Jake’s Favourite Horror Movie Soundtracks

Hello my troublesome troops, Jake Cordiner back again on this crazy train of horror fuelled journalism! In celebration of Thom Yorke’s (from the Radiohead’s dont’cha know) recently released soundtrack from the Suspiria remake, I thought I’d just have a wee chat about some of my favourite horror film soundtracks over the years. That cool with you? Well, I flipping hope so because YOU CAN’T STOP ME, DAD. I’ll make a dainty wee playlist for you lovely lot of my favourite tracks from the soundtracks I discuss, and maybe some extra ones! Let’s get going.

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First off, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Goblin’s utterly masterful soundtrack from the original Suspiria. Goblin are renowned for their soundtrack work, scoring such classics as Zombi, Contamination and… Patrick? What the fuck kind of title for a film is Patrick? I digress, those other soundtracks are exquisite pieces of synth-driven prog, but the Suspiria soundtrack is where the Italian weirdos shine. It covers such a wide range of soundscapes and genres: there’s a bit of jazz thrown in, some industrial rock, a wee hint of post-rock and some driving prog as well. Its scatterbrained nature lines up perfectly with the original Suspiria’s unashamed obtuseness. It’s really, very, very good.

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During the 70s, 80s, and 90s, I don’t think John Carpenter slept. His directorial work is almost untouchable (that almost being Ghosts of Mars (which is still a good bit of fun)). But when he wasn’t in the director’s chair, shouting at presumably Kurt Russell, he was in the studio, maaaaaan. Rocking out and crafting some of the best soundtrack work ever. Seriously, some of this stuff is insane, from the utterly iconic main theme from Halloween to the rockier material found in the Escape From New York and Escape From L.A scores, the man couldn’t be stopped.

However, my personal favourite work of his, both cinematically and musically, is In The Mouth of Madness. This wee slice of Lovecraft inspired gold is hideously underappreciated, and so is the soundtrack. The main theme, in particular, is an absolute banger, mixing the creeping synth work that Carpenter had made his signature style with some badass guitar from DAVE DAVIES FROM THE KINKS! How and why that came about I’ll never know, the solos on the song couldn’t be further from how the Kinks sounded in their day, but I do not care. It’s cool as fuck and deserves to be heard.

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Disasterpiece (better known as Richard Vreeland) is really cool. He’s scored some of the indie gaming scene’s biggest darlings, from Fez to Hyperlight Drifter to Cannon Brawl. But nothing he’s done has come even close to his work on the It Follows soundtrack. I’m quite sure everyone reading knows what It Follows is, but for the uninitiated, this 2015 horror is one of my modern pillars of the genre, alongside Hereditary, The VVitch, and The Babadook. It is about an STI that causes scary people who can’t be stopped to follow you. It’s magnificent, and so is the soundtrack.

Vreeland uses distortion, reverb and, perhaps most effectively, silence throughout the soundtrack and manages to add to the films lingering sense of dread and despair tenfold. Its a rare case of a film soundtrack being literally integral to the film, without Disasterpiece’s work on It Follows I’m not sure the film would be nearly as effective in its quest to scare. Get on it immediately.

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Under the Skin is tremendously fucked up. Based on Michael Faber’s 2000 book of the same name, Jonathan Glazer’s Glasgow based horror follows an alien (played brilliantly by Scarlett Johansson) going around Glasgow and harvesting men. That’s all you need to know. The soundtrack fits the films perpetually dark and dreary vibe impeccably. Scored by Mica Levi, the music smashes together a contemporary orchestral foundation with layers upon layers of distortion, haunting reverb and a deliberate opaqueness that showers everything else. In essence, a vast majority of the soundtrack makes the listener feel like they’re being sucked into an endlessly black void. It’s genuinely uncomfortable at points, but so is Glazer’s film. A perfect marriage, submerged in black.

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Lastly, I’m going to touch on Sinoia Cave’s soundtrack for Panos Cosmatos’ abstract masterpiece Beyond the Black Rainbow. To attempt to describe this film would do it a great disservice, but basically, a girl is off her tits and is trying to get out of a Bad Building. That’s the gist of it. The soundtrack was composed by Jeremy Schmidt of Canadian rockers Black Mountain, who claimed his main influences were the creeping horror of soundtracks like Halloween, The Shining and, hold on, Risky Business?! Leave my favourite wee Scientologist out of it you fiend!

Regardless, this soundtrack can only be described as epic. A sprawling and oftentimes jarring synth driven journey that complements Cosmatos’s vision effortlessly. I stand firmly in the camp that the soundtracks near 20-minute odyssey “1966 – Let The New Age of Enlightenment Begin” is in the upper echelon of music for any genre of film, fuck just horror. It is that good and weird and creepy and off-kilter.

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So, those are just a handful of my favourite pieces of horror soundtrack work to date. I’ll embed the wee Spotify playlist at the bottom with some more lovely pieces of sound to creep you the shitting fuck out. Tune in next time where I transcribe a decidedly one-sided interview I had with famed murderer Michael Myers! Ok bye, love you!

 

Jake’s 6 Underrated Horror Flicks

Hey y’all, Jake here.

For my next trick, I’ve decided to try and shine a wee light on some of the lesser known horror flicks that are floating around the filmosphere, because I feel bad for them and feel they deserve a bit of attention. Here we chuffing go, you lovely lot!

