ISSUE 2 // NOV 2016
Well, wasn’t November shit. We have a sexist, racist, melted wax work in charge of the Western world, The British Government can now see your entire internet history (now they’re just as disgusted with you as god is), and America is building an oil pipe over an Indian burial ground. At least there’ll be some oil based ghost movie on the horizon with that one (yey). Luckily it wasn’t too bad for music, film, video games and all that good stuff. ‘Fantastic Beasts’ wasn’t as awful as everyone expected it to be, there was audio gold from across the musical genres, Sly Antics pulled off a killer headline spot and we finally had chance to sit down and talk about the Mancunian up and comers future. So it’s not all doom and gloom. So grab your doomsday provisions, log out of the social media hell you’ve been weeping over all month and have a look at what’s hopefully going to drag you out of the miserable rut of 2016. Ya know, before Christmas shopping, and more cold weather plunge you back into it anyways. And no we won’t cheer up, not until the world looks as good as our ‘releasing soon’ calendar. - Jack Holmes Editor-in-Chief Intertainmentmagazine@hotmail.com
New Techy Stuff We’ve added a new interactive contents page this issue, as well as a “return” button at the end of each article that will take you back here. Your days of frantic page turning as you hunt for that one golden article are over friend.
Editor-in-Chief: Jack Holmes Editors: Evelyn Sweeney and Corey Davies Writers: Jack Holmes, Evelyn Sweeney, Zac Gardiner, Jayna Patel and Josh Weavers Design and Page Layout: Jack Holmes, Katina Petrou Photography: Evelyn Sweeney, Zac Gardiner © All Rights Reserved. All Material in Intertainment Magazine may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the magazines ownership. Intertainment Magazine cannot accept any liability for reader discontent arising from our features. Intertainment Magazine reserves the right to accept or reject any article or material supplied for publication or to edit this material prior to publishing. The opinions expressed or recomendations given in the magazine are the views of the individual author and do not necessarily represent the views of Intertainment Magazine. We accept no liability for any misprints or mistakes and no responsibility can be taken for the content on these pages.
Honeyblood Babes Never Die
The Courteeners @ The Echo Arena
Sly Antics @ Gullivers Palace So Long Forever
A Tribe Called Quest We Got It from Here... Interview with Sly Anticâ€™s Sam Hudson
Shit Present Misery + Disaster
Japanese House Swim Against the Tide
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Pokemon Sun and Moon
Catfish and the Bottlemen @ Victoria Warehouse Artist Rooms: Andy Warhol
Honeyblood Babes Never Die Genre: Punk Label: Fat Cat Records Release Date: November 4th By Jack Holmes The Scottish duo of Honeyblood originally formed back in 2012 with Stina Tweeddale and Shone Mcvicar originally intending to add other band members before deciding they “weren’t missing anything musically”. But in September 2014, just after the band’s first self-titled album dropped in July, McVicar left the band to pursue other endeavours. Stepping into the role of drummer and vocalist for Honeyblood’s follow up is Cat Myers, and whether ‘Babes Never Die’ is a natural progression or whether Myers just naturally compliments and collaborates perfectly with Tweeddale doesn’t change the fact that ‘Babes Never Die’ hits all the right marks and some you didn’t even know you wanted an album to. Honeyblood have had a flurry of success since their debut with their varying line-up’s, supporting the likes of Foo Fighters, Courtney Barnett, Deap Valley and We Were Promised Jetpacks. It earned them the talents of James Dring as producer for ‘Babes Never Die’, who has previously worked with the likes of Jamie T and Gorillaz. The essence of the twelve-track masterpiece is built around a theme of strength in the face of adversity. Building on their first albums assault on disappointing and infuriating ex’s, ‘Babes Never Die’ develops the message into a kind of musical armour with lyrics like “Thought I’d go up in flames instead of lights / Strike the match that set me alight / You can watch my fire burn bright” featured throughout. Stand out tracks include the 90’s alt-rock influenced ‘Ready for the Magic’ that feels like a mash-up of Riot Grrrl snarl and a blitz of guitar riffs and pounding drums, more reminiscent of more modern duo’s like Drenge or Death From Above 1979. ‘Sea Hearts’ continues a kind of Riot Grrrl, “fuck em” attitude with Tweeddale proclaimed “We’ll break hearts that get in our way”, but sounds closer to Muncie Girls or Shit Present than more alt rock themed revival. After the initial four tracks of full throttle pulse-pounding aggression, ‘Love is Disease’ allows some slight breathing space. The passion is still very much engrained into every track, but these slower additions have a more gritted teeth feel, that’s equally effective whilst offering the opportunity for Honeyblood to ramp up the heart rates later on. ‘Walking at Midnight’, with its epic atmospheric chorus is gothic and epic in equal measure. Showcasing Tweeddale’s phenomenal voice, just as comfortable hitting notes right at the top of the scale before shooting back to a low rumbling growl not just from track to track but verse to verse. Lyrics are punchy, fun and flow smoothly, displayed with a clear clarity to enormous effect. This is the kind of material that’s going to be stuck in your head for days until you’ve fully purged it from your system through some major repeat listening.
The album begins to wrap itself up on ‘Gangs’ which feels like a haunted warning for those who choose not to act on the albums messages of standing up for yourself. “Don’t let your fears keep you here / They’ll turn into quicksand,” Tweeddale warns, and with the energy that’s been transferred through the rest of the album, it’s nice to think that there will be individuals who listen to ‘Babes Never Die’ and use it to help themselves out of their own shitty situations. ‘Babes Never Die’ is catchy, energetic and bold, featuring expertly crafted tracks that feel like instant anthems. If you finish Honeyblood’s excellent follow-up and don’t feel like you could punch through a brick wall and scream your own rendition of their tracks to an arena, you’ve just not turned the volume up loud enough.
Palace - So Long Forever Genre: Alternative/Indie Rock Label: Fiction Records and Caroline Records Release Date: November 4th By Kieran Bowie
Ordinarily, when listening to an album you’ve already heard at least a couple of the singles from it, however for myself and many other listeners ‘So Long Forever’ will be the first introduction to Palace and their sound. Although Palace have released a number of singles from ‘So Long Forever’ already, they’ve never quite managed to make it into the mainstream, meaning ‘So Long Forever’ works as an introduction to something completely new. The fact that ‘So Long Forever’ has been released in 2016, four years after the four-piece band formed in London, shows the band have spent their time building towards this album, gaining experience from the live circuit, rather than rushing into the studio. Palace seem to have benefited from this approach, as ‘So Long Forever’ feels like a breath of fresh air in what can sometimes feel a stagnated section of the alt-rock genre. Such a highly polished record positions the band well for a long and successful future in the industry, and we couldn’t be happier. The album opens on the track ‘Break The Silence’, where it’s strength clearly lies in it’s interlocking dual guitar sections. In the verses, the lead guitar is used sparingly whilst the rhythm guitar keeps the riff going underneath. This creates a great atmosphere and contrasts brilliantly with the choruses which are given a much fuller feel when the lead guitar is reintroduced. This contrast between sparse verses and full choruses continues as a theme throughout ‘So Long Forever’, with ‘It’s Over’ providing another example of their expertly used contrasting sounds, showing the band’s ability to create a diverse mix of songs while maintaining a constant theme. In the sections that build up to the chorus, the bass, in combination with brilliantly syncopated drums build a tension particularly satisfying, especially in uplifting chorus segments. ‘Bitter’ and ‘Live Well’ are two examples where Palace drift away from their standard 4/4 time signatures, a staple song structure for alt rock bands, and trade it for uncommon and lesser used structures. It’s good to see a band be willing to push the boundaries and experiment especially when it pays off as is the case of So Long Forever. The London band clearly have a wide range of influences, with a sound reminiscent of Foals’ early work, whilst the intro to ‘Live Well’ is very Jeff Buckley-esque. Despite the clear influence acts like these have had on Palace’s sound, the band maintain an original sound which will help them put their own stamp on 2016, a year that has seen a number of other runaway successes in the alt rock movement such as All Tvvins and Blossoms. Initial reaction to the album has been good, with ‘So Long Forever’ as high as 8th on iTunes’ alternative album chart within the first day of its release. It certainly looks as if Palace will be joining a host of household names in the coming months and years, both on the touring circuit and on the album charts.
