Sex Education: The first great TV show of 2019

I think we can all agree, the only thing more awkward than the greasy, confusing, acne-ridden years of puberty were the embarrassing and wholly uninformative sex education classes taught by your elderly Maths teacher who broke into a sweat every time he said “vulva”. “Sex” was the hushed word on everybody’s lips and with it spread increasingly ridiculous myths like a bad case of oral herpes. No one knew anything, even the people who had already “done it”. Thankfully, current media has picked up the mantle school curriculums so clumsily dropped and have taken it upon themselves to impart their wisdom of the nether regions. Netflix has already opened eyes to the grim truths of puberty with their hit show Big Mouth – a funny and ridiculous cartoon that everyone should check out, even if they think they know everything about S-E-X – and now they continue their wildly entertaining educational journey with Sex Education.

Sex Education follows Otis (Asa Butterfield of Boy in the Striped Pyjamas fame), a sexually repressed young man with a sexually liberated mother, Jean (played by the utterly fantastic Gillian Anderson of X-Files). Jean works from home as a sex therapist and despite this being a topic of distress for the irked Otis, it soon becomes apparent that her skills have rubbed off on Otis. Maeve (Emma Mackey) – a wickedly smart and blunt social outcast at high school – recognises Otis’ talent after seeing him couch a fellow student through a sexual problem. Maeve, being the cunning young entrepreneur that she is, convinces Otis to set up a high school-based sex counseling business with her for their sexually hapless student body. The plot unfolds with all the whacky fun and explicitly captivating sex tales you would imagine from this setup.

Along with a long line of ridiculous yet fully relatable sexual drama, the show also outlines a clear and captivating story arch thanks to the brilliance of the characters. It would have been so easy to simply rely on worn out high school stereotypes but thankfully Sex Education takes time to craft fully realised, complex characters. Thanks to this, it’s difficult to find a character you fully dislike as everyone has a characteristic that people can relate to or empathise with. The show strives to show that there’s more to people hidden behind the guise of Jock or Bully or Popular or Nerdy – everyone’s going through similar puberty issues and everyone’s got their backstory.

The realness portrayed on screen is helped in large part by the excellent casting. There wasn’t a weak performance in the bunch; everyone fully encapsulated their character. Amazingly, the majority of the main young cast are all fairly new to acting, with some only having two or three credits on their IMDB pages; this would not be at all recognisable based on their performances. Performances from Ncuti Gatwa (who played Otis’ enthusiastic and lovable best friend, Eric) and Emma Mackey, in particular, demonstrated a sort of tender beauty which should certainly help launch their acting careers.

The series offers more than any school curriculum could – it’s got intelligence and heart. The wide and inclusive scope of topics explored are handled with care and respect. The show takes time to analysis and explores each character’s issue and it gives the audience time to care and empathies even if they cannot personally relate. Although the show seems to tick off the list of topics that should be discussed, it never feels forced or like the audience is receiving a lecture and that’s mainly because the show as a whole feels so real and cleverly crafted.


Brains isn’t all Sex Education has, it’s bright in more ways than one. The actually visual aesthetic is brilliant in its fun, retro style. The series looks like a visual ode to American 80’s rom-coms from the likes of John Hughes, with enough eye-assaulting bright colours and clashing patterns to give a vintage fashion fan wet dreams. Despite the complete 80’s feel with aged architecture and furniture completing the retro portrait, it’s clear the series is not actually set in this period due to modern technology continually cropping up. Visually, it’s more like a little-idealized pocket of time that’s free from the constraints of reality.

This series was a delight, with far too many brilliant plot points and characters to discuss in just one review. Sex Education should be added to everyone’s Netflix list, whether you’re a sexual novice or practised expert. It’s difficult not to feel attached to the characters of Sex Education and with a second series planned, fans will surely be excited to see what’s still to cum (sorry). – Michaela Barton (@MichaelaBarton_)              

rating 9

Okay Embrace leave a lasting impression with ‘Drought (Song of California)’

Centered around twenty-year-old wunderkind David Schaefer, who cut his teeth in the L.A. indie rock circles in his teens with the band French Negative, Okay Embrace find virtue in the bedrock of a bygone era of indie rock: the guitar solo.

