LIVE REVIEW. Otherkin at The Boileroom

Date: 23 May 2017
Venue: 
The Boileroom, Guildford
Genre: Grunge pop
Words: Steph Baker
Photography: Aaron Crawford

 

Tonight’s gig reminded me of why independent venues such as The Boileroom are so important to local communities and the music industry. Seeing live music, and having unique, memorable experiences at places like these, filled with welcoming and creative people is what it’s all about, right?

Bad Nerves

DSC_0139-Edit.jpg

The main support for Otherkin came on stage to a warm and building crowd. The first thing that made this East-London four-piece currently touring with Otherkin was the front-man’s pounding vocals. His voice travels up, down and all around, diversifying the band’s indie-rock tunes and bringing each one to life.

The crowd were engaged, and our night was kicked off with a frenzy of heavy riffs and catchy hooks, especially within the most recent single ‘Dreaming‘. This was one of the band’s final gigs with Otherkin, an yet you would never have known it with the amount of manic energy the guys brought to the room, the set was actually exhausting to keep up with, and that’s exactly how music like this is meant to be.

 

 

 

Otherkin

DSC_0382-Edit.jpg

Otherkin are a grunge-pop frenzy from Dublin who are… quite the experience. The four-man group came onstage looking rather un-disruptive but managed to turn a politely-bobbing-your-head-along kinda Tuesday night into a sweaty, bloody mess within their first track, ‘It’s Alright‘. The crowd were pulled to the front and brought up to the same level as the band while thrashing around to the infectious ‘Why Did You Treat Me So Bad‘. In today’s music scene, over-saturated with Libertines-wannabes and inauthentic boy bands, Otherkin proudly stand out by managing to genuinely connect with the audience and bring about an uproar with their ferocious hooks, passionate lyrics and attitude filled grunge riffs.

DSC_0404-Edit

As the country tries to digest and contemplate the truly horrific attack on a gig in Manchester, tonight’s gig is a bittersweet event. Otherkin stopped their set to express their thoughts and pay their respects, saying “Music should be a safe space for everyone” before everyone in the room took part in a minute of silence. After this emotional moment came to an end, the group summoned up all the energy they had in them with the next tune of the night, ‘Come On Hello’, something fun and positive to get everyone dancing again. Further along the night, the London boys invited everyone onto the stage, this was a moment of pure joy and madness for everyone at the Boileroom tonight, exactly what we needed. Hook-filled, manic pop tunes full of attitude and truthful tales. Otherkin are a truly class act, and a band that will inevitably continue to shake up venues across Europe this summer.

 


Listen to Otherkin’s latest Single ‘Bad Advicehere

The East-London boys are on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

 

Baker Out

EP REVIEW. The Coathangers – Parasite

Release Date: 30 June 2017 (Digital out now)
Genre: Garage Punk
Rating: ★★★★
Words by: Steph Baker

coathangers-parasite-ep.png
The Coathangers are not new faces on the scene, with their first entrance being over a decade ago. However, the Atlanta trio are starting to attract the ears of new listeners, with their latest offering ‘Parasite’, and from the opening riffs of the title track, it is clear why. Often bands and their fans alike get stuck in a rut of familiarity and routine when it comes to new releases, but surely we should embrace a change in songwriting and musical styles, as it reflects the journey that the band continues on every day. Humans change with experience, time and moments of reflection, and so too should creative endeavours, guitarist Julia Kugel even states “I’d like to think the PE takes you on a journey through the band’s existence“.

The opening track, ‘Parasite‘, seems to be a much-needed rant to get built up aggression of The Coathangers’ chest, “I don’t want parasite, keeping me up all night… I don’t want parasite, eating me from the inside out!” The raw and rowdy song is just over a minute long, and does not mess around in getting things straight before the girls continue with the EP in peace. Interestingly, the vocals seem somewhat softer in the following song ‘Wipe Out‘ (still unbridled and not to be fucked with, don’t worry), perhaps expressing a more content time within the band’s development.

17904105_1308631595840779_9156523798918359088_n.jpgThe third track, ‘Captain’s Dead‘ is full of wise words coming from someone who is clearly over your bullshit. The lyrics “Easy come and easy go, what you reap is what you sow” are sang over punk guitar lines that send you into a daze that will spin away all of your previous cares. Grimy bass-lines are carried onto into the next track, along with an empowering punk chorus that is reminiscent of the crooked hooks that made us fall in love with the Coathangers in the first place.