A Tribe Called Quest Genre: Hip Hop Label: Epic Records Release Date: November 11th By Josh Weavers and Jack Holmes
With the release of ‘We got it from Here… Thank You 4 Your Service’, A Tribe Called Quest (ATCQ) face a trend which plagues veteran artists when they release new music after a long spell away from recording: how do you create music which is simultaneously new and familiar? It seems like an impossible task to produce something which will please the older fans by retaining a signature sound, while also avoiding alienating first time listeners by sounding too dated. Arguably the challenge for ATCQ is even greater given the high regard with which their body of work is held, as well as the scope of the influence which they have had across the entire hip hop genre. Their influence can be heard in the work of artists like Kendrick Lamar and Chance the Rapper, who both deliver a deep and socially conscious sound which can trace its roots back to groups like ATCQ. It would have been easy for ATCQ to cash in on their legacy by bringing in a few big names and copying the sound they cultivated on their previous works. Instead, ATCQ have produced another masterpiece that pulls out all the stops to earn itself a place in both the band’s history, and in hip hop history itself. When they first arrived on the scene back in 1985, they were amongst artists that had already begun pushing a movement, and relished the chance to lend their voice to the social commentary that American hip hop was reveling in. Their last album ‘The Love Movement’, seemed to be Tribes big finale in 1998, with the group splitting that year, and being nominated for a Grammy in ‘99. One last album from the group has been rumored for the 18 years since, although it always felt like wishful thinking, and the death of member Malik “Phife Dawg” Taylor earlier this year seemed to put a stop to what little hope remained. It turns out however, that the group had begun working on recordings after their appearance on ‘The Tonight Show’ back on November 13th, the same night as the Paris attacks. Feeling “charged” at the news, they put aside their differences to work on one final album, and although Phife’s death occurred before the album was completed, the other members rallied to finish the record even after his death. Guest spots throughout the album are perfectly pitched; including an Andre 3000 appearance on ‘Kids’, and the iconic Kendrick Lamar on ‘Conrad Tokyo’. Mobius is another highlight, and yet another example of Busta Rhymes stealing any show he makes an appearance in. ‘Enough!!’ Feels very much like classic tribe for when you’re planning on bumping uglies and features a sitar sample from ‘Bonita Applebum’, from their 1990 album ‘People’s Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm’. This isn’t the typical band swan song, where an artist attempts to release their safest, most crowd pleasing material. This is Tribe, dragged into the present day while sounding fresher than ever. With ‘We Got it From Here…’ ATCQ reminds us how they earned their title as a key voice of the genre in the first place.
Jaws - Simplicity Genre: Indie Rock Label: Rattlepop Release Date: November 4th By Jack Holmes “Jaws? Where have I seen that name before” you might be asking. Well, the Birmingham four-piece have effectively managed to push themselves to just outside of the mainstream indie scene, especially in the North of England. They’ve toured with the likes of Swim Deep, The Twang and Peace, as well as spots at a number of festivals including Leeds and Reading, and were tipped by The Guardian all the way back in 2012, the same year they officially formed. Their follow-up to their debut album Be Slowly, titled ‘Simplicity’, once again merges their unique blend of indie pop and alt rock to heights although reached on their debut, were never quite perfected. A sign of things to come? We certainly think so. The Birmingham three piece’s self-released album is a more mature affair than ‘Be Slowly’. Frontman Connor Schofield has moved past the lost loves and regrets of his younger years and now turns his attentions to pressure and the resulting anxiety. The track ‘17’ for example, as he cries “there’s a beast on my back… got his claws down my neck and I’m running out of
breath”, is just one example of the huge developments Schofield has made with his song writing. It’s never pure doom and gloom though, with ‘Simplicity’ given life by a mix of floaty and fine picked guitars that stop the album getting too dark to still be deemed as an entertaining indie album. The production on ‘Simplicity’ is one of its key successes, managing to stay intense without breaking away from the atmosphere Schofield’s voice has an uncanny power to create, as well as the refined song structures that trio now displays on every track of the album. Stand out songs include ‘What We Haven’t Got Yet’, which would almost certainly make an appearance on a ‘Skins’ season soundtrack if that show still aired (am I showing my age?) ‘Right in Front of Me’ features a perfect drum and lead guitar riff combo, and manages to wrap it all up in a kind of spacey ethereal package. In contrast, ‘In the Morning’, feels like a doom rock epic with a nice hint of grunge thrown in for good measure. With the track hitting towards the end of the album it helps demonstrate just how many directions Jaws have taken with their signature sound, and are likely to continue to do so in the future. Jaws have released ‘Simplicity’ independently through their own label ‘Rattlepop’, so the success of the album will be heavily dependent on their ever-growing fan base. Luckily for them, this next installment in the bands catalogue more than sells itself. There’s still a lot of room for Jaws to develop and feels like another stepping stone on their journey to a perfectly evolved , yet still personal sound. What direction Jaws take next is difficult to say, but judging by the progress made in just two short years between their first and second album, we’re excited to have a listen.
Shit Present - Misery + Disaster Genre: Punk Label: Specialist Subject Records Release Date: November 11th By Jack Holmes
Specialist Subject Records have a real knack for finding artists with a passion for heartfelt music. From Smith Street Band, Doe, Above Them and Muncie Girls, they’ve introduced us to bands from across that world share a passion for great, honest writing that’s difficult to find one band who exhibit, let alone an entire label of them. Shit Present are one of those artists, a supergroup made up of former members of Great Cynics, Gnarwolves, the aforementioned Smith Street Band and The Computers. Their first self-titled EP was released back in 2015 offering up five tracks of the band’s unique blend of indie punk, including the hugely catchy ‘Anxious Type’. The four piece return this month with their follow-up EP, ‘Misery + Disaster’, offering up mostly more of the same, but you know what they say, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.
Shit Present aren’t the type to overcomplicate their songs, they write tracks that have you hooked after a quick catchy intro and then hold your attention with catchy background riffs while heartfelt lyrics take centre stage. Those lyrics come from former Great Cynics member Iona Cairns, whose voice makes up the core of Shit Present’s sound with her heartfelt, strikingly honest anecdotes, and in this EP’s case regularly focusing on alienation, mental health and relationships. It could easily become a bleak affair, the chorus of the track ‘House (Breakdown)’ for example which explores mental health and treatment “did the doctor say you lacked some chemicals, did he write you up something to make you feel less terrible?”. However, Cairns has mastered a “nothing to prove” attitude, with Shit Present’s tracks never seeking approval, just an ear to listen to them and make your own mind up. The EP’s six tracks never stray far from the three-minute mark and hit hard and quickly. There are no in-between track blends or instrumental bridge interludes, in fact there’s nothing to distract from the core of each song, whether that be Cairn’s asking if “all the standards that you set, are all inside my head?” on ‘The Line’, or fear of failure and insanity on ‘Against the World!’ ‘Misery + Disaster’ opens with ‘Sick of Me’ and Cairns and co start as they mean to go on. Floaty guitars and lyrics that present an ex-lover as more of an irritation than a heart breaker, singing “you’ve got a lot of nerve talking about my misery”. “I don’t know what you want I can just tell you’re unhappy” she bravely sings later in the track, there really is nothing left on the table with these tracks, and the serious nature of the content of each track is kept positive by uplifting, energetic riffs and drum beats throughout the EP.