On the group’s debut single “Drought (Song of California),” the comparisons to Dinosaur Jr. and Yo La Tengo are obvious and tempting (as are the associations with Third Eye Blind and Semisonic), but it’s the forthrightness and immediacy of the Schaefer’s vocals/lyrics that distinguish Okay Embrace from the cluster of 21st century indie bands fighting for attention and adoration with flashy guitar tricks. Schaefer, with his grounded, commanding voice, finds empathy in the bedridden mother swapping poetry lines with her child and the fire abatement officer lamenting his own inefficacy.

The guitars are fuzzed out and sun-faded, which serve the clarity of Schaefer’s singular voice and hark back to alt rock’s heyday in the 90s. There’s a drought in California, as we all know, but through Embrace’s perspective, it’s a global concern. – sean hannah (@Shun_Handsome)

Get tuned into the radio with Vince Staples on “FM!”

Just over a year on from the critical triumph that was Big Fish Theory, Vince Staples makes a surprise but welcome return with FM!, a fun concept album/EP/mixtape/whatever the fuck it is. While some artists’ side projects between main projects can fade into insignificance, in 22 brief minutes Staples still manages to make a lasting impression.

Although this project is short, Vince packs in the creativity we have come to expect from him. FM! plays out as a radio programme, with a few skits that resemble radio transitions, with the running theme being Vince urging listeners to call in to win tickets to see Kehlani live. With how short the run-time is it is impressive that Staples manages to tie the few tracks included together with a plot making the project feel more cohesive.

As far as the actual musical content the Long-beach rapper delivers, FM! contains some of his catchiest material to date. While the overall themes and sound don’t stray too far from where Big Fish Theory left off, this is not a bad thing at all as we get more of the sharp production we have come to expect from Vince Staples. From opening track Feels Like Summer, Staples continues to demonstrate why he is streets ahead of his competition. One element that is perhaps improved since his last album is the hooks. On this track and throughout the album the choruses pack a punch and refuse to be forgotten.

Thematically, this is familiar territory for Vince, though again this is no weakness as his takes on gang violence are always sincere and compelling. Once again he finds the balance between humour and addressing important issues and it creates a perfect blend of a project that is a fun listen but also a more rewarding listen if you so desire.

As with Big Fish Theory, the highlight of FM! is without a doubt the production. From the sinister bass of Relay with the accompaniment of Vince‘s snarling delivery or the bouncing beat of FUN! that almost sounds out of place but, when paired with Vince, fits perfectly and makes for another stand out moment. With each release, Staples is becoming more and more creative and exciting and even with what could have been a throwaway project, he shows no signs of phoning it in.

For what this project is, it doesn’t leave much to be desired except more of the same from Vince Staples. In fact, the only weak spots on FM! are when Vince is sidelined: Jay Rock, Kehlani and E40 all hold their own but Earl Sweatshirt and Tyga’s interludes underwhelm. On the whole, Vince Staples reminds us of what he is capable of and if this is what he does in his spare time then his next output is one to be excited for. – ethan woodford (@human_dis4ster)

rating 8

Another One To Add To The Mark Kozelek Museum

words fae Charlie Leach (@YungBuchan)rating 5

Mark Kozelek’s contemporary sound is one that is singular and (arguably) esoteric. Kozelek’s recent output is one mainly concerned with quiet contemplation, a style that can easily be described as diaristic. In many ways, this is a style that is perfectly suited to folk music. A tradition that has spanned centuries, folk music has an earthy quality, something that could be argued to be closer to detailing the universal experiences of being human. This is a music that originated through human tongue.

