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Monthly Archives: October 2012

So it’s not a horror or supernatural tale but it certainly seems to be a bizarre experience. Dark Arc is a  dark comedy with more than a few eerie elements. Directed by Dan Zukovic and premiered at the Montreal Festival and the Cinequest Film Festival, it is now available on Netflix and on DVD.

Starring White Noise actress Sarah Strange and X-Men actor Kurt Max Runte, Dark Arc explores the power of subliminal mind control via the epic beauty of art, leading to a real twist in the end. Having been described by American Cinematique as:

“Equal parts film noir intrigue, pop culture send-up, brain teaser and visual feast. ”

Backed by a range of glam-punk tunes with a dark edge, it’s a Halloween treat for the more cultured and for those who like a little romance, craziness and comedy together.

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TITLE: The Casual Vacancy
AUTHOR: JK Rowling
EDITION: Little, Brown and Company
PUBLISHED: September 2012

As a massive Harry Potter fan, I simply had to read her first ever novel for adults. Having pre-ordered it and anticipated its arrival for months, you might say that I was letting myself in for disappointment. It was the fifteenth highest-selling book of the year (probably largely due to a certain shady series) and  has sold over a million copies in English across the world.

Set in a small fictional town but dealing with very real issues, the book is a little haunting due to its effective realism. When the Parish Councillor Barry Fairbrother dies suddenly, his place on the council is up for grabs and the electoral battle ensues. With several side plots feeding into the main thread of the story, including the heartbreaking case of the Weedon family who are plagued with drug addiction and poverty and the remaining presence of Barry Fairbrother’s ghost.

Delving into the deepest corners of relationships, Rowling is a master at creating believable characters, who are riddled with flaws. Promiscuous but lonely housewife Samantha Mollison, hot-headed, passionate GP Parminder Jawanda and terrified paedophile and deputy headmaster Colin Wall are just some of those who find themselves caught up in the chaos that is left by Barry’s departure. Looking at some serious issues head-on really causes them to resonate with the reader and self-harm, prostitution, suicide and drug abuse are just some of the themes visited, as well as class and politics being permanent motifs.

Culminating in an all-together tragic ending that brings the whole town together and reminds them of the things that really matter -love and a value of life itself. It turns the whole story on its head and actually makes you appreciate what you have. Sounds pretty heavy and philosophical for a book which has been described as a dark comedy but The Casual Vacancy covers all areas of light and dark.

You do have to persevere with it though. Not an awful lot happens until the final hundred pages or so  but if you’re prepared to sit through 400 pages of regular small-town-which-has-been-struck-by-grief happenings, it’s a great read. As a result of the rather non-eventful majority, you’re never quite sure where the story is going to go and for those who love an unpredictable ending, you can’t ask for anything more.

TITLE: Total Destruction To Your Mind
BAND: Lee Bains III and The Glory Fires
LABEL: Alive Records
RELEASED: October 30th 2012

An upbeat, lively Alabama group are about to release a new single with a whole load of old-fashioned happiness. Total Destruction To Your Mind is a cover with the original credited to Swamp Dogg but this version is guaranteed to brighten up your dull autumnal day. They’ve already gained success in the States with their album There Is A Bomb In Gilead and performed a series of live shows, currently touring the south coast. Alabama Shakes’ Brittany Howard told NME:

“I love watching Lee Bains III & The Glory Fires. Terrific performers and The Glory Fires are relentless. The musicianship is incredible and I’ve learned a thing or two watching the way the guitars interact with one another.”

The song is a real throwback to 70s style American rock and the carefree vibe is so relaxing. If you love a good party, you’ll love the melodic riffs and retro summer vocals mixed with a touch of gospel. The rolling drums and catchy chorus make it ideal for dancing your worries away and it’s not a million miles away from the classic 60s anthem Johnny B Goode.

With the simple lyrics and heaps of quintessential Americana, the title of the song resonates as you twist and jive your way back in time. The current revival of rock and roll has come at just the right time for these guys and just one listen of the single will have you singing it for hours after. Nothing says “just have some fun” like this track!