This five-track offering ends on quite a somber and melancholy tone. ‘Drifter‘ has dark melodies and a simple electric strumming, and is still as incessantly catchy as the rest of the tracks. Julia, Meredith and Stephanie have grown up together and have developed their art together, this EP perfectly showcases that journey. From moments of (partial) content and maybe a hint of love? to screaming and pent-up rowdiness that we all need to expel – In either case, it’s exactly what you need.


Listen to Parasite here

Make sure to give The Coathangers a follow on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

The Atlanta Punk trio are also touring the Europe, check out dates below:

coathangers tour poster.jpg

NETFLIX SERIES REVIEW. The MCU welcomes Iron Fist ahead of The Defenders

Genre: Comic Book/Martial Arts action
Rating: ★★★
Words by: Dan Tull

The final chapter in the buildup to Marvel’s first TV crossover event has landed. Iron Fist is the fourth Netflix series following Daredevil, Jessica Jones and Luke Cage. With this, the stage is set for The Defenders later this year. For those who don’t know what that is, it’s essentially the “Avengers of the streets”. Iron Fist is a martial arts odyssey that sees protagonist Danny Rand (the titular Iron Fist, played by Game Of Thrones alumni Finn Jones) engaging in a one-man-war on the same mysterious organisation we first saw in Daredevil, The Hand. If I were to rate this against the other Marvel shows, I’d say it’s the weakest. That isn’t to say it’s bad, it’s just not as tight as the first series of Daredevil or Jessica Jones.

 

Iron Fist has been a show that even before it’s release endured some major controversy. For one, concerns over whitewashing became evident and there were further issues over the general quality of the show. As a result, I feel that much of the press was quite heavily influenced by this early panning and it became immediately trendy to dislike the show. With this in mind, I went into this with a mind as open as possible, which wasn’t overly difficult considering I’m probably one of the few people who actually quite liked the source material.
KICK_Danny_UK_SG_copy

To begin with, let’s just get the obvious controversy stuff out the way. Yes, more diverse representation in media should absolutely be commonplace, and we’ve seen it handled extremely well in previous Marvel shows such as Luke Cage and Jessica Jones. That said, I feel as though this is a case of there being very little Marvel could do to get it right and please everyone. If they’d cast an Asian actor to play a historically white character, there would also have been outrage from passionate fans alike. This is an issue that should definitely be included prominently within discourse around the entertainment industry, as representation is still disappointingly low for a lot of groups within film and television. It is just a case of getting the balance right and representing these people well instead of just including a token individual in order to tick a box.

Iron Fist tells the story of Danny Rand, the lone survivor of a plane crash that killed his parents over the Himalayas. He is quickly taken in by a group of warrior monks and trained in the ways of Martial Arts. Ten years later, he returns to New York City for personal reasons and finds himself caught up in a world of intrigue, deception and shady corporate dealings. It also turns out that whilst away he has become blessed with the eponymous Iron Fist and can summon it by focusing his chi. This manifests as an unbreakable glowing fist that causes varying levels of destruction.

For the first few episodes, the series hums along at a slower pace than the previous Marvel shows. However, this is not really a criticism as I found most of what I was seeing entertaining. I would say that the first third features far less martial arts than one might expect from a show like this. The plot occasionally feels overly contrived, especially when we start to unravel the truth behind series antagonist, Harold Meachum (played by Lord Of The Rings’s David Wenham). If I were to rate this against the other Marvel shows, I’d say it’s the weakest. That isn’t to say it’s bad, it’s just not as tight as the first series of Daredevil or Jessica Jones.

The show is at its best when focused on the relationship between Danny and Coleen Wing (fellow Game of Thrones star Jessica Henwick). The whole storyline that plays out here is compelling enough to maintain an interest throughout the show, amounting to a decent sub-plot. Unfortunately, the show finds a strange main plot that left me a little confused as to what certain characters were trying to achieve. Harold Meachum seems to be a duplicitous business tycoon for no other reason than it fits a stereotype. By the time we reach the end of the series he betrays Danny for no apparent reason. The same goes for Harold’s estranged daughter, Joy Meachum (played by Jessica Stroup), who spends most of the show supporting Danny only to seemingly be plotting his murder come the finale.

We also get a decent redemption arc for Ward Meachum, the brother of Joy. He starts out the series as a cookie cutter villainous board room douche and develops into a deeply sympathetic character who, moving forward, may prove to be one of Danny’s stronger allies.

