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19 November 2014

New Music // Champs – ‘Desire’

Isle of Wight brothers Michael and David Champion together form Champs. With a London show at The Distillery coming on December 2nd they have a new song to enjoy in the form of Desire.

With a piano lead, dual vocal intro that catches the ear pleasingly, the song kicks in with with some clean electro beats. ‘Desire’ has a chorus that rewards listening beyond the deceptive intro chords and is sure to become a favourite with greater support. 

18 November 2014

New Music // The Very Best – ‘Hear Me’

The Very Best, (Malawian singer Esau Mwammaya and Swedish producer Johan Hugo), have released a teaser for third album, as yet untitled and due in Spring 2015, in the form of the haunting track Hear Me.

The video, directed, filmed and edited by the Hugo himself, is an eye catching time lapse montage of nature and people in Malawi and is a beautiful as the song itself.  Make sure to watch it! 

#SRCZ Album Flashback #31 // Alanis Morissette – Jagged Little Pill

Jagged Little Pill, despite the assumptions you may make, was not the debut album of Alanis Morissette. In many ways though, it was a huge step forward from her previous work. In fact, it’s arguably her best album…

Its 1995, the music industry is busy, as ever, looking about for the next big thing. Whatever that was intended to be, Jagged Little Pill was perhaps not the record many would have imagined would be said big thing. Together with Glen Ballard, the ever active Alanis Morissette created a landmark recording when they produced Jagged Little Pill.

Twenty years after its release, the record has barely aged. The often raw emotions on very vivid audio display are still as strong, the lyrics still as visual and biting as they were intended to be. The artist may have moved on, producing a string of successful but arguably not as satisfying records, but this was the music that caught the ears of many and deservedly so.

There’s always a risk in so-called ‘confessional’ rock of revealing way too much but on Jagged Little Pill, it worked perfectly. The right balance of statement and emotion ensured it never got too cloying or self-obsessed and the fact that may were put off by the frankness of some lyrics only serves to show what went right. The songs are never outwardly personal, always open for the listener to take their own meaning from and that is perhaps one key point in it’s success.

On tracks such as opener All I Really Want and the often parodied Ironic there is, underneath the seriousness, a hidden sense of fun as evidenced in the arrangement of the songs. The moment in All I Really Want where the music stops for a beat, with the lyric, ‘Here can you handle this...’ is one moment that still works on later listening, a half-joking challenge for the person the song addresses.

As the album progresses we get possibly the most famous line from the album, taken from the powerful and scarily calm stream of consciousness flow of You Oughtta Know. That line is, of course ‘…and are you thinking of me when you fuck her?’ and although twenty years ago that was still mildly shocking to some ears it’s grown into itself to sound perfectly reasonable in an odd kind of way now. As break up songs go, though, it’s still up there with the best.

There is though, a moment on the album that transcends all the darker themes and topics of the record and it comes a minute or so after Wake Up, the closing track. That moment is the a capella hidden track Your House, detailing a sneaky visit to a (ex?) lover’s house in their absence and it’s a touching and smile inducing song that you’ll know if you’ve navigated the tricky world of hunting hidden tracks on albums.

A later acoustic release of the album, with some subtle updates, was perhaps somewhat unnecessary in retrospect. Listening to Jagged Little Pill now there are some minor traces of the time it was created in but its timeless themes of break up, religion and frustration with life are still perfectly valid.


17 November 2014

Music Review // David Bowie – Nothing Has Changed

Another Bowie compilation?! Undoubtedly, that was perhaps the phrase on the tongues of many when Nothing Has Changed was announced earlier this year. But after listening to Nothing Has Changed we can certainly say there is a certain magic here.

Compiled by the elusive man himself, it is the first career wide retrospective of this work and with such a varied catalogue to choose from that is some doing. The bulk is taken from the singles extracted from his many studio albums and that, despite the repetition of tracks, is no bad thing. If we’d not already had numerous compilations and decade themed collections already, this would be a very essential release but with just one new track present it more of a novelty collection to remind you just how much has changed despite the album’s self-effacing title.

But, we’re being obtuse. Taken on its own merits the album is a welcome addition to any music fan’s collection. All the key songs are present, from the still ear pleasing Space Oddity to the ever gleefully camp Starman, The Jean Genie to Golden Years to the occasionally divisive Let’s Dance period to the later material that is often criminally underrated. (Let’s forget about the daring but ultimately jarring Dancing In The Street, shall we…)

One of our personal favourites, Jump They Say is well placed; with the always listenable I’m Afraid of American’s making an appearance too. (And that video is still brilliant!) Everybody Says ‘Hi’ surprises in its durability, whilst New Killer Star is still a later period classic. New track Sue (Or In A Season of Crime) is last in the collection and perhaps the biggest curveball of the set, mixing dark Jazz tinges, the stabs of brass adding a dramatic layer to the song. It’s by far the longest song of the album, coming in just over 7 minutes and after the hits it’s a genius closer, tinged in the colours of an old monochrome movie.