It’s followed by ‘The Line’ which although slightly more forgettable than some of the other tracks featured on the EP, still features a pulsing bassline that carries the track and gives it an energy that carries listeners through. ‘Evil Way’ has a nice rapid riff that mixes perfectly with harmonies, all tied up in a neat little two minutes 20-second package. It’s a pretty perfect summary of just how quickly and hard Shit Present are able to make an impact on their listener. Against the World! Makes the most of Cairn’s screaming potential. There’s a real passion to her voice whether she’s almost whispering over electroacoustic melodies or, in Against the World!’s case, belting out an emotional chorus of “cos I was looking for it too, they made it up that’s what they do”. ‘Misery + Disaster’ is another promising instalment from the supergroup who’ve quickly made a name for themselves as their new group. All eyes are now on the four piece and the LP that now looms on the horizon. How Shit Present will continue to maintain the momentum they’ve built on these last two no holds barred EP’s is anyone’s guess but we expect it to be loud, emotional and a great listen, just as their EP’s have.
Japanese House - Swim Against the Tide Genre: Indie Synth Label: Dirty Hit Records Release Date: November 11th By Jack Holmes
‘Swim Against the Tide’ is the third and final EP in a series created by Japanese House. Following the themes of the first two instalments, ‘Clean’ and ‘Pools to Bathe In’, ‘Swim Against the Tide’ is a mix of 1975 esque vocals and something much more electronic at times, eerily sombre. It’s an odd mix, and while not always pulling it off perfectly, for the most part, The Japanese House deliver another instalment in a line of EP’s that have pioneered a corner of the indie electronic genre few others have dared to tread. Japanese House is the brainchild of a particularly talented East Londoner. When questioned about the name they replied “I was thinking about what I wanted to call myself as I didn’t want to put my name out or my gender” and who are we to question that? In fact, we commend the idea that music should speak for itself regardless of the details of the artist. ‘Swim Against the Tide’ feels like it was always envisioned as being listened to from start to finish in one sitting, flowing from track to track acting as pieces of a larger picture. It works well, and adds a sense of atmosphere to the EP, moving from “just music” into the territory of “music as art”, impressive when you consider it’s a relatively easy listen in comparison to other artists who’ve been regarded as an artist rather than a musician. Opening with track ‘Swim Against the Tide’, The Japanese House immediately introduce the listener to newly incorporated sounds in addition to their usual electronic, yet another influence into The Japanese House’s mix of styles. Vocals are thoroughly indie pop but the added electronic and synth layers give the whole EP a more unique feel than anything you can expect to hear on prime time Radio1 (or whatever all the normal kids listen to these days). ‘Face Like Thunder’ is the clear highlight, ethereal vocals soar over smooth electronic beats and features a catchy indie pop chorus that still manages to incorporate the . It’s much more upbeat than the rest of the EP but never feels out of place and simply comes across as a peak in the energy of the album. ‘Good Side In’’s funky bass lines and clean fine picked guitars contrast from ‘Face Like Thunder’’s solemn eeriness. It’s almost uplifting at times and the chorus is one of the most foot tap inciting moments ‘Swim Against the Tide’ has to offer.
‘Leon’ feels a little lacklustre in the grand scheme of the whole EP. Where ‘Good Side In’ has its catchy chorus, ‘Face Like Thunder’ it’s driving melodies and the EP’s title track has the oddities of its oriental sounds, Leon just feels a little empty. If ‘Swim Against the Tide’ had been a full album this would be been an acceptable wind down track to finish off the journey through the EP, but instead is made to feel a little repetitive with its chorus of “I hadn’t figured out until you were gone, Leon, Leon” lacking the excitement of previous tracks. ‘Swim Against the Tide’ is a mix of in your face and passively atmospheric that might put off a lot of their listeners, but it’s an EP that moves cleverly from one tempo to another both within its tracks and through its track to track transitions. There’s something delightfully unique about it, even if that something isn’t going to grab you by the shoulders and shake you, preferring to whisper its intrigue into your ear throughout its playtime. ‘Swim Against the Tide’ is worth a listen, if you like your atmospheric indie electronica you’re sure to find a niche little gap in the market that The Japanese House have claimed, and if you’re not, well give it a listen anyway and you might be pleasantly surprised.
Catfish and the Bottlmen @ Manchester Victoria Warehouse Date: 9th - 11th November By Kieran Bowie
Catfish and The Bottlemen returned to Manchester last week for the first time since headlining Sound of the City to 8,000 people at Castlefield Bowl back in July. This time they played three back to back shows at Victoria Warehouse to a total of 15,000 people, an impressive step up in such a short space of time. The dates are part of the UK leg of their â€˜The Ride Tourâ€™, which will end on November 20th in Dublin, before the four-piece head over to America, some well needed good news for indie fans across the Atlantic.
Supporting Catfish over the three nights were Canadian band, July Talk, who did a fantastic job of warming up a huge crowd, eager with anticipation. Most of the crowd arrived early to attempt to get themselves solid places in the crowd but this never seemed to intimidate the band who are currently touring with their second album ‘Touch’. July Talk are also due to return to Manchester in March 2017, where they’ll play the Night and Day Café, so if you fancy a more intimate experience of the indie rock five-piece you know where to head. Catfish excel at their live shows and their multiple dates at Victoria Warehouse were no exception. Lead singer Van McCann holds his audience in the palm of his hand from the moment his band walk on stage. This is a group that are adored by their devout fan base and the four-piece clearly appreciate the support, with Van taking a number of opportunities to thank the crowd for coming out. McCann is is a frontman who makes involving the entirety of a crowd seem easy and it often feels as if his audience is simply an extension of himself. Catfish and the Bottlemen seem to genuinely love being on stage and this only aids the atmosphere at their live shows, as both the band and the crowd feed off each other’s enthusiasm. The sense of community created by live music is one of the key reasons it still exists at this kind of scale, with Catfish expertly displaying it in its refined form. There’s little to no lull from the start of Catfish’s set right through to their grand finale. It’s a performance most other bands would watch with envy, even those with much larger back catalogs of tracks to choose from. One surprising omission is ‘Sidewinder’, a brilliant song perfectly suited for anthem crowd based chanting. It doesn’t ruin the night’s proceedings, and in fact, virtually any track that Catfish could choose to include to add to their performance would be sure to go down well with an audience of such dedicated and energetic Mancunians. One criticism would be that the band played an identical setlist over their three nights at Victoria Warehouse. It’s a setlist that’s well worth seeing multiple times, but it would have been nice for them to add some variety to their proceedings in Manchester, especially with so many dates at a single venue. They open the night with ‘Homesick’, a strong track from their debut ‘The Balcony’ featuring a fine picked opening guitar riff and clear vocals. A perfect way to warm up 18,000 voices in preparation for the rest of the night. Acoustic track ‘Hourglass’ makes an appearance at just the right point in the set, giving both the band and the crowd a breather from the onslaught of anthemic numbers, before ending the show in style with ‘7’, arguably their best live song. ‘Cocoon’ is a particular crowd favourite and goes down a treat, with the audience’s chants of “fuck it if they talk, fuck it if they try and get to us”, echoing into the night. It has been traditionally used by the band to end their live performances, however it seems with the introduction of their second album ‘The Ride’ and a brand new live setlist, has pushed the band to mix things up a little and instead bring the night to a close with ‘Tyrants’. Although a well-recorded song on their debut album, it’s live counterpart is something particularly special, acting as the quintessential explosive finale that was needed to bring such an impressive night to a final close. Van has said before that number of album sales the band makes doesn’t motivate him, he’s always just wanted to fill stadiums. While Catfish may not quite be at the stadium level yet, fans should make the most of seeing the Welsh indie rockers at relatively intimate venues like Victoria Warehouse while they still can. Catfish have now repeatedly shown their ability to entertain large crowds and it’s only a matter of time before they’re filling some of the biggest venues in the country. Catfish have had quite the journey over the last few years and with the SSE Hydro and Wembley arena to follow Manchester, their ride is far from over.