As far as ties to the wider MCU go, we get the obligatory references to the Avengers as well as a couple of characters crossing over from previous TV shows. Jeri Hogarth (Carrie Ann Moss from The Matrix) returns from Jessica Jones and of course, Rosario Dawson’s long suffering character of Claire Temple returns. Having been promoted to a major role in Luke Cage, she finds a middle ground in Iron Fist. I have to say, she’s the most contrived part of the show. Whilst her appearances in Luke Cage and Jessica Jones felt relatively natural, her appearance here is ridiculous. She just seems to exist and tags along on the missions that Danny Rand and Coleen are on just to provide a link to the other shows. Undoubtably she’ll be the one who unites the Defenders.

 

In general, I found Iron Fist to be enjoyable. It certainly has many flaws but it’s a good enough addition to the MCU TV series as we move into the Defenders.

The Good

  • Finn Jones as Danny Rand is a great solo performance despite controversies on his casting

  • Jessica Henwick is a breakout as Coleen Wing

  • Some pretty amazing fight scenes

  • A dragon now exists in the MCU which is great

  • The hints towards mysticism are a welcome addition

The Bad

  • The plot sometime meanders to the point of being irrelevant

  • What even are Harold Meachum’s motivations?

  • Also, why does Joy Meachum now want to kill Danny?

  • Claire Temple’s appearance is simply too much, even though she’s the glue that holds these shows together she is utterly superfluous in this

LIVE REVIEW. The Sherlocks at Wedgewood Rooms with support from Crown Of Thieves and Jordan Allen


Date:
February 23rd
Venue: Wedgewood Rooms, Portsmouth
Genre: Indie/alternative
Words and Photography: Martina Di Gregorio

The Sherlocks, the fast growing indie band from Sheffield, played at Wedgewood Rooms in Portsmouth as part of their tour that is selling out impressively fast considering they have only been signed for three months.

Crown Of Thieves kicked off tonight’s gig slowly warmed up the audience with some hard rock music and light hearted jokes. The leading vocalist went from sitting down and drinking his beer during the bassist’s solo to passionately bending to the ground during his high notes – definitely was an interesting way of starting the night!

They were followed by Jordan Allen, who did a perfect job of engaging the audience through their intense performance. They did not stray away from the audience, not even post-set as Jordan signed merch for all those people that rushed to purchase their new EP, ‘Living La Vida Loca in Bolton’. The band never gave up on making the audience scream for them, and the efforts certainly paid off.

But the real highlights of the night were of course The Sherlocks, who stole the spotlight and proved just why they have risen so high so fast. The set started with ‘Last Night’, and the lead vocalist, Kiaran Crook, didn’t miss a single note while balancing his trademark stage presence with vocal performance. The crowd grew increasingly excited with every track, screams erupting every time they announced the next upcoming song. It was impossible to stay still in the sea of people jumping around and swaying to the electric beat in the Wedgewood Rooms tonight.

17127187_327051647697026_4521698752699826176_n.jpg

Fan favorite ‘WIll You Be There?’ was the fourth song played and everyone simultaneously lost it in a moment, understandably. But the track of the night had to be ‘Live for the Moment’. As Kiaran encouraged the chorus reprise, bassist, Andy Davidson took over the stage and deployed his best tricks, grabbing the attention of everyone in the room. Josh Davidson and Brandon Crook were solid performers as well. The chemistry between the band is incredible, you can really see the authenticity in the band members’ connections and nothing could have stopped them tonight.

There was no need for the band to even try to encourage engagement from the crowd tonight, as they were already jumping and screaming within an inch of their lives. They even played new songs such as ‘Nobody Knows’ and ‘Candle Light’, giving the audience a taste of what to expect as The Sherlocks continue to grow and experiment with their sound.

The penultimate song was their most recent single ‘Was It Really Worth It?’ and once again the audience were completely engrossed. They are definitely on the path to becoming big with their ever growing fan base and packed out gigs. With the amount of shirts thrown onto the stage, the summer should bring about class festival performances. The Sherlocks’ increasing on-stage confidence also shows as the band power through technical issues and sound malfunctions, nothing can stop them now. Tonight, the Bolton lads were full of energy and certainly did not disappoint dedicated fans or sceptical newcomers. 


