1. New: James Blake - Building It Still: As part of his ongoing BBC Radio 1 Residency, electronic wunderkind James Blake has been sharing new material for the last few months, the latest of which is “Building It Still”. Not quite as direct as the sound of his most recent album Overgrown, it’s a fascinating listen, lacking any distinct vocals and perpetually swerving in direction between Gold Panda-esque snippets of melody and heavy bass throbs.

  2. News: One Direction reveal Four tracklisting: Look, we haven’t been so kind to Handsome Zayn Malik Plus Four in the past, but now that they’ve matured - meaning beards, growing their hair long, wearing hats and denim - into a genuine major pop band, and not a flash-in-the-pan teen sensation, perhaps we should give them another shake of the stick. The band unveiled the tracklisting for their upcoming fourth album Four last night:

    1. Steal My Girl
    2. Ready To Run
    3. Where Do Broken Hearts Go?
    4. 18
    5. Girl Almighty
    6. Fool’s Gold
    7. Night Changes
    8. No Control
    9. Fireproof
    10. Spaces
    11. Stockholm Syndrome
    12. Clouds
    13. Change Your Ticket (Deluxe only)
    14. Illusion (Deluxe only)
    15. Once In A Lifetime (Deluxe only)
    16. Act My Age (Deluxe only)

    It’s kinda fitting that an album with the same name as records from so many other artists (Beyonce, Block Party, The Stranglers, Foreigner, Charlotte Church, Stone Temple Pilots) that a lot of the tracks on Four share titles with songs by Whitney Houston, Talking Heads, 5 Seconds Of Summer, The Stone Roses, Muse, and doubtless countless others. Unfortunately, we don’t think we’re likely to hear 1D crooning "this is not my beautiful house/this is not my beautiful wife" when Four is released on November 17th.

  3. Song Of The Day
    A beautiful, swooning slice of throwback soul from Forth Worth-based singer-songwriter Leon Bridges

  4. A noir-tinged sci-fi thriller, Mindscape lacks originality and innovation, but makes up with a strong cast and creepy atmospherics. Set in a world where mind-detectives are a regular feature in criminal investigations and psychiatric cases, recent widower John Washington (the always dependable Mark Strong) returns to work following a stroke and is tasked with making hunger-striking weird teen Anna (American Horror Story’s Taissa Farmiga) eat, on his first day back. However things take a bad turn as John explores Anna’s memories and things don’t add up. Directed by Jorge Dorado, Mindscape was made in Spain using a mostly British cast playing Americans, which definitely creates an odd, uneasy atmosphere which permeates throughout, but despite their numerous talents (Brian Cox, Saskia Reeves and Game Of Thrones season four alum Noah Taylor and Indira Varma all give their best) and a cold, washed-out visual style can’t make up for a guessable plot.

    A buddy-cop movie coming so swiftly after the mega-successes of the Jump Street films might seem like bandwagon hopping, and to a point it probably is. But whilst Let’s Be Cops lacks the behind-the-camera genius of Lord &  Miller, it breezes by on the effortless chemistry and comedy chops of New Girl duo Damon Wayans Jr and Jake Johnson. Self described “30-as-shit” slackers Ryan (Johnson) and Justin (Wayans) wear rented police uniforms to a masquerade ball, and find themselves the objects of a lot of female attention, before eventually pushing the charade too far and ending up in the bad books of vaguely Russian gangsters. The filmmaking is average at best and there are numerous missteps in its gags (homophobia, barely sketched female character existing as sex objects or prizes, the blandness of the villains), but its two leads - and supporting players in perennial cop Rob Riggle and the never-not-funny Keegan Michael Key - commit to the bit so much that it really legitimises the whole affair in a way that the similar Ride Along couldn’t manage earlier in the year.

    Ostensibly a one-location play on screen, or a feature-length bottle episode, Coherence is one of the most gripping thrillers in recent memory. Made on a micro-budget and filmed for the most part like a mumblecore movie, it’s one of the more low-key affairs that science fiction has served up this year, but it’s no less impactful or thought provoking. Like a younger sibling of Lars Von Trier’s Melancholia (albeit far more entertaining and less wanky), Coherence is part cerebral sci-fi, part inter-person relationship drama. Tensions at the dinner party where the sole eight characters dine slowly simmer and boil over as the central puzzle reveals its pieces bit by bit, but not in any easily discernible way. Writer/director James Ward Byrkit provides an intelligent and sophisticated experience, especially for a first-timer; the hand-held, naturalistic cinematography really adds an edge to the proceedings that would be lost in a slicker, bigger budget film, whilst the mostly-improvised dialogue touches on quantum physics, astrology, and existentialism, wrapped in a blanket of paranoia and fear, expertly exploiting humanity’s shared fear of the unknown. Thankfully, Byrkit manages, amongst the complexities of his plot, to find genuine emotional beats in his characters (one of whom is played by Buffy The Vampire Slayer’s Nicholas Brendon, who provides some refreshing nervy comic relief), which something at Coherence’s forbears (Melancholia, Shane Carruth’s Primer and Upstream Colour) never quite pulled off. It’s a genuine mind-bender, a future cult-classic, and one of the must-see films this year.

