Seen and Heard…

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1. Last Saturday, I saw the brilliant Duke Special live. There’s nobody quite like him; he combines pop, folk, cabaret, theatre and storytelling along with fantastic musicianship and a beautiful voice to make a great performance every time I see him play. And he has the best Belfast accent I’ve ever heard…swoon. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=queSqeVcLY4)

2. The week before last, I saw My Vitriol play their first gig in five years at Koko, London. While I was admittedly skeptical about the fact they are still touring an album 13 years old, they still sounded great and this week I can’t get enough of Finelines. It’s a true classic album that isn’t showing it’s age at all.

3. My band of the week this week, MS MR.

4. This week, I went to see the ridiculous Spanish comedy, I’m So Excited. It made me laugh out loud, a lot and I reviewed it here.

5. On Monday night, I went along to Longitude, a monthly night showcasing some of the acts that will be performing at this year’s Latitude festival. This month’s featured Luke Wright, an Essex lad turned poet with poetry covering subjects such as broad as the Essex Lion to Nigel Farage, Lucy Beaumont, a breaking female comedian with a host of witty one-liners, Pappy’s, one of the best sketch groups out there who had the whole audience in fits of laughter and Nick Mulvey, whose dreamy acoustic sounds provided a perfect close for the evening and made me dream of lying in a field. Hurry up festival season!
A busy week for me, what have you been watching and listening to this week?

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Film Review: I’m So Excited

It’s difficult to sum up I’m So Excited neatly. On the one hand, I found it to be a ridiculous and  highly entertaining, laugh out loud farce that could easily be described as nothing short of a camp as you like Carry-On film in Spanish. It really is as silly as the trailer looks. And yet, at the same time the film works because there’s more to it- in amongst the jokes and the camp, not only is there some pretty genuine social commentary about the ongoing financial problems in Spain, there’s also a storyline that I cared about. By the end of the film, I really cared about the characters and had become invested in their goings-on (as ridiculous as they were.) For me, that was what raised this film from ‘Carry-On Flying’ to the level of a laugh-out loud comedy that still manages to pack a punch of social commentary, not dissimilar in tone or style to the revered scripts written by playwrights such as Wilde or Sheridan in their time.

The whole film is based in the business class cabin of a flight on a fictional Spanish airline and focuses on the seven characters seated within. It soon materialises that due to a problem with the landing gear, there’s a good chance the flight may never make it to the ground safely however, before an emergency landing can be attempted, the plane needs to circle and wait for clearance to land at an airport safely, which takes several hours. During this time, the cabin crew decide to sedate the cattle class passengers and stewardesses and get themselves and the passengers in first class (and the pilots) blind on a cocktail of drink, drugs and promiscuity. Ridiculous, yes, but it goes without saying that this cocktail is a recipe for a highly amusing watch.

Nothing about this film really claims to be too serious, from the cartoon coloured opening credits, the token and almost entirely random appearance of Antonio Banderas and Penelope Cruz down to the vats of tequila making their way into the flight deck. But, there’s a fine line when dealing with such a camp, colourful extravaganza- it could easily become tiresome and empty. I like silly, sometimes but I can find it doesn’t take long for silly without substance to grate on my nerves. Somehow, for me, Pedro Almodóvar managed to completely escape this. Personally, I think there were two reasons; the carefully constructed story arc which meant the film didn’t linger on any of it’s fripperies for too long (although there was plenty of farce, it wasn’t long before something happened to keep the film moving forward) and the film’s warmth. Social commentary was ever present but mild, the stewards were camp and sexually promiscuous but kind and despite their many differences, the characters had a tendency towards open-mindedness and an attempt to understand each other and the people they get in contact with on the ground.

Ultimately, this is a 21st century farcical comedy and this means that Almodóvar can get away with more outrageousness and more scenes designed to make the audience laugh through the shock factor than many writers before have been able to be but his intentions seem to remain the same as the classics; to make the audience laugh big belly laughs and to think about the people and world they’re living in  a little bit while they’re at it. And for me, quite simply, it worked.

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Band of the Week #1: Half Moon Run

One of life’s pleasures for me is seeking out new music- I can quite happily lose hours to Soundcloud and Spotify, exploring new and old releases I haven’t heard before.  It’s part of the modern world to curate our own soundtracks now and although some people criticise the ‘throw-away’ attitude many people now have to music, I think it’s fantastic that we are freer than ever to dig out things that suit our tastes that might not necessarily be number one in the charts or bands who haven’t yet been NME’s flavour of the month.

So, I’ve decided to try and share a new discovery each week with you- I can’t guarantee it will be an obscure choice but I assure you that my picks will always be something I’ve been enjoying and would like to share.

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Half Moon Run

Canadian band Half Moon Run are about to have their time. Fact. Their latest single, ‘Full Circle’ has already been picked up for plenty of airtime on the radio station of music affecionados,  BBC 6 Music . The summery feel to their music should help push them into the limelight in the UK (and a tour with the Mumfords won’t do them any harm in terms of publicity.)

Although they only really seem to have released ‘Full Circle’ in the U.K. sofar, they’ve recently signed to Glassnote for a full global release for their debut album DARK EYES in 2013 but if you’re keen and don’t want to wait, you can listen to it in full online here: http://halfmoonrun.bandcamp.com/  I’ve really been enjoying Full Circle but ‘Give Up’ is also a standout track for me- a dreamy (and undeniably Radiohead-esque) track.

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