When Kozelek is truly at his best, he achieves this universality in his songwriting. The 2014 album “Benji”, released under the moniker of Sun Kil Moon (originally formed as a band, but now taken as another avenue for Kozelek’s solo music), was universally loved by critics and music fans alike. This was an album that ditched poetic metaphor and imagery for harsh truth and direct thinking. This was an album concerned with death and melancholia, but was still life-affirming and at times heart-warming. Kozelek, through his frank musings and delicately stripped back folk instrumentation, formed an eleven track album that spoke of the human condition, and thus a universality that all humans have to deal with. “Benji” was a truly special album.

Though discussing “Benji” might seem like an unnecessary tangent to nourish the word count – this writer can also make self-deprecating jibes like Kozelek – the seminal album is important for discussing the songwriter. Kozelek, it is fair to say, has been busy since that 2014 release. Under Sun Kil Moon, Kozelek has released two albums (with a third supposedly arriving this year) and two collaborative efforts with Jesu, while under his own name has released five albums and two EPs. Although this writer has not ventured into the depths of his extensive library, a cursory look at critique and opinions online seems to suggest that these albums delivered more of the same of Kozelek.

The previous statement is clearly generalised, but to an outsider looking into the world of Kozelek, it arguably wouldn’t be incorrect to suggest that, though experimentation has occurred, it is experimentation on a well-trodden theme. This latest self-titled release sees Kozelek remove the hip-hop influenced production of previous Sun Kil Moon album “Common As Light And Love Are Red Valleys Of Blood” and resurrect the skeletal production that evokes the essence of “Benji”. With looping equipment in toe, Kozelek creates sonically pleasing acoustic guitar riffs, eclectic vocal harmonies and occasional sputters of percussion. Opener “This Is My Town” has an almost math-rock like quality, the guitar harmonics looped perfectly, providing a haunting yet serene backdrop to Kozelek’s ode to his adopted town San Fransisco, where he recounts anecdotes of his meetings with many of the local people, with the opening verse about a group of old ladies in San Fransisco’s Chinatown being a particular highlight.

On “Live in Chicago”, Kozelek imitates a drum machine, creates enchanting vocal harmonies and gymnastics behind his anecdotes and plays a melancholic guitar refrain. As with “Benji”, this track sees Kozelek explore mortality, through a back and forth of his past and now, interspersed with memories of touring when the Las Vegas and Orlando Nightclub mass shootings occurred. This is where Kozelek is at his best, combining the seemingly mundane with universal fears, both grounding and elevating his lyricism to heights not many can reach. For the relative newcomers and window shoppers to Kozelek, this is songwriting at its finest.

It’s a pity then, that these fantastic moments of genius are interspersed through a dense forest of murky greys and beige. Kozelek, it seems, through his truly unique songwriting, can be both universal and also extremely esoteric. His quirks and diatribes become tiresome, and at times pretentious. These songs feel drawn-out, stretched to their breaking point. On “My Love For You Is Undying”, an anecdote used to show his appreciation for human emotion, how as humans we live for our ability to care, is languid and pointlessly meandering. A remark at a staff member at a book-store over the American food-chain Panera Bread is painstakingly slow, and does not seem to add any overall meaning or real context to the anecdote. In this case, it just seems like Kozelek has to relate every idea to an anecdote, where in fact, an idea can just be that; directness is Kozelek’s calling card in most situations, but sometimes there is a longing for him to use some poetic license and call back to his previous work pre “Benji”.

As well as lyrics like the aforementioned song, the production is also stretched beyond relief. Themes and riffs that are by themselves melancholic, haunting and sometimes beautiful, are drawn out over near ten-minute songs, with no real evolution or variation on that theme. It seems here that Kozelek’s penchant for a skeletal structure has also extended to the song structures on this album. Though containing somewhat of a chorus, “Weed Whacker” maintains the same guitar refrain for eight minutes, with little to no variation or evolution. The album opener “This Is My Town”, though having a quite frankly beautiful refrain, is, like “Weed Whacker”, an over seven minute song with little to no variation on that same theme, and these examples do not even cover the odd occasions where Kozelek chooses certain sounds that are puzzling with their inclusion.

