the saying: when life gives you exorcists, you make magazine features.”

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The village of Llandygai is located just outside of Bangor, and in many ways this tiny pocket of the country is a typical North Walian village. The houses are quaint, the people are pleasant, and any sign of modernity feels thoroughly anachronistic. The imposing Penrhyn Castle, the magnificent Church of St. Tegai, and the awe-inspiring views of the vast Carneddau mountain range all conspire to play tricks on the mind of the dazzled tourist. The mountains become more than mere peaks of rock, transforming before your eyes into slumbering giants dreaming beneath thick blankets of moss, snoring and mumbling. Shadows dance. Mist moulds into mythological creatures. Immersed in scenery this mystical and magnificent, you begin to understand why Wales has such a strong historical connection with dragons. The whole area, almost fictional in its beauty, looks as if it has sprung to life straight from the pages of a Tolkien novel. We opted to make the trip to Llandygai by car, a decision motivated entirely by a desire to see the beautiful North Walian countryside firsthand financial hardship. To complicate matters, it soon dawned that neither of us, nor our photographer, actually owned a vehicle. As a result, our first challenge was finding somebody willing to wake up at 6am to battle some of the most difficult roads in the country in utterly dreadful conditions. As this would take approximately 8 hours, the candidate would also need to be willing to sacrifice a whole day of their life despite having no strong affiliation with our magazine. Naturally, we found someone almost immediately. Enter Gavin Morrison: an angel with a Volkswagen Polo for wings who took on the challenge of driving a bunch of grumpy students to the other side of the country on just three hours sleep and marginally more notice. Without him, our journey would have been over before it even had a chance to begin, and for that we are eternally grateful. At 7am, the light began to break through the dark, and the three of us piled into Gavin’s car, kicking and screaming for caffeine. Slowly heading out of Cardiff, we descended into the steadily growing stream of commuter traffic and noticed that most people were travelling alone. We had all made the same excuse to be here; avoiding academic work, missing shifts and bailing on friends. We had morphed into the naughty, giggling school children we once were, seeking adventure at the expense of other responsibilities. The whole thing was exhilarating and nostalgic. We’d even brought packed lunches. The first hour passed without much incident as we exchanged pleasantries with one another and floated in and out of half-sleep. Eventually we pulled over for coffee. Our stop was intended to invigorate us for the rest of the journey, but as soon as we got back in the car, it seemed to have the opposite effect. We quickly realised that we weren’t even halfway there, that a number of unanswered questions about our subject still remained. The enormity of our task was beginning to sink in. We began to speculate further about Aelwyn. What sort of man was he? What had happened in his life to take him down this particular road? Our photographer had brought Kerouac along for the ride, and at that moment shared a line of particular resonance. “The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones that

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never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars.” We could only consider the precise thing that makes Aelwyn shine. But, sitting in the car listening to the relentless rain thunder like a barrage of tiny bullets against the car, it hits us that we may have indeed found ourselves a ‘mad one’. We were broken from our reflections by the unusual majesty of our surroundings. We hadn’t passed a town in miles, just a series of toytown villages acting almost as checkpoints on the path to our final destination. We were engulfed by darkness and our imaginations ran wild. Every small stone bridge that took us over a flowing stream looked just old enough to catalyse feelings of unease and paranoia. Every howling gust of the unforgiving North Walian wind threatened to send the car tumbling into the valleys below. Every narrow winding passage that took us through the hazy hills gave us the sense that we were heading further and further into the unknown. Time, although it appeared to have left the villages of North Wales untouched, did not appear to have forgotten us and we arrived in Llandygai sooner than we’d anticipated. Unsure of Aelwyn’s address but knowing that he lived in the old vicarage, we approached the Church of St. Tegai. For a village as small as Llandygai, the church seemed disproportionately big. It was a beautiful goliath of a building, a monument to a time when churches were the focal points of communities up and down the nation. The vast cemetery, partially obscured by thick trees and fog, looked to be well-kept. We decided to call him and see if we were right about the location of the house. The harsh reality of meeting a stranger in his own home was sinking in and all of our collective anxieties began to surface at once. What if he’d forgotten we were coming? What if he was fragile and vulnerable; riddled with the dementia we had seen ravage the minds of our own brilliant grandparents? Was this right? Were we taking advantage of an elderly man in our pursuit of a good story? What if he was the opposite; a maniac who had lured us to his home so he could butcher us with an axe? References to footage-found slasher films had been circulating around the media office for weeks but they weren’t funny anymore. What if we’d been catfished?! The phone began to ring, and there was no more time left for pondering worst case scenarios. We held our breath in anticipation of the voice on the other end.

“The whole area, almost fictional in its beauty, looks as if it has sprung to life straight from the pages of a Tolkien novel.”


FE ATURES A: “Hello?” Good start. Q: “Hi Aelwyn, this is Jason and Aimee-lee from Quench Magazine. We’re here to interview you and we’re outside the churchyard. Are we in the right place?” A: “AH YES! Well, first of all, get out of there as fast as you can.” Why? What’s wrong with the churchyard?! This was not assuaging any of our fears. A: “Go back out of the church, and there, you’ll be faced with two choices.” We were anticipating our own deaths, and he was giving us directions in riddles. This was less than helpful. A: “The road to the right will take you up to Penrhyn Castle and out of Llandygai. Don’t go that way. The road to the left will take you to a row of houses, and mine is the one with the purple gate. Do you want me to stand outside so you can see which one it is?” If he stands outside his house we’ll be able to spot any potential weapons. Sold. Q: “That sounds great, we’ll see you in a minute!” We followed his instructions and true to his word, there he stood, outside an achingly picturesque stone house that was as big as it was beautiful. We said goodbye to Gavin and approached anxiously. What do you say to a man that’s heard everything before? Perhaps sensing our nerves, he extended his hand and introduced himself. “Pleased to meet you,” he smiled warmly, “I’m Aelwyn.”

“From the moment we saw him, we sensed that there is something about Aelywn. Something ineffable and wonderful that mesmerises you within moments.” From the moment we saw him, we sensed that there is something about Aelywn. Something ineffable and wonderful that mesmerises you within moments. Perhaps it’s the pocketwatch that hangs haphazardly from his left pocket. Perhaps it’s his unexpected vitality. Perhaps it’s his penchant for punctuating his words with wild gesticulations. His hair is white as snow but barely receded, sitting firmly atop a mind so quick you can see it whirring beneath the skin if you look hard enough. His piercingly blue eyes practically dance out of their sockets, demanding your full attention. Barely a week out of hospital, he walks around the room purposefully, defiantly independent on a broken leg. It’s hard to believe that he has been on this planet for ninety-six years. Aelwyn has a lot to talk about. He lowers himself into the largest chair in the centre of the room and the journey through his past begins. The conversation twists and turns with rapidity and we hang on his every weird and wonderful word, transfixed like primary-school children sitting at the foot of a favourite teacher during story-time. We are with him for two and a half hours, catching our breath only when the phone and doorbell interrupt to battle for our host’s attention. Despite retiring two decades previously, he is still called upon constantly to resolve issues within the community and it’s easy to see why. He exudes the confidence and authority of a village leader. We’re so entranced that we barely notice a single stroke of the clock. A trio of atheist journalism students, we imagined that the subject matter would inspire us to nurture our inner Paxmans, that we would be unyielding in our scepticism. Instead, we are silenced by his sincerity. He speaks of drug addicts he was able to rehabilitate through a prescription of blood, sweat, tears and long games of ping-pong played in tired community halls. He speaks of the four hundred babies he singlehandedly re-homed during his time as an adoption officer; one of whom

smiles down from the mantelpiece, chin-in-palm, angelic and content. She is Aelwyn’s adopted daughter - a chubby-cheeked cherub with an unruly afro. No one else would consider taking in children of colour then; their judgement clouded by prejudice the sleepy borough had yet to shake off. She is one of the six Roberts children who went on to bear twenty-seven grandchildren and great-grandchildren. The Roberts clan is sprawling unconfined to those who share surnames and DNA. Portraits occupy every inch of the wall, a myriad of framed faces all listening in. Families and individuals, children and adults; colourful in spite of their black and white hues, in spite of the dust gathering upon their cheeks. A piano occupies one corner of the room, while a small television is perched atop a bookshelf in another. The piano looked as if it has seen some use in recent times. The same could not be said about the television. It felt like we had been transported back to a time long before the digital era; to a time when the extended kinship network was a successful model and community spirit was alive and well. This made the initial email seem even more bizarre but we decided to roll with it. The room was warm. It smelt of mothballs and memories and we felt acutely aware of the oxymoronic loneliness of our own bustling university city.

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“He claims he removed a screeching witch from the dormitories of a local college. She had been terrorising the students whose parents were paying hundreds of pounds a month for them to stay there, taunting and cackling.” After skirting around the topic for some time, we eventually got on to the subject we made the trip for: ghosts. We started with the basics: what did Aelwyn do? What was his role? In his writings, he often gives the impression that he stumbled upon the paranormal by accident. He tells us that “nearly all church faiths employ clergymen trained and licensed in the role of ‘minister with special responsibilities’; an ambiguous umbrella term that basically covers all matters too messy for the church to publicly clean up but too compelling for them to ignore. Aelwyn fulfilled this role for twenty-five years, and it would be fair to say that he was clueless about what awaited him early on. Raised in a religious family, Aelwyn “never contemplated doing anything else”. Becoming a priest wasn’t an option, it was the only option. He embraced the additional role of ghosthunter with an open mind, eager to help those in distress. Within months, he could see dead people, despite having no prior experience with the paranormal. “I was just as much of a medium at that time, in Elwyn’s company, as Elwyn was.” Aelwyn claimed that just by the sheer force of Elwyn’s presence, he too was able to see and communicate with the spirits. Call it a process of spiritual osmosis. Aelwyn immediately objects to the various terms we use to describe his old career, finding the majority void of the agape and empathy few realise is needed to carry out paranormal practice ‘properly’. In official terms, he was the “foremost expert in matters of the paranormal within the Anglican Church-in-Wales”. Ever the mediator, Aelwyn visibly shudders at the term ‘exorcist’(“a horrible word”), preferring to call himself a “social worker for ghosts” instead. He finds the title both more compassionate and more reflective of the work involved. Even the title of his debut book, Holy Ghostbuster, he says, is somewhat misleading in the picture it paints of the role. Aelwyn initially hesitated over the negative connotations implied, uncomfortable with promoting the idea that spirits needed to be “banished or ‘busted”.The name was dreamt up by the then-editor of local Bangor paper The Chronicle, a friend of Aelwyn’s all too familiar with the importance of selling a story, so he trusted his judgement and went along with it. It worked: the book sold thousands of copies and was published in Welsh and Portuguese. Aelwyn fondly refers spirits as “people from the world of yesterday”. He makes little distinction between the living and the deceased, viewing them quite simply as people without a pulse. One story in particular ends in the testimonial of a man who later regretted his decision to banish the

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ghost from his home. On long cold nights in, after his wife had gone out with friends, he would miss the company his ghostly friend had provided. “He didn’t say anything to him, but he was company.” Aelwyn, faced with countless scenarios like this one, seems perplexed by the long standing cultural idea of the ghost as something to be feared, arguing that the only logical root of this lies in the fear of the unknown. Having encountered more ghosts than he can count, Aelwyn insists that he has yet to meet one who posed “any real threat” to the living. This is not to say that all ghosts were pleasant to be around. Just as some people are total bastards, some ghosts are total bastards. Others are downright terrifying. Aelwyn has seen and heard it all. He claims he removed a screeching witch from the dormitories of a local college. She had been terrorising the students whose parents were paying hundreds of pounds a month for them to stay there, taunting and cackling. Beds ceased to be slept in, children were withdrawn from their studies, funds were dwindling. The school had no choice but to stage an intervention to get rid of her. He also tells us of the time he watched a colleague chase a mysterious little boy with “blue, blue eyes” up a flight of stairs before becoming engulfed in a vapour of smoke “and a most horrible smell that nauseated him” so much that “he had to lie down in the garden for some time to steady himself”. The stench was so vile that the police were involved, thinking that a dead body had to be responsible. The ghost child was haunting a building site intended to be turned into new houses, only the smell so worried the housing association that the only way to recoup their investment was to hire Aelwyn and Elwyn. How, when faced with such images of terror, can he maintain that ghosts are harmless? He says that it lies in their lack of ability to harm, rather than their intent. He tells us that ghosts “don’t possess a physical body in the same sense that we do; no muscle or bone”. This allows them to move through matter “such as walls”, but doesn’t mean that they’re able to make physical contact with the people they share space with. “I am always sceptical when people call me and claim that a spirit is interfering with their belongings”, he explains, “when they claim someone or something is moving their handbag from one room to another, or throwing things… I don’t see how that would be possible”.


FE ATURES Neither here nor there, largely feared or invisible, it occurs to us that existing as a lone ghost may be the greatest hell imaginable. Scenes from the 1990 classic romantic thriller Ghost spring to mind. The protagonist, a murder victim who lingers on in the apartment he shared with his partner after death, tries and fails to communicate with the distraught love of his life. He pesters her relentlessly, to no avail. Aelwyn recalls similar incidents when people have called upon him convinced that there is a sinister force in their house only to discover that the ghost of a loved vfrustratingly opposite effect. He tells us about one of the most moving situations he witnessed, where a man who had impulsively shot himself was trying desperately to seek the forgiveness of the widow he left behind. The coroner had ruled the death accidental, but his wife knew in her bones that it was deliberate. The incident had occurred shortly after a heated row over finances and she was ridden with a guilt that so consumed her she could “barely function”. Every night she would be woken up to the deafening sound of his footsteps coming through the door, his fingers drumming rhythmically on the countertops. She would sit up, frightened and alert, and feel a strong and inexplicable “pressure at the end of the bed as if he was sitting there” observing her restless night. He had a nervous habit of whistling through his teeth when he had a guilty conscience, usually reserved for nights out with the boys when he would routinely return home late and attempt to mask the extent of his alcohol consumption. The whistle echoed now, travelling through the empty house. She couldn’t carry on and moved into a new property with the children. Within weeks, he was back. Aelwyn and Elwyn were called in and confirmed what she already knew: he had followed her there, and he

would not move on until he had spoken to her one last time. Elwyn acted as a mediator, advising her to open up. She told him that the children were terrified, that she was so heartbroken in his absence that she would have ended her life were it not for them, but ultimately forgave him for walking out on the life they had built together. She wanted him to go away, not out of a lack of love, but out of a pressing need to move forward. The tapping ceased. She finally slept. When Aelwyn’s book hit the shelves, he informed us that “she was the first person to buy a copy, standing outside of the shop before it opened” with a grateful grin on her face. This method is mirrored throughout all of Aelwyn’s stories. The cliched image of the exorcist rabidly spitting out Bible verses as he splashes holy water everywhere and clutches a crucifix is nowhere to be seen. Ghosts aren’t forced to leave using force or venom, but with reasoning and compassion. Aelwyn suggests that when we start viewing ghosts in this light, as trapped souls stagnant and silenced, we grow strong enough to face our fears. In showing them empathy and respect instead of rejection, he believes that we can help break the chains that bound them to a world no longer purposeful or palpable.

“Our conversation with Aelwyn forced us to to divorce ourselves from our beliefs. Our scepticism about the supernatural will probably never go away, but it would be wrong to say that they never wavered once in the two and half hours we spent in his company.”

Our conversation with Aelwyn forced us to to divorce ourselves from our beliefs. Our scepticism about the supernatural will probably never go away, but it would be wrong to say that they never wavered once in the two and half hours we spent in his company. He spoke with unerring belief, but was willing to concede that he did not have all the answers to hand. Strangely, this made him all the more convincing. It is one thing to believe in the paranormal with total conviction; it is quite another to acknowledge your own limitations in understanding it. When he told us, “There was so much you saw… you just had to accept it,” he was making no effort to avoid difficult questions, but instead offered us an insight into mind of a believer. It made sense. If you’d seen a ghost, how could you possibly begin to explain it? We ended our interview talking about the secret to a long life. “I had a whole life up to this year, with not a single days illness, nor a single day off work,” Aelwyn noted proudly. He seemed as amazed as we were at his demeanour and condition, and while he offered no clues as to how he attained it, he does divulge a liking for manuka honey. “It’s excellent!” he claimed, before he warns us about the amount of fake honey “dotting around”. He shares with us how he distinguishes the fakes by simply applying it to a blemish on his skin. If the blemish disappears, the honey is real. Incidentally, there isn’t a single spot on his face.

- finis 11


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COLUMNIST

THE SKETCH with GARETH EVANS

I’m going to depart from my usual ramblings in favour of a public service announcement; and it is an important one. The 21st century man is in crisis. Masculinity as we know it is dying and a fair amount of men are struggling with this natural, societal, progression. It is time to accept, once and for all, that the traditional definition of ‘manliness’ is outdated and no longer applicable to a society that is ready and willing to embrace gender equality. The demise of old-school masculinity is not to be mourned, far from it, it should be embraced. This is the difficult cross-roads we find ourselves at; and the time has come to choose the right path. We, as rational people, all believe that traditional definitions of femininity are outdated. If the housekeeping, unquestioning, childbearing woman is an archaism then surely the bread-winning, unemotional, macho-man is equally so? They are opposing ends to the same, problematic, gender spectrum after all. Perhaps this is stating the obvious, but it seems that, as a gender, men are yet to let go of this damaging image. This ‘macho’ façade is harmful as it revolves around one, central, fallacy, that is, admitting weakness is a weakness in itself. We see this in the male-dominated arena that is politics all the time. How often do politicians opt to dodge questions and repeat rhetoric instead of admitting a mistake, or a lack of knowledge? Outside of politics, then, the caricature of men stubbornly refusing to ask for help – whether it be with directions or carrying the shopping – may seem trivial at first. However, it all relates to the same macho-man construct. And it is a hugely damaging one; the statistics make this obvious.

Lads are the residue, the sweaty, confused, residue of progress. It is sad indeed. For example, it is shocking that men are half as likely as women to visit their GP. There must be a reason for this, and it is not that all women are extreme hypochondriacs. Instead, visiting the doctor implies weakness and that, as is drilled into men from an early age, simply cannot be revealed. Take skin

cancer which, despite affecting men and women equally, kills four times as many men because we ignore the issue until it’s too late. It is not considered ‘manly’ to visit the doctor, after all, Superman never got earinfections. On the subject, if you’re North Korean, then the only Superman you will know is Kim Jong-Un. It is interesting, then, that the leader recently disappeared for six weeks, with much speculation, and then resurfaced with a walking stick and a limp. There was no explanation for this, and certainly no indication that the divine deity had been suffering with an illness, even though this is glaringly obvious to all. And yes, I admit, most men do not have the admiration of an entire population to maintain. However they do have the admiration of families and friends.

If the housekeeping, unquestioning, childbearing woman is an archaism then surely the bread-winning, unemotional, machoman is equally so? It is this same principle, based on a foolish, misguided, desire to convey invincibility to those around us that is harming men and needs to change. As with Kim Jong-Un, it’s both amusing and telling to look to our leading politicians in order to identify what the current notion of masculinity is. You may consider this pure stupidity, and when the image of Ed Miliband waging a hopeless war against a bacon sandwich comes to mind, I can see why. Yet, it must be said, a male politician’s electoral campaign is meticulously constructed in such a way that they are intended to appear like the ‘ideal’ man. There are staged family photographs, horrendous, dripping, images of exercise, and ‘man of the people’ high-vis jacket shots. These are all understandable, and I hope that the 21st century man will be family-orientated, relatively healthy, and down-to-earth. So where does the issue lie? Why do so many men cling onto backward notions of masculinity? It is because a significant proportion of men suffer with, what I will now call, the ‘Putin Complex’. Vladmir Putin, the Russian leader, is a man who ensures that he is photographed taming stallions bare-chested, hunting dangerous animals bare-chested, and wielding weapons bloody bare-chested. He does such things while obsessing over homosexuality and hiding his crumbling, ailing, marriage. Due to my inherent fears of never being seen again, I am just going to leave those indicators there and let you decide how comfortable he is with his own masculinity.

The Putin Complex, that is to say, the desperate assertion of one’s masculinity through caricatured, accentuated, acts and the routine derision of the effeminate, is rife. Cue the room’s resident elephant: ‘LADS’. Alright chaps. Now, as has been written about, debated, ridiculed and discussed in more cyclical detail than I care to think, ‘Lad Culture’ is indisputably an issue. However, although there have always been morons, sexists and sports clubs, it is clear to see how the problem has reached a pinnacle of sorts in recent times. Or, at least, the dialogue has. It is a problem and one of importance. The question is, where does their attitude stem from? I believe that it is, in part, an irrational response to the decaying notion of masculinity. My generation find themselves at a time of great transition. Many of our Grandmothers, and even Mothers, will not be the main earner of the household. Many, like my own, will have also had children at a younger age than is now considered the norm, and sacrificed promising careers as a result. Yet, times are changing, and that should be celebrated. The downside of this is a million, minor, ‘Putins’ who are unsure how to define or assert their masculinity. Rather than confronting this insecurity, they resort to sexism as a means to, in their own eyes, assert a form of temporary gender dominance. They are the residue, the sweaty, confused, residue of progress. It is sad indeed.

It is also needless. Rather than focusing the emotional turmoil of their Daddy-issues onto a bench press or a wolf-whistle, perhaps a level of conversational encouragement is what’s required. What I referenced earlier, the macho-man façade, the unwillingness of men to talk or admit weakness, has resulted in many confused Putin’s that can, and should, change. If the ‘LAD Bible’ were a religious text its followers wouldn’t be united by masculinity; but by a lack of it. By a fear of what the term will soon mean and by a desperate, clammy, grip onto what it used to. Well, lads, it’s time to let it go.

