The Times, They Are A-Changin’

No, it’s not because I’m in a particularly Bob Dylan kind of mood today (sadly, I don’t think I have enough of him in my music collection when I really ought to. I should sort that out.). It’s more to do with the changes, or more accurately “additions”, I’m making to this page right now and some more to happen soon.

Firstly (and FINALLY) there are photos up. I know, its taken me long enough, but they’re finally up there now! No, not next to this, at the top of the page. Yes, there. In the Pages section. Do you know how a website works?! Anyway, they’re uploaded now, with many thanks to the people that helped make it all possible: Lauren Elliot, the actual photographer that did them, and Leahanna Henson for telling me (via MSN, I might add) how to change the file type into one that I can upload onto the Web-based Media Library just using Paint (Thanks Leah, I know I must sound dense, but I promise you I’m not!). I would like to mention that some pixels were lost in the transfer, but not a huge amount so they’re not awful quality or anything. Just, if you do happen to notice some missing pixels, don’t blame anyone but me and my rubbish ability at transferring pictures!

Secondly, I’m wanting to change the header of this website so that the first thing people see when they come on here ISN’T a scary-ass picture of me dressed as The Joker. No matter how cool it was. That will be moved to the About Me page, where I’m sure it will feel a lot more at home and make many new friends.

Also, if you haven’t already seen it, there is an actual professional CV up on that page now as well, so anyone reading this that has any professional interest in what I do, please feel free to drop me a line.

Other things that will hopefully be going up soon include: Vocal Demos (if and when we get some recorded, complete with backing track or instrumental accompaniment if my Tutor feels like joining in!), I’ve been thinking about putting a couple of tattoo designs I did for a couple of friends up here as well, as always there will be the Listed Magazine film previews soon and any other interviews I happen to be able to do for them going up.

Finally, it’s my Birthday soon. Yes, scary I know, but I’ll be 22 soon which pretty much means I’ll have to start acting like an Adult, even if its just to fool people for a bit. But the main point of that is that there should be some party times on the horizon, and naturally any decent CD’s I happen to get in the process will get the full reviewing treatment on here as well!

Basically, I’m just going to keep fuelling this page with posts and updates and the like, but for now I hope that the pictures will be enough to tide you over! Enjoy!

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Unsigned Band Of The Month – Today’s Eden

Ok, so it’s a blatant steal from Radio 1, and it’s unlikely to become a regular thing, but here is a review of a friends unsigned band that I went to check out called Today’s Eden:

Today’s Eden isn’t a name a lot of people will know. They’re not a band that appears regularly in magazines, nor are they touring the USA or selling out stadiums. What they are doing, however, is making a lot of music and having fun doing it.

Once it’s time for them to start, and after a falsely timed start, they are off to a slow, building, dramatic intro to their set. Once the music starts rolling, their bouncy vocals and smooth lyrics meld seamlessly into the choruses. Catchy, simple songs are what Today’s Eden are all about, but even these simple songs still have complex, building breakdowns that lead into final crescendos.

Performing live, they put across exactly what their songs are about. Singer Abi’s sweet, girlish vocals are counteracted by bassist Wil’s hammering shouts on the more aggressive songs, whilst guitarist Mark stands to the side and creates the strange, otherworldly sounds that are the turning point of the songs.

Being a four piece rock band with, quite frankly, a rather distracting front woman, Today’s Eden run the obvious risk of the Paramore comparisons. Lucky for them, then, that Paramore are just one of their many influences, but this is only partly reflected in their sound. There are chunks of early day Paramore material here and there, but it is clearly not the main basis for their sound, especially not live. There are clear slices of certain influences in part – some of 30 Seconds to Mars’ more dramatic, grandiose moments contrast to some of The Used punchy riffs and vocals. It’s their 80’s rock and roll-inspired grooves and the emotive vocals that give Today’s Eden their main unique edge, though. Picture Alice in Chains being fronted by Alanis Morissette, then you’re close to Today’s Eden‘s live sound. Abi, after relaxing into her position on-stage during the set, flows about along with the music. In between songs, Wil interacts with the audience the most, enthusing them to get their copy of the CD and to stick around for the other bands. The usual kind of banter, but it works.

Outside after the show, the atmosphere is relaxed – Abi’s lighting a cigarette, drummer Lushy is talking with people, Mark has taken his Plus One home and Wil is on Facebook.

What would you say are your main influences?

Abi: The good thing about that is that we’re all completely different in our tastes. I’m into everything from Paramore, Flyleaf to 80’s rock.

Wil: Lushy is very much Drum and Bass, Mark likes all sorts, and I’m a lot more early 2000’s punk.

How do you go about promoting yourselves on a low budget?

Abi: MySpace and Facebook! That’s it. And I text people about our shows, but we get a lot of publicity from MySpace.

How did you get together?

