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Monthly Archives: December 2013

Here we are at the end of another year. It has been incredibly fast for me and it’s scary that another whole year of my life has just gone. As I did last year, I asked my friends and followers via Facebook and Twitter for their favourite albums that were released this year and here are the results. Dan contributed a lot to it, which is why there is so much hip hop! Let me know what your favourite albums of the year were!

albumcollage

 

The list is as follows:

-Alkaline Trio, My Shame Is True
-Arctic Monkeys, AM
-Bastille, Bad Blood
-Beyonce, Beyonce
-Chance the Rapper, Acid Rap
-Childish Gambino, Because The Internet
-Daft Punk, Random Access Memories
-Deaf Havana, Old Souls
-Earl Sweatshirt, Doris
-Fall Out Boy, Save Rock And Roll
-HAIM, Days Are Gone
-Hugh Laurie, Didn’t It Rain
-Joey Bada$$, Summer Knights
-Kanye West, Yeezus
-Katy Perry, Prism
-Kids In Glass Houses, Peace
-One Direction, Midnight Memories
-Pusha T, My Name Is My Name
-Queens Of The Stone Age, …Like Clockwork!
-Run The Jewels, Run The Jewels
-The 1975, The 1975
-The Remony, A Lot To Learn
-The Underachievers, Indigoism
-Tyler The Creator, Wolf

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It’s the last AskAlex of the year and it’s quite a specific one. It’s something that not everyone can answer but if you’re into young adult literature, then I’m sure you’re one of the lucky few who can. If you have any other answers to this question then I would really love to hear them, as new book recommendations are always welcome!

What are your favourite dystopian novels apart from 1984 and Brave New World?

It struck me as kind of weird that when I read the word “dystopian”, I don’t immediately think of either of these novels. Odd as they both definitely are. I haven’t read Brave New World but I’ve heard the premise of it described as “what if our desires killed us?” which I guess is the opposite to 1984, which revolves around the idea that our fears kill us.

So with that in mind, you can probably guess that my mind wandered to the current wave of young adult fiction. Dystopian worlds are rife in the genre right now with the rise of The Hunger Games and Veronica Roth’s Divergent trilogy. I am a big fan of The Hunger Games and Catching Fire, the second instalment is my favourite. Unfortunately, I didn’t like the conclusion much and therefore I can’t really rave too much about the series as a whole. I am yet to explore the Divergent world but it does interest me greatly and all three books are on my to-read list for 2014.

I was lucky enough to get some great books for my birthday and Christmas recently including The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken. It’s another dystopian novel that centres on a girl’s escape from a rehabilitation camp that imprisons those with special abilities. Since its release last December and its sequel Never Fade which came out in October, it has generated a huge fanbase and I can’t wait to read it.

Another series that I’ve heard great things about is the Matched trilogy by Ally Condie. In this series, teens undergo a matching process in order to find their destined lovers. The protagonist is matched with her best friend but another boy’s face accidentally flashes onto the screen afterwards. The trilogy then evolves into an elaborate love triangle where the protagonist questions her own fate. Again, this sounds like a super interesting dystopian series that I’d love to get into.

These are the young adult series that I’ve heard of through book bloggers and YouTubers. As I say, this genre is very heavily saturated with dystopian books right now, so this question fitted really well with what I like to read. Any other dystopian books that I should know about should be left in the comments. Some more adult alternatives would be especially appreciated!

 

Anchorman2_PosterTITLE: Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues
STARS: Will Ferrell, Steve Carell, Paul Rudd, David Koechner, Christina Applegate, Kristen Wiig
DIRECTOR: Adam McKay
RELEASED: December 20th 2013

I was very late in seeing the first Anchorman film. In fact, I only saw it this summer after years of people quoting lines and references that I knew nothing about. I love Will Ferrell and howl with laughter whenever I watch Elf and Step Brothers and the first Anchorman did make me laugh a lot. However, I didn’t have a huge desire to see the sequel but I knew Dan would love to, so I suggested it while we were sale shopping this weekend.

Following Ron Burgundy’s (Will Ferrell) dismissal from a prestigious channel in New York. This puts a strain on his marriage to Veronica Corningstone (Christina Applegate) who is promoted to the first female nightly news anchor and Ron eventually leaves the family home and his six-year-old son Walter. Eventually, he reassembles his news team -Brian Fantana (Paul Rudd), Brick Tamland (Steve Carell) and Champ Kind (David Koechner)- and they’re offered a position at a new 24-hour news network, GNN. Battling the prime time team to gain their slot, they rack up ratings like no other and are hailed news heroes. However, a jealous rival brings it all crashing down and Ron is once again challenged in more ways than one.

If you’re worried that it won’t live up to the first film, don’t be! I can honestly say that I did not stop laughing the whole way through. In fact, I’d say that it is better than the first film as I certainly laughed a lot more. Steve Carell clearly has the best character and Brick is the main pillar of comedy. His love story with office worker Chani (Kristen Wiig) is a wonderful touch and the pair of them are simply hilarious.