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Matthew Bourne’s dance adaptation of Golding’s famous novel enthrals theatre-goers and brings this classic tale to new audiences Matthew Bourne has long been impressing audiences nationwide with his innovative and creative interpretations of ballet classics, such as Swan Lake and The Nutcracker, changing the face of British ballet. His latest venture, a dance adaption of William Golding’s 1954 classic, Lord of the Flies, doesn’t disappoint. Golding’s novel follows the journey of a group of schoolboys who become stranded on a deserted island. Although attempts are made by protagonist, Ralph, and his sidekick, Piggy, to create order and emulate the civilised society they are accustomed to at home, as human nature takes over, the group of schoolboys turn wild and chaos ensues. Bourne’s production sees a modern twist on this British classic, with the group of schoolboys becoming stranded in an abandoned theatre instead of a deserted island. Other clear differences made by Bourne, such as the conch becoming an empty shell oil drum, and a falling spotlight becoming the cause for Piggy’s brutal death, were arguably brave decisions to make to such a famous and treasured novel, but the risk paid off in this stunning and thought-provoking production. It’s possible to argue that if you weren’t already familiar with the synopsis, you might struggle to follow the plotline, but nevertheless, Scott Ambler’s choreography is executed with

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such emotion and feeling it would be difficult not to become drawn into the plight of this group of children. Despite the lack of narrative, Bourne remains successful in showcasing the stark transformation of this innocent group of schoolboys into savages, as instinct takes over and their fragile civilisation breaks down.

Scott AMBler’S choreoGrAphy iS executed with Such eMotion And feelinG it would Be difficult not to BecoMe drAwn into the pliGht of thiS Group of children Bourne has approached his most recent project from an alternative angle, casting 24 boys and young men ranging from ages 10-25, with little or no past experience, to dance alongside eight professionals, giving a new set of young dancers from each of the 13 cities on the tour the chance to

perform on stage. This style of casting is similar to that of Billy Elliot: The Musical, and gives many young people from all types of backgrounds the opportunity to be involved in a professional production. It was so refreshing to see the passion with which these young dancers performed, giving the production a dynamic and raw quality often not experienced in more traditional dance productions. Standout performances were given by Layton Williams, best known for his role as Stephen in BBC3’s Bad Education, who gave an impressive and emotive performance as Simon, the kindly and innately moral schoolboy, and the troop of ‘littleuns’ who, despite having not danced in a professional setting before, alongside the more experienced performers effectively conveyed the schoolboys fall from civil citizens to savage creatures. Matthew Bourne may have been taking a risk in adapting such a well-known classic, but it was definitely a risk worth taking, with the end results giving audiences a new way of looking at this renowned tale of the true form of human nature presented through breath taking dance. — Bethan Clark


CULTURE

BoyS Allowed

On the 22nd of October for four nights, twenty five local boys and young men aged 10 to 25 will join Matthew Bourne's dance company New Adventures in their production of Lord of the Flies. The production has been adapted, from William Golding's classic novel of the same name, having been directed by Tony and Olivier award-winning Bourne, and choreographed by Olivier-nominated Scott Ambler. According to two of the local boys, Matthew Bell and Jake Edwards who portray Christopher and Lawrence in the show, 'the storyline is very similar to the novel, the only big difference being that the boys find themselves in an abandoned theatre rather than on an island.' To some audiences, the dark and sadistic plot line may be deemed quite shocking and disturbing. A few of the local boys said that for them this aspect was actually 'rather fun,' especially because there is a point during the show in which they were given free artistic licence to completely let loose and go

mad in order to make the climax of the plot as believably dark and sadistic as they could. The local boys that have been cast in the show were individually hand-picked by dance ambassadors. This process began with free dance workshops that were put on specifically for male dancers in the area, in early September 2014. Those who displayed talent at these workshops were then invited back to audition for the production itself. All of the local dancers appeared to be very grateful for the experience being offered to them, and some even said that 'before now they had never danced before.' By opening night, those who were successful during their auditions will have completed five weeks of strenuous rehearsals. Matthew Bell said that this long rehearsal process began with individual characterisation tasks. He said that with no lines to rehearse, and knowing that it would be 'difficult to portray his character through dance alone,' they had 'to work hard on communicating their individual

characters and reactions through their facial expressions.' Professional dancer Dan Wright who plays Roger, also confessed that 'it is very difficult at times to get across your individual character' particularly with a production of this size, therefore 'you have to add your own take and style to the choreography.' In typical Matthew Bourne style, Lord of the Flies will consist of an all male cast. Dan Wright has been working with Bourne for seven years now and he said that working with an all male cast creates a 'dynamic that is totally different' to one that is made up of both male and female dancers. Local dancers, Bell and Edwards also commented, saying that one thing they found very enjoyable about the entire experience, was the fact 'that males are being given a chance to express their dancing talents in a usually female dominated profession.' — Corvey White

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D I WA L I An evening full of laughter and light saw Cardiff ’s very own Millennium Centre take part in the Diwali (Deepavali) celebrations.

In collaboration with Wales Tamil Sangam, the Wales Millennium Centre hosted its first ever event celebrating the festival of light, which began around 5pm and lasted until 10pm. What turned out to be a very exciting evening will hopefully mark the beginning of a yearly event. A festival signifying the victory of light over darkness, the evening reflected how the relationship between the Indian and Welsh communities has significantly grown over the years. The audience felt as if they had been transported to India by the rich mixture of live cultural performances. These performances by Wales Tamil Sangam took place in and outside the centre, which included traditional and contemporary dance, music and Rangoli art. Performers ranged from all ages, where ancient and modern stories of Diwali unfolded through Bharatanyam dance and storytelling. A very important part of the Hindu celebration is to dress accordingly, and this did not go unnoticed when

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the dancers took to the stage. The vibrant colours of their immaculate dresses caught all of the audience’s attention, highlighting the importance of light and illumination, which were the two key themes of the night. The numerous dances captured the Diwali spirit, with slow, beautiful arm movements coinciding with the traditional music played. Originally from Mumbai, the very talented young dancer, Aneesha Ramani, glided across the stage with her lively Bollywood performance. The evening had a real sense of community and family with face painting and lantern making that was generously put on by volunteers. What was truly refreshing was to see how younger generations were embracing their Hindu heritage and contributing to the festivities. Children were dressed in bright colours, covered in jewellery from head to toe, along with artistic henna paint. A look very different to what we see on St David’s Day here in Wales with primary school children adopting the traditional Welsh costumes. The real highlight of the evening was to see the Welsh and

Indian communities coming together to celebrate the special occasion. Families and friends proudly stood side by side as they watched the performances, with a surprising mixture of Welsh, English and Tamil being spoken amongst them. For those who have quite the sweet tooth, the evening also saw a range of pop-up stalls, such as Lakshmi Brand Limited and their Taste of India: a mix of sweet and savory traditional Diwali treats. From Rawa Laddu to Rasagola, those who attended the celebration indulged in the traditional cuisine, adding a touch of Indian flavour to their evening. The evening concluded with a variety of fireworks filling up the night sky with light and colour. After a wide variety of Hindu culture from start to finish, the Millennium Centre had done the festival of lights justice as the Indian community had the opportunity to express and show their remarkable heritage and tradition to the Welsh people. — Adam Steffan Jones


CULTURE

DAVE GORMAN

For one night only, Dave Gorman lit up the Cardiff stage with his unique approach to stand-up, armed only with a microphone, a pie chart and a PowerPoint.

“The use of PowerPoints, graphs and pie charts throughout the show (which he is renowned for) added to visual nature of the show and brought a different comedy to the traditional stand-up.” The opening to Gorman’s show was a hilarious PowerPoint after his aptly named show David Gorman Gets Straight to the Point*... *the PowerPoint. It featured himself introducing the evening’s entertainment in a crudely animated PowerPoint projected on a big screen. The content was largely area specific, drawing on Cardiff headlines and getting the audience involved. However, there were some technical hitches; in some parts of the animation his lips did not match up to what he was saying, although this did not hinder the mood but instead added to the overall comedic element of the sketch. Gorman was introduced by a surprise guest appearance from Nick Doody. His sketches were light-hearted and focused around social and political satire. He started with classic airport jokes, but was able to put his own spin on it by commenting on modern political issues and drawing inspiration from his own experiences that the audience could relate to. Doody then went on to a more original sketch where he reviewed the social norms and expectations of comedy,

almost a justification of comedy. He urged the audience to focus on the comedic effect rather than the content, to be receivers and not critics. Overall, Doody’s input to the show was thought provoking and warmed up the audience, ready for the main event. The main act of the night came from Dave Gorman, who is famous from his TV shows Are You Dave Gorman? and Modern Life is Goodish (Dave). However, he is not adverse to trying something different. In 2009 his show Sit Down, Pedal, Pedal, Stop and Stand Up, he cycled 1,563 miles across the UK, with a gig following each night. The highlights of his new show were the ‘found poems’ and the social satirical hit on ‘selfies’ and ‘photo bombing’. The comment on ‘selfies’ and ‘photo bombing’ was part of a big sketch commenting on how people nowadays are doing the same thing they found boring twenty years ago, but now do it for entertainment i.e. browsing through pictures on Facebook. The use of PowerPoint’s, graphs and pie charts throughout the show (which he is renowned for) added to visual nature of the show and brought a different

comedy to the traditional stand-up. The ‘found poems’ were a compilation of people’s comments on major political stories made into a poem. The mock serious nature of the poem stood out from the rest of the show as the lighting dimmed with only a spotlight focusing on him and the PowerPoint slides mirrored the words he was saying in big, bold letters. The finale saw Gorman joined by Dooley, who played the piano, whilst Gorman recited a poem on the Pope’s need to be Pope-ular. Gorman delivered educated and witty humour to leave the audience thoroughly entertained. Overall, it was a well thought out show, which left the audience in fits of laughter. The mix of witty comedy with social and political satire made for an enjoyable and fun evening. Dave Gorman continues his UK tour until December 6th at various locations around the country. — Elouise Hobbs

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A RT E S MU NDI Artes Mundi is here to bring modern art to the masses, one male escort, one toy donkey, and one neon sign at a time In its 6th installation, the famed Artes Mundi exhibition is spreading the height of the world’s contemporary artist aristocracy across Cardiff; around to stay until one of the nine artists nominated takes home £40,000 and the coveted AM prize. The biggest bang of the exhibition emanates from perhaps the smallest Cardiff building, Ffotogallery encapsulates the sounds of Ragnar Kjartansson’s The Visitors; fresh from the Bilbao Guggenheim, a sonically based piece of distinguishable film separating 9 synchronised musicians into 9 rooms and scenes of an upstate New York farm, the architecture of which is beautiful within it’s own right, but when asked by Quench about the deliberated nature of the stunning camera angles, Kjartansson stated that “the angles are actually more random, allowing the majority of the focus to be with the music”. Less about what the house holds inside, and more focusing on how the music affects you within. Demanding a more metaphorical audience-inclusiveness than Reneta Lucas’s strictly handson approach to her boardwalking Falha (Failure) over in the National Museum. This 50 minute projected loop is a piece of pure sonic artistry, and even the awkward intervals of a cannon (that’s right, an actual cannon) going off and the sloshing of bathtub water around the acoustic guitarist can’t derive from the innate beauty of The Visitors. Moving from more naïve artistic pleasures to the gritty side of this year’s nominated artists; Renzo Martens throws us into the political and cultural satire surrounding trade from the Congo, depicting his work as the founder of the Institute for Human Activities (IHA) in Chapter III (Enjoy Poverty) - a film of the trials and tribulations behind the art of the organization, as well as joining more politically based (as shown in their

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Museum of Non-Participation) venue-buddies Karen Mirza and Brad Butler in neon-orientated works, delivering his satirical message to the cocoa plantation working village folk, who are the inspiration behind his more fascinating 3D printed chocolate sculptures (of the workers themselves) within the National Museum. ‘The reason behind our human subject matter is that the workers have no idea what they harvest this raw foodstuff for, so we sculpt it and pour it into our molds to show them what they are really working towards, with art. There is more beauty in that, these sculptures are less edible, and more aesthetic”. The chocolate is amazing though, just saying… AM’s most extensive piece goes to Carlos Bunga, who appeared a week before the exhibition opened with nothing but flat-packed cardboard and duct tape, replicating the white support columns of the exhibition space in a more fragile cardboard state, whilst also reaffirming the student concept that duct tape can fix absolutely anything. The piece’s title – Exodus – taking on the fragile flux of a nomadic lifestyle and migration, through a cracked, painted white exterior, and with the fragile cardboard interior left bare for all to see. Theaster Gates plays with the visual contrast between naïve, tribal-esque sculpture and the modernity used to carry it across to the people physically. Whether with an impromptu decision to keep the polystyrene packaging on his exhibits as they’re being exhibited for the first time, to how a very tall stuffed goat loops itself around on the same set of motorized train tracks – “My children would love this”, prize-nominated director Omer Fast tells Quench, whose film installation Continuity depicts the ever-deepening story of a modern-day

German couple’s son returning from war filled to the brim with ‘family’ tension, repetitive (yet increasingly powerful) melancholy, unorthodox kink and audience-levelling quantities of emotion, Continuity grips as much in an unsettling way as it does emotionally. From stacking shelves with little toy donkeys named ‘Che’ and ‘Martin Luther’, bringing the names of WW2 female freedom fighters to the forefront through an ‘oh so significant’ capitalist mindset (Sanja Iveković), through to celebrating the everyday, grounding human characteristics of an industrial working class (Sharon Lockhart), Artes Mundi is teeming with a huge variety of artists, we ask it’s director and curator Karen MacKinnon what it takes to be a nominee, the lack of Welsh representation in the prize, and how AM has evolved over time – “The general regulations are that the artist has to be well know within their own country, as well as making an impact internationally! It’s very important that Artes Mundi is a multi-layered fabric of artists, and it’s odd that we haven’t had a Welsh-dwelling nominee since Sue Williams in AM2, but since then the rivalry internationally has been unprecedented”. Filing down a shortlist of 800 artists to just 9 is no easy task, and MacKinnon and her panel have chosen the cream of the contemporary crop for this year. Where Artes Mundi has filled it’s various walls with the largest, almost brashest pieces of installation artwork, (as applies to most large, seemingly gaudy artworks) it’s the most subtle, nuanced intricacies and concepts within the work of the nominees that make Artes Mundi the driving powerhouse in British contemporary that it is today. — Veryan Leaper


CULTURE

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water This sounds obvious because it is! Hardly anyone drinks enough water; it is recommended that you consume two litres per day, and that is two litres of pure water, so tea, coffee, squash or other drinks do not count. Water flushes all the toxins out of your body, keeps you hydrated and alert and generally makes sure

that you are on top form. If you are dehydrated, your skin will look dull and your complexion will be prone to blemishes which will leave you feeling less than your best. So, before you even think about investing in any of the following beautifying products, make sure you are drinking enough H20.

brazil nuts

A good immune system is the foundation to pretty much everything to do with your body. Brazil nuts contain particularly high levels of selenium which is a key immune booster.

In fact, three brazil nuts contain your entire recommended daily amount (RDA) of selenium. Chop over porridge or granola in the morning, add to biscuits or make into a spread on your toast.

quinoa Pronounced KEEN-wah, this is a great glutenfree alternative to rice or couscous. It is also a complete protein, which means that it contains all eight of the essential amino acids. These amino acids are important in keeping your hair and nails strong and healthy,

so eating it instead of rice, pasta or cous cous could improve the condition of your mane and claws. Boil it in a pan of water for about ten minutes and then drain well before serving with curries, grilled meat, vegetables, or as part of a salad.

eat yourself pretty It is a truth universally acknowledged that eating the right foods can improve the appearance of your skin, hair and nails. However, with the health and fitness industry booming, there seem to be more “superfoods” than ever. Lucky for you, Frances Stewart’s straightforward guide is here to direct you away from overpriced, over-marketed ingredients and towards genuinely beneficial foods that will make you look and feel good.

oranges Oranges are rich in collagen boosting vitamin C. Collagen keeps your skin looking plump and youthful, so eating vitamin C rich foods such as oranges is great for brightening up your complexion. Oranges strengthen your emotional state and

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encourage a general feeling of joy, well-being and cheerfulness. A little useful tip to make the most of oranges: after eating it, don’t throw the peels away, dry them in the sun instead then grind them. Store the mixture and use it as a body scrub.

coconut oil

Considering all of the fanatical media coverage around this lowly fat, you would be forgiven for thinking that it is actually magic. Although it may not exactly possess supernatural powers, it is a highly useful ingredient. Coconut oil is good for you on the

inside and out; if you use it as a cooking oil or as a dairy-free alternative to butter, it has been shown to improve heart health, increase metabolism and support your immune system. Externally, you can use it as an intensive moisturiser, hair serum, lip balm and hand cream.

RECIPE: Here is a quick and easy carrot and orange salad recipe. What you need: -Two large carrots (coarsely grated) -One large orange, peeled and chopped into 1cm chunks -Large handful of chopped mint leaves -Large handful of toasted mixed seeds -Olive oil -Salt and pepper Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl. If you are eating the salad immediately, dress with a little olive oil, add a tiny pinch of salt and black pepper. If you are making a big batch of this to pick at over a few days, just dress it one portion at a time as you eat it, because the dressing will reduce the shelf life of the salad and make it soggy.


DIY skincare recipes

FASHION & BE AUTY

With the autumnal nip in the air, it’s easy to forget about your tiresome skin. Add in a few rain showers, and blistering winds, your skin can soon become tight, flakey and dry. A new wave of beauty remedies have sparked our imagination and with the help of Anastasia Prutova, we are excited to share these skin-busting tips to help look your best during these cold winter months. Here are a few our favourite easy-to-make home recipes that will keep your skin healthy and radiant.

Face My Mask

Doctor Scrub

Ah, the trusted face-mask. What better way to give your skin the added nutrients it needs when thunderstorms strike. On the face, homemade masks are often better than salon masks, at least, because they don’t contain preservatives and harsh chemicals and are made from natural ingredients that you can choose yourself.

THE “CLEOPATRA” MASK

THE “BANANA MILKSHAKE” MASK

This mask is marvellous, and not just because it’s believed that Cleopatra, a woman of extreme beauty, used exactly the same ingredients, but also because of its truly divine qualities. It freshens your face, improves uneven skin tone, deeply cleanses and increases blood circulation which gives you those beautiful flushed cheeks and a faster renewal of skin cells.

One of the most obvious advantages of making a face mask out of kitchen ingredients is that the mask itself will be edible. Next time you’re making a morning milkshake, why not make an extra portion and try it as a beauty mask. According to make-up artists, you cannot create a high-quality make-up look unless you’ve used a moisturising mask prior to your make-up application. For a deeply moisturised and silky smooth skin, this mask is a must try.

You’ll need:

You’ll need:

1tbsp of honey 1tbsp of flour (wheat or semolina) 1tbsp of sour cream (if you have dry/normal skin) OR a few drops of lemon juice (if you have oily/combination skin).

How to:

Mix all the ingredients and apply to your face and neck for 20-25mins. Rinse with warm water. Remember: either sour cream OR lemon juice.

1 small ripe banana (don’t forget to peel) A dash of milk A few drops of lemon (if you have oily skin).

How to:

Mash the banana, add the milk (and lemon if necessary) and apply carefully to your face. Then, leave for about 15-20mins and wash off with lukewarm water and apply your moisturising cream.

You don’t have to be a professional beautician to make a high quality body scrub. Homemade scrubs can be quick and easy to make, and cost you a fraction of the price of store bought brands. Not only will you find the majority of your ingredients lying around in your cupboards, making a scrub is a joyful experience!

LEMON FACE SCRUB HONEY LIP SCRUB During cold winter months, you should never leave your house without a lip balm or moisturiser. Your lips can become very dry and flaky during this time of year, so have a go at using our honey lip scrub over a couple of weeks. Apply the scrub in a circular motion, massaging and scrubbing away all the dead skin. Then, wash it off! Simple.

You’ll need: (3 portions) 1tsp of brown sugar 1tsp of honey A sprinkle of cinnamon. How to:

Add a teaspoon of fine brown sugar to a large mixing bowl and add the cinnamon. Then, whilst mixing the sugar and the cinnamon, add a teaspoon of honey. Finally, mix all the ingredients together to form an exfoliating consistency, then apply!

It can be easy to forget to cleanse and tone your face each night, but both beauticians and dermatologists emphasise the importance of regular skin exfoliation. With this mask, not only does the lemon combat uneven skin tone and blackheads, it also helps to brighten up skin complexion. Semolina removes dead skin cells, while the oil softens and moisturises your skin.

You’ll need: (2 portions) 1 lemon 2 tsp of semolina (sugar/salt will do, too) 2tsps of grape seed oil 2-3tsps of milk. How to:

Take the lemon and grate it to get the zest. Then, mix the lemon zest and add two teaspoons of sugar or salt. Add two teaspoons of grape seed oil and milk, then mix thoroughly.

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winter cosy

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Sophie Blackwell convinces us that dressing for winter can be just as fun and fashionable as dressing for summer. Whether winter is your less preffered fashion season and you are in need of dress guidance or you love winter and just enjoy seasonal updates and inspiration, this article is all about turning cold into cosy!