Wil: I formed a covers band last year, which was pretty much all of us, and two other people

Abi: I joined a little later, and then it all got a bit much. Our guitarist started his own band and focused on that, and then we met Mark through him.

Where do you intend to go from here in the short term?

Wil: Playing gigs anywhere we can, really. But it’s mostly about having fun playing them for us.

Abi: We’re doing some recording in the summer, as well as making a music video – but that’s a big secret, so SHH!

Who would you most like to play alongside/support?

Wil: Can I give an answer for everyone? Abi would be Paramore, obviously; Mark would be Rage Against The Machine or Hell Is For Heroes, I would support Thin Lizzy (even though they’re dead), and Lushy?

Lushy: (Thinks hard) I’d have to say 30 Seconds to Mars.

Lastly, how will you know if you make it big?

Wil: Two words – Warped Tour!

Abi: When we play a big show and everyone is singing the songs back to us. Or when I get my own mic stand like Jonathan Davies from KoRn!

Lushy: When I don’t have to set up my own bloody drums!

Wil: Also, it might sound really cliché, but we kind of already have. This, for us, is pretty sweet as it is.

And it’s with that last comment that Today’s Eden are summed up – a young band with unusual influences, making music they like and have fun performing wherever and whenever they can, making the most of each show. And at the end of that day, that’s what being part of a band is all about, surely.

To hear more from Today’s Eden, check out their MySpace at www.myspace.com/todayseden  or at www.todayseden.co.uk !

Watchmen – Part Two (Contains Spoilers!)

After going and seeing Watchmen, I think I can officially say that I was not disappointed! It would have been very, very easy for Zack Snyder and the producers behind this film to royally mess this up, and I was worried they’d take the foundations of the graphic novel and make a typical superhero movie out of it. As it turns out, exactly the opposite was true! So here’s my run down of what I thought, step by step:

At first I wasn’t sure about the opening credits, showing snapshots of history and the gradual effects that masked heroes have on society, but as Watchmen progresses you realise that this has been dealt with swiftly in order to make room for the integral parts of the graphic novel to get the screen-time they need. Chronologically, Watchmen actually plays out a lot like the graphic novel does, all the events happening in the order in which they occur on the page. This has been captured so well that even certain shots and a lot of the dialogue has been lifted straight off the page, as if the pages themselves were used as storyboards for the shooting script.

The look of the characters has been captured perfectly as well (with the possible exception of Nite Owl‘s “power suit”), which makes for an even better viewing experience. Dr. Manhattan appears in such graphics that make him seem even more other worldly than in the graphic novel, and Rorschach‘s constantly changing face is such an amazing visual that its a borderline distraction just to watch it! At first, I was questionable about Jackie Earle Haley’s role as Rorschach, as I thought he wouldn’t have the right look. However, at the point where the authorities unmask him and you see his real face, I realised I was totally wrong and he appears exactly as he does in the graphic novel.

I already knew that the ending to Watchmen wasn’t going to be the same as the book, but I’d heard that it had been majorly changed to a more “Hollywood” ending. As it happens, the ending to Watchmen is not drastically different from the book but has obviously been changed slightly so that it connects the storyline more. As it now stands, a device is teleported to the heart of New York that replicates Dr. Manhattan‘s energy, but still destroys the city and the people. This device is what we see Dr. Manhattan working on at the beginning, which means that all the parts about the missing doctors and artists on the island has been totally cut. This actually works very well in the sense that anything unnecessary has been cut whilst still keeping the storyline very much the same, including the all-too-vital ending. The only drastic thing that is missing is the accompanying story of The Tales of the Black Freighter, which is soon to be released on a separate DVD for those that want the full picture.

The whole world of Watchmen is amplified when you’re seeing it played out, which means the violence is all the more real than in the graphic novel. The atmosphere, the intricate story and the amazing feeling of uncertainty right at the end is all part of what makes this film what it is. Although Rorschach is a favourite of the characters, in the film he is brilliantly played as psychopathic as they come, which only increases the dark, brooding feeling Watchmen carries with it.

Overall, I truly believe that this is as faithful an adaptation as anyone can hope for from the original graphic novel -the visuals are amazing, the storyline (for the most part) is the same, as is the dialogue and the shots, and the action makes the film even more gripping. And the length of the film is understandable – it’s a complex storyline, and as much of the original Watchmen has been included as possible. I was completely blown away pretty much from start to finish, and whilst I can perhaps see what people mean about it not transferring well to the screen from the graphic novel, I personally thought that a brilliant job was done. With that in mind, Watchmen clearly deserves a humongous 9/10 – So who will be watching the Watchmen?

Watchmen – Part One (Desolation Row)

I’m about 4 hours away from seeing Watchmen and I can barely contain my excitement! I’m about to flick through my copy of the graphic novel real quick before I go and watch it so that I am well reminded in exactly what goes on at each point, so I will be able to make informed comparisons afterwards. But, before I did that, I wanted to mention something very quickly, mostly so that I don’t go off on a tangent about it in my review of the film, because its a pretty big tangent!

