ISSUE FIVE MARCH 2018 FREE
“THE BIG BANG Meet Superorganism.
lmost exactly a year ago, I was elected as Editor of The Edge. It’s rather strange to think that, at the time of publication, your next leader has been decided upon, and is preparing to grab the reins for another fantastic year of Edge-y-ness. There’s still four more months from myself and the current gang though, so don’t go anywhere! In fact, Issue 5 is dedicated to one of the core points from my original manifesto – interviews.
In 2017 we spoke to everyone from Craig David and Wolf Alice to alt-j and Clean Bandit, so we’re kicking off 2018 as we mean to go on by chatting to some massive rising stars. Superorganism are an eight-piece band with members from Japan, USA, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand; if that’s not enough to hook you, they all live together in a “pop-production house” in the East End of London, so definitely have some interesting stories to tell on Page 9. The Magic Gang have a more traditional genesis; hailing from Brighton, they’re creating fantastic ‘60s-inspired guitar rock and have a debut on the cards very soon.
At The Edge we love to support rising talent, and some of the names we’ve chatted to across the years have gone onto massive things. Back in 2013, we spoke The 1975 on the week their debut album went to number one; the same year, Bastille featured as cover stars as they chatted about the release of Bad Blood. The Vaccines and The Wombats were far from fame when we first spoke to them, playing breakout shows at small venues like the Joiners. We’re confident that both Superorganism and the Magic Gang are on similar paths to success.
Head of Design Teague Hipkiss
Features EDITOR Thea Hartman
recORDS EDITOR Meg Holland
Culture EDITOR Josh Nicholson
Also, talking of ‘original content’, we were lucky enough to get a sneak peak of Studio 144 for this issue. This mammoth project has been over fifteen years in the making, but finally it has opened its doors. At special housewarming events in February, Nuffield Southampton Theatres unveiled a production specially written for the city (see the review on Page 25), and John Hansard Gallery showcased a Transformer made from a Ford Fiesta. You can see our introduction to Southampton’s new Cultural Quarter on Pages 23 & 24.
Head of Relations
There’s still two more packed-to-the-brim issues of great content still to come this year. Your words could be on their pages – just find us on Facebook for more information about how to get started.
James Barker Editor 01
Head of publicity
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email@example.com Hannah Dadd
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firstname.lastname@example.org With help from Sophie Jones (General Executive) and Sam Law (Records Executive)
Alternative Picks 08 The of Awards Season Interview with 11 An Jack of The Magic Gang
144: Welcome 23 Studio to Southampton’s Cultural Quarter
01 Welcome to Issue Five 02 Contents
03 Newsbox 04 Nostalgic News 05 Notes on News: A Galaxy Far, Far Away? The Direction of the New Star Wars Trilogies
06 Are Video Games Unadaptable? 07 Snap Out Of It: Hiatuses and the bands that survived them 08 The Alternative Picks of Awards Season 09 An Interview with Harry of Superorganism 11 An Interview with Jack of The Magic Gang
12 Album Review: Superorganism - Superorganism 13 Album Review: Sunflower Bean - Twentytwo in Blue 15 EP Review: Pale Waves - All The Things I Never Said 16 Artist in Focus: Arctic Monkeys
17 Director in Focus: Steven Spielberg 18 In Defence of The Greatest Showman 19 In Defence of The Maze Runner Trilogy 21 One To Watch: Wildlife
22 A History of the Tomb Raider Franchise 23 Studio 144: Welcome to Southampton’s Cultural Quarter 25 The Shadow Factory at NST City 27 On Edge: Anticipating Jessica Jones Season 2 28 The Wackiest Nintendo Accessories
29 Gig Review: Spring King at The Loft, Southampton 30 Gig Review: Khalid at Eventim Apollo, London 31 Gig Review: Will Varley at The 1865, Southampton
Follow Us! /theedgesusu @theedgesusu @theedgesusu Front cover image courtesy of vevo
Predicts... The Oscars “Paddington 2 wins everything. Even things it’s not nominated in.” – Octavia Woodward, Head of Events
News in Brief 1
Black Panther breaks sales records upon release worldwide.
NST City opens with The Shadow Factory and a number of exciting launch events.
Common People, Reading and Leeds Festival lineups are announced.
Game of Thrones creators D.B. Weiss and David Benioff sign up for new Star Wars trilogy.
First full trailer for The Incredibles 2 released.
“Best Film: Three Billboards perfectly captures the energy for 2017 as the year of #MeToo; the year where women stopped putting up with men’s shit.” – James Barker, Editor “I second Paddington 2, but on a serious note: Daniel Kaluuya for Best Actor, Sally Hawkins for Best Actress, The Shape of Water for Best Film and Best Director should be Greta Gerwig for Lady Bird.” – Carly-May Kavanagh, Live Editor “Gary Oldman for Best Actor and Frances McDormand for Actress are locks at this point, as is the long overdue win for Guillermo del Toro as Best Director. But look for the upset win of LADY BIRD in the Best Picture category to send Twitter into a meltdown.” – David Mitchell-Baker, Film Editor
THE EDGE’S ENTERTAINMENT PICKS EDITOR: THE 90th ACADEMY AWARDS, THE STAGS, 04-05/03/18 “Join The Edge to live blog the Oscars Night in the Stag’s! 11pm until the early hours of the morning.” RECORDS: GEORGE EZRA, STAYING AT TAMARA’S, COLUMBIA RECORDS, 23/03/18 “The deep-voiced crooner returns with his sophomore album. One which is sure to give you some boppy tunes to soundtrack this Springtime.” FILM: READY PLAYER ONE, DIR. BY STEVEN SPIELBERG, 30/03/18 “Ernest Cline’s ‘Pop culture bible’ hits the big screen in the hands of little known, unsuccessful director Steven Spielberg. Just kidding, take me daddy Spielberg, my body is ready.” CULTURE: SEA OF THIEVES - XBOX ONE, 20/03/18 “Legendary British developer Rare set sail for online multiplayer pirate adventures.” LIVE: THE WOMBATS @ 02 GUILDHALL SOUTHAMPTON, 29/03/18 “Their latest album was fantastic - don’t miss the on their Beautiful People Will Ruin Your Life Tour at the end of this month!” HEAD OF EVENTS: LOVE SIMON, 16/03/18 “This adaptation of an awarding winning book already has a banging soundtrack and looks like the perfect thing to give the slightly tired romcom genre a shot in the 21st century.”
NOSTALGIC NEWS 45 YEARS AGO
Pink Floyd released The Dark Side Of The Moon
Harry Fortuna rogressive-rock legends Pink Floyd released the band’s most iconic album The Dark Side Of The Moon forty-five years ago on 1st March 1973. Conjured up from the ludicrously remarkable mind of the enigmatic Roger Waters, the album is a conceptual masterpiece that has survived the test of time in so many ways. Aesthetically, the artwork is the most ubiquitous of all album covers in history, with the prism becoming universally recognisable, cementing Pink Floyd’s place in music folklore. Recorded at the famous Abbey Road studio, musically the album is impeccable and significantly ahead of its time. Psychedelic depictions of time, death, religion and insanity are palpable throughout; from the maniacal laughs and synthesised collaged instrumentalism of opening track ‘Speak To Me’ to the politically-motivated rousing monologue ‘Eclipse’ that is as much a poetic masterpiece as a perfect finale. It is no surprise that The Dark Side of The Moon is one of the bestselling albums of all time, selling over 45 million copies worldwide, and spending over 800 weeks in the Billboard Top 200. It’s impossible to deny the album’s timelessness, charisma and ability to inspire, even nearing half a century since its birth.
30 YEARS AGO
Beetlejuice was released
Holly Hammond he ghost with the most, Beetlejuice was released thirty years ago on 30th March 1988 to hair-raising success and has since become a cult classic. Tim Burton’s Beetlejuice sees the living haunt the dead as the newly deceased Adam and Barbara find their home invaded by an obnoxious family on the other side of the veil. They enlist the help of Michael Keaton’s Beetlejuice, a sleazy ghost who puts a bit of life, in their afterlife. Hijinks ensue when Adam and Barbara realise that Beetlejuice plans to do a little more than help them get their home back. Burton’s Oscar-winning, hauntingly good film has stood the test of time and remains a favourite for its humorous take on life after death with raunchy humour, Burton-esque CGI, and the ‘Banana Boat Song’ that will possess your mind. Beetlejuice. Beetlejuice. Beetlejuice.
10 YEARS AGO
Super Smash Bros. Brawl was released
Liana Dent ave you ever wondered who’d win in a fight between Mario and Sonic the Hedgehog, or Princess Zelda and Pikachu? Back on 28th June 2008, Super Smash Bros. Brawl arrived on the Nintendo Wii to give us the answers. The third instalment in the hugely successful fighting series, Smash Bros. pits a huge roster of Nintendo characters and other big names like Sonic and Solid Snake - against one another other in a free-for-all. Brawl also featured ‘The Subspace Emissary’, the first and last story mode in a Super Smash Bros. game, in which every character bands
together against Nintendo’s rogues’ gallery and a greater enemy. Seeing Mario and Link meeting each other and fighting battles alongside Kirby and Charizard is just as fun to watch today. Sadly, Nintendo refuses to bring a new ‘Adventure Mode’ to future games. But rumours abound of a Super Smash Bros. title for the Nintendo Switch to be arriving soon, so who knows what’s in store for the series? Super Smash Bros. Brawl remains one of the Wii’s definitive titles, and set the stage for future instalments.