FASHION & BE AUTY

“Venturing out during winter can often be a mission - cold hands and cold toes are not the best accessory” With Summer 2014 now being merely an abundance of no-longer-worn signature summer pieces, multiple Facebook albums and endless festival-fashion Instagram posts, it’s time to take on, embrace and master the opposite season - winter! Now when you think of winter fashion in comparison to summer...yes, it does seem to be all about endless layers of clothes in an attempt to keep warm and a big coat to cover up and hide anything fashionable that you may have to show for your outfit in the winter seasons. It’s easy to feel slightly lost in what to wear to look nice. Especially with minimal excitement and not an awful lot to look forward to due to our fast-approaching coursework deadlines and dissertation meetings (for those of you unfortunate enough to have that beauty as part of your course!) Yes, summer is a thing of the past and we are now in the winter season; amidst the dark and rainy afternoons. On the bright side of things, there are many exciting winter occurences, Christmas being the most obvious yet not the only one. There’s Bonfire Night, Reading Week, for those lucky enough to still have what you might like to call “half term”, Christmas markets, pop up ice skate rinks and New Years fireworks. These are just many of the few exciting winter events and great excuses for us to put our uni work aside, and start to work on the perfect winter ensemble in an attempt to transform these cold and busy winter months into cosy and fashionable ones.

Venturing out during winter can often be a mission - cold hands and cold toes are not the best accessory! I’m sure all girls will agree with me here, our Topshop shorts are a thing of the past, and have been quickly replaced by some more comfy and weather-friendly Joni, or MOM jeans! Here’s a quick low down on how to make the most of your winter season, dressing for the occasion yet keeping warm and toasty - keeping the whining at bay. Of course, noone appreciates complaints when trying to enjoy toasting marshmallows whilst being avid spectators at the local firework display. This may be an unusual approach but I shall begin with the very bottom of the outfit, which some may say the most important – the shoes! Every girl needs to invest in an iconic, trusty pair of boots at the beginning of the Autumn/Winter season every year. These cut-out, tasselled beauties I do in fact own myself, so I can honestly say, they are extremely comfy; especially when venturing out for a full day of lectures at 8.30 on a Monday morning (Yes, really! It’s a very long and painful day as you can imagine.) With the cut-out design, it means we can now justify buying a tonne of cute, frilly socks in Topshop! To accompany these, you need search no further - a gorgeous, signature winter coat; injecting a sense of brightness to the outfit (as you will come to see.) The Lena Cocoon Coat is a steal at £39.99 – with student discount at Missguided, you’d be silly to say no really! Especially when you discover it comes in many other colours... Perfect for a chill on late winter nights with it’s warm, fuzzy exterior and lined interior. To finish off your Winter-weather-proof outfit, you may want to opt for a Black Fluffy Jumper like this one from River Island (important – black goes with EVERYTHING.) Not only versatile, but also the cosiest, fluffiest ensemble – the closest you’re gonna get to the comfort of your beloved onesie when heading out into the frosty weather! Not forgetting New Look’s Red Tartan Reversible Oversized Scarf – which can double up as a Blanket Wrap. Perfecto!

Key items

“Transform these cold and busy winter months into cosy and fashionable ones” 23


DRESSING FOR THE OCC A SION FIRST DATE

First dates can be stressful, especially when it comes to choosing an outfit. There’s usually a lot of overthinking and outfit changing. Whether it’s a trip to the cinema or a few drinks on Mill Lane, the key to dressing for a date is to feel comfortable and confident. With this in mind we’ve selected two very different outfits that will have you turning heads wherever you go. Our first outfit is perfect for a casual yet sophisticated look. The black draped skirt from H&M is simple, yet fun. The added ruched detail gives the outfit a touch of glamour, and at £7.99 it’s the ultimate style steal. Perfectly complimenting this skirt is the Miss Selfridge pink lace insert camisole currently on sale at £10.

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This top is beautifully elegant. The soft flowing material is complemented by the more daring lace detail to keep the outfit looking mature. The colour will brighten up your outfit and give a softer look to this otherwise edgy all black combination. Team the outfit with an edgy biker jacket to complete this dressed down look. There is a stream of biker jackets to choose from the High Street at the moment. We have chosen a classic black faux leather number from H&M, for only £34.99. The peplum style and side studded tabs exaggerate the waist and will match perfectly with the fitted design of the draped skirt. Whether you choose to add tights or dare to go bare these classically chic

buckle boots from Deichmann are the perfect choice to complete your date night ensemble. With the added chunky heel, these boots are perfect should your date lead to a late night cocktail bar. At only £19.99, they certainly give leading retailers a run for their money. For a more glamorous date we have selected this bold long sleeved playsuit in a vibrant cobalt blue. The draped cross over front hides any problem areas, giving you the perfect silhouette. Try teaming the outfit with silver to add a bit of sparkle to your overall look. To match, and yet another bargain from Deichmann, are these grey and silver embellished court heels. A little under 4 inches these courts ooze sex

appeal but are cushioned. Deichmann have a massive variety of stylish shoes and these killer heels are on sale at a mere £14.99. To complete this understated classic look, a clutch bag is a must. At only £14 this ivory bar clutch with chain is a wardrobe must-have. The bag has a beautiful added sheen effect, which can be worn with almost any outfit. It complements the embellishment of the heels perfectly and is available in a variety of colours. As a final touch to this look, why not add some earrings. These crystal dome studs from new look will bring together the sparkle and glamour of this outfit. — Natasha Taylor


FASHION & BE AUTY

Picking just the right outfit for an important event can be quite daunting, so let Quench Fashion and Beauty take the stress out of the equation and walk you through

JOB INTERVIEW

Formal doesn’t have to mean boring and dreary. Whether you are heading to work early in the morning or are simply looking to impress at that all-important job interview, it doesn’t hurt to put some effort into your look. Hygiene and hard work aside, presentation is key; first impressions are vital, and it doesn’t have to cost a fortune either. Less is more; or rather it is for this outfit. A simple shell pink dress is the staple piece for this look. It’s not quite white, but not outright pink either. The v-neck style emphasises its simplicity while showing off just enough skin to be professional. The added buckles give the dress an edgier tone, which hugs the figure in all the right places, whilst sitting at just the right length above the knee. Meanwhile, the slit at the back

adds to the traditional office look. And at £27.99 from New Look, it won’t leave you bankrupt. No outfit is complete without finding the perfect pair of shoes, and these faux suede, black and pink colour block heels from Forever 21 certainly hit the mark. At just under five inches, these heels give just the right boost in height, so you won’t be towering over everyone and tripping over flat surfaces. The colour block effect makes the heels stand out immensely, giving you a trendy flair, while the colour combination keeps it demure enough for work. At £21, these shoes are a promising investment. Bring in this oversized neon yellow shoulder bag from H&M for an added pop of colour. At £12.99, it’s a bargain that stands out with its youthful flair. Don’t be fooled though.

This bag means business with all the space you could ever ask for. The long strap also fits comfortably over your shoulder. Yep, this baby is practical and fun, adding a dash of colour to our very formal and stylish outfit. For outfit number two, we’re turning it up a notch, beginning with a paisley patterned blue and green chiffon top. With a feeling of Bohemian-esque, its tied waist complements your shape. The delicate and dreamy pattern works beautifully with the green and blue tones. A v-neck cut, not too low and not too high, commands some formality to this otherwise casual look. It’s a great addition to your wardrobe at a mere £13 from Forever 21. Why not team the outfit with a trendy blazer to cement its formality. New Look has

the perfect one for just £19.99! The textured dark blue blazer, with its curved edges sleekly outlines lighter blue hues of the top. Team with a pair of black harem trousers to elongate your legs, courtesy of Quiz. With a 15% student discount, these trousers top our youthful office look at £16.99. These fairly flat, white lace-up brogues from Topshop mean you can be kind to your feet and own the fashionable formal look simultaneously. The black heels and soles make the otherwise plain white brogues stand out. They’re a good little bargain too at only £15. To top off our outfit, why not re-use the vibrant neon bag in the first outfit to add a dash of colour to the look. — Ashai Golshaie

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Emily Turner talks about the recent phenomenon that is street fashion. She uncovers what it is, how exactly to wear it and whether it is influencing today’s fashion trends and the changing styles of our generation.

STREETSTYLE obsession

As a student, money is always going to be tight and sometimes fashion is out of your price range. You feel like you can’t afford to buy the latest trend when you’ve still got rent to pay and food to buy, but why do we feel it’s necessary to buy the latest clothes with their marked up prices just because everyone else is? Enter street fashion. The emerging trend that is the answer to every stylish student’s prayers. Street style, as popular and talked about as it has become, is still often seen as difficult to pull off. Many don’t even try as they see it as something reserved for the minority, but what you may not know is that street fashion is in fact something we all wear on a daily basis.

You’ve been doing it since you started secondary school, when you rolled the sleeves of your blazer up, and shortened your tie. It’s that quirky feather you put in your hair just because you want to, your mum’s old jeans that you re-work and make into an amazing outfit, those badges that you pin onto your blazer. It’s what makes your outfit unique to you, and that’s why it’s so great. Not only does that feather look super cute in your hair, but it also reminds you of that day in the park with your family when you picked it up, and

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not only do those badges make that blazer more casual and fun, but each time you look at them you remember each gig that you got them from. Street fashion is that grey area in the fashion industry, where if you want to try it then it’s almost guaranteed that for a while you be the only one wearing it (it being whatever you want to wear to represent yourself), but if it works and if you wear it with confidence, then the trend will catch on,

“Street fashion is in fact something we all wear on a daily basis.” and soon the industries will jump on the bandwagon too. It gives you the means to express yourself freely, without the constraints that designers lay down for us. You should wear something different because it makes you happy, because it feels right, and street fashion is exactly that- wearing what you want, not what you’re told to. Street fashion has become so prominent in recent years that even Vogue now has a “Street style” section on its website, along with Elle and Company magazine too. We’re beginning to look to everyday people, members of the public who may have no “fashion experience”, to tell us what to wear. But that’s not the point, we shouldn’t be looking at them to see what we should wear, we should be looking at how they present themselves through their clothes, and how we could present ourselves in our own personal way. We should be inspired by people’s clothing choices, not copy them. One of the biggest trends that came out of street fashion was creepers, that big trend from A/W 2012 that you either loved or hated. They originated from the “Teddy

Boy” era in London in the 1950’s, and made a comeback after popping up in the London underground scene in 2010. This different process of fashion trends becoming mainstream is all that street fashion is; trends that institutions notice on the streets and take hold of to bring it to the masses. But it’s not the masses that are important when it comes to street fashion, that’s when it loses its meaning. The key part of street fashion is that we see it on normal people, in their everyday lives. They aren’t dressed for the catwalk, or photo shopped for an advertisement, they’re just wearing clothes to go out in. All of a sudden fashion seems more achievable, more free and creative. If you want to wear something because it makes you feel good, then you should be able to, and street fashion is what allows you to do that; it allows you to create something new and meaningful to you. So next time you want to wear something a bit different to your lecture, but think twice in case your course mates judge you, wear it anyway. Swap your Topshop jeans for that cute pair of cigarette trousers with the abstract print that you found in that vintage store months ago but thought they were too bold to wear, and switch your plain top for your mum’s 90s blouse, with the bow tie collar that you’ve always loved but haven’t known when or where to wear it. Wear it today, wear it with confidence and call it street fashion, because that’s exactly what it is.


B L O G G E R S

FASHION & BE AUTY

The Pixie Cut

With winter just around the corner (arguably in Wales, it’s already firmly here for the season) The Pixie Cut is a great blog to follow if you need inspiration on how to best outfit build for formal or informal occasions. In details she gives you style ideas of how to add or remove items of clothing for different effects, perfect if you want one outfit that can suit multiple occasions! If you like lots of blogger photos, visuals and detailed text behind each outfit, The Pixie Cut is great as she photographs every angle of her look. Her fashion sense is typically feminine yet still has a masculine edge and she’s great at picking out oversized items of clothing to help you layer up, without making you look bulky. The Pixie Cut is also great inspiration for high-street street style as she is meticulous with her outfit choices, right down to the very last ring or sock choice. If you struggle with accessorizing, her blog is a good place to start with going back to basics, and seeing how she builds her own street style looks from what necklace goes with what neckline and so on.

Two Shoes One Pair

London-based Topshop styling duo Amy-Rose & Naomi are owners of the blog Two Shoes, One Pair, a fantastic street style diary, which doesn’t come across as being your average fashionista page. Both bloggers have self-confessed experimental styles and aren’t afraid to step out and try something out of their comfort zone - exactly what street fashion appears to be all about. With London as their backdrop, this is a style-guide Bible for the eccentric type. These girls are influential street style gurus as they don’t have an exact ‘look’ about them. They can team up a pretty dress with a denim jacket just as easily as they can team up flared 60’s esque trousers with a metallic jacket and matching clutch, looking like something straight out of a UFO; a look only a brave soul would take on and achieve and still look fabulous. Expect nothing short of bold, well thought-out outfits, which range from low to highend shops. Two Shoes, One Pair blog makes the statement that fashion isn’t always about following the current trend. Like the true purpose of street style itself, one should never be afraid to step out in whatever they feel good in!

One of the best places considered going for streetstyle fashion inspiration is undoubtedly from bloggers on the web. Lucy Woodham has sourced four of the most inspiring UK bloggers highlighting why each of them are great street fashion inspirations

She Wears Fashion

She Wears Fashion is a street style fashion blog written by Kavita Donkersly. Taking inspiration from high street, designer and thrifted vintage items, She Wears Fashion shows that whether a piece of clothing is from Celine, Missguided or eBay, you really can find some stylish steals which you can build your outfit. Affordable outfits from high street stores, as well as previously mentioned sneaky steals from anywhere she can lay her hands on, She Wears Fashion combines A* styling with a sports luxe edge. Kavita’s style is inspired from many different trends, with sports luxe being the most prominent. However, at the heart of it all it’s always statement, statement, statement, whether it comes in a form of a hat, jacket or pattern. She’s a big lover of leather and monochrome, but isn’t scared to branch out into bold vibrant patterns and colours. Her feature ‘Thrifty Thursday’ is excellent if you want to see how thrift shop fashion is really done! This blog is not only fashion centered, but heavily relies on Kavita’s travelling experiences. If you like exciting and vibrant backdrops, such as Asia and the USA, this street style diary is the one for you.

What Olivia Did

What Olivia Did, written by Olivia Purvis, is the quintessentially English Rose blog. Just as you’d think an ‘English Rose’ can’t do street fashion, her blog in fact demonstrates the changing faces of street style. What’s more is that What Olivia Did provides a lifestyle diary along with her fashion posts, covering everything from reviews of beauty products to places to go and new music she’s listening to. If you’re ever bored in a lecture, it’s definitely a good read! If you want the best of British, this is the street style blog to follow. Her street style ticks all the boxes when it comes to basics: Breton tops, a good pair of loafers, sweet tea dresses and a sturdy pair of jeans and her signature fedora hat to finish off any outfit. Her style is simple, but always pristinely put together. She also takes inspiration from 60’s fashion, often styling her hair in the iconic beehive shape. What Olivia Did is inspirational for all classic styles and for that feminine, girl next-door touch. Her street style consists of block colours built up, usually, around a signature item, which could be patterned or of an alternative material such as lace. She’s great for simple styling, which is easy to replicate and not too tight on your spending.

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LIVING IN MEXICO Undoubtedly one of the best experiences that many university courses have to offer is a year (or semester) abroad. Be it studying or working at a placement, the opportunity to experience life in another culture is not one to pass up - which is why I’m in Mexico, studying at the University of Guadalajara. For language students like me, the ‘third year abroad’ is a compulsory part of the degree. For language learning, practicing in a native-speaking country is essential to properly understand both the language itself and the people who speak it. Not only that, many students consider the year abroad as one of the best of their lives. I’ve been here for just over a month and I can see why. I’m a long way from home, way out of my comfort zone and grappling with a foreign language, but loving every minute and learning new things every day. That is why I chose to go to Mexico rather than the closer to home option of Spain. When offered the chance to travel somewhere off the beaten track, the thought process should be ‘why not?’ rather than ‘why?’ Why not spend a year on a different continent, walking in the shoes of someone completely different to yourself, seeing things and places you never could have imagined and opening your mind to ideas you’d otherwise never get to know about? The third year abroad, all organised by your university, made such an incredible opportunity so easy to take advantage of. All I had to do was go. I knew I’d gain so much more from going to Mexico than anywhere else. I wanted to learn how to be truly independent, without the option of going home for a weekend if the going got tough, and I wanted to be immersed in a culture with different values and expectations to those I’m used to so I could learn what’s really important to me. As a Spanish student, the other choices were Spain and Peru (which would also have been amazing), and whilst I can see why there was little interest in the South American options, I simply didn’t believe what everyone told me: “It’s not safe,” “You’re going to get kidnapped”, “What about the cartels?” etc. I had to see for myself what Mexico was really like, certain it wouldn’t reflect the stigma we get from the news, and I haven’t been disappointed. Firstly, the point that everyone was so worried about: drugs, cartels, and gang violence. I’m not going to deny that these exist or that they’re a problem, but having never been involved in any way,

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Would a reputation for danger put you off visiting a country? These students snubbed the conventional choice of Europe to teach and study abroad and explain why horror stories shouldn’t stop you from isiting somewhere

shape or form with anything like that, why would I worry? That said, there are areas that I wouldn’t visit because of incidents between rival gangs occurring in public places, but there are safer and more dangerous areas in any country. I’m no more concerned for my safety here than I am at home. Mexican people, in general, do not deserve to be feared the way they seem to be in the UK. Their country does not need to be feared. Every person I have met has been nothing but kind, friendly and helpful, not to mention seriously interesting, especially when it comes to their indigenous cultures - Mayans and Aztecs, amongst others. I also won’t pretend that it’s easy adapting to living here, but I’m enjoying getting used to the way of life. For a start, university itself is much more difficult, and is taken much more seriously than what I’m used to. Lectures start at 7:00am and go on until 9:00pm or 10:00pm. To pass a module, each student has to attend 80 to 90 per cent of lectures and regularly give presentations and contribute to discussions. Resources are not put online, so missed lectures really are missed. When I get back to Cardiff, a full day of lectures with a 9 o’clock start will be a breeze! There were also hundreds of modules for me to choose from when I arrived here, so many interesting things that I wouldn’t otherwise get to study. But what I’m most excited about at the moment is the huge number of beautiful places to see here. I’ve been lucky enough to visit Guanajuato and Queretaro, which have been called some of the most beautiful cities in Mexico (and in the world). Experiencing the Independence Day celebrations in the state where the War of Independence began is something I can’t begin to describe but that I will never forget. I am looking forward to celebrating more of Mexico’s famous holidays, including the well known Day of the Dead in November and Cinco de Mayo in (obviously) May, and planning trips all over the country: to the capital, the Caribbean coast and lesser known spots such as Tepoztlan and Xalapa. Coming to Mexico was a leap of faith, but a chance I’m so glad I took. If you ever get the chance to travel here, or to anywhere else that might challenge you, do it! I promise you won’t regret it. — Mary Gartside


TRAVEL I was being questioned by the flight steward on my third and final flight to Colombia, “Why are you going to Cucuta?” he also gave me that look which said ‘of all places to go in Colombia (or perhaps the World), why Cucuta?’ I knew Colombia had a reputation for being very dangerous (drug cartels, rebel groups, gangs etc) and I probably chose one of the most ‘dangerous’ places to go. Cucuta is on the border of Colombia, where in areas on the outskirts, I heard there were farms growing cocaine to export and that rebel groups reside in these areas. However, none of this put me off, it actually spurred me on. I wanted to go somewhere that would take me extremely out of my comfort zone in order to challenge the stereotype of Colombia and myself. Last summer I found my internship through AIESEC, who are the World’s largest student run organization and whose aim is to develop students through global exchange. AIESEC internships are six weeks long; this is so that the interns get to learn not only the way of life in a new environment, but to also find themselves. As they say, you need to first get lost to find yourself and what you want to do. And so I found myself a hands-on teaching experience. I planned and taught English lessons to around 150 students at various ages and English levels in an environment that would really test me. As a result, I didn’t choose the big touristy destinations like Cartagena or Bogota, but I chose to visit a place where I could find ‘the real Colombia’. The reputation of Colombia as ‘dangerous’ withered away after a few days there. This is because the people there were unbelievably kind. People greeted each other with hugs and vigorous handshakes; I hugged my host family and my co-teachers every day! I began to question the danger I had heard so much about. Every place has their dodgy areas and that’s normal, you would probably not go out at night in some areas in Cardiff for example. When I arrived at my host family’s home for the six weeks I would be spending in Colombia, I picked up a banana from the fruit basket and a swarm of flies came with it as well. In this tropical climate, I found insects are your constant companions. I was greeted every morning with a new set of mosquito bites (no matter how much insect repellent I put on, they always won). I had to wash my clothes by hand. The toilet and showers were outdoors with no hot water or lights. School also began at 6am (I was up at 5am most days). Did this put me off and want to go home? No, I loved it and it made me want to stay even more.

