SpRing 2014 VultureHound ISSUE 1
MUSIC | FILM | TV | DESIGN | FASHION
Vulturehound FREE FIRST ISSUE HORROR SPECIAL Wolf Creek Director Greg Mclean Interview
iTCH shares his Guest Playlist + MUCH MORE
Welcome to the first issue
Guest Playlist: iTCH
2014â€™s Most Aniticipated Films
Spring TV Previews
Alex Turner: Modern Genius Or Charlatan?
The State of Horror
Director Greg Mclean Interview
Fashion Designer: Bao Ta Interview
Giving music reviews a review
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David Garlick Editor / Creative firstname.lastname@example.org
Lee Hazell Film/TV Editor
Hello and welcome to the first issue of Vulture Hound Magazine. For those new to us, we’ve been around the last few years covering new music, film, TV and art/design on VultureHound.com We’ve always had the aim to eventually make a magazine. So here we are, finally, with Issue 1.
Features/Reviews visit our website for daily updates
With this first issue we want to show you what we are about. With some fresh new content exclusive to this magazine. We’ve previews of some the most anticipated films of 2014 and Springs latest TV shows. A look at the latest going ons in the Horror genre with an exclusive interview with Wolf Creek Director Greg Mclean. We end with what we are most known for; music reviews, with feature review of St Vincent’s new self titled album. All with some fashion, illustrator showcase and some music features. I’d personally like to thank everyone who has written for Vulture Hound in the past, as well as everyone who has contributed to this first issue. I hope you enjoy it.
Daniel Garlick Richard Hart Michael Dickinson Richard Hart Kimberley Bayliss Zoe Williamson Edie Edmondson Shane Bayliss Angeline Trevena Jessica Pettengill Robert Stimpson Edie Edmondson
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iTCH: GUEST PLAYLIST Former King Blues man iTCH shares his Guest Playlist with VultureHound
POS - “Drumroll (We’re All Thirsty)” Punk meets hip hop. Brilliantly loud, raw and fast.
Derrick Brown - “A Finger, 2 dots, Then Me” Prepare to have your mind blown.
Death Grips - “Fever” Death Grips totally made their own sound long before Yeezus.
Danny Brown - “Radio Song” Clever, funny lyrics and a fun song.
Deltron 3030 - “Upgrade (A Baymar College College)” One of the greatest MC’s with one of the greatest producers and backed with Kid Koala. This group are a joy. Handsome Boy Modelling School - “The Truth” If I was ever going to seduce your mum, I’d pick this track to do it to. The Coup - “Laugh/Love/Fuck” Super political group The Coup come back with a banger.
Check out more Guest Playlists including Fred Durst, Scroobius Pip and Minnie Driver at vuho.tv/guestplaylist
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The Last Poets - “When The Revolution Comes” This is how poetry should sound; angry and unapologetic.
Beastie Boys - “Sabotage” The original punk rappers just killing it. NOFX - “The Decline” 18:20 of utter genius. Guttermouth - “Lipstick” Brilliantly offensive and snotty. Rancid - “Roots Radicals” Rancid at their very best. The Clash - “Guns Of Brixton” I had to include this band but they’re so great it’s so difficult to pick just one song.
2014’s Most Anticipated Films
One of the great trends in early colour cinema was the biblical epic. Great tales from the old and new testaments that provided special effects companies in Hollywood the platform to wow audiences the world over with miraculous spectacle. How we know many of the great bible stories today is heavily informed by their depictions, which means we mainly know the sanitised, family friendly versions. Darren Aronofsky’s Noah and Ridley Scott’s Exodus are finally bringing the raw uncut versions of the Bible to the big screen, hopefully without all the anti-Semitic propaganda that plagued The Passion. Both are Old Testament tales which means we get an angrier, more vengeful god, the kind that would make the activities in Hostel look like a weekend away in Centreparks. The Bible has always used some of the most uniquely insane fantasy elements to dramatize its teachings and capture the imaginations of the faithful. I can’t wait to see what people who think they know all the Bible has to offer, think about this.
The Grand Budapest Hotel
Wes Anderson’s latest quirky effort is a tribute to the early 20th century adventurers, heroes and resourceful valets. In it, Ralph Fiennes plays Gustav H, the world’s greatest concierge in employment for The Grand Budapest Hotel. Gustav plays like a cross between Wodehouse’s Jeeves and Arsène Lupin, a man who knows exactly when to bring you your night cap and how much vermouth you like in your Martini; whilst simultaneously knowing where you keep your family jewels and the sneakiest way to pilfer them. Exhibiting the trademark Anderson style (Wes’, not Paul Thomas’ or god forbid Paul W.S’) in static, emotionally absent delivery straight to camera and colourful cast of middle class characters, The Grand Budapest Hotel is starting to look like the distinctive directors greatest hits package.
Our picks of the most anticipated and sometimes unexpected films of the year.
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Most Anticipated Films The Raid 2: Berandal
The Raid was one of 2012’s most brutal and unflinching action movies, an instant martial arts classic and one of the most pleasant surprizes of year. In 2014 Welsh director Gareth Evans returns to give us more of the Indonesian art of Pencak Silat, which rougly translates into Bloody Murder (don’t look that up). The sequel stars Iko Uwais as Rama, this time going undercover to bring down the Jakarta mob and corrupt police force. The sequel has a fight in a moving car and a homage to the hammer scene in Oldboy. The sequel promises to have just as many over the top, high octane action scenes as the last film and promises to retain the simple style of storytelling that made the original just as compelling as it was brutal. The sequel is going to be fucking awesome.
Wally Phister is a long-time collaborator of Christopher Nolan’s and the cinematographer behind the style of The Dark Knight trilogy as well as Inception, The Prestige and Insomnia. However if you take a look at his work outside the domain of the Nolan brothers you’ll find very few movies that can compete, both in terms of aesthetics or substance. And while Phister probably has a good deal of say in how his picture (his first as 8 VultureHound SpRing 2014
director) looks, the actual cinematographer credit goes to Jess Hall, the DP behind such fantastic looking films as Son of Rambo and Hot Fuzz. So regardless of the quality of the content, the visuals should be astounding. Transcendence is a sci-fi story that concerns itself with the very real scientific concept of The Singularity, the moment when something happens in science that will forever change the lives of every human being on the planet. Usually this is attributed to advanced artificial intelligence, specifically the kind of AI that can learn for itself in the same way that humans do. It’s a very promising subject, one that will hopefully not descend into black and white techno bashing a la The Terminator.
It’s not odd to see Steve Carell in prosthetics, and it’s not odd to see him in dramatic roles. But to see him doing both? Yeah, that’s unsettling, especially when he’s playing real life murderer and paranoid schizophrenic John DuPont. This is unlike anything I’ve ever seen Carell play before and Mark Ruffalo too is unrecognisable as his victim, Olympic Champion Dave Schultz. But it is Carell’s unnerving, dead eyed, stare that makes this such an intriguing prospect. To take a personality we all associate with buffoonery and foolishness and twist it into an empathy challenged sociopath? It’s like taking your favourite childhood toy and turning it
into a murder weapon.
The directorial duties for the next Godzilla movie have been given to Gareth Edwards, not the visionary behind 2010’s Monsters. Monsters was a film about traversing through a dangerous wilderness, filled with grotesque creatures, that he did all the special effects for on his laptop. It’s an interesting choice for a director especially given the indie sensibilities of his previous work. And let’s face it, for all the meaning and subtext we movie buffs attribute to the Godzilla films, we all really know they are about shit getting stomped on. Edwards may finally use a Godzilla movie to explore some really deep and meaningful themes that exist outside the minds of pretentious film critics. And if he doesn’t, well it sure looks pretty. Also of note is that this will be Bryan Cranston’s first major Hollywood role after Breaking Bad ended back in 2013.