Images courtesy of Harvest Records, Nintendo and Warner Bros.
NOTES ON NEWS: A Galaxy Far, Far Away? The Direction of the New Star Wars Trilogies
here has been a disturbance in the force... with the recent major announcement of Game of Thrones creators David Benioff and D. B. Weiss being signed on to write and produce a new series of Star Wars films, a galaxy far, far away is set to expand further than ever before. Things are proceeding as Kathleen Kennedy has foreseen... It’s not only Benioff and Weiss who are getting their own intergalactic playpen, The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson had previously been confirmed last autumn as helming a new trilogy of films as director. So what can we expect from Johnson, Benioff and Weiss? Which corners of the galaxy will they inhabit and what stories will they tell? With a filmmaker like Rian Johnson, there seems to be a destined route for his new trilogy. Whilst his films will take place separately from the Skywalker saga, meaning new worlds and characters, it’s highly likely that his trilogy will continue on in the traditional Star Wars vein. What would this entail? Well, we should expect the Jedi to be involved, the iconic heroes of the Star Wars mythology are an absolute must for what will likely be the franchise’s spearhead trilogy after Episode IX. And where there are Jedi, there must be Sith. For the iconic heroes, you need iconic villains, the new films have done a great job at constructing Rey and Kylo Ren in these respective roles for a new era, and Johnson’s main task will likely be to not only capture this again, but to put his own spin on it. Whilst these Star Wars traditions are expected, don’t anticipate Rian Johnson to play it safely. With The Last Jedi, Johnson took big, bold risks and experimented with the Star Wars formula in ways never before seen.
With his own trilogy, Johnson has the chance to put his own unanimous and definitive spin on Star Wars, to create the Star Wars movies that are his own and not the bi-product of the work of George Lucas and J. J. Abrams before him. He has a clean slate, a vast playpen which he will be allowed to inhabit with any and every creature, character, planet, ship, weapon, costume, plot and story he can think of. Benioff and Weiss’ films The curious case of Benioff and Weiss is an intriguing one. The showrunners of the undisputed TV juggernaut that is Game of Thrones will also be bringing us a series of films (unspecified yet as to the number of films) separate from the Skywalkers and Johnson’s new trilogy. From the bloody, dirty and dark world of Westeros, Benioff and Weiss make the jump to hyperspeed into the uncertain future of the Star Wars universe. With writers like Benioff and Weiss, we should expect a different type of Star Wars film. Much like Rogue One, their’s will likely lean more into the political side of the universe; think less Jedi, more concern with the droid attack on the Wookies. The best parts of Gareth Edwards’ Rogue One where when it focused more on an Empire producing superweapons in the midst of their domination over the galaxy, and how a group of political insurgents had to work spec op missions off the radar to spark the downfall of the dictatorship. Whilst Rogue One was restrained by its chronology and inevitability, Benioff and Weiss can craft a similar beast, free from chains and not confined to a Rancor-like lair. I for one can’t wait for Star Wars: The Rains of Coruscant.
Image courtesy of Disney
Are video games unadaptable? M
ortal Kombat. Super Mario Bros. Ratchet & Clank. Mention these names to a video game connoisseur and you’ll hear no end to the praise. But ask a film critic what they think of these titles, and you’ll get a slightly different response. Filmmakers seem to have a hard time adapting the most acclaimed video game franchises into just-as-acclaimed movies, though not for the want of trying; a new Tomb Raider film, starring Alicia Vikander as Lara Croft, is due out this month. However, the plethora of bad video game movies begs the question: is it possible to truly adapt a video game into a good film? At first glance, your first answer may be yes. After all, we’ve had successful franchises inspired by books, stage plays, and even Pirates of the Caribbean was based off a Disney ride. So why not video games? What is it about Assassin’s Creed that lends it to rave reviews yearon-year and yet losses of $75m-$100m at the box office and a 36 metascore when adapted to film? I would argue that many film directors and (especially) producers simply don’t understand what it is that makes video games great and unique. The most obvious - and significant - difference between video games and all other forms of entertainment is the agency and involvement of the consumer. There are entire academic papers dedicated to devising innovative narrative structures to give the player ever more freedom when playing a story-driven game. When such stories are delivered to film, that independence is inevitably lost, and with it, what made the reason to experience it unique in the first place. The most irritating moments
in the Assassin’s Creed games are when you are forced to watch cutscene after cutscene to advance the plot, rather than experiencing a historical location as a deadly assassin. Why subject audiences to nearly two hours of that? Then there are the games driven by the gameplay as opposed to story, such as Mario and Mortal Kombat. The entire reason these games are played is to play them. Have you ever noticed how you used to just want to hop on and play when your older brother was on the console as a kid? That’s what adapting these games as purely as possible amounts to, and that’s a best case. At worst, a plot is created to fit the characters and brand, resulting in a confusing mess that breaks every rule of screenwriting and leaves the director with a mountain to climb to salvage the project. So how can video games be faithfully adapted to film? In a sentence, they can’t. Player interaction plays too great a role in what makes a video game great to allow for them to be adapted as straightforwardly as, say, books. But there is hope. For abstract games, such as Mario, use games and characters purely as reference for the film’s world as a whole, as executed perfectly in Wreck-It Ralph. For more story-driven games, the challenge lies in adapting the right story, with the right characters and game world, that die-hard fans can feel comfortable just sitting back and watching, and that more casual audiences can find accessible. It’s a difficult task, but one which, if trailers and reports from set are anything to go by, the upcoming Tomb Raider reboot may have finally cracked.
Image courtesy of Warner Bros. and Buena Vista Pictures
SNAP OUT OF IT Hiatuses and the bands that survived them Sophie Trenear The last we saw of the Arctic Monkeys was a whopping four years ago, when frontman Alex Turner said it “seems like the perfect place to leave things for a while.” Now, alongside the sudden announcement of a slew of summer festival dates, what can we expect? With four years of built-up hype and the title of biggest British band of the 21st century still stamped deep into the backs of their Fenders, it’ll take a lot to surpass the biggest-selling vinyl of the decade so far. We’re rooting for them, and to get even more excited about their return, here’s a few of the best and most successful comebacks bands have made from hiatuses.
The hallmarkers of ‘90s pop-rock soundtracked the day-to-day lives of many a teenager with songs like ‘Buddy Holly’ and ‘Say It Ain’t So’, but entered hiatus after their second album, Pinkerton, was a commercial flop. The summer of 2000 saw Weezer reunite for several festival dates and release the Green Album in 2001. The band’s third LP, a powerpop powerhouse of strong melodies, crisp vocal harmonies and flashy guitar riffs, was a critical and commercial success recognized as a much-needed rebirth for the band. ‘Island in the Sun’ and ‘Hash Pipe’ achieved soaring acclaim, becoming worldwide hits alongside Weezer themselves who are on the cusp of releasing the long-anticipated Black Album this year.
Fall Out Boy
Despite their recently released seventh studio album reaching number one in the US charts, the Chicago-born pop-punk icons spanned perhaps the most infamous hiatus period in modern music history between 2009 and 2013. “This isn’t a reunion because we never broke up,” FOB said in a statement in February 2013. “We needed to plug back in and make some music that matters to us. The future of Fall Out Boy starts now. Save Rock and Roll...” Save Rock and Roll was released mere months later and reflected the new, murky, pop-infused era Fall Out Boy had risen into. Songs like ‘Light ‘em Up’ and ‘Alone Together’ brandished a bold and modernistic sound, free from the chains of their noughties prevalence that had sent them spiralling into the hiatus to begin with. It was a breathtaking renaissance of what Fall Out Boy had come to mean – to critics, fans, and themselves alike.
The evolution of the Californian pop-rock top-dogs has been anything but steady over their near three decades. Famed for their high-energy and irreverent lyrical toilet humour, the group entered into an “indefinite hiatus” after Tom DeLonge quit the band in 2005. Following drummer Travis Barker’s involvement in a serious plane crash in 2008, the trio laid the groundwork for what would become their reunion. They went on to promote their sixth studio album Neighbourhoods, before rising tensions led to DeLonge leaving the group again. Luckily, Barker and frontman Mark Hoppus chose to continue with the group, enlisting the help of Matt Skiba to take up guitar and vocals. California, Blink’s seventh studio album, was released to critical and commercial acclaim and was nominated for Best Rock Album at the 2017 Grammy Awards. “It does feel like a new beginning,” Hoppus said. “Somehow, Blink has had this resurgence like we never expected.” Images courtesy of Geffen Records, Island Records, DGC Records
THE ALTERNATIVE PICKS OF AWARDS SEASON David Mitchell-Baker
The Big Sick
After being shockingly shut out entirely at the Golden Globes, The Big Sick went on to gain only one Oscar nomination (for Best Original Screenplay). Based on critical reception and audience reaction, The Big Sick is one of 2017’s biggest awards snubs. A case could be made for nominations across the board here; Picture, Director, Actor, Actress, Supporting Actor and Supporting Actress, The Big Sick ticked all the boxes but no one checked the form. This case further highlights the awards shows’ issues with comedy recognition: rarely do these types of films resonate with the Academy in particular, but The Big Sick felt like the film to buck that trend. Combining quality comedy with affecting romance and drama, The Big Sick was the perfect little package of a film and one of 2017’s best independent features. Unfortunately, it’s another example of the comedy’s futile battle to gain awards recognition, especially when up against the vanilla biopics that the Academy can’t help but automatically vote for.