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First on the agenda is 2013’s Coherence, directed by James Ward Byrkit, this Canadian sci-fi/thriller is a hard one to describe without ruining anything. Basically, some old friends meet for a dinner party during a meteor shower and shit hits the fan in a wonderfully headfucky way. Great acting, a plot that is near impossible to pin down, and one of the best endings I can remember in recent sci-fi history, this is definitely one to add to your Halloween watch party.

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Next up, I thought I’d go contemporary with Stephen Congnetti’s 2015 found footage spooktacular Hell House LLC. It follows a team of… it’s hard to give a description of their job, they travel around the US refurbishing abandoned / spooky looking places and making them into haunted mansions or ghost train things. It’s a hard job but some poor motherfucker has to do it.

Anyway, this particular house that they decide to flip is positively crawling with ghosties and ghoulies, so much so that the majority of the crew don’t want to continue with the build, except for the project manager who for some reason cares more about the build than the safety of himself and the other crew members. If you look past that silliness it’s a remarkably effective and enjoyable found footage romp. I caught it on Shudder, and I believe it’s on Amazon Prime now as well.

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Now we’re onto Turkish gore-fest Baskin. Directed by Can Evrenol, this film is all sorts of fucked up. It follows a group of Turkish policeman as they investigate strange goings-on within an abandoned building. The true nature of these goings on, I shan’t tell you, for it would ruin the fun, but just know that this flick is not for the faint of heart. Half of the budget must have been spent on the gore effects alone, and I mean that very sincerely. This is a raw, visceral film that does not hold back one bit, and it is all the better for it.

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Penultimately, let’s talk about Creep 1 & 2, starring the incredible Mark Duplass. This tells the tale of a violently mentally ill man who may or may not have given his videographer (played brilliantly by Patrick Brice) the full low down on his “situation”. Creep 2 follows the story along almost straight after the events of the first have unfolded, so to spoil any of that would be silly of me, wouldn’t it? BAD JAKE! VERY BAD! STRAIGHT TO YOUR ROOM! WITH NO SUPPER!

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Eh, sorry. Haha. Anyway, one thing Creep 2 does masterfully is sort-of-but-not-really dissect YouTuber culture and the lengths some creators will go to just to gain more clicks. It’s really cool, superbly tense and Mark Duplass is fucking magnificent. They’re both on Netflix and they aren’t long at all so it’s really ideal for a double feature.

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Lastly, for this piece, I’d be positively overjoyed to talk about Monster House! Monster House, while not overtly “Scary” per-se, has a creepy atmosphere that lingers throughout. It’s also incredibly funny and sad and weird, AND it was written by Dan Harmon. It follows a team of three kids who are convinced that the man who lives across from them’s house is alive and is eating children, pets, toys, cars, you name it! (Sounds a bit like my mother in law! ZING! (Sorry Catherine please god don’t hurt me)). This is one you can fire on and watch with your younger siblings/ children/kids your babysitting / whatever you get up to I won’t tell the police, so it’s well worth firing up on Netflix if you’re after a wee bit of fun.

So that’s my list! Tune in next time where I put on a GoPro and jump into a piranha tank! Bye, I love you!

Why I Love Horror

words fae jake cordiner 

Hello you beautiful bunch, it’s been a hot minute since I’ve written any solo content for the site.

This is due to a number of reasons, chief among them being my brain was, for the best part of the last 4 months, comparable to a lukewarm bowl of oat so simple. I just didn’t have the motivation or mental capacity to write anything worthwhile for the past while, so sorry? Not that I imagine anyone has missed my bollocks, but on the minuscule chance that you have, I’m back! Hopefully for good, but I’m not sure.

It’s October (for those among you who hate calendars like me), which means it’s peak time for spooks aplenty. So I thought this would be a perfect time to get back on the saddle and do Jake’s Month* (*see: fortnight) of Horror 2: Electric Boogaloo. I’m going to try and mix things up this time, I’ve got a rather ambitious idea for the end of month entry this year but we’ll see how it goes (spoiler: I might be enlisting some help). With this first part of my series of writings on horror, I decided to go all personal and try and pinpoint exactly where and when I started loving horror as a genre, so expect some anecdotes and potentially a small paragraph at the end to try and tie things together in a nice wee bow. Let’s go!

It must have been about 2003, I was at my pal Steven’s house. His big brother had Resident Evil 2 on PS1, and Steven and I went on a covert operation the likes of which the minds of the masses couldn’t come close to comprehending… We waited until his brother left then went into his room and got the game. Genius, I know, and yes Theresa May is planning on enlisting me as a military advisor, how the devil did you know? We put the game in, and before the classic PS1 splash screen even came up we were positively fucking shitting ourselves. I mean besides ourselves with fear, I think it as because we had seen the cover and it looked a bit creepy?

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Regardless, the “RESIDENT. EVIL. TWOOOO” bit occurred and the two of us ran out of the room screaming, it’s not even particularly scary in retrospect but as an 8-year-old it was a different level of frightening. So we made Steven’s mum go in and turn the game off and went back to playing Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2, the only frightening thing about that game is how bloody good it is! I think this specific incident was the catalyst that sparked my half-lifelong obsession with all things horror, however, there was another thing that happened only a few months later that may have played a large part as well…

It was 04/05, and my dad had rented the first Saw film on DVD from a video shop in my town called Global (it’s closed now, but I owe a lot to it, namely my love of gaming. Might be an idea for another article at some point, but I digress). Father Cordiner (not a priest) was under strict instructions by my mum not to let me watch Saw, under any circumstances, and fair play to old James, he did his best. I tried to come in and was swiftly told to get out, so I obliged.