The Sherlocks have just announced another tour, check out all the details here. You can also show your love on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

Make sure to also check out Crown Of Thieves and Jordan Allen

 

MDG

 

 

LIVE REVIEW. Martha Hill live at The Cumberland Arms

Date: 18/02/17

Venue: The Cumberland Arms, Newcastle.

Genre: Alt folk/blues

Words and photography by: Victoria Ling


One girl. One cello. Ceitidh Mac instantly silences the room as she takes to the strings and held us there for her full set that included a cover of John Martyn’sOver The Hill’. Cietidh is an artist that engages with her audience to a point that they are hesitant to move in case of unwanted disruption or missing a second of the performance. What an attentive audience…well at least for the opening act.

Hailing all the way from the North West in Manchester and joining the tour in the North East of Newcastle is Pip Fluteman (with fellow musician James on guitar and fiddle) This duo followed on from Ceitidh and brought something entirely different to the stage. Pip has us laughing and in some parts of his set and goes as far as declaring James as single which is met with some of the audience getting straight onto Tinder. It’s quite refreshing really how effortless Pip’s stage presence it, his performance is on point but the real connection with the audience comes from his talks in between songs, he’s really not afraid to drop a few jokes in here and there. His explanations of songs such as Dandelion Days’ and ‘She Was The Circus’ has the audience laughing, but also struck with admiration as his set is delivered with passion and clear brilliance.

unnamed (3)

It was finally time for the main act of the evening, with the room now at full capacity and many being turned away at the door.  Martha Hill is becoming quite a name and definitely has a following here in the North East, as soon as she stepped onto the stage and opened with ‘Reborn’, you could feel the electricity fill the room. As a photographer, it became increasingly hard as every inch of the floor was taken up by everyone who was lucky enough to get a ticket. The third number of the set, ‘Traveller,’ sees the return of Ceitidh and the addition of Shannon on the keys, both creeping quietly onto the stage whilst front woman, Martha plays on. Everyone is so consumed that it is like the appeared from nowhere as all eyes and ears are fixated on center stage. Martha herself goes from the guitar to the drums and in doing so becomes quite theatrical and majestic. The crowd does become more animated in their engagement with a few cheers here and there while also remaining attentive with a roar of appreciation for ‘Blue Moon’, her debut single released just before Christmas. It is ‘Boom’ however that brings in the audience participation of a few finger clicks that go with the song.

As Martha and her band exit the stage you could still feel an electric buzz from the audience. By the look on Martha’s face, it is like she simply cannot believe this reaction.  Martha takes a spot on the stage by herself and treats the audience with a final song, an old folk classic of the North called ‘Geordie’. This seems fitting considering Martha has become an adoptive Geordie and this night on the Newcastle leg of her tour – a great homage to both the artist and the audience.


Make sure to check out Martha Hill’s single ‘Blue Moon‘ on Soundcloud now.

You can also catch her live in Edinburgh on 16 March. Check out her Facebook and Website for updates.

 

Through the eyes of Lil Vik

 

 

INTERVIEW. Talking Tunes, Knitting, and Ray Romano: Getting to know Vertigo

Knitting and Ray Romano may not seem like central parts of the typical band, but the lads that make up Vertigo are not typical. They may not be a household name yet, but they are definitely on track to being so. In less than a year of performing together Vertigo have become a mainstay of Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley precinct, known to pull large crowds on days when everywhere else seems to be dead.

Through this live exposure Vertigo managed to broker a deal with The A&R Department, known for their work with Harts, Meg Mac and SAFIA, and ultimately grab some studio time at Airlock Studios to record a few tracks for their upcoming EP ‘No Feeling is Final’.

14718591_1778960212429846_1927843364802455817_n

We had a chance to sit down with singer Hamish, and guitarist James, to talk all things Vertigo. The lads, who met at high school, with the exception of bassist Hugh, have recently released their lead single ‘Get Away’. The track begins with an energetic guitar riff, joined by rapturous bass and the powerful drums of Nelson, before settling down into the bass driven verse of the song. The vocals of Hamish fit exquisitely amongst the distinctly heavy instrumentals of this tune, which is akin to ‘The Hunter’ by Slaves with markedly better vocals.

The lyrics of the track, written collectively by the boys, are quite poignant, pleading a friend to leave a corrosive relationship. Despite the subject matter of the song, Hamish told us that while the realism of the song makes it appear to be based in personal experience, it was not. James then said “We were writing it like it was a pretty generic human experience.”