The film does take a bit of an odd turn towards the end and throws you off course. However, it’s not a random tangent as it does ultimately bring about Ron’s realisation of what really matters. Being a silly comedy film, the ending isn’t something to be missed. Plenty of cameos roll in including Kanye West, Sacha Baron Cohen and Will Smith for a final battle against news teams worldwide. These bits are there to surprise you and make you question what the hell is going on which adds to the bizarre nature of the film.

All in all, it is ideal if you love witty humour mixed with plenty of hysterical antics. Yes it’s over the top, yes it’s ridiculous but that’s the whole appeal of it. No one is going to expect anything heavy or serious but despite that, there is still a moral, which makes it a funny, diverse comedy with plenty of plot and character development.

 

modernchemistrysingleTITLE: Never Scared
BAND: Modern Chemistry
LABEL: Unsigned
RELEASED: November 16th 2013

New Jersey foursome Modern Chemistry featured on the blog back in April when I reviewed their debut EP We’ll Grow Out Of This. They’re back with a new single and a new darker sound which is pretty exciting! Whereas their EP had a heavy pop-punk influence, the new single is much more firmly rooted in alternative rock.

However, the pop-punk is still there in the vocal. Slightly heavier on the drums and a more sinister edge to their riffs show how far they’ve come in the last year. They’ve lost some of their cheekiness which made the EP so much fun to listen to but not at the expense of their music, which is just different to what they’ve given us before.

modernchemistryA riff acts as a siren bringing us into the deep dark vocals and the creeping drums. Harnessing a much more punchy sound, the song becomes a passionate alternative track with a heart-wrenching chorus. The voice becomes quite child-like when insisting that he’s never scared and it’s a really effective way of gaining sympathy and drawing the listener in to what’s really going on.

The song suggests the loss of a love and fears that it won’t ever get better. A universal feeling set to dark, atmospheric riffs with an outer-space feeling at times makes Never Scared a great comeback single. Not only will it gain them new fans but it’s an exciting glimpse into their next full release. Bands who evolve with every record they produce are always the most long-lasting and changing things up is never a bad idea. Have a listen!

theminxsingleTITLE: (Can You Find) My Head?
BAND: The Minx
LABEL: Queen Street Records
RELEASED: December 9th 2013

I’ve featured Manchester punk band The Minx before and they’ve now gained a new celebrity fan in the form of Smiths legend Johnny Marr who referred to them as “proper rebel rockers” in a tweet. Their new single is an upbeat, catchy track that is sure to put a smile on your face during the cold season!

Having sold out every Manchester show they’ve ever played, The Minx are fast climbing the ranks to national fame. (Can You Find) My Head? could well be the track to do that for them. They’ve been compared to The Clash and starred in a Dr Martens advert, all while keeping their tongues firmly in their cheeks.

the MinxRetro strumming kicks off the track while quirky electronic whizzes make up the catchy instrumental hook. Casual, unpolished vocals characterise them and they have a lot of northern charm racing through their music. Repetitive and strange, (Can You Find) My Head? is an undeniable hit with the perfect chorus to shout along to.

Listening to their music, it’s clear that they’re a great live band. Down-to-earth with not an ounce of pretension to them, The Minx are everyone’s band. Marrying lyrics that are easy to pick up with distinctive upbeat riffs, they’re a feel-good band who deserve every bit of the praise they’re getting. The video for the new single is made up of scatter-gun footage of gigs and fun and frolics around Manchester shot on Hi-8 cameras. Have a watch!

sheenskylarksTITLE: Skylarks
BAND: Sheen
LABEL: 078 Recordings
RELEASED: November 11th 2013

I do love a new quirky group and so I was excited to hear the work of London six-piece Sheen. Their new single Skylarks was recently released and it’s oh so catchy! The indie-pop band released their debut single Lovelust earlier in the year and the follow-up is a perfect kooky soundtrack to relax to.

Masters at giving energetic, aggressive live shows, Sheen are a band who are racking up a number of positive reviews including “One of the capital’s best underground live talents -worth getting on board with before the hype comes a-callin” from Artrocker. Looking back to 90s shoegaze, Skylarks is a wonderful song that is sure to stick around in your head for a long time afterwards.

Sheen_hiresA chilled pop riff begins things before the sensual vocal of frontwoman Aneta arrives. The punk backing vocals from the rest of the group on the chorus and the steady drum beat give it a rough edge that creates a distinguished sound. Wails of guitars and dream-like fusions give it an other-worldly feel while the fierce rock accents bring us crashing back to earth.

Catchy and infectious, Skylarks is kooky with a big chorus that will no doubt have you tapping your foot along to. With the resonating vocals and grinding guitars, it has the power to capture a crowd and transport them to the heavens for a few minutes to float in a sea of angsty punk. Have a listen!

I did a very similar post to this last Christmas but I thought I’d share with you (once again!) my favourite festive tracks. Whatever you’re doing, I hope you have a very merry Christmas with heaps of love, joy and laughter.

Mariah Carey, All I Want For Christmas Is You

Faith Hill, Where Are You Christmas?

The Pogues and Kirsty MacColl, Fairytale Of New York

Wizzard, I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day