BUT LITTLE DID HE KNOW, DEAR READER, THAT I SAT ON THE STAIRS AND WATCHED A GOOD TWENTY MINUTES OF THE FILM, COMPLETELY UNDETECTED! (*Insert Skyrim “Sneak 100” meme here*). It wasn’t even a particularly gory segment of the film (it was the flashback bit where Kramer gives his alibi and then a bit onwards), but I was infatuated. The way it was shot, the grimness and grossness that pulsated through every scene, it was cool as fucking fuck, basically. And for that reason, I hold the original Saw in very high regard. For the curious among you, I closed the living room door behind me but left it slightly ajar, and our living room door is mainly glass so I saw the action PERFECTLY!

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The last example of my early love for horror would come in 2007, I had a computer in my room so that was basically how I spent all my time (WHO CAN RELATE LMAO?). I had recently gone to the cinema to see Michael Bay’s Transformers (a solid 6/10), but there was a trailer before it for a title-less film, “1-18-08”, soon to be known as Cloverfield. Now, anyone who knows me even in passing knows how much love I have in my tummy for the Cloverfield franchise, and the main reason is that of the viral marketing that surrounded it. 11 year old me was positively balls deep in that sweet, sweet ARG. I trawled numerous sites, forums and youtube videos in a near-manic attempt to devour any and all information about the film. As the release date drew near, and the pieces starting falling into place in regards to what the film actually was, my excitement reached fever pitch.

I didn’t see Cloverfield until it came out on DVD. I wasn’t old enough to see it at the cinema, so I had to wait. It was a painful 6 months, seeing the reaction to the film online, the excitement, the reviews… It was tough. On my 11th birthday, I must have watched the film maybe 6 times in a row, digesting every scene like a mother puma digesting her prey. Even though I’d kept up with the film after it’s release, I hadn’t had it spoiled for me (fucking somehow), so it still remained fresh to me, and it was, and probably still is, the single best experience I’ve ever had watching a film. It was bloody brilliant, and though I’ve seen films since that I perhaps admired or enjoyed more in some aspects, Cloverfield will always remain my favourite film.

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Now while Cloverfield may not TECHNICALLY be a horror film (I’d argue it comes under the genre’s umbrella as both found footage and a monster film), it’s just as responsible for my love of horror as the other two anecdotes. And maybe that’s the main reason I love horror so much, the primality of it all. It’s ability to make you feel so frightened so quickly. Good horror holds your every sense and sensibility hostage and makes you lose sleep for maybe one night, but great horror, horror like Saw, Cloverfield, or more recently (and less anecdotey) Hereditary, The VVitch and films of that ilk, get under your skin like a master surgeon. It consumes your thoughts for days, weeks even, it makes you want to tell EVERYONE about how it made you feel, hell, it might even make you disobey your parents and watch it from the stairs.

Cheers for reading troops, I dunno what grand point I was really trying to make with this article. I just thought it might be a nice way to ease my way back into the swing of writing more long-form stuff. I hope you liked it, I hope I haven’t wasted your time, and I hope to see you again very, very soon. See ye!

Every Arcade Fire Album, Ranked From Worst To Best

Since their first demo back in 2001, up until their critically divisive fifth LP last year, Canadian indie rock outfit Arcade Fire have had a knack for inciting strong reactions from the general public and critics – most of the time positive. Not one to stick to the same bread and butter formula, the Montreal band have constantly changed up their sound which helps to make them one of the most exciting acts the 21st century has provided thus far.

Of course, we can’t simply sit idly by and not ask the question: what’s their best record? Well you won’t have to ponder for much longer as Transistor’s fantastic four Jake (@jjjjaketh), Josh (@jxshadams), Kieran (@kiercannon), and Sarah (@hollowcrown) have helped to 100-per-cent-definitively rank their albums – will there be hot takes? Absolutely. Will there be an obvious loser? Most definitely? Will you be pissed off at us? Probably. Anyway, let’s keep the car running and skrt off to our ranking…

Quick disclaimer: This is, like, our opinion or whatever, dude. Disagree? The comments down below will house whatever rage you’re feeling.


5. Everything Now (2017)

Jake [5th]: While I don’t hate Everything Now with the feverishness that many other people do, there’s absolutely no denying that it’s the black sheep in Arcade Fire’s discography. The promo campaign in the lead up to the album rubbed a LOT of people the wrong way, with the band adopting a satirical über-capitalist facade, and unleashing the Everything Now Corporation on the world.

We’re not here to talk about that, however (though I, amongst many others, have plenty to say on the subject). We’re here to talk about the tunes, and while it’s the weakest Arcade Fire album, there are still bangers to be found here. The title track, for instance, is a natural progression (or regression?) of the sound Arcade Fire adopted on The Suburbs, with a bit of Reflektor thrown in.

Creature Comfort is a barnstormer of a song, with Reginé rocking a FUCKING KEYTAR during live sets, and the undeniably massive sounding Electric Blue gets its funk on. An incredibly divisive album, then. But a quote-unquote “bad” Arcade Fire album is still better than most other records.

Josh [5th]: What is there to say about this record that hasn’t already been said? By and large considered a disappointment except for the few aurally challenged, Arcade Fire’s fifth LP saw them aim for the nosebleed seats of the stadium with infectious pop melodies, danceable grooves, and biting social commentary that was hinted to be a more streamlined version of the group’s last album, “Reflektor”, thanks to its phenomenal lead titular single.