Guardians of the Galaxy
Guardians of the Galaxy isn’t your normal, atypical Hollywood Blockbuster. It isn’t even normal in Superhero movie standards. For one thing there’s maybe one truly human character in the whole cast of leads. The others consist of a military genius who’s
2014’s 10 Most Anticipated Films
A Million Ways to Die in The West
With Ted, Seth Macfarlane proved to a world fast losing patience with him, that he wasn’t out of ideas just yet. Ok, all of his ideas still mostly rely of gross out humour, profanity and shock value, but with Ted he proved he was capable of wrapping all that up in a genuinely heartfelt story about friendship and coming of age well into your thirties. A Million Ways to Die in the West is his follow up and our first chance to see what he can do in front of the camera as well as behind it. It’s a rare performance from Seth that sees him play anything more than a voice or anything other than himself.
It’s a chance to see where his career might take him if he turns out to be an acting success and can lead films on his own. There’s always been a tone to MacFarlane’s style that has always suggested old fashioned showmanship, so an old fashioned western might be a good fit for his first try. We’ll just have to see how it goes from here.
Gone Girl is one of those books that once you read it, you scratch your head at how they’re going to manage the adaptation. Fortunately David Fincher is a master at filming the unfilmable. With Se7en he brought us shocks no one thought audiences could stomach, with Fight Club he took us inside the mind of a man whose mind was not a stable place to be and in The Social Network he made realistic computer programming interesting. Ok so with The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo he just basically made the same film as the alright Swedish version. But with Gone Girl, he has the most popular book by an author with a reputation for writing stories that go to some downright nasty places. But the pictures are gonna be all Fincher. People are already thinking Best Picture 2014 for this one.
right now. He’s finished with The Dark Knight trilogy and remarkably made one of the highest grossing films of all time out of an original idea. He has one of the most distinctive styles in cinema and has the skill and confidence to make almost any idea into a great movie. The cast is also, appropriately, stellar too. Matthew McConaughey, (once written off by writers like me only to come back stronger than we could have possibly imagined), leads the likes of Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, Casey Affleck and Michael Caine. Most definitely the Gravity of 2014 only without the over saturation of sugary storytelling schmaltz.
Christopher Nolan is the hottest film maker in the world
Spring TV previews
also a talking racoon, two half naked green alien people and a tree that can only do two things, kick ass and introduce himself. This represents a massive risk for Marvel Studios. This film is the lead in to The Avengers 2, and to trust that hefty responsibility to a film based on a fairly obscure franchise, with a concept so wacky Marvel might just have found where the line is in terms of mass audience suspension of disbelief. This film will probably be a good indication of where Marvel will dare to go in the future, if it decides its ok to keep expanding its universe into its most bizarre corners, or if it decides to stay grounded in the familiarity of the real world. Here’s hoping to the former, and that’s why I’m rooting for this movie.
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Spring tv previews
SPRING TV PREVIEWS
Spring is the time of year for activity, productivity and efficiency. So get up, tidy your room and clean those plates that have been gathering grime since Christmas. Seriously, it’s grown so many organic life forms it’s starting to become sentient. Or if you’re a filthy bastard, like me, then park your arse and check out these programs you can waste your life watching this Spring.
The unholy alliance of the teams behind Archer and Eastbound and Down. Grant Dekernion’s first show since being a writers assistant on Eastbound. Chozen certainly isn’t afraid to face controversial content, revolving around a gay, white rapper who having just come out of prison, struggles to make his way back to the top of the rap game. With similar humour to Eastbound, and the kind of shock value that made Family Guy such a hit, Chozen might not be the thinking man’s choice for what to watch in the coming months, but it might just be the thing to tide you over in between cravings for new Seth MacFarlane material.
The Red Road
The Red Road follows Sherriff Harold Jensen as he tries to police the town where he grew up as well as the neighbouring community of Native American’s. He becomes indebted to one of the members of the Ramapo Mountain tribe after a cover up involving the Sherriff’s alcoholic wife. Starring Game of Thrones’ Jason Momoa and Auckland Dazes’ Martin Henderson, this looks to be a thought provoking look at a world that mostly ignored by serious TV drama.
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Spring tv previews
Billed as “The Untold Story of America’s First Spy Ring” Turn stars Billy Elliot’s Jamie Bell as New York Farmer Abe Woodhull, one of America’s first espionage agents who worked for the Thirteen Colonies against the British. Mostly this drama is significant because it is the first major drama for AMC in the year after they said goodbye to Mad Men and Breaking Bad, two of the best and most iconic shows of the twenty-first century. They were also AMC’s golden goose. It will be interesting to see what lessons the network has learned from making incredible amounts of money from simply producing incredible quality.
Fictitious portrayals of witches can be troubling at the best of times, especially when the portrayals reference real life events, many of which ended with the executions of innocent women. The problem is that dramatists, attracted to the romance of the supernatural element, often depict the witches as having actual powers which they almost always abuse, justifying the misogynistic, religious persecutions of unconformist women. Salem seems to be using many stock stereotypes that indicate they are not interested in a discussion about the real issues the Salem Witch trials brought to light. Rather they would just use the iconography of the witch as a source of terror. I’m not writing it off just yet as there seems to be a deeper layer to this drama the producers are keeping pretty close to their chests so far, but the wicked old crones and the girls smiling on stakes don’t exactly fill me with confidence.
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Alex Turner: Modern Genius Or Charlatan?
Alex Turner: Modern Genius Or Charlatan? “Should he be considered among the greats even though he is a young contemporary artist?” Needless to say, the majority of the world’s population were not writing record breaking albums at that age.The hype for that debut album became as ominous as a horizon darkened by a flotilla of Zeppelins, offering only a destiny of disappointment. The substance required to sate the rampant expectation needed to be of extraordinary calibre. As history now tells us, the album soared under the strength of Turner’s songs, connecting immediately with the young music fans sadly living their youth in the 2000s, the decade of anti-music
and one album wonders, seemingly forever forced to sustain their finer tastes on the music of previous generations. The unmistakeably British songs that found the poetry in the strangely dull nightlife being played out every Friday and Saturday was a huge mirror held up to all participants who dared look back at their own monotonous reflection; and behind that mirror was an awkward, skinny boy from Sheffield who was already warranting another great British tradition – being lauded as a genius at the earliest possible juncture. There was undoubted talent, that was clear to see. To communicate so articulately with that many people on such a basic subject as what we get up to on nights out demonstrates the touch of a gifted writer. But simply capturing a zeitgeist does not a genius make. In the preceding decade, Damon Albarn, Noel Gallagher and Jarvis Cocker, all captured the hedonistic glory of the mid 1990s, but of the three, only Albarn can realistically lay claim to having since approached that fabled term of ‘musical genius’ for the sheer scale and quality of his work. Using this basic premise, and by looking even further back to the those past heroes who are firmly ensconced as rock royalty, is it fair to say that Alex Turner is being overlooked? Should he be considered among the greats even though he is a young contemporary artist? What came after Whatever People Say I Am, That Is What I Am Not is tantamount to it if one is to assess Turner’s greater impact. Turner could have steered the band to the safety of the middle of the road, writing the same album three more times, each one a more concentrated, tamer version of that initial explosion. That would have satisfied a lot of people and made an awful lot of money;
Alex Turner is 28 years old. This still seems impossibly young for a man who first appeared on the wider music scene in late 2005, as the hype surrounding the release of Arctic Monkeys debut album Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not reached impossibly unrealistic levels for expectation to be met. As with most ‘overnight sensations’, the night in question was, in reality, a lengthy period of foundation laying, honing of skills and word of mouth. The band were performing and recording as early as 2003, which means that Turner, the songwriter, was actively writing the songs that constituted that record breaking debut album between the ages of 17 and 19.
