Monday, 30 December 2013

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty - Review

No wonder it wasn't easy for Ben Stiller to make the Secret Life of Walter Mitty (which itself is a loose remake of the 1947 film of the same name). It's pretty much an unsellable film which genre is hard to describe. But I sure am happy it did finally get made. It's one of Stiller's best directorial projects, if not the best one; and I'd dare say it also features his best performance as an actor.

Ben's never had a problem underselling himself, playing characters of say...simple nature, like Derek Zoolander or Tugg Speedman and "bumblebees" like Greg Focker. "Mouse" Walter Mitty, a negative assets employee at dying Life magazine, might be the closest Stiller ever got to play a real, relatable character. Though it has to be said Walter too is lead to some extremes, especially early on, when the script is trying to dig as much excitement from Walter's unexciting day to day life, way of his action/comedy daydreams.

Indeed, Walter's daydreams are the weakest part of the film (well, maybe apart from the iceman & Benjamin Button ones...), they break up the narrative and are not particularly funny. Despite his only seemingly exciting daydreams you can't say Walter is not an interesting person in his real life. He is not a confrontational sort, seems weird (thanks to his zoning out) and "grey" to those around him but even in the first third of the film you can see while seemingly shy and underachieving, he is not a coward and that he is person of integrity. Exploring all this was the interesting part of the first, weakest third of the film. The Secret Life... noticeably picks up after Walter starts chasing after a lost negative and his photographer sort-of-friend Sean and then never lets go.

Walter, who gave up on cool life (mohawk-wearing & skateboarding youth) after his father's death, once reality bit (yes, I've seen quite a few of Stiller's films!), suddenly - thanks to some encouragement from Cheryl, his potential love interest - finds himself in Greenland and after a very interesting interpretation and use of David Bowie's Space Oddity (for me a contender for a best use of a Bowie song on film) the adventures keep on rolling.

Yes, there is a message. Don't we hate Hollywood messages. Don't Instagram everything. Live life to the fullest. Don't ever give up. Value those around you. Beauty is everywhere in everything. Blah blah. The success of the Secret life of Walter Mitty lies in how surprisingly grounded in reality and "the moment" it stays. The film is not about how Walter lost 20 years of his life not going after his dream and how he finally did just that and suddenly a fairytale happened. It actually ends up celebrating the past 20 years of his life and simply evolving the character, not completely transforming it.

Ben Stiller is on screen pretty much the whole film and his performance is very strong throughout, the rest of the cast enhances it accordingly, with the Nordic actors adding a great unusual flavour. It was nice seeing Kristen Wiig duet with Bowie (sort of), Shirley McLane being as charismatic as ever playing Walter's mum, and Sean Penn doing his "cool lone wolf giving life lessons" étude was also quite fun to see.

Another great positive of the film are the locations. Greenland, Iceland or Himalayas are used quite well for eye candy purposes (the Iceland skateboard ride makes me emotional just thinking about it, pure beauty) but they also keep the story going and help explore Walter's character.

Honourable music mention, I am the music buff after all. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty uses quite a few songs (apart from the aforementioned Bowie also by Arcade Fire, Of Monsters and Men or Rogue Wave) which all enhance the whole "fly little Mitty fly" feel of the film, the score in comparison to them was less striking, but that really should be a positive. A good score should not take attention away from the story, just enhance it, and that's exactly what Theodore Shapiro's score does.

Final verdict: The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is not a perfect film but it sure is a visually striking and heartwarming sort-of-a comedy, which avoids quite a few clichés and doesn't try too hard to exploit emotions from its audience. Quite what its audience is is another matter. My screening had a couple, me (a mid-20's woman, that is) and a dad with two sons. Everyone stayed till the end and didn't leave right as the credits started rolling (which I found unusual), so I guess we all liked it. Well I wish Walter does find its audience, as well as some critical recognition. It deserves it. And so does Ben Stiller, one of the hardest working men in Hollywood.

Sunday, 25 August 2013

Franz Ferdinand - Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action **Review**

Come home, practically all is nearly forgiven

I didn't love Franz Ferdinand's first album enough for me to ever think their later two albums were any worse than the a bit over-praised debut. And that in turns makes me expect each new FF album with an easy-going optimism. And indeed, they didn't disappoint with their fourth outing either.

The band's strength is in its oddness, not in its hip-ness. No-one with a pair of working ears and some taste can say the band was "shite after the summer of 2004" (sadly I've seen this kind of nonsense floating around the internet). Despite some experimentation with production in the past (the luckily scrapped Xenomania flirtation) they somehow always managed to stay true to their sound and keep the quality of their music high. Personally my favourite album of Franz Ferdinand's is Tonight. I haven't listened to Right Thoughts... enough yet to see if it'll end up surpassing Tonight but after a few listens I'm already sure I like it. A lot.

Ace double single (Right Action/Love Illumination) aside, the album features a playful and catchy-in-a-weird-way Evil Eye, or the unexpectedly developing beauty that is The Universe Expanded. I have a soft spot for songs that zig when you expect them to zag and the awe from the first listen has yet not waned, even though the song has already firmly lodged itself in my head. Goodbye Lovers & Friends is truly a magnificent closer (this really is the end being the hopefully not too ominous last words of the regular version of the album). The only song approaching a filler, (after the first few listens at least) is probably Bullet, and the only thing that's missing a wee little bit is a truly tender acoustic moment a la Eleanor..., Katherine... or Dream Again. So much for the constructive (?) criticism.

Compared to the band's previous albums, Right Thoughts is a bit more even in tempo and mood. It presents the sound of a mature and well coordinated band that nevertheless is still very creative, playful (see also the two new videos below), and just the right kind of odd.

Monday, 15 July 2013

Pet Shop Boys - Electric - Review

Ten months after their previous album, Elysium, (which I reviewed here) the mighty Pet Shop Boys give us another one word album beginning with the letter E (at this point they should make an E Trilogy, really). And this one is a slightly different beast. Elysium a bit on the contemplative side but Electric, released with a new company Kobalt on their own label x2, is...electric indeed, a pulsating dance-oriented beauty. Produced by Stuart Price (the man behind The Killers' finest pop moment Human), it's every bit as good as you'd expect a collaboration between the dance pop* producer and the dance pop** duo to be.

Electric is somewhat less lyric-oriented than PSB albums tend to be but that doesn't mean Neil Tennant's signature wit and wordsmithery lack completely. It's just somewhat diluted. If you want a higher concentration, revisit Elysium. Lyrics are really not so much the centre of the record but I don't consider that a negative, I merely observe.

Wish for a track by track commentary? Well, what do you's one:

Axis - Turn it up! Kay, whatever you say, sir! This is the song that introduced the album to us back in May. When I first heard it I was a bit confused...I waited for it to go somewhere but it never did. But going somewhere is not the point of the song, is it. Hardly any lyrics, just "electric energy". And after repeated listens it works. And just like most of the rest of the album it manages to sound simultaneously retro and futuristic.

Bolshy - I found this song a bit annoying at the very first listen. But most of it has grown on me since, at first thanks to the lyrics, suggesting the singer of the song is in fact a bit obsessed with a Russian person. You don't get many songs about that. You can also use this song as a starting point for learning the Russian language, since several lines sung by Neil get briskly translated by a Russian female voice. A special note: Bolshy features the sexiest sounding "oh!" I've heard in quite a while.

Love Is A Bourgeois Construct - The title almost sounds like a parody of a Pet Shop Boys song title. But it is probably the poppiest song on the album (!). The hero of the song is not a fan of love (until his "you" comes back to him). Also fanfares and male choirs. Pure pop.