Get Away’ was one of the first tracks the lads wrote when they were first starting out, back in March 2015.  As Hamish quipped, “Our writing has definitely matured a lot since then”.  They credit this maturity to having performed live.  According to James “they were writing really elaborate, debatably self-indulgent music” prior to performing live. The experience of gigging on a stage has taught the boys how to work a crowd, using the reception of each song to adapt their set list.

The lads opened up about playing a private gig at a 50th, and how they managed to cater to that very different audience. “We played a 50th the other week… for this big country family. So we were like ‘we should probably learn some Johnny Cash. So we learnt ‘Ring of Fire’. When we were learning we were like what the fuck are we doing. What has Vertigo become. But then we whipped it out live and the crowd went wild… We played it twice and it went off even bigger the second time.”

Johnny Cash may never be heard again, at least not from these blokes, but it highlights the emphasis that Vertigo have put on performing live and creating a great show for their fans.

Vertigo not only care deeply for performing, and for their fans, but they also have a deep bond amongst themselves. Hamish highlighted this when he said “It’s like being in a relationship with three guys.”

ray-romano-covered-with-silly-string_pn016918The boys clearly get along.  My afternoon of sitting with Vertigo was filled with laughter and jokes, often at the expense of themselves and their hobbies. Hugh spent the weekend they recorded ‘Get Away’ learning how to knit, since he had recorded the bass early and had time to kill. Or at the expense of those surrounding them. Prior to their first gig at Rics, James’ Mum ignited the bands light obsession with Ray Romano, often referring to the Brisbane venue as Ray’s. This collective joy of their creative process bodes extremely well for future performances and for their upcoming EP ‘No Feeling is Final’. They are definitely a band to watch in the future thanks to their collective drive to make great music, and have a good time while they do it.


They will be playing at The Brightside’s Homegrown Battle of the Bands in Brisbane on March 15th and at Blackbear Lodge of April 23rd.

Keep an eye out for their upcoming single ‘Velvet Revolution’, and their EP ‘No Feeling is Final’, both coming out later this year. You can also keep up to date with all things Vertigo here

 

S.M.

 

INTERVIEW. INHEAVEN ahead of Debut Album – “We always made sure we never compromised our creative vision”

After taking the UK by storm last Summer, the DIY, dream-punk quartet INHEAVEN are continuing to create funky sounds and getting people hyped for the debut album coming next year, with hit single ‘Treats‘ already sweeping up a positive reaction after being premiered by Annie Mac this month. We got to know guitarist James and talk idols, festivals and what remains important to a band such as INHEAVEN despite rising up in the world.

Hey James! What would you say is the main message of your music? 

We think music should make you feel free, so we try to create songs that evoke that feeling.

 

Do you guys have a specific creative process when writing?

It’s weird but we can never explain how we write a song, it just happens! It is really something that happens completely in the moment.

 

Since you have emerged onto the scene, you have gained the seal of approval from many ‘royalty’ fans such as Wolf Alice and Julian Casablancas (The Strokes), you even released your debut single on Mr Casablancas’s label, Cult Records! How did that come about? 

We set up a website before we changed our band name and were called ‘Blossom’, and just used to put up weird videos and music on a daily basis. We ended up taking the whole thing down, but months later we got an email from Rory Atwell (who mixed our demos) forwarding an email from Cult Records! They said Julian and the label loved us and wanted to put out one of our songs. But yeah, it was one of the best feelings ever, it’s not everyday you get an email from one of your idols. 

 

What has been your favourite gig so far and why? 

Reading and Leeds, we grew up going to those festivals so it really felt like a coming of age moment that we will remember forever! The best story from that year was probably us and The Magic Gang getting chucked out of a party for running up on stage and playing someone else’s drum kit.

 

INHEAVEN are known for having a strong DIY ethic, what is it you guys enjoy so much about that and why is it so important for the band to stay true to that even as you progress and grow in size?

We never set out to be a DIY band, we just did everything ourselves and never stopped even when we got signed. We always wanted to have complete control over everything we do, the only way we felt we could separate ourselves from every other band was to make sure we never compromised our creative vision.

 

14955979_1623474191283005_8608497731134030682_n
Debut Album ‘TREATS’ out in 2017

Do you think anything changes once a band has signed to a record label and starts to grow in popularity and size? 

Nothing changes, it just ramps up a gear. We are our own little creative hub, so we could be on any label and it will still always sound and look like us.