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Alex Turner: Modern Genius Or Charlatan?
the mainstream would have lapped it up and frothed unsuccessful recreation of something that used to be sacred, as is their want. The deep lying, Springsteenesque urge for romanticising a time and a place while simultaneously straining to escape it would have been lost, as would the biting, razor sharp edge. The resultant career that could have followed doesn’t bear thinking about. Fortunately, though, Alex Turner, is not concerned with satisfying the masses. Indeed, he has openly gone on record to say that ‘we want to get better rather than bigger.’ The same mantra has served many of the greatest musical talents particularly well, helping them forge lengthy, varied careers of experimentation, reinvention and seemingly nonchalant revolution. Bob Dylan is without doubt the greatest singer/ songwriter in the history of music. His songs are the resultant blend of sublime poetry and music. Nobody has done this better than Dylan. But this staggering level of quality was maintained across many guises; from the folk yokel, to protester singer, to ‘Judas’ turning electric, to cryptic philosopher – each stage bringing with it different looks and different sounds to keep the fans transfixed. 14 VultureHound SpRing 2014
Then, of course, there is music’s greatest shape-shifter; David Bowie. A man who inhabited the characters of his own invention, recorded and toured an album, and then moved on to the next project. He was Ziggy Stardust and The Thin White Duke, he embraced minimalism during his Berlin years, he was in Tin Machine, dabbled in electronica and then became the elder statesman of British rock music. His songs are as unashamedly intellectual as he is himself, and his sartorial changes are as numerous as they are iconic. The almost stubborn refusal to remain in one musical dwelling for too long has to be applauded, if not always awed. In comparison to these two titans, at least, Turner is of course leagues behind, but only through default; he is only 28 years old, after all. But he, too, is an unabashed poet; the current king of couplets, the master of metaphors and the vox populi turned drawer of the veil; his metamorphosis from awkward Sheffield wordsmith spouting songs to a disaffected, bland generation of neutral teenagers, to scraggy haired, dirty looking cryptic lyricist prowling the desert with Josh Homme, up to his new incarnation as a modern day teddy boy oozing charisma offers glimmers of a fearless Bowie, preferring to be the trend rather than embrace it.
It’s impossible to imagine this man ever having the slightest interest in what a group of men in suits gathered around an office table would have to say about what his next look or sound should be, and it could well result in similarly legendary longevity. Like Bowie and Dylan, and even crossing onto the hallowed ground of Lennon and McCartney, Turner’s changes have not just been in appearance, but in a rapid progression of musical style. While these changes certainly alienated some of his fans, shaking the hangers-on ruthlessly from the tree while they bemoaned a lack of ‘Mardier Bum’ and ‘I Bet You Still Look Good On The Dancefloor’, what he may have lost in fickle fan base numbers was more than compensated for in the solidifying of his credibility. The small step forward that Favourite Worst Nightmare constituted displayed a growth in maturity from the debut album, tackling a diverse range of subjects from the controversial defection of Andy Nicholson from the band, the new found trappings of fame and refreshingly simple, yet heart wrenching, love songs. Furthermore, as a portent for what was to come, Turner also further displayed his gift for painting incredibly vivid character driven songs in the greatest tradition of Ray Davies. Anyone who hasn’t visualised the prostitute and her environment from ‘When The Sun Goes Down’, the frustrated woman from ‘Fluorescent Adolescent’ or the downright strange human being skulking bars in ‘Cornerstone’ perhaps doesn’t have the imagination that the songs deserve. It was with the release of Humbug, followed in turn by Suck It And See, that fully distanced Arctic Monkeys from their past. Alex Turner himself described that past as ‘old chip shop rock and roll’, something that he felt he could not write anymore, not just literally, but without authenticity, too. Just in the way that the music of the youth needs to be sung by the young, the music of the working classes needs to be sung by the working class. It is a classic album-era musical conundrum; if singing songs about being poor and young makes you rich and famous, what do you sing about next? No audience wants to hear wealthy people continue to bleat about being poor; it equates to doe eyed teenagers singing about love, and the feeling of being condescended to is unbearable. So what did Alex Turner do next? Well, everything – almost. After Humbug’s drastic change of direction into deeper, darker territory, Suck It And See displayed the most diverse Arctic Monkey’s material to date, with traditional ventures into love, rock and roll,
and reflections of things past, all interspersed with a brilliantly irreverent charm. The lightness of it all was stark opposition to what Humbug offered before it, and hinted at the hairpin turns in which Turner was willing to take the band with each preceding album. In September 2013 came AM, the band’s fifth studio album, and their most accomplished, rewarding work to date. A complete package of threads from all that came before it, but not leaning too heavily in any one direction, at its core AM has the same kitchen-sink observation as their much loved debut, but it all feels a little more grown up. The adolescent giddiness of hearing the shenanigans that you and your mates get up to put to music is replaced with a darker, more cynical eye, in some cases a little perverse, and the result is phenomenal. Not only this, but these seedier stories are sound tracked in a startling myriad of different ways, from traditional pounding rock, to charging mariachi, via falsetto vocal solos, slick pop, doowops, hip hop bass and a heaving adaptation of a John Cooper Clarke poem. It’s a mind boggling mix, and it is pulled off immaculately. To date, Alex Turner has been the voice of the bored working class teenager, a raconteur, a balladeer, a poet. Some of the songs and images he spins leave you lost in a maze in the depths of night, wondering which turn will come next and where it will lead you when it appears. You cannot second guess it, and when you do finally get to the end you feel an overwhelming exhilaration, followed by an immediate urge to throw yourself back in and do it all over again. The given impression is that Alex Turner can be whatever he wants to be, it just depends which whim holds his imagination for long enough. Whichever route he takes, though, will undoubtedly be graced by this modern genius. Words: Robert Stimpson
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The State of
Horror I’ve got to be honest here; I am a fan of horror movies. I like a scary movie where I am on the edge of my seat, afraid to keep my eyes fully open and wary of every dark corner. I even enjoy the sense of relief when the movie finishes and the credits roll, the moment when you get your normal heart rate back. However I should have said good horror movies.There are an awful lot of horror movies and most of them are awful. Horror movies, like comedies, are quite cheap to make. You don’t generally need much in the way of FX and sets, just a creepy old house which needn’t be fully lit. You can scrimp on the cast; just find the first gaggle of nubile actors and throw gore at them and you’re already green-lit. Directors who cut their teeth in a good horror movies often go on to helm major box office movies, but very few of them go on to sustained careers. Horror movies are a cash crop and if you’re looking for critical acclaim, probably best to look elsewhere. For a while it seemed like the horror movie
in America had died a horrible, bloody death.
Of course the movie that played a massive role in the revival of the commercial horror movie was the risible Saw which spawned not only one meaningless jumble of a series but also helped to pave the way for the mildly amusing Final Destination series and even the ever decreasing quality of the Paranormal Activity series.
The case in point here is Neil Marshall’s excellent The Descent. Featuring a largely British, all-girl cast, this claustrophobic, gory, disturbing and genuinely scary movie had shades of so many horror movies that the whole movie is pretty much a love letter to the genre. But then a few years later the money men tried to bottle lightning and The Descent: Part 2 was released and bombed. And it was right to bomb, this dull, unimaginative movie was so filled with plot holes that there was barely a strand of plot that made any kind of sense in it. I genuinely got home from seeing the sequel at the cinema and gave my DVD of the original a hug as if it so say “There there, it isn’t your fault”.
Saw set a box office precedent and every Hollywood producer with dollar signs in his eyes looks at a horror movie script and thinks the same thing “Could this be my Saw?”. Of course generally they aren’t. For each quality horror movie, there’s normally a truly
Sequels and franchises have always been a staple of the horror movie genre, whether it was the increasingly bizarre Friday the 13th” series or the horror / comedy of the Nightmare on Elm Street saga. After the Saw franchise finally appeared to die in one of its own traps, it was
Of course there was the tongue in cheek, self referential revival with Wes Craven’s black comedy movie Scream which, in 1996, helped jump start the genre. But genuinely scary, genuinely disturbing horror movies didn’t start crawling back until the likes of Wolf Creek had reared its bloody head.
Are you sitting comfoRtably? 16 VultureHound SpRing 2014
There are an awful lot of horror movies, and most of them are awful.