Fluorescent - One sexy beast. It's reminiscent of the Scissor Sisters' Sex and Violence which, as the rest of the Night Work album, was also produced by Mr. Price. Hands down the hottest song on Electric. And it features the word "incandescent", which is kind of brilliant.

Inside A Dream - A pretty track. Very sound landscape-y. Which to me translates as a bit boring. It conjures up images of pretty people on a pretty beach on a pretty island by a pretty sea. And that's not so much a life I covet.

The Last to Die - A cover version of a five year-old Bruce Springsteen song I don't really know. Getting the "I know this is not the best or most inventive song I've ever heard but I'm a bit obsessed with it at the moment" feeling. (Well as much as you can get obsessed by a song about blood being spilled for a mistake.)

Shouting in the Evening - The weakest track on the album for me (it does have some good bits though). Very rave, reminds me of the kind of early 90's dance music that I pretty much hate. But I guess it was fun to make? If it was, good for the Boys.

Thursday - while the rest of the album sounds very dance 90's, Thursday is the song that would quite easily fit into Please. The bass, the house piano, Neil's lyrics containing "let's do it right" and "stay with me for the weekend". But it also features something new for the Pet Shop Boys - a guest rap section by a still somewhat young man called Example. Also on this track: Chris Lowe's showing us that he does, in fact, know the names of the last four days of the week, and that is pretty much the cherry on top. Thursday might be my favourite on the album at this point.

Vocal - well this song is about dancing to music in a club (or other places densely populated by dancing people). The current single from the album got a pretty spot on video that many fans disliked because of its simplicity (it showed people dancing). Interestingly, the song's "vibe" reminds me a bit of Robbie Williams's Summertime, only Vocal is about 50% less depressing, with 89% less lyrics. But it's equally great and melancholy.

I like the people, I like the song
This is my kind of music
They play it all night long
I like the singer, he’s lonely and strange
Every track has a vocal, and that makes a change

Electric is a perfect album for these summer days and summer nights. It's very alive, which makes it a perfect dance (if still slightly melancholy) counterpart to the end of things-themed Elysium. Get it, listen to it, dance to it. Camp at a music festival. Stop hating people. Get a dog. And/or a lover. Proper speakers.

A grill!

*I realise Stuart has produced non-dancy stuff. See pretty much everything he's ever done with the Killers, except Human, that is.
**I'm not good with labels in music, so I call everything pop-ish you can dance to "dance pop". Sorry.

Thursday, 11 July 2013

The Lone Ranger - Review

I saw The Lone Ranger two days ago and let me tell you something straight up: it is NOT a bad film.

Now that we got this out of the way and you already know this won't be an angry rant, let us proceed with the actual review/my impression of the film.

The positives: 

Depp's make-up, crow headpiece and outfit are a work of art. I don't care what anyone else says, it's beautiful. Full stop.

Johnny Depp gets his quirk on again but never takes it too far. You can see hints of Captain Jack a few times but other than that his take on Tonto is its own thing. It's ruthless, it's tender, it's funny and it's dignified in its madness. There is tragedy behind the quirks. I've never seen the original TV show so I have no idea how different the characterisations of Tonto & John in this film are from the show but this Tonto is a lone wolf. He doesn't "represent" Native Americans. He just happens to be one. One who wants to right a wrong he did eons ago. And I think Johnny Depp portrayed all this well.

Armie Hammer as the title character of the Lone Ranger (aka former lawyer John Reid) towers over the whole film. Dude is tall. He's also very handsome. And he can act. And most importantly he can do comedy really well. This man was the biggest positive surprise of the film for me.

Tom Wilkinson solid as usual, ditto Helena Bonham Carter (I kinda want that leg). William Fichtner gave a good, charismatic performance.

The main story of the film was never confusing, made sense all the way through and received a satisfying ending. If there's one positive in this whole "biggest flop in Depp's career" talk going around now, it's that it doesn't look likely this story will get weaker and more convoluted sequels. So yay.

Another of the positives of the film: it looked good. Apparently it features a hell of a CGI but honestly I wouldn't have been able to tell, it all blended well together and it was a joy to watch it on a big cinema screen.

Some people got confused by this but I personally love that the film is a blend of comedy and a serious take on something the US audiences know from old TV. Maybe it helps I really had little idea about the original and also the fact I do love a slight clashing of humour, drama and adventure, I didn't find it jarring.

The flipping action scene near the end of the film was AMAZING. Thumbs up to Gore Verbinski for pulling this thing off. The actors, the CGI, the choreography, the humour. I tend to find lengthier action sequences boring but this beauty kept me glued every second. Brilliant.

And I do think Hans Zimmer's score deserves a shout out as well. There were a few times during watching the film I thought - ooh, I like this theme, I have to get the soundtrack! I'm going to have to listen to the whole score on its own so I can compare where it stands with the rest of Hans's work but I did like a lot of what I heard in the cinema.

The negatives:

It's just fucking long. If you cut the framing scenes set in the 30's and John's sister in law/love interest & kid you wouldn't really lose much and the film would be tighter, shorter and probably overall better (in the 85% - 100% territory for me).

As the film is, it is definitely not flawless, though with some re-writing it could have nearly been. So the biggest fault I do not see with the main stars or with the direction but first and foremost in the script. But as you can see the positives still outweigh the negatives (however non-substantial those negatives are). The film is still well beyond average for me. And I'd urge everyone who likes good entertainment to give this film a chance. I can't grant you'll love it but you should not give up on it without giving it a try.

Thursday, 6 June 2013

Star Trek Into Darkness **Review**

[The post features SPOILERS for those who haven't seen the film yet.]

Well, it finally happened. After a full month plus some extra days of furiously avoiding spoilers and the temptation of downloading a shitty camera copy I finally saw Star Trek Into Darkness in the cinema. And my resolve paid off. What a great surprise the film was for me.

I can't say I was particularly happy with Khan being the main villain in this film, or with the very first trailer, so I tried to curb my enthusiasm for the much belated second reboot film as much as I could. I knew I'd still enjoy it, as long as it was Star Trek enough, because I'm someone who pretty much got hooked on the whole Trek phenomenon after seeing the Star Trek Motion Picture film at my (Trekkie) friends cottage about five years ago. Yes, Star Trek, the Motionless Picture, or, as we dubbed it Stare Trek (ever noticed how much everyone's staring in it, especially Kirk?). I'd been aware of the TOS characters and had seen a few episodes of The Next Generation & Voyager series but STMP was my first proper introduction to the world of the original crew. And even though the film was flawed (and upon rewatching it recently I also found it very out of character for many of the characters) it nevertheless sparked my interest in the universe of the franchise and episode by episode of the original series I fell in love.

So I do have a very strong connection to Star Trek as a whole, and especially to the original series crew, and especially to the Sex on Emotionless (Not Really) Stick that is Mr Spock, (whoever plays him). I was still in my forming Trekkie phase when the first reboot film with the original crew came out. I loved it. Saw it twice in the cinema (something I rarely do) and countless times on the DVD. I couldn't wait for the sequel, even though I was worried if they'd be able to come up with something as good as the first film. I was very cautious. But I don't hate easily. I rarely actively hate a film. I either finish watching a film or I don't. I can be disappointed or have suggestion to what I'd want for it to do differently but I rarely truly hate a film. Life's too short for that. So I did know I wouldn't hate this one. But I was very cautious.

I was afraid of too much action. I was worried Into Darkness would end up trying to be too much like the Avengers in the amount of action and the tempo of the film, but without Whedon and his clever one liners it would fall short. I was not enthusiastic about Khan featuring once more in a Trek film. I was worried too much of the film would take place on Earth...

And so I ended up being positively surprised by the whole thing. Only part of the film took place on Earth, Khan was OK and even though there was too much action for my taste, it was mostly really good. I don't know how I'm supposed to take the Khan being taken to the prison scene because it strongly reminded me of a similar scene in The Avengers. Was it Abrams's friendly shout-out to Whedon? Was it just a coincidence?

