Work

Do More Magazine: Flow #4 Review

Below is my review of Flow #4 (an interpretive dance show), originally published on Do More Magazine.

BrokenRose

“Everything you see tonight, you will never see again.” This is how Gemma Connell, artistic director of performing arts company Broken Rose, introduces tonight’s show. This is the Bournemouth-based company’s fourth production of Flow, a touring open-stage performance that combines spoken word, improvisation and dance.  As a headlining act for the Winchester’s monthly Freeway Poet event, this would be the second opportunity for a local crowd to bear witness to a truly spontaneous and unique event.

Fitting with the poetry night’s theme – Body Language, the Flow performers merge words with movement. Poet Joe Selby kicked things off to an excellent start with his spoken word, whilst dancers Ruby Adams and Emily Mercer took turns at interpreting his words through expressive dance alongside Joe. As Gemma explains, the dancers are never informed prior to a Flow show as to what kind of poetry will be read; a daunting prospect for the average spectator. But of course, the ladies know what they’re doing and manage to perform in way that captivates the audience into a state of reflection, simultaneously providing a visually dramatic accompaniment to Joe’s wondrous recital.

By this point, occupants of the packed venue were transfixed to the small group’s experimental approach and when the time arrived for Gemma to call for poets in the audience open to reciting their own work, an immediate show of hands demonstrated the crowd’s eagerness to get involved. Popular poets from earlier in the evening took to the stage and embraced the chance to couple their work with the movement of Ruby and Emily, who once again made an honourable attempt at interpreting what was offered within the confines of a small stage. Who knows what magic they could muster in larger venue?

The most overwhelmingly positive response came from the final part of Flow. Further crowd participation was encouraged for a session of tag freestyle poetry and the chance to go head to head with Joe. Again, the crowd’s reaction was instant and one individual confidently made his way up to the mic. Hilarity ensued as the two performers exchanged lines back and forth and kept everyone in attendance highly entertained throughout.

With this ending being met with a barrage of applause, laughter, shouts and cheers, such brilliant feedback was not only a testament to the originality and boldness of the Flow team, but an example of the artistic appreciation flowing from a small and supportive Bournemouth community.

Metal · Reviews

Review: Space Chaser – Watch The Skies

Another review written for Rock’n’Reel Reviews.

Space Chaser have boldly gone where many men have gone before, by tackling the ever-popular thrash scene. Heralded as being a staple of their tight-knit metal community in Berlin, one can assume that they’re hoping to make as good an impression on the rest of the world.

Their début Watch The Skies is another contemporary attempt at re-creating the noise and mayhem of a decade once past. In that respect alone it does a great job at capturing that beer-drenched energy. If you’re imagining a harsh sounding, Teutonic metal throwback however, think again. This is definitely American influenced and the quintet celebrates alien invasions, hazardous waste themed, cartoon-like thrash. They sound like they’re having a great time too. The tracks are fast, frantic and shred-tastic, led by an old-school, wailing vocal style. Fans of Municipal Waste and Gama Bomb should back this.

It’s no innovation (an almost impossible task these days) but holding out through these ten snappy tracks is a definite joy-ride. The band should be as welcome into the modern circuit as their international peers.

Personal Score: 3/5

Interviews · Work

Do More Magazine: Polly & the Billets Doux Interview

This interview was originally published on Do More Magazine. I spoke to front-woman Polly Perry of Polly and the Billets Doux ahead of their UK tour.

I also reviewed their new album. You can read my Money Tree review right here. It’s a good, soothing listen.

MoneyTree

Congratulations with Money Tree! With such a combination of genres and influences audible in the band’s sound, I’m assuming music has always been a prominent factor in your life?

Yes, of course! Though I never studied music at school or college… One had to choose between art and music. I wanted to do both. I grew up listening to my parents massively eclectic record collection, anything from Ian Dury, Gong, Nina Simone, Fairport Convention, X Ray Spex, all sorts! My Nan was a singer in the War, so whenever I see her we duet 40’s sentimental songs.

What were your primary inspirations (lyrical or otherwise) when writing Money Tree?

Money Tree was inspired by the Northern Poet Tony Harrison. We tour a lot in the north of England which we love. The lyrics are inspired by the images and places we have been and also a book called the Sisters Brothers by Jonathan DeWitt.