While on one song Kozelek barks and meows like his pets (he clearly has taken the diaristic tone to its most extreme) on another song, “Live In Chicago”, the backing harmonies that seemingly are repeating phonetics eventually loop round in the song to form the word diarrhoea. No pun needed for that one.

In some instances, this self-titled album reaches the dizzy heights of “Benji”. In others, this is a vastly disappointing exercise in the pretentious and frankly quite boring idiosyncrasies of Mark Kozelek. “Benji” may have seemed like an album that dabbled in universal truths and universal problems, but this self-titled effort, for the most part, seems to be an esoteric exercise in music creation. Kozelek has saturated folk music with album after album for a few years now. For fans of his work, this latest effort will be another fine addition to the Mark Kozelek Museum. For fleeting chancers, this could easily be an impossible listen in one sitting. Ironically enough, for someone that is concerned with real human emotion, it might be worth it at this point to release a Kozelek compilation album of all his best singles (said with just a tad hint of sarcasm).

The Melvins Shouldn’t Have Carried Pinkus Abortion Technician to Term

words fae sean hannah (@Shun_Handsome)rating 3

Locust Abortion Technician is the name of a seminal album by The Butthole Surfers. Jeff Pinkus plays bass on the record. These days, he plays with Montesano metal outfit The Melvins. He’s the namesake of their latest offering Pinkus Abortion Technician. This is all the background information you’ll need for the album.

Pinkus begins with a litmus test to the audience to determine just how much they’ll put up with. Stop Moving to Florida is a hybrid of Stop by AOR mainstays The James Gang and The SurfersMoving to Florida—the pairing seems ironic on paper, but both covers are played with what can be argued as sincerity and reverence. Still, the cover-by-numbers way The Melvins play each song (with little artistic license and even less edge) forces the listener to decide for him or herself if the album’s inaugural one-two punch really is a deferential rendition of two classic bands’ deeper cuts or just a lark. At any rate, neither cover surpasses its original.

The Melvins, after three decades of genre hopscotching, have landed on Blues/Southern Rock as their M.O. here on Pinkus. It’s in the bottom heavy chug of the instructional dirge Don’t Forget to Breathe and the slide guitar on the ridiculously titled Prenup Butter. The genre’s simple swagger suits the band’s flair for dumb-rock riffing and hardass guitar distortion, but given how heavily vocalist King Buzzo leans into eccentricity for the record, Pinkus Abortion Technician sounds more like a novelty album than a concerted effort by the sludge metal veterans.

Here, Buzzo delivers his melodies like Alice Cooper doing a parody of Alice Cooper: strangely accented vowels inflate the middles of his words on the aforementioned Prenup, gossamer vocals dust the grungy hoedown of Flamboyant Duck, and throaty howls turn Break Bread into a shock rock misfire. In the case of metal, showmanship is paramount (well, that and technical prowess), but when the band straddle the line between pastiche and seriousness so precariously, the whole album turns into a balance scale for the audience, forcing them to determine which song will eventually tip that scale to one side or the other. If the number of covers on the album is any indication (three out of eight songs), then maybe PAT actually is a bit of lighter fare just to tide fans over until the next big release.

Pinkus sounds more than anything else like it was culled together from songs that tested through the roof while on tour. The two Butthole Surfers interpretations no doubt pleased audiences who were already thrilled to see Pinkus splitting bass duties with Steven McDonald on stage. When played live, I Want to Hold Your Hand (yes, that I Want to Hold Your Hand) must have gotten some real mileage out of the meager guitar solo that wound up on the studio version. Unfortunately, much of the electricity of these live performances seems to have been lost during the recording process. This isn’t to say that there aren’t excitable moments on the album—the thrashing speed of Embrace the Rub eventually wins out over its outright strangeness, and the cacophony vocals on closer Graveyard show that the band haven’t lost their knack for piss and vinegar metal—but Technician ultimately proves more of a slog than anything else.