Anyway, all my fears died in the course of the film. Good story, neatly tied up, but with an open enough ending. It had the right amount of emotion, just like the first film (watching Spock cry devastated me, ditto Pike's death), and it had a surprising amount of references to the original Trek series and subsequent films.

Some see this particular thing as a weakness. They call this film unoriginal but even though I could have done without ever seeing Khan again I ended up enjoying how this film mirrored the second of the original Star Trek films. Because it made perfect sense. And the surprising Nimoy cameo was the final secret ingredient, which enabled all of the new and recycled elements to work seamlessly together. Now, that's how you utilise the part of your own new film series which is at the same time your sole connection to the original TV and film series. I fully expected never seeing old Mr. Spock again. If someone told me he would be here, I'd be grumpy, thinking the way we last saw him in 2009's Star Trek was the perfect send-off. But I didn't have any idea whatsoever and ended up loving this particular part of the film.

I have to disagree with anyone who's singled out Benedict Cumberbatch's Khan/George John Harrison as the stand out performance in the film. Yes, Cumberbatch is a great actor and he's shown as much range here as the character allowed him but it would be foolish to put his performance above Zachary Quinto's and Chris Pine's. The whole trinity of these actors did an equally great job. I personally would mention Simon Pegg as a stand-out among the secondary characters. The range of his ability deserves recognition. He plays in a perfect Scottish accent, he's brilliant as the comic relief of the film but he also got the chance to show his serious side in this film, and he was spot on. But all of the actors did a great job in this film, I even found Zoe Saldana's Uhura much less annoying this time around...

What would I wish for the future films: less action, more moral and philosophical dilemmas (aka the Star Trek trademark), a bit of Shakespeare. Do continue developing the Kirk and Spock dynamic but please reinstate Bones as the third part of the core of the films, Uhura and the gender politics be damned. And since it's a five year mission, try having some fun this time round. Or the next time round, at the latest.

But so far, job well done, by everyone. Dear Star Trek Into Darkness cast and crew: thank you!

Favourite quotes:

"How does it even work?" - Kirk to Uhura on lover quarells with Spock

"You know, when I dreamed about being stuck on a deserted planet with a gorgeous woman, there was no torpedo." - Bones

Pike: " Are you giving me attitude, Spock?
Spock: "I am expressing multiple attitudes simultaneously sir, to which one are you referring?"

"KHAAANNNN!" - SPOCK!!!!!!!!!

Friday, 12 April 2013

My Musical Diary LVII

Hello guys, the newest Diary is here. Sadly it's also the last music Diary for quite a while. I really need to concentrate on working on my thesis now but I do hope to resume writing these when my studies are over. I also plan on writing a film diary once in a while, so that's something you can look forward to (I guess?). Anyway, without further ado I give you the 57th edition of My Musical Diary. Enjoy!

Kate Bush - Jig of Life

Kate Bush - Jig Of Life by goldrausch

Kate got her CBE yesterday. Very, very well deserved. For me, Kate is the greatest female musician/artist of all time. Nothing more needs to be said.

I understand the story of the Ninth Wave (the B side of Kate's 1985 masterpiece album Hounds of Love), to a certain degree I understand the concepts, including Zen philosophy that the songs include. But I still couldn't put into words how I personally interpret Jig of Life. From the music point of view I keep getting drawn to this particular song. It's hypnotic. And its use of Irish music motives is just very clever. This is not the sort of song you like on first listen...but once I personally got it, I haven't been able to let it go.

Just play this one at my funeral.

Shakira - Dónde Están Los Ladrones

Yep, I'm still on the Shakira wave. I've just been listening to her a lot lately. This is the title track from Shakira's 1998 album, which I already mentioned last week. And again, this song wasn't released as a single, just like last week's Si te vas. A testament of how good this album is. Though I have to agree that this song might not be single material. It's not primarily catchy, its strength lies in Shakira's vocal, which in parts of the song get very rock. Shakira isn't all yodel, her voice can be very steady and powerful when it's needed.

INXS - Original Sin

I watched the recent BBC Nile Rodgers documentary two days ago and while I did know Nile has had a hand in many a hit I had no idea he actually produced this great INXS song. Of course now that I know I can hear the signature sounds...anyway, discovery of the century!

Cher - The Shoop Shoop Song

After about 20 years I was able to rewatch Mermaids on YouTube a few days ago - and this time was actually also able to get what the film was about, not being 5 or 6 any more. It was definitely an enjoyable experience. All of the main actresses, plus Danny DeVito were great and the film was not nearly as silly as I expected it to be. I was shocked to learn the little girl in the film was Christina Ricci but of course once I knew that information I couldn't believe I actually didn't recognise her right from the start.

But I'll be honest with you, I pretty much watched this film because of Cher. When it comes to music I'm on greatest hits terms with her - I love her voice but apart from Heart of Stone I don't really own any other of her studio albums. I have however seen quite a few films with her, enough to know she's a pretty good actress (and she always looks gorgeous...I don't care how she does it!). In short, I just really like her and even if she starts looking like Amanda Lepore, I'll still like her for her singing and her acting. However...The Shoop Shoop song was such a big part of my childhood, it was always on the radio, always, so as a result I managed to develop quite an allergy to this Cher's cover of the Betty Everett hit. The song is just wonderfully silly, and catchy....the recipe for a monster hit and a perfect torture tool.

Yet something happened when the credits for Mermaids started to roll...the song started but...I didn't hate it any more! I haven't listened to it in years, so I had no idea my allergy was gone and...pow! I actually love the song again!

Rufus Wainwright - Sanssouci 

I was in a Rufus mood a few days ago and when this song started playing it immediately transported me to Potsdam 4 years ago. I visited the beautiful park/garden (incl. the amazingly ugly little palace there...just my personal taste people, I just don't like stuff like that) and had a great time there. The garden is one of the most beautiful places I've ever visited, especially the whole ancient Roman-like part of it. A day does not pass by I don't want to magically teleport there and take a walk, for at least a few minutes. And this song reminds me of the great few hours I spent there, late summer of 2009. Sigh.....

Thank you all for reading. Before this Diary hopefully resumes in the autumn I will still keep this blog alive: a review here, a film diary do keep coming back. For now...

Love, Peace and Ringo! xxx

Friday, 5 April 2013

My Musical Diary LVI

The spring might not be here yet but the first April Diary is here on time...enjoy!

Alison Moyet - When I Was Your Girl

Alison's new album comes out in a month and the first single from it pretty much blew me away. I can't say I know many of either Yazoo's or her solo work but there are several of her songs that I hold dear to my heart. I also adore Alison's voice - deep, powerful and always passionate, an edgier Cher, if you will. When I Was... makes me want to dig into Alison's discography and discover more great songs.

Marc Almond - Your Kisses Burn feat. Nico

szólj hozzá: Marc Almond - Your Kisses Burn

It's been too long since I featured a Marc Almond song here. Criminal. I gave my precious The Stars We Are vinyl a spin over the Easter holiday and while it's hard to choose one song from this pretty much flawless album, it was Your Kisses Burn that made the biggest impact on me this time. It's regal, and it sounds even more regal on big speakers. Plus Marc's and Nico's voices compliment each other so well... It's sad that this duet is pretty much the last thing Nico ever recorded. I have a thing for deep female voices and I do think she could have steamrolled Marianne Faithful in the living chanteuse legend category had she lived and put herself together. Alas...