 

What have you guys got in store for us in the near future and what are you most excited about right now? 

We are off on tour with Blossoms in December, and our Debut Album will be out next year. It doesn’t get more exciting than that really!


INHEAVEN are going on tour with the lovely Blossoms next month, buy a ticket here

You can also check them out on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram

 

Baker out.

INTRODUCING. blanket with new single ‘Starlight Filled Our Minds’

Release date: 15th November 2016

Genre: Ambient/progressive rock

Rating: ★★★★

This Blackpool quartet seems to have arrived out of nowhere and caught many peoples’ attention almost overnight. Welcome to the world of blanket, one of the country’s most intriguing and exciting bands around at the moment, with their stunning post-rock inspired ambient track, ‘Starlight Filled Our Minds’.

This track catches you off-guard and forces you to do a double-take due to its almost startling grace. It opens with immersive ambient sounds from guitarists Bobby and Simon and pulls you in as the soothing vocals seamlessly appear. As the song goes on, and all of the raw sounds join together, blanket create a totally immersive journey, one of huge power and emotions. This journey is constantly ebbing and flowing, building and breaking; all with delicate and complex layers. A futuristic crescendo envelops your ears, and refuses to let go. This song is the first from this group, and the statement it makes is one of anticipation for what could possibly come next within their debut album Our Brief Encounters’, to be released  10th February.

‘Starlight Filled Our Minds’ is about “going against those that wish to hold you back”, and the potential within blanket to explode out of the arms of anyone holding them back is unquestionable. Their post-rock influences reminiscent of the like of Caspian and Circa Survive are apparent, but you get the feeling like this band have something much grander in the works.

Immerse yourself into blanket below:


The debut album is now available to pre-order here

Also give them a follow on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram

 

Baker out.

LIVE REVIEW. TRAAMS and Mums at Leeds

Date: 11 November 2016

Venue: The Brudenell Social Club, Leeds

Leeds is full of music venues of all shapes and sizes, and the Brudenell Social Club is a surreal time machine. Though new comers are skeptical upon entering, reassurance greets them along with familiar groups, bass blaring out of the back room and the same shitty beers. 

 

Main support – Mums

Rating: ★★★

15102198_10206248208079243_1773733087_o15044812_10206248207879238_2124740882_o

The young three-piece from Widnes gingerly approach the stage and started warming up the crowd with an unassuming bass line and a low-key drum beat before bursting into some agro-rock magic, reminiscent of similar young grunge bands such as allusondrugs. This band have the right image and vision for what they want to achieve, but it is apparent that they are still in the early stages of progression, leaving them at risk of being stuck as another ‘Nirvana-wannabe-band’. However, technical difficulties suffered by the band throughout and some unsettling nerves surely contributed to this some and as the set went on, the distinctive sounds and styles of Mums began to shine through, reminding us of other fuzzy noise-rock bands such as Groves and Lake of Snakes

The track ‘Enemy’s Museum’ made quite the impression, with head-crushing bass blaring out and front man Jack Evans’s surprisingly measured screams, a quality that is becoming increasingly rare in bands. Mums were kind enough to give a low-key interval, with ominous bass lines to allow you to breathe before smacking you around the face once more, their music living of heavy reverb and droning riffs.

At times, Mums got it absolutely right, with sinister lyrics and apathetic strumming that sent you into a grungy trace – drummer Lewis O’Neil was also possibly the highlight of the set with comical and light-hearted approaches to the heaviest and dirtiest tunes – but at other moments songs were attempted to be stuffed with distorted layers of guitar, leaving the music almost incomprehensible.

Mums have recently released their debut album, Land Of Giants on Superstar Destroyer which is grabbing the attention of many across the UK, as the band settles into what they want to be, their music will hopefully rise to a higher standard them more confident and satisfied – we can’t wait to see how they grow.

 

Headliners – TRAAMS

Rating: ★★★★

We saw TRAAMS soon before the release of their debut album as the main support act for Eagulls (Check out the lovely review here) and since then the band has rapidly matured, with a more creative and polished set and more confidence leaking off the players – however frontman Stuart Hopkins remains minimal in audience engagement with the odd playing-it-cool “cheers” at the end of a track. 