However, their reach went beyond their grasp, and lazy songwriting, embarrassing marketing, and tired performances hampered down their latest, with few highlights scattered amongst the track listing (“Creature Comfort” and “Electric Blue” being amongst them). They may have attained new commercial heights with “Everything Now”, but at the cost of their reputation as critical darlings and one of our generation’s most forward-thinking bands.

Kieran [5th]: Despite generating astronomical levels of hype with a multitude of teasers and visuals of the band marching about in matching EN regalia, Arcade Fire’s latest release ultimately fell rather flat on its face.

The cryptic social media promo campaign had us all hoping for an even bigger, bolder expansion on Reflektor’s avant-garde approach and while some tracks delivered to a certain extent, such as Creature Comfort and ridiculously catchy title track Everything Now, the album’s overriding narrative of subversive consumerist critique felt all too often like a crutch to fall back on; a cover-up for a lack of songwriting ideas.

Chemistry, for example: is it steeped in countless layers of irony, or is it just a bit terrible? Overall, the reason EN languishes so far behind the rest is that, unlike any album they’ve released up to this point, it’s simply not an enjoyable listen from front to back.

Sarah [5th]: Parody-like promotion aside – 2017’s Everything Now fails to deliver the multifaceted creativity explored in Arcade Fire’s previous works. It is clear that the band attempted to push their own boundaries by following a simpler and slightly more abrasive path, however, this shift wasn’t well received for good reason.

There are some listenable tracks from this record, such as Electric Blue, that stray from AF’s sound but still deliver. With a career spanning almost 15 years and a cult following, changing your core characteristics and drawing from completely abstract influences can challenge fan loyalty, as this isn’t the sound they have grown to adore.  

4. Neon Bible (2007)

Josh [4th]: There’s nothing bad per se about “Neon Bible” – the production is a step up from the lo-fi smudge of their debut, the performances are as tight as ever, and it features some of Arcade Fire’s greatest hits. But ultimately it suffers from middle child syndrome, lacking both the shock-of-the-new of “Funeral” and the grand, overblown ambition of “The Suburbs”.

The expansion into Americana is a nice touch, expanding the group’s instrumental palette to include organs and mandolins (see: “Intervention” and “Keep The Car Running”), but it does little to keep certain tracks memorable, especially in the latter of the LP. At least it features their greatest album closer to date, a cover of Peter Gabriel’s “My Body Is A Cage” that is bursting at the seams with teenage tension and adolescent angst before erupting into a heavenly climax that could fill a cathedral.

Kieran [4th]: I feel rotten about Neon Bible ending up in this lowly position, I really do. In fact, it’s the album that got me into Arcade Fire in the first place and it’s arguably the one that propelled them into stadium-filling indie rock stardom. For some reason, though, it’s the only pre-EN album I rarely find myself revisiting.

By most other metrics, it’s a great album. The swelling organs and wonderfully dark lyrics of My Body Is a Cage and Intervention marry together perfectly to create stunning pieces of baroque pop while the intense, upbeat No Cars Go has established itself as a firm fan favourite.

Compared to the sheer single-mindedness of Funeral, for example, Neon Bible has expanded outwards thematically, covering a vast array of topics and incorporating plenty of grandiose instrumentation but it doesn’t quite deliver the same gut-punch as the others.

Sarah [3rd]: A pivotal point in the Arcade Fire discography, Neon Bible is a graduation from their heavily artistic debut but remains stylistically vague – leaving room to play in future albums. Sandwiched between the band’s first studio album and their most refined release, Neon Bible serves as a guide of sorts.

The problem with this album is that the storytelling is somewhat 2D – and with such an emotive album under their belt already, this one feels almost vapid in context. The whole album is frustrating as it fails to deliver any real depth, and we have several examples that Arcade Fire are capable of this on celestial levels.

Jake [3rd]: The darkest of any of their albums, Arcade Fire’s sophomore effort Neon Bible is a bit of a fiddly record to get adjusted to. But when you do, it bloody shines. With song topics ranging from phones and computers taking over THE PEOPLE, MAN! (Black Mirror) to failing religion (Intervention and (Antichrist Television Blues)), the topics are heavy but dealt with with a deft hand.

They didn’t abandon their knack for crafting a bonafide festival classic, however, with Keep the Car Running, No Cars Go and even the ridiculously sad album closer My Body is a Cage being live set mainstays since the album’s release. Neon Bible is another jewel in Arcade Fire’s crown.

3. Reflektor (2013)

Kieran [3rd]: Far be it from Arcade Fire to be accused of resting on their laurels – a trip to Régine Chassagne’s ancestral homeland of Haiti was enough inspiration for the Canadian indie-rock outfit to reinvent themselves, more or less.

Reflektor is a smorgasbord of musical influences spanning Haitian rara to dance-rock, an illustration of the group’s laissez-faire attitude; one which results in their most imaginative and carefree recordings to date, the aural equivalent of letting your hair down and dancing like an absolute bam.

For a band who were previously considered fairly earnest and sombre, they’ve decided to cast off indie-rock conventions and go with the flow – this rhythm-orientated approach is perfectly captured with the syncopated beats of Here Comes The Night Time. It’s loose, it’s unconventional, it’s paranoid and anxious but – crucially – Reflektor is utterly, utterly compelling. The only petty grievance preventing this being a contender for my #1 is its gargantuan 85 minute run time.