This series of movies started with Oren Pell’s low budget, found footage reinvention. A low fi, intimate and highly effective horror movie; Paranormal Activity reset the playing field and made ‘found footage’ movies the coolest thing around. For those that were new to found footage, there was a freshness and a novelty about the realism of the movie being shot on a apparently documentary style and Paranormal used its medium well, playing with our expectations and using little tricks like the sped up footage of Katie watching Micah sleeping, one of the movies most
effective and eerie moments. Found footages movies had been around a lot longer than that though, whether you consider their genesis to be with Cannibal Holocaust or with their big two of The Last Broadcast and The Blair Witch Project. Another major advantage of the found footage genre goes back to the producers with dollar signs in their eyes: these movies are comparatively cheap to make. Blair Witch was legendary for its low budget cost and massive box office and Paranormal Activity was no different, costing somewhere in the region of twenty thousand dollars to make, a few million to market and taking in an eye watering two hundred million. These saw a deluge of found footage movies following up, most of which were risible or just plain weak. Most failed to get their head around the creepy concept, but there were some little classics amongst the dross; The Troll Hunter, REC and Home Movie being three of the best. The other major trend was brought about by the Saw franchise and one of the leaders in
the genre, Eli Roth. Eli made a movie with Quentin Tarantino’s support called Hostel, which was neither scary nor thought provoking, but it did have an acre of guts and gore in it. It was truly one of the most sickening movies made, making exactly no point at all while it did it. But once again a low outlay made a massive sum of money and the torture porn genre splattered onto the screens, taking an increasingly grimy, depressing and often needlessly gory tone. A related wave was the French ‘New Extreme’, which was late 2000’s and featured intense violence and often a gloomy, nihilistic tone. Some of these movies were actually very good, like Pascal Laugnier’s Martyrs which is truly one of the most powerful, miserable movies you will ever see. Some of them were not so good like the ultra violent nonsense of “Frontier(s)”. The other recent trend that is sadly very popular is that of the remake. Hollywood loves its remakes at the moment. This is partially down to a lack of original ideas but also down to a lack of guts from the Hollywood bigwigs and when V
replaced as top horror franchise by the Paranormal Activity franchise.
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The Guest is a follow up of You’re Next
you’ve got a proven or relatively proven property then a quick remake or reboot and you’ve got a new audience and a new income. Many of these remakes have been failures from both a commercial and a critical standpoint but yet more of them continue to be made. One or two manage to be quite good; The Crazies and The Omen were both pretty decent. But most are not worthy of comment. Generally you need to look away from the big Hollywood horror movies to spot a really good one at the moment. Whilst it was very uneven, found footage anthology V/H/S was full of brave ideas and interesting execution, even if one of its stories wasn’t scary at all, one made utterly no sense and one was just a wee bit
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boring. The last story directed by collective directors Radio Silence was the pick of the litter. Another low budget, slickly directed indie horror movie from recent times was You’re Next, one of last years dark horse sleeper movies that delivered blacker than night humour and blood soaked violence. It was scary, tense, funny and proactive in equal measures and never quite strayed into torture porn and was directed with élan. As even a stopped clock tells the right time twice a day, it’s worth mentioning Scott Derickson’s underrated movie Sinister. An eerie tale of obsession, madness and evil, this movie blends the found footage genre with the mainstream horror movie by
having the footage found within the plot of the movie. A surprisingly strong central performance from Ethan Hawke is supported ably by a truly oppressive and eerie score. So, aside from more and more remakes and reboots, what do horror movie fans have to look forward to in the coming year? Obviously the Paranormal Activity series will continue to bombard our screens with shaky footage and acting. It’s even branched out now it’s own spin-off movie, the deeply average “The Marked Ones”. Many early reviews and festival goers have marked Israeli horror movie Big Bad Wolves as a major prospect for 2014. A movie about an investigation into a
believe finale. The sequel, following the brutal and sadistic killer from the original movie, is also directed by Greg McLean (interview follows this article) who directed the original, which is a good sign. Scott Derickson, director of Sinister, has also been getting some good copy about his next movie Deliver Us From Evil; a supernatural cop movie starring Eric Bana, Sean Harris and Olivia Munn. Early reviews have been very favourable.
murderous paedophile sounds like it would be unbearably dark but apparently the movie is suffused with a certain sense of humour without cheapening the darkness within it. On a very different tone is the bizarre Nurse 3D starring the delicious Paz de la Huerta from HBO’s Boardwalk Empire. Really a throwback to the B-movie and probably as tasteless as it looks, it may have more in common with the absurd “Piranha 3D” than any proper horror movie. But it will have Paz in it. A major sequel due out this year is Wolf Creek 2 which follows on from the cult Australian movie. The original wolf creek was very dark, very violent and used a very downbeat, realistic style which drove the tension way up before a slightly harder to
Reviews have been a bit more mixed for the bloody Green Inferno, a movie about politically active Ivy League college kids who fall victim to the cannibals in a Peruvian rain forest. It has a reputation as one of the most gory, nasty movies to be released in sometime. Adam Wingard follows up You’re Next with The Guest a story about identity, family and loss. Adam Wingard and his collaborator, Simon Barrett, have been on something of a creative roll and the early buzz for The Guest has been very good.
be creative, surprising and bold and yet is more often than not formulaic, timid and repetitive. Those movies viewed as cash cows or staples of the genre have been viewed with a certain amount of contempt and often rightly so. Still, if you can look past myriad remakes and endless sequels that didn’t need to be made, if you can play down your expectations then the genre still has the capacity to take you on somedark, thrilling and truly exciting journeys. I’ll still go along for the ride, looking forward to the jumps, wincing at the gore, laughing at the whistle past the graveyard humour and then, as ever, breathing a sigh of relief at the end. How many other genres can boast that they make you appreciate things going back to normal afterwards? And if you can’t cope, just keep thinking this phrase: “It’s only a horror movie.” Words: Richard Hart
The horror movie genre has been subject to the same sort of stresses that the rest of the modern cinema has; money is tight, expectations have gotten higher and with social media and the internet, secrecy is now very thin. Horror has a need to
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Interview | Wolf Creek | Director
Greg McLean Wolf Creek was one of the stand-out horror films of 2005 following three backpackers as they are stalked and terrorised across the Australian outback by killer Mick Taylor played by John Jarratt. Wolf Creek 2 finds Mick still out in the Australian outback stalking another group of backpackers. On Friday 28th Feb the follow up to Wolf Creek 2 will get its much anticipated UK premier at Film4’s Frightfest Glasgow event. We caught up with director Greg McLean to discuss to Wolf Creek 2, working with John Jarratt, and the future. 20 VultureHound SpRing 2014
Its been nearly 10 years since Wolf Creek, where has Mick been in the past few years? The Outback is a big place so he’s been working all over the Top End. Hunting Pigs, Kangaroos and Backpackers. Did you always plan to return to the character of Mick Taylor? And do you regret not jumping straight back into his world? I did always want to revisit Wolf Creek, it just took a little longer than I’d
John’s just a great actor. He’s a terrific collaborator, really fun to be around and is so committed to doing good work it’s not funny. So I do really enjoy working with him. Plus he makes me laugh constantly because he’s such a funny bastard. We call each other Beavis and Butthead because when we are discussing a scene or idea and come up with a good one, we kind of chuckle in a very juvenile way. Thus the reference. anticipated. I don’t have any regrets - life’s too short for them.
you find that reality is the best source of inspiration?
Obviously this film has elements that are inspired by reality, how much research do you do into the real life events? And is there a conscious effort not to get too close to reality?
I think for horror in particular it certainly creates a great basis to work from, because if the audience knows that even half of what they are seeing really happened - it’s immediately more terrifying than just a made up bunch of stuff to fill out 100 minutes of a movie. For me anchoring things in reality really helps because those are the things that frighten me - trying to imagine what a certain situation would “really” be like. That’s where the terror comes from, translating real moments into cinematic moments.
It’s a fine line - on the one hand basing elements on true cases does give an air of authenticity to the whole story so on that level it’s important. And it also really is what the movies are all about exploring these incredibly brutal and strange events and characters that really exist. But on the other hand, it isn’t a documentary so there are changes that have to take place to make it a “movie”. Both this film, Wolf Creek and Rogue has inspiration drawn from true events, do
You’ve been linked in the past with a few Hollywood horror movies and franchises, how close did you come to those? People don’t really care about projects I didn’t do, do they? I know I don’t, lets talk about Wolf Creek 2! What’s next for you? Working on a couple of cool things -- one that will be announced once it all locks in!