15045403_10206248208479253_1039210079_o

The Chichester boys opened with ‘Costner‘, a familiar hit with fans from the debut album and an exciting opener for the first-timers with vibes similar to Drenge. Despite progressing onto the next step of maturity in their structure, TRAAMS remain a sort of organised chaos, one that has an experimental twist throughout created by Stuart who seemingly makes it up as he goes a long – and it just works. The following song was ‘Get Outta Here‘, featured a punk-esk guitar riff throughout to lay the foundation for drummer Adam Stock to really excel in heart-pounding bass beats. It must have been humbling for the band members to witness the crowd recognize and sing along to their stuff in the typical rowdy tones, a recent departure from the early stages of playing live in which people continue to be skeptical of each song and always wanting more – TRAAMS are really starting to own their band identity.

The highlight of the set had to be their most recent single, ‘House On Fire’ bringing an electric vibe to the whole room. With an 80s style bass line that could spark memories of Joy Division and the continuous chanting throughout, front man Stuart found himself in his element, with a battering guitar commotion and apathetic screams (a smile may have even appeared). A definite exhaustion appeared after every song, and I think that was the intended effect.


15053195_10206248208839262_2023570037_oTRAAMS have also grown more experimental in their live sets, progressing from rushing through many short and snappy hits, to taking their time to fry our brains with reverb-heavy blaring guitar.
In many of the tracks such as ‘Head Roll‘, the crowd would be built up through mounting drums and riled up lyrics before reaching an instrumental breakdown where Adam, Leigh and Stuart would join forces and gradually descend into manic white-noise. The instrumental ability of these guys and the energy they manage to generate despite being relatively static on stage is what makes TRAAMS distinct from other, more armature sad-punk bands attempting to do the same. Now they are starting to headline their own shows and no longer have to make creative compromises, they can continue to build in more risky and mind-melting aspects into their music.


Check out the charming Mums on Facebook, Twitter and Bandcamp

Don’t forget to give TRAAMS some love on Facebook and Twitter while listening to their debut album here.

 

Baker out.

FILM REVIEW. Marvel’s Doctor Strange

Release date: 28 October 2016

Genre: Comic Book/Fantasy

Rating: ★★★★

With the expansion of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), it only made sense that the franchise was going to start introducing more ‘out-there’ characters from Marvel Comics after the runaway success of their 2014 spacefaring adventure Guardians of the Galaxy (which was truly excellent and I am beyond excited for the sequel coming next year). So when Doctor Strange was announced, I can understand why some people may have been skeptical about the characters inclusion. “Magic? In the MCU?” they cried. “He’ll be too OP (overpowered)!” Well, yeah, he kind of is. But that’s not a bad thing… I’ll get to that later. Strange had already been namedropped in Captain America: The Winter Soldier as potentially being a threat to evil organisation Hydra (which raises a couple of continuity issues as Doctor Strange is implied to be set after the follow-up to Winter Soldier, Captain America: Civil War, so he wouldn’t have been magical at that point, but just don’t think about it too much I guess, unless Hydra simply feels threatened by good surgery), so from that moment I was personally excited to see the character in the MCU. Once Benedict Cumberbatch was confirmed to play Strange, I was even more excited. What I got when finally watching the movie was relatively standard Marvel fare in terms of basic storyline, but the visuals, concept and acting was peak Marvel, in my opinion.

 

SPOILERS AHEAD. Obviously.

 

The basic premise of the movie is this: Doctor Stephen Strange is a famous, mega-talented surgeon (with a salivating collection of designer watches – who doesn’t love foreshadowing?) who loses the use of his skilled hands after a nasty car crash that would make Richard Hammond blush. Desperately seeking the intricate use of his hands back after medical procedures don’t provide the results he feels he needs and straining his relationship with his ex-wife (Rachel McAdams), he hears of a mystic order in Kathmandu which supposedly healed a man who was entirely paralysed from the waist down, which should have been impossible. Once he travels there he meets the enigmatic (not-yet-Baron) Mordo (Chiwetel Ejiofor) and The Ancient One (Tilda Swinton) who after an incredibly trippy sequence begin to train Strange in the magical arts and enlist his help in trying to defeat rogue sorcerer Kaecilius (Mads Mikkelsen) who intends on allowing an insanely powerful interdimensional enemy known as Dormammu into our world to “save” the people of Earth (read: everyone dies).