I taught students six days a week ranging from 10 year olds (some of whom had never met a foreigner before) to 14-16 year olds, adults, and university students. I was never in just one school for the day, I would teach in two or three different places a day as English teachers are in huge demand and everyone wants to learn English. Not all the schools were the same and the situation in some schools was dreadful. I asked one teacher whether they have I.T. facilities who replied, “most schools do not have enough computers for everyone – some schools have no computers at all” the teacher added: “most of the kids do not even have computers at home”. I saw kids who were being failed not just due to poor facilities and equipment, but more importantly, by being given no aspirations. There were little to no opportunities to keep kids off the street. The relationship of power was reversed in Colombia. For example, classes (not teachers) would have their own classrooms, which meant teachers would have to move inbetween lessons; it was the student’s class, not the teacher’s. I have to admit that teaching is hard work, especially with limited Spanish and classes of 40 students. When I arrived my Spanish was pretty much non-existent, however I was forced to learn as my host family’s English was not the best. As a result whilst I was learning a new language, I was also in my student’s shoes. I started structuring my lessons to how I would like to learn and learnt not to constantly repeat a phrase and expect them to return it with perfect pronunciation but engage with them and find out more about them. Teaching is a two-way process, a type of communication that needs both parties to interact with each other. The Colombia I found was a second home to me, welcoming me and offering me kindness. I was in a loving home, having a roof over my head and being fed home-cooked food. I got the full flavour of the cultural experience I was searching for. It reminds of this quote: “the greatest reward and luxury of travel is to be able to experience everyday things as if for the first time, to be in a position in which almost nothing is so familiar it is taken for granted”. I lost myself in Colombia and it was one of the best things I have ever done. You can find my blog about my internship in Columbia here: http://tommyyeung.wordpress.com

LIVING IN COLOMBIA — Tommy Yeung

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THE NEW WONDERS OF THE WORLD The idea of the Wonders of the World was a product of the Ancient Greeks’ love of compiling lists. It featured pieces of architecture that could only aptly be described as wondrous. Now only one remains: the Great Pyramids of Giza. At the turn of the millennium, New7Wonders Foundation began a project to compile a new list resulting in criticism from those who believed it was nothing more than a popularity contest. Being crowned a ‘Wonder of the World’ can accompany all sorts of benefits but also builds up significant expectation to which these places do not always live up to.

The Colosseum

One of Ancient Rome’s finest examples of archaeology and the largest amphitheatre in the world. Built between 70AD and 80AD, the Colosseum lies in the centre of the city just east of the Forum and has established itself as the back-drop to Rome. It is no doubt one of the World’s most famous landmarks and is frequently seen in travel brochures as being a signifier of Rome’s almighty history. It’s a feature that has drawn in endless back-packers, families, couples and retiree’s over the years. Used for gladiatorial contest and a myriad of public spectacles, upon visiting the Colosseum for the first time it’s possible to look beyond the ruins and imagine what a remarkable sight this would have been if you were lucky enough to have laid eyes upon it during its prime. However, the sense of magnificence that one should still get from visiting a new Wonder of the World is unfortunately shrouded by the neglect that it

has faced over the last couple of decades, particularly as public attraction continues to increase and upkeep simultaneously decreases. It just isn’t looked after as one of Italy’s most important heritage sites should be. Only a few years ago was a plan put forward for a €25 million renovation, yet due to the controversial nature of using a public-private partnership to fund the restoration, work was delayed once again. If you ever decided to visit the Colosseum, you’d see that what amounts to protection from the city elements is actually very little. So what if there was an even better and more enriching experience available outside of the tourist circle, absent of guides with audio tours and umbrellas stuck high in the air? Perhaps a visit to the lesser known Baths of Caracalla would suffice. Being away from the crowds allows you to feel the authenticity and comprehend the sheer size of these grand ruins; a far cry from the hustle and bustle of the Colosseum.

Chichen Itza

Another recently classified Wonder of the World is Chichen Itza in Mexico. A pre-Columbian Mayan city famously dominated by its temple El Castillo, Chichen Itza became one of the New7Wonders of the World largely because of its extraordinary commitment to architectural space and composition. The pyramid itself was the last, and arguably the greatest, of all Mayan temples and is one of the most visited archaeological sites in Mexico. Perhaps the main reason behind this is that travellers in and around Cancun are immediately told that they have to go and see Chichen Itza or else they’ll be ‘missing out’. However, the sad reality of this historical site is that it’s now essentially a tourist trap. The sacred nature of these Aztec ruins have been spoiled by lines and lines of street vendors selling cheap and tacky souvenirs, reminding you that you aren’t an adventurer but simply a tourist. It is an ever present industry willing to cater to the typical rich westerner’s

The Great Pyramids of Giza

The Great Pyramids of Giza are the largest and by far some of the oldest man-made structures in the World. They have sustained a lengthy history of extreme weathering and endless raging conflicts that has only solidified their worthiness of being a must-see on almost everyone’s list. However today, this famous site and the only remaining original ancient Wonder is being threatened by something all too different; fast food restaurants and camel droppings. With development in Cairo expanding in all directions, the pyramids are slowly becoming engulfed by the city. So much so that now you can marvel at them from the comfort of Pizza Hut. You begin to question how one can appreciate the historical significance of the pyramids when everything around them is so very modern and consumerist. Another problem stems from the fault of the locals themselves. With tourism in Cairo ever increasing, opportunists have become

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a regular fixture here. They hover round the base of the pyramids waiting for eager tourists to pay good money for a camel ride through the desert. And whilst they do this, leave behind a mess reminiscent of a zoo. The bottom line is that it smells bad and it’s disrespectful. While it would be pointless to go to Egypt and completely bypass the pyramids, there are so many other exciting things to see and do in and around Cairo. Such as having a taste of Cairo’s famous ‘street eats’ for example, whereby professionally trained chefs are taking gourmet dining out of the fancy restaurants giving passing travellers and locals alike the chance to experience authentic Egyptian food. For those who enjoy camping and sailing, a Felucca cruise couldn’t be a better option. Enjoy the primitive and genuine nature of exploring Egypt through the River Nile. — Alannah Williams

every need. It seems that is the problem, not necessarily the traveller’s themselves. With all the Wonders of the World, past and present, it’s hard to deny the fact that they have a great deal of value but most of these once mysterious and faraway places have now been visited so much that you begin to reconsider how worthwhile they actually are. If you ever find yourself in Mexico, why not visit the Temple of Uxmal instead? For many who have ventured there, including myself, Uxmal has a magical feel and profound spirit not immediately sensed at Chichen Itza. Whilst it does require a slightly longer drive and an overnight stay, the benefit of this is being able to procure a fuller experience that isn’t rushed nor spoiled by crowds and impatient guides. A trip to Uxmal can give you everything Chichen Itza can and much more. Though I fear that Uxmal is running out of time as more and more people begin to cotton on to this divine place and the crowds start emerging and the street merchants slowly begin setting up their stalls.


TRAVEL

Taj Mahal

Shiny white marble, serene beauty, ancient myths: The Taj Mahal is one of the images most commonly associated with India. Located in the city of Agra, it was built between 1632 and 1653 by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan as a symbol of love for his third wife, Mumtaz Mahal. Today, with more than three million visitors a year, the Taj Mahal is incontestably the most visited tourist site in India and is commonly cited as one of the most fascinating architectural Wonders of the World. Glossy photos in travel brochures promote a highly positive image, but this fame comes at a high cost. On visiting the mausoleum, many tourists find an entirely different version of what they had imagined: thick clouds of smog make it hard to breath and the smell of masses of sweaty tourists is everything but pleasant. The detrimental effect that carbon dioxide, emitted by the

large number of vehicles transporting visitors to the site, has on the white marble structure is only one of the downsides to this form of mass tourism. Following the classification of the Taj’s geographic location as a pollution intensive zone by the World Health Organisation, Indian environmental activists started campaigning for the development of protection measures to stop the site’s progressive destruction. In recent years, initial action has been taken to minimise the negative environmental impact of tourist activities on the mausoleum. For instance, tourists now need to take an electric bus to get from the car park to the entrance, as polluting vehicles are not allowed close to the building anymore. So although being classed as a Wonder of the World is ultimately responsible for the Taj Mahal’s appearance on lists such as ‘10 Places To See Before They Are Gone’, efforts are now being made to conserve the monument’s architectural beauty which remains, after all, unique.

Great Wall of China

Like a majestic dragon, the Great Wall of China winds its way up and down high mountains, through green forests, wide grasslands and lonely deserts. With a length of more than 8800 kilometres (5500 miles) and a construction time of more than 2000 years (476 BC – 1644), this Wonder of the World was originally created as a defensive structure aimed at helping the Chinese in repelling the Tartars and thus securing the Chinese territory. Today, the Great Wall welcomes over ten million visitors per year and these do not go unnoticed. Only 550 km remain in very good condition, which is a small fraction compared to the overall length of the structure. This number shows the detrimental effect tourism can have. The most popular section of the Great Wall is located in Badaling, around 55 km from Beijing. When visiting this part of the wall,

Machu Picchu

In the morning, when the dust clouding the peaks of the Peruvian Andes starts to disappear, the majestic city of Machu Picchu is revealed to the eye of the avid traveller. Machu Picchu, meaning “old peak” in Quechua, was built by the Incas during the 15th century at an altitude of 2,430 metres (7,970 feet) and remains one of the few cultural sites in South America dating from this period which has not been destroyed by the Spanish conquerors. The ‘Lost City’, as it is often referred to, was discovered in 1911 by the American archaeologist Hiram Bingham. Today, Machu Picchu is Peru’s most visited tourist attraction. Apart from natural threats such as earthquakes and erosion that Machu Picchu is exposed to, tourism is another dangerous influence. Ever since it has made its first appearance on Wonders of the World lists, the number of visitors has steadily augmented. A current trend

is nude tourism: travellers from different countries have taken to stripping off their clothes while having their photo taken in front of the ancient ruins. Archaeologists and Peruvian officials, however, are keen on banning this form of tourism as they see the preservation of the site’s cultural and archaeological heritage in danger. The gravity of the pressure tourism in general exerts on the site is also particularly underlined by the fact that the UNESCO is considering to put Machu Picchu on the List of World Heritage In Danger. However, travellers have plenty of choice in Peru. A less visited but no less fascinating alternative to Machu Picchu is Caral. As the most ancient city in the Americas, Caral was inhabited from around 2600 to 2000 BC by the Norte Chico civilisation. Today, visitors can enjoy the over 20 pyramids which feels like being taken on a journey back in time.

it is necessary to walk several miles to find a single brick that has not been carved into. Apart from the carvings, graffiti and waste are other prominent problems. Empty bottles or plastic packaging left by day trip tourists or campers are a common sight. One of the central problems standing in the way of successful conservation of the Great Wall is its sheer length. Although running through eleven different provinces, there is not a single department concerned with the protection of the structure in any of the provinces. Still, certain measures aimed at limiting the damage have been taken. Tourist amenities such as car parks have been dismantled and new constructions within 500 metres of the Great Wall are forbidden. However, it is commonly argued that this is not enough as it will not effectively keep this Wonder of the World from deteriorating further in the future.

— Louisa Idel

— Louisa Idel

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LONELY PLANET:

HOW ONE GUIDEBOOK SERIES IS KILLING THE IDEA OF INDEPENDENT TRAVEL The location: Ipoh- a grimy, grubby town in central Malaysia. The Cast list: a fat whore, a dwarf and me. The reason I was here? Well stand up and take a bow Lonely Planet. You see I was on a quest for noodles and Lonely Planet had made big claims for the night market in Ipoh having “just about the most amazing noodles in all of Malaysia” and this was the clincher, in “this most fabulous, authentic setting”. Well authentic is one word for it, so grimy and sordid that it bruises the soul also spring to mind but I get ahead of myself. Back to the whore and those damned noodles. Now a noholds-barred search for tasty carbs will not set the pulse of many intrepid travellers racing, but I had been travelling alone by this point for a few months and quite honestly spending that much time with mostly your own thoughts and a certain guidebook for company tends to make you a little bit weird. You become almost entirely disconnected with your life at home and you tend to think that noodles are a perfectly legitimate reason to sit for hours on a bus idly watching a country creep by. Which is all well and good until you actually arrive at your destination and find it is an absolute shithole. Grey apartment blocks slant eyed and sullen peer at more grey apartment blocks across a street blue with diesel fumes and buzzing with a cacophony of car horns, sirens and shouts. A crazed cats-cradle of telephone lines and cables crosses and tangles itself between the buildings pumping fuzzy CNN, achingly slow internet and homoerotic 80’s action motives to the

“WELL YOU SEE,” I EXPLAINED, GIVING MY BEST IMPRESSION OF A TERRIFIED ENGLISHMAN ABROAD, “THIS HOTEL IS RECOMMENDED IN THE LONELY PLANET, AND I WAS…UMM… JUST LOOKING FOR SOMEWHERE TO SLEEP RATHER THAN HOLD AN ENDLESS CYCLE OF GAMBLING FUELLED ORGIES.”

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benighted saps who call Ipoh home. Now it’s true most cities in SouthEast Asia are similarly crowded, dirty and loud, but what made Ipoh so wonderfully unique was its extravagant supply of brothels and casinos. Malaysia is a strict Muslim country, alcohol is available but heavily taxed and possession of little bit of weed is going to get you beheaded, which is why I found Ipoh’s sheer ballsy openness rather refreshing. For about five minutes. And then I realised I was going to have to attempt to find somewhere to sleep which wasn’t a whorehouse, a casino or some entrepreneurial combination of the two. Which is how I came to find myself in a dimly lit reception room in the company of a whore, a dwarf and a baffled receptionist. “What do you mean you don’t want a big room,” he asked in heavily accented English, “if you rent room here girls very cheap.” Here he waved to the blubbery woman sat behind him, she leered encouragingly. “Well you see,” I explained, giving my best impression of a terrified Englishman abroad, “this hotel is recommended in the Lonely Planet and I was…umm…just looking for somewhere to sleep rather than hold an endless cycle of gambling fuelled orgies.” The clerk exchanged a baffled glance with the dwarf as though neither of them had ever heard of a room being put to such mundane use. “You know what perhaps I’ll just go elsewhere,” I said, and that was about as far as I dipped my toe into the dubious delights of Ipoh’s nightlife.


TRAVEL

“THE LONELY PLANET HAS NOW BECOME SO UBIQUITOUS, SUCH AN AGGRESSIVE, MONOPOLISING TITAN OF THE TRAVEL BOOK INDUSTRY THAT NOT ONLY IS IT ALMOST IMPOSSIBLE TO ESCAPE ITS INFLUENCE ON A PERSONAL LEVEL BUT IT IS ACTUALLY STARTING TO SHAPE, NEARLY ALWAYS IN A NEGATIVE MANNER, THE WHOLE IDEA AND EXPERIENCE OF TRAVELLING”

Now I am not here to discuss the sex industry of South-East Asia, that would take a longer and less facetious article to address. What I want to take issue with is the guidebook that sent me to Ipoh in the first place. I doubt whether Lonely Planet had sent a writer to Ipoh for some time, if ever. And when that writer did report back presumably stating that Ipoh was sordid, lacking in attraction and dodgy, their honest opinion was so neutered by their matey, always optimistic house style that Lonely Planet neglected their primary duty as a guidebook which is to inform the traveller of the facts and leave it up to them to make up their minds. And whilst I got an anecdote out of what was a fairly harmless experience, I have a hunch that were I a woman travelling alone the whole situation would have been a lot uglier. Some of you may be thinking I was foolish and naïve. Well you would be right, I was naïve, but I assure you there were travellers out there far more green than I was. For instance, on the bus coming into Ipoh I met a couple of girls who had planned their entire six month trip down to the very last attraction, bed for the night and bus journey, based solely upon recommendations from the Lonely Planet. The Lonely Planet has now become so ubiquitous, such an aggressive, monopolising titan of the travel book industry that not only is it almost impossible to escape its influence on a personal level but it is actually starting to shape, nearly always in a negative manner, the whole idea and experience of travelling. I started my trip clutching onto my copy of ‘South-East Asia on a shoestring’ as though it were a lifejacket, comfort blanket and surrogate mother rolled into one but gradually, as I went to

more and more ‘local’ restaurants only to find the other customers were travellers with their copies as companions; as I found that for most of the hostels a review in the Lonely Planet was an excuse to raise prices and lower service standards; as I realised I was hearing the same stories over and over from other travellers because we had all been directed by the same guidebook, my feelings towards it turned from occasional annoyance to lasting anger. For with the Lonely Planet by your side travel turns from an experience of observation, learning and challenge to an exercise in box ticking driven by acute FOMO. When every experience, however commonplace like eating a bowl of noodles, is elevated by their writing style into some ‘unmissable’ event without you cannot say you have ‘done’ a country it lessens and cheapens travelling. What’s to be done about it then? The important thing to remember is you have a choice. Authenticity is such misused and easily satirised word when it comes to travelling but I guarantee you, the next time you go off on an adventure, if you forget to pack your chirpy little companion you will feel a weight off your shoulders. And I’ll take a punt that you will have a richer and more rewarding experience because of it. So go, get wandering, get exploring, have fun, feel scared, feel lost, meet people and build relationships but whatever you do, please, please just leave your Lonely Planet at home. — Alex Diggins

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NEW / NEW Y DD

Whilst Taylor takes her music away from Spotify and Young Fathers grab the Mercury Prize, we pick out some of the most promising new artists to look out for this month

Dream Beach No label involvement, no blog premiers and no A&Rs; Ryan Hemsworth’s Secret Songs venture is every new musician’s dream. A chance to be heard by 20,000 followers with no compromises and no strings attached, Secret Songs brings the best and brightest in new electronic music to the forefront. Dream Beach, one of Hemsworth’s latest tips and the current project of Andy James Oliver, has everything you would expect from an artist recommended by the Pokemon loving Canadian producer - catchy tracks drowning in bubblegum synth and a hearty helping of euphoria. Bliss.

Weaves Weaves are a Toronto-bred four piece who come bearing that dose of teen angst you’ve been longing for ever since you donated your studded belt to St. Peter’s Hospice in 2009; with open arms, we welcome them. Led by the anguished vocals of Jasmyn Burke and priding themselves on taking inspiration from all the greats - Aaliyah included – their offering of gawky, slightly sulky pop provides the perfect balance between sentimentality and sting that 2014 has been so desperately holding out for.

For Fans Of: Cashmere Cat, Ryan Hemsworth Download: ‘Missing Peace’ soundcloud.com/dream-beach @AndyJamesOliver

Tunji Ige He’s 19 years old, a freshman at university and peddling hooks so contagious you would think he’d been in the game since birth; Tunji Ige is the Philadelphia based rapper and producer with knowledge far beyond his years. Currently working with some of the most sought after upcoming names in hiphop, Tunji is making waves that the Internet can only contain for so long. He’s a likely bid for the big time and with tunes like this, it’s doubtful he’ll be giving up soon. Do we mind? Nope, not one tiny bit. For Fans Of: Can we just say Drake again? Download: ‘The Ex Song’ soundcloud.com/tunji_ige @tunjiige

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For Fans Of: Weezer’s The Blue Album Download: ‘Shithole’ weaves.bandcamp.com @weeaves

Desert Stars Brooklyn three-piece, Desert Stars, have been knocking around since 2012 and let’s face it, they are by no means newcomers to the industry. But, having undergone a significant line up cull since formation, Desert Stars return full force with a new single and a hella good chorus this autumn. If you’re a fan of shoegazey ramblings that tip toe their way into the pools of dream pop, this is the band for you. If not, then close you’re eyes, take a deep breath and jump feet first into Desert Stars’ microcosm of delight: it’s a decision you certainly won’t regret. For Fans Of: Happyness Download: ‘Hamster Wheel’ soundcloud.com/desertstars @desertstarsband


MUSIC

We review Cardiff ’s premiere music festival as it returns for its eighth year

Dim Swn 2014 SEAZOO Clwb Ifor Bach

On entering the downstairs of Clwb Ifor Bach, you could be mistaken for thinking that you’d been transported into eighties era Top Of The Pops. It’s a fact that Seazoo point out as they finish up their sound check. Bathed in atmospheric blue and green lights that befit the band’s aquatic name, an eager audience await for what, for some, is probably their first band of the day. This introductory gig does not disappoint. With cutesy songs that discuss everything from digging up the ground to animal hotels, Seazoo have all bases covered. An amalgamation of sounds and lyrical ideas combine to create a singular vision that is like nothing else in our DimSŵn schedule and it’s all the better for it. —IT

Credit: Tomos Hooson

Credit: Joe Singh

“A BLURRY DAZE G L A S S G I A N T S The Moon Club REMINISCENT OF THE boys Glass Giants win over The Moon SUMMER EVENINGS Cardiff Club crowd in the first few bars of their set. PAST” Boasting an addictive pop-rock sound that’s

BEST FRIENDS Clwb Ifor Bach

TELEGRAM

Clwb Ifor Bach

The cavernous upper room of Clwb Ifor Bach is packed from wall to wall; we just manage to slide into the tiny slither of space left at the back of the room. Telegram are illuminated onstage, a beacon of musical hope in the distance. Their psych-rock tunes have earned them famous fans like Johnny Marr, so it is hardly surprising that they recieve one of the best turn-outs of the day. Their expansive shoe-gaze transports us away from cold, grey reality and for fervent indie fans, their flawless set is probably the highlight of the day. — IT

“TELEGRAM ARE ILLUMINATED ONSTAGE, A BEACON OF MUSICAL HOPE IN THE DISTANCE”

Sheffield quartet Best Friends bring summer vibes to Undertone with their carefree, garage surf-pop. The psychedelic guitar hooks dripping with distortion create fuzzy, easy listening tunes. The band speed through their set, thrashing out chords and singing choruses en mass, bringing a sense of adolescent energy to the day’s proceedings. Stand out tracks such as ‘Wasting Time’ from the Throwing Up EP epitomise their laidback, youthful sound. The hedonistic, pulsing riffs with an underlying, grungier edge put the crowd at ease, throwing everyone into blurry daze reminiscent of the lazy summer evenings past. —JR

seen them get airtime on Kerrang! radio, they are about to set out on a UK wide tour. Their DimSŵn date is the first time the band have played together in a while, but you wouldn’t know it; Glass Giants are on top live-form. After a successful set at the Chapter Arts Institute last year, the fun tracks from recent EP ‘Cocktails & Bikinis’ go down a storm. With Kids In Glass Houses calling it quits, we think that perhaps it is time for the Welshpop-rock kings of old to hand their title over. —IT

You guys played Swn Festival in 2013 at the Chapter Arts Institute. Is it good to be back? Yeah it’s great to be back. It was good last year. It was a place we hadn’t played before so it was something new to us. Your new EP came out recently. How has ‘Cocktails and Bikinis’ been received? We think it has been received really well. We’ve had some really nice reviews. We managed to play some really nice shows through it as well. You’re touring all over the UK. Where are you most excited to play? I don’t want to pick a certain place but Glasgow is probably the most exciting one. Surprisingly, it’s the place where we seem to know more people. What can people expect from your live performance? We bring something a little bit different. We’re very pop-rock so by default we’re fun and bouncy. We take ourselves seriously but we’re probably one of the least serious bands you’ll get to watch. It’s a good place to have a bit of fun.

