Category: Music

Sundance Film Festival 2014

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Music has become an increasingly important part of the Sundance Festival and this year there are three films that promise to have soundtracks you don’t want to miss.

Death Cab For Cutie frontman Ben Gibbard is at the helm of the soundtrack for Laggies, a coming of age story about a woman stuck in permanent adolescence starring Keira Knightley and Sam Rockwell. This will be Gibbard’s second foray into film scores, following his work on the 2006 documentary Kurt Kobain: About A Son.

Then there is No No: A Dokumentary, which sees former Beastie Boy Adam Horovitz, AKA “Ad-Ock” in charge of the score. The film documents the true story of late baseball pitcher Dock Ellis, who threw a perfect game for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1970 while tripping on LSD.

Stuart Murdoch, lead singer and songwriter of Scottish band Belle and Sebastian, took a break from the group to write the music and screenplay for God Help The Girl. The film is another coming of age drama that doubles as an indie-pop musical and stars Hannah Murray, best known for her role as Cassie on Skins.

The Sundance Film Festival takes place in Utah and runs for 10 days from January, 16.

Happy Birthday John Lennon

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John Lennon is one of the most famous names to have come out of Liverpool and today the musician, poet and pacifist would have been 73.

John Lennon didn’t have an easy upbringing. After being abandoned by his father, John lived with his Aunt Mimi and struggled to have a functional relationship with his mother, Julia. The pair grew close however and it was Julia who introduced him to Rock and Roll. When John Lennon was eighteen, he was left devastated when Julia was killed by a car being driven by an off duty policeman.

John went on to pursue his love of music and his first band, The Quarrymen, eventually evolved into legendary group, The Beatles. In the 1960’s, The Beatles revolutionised the music scene and Beatlemania swept across the world.

John Lennon’s life was tragically cut short when he was shot dead on 8th December 1980, at age 40, outside the apartment he shared with Yoko Ono in New York. The killer was Mark Chapman, a Beatles fanatic who had asked John for an autograph just hours before. His death came just three weeks after the release of his album Double Fantasy, which marked the first album for Lennon since the birth of his son in 1975.

John Lennon’s name will always be synonymous with peace and political activism. In September 1969, Lennon famously returned his MBE awarded to the Beatles by Queen Elizabeth, in protest over Great Britain’s support for the Vietnam War. After their marriage, John and Yoko Ono staged a “bed-in” for peace in Amsterdam. During the couple’s second bed-in, John recorded Give Peace A Chance, a song that remains an anthem for the anti-war movement today.

This year, the anniversary of John Lennon’s birthday will be commemorated by Yoko Ono with a series of events in Iceland. There will also be a candlelit vigil at his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, which had to be cleaned over the weekend after being vandalised.

Since his death, John Lennon’s legend continues to grow stronger. He will forever be remembered for his music, his activism and of course, his round glasses.

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David Bowie’s 100 Favourite Books

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Ever wondered what David Bowie reads before bed? Wonder no more. As part of the David Bowie Is exhibition at the Art Gallery of Ontario, curator Geoffry Marsh has given us a glimpse of Bowie’s personal literary preferences and one thing is for sure, Bowie knows his books. In fact, the exhibition audio guide features an interview where the man himself admits that if he had not been a musician, he would have liked to have become a novelist.

David Bowie remains one of pop cultures influential icons and this exhibition gives fans a chance to discover something about the singer’s own inspirations. The list of 100 titles ranges from the obvious to the more obscure, from Dante’s Inferno to The Beano and I thought I would share with you five of my favourites that make it onto both his list and mine.

Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

Lolita tells the story of Humbert Humbert, a European man who moves to New England after suffering a nervous breakdown. There he falls in love with 12 year-old Dolores Haze, who he nicknames Lolita. Nabokov believed that every story should resemble a fairytale in some way, so although Humbert is a pedophile, the reader comes to feel empathy towards him. Lolita is a tragedy and explores disturbing themes; however the book is written in such beautiful prose and is scattered with such dry, witty humour, that although you cannot understand or justify Humbert’s behaviour, you sympathise with the character at times.

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A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess

The novel centres around Alex, a teenage boy who takes pleasure in harming others. After a robbery goes wrong Alex is sent to a prison where he is subject to the “Ludovico Technique” and undergoes mental torture in order to cure him of his violent tendencies. In A Clockwork Orange, Burgess challenges our understanding of morality, but the story is a violent one and at times it’s not an easy book to read. If you’ve seen the Stanley Kubrick film adaptation then you haven’t seen the whole story. When A Clockwork Orange was printed in the US, the final chapter was cut as the ending was deemed too happy and Kubrick followed this amended version.

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The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Exploring themes such as class distinction and elitism, The Great Gatsby is set against the backdrop of the Jazz Age of the 1920’s. The novel centres around Jay Gatsby, a filthy rich inhabitant of West Egg. We see Gatsby through the eyes of the narrator Nick Carraway, Gatsby’s neighbour, and although there are things about him that Nick disapproves of, he still admires Gatsby. Gatsby throws legendary parties despite not socialising with his guests, but what Gatsby really longs for is his first love Daisy Buchanan, who happens to be Nick’s cousin. Daisy is married but after a reunion with Gatsby, the events in the novel spiral out of control.

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In Cold Blood by Truman Capote

In Cold Blood was published in 1966 and tells the story of the real-life events surrounding the Clutter family. In 1959, the Clutter family were found dead, with their throats cut and gunshot wounds to the head. The culprits were young Perry Smith and Dick Hickock. Capote goes into an impressive amount of detail and we learn about the family’s history, about the murder itself and about the perpetrators. This is not a work of fiction and the author relays accounts from those directly involved, those that knew the victims, their neighbours, the police and lawyers. It took seven years for Truman Capote to write the book, which was publishes after the two men were executed. The story is compelling and unlike any book I had read before.