Sarah [4th]: Unlike Everything Now, Reflektor breaks the band’s mould while still holding integrity as an Arcade Fire album. Songs like Joan of Arc show a lot of experimentation and exemplifies the bands’ infamous ability to create highly interesting, enjoyable music. Into the records second half we see foreshadowing with Porno – a blunt, steady song – arguably better than anything from Everything Now, but still lays the foundation for that release.

Jake [4th]: Reflektor is very, very, very good. It’s also, to me, a bit scatterbrained (like Everything Now). Reflektor knows what it wants to talk about (namely the rise of technology) and it utilises a smorgasbord or genres to convey its messages.

Reflektor is punky, disco-y, electro…-y(?), glam-y… you name it, Arcade Fire touched on it with this album. And that isn’t really a bad thing, Win sacrificing a cohesive identity allowed Arcade Fire to be as free and as experimental as they wanted, and for the most part, it paid off.

Birthing songs like We Exist, Reflektor, Afterlife and Normal Person. It’s an album that’s simultaneously weighed down and elevated by the fact that it’s so all over the place from a genre perspective, and I wouldn’t change it for the world.

Josh [2nd]: A controversial pick for a number two spot? Perhaps. A lot of complaints have been levied at the band’s fourth album: it’s too long, over-indulgent, the change in tone and sound too jarring, the stage show and marketing too gimmicky. But this is Arcade Fire at the peak of their ambition, and if there is one thing Win Butler and co. do well, it’s ambition.

Every song might not be mind-blowing, but they’re memorable and unique in the context of the album, and the listener genuinely feels like they have completed a journey by the time they wrap up on the jaw-droppingly gorgeous “Supersymmetry”. The production comes courtesy of James Murphy, so you know it’s going to sound tighter than your grandmother’s attic (and that’s not a euphemism), and the instrumentation has been made even more eclectic to harbour the influence of African, Haitian and Latin music. From start to finish, this is an absolute joy to listen to – just don’t forget to take a deep breath before you begin.

2. Funeral (2004)

Sarah [2nd]: As a debut, Funeral thrust Arcade Fire into the indie mainstream – and almost immediately helped the band make their claim as important figures in the scene. This record perfectly exemplifies their creativity, be it through the actual songs, the titles or the artwork, with each aspect setting them apart from popular alternative music at the time.

What truly makes Funeral special is its inherent ability to pander to people from all walks of life, it sits happily in the middle of the spectrum between too much and too little. Having this as a debut really pulled in a loyal fanbase from the get-go as it was widely spread across societal groups – and this has been fundamental in the bands following successes. Without Funeral, Arcade Fire would perhaps fail to be the grandeur figure we know it as.

Jake [2nd]: It’s still staggering to me to this day that Funeral is Arcade Fire’s first full-length album. Already masters of their craft at this early a stage of their careers, Win and his merry band of misfits set the world of Indie alight with the release of Funeral in 2004. Imagine writing songs like Wake Up, Crown of Love, Power Out and Rebellion on your FIRST. FUCKING. ALBUM. It’s almost unfair. One of the best debut albums ever, unquestionably.

Josh [3rd]: The one that started it all. It’s hard to remember a time when Arcade Fire weren’t considered A Very Big Deal, and it almost seems like that from their inception they weren’t anything less than that – to be fair, when David Bowie buys all your CDs and distributes them to his friends, you aren’t exactly going to be just an overnight sensation.

And so “Funeral” became a landmark indie record, brimming with tunes and earnest that made the world fall in love with the Canadian band. Yet time has not been kind to their debut, with the production seeming at first charming now being utterly grating, and it lacks the slick, rehearsed nature of later records that made them a joy to listen to. But it still packs one hell of a punch, especially on cuts such as “Power Out” and “Rebellion” that will keep arenas and festivals screaming along until the world implodes in a nuclear haze.

Kieran [2nd]: When we compare Funeral, Reflektor and The Suburbs, we’re really looking at the finest of margins. All three are masterpieces in their own right, and a case could easily be made that Funeral deserves to occupy that top spot.

It’s simply staggering that any group – even one as absurdly talented as Arcade Fire – could release a debut as masterful as this. Far from what the title suggests, it’s neither melancholy nor downbeat; in fact, it’s a vibrant, empowering celebration of life and a wise-beyond-their-years contemplation of mortality, which manages to be uniquely relatable no matter your generation or demographic.

I’m going to stick my neck out and say that Wake Up is the finest track they’ve ever churned out – in fact, if you’ve ever managed to listen to it without welling up *at all*, consider our friendship terminated.

1. The Suburbs (2010)

Jake [1st]: Who’d of thunk that an album about a fake war in a fake town would be so fucking good? This is Arcade Fire’s masterpiece, a stone-cold classic in every sense of the word that’s only getting better and more relevant as the years go on.

From the understated, yet lavish (Half Light I, Sprawl I), to the utterly gargantuan love mainstays of Sprawl II and Ready to Start, each track compliments the other wonderfully and makes for not only the most cohesive album in AF’s discography but the best.

Josh [1st]: This is the one. Where else in Arcade Fire’s discography do the twin peaks of what attracts fans far and wide to them meet so perfectly? The earnestness of their earlier records combines with the ambitiousness of their later to make a concept album that just about anyone can relate to: growing up.