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Credit: Joe Singh

Dim Swn 2014 LUVV Undertone Hitting a dark, crowded gig at three in the afternoon is something of a novelty; what isn’t is hearing a bloody good guitar band take to the basement stage of Undertone. LUVV offer up slick post-punk that’s as moody as you’d expect from a band with an elusive internet presence. Stating that ‘people are pigs’ on their social media bios may not be the most inviting sentiment, yet their standoffish persona only makes us love them more. Like an object of affection, the more the band play like the amassed crowd aren’t even in the room, the more they captivate us. Call us well and truly under their ‘noir punk’ spell. —IT

JAGAARA

GENGAHR

Clwb Ifor Bach

You guys are a local Cardiff band. Have you had any involvement with Swn festival before? First time for this band, but these guys [indicates guys] are in Chain of Flowers as well who’ve played a couple of times – the last two years now - but we’re relatively new. Your first cassette sold out, ‘Cassette 2’ is available now; why the cassette format? It’s cheap to make and it’s better than a CDR. Like, who wants a CD-R? And we like do it all ourselves and stuff. Like, we’ll sit down and record it all, design the artwork… So there’s no-one behind it, pushing anything more… plausible. There are four songs available on Soundcloud now. When can we expect new releases? We’ve just recorded three songs with an intro, we’re hoping to put that out either the end of the year, or start of the new year. See if anyone picks that up and puts it out basically. Hopefully a seven-inch this time, though chances are it’ll be on cassette! The tentatively titled, ‘Cassette 3’. —JD

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A modest crowd forms; this is a band definitely worth taking a note of. Hailing from North Dakota, Gengahr have serious potential, producing a truly exciting sound. They have the crowd hooked from the onset with their mix of melodic riffs and smooth vocals, resulting in clean, danceable tracks. The debut single ‘Powder’ blends a laidback melody with echoing vocals creating a laidback sound that offers up a refreshing take on the failsafe indie genre. Gengahr’s short and sweet set definitely puts them in the running for band of the day, with the effortless vocals and plucky guitars showing they are set for big things. —JR You put up ‘Bathed In Light’ on your Soundcloud recently. Yeah, it’s part of a double A-side with ‘Powder’ and it’s our first proper, physical release. We put ‘Fill My Gums With Blood’ out a few months back, and that was just a free download online, like a self-release. You signed with Transgressive Records a few months ago; how does that feel? Yeah, I mean it makes everything seem legitimate now, I guess. It’s nice to be able to plan and do proper music videos that we don’t have to pay for ourselves! The ‘Fill My Gums...’ video was filmed by a 9-year-old; how did that come about? Mostly because we were going to make the video ourselves and it was probably going to be rubbish anyway. We just thought it’d probably be better if a child did it because it’d probably look like that anyway! —LB

What’s the band dynamic like considering you’re all sisters? It’s always a love-hate thing with your sisters, but I think it actually helps in a way because you don’t have any pretense and can just be really natural with one another. We all get on really well; we actually shared a room until we were 18! How does it feel being compared to bands like Haim and Fleetwood Mac? We really love Haim and we get the comparison, it’s almost like a talking point and we’re influenced by a lot of old music too; Kate Bush, Led Zeppelin, Jeff Buckley, Radiohead… What have you got coming up? We’re trying to finish our first album; we’re basically finished but we’re just going to go back to writing at home, writing lyrics and recording demos and rehearsing with our band. We’re hoping to get it done… —CM

“WE’RE INFLUENCED BY A LOT OF OLD MUSIC TOO; KATE BUSH, LED ZEPPELIN, JEFF BUCKLEY...”

“[KID WAVE] HAVE MORE ROCK AND ROLL CREDENTIALS THAN ANYTHING ELSE WE’VE SEEN TODAY”

K I D WAV E Undertone Creeping to the front of the crowd in Undertone, we have a front row view as the four-piece proceed to take our breath away. While their shoe-gaze pop sounds dreamy on record, in a live setting the band have more rock-and-roll credentials than anything else we’ve seen throughout today. They nearly take each other out with their instruments as they thrash about the tiny stage, yet perform with the effortless breeze of seasoned professionals. Seeing that they only started life as a band back in 2013, it appears some people are just born with talent beyond their years. —IT Credit: Tomos Hooson

Credit:LCN Photography

Clwb Ifor Bach


MUSIC

WOMANS HOUR Clwb Ifor Bach

Clwb Ifor Bach

Clwb Ifor Bach

Credit: Joe Singh

They came, they made a bit of noise, they fucked off again. Glasgow punk n’ roll band The Amazing Snakeheads would doubtless thrive on a more ‘intimate’ venue and a crowd made of sterner stuff than what was offered by Welsh Club, but are instead met with a packed room of tired festival-goers eager to watch an act whose name they recognised. Rollicking single ‘Here It Comes Again’ doesn’t fail to get a pit started, but the remainder of their debut album Amphetamine Ballads falls on virgin ears, who have no issue with leaving these shirtless men to it while they get a drink. —JD

“SOMEBODY RAN PAST US AND SHOUTED ‘I’VE JUST SEEN THE AMAZING SNAKEHEADS AND THEY WERE FUCKING RAD’” DimSwn tonight - you’ve got a 6.45 slot. Benji: Sunset hour. Jonny: Particularly at this time of year… Benji: As the sun sets, over Cardiff, Happyness do their thing… You’re often described as jangle-gaze. What do you think of the label? J: I think it’s kind of funny. B: Yeah, I find it mainly funny. J: We’ve never really used it ourselves. B: I wake up every morning and I go, ‘I’m in a jangle-gaze band. I’m in a jangle-gaze band. I’m in a jangle-gaze band.’ J: Look in the mirror and ‘jangle-gaze, jangle-gaze, jangle-gaze’. Anyone on the bill you’re looking forward to seeing? J: We were in our van yesterday, and somebody ran past us and shouted through the window, ‘I’ve just seen The Amazing Snakeheads, they were fucking rad’. B: He was actually the owner of the venue we were playing, so they must be pretty fucking rad.

THE WYTCHES Clwb Ifor Bach Brighton trio The Wytches have a strong post-punk aesthetic at their core, with an atmospheric mash-up of grainy garage-punk and psychedelics that lends itself perfectly to the shadowy haze of Clwb Ifor Bach where the trio take to the stage as part of this year’s Dim Swn festival. The melodic riffs combined with sudden bursts of distortion make for a dynamic set, but become the band’s undoing with the echoing heaviness drowning out frontman Kristian Bell’s vocals. The erratic blend of sonic licks and wretched screams express a strong sense of adolescent anguish that, despite the lacking vocals, create an energetic set. — JR Credit: Joe Singh

THE AMAZING SNAKEHEADS

Label Rough Trade have described Happyness’ debut album, Weird Little Birthday, as ‘jangle-gaze’. The term might make you grimace at first, but it’s really pretty accurate. The trio’s Americana-tinged shoegaze is appropriately murmured and fuzzy, but they supplement it with a lot of humour; as they sing on ‘Baby, Jesus (Jelly Boy)’, “I’m the motherfucking birthday boy / Don’t steal my thunder, Baby Jesus”. They draw on the releases of a productive year, and bow out with the dreamy sway of ‘Montreal Rock Band Somewhere’, the closer to their self-titled debut EP. I’m still not sure where Rough Trade pulled ‘jangle’ from, though perhaps they didn’t want to label it ‘happygaze’. —JD

Night has fallen and the festival draws to an untimely close, the memories of 2013’s fourday spectacular resonating through Buffalo Bar as Woman’s Hour take to the stage. It’s a reticent end to the day; the crowd are hushed and from the dingy outside streets, any evidence of a festival is banished, the delicacy of debut ‘Conversations’ filling precisely the space required of it and nothing more. A meditative mood sweeps the room, each track passing with a little more melancholy than the last as the set glides towards its conclusion, a fittingly wistful end to this year’s festivities. —CM Credit: Tomos Hooson

HAPPYNESS

So this is your first time in Cardiff ? Yeah, it’s our second time in Wales but the first was at Green Man so this is the first time in the city. It’s a lot more like a gig here. You’ve just filmed the video for ‘Devotion’ – can you tell us a bit about the concept behind it? It’s in collaboration with a director that we’re working with for the first time. A lot of work she does looks at pairs of people, mirrors, seeing double and things like that. We discussed using pairs of people that actually had a connection; so identical twin sisters can look like a mirror image but other sisters can look completely different and have completely different personalities and still being connected, both visually and the beauty and burden of that. ‘Conversations’ has been out three months now. What have you been up to since then? We played Field Day, which was our first ever festival, so we’ve been playing a lot of festivals since then. It’s been quite nice because we’ve been playing live the whole time so we’ve been able to enjoy the experience. The reception has been great; we couldn’t have asked for more. Have you got any exciting plans coming up? We’re finishing up the tour and then we’re going to continue writing. We’ve already had a short writing period. We don’t have a concrete plan, we’re just going to see really!

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Simple Things 2014

Credit: Kane Aaron

The Lantern Regardless of what comes out of your mouth when you sing, if you can pull off a tucked in shirt and high-waisted jeans, you’re good in my book. Lucky for Eagulls, however, lead vocalist George Mitchell teams his unparalleled fashion sense with a voice fit to bowl over the eagerly awaiting crowd, landing him in the good books of at least 300 other people. The Lantern is packed, and Eagulls’ offering of catchy post-punk ditties does more than enough to keep punters away from secret headliners and DJs galore on this expeditious evening. —CM

Credit: Shot Away

Bristol’s fastest growing festival returns for another year in service. We review Death From Above 1979, Mogwai and How To Dress Well and more...

Eagulls How To Dress Well

Credit: Kane Aaron

Sophie

Credit: Kane Aaron

Colston Hall 1 The Colston Hall has an unwelcome habit of swallowing up anything that steps inside it; it’s no secret that it takes something, or someone, special to counteract its consuming capabilities. Tom Krell is an unassuming man, not the sort you’d expect to kill a crowd’s chatter with a mere ditch of the microphone. He does, though, and the outcome is beautiful. How To Dress Well’s spine tingling fusion of RnB and electro-pop might be wasted beneath the dull persistence of chatter, but for those who know why they’ve congregated, it’s the performance of the festival. —CM

Red Bull Music Academy Firestation There’s a strong argument for PC music being shit, a strong argument that a lot of people agree with. No one wants to listen to a conglomeration of samples from early 90s video games mixed with the vocals of a squeaky-voiced girl babbling all too enthusiastically about lemonade, do they? Well actually, yes, yes they do. SOPHIE’s midafternoon soiree might not be the most diversified 40 minutes that Simple Things has on offer, but it is certainly one of the most enjoyable; cares are forgotten and dancing shoes are donned for this sugary sweet shindig. —CM

Death From Above 1979 O2 Academy 1 They’re the headliners that everyone has been waiting for, the coveted Canadian duo out on the back of their first release in 10 years. Death From Above might have been keeping it quiet for a good while, but they certainly haven’t been resting on their laurels. A stellar performance proves that even the most tried and tested of formulas can be as impressive as they were upon first airing, and despite taking up residence in only the second best venue of the night, DFA take it all in their stride. —CM

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Zomby Coroners Court 1 Zomby is a total mystery. Forget about the mask and the rumours, The Coroners Court is more concerned with what on earth a Zomby set consists of. There’s no misty alleyway of dance music left unexplored by his scattered career; from minimalist dubstep to 90s rave and breakbeat house, Zomby has crafted every genre, sub-genre and sub-sub-genre he can get his hands on. Tonight pays homage to the rave scene of the 90’s, The Coroners Court’s dank halls making for the perfect environment, and with a sprinkling of more modern sounds, it’s far from a grasp towards something lost. —CF


The Haxan Cloak

The Lantern It’s getting late and most people have either collapsed on the last bus home or made their way away from Colston Hall and towards the dance venues for further debaucheries. Not everyone though; for a few expectant stragglers in The Lantern, a storm is brewing. Toying with the boundaries of drone music and the dark shadow where electro meets metal, The Haxan Cloak is mesmerizingly powerful, jarring to your very bones and as strikingly gifted as he is terrifying. This expansive wall of sound is not one for the faint hearted, but it is earth shatteringly impressive. —CF

Liars

The Terrace The crowd at Colston Hall’s balcony bar have ditched the Red Stripe for cocktails as we settle into evening proper and await the ‘very, very special guest’. A slightly cheeky build-up as DJ Sprinkles, who, legendary status aside, is already on the bill for a slot some three hours late, takes to the stage. Though, it’s difficult to identify her at all; attracting one of the bigger crowds of the festival and playing more funk and soul numbers than fans of her electro-house output would expect, it seems Sprinkles is an act better enjoyed at a later, headline billing. —JD

Colston Hall 1 Frontman Angus Andrew spends nearly all of their Colston Hall performance in a hooded orange raincoat and a long fringe covering his face; his unnerving vocal, ranging from a warble to a wail, is made all the creepier by disguising its source. It’s a great bit of theatre, and once adjusted to the shock you start to sway to the LA trio’s unique brand of unsettling electronica, honed over 14 years. An effect that is slightly ruined, though, when a friend texts you halfway through to say “Hasn’t Kenny from South Park gotten edgy?”. —JD

Rejjie Snow Red Bull Music Academy Firestation When Rejjie Snow approaches the front of stage and asks ‘Give me a word’, he’s left without a response and the reaction to his attempts at a ‘Snow’ chant are muted and self-conscious, but he just laughs it off. He seems to be loving his performance, casually dipping in and out of his Rejovich EP and a new album, which he talks about with boyish excitement. His enthusiasm warms the shy crowd, and after delaying his exit, Snow leaves to rapturous applause and a few illuminati symbols from misguided men in bucket hats. —JD

Mogwai Black Lips O2 Academy 1 Hearing songs from as recent as 2007 and getting a sense of nostalgia, is an odd sensation, but becomes the central appeal of Black Lips’ show. Despite having released three albums since – including this year’s Underneath the Rainbow – the band draw heavily on ‘07s Good Bad Not Evil, to the delight of the fans. As the ‘unmistakeable’ bassline of ‘O Katrina!’ starts up, a roadie throws reels of toilet paper into the crowd, a girl drives a stiletto into my foot and another spills her beer down me, a third falling out of the mosh pit, punching me in the balls. Blinking back the tears, I remember it’s not 2007, and leave to get a beer. —JD

Colston Hall 1 It was hardly going to disappoint, was it? That is, of course, if you had the sense to arrive half an hour early, which is when Mogwai became one-inone-out admission. The patient are rewarded by a typically razing performance from the Glasgow post-rockers that could still be enjoyed in the rattle of your ribs and eardrums the next day. In an hour and a half set they span a career from recent synthheavy ‘Remurdered’ to the mournful classic ‘I’m Jim Morrison I’m Dead.’ The masters of building to an awesome crescendo, it becomes hard to imagine booking anyone but Mogwai to close a festival. —JD

Credit: Harry Leath

Credit: Cam Sweeny

DJ Sprinkles

Credit: Shot Away

Credit: Joe Singh

MUSIC

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MUSIC REVIEW S

We review the new albums from Taylor Swift, Run The Jewels, Kindess and The Flaming Lips and shows from Johnny Marr, George Ezra and Clean Bandit

GEORGE EZRA

The Great Hall, October 30th

JOHNNY MARR The Great Hall, October 19th You’re likely to recognise Johnny Marr. From his crown as NME’s Godlike Genius to his more memorable work in the 80’s, his gracing the ground of Cardiff’s Great Hall is not going to come without the crowds. Support act Childhood open on a high note and get the regretfully sober crowd moving, with blissful guitar soloing interrupted by squalling effects laid down by frontman Ben Romans-Hopcraft, they needn’t rely on physical shock to keep interests peaked indefinitely. Then, responding to chants, the man himself enters. Kicking off with the title track of Playland – the music sounding as dapper as the vintage green suit, pink shirt combo – Johnny Marr kicks into ‘Easy Money.’ A hard-hitting, progressively disco tune with a catchy hook, it’s the perfect way to start the night. Blasting though several of The Smiths’ classics, cue ‘Panic,’ ‘Stop Me…’ and ‘Bigmouth…’, he keeps the setlist fresh enough to ensure people remember why it is they’re here. Not succumbing to the rhetorical pressure that ‘This Charming Man’ requests place on every show, Marr proves his electrifying solo album material is worthy of its own crowd. He’s clearly not shy of throwing in a cover or two for good measure but, when an acoustic version of ‘Please, Please, Please, Let Me Get What I Want’ moves the room to tears, it becomes clear that good measure means more than enough to most of those in the audience. Finishing the encore with a very well-received ‘How Soon Is Now?’ you could begin to argue that Marr is bastardising a series of timeless The Smiths classics. But, as the only time this generation will ever hear this music legitimately played live, this argument is short lived. So please, don’t start jumping up and down for The Smiths to reunite. Instead, bow down to the man in front of you; it’s Johnny. Fucking. Marr. —Veryan Leaper

George Ezra’s star has been in the ascendant for months now and his date at the Student’s Union goes far in proving that his appeal is vast and diverse. The audience ranges from gaggles of teenage girls and students to the older and wiser of music lovers, armed with alcohol and heckling hegemonies. Opener, Rae Morris, proves that she has raw talent with a modest seven-song set, including her current single ‘Closer’. Unusually for a support act, she doesn’t need to fight to get the crowd’s attention, her vocals powerful enough to break over the din of the audience and her endearing gratitude ample to make people listen. Armed with two guitars and a three-piece backing band, George Ezra arrives. He shyly speaks to the audience a little between songs and thanks them for coming, but it is clear that his newfound fame is still a thrilling novelty. Opening the set with the ever-popular ‘Cassy O’, he seems completely at ease on stage as soon as he starts playing his guitar. Mid-way through the set, George’s backing band leave him to do a few numbers solo. The spotlight falls on him and his guitar and the room - minus the hecklers, they’re still going – quietens. The audience are treated to tales of George’s travelling around Europe followed by a dreamy, lullabye-esque ‘Barcelona’. The set closes with ‘Budapest,’ which the majority of the audience seem to have been waiting for patiently. Although this goes down riotously, the encore is arguably the secret hit of the night. George returns to the stage, having changed into a ‘Good Girls Go To Heaven, Bad Girls Go To Budapest’ slogan tee, placating the audience’s demands for repeat of his No. 3 hit. But, his recent Radio 1 Live Lounge cover seems more apt and Cindy Lauper’s ‘Girls Just Wanna Have Fun’ plays out; a maverick and hugely successful choice. —Frances Stewart

Credit:Les Davies

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CLEAN BANDIT

The Great Hall, October 25th

It is perhaps fitting that the Cardiff leg of Clean Bandit’s autumn tour passes by The Great Hall on a Saturday night. Despite the curious mélange of adults on a night-out, and teenage girls who can’t quite manage to get served, the crowd is buzzing with the diluted visions of hedonism that only a weekend can provide. Years & Years open strongly and are the antidote to the restlessness in the room. Olly Alexander’s vocals cut through the haze of iPad-controlled synths and dance drum beats to give a nod to 90s R&B, with a tone so saccharine even Lauryn Hill would be proud of. It is, ironically, the slowest and most delicate moment that wins Years & Years their new fans; as just Olly and his piano play a trembling verse of ‘Eyes Shut’, the atmosphere settles, with whispers flickering over the audience like a swooning wave. In opening with ‘A + E’, Clean Bandit put their cards on the table straight away; mellifluous neoclassical strings introduce the set with intricacy and style, but are swiftly met with a punishing bass line and somewhat intrusive vocals. There is no doubt, however, that the band can charm an audience; evidently a festival-pleaser over the summer, the crowd thrive off the big beats and orchestral hooks, with no one in the room standing still. Clean Bandit reach their musical peak with ‘Dust Clears’ highlighting the eclecticism and extent of their talents. Intelligently constructed and idiosyncratically produced, it symbolises a time when the band made music with perhaps more integrity and less focus on radio playability. Sadly for a lot of the set, the enchanting, classical elements of the maple and spruce seem lost and overwhelmed among the cacophony of beats and bass. All Clean Bandit need now is a live show with a little more personality; imagine watching Biffy Clyro with a standin singer, it just doesn’t work. Get around this issue, and there would be nowhere else I’d rather be. —Louis Browne


MUSIC proves a lot about Taylor Swift’s capabilities, but most of all it proves that this genre is where Taylor belongs and most likely, will be staying for future music. —Becky Taylor-Ashfield

You might wonder how global superstar Taylor Swift can top Red, the 2012 album that sold over 1.2 million copies in just its first week. Whilst it may have been hard to follow, Taylor has more than risen to the challenge; country roots have been stripped away and 1989 emerges as her first official pop album. 1989 is sonically cohesive with a new sound that has a definite nod to 80s synth-pop that all the while ensures her signature raw honesty shines through in the songwriting. Opening 1989 is ‘Welcome To New York,’ an upbeat anthem about the excitement of moving to a new city. Its repetitive chorus makes it one of the weaker tracks, but it’s one that clearly sets the tone for the rest of the album. ‘Blank Space’, set to be Swift’s next

single and an instant hit, is playful, addressing her reputation of dating too much, though it is more than apparent that she has matured since Red. Gone are the days of pointing the finger at ex-boyfriends; ‘Style’ recognises her role in creating a dysfunctional relationship whilst ‘Bad Blood’ narrates the break up of a friendship. The ballads of the album have mixed impact. ‘This Love’ captures listeners with haunting vocals but ‘Wildest Dreams’ is less original, seeming as if it could be lifted straight from a Lana Del Rey album. Swift comes full circle with the closing track ‘Clean’, created with English singer and producer Imogen Heap, reflecting on the trials of forgetting heartbreak and moving on. Overall 1989 is a pop masterpiece. It

After a fairly tame first album from Kindness’ Adam Bainbridge, the release of Otherness sees a more coherent statement. Here, he continues to build on his industrious reputation as a pop artist, tightening up his sound to produce a sense of clarity in search of creating pop music that is, what he describes as, ‘less immediate’. The album features a star-studded collection of collaborators, ranging from Blood Orange’s Devonté Hynes to Robyn and Kelela. With mixing from Blue May and Jimmy Douglass also featuring, it’s clear that a strong studio album was the aim. The strengths of Otherness lie in Bainbridge’s clear talent as a producer, with a slick blend of jazz and R&B moving from the soft funk of tracks such as ‘Why Don’t You Love Me’ into the briskness of

‘World Restart’. Bainbridge’s lyrical scope remains every part in the realm of pop, with loves lost and found prevailing. The tracks are free of guitar constructed around piano, horns and bass creating a tasteful, soft sound. The arrangements chosen by Bainbridge offer a rare sense of clarity, producing an album with a strong element of professionalism. However, just as debut album World, You Need a Change of Mind lacked ambition, Otherness again falls short. There is no doubt that the arrangements are beautifully crafted, but vocally they lack depth of emotion. The tracks remain hollow, lacking a source of tension and the overall precision is distorted by uninspired melodies and painfully slow tempos.