The Courteeners @ Liverpool Echo Arena Date: November 18th November By Kieran Bowie With no Manchester gig on this Winter’s ‘Mapping the Rendezvous’ tour, Liverpool’s Echo Arena was the closest thing to a homecoming gig in 2016 for Courteeners. Although it’s fair to say that a number of the Manchester faithful made the short trip to Merseyside. The Scousers did not disappoint either, showing that the Mancunians aren’t the only ones who’ll virtually sell their souls for a Courteeners ticket. So far on the ‘Mapping the Rendezvous’ tour, Courteeners had experimented with the setlist. Liverpool kept with that theme and presented the longest and most well-rounded set list of the tour so far. Traditional set opener ‘Are You in Love With a Notion?’ was back in all its glory, ‘Cross My Heart and Hope to Fly’ was a welcome surprise and their new songs held their own despite the band’s incredibly strong back catalogue. Whilst being critical of the album version of ‘De La Salle’, the live version is a vast improvement. Presented without its string section allows frontman Liam Fray to introduce a more stripped back rendition of the track, testament to Fray’s recent acoustic dates across the UK. Courteeners’ choice to weave snippets of classics into their own tunes works brilliantly, with Pulp’s Disco 2000 being mixed with ‘No You Didn’t, No You Don’t’, and their regular rendition of James’ ‘Tomorrow’ within ‘What Took You So Long?’ continuing to prove to be perfect fan favourites. Another inevitable fan favourite moment was the band’s anthem of youth, and arguably their biggest hit, ‘Not
Nineteen Forever’, which had fans bouncing even in the seated section. The pacing of the set worked well for the band, with their biggest tracks spread out evenly across the set. For a band with a number of classics in their arsenal, their newer tracks went down well, with the set including ‘The Dilettante’, ‘The 17th’ and ‘Modern’ all from ‘Mapping the Rendezvous’. The final phase of the concert ensured fans went home happy. Courteeners choose not to play an obligatory encore at the end of their shows, a ploy that’s largely lost its effect in the modern live music scene. The crowd would have loved to experience more of Courteeners music, however, it makes a refreshing change to see a band construct a setlist that includes all the best songs possible, rather than having a kind of “greatest hits” themed encore at the end. There were flares set off throughout the night, despite warnings, the first one going off before the band even walked on stage. By the end of the night, these had created a great sea of red that only added to the atmosphere of their final climactic performance of ‘St Jude’’s ‘What Took You So Long’. Although my Manchester bias forces me to mention that the crowd wasn’t quite a hometown crowd, the atmosphere within the Echo Arena was fantastic, setting a high bar for the rest of the arena’s the band will play before the end of the year. God bless the band. Roll on the 27th May.
Sly Antics, Barmines, Cruel Kingdoms and Mint @ Gullivers Manchester Date: 19th November By Jack Holmes Images Courtesy of Evelyn Sweeney The first time I saw Sly Antics was the 19th October 2015 at a virtually empty band night at the MMU Union, we’re talking around 20 people in attendance. Sly Antics didn’t give a shit, they were the first support act for a band called Flesh, but by the end of the night, all 20 of those unassuming students were sold on the Sly Antics sound. A couple of things have changed since last October, the trio have built up their confidence, they interact fluidly with the crowd and move around the stage like playing their tracks is second nature. Their gig sizes have also changed a little, from supporting a band to an audience of 20 people, Sly Antics have gone on to play at venues across the North of England including shows at Manchester’s Ritz and Star and Garter as well as heading over to Yorkshire for dates at the iconic Hebden Bridge Trades Club. On Saturday the 19th of November, they performed their first headlining spot at a sold-out gig at the infamous Gulliver’s in Manchester’s Northern Quarter. Considering we’ve been with the band since the beginning, we thought it only fitting we attend to see how they got along. With support from three of the North of England’s finest up and coming indie and hard rock bands, Sly Antics weren’t the only artists that are worth a watch. Opening the evening’s proceedings is Mint, another act native to the North, hailing from Grimsby in Lincolnshire. Their blend of hard rock and Twin Atlantic style riffs is a catchy mix that’s more than enough to turn the heads of the first wave of audience members. They’re just coming to the end of their UK ‘Happiness’ tour, and have had some recent successes on the Spotify charts in the last month or two, justifying their status as a definite “one to watch”. They exhibit most of their energy in their big finale breakdown moment, a theme that runs through the night. Well, who doesn’t like an epic finish to a strong set? Another of Manchester’s home-grown talents, Cruel Kingdom, follows them. The trio says goodbye to guitarist Henry Beach after the night’s show, and make sure to give him a solid send-off to end their partnership. There’s a kind of Arctic Monkeys ‘Suck it and See’ vibe to their set. Frontman Sam Capper has a particularly impressive voice and manages to overcome a number of technical difficulties throughout their set without too many issues. There may have been a slight over-reliance on covers through their set but overall, Cruel Kingdom bring a stripped back sound that you don’t tend to hear much of anymore in modern indie music, proving less can still be more. The final support act, The Barmines, would have stolen the show under another headliner. Hailing from Leeds the four-piece share many of the draws of the Sly Antics trio. Pulsing bass lines, heavy riffs, strong vocals create a set that pushes the tempo to max and then a little further. If Royal Blood added another two members and tightened up their sound, we have a feeling this is what they’d sound like. Confident, loud and chaotic, well they are named after an anti-tank mine after all, what did we expect? Sly Antics have always excelled at their live shows. Front man Sam Hudson has developed continuously since their first show on the back of a truck (which we’ll be discussing with him in an interview coming soon), right up their current headlining status. The difference for their Gulliver’s set is that the audience knows them. Tracks from their debut EP ‘Captive City’ go down better than ever with an audience who now chant
along. It’s something new for the band that we can expect to see a lot more of as they continue to build their fan base. Standout numbers include ‘Lights Go Down’, which was released as a single from the EP back in October, and the title track from ‘Captive City’, which works as a great live performance with blasting drums and lots of contrast between verses and choruses for the trio to play around with. The bands set is as tight as always with no awkward pauses to break the atmosphere, Sly Antics have thought about their sets as a whole rather than track-bytrack and that shows. They also perform a number of new songs, currently in the process of being recorded for their follow up second EP. These new songs fit into their usual set with no issues, and there’s no drop in their quality. It also demonstrates that the band haven’t simply improved their set by practising their same songs over and over, they’ve developed as a band, meaning that whatever track the three choose to play is going to be performed to the same high standards as their back catalogue. They continue to mix classics into their tracks for some added effect, an effective way to get some classic well-known musical moments into their material, including Kanye West and a Justin Timberlake shout out. They wrap up their set at around midnight, meaning for the reasonable price of a fiver the North has managed to come together to present us with around four hours of quality entertainment. Anyone who tells you the British music scene is in trouble needs to start paying attention to the new generation of bands, not just in the North but also across the UK. They haven’t quite made this into a rags to riches tale just yet, but Sly Antics and the other up and coming Northern sounds heard here will undoubtedly have a voice in the future of British music, and by the looks of it are going to enjoy the journey to that destination.