The cover art for the album was created by Mackie Osborne, Buzzo’s wife and frequent collaborator, who’s designed albums in the past for the likes of The Circle Jerks, Tool, and Social Distortion. She’s responsible for the Jerks’ iconic artwork on Group Sex and Wild in the Streets. But here on Pinkus Abortion Technician, the sinister, grinning mutt with a dismembered finger in its mouth and a vest that reads “GODDAM RIGHT I’M A SERVICE DOG” feels quaint. It’s like if Garfield creator Jim Davis were asked to design an album cover for a metal band. The artwork, unlike that dog, but sadly much like the music, feels toothless. The visceral moments are few and far between, resulting in a middling album by a legendary group.

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.


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.

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

Twin Peaks’ new compilation is a great soundtrack for reflection


by ewan blacklaw (@ewanblacklaw)

Last year, prominent Chicago rock outfit Twin Peaks announced that they would be releasing two singles every month until the end of the year. The band had previously released three full-length albums, each one straying further from the overly tried-and-tested garage rock sound that was heard in Sunken back in 2013. The decision to release music using a different method last year resulted in a total of twelve songs being released over the course of six months, titled the Sweet ’17 Singles. Whilst singles themselves, as a concept, have been around since music was first commercialised the idea of releasing a series of planned singles as opposed to releasing a full-length album is rare, especially recently.

Due to the nature of this ‘recent’ release, there are no new songs to be heard. If anything, the release of this collection is a good chance for fans to purchase the vinyl or just an easy way to group half a year’s work together though this is not to say that the singles don’t feel at all like a cohesive piece of work. Each single follows the same general tone without feeling stale for the most part, that tone being nostalgia. The 60’s was an incredibly influential time for rock music and many bands still take inspiration from artists of that era but what Twin Peaks does differently is recreate the sound, wearing their influences on their sleeves for everyone to see.

This has been the gradual direction that the band has taken since their garage rock beginnings, with each release sounding more folky and dreamy than the last. With sounds of The Rolling Stones and The Velvet Underground creeping into their last album, Down In Heaven, as well as their live shows, it is clear that Twin Peaks know how to adapt this sound and still appeal to a younger audience.

This assortment of tracks does not feel like a cop out, which was a potential outcome when the band announced that they would be working on singles rather than on a full studio album. Each of the singles has a beautiful organic sound that creates an instant sense of nostalgia, with catchy melodies and well-polished instrumentals. It is clear that the band and their sound are growing; this growth is perfectly captured with each month that went by, and in turn with each single.

It seems that Twin Peaks, for the most part have shed their garage rock shell and have blossomed into this new sound. That’s not to say that the band are creating cutting edge tracks, or making an exclusive never heard before sound – they are just creating feel-good music with melodies that will stick in your head and lyrics that will make you miss a time before your own. Some of the stand out tracks include Blue Coupe, Come For Me and Tossing Tears, not to mention Shake Your Lonely, which seems to have become a fan favourite at recent live shows.

It is clear that Twin Peaks aren’t trying to blow anyone’s mind or challenge sonic capabilities, but with this series of singles the band continue to make catchy, easy listening tunes sprinkled with some insightful and nostalgic lyrics throughout. The band have moved forward by looking back for influence, and finding it in many great folk and rock ‘n’ roll stars of the past. While their fans may have to wait a while longer for another full album, this collection of singles should be enough to keep them going, as well as being an interesting concept for a relatively underground band to create. Overall, Twin Peaks, with their Sweet ’17 Singles, have made an interesting collection of tracks that make a great soundtrack for reflection.

rating 7

It’s not the best superhero movie ever made but Black Panther is one of Marvel’s most ambitious films to date


by dominic v. cassidy (@lyre_of_apollo)

Black Panther – the latest film from Marvel Studios – is finally out, after being rescheduled to fit in with Marvel’s Nostradamus-esque phased plans. With a star-studded cast, in addition to Ryan Coogler of Fruitville Station and Creed fame being at the helm of the operation, it’s no surprise that the last inclusion in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is also one of its most ambitious.