Wolf Creek 2 gets its UK premier on Friday 28th February, and will be on general release later in the year. Shane Bayliss
This is the third film you have worked with John Jarratt, would you consider him your Kurt Russell? And what draws you back to working with John. SpRing 2014 VultureHound 21
Bird Mark Bird is an illustrator and designer based in Manchester. He is currently producing work for the editorial, children’s publishing and greeting card markets.
As well as freelancing, Mark creates his own work which he sells through Society6 (http://society6.com/MarkBird) and his new Etsy shop (https://www.etsy.com/uk/ shop/MarkBirdIllustration). His work is often described as whimsical and evocative, often taking inspiration from imagination and his childhood. Mark is currently working on a number of print series that will soon be available online. One of these is the “Monster Diets” series - an alphabetised, tongue-incheek look at what Monsters like to eat.
To see more of Mark’s work, visit www.markbirdillustration.com
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Charming, driven and funny – Edie Edmondson spent some time with fashion designer Bao Ta who offers an intimate and inspiring insight into his journey to becoming a fashion designer of ‘accessible’ couture creating unique womenswear items.
Let’s talk a bit about your work experience: what was it like working for Cynthia Rowley? After my second year I wanted to do a year out. I’ve always loved New York so decided it’d be more interesting to find work
there than in England. I then started researching designers and sent some of my stuff to Cynthia Rowley [American fashion designer] and they loved it! I thought I’d learn a lot under her. I probably shouldn’t say this – but it was a little like The Devil Wears Prada! She was a bit night and day to be honest. I worked with the production team where we got to see some designs after the catwalk show. We did some pattern cutting and re-did samples. I was lucky to learn so much – with Boudicca [Haute couture brand in London] I had to hand-sew buttons – I didn’t learn anything. The first day with Cynthia, they gave me a dress and asked me to redesign it and then put it through production. So I did the pattern cutting and changed the design and then showed it to my director who passed it to Cynthia – she liked it and put it in production! I mean, that level of responsibility you would never get over here. In America, I think as long as you back up with what you’ve got they will give you the chance. If you work really hard that is: no procrastinating or wasting time. Your company then started in 2013 and was sponsored by The Princes Trust (a youth charity) – how did this happen? Somebody told me about the enterprise so I got in touch with them - I told them my style was namely Luxury Womenswear, and luckily this was a new thing for them. At first they were weary as it costs so much to produce. There is a limited loan and grant, £4000, which is not very much in my area of expertise. There also is an intense training course where I was tak-
en through every single thing: business aspects such as cash flow, taxes. It was a good way for them to sift people out as many were like: “this isn’t for me!” It was a good way to see who wants to be dedicated for the long run. After the course, they then find you a mentor similar to your industry. I had a lady called Loretta (who helped bring Estee Lauder over to England in the sixtees). She was great – I mean, I didn’t know how to do cash flow or a chart of my predictions and she supported me in all that. Other courses were about SEO and we even learnt how to talk and communicate with clients and create press packs. It was fantastic because all these courses were free as part of the enterprise. It took me about a year to get everything right and to create a business plan. And how would you describe your items within the fashion industry? I would say they are wearable, haute couture. They are unique, glamourous items for modern women. V
So, lovely to meet you Bao! You came from a family of dressmakers – did this have an impact on where you are today? Well, I’ve always beaten my own drum. I don’t know how much you know about Asian culture but they either want you to be a doctor, pharmacist, lawyer or accountant. When I was fifteen I wanted to make my parents happy so I naturally went through the Science route, but I was so miserable! I wanted to please them but at the same time it wasn’t who I was. So I retook the whole year and started again doing Textiles. It was like night and day, I thrived there! The teacher at the time saw how passionate I was. My mum, being part of the Vietnamese culture, was very talented at hand embroidering so perhaps subconsciously, my love of designing was always there.
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What would you say is your speciality or unique selling point in the items you create? Well, all my clothes are individually hand-made in London and this sets me apart from a lot of my competitors like [Alice] Temperley who, even though Luxury, has her garments made in China or India. I really wanted to bring back the English heritige, I felt it was important to channel that and get everything made in london. The reason why my brand is expensive is all down to the cut. My items are wearable but there is a visible hand finish. It is all to do with how the final product comes together. Who would be your ideal woman to dress? I love Keira Knightly! I think she is so classic but has that edge because she is so young and elegant. She adopts two worlds – she can go for something casual to something glamourous in an instant – she’s a real chameleon. Do you think the women in your life have influenced your 26 VultureHound SpRing 2014
desire to create beautiful, modern dresses? Well, I love dressing a woman who is comfortable in her body but at the same time who isn’t shy of showing it off at the right place and at the right time. In terms of my family, my grandmother died when my mother was sixteen and was left to look after her sister. My mother has worked hard all her life so I’ve seen how strong and how resilient to life she is. I think that reflects in my designs. I want to dress women who reflect those values. Can you explain to me your most disappointing and exciting moment of being a fashion designer so far? Two years ago I planned to start out my own company with a friend. On the day we were going to get our investment, she let me down. That was during a time when everything was difficult so I would say that was my biggest disappointment. But I believe that everything happens for a reason and it made me push even more without necessarily relying on
other people. An exciting moment however…looking back, it must have been during my final year [at university] in front of the panel of judges (including the editor from Elle) where we had to show seven pieces of our collection that we wanted to appear on the graduate catwalk show (they don’t pick all final year students!) I was accepted on this show and at the end only three out of seventeen of us got press (I was one of the three!) So I got a fantastic comments from the Evening Standard. Also, seeing a celebrity [actress Jodie Whittaker] wearing your clothes is very exciting. Do you have any advice for aspiring young designers? I think it is so important to have hunger and determination. A friend of mine (who also models for my clothes) has that hunger – we push each other. I believe in hard work. I think you have to follow your heart and follow what makes you happy. At the end of the day it is your life and you have to stick with that life. If you are passionate about something, go for it and persevere! It will pay off. Keep an eye on Bao Ta’s exciting progress via his website www.atelierbaota.com He has recently reached his target via Kickstarter and is on track to finish a sensual and modern Autumn-Winter 2014 collection. You can also see him at the Oxford Fashion Week starting on 10th March 2014.
Full interview can be read on VultureHound.com
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Giving music reviews a review
In an age when you can download whatever you want, whenever you want, often for free, do we still need professional critics to tell us what music to listen to? Can’t we just find our own music? Apparently, as well as giving us an endless supply of music, the internet’s also lowered everyone’s attention spans, so I’ll keep this as brief as possible as I tell you why professional critics still have a place.
Medium Writing isn’t even the best medium to discuss music. There, I said it. It might actually be missing the point a little. Music, like all forms of art, develops because each piece talks to everything that came before, responding to it, talking to it, and even rejecting it. It exists to express something that can’t be expressed through the medium of words alone.
The book was better Music should make you feel something that nothing else can, and it’s almost impossible to properly transcribe a feeling from one medium to another – just look at all the
people who complain when a film is different from the book it was adapted from. Of course it’s different, it’s has to be. It loses potency when transcribed, and like those little descriptions that accompany paintings in art galleries, if you need a piece of music to be explained in words, the song has already failed. So why should we continue to read music reviews if words can’t even properly explain the essence of a piece of music? Because, as ineffective as they can be in describing music, words are still incredibly useful, and only a tiny percentage of us even have the ability to respond with their own music – critics certainly don’t. For most people, words are still the most precise tool for
communication, so that’s why we use them to talk about music, and talking about music is a good thing.
Music is important. It’s one of the things that separates us from the animals (okay, birds can sing, but the idiots don’t even have a way to record it). Its significance needs to be recorded. If music develops by responding to other music, words – in this case in the form of a review – aren’t going to have much effect on the development of music. But it can record its significance. One review alone won’t give any great insight, but they all add up to a bigger picture of the
cultural landscape, reminding us what it is to be a human, like a constantly updated history of humanity. In a world where you can show your appreciation by doing something as easy as clicking ‘like’, intelligent and in depth discussion is more important than ever.
