Month: July 2016

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    Half-Marathon training starts this week

    On the 16th October this year I will be taking part in my second half-marathon. This will be the same route in Birmingham, UK.

    The last time I did it, which was last year, I managed to strain my knee whilst training as I tried running too far, too fast, too soon.

    This time I am going to be following an 8-week training guide, building myself up slowly and hopefully beating my previous time of 2 hours 16 minutes.

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    Star Trek Beyond was pretty good

    Today me and my good lady went to see the new Star Trek film, Star Trek: Beyond. I had no expectations for it – I was neither excited or anticipating it to be bad; I just went and watched a film at the cinema. And as it turned out I enjoyed it.

    This film felt like it was intentionally going for a low-key feel. By that I don’t mean it was boring or poorly made – it just felt like they weren’t trying to make a huge blockbuster; just an enjoyable night out at the cinema. And that, it was.

    I especially loved the little twist at the start with Kirk delivering an item to a vicious-looking alien race. I wont spoil it for you but it did make me chuckle.

    So yer, the new Star Trek – pretty good. Take your loved ones for some unapologetic space-roaming fun.

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    Mustang E.P. by Hannah Grace

    This E.p. just exploded into my ears in a way that reminded me of later-era White Stripes. The opening song is hugely-energetic that doesn’t let up for a second. It’s labelled as “pop” on my music subscription but I don’t think that does this E.P. justice. It’s got a chugging, powerful groove that would strangle the life from most modern “pop”.

    “Keep your love”, the E.P’s second song starts calmer than it’s predecessor, but soon builds into a big chorus and fuzz-like-effect riffs. I am loving this E.P. already and am already thinking four songs isn’t enough for my newly-acquired thirst for this music.

    The third song, “Blue with you”, really slows thing down into a comfortable groove that gives more room for Hannah’s voice to come through the song, and a cracking voice it is too. She weaves this blues-style song with an ease of command. This is another one too that builds up to a belter of a climax and she really does give it some whelly with her voice before bringing it back down to the ground before the final song, “Hey You”.

    “Hey You” is a lovely, stripped back acoustic number that shows Hannah Grace is great-sounding with or without her huge arrangements backing her up. As much as she opened the E.P. with force, she closes it with a calm, soothing nature.

    Hannah Grace is an artist I’m going to be keeping an eye on over the coming years.

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    Who’s that knocking at the window(s)?

    So yesterday I rage-quitted Windows 10 for its constant blue-screening.

    None of my games would work under the Linux distro I installed.

    So now I have re-installed Windows 10 with the vain hope of it working fine.

    One thing I didn’t actually think about during my immature rage yesterday, was to debug the issue – first with the hardware. So apparently RAM is a major contributor towards the Blue Screen Of Death, as it is affectionately known, so I thought that would be a good place to start.

    At the time of writing I have hoovered out my pc base, removed and blew dust from the ram slots, then re-installed. I also disabled the CPU unlock in my BIOS due to a new warning on my P.C. during boot.

    So far no blue has been seen.

    I’ll keep you posted as the story develops.

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    Ladyhawke – Wild Things Video

    I can’t express how much Ladyhawke’s music has grown on me in the short month since I discovered her.

    The song “Wild Things” was immediately one of my favourites from her latest album of the same name.

    I have just seen the music video for this song and it has somehow made me love the song even more. Such a powerful song, and powerful delivery, make this one of my all time favourite songs I think.

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    The Bride by Bat For Lashes

    On June the 25th, 2008 I went with some friends of mine to watch Radiohead play in Victoria Park in London. The were touring in support of their album “In Rainbows”, and in support of them was a then little-known artist called Bat for Lashes.

    It is a huge regret of mine now that I didn’t pay more attention to her during her set. At the time I think she was still yet to release her first full-length album so in retrospect this seems to have been a really special show.

    Since that day I have re-discovered her through her first two albums, “Fur and Gold” and “Two Suns”, and then her following album “The Haunted Man”. But it is her latest offering, the recently released “The Bride”, that I am now writing about.

    Dark Hymns

    The songs on this gorgeous album feel like dark hymns – dark and beautiful. They mesmerized me from the get go and I don’t think they’ll be letting go any time soon.

    When singing, her voice reminds me of the late Sandy Denny; while in the spoken poem “Widow’s Peak”, she sparks memories of one of Nico’s first albums. These attributes of her’s plant her firmly in a position that is highly unique in today’s popular music scene.

    More than a concept album

    Indeed this is a concept album. Taken from wikipedia:

    According to The Bride’s press release, the work is a concept album that follows the story of a woman, whose fiancΓ© dies in a car crash on the way to their wedding. The album follows her as she decides to go on the honeymoon alone and her emotions as she deals with the tragedy.[5] Khan commented “the trauma and the grief from the death of Joe, the groom, … [is] … more of a metaphor and it allows me to explore the concept of love in general, which requires a death of sorts.”