Rufus Wainwright - April Fools

Well, it was April Fools Day a few days ago and which other song could have been a better song of the day than this one, right? By the by, this song is where my blog address comes from:

So let it all go by
Looking at the sky
Wondering if there's clouds and stuff in hell

I was listening to this song while out on errands one day and and even though I'd listened to this song hundreds of times before, only then it suddenly hit me what a great lyric that was. The image of clouds in hell. In my case enhanced by the fact I read Pullman's His Dark Materials a few years ago and consider the third book one of the best pieces of fiction I ever read. Hell and all. If you haven't read I can only recommend.

P!nk - Just Give Me A Reason feat. Nate Ruess

I recently rediscovered this P!nk song from her newest album pretty much only thanks to seeing it amongst the top few singles in the UK chart. I feel a bit ashamed I didn't listen to The Truth About Love album more. I made up my mind about the songs after one listen and from then on only listened to those I really liked...I'm not even sure if I actually listened to this song then. Because Just Give Me A Reason is everything but forgettable. The chorus is such an ear worm. How did it pass me by back when the album came out? HOW???

Shakira - Si te vas

The new season of The Voice started in the US last week and so far watching it has been pure joy. Shakira and Usher replaced Xtina and Cee Lo Green this time and it has been a definite improvement (nothing against CLG though, I do actually miss his quirkiness and hired pets). Of all the coaches on that panel Shakira is the one I've been listening to the most. For over a decade actually. 

Even though I understand very little Spanish I love quite a few of Shakira's 90's songs from before she became a huge international English singing, hips truth telling star. Si te vas, a fast, pissed off pop-rocker, is to be found on her fourth studio album Dónde Están los Ladrones?, which came out in 1998. It's the last of the Spanish-only albums before Laundry Service came out three years later and it is arguably her best album so far. Si te vas never even got to be a single but it could have been a big hit - I guess that speaks for itself.

I'm happy Shakira's on The Voice now. She's a great addition: adorable, smart, witty, easy on the eyes and with a cool, laid back attitude. And selfishly I'm happy she took this job because it made me dig out her albums and listen to them again and add a bit of the Latina flavour back into my life.

Video Bonus:

Hurts - Blind video

We've been graced with a new Hurts video: to Blind, their upcoming second single from Exile (check out my review here). Apparently this video was the brainchild of Theo Hutchcraft (the band's singer). It was filmed in Spain and Theo managed to almost annihilate his right eye while filming it, after falling off stairs and hitting his head on an iron gate. He really should be careful what he's singing about next time because the song goes "cut out my eyes and leave me blind". A nifty prop this time but please, the next time you film a video and happen to be singing about, let's say, stabbing yourself in the heart, please, oh please, don't fall on a stiletto heel chest first. D'ya hear me, Theo??

Back to the video...well it's interesting. Apart from Theo's monster swelled eye (in some shots being hilariously obscured by stuff) it features a pretty female lover of his and Cupid's arrows which the couple uses to get high on love. It ends in tragedy, of course. While it lacks Adam Anderson completely, goes a wee too much Bonnie and Clyde in places, and let's face it, Theo is not much of an actor, it however is mostly successful at what it set out to do: cleverly accompanying an epic Hurts song full of melancholy and gloom. That is not a backhanded compliment, I do actually quite like it. I'm grumpy about the Adam no-show (since he's the one Hurt - ha! - I actually want to look at) but as videos go, this one is pretty good and features some cool ideas.

Little Mix - How Ya Doin'? video

No gloom in this new Little Mix video, instead a lot of adorable British sass (and one Missy). Very colourful and completely precious. Btw, my girl Leigh-Anne's dress is what I want to wear this summer. If the summer ever comes, that is.

Thanks for reading...spread the word about this blog and/or comment below if you wish to. Until next week...

Love, Peace and Ringo! xxx

Friday, 29 March 2013

My Musical Diary LV

Another week, another Diary. Not sure if it's the spring or if it's just a coincidence but all but one of my picks this week are pretty high energy. So get dancin'! And to cool down afterwards we have one gorgeous cover version of a Leonard Cohen song...

Jessica Sanchez - Tonight (feat. Ne-Yo)

This one is truly a dance song. It lodged itself in my head just after two listens and since it was unveiled a week ago I've already used it a couple of times to dance to. The lyrics are predictably stupid - you just can't expect Shakespeare from a song like this but the song does what it set out to do more than just well (btw, Jessica is a great vocalist!) and it could be a big hit. One that I wouldn't mind as much as other dance songs on the radio right now.

Kate Bush - Eat the Music

Kate's only 90's album gets bad rep among critics and many fans alike but I personally always loved this album. And if any song can put me in a spring-y/summer-y mood, it's the third track on the album, Eat the Music. It's all about blossoming, opening up, love, life etc. The video for it is very tribal and sensual. This song is just very alive and joyous. How can you not be in love with it.

Simple Minds - Don't You (Forget About Me)

The Breakfast Club is one of my favourite films and anyone who's seen this film knows the significance the song has in connection to the film (fist pump, freeze frame). For many years I'd hear this song on the radio and either hate it or somewhat like i,t depending on where my relationship with 80's music was, but it wasn't until seeing The Breakfast Club about 5 years ago that I finally got it and fell in love with it. Last Saturday the song came on the radio while I was doing some chores and I couldn't get enough of it so I proceeded to listen to the song for another half an hour, over and over. One of those moments.

Little Mix - How Ya Doin'? (feat. Missy Elliott)

My favourite English girlband is releasing a final single from their debut album next month and they unveiled it a few days ago on Radio 1. But surprise! How Ya Doin'?, which on the album has a somewhat bland production got a bit of a single makeover. As far as I can tell it's completely rerecorded, lyrics modified, full, interesting production treatment - and, obviously, it has Missy Elliott coming out of her cave and throwing some rhymes in. And the result is actually prrrretty good. Hoping for a hit for these girls.

Lana Del Rey - Chelsea Hotel No. 2

While I was getting ready for the Hurts gig last night (GIG WAS GREAT btw!!!!!) I saw Lana posting a new video turned out to be this gorgeous cover version of Leonard Cohen's (in)famous song/letter to Janis Joplin. Lana singing it obviously changed the meaning somewhat, probably changed the object of the song as well and the result is just stunning.

Lana has an amazing ability to pull you into a song and pay attention to every single word she sings. I guess that's what her and Leonard might have have in common. Also neither of them is a good technical singer but they both have incredibly interesting, unique voices and they know how to use them to their full potential. I have to say that after listening to this cover a couple of times I want Lana to record a whole album of Cohen covers. Am I crazy? I don't think so (predictably).

Come to think of it...they have quite a lot in common, these two. They are both pretty shy people who are great at self-mythologising...I actually wouldn't mind Leonard covering one of Lana's songs, while we're at it. Let's bend this gender thang. I got a taste and now I want more.

Thank you for checking out the blog. Feel free to share and/or comment and till next Friday...

Love, Peace and Ringo! xxx

Friday, 22 March 2013

My Musical Diary LIV

Another week has passed (does time fly or what?) and so a new Diary is here. Features some new & obscure songs as well as underrated classics...and a country hit! And if you like your female pop music sassy, be sure to check out the Bonus section.

David Bowie - God Bless The Girl

I don't wanna hurt you, just wanna have some fun

This song is a bonus on the Japanese edition of The Next Day and I'm a bit pissed off it's not on the album here. I really, really like this song a lot. Seems to have been written by Bowie, the (still thankfully very theatrical) human, not Bowie the alien. Does this make any sense? For me it seems to accomplish what She Drives A Big Car wanted to but didn't quite deliver. It has an emotional punch. Well done, DB. Now go & make it available for the rest of the world. I love the Japanese but this is too good to be released just to them.