THE FLAMING LIPS With A Little Help From My Fwends

The Flaming Lips are as bizarre as they are enduring. Their heady mix of dreamy synthpop, acidic sampling and crushing walls of sound has been around for almost three decades, and there’s still no sign of slowing down. Their most recent endeavour - a cover of the Beatles’ eighth studio album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band - saw them bring along a parade of ‘fwends’ including the inimitable Miley Cyrus. Wayne Coyne and his merry men are no strangers to deconstructing ‘untouchable’ classic albums. Their unreleased companion album to Dark Side of the Moon, featuring Stardeath and the White Dwarves who also feature on ‘Lovely Rita’, saw the band add talkboxes, synths and a terrifying Henry Rollins whispering in the background to classics such as

Money, unfortunately to limited success. Their approach to Sgt. Pepper’s, however, seems to be a lot more respectful and composed. The distorted wailings of Peaches on their ‘Great Gig in the Sky’ cover has mellowed into the husky croonings of Miley Cyrus on ‘Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds’. Don’t let Miley fool you though, the Flaming Lips have not shifted into common consumption; Ms Cyrus along with MGMT, My Morning Jacket and Puscifer are just battering rams that the Lips have used to smash through musical barriers, something they’ve become absurdly efficient at doing. Highlights include the decidedly demented ‘For the Benefit of Mr Kite’, a sombre, haunting rendition of ‘When I’m Sixty-Four’ and the final track on the album, ‘A Day in the Life’.

The Flaming Lips and their ‘fwends’ are doing a lot more than simply getting by on this album. A veritable tour-de-force of the unorthodox and unexpected, this troupe of deranged Beatles devotees have paid fitting tribute to a band that did exactly as pleased. Imitation is the highest form of flattery. —Greg McChesney

RUN THE JEWELS

El-P and Killer Mike have teamed up for a sequel to what was, for many, one of the finest rap albums of 2013. Aptly titled Run the Jewels 2, the album kicks off in a similar vein to the previous project, with a menacing bass line and notions of ‘putting pistols in faces’. ‘Blockbuster Night Part 1’ is all barely controlled aggression, with El-P spitting some imaginative alliterative threats. Zach De La Rocha (Rage Against the Machine) guests on ‘Close Your Eyes (And Count to F**k)’, on which he is as suitably unchained as you would expect on a song about inciting a prison riot. Things take a turn for the personal on the second half of the album, with tracks such as ‘Early’, in

which Mike plays the role of a live reporter of police brutality and El-P ends his verse with the powerful lines: ‘They’ll watch you walk to the store they’re recording/But didn’t record a cop when he shot no warning’. Killer Mike prays for redemption on late album highlight ‘Crown’, in which he delivers a brutally honest verse about his days of slinging cocaine to a pregnant woman. The only sour note on the whole album is ‘Love Again (Akinyele Back),’ which contains a chorus of ‘she want that d**k in her mouth all day’, slightly out of place on a such a politically charged second half. While it is easy to see how such an aggressive and pessimistic album could become a bit of a trudge, it never does. The album feels

inclusive; you share the same anger and regret they possess. It helps that not one of the verses RTJ delivers is ever less than top notch, and the innovative beats consistently find El-P at the peak of his game over 20 years into his career, but this is one of the rare instances in which a sequel is better than the original. —Taliesin Davies

TAYLOR SWIFT 1989

KINDNESS Otherness

Run The Jewels 2

Otherness is a seamlessly produced album, full of sultry saxophone and soulful interjections, but the absence of substance is undeniable. By aiming to make ‘pop music that’s less immediate than other engineered pop,’ we are left with vocals that lack soul and a sense of selfawareness and tracks void of memorability. —Jess Rayner

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Child hood “We’re 100% in this. I would never not do what we do”

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“As far as headlining goes, we want to take on all of the festivals.” Childhood have absolutely no qualms in stating their ambitions. “The main headline gig is Brixton. It’s the spiritual hometown.” Drummer Daniel Salamons even throws Sydney Opera House into the mix; it’s this unabashed optimism that seems to be powering the Nottingham four-piece along on their journey. Having dusted off the touring boots from their profound debut album Lacuna, and with only two months since it’s release, they’re already talking about new material. “It does feel like a weight has been lifted since Lacuna’s release, but I think another weight has been put on because we have to follow it up! We’ve got the pressure of that and having to be able to play it live. After the tour the aim is to just start writing - I’ve already started, and everyone’s got ideas! We’ll call it… Lacuna No. 2.” Childhood go on to list their influences. “Sadness, and a lot of… disillusionment. And smelly girls. Good times…” Emotions aside, it’s hard not to wonder what they made of the influence of Marr, the live show, and sharing the touring spotlight with one of indie’s finest. “I’d say the crowds are a lot older than what we’re used to; they’re very subdued and musically aware. Playing to the kids is great, but sometimes you feel like you’re servicing the need for people to go crazy. With an older crowd it’s more demographically meaningful, and you can see that contrast of craziness from this kind of crowd.” Rising alongside bands like Palma Violets and Peace, you can appreciate the appeal of going crazy to Childhood’s musical offering and it’s clear that, as a band, they have real faith in the alternative music scene. “For us guitar music has real meaning, there’s always space for it, and it’s always going to be seen in different ways. With Lacuna, I feel like the message to get across with the album was versatility. When you pick up a guitar like other bands, you can coexist within the same music genre, still having your own personality, and instead of living up to the stereotypes of what others might think we would do, we tried to surprise ourselves,

because… that’s what it should be.” You would have thought that, as a singular event, opening for Johnny Marr could top a list of proudest moments for the band, but Childhood are no strangers to career defining performances. “As an event, my proudest show was probably Osaka’s Summer Sonic Festival earlier this year, which was really special!” Ben raves. “But otherwise, and I know it sounds lame, just being able to play your own material live is a great feeling, that way you feel as if you’ve done yourself justice when you’ve got to that point.” Having blasted through a headline tour and one of the most promising support slots to date, Childhood look set to see this through to the end. They’ve got a seminal debut that’s both squeaky-clean and dirty in all the right places and a live show that could challenge some of the biggest names in the business, but is that enough? With the prospect of new material only two months after their debut, Ben seems certain. “We’re 100% in this. I would never not do what we do.” Such passion is hard not to trust; will we be following Childhood into adulthood? If, we only ask, they lead the way. —Veryan Leaper


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? a matcH made in Heaven... or Hell?

Hollywood and videogames: a difficult relationsHip

Before computer games really came to prominence, and I mean the inception era of Mario, it was not yet conceived that the most marketable tie-in to a film aside from toys would be a computer game. Action figures, colouring books, confectionary and paraphernalia such as lunch boxes and flasks were the items that were the go-to for capitalising on the consumer driven market of parents pleasing their children. Midway Games was the first to really try and perhaps “nail” the notion of the tie in for Atari. It was a video game tied in to a film based upon a video game, an idea that worked. That game was Tron. There were followups, that were perhaps less popular and even a sequel to the film. However it was then that one could argue the inception of the tie in really began. Since then there have been hundreds of video games that have been based around or tying in to the films they were designed for. For the most part from a capitalist point of view they worked. Whether or not they were any good was not always at the forefront of the minds that intended to sell them. Some worked, most did not. Games published around the 80s and 90s still have modern incarnations to this day. Games such as Metal Gear, Final Fantasy, Zelda and Madden are as present as ever, with all the aforementioned having titles pending release for all the new console platforms. But these were games that were all designed with the intention of being quality video games. Granted, Madden was not an original concept like the others as it was based around American football. In its own way, it was a tie-in with the concurrence of the name most prominent within the sport

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at the time, but it was John Madden himself who, working with Electronic Arts, would only endorse the product if the game was as realistic as possible and value for the money spent. An admirable sentiment, which one could argue is not always shared with those in the market to make money off the back of a successful pre-existing product. The major issue is that most computer games are given the go ahead before the film has come out. They either parallel the game with a side quest based around secondary characters or a direct emulation of the film’s plot with titular characters. There are problems such as likeness rights and voice talent; not to mention the actual aesthetic of a film is not even finalised at the time when a studio is employed to produce a game of a forthcoming cinematic release. Conversely, the company may be diverting resources to higher priority games, despite all the above actually being in place. This is something that recently happened with the massively disappointing effort Aliens: Colonial Marines. Voice actors, story rights and promises were all in place for the fans of the Aliens saga. However, it was speculated that Gearbox, the publishers in charge of the major development of the game, chose to prioritise their efforts in the direction of their Borderlands franchise, as such providing a less than satisfactory contribution in the eyes of consumers and critics alike. This brought them under mass scrutiny as well as Sega who commissioned them. Bungie and Rockstar games produced Halo and Grand Theft Auto respectively, and the main reason of the success is the length of time and funding for development, much like the blockbuster film industry.

Time, care and effort are placed in these developments. The reason why most tie-ins do not work is simply because of the lack of the above. Any game should have the basic blueprint of objectiveproblem-solution, and these games do. However it is the means and methods by which, such as the plot, aesthetic and characters that provide quality substance. Not many games in this genre do this, but that is not to say games such as these do not exist. It is also a problem that occurs when the concept is swapped as much loved games being turned into movies are not well done, at all. Again though, there are some that manage to accomplish this, but likewise you need a good scriptwriter, director and acting talent as well as budget. Taking the example of Sega, who were met with mass scepticism when they announced they would be publishing Alien Isolation, turned all the above in to a recipe for success and praise with the use of Creative Assembly. The game has been roundly received very well and is one the bigger successes of the year. When games are made to tie in with care like the above, it provides not only a product, but also, an experience. Those that came before, and those that will follow, will possess the simple idea that gaming is not just playing, but immersing oneself into that game as you did into the film. —Ian Dunne


VIDEO GAMES

“The original SimCity. This here is where it all began.This gave birth to many other Sim games from Maxis including e erybody’s favourite The Sims series.”

You’ve probably already heard of these Simulator games and had that one odd friend who constantly tried to get you to play Farm Simulator or Microsoft Flight Simulator and were probably questioning where all the entertainment value was. First the games have to be played. The majority are fun and entertaining whether that is from the satisfaction of learning how to genuinely play the game and learn the complicated control schemes in some, or just flipping trains, tractors or the trachea of some poor sod you’ve left to bleed. When simulator games are mentioned you’re probably thinking something strange like the Euro Truck Simulator or London Underground Simulator, both of which are infamous games and well made in their own right. But what about the little gem from 1989 that burst forth from the mind of Will Wright and the pockets of Jeff Braun. The original SimCity. This here is where it all began. This gave birth to many other Sim games from Maxis including everybody’s favourite The Sims series. They also created Spore a well-loved and lighter hearted remake of SimLife from 1992. Some of the games from Maxis and other simulation games among them have found use under the title of ‘Serious Games’ and by that I don’t mean extreme realism. No these games have found use outside of the realm of entertainment and into the realm of academics and learning (I know, I know everybody is probably screaming blasphemy at me but its true) SimLife has been used to teach the basics of genetics and ecosystems in some schools and the infamous Democracy is in fact used by academies around Europe when teaching Politics and Civil Law. But as we all know games nowadays are mainly sought after for entertainment and possible relaxation while having a few good laughs. So it certainly doesn’t help when certain games remain unclear and seemingly aim to frustrate you at their poor construction and execution. I am of course talking about the two lovelies Underground Mining Simulator and Demolition Simulator. Surgery Simulator (not

Surgeon Simulator) would have made this list if not for the fact that it was posted after release that it had only been made for educational not entertainment purposes. Demolition Simulator has only one real flaw, not the odd looking plasticine balls that represent explosives, not the seemingly indestructible steel pylon things, not the lacklustre tutorial. The buggy physics model completely negates the aim of the game which is to give you realistic demolition experiences. However witnessing a building repeatedly blow open like it is on hinges and continue to bob like a nattering villain out of a Ray Man game is quite a common occurance! Underground Mining Simulator unfortunately begins by putting you in the (excuse me here) shoddiest looking menu most possibly to ever come out of a game released, since and including, 2012. It proceeds to guide you into the first few missions where some key mechanics are not covered by the little pop up instructions which were evidently used as they could not be bothered to include a proper tutorial. These are the kind of Simulator games we do not want to see in the future. What we do however want to see is more innovation like the beloved Surgeon Simulator. A delightful mix between QWOP and Operation that leaves you both stressed and splitting apart with laughter. Ever since Bossa Studios released this little gem we have taken Mr Burke (our protagonist) from a simple surgeon failing a heart transplant on poor old Bob to the ‘Best Surgeon in the Universe’ failing a god-knows-what transplant on an alien life-form. A game like this with a simple idea that blows out into something, well, mind-blowing is the type of game that we need to see coming out of the simulator scene in the future. Especially with the development of Virtual Reality Tech, simulation games have the potential to try new and completely original ideas that could shoot off into new hypes and genres. — Eranan Thirumagan

rise of tHe simulator eal life isn’t really that great... so why not simulate it

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Next-Gen Sports Gaming has well and truly arrived

NBA 2K15 REVIEW The NBA is one of those sports that fits the requirements for its own video game to a tee. Big personalities, fast paced action and American hype make it ideal to be replicated. For the last four years 2K Studios have been raising the bar for this genre and their most recent offering, NBA 2K15, more than carries on this tradition. It would be fair to say that last year’s version of the game was the only release at the start of this console generation to really nail the next-gen experience. This meant that there was even more expectation for 2K to not only repeat this but build upon it. There was also the added pressure of the competition from EA Sports’ NBA Live series which had to improve following its own disaster. Thankfully 2K have not disappointed. One of the biggest question marks from last year was what they were going to do with the very popular MyPlayer mode – this is the player career mode where you take on the career of your own player. Last year 2K revolutionized this game mode by introducing cut-scenes and making it more of a story for the player to get engaged with. This year the cheesy story returns but with a slightly different angle. Now your player is an undrafted free-agent and must earn a spot on an NBA team. New cut-scenes have been added to fit the story and the annoying subtitles have been fixed. Perhaps the coolest addition to this mode are the voices of over 30 real-life NBA players. Each team has a mentor who will talk to you to give you advice. This now means that you can talk to the likes of Kevin Durant, James Harden and even legendary (though not quite as legendary as Gregg Poppovich) coach Doc Rivers – current head coach of the LA Clippers. There is no doubt that this is the most engrossing mode in the game but, unlike last year, there is also just as much to enjoy playing the others. The best example of this would be the MyGM mode which is the franchise mode for the game. Because of the emergence of the former game mode, MyGM fell a bit by the wayside in last year’s game. This year the same concept returns but it has been refined. Instead of being restricted in your abilities by having to use VC (in-game currency) to do the most basic of things such as adjusting the line-up, now things like this are available from

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the start. In fact VC is not needed to upgrade your GM as this is now done by just playing games. This mode has been helped by significant improvements in the gameplay. The gameplay is the core of a game such as this and it is fair to say the best have gotten better. The gameplay was great in 2K14 but in 2K15 it has been taken to a new level. However this hasn’t been achieved through a massive overhaul but rather through refining. The player animations have been tweaked and feel much smoother while the dribbling has also been refined to look and feel much more realistic. If there was one real problem with the 2K series it was the passing which was at times very inaccurate and unrealistic. This year however it has been significantly improved. The animations have been changed and are no longer choppy as the ball leaves the player’s hand. I like to think that this focus on passing is in no small part due to the play of the reigning NBA Champion San Antonio Spurs who romped to the title playing basic but beautiful basketball using passing. In fact playing as the Spurs has never felt so good because of the passing. Now the game looks like the Spurs and the passing is the reason for that – especially when Boris Diaw is on the court. In more technical terms, the frame-rate is at 60 which is exactly as it should be by this stage so the game is incredibly smooth. The graphics are second to none as all of the arenas have been faithfully recreated with the lighting taking centre-stage. The players have been refined as have the coaches and look like their real-life counterparts. Another welcome addition are the Euro League teams and now you can choose to play a league season in Europe as well. Overall NBA 2K15 is the best game to have been released not only in the series, but in the history of sports gaming. There were great expectations for this years’ game, and 2K has delivered in style. The gauntlet has been laid down for EA Sports now, but it will take an astronomical effort by the latter to surpass or even get close to 2K. Reviewed on Xbox One — Alex Glazerr

10/10


VIDEO GAMES

How will you survive in Mordor?