    But not only is it a concept album, but the concept as a whole has been taken beyond the recorded medium. During initial tour dates in promotion of the album she performed within churches and asked her audience to come dressed in formal wear. This idea of taking a musical idea beyond simply the album has always interested me, since first hearing and seeing “The Wall” by “Pink Floyd”.

    Song by Song

    The album opens with the optimistic “I do”, which is where we meet our heroine, “The bride”. “I do” conjures up imagery of a bride singing to herself with an accompanying harp – the main instrument in the song. However we do get a subtle low string in there which gives that sense of foreboding of the tragedy that is pending.

    The next chapter in the tale is “Joe’s Dream”, which starts us down the dark sound of the album with a sinister 3-note guitar riff and a distant thundering marching-like drum sound. These songs are soundscapes that you can close your eyes and escape into.

    “In god’s house” just keeps upping the stunning arrangements that this album seems to keep presenting. Bat for Lashes always seems to create such unique soundscapes with her music and hearing this third song on the album reassured me that she still has the touch.

    In God’s house I do wait
    For my love on our wedding day
    Dewy eyes and lashes long for my love
    But I’m feeling something’s wrong

    What’s this I see?
    My baby’s hand on the wheel
    What’s this I see?

    “In God’s House” from the album “The Bride”

    The albums fifth song, “Sunday Love”, takes a slight left turn stylistically. I mentioned earlier about the Radiohead concert I first saw her supporting – well this song’s opening reminded me of something you might hear from Radiohead in their “Amnesiac” / “Kid A” days. Although by this point I am in love with this album’s tone and mythology, this change in pace and sound was a refreshing minor detour.

    The faster pacing of “Sunday Love” brings us perfectly into “Never Forgive The Angels” and “Close Encounters” and their slower paces. The latter of the two has a great display of Natasha Khan’s ability to bring an uplifting feeling out of the Bride’s mourning.

    Two thirds into the album and we come to the spoken word “Widow’s Peak” as mentioned earlier. This choice of having a spoken word section was something I also loved on Lana Del Rey’s album Honeymoon too. This song has one of my favourite pieces of imagery in the album too, the last line of the following:

    There’s a demon loose, a demon loose
    I can’t get home, I can’t get home
    For the road is a snake of mist
    And the shadow of a rebel’s fist
    His jacket on my back, his bones on the shore
    But the secret of dreams is to dream up a door
    A portrait of him, a picture of her
    A keyhole in a Douglas fir

    “Widow’s Peak” from the album “The Bride”

    By the time we get to the closing three songs of the album, our heroine is becoming optimistic about the future with the song “I Will Love Again” and the uplifting feel of the penultimate song “In Your Bed”.

    The Perfect Marriage

    Through writing about this album it has forced me to look deeper into it; into its songs and their words. I am so glad I did choose this album to write about next. “The Bride” is a grand accomplishment and does so much in its 13 songs. At a little under an hour long, this album is the perfect story to listen to when you want to experience more from music than simply the music you hear. If you want to be taken on a story across one woman’s emotional journey from dark beginnings to her destination of acceptance and optimism for the future, then this album is for you.

    “The Bride” is the perfect marriage of storytelling, emotion and great song writing.

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    The new Ghostbusters film wasn’t terrible

    When I first saw the trailer to this film I had the same thoughts as many fans of the original film – “oh great, another classic film that somebody’s gonna kill off”. But I went to see it today based on the positive reviews I’d seen and do you know what? I actually enjoyed the film.

    While I still love the original film way more than the new one, the new film did have many good points to it. One of which was a surprise role played by Jared from Silicon Valley.

    One thing I couldn’t help but notice though was the annoying inclusion of cameos from the original cast throughout as well as one certain rock personality. These cameos actually took me out of this film’s experience albeit for a moment – all just to appease die-hard fans no doubt.

    Also I couldn’t help but notice how the only woman without qualifications and scientific knowledge was the sassy stereotyped black woman. Maybe I’m looking to deep into it but It’s something that did stick out a bit.

    But all in all I did actually enjoy the film. It was a funny Saturday night movie with a few jumps and lots of funny moments throughout.

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    Fast Moving Cars by Carla dal Forno

    This single, and indeed its accompanying song, “Better Yet”, is one of the nicest musical surprises I’ve had recently. I’d never heard of Carla Dal Forno before stumbling upon the song “Fast Moving Cars”.

    The songs on here are so wonderfully bleak, especially “Better Yet”. I don’t know what it is about the atmosphere that these songs have, or what feelings they evoke, all I know is I can not wait for her debut album.

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    A Deeper Appreciation For Music

    As I’m writing this current review, of Bat For Lashes’ latest album, I’m realising that I’m gaining a deeper understanding of the songs than I would have done simply from just listening to them.

    I’m finding myself focusing and even studying the music and the lyrics and feel like I’m getting so much more out of the album.

    I have noticed it before with other albums I’ve reviewed recently, but it’s with this one – and specifically the song “In God’s House”, that I’ve have really noticed it.