Woodkid - The Shore

I've featured Woodkid here before but this time he's here because his debut album The Golden Age finally came out a few days ago and I've had a chance to listen to it a bit. Just like with Lana Del Rey (for whom he directed a few videos), his music sounds a bit samey on first listen but after a while of living with the record, the individual jewels that are on it start to crystallise and you get struck by the beauty of pretty much each and every song. The first song that hit me like that was The Shore, slower than the songs that precede it on the album and definitely something that a fan of interesting piano-featuring songs would appreciate.

Woodkid's voice already reminds me of Antony Hegarty a lot. Less vibrato and pain, more melancholy. The tempo and instrument choices on this song drive this comparison home, pretty much. But it would be wrong to try to force Woodkid into Antony's world. Woodkid has his own, a very cinematic world. Sometimes the songs are like 60's co-production epics, sometimes they are an independent 90's flick and sometimes, as is the case with The Shore, they are a quirky noughties film, a bit dark, a bit sweet and somehow moving.

I couldn't find the studio version online, but the live one I do feature here is pretty close to it and great as well. Do check out the album on iTunes if you like this song. Woodkid isn't exactly a big mainstream star and I'm sure every cent he gets for his music counts.

Carrie Underwood - Two Black Cadillacs

And the preacher said he was a good man
And his brother said he was a good friend
But the women in the two black veils didn’t bother to cry
Bye bye

Country songs are not a frequent staple on my Diary, especially not the pop country ones. But I watched Country Strong this week (and was pleasantly surprised!) and it kind of got me in the mood for one of USA's most successful female country artists of the last couple of years. Carrie performed this song on the Grammy awards this year (together with her winning monster hit Blown Away) and I got instantly hooked and had to buy it. I went back to this song this week and felt the need to listen to it over and over.

This song has an amazing groove, it's pretty dramatic (infidelity! revenge! murder!) and simply a great song, especially for a mainstream brand of country. And Carrie is just vocally spot on for it.

T.V. Carpio - I Want To Hold Your Hand

This is my favourite cover version of a Beatles song. Why did I decide to put it here this week? American Idol had a Lennon/McCartney songbook week and while quite a few of the contestants did a great job with their songs (shoutout to Candice, Amber, Kree & Janelle!), some of the less successful ones got me thinking of the Beatles songs featuring film musical Across the Universe (one of my favourite film musicals, btw!) and in particular of this delightfully surprising and moving version of I Want To Hold Your Hand. An early Beatles classic and their first smash hit in the US, but not a song that I hold as dearly to my heart as some of the others, got a deeper meaning in the film and a more interesting and exciting arrangement. The dominance of the bass in combination with T.V.'s angelic vocals are truly chill inducing. Before this version came out I honestly had no idea this song was this good and that it wasn't just some dance song for 60's teenagers.

The Beatles - She's Leaving Home

I don't write about my favourite band's songs here nearly often enough. Whenever there's a choice between an old song of an established artist and a song by a lesser known "fresh" artist I tend to choose the latter, because what can I really add to what's already been written about the classics?

But then I see 80% of the American Idol contestants not really knowing the music of The Beatles and I realise that regardless of age not everyone knows every little detail about this band. Not everyone has read almost every Beatle-related book they could find. Not everyone at least once fantasised about time travelling to the 60's and meeting them. Not everyone can't actually count how many times they listened to an outtake of a lesser known Beatlesong. Not everyone cried when George Harrison died. And that is OK. It means that there are still plenty of people who can discover the magic world of the Beatles discography and fall in love.

Take Amber Holcomb who didn't know any Beatlesong before choosing She's Leaving Home from a list of twenty. She approached the songs with fresh ears, gave each a listen and decided She's Leaving Home was the one she could connect with the most. And her recorded version is quite remarkable. She approached the emotion of the song a bit differently from the deadpan melancholy of the Englishmen. And her approach works really well.

She's Leaving Home is still a somewhat underrated Beatles song. It doesn't get played on the radio much. It gets slightly lost in the creative mayhem of the Sgt. Pepper album - it hasn't been accused of being about drugs or covered by Joe Cocker - but it's one of the most moving songs Paul McCartney and John Lennon ever wrote. And it's probably one of the last true collaborations between these two. The swinging 60's meeting the deprived 40's and 50's: the voice of a narrator telling the leaving girl's story is mixing with the desperate and disappointed cries of her parents. It's an incredible achievement which could lead one to writing an essay about happiness and the meaning of life. The parents who thought comfort and security were the way to live one's life are proven wrong by their curious child. When will the child be proven wrong?

I could go on and on...actually analysing this song makes all these ideas sound a bit heavy-handed but the beauty of the song lies in the fact that it actually is completely effortless and its meaning might have changed and gotten deeper with time.

God, don't you just love songs like this one?


Stockholm Syndrome - Karma (preview)

You can always count on the Swedes to make great, interesting pop music and Stockholm Syndrome are no exception. The female trio's second single will be released next Monday but the preview has already piqued my interest so much I had to include this snippet here. These girls are sassy. They already proved that with their first single Pretty Girl (a song that is everything but pretty). But I have a feeling Karma might be even better than Pretty Girl was, but just as cutting.


Cody Belew - Baby Get Out

Adding this song last minute because it didn't quite fit into my five chosen songs... the song is worth a paragraph though. It could be huge on country crossover radios but I think people who do not listen to country at all could like this one a lot as well. Too bad Cody is unknown outside of Nashville and the fanbase he acquired thanks to taking part in The Voice last year. This song deserves to be heard. Great hook, great two vocalists with interesting voices... Spread the word guys!

Dearly beloved, thank you for checking out the blog. Feel free to share and/or comment and till next Friday...

Love, Peace and Ringo! xxx

Friday, 15 March 2013

My Musical Diary LIII

53rd edition of my Diary is here. Some new stuff, some old stuff, some lesser known stuff - I hope you'll find something you'll like here. Here we go!

Hurts - Help

I reviewed Hurts' new album here a few days ago and naturally I've listened to this new release a lot recently. I'm looking forward to seeing the band in two weeks and excited about how these new songs will sound live. Help is definitely one of the stand out tracks on the album and it's a beautiful closer of the standard edition of Exile. It gradually builds up throughout the course of the song and its climax is a very strong experience, moving even.

Fred Astaire - Cheek to Cheek

I watched a lesser known Astaire-Rogers featuring film Roberta last weekend and it inspired me to finally buy a proper Astaire best of for my iPod (I own a CD with his later recordings and I'd previously bought a few mp3s but since I just love this man's singing style and delivery I decided to finally do something proper about it).

Cheek is right the opening track of the whole compilation and one of Ginger'n'Fred's most famous dance numbers. The song was written by Irving Berlin especially for the famous duo's 1935 film Top Hat and therefore it was tailored for Fred's singing style, which was very simple and straightforward (compared to the styles of the professional singers of that era). It has since been covered by countless many artists and much stronger vocalists than Fred was, but my favourite version of this song will forever be his.

David Bowie - The Next Day

Here I am
Not quite dying
My body left to rot in a hollow tree
Its branches throwing shadows
On the gallows for me
And the next day
And the next
And another day

What a lovely image this conjures up. Good old Bowie. All kittens and rainbows. The opening track from my very flippin favourite male artist EVAH clicked with me instantly. Musically it's reminiscent of the 1979/1980 period, which is my favourite and the here I am bit is highly sing-along-able. Apparently the song is inspired by the Arthurian legend or what not but I can't help but be reminded of Macbeth's "and tomorrow" soliloquy.  All around, it's just brilliant.

As is the whole album. I actually tried to write a review or a reaction of sorts and I might post it at some point. But even if I've been listening to the album for weeks now (since it started streaming on iTunes) I'm still quite overwhelmed by it, and smitten and THIS IS FUCKING NEW BOWIE. I never thought he'd ever release new material, let alone that it'll be better than his previous three look-back-y albums. Many people are excited, everyone's written their review...I'm not sure if I have much to add to that all. Ah well, we'll see.