Win Butler’s lyrics are at the top of their game from start to finish, capturing the simultaneous wondrous and jaded nature of your young adult years, when the world is at your feet but all you can see is your hometown, and the performances feel rehearsed to fall apart at any second, from how energetic they are (“Month of May”) to just how damn emotionally tense the whole band can feel on a track (“Half Light II”).

There’s not a weak moment on the track-listing despite its fifteen song-long runtime, which is not something any of the other band’s albums can say never mind any other band in existence at the moment, and by its end, you’ll want to jump right back to the start. When the dust settles, “The Suburbs” will still be standing.

Kieran [1st]: I’ve always thought of The Suburbs as a grown up, 20-something version of Funeral. It’s been at the booze and the fags for a while too long and it’s a little more world-weary, a tad post-apocalyptic even, but it’s still achingly, endearingly human.

In my eyes, Funeral and The Suburbs are both as near as makes no difference perfect, making this an extremely difficult call to make. The latter edges it due to the sheer poeticism of its lyrics. Too numerous are they to list here, but the amount of times I’ve sat in sheer euphoria and appreciation hearing Win Butler’s signature wail on this record is scarcely believable.

Sarah [1st]: The showcase that is The Suburbs is potentially a genre-defining release, and almost definitely a career-defining one for Arcade Fire. With the ongoing support, garnered from the run of Funeral and Neon Bible, the band were absolutely pining for something more impressive, scale and concept wise.

The Suburbs follows a clear path from start to end, is filled with storytelling and is so powerfully emotive it makes the listers hairs stand on end. Ballads like the eponymous The Suburbs, We Used to Wait and Sprawl II propelled the band from venues to arenas, showing the music community that Arcade Fire we far more than just a music group – they were an experience, they are ethereal, atmospheric, creators.

The Suburbs proved them as a timeless band, whose music will provide an escape for anyone who needs, any time.

TRANSISTOR’S Record Store Day 2018 Picks

photo fae Nikki A. Rae at Record Store Day 2016

For those amongst us who enjoy the sound, smell, sight and sheer eye-watering expense of vinyl, Record Store Day is pretty much our musical Christmas, not least because vast sums of money will be spent on gifts, all of them for ourselves. However, with the sheer volume of releases, re-releases and special editions on offer, it’s hard to see the wood for the trees, so we’ve assembled some of our finest vinyl collectors to give you their hot picks for RSD ’18.

Liam Menzies (@blinkclyro)

Twin Peaks – Music From The Limited Event Series

Not to be confused with the indie-pop outfit that share the same name, Twin Peaks is easily one of the finest pieces of entertainment to grace us and while it may have changed over the past couple of decades, its quality is consistent. This includes its score and soundtrack which range from flourishes of cheesy soap opera romance to borderline nightmarish remixes of classic tracks, all adding to the formula that makes Twin Peaks such a stunning piece of art.

Sufjan Stevens – Mystery of Love EP

While its title song may have been “done dirty” at the Oscars according to some people, there’s no denying Sufjan Stevens crafted one of 2017’s most beautiful songs for an equally mesmerising film. Call Me By Your Name wasn’t a film that relied on its soundtrack but it was one that was vastly improved by its gorgeous music which all comes to the tracks featured on this EP. If you’re maybe in the mood for something a bit different from your usual rock affair then this will be right up your street.

Jake Cordiner (@jjjjaketh)

Car Seat Headrest – Twin Fantasy (Mirror to Mirror)

The original version of one of 2018’s best albums (so far), the 2011 version of Will “Massive Furry” Toledo’s best album is a brilliant insight into how a songwriters’ style can change as they do as people. Some of the lyrics are different, some of the breakdowns are different, the whole mood of the album has changed in 7 years, and I just think it’ll be cool to hear the original on a beautiful, heavy piece of vinyl mate, ok?

 

Will Sexton (@WillSheSleeps)

Florence + The Machine – “Sky Full of Song”/”New York Poem (for Polly)”

Really hope someone will be able to pick up this gorgeous new single from Florence + The Machine (AS I’M WORKING THE WHOLE WEEKEND NOO!)*. Lovely new art-pop single from Florence and co. Love the ethereal, stripped back sound and it’s nice to hear something fresh from the band, being the first piece of music in 2 years since the gorgeous How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful. What is more interesting is the new single is backed by Florence’s first recorded poem! Coming from her first book Useless Magic (released 5th of July), New York Poem (for Polly) will be a very interesting listen!

*Prizes for anyone who sorts oor Will out

Josh Adams (@jxshadams)

The National – Boxer (Live from Brussels)

What’s not to love about one of contemporary rock’s greatest bands releasing a Record Store Day exclusive vinyl, documenting their 2017 performance of arguably their most important album front to back?

Anyone who’s managed to catch The National performing tracks from Boxer live, either in concert or on YouTube, will know not only the added energy they bring to certain songs – such as Squalor Victoria or mistaken for strangers – but the deft touch of dynamics and tension the group tweak for some of their biggest numbers (see: Fake Empire and Slow Show). Also, it has a cool as shit reworking of the original album’s cover art. Gimme… NOW.

Oliver Butler (@notoliverbutler)

Motorhead – Death or Glory

In a move that’ll shock absolutely no one, my hot pick for RSD ’18 is a reissue of Motorhead’s 1993 album Bastards under the guise of Death or Glory. If anyone’s interested, which they’re not, ‘Head were, as ‘Head do, having some trouble with their record company, and the family-friendly titled album was only largely released in Germany, and in the rest of the world, you couldn’t even steal it. A real shame considering it was one of the best, if not the best, albums they’ve ever produced.