So in terms of basic story, it’s relatively standard “egotistical protagonist must learn humility and tap into his true strength to stop Bad Guy X from destroying/taking over the world/city (delete as applicable). But the way the film goes about this plot is a refreshing change of pace from some of the other movies in the MCU. Despite the magical powers of characters such as The Ancient One are shown to be incredibly powerful, Strange is still coming to grips with his powers and the world of magic for most of the film. The fighting set pieces are mostly based around the actual environments shifting around the combatants and how this affects them, particularly the novice Strange, rather than punching each other for 15-20 minutes. This rings especially true in the final ‘battle’ in which Strange confronts The Dread Dormammu himself in the Dark Dimension and has to rely on his cunning to defeat Dormammu instead of using brute force. This only serves to strengthen the film, in my opinion. Strange recognises that Dormammu is far, far too powerful for anybody to overpower. So exploiting the fact that Dormammu comes from a dimension where time doesn’t actually exist, he traps both himself and Dormammu in an infinite time loop using his Eye of Agamotto artefact (which turns out to be the Time Gem of the Infinity Stones; paging Thanos), allowing Dormammu to kill him over and over again until the Dark Lord grows frustrated and has no choice but to accept Strange’s bargain to leave and never return in exchange for freedom from the time loop. This, for me, was an incredibly refreshing change of pace from final battles like those found in say Avengers: Age of Ultron which rely on multiple characters beating the snot out of wave after wave of goons (or each other) for 20 or so minutes. To see a Marvel protagonist using his brain to defeat a superior foe (and frankly there aren’t enough truly superior foes in the MCU; most of them like this movie’s Kaecilius, Malekith from Thor: The Dark World and Zemo from Civil War amongst others are still mostly forgettable fodder with none of them holding a candle to Loki) is something that has been missed in the MCU. And with bigger, more powerful threats like Thanos with the Infinity Gauntlet coming up in the future, it’ll be more engaging to see films where the protagonist(s) truly have to overcome adversity to come out on top. Hey, some of them might even finally be at a real risk of dying in these encounters when it comes to such threats. For there only to have been ONE fatal casualty in the MCU in terms of primary good guys in all of the films so far (RIP Quicksilver), it’s hard to truly get engaged with Marvel movies sometimes when you just know the main characters are probably going to be fine. Sure, The Ancient One bites the dust in this movie, but she’s hardly a name as big as (or fighting alongside) Iron Man, Thor, Captain America etc. or even Quicksilver for that matter.

 

Although Kaecilius is your standard ‘one and done’ villain you get all too frequently in the MCU nowadays, the other characters are very enjoyable. Cumberbatch is excellent as Strange, although his American accent is considerably wonky at times. The dynamic between him and Rachel McAdams as his ex-wife is very well done and a more interesting ‘romantic’ one than your standard Marvel fare due to the two having already been divorced before the events of the movie. They never kiss or pretend to still be lovers, but they still very much care for each other, and it’s a more complex depth than we usually get in that regard. Ejiofor and Swinton as Mordo and The Ancient One respectively are also very enjoyable. Mordo’s contrast in attitude to Strange’s built up well throughout the movie before Mordo’s complete heel turn at the end in the post-credits scene. The issue of Swinton’s Ancient One’s hypocrisy when it comes to dabbling with dark magic despite insisting that no one else should do so is an interesting plot point and adds more credibility and audience understanding to Mordo’s eventual decision to walk away. Dormammu is very believably a serious threat; although I was a little disappointed he doesn’t appear in his human-shaped flaming skull head avatar, his almost ‘cosmic cloud’ entity lends itself perfectly to the ‘outsmarting’ angle for the final fight so I can understand why Marvel went in that direction. And it’s done in a far better way than Fox did it with Galactus in the godawful Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer in 2007 before the MCU even kicked off with Iron Man in 2008. I’m still hopeful that we’ll get flaming skull Dormammu sometime in the future though – surely it’s a matter of ‘when’ and not ‘if’ he breaks his bargain with Strange.

 

Ultimately, Doctor Strange is a hugely welcome addition to the MCU. Mindbending visuals, engaging characters (it’s nice to see the Magic Carpet from Disney’s Aladdin finding work again as Strange’s magical cape) and an enticing precedent for stakes to come (plus seemingly a team-up between Strange and Thor for the now even more stacked cast for Thor: Ragnarok) all make for highly enjoyable viewing that’s well worth a ‘watch’ on the big screen.

…get it? Because Strange loves watches and…. and there’s a watch motif throughout the…. forget it. It’s a great movie. Go see it.