Rick and Morty
When a show can cause a resurgence of a promotional McDonald’s sauce and make a thing out of one character turning into a pickle, you know it’s had a good year. This was the case for Rick and Morty, and the bizarre, existential animated comedy from Dan Harmon and Justin Roiland has gone from becoming a cult phenomenon to being one of the most beloved shows on TV, all whilst sticking to its guns and never losing sight of what made it special in the first place. Whilst public reception may not have been as glowing as it was for the first two seasons, critical reception continued to stabilise at a mighty high standard. Let’s face it, even when Rick and Morty is at its worst, it’s still better than a lot of shows on TV. However, it has once again gone unappreciated by most awards shows; maybe it’s because it’s animated, maybe it hasn’t done enough in the eyes of the voters to break into the circuits regular cycle of comedy faves, but one thing is certain; if it continues to live up to its high standards, it’s gonna be hard to deny Rick and Morty for much longer.
BROCKHAMPTON - SATURATION Trilogy
My love for the internet’s first boyband is well documented here at The Edge, as I awarded all three instalments of the SATURATION trilogy five stars (yes, they are that good). Rising from the ever-expanding platform of the internet, BROCKHAMPTON first began to gain recognition through their ringleader Ian “Kevin Abstract” Simpson, and soon their music videos began to rack up views in the hundreds of thousands. SATURATION dropped in June and the world took notice, then SATURATION II dropped less than three months later to more stellar reviews. By the time SATURATION III dropped in December, BROCKHAMPTON were a force to be reckoned with; they earned their strongest reviews thus far, broke into the Billboard Top 20, the video for ‘BOOGIE’ went straight onto YouTube’s trending tab, they scored an interview with Zane Lowe, and ended the year at number two on Anthony Fantano’s prestigious Best Albums of the Year list. All in all, BROCKHAMPTON had a better 2017 than pretty much everyone else, yet there is no awards recognition to show for it. But don’t worry, they will take over in 2018 with their fourth album Team Effort, and soon enough we will be kneeling at the feet of BROCKHAMPTON. Images courtesy of Amazon Studios, Cartoon Network and Codi Fant
An Interview with Harry of
s band introductions go, Superorganism’s inaugural missive last January has proved rather striking: “WE ARE SUPERORGANISM, WE ARE IN MAINE/ LONDON, WE ARE DIY, WE ARE EIGHT AND MULTIPLYING, WE HAVE BECOME SENTIENT.” We joined de facto frontman Harry in the collective’s kitchen to talk signing to legendary indie imprint Domino Records and how starting a band on a whim over the internet ended up with one of the most anticipated debut albums of 2018.
We’re trying to build this big world which is really weird, really crazy, and has all these different multimedia elements – whether that’s the visuals, the artwork, the music, the live show, or the experience of all of that. This is phase one of building this universe. From there, hopefully – if we get the audience that’s willing to do this with us – we want to be able to grow this universe, make it bigger, more intense, more ambitious, and just see where we can go with it, really. We’re just constantly expanding, like the universe itself.”
Superorganism was born out of amusement, a series of coincidences, and a ‘Big Bang moment’.
After playing shows to less than a thousand people, their upcoming tour is a trip into the unknown.
“It kind of seemed like a ridiculous idea in a way to include eight people in a band (including a visual artist), but we felt, ‘F*ck it, it’s just for our own amusement. We might never even be in the same room as each other all at the same time.’
“Looking at the schedule as it currently stands, like, man, it’s just insane. We’re going to get everywhere. I’m really excited about that, but we’re like a little tribe. We don’t really go out that much. We’ve had people ask about whether or not we’re part of any scene, but we’re so out of touch. We all tend to stay at home all the time, and when we’re not working on stuff we’re hanging out in the kitchen together listening to music and just talking shit. We’re all used to being at home, so it’s g o i n g to be
That’s when we put ‘Something For Your M.I.N.D.’ together. That was the first song that we did, and we were really amused by it. When we put it online, it turned out a lot of other people were as well, and it snowballed from there, really. It’s hard to make sense of. A series of coincidences over a long period of time brought us together, and then we just had this Big Bang moment about a year ago when we decided to put all our heads together and create something as a unit.” A piece published a year ago says that “world domination is at the very top of [their] list.” How will they achieve that? “We just want to get bigger and bigger. When I say that I don’t necessarily just mean in terms of audience, because that would sound horribly cynical and we’re not even smart enough to be cynical about the way that we go about our things. Basically, we just want to be able to expand the power of what Superorganism is. I think this first album’s like the establishing shot in a movie that will be our careers.
Image courtesy of Domino Records
FEATURES interesting when we hit the road, but on the other hand I feel like we’re taking our home on the road with us. It’s just that our home is going to become hotel rooms rather than our physical location.” Their debut album is ‘a day in the life of Superorganism’. “I think it sounds like all of our eight different personalities and minds coming together. I know that sounds really cliched, but it really is – we’ve tried to get it really representative of all of us. It starts and ends with the morning and the whole thing is like a day in the life of Superorganism, really. I don’t know. It goes from quite introspective and contemplative in some songs – ‘Reflections On The Screen’ and ‘Nai’s March’ are both haunting ballads, in a way – and then we’ve got these really big, silly moments like ‘Prawn Song’ and everything in between. Obviously you’re going to have bangers like ‘Everybody Wants To Be Famous’ and slower, more chilled songs like ‘Something For Your M.I.N.D.,’ so it’s quite a broad palette. As I was saying before, we want it to be the foundation of the Superorganism house we’re going to build, so there’s many different directions in which we can go from this album. We’ve really set it up to not restrict ourselves or pigeonhole ourselves too much in terms of sound.” Being on Frank Ocean’s radio show, signing with Domino Records, and putting on their live show are the most memorable moments of last year for Harry.
“I remember when Frank Ocean put us on his radio show only a couple of weeks after we released ‘Something For Your M.I.N.D.,’ and he’s one of my favourite artists of all time, so that was a real trip. To be honest, I think the most revelatory moment to me was a toss-up between two – sorry, I know that’s a cheat thing. One was when we went down to Domino to go through the album with Laurence Bell, who founded the label. We were talking through it all, decided on the order of the tracklist and stuff, and everyone was really excited. It really tripped me out that we were signed to Domino Records and that we’d made this really great album that everyone was really excited about.” “The second big one for me: we’d put our live show together in all these different stages because we’ve got the visuals, the music, and all this dancing and choreography. All of this had been worked on not separately but in pieces, so rehearsals were the first time we were doing it all together. It was one of the first times that every member of the band had been in a room together as well. That was a real trip, seeing all of these different threads that we’d been working on come together. It’s like stepping back from a massive tapestry you’ve all been working on. You can see the corner that you’ve been working on, but then when you step back you see how ambitious and beautiful it all is. There was a real moment for me where it all came together like that, and it just blew my mind a little bit.” Superorganism are all about ‘the multimedia popart experience.’ “I guess the one thing I would like everyone to know about us is just that we’re trying to create this multimedia pop-art experience, so not to just qualify it as, like, the videos and the songs. It’s all part of the same piece. It’s all part of Superorganism. As I was saying before, it’s all going to keep growing and it’s going to keep getting more ambitious, so if I want people to know one thing it’s that. With people’s support and encouragement, that’ll just lead us to these crazy ambitious paths that we can go down. I know, that’s a bit abstract.” Superorganism is released on March 2nd via Domino Records.
he Magic Gang are the most exciting indie band in Britain right now. Their effervescently optimistic brand of feelgood rock landed them on our List for 2018 following a stellar stream of EPs singles over the last couple of years. So where did it all begin? Surprisingly, just “as a bit of a side-project” says frontman Jack Kaye, chatting to The Edge ahead of the band’s upcoming debut album. “We were all playing in different bands with different people” explains Jack, when asked about their early days. But it “very quickly became sort of a main priority, and we just started taking it seriously. We put one song online and it kind of went from there,” he says, referring to the surprise double single No Fun / Alright, which the band released in 2015. Although notably moodier and slowerpaced than their later work, those tracks showcased the gang’s talent at crafting indie anthems and cemented their chemistry together, leading to support slots alongside Wolf Alice and Circa Waves.