Sure you’ve got Motorhead by numbers tracks like Burner and Born to Raise Hell, but Bastards had a wider range and more emotional depth with songs like Lost in the Ozone and Don’t Let Daddy Kiss Me, a harrowing song about the horrors of child abuse. A must listen for the most seasons of Motorhead fans, or for anyone who wants a crash course in the band’s range & depth.

Motorhead – Heroes

Heroes was something that came out of the blue, more than a year after Lemmy’s tragic passing. The final word had been growled; no new Motorhead or “lost” recordings. Then seemingly out of nowhere came this emotional, expertly done cover of Bowie’s Heroes. Not too detached from the original that it’s a hatchet job, but retains that Motorhead magic. It then formed part of a covers album, which featured the band covering some of their favourite songs, including a, dare I say it, better than original cover of Metallica’s Whiplash.

Side B features a “live” version of Heroes, featuring the most angelic of voices, the Wacken Open Air Festival choir. Lovely stuff.

Jake’s Movie Picks #3

words by jake cordiner (@jjjjaketh)

Alex Garland has done it again.

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Yer auld da and one of them piles of paper with words.

I’ve been intrigued about Annihilation since the first trailer dropped a while back, so Intrigued I bought the book (written by Jeff VanderMeer) and read it almost straight away. It was excellent. So I decided, I was going to go into the film adaption as blindly as someone who had just read the fucking book it was based on can and I’m glad I did because Annihilation is a masterpiece.

Alex Garland’s film goes at its own pace. The story beats are there, but they’re warped. Mangled, rearranged (you get the idea). This is a VERY unconventional piece of work. It’s smart, and it knows it is, but it doesn’t spoon feed the audience with shitty exposition and the like. Who knew people didn’t need to be treated like fucking morons to understand relatively highbrow concepts?! Truly a revelation in itself, and a long overdue one.

Annihilation is one of the most striking films I’ve ever seen. The imagery is utterly bonkers. From the designs of the copious amounts of fauna and wildlife to the more urban looking backdrops, everything pops out of the screen and screams “LOOK AT ME THEN LOOK AT THAT THEN LOOK OVER THERE!”. That being said, it never once gets overbearing, and Garland and the VFX team knew when the perfect times to be subdued were.

I suppose I should discuss what I can of the plot without spoiling anything. Something happens at a lighthouse that causes a phenomena coined “The Shimmer” to develop and begin expanding quick. A few teams have gone in, and barely any of them have came out. One of the people who did return from The Shimmer was Kane (played by the ever fantastic Oscar Isaac). He happens to be the husband of protagonist Lena, who volunteers to be a part of an all-female team to venture into The Shimmer and find the source of the chaos. That is basically as deep as I can go without spoiling anything, but let me tell you right now my friends you are in for a hell of a ride.

The cast of Annihilation is pitch perfect. Jennifer Jason Leigh is great as the secretive Dr. Ventress, Tessa Thompson impresses as always as the innocent and inquisitive Josie and Gina Rodriguez is fantastically unhinged as Anya. But this is indisputably Natalie Portman’s film. Her performance as Lena is fucking solid gold baby. She sells the effects that The Shimmer has on the human psyche wonderfully, playing action hero one minute and almost having a full blown panic attack the next. The range Portman shows is truly brilliant. If 2016’s “Jackie” kicked off the, ugh, Portmanassaince, then Annihilation solidifies it as “Thing That Is Definitely Occurring”. Can’t wait to see what she does next.

I truly do want to cast a critical eye over this film and point out any flaws, but for the life of me, I can’t think of any. This movie is quite simply put a triumph on every front. A scary, sharp, Lovecraftian nightmare that in one moment permafucks your brain into submission and in the next massages your eyes to near ecstasy. The acting is brilliant. The cinematography and direction is brilliant. The score is brilliant… motherfucker this is a 10/10 film.

It’s remarkable that this even got made, but goddamn it all am I glad it did. See this film as soon as you can, I simply cannot recommend it enough.

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Jake’s Drunken Review Of: Oscars 2018

Hey hey hey, regular film man Jake Cordiner here. The Oscars eh? The glitz, the glamour, the… overlong circle jerk that everyone wishes they were invited to. There were literally zero surprises last night, like none. So I’m just going to go category to category and discuss how the winners made me FEEL, MAN!

Full disclosure before we get going here, I got almost blackout drunk watching the ceremony. So I’m going from memory here, and a quick shoutout to Blinkclyro regulars Josh Adams, Andrew Barr and Ethan Woodford who kept me sane and let me tell awful, drunken jokes through the entirety of the ceremony. Let’s crack the fuck on my guys…

First things first, Kimmel. Wow, genuinely what a surprise, he crushed it. I was expecting a very cringe, safe performance from America’s Third Favourite Talk Show Host™, but he went for the jugular early. Weinstein jokes, shout-outs to the Time’s Up and #MeToo movements, while a predictable move, was classy none the less. All in all, from what I remember he did an absolutely stellar job.

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Sam Rockwell won Best Supporting Actor for his stellar performance in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. While not a surprising win, it was a deserved one. I said to my buddies last night that Sam Rockwell is one of my favourite actors that’s never been in a “BIG” picture, and hopefully, this win will get him more work as a leading man, because the fucker oozes charisma from his every pore.