It may stick true to the usual globetrotting shenanigans that we’ve come to expect from Marvel, everything about this film feels somewhat smaller in scale, ultimately feeling more introspective. Sure, there are colossal threats aimed at the head of the world but the way the story is told seems to take into consideration how what is happening, well, happened and the chain of destruction that could come from a bad decision.

Considering that this take isn’t the norm at this point in the series, or the action genre in general, the plot can feel slightly muddier as a result and arguably less clear though it doesn’t detract from it being interesting. There’s a repeated complaint about these superhero films and how we’re on the umpteenth one (realistically we’re only at number 18 which is admittedly still bizarre) but Black Panther makes sure that viewers question what they’re watching and taking in, resulting in a movie that ultimately deals with mortality, loyalty and how far is too far in order for the greater good.

Considering Black Panther is a superhero movie some thought should be paid to the action scenes which just drip cool. There are a few fantastic fight scenes throughout the movie, some of which are aided by CGI, but it is at the set pieces where these moments shine, the audience chiming to themselves “cool”, or “wow”, or “holy shit”. They make excellent use of space and camera angles, as well as going in a completely different direction from where an action fan might think they would go, resulting in this aspect being equally as interesting as the story itself.

The easiest thing to praise in the film is by far the acting; where maybe the tension falls short, or some of the story just loops forward, the acting is consistently worth being commended. Chadwick Boseman gives a really nice performance as the warrior king T’Challa and in the moments where he’s not panthering around, you kinda just want to be his pal. With a cast as impressive as this movie has, a lot of the actors do just run away with the scenes, one of these guilty thespians being Letitia Wright, who plays the new king’s kooky scientist/younger sister. Wright absolutely commands every scene she’s in, being equal parts sincere and heartfelt, as well as absolutely hilarious which really brightens what can be quite a dark film. Someone else who deserves praise for their performance would be Danai Gurira who plays the proud warrior part very well, acting as a large strong figure on the screen.

To conclude while Black Panther is by no means the best superhero movie of all time, it is at its core an oddly thought-provoking movie, with more depth than a regular spandex clad romp, and so full of talking points it permeates the movie. With smashing set pieces and great performances put in by the cast this movie is well worth a watch, regardless (or especially) if you want to catch Infinity War in just a few months.

rating 7

Album Review: Revelations by Shamir

By Will Sexton (@willshesleepsrating 6

Sharing a whole new side of himself, Shamir is back with his 3rd album Revelations. Right from the start, you can tell the difference in direction with the style of his music. From the bright, eclectic electro-pop to the lo-fi and raw. It’s not been an easy journey for Shamir, being dropped from his record label and unfortunately dealing with some personal demons, which is shown through this more personal and intimate addition to his discography.

Instantly from listening to the first track, Games you can tell that Shamir was in a different place when he wrote this album, drawing a likeness to more underground lo-fi artists with the small instrumentation of the electric piano. Fast lyrics and wordplay have been a big feature of his older music, and while there is no difference in the quality of lyrics, there is in speed and density. The dissonance played throughout the track, maybe for artistic style, is unsettling and not entirely enjoyable, however it’s a memorable start nonetheless.

Revelations does get better, though, and feels like the most drawn back Shamir album yet. Lyrics on the song 90’s Kids might be relatable for a lot of people at this age, where adults ask so much of you and expect full co-operation and not much reciprocation. Musically the song is more spacious than the first two tracks, maybe coming from a different part of Shamir, where the song feels more confident than it does vulnerable, being a stand-up and ‘fuck you’ to the people he is referring to.

The smooth transition between the songs Cloudy and Float is very pleasant to the point of being unnoticeable. In direct relation to the song titles, both songs make you feel like you’re ‘floating’ with airy instrumentation and their very drawn-back style. The lyrics in Cloudy approach the concept of stress and stress killing you. Also touching upon loving everyone as equals: “Because when you die you end up having all the same problems, which is incredibly true. Float is both a confident punch and a vulnerable cry for help. Shamir doesn’t want to have to lose what he wants because of other people and doesn’t want to be “left behind” because of someone else’s beliefs. The “finish line” might be a metaphor for equality and let’s hope we aren’t far off of it.