Are there any specific themes or concepts behind the album? Or perhaps every song has a unique thought or story behind it?

I would say that we enjoy the diversity of the songs but there is generally a strong sense of struggle, death and travel. Money Tree features our first murder ballad in Calico Blankets, heavily story based, inspired by the weather. It was a truly freezing cold day and Steeny was feeling gloomy.

Do you have any favourite songs on the album?

That’s tough, but probably ‘Black Crow’ because I love the rhythm, the darkness and the birds. Steeny likes them all and can’t choose between them but loves playing ‘Black Crow’ live. Dan says they are all too different to select one favourite and loves all of them, particularly the driving energy of ‘My Father’s House’. And Ben loves ‘Old Virginia’, because after years of bringing the accordion to the recording studio, we finally buckled and allowed him to play it!

Are there any particular songs on Money Tree that you’re expecting to go down particularly well live? Or that you’re especially excited to perform live?

Black Crow’ – we love performing it! The rhythm bestrides four triplets and 3/4 straight so it’s super fun to play and great to dance to.

Between releasing your début album and EP you’ve toured extensively and performed at several UK festivals like Glastonbury, Green Man and The Big Chill. But if you could pick one highlight of the band’s career so far, what would it be and why?

Touring Ireland was a major highlight for us. We had never really been there before and had an incredible time! We met some of the warmest, most hospitable and fun people.

Touring can be tough for some. Do you enjoy the touring lifestyle?

I enjoy the parts where we visit new places and go to interesting museums. I am very much an outdoors girl and so I find sitting in the van for hours can drive me crazy. But if I get the opportunity to set off across a field for a walk and get a bit muddy I can keep relatively sane.

Have you played anywhere in the UK where the audience are particularly enthusiastic/appreciative of the band?

We haven’t yet had underwear thrown at us. But a gentleman once bought me a necklace and a man last night made us some personalised wooden toys! A man has also had some of our lyrics tattooed on his chest. In terms of whooping and hollering… The Ceilidh Place in Scotland.

Work

One year with Rock’n’Reel Reviews

Whilst reviewing Lost Society’s new album, it occurred to me that my review of their début was the first thing I wrote for Rock’n’Reel Reviews exactly a year ago.

Time really does move quickly. Especially when assessing so much awesome music!

Here are my metal review highlights from the past year:

Children Of Bodom – Halo Of Blood 4/5

They’re my favourite band, so of course this was excellent. The Finnish heavyweights’ most exciting work in ten years. I’m massively biased and would have loved to award it five stars. It is an excellent album though.

Havok – Unnatural Selection 3.5/5

Along with a select few, Colorado thrash pack Havok are dominating the scene and are one of my personal modern favs. Unnatural Selection may not be as frantic as its predecessor, but is packed with great tunes nonetheless.

Morgue Orgy – The Last Man On Earth 4/5

This album was an amusing surprise. Not only did it break up the colossal amount of thrash I listen to, but this groovy death metal and its spooky vibe was an entertaining and impressive début album from an unsigned, homegrown band!

Behemoth – The Satanist 4.5/5

The Satanist is an evil masterpiece and already a firm contender for album of the year. Basically everybody needs to hear it.

Savage Messiah – The Fateful Dark 4/5

Definitely another thrash recommendation, this time from London. The Fateful Dark is the most recent album that was an absolute pleasure to review. I officially label Savage Messiah under Excellent!

Metal · Reviews

Review: Noble Beast – Noble Beast

Another review written for Rock’n’Reel Reviews. This time of Noble Beast’s début album.

Storming into the picture with this truly epic, self-titled debut, Minnesota’s Noble Beast are the latest addition to the power metal scene. This triumphant culmination of melodic European and American power metal warrants attention from confirmed fans of the genre as well as new listeners. As a power metal novice, this is what I imagine the decent stuff to sound like: fast, enthralling and valiant!

‘Iron-clad Angels’ kicks things off brilliantly, with its charging pace and memorable chorus boomed out by Sir Robert’s deep and powerful voice. The thrash component is instantly prominent too. The listener is sent tearing forward through a relentless sequence of hooks, soaring harmonies and choruses that evoke visions of heroic battles and mythical gods.