At this moment I can't find this song online (a few other tracks from the album are available though) but what can I say, just buy the album. That's all.

John Lennon - Nobody Told Me

Always something happening and nothing going on
There's always something cooking and nothing in the pot
They're starving back in China so finish what you got*

A few days ago, while doing some housework I got a sudden urge to listen to solo John Lennon. Which I used to do when I was younger but rarely ever do these days. And...the songs are not bad are they? Nobody Told Me is a bit less known but it still seems to make it on every best of compilation and it's typically Lennon-y. Mid- to uptempo, some social & political commentary wrapped up in paradoxes and snark...overall a pretty strong song. It was released in 1984 on the posthumous Milk and Honey album and it has always been one of my favourites of John's.

Most peculiar, mama!

*This particular line reminds me of the stories we share with our friends about the methods our parents used to make sure we'd eat all of our meals. My friend's retort: "well then send it to Africa and don't make me eat it!"

Rodriguez - Cause

Cause I lost my job two weeks before Christmas
And I talked to Jesus at the sewer and the Pope said it was none of his God-damned business
While the rain drank champagne my Estonian Archangel came and got me wasted 
Cause the sweetest kiss I ever got is the one I've never tasted

I watched the Oscar winning documentary Searching for Sugar Man the other night and absolutely loved it. Highly recommended. The story of the American singer songwriter Rodriguez who unbeknownst to him became a huge icon in South Africa is so unbelievable you just couldn't make it up. And the music is pretty good too. Cause in particular is a very strong song and, even more chillingly, proved to be a premonition. The opening lyrics go cause I lost my job two weeks before Christmas which is exactly what happened to Rodriguez: he was dropped by his label shortly after his second album, released at the end of November 1971, failed in the charts.

I'm blown away by Rodriguez's lyrics and I'm about to buy some of his music as soon as I put this up. Got mah money today, so why not spend it on someone worthy?

Video Bonus:

Gabriel Bruce - Cars Not Leaving video

Dancing with a mop. Dancing on a ship. Sea and birds. A creeper creeping about.
What more could one want to see in a video to a great song? This video makes me smile and that's all that matters. Can't wait for Gabe's debut album. Just can't frakking wait.

Pet Shop Boys - Electric trailer

Who else is excited about the Pet Shop Boys' upcoming dance-y release? Whooooooop!

Thanks for reading......Any musical discoveries you'd like to share with me? Sound off below!

Till next week.........

Love, Peace and Ringo! xxx

Saturday, 9 March 2013

Hurts - Exile (Deluxe edition) Review

I approached the new album with some trepidation. I liked each new revealed song less and less and was eventually worried something even worse than Sandman would wait for me on the album. Listening to Exile then ended up being a nice surprise. No tragedies. Perhaps no enormous tunes a la Happiness either but I don't necessarily see that as an all out bad thing. On first few listens Happiness seemed almost cheesy to me. The melodies were so big and somehow familiar, it was a bit ridiculous. Exile definitely does not suffer from this. I also should note Theo's vocals are quite an improvement over the first album. Deeper, richer, more interesting and at the same time less affected.

To say this album is darker than Happiness would be misleading. Sonically maybe. But lyrically it's not much darker than pretty much any song on the band's debut album, and the same goes for the melodies of the individual songs. There is not a big departure here. Hurts are an interesting band in that they are not original. They didn't invent a new style of pop music. But at the same time they somehow managed to create a distinct sound for them and so even though Exile has a different, more industrial sound to it, the album is still instantly recognisable as a Hurts album. What many fans, myself included, seem to be attracted to when it comes to this band, is the core of what they are doing: the melancholy, the darkness, the romance. And Exile has it all.

The following part of this review is mostly intended for fans of the band and those who already have the album or are interested in a song by song overview. The rest of you, jump to my final verdict.

Exile: Depeche Mode meets Muse meets U2. But actually one the of strongest songs on the album. Pretty sexy. And a great opener.

Miracle: Coldplay meets Hurts. I wasn't enamoured with it at first and hated the Coldplay sound (for Hurts) but the song has grown on me and now I don't hear it as a Hurts doing Coldplay affair any more, just as a pretty good Hurts single. All emo, dark and poppy. Just the way we like 'em.

Sandman: Well. I hate this one. And it's not getting better with additional listens. The song itself would have been quite good but the whole very earwormy hip hop-y hook keeps ruining the song for me.

Blind: I've given it a few listens but it hasn't clicked with me yet. It's typical Hurts though, so I suppose the click will come soon enough.

Only You: One of my favourite songs on the album. Might be the least retro song the band has ever recorded. Sounds ethereal and a bit futuristic. Light, but in the best possible way.

The Road: The first officially revealed song from the album is some dark, creepy stuff.
Darling, what's your name and can you hear me? Tell me why you're out so late alone, it starts. But it's a very strong song and the closing Nine Inch Nails meets Muse sound effects suit it perfectly.

Cupid: Another of my favourite songs on the album. Reminiscent of Depeche Mode.

Mercy: When it starts playing it promises more than it eventually delivers. A proper tune would be nice. I do like the backing vocals though. It definitely has the potential to grow on me after a while.

The Crow: An atmospheric song. Not the strongest on the album but not a failure. Can be revelatory if one is in the right mood.

Somebody to Die For: This song could have easily appeared on Happiness, just as it is. Instantly recognisable as a Hurts song.

The Rope: The Hitchcock film Rope is definitely better than this song. It's not a bad song per sé, but it's quite forgettable for me at this point.

Help: The verses remind me of Mika at his quietest and most introspective - and that is a very good thing. A beautiful closing song of the regular version of Exile.

Heaven: A bit of a throwaway song, deservedly ended up a bonus on the deluxe edition. So far it sounds quite generic to me but it's entirely possible it will grow on me over time.

Guilt: Why isn't this song on the regular version? Come on. Previously known as Under The Bridge, Guilt was the first new song we've ever heard from the Exile era and it sounds even better recorded. It's a great song and a worthy closing track on the Deluxe edition. Quintessential Hurts.

The final verdict:

Exile sees Hurts being less 80's/early 90's dark synthpop but rather more Depeche Mode jamming with Nine Inch Nails. It actually seems a natural progression - especially to those who have seen the band perform live in the years between the releases of Happiness and Exile. And the new album still sounds very, very Hurts. Will it alienate some fans? Possibly. But I don't think it necessarily should. The emperors just put on slightly different clothes.

(Okay, the metaphor with clothes wasn't exactly apt.)

Friday, 8 March 2013

My Musical Diary LII

The new Diary is here! I've been listening to the Bowie iTunes stream of The Next Day a lot (A LOT) the past week but since apart from that and the two singles the rest of the individual songs are not legally enabled to be listened to online, I didn't want to pick one of the new songs for this post. Besides, it's hard to single out just one of the songs. I'm in the process of writing a review of the album, so I'll save all my Bowie thoughts for that entry. But for now, enjoy this pretty varied Diary and do share or comment if you find this entry interesting. ;)

Dido - No Freedom

Dido's lead single from her brand new album. I used to listen to her quite a lot about a decade ago. I especially liked the first album but then I kind of drifted away from that sound and adopted taste for the less smooth and more theatrical. Still, when I finally heard this song it felt a bit like travelling back in time to when I was listening to Dido on my cassette walkman and singing her songs at home when I was alone. It's a beautiful quiet little song, and her voice is as soothing and original as ever.