Minimalism within Shamir’s music has always been quite a strong point, creating something catching that you can really enjoy but with half the instruments than your regular album. That’s not lost here at all, but it’s somehow a different type of minimalism. The messages in this album don’t need a massive layer of synth this time around and they don’t need fast lyrics. The songs in this album really embrace more of Shamir’s influences which are deep-rooted in Country and Rock.

The album as a whole doesn’t feel overly cohesive, regardless of the individual songs. Maybe in mirror image to how Shamir feels, being broken and thrown about by record companies and being centered upon by media for him being queer and black, neither of which should affect the standard or reception of music. However, the social pressure of such issues are reflected in this album and it’s nice to hear that, through the song Blooming he is “too strong to just lay down and die.” The album cover feels like it’s a message in itself. The closed eyes and mouth represent Shamir’s feeling he is stuck inside a stereotype and can’t be a human being. Straight Boy perfectly shows this, where Shamir shares vague experiences of having insecurities of other people taken out on him which is completely unfair.

Revelations starts oddly and kind of just… finishes. The messages shared and troubles expressed will resonate with listeners, especially big fans of Shamir, and it’s nice he is enjoying taking on the producer role as well as the singing and writing, but the album doesn’t feel entirely complete. People who were fans of Shamir’s debut Rachet will be slightly shocked with the change of pace and instrumentation, but it’s still an interesting listen. Revelations feels like a sudden outburst of feeling rather than a long thought, which is effective but not fully gripping.


Album Review: Slotface – Try Not To Freak Out

By Liam Menzies (@blnkclyr)rating 8

Trying to catch lightning in a bottle seems to be an anomaly for a lot of up and coming groups: die the band who came out with an amazing EP and didn’t follow it up with anything or live long enough to see yourself become the act that waited half a decade to drop something lukewarm.

Norwegian indie rock outfit Slotface, stylised as Sløtface, are faced with this challenge upon the release of Try Not To Freak Out, an aptly titled record that is no doubt just as directed at themselves as it is their listeners. With a high octane 2016 that saw the band heralded in as one of DIY’s Class of 2017 as well as changing their name from SLUTFACE, R.I.P, the four-piece never seem to have been tempted to tap the brakes since their 2012 formation and thankfully, this same mantra is applied on their first full length album.

Right off the bat, the band seem to have a taste for giving the conventional indie rock tunes a new spin: Magazine kicks off the proceedings and on the surface, it’s a solid song revolving around a break-up that is cataclysmic to put it lightly. However, pull back the lyrical curtains and there’s the trademark feminism fuelled attitude of Slotface staring back at you, this track in particular taking digs at the media and the unrealistic representations of body image. It helps that Magazine radiates a garage punk meets pop vibe that results in more of a protest than a mopey musing.

Nancy Drew follows up this activist sentiment, using the titular female detective as an anarchist icon along with some snarly lines about her being a nightmare and threatening to take down your boy clubs down in one fell swoop. Haley Shea’s delivery on here, in addition to the grittier production, culminates in the proof of Slotface being a band with something to say, one that possesses the ability to make it sound amazing in the process.

The band are have some serious plans but that doesn’t mean they’re against just hitting out with a simple, fun anthem now and again. Pitted is the epitome of this, Shea throwing out an adolescent narrative about partying, drinking and the consequences, as well as the fun, it brings with it. Six tracks later and Slotface go further back into their childhood on Slumber, a host of references to 70’s and 80’s flicks used to describe a pleasant sleepover though with the foresight of adulthood bringing a melancholic vibe to it. 

There are a whole host of indie bands around at the moment that try their hand at social commentary and while it should be encouraged, a lot seem to be repeating the same narratives and resulting in further adding to the blandness of the genre. Thankfully the rebellious tidings of Slotface, balanced by some care-free but equally fine tuned anthems, leaves their debut feeling like something important: it’s a cliche to constantly reference in reviews of our current political climate but Try Not To Freak Out shows that you can care about shit while also having a fucking good time in the process.