AN INTERVIEW WITH JACK OF THE MAGIC GANG Sam Law
They now have their own headline UK tour, which kicks off on March 22nd. How excited are they for it? “I’m buzzing about it, yeah, it’s great!” enthuses Jack. “It’s the first tour we’ve done where it looks like it’s going to be sold out before we start, which is a huge step up for us. And some of the venues kind of feel like a massive step-up as well, so it’s really exciting.” Later in the summer, they’re booked to play at Reading & Leeds, which “is always a great one to be at,” says Jack. “I’m very excited.” But perhaps the most exciting event in the gang’s near future is the release
of their self-titled debut album, due out on March 16th. When asked about ‘Getting Along’, the fantastic first single from the album to be dropped ahead of the full project, Jack replies that “it sounds really kind of cliché to say, but it’s our favourite song we’ve done so far.” Also, expect the unexpected. “There are definitely a couple on there that people will be surprised by,” Jack quips. “There’s stuff on there that’s more piano-based than people would really expect that we’re really excited for people to hear. So it should be good.” In particular, “there’s a really slow-burn piano tune towards the end of the album that we got really excited about.” When asked about a possible return to Southampton after last year’s set at Common People, Jack revealed some fantastic news for fans on the south coast. “Do you know what, we’re doing another tour in September/ October time and I’m sure there’ll be a Southampton date on that. Southampton’s another favourite place for us. We’ve done Joiners a couple of times and it’s always been great.” As for their most interesting moment on tour? That came about not through wild partying, but through sleep. “I’m a pretty bad sleepwalker, if I’m honest,” Jack discloses. “I left the hotel room in Holland once, and was in the corridor in my underwear, and had to go down to reception in my underwear and get my keys because I’d locked myself out. So that’s not even related to going out and getting drunk or anything crazy in that respect, it’s just crazy as in ridiculous.” Regardless, the band loved their time in Europe, and are looking for “a headline tour there, and then hopefully America as well at some point this year” once their UK tour is complete. But at the end of the day, The Magic Gang are always crafting music that their fans will surely love. “We’re always writing, all of us are always writing, like individually or together, so I think the second album will probably come quicker than people expect,” says Jack. Exciting news for fans of Britain’s next big indie rock band. The Magic Gang is released on March 16th via Warner Music. Image courtesy of Nathan McLaren-Stewart
SUPERORGANISM Superorganism Sam Law
uperorganism are a wonderfully strange band. They have an uncanny knack of making music out of madness, and do so plenty of times across Superorganism: a technicolor debut effort that is almost impossible to digest all at once. Although there are plenty of fantastical highs on this album, there are also enough chaotic lows to hold it back from being something truly great. I guess it’s not surprising that the tracklist is at times muddled on Superorganism. The group - consisting of eight members heralding from places as far-flung as New Zealand, Japan, Australia, South Korea, and even Burnley - formed over music forums and YouTube recommendations, eventually releasing their first single in 2017. That single - ‘Something for Your M.I.N.D.’ - is one of the project’s high points. It showcases the full eccentricity of the band, with plenty of delightful cuts from the music that subvert your expectations and keep you engaged with what can only be described as a laid-back auditory acid trip. There are many other highs splattered across this psychoactive record. We all know how good ‘Everybody Wants To Be Famous’ is - one of the more poppy tracks on the album, it’s been dominating the radio waves since its release at the start of January. Opener ‘It’s All Good’ really is all good, featuring an anthemic chorus that will find itself right at home in the middle of the band’s upcoming world tour. Closing track ‘Night Time’ sounds like it came straight out the Crystal Fighters’ most recent project; it positively buzzes with optimism and
summertime vibes. Take just those tracks and you’d have the kind of EP I’d be raving about for months on end: they’re exciting, surprising, and somewhat befuddling, and I love them for it. Simply put, the opening half of the album - and its final track - find Superorganism at their absolute, crowd-pleasing best. Which makes it so much more of a shame when they go off the rails. The first half of ‘Nai’s March’ sounds promising: it’s calmer, more refined - a bit of a break from all the madness that has come before it. Its descent into an unfortunate attempt at making rhythm from random sounds therefore is the real tragedy on this record. ‘The Prawn Song’ and ‘Relax’ are somewhat better, though they still find themselves lost in the middle of the most confusing maize maze in the world. In the end, you’re left wondering how the kaleidoscopic array of sounds and samples, that worked so well in the album’s first half, have worked so much to its detriment in its second. Superorganism is undoubtedly a fun album. It’s clear that the band are just having a blast; creating music purely for their own amusement, but building a unique sound and dedicated fanbase while they’re at it. When it works, it works. The music is just so out there, and yet so poppy, you can’t help but fall in love. But when the band stretch themselves too far, they’re almost unlistenable. In the end, this album is pleasing, petrifying, and peculiar all at once: a Superorganism all of its own. Superorganism is out on March 2nd via Domino.
Images courtesy of 360 Productions and Sarah Louise Bennett
SUNFLOWER BEAN Twentytwo In Blue Owen Griffiths
lmost two years and two months after the release of their debut Human Ceremony, New York trio Sunflower Bean return at the ripe old age of twentytwo, with their sophomore effort: Twentytwo in Blue. Sunflower Bean first became familiar after the release of their debut Human Ceremony. Within the confines of an alt-rock world at breaking point with 3-chord Oasis wannabes, the emergence of something different was always going to be welcomed. Now they’re back for another embrace with the listener, only to be met with closed arms. Twentytwo in Blue isn’t terrible, but it’s rife with the issues that plague bands we saw Sunflower Bean as an escape from. Most grating is the oxymoron between inconsistency and repetition, I’d call it impressive if not for the fact it dulls the album like dirt and dust dulls a knife. In seeking themes, inconsistency enters the fray. The album deals with break ups (a lot), paranoid besties and millennial uprising. What’s there to tie up these thematic links? Bar the numbing instrumental repetition (more on that to come), there’s little. To say this is jarring is quite the understatement – really, it has the feeling of being thrown across the room. Its dastardly companion is repetition. Instrumentation is made up almost entirely of the basic guitar-drumbass combination, which is no bad thing unless those three perform identically on every song. The juddering along of the same chords permeates the whole album, with the only respite from brief flurries from orchestral backgrounds. Of course, the odd guitar solo comes in, but it’s mundane stay means it simply folds into the noise. The band are clearly influenced by the past, often sounding straight from the 1970s. Lead singer Julia
Cumming displays the swaying vocal performance we’ve seen in other distinct voices like Morrissey, Bowie and Siouxsie. As pleasant as this nostalgic throwback can be, it’s frustrating to see this influence fit into the confines of repetitive rambling. Somewhere within, there’s a much better album to be found. These gripes would not be such glaring issues had they cut down the length of most tracks. It frequently feels they reach the two-minute mark, clueless of where to go, and repeat the same two minutes, a four-minute slog that nobody wants. Forty minutes here is inarguably overkill and it rears its ugly head. Frustratingly, there’s clearly talent here. Human Ceremony was a breath of fresh air – yet their sophomore doesn’t rise above the current wave of lookalikes already over-saturating the market. There’s genuine enjoyment to be found in areas. Softer tracks like ‘Twenty-Two’ and ‘Only for a Moment’ are huge improvements on their counterparts. With slower tempos allowing for consistent pace and tighter instrumentation. Furthermore, ‘Human For’ returns to the more fast-paced, electric sound the band are so keen on, yet lacks grating repetition and clumsy lyricism. It’s difficult not to feel disappointed with Sunflower Bean here. It falls short of its predecessor and lags even further behind other artists trying to break into the indie-rock game. Whilst this isn’t worth returning to listen to more than once (if you really want to go through it once), there’s a small glimmer of what the band is capable of and we can at least approach future releases with hope of better output, if not expectation. Twentytwo In Blue will be released on March 23rd via Lucky Number Music. Image courtesy of Mom + Pop
PALE WAVES All The Things I Never Said Harry Fortuna
ale Waves have released their first EP All The Things I Never Said, and is oozing with finely tuned emo-tinted indie pop goodness that is sure to see the Manchester based band begin to fulfil their mammoth potential.
aftermaths of a dramatic teenage house party. Finishing on the track ‘Heavenly’ is remarkably poignant; another masterpiece that encapsulates the band’s creativity and succinct simplicity, rounding off the EP in perfect fashion, leaving us ravenous for more.
Arguably one of the most exciting guitar-focused bands in the country, Pale Waves have seen their name dragged straight into the spotlight over the last year or so, and have shown their immediate intentions to take hold of the plectrum and strum their way to indie rock stardom. The past twelve months have seen the four piece go from playing in front of miniscule crowds to joining friends and producers The 1975 on a tour that saw them play in front of 8,000 people at the legendary Madison Square Gardens.
Whilst the general sound of the band is something quite different to lead singer and guitarist Heather BaronGracie and drummer Ciara Doran’s emo aesthetic, hints of the band’s leading ladies’ black eye shadow can be traced through the gothic-romantic lyricism and ethereal melodies that set this band apart from its contemporaries. The conciseness and consistency of the EP proves that this is a band drenched in confidence and maturity, and is an unambiguous signpost to make their fervent intentions to reach the very pinnacle of the music scene crystal clear.