The invention of the internet made it possible for just about anybody to easily and cheaply make their own music and publish it. The critic apparently had to take on the role of the gatekeeper, sifting through the flood of constant new music to find all the good bits to show the reader. Critics don’t even make great gatekeepers. When just about everybody could make their own music if they wanted to, the flood is too strong. Critics still see only a fraction of what’s really going on, while being bombarded by the music PR companies with the music they want promoted by giving a review.
Having access to an infinite amount of music works for the minority willing to spend their time looking for something new, something special, but most people are happy to carry on listening to music similar to what they’re used to. Occasionally, they’ll accidentally stumble upon something completely new which instantly clicks with them and changes how they see music, and they know there’s a higher chance
of this happening if they actively seek out new music, but do they have the time? And can they be bothered? People are lazy, and will always be looking for the easiest option, so they read reviews because the work’s already been done for them (you’re welcome, reader).
Vomit And at least critics do their best to save you from having to trawl through the PR companies’ descriptions of the bands and their music, using vomit-inducing phrases no real human beings have ever used before such as “in equal parts bucolically gorgeous and thrillingly roughshod, mischievously obtuse and devastatingly direct, painfully personal and cosmically universal.” Even though the critic perhaps doesn’t have the most effective sieve, it still gives the reader one less layer to peel back until they find great music.
Opinion Of course, you still need to take each review with a pinch of salt, because it’s just an opinion after all. Everyone has them, and the internet’s made it easy for even ‘normal’ people (and the not-so-normal ones) to express it. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t still a place for the professional critic. After all, most of the reviews posted online are irrelevant and uninformed, lacking any sort of objectivity. Take this shambolic – though hilarious/tragic – review found on Amazon: “I bought this as
a present for my son aged 14 after he broke mine. He is not speaking to me si [sic] I don’t know if he really likes it, but I think he does.” I don’t remember what it was reviewing, because it doesn’t even say in the review – a good critic is aware of everything around the music he’s reviewing, and where it fits in, and he won’t trouble you with personal problems. If you like to trawl through semi-literate writing, be my guest, but just like my choice in music, I like quality, and there’s a much higher chance of that with a professionally written music review. If you like to read semi-literate writing, good for you, but just like when choosing what music to listen to, it’s best to go with quality – so go with the professionally written reviews (read mine, at least).
If you’re still not persuaded, at least you’ve had something to read on the toilet (again, you’re welcome). Just don’t drop your iPad. I give this article four out of five stars. Would recommend.
Words: Daniel Garlick
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St Vincent (Album Review)
Critically acclaimed, off the wall and hard to describe: St Vincent’s eponymous fourth album is due out soon and it is a big box of musical chaos wrapped inside boutique ribbons. Sharing her stage name with an idyllic island, Annie Clark is from Oklahoma in the United States who grew up in Dallas, Texas. Her music couldn’t be much further from the arid, commercial and conservative tone of her home-state. Known for her esoteric music and her complicated, layered and often baffling lyrics, St Vincent’s music is at the bleeding edge of the art-rock and indie rock movements. A former collaborator with super cool acts like Sufjan Stevens and Cage, she’s been that cool act that you’ve vaguely heard of for a while. She’s always been beloved by most critics. Indeed, how many other artists are compared to David Bowie and Kate Bush early in their career? Her work is far from mainstream so far but she has charted with her last two albums, though she’s never quite cracked the top ten in her native US.
The new album does have a touch of Kate Bush about it. From the idiosyncratic lyrics and the emotionally driven vocals to the ambitious tone of the album, it’s easy to see how the comparison has been drawn. However there’s also a touch of another eighties legend as her vocals recall the sound of Cyndi Lauper, especially in the excellent “I Prefer Your Love”. The album begins with a pair of quite up-tempo tracks that take a healthy amount of influence from eighties electronica. There’s the normal inventive lyrics and sly touches in both “Rattlesnake” and “Birth In Reverse”. Birth in Reverse is almost a bit poppy by comparison to her other work but it’s far from a mainstream track. “Huey Newton” is another funky, upbeat sound perhaps drawing further back to the sixties and seventies. It’s joined also by the breakout single “Digital Witness” as having a sort of funk influenced sound. Digital Witness has a great beat to it and is a really upbeat and enjoyable song that could be a sleeper hit.
Things are a bit slower in places too with the dark, torch song of “Prince Johnny” with its beautiful, rich vocals, which sound like a more decadent version of Lana del Ray. There’s also a healthy amount of slow, dark stuff with the downbeat “Every Tear Disappears”. The chaotic tone of the album, which is akin to the lab of a mad scientist, is overflowing with ideas and permeates never every track on the album. “Regret” is particularly strange and has a touch of early David Bowie to it. “Bring Me Your Loves” starts off like a slice of discordant electronica but actually there’s a lot of method lurking inside this maelstrom of madness. The album peaks with the sombre, dark and beautifully sad sound of “I Prefer Your Love” which has some moments of lyrical genius. “I prefer your love to Jesus” stands out as one of the tent pole lines of this album. Comparisons could be made to Tori Amos in the last track, especially with the religious imagery in the track. This is stronger still in the lyrical road movie of “Psychopath” which builds up with a nice, metallic beat to a sunrise of a chorus. The album closes out with a classic outro; the slow and bleak “Severed Cross Fingers” which just piles one dark image upon another like something out of some sort of musical butcher. The track is straightforward enough, even occasionally exhibiting some sort of country twang that’s seldom seen throughout this album. The album closes out cool and dark, showing the depth of St Vincent’s range. Her song writing is complex, layered and highly imaginative. She’s always teasing out new ideas, new sounds and hiding jokes inside her lyrics. At times it’s almost infuriating, like a hipster’s poetry but in the end the sense of humour shines through. Meanwhile her vocals are strikingly rich, occasionally discordant but never quite reaching Bjork levels where you fear for the glassware in your house. The more you listen to the eponymous album, the more you see method in the chaos. Things occasionally end up blowing up a bit too much. The occasional
lyric clunks down on the ground and at times, the album is almost too busy. But it’s seldom these days that you get an album that has no filler and every track on this album feels like it has a place there. St Vincent doesn’t seem interested in placeholders. Considering the dark tone of the lyrics and the occasionally sombre tone of the album, it’s not a depressing listen at all. Her quirky, offbeat music style and the richness of her voice always seems somewhat knowing, somewhat friendly and it keeps you listening, keeps you guessing and the more you listen, the more you unravel. If St Vincent is a mad scientist, then her inventions are complex, inventive and sometimes obscure, a perfect reflection of her. Some people will be put off by the oblique and chaotic tone of the album and some may find her lyrics off puttingly weird. But for many, this will be yet another hit album that will be exactly the sort of macguffin that they were looking for. St Vincent has named the album after herself (in a way) and the album may stand as a great calling card, self-portrait and mission statement. She’s not going away, the question she asks is “do you want to know more?”
Words: Richard Hart
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Frank Turner Sweet Albion Blues (Single Review)
Words: Michael Dickinson
The UK’s favourite troubadour has been taking in some of the sites of the country’s biggest venues, including a night at London’s O2. Who’d have funk the man that wrote The Real Damage would end up as the one of the most popular solo artists of recent years. Maybe it’s the fact that he manages to tap into the seedy underbelly of life and emotion that we don’t like to admit we’ve experienced but we all actually have at some point. Plus he’s recently released the EP Polaroid Picture where his latest track comes from.
Accompanied by a video of Mr. Turner seemingly doing a sound check before a big show, he belts out the track at a rate that leaves him gasping for air. It’s a cliché but there are definitely elements of Dylan and Petty at work in the songs relentless rhythm. The story follows a man’s treks through the various counties and the people contained therein with their opinions of the big black smoke that Turner calls home. It’s sparse. With just his voice and his guitar it truly feels like a track sung by a travelling man.