So from what I can recall from the early portion of the evening/morning, Phantom Thread, a film I haven’t seen but understand as a motion picture solely about fashion, won the Oscar for costume design. I mean, if it hadn’t won the costume designers should have all been hung, drawn and quartered, or sacked if people didn’t fancy being weird, old-timey murderers.

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Dunkirk swept the technical categories, deservedly so in all honesty but I’m kind of gutted for the folks that worked behind the scenes on Baby Driver. An editing marvel is Baby Driver, and I was pulling for it to win in sound editing and editing in general. But I’ll accept Dunkirk, or Panic Attack Inducing Simulator 2017, winning.

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Best Supporting Actress went to the fucking hilarious Allison Janney for I, Tonya, a film I haven’t seen yet but looks so far up my street it’s actually moved in next door to me. I had Laurie Metcalf in my predictions for her brilliant, brilliant, brilliant performance in Ladybird but this was such a strong category this year that anyone could have won and I’d have been thrilled. Extra special wee shout out to the always incredible Octavia Spencer for her performance in The Shape of Water, which is an acting masterclass.

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Jordan Peele took home best original screenplay for Get Out. FUCK. ME. That’s all I’ve got to say really, Get Out is a vital, wonderful piece of cinema and it’s beyond brilliant to see a film that deals with the themes it does get represented at The Oscars.

ROGER FUCKING DEAKINS FINALLY WON THE CINEMATOGRAPHY OSCAR. FOURTEEN NOMINATIONS AND THIS WAS HIS FIRST WIN. GOD IS REAL AND NOTHING HURTS. Look through the man’s IMDb page, he has shot some of the most incredible films of the modern era. Blade Runner 2049, The Assassination of Jesse James…, No Country For Old Men, A Serious Man, Prisoners… the list goes on and on and on. He is a colossal talent and I am absolutely over the moon he finally won the big one. I audibly screamed when he won, and that is not hyperbole I am a passionate young man.

Best Actor went to humongous piece of human waste Gary Oldman, who for some odd reason didn’t find the time to make any racist or anti-Semitic comments in his acceptance speech, and instead decided to thank his dying mum. A nice gesture from a decidedly not nice man. Everyone else in this category deserved it more than Oldman, but The Academy loves it when actors slap some makeup on and portray fascists so here we are. It’s a damn shame Oldman is as colossal a cunt as he is because he’s undeniably talented. Oh well.

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My main man Guillermo Del Toro did it!! Best director, best man. I have always loved this big boy and his mad films and it’s a joy to see him receive this accolade from the Academy. A humble, insane genius of a man. Hopefully, the number of awards The Shape of Water has bagged him will allow him to finally get some of those 209,0000 projects he couldn’t get funding for off the ground. Start with that At The Mountains of Madness passion project GDT, my man. We’re long overdue a good Lovecraft film. A quick aside, Greta Gerwig seems like the nicest human being on this hell planet. Look up an interview with her, literally any interview, and marvel at how such a humble person has managed to succeed in Hollywood.

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Best Actress. I mean, could it have been anyone else but Frances McDormand? True enough the category was stacked (barring Meryl Streep’s annual nomination, which is getting beyond tiresome) but McDormand carried Three Billboards… on her back and almost single handedly made it as fantastic as it is. A powerhouse performance doesn’t do her justice. Also, what a fucking SPEECH, she is a fucking treasure and I won’t hear anything to the contrary. Of course, props should be given to the spellbinding Sally Hawkins (who I love dearly) for The Shape of Water and SourShoes Ronan, who owned the screen at an alarming rate in the stupendous Lady Bird. What a good year for films, eh?

Lets get this shit out of the way first and foremost. The best picture category snubbed Blade Runner 2049 hard. Now I know, The Academy doesn’t take too Kindly to sequels, but this is FUCKING DIFFERENT, OK? BLADE RUNNER 2049 IS A CINEMATIC MARVEL. AND HOW DARE THE ACADEMY NOT PUT SOME RESPECT ON IT’S GODDAMN NAME FUCK I AM HEATED. I AM VERY HEATED. Other films that, imo, were snubbed include: A Ghost Story, The Florida Project, The Big Sick, The Meyerowtiz Stories and Paddington 2. Yes, Paddington 2.

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However, The Shape of Water won. And out of all the films nominated, it was the only clear cut winner in my eyes. Sure, I’d have LOVED for it to go to Get Out or Ladybird but let’s take a step back and really think about the subject matter tackled in The Shape Of Water. It is, quite literally, a film about a mute woman falling in love with an Amazonian Fish God. The only man that could pull off an idea as batshit insane as that is Guillermo Del Toro, and pull it off he did. The Shape of Water is almost annoyingly wonderful, from the performances to the set design, the score, the makeup and costumes, everything comes together in a cacophony of pure cinematic joy. It. Is. Remarkable. And you should see it at your earliest convenience.

Before I love you and leave you, here are some scatterbrained notes from memory about the ceremony.

BOSS BABY WAS FUCKING ROBBED. WHAT THE FUCK ARE THE ACADEMY THINKING? THE WHOLE SYSTEM IS FUCKED, GO BACK TO THE DRAWING BOARD YOU DINOSAURS. YOU VAMPARIC CUNTS. YOU FUCKING SHITBRAINED OLD TWATS.

Love you all, I have been Jake Cordiner. Thanks to Liam Menzies for letting me write this stupid as fuck article and for giving me a platform for my daft opinions. Stay safe, love each other.