When it comes to the music, Matt Healy and co.’s influence is easily discernible, with All The Things I Never Said’s opening track ‘New Year’s Eve’ dripping in ‘80s inspired synths and a springy bassline that is ubiquitously contrasted by an unshakeable brooding melancholy. It’s hard to isolate just one highpoint on the EP with all four songs being as catchy as fresher’s flu. ‘The Tide’ is an indie-pop anthem in the making, a surreptitious guitar-driven track that is completed with Heather Baron-Gracie serenading us through the chorus “I’ll be the sea honey/ Always, always/ And you’ll be the tide”. ‘My Obsession’ follows suit in its tenacious and upbeat instrumentalism, and is again emotionally vocal, arousing a deep sense of longing that throws us into the hazy
Pale Waves are incontestably a band racing up a steep incline, basking in all the glitz and glamour of the mainstream pop world, and having enough bite to cut it amongst the edgier folk. The band, even in their adolescence, have shown such versatility that you could easily see them supporting Taylor Swift one week, and warming up a crowd for a My Chemical Romance reunion the next. A perfect contradiction. All The Things I Never Said perfectly sums up Pale Waves’ ability, ambition and diversity in one neatly bound package, and on that package is a message scribbled in black nail polish: “We’ve arrived”. All the Things I Never Said is out now via Dirty Hit Images courtesy of Dirty Hit and Sarah Louise Bennett,
ARTIST IN FOCUS Arctic Monkeys Harry Fortuna
t’s 23rd January 2006. Plectrum poised alongside strings, drumstick grasped purposefully, Alex Turner’s lips pursed against mic; in a matter of moments the world will be faced with the debut album of a band of a generation: Arctic Monkeys. From the moment the Sheffield boys unleashed their first crackle in the airwaves we were stunned, and that crackle became a ripple that continues to tear across the hearts, minds and ears of so many. Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not was an instant storm, and Arctic Monkeys were jolted from being a bunch of Northern unknowns into critically acclaimed indie rock superstars. Any artist could only dream of a debut album as successful and iconic as Arctic Monkeys’ Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not. I would go as far as to say it’s in contention for the best debut album of all time. From the offset we were grappled by the heavy hitting basslines of a plethora of instant classics dripping in swagger and machismo; the likes of ‘Dancing Shoes’ and ‘When The Sun Goes Down’ punctuating the album with a versatility that takes them from danceable party tunes to sinister displays of bravado. In terms of accolades, the album was even more impressive, winning the Barclaycard Mercury Prize and the BRIT Award for Best British Album, and was the biggest selling British debut album in history. If that wasn’t enough, Alex Turner (lead vocals), Matt Helders (drums), Jamie Cook (guitar) and Nick O’Malley (bass) were firmly set on defeating the second album syndrome, successfully doing so with Favourite Worst Nightmare. Much like the band’s debut, this
album has a timeless quality, in songs such as ‘Teddy Picker’ and ‘Fluorescent Adolescent’, with Turner keeping a keen eye on the trials and tribulations youths growing up in Sheffield. To keep a long story short, Arctic Monkeys have, as of yet, released five albums, four of which can and should be classed as modern classics (Humbug being the only one to fall short of their self-fashioned expectations). Their latest, AM, penetrating everyone’s radios and devices, presumably without a single complaint. If W.B. Yeats or Oscar Wilde were born in modern day Sheffield, they’d go by the name Alex Turner. The Arctic Monkeys’ frontman is a lyricist so sophisticated and consistently poignant that he is unparalleled in the current day. From the intimate observations of youthful fracas and nightlife of the band’s early work, to the maturing introspectiveness of 2013’s AM, Arctic Monkeys are one of very few bands who have perfected the balance between artistic growth and loyalty to their indie rock heritage. The band have earned their unquestionable title of the embodiment of all that is good about indie rock. A bad Arctic Monkeys song is rarer than a can of dandelion and burdock, and with the anticipation up in the rafters for the band’s imminent sixth studio album after their excruciatingly long hiatus, it is hard to imagine whether there is currently a better band on this planet. Arctic Monkeys are expected to release their new album this year, after announcing their European festival dates.
DIRECTOR IN FOCUS Steven Spielberg Alice O’Hare
here aren’t many directors who can claim to have mastered the art of storytelling in every genre, but Steven Spielberg is one of the select few who is definitely part of this club. From entertaining actionadventure films like Raiders of the Lost Ark, to gritty historical dramas like Schindler’s List, Spielberg has covered almost every corner of the filmmaking world and done so with style. He is arguably best known for his early work, which helped to define Hollywood after its classical period. The films he made during the late 70s and 80s epitomise the traits of the modern Blockbuster, providing jawdropping action in Jurassic Park and an out-of-thisworld space spectacle in Close Encounters of the Third Kind. These films are timeless works – it’s been over 40 years since Jaws first reached audiences, but it’s still guaranteed to send a shiver down your spine, and there are few moments in cinema that provide the scarefactor quite like the T-Rex stomping about in Jurassic Park. What makes the early work of Spielberg so special is the way his films can be enjoyed by both adults and children alike. This in part comes down to the way we cannot help but identify with his characters no matter what situation they are faced with - something that many filmmakers can only dream of being able to do. We can see today just how influential of a filmmaker Spielberg is and has been. Stranger Things being one of
many examples in recent years that has clearly drawn on his work with reverberations of 80s classic, E.T. The Extra Terrestrial. Following on from his critical success in the 90s with Schindler’s List and Saving Private Ryan, Spielberg has diverted in recent years from the types of films that brought him to the forefront of the industry in a move towards more ‘serious’ filmmaking. Although not as unique or endearing as his action-adventure classics, his recent awards-worthy dramas demonstrate just how sophisticated Spielberg is as a filmmaker; in the 21st Century, the edge-of-your-seat suspense of Jaws translates to the Cold War in Bridge of Spies and to the newsroom in The Post. Next up for Spielberg is Ready Player One, set for UK release on 30th March. An adaptation of Ernest Cline’s science-fiction dystopian novel of the same name, Ready Player One promises to be an explosion of pop culture and Spielberg-influenced 80s nostalgia. It’s refreshing to see Spielberg depart from the hard-hitting dramas that he has finessed so brilliantly in the past decade or so and return to what he did to first come to our attention. He may have developed and moved on from his early style as his career has progressed, but there’s no doubt that whatever Spielberg produces is a guaranteed demonstration of cinema’s full potential – this man’s work is irresistible, pure entertainment.
IN DEFENCE OF The Greatest Showman
he Greatest Showman has been a hit to say the least, selling out theatres and grossing a worldwide total of $300 million. In addition to this, the soundtrack itself can be considered a stand-alone success, winning a Golden Globe for ‘Best Original Song’. Despite these knockout statistics, the reviews tend to be lacking in appreciation and some are scathing, the film only scored a rather average 55% on Rotten Tomatoes. The criticisms of the movie seem agreeable at first glance, but delving deeper into the foundations and overall message, they are minor details. The majority of people who have given The Greatest Showman an average review have been strongly influenced by the presence of the Academy Awards winning song writers of La La Land writing the music. With this overshadowing public judgement, comparisons are inevitable. It is undeniable that The Greatest Showman is very different to La La Land, but this should not be a reason to cast it aside when both movies are marketed for different audiences. The Greatest Showman was clearly aimed at families and children whereas La La Land was intended for a more mature viewing. In order for a film to appeal to children, steps must be taken to ensure that the story will be exciting enough for a child to sit through and enjoy. Another argument circulating is that the soundtrack is far too cliché and does not match up to the time-period of the movie’s setting. Upon watching The Greatest
Showman for the first time, I was quite surprised at the character Jenny Lind - who is supposed to be a renowned opera singer - broke into song that was not opera. However, this just goes back to the argument on how this movie is a family movie, the sudden outburst of operatic music would have been extremely out of place and would have caused confusion for younger audiences. With regards to the notion of the soundtrack being cheesy or predictable, surely this is an overstatement. The message the movie promotes is of diversity, it makes sense that the lyrics are translating to follow your dreams. Another criticism is of the underdeveloped relationship between Anne Wheeler (Zendaya) and Phillip Carlyle (Zac Efron). The screen time for these characters was limited, but that does not mean it was unjustified. The movie is about P.T. Barnum and so is inevitably going to concentrate on his journey. It is obvious that the marketing put a strong foot-forward as it would attract each individual’s fanbase. Whilst this film comes across as problematic to many, I recommend going into it with no expectations, as I believe this is the main reason for it being harshly judged and classed as a bad version of La La Land. The Greatest Showman is much more as it tackles issues of diversity, racism, class battles, and acceptance whilst being paired with an inspiring soundtrack that all ages can enjoy.
Image courtesy of 20th Ce ntury Fox
IN DEFENCE OF The Maze Runner Trilogy Tina Munyebvu
ith the release of the final installment of the Maze Runner Trilogy, The Death Cure, directed by Wes Ball and based on the novels written by James Dashner, a window of opportunity to review the trilogy has opened and it’s a whirlwind of mixed opinions.
the supporting cast in these films put their own swing on the characters, leaving an everlasting impression. A strong friendship is presented through these characters, so having a cast that can present this with minimal effort is incredible.
By the release of the first film, a wave of dystopian films had already hit the big screen. Although some feel underwhelmed by The Maze Runner, especially compared to hard-hitting predecessors The Hunger Games and Divergent, each film of the trilogy brings something new and delivers an action packed, thrilling story with characters who always leave you wanting more.
The depiction of the creatures in these films is very interesting. Translating the creatures from page to screen is challenging and the visual effects team on The Maze Runner franchise certainly let their imaginations run wild. For example in The Scorch Trials, the Cranks, humans zombified by the Flare virus, showcase remarkable attention to detail in character design that retains humanistic features whilst being zombifying.
At the beginning of the franchise, Thomas (Dylan O’Brien) wakes up in The Glade at the centre of a maze, with no memory of how he got there. O’Brien does a fantastic job portraying the uncertainty of the character. As the films progress through Thomas’ actions and in such a fast-paced film series, O’Brien’s performance never falters. He was even known to have performed some of his own stunts which were flawlessly executed and effortlessly translated on to the screen.
Nobody can deny that the films are filled with entertaining scenes. The mixture of drama and intensity is always present; the characters are constantly seeking a safer place which leads to them always running away or towards something. As the franchise progresses, so does the immensity of the action scenes.