    It’s a kind of selfish disappointment that the films featuring Philip Seymour Hoffman’s final roles don’t rank amongst the best of his filmography. Far from saying the late actor was phoning it in towards the end - far from it, as he’s often the highlight of these latter day entries -  but the likes of A Most Wanted Man or the Hunger Games franchise pale in comparison to Capote or Boogie Nights or Almost Famous. God’s Pocket multiplies said disappointment, in that it’s also the feature directorial debut of John Slattery (aka Mad Men’s Roger Sterling), and employs a cast who’s pedigree lulls you into expecting a higher quality of story (Hoffman, Christina Hendricks, Richard Jenkins, Eddie Marsan, John Turturro and Caleb Landry Jones all pitch in, as well as Glenn Fleshler who played Errol Childress in True Detective). A gritty tale of life in the titular fictional blue-collar Philly town in the ‘70s, God’s Pocket starts with a funeral, and doesn’t exactly get much more cheerful from then on in, rumbling from one hardship of working-class life to the next, and never quite making its mind up on if it wants to be serious drama, conspiracy mystery or pitch black comedy. But even when giving great performances, this cast of such a high calibre can’t brighten up a story so murderously dull and solemnly depressing.

    Despite lucking into a solid piece of cultural relevance with the now-infamous hacking of multiple female celebrities’ Apple devices, Sex Tape should hopefully fade from the public’s collective consciousness faster than their faith in the Cloud. For a film who’s premise revolves around the making of the beast with two backs, it’s surprisingly prudent, with little of the raunch or outrageousness its title suggests; there’s sex, drugs and swearing, but they’re of a remarkably clean, neutered variety which would barely shock your conservative grandparents. It’s Hollywood sex that is discreetly covered and blocked, drugs with little effect other than to make people ridiculously talkative, and an abundance of swearing that wouldn’t make children too young to view this blush. The plot of a race against time to reclaim a bunch of iPads accidentally loaded with lead couple Cameron Diaz and Jason Segel’s recorded humping is barely plausible (what kind of rich assholes can afford to give out multiple iPads as presents to their friends and neighbours?), but a lack of worthwhile laughs, even at a brisk 94-minute running time is what really condemns Sex Tape to a walk of shame.

  5. Presenting THE HITLIST #001

    Some of you may know Braden’s work. The guy lives and breathes music. Whether he’s in damp fields with stars of the future or in the nation’s finest venues watching them slay all before them; he’s most likely somewhere, trying to tell us via whatever medium he can find, what exactly he’s hearing and whether we need to hear it too. 

    For a long time now, he’s also done a playlist of mostly new music. It’ll occasionally feature something golden that wasn’t released in 2014, but mostly its new music central and organised in the most user friendly track listing possible. If you like one track, you’ll hopefully like the one before and after it. It’s instant discovery, 15 songs at a time, every week.

    We quite liked it; so we asked if he’d start doing it for us. So, without further ado, here’s The Hitslist 001.

    Here’s what Braden has to say about The Hitlist:

    This is a two part playlist. See it as a side A and side B. Side A combines my love for both underground and mainstream rock whilst Side B has a series of high flying electronic artists.

    It features: Moose Blood, We Were Promised Jetpacks, Nai Harvest, Midfield Workhorse, Wolf Alice, The Gaslight Anthem, Manchester Orchestra, Kindness, Caribou, New Navy, Flying Lotus, CYPHR, Sudanim, SBTRKT, Kele and my farewell to Crystal Castles.

    You can hear the playlist a variety of ways.
    1. Type - spotify:user:bradenf:playlist:10jXV2bIfJHgzeLXZC1RyG into Spotify
    2. Visit http://po.st/hitslist
    3. Follow/Subscribe to the playlist on Spotify.
    4. The embed below

    This will update at some point within 10 days of the previous so if you like anything, make sure to save it somewhere before it vanishes!
    Everything Braden’s playlisted thus far this year is also available here.