Sly Antic’s Sam Hudson Talks Touring, New Music and Getting Signed By Jack Holmes We finally had a chance to sit down with up and coming Manchester based indie rock band Sly Antics’ frontman Sam Hudson. The trio have just played a sold out gig at Gulliver’s in Manchester’s Northern Quarter, which you can read our full review of here. Here’s part one of our interview. Just to start we loved your set on Saturday night.
Cheers, I was actually really stressed before I went on, just because it all went on so late. There was a guy next to me who’d come all the way from Warrington on his own who had to leave before we started, [for] last trains. £5 for a four-hour gig isn’t bad though, definitely got our money’s worth.
I was gonna say. The bands were good, it was a good line-up. You weren’t sitting around waiting for ages. How would you describe your sound for people who didn’t manage to catch that gig? Any core influences?
People say it’s kind of like, noisy, which sounds like a simple word but, we don’t like to be too clean and polished, I think our sounds quite jagged. [It’s] lots of distortion, lots of feedback, that kind of stuff, lots of influences from old style grunge bands, your Sonic Youth and that kind of stuff. It is polished to the extent that there’s quite a poppy nature to our choruses, they’re quite catchy. You kind of have the Northern Arctic Monkeys Northern rock style sing-along sort of stuff going on, but also some real heavy, old school 90’s, like some Rage Against the Machine style riffs, early Muse stuff to give it some meat on the bones. Would you say you guys have changed that sound much since you’ve formed?
Our first gig was October last year, so it’s been a while, but at the same time it’s gone insanely quick. We have changed a lot, our performance is much more confident, I’m sure you’ve spotted that [he laughs]. The music’s second nature now, it’s more about the show. We’ve done these songs a lot but now we’re adding things to them, adding breakdowns, trying to do something where when someone hears it live it’s got something that’s giving them some extra value. We’re throwing snippets of covers in, a bit more crowd interaction, just trying to put on a better show than we used to put on. For people who haven’t heard you yet, which
one track summarises the band best to you?
I think ‘Captive City’ is the track at the moment. It’s the title track off the EP, it seems to be everyone’s go to. We put all those first tracks out there at once because that was our first music, to try and see what was the most popular and what people like about the band. It always seems to be that and then ‘‘Lights Go Down’’, which is a completely different kind of track, still heavy but it has a funky disco kind of vibe. So ‘Captive City’ is probably the best, I think it shows every element of the band in that song. Since October you’ve done plenty of performances, do any stand out in particular?
We’ve done such a broad scale of gigs. We’ve done some pubs, then we’ve done massive ones. I think the best one for us was the O2 Ritz, which is clearly the biggest stage we’ve ever played, and will play for quite a while, they get some huge bands in there. I think that as the first time when everything was just taken care of, we had a sound tech on stage it’s that big, which is just complete madness we’re not used to that. Lots of space to run around which we really use if we’ve got it, trying to jump around on small stages just doesn’t really work. The sound was phenomenal. And the fact that there were 1000 plus people there which makes a massive difference to the show, with more people there you play 10 times better. That’s definitely the flagship. The EP launch we did at Night and Day Cafe was really good, it was nearly sold out but with such a small space it was like the craziness of the Ritz condensed down into a nice cosy little space. Again, it was really cool I think those two are the standout ones at the moment. What can we expect from you guys in the near future?
So, we’ve been in the studio last month, we’ve recorded three new tracks. They’re recorded, mastered and ready to go but we’re going to be releasing them one by one as singles next year. We’re really really impressed with everything, the confidence and the character comes through a lot more on these new tracks. Each one of those will have a huge, individual launch night at a venue probably in Manchester as it’s our hometown and following up with gigs across the country as well, which is good as we’re getting out of the city and doing stuff in Leeds, Sheffield, Hull and London and some others. Each of those will have a music video as well, we put a lot of effort into our music videos, they’re always quite mad and out there, they’re something to look forward to. We’ve got a huge show at a special venue coming up on the third of February. It’s not usually a venue, so I can’t tell you too much about that just yet. Are those three tracks going to become a new EP?
They’ll be singles at first but I think in terms of us handing physical things out I think it’d be mad to hand out a CD with just a single on it these days. Each time a song’s released just compile it with all our other tracks and just get a bigger CD every time we hand it out. I think everyone would rather have as many tracks as they can and CD’s aren’t that popular these days, but in terms of digital, Spotify and all that stuff, it’ll be a single really it’ll feel like one of it’s own. They fit together but each one’s quite unique in its own right. Do you feel like you’re heading towards an album then?
I think so, I think the idea is for someone else to pay for that though. The dream is, use these singles, get picked up by a big label, they like it enough to put us in the studio and we do a big album launch at some point. It seems to be the way bands are going these days, putting out an album straight away is a bit too overwhelming for some people they just want snippets of bands,
they don’t have the patience they used to listen to whole albums. These three singles, then next step, yeah definitely an album. Do you have a record label in mind?
Difficult to say really, just one of the major labels really. I say one of the major labels, it doesn’t even have to be that, just someone who knows us and has a similar roster. Who can really just push us that massive gap forwards again, we’re doing everything DIY at the moment, which a lot of bands are doing, but it gets to a certain stage where you’re at max capacity. We’re working every single night in the evenings, every single weekend, I took two days off work the other day just to do band jobs and stuff like that. It’s getting to the stage where we need someone to say “hey, I’m gonna put you from B to C”. Out of those three upcoming singles, would you say one stands out the most?
The first one, which people will know if they’ve been to the show, is called ‘Motion’, it’s the song we usually finish the set with. It’s a real kind of anthemic track with a chanty chorus, what’s really good with the recordings is that it’s a really dirty fuzzy track as well, it’s that amalgamation of catchy choruses which are quite poppy but the rest of the song is quite dirty and loud. It’s a real rock and roll track which is becoming rarer these days so yeah, that’s a favourite. Have you approached recording any differently this time around?
It’s with the same people as last time, who are just absolute geniuses. I just can’t describe how incredible they are, they can just listen to a song, like we take the songs in as perfect as we think they are and we play those to them and they make a few slight arrangements through a fresh pair of ears which is really helpful. I think it was ‘Lights Go Down’ last year they completely rearranged all the choruses, it might not sound like a fun process but it’s actually really good to have a fresh perspective on it. This time around we went in less prepared on purpose because we knew things would change. We had a bit more guts this time, last time I think we were playing it a bit safe, they were wild and out there but they weren’t really going too off the spectrum. This time we’ve thrown some stuff in that at first might sound a bit odd, different notes and stuff, I think for one track I just recorded my guitar getting feedback for the entire four minutes and then we overlaid it just to create some noise. It’s definitely got more balls, it’s taking more risks. plus we enjoyed it and knew who we were by that point. When we first recorded the last EP we did that before we’d even gigged, so we didn’t really have an image or the sound we thought we had, after playing live for a year and then coming back to it all the live elements that we loved on stage, we’ve injected that into the music. Can you tell me a little more about the studio you mentioned?
It’s Greenmount Studios, it’s where pulled apart by Horses did their album there, not the one they’ve just launched the previous one, and the Cribs have gone in there plenty of times, some great bands. It’s a studio that isn’t all leather seats its dirty couches, everything’s crammed in, no one wears shoes in there, it’s just like someone’s lounge which is exactly what we wanted it to be. There’s no corporate feel to it whatsoever, which is why we chose it.
Which would you say is more fun to play, old tracks or new ones?