This is not a film in which the supporting cast is overshadowed by the main cast. Everyone seems to be able retain their presence within the film. You’d be forgiven for thinking that having O’Brien from Teen Wolf or Thomas Brodie-Sangster from Games of Thrones could tear the focus on others away. However,
Admittedly, there are some discontinuities with the storyline on occasions, but they should not tarnish the great performances and the build-up of the story throughout the franchise. Despite being a later addition to an already vast film genre, I still feel that The Maze Runner brings a unique experience to the big screen. Many will claim that the era for dystopian films is over, however I am glad The Maze Runner trilogy was a product of that era. Image courtesy of 20th Century Fox
ONE TO WATCH Wildlife
n 2016’s Swiss Army Man, Paul Dano played a borderline suicidal hermit stranded on a remote island who escapes to civilization with the help of a flatulent corpse. In real life, Paul Dano the actor seems to have it all figured out and is on a pretty darn fast ascent. Dano has been a Sundance Film Festival regular since 2005’s The Ballad of Jack and Rose and an accomplished favourite since 2006’s Little Miss Sunshine. Since then, he has turned out a seemingly endless slew of admirable performances, from There Will Be Blood to Prisoners to Love and Mercy. Having earned himself pride of place as being one of this generation’s most prolific, impressive and altogether underrated actors, 2018 marked the year he returned to Sundance for the first time as director. Based on the 1990 novel of the same name, Wildlife follows couple Jerry (Jake Gyllenhaal) and Jeanette (Carey Mulligan) strained by a lack of work and the growing temptation of infidelity in 1960s Montana. A nearby uncontrolled forest fire rages on the Canadian border and when Jerry joins the team helping fight it, Jeanette finds herself slipping into the arms of another, older man. The destruction of the small family unit is seen through the eyes of Joe, their 14-year-old son, whose life begins to spiral as he deals with the fallout. The film is yet to be gifted a widespread release date, but given its reception at Sundance, it’s inevitably on the way. Commended as “a natural-born filmmaker,” by Variety,
Dano has instantly cemented himself as an imminent force and a prime mover in the world of cinema’s head honchos. The long-faced gaze of inquisitive gloom marking Dano’s expression that has always radiated through to his roles and performances will surely bleed into his directorial efforts, and perhaps more so with Wildlife. We’ll be watching adults act out their dazed and flustered emotions with the added furrow of an adolescent eye, who, played by young Australian actor Ed Oxenbould, is, apparently, very Dano-esque. He’s hushed, pensive, reserved, shy. You can imagine why Dano, who wrote the film’s screenplay along with partner Zoe Kazan, was attracted to the source material. The pair have worked together before, on 2012’s Ruby Sparks, which Kazan wrote and Dano starred in, but Wildlife marks the first time they’ve written as a duo. “I wrote a first draft that was quite long and not in screenplay format and I secretly thought it was really good,” Dano said. He gave the draft to Kazan to read over, who had few qualms tearing it apart. “We got through about five pages of notes before we said ‘Well, that’s enough of that’,” he said. Kazan then helped to rewrite the script and the pair passed drafts back and forth before it was finalised Three years on, and Wildlife is in the bag, is staggeringly close to hitting the big screen, and, with the lauded reception its Sundance premiere received, is perhaps the start of an entirely new and entirely apt career of cinema’s freshest up-and-coming director. Image courtesy of IFC Films
A History of the Tomb Raider Franchise L
ara Croft is back, she’s looking for answers, and this time, she’s... Alicia Vikander? In March this year, the vine-swinging, arrow-shooting heroine returns to our screens with a new look and a new mission - clearing her deceased father’s name. Directed by the brilliantlynamed Roar Uthaug, it’s mostly based on the 2013 video game Tomb Raider and its 2015 follow-up, Rise of the Tomb Raider, essentially sticking along the lines of an origin reboot in an effort to give the character of Lara Croft a new lease of life. Raiding tombs. Hunting things. It’s a winning formula, but just how different will this new offering be from the twelve games and two films floating around in the pop culture ether? The first Tomb Raider game was released in 1966, over 20 years ago, defining the action-adventure genre and breathing new life into the previously two-dimensional heroines that games had to offer. Lara has come far since beginning her pixellated life as a series of pointy polygons, metamorphosing into the more human form we see today in the latest video game title in the franchise, 2015’s Rise of the Tomb Raider. The game allows you to play as the aristocratic Miss Croft, giving you control of the copious amount of shiny things at her disposal in order to hunt for arcane, valuable treasures while being pursued by equally wealthy bad guys. Although Tomb Raider II received as much attention as the first game, Tomb Raider III signalled a snowballing downturn in the success of the franchise, with both players and critics complaining that there was a lack of attention to the story and the gameplay felt too similar to the previous games. Lara even returned from the
dead, being killed off in The Last Revelation in 1999 and springing back to life in Tomb Raider Chronicles in 2000. 2001 marked the first time that everyone’s favourite video game heroine would appear on cinema screens in Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, played by Angelina Jolie. Although it was criticised for its bland plot, Jolie was praised for her portrayal of Lara, and the film remains one of the most successful films based on a video game to date. The second film, 2003’s Cradle of Life, was ironically received more favourably by critics, but was a commercial failure in comparison to the first film. Whereas Jolie’s Lara was an experienced and confident adventurer, the new film may yet avoid the curse of video game to film adaptations, with Alicia Vikander’s portrayal aiming to show a more vulnerable, aimless young woman who grows and learns as the film goes on. Vikander told Entertainment Weekly that she’s keen to see more female-led films with complex heroines, wanting to emulate the seismic impact of Wonder Woman and even surpass it. The turquoise tank top and incredibly tiny shorts are gone in favour of more practical tomb raiding attire for the woman about town, and the emphasis in the new films appears to be creating a more human Lara, rather than the walking, wisecracking arsenal she was in the older games. Seeing the latest Tomb Raider titles adapted for the big screen will be a step in the right direction for female-led films, enhancing the character that everybody recognises into a nuanced, likeable heroine who will hopefully go down in cinema history.
Image courtesy of Square Enix
Welcome to Southampton’s Cultural Quarter James Barker
uildhall Square has rooted itself as the beating heart of Southampton. The O2 Guildhall, the city’s premier gig venue, is welcoming bigger stars by the day, while its neighbouring cocktail bars and restaurants are the hottest place to spend Saturday nights. The square itself is advertised as “versatile and contemporary space” for everything from performance art shows to seasonal events. Now, as Studio 144 – the new home of NST City, John Hansard Gallery and City Eye – opens its doors, Southampton can finally show off its very own “Cultural Quarter”; one that’s been fifteen years in the making. Standing as gatekeepers where Guildhall Square meets East Park, the ‘North’ and ‘South’ buildings of Studio 144 are two striking pieces of modern architecture. With giant glass facades, cubic fronting and pleasing symmetry, it’s hard to believe that the project was first dreamt up before the turn of the millenium. Initially,
Studio 144 had a planned opening date of 2002 – the year a lot of current undergraduates started primary school – but was bombarded with problems and delays. Surviving three governments, five general elections and a global financial crisis is no mean feat, but art has a romantic notion of persevering; and maybe even maturing, like fine wine. If anything, the time spent perfecting Studio 144 makes its opening even more of a milestone for Southampton. The University has been a key player in making the city’s vision a reality. Two of the three businesses now homed within this slice of Southampton’s Cultural Quarter came into life at Highfield Campus. Students will likely be most familiar with the Nuffield, a building set apart by its huge and now weary-looking mint green roof. The theatre, which stands prominently next to the Interchange, remains very much open for business, albeit rebranded as ‘NST Campus’. Its brand
CULTURE new sister location, NST City, is designed to offer an alternative theatrical space, to showcase Nuffield’s inventive and unique original productions. The John Hansard is more of a hidden gem. Tucked away at the back of campus, its original venue – described by director Woodrow Kernohan as a ‘specialised’ gallery – is now closed ahead of the full opening of Studio 144. When the move is completed, the exhibition will be public-facing and public-serving for the first time. Kernohan and his team’s steely determination to focus their work on the Southampton community has seen John Hansard completely reinvent themselves for their new home. After a series of ‘housewarming’ events (including displaying a Transformer built from a 1988 Ford Fiesta) that coincided with the launch in early February, the gallery opens in full later this spring. Its neighbour in the South Building is City Eye, a council funded organisation set up to support community filmmaking in Southampton. Although they are by far the smallest of Studio 144’s new occupants, their facilities are still impressive, including a professional recording studio and a suite equipped with both Macs and PCs. But looking beyond the tech, its director Susan Beckett dreams more of a creative space where ideas can be forged, and a generation of young filmmakers can come together to make something Southampton can be proud of. Whilst John Hansard and City Eye have shaped their
spaces to their own strengths, the 30 million spent on Studio 144 is perhaps felt best in the North Building. A trip to the theatre naturally invites audiences to forget about the real world for a few hours, but there’s much more to NST City than its productions. The aesthetics of its foyer and reception area feel as much a part of the ‘art’ as what plays out on stage, with towering glass windows framing one of the best views in Southampton. As you enjoy the sun setting on the twinkling Solent in the distance, you can enjoy a locally brewed beer or a fine wine from Tyrells, a bar named after a department store that stood on the site for over a hundred years. It’s all part of the experience – just be careful not to miss the start of your show! But when you do venture into the auditorium, it doesn’t disappoint. The stage is fully flexible, with modular seating that can be chopped and changed depending on the needs of the production. For NST City’s opening production, The Shadow Factory, the theatre is closed in around a giant slab of concrete, brought to life with intricate projections and lighting. The space’s potential for original material is limitless, especially when contrasted with the overtly conventional layouts of NST Campus and the Mayflower Theatre. The ‘thinking outside the box’ nature of the auditorium is perhaps symbolic of what Studio 144 is trying to achieve. This multi-million mammoth of a project is dedicated to inspiring the next generation of home-grown artists right here in Southampton.
