Delay No More

This week saw the release of Bristol based drum and bass duo SpectraSoul’s debut LP featuring a number of previously released singles to create what is almost definitely a case for drum and bass album of the year.

I first came across SpectraSoul a few months ago with their fantastic song ‘Light in the Dark (ft. Teri Walker)’ which I loved, this song provides a perfect insight into what to expect from this record. It’s got a very chilled feel to it but with moments of hidden power that somehow almost sneak past you unnoticed creating a unique style that breathes some fresh air into a genre which can at times all sound very similar. There are a number of stand out tracks on the album and the featuring artists all provide something new that adds to its overall versatility, particularly highlighting the subtle contrasting of styles that can be found not only in the album as a whole but in each individual song as well. This is not only one of the best drum and bass albums I’ve heard in a long time but probably one of the best electronic albums full stop, give it a go!

Young Adult

Young Adult is the latest film from Juno director Jason Reitman. Starring Charlize Theron as a late-30’s fiction writer who is somewhat emotionally immature, the film sees her head back to her home town in an attempt to try and win back her high school sweetheart. The problem is that he is now happily married with a baby. Written by Diablo Cody who previously wrote Juno in her first collaboration with Reitman the film is an attempt to bring a female anti-hero type into Hollywood as she feels this type of character is un-represented.

She’s right, there is no film with a lead quite like this and that is where casting Theron comes in really handy. Her character is not likeable at all, she needs to grow up, plain and simple, and with another actor it would have been easy for audiences not to feel the slightest bit of sadness when she gets a reality check. But casting Theron means a whole air of charisma is brought to the role and while we can see the characters flaws we still root for her to improve as a person. This is, without doubt, the films strongest point. On the down side it’s one of the most predictable films I’ve seen in a long time, I literally worked the ending out within about five minutes and it was all a bit too nice, not really doing justice to its very interesting central protagonist. Also lacking is the presence of any laugh out loud jokes. This is, after all, billed as a comedy, but I only found myself chuckling a tad about four times throughout the entire film.

As a summary Cody had a good premise with the lead role and the casting and lead performance were spot on but this film really lacked a killer edge and unfortunately has to go down as a bit of a wasted opportunity to do something truly unique.

New Format

Today I’ve spent a bit of time splitting up my old posts in order to be able to index them better. So from now on if you look below you’ll see the different categories of review for you to look through, every week I’ll post an update on this page highlighting the reviews I’ve written that week with links to the specific posts. Hope you like the new style and hopefully it’ll make it much easier for you to read the reviews you want to read!

Also below are my first posts in their original form just in because I don’t want to delete them really!

Life is Good

Nas is undoubtedly one of the greatest rappers there is, as well as being one of the most consistent performers. Don’t be fooled by the albums seemingly uplifting title he’s still just a sombre as ever, that green dress on his knee on the album cover, that’s the wedding dress of his ex-wife, Kelis. Here we have an album really of personal confession in fitting with his ten previous outputs. His divorce is rapped about in depth in the almost heart-breaking, ‘Bye Baby’ which is one of the albums stand-out tracks alongside his collaboration with the late Amy Winehouse, ‘Cherry Wine’. But while this album is by no means a let down it must be said that I don’t see it as one of his best. It doesn’t have too much that seperates it from the rest unlike 2006’s Hip Hop is Dead, which saw him experiment with some new sounds but it does see him step up from his last album, Untitled. Overall, its a great album but put up against his back catalogue it falls somewhere in the middle, nothing particularly excellent, nothing particularly awful.

Ill Manors

Now from the gloss of Hollywoood to the grit of London’s council estates with Plan B’s return to rap and soundtrack to his own film, Ill Manors. Plan B found massive fame with his last album, The Defamation of Strickland Banks, as it saw him move from foul-mouthed grime artist, to suave, sophisticated artistic pop/soul singer, and with it came a big boost in profile. With Ill Manors, though, he returns to hip-hop in a bold move that surely won’t have the same commercial impact. Although the inevitable drop in sales surely proves the injustice of the music business as this album is a triumph in near enough every way. Obviously having learned from the much more polished production qualities working on Strickland Banks its influence is clear on a much nicer sounding record than his debut, Who Needs Actions When You Got Words. But that’s not to say its lyrical content is any more polished, its written to shock, but that’s not to say its not intelligent, this album is a protest album, the likes of which I haven’t seen in a long, long time. Plan B has something to say, he provides a stark contrast to the celebration of the Olympics which are happening not five minutes away from the horrible stories that the rapper spits about on this record. This album pushes B’s musical game to the next level at the same time as raising some very important questions about society. I really want to be there when David Cameron hears this one.

The Dark Knight Rises

So the time has come for the epic conclusion of the Nolan’s trilogy, after The Dark Knight was arguably the greatest superhero movie of all time the brothers really had their work cut out for them. But, as I’m sure you’ve already figured out for yourself, they certainly haven’t disappointed us, although they have perhaps not raised the bar any higher. Obviously the first problem they would have had to face when writing this film is the lack of the Joker, after stealing the show from Batman himself in the second instalment the loss of Ledger meant his psycho-terrorist is barely even mentioned in Rises and in his place comes Tom Hardy’s Bane. The opening scene of the film sets up this characters psychotic character that doesn’t seem that dissimilar to that of the Jokers but this time he’s got a bit more beef behind him. However, although the scale of devastation that he causes is much larger than his villain predecessors he never feels quite as threatening as Batman’s ultimate nemesis and from that viewpoint the film was always going to be fighting a losing battle, this isn’t helped by Bane’s voice effect which is so poorly rendered that at times I literally had no idea what he was saying. But then maybe it is unfair to compare, this film comes off much better if you look at it on its own merit. We also have here the introduction of Catwoman, which, after seeing it, I think is a bit of a master-stroke. If you’d asked me beforehand I would have been apprehensive about her addition to the cast of characters but I found myself enjoying every second of her relatively limited screen time, she brings a mixture of sexiness and humour without taking away from the dark feel that has continued throughout the trilogy and ultimately adds the breath of fresh air that maybe without it Rises would have crashed and burned in the shadow of its predecessor. The final scene brings a fitting, exciting conclusion with a major twist that I could never have seen coming. To put a long story short it’s not as good as The Dark Knight but it’s better than Batman Begins and successfully concludes what must be one of the greatest trilogies in cinema history.