I think still the old tracks simply because people know them and sing them back to us and that again feeds us on stage. If I see someone singing the lyrics that raises my game by about 10%, there’s pros and cons of both but old tracks for that. Any band who’s a big band these days, there most well-known tracks go down the best but it’s still good to throw out the new stuff just so people know we’re still writing and evolving. What’s it like being a headliner now?
Our first headline was weirdly at the Liverpool Cavern which we got out of nowhere, considering we’re not a Liverpool band. That was like a festival and we headlined that on one of the weekend dates, but our first proper headline was our EP launch. It was quite a weird change, it wasn’t long ago that we were first on, it’s a whole different thing, means you can play your own equipment and obviously your own equipment which is much better. If you could support any band in 2017 which would it be?
We’ve just applied to support Moana, they’re not a huge band and they’re playing Night and Day. If I was going all out I’d say Red Hot Chilli Peppers or something because their stadium shows are really good, they’re a very live band now, and obviously, they’re touring the world and it looks incredible. Is that something you’d want to do eventually then?
I think that’s the next step, we’ve hammered Manchester as much as we can for a year, we’ve now gone across to Yorkshire. We’re playing Leeds this weekend and mad Friday in Leeds as well which should be a really good gig. Some Sheffield dates as well, the span of the band is getting bigger and bigger. I think next year is when we look at doing a tour per single launch that we do, either that or we look at other touring bands and just ask “hey can we be your touring band”, that’s definitely the next step. It’s going to be hard but it has to be done. And before we go by any chance did you see this week’s NME top 50 albums of the year and if so what did you think?
I didn’t no I missed that, it’s something I’d usually look at. NME’s changed a lot in the last few years, in fact, I have actually stopped following NME that’s why I won’t have seen it. It’s because their posts had started annoying me, real click bait marketing posts, top five albums by Oasis every day, was starting to drive me crazy. It’s a real shame, I hope they listen to the feedback, every person I’ve talked to has said it’s horrendous. I think they shared a One Direction once and I was just, that was it, I’m done. Will you be up for deciding with the rest of the Sly Antics gang on what your favourite album of the year was for our December issue by the way as well?
We’ll have a think, there’s so many, and you forget when they actually came out but sure I’ll get that to you.
By Jack Holmes and Josh Weavers Oh, to be Donald Glover. Star of the cult TV show ‘Community’, he’s the creator and star of FX’s ‘Atlanta’ which has just been renewed for a second season, he’s been cast as Lando Calrissian in next year’s Star Wars movie and that’s without even mentioning his musical accomplishments. Under the moniker “Childish Gambino”, Glover has released two LP’s including 2013’s hip-hop epic ‘Because the Internet’, and we’re now given our first listen to his follow up through new single ‘Me and Your Mama’.
Childish GambinoMe and Your Mama
The XXOn Hold
After the album cover for his third LP ‘Awaken, My Love!’’ Was teased in the ninth episode of Atlanta, Glover has now released the first track from the album, and it’s a big one. At six minutes 20, we’re expecting this to either be the opening track from the album, or for ‘Awaken, My Love!’ To feature a similar structure to ‘Because the Internet’, flowing from one track to the next seamlessly. It’s a bold move and incredibly difficult to pull off but Glover’s managed to do it in style once, so far we have no reason to believe he can’t do it a second time. The track itself moves from soulful gospel tipped choruses to a blues funk inspired mid-section that’s almost bordering on hard rock. It’s intense and aims just as high as we’ve come to expect from the ridiculously talented Glover. If ‘Awaken, My Love!’ Turns out to be a full album of content to this standard, it’s going to shake not just the rap game, but music scene as a whole. There’s still another two months to wait until The XX’s new album ‘I See You’ releases on January 13th, but we’ve been treated to a sneak peek of what to expect with their new single ‘On Hold’. It’s been four years since their second album ‘Coexist’ and since then Jamie XX released his more electronic focus solo album, so it was natural to assume the band’s next outing would be something of a change of course. ‘On Hold’ confirms that theory, displaying a more positive and faster paced XX than we’ve heard before. The minimalism of the band’s first two albums is still very much in play, but this certainly sounds like a move that’s going to finally push The XX into the history books.
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We’ve heard absolutely nothing from the Japandroids duo in almost three years. Following touring their second album Celebration Rock they announced via Facebook that it was “time for us to disappear into the ether for a while”. They meant it as well, there were no posts on any of the band’s various social media, no murmurs from record labels and no public appearances of any kind. This month we were surprised not only by the re-emergence of the Canadian rock duo but the release of the title track from their new album due out on January 27th titled Near to the Wild Heart of Life.
JapandroidsNear to the Wild Heart of Life
Run the JewelsTalk To Me
The title track of the album shows that Japandroids third album will once again take the band in a new direction, moving from the more calculated sounds of Celebration Rock to new territory featuring feedback-heavy, almost thrashy punk guitar riffs and bolder vocals. We’re not sure if Near to the Wild Heart of Life will in any way resemble what we’ve heard from the duo in the past but Japandroids have managed to stick in our minds for over three years without actually releasing any new music. Any band that writes material that memorable has earned our ear for their third outing come January. ‘Talk to Me’ is the perfect single to build anticipation for ‘Run the Jewels 3’, managing to distill everything Run the Jewels embody into a tightly produced package. There’s the social commentary that the duo have made their name with since their inception in 2013, as well polished beats and “clips” knitting the tracks aggressive attack on, for the most part, racist America. It’s not the only track the duo have released this month, with ‘2100’ getting its release the day after Trump was elected. ‘Talk to Me’ is certainly the better of the two, although ‘2100’ is entirely focused on the threats posed against minority groups in America, Trump is still mentioned on ‘Talk to Me’, “Went to war with the devil and Shaitan/He wore a bad toupee and a spray tan.” RTJ have yet to make a bad move in their career, and ‘RTJ3’ is shaping up to be yet another golden entry to their already rich catalogue of tracks. If you aren’t excited, you might want to check your pulse.