The Shadow Factory at NST City
s Nuffield Southampton Theatres celebrates the opening of a stunning new venue, its team could not have picked a more fitting debut than The Shadow Factory. Acclaimed playwright Howard Brenton pens a love letter to Southampton in this complex yet clever play; from its exploration of ’40s Southampton to nods at the infamous Soton/Pompey rivalry, The Shadow Factory is a work that keeps its focus firmly on setting.
factory into a grand drawing room within seconds. The first act feels a little overly ambitious at times, with scenes set in London an unnecessary addition to the narrative. But things tighten for the second act, focusing in on the tumult of the Southampton residents and allowing an impressive ensemble to shine.
In Autumn 1940, Southampton is home to the Supermarine Spitfire; a glimmer of a hope in a war Britain is losing. Following the destruction of the Spitfire Factory, the government – led by the shadowy Lord Beaverbrook (Hilton McRae) – begins requisitioning businesses across the city to establish ‘shadow factories’ where their planes can be made covertly. Its a move met with some resistance; whilst the affluent Lady Cooper (Anita Dobson) opens her doors, working man Fred Dimmock (David Birrell) takes a stand against the loss of his livelihood. With the story constantly switching between a country house, the war rooms of London and a laundrette, The Shadow Factory is forced to think creatively in its approach to setting – and adopts an admirably minimalistic aesthetic.
The cast of just seven feels small for the sheer size of The Shadow Factory, and the doubling-up of actors as multiple characters again slightly muddies the water – however, all performances should be heartily commended. Lorna Fitzgerald shines in her first role post-EastEnders, capturing the raw grief of Jackie Dimmock with the prowess of an experienced theatre actor. While Fitzgerald’s scenes are the most emotional, David Birrell is standout as Jackie’s father Fred. He switches effortlessly between humour and drama. Anita Dobson is the piece’s crowning glory in both her roles, offering cantankerous humour as ‘Ma’ Dimmock alongside thought-provoking wisdom as Lady Cooper. The community ensemble add a musical touch to proceedings, choreographed impeccably and shining with powerful vocals.
A large harsh slab of cement greets the audience on entrance to the theatre. There’s no curtain to hide it; no props to soften it. But as the play unfolds on this unconventional surface, the versatility of the space quickly becomes apparent. The projections of old maps onto the stage to set the scene is a bold move, one that might fail for those less familiar with Southampton; however, as a play firmly rooted in setting, the gamble pays off. The experience is pulled together by a mesmerising piece of lighting suspended above the auditorium, which transforms the scene from a bombed
The Shadow Factory falters a little with Lord Beaverbrook, a machiavellian government minister pulling strings behind the scenes. Hilton McRae is a powerful presence, particularly alongside Anita Dobson, but his pursuit of Polly (Shala Nyx) feels uncomfortable and a little unnecessary. A morally complex government official is a risky inclusion in this otherwise community focused narrative. But the show triumphs in its refusal to play safe; like the projections that dance across its stage, The Shadow Factory succeeds in putting NST City firmly on the map.
Anticipating Jessica Jones Season 2
eason 1 of Jessica Jones instantly became one of the most critically-acclaimed TV shows of recent years when it appeared on Netflix back in 2015. Krysten Ritter’s alcoholic super-sleuth was the anti-hero none of us knew we needed, whilst David Tennant’s turn as the manipulative, mind-controlling Kilgrave tore our memories of the 10th Doctor to shreds. Three years on and she’s finally back, after taking a turn in 2017 for a quick detour with The Defenders, and delving even deeper into the city’s rogue underworld and her inner demons.
The show’s sophomore run will see Jessica take on a new case in the aftermath of Kilgrave’s death and the vicious climax of the Season 1 finale. Marvel’s trailer shows that Jessica’s damage goes beyond Kilgrave and hints at the unearthing of the origin of her super-strength and the car-crash that killed her entire family when she was a child. Still, Kilgrave’s shadow still lurks over her and Tennant has been confirmed to make a return – though through what means is still uncertain. Given Season 1’s sharp handling of Jessica’s post-traumatic stress disorder, however, it’s likely the purple crusted villain will return in flashback, Moriarty-style. Very few TV shows offer anything resembling the sympathetic yet serpentine intricacies of PTSD that Jessica Jones did, let alone extend a realistic and indepth examination of the way it manifests amongst a backdrop of seemingly preposterous circumstances and their naysayers. In fact, Kilgrave might just be
one of the best TV villains of all time, if just for how realistically outrageous he was. Mind-control? Fitting for a superhero show, absolutely, but in real life? Sure as hell, dammit. Never has any written character been so much and so largely a metaphor that it splinters reality and seeps into the cracks. Also making a return is Rachael Taylor’s Trish Walker, a revamp of the comics’ Patsy Walker and Jessica’s adoptive sister. Season 1 saw her undergo self-defence training and even temporarily gain superpowers when she took Will Simpson’s IGH pills, whilst the finale saw her take Kilgrave head on alongside Jessica. The comics evolve her into the vigilante Hellcat, and it looks like the show’s second season will follow suit. “Jessica may not want a sidekick,” Trish says in the trailer, “but she needs one.” More strong women! More strong superheroines! More sisterly strength and female support! Very proud! If Season 1 is anything to go by (and if we ignore the surplus of Marvel’s other, slightly less successful TV ventures), Jessica Jones’ follow up might just be Netflix’s biggest event of the year: a steady stream of leatherclad super-powered action that’ll last a week or so for the strong-willed, and a good day and a half for the superfans. I say give me a day and bring it the hell on. Jessica Jones is bloody well back. Season 2 of Jessica Jones will be released on Netflix on March 8th, 2018. Image courtesy of Netflix
st ie k c a W e h T Nintendo Accessories Josh Nicholson
If you haven’t heard the latest bizarre news from Nintendo, the Switch will be receiving a range of cardboard accessories this April. Dubbed Nintendo Labo, each “Labo Kit” will include a cardboard cut-out for you to shape into a controller alongside a compatible game. It’s an undeniably unique idea that Microsoft and Sony would have never dreamt of. However, this isn’t the first time that Nintendo have announced a bizarre new product. It would be impossible to list them all, but here are some of the company’s weirdest forgotten innovations.
Remember Skylanders? It was a franchise that kicked off in 2011 that revolved around collecting physical figurines and scanning them into the game to unlock content. It was a massive hit and led juggernauts like Lego and Disney to try their hands at creating similar games. However, Nintendo had already experimented with a similar model way back in 2001, albeit with limited success. The Nintendo e-Reader was an add-on for the Game Boy Advance that allowed players to scan trading cards to unlock bonuses in various games. It wasn’t incredibly well-received when it first released though as it required you to own two separate Game Boys to get the most out of the device. I imagine that Nintendo designed it like this to encourage trading between friends, but it just limited who could use the add-on. Although it had features tied to hit franchises like Pokémon, Animal Crossing and Super Mario, it was discontinued before its time and is rarely mentioned by Nintendo today.
R.O.B has received renewed fame in the past few years after his appearance as a playable character in both Super Smash Bros and Mario Kart, but I doubt that many outside of Nintendo’s hardcore fanbase are aware of his strange origins. R.O.B (or the Robotic Operating Buddy) was released alongside the Nintendo Entertainment System back in 1984. He was designed with the ability to hold and press buttons on an NES controller so a single person could tackle a multiplayer game. This is genuinely an add-on designed to allow those without friends to play on the NES. Sadly, R.O.B was only ever compatible with two games and was discontinued relatively quickly after the NES hit it big.
Nintendo Knitting Machine
This is probably one of the weirdest add-ons ever announced. I say announced because the Nintendo Knitting Machine never actually made it to market. Revealed in the late 1980s and supposedly compatible with the Nintendo Entertainment System, the Knitting Machine would have allowed NES owners to design patterns on the TV and knit them onto jumpers. It was described in an official brochure as a “just one more example of the innovative thinking that keeps Nintendo on the cutting edge of video technology”. I struggle to see how a knitting machine is at “the cutting edge of video technology”, but maybe that’s what consumers were dying for in the 1980s. It’s a shame that the NES never received the promised Nintendo Knitting Machine, but I doubt many gamers were needling the company for answers after its quiet cancellation. Image courtesy of Nintendo
Spring King at The Loft, Southampton S
pring King, the edgy post-punk group, are certainly no strangers to touring and nor are they strangers to Southampton, having previously played at the Engine Rooms. This time, however, 2018 saw the band perform at a different but equally alternative venue, The Loft. Opening with an alt-indie band Calva Louise, the trio’s grunge-pop element sparked interesting melodies in their songs, complemented by frontwoman Jess’ wicked guitar solos. Although not a fully formed crowd, those already there enjoyed an array of new material. Songs such as ‘Getting Closer’ and ‘I’m Gonna Do Well’ are definitely worth a listen. Fizzy Blood soon followed as the second support act, jumping straight in with ‘Summer of Luv’. The boys displayed a more of a punk element to their music with lyrics of rebellion and negativity. By the time Spring King approached the stage the room was filled by an eagerly anticipating packed crowd. Going straight into ‘Detroit’, the energy in the room was insane. About three seconds into the first song there was already a mosh pit in full swing and the possibility of crowd surfing for a member of the audience’s birthday. What became immensely clear during the first song is that these boys are comfortable performing together. With lead vocalist, Tarek Musa, also situated behind
the drums the running and jumping around on stage was left for the responsibility of Pete and James. Both headed in front of the drums to perform a small solo, much to the great appreciation from the crowd who were very much ‘shirts-off ’ involved in the music. In amongst all the fun and moshing, it was really lovely in between songs to hear James remind the crowd to “pick up people if they fall down and keep drinking lots of water” – what a darling. After encouraging a small rendition of ‘Happy Birthday’, the boys played a few new songs. Hinting at a possible album release for 2018, Tarek shouted it was “time for something new”. Although the new material was met with great support from the crowd, popular songs played like ‘Rectifier’ and ‘City’ were appreciated by some very intensely dedicated fans at the front and lots of screaming girls on shoulders - it is obvious that the band have a clear following. These fans are the real deal and the energy they provided illuminated Spring King even more into a frenzy of good vibes, good music and an all-around fantastic show. Another brilliant band that the North has produced, I’m beyond excited to see where these boys will be in a few years time.