Middle Earth: Shadow Of Mordor is the newest game from Monolith and is set in Mordor between the events of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. You play as a Ranger of Gondor named Talion who mans the Black Gate. After the return of Sauron and the murder of your entire family including yourself you set out with a mysterious Wraith to seek vengeance in the land of shadow

The game’s strongest feature for was its refined gameplay; a mix of the combat from the Batman Arkham games and some stealth elements from Assassins Creed. If you have ever played the Arkham games you’ll feel right at home in Shadow of Mordor, it’s essentially exactly the same system with counters, dodges, combos and satisfying finishers. Playing on a PS4 there weren’t any noticeable major frame rate issues even when fighting 30 odd Uruks, which is a good thing as the game is actually surprisingly difficult at the start with Uruks captains being able to one shot you no matter how much you upgrade your health. This is where the Nemesis system comes into play. Littered around Mordor are Uruk warchiefs, captains and grunts ranging from a power level of one, being the weakest, to 20, being the strongest. They are all fairly unique looking with a wide range of personalities and weapons which they wield. What makes this system unique and makes the game so fun to play is that they remember and react differently to you depending on what you do to them. On one occasion a captain managed to escape only after being burned, later on in the game during a second encounter with him again, he had burn marks and immediately ran in terror. The reason it’s called the nemesis system unsurprisingly is that you can have a nemesis, I accidentally attacked a level fifteen Uruk called “Bolog the Destroyer”. Those of you who play MOBA’s such as League of Legends and DOTA 2 will be familiar with the term “feeding”,

unashamedly near the start of the game I got one shotted by him. So of course revenge was necessary and I ended up feeding him, eventually making him nearly unkillable. Every time an Uruk kills you their power rating increases, fortunately it’s capped at 20. Unfortunately they are nearly unkillable at this point as they gain abilities such as “Invulnerability to ranged attacks”. The weapon upgrade system is also fairly unique as unlike in most single player games you upgrade your weapons from random drops from the captains and warchiefs, much like in online MMO’s. This makes your weapons relatively unique to you and gives a new twist on upgrading your arsenal. Also with limited “rune” slots it offers a layer of strategy-customizability as you decide what runes to use based around your gameplay style. The actual story on the other hand falls short of the gameplays excellence. For a single player game though it is surprisingly long; fourteen hours is what it takes to complete the game and that’s without collecting all the numerous collectables and side missions, of which there are many. In fact with only 20 main missions you’ll spend most of your time doing these side missions or missions for the nemesis system. The main characters being Talion and a nameless Wraith do seem to hold up well, complimented by a range of characters from a Dwarf to a Queen. However I felt that apart from the main characters very little screen time was

given to the rest of them, most of the people you meet are compressed into the second half of the game. This is a great shame as they seem to be developed and well thought out characters with a rich backstory and personality. One of the main aspects of this game that is really appealing is the lore and descriptions it provides. The appendix is fully fleshed out giving you backstory on basically everything you encounter in a unique way, much like in the Assassin’s Creed games. There are items that you find littered across the map that all have memory points on them. Once activated an audio queue is played giving additional information and personality to that item. One example of these items are handcuffs used by Gondor. Once you activate the memory playback you find that prisoners were being harassed surprisingly not by Orcs but by men. You discover that their reward for labour is not a shorter sentence but not being fed to the Caragors (Wolf or Warg like creatures). With excellent gameplay but with a story that falls short towards the end (think Mass Effect 3 but worse) the best recommendation for Shadow of Mordor would be a weekend rental with your mates. The gameplay is great but when you’re done with the game there won’t be much left to entice you to play it again. Reviewed on PS4 — Ben Jamieson

7/10

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FILM & T V

The trend of portraying a historical figure has long been the stuff of film fodder; with so many in the pipeline, we explore what makes biographical films just so popular Having a favourite character from a book, film or TV show that you look up to is now regarded as the norm. Whether it’s Katniss Everdeen (The Hunger Games), Tony Stark (The Avengers) or Ron Swanson (Parks & Recreation), everyone has a hero that they aspire to be. This, however, is all fictional and straight from the depths of popular culture. In reality, there are thousands, maybe millions of people who deserve the recognition that these fictitious heroes have, but the sad truth is that these people do not warrant a million-dollar movie deal; they are not famous, haven’t achieved a spectacular feat or suffered through difficult times with a story that will appeal to a large audience. The problem, it seems lies within the industry and its desire to fill the pockets of everyone but those who deserve it by taking the same story with a different name. In our contemporary cinema, a depressing fog of unoriginality has seemingly descended onto Hollywood, cursed under an unbreakable spell. For the last decade – and by the looks of it, the next decade too – we have been subjugated by countless reboots, remakes and adaptations of films and books that were quite frankly unnecessary. Some have been an improvement but this, unfortunately, is very, very rare. Don’t believe me? How about The Amazing Spiderman, Annie, Godzilla, Red Dawn, Jurassic Park, The Goonies, Robocop, Rise/Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Total Recall, The A-Team, National Lampoon’s Vacation, Ghostbusters, Point Break, Labyrinth, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Transformers 4, 3:10 To Yuma, King Kong and God help us, a remake of Lethal Weapon. This is just a very short list of remakes, reboots and sequels of the last five years and upcoming titles that we definitely do not need. This just showcases the lack of originality that Hollywood currently possesses. But don’t worry, while these films are getting the remakes they so desperately didn’t warrant and no one asked for, Hollywood has now turned to reality and our history in order to contaminate, sell and profit off to us and reap the benefits. From biopics about the late Apple founder, Steve Jobs, in Jobs to the recently released Jimi: All Is By My Side about rock & roll legend Jimi Hendrix, biopics are on their way to becoming the “next big thing.” But as more and more biopics are being pushed into the public’s face, we continue to beg and shout for more. Why? Well, first of all, it’s something “different” and nothing we see very often on the big screen. Packaged into a bite sized piece of over-dramatized entertainment, these characters, our heroes on the screen, were also heroes in real life, providing that sense of grounded realism and hope for humanity to achieve feats of greatness… in some cases. It may seem like I’ve taken a rather cynical and pessimistic approach to biopics, but understand that I do enjoy them as much as the next movie-goer. But this is as a fictitious source of self-indulgence and not the truth about someone’s life. Yes, a lot of biopics over the years have portrayed these real life characters as a defining factor in their chosen field (which in some cases is very true) or heroes we can look up to but let’s be honest, it comes from the deep dark depths of the beast that is Hollywood; how much of what we see is true? A quote from the hit comedy TV show Community, said by the titular character and “hero” Jeff Winger, helps to emphasise this point better: “If I talk long enough, you can make anything right or wrong. So either I’m God or truth is relative. In either case, booyah!” – Replace “I” with “Hollywood” and you have your real truth in the movie business. While others might have a harder time saying “booyah” to moral relativism, Hollywood apparently does not. Take the film The Social Network for example. This was based on one of the founders of Facebook Mark Zuckerberg and how he developed the site into the global phenomenon we seemingly can’t live without today. The film was a gripping dramatic masterpiece with an outstanding cast, score, screenplay and editing and a fantastic director in David Fincher. Despite this, some people, including Zuckerberg himself, criticised the film for what they said had its many inaccuracies – truth is relative. But I guess the promotional slogan they went with “You don’t get to 500 million friends without making a few enemies”

wasn’t far off, but maybe they should have tweaked it a little bit: “You don’t get to 500 million dollars without making a few lies.” Another brilliantly crafted biopic of the last decade has to be Walk The Line. Based on the life and career of country singer Johnny Cash, the film focuses on his ascent to stardom, his romance with June Carter and his descent into drug abuse. With a gripping tale of love and loss, a fantastic cast and soundtrack, the film has been criticised for its inaccuracies, particularly by Rosanne Cash, one of Johnny Cash’s daughters. She described watching the film, knowing the full endeavours of her father’s life as “having a root canal without anesthetic.” Painfully false. Despite the tendency to over-exaggerate and stretch the truth, a number of biopics that are scheduled to be released in the next year have been slated to hold true to their original story that they are based upon. One of those is the gripping tale of the true crime drama behind Olympic Wrestling Champion Mark Schultz and the murder of his brother in Foxcatcher. The film that stars Channing Tatum, Steve Carell and Mark Ruffalo has already been critically acclaimed prior to its release this November. Another film that’s set to be released this November is The Theory of Everything, a romantic biographical film based on the relationship between theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking and his ex-wife Jane as it follows the course of his diagnosis of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and his success in physics. Of course, everyone has their own romantically-based stories within their lives but how close to the actual truth will this film be to reality? Yes, having films based on real people, sometimes real heroes in their own rights, adds another dimension to cinema and as the industry gracefully lowers the curtain of dishonesty and deceit over the film in question, it almost becomes a hit because of it. When it comes to making a delicious cake, you need a good recipe; making a successful film takes a good recipe. Start off with a good base (your story), add a few eggs and whatnots (your characters, cast, the lot), give it a good mix together (filming and production), place it in the oven and get it out before it burns and turns into a helpless remake… or whatever happens to cake when it burns, I’m no chef. Yet, these biopics are still being churned out and we eat them up quicker than a girl who is recently single on Valentine’s Day, eating a tub of ice cream. Like I said, it’s something different to what we have seen before and frankly, we all want a bit of drama in our lives to help break away from the mundane cycle of our dull reality; we all want to be a part of something big, change the world in a certain field or maybe have a personal connection to an significant event in order to feel special. To feel like a hero… or at least watch the story of one. After all, we go to the cinema to be entertained!

“ L I F E I S PROB ABLY MOR E E N T E RTA I N I N G T H A N

A N Y F I LM T H AT H A S BE E N R E L E A SE D T HI S YE A R .”

— Alex Miarli

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PHOTO: emrahozcan / FLICKR

BAD MOVIES, BAD ACTORS:

WHY SO POPULAR? With the news of Netflix and Adam Sandler joining forces for a four film deal, we explore what makes these bad comedies so enticing to audiences

Here are two words that will make you sigh: Adam Sandler. You’re probably wondering exactly why I’m talking about Adam Sandler. Well, a deal has recently been struck with Netflix which will see everyone’s favourite Wedding Singer star in and produce four films for them. Groans of despair can be heard everywhere, but it’s the perfect opportunity to try and answer one of the biggest questions film buffs have on their lips: why is the bad comedy such an appealing viewing experience? Why do we put ourselves through the misery? At this point, it’s probably worth asking what I actually mean by ‘bad comedy’. Let’s make it clear that films such as Hot Fuzz, Meet the Fockers and The Inbetweeners are of a much higher calibre. What really sucks are those films that either try too hard or look like they’ve been made in less than five minutes. In this category, you will find pretty much every film Adam Sandler’s starred in, alongside such delights as Epic Movie, Disaster Movie, Insert-Word-Here Movie and so on. The thing is, even though these films are complete carcrashes by any decent standards, there’s something about them that continues to entice viewers. Be it the awkward and cringeworthy moments or the unfunny jokes, it’s an experience that can’t be avoided. One reason people might seem so attracted to these audiovisual atrocities is that it makes them somehow feel better about themselves. After all, if those in front or behind the camera can get away with tearing up the rulebook and consequently creating something less than satisfactory, it justifies turning up for university with a killer hangover – because they couldn’t do their jobs any worse, right? Of course, a fair amount of these appalling actors go on to build careers in making audiences go through an existential crisis which makes them question their decision to go to the cinema in the first place, and wonder why they didn’t go to

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YOLO instead. Most of these bad films do have an element of comedy, although it’s probably not what the writers intended. Instead of laughing with the movie, it’s more a case of laughing at the attempt to create something which ends up poorly thought through and has so many glaring continuity errors it’s a bit like a primary school nativity play. That said; poor attempts at comedy are a little more genuine than the elite few that make it to the winner’s enclosure. Bad actors epitomise the sad mediocrity of basically every joke which repeatedly arises in most conversation and - at best - leads

“LET’S BE HONEST, IS ANYONE REALLY THAT FUNNY? DIDN’T THINK SO.” to a series of apathetic groans. Let’s be honest, is anyone really that funny? Didn’t think so. After Orange is the New Black’s success, to the naked eye it probably seems a little crazy to be making deals like these, especially with Sandler at the helm. In reality, Netflix have actually made quite a savvy choice. Their whole business model relies on numerous users watching film after film, and staying on the website for as long as possible to make the most of what it has

to offer. It doesn’t matter how bad the films are - particularly if you’re a student. Films like these, if you want to procrastinate, can become your best friend – especially when exams are approaching. Terrible comedies are one way to kill time and boredom, although we may feel a sense of overwhelming guilt after putting ourselves through the torture. Not forgetting the fact that you’ve now managed to successfully miss your deadline. Hurrah. We now turn to the most unoriginal reasons why bad comedies continue to ruin everyone’s lives (or maybe not)… Without these bad films and actors, it’s quite difficult to appreciate the good ones. They act to restore eternal balance to the universe. It then feels more rewarding when a decent film eventually comes along to blow its tragic predecessors out of the water. Think about it this way – if bad comedy films didn’t exist, the good films would become so boring you’d be praying for something terrible to come along just to add a little variety. After spending a while looking at the full range of reasons why bad movies with bad actors continue to be popular, it’s probably time to reflect on what we may have learnt along the way. Essentially, humankind is masochistic and loves to have something to complain about. These films seem to carry out both with a sort of clumsy – what’s the word – “style”, and they should be applauded for how they do it so flawlessly. If you had to choose between death and watching a film that’s almost comparable and perhaps a little more painful, you’d pick the alleged “comedy”. Possibly. If you’re reading this, and are one of the rare few people who genuinely revel in watching these films, I can only apologise. If you’re looking for some form of consolation, think about it this way. At least they tried. — Kieran Lewis


R

FILM & T V

R E A L I T Y R I V A L S : T H E T V S T A N D O F F With TV giants The X Factor and Strictly Come Dancing already battling it out on our TV screens this autumn, how will I’m a Celebrity fare upon its return mid-November? It’s no secret that there has been an ongoing ratings war between BBC One’s Strictly Come Dancing and ITV’s The X Factor and unsurprisingly nothing has changed this time around. If anything the competition has gone up a notch this year. The return of The X Factor judges Simon Cowell and Cheryl Fernandez-Versini saw record figures when 9.5 million viewers tuned in to watch the launch of this year’s music competition. This was something of a false hope for X Factor bosses though, flirting with the idea that maybe this year they would have the upper hand. This, however, was torn down the following weekend with the launch of Strictly Come Dancing tthat hat dominated audience viewings, raking in 8.4 million to The X Factor’s 7.8 million. SSimon imon Cowell did not take this lightly and when w hen interviewed accused the BBC of betraying its public p ublic service obligations, of acting in the interest off viewers, by deliberately scheduling the launch o of Strictly Strictly Come Dancing to clash with The X Factor. Factor. The BBC defended their actions by stating that it was w as crucial that Strictly Strictly Come Dancing launched during d uring primetime TV. Cowell argued that it was tthe he viewers that they were ultimately ‘pissing off ’. Yet Y et with ever improving technology audiences

are no longer losing out as they can record one programme and watch the other or simply catch up with the one they have missed. Really it is the shows that are losing out on viewers, a problem close to Cowell’s heart, as he went on to say that their job on The X Factor in essence was to make people prefer their show to the BBC’s. The weekend war rages on with both shows pulling out all the stops to win viewers. With a glamorous high profile cast on Strictly Come Dancing this year including the likes of pop star Pixie Lott and TOWIE’s Mark Wright and an unprecedented Friday night show from The X Factor,, how will ITV’s I’m a Celebrity...Get Me Out Factor of Here! fit into all of this? I’m a Celebrity set to launch mid November is sure to attract a whole heap of viewers again this series, with its reported biggest ever order of bugs to terrify the unlucky celebrities and returning to the menu, everybody’s favourite larvae and Witchetty grubs. The question we all want answered though is who will these celebrities daring to go down under be? Former N-Dubz singer Tulisa, magician Dynamo, actress Michelle Keegan and football player Robbie Savage are some of those tipped for going head first into a

bucket full of mealworms and slime in this year’s latest Bush Tucker trial. With the show’s massive success last year attracting 12 million viewers for its launch and making up almost half of the Sunday night audience, the pressure is on to keep these ratings up. Some might say I’m a Celebrity has an advantage often being aired directly after The X Factor at the weekend, in being able to pinch viewers from The X Factor and boost ratings for the jungle. Not to mention swiftly avoiding the Strictly/X Factor head to head. The weekly scheduling of I’m a Celebrity is also rewarding, as providing viewers with a daily dose of jungle life encourages them to tune in at the weekend for Ant and Dec’s latest antics. Despite the rivalry though, all three of these reality shows boast a solid fan base and year on year grip impressive numbers of viewers. Yet, with the uproar rife every year over the likes of Rylan, Ann Widdecombe and Helen Flanagan, the alleged jokes of the competitions, it is hard to believe viewers keep on coming back for more. But they do, as quite frankly there is nothing quite like feeling like you know a whole host of celebrities or watching regular people blossom

into divas and then pinning your hopes on your favourite to win. In the lead up to Christmas it seems audiences just cannot resist the glamour and sparkle of Strictly, Louis Walsh and jungle bikini showers (even if they do have to watch one on catch up). — Chloe Rest

“SINGER TULISA, M A G I C I A N D Y N A M O, ACTRESS MICHELLE KEEGAN AND F O O T B A L L P L AY E R R O B B I E S A VA G E ARE SOME OF THOSE TIPPED FOR GOING HEAD FIRST INTO A BUCKET FULL OF ME ALWORMS A N D S L I M E .”

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A day that many fans have been desperately yearning for, but is it now appearing on the horizon? Is Spider-Man joining the Avengers?

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FILM & T V

Ever since Avengers Assemble was announced way back in 2008 a popular question amongst fans was: “where is Spiderman in the lineup?”. Of course there was a simple yet overly complicated and confusing answer. Before Disney bought Marvel, the publishing company had already sold the live-action rights to different media conglomerates; Fox bought the rights for the Fantastic Four and X-Men whilst Sony purchased the rights for everyone’s favourite wall crawler. Therefore, when Marvel was taken over by Disney the Mouse House owned all the remaining character rights but were not legally allowed to depict any Spider-Man, X-Men or Fantastic Four related characters. It is possible, however, for these different conglomerates to sit down and negotiate a deal with certain characters, rights or other forms of commodities. Nevertheless it seems as if any possibility of Wolverine joining the Avengers roster is completely dead in the water as the relationship between Disney and Fox is bordering on the nonexistent. Back in 2012 Fox approached Disney with a request to extend their expiring rights for Daredevil as they needed more time to develop a reboot. Disney agreed to this deal with a condition attached: they wanted Fox to relieve the rights to Silver Surfer and Galactus (as seen in the Fantastic Four sequel) and allow Disney to use the characters in a future Avengers film – Marvel Studios head Kevin Fiege was desperate to adapt the hugely popular Secret War storyline in which both Silver Surfer and Galactus play major roles. Fox rejected these conditions and the deal was written off and consequently the Daredevil rights reverted back to Disney, resulting in the upcoming Daredevil Netflix series (see Quench Issue 140 to read more on that). Since then relations between both Disney and Fox have devolved further with Disney refusing to produce merchandise for Fox’s Marvel properties, X-Men and Fantastic Four, and most recently cancelling the Fantastic Four comic book series. Disney’s relationship with Sony is quite the opposite though. With The Amazing Spider-Man 2 not performing as critically well as Sony had hoped (although the film did quite well financially, raking in £700 million at the worldwide box office) the film studios have taken a step back and revisited their world-building plans. Their first order of business was to delay The Amazing Spider-Man 3 from 2016 to 2018. Secondly they decided to put the second Spider-Man spin-off, Venom Carnage, on an indefinite hiatus. Most recently, and most excitingly, their third plan of action is to sit down and begin negotiations with Disney regarding Spider-Man joining the team roster in Avengers 3. This could prove to be a lucrative deal for both parties involved.

“RELATIONS BETWEEN BOTH DISNEY AND FOX HAVE DEVOLVED FURTHER WITH DISNEY REFUSING TO PRODUCE MERCHANDISE FOR FOX’S MARVEL PROPERTIES, X-MEN AND FANTASTIC FOUR, AND MOST RECENTLY CANCELLING THE FANTASTIC FOUR COMIC BOOK SERIES”

Disney would acquire Marvel’s previous iconic poster-boy (before Iron Man took that mantle) once more, which can only increase the profit for future installments and relating merchandise. Sony, on the other hand, would be saving on advertising revenue and would be receiving perhaps the biggest and best form of marketing for their flagship character. Casual fans of Spider-Man (and also big fans of the Avengers franchise) would be more inclined to pay to watch solo films within The Amazing Spider-Man series if the character was coming off the back of an introductory appearance (and possibly follow-up appearances) in the most recent Avengers film. In this sense Disney could ‘sell’ these benefits to Sony and thus lower the negotiated amount of money for which they are paying to effectively borrow Spider-Man. It is not just the bank accounts of both Disney and Sony that will benefit; the fans will perhaps benefit most of all. Not only would this deal represent a wish fulfillment for many fans, it would also open up an endless amount of narrative directions that Marvel Studios could take with their Avengers franchise. Spider-Man was a key and prominent character within the iconic storyline Civil War (a storyline that has widely been discussed for a future installment of the franchise – by both fans and professionals alike). Spider-Man and Iron Man both like to make cheap one-liners and Marvel Studios pride themselves on the humour in their films, so imagine the possibilities of this comedy duo. Not only the dialogue but the action set pieces could be phenomenal: Spidey could use his strength and webs to use Mjolinir-wielding Thor as a wrecking ball, launch Captain America into a horde of enemies bowling style, or simply creating giant enemy catching Spider webs. Marvel Studios could even introduce the Iron Spider suit from Civil War. All that’s left for Sony to do know is to sit down with Fox so fans can finally see a Spider-Man Deadpool film. — Charlie Andrews

PHOTOS: Andrew Becraft, David Marriott, Jr. / FLICKR

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GENRE IN REVIEW: MUSICAL Continuing Film & TV’s exploration into narrative film genres; this month Em Gates tackles the spectacle that is the Musical. Dating back to when our parents were growing up, musical movies inspired images in our minds of nuns running through the mountains or a boy and his grandpa singing about their impending trip to a chocolate factory. Theses classics of the genre have stayed strong with children and adults alike for years, and since the early noughties, musical movies have been making their ways back onto our screens. People enjoyed the practically perfect in every way storyline of Mary Poppins, and converted its star, Julie Andrews, into a national treasure. Adored in her career that has not only spanned almost 7 decades, but also starred in some of the most famous musical movies in the world. Victor Victoria and Thoroughly Modern Millie, to name a few, saw Andrews starring as the lead in these motion picture adaptations. Nowadays, modern day adaptations of shows made famous on the stage keep providing us with films that will not fail to put a smile on the audience’s faces, no matter how much you try to avoid them. At the beginning of this century, over the top cheesiness and slightly unrealistic storylines weren’t drawing in the crowds on the big screen that they did on Broadway and the West End, and it was only the big names like Catherine

Zeta Jones & Richard Gere (Chicago) or Nicole Kidman & Ewan McGregor (Moulin Rouge) that made certain films hits, while others flopped. Directors began to twig that to create a smash hit movie musical you needed familiar faces to entice potential moviegoers. With that in mind, movie musicals hit their stride, with what seems to be a new blockbuster every year, shattering the box office. People have gotten over the campness and complete lack of realism of the world of theatre and submerged themselves into the singing and dancing made popular in this genre. A welcome distraction from the seriousness of day-to-day life, we enjoy nothing better than coming home and listening to people sing passionately about their feelings and vent their frustration through a highly energetic tap dance. More tickets to West End productions were purchased in 2013 than ever have been before, something directors must have noticed, as adaptations of stage musicals have become incredibly frequent as of late. Musicals such as Jersey Boys, Rock of Ages and Sweeney Todd all converted their onstage aesthetics into a motion picture marvels and triumphed amongst audiences worldwide. An odd fact about these three musical movies

is that each production team featured Tim Burton, Tom Cruise or Clint Eastwood, three very famous men in the Hollywood industry who aren’t notable for their musical exploits. Films like Hairspray and Mamma Mia boasted large ensemble casts of critically acclaimed actors, once again with actors like Michelle Pfeiffer and Colin Firth, serious actors whose talents you would usually find in a thriller or drama. It’s no surprise that these films are so popular when they consist of exactly what we want from the stage production, but with our favourite actors and at a fraction of the price. It’s becoming clear that singing is getting almost as popular as plain ole speaking on screen. Les Misérables held the top of the box office for 6 weeks in January and February of 2013 and Frozen became the highest grossing film of 2013. This is just another accolade for Disney, whose films could be said to have started off this trend with animated classics such as Snow White and Cinderella in post-war America. Fast forward to 2014 and over twenty five musical movies later, Disney not only created the mould for all animations to this day, but also vitally impacted this endearing and addictive genre.