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Director: David Yates Starring: Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston, Dan Fogler, Colin Farrell and Ezra Miller Studio: Warner Bros. Pictures Release Date: November 18th
By Evelyn Sweeney ‘Harry Potter’ fans have been going frantic this month after the release of ‘Fantastic Beasts’ and Where to Find Them. It acts as a loose prequel to the ‘Harry Potter’ series, based on a Hogwarts textbook which J.K. Rowling released for Comic Relief in 2001. Their excitement is understandable, as it’s difficult to see how ‘Fantastic Beasts’ could disappoint their expectations. J.K. Rowling (Screenwriter) and David Yates (Director) throw us into the Wizarding World across the Atlantic in a 1920′s New York. We follow Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne), a ‘Magizoologist’, who accidentally lets loose a number of magical creatures that he must retrieve before any ‘No-Majs’ (Non-Magical Folk) become aware of their existence. One of ‘Fantastic Beasts’ most charming features is that it showcases J.K Rowling’s debut in screenwriting. Although at times it can feel a little too rapidly paced and even cluttered, it is something that works marvellously when considering that, for the first time, fans are viewing a film set in a very different section of a franchise with very little prior knowledge. Simply put, Rowling has created a huge world and capturing it is a grand task in itself. This is especially welcoming after the tragedy that was the publication of ‘The Cursed Child’, which proved that it’s incredibly difficult to impersonate Rowling’s work without it becoming a disappointing read for long time fans. The same sense of familiarity was supported by the director, David Yates, who was also responsible for the last four ‘Harry Potter’ Films. As the themes within ‘Fantastic Beasts’ are much darker than the ones we’re used to from the ‘Potterverse’, Yates’ does a great job of creating a familiar experience through ‘Fantastic Beasts’ themes, while still managing to effectively launch an entirely new story and film series. He includes an exploration of death, which has always been a key theme in Rowling’s writing, yet is depicted much more prominently and some would argue even twisted, in ‘Fantastic Beasts’. Whether or not the Anti-Fascist political statements were a deliberate reflection on current events or not, the parallels between the current American politics and the film are startling, to say the least. From a clock depicting various threat
levels in the Magical Congress building similar to those of America’s current threat levels, to the newspaper headlines using phrases like “terrorist attack” and “where will he strike next”. Even with these more serious tones, the film maintains a light-hearted feel, largely more so than the later ‘Harry Potter’ films, but this movement into darker territory adds another layer to the Potterverse and gives it’s villains a more realistic feel, whilst retaining it’s enjoyable and amusing moments. Protagonist Newt Scamander, having been expelled from Hogwarts because of an ‘accident’, something Newt apparently “excels in”, comes to America, with a bottomless suitcase full of magical creatures. His goal is to study them and eventually create a book, that will teach the wizarding world how to care for magical animals. Redmayne excels in his performance of Mr Scamander, a delightfully eccentric and quirky wizard who sets himself apart from any of Rowling’s other characters. While Newt Scamander rarely strikes you as a logical character, he is a true Hufflepuff, demonstrated through his extreme loyalty and dedication, not only to his work, but those around him. The character chooses not to just rely on himself but welcomes the support and love his friends give him, once again bringing forward key themes present within the ‘Harry Potter’ series. His character occasionally felt a little underdeveloped, largely due to the sometimes rushed nature of the film but it’s likely he’ll be fleshed out in later films. The differences between the two protagonists of the Potterverse series - Harry and Newt - become very apparent as ‘Fantastic Beasts’ progresses. While they may both be introverted heroes with clear morals, their actions differ wildly. Although Newt seems vastly more comfortable around his mystical beasts than he does around humans, he never questions that he can rely on his friends to help him. Whereas Harry was constantly battling with himself, and felt immeasurable guilt when anyone was hurt in an attempt to help him. We’re later introduced to Tina Goldstein (Katherine Waterson), a demoted Auror that works at ‘MACUSA’ (Magical Congress of the USA), who although usually rule abiding, is prepared to take risks in order to stand up for what she believes in. Her mind-reading sister, Queenie Goldstein (Alison Sudol), contrasts dramatically to Tina. She’s confident, endearing, and flirtatious, where Tina is quiet and reserved. Jacob Kowalski (Dan Fogler), a No-Maj who is accidentally thrown into Scamamnder’s world expertly, helping to give the often ridiculous events of the film a more grounded feel. Queenie’s and Jacob’s relationship is very much typical of Pot-
ter romances, depicting the two as soul mates throughout. Perhaps it will allow Rowling to further explore the intolerance embedded within the American Wizarding Community towards No-Maj’s, or Muggles, as they were known as in the Potter series. It also allows for the series to further develop our knowledge of Half-Bloods, a theme that ran throughout the ‘Harry Potter’ films, yet was rarely directly addressed. There are a series of antagonists in the film including Percival Graves (Colin Farrell), a power-hungry Auror with a dark secret, The Second Salemers, including Mary Lou Barebone (Samantha Morton) and her adopted son, Credence (Ezra Miller), a troubled child who is abused by Barebone and desperate for an escape. There’s also Gellert Grindelwald, a dark wizard who supports the idea that Wizards are above No-Majs, and is set up as the kind of ‘big bad’ of the ‘Fantastic Beasts’ series. The creatures of ‘Fantastic Beasts’ often steal the show, and there are a number to feast your eyes on from the first moments of the film. The love/hate relationship between Newt and the adorable kleptomaniac Niffler for example, creates the most effective comical moments throughout the film. Other creatures include a Demiguise, a primate-like creature that can blend into its surroundings, a Bowtruckle, a sweet and loyal twig like creature that has a knack for picking locks and an Occamy, a cross between a dragon and bird with a serpentine body, that can grow and shrink to fit into any available space. There are also a variety of other animals including Billywigs, a Thunderbird, a Swooping Evil and Obscurus’. Creatures like the Occamy and Demiguise created some wonderful visual effects. However, there are some less charming moments when we’re introduced to characters we’ve seen created using practical effects now rendered in CGI, such as Goblins. It removes a little of the, shall we say magic, from the overall design of the movie, although luckily these moments are rare. You can already sense that J.K. Rowling has a master plan set up for us. Her detailed and immersive worlds are what makes her fans crave for more. It’s already been confirmed that there are another four films to be released in the series, which is set to end in the 1940′s of the Wizarding world, nineteen years after it begins, in a nod to the final scene in the Potter series which took place Nineteen Years Later. The film opens up the wonderful universe that Rowling has created, and does it’s predecessors in the Potter series proud.
Director: Gavin O’Connor Starring: Ben Affleck, Anna Kendrick, J.K. Simmons, Cynthia Addai-Robinson and John Bernthal Studio: Warner Bros Release Date: November 4th By Jayna Patel Ben Affleck’s no stranger to challenging roles. From having to live up to Christian Bale’s stellar performance as the Dark Knight, to playing the most screwed-over and hoodwinked husband of all time in David Fincher’s mind-blowing thriller, ‘Gone Girl’. His winning performance as an autistic accountant who uses his astute math skills for the most formidable terrorists and offenders of the criminal underworld, is yet another testament to his understated versatility as an actor. And yes, you read correctly, a protagonist who is an autistic accountant. Refreshing huh? In fact, the whole film is refreshing. Immediately suspense is built up, bit by bit, frame by frame, as the film opens with a tense shootout, depicted through an initially unknown character’s point of view. We witness close ups of his cautious feet as he edges slowly, floorboards creaking, up the stairs of the building from which the piercing sound of gunfire rings out, ricocheting off the walls, the sound of his nervous footsteps carrying him closer to the deadly scene as he catches sight of the limp and bloody arm of a fatally shot figure slumped on the ground around the corner... Well you get the picture, ‘The Accountant’ features gripping action and gunfire sequences but quite ingeniously intersperses a tight, slick filming style evocative of the methodical and meticulous mind of someone living with autism. What’s great about how ‘The Accountant’ tells a story is the way it’s put together, the narrative interwoven with strategically placed flashbacks that reveal more about Affleck’s complex character, Christian Wolff. Without being overloaded with flashbacks, it paid to have different elements of Christian’s background spliced together with the present of thread of him auditing the books of a legitimate client, cutting edge robotics corporation, Living Robotics to see how past events have shaped the man he has become. His army father’s relentless ‘beat it out him’ mentality and approach when it comes to comforting Christian’s autism, forcing Christian and his younger
brother, Braxton (Jon Bernthal) to endure intensive combat and sniper training as children, explains the elite fighting skills Christian displays and channels his aggression into in present day. Later flashbacks of the seemingly aloof accountant receiving valuable advice from an elderly mentor and fellow inmate at a prison, Francis, (Jeffery Tambor), who imparts pearls of wisdom from his own former days of being a financial fixer for a crime family. Tips like regularly changing addresses if one is to consider balancing drug and warlord’s books- serves as an explanation of Christian owning a storage unit on wheels, so he can not only stow his extensive gun, cash and gold bullion collection, but also make a quick getaway if necessary. Though farfetched at times, director, Gavin O’Connor and Affleck work well together to portray the daily reality of living with autism. Christian’s little ticks and obsessive quirks and muttering, his one sole set of cutlery, the fact that his food can’t touch, painting an insightful picture. Humour stems from Christian’s literal interpretations of questions and sayings, a trait that is played out well in his interactions with Dana (Anna Kendrick) , an assistant at Living Robotics who spots a discrepancy in their figures and ends up entangled in Christian’s extra-curricular activities. “What is this place?” a bewildered Dana demands to know only to be greeted with the exact size and dimensions of his mobile storage unit. But instead of being mocking of autism, the humour is artfully acted and well crafted to make Christian seem a tad endearing. Endearing is a surprising impression to create, given Christian’s slightly skewed, if a little unbelievable moral compass. He’s fine with going on a killing spree (even if to avenge Francis who was tortured to death upon his prison release) and gunning down criminals nonchalantly, it’s comical at times. Yet he rescues Dana from a couple of would-be assassins, cuts corners to save an elderly couple money, and spares the life of Raymond King, Director of FinCEN at the Treasury, because he claims to be a good father. As slightly implausible as his moral code may be, it works as a metaphor for being misunderstood, just as his condition is in real life. His kick-ass combat skills and brilliant mathematical cognitive capacity certainly makes the statement “maybe he’s capable of much more than we know” from a childhood doctor, ring true. His extraordinary comfortable with popularity of the put value on the
abilities do the rare thing of shining a light on mental disability, conditions we’re still not completely openly discussing, in contrast with physical disabilities which shed their taboo skin years ago with the Paralympics. There’s no doubt the film is a powerful enough to encourage us to reflect on whether we wrong characteristics; social skills over intellectual talents.