Photography kindly procided by Peter Walker 29
Khalid at Eventim Apollo, London 3
52 days ago, the idea of Khalid filling out Hammersmith’s prestigious Eventim Apollo – let alone doing so twice with ease at rather lofty prices – would have seemed more than a little far fetched. He was making his London debut seven physical miles and a million conceptual ones away at Hoxton Square Bar & Kitchen, a venue typically reserved for the newest of newcomers and perhaps best known at the time for over-the-bar barbecue courtesy of Michigan techno oddball Seth Troxler. Courtesy of still being a week away, debut album American Teen hadn’t yet accrued any of its multiple billion streams. In fact, when The Edge took a punt on him to feature as one of our picks for 2017 the month before, it was only after a haphazard combination of play counts that we arrived at a figure of 30 million streams for ‘Location’ to make our selection seem that little bit more statistically sound. Here, it would be remiss of us not to attempt something similar: per Wikipedia, the Khalid of today has 46 platinum certifications around the globe.
that an unfamiliar script is behind his mentions of Valentine’s Day (into ‘Another Sad Love Song’: “We can be single together in this motherfucker”) and the London recording session of ‘Winter,’ a yearning ode to his adopted hometown of El Paso, Texas gilded with a cheesy spin into the chorus.
Given this hectic schedule, it’s unsurprising that his live show hasn’t quite had the chance to receive real polish. Opener ‘American Teen’ packs the whole shebang into around five minutes, featuring an ostentatious key change, a backdrop digitally spangled by questionable typography and distressed stars and stripes, a pair of token cheerleaders popping by to serve ultimately as a token contribution to the high school aesthetic that contextualises the records, and, of course, Khalid himself, singing about half the words and simply beaming through the rest. He traverses the stage with a sort of ungainly charisma not unlike a hybrid of an untrained boyband and an overexuberant but well-intentioned uncle in a cardigan. His spoken interjections flow uneasily, giving a clear impression
Discounting ‘Silence,’ which exhibits the most drearily predictable tendencies of his songwriting when it’s not too busy being a high-octane blur of erratic hopping and shouted countdowns taking precedence over vocal substance, a Khalid show today just does its job. Even if rarely either spectacular or exhilarating, his delivery was clear and almost entirely precise, and the threepiece ensemble that soundtracked the night worked with similar diligence, embellishing the album material with stimulating pomp. It’s hard to think of any new male talent quite getting the hang of what it takes to fit a traditional R&B superstar mould, but with a little more time and a little more practice, Khalid might be our best hope.
However, it feels unfair to be overly cynical. Songs like the latter were easily the most promising parts of the set, trading overblown melodrama in the accompaniment and the aforementioned cheerleaders (who changed costume and lost the pompoms to look increasingly dishevelled and asymmetric as the set progressed) for more a heartfelt feel. Despite reserving everything your casual radio listener may have come across (‘Location,’ ‘Young Dumb & Broke,’ and his collaborations with Marshmello and Calvin Harris) to close, attention barely wavered in the crowd as lyrics were almost remarkably ingrained throughout, turning even the most mundane filler into mass singalongs.
Image courtesy of Kenzo Photo
Will Varley at The 1865, Southampton
hen interviewing Will Varley an hour before doors opened, in a room upstairs in The 1865 very reminiscent of a 1970s living room, we talked about how he won’t play without beer and how it’s been touring with Seán McGowan. And while Seán’s set received as much support as one would expect for a fantastic, up-and-coming local singer/songwriter (I commented while there on the impressive turnout he had for 7.55pm, 25 minutes after doors opened), Will received just as much, if not more support from a crowd who seemed to adore both equally - or if they didn’t at the start, they certainly did by the end. It’s weird seeing McGowan perform without a band now - after all, his latest tour and EP were full band
as opposed to just him and a guitar as it had always been - but it was nice to hear the songs stripped back to just him, and I think it’s a testament to his songwriting and on-stage presence that he is as good solo as he is with the rest of the band on stage with him. He seems to be a pro at working the crowd, especially as it wasn’t him headlining, with just the right amount of selfdeprecating humour mixed with an acknowledgement of just how far he’s come in the last year, and how much he’s achieved. While he commented that he’s finding a gag downward scale during ‘Neverland’ “harder to do and less funny,” and that “[he does] this for a living so no wonder [he’s] fucking skint,” there’s a certain confidence he has in his own abilities. Continuing on with ‘Costa Del Solution’, a song from his Graft &
Grief EP released last year and ‘Millbrook Road’, I did think that his setlist was a little slower than the ones I’ve previously seen from him. Not a bad thing, and perhaps Southampton is somewhere he’s experimenting with new material ahead of any future releases (in fact, his penultimate song was one I hadn’t heard before and one he wasn’t allowed to tell me the name of), but the comfort with the crowd was palpable as he told us a story about his grandmother. She “ran the busiest Irish pub and raised five children at a time when it wasn’t popular to be Irish,” using a story of her as a metaphor for no matter how confusing and scary things might be, there’s always a glimmer of hope to focus on, and that we were all one big community, as he launched into his final song of the evening, ‘No Show’, completing as excellent a set as he always does. Soon after it was Will Varley time - a singer/songwriter also signed to Xtra Mile Recordings like McGowan - and my first thought was of how bizarre it was seeing him in a 750 person capacity when he seems like someone who I’d love to see in a pub or smaller, intimate venue. Not that he seemed out of place - the opposite in fact but he seems like an excellent choice for a smaller gig, much like the Frank Turner show at The Joiners last year. Mixing solo and band during his set (his album was his first one done with a full band), he was as fantastic live as his discography would have you believe. Starting with ‘As for My Soul’, very much a crowd favourite, he ended his first solo stint with ‘From Halcyon’, which he
apparently wrote part of in Southampton, “one of [his] favourite cities in the universe”. Having heard the first full band song of the evening ‘Statues’ already during soundcheck, it was as lovely during the gig as it was then. His lyricism and folky-blues sound could sound out of place in deeply politicised songs, but it didn’t. From upbeat to politically charged to ‘The Man Who Fell to Earth’, about a nineteen-year-old who fell out of a plane smuggling himself into the country, he’s a performer who genuinely has crowds exactly where he wants them and seemingly supporting every musical choice he makes. He seemed incredibly grateful the whole time at the full venue, and while not every song was as deep and meaningful as some (‘I Got This Email’, for one ), it was certainly entertaining, and his voice and guitar playing are just unparalleled. He’s a true performer, and songs like ‘We Don’t Believe You’ that allow his audience to express their anger at the political establishment through his words for four minutes are, perhaps more unsophisticated and angry than others, but a perfect example of what it is about Varley that makes him so fantastic. As the set draws to a close and his encore starts with ‘King for a King’ (a song given a deeper meaning following his announcement that he’s about to be a dad), closer ‘Seize the Night’ was clearly the song everyone had been waiting for. Here’s hoping he returns to his favourite city in the future.
Image courtesy of Ben Morse
March 16th-17th - Pure Dance at NST Campus March 20th-24th - George’s Marvellous Medicine at NST Campus March 23th-June 6th - A Streetcar Named Desire at NST City March 25th - John Robins at NST Campus April 3rd-7th - Roverang: Around the World In… at NST Campus April 5th-7th - Dungeness at NST City April 14th - Bump ’N’ Hustle at NST City
March 14th - Pretty Vicious at The Joiners, Southampton March 15th - Jamie Lawson at The 1865, Southampton March 20th - Catholic Action at Heartbreakers, Southampton March 23th - Mr. Scruff at Orange Rooms, Southampton March 24th - Levellers at Winchester Cathedral, Winchester March 28th - We Are Scientists at The Joiners, Southampton March 29th - The Wombats at O2 Guildhall, Southampton March 31st - Calum Lintott at The Joiners, Southampton
March 13th - Paddington 2 at 7pm (free!) March 14th - Lady Macbeth at 8pm March 15th - The Death of Stalin at 7pm (free!) March 16th - Student Film Festival
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Published on Mar 11, 2018