  6. No offence to Water Rats, but this is better.

    Andy Hull hasn’t strung more than about two sentences together for most of the night - which is strange for such an eloquent man - but tonight, on the biggest UK show Manchester Orchestra have ever played, he doesn’t really need to. Standing in front of a large sign that simply reads COPE, the name of their fourth record, they’re choosing to let songs from it and their three previous albums do the talking. Reworking many of their bigger songs to give an all together new feeling to the assembled crowd at Shepherd’s Bush Empire they power through a huge set of riffs and emotionally driven slower pieces alike as if they’re old classics. To many who’ve bought tickets to the event, these songs are and they reconvene and chant back everything in a religious fashion. 

    It’s these people who’ve been here for almost ten years, many of them since their debut Like A Virgin Losing A Child, bringing a few people along to their Mean Everything To Nothing tour and so on to this point in which the band are performing at their utter peak in venues a lot more of their deserving.

    Opening with the riff-centred “Pride” before taking up the tempo with “Shake It Out”, the band are obviously aware of the success Mean Everything To Nothing brought them. In fact, it’s not until their fifth track that they pay any real notice to the sign hanging above them. “Every Stone” and “The Ocean” come out in full effect before the haunting sound of “I Can Barely Breathe” fills Shepherd’s Bush. 

    Perhaps the reason that there’s not many words spoken tonight can be accredited to two things. One -  the lyrical content and anthemic nature of Hull’s songwriting; combined with the unique way those tracks are performed do much of the talking. This explains a lot, but its the words that are said that fill in the blanks. It’s all grateful thanks. There’s no explanations, no awkward pauses, just thanks. Quietly, whilst making quite the raucous along the way, Manchester Orchestra have become a band that can sell out (if on the door), one of London’s most iconic buildings.

    Opening their encore with Deer demonstrates this perfectly. “Dear everybody who has paid to see my band” sings Hull as 2000 fans roar back at him, “it’s still confusing, we’ll never understand”.

    For anyone that wasn’t already on the same page, it’s the penny drop moment; and in good time too with only two songs left. “Where Have You Been” delivers a sing along eight years in the making, before “The Only One” closes the night. COPE? They owned.

  7. News: Twin Peaks Novel Set For 2015: There’s bound to have been a hell of a lot of interesting stuff happened in Twin Peaks in the 25 years since the series ended, and it’s going to be a long wait until Season 3 airs in 2016. If only there were a way to both inform fans of the fictional town’s recent history so they’re up to date, and keep them satiated whilst the new episodes are filmed… oh, turns out there is! The show’s co-creator Mark Frost is writing a novel entitled The Secret Lives of Twin Peaks, set to be released late next year. According to the book’s publisher, Macmillan subsidiary Flatiron Books, the book “reveals what has happened to the people of that iconic fictional town since we last saw them 25 years ago” and “a deeper glimpse into the central mystery that was only touched on by the original series”. Frost said of Secret Lives “This has long been a dream project of mine that will bring a whole other aspect of the world of Twin Peaks to life, for old fans and new. I couldn’t be more thrilled”.

  8. Song Of The Day

  9. majicalcloudz:

    Hi all,

    Over the last five weeks we have had some of the best experiences we have ever had as a band.

    A lot of it still feels unreal. We played 20 shows with Lorde. We met an uncountable number of people at the shows and played for even more. We did it all with a crew of 4 people in a minivan. How did this happen?

    We were met with positive and warm receptions at all of these shows. We were never booed or heckled (although if we had been I would have understood). I believe this to be a testament to the curiosity and open-mindedness of Lorde’s audiences. Every single night, we were extremely excited to be there and I think people recognized that and returned the energy.

    To everyone who came to these shows and saw us perform, to everyone who we spoke to afterwards: thank you! Your participation made those shows happen and although you probably didn’t come with us in mind, your presence was important to us.

    As a thank you we are giving away this song, “Your Eyes”. I originally recorded it in 2011, and when Matt and I started playing shows together as Majical Cloudz this was always part of the set. It’s kind of a relic of the earliest period of our life as a band, so if you are finding out about us for the first time in the wake of our tour with Lorde, this will take you back to the beginning of our music-making days together. We made this new version just before we left on tour, so in one sense it is old and in another sense it is new.

    It has been great meeting all of you. We will be touring the USA again soon, and in the meantime we are working on a bunch of new music.


    Download a free MP3 here - majicalcloudz.com/youreyes/


    Photo Credit: Amber Davis