A little clichéd? Yes. This is an acquired taste and whilst we can all enjoy the drama on occasion, for many I believe it will soon become tedious. Unless you love this kind of thing, of course! Just a handful of songs would suffice (and go down especially well at a summer festival.) ‘Behold the Face of Your Enemy’ and ‘On Wings of Steel’ are my suggestions. Noble Beast requires some versatility in style or subject if they’re to reach a wider audience long-term.

Personal Score: 3/5

Metal · Reviews

Review: Savage Messiah – The Fateful Dark

My four-star review, written for Rock’n’Reel Reviews.

savagemessiahfatefuldark

Could this be the album that launches Savage Messiah into stardom? The Fateful Dark certainly has the great songs, awesome shredding and irresistible hooks to do so. It’s an exciting release – one these London metallers must be very proud of.

There’s a quality across this creation that’s so alluring and professional sounding, one could easily envision the band absolutely dominating large venues in the near future. The ten songs are packed with memorable riffs, (I’ve had ‘Iconocaust’ and ‘Hellblazer’ earworms for days now,) captivating melodies and topped by a souring vocal style from frontman Dave Silver. His abilities add a rather epic dimension to a fierce musical backdrop that’s full of passion.

The title-track is one of the slower paced, sing-songs on this thrashy opus; another opportunity for Silver’s vocals to shine, especially at the song’s climatic chorus… Not to everyone’s taste, but so what? ‘The Fateful Dark’ is a soulful and instantly likeable listen.

With this offering, Savage Messiah will win the hearts of curious listeners who are yet to be converted into fans.

Personal Score: 4/5

Film

Aaron Paul and Kat Candler’s new film Hellion

Kat Candler, creator of the brilliant short film Black Metal, has had her screenplay and full length feature Hellion picked up by a US distributor – Sundance Selects.

I’m doubly excited because the film stars Aaron Paul (from Breaking Bad, obviously) and Juliette Lewis, which will surely attract a huge audience.

Hellion concerns Jacob (Josh Wiggins), a 13-year-old boy obsessed with heavy metal and dirt bike racing, whose increasingly delinquent behaviour results in his younger brother Wes being relocated by Child Protective Services.

Bands appearing on the film’s soundtrack include Metallica, Slayer and The Sword. So what’s not to like?

Film

Film Review: Her

Below is my review of Her for Rock’n’Reel Reviews.

Director: Spike Jonze

The idea of falling in love with a computer operating system probably seems outrageous and ridiculous, but in Her, Spike Jonze does a pretty good job at showing how this could soon enter the realm of possibility.

Imagine; an artificially intelligent operating system, programmed to meet your every need, as well as possessing a friendly ‘personality’ and even an apparent consciousness. This is exactly what Joaquin Phoenix’s character Theodore experiences and through his heart-warming, delicate performance, encourages you to empathise with this extraordinary situation, even if you might not understand or accept it.

Scarlett Johansson’s performance as Samantha, the voice of the operating system, is also far deeper than one would expect from a computer. She manages to convey an entire individuality within that piece of software.

Although the complexity of adult relationships is depicted in an honest and refreshing way, it’s difficult not to get sucked into Theodore’s melancholic state and on occasion the film feels slow and empty. However, this reflects the character’s bouts of loneliness and serves in highlighting the joy Samantha brings him.  If anything, it’s a reminder to cherish the positive relationships we have with significant others.

The concept of falling head-over-heels for a computer is absurd. But as we continue to let our real lives merge with the virtual world, how long will it be until our dependence on technology slips into full on immersion? Even romantically – as it seems to be accepted in this projection of the not-too-distant future.

Personal Score: 4/5

Metal · Reviews

Review: Behemoth – The Satanist

Behemoth’s new album is my favourite release of 2014, so far. Below is the introduction to my review of The Satanist for Rock’n’Reel Reviews…

TheSatanist

The Satanist has been one of the most anticipated releases of the year. Fans of the mighty Behemoth have been waiting for the triumphant return of Nergal and his band since the frontman’s battle with Leukaemia began in 2010. After his incredible recovery, their tenth release has been a long time coming. Yet, remarkably, The Satanist has finally reached us and, what’s more, may be the band’s most impressive work.

Personal Score: 4/5