Adam Green - Dance With Me

Another blast from the past. I used to listen to Adam quite a bit about 10 - 6 years ago and this song reappeared in my head a few days ago, out of the blue. I still have a few of his songs on my iPod so I do listen to him once in a while but still the sudden play rotation was a bit of surprise.
I think Adam used to label himself as anti-folk or some such...he definitely has an alternative indie thing going on but in a good way. Wacky sense of humour, interesting voice but raw vocals and a gift for writing very strong memorable songs. I think once you hear Dance With Me, you'll never forget it. I love the guitar solo which comes up later in the song, iconoclastically going against the rest of the song, which really is mostly a pretty folk song.

I really do have to catch up on his newer stuff, I've heard only great things about it. In the meanwhile, do check out the following of his older songs: I Wanna Die, Frozen In Time (which is just simply beautiful), Emily and the anti-ode to Jessica Simpson titled Jessica.

Amelia Lily - Party Over

Now a bit of brand new dance pop. You know I have a soft spot for Amelia Lily. Ever since China in Your Hand (and I hope something a wee bit like that gets to be on her debut album Be A Figher). Amelia has premiered a new single & video for it...and even though at first I wasn't completely sold on the song (I even kicked it off last week's Diary) I have to say giving it a few listens and seeing the video helped me like it eventually. It won't be something I'll be listening to over and over (pardon the pun) but it'll be good for a workout. And it could be a hit. I hope.

The video is like sci-fi to me since I'm not much of a party animal - and that's great because I love sci-fi! Yay! No, really it's fun, and Amelia looks cute in it.

By the way, check out Amelia Lily's Youtube channel. She's got a couple of acoustic performances there, her own songs as well as some covers. She has a great voice and these videos let it shine without all the Xenomania production stuff around it.

Iggy and the Stooges - Burn

Iggy and the Stooges have just unveiled Burn, a song from the upcoming studio album Ready To Die, which will come out at the end of April. And it's not bad at all! I have to admit when it comes to The Stooges I only listen to the classic first three albums and can't say much of the renewed Stooges' material engaged me in any  significant way. But Burn reminds me a bit of the recent Rolling Stones single Doom and Gloom. Nothing entirely innovative but Stooges enough and good enough I'll want a few repeated listens.

Lou Reed - Oh Jim

Lou turned 71 last Saturday. I was already in a VU mood (see my last Diary) and so the Velvets and solo Lou ride continued for a couple of days.

My favourite album of Lou's must be Berlin. It's beautiful, bleak, depressing, theatrical and full of memorable songs. There are days I think Berlin is better than any single album Bowie ever did. But something tells me Lou might have never recorded Berlin the way he did had he never met Bowie. They influenced each other and the results on both sides were great.

Berlin is one great big song after another. It features Lou's reworking of the VU's Stephanie Says, here Caroline Says II. It features the Weimar cabaret-influenced Lady Day. The utterly heartbreaking Kids and the anthemic closing Sad Song. And more.
But for this entry I decided to choose the angry & swaggering Oh Jim which in its last third turns into an almost emotion-less, resigned complaint oh Jim, how could you treat me this way? The first part features some really cool drums, Lou's delivery here is pretty much flawless. The second part is...interesting. Not so easy to pin down. Just Lou and his acoustic guitar...sometimes I think it's sad, sometimes I think it's just Lou fucking with us ("you didn't expect me to end the song with the Velvet's Oh Gin, with different lyrics, did ya? muhaha!"). But it's definitely an intriguing piece of music and one of my favourite of Lou Reed's songs.

Video Bonus:

Lou Teddy Bear Reed is usually not very cheerful in interviews (esp. with men) but this famous interview with Charlie Rose shows him as a real sweetie. Lou had his (now) wifey Laurie Anderson with him, and their (now late) dog Lola and while all kinds of artsy fartsy things get said in the course of the almost half an hour interview, the whole thing is quite lovely and softens his reputation a little bit. So if you haven't seen this yet, I encourage you to watch it ASAP.

Until next week...

Love, Peace and Ringo! xxx

Friday, 1 March 2013

My Musical Diary LI

Happy Friday everyone and Happy March! New Diary is here and it features tons of really cool music. Please, dive in!

Roxy Music - Editions of You

As crazy genius rock songs go, it just doesn't get any better than this. I did discover Roxy because of Do The Strand (as performed on Musikladen in spring 1973) but the same '73 TV session included more songs and one of them is Editions of You, which also appears on Roxy's second album For Your Pleasure. The studio version of this song is already pretty genius. Smart as much as it is entertaining. But this particular live version features even more crazy, in the form of the guys' outfits, Bryan's on stage moves and most importantly Brian Eno's fabulous and amusing antics. And therefore whenever this song plays I think back to this performance and I have to grin.

So love me, leave me. do what you will
Who knows what tomorrow might bring?
Learn from your mistakes is my only advice
And stay cool is still the main rule
Don't play yourself for a fool
Too much cheesecake too soon
Old money's better than new
No mention in the latest Tribune
And don't let this happen to you.

Gabriel Bruce - Car's Not Leaving

My newest discovery from a few days ago, thanks to my Twitter pal Daisy (who has a pretty cool music blog). This guy's voice is amazing. That was the first thing that truck me about him. But the songs I've listened to are really flippin' good too! It's like the best bits of Iggy Pop, Nick Cave, Joy Division, and Patrick Wolf merged and decided to become a singer. I'm definitely getting his debut album (which should come out in May).

Check out his YouTube channel & Soundcloud for more music.

Pet Shop Boys - Ego Music

Pet Shop Boys - Ego Music (Elysium 2012) - MyVideo

Oh how I love when the Pet Shop Boys make fun of artists and celebrities (and to a certain degree themselves). Ego Music from their newest album (which I reviewed here when it came out) follows in the footsteps of How Can You Expect To Be Taken Seriously and Flamboyant, but it's even more funny - and spot on. I ended up listening to this song quite a bit last week (inspired by the latest edition of PSB fanclub's magazine Literally) and it never fails to make me full on laugh out loud.

There's a real purity
to my work
A childish innocence
But I'm also smart and sophisticated
I mean I grew up on the street
Sometimes I think I'm a simple folksinger
other times a scary witch diva
What can I tell you?
I'm an artist

And of course I've always had
the humanitarian vision
I think every one knows that
My commitment is
to my career
and then giving something back

Patrick Wolf - Overture

Last year Patrick released an album of acoustic re-workings of his songs, called Sundark and Riverlight, and this year he's touring it. I had the pleasure of going to one of this acoustic concerts here in Prague last night, and even though the concert was cut a bit short because of technical stuff, the music was absolutely magical. Even though I started listening to Patrick in a period of his career which was more Soft Cell and Bowie (and witnessed him playing two very lively shows, screaming female fans and all), it seems to me that the acoustic folk troubadour is where Patrick's strength lies. This part of him has always been in his music but stripped down it shines and dominates. It makes the songwriter, great musician and singer that Patrick is, show himself completely and thrive. I'm not sure I realised fully what a great lyricist Patrick was until this era came along. I'm excited for what the next album will bring.

If you like the above song, do get the whole acoustic album. You'll love it.

The Velvet Underground - Sweet Jane

I do not think this is one of the very very best songs Lou Reed's ever had a hand in writing but it sure is cool as hell. The rhythm which works so well when you're travelling or just walking down the street, the slightly rambling lyrics... Sweet Jane popped up in my head this morning and refused to leave. Standin' on the corner, suitcase in my haaaand and I knew this day would be quite alright.

and me I'm in a rock 'n' roll band

Video bonus aka the David Bowie Bonus:

David Bowie - The Stars (Are Out Tonight)

DB has released a new single from his upcoming album The Next Day (which comes out in 10 days) and he's also revealed a video for it. And boy, what a video it is! It is so good the song pales in comparison - and that's why I didn't include it above but rather in my bonus section. The Next Day is now streaming on iTunes and I'm sure I'll write something about the album sooner or later, so I won't talk about the song here any further. In the video our dear Mr. Jones co-stars with none other than my wife Tilda Swinton (who's really lucking out recently - collaborating with my husband Tom Hiddleston in Jim Jarmusch's next film of all things!), and it also features a very famous name in the world of fashion, male but very much androgynous model Andrej Pejić. The video sets up an elaborate allegory of what Bowie is trying to put across in his song, there's a lot of references to his earlier work etc. etc. But even if you don't care to go any deeper it will leave you satisfied because it simply looks just really good. It's pretty to look at. Success on all counts.