The shakeup of the stereotypically dull accountancy profession into one of excitement and action adds to the refreshing allure the film emits, whilst plot twists, although predictable after a while, are clever narrative U-turns nonetheless. ‘The Accountant’ is an all-round champion, if not a thought-provoking eye opener that leaves unanswered questions about autism lingering long after the credits cease to roll.
Pokemon Sun and Moon
Genre: JRPG Developer: Game Freak Publisher: The Pokémon Company By Zac Gardiner ‘Pokemon’ has evolved a lot since its original titles launched in 1998 for the Gameboy, a time lost relic of a bygone age. Since then ‘Pokemon’ has become a cultural phenomenon and its core game series, have somewhat become their own sub-genre of video game. The art style and gameplay is so instantly recognisable that it’s gone on to inspire TV shows, movies, and other video games of a similar nature including the later instalments in the ‘Final Fantasy’ Series. The latest additions to the infamous series, ‘Pokemon Sun’ and ‘Pokemon Moon’, introduce some big changes for a franchise which has often been criticised for releasing the same game over and over to anything that has come before. The art style itself is a complete change from earlier games which had previously made use of a “chibi style”, which is Japanese slang for a short person, but also for a certain well established “cutesy” art style, in which everything is drawn small and simplistically. The ‘Pokemon’ designs started out originally very simplistic in style and content, mainly due to the hardware available but have now begun experimenting with more detailed, and often more humanoid designs. With ‘Pokemon Sun’ and ‘Moon’ being released on the 3DS, there’s a lot for Nintendo to play with when it comes to adding to its huge roster of ‘Pokemon’, which with ‘Sun’ and ‘Moon’, has now reached over 800. The gameplay itself is typical of the series, however Nintendo have added enough other features to keep the creativity of the games flowing and continue to generate huge fan interest. In ‘Sun’ and ‘Moon’’s case, this comes in the form of ‘Z moves’ for certain ‘Pokemon’, special attacks specific to each ‘Pokemon’ and an updated ‘Pokemon Bank’ and Global Trade Network, to help make catching them all still feel fresh nearly 20 years into the franchise. The settings of the ‘Pokemon’ games are incredibly varied, there’s been Japanese-esque settings, North America based, French and with ‘Sun’ and ‘Moon’, a Hawaiian based game. Each is filled with its own lore and a unique style and evil team, or teams, set on generally ruining everyone’s day. ‘Pokemon Sun’ and ‘Moon’ both feature the same evil protagonist, Team Skull, who “steal other people’s ‘Pokemon’, mess up trial sites, and delight in all kinds of evil deeds.” They’re nothing ground breaking, but they serve their purpose in the games typically ‘Pokemon’ narrative. The game does play with that narrative a little more than past titles though. Although it’s the same old “move from point A to point B, fighting all the way and growing stronger with each battle”, Nintendo have tried to add some real story content. There’s a far more action packed opening to this instalment, and even an appearance from a certain “legendary Pokemon” in the first hour of gameplay. For a ‘Pokemon’ title this is practically Shakespearean. Rather than the usual eight gyms featured in a ‘Pokemon’ title, ‘Sun’ and ‘Moon’ instead feature different trials all around the new region, Alola, which mark key points of progression through your journey to become ‘Pokemon Master’. ‘Pokemon Sun’ and ‘Pokemon Moon’ are yet another strong addition to the ‘Pokemon’ series. Although the game has only been out a few days, what I’ve experience so far has been incredibly fun. New ‘Pokemon’ have great designs, with the game mixing a combination of classic ‘Pokemon’, with new additions flawlessly. ‘Sun’ and ‘Moon’ prove that there is still life in the ‘Pokemon’ franchise even after it’s near two decades of existence, we’re not sure if it will survive for another two, but for now, it’s worth picking up.
Artist Rooms Exhibition: Andy Warhol By Zac Gardiner The latest exhibition to hit The Whitworth is devoted to one of the world-renowned artists Andy Warhol. This exhibition is shown by Artist Rooms, a touring collection that makes exceptional works of post-war and contemporary art available to institutions across the UK and run by the Tate and Nation Galleries of Scotland who have a collection of over 1,600 pieces of contemporary art from 40 international artists. The exhibition is open to people of all ages, however, places a special focus on younger people being able to have access to art they might otherwise be unable to feel inspired by. Since they launched in 2008, Artist Rooms have been viewed by over 40 million people and 600,000 young people have taken part in its innovative learning programs. Its second aim is to bring people from not only the surrounding towns and cities but also all over the world to Manchester, through a collective love of Warhol’s vision. The works displayed in this particular Artist Room exhibition are focused on Andy Warhol’s work from the late 70’s to 80’s, close to the end of his life, with the double gun which he was temporarily killed by in 1968, by the radical feminist Valerie Solanas, which was featured in a large piece within the exhibition. He was taken to hospital after the attempted murder where he was eventually pronounced dead but later received an open-heart massage and was miraculously revived. This exhibition focuses on his work created after this traumatic experience, exploring the themes of death, politics and how the American dream has failed. Themes that are still key today. The exhibition is dark and shocking in nature, to say the least. It features images of Warhol’s body after he was shot, more prominently the scar from which the bullet was removed and the wound after being sewed up. These images were taken by photographer Richard Avedon and present Warhol as a kind of Frankenstein’s monster. There’s also many references to death throughout the exhibition, including multiple paintings of a skull he bought at a Parisian flea market in the mid 70’s. It’s likely that these paintings represent Warhol’s thoughts of his own death and the inevitability of death coming to us all. He also features two large paintings of a .22 snub pistol, similar to the one used to shoot him by Solanas, a reminder of his own mortality as it literally shows the weapon once used to end his life. ‘Ads and Illustrations’ is a great group of works that are featured in the exhibition. It’s made up of black and white pieces featuring images of war, religion and typical American consumer items such as burgers. Having been created around the Cold War they are critical of his relationship with the US, which was complicated, to say the least. Fans of Andy Warhol’s work will have the opportunity to view his work in a fresh format, with its focus on death and politics offering an especially focused look at one aspect of Warhol’s work, collected all in one place. It’s also completely free, so there’s no excuse for not taking the time to see some of the last centuries greatest works of art. The exhibition is open from the 19th of November to the 16th of April 2017, so there’s still plenty of time to head down and see what you think of one of the artistic greats.
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