Regular blog readers will know that I love All At Sea and when guitarist Jason got back to me within the hour with answers to my questions, I was delighted! The Essex band are fast becoming one of my favourite unsigned bands and their latest EP Sink Or Swim is alternative heaven. It’s available for download on iTunes now but here’s what Jason had to say about the band…

How did the band start?
Jay (singer) and Duncan (drummer) had both been in bands for four years together and All At Sea really started when Ben and I joined. Then Sink Or Swim really kicked off and started being written in September 2011

Who are your influences?
It varies from each member but as All At Sea, it’s mostly Young Guns, Deaf Havana, You Me At Six and heavier stuff like Memphis, May Fire etc

What’s your favourite song from Sink Or Swim and why?
That’s a hard one but L.I.F.E would have to be the one, as it was the first song we wrote together and it has never got boring.

Which other bands should we look out for?
Some Were Satellites, Shouting Signals and Fortunes

If you were an animal, what would you be and why?
A bird so we can fly -that would be awesome!

What are your worst habits?
Arguing about how songs should be arranged

What has been the band’s biggest achievement so far?
Supporting Your Demise in September 2012

What would you be doing if you weren’t in All At Sea?
We would probably all be in different bands. We all have a massive love for music and performing live.

I reviewed their album Apply Within last week and here’s the video for the duo’s single Body Barely Touching Mine. It’s witty, funky and very cool with plenty going on as Hot Fiction conquer a recording studio with more than a hint of naughtyness. The dark riff backs up Andy’s distinctive vocal. Drama, attack and plenty of fun, it’s a video that is perfect weekend viewing.

TITLE: Slept But Did Not Sleep
BAND: Ninetails
LABEL: Superstar Destroyer Records
RELEASED: November 26th 2012

Minimalism and simplicity appear to be Ninetails’ strengths and their second EP Slept But Did Not Sleep is nothing but this. With fans at NME, Clash and Vice, Ninetails are on for a winner with the follow-up to their debut EP Ghost Ride The Whip. Sodden in funky synths and drones which haunt you to the very core, the Scouse foursome sure know how to create an atmosphere. In fact, it’s probably great Halloween music!

Starting with Maybe We, which drifts and floats through euphoric electro riffs. On an album that lacks vocals and verbal content, the instruments do all the work including singing the blues on the opening track. Tension mounts with the arrival of the dark drums and when ghostly vocals kick in at the three minute mark, the song turns spooky. Both dubstep and alternative rock are thrown in for good measure towards the end and it’s a varied mishmash of a start.

Casually moving onto Body Clock, which is a more traditional pop track. The offbeat backing gives it an edge while the 80s-esque repetition continues throughout and indeed, into the following song. Mellow atmospheric drones and the continuing chimes switch into a closing section of incredibly creepy suspense music, ideal for illustrating a mental dark, deserted wood. Indie vocals break it up a bit but the guitar solos are incredibly exposed and the stark sensation it creates really resonates.

The 80s disco sound comes on in Rawdon Fever and the retro is carried through the impressive, fast guitar playing. It’s funky, cool and ticks all the musical boxes for the trendy hipsters of today. The complex guitar solo is repeated several times and although, it’s sparse on vocals again, it’s a perfect party anthem. It’s probably best discussed amongst musicians, who can comment on the true skill involved in the instrumentals.

Longest track Boxed In is eight minutes of constant melancholy through a drone, which does appear to drag a little. It’s not for everyone, due to the monotonous nature of it but to the right ears, it’s very ominous. The addition of chimes give it a celestial slant and it becomes rather other-worldly. If it doesn’t lull you to sleep, you’ll eventually have hazy visions of aliens walking slowly towards you, as Boxed In seeps through you like a dark feeling of terror. Be warned -it’s not for the faint-hearted!

Closing the EP on Mama Aniseed, a cheerful pop intro with lots of traditional indie threads, it ends up being a pretty rounded record. It actually bears some resemblance to recent Vaccines work and with soft toy-soldier drum beats and the return of the rippling chimes, it’s a similar sound to the opening. Incorporating multiple genres and with a strong guitar focus, Mama Aniseed is probably the bulk of the big hit potential on the EP.

Ninetails aren’t everyone’s cup of tea but if you want to hear some stripped back, raw musical talent, then they’re a band for you. You won’t find much lyrical content but for those cool enough to interpret the sounds, you’ll get an awful lot from listening to this record.

The video for the new McFly single Love Is Easy has dropped and it’s a pretty acoustic pop ballad from the band, who are approaching ten years together. Glimpses of highlights of their career can be identified in this simple, quirky video. It depicts their endless charm and cheekiness, perfectly showing how they’ve managed to last as long as they have in such an unpredictable industry. The single is released on November 11th.