In summation, then, what is the point of Nothing Has Changed? Some may call it another cash-in compilation, but in many respects this collection much less disjointed than previous efforts to collect many of these songs.  It certainly proves that Bowie is still in rude musical health, with doubtlessly a follow up to The Next Day in the works as we speak, perhaps recorded in some secret den of creativity in his New York home.

You can buy it or you can think about buying it, but if you don’t own a Bowie collection yet then this is the one you’ll want to get. There’s also no mention of Laughing Gnomes…


16 November 2014

Call Out // #SRCZ Literature – Short Story Submissions Open!

We’re always on the lookout for new things at #SRCZ and here’s one thing we’ve noticed: there are lots of people out there writing short stories! We’ve published a few stories before but we’re keen to hear from more writers from all genres. Ideally, we’re looking to introduce the world to new work from exciting writers, but (as you should know by now) we’re open minded! So please submit whatever your style, genre or level. We’re looking forward to hearing from you lovely people! 

15 November 2014

New Music // Argonaut- TV

When Argonaut released their self-titled album in late 2012 we listened often. So much so  that we looked forward to their new material. No sooner than the end of 2014 comes upon us and they have a new single on the way in the form of the catchy grunge tinged anthem of TV.

“You Don’t Need A TV / All you need is me…” goes the chorus and it’s a catchy (and true) statement indeed. The song is a great reminder of why we loved their art influenced first album and bodes well for the next release.  In fact, the band is urging us to turn off our TV’s for a No-TV Day on the day of the singles release on November 24th. “Make it a day to sing, dance, paint, read, talk and listen to music…” says the bands Nathan Lyons.

14 November 2014

TV Catch Up // The Fall: Series 2, Episode 1 (BBC 2, 13/11/14)

Spoilers Ahead!

Starring: Gillian Anderson, Jamie Dornan

Created, Written and Directed by Alan Cubitt

“It won’t be over until I stop you…” (Stella Gibson)

When The Fall concluded so suddenly, dangling on a very big thread at the end of its excellent first series the question over its return had already been answered. With only five episodes, it was clear that creator and writer Alan Cubitt was playing a long game with this series.

Watching the first episode of this second series, the game is obviously on as the plot is picked up immediately, with Gillian Anderson’s Stella Gibson interviewing Specter’s last (and failed) victim in hospital in an effective performance that keeps the quiet tension alive as if we’ve just finished watching the last series a week ago.

Meanwhile, the ever more creepy (but curiously easy to empathise with on occasion) Paul Specter is holed up in a white cottage in the middle of nowhere looking as mildly stressed as ever. More importantly, he’s by himself, his wife and kids having returned home in the interim. 
Soon, though, he’s back in Belfast, spurred on by two factors. Delivering his daughters Dollies back home secretly and to find his next victim, conveniently one of the biggest pieces of the puzzle in putting a case together against him. Will she make that appointment with Stella the next day? Somehow we’re not so sure…

This first episode is, by necessity perhaps, somewhat less action packed than you might expect. We see development in the story but it is in steps rather than hurdles and it is built on set pieces rather than narrative action. No bad thing, when they are so utterly brilliant. One key moment is during Specter’s journey back to Belfast, when he jokingly flirts with a woman sat opposite him about whether his photo fit on the front of a newspaper looks enough like him.

It’s played so well it’s almost darkly humorous despite the clear sinister implications of the conversation. Even when he does get back to deliver the aforementioned Dollies to his daughter, his letter sent by ‘Pixie Post’ is sweet in the most sinister way. Should we be empathising with a killer? It’s the age old question in drama, especially when in one brief scene we see him tie up one of the Dollies like one of his victims.

But whilst we get some emotional coverage, however twisted, from Specter we get little from the ever icy and inscrutable Stella Gibson. In interviews, Anderson has indicated that this is deliberate and finishing the episode it’s a good thing.  Bar an admission that she used the now dead Jimmy Olson (shot in the first series, you may remember) for sex, not anticipating being in Belfast for very long.

Not a whole lot happens, for sure, but this return from The Fall is still outstanding viewing. Crafted sensitively and often unflinchingly by Alan Cubitt, it’s no wonder so many people were anticipating its return. Roll on next week!

(S. Gahan) 

12 November 2014

#SRCZ MixTape // November 2014 (Open Submission)

Welcome to the second MixTape since we relaunched the feature a month or two ago. #SRCZ loves to hear new music, and compiling this edition was fun indeed, with some excellent tunes coming our way. We sailed through a sea of music and finally reached a rather nice place for this excellent collection of songs. Enjoy!

If you didn’t get through this time, don’t worry. You can submit to the December MixTape immediately by clicking here! Make sure to check out the page links in the playlist for more from the bands included in the compilation.