And did I mention my wife's in it? Playing Bowie's wife? Yeah.

Thanks for reading guys, do come back and share or comment if you want to. Till next week...

Love, Peace and Ringo! xxx

Thursday, 21 February 2013

My Musical Diary L

This happens to be the fiftieth edition of this series of Diary blog posts and at the same time the one year anniversary of me writing them. Wow. I prevailed. This calls for a celebration.

Anyhoo, here are my 5 most important songs from this past week. Enjoy!

Bryan Ferry - Shameless

Let's start with something sexyyy. Rock n' roll desire. The song has a very distinct sensual aura. I could sit here trying to analyse the lyrics (which are not in any way straightforward come hither sort of thing) but I'd rather give up on that and get up and dance. There's something seductive about the song. Rock n' roll desire.

Iggy Pop & Kesha - Dirty Love

iTunes only credit this one as Kesha - Dirty Love, so those who don't listen to Kesha and don't follow Iggy's every move would never know this is pretty much a 50/50 duet between these two (which appears on Kesha's second album, whatever that is called). And it's a rock song which is not shabby at all. It suits both of them, it's loud and brash and I had no idea Kesha was capable of something like this. Kudos. Fun rock song in which Kesha's signature "rap" is nowhere in sight and her singing doesn't even sound autotuned here.

As for Iggy's involvement...I think it's totally in line with his reputation. Why not collaborate with someone who pisses off parents, music critics and music snobs alike? Iggy can do whatever the fuck he wants. Adverts, American Idol, even Kesha (ewww).

Marc Bolan & T. Rex - Dandy In the Underworld

At this point I don't know enough about Marc Bolan to guess to what degree the lyrics of this song were self reflective, but they definitely are an interesting read even on their own.

Now his lovers have left him
And his youth's ill spent
He cries in the dungeons and tries to repent
But change is a monster and changing is hard
But he'll freeze away his summers in his
Underground yard

The song itself, the title track from T. Rex's last album, is a memorable one, even after one listen. My problem with Bolan's songs is they all sound a bit same-y to me and it takes a while for them to start emerging as individual pieces (that was my problem with Lana Del Rey at first as well). But I had no such problem with Dandy. It's an incredibly strong song and it does make me feel sad Marc didn't get the chance to write more songs. He could have been onto something really good. On the other hand, with him dying two weeks before turning 30 we forever have this image of an elfin spirit, never ageing, always with at least one eye on the camera, mugging and grinning away - and that is not a bad legacy.

Kelly Clarkson - Because of You

Clive Davis, the music mogul, released his autobiography last week and apart from coming out as bi, he also wrote some stuff about Kelly Clarkson. Some not very nice stuff. Kelly being Kelly didn't let it slide and took to Whosay. Everyone pretty much applauded her for it (except for Davis, naturally), including me. I love Queen Kelly. Davis apparently wasn't a fan of Kelly's self-penned song Because of You and called her a shitty writer, Kelly had to fight for the song not only with him but with pretty much everyone on her label. Of course the song turned out to be a big worldwide hit, so...that speaks for itself. Even if a group of seasoned pros agree on something, it doesn't mean they're right.

Musically the song is a 100% pop ballad - I'm not into ballads but I've always liked this one. It's a great tune. What makes this song powerful for me personally are the lyrics. If you don't listen to them and just concentrate on the title you could think the song was a love ballad, but it really is the furtherest thing from a love song you could find. I connect to the lyrics almost completely.

I will not make the same mistakes that you did
I will not let myself
Cause my heart so much misery
I will not break the way you did,
You fell so hard
I've learned the hard way
To never let it get that far

Because of you
I never stray too far from the sidewalk
Because of you
I learned to play on the safe side so I don't get hurt
Because of you
I find it hard to trust not only me, but everyone around me
Because of you
I am afraid

I lose my way
And it's not too long before you point it out
I cannot cry
Because I know that's weakness in your eyes
I'm forced to fake
A smile, a laugh everyday of my life
My heart can't possibly break
When it wasn't even whole to start with

Because of you
I never stray too far from the sidewalk
Because of you
I learned to play on the safe side so I don't get hurt
Because of you
I find it hard to trust not only me, but everyone around me
Because of you
I am afraid

I watched you die
I heard you cry every night in your sleep
I was so young
You should have known better than to lean on me
You never thought of anyone else
You just saw your pain
And now I cry in the middle of the night
For the same damn thing

Because of you
I never stray too far from the sidewalk
Because of you
I learned to play on the safe side so I don't get hurt
Because of you
I try my hardest just to forget everything
Because of you
I don't know how to let anyone else in
Because of you
I'm ashamed of my life because it's empty
Because of you
I am afraid

I love this Grammy 2006 live performance of the song. It gets very emotional by the end (as does Kelly, and me with her. :) )

Kate Bush - Wuthering Heights

Last week it was the 35th anniversary of the release of Kate Bush's debut album The Kick Inside - and I wrote a little something about it a few days ago, so I won't elaborate on the significance of the album any further here. Since WH appears on the album (in fact it was Kate's first single - and a huge hit), I decided to finally watch an adaptation of the Wuthering Heights novel the day of the anniversary.

I read the novel three times. And I just never liked it. Both of the main protagonists make me want to murder them, I just don't care about their passion and love at all. I much prefer the other Brontë sister's Jane Eyre. Anyway, I decided to watch Wyler's 1939 film adaptation, as it's considered one of the very best, plus I like old films. Well, it was even worse than the novel, since it focused solely on flippin Heathcliff and frakkin Cathy. Oh my lohd.

So to this day, the best thing that ever came out of this novel is Kate's song, hands down. It's gothic, disturbing, poetic, cute, sensual, and completely otherworldly. And it features a guitar solo that doesn't make me wanna skip the rest of the song or take a bathroom break. It's perfection.

Video Bonus:

Marc Bolan: Ride On (documentary)

I discovered the following Marc Bolan documentary on YouTube last week. It came out on DVD in 2005, but thanks to the wonders of the internet you can watch it here for free. I think it's a solid documentary - I wouldn't pay for it but it's definitely worth watching. So, in case you're interested in this glam rock legend and haven't seen the Ride On documentary yet, make sure you check it out below:

Marc (TV show)

I've been aware of the six episodes of Bolan's 1977 music TV programme for weeks but only got around to watching them last week and definitely had great time watching them. Five of them are to be found on this YouTube channel:

and the 2nd one is available here:

The Killers & Bernard Sumner - Crystal (live)

The Killers performed in Manchester last week and Bernard Sumner of Joy Division/New Order fame appeared on stage with them to play New Order's song Crystal. As Brandon explains at the beginning of the video below, The Killers call themselves after the fictional band in the video for Crystal, so this performance makes perfect sense. It's a great performance, by the way. Brandon is in fine voice and Mark excels on the bass. Well done.

Thanks for checking out my blog on this golden occasion. I hope I'll keep writing these even a year from now and that we'll make it past 100 Diary posts and even further than that. Hope you'll return for more next week and until then...

Love, Peace and Ringo! xxx