Bleach Blood Darling Don’t Dive (EP Review)
Bleach Blood are a rarity for British bands. They have an ability that allows them to combine aggressively passionate playing with ethereal melodies and harmonies; never believing you have to sacrifice one to achieve the other. That quality instantly raises them above the majority of their contemporaries. The first track is an example of the exuberant youth that laces all of Bleach Bloods music. It’s joyous and gracefully chaotic, like a slow motion shot of a gang of youths running down to the beach. The second track sounds like Black Flag crashed a party Sonic Youth were booked for, while Transplants got wasted in the corner. It’s a rapid descent into madness that has an eerie outro, like the aftermath of an explosion of bloody violence. The third track is the live version of Anything, Anything. It’s a pleasant surprise but one I think should have been saved for the end and the original put in its place. There’s just no excuse for not having a track this good on the album twice. The Circle and the Square is one of those great tracks you sing at the top of your lungs. Multiple vocal tracks combine to turn this song from a tune to a festival anthem.
The EP is another example of the Bloods great song writing talent. But the best thing you can say about it is it makes you impatient for them to finally bring out a full release. EP is streaming and available for free download from www.bleachblood.net/darlingdontdive
Words: Lee Hazell
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Johnny Foreigner You Can Do Better (Album Reivew)
Opening tracks don’t come much more immediate sounding than Shipping. Brash, loud and happy-go-lucky vibes, tinged with just a tinsy amount of melancholy about drinking too much, it’s a good mix. Second track and lead single Le Sigh follows a similar course. My over-riding thoughts about the first couple of songs here are that they would be great to see performed live. I’m a newcomer to the cacophonic guitar spree of Johnny Foreigner. Deep research and soul searching on social media tell me they formed in 1996 and have released a bevy of albums, EPs and singles. Having been around a while you might expect a band formed in the mid-90s, who proclaim themselves to be unashamedly indie, to sound like a diabolical Oasis-like beast clawing their way from
the rear end of the Stereophonics. It’s good then that Johnny Foreigner sound like a fresh band. These sound like songs that have gestating long in the minds of their creators. There is the occasional quiet moment, such as track 4 Riff Gritchard – a very pleasant instrumental and Devestator which begins softly but becomes the gnarly jam the title would suggest. Songs like Wifi Beach and bonus track To the Deaf bring out a FIDLAR like surfer sound. For the most part the songs remain to a tight formula. Light rhythm guitars, deep bass, dual lead vocals that have a slight air of the Pixies about them. At 40 mins the sound doesn’t out stay it’s welcome but if you’re not digging the sound from the offset you may find yourself a bit nonplussed by the end.
Words: Michael Dickinson
Molly BEANland Night Dreams (Single Review)
The seductive, sexually intoned music video is pretty much a staple of pop music these days. It used to be the case that a music video was designed to sell the music that it was attached to. But increasingly in this visual era we live in, the video is designed to sell the artist as a sex symbol and the music is very much secondary to this. Molly Beanland’s video for her song “Night Dreams” doesn’t set her up as a sex symbol, indeed she doesn’t actually appear in the video at all. But it does have a seductive message and a fairly overt sexual tone to it. Recurring images of femme-fatales of movie history ranging from Marilyn Monroe all the way to Mena Suvari from American Beauty surge across the screen in a collage of seductive, feminine images. The sexual tone of the video is in places pretty strong and one of the recurring images is of the water-bound lesbian kiss in the movie “Wild Things”, a moment which may turn out to be Denise Richard’s highlight of her career. There is also the recurring rose petal fantasy from American Beauty which features Mena Suvari. Female beauty, whether it be fantasy or reality, dominant or submissive, innocent or knowing, all are displayed at some point in the video.
There’s obviously a bit of a Kate Bush feel to the song though the singer’s voice is not as powerful or dominating as Kate’s voice is. In fact Molly’s voice is much more modern, American toned with a rich, keening sound to it. There’s something quite intriguing about her vocal style accompanied by a sugary electronica and drumkit work. The drumkit hits its notes a tiny bit harder than the synth but both are fairly light as the vocals are given centre stage, without ever truly being overpowering. The video is a seduction; the song is perhaps a coquettish wave. Either way, the attention is caught.
The song itself is a big bold 80’s synth pop song where the vocalist intones a dreamy chorus which is backed with some simplistic but effective electronica. There’s nothing overly sexual about her vocals and the song; if anything the song is actually surprisingly sweet considering the title of the song and the video that accompany it.
Words: Richart Hart
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Eliza and the Bear
Eliza and the Bear It Gets Cold (Single Review)
London-based alt indie five-piece, Eliza and the Bear, have just returned from a summer of festivals and an autumn of touring the UK arenas with Paramore; on personal request by Paramore front woman Hayley Williams. They are now looking forward to the January release of their new single, ‘It Gets Cold’. Formed in the latter part of 2011, they recorded a demo in the living room of drummer Paul Kevin Jackson, expecting the experience to be nothing more than a bit of fun jamming with friends. They posted the result online, and shared it with a few curious friends, and despite no hype, no promotion, they found themselves being talked about, and receiving hugely positive reviews. A fanbase that truly grew organically, and a band judged on their talents, not the size of their marketing budget.
Words: Angeline Trevena
Following the release of It Gets Cold, they continue the year as, I’m sure, they mean to go on, having confirmed a place on Communion Records’ inaugural New Faces Tour through February and March. Following on from Communion’s highly influential New Faces album and the New Faces EP series, this new venture will see four of 2014’s most hotly tipped new artists touring ten cities over two weeks, playing in an excitingly diverse range of intimate venues, including St Stephens Church in London. Billed alongside Luke Sital-Singh, Farewell J.R and Annie Eve, it’s quite an honour to live up to. But it shouldn’t be
too hard for them. It Gets Cold premiered a few weeks back with Radio 1 DJ Zane Lowe, who billed it as his “hottest record in the world”, and it’s since clocked up an impressive 50 thousand plays on SoundCloud. And it’s not undeserved. Upbeat and catchy, this is a track to be played up-close. It feels intimate, a shared secret; the kind of song that, even when played in a packed out arena, will feel like it’s just you and the band, and no one else. With just enough folk edge to give it that friends-round-a-campfire feel, it’s a song that will stick with you long after it’s finished playing. It’s unbelievable that these guys never even dreamed of becoming rock stars, because what they have here is pure magic, and the fact that they are untainted by ugly commercial hype will turn them into a cult must-have. In the words of lead singer James Kellegher; It Gets Cold is about returning back home after an inconceivable amount of time. It’s about the things you will miss being away from home and the moments in time you miss whilst at home reminiscing. Its about the romanticism of memories.” And if you check out their other songs available on SoundCloud, you quickly come to realise that this is a group not afraid to bare their souls, to let their fans get close. It’s all very personal, very open and honest, and you’ll be forgiven for thinking these songs were played just for you.
I Want to See Pulaski at Night (Album Review) You have to be ballsy to be a strictly instrumental musician in this day and age. Andrew Bird isn’t just a name heard by older people or hipsters that listen to NPR (guilty) either. He’s been featured on the Colbert Report and summer music festivals like Lollapalooza across the United States. Bird’s 90 percent instrumental album I Want to See Pulaski at Night is nothing short of beautiful. The seven-song album is a story in itself. The album opens with a melodic string introduction with Ethio Invention no. 1. The album focuses on mainly Bird’s string talents, namely the violin which seems to be his forte. The album blends from Japanese-esque string influences in Ethio to British cottage countryside in Lit from Underneath, to mountain bluegrass meets Scarlett O’Hara’s cotillion in Hover I. Bird himself said that his inspiration aimed to almost create the album into a score, “as if the songs were a movie.” And I certainly wouldn’t complain if he scored a movie in the near future. Bird also added in a press release that the album was about 20 years in the making, forming from a phrase that stuck in his head in his 20’s while roaming around Chicago. While the album may seem more than ambitious for those that are unfamiliar with Bird’s work, it’s not at all overreaching for his style. Bird has released ten full-length albums and a plethora of other EPs and live albums since first performing solo in 2003, of which at least half of the songs are instrumental. One of my favorites of his is probably The Supine from his 2007 album Armchair Apocrypha. It’s hard to hold a listener’s focus with only an instrument, but Andrew Bird does it with flying colors in I Want to See Pulaski at Night. Words: Jessica Pettengill
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Mean Streets (Single Review)
You Were Right (Album Review)
The new single Mean Streets by Tennis is easy-listening radio’s wet dream. A sweet and mellow female lead coupled with a steady drum tempo, and a little piano lilt accompanying light guitar riffs. But aside from hearing the single in perhaps a Target shopping aisle, Tennis doesn’t give me any desire to download straight from iTunes.