This trend also seems to have no intention of slowing down anytime soon either, with two major productions due this Christmas; a modernisation of Annie starring Jamie Foxx and Cameron Diaz, and Broadway classic Into The Woods boasting the cast of Meryl Streep, Anna Kendrick and Johnny Depp. These two festive delights are expected to top the box office this December, while Pitch Perfect 2 is due out spring of next year and another stage adaption, Pippin, is currently in development. This genre is creating hit after hit not only in the cinemas, but also in sales of soundtracks, with the majority of films having an accompanying soundtrack of the film’s featured songs. Popularity in genres fluctuates hugely, and right now musicals have to compete against other juxtaposing forces that seek to gain higher box office sales and

reviews, such as the highly popular superhero franchise. Who knows how much longer this genre will continue to keep going strong for, but it’s certain that right now anyway, it’s what the audience wants. We feel the joy and nostalgia of a Disney film, the sorrow of poverty in Les Mis, we see the past of racial inequality in Hairspray and the unquestionable force of true love in Moulin Rouge. Musicals have gone far further than they ever would have if they had stayed onstage, and the attractiveness to such a vast age group ranging from children to adults, not to mention the sheer variety of subgenres within this specific category, makes it hard to imagine that musical movies will be going anywhere soon.

“A W E LC OME DI S T R ACT ION F ROM T HE SE R IO U S N E S S OF DAY -TO - DAY L IF E ”

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— Em Gates


FILM & T V

O U R M U S I C A L M U S T- H AV E S :

AND SCENERY

A L OV E IN T E R E S T

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A very important aspect of the genre. Usually, as the plot is so unbelievable (very few students burst into song in the middle of a school lunch a la Grease, High School Musical, Glee, Pitch Perfect, etc), so the costumes and scenery that make up the setting have to be completely authentic to create a time people can recognise.

There is always a relationship people are dying to root for. Whether it’s Ren and Ariel from Footloose or Anna and Kristoff from Frozen, we want that happy ending and we want them to sing about it. And to reprise it at the end of the film. And possibly to hear it again over the credits, covered by a current pop singer. (We normally get what we want)

COSTUMES

A GRE AT SCORE

A FESTIVE RELE A SE DAT E

3 Christmas is traditional for being a family time, trips to the cinema or a family afternoon watching a DVD. So it’s not a coincidence that the majority of movie musicals are released in theatres or on DVD in the lead up to the festive season. As a way to kill the long cold winter’s afternoon or a gift for a loved one, musicals link hand in hand to Christmas even if the storyline isn’t set in that time of year.

S U R PR I SINGLY, A G O OD SINGING VOIC E I S N’ T ESSENTIAL .

4 Most movie musical are adaptations of their stage counterparts, so creating a score isn’t an issue, perhaps just readjusting it to suit a different format or mixing up the set list is the only work they need to do. But some musicals are created purely for box office release, so they need to work extra hard to create a soundtrack that the people will love.

5 In the case of Russell Crowe in Les Misérables or Pierce Brosnan in Mamma Mia, it wasn’t a necessity that they had to ability to sing. A celebrity’s name brings in more revenue than their vocal range, so it’s better to have a celeb with limited ability playing a character than an unknown with the voice of an angel.

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Quench Food Evening atg

Svago


Take a bunch of hungry students to a restaurant, sample the food, service and ambience, then produce a realistic evaluation of the evening with a range of contributor reviews.

A table littered with food snobs, bargain hunting penny-counters and simply greedy students; what else would you expect from the first Quench Food Evening? On a drizzly evening in October, Quench initiated its monthly celebration of student-friendly restaurants in Cardiff with an evening full of rich food, tipsy cocktails and excellent company (if we say so ourselves) at Svago restaurant on Crwys Road. A new addition to the magazine this year, the Quench Food Evening concept is simple; take a bunch of hungry students to a restaurant, sample the food, service and ambience, then produce a realistic evaluation of the evening with a range of contributor reviews. It’s all well and good reading someone’s criticism of a flavour lacking soup or over crisp bacon, but in reality every individual possess their own preferences and palates. Therefore with a spectrum of praise and annoyances, expressed through multiple opinions, Quench is here to give

you a genuine insight into some of Cardiff’s independent eateries. Svago definitely put on a show as the first venue. Beautiful floral paintings line the wall of the large restaurant, so striking that they were a hot topic of conversation as everyone arrived. The 25 strong Quench team were given an intimate corner of the restaurant, the perfect area to socialise and chat about all things foodie. The Svago staff quickly pointed out the cocktail deals, so the evening commenced

“ “

The food and drink matched the sophisicated decor, with the overall experience being made even better by the friendly and welcoming staff

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The cocktails were fun, alcoholic and cheap (my favourite combination)

Svago, Svago, Svago! My visit to this restaurant was FAB! I’m proud to admit, but I have walked past this place several times and never even set foot inside... what a shame, as it was excellent! I ordered a steak, which to my surprise arrived after a short time, considering it was quite busy. It was cooked exactly how I asked and the sauce that accompanied it was gorgeous. The cocktails were fun, alcoholic and cheap (my favourite combination) being two for £6 between 5.30-7.30pm. AND, to top it off, they do 10% discount to students. Win. Definitely will be going back!

First appearances have come to mean so little when eating out, simply because the food is often so different to the atmosphere which has been set. Fortunately, Svago did not disappoint in either aspect. Although Crwys Road is hardly the most aesthetically pleasing street, we had high expectations for the restaurant due to its contemporary exterior appearance. The stylish interior of the restaurant was even better, raising our expectations even higher. Thankfully the food and drink matched the sophisticated decor, with the overall experience being made even better by the friendly and welcoming staff. The only downside was that the 2 for 1 cocktail offer finished prematurely, but that’s purely to serve my own cheap and selfish ways! I would definitely recommend Svago, with good food and 10% student discount you can’t really go wrong! — Amandeep Turna

with a cheeky daiquiri (or two). With an intriguing menu littered with classic pasta dishes, tempting pizzas and standout steaks, team Quench were presented with an exciting array of dishes to taste and review. The service was pretty damn quick, considering the amount of hungry students waiting to be fed, and not a single plate hadn’t been well and truly devoured come the end of the evening. But don’t take our word for it, here’s what some of the attendees thought of their Svago experience...

— Sophie Hickles


FOOD & DRINK The menu contains an array of different Italian dishes, ranging from the typical margarita to rib eye steak, and lasagna to risotto

Located amongst various other independent cafes and restaurants that lie together on Crwys Road, Svago stands out opposite Malefant street with an electric ‘is this a bar or is it a restaurant’ – type feel, probably due to its neon sign that hangs above the door. On entrance you’re welcomed into a gentle restaurant atmosphere with attentive waiting staff and the smell of delicious food. Looking around, the tables are occupied mostly with loved-up couples and small groups of students. An impressive range of popular cocktails such as daquiris and mojitos means that many on our table are quick to the bar, returning with various glasses of different shapes and sizes. The cocktails are tasteful and not too sweet, not bad for £3 each. The menu contains an array of different Italian dishes, ranging from the typical margarita to rib eye steak, and lasagna to risotto, with prices ranging from £7 - £14. Service is quick which is impressive with such a large party (over 20 people) and the generous portions of food are greeted with hungry eyes. The homemade pizzas appear on large rustic wooden boards and the pasta dishes arrive piled high but there is not one plate that isn’t empty by the end of it. I recommend the ‘taglioni svago’, taglioni with fresh crabmeat and a citrusy lemon sauce, however the pizzas also appeared very impressive and a good option. The staff were attentive and quick to ensure that everything is alright with our meals and an enjoyable night was had by all. — Imogen Byers

The prices were very reasonable with most dishes priced around £10 or under, not forgetting a 10% student discount

With a friendly selection of staff, attractive dining area and brilliant cocktails, Svago had more to offer than just food. The prices were very reasonable with most dishes priced around £10 or under, not forgetting a 10% student discount. In hindsight, I would have ordered the pizza which looked divine and was without criticism. If you do venture out and choose the steak, like myself, I would advise that you order a starter as well. The meat was cooked beautifully but the portion was too small, especially considering it was one of the more expensive dishes on the menu. The accompanying four individual potato wedges and overcooked vegetables were also a slight disappointment. The service, on the other hand, was impressively efficient and altogether it was a great evening. I will definitely be coming back to Svago, if not for their 2 for 1 cocktails then to try the pizza!

— Tessa Wright

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CURRY CULTURE CLASH The great British public love a good curry, so much so that chicken tikka masala was Britain’s favourite dish in 2011. But, in reality, how authentic is our much loved adoptive cuisine? Amandeep Turna unveils the curry culture clash she’s experienced since moving to Cardiff. Before coming to University I never would have thought that curry could be a subjective topic... Oh how wrong I was. Arriving in Cardiff last year, I wasn’t shocked by how little others knew about the Indian cuisine, but by the miniscule amount which I appeared to know about it. Coming from an Indian background, I’m used to eating Indian food three or four times a week. However, once I was asked by my housemates which curry was my favourite and my answer of ‘chicken’ appeared to be quite lacking, questions around my heritage began to arise. Having lived in a multi-cultural area all my life, I am used to everyone possessing a general understanding of my cultural background. This is why I was so astonished by the widespread lack of knowledge surrounding different cultures within this country. The difference between the British version and the traditional version of curry is so vast, that I often wonder how menus filled with Madras, Kormas and Vindaloos even came into existence. A little research unveiled that many traditional dishes were given a British twist during the British Raj in the 19th century. In the same way as almost everything else that the West get

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their hands on, true culture seems to have become lost along the way, and instead replaced with a fake version of Indian cuisine which everyone assumes is the real deal. Although I am not much of a traditionalist myself, I do my best to keep connected to my roots. Food is such a large part of Indian culture, and this has

down and eat a meal together. After spending the first semester shattering everyone’s illusions of curry, I decided it would be easier to just make a big batch of the stuff for my puzzled flatmates. We piled around twenty people in our six person kitchen, and gave them a true taste of India. Despite never having made chicken curry from scratch before, I managed to not

Having lived in a multi-cultural area all my life, I am used to everyone possessing a general understanding of my cultural background. This is why I was so astonished by the widespread lack of knowledge surrounding different cultures within this country.

not changed in the flight over to England. Family events are centred on an abundance of food, and one of the strictest rules in our household is that dinnertime is family time. Even now, my fifteen year old brother and I are expected to make sure that we are downstairs and helping out in the kitchen from 6 o’clock onwards, so that we can sit

only avoid poisoning anyone, but actually give them a taste of the real Indian food I eat at home. Everyone commented on how different it was, and I think that’s partly due to the overload of spices in British curries these days, they’re meant to be simple and scrumptious (hopefully something that I managed to pull off.)

In my eyes, simplicity is what makes Indian food taste as good as it does. Having tried a few British curries just to see what all the fuss was about, I found that they have a very thick texture, and the sauce was incredibly rich. The flavours were good, but at times overpowering. In comparison, although curries at home have the same amount of flavour (if not more), they manage to balance the spices more evenly. Indian curries are also much simpler in terms of the ingredients used. Water and time are the only factors required to thicken a curry, compared to the heaps of cornflour and yoghurt added to British curries in order to condense them. Subsequently, it seems that in an attempt to fit in, the British curry tries too hard. Time and care seem to have become lost in the process, essentially causing traditional curry to have morphed into a new type of fast food. Meeting new people every day means that I am still asked endless questions about the culture I was born into. However, the difference between now and last year is that I no longer answer these questions - my friends step in to explain everything they’ve learnt from me before I even have a chance to open my mouth.


FOOD & DRINK

Is it easy to be a

student?

For Bish, Bash, Bosh...Cheap, Healthy, Nosh! A common belief is that time, money, and effort all act as constraints on a student’s food choices, however a few simple switches and being a savvy shopper means it’s far from difficult to achieve a healthy lifestyle. It’s a simple case of turning a boring jacket potato, into nutritious sweet potato wedges, still cheap but more interesting: The Shabby Chic diet, that’s available to everyone. You don’t have to conform to the stereotypical student diet ‘beans on toast’ or ‘pesto pasta’, just because it takes approximately 30 seconds to make, there are plenty of healthy meals that are equally quick. For example a splash of inspiration from Jamie Oliver’s 20-minute meals and a dollop of advice from your loving mother, can help you produce mouth-watering meals in minutes such as: couscous, stuffed peppers, spinach and cauliflower Thai curry, or a halloumi and falafel wrap. Money is also deemed to be a contributing factor in what a student eats; but this doesn’t mean healthy foods are expensive. Cardiff Market is an unexplored paradise, which can secure you good quality food very cheaply (especially at the end of the day!). Furthermore, taking a packed lunch with you, such as a quick salad or wrap, can also transform your daily Costa Panini into a guiltfree, satisfying meal. Finally, keeping a weekly budget and writing a simple list before you hit the shops ensures minimal time spent browsing for Ben and Jerry’s, and more time focusing on necessities. Thus, leaving every student with a shopping basket that is equal to that of a health God’s and cheap as chips!

Against I am a healthy eater. I will put that straight. I do not like eating countless amounts of junk and fast food and yes, it may be strange but I would prefer to sit down to a chicken salad instead of greasy fish and chips. However, since coming to university I have found myself restricted in maintaining my healthy habits. Walking around any supermarket, it is easy to see that a shop preparing for a meal with fresh vegetables and some sort of protein will end up costing over double what several frozen pizzas may get you. Boom, first hurdle to my healthy quest: the cost. Besides, I help justify my unhealthy choices by the argument that keeping vegetables fresh requires time for meal planning and fridge space, neither of which I have much of. Second obstacle: time. Finishing lectures late, it’s raining, I’m tired, I’m hungry and to make matters worse I have to be out the door in 20 minutes to go off and do ‘insert activity here’. Opening the fridge, the obvious choices pop out, but do I have the time to prepare something, eat it, wash up and get ready? Alternatively, would a quick Subway on the way give me more time to mentally prepare myself for the evening’s events and make me a better person? With the many easy food alternatives right on my Cathays doorstep, it would be a shame to miss out on the multiple dining experiences, would it not? — Imi Byers

— Harriet Martin

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Artwork: Naomi Wong

- The Cardiff Coffee Guide W

ith coffee chains such as Costa and Starbucks popping up on just about every street corner, it’s easy to see why such franchises make huge amounts of money and draw in large cosmopolitan crowds. Offering a generic atmosphere store to store, these chains promise a standardised experience which is no doubt suited to the average commuter, city-goer

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and coffee-craver. This is all very well, but the recent surge in independent coffee shops enlightens us to the possibility of a quirky, cosy and indulgent coffee shop experience. You only have to veer slightly off the beaten track to find some of Cardiff ’s coffee (and tea) gems, often occupying the quirky arcades and the often overlooked streets of Cathays. With each coffee

shop promising an individual experience centred on the raw passion of coffee, homemade produce and friendliness, it’s easy to see why independent coffee shops are becoming more and more popular. With the help of coffee-craving and hungry students we have collated a list of some of Cardiff ’s best independent coffee shops.


FOOD & DRINK

Waterloo Gardens Teahouse

interior. There are no green aprons emblazoned with garish logos, no twee taglines about their newest product, just a sign above the door saying ‘Coffee Barker’ assuring you that you’re supporting one of the keystones of Cardiff’s café culture. The staff in Coffee Barker aren’t simply looking for a job to fill in the hours between education and sleep, each staff member is passionate about what they do, something that really shines through in the knowledge of their product and their enthusiasm in serving each customer. The interior of Coffee Barker is really something to behold; each table has a set of chairs and seats seemingly unique to each other, accompanied by equally unique and interesting lighting; Edison bulbs hang from old piping in the walls, while par cans and pseudo-streetlights hang from roof fixtures. It sounds like it couldn’t possibly work, but like peanut butter and hot sauce, it just does.

5 Waterloo Gardens, Cardiff

Hidden in a leafy residential area of Roath is an independent gem providing pretty much every available flavour of tea under the sun - Waterloo Tea. With a chilled music playlist and a bustling atmosphere, it could be argued that Waterloo Tea’s only flaw is that it needs extending to cater for its growing local and visiting fanbase. Scones and cakes are served on traditional English cake stands and sandwiches are garnished with side salads that look so good that there’s no chance of them being left on the plate. Local Welsh artists have their canvases displayed on the walls, and the huge wall of silver jars showing off the vast array of exotic teas to choose from allow for the rest of the décor to be minimal. Drinks are cheaper than the usual coffee shop giants- perfect for students- and free Wi-Fi is available also, so bring along your laptop to get some all-important work done. The coffees and hot chocolates (for those who aren’t as adventurous to try Hibiscus Berry or Nettle tea) are rich, flavoursome, and definitely Instagramworthy- this coffee shop is well worth a visit and proves a nice alternative to the usual experience at a chain coffee-shop. — Alex Chapman

The Plan Café

Stag Coffee

Stag Coffee on Crwys road has accomplished the ultimate goal of any new coffee-shop; convincing the customer that it has always existed. Leather wingback armchairs and an ancient trunk-cum-coffee-table remove patrons from the sterile repetition of franchise cafés and into the muddled, yet satisfying world of independent coffee. Independent is as independent does, and in using Wales’ own Coalhouse coffee as their grind of choice, along with any cuts of meat from Pring’s butchers not 5 minutes from their premises, Stag Coffee is a shining example of local businesses supporting each other. Opening at 09:30 means Stag Coffee might miss the earliest of birds, however a closing time of 18:30 means you can easily nip in after lectures for a coffee, a (highly recommended) carrot cake and a read of their in-house books, ranging from the Complete Home Knitting Illustrated, to The Land of the Red Dragon. Even if reading isn’t your thing, stay off your phone and look around; Stag’s interior is beautifully and subtly designed, with an instantly recognisable cervine theme. Stag Coffee’s relative youth is well hidden behind a confident, competent and engaging staff, friendly and open to conversation, informative if requested, and always accommodating. An excellent find. — Greg McChesney

Morgan Arcade, 28-29, Cardiff There is a strong coffee philosophy at The Plan Cafe. Situated in Morgan Quarter, one of Cardiff’s Victorian arcades, this delightful cafe is the perfect spot for any coffee lover needing a caffeine fix. You will find a constantly changing selection of coffees available as espresso, or in a personal cafetière with welcoming staff on hand to advise you about the different characteristics and flavours. Head Barista Trevor Hyam, a UK Barista Championship finalist, is a strong advocate for Third Wave coffee, a modern movement striving to promote top quality artisan coffee, which is not only delicious, but also entirely traceable to individual farms and cooperatives. Maintaining high standards throughout the whole chain of production, culminating in preparation by the highly skilled baristas, ensures a perfectly balanced cup of coffee. If you don’t take your coffee black, then you certainly won’t be disappointed with the beautiful freepour latte art on the espresso-based drinks. The food menu is simple but tasty and uses organic and locally sourced ingredients. Lunch is served between 11.00 and 16.00 and costs around £6, with plenty of veggie/vegan options available and a range of tempting cakes and pastries. Take a visit to The Plan Cafe and it will become clear that there is a genuine passion for great coffee that you simply will not find anywhere else. — Thomas Coope

— Greg McChesney

83 Crwys Road, Cathays

Pettigrew Tea Rooms

Bute Park & Arboretum, Castle St, CardifF Hidden by the entrance to Bute Park near the castle, this little tearoom is an absolute treasure, not to be overlooked again! Your best bet is to try Pettigrew on a week-day because you’d be very lucky to get a table on a weekend, especially if the weathers good, as anyone with any sense will have probably flocked there after a stroll around Bute. The cakes on show are always sculpted perfectly, whilst the coffee is a delicious middle blend; I would encourage you to try one of their smooth ristrettos! They also have a great selection of herbal and fruity teas, which come in the most divine vintage tea sets, such a special extra touch alongside the 30s music, you can really feel like your transported back in time. Why wouldn’t you want to treat yourself to an afternoon of sophistication?! As the evenings get longer and the days get colder, what better way to warm up than with a nice cuppa and a tasty cake or something from their Christmas high tea menu? There’s no better way to get into the festive spirit. — Lucy Pierce

Coffee Barker

Unit 13, Castle Arcade, Cardiff Coffee Barker is a veritable stalwart of Cardiff’s coffee culture, recognised not only by sleep-starved and caffeinecraving students but also to the normal, well-adjusted general public. Barker’s has enjoyed considerable success in Castle Arcade since its opening in 2010, thanks in no small part to its exemplary staff, excellent coffee and a mesmerising

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Quench147  

This issue we interview a retired exorcist, drop into Cardiff's premium musical festival Dim Swn and begin our tour of independent restauran...

Quench147  

This issue we interview a retired exorcist, drop into Cardiff's premium musical festival Dim Swn and begin our tour of independent restauran...

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