It’s mostly about My Chemical Romance‘s cover of the Bob Dylan song Desolation Row that’s used in the film. A lot of people have been turned off from this, and I can’t really understand why. I’d like to make it clear to start with, I’m not one of these massive fans of the band. I only own one of their albums (Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge, the album that made them famous), and I appreciate what they as a band offer, but I definitely don’t think they’re the greatest band to ever exist. But, on the same front, I can’t understand why people are bitching so much about them making a song for this film. Well, if I can borrow your ears for a short while, I believe I can clear the whole thing up for you.

Whilst it’s true that My Chemical Romance are very much associated with a youth culture, that does not make them a “teen” band. They’re currently judged by what people have heard about them, and are automatically written of as being “emo”. In defense of the band, their earlier work was very much more modern punk oriented. Which brings me to the main reason that they were chosen to do the song.

Anyone that has read the original graphic novel will know its set in an alternate version of 1985, and as many people will know, Punk was a very strong movement at the time and as such is included in the graphic novel to the extent of being part of the narrative. Now, whilst the original Desolation Row is a great song (the lyrics also being part of the narrative of the graphic novel) and Bob Dylan is a great artist, it was also an 11 minute long song that had a “punk” edge in the lyrics and less so in the music. And lets face it, who wants an 11 minute long song for their film credits when the film itself is a;ready 2 3/4 hours long! As such, My Chemical Romance‘s cover actually fits very nicely into the whole subject matter of the film.

Now, I hear you ask, “Why My Chemical Romance? Why not a different punk band?”. Well, what many people may not know is that the singer Gerard Way is also famous for writing the series of graphic novels The Umbrella Academy, the first series of which won the 2008 Eisner Award for Best Finite/Limited Series. As such, the producers of the film decided to have a band that understood and had prior knowledge of the graphic novel, and could do it justice with their sound. As such, My Chemical Romance were chosen, not for their youth appeal but for their music and knowledge of the film.

Anyway, you can see now why I didn’t want to include this in my run down of the film! So I’ll let you get back to what you were doing, and you’ll probably hear from me again very soon!

My Name Is Bruce

Ok, so it isn’t really Bruce, but after last night I sort of wish that it was! I was able to get to a one-off cinema screening of the new film My Name Is Bruce last night. The best part is that is has Bruce Campbell playing the role of – wait for it – BRUCE CAMPBELL!

The basic synopsis of the film is that a small town in the middle of nowhere (Population 339, and falling!) is set upon by the curse of an Ancient Chinese Protector of the Dead (and Bean Curd) called Guan Di, who has started killing the folk of Gold Lick and won’t stop until they’re all dead. So one young horror film fan takes it upon himself to call in the one man who can save them – Bruce Campbell. The only thing is, there’s a case of mistaken identity when everyone believes he really is the legendary hero from Evil Dead, and not the washed-up, borderline alcoholic actor he is now!

The whole point of this film is obviously to poke fun at B-Movies, and in particular some of the films that Bruce Campbell himself has done, despite how huge a cult following such films as The Evil Dead Trilogy and Bubba Ho-Tep now have. But it’s all well and good, because this whole film was concocted by Campbell himself, and he’s even directed it as well. The film as a whole is a lot more easily accessible than I first thought it might be – as long as you know who Bruce Campbell is and what he’s done, you’re likely to enjoy the film and its quirks. If you’re already a fan of Evil Dead or Bubba Ho-Tep or anything like that, then there are in-jokes that you will notice that just add to the comedic appeal of this spoof B-Movie. Also, Ted Raimi (brother of Evil Dead director Sam Raimi) makes multiple appearances as various characters, so its good to watch out for those!

One of the most appealing aspects of My Name Is Bruce is the general mix of comedy that it has going on. It would have been VERY easy for the people behind this film to rely entirely on physical comedy, or the use of in-jokes that would alienate a lot of people. But instead there are some genuinely funny lines, and the character that Bruce Campbell makes himself out to be is not only hilarious in general, but also brilliant in its satirical reflection of a modern day Hollywood and is shallow falseness in movie making.

Possibly the greatest thing about My Name Is Bruce, however, is its sheer effortlessness in being a spoof. B-Movies in general are laughable, but the fact that this is a film with a B-Movie heart blown just the right amount out of proportion means that you can laugh at people getting killed in horrific ways and not feel guilty about it (well, less guilty than usual), which makes for the perfect mix of comedy and gore, no matter how fake it might look!

Overall, this is a fantastically thought out spoof film, and if you enjoyed films like Shaun Of The Dead or Bubba Ho-Tep, then you MUST see this film. And I defy you to not sing the theme song afterwards! Worthy of a 7/10 – Groovy!