You Were Right, the latest album by Brendan Benson, is a real treat and an extremely underrated album. The talented Benson brings about his clean rock vocals and rhythmic music in the form of a great backing band. The talent showcased here is incredibly diverse and jam packed into a 15 track album.
Technically there’s nothing particularly wrong with the song, but there’s also nothing spectacular about it either. There are no standout vocals, no lyrics that hit you right in the heart, no instrumental solos. It’s just sweet, bubbly, sedative pop.
These collections of songs are not only cleverly executed but will entertain fans with Benson’s trademark vocals and the treat of daring to do something slightly different in a handful of tracks. Powerful songs run through You Were Right from the instantly likeable It’s Your Choice – the opening track – and tracks such as Rejuvenate Me and Diamond.
Perhaps it’s just a matter of finding a genre that fits their sound better. I can almost imagine the duo going full tilt and angling towards a more bluesy, sultry, singer-pianist composition. They would fare well in a more bare-bones version of Lake Street Drive. Again, to give them credit, the song isn’t terrible, but it’s not going to shoot Tennis up to the top 50. Their EP Small Sound, which features Mean Streets, is set to drop in February of 2014. Hopefully there will be a few more brand defining songs on the album.
I Don’t Want To See You Anymore is a great example of how Benson dares to be different as this sounds like a track straight out of the 70’s in comparison to others. Prime examples being the reggae infused I’ll Never Tell and piano enriched Swallow You Whole. The previously released single Purely Automatic is an album highlight and brings together Bensons evidently prominent vocals to a bouncy soft rock track. You Were Right is an Album full of attitude, talent and variety in style but never strays from that classic style full of melodies that is Brendan Benson. Rock n Roll fans are sure to take to You Were Right from that start.
Words: Jessica Pettengill
Words: Rebecca Terry
Happyness Happyness (EP Review)
Coming straight out of South London, Happyness bring some surfer-indie charm to a mild winter. Opening track ‘It’s On You’ reminds of a morelaid back FIDLAR, with lyrics reminiscent of Ziggy-era Bowie (seriously there’s definitely some Moonage Daydream in there). It’s a chilled out song that you’ll be wanting to break out once those warmer nights hit. The second track is the melancholic ‘Orange Luz’. Seattle grunge infused with subdued vocals and a downer of a melody i’s a great follow up track that let’s us know that Happyness aren’t content with sticking to one style. ‘Lascascades’ nearly plays out as an instrumental, sounding like a sped up remix of Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Albatross’. Fourth and final track ‘Montreal Rock Band Somewhere’ closes the EP with an even more hazy, surfer vibe. Happyness’ Happyness EP is a happy affair. It’s great when a band so new release such an accomplished debut. Come spring I can guarantee that this will be on heavy rotation on my portable mp3 device. Each track has fantastically zone-out quality that puts a smile on your face. It makes you… happy!
Words: Michael Dickinson
Maelstrom Discord (EP Review)
Maelstrom releases three new electro tracks on his EP Discord. Maelstrom grew up in grimy, Techno-filled warehouses, and now works on his own music and nights in the same sort of places. He has releases on Boys Noize, Sound Pellegrino, and other labels I’ve never heard of. You spend the first two minutes listening to the title track, Discord, wondering when it’s finally going to kick off. But then nothing else comes, just the same techno beats going on and on. Maybe when high or drunk in a night club, it’d feel different, and that’s obviously the whole point, but even then, played in the kinds of places it was designed for, it’s not one of the tracks you’re likely to remember. It felt like it would fit perfectly in a video game like Wipeout – a game set in a futuristic world where you race spaceship/hover car hybrids as bright lights and holograms flash past – but in those kinds of games, the music is firmly in the background – it’s important because it adds to the whole feel of the game – but not that important. The other two songs on the Discord EP (Tank Driving and Scanner) follow in a similar vein, so it can be a struggle to tell them apart.
Words: Daniel Garlick
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The Luka State 30 Minute Break (Video Review)
Love Actually cutie and Game of Thrones regular Thomas Brodie Sangster features in the new video 30 Minute Break from The Luka State. Sangster is friends of the band through Nowhere Boy as Sangster met The Luka State bassist Sam Bell when Sangster portrayed the character of Paul McCartney, with Bell as his fellow Beatle George Harrison, and the pair have remained friends ever since. The Luka State bring a fun modern take on rock n roll, heavy at times but still melodic, with classic britrock sounds. Together since 2012, this is the bands second single through label Project Records. The video itself is a mini-drama, with a deep and emotional story told by the couple we follow through the dynamic- less of a music video and more of a short film. 30 Minute Break tackles various controversial subjects, the band obviously set out to break down boundaries, refreshing compared to other current Pop fluff that avoids real issues. Like The Luka State on Facebook for a free download now.
Baptized (Album Review) After almost a year away Daughtry are back with their fourth studio album: Baptized. Daughtry are a six-piece band from North Carolina USA. Daughtry’s front man- Chris Daughtry came into awareness when he was a finalist in the fifth season of American Idol. Viewers were taken with the rock singer on the normally commercial pop show, and placed him fourth. Perhaps four is Daughtrys lucky number, as they’re fourth album boasts everything you’d expect from them and more. Baptized is classic rock but with a pop edge. Its subtle, its lyrical and moving. Its not “Emo” yet it is filled with emotion. Songs of note for me, include “Long live Rock and Roll” which is catchy and fun with it teaching that Rock is music for the soul, and its best to never grow up. “Traitor” is another great track which is more Rock than the rest of the album. Daughtry can be rough, or smooth, hard or soft. They’ve got a very particular sound, and I think its one that fans of most genres can appreciate. With the obvious talent of both the band and vocalist, Daughtry have got to be a cracking band to see live.
Words: Kimberley Bayliss
Words: Kimberley Bayliss
Tail feather Spellbinder (Single Review)
Being deceptively simple, Tail Feather’s single Spellbinder isn’t a song that shouts out all its secrets in one go, even if you think you’ve learnt everything by the end of the first play through. With sparse but repetitive lyrics, it’s easy to quickly move on, thinking you’ve heard all there is to hear. But on repeated listens, the simple imagery of Spellbinder becomes more and more vivid – it gives off a light psychedelia without screaming LSD. Formed in Reading in 2012, Tail Feather are a throwback to the 70s, with soulful singing and old school guitar riffs and solos – the music video for Spellbinder shows them hippy-like in a forest, complete with long hair and a moustache or two, as they sing harmonies and play their instruments among the grass and trees. Sung rather drawn out and slowly, lines such as “One day we’ll be seen in the land of our dreams in our universe” become almost a spiritual, meditative chant, about something greater than their literal meaning. Spellbinder is already out, and they have a new single released on March 10th. They’ll be touring the UK in March.
Words: Daniel Garlick
Distant Shorelines (EP Review) An indie rock band from Dublin. Spies reminisces the melodies of classic rock mixed with the ever modern indie genre. Having previously released 2 EP’s the band are not shy of talent and professionalism. Distant Shorelines is a 3 track album full to the brim with rhythmic guitar work with a great beat but it is the enigmatic vocals that are really striking. The title track Distant Shorelines is a pure example of indie-rock influenced by an amazing classic rock style and is a sure set up for the other two tracks on the EP. Mint and Lime peaks and falls in its atmospheric emotions where we travel from heavy instrumentals to soothing vocals and vice versa through the longest track on the EP. Last but not least is November Sun (a possible spin on the classic Guns N Roses song November Rain?) is a beauty of a song as the vocals here are flawlessly haunting complementing the indie-rock vibes of the entire track.
Words: Rebecca Terry
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Published on Mar 2, 2014