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On The Road by Jack Kerouac

I read this book a couple of Summers ago during a road trip in Italy just because the title seemed appropriate and I was pleasantly surprised. The novel was published in 1957 and was based on two road trips Kerouac himself had taken ten years earlier. Kerouac’s writing style is spontaneous and unconventional and focuses on themes such as drugs, alcohol and disillusion. The protagonist, Sal Paradise, is an aspiring writer who lives with his aunt but dreams of following his friends across America. On The Road helped to define the Beat Generation, a social and literary movement of the 1950’s (see first post ever about Kill Your Darlings).

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October Soundtrack

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Volcano Choir – Comrade

Volcano Choir is the side project of Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon and they have just announced their first European tour. I am a huge Bon Iver fan and although I’m somewhat sad that Justin isn’t working on any new material for the band at the moment, Volcano Choir is filling that Bon-shaped hole in the meantime.

Foxes – Youth

Foxes is best known for lending her vocals to Zedd’s Clarity, which has dominated the airwaves all summer, but Youth is the 24 year-old’s debut solo single. Even though the track has been around since 2012 (I first heard it last year when I was living in Spain and I loved it), Foxes decided to release it as a single because it was the first song she wrote.

Swim Deep – Honey (Oceaán Remix)

Birmingham boys Swim Deep’s single Honey has been remixed by Manchester based producer Oceaán. The result is this dreamy, chilled out track that I’ve been listening to before bed. Oceaán’s style is infectious. If that wasn’t enough, it’s available to download for free!

Jake Bugg – What Doesn’t Kill You

This is the first single from Jake Bugg’s new album Shangri La, set to be released on November 18th. What Doesn’t Kill You marks a change in style compared to Jake’s first album and feels more punk-influenced. Although it is quite annoying how many times Jake says “ya know” at the beginning of the video. I’m looking forward to seeing what the new album has to offer.

Drake – Hold On We’re Going Home

I’m going to be honest, I was so sick of seeing pictures of Drake’s new album cover on Instagram that I refused to listen to it. Eventually I gave in and I have to admit I love this song, it reminds me of Find Your Love. Even though Drake has the ability to both sing and rap on a track (“sounds like Drake feat. Drake”) I prefer it when he sings.

P.S I don’t care what Amanda Bynes says, Drake is beautiful.

Sex, Drugs & Electronic Dance Music

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Last night some of my friends went to the opening of Warehouse Project in Manchester. This morning, after watching the videos with envy and liking their pics on Instagram, I read the sad news that a 30 year-old man had died from a “bad batch” of drugs, thought to be ecstasy and that five other people are now in hospital.

I saw someone I follow on Twitter had re-tweeted “pills are sick! Don’t stop taking them cos one persons died. You don’t stop driving when someone dies in a car crash do ya? F*cking plebs!”. Just after, I read an article about how electronic dance music was the devil and responsible for thousands of drug-related deaths. This got me thinking about both points of view.

Drugs are always going to be available at these kinds of club nights, despite being illegal, but it’s not just at EDM events. Drugs get smuggled into all sorts of clubs and concerts around the world. In fact, drugs and music have been synonymous since the hippy generation. Think Sex, Drugs and Rock & Roll, only now Rock & Roll has been replaced with dance music. At the same time, the nonchalant attitude of some club goers towards drugs needs to change, people need to be more aware of what they’re taking.

While ecstasy may give you a high so euphoric that you never want to stop dancing, in a world where everyone is amazing and so lovely and you just want to love them, and touch them…You should take into consideration that it is a synthetic drug and you have no way of knowing what it is you’re actually taking. I’m not condoning the use of drugs, but if people are going to take them they should do it in the safest way possible.

Ecstasy was a huge part of rave culture in the 90’s and continues to be today. If you’ve ever been to an EDM event you will have definitely have been asked if you want pills, or if you’re selling some. But bear in mind that there are actually people who attend these events simply because they enjoy the music, minus the mind-altering substances.

It’s clear that the EDM scene has a long way to go to shed its negative image. But no matter what you think about drugs, these events are primarily about the music and aren’t just an excuse to get f*cked.

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Facts Behind The Photo: Bob Dylan introduces The Beatles to marijuana

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In August 1964 The Beatles played at Forest Hills stadium in New York. After the show Bob Dylan paid a visit to the band in their suite at the Delmonico Hotel.

While waiting for some “cheap wine”, Bob Dylan asked the Fab Four if they wanted to smoke a joint. Their manager, Brain Epstein, sheepishly admitted that they’d never smoked cannabis before. Dylan was surprised by this as he thought the band were regular smokers, thanks to the song I Want To Hold Your Hand. In fact, Dylan had mistaken the lyrics “I can’t hide” for “I get high”.

John Lennon took the joint from Bob Dylan and passed it to Ringo, who he called his royal taster. Not being familiar with the etiquette of passing the joint around, Ringo smoked the whole thing to himself. In the end, Dylan rolled a joint for everyone, including Epstein.

I don’t remember much what we talked about. We were smoking dope, drinking wine and generally being rock’n’rollers and having a laugh, you know, and surrealism. It was party time. – John Lennon

Paul McCartney took a somewhat more philosophical approach to being high and instructed Mal Evans to follow him round the hotel suite with a notebook, writing down all the profound things McCartney was saying. Evans kept the notebook until his death in 1976, when it was confiscated and subsequently lost by the LAPD.