Nightman Listens To – Some Time In New York City – John Lennon (Non-Beatles Series)!

John Lennon: Some Time In New York City - Behind The Albums

Greetings, Glancers! It’s obvious by now that I’ve been disappointed by Lennon’s post Beatles work. I could say the same for all of them really, but I think both McCartney and Harrison have so far made more songs that I’ve enjoyed. I didn’t know a thing about this album until I went to grab the tracklist and saw that it is half studio, half live. I’m not going to listen to the Live half. I’ve I’d absolutely loved Lennon’s post-Beatles work till this point, then I may have dipped into the Live part, but I haven’t so I won’t. Maybe I’ll come back to it some day. Anyway, here’s what I assume is another bunch of angry protest songs.

Woman Is The N****r Of The World‘ is a song I’m aware of more because of its name and surrounding controversy, rather than any musical or lyrical content. In fact, of the ten songs listed, I don’t believe I’ve heard any of them. It has a big brass opening, Lennon’s soothing vocals a counterpoint to the harsher vocals and the great lyrics. He does go in for the hard R at times too. The music is laid back in a New Orleans style, but isn’t overly exciting. There’s a lot thrown in to the production in terms of layering, but little of it stands out. As you’ll hear me say quite a bit, which is unusual for someone who loves long songs, but this could have been condensed easily to under four minutes and increased its impact.

Sisters, O Sisters‘ begins, as is standard for Yoko, with some Yoko warbling. What’s interesting is that the song is actually quite fun – it has a Motown/Supremes/earlier rock vibe. The production is particularly horrible and with Yoko’s vocals being what they are… were they trying to hide how bad they sound by doubling up? That has only made them worse. Stick any other vocalist in here and you’d have a pretty nifty song. A shame as this is very catchy and lovely – it’s like seeing someone butcher your favourite song at a school talent contest.

Attica State‘ opens like a hundred other Blues rockers, including quite a few which The Beatles did themselves. The squealing guitars, shouty vocals, and burping horns compliment each other even if it does all sound jumbled and messy. It keeps to a more adequate length.

Born In A Prison’ is intentionally positioned tracklist wise between the next song and the previous one. Yoko does a lullaby sing-song to remind us of all of the prisons we find ourselves in. The vocals are marginally better, John’s arsing about in the background, and it’s all a little too quaint. Nice sax, if you’re into that sort of thing.

New York City’ is another, uninventive, riff on blues rock standards. It’s all a bit silly when you see what Zep was doing at this point in time. Without having heard this song before, it’s a song I’ve heard a hundred times before. The lyrics are more interesting, but it’s a song which isn’t saying a lot. Solid guitar in there. It’s a topical Chuck Berry influence rocker, without the melodic fun. Again, shave a minute off this and you don’t lose anything.

Sunday Bloody Sunday‘ opens with a much more interesting sound, and evolves into a funky rhythm. Unfortunately the lyrics are a bit of a shambles. I appreciated the sentiment, but coming from Northern Ireland you’re never going to get a simple answer to such a mess. The general consensus in these sorts of songs and movies is that the Protestants living in Northern Ireland shouldn’t be here and should be booted out. Which would be fine if we’d just moved in and took over 5 minutes ago, but all of that shit was the crimes of our (several times over) ancestors and ultimately becomes a naive and racist statement in itself and makes a mockery of his sentiment in Imagine. Good music all round though.

The Luck Of The Irish‘ is a sweet little ditty which seems to deal with the same subject as the previous song. It’s a little too saccharine and on the nose with Yoko’s mythological nonsense, but Lennon’s lyrics include a few great lines. A few more naive ones too – taking sides in this nonsense as it currently stands will never get anywhere – there are simply murderers and monsters from all directions and the best solution would be to nuke it all and start again.

John Sinclair‘ is a folksy rocker which sees Lennon still trying to emulate Dylan. It’s more fun than a Dylan song, and has the benefit of not having Dylan sing on it. Plus the slide guitar is strong with this one, and the ‘got to got to got to’ shenanigans is fairly amusing.

Angela‘ is a sweet song. It’s another Yoko song, neatly constructed and catchy, but harmed by the fact that she’s the one singing on it. Is that Harrison on guitar? It sounds like his tone.

We’re All Water‘ blasts out of the speakers, a fast paced jukebox rocker with plenty of horn parps and jagged guitar. Yoko sings again – they’ve got her voice filtered again so it sounds even weirder than normal. The vocals are more spoken than sung. It’s basically a list of names juxtaposed, with the refrain signifying that we’re all the same. Then Yoko starts screeching, which I don’t mind as much as her singing. It’s damn catchy too.

It’s another sub par album by Lennon. The better songs, musically, are the ones which Yoko performs. Which is a mess because her vocals are not right. I get that you want to work with the one you love, and that when you’re John Lennon you can do whatever the fuck you want. But from a purely musical perspective, from the respective of any listener, there are so many other singers out there that could have filled in and turned the songs into what they deserved to be instead of a point of ridicule. Lennon sounds as if he’s barely trying, while the Yoko songs are genuinely fun, or would be with a stronger singer.

Nightman’s Playlist Picks: Angela. John Sinclair, I guess. We’re All Water.

Let us know your thoughts in the comments!

Nightman Listens To – Psycho Motel – State Of Mind (Maiden Non Maiden Series)!

Review: Psycho Motel – State Of Mind (1995) | Maiden Revelations

Greetings, Glancers! I’m going to try to be a little more consistent with these things. What tends to happen is that, I get bored focusing on one thing for too long and burn out, but just looking at how regularly I post under a specific topic is a little embarrassing. If anyone tunes in and only wants to read my posts on the Iron Maiden members’ non-IM work, or my Madonna or Bon Jovi posts, or whatever, there’s maybe one post on each every few months. That’s a bit crappy. I’m still writing them in the background, but I’m simply not posting them. So yeah, more consistency.

This time around it’s another Adrian Smith vehicle I’m unfamiliar with. From memory, I enjoyed some parts of Smith’s previous band ASAP, but felt their album ran out of steam quickly. I can only assume that his mid-nineties outfit, prior to re-joining Maiden, were more successful given they had two albums. State Of Mind was released in 1995 – near enough Grunge Peak – and hair metal, 80s style metal was all but dead. Maiden themselves weren’t having the best of times, and it was Europe which took the mantle, taking power and symphonic metal in the next logical direction. I’ve no idea what this will sound like. I assume there will be guitars, but whether it’s Maiden-esque, whether it’s hard rock, whether it’s grunge, whether it’s whatever – I don’t know. The name Psycho Motel does feel familiar to me – maybe they appeared in Beavis And Butthead or maybe the were featured in Kerrang at the time. Lets do this.

Sins Of Your Father: I get an instant Alice In Chains vibe from that opening riff, that sludgy guitar tone. It gets more slow, more dirty with the verse and follow-up riff. That’s not Smith on the vocals anyway. The vocals feel like the sleazier side of 80s metal, while the groove and tone feel Seattle inspired. It’s likely the upload quality I’m listening, but the drums feel distant, not as impactful as they should be. This is a slow, sludgy opener, nothing extraordinary, but hard and heavy, and something to knock back a beer to.

World’s On Fire: The tuning seems quite low on these songs so far – again hitting those lower register metal tones. I can’t say I enjoy the shouts of ‘fight’ in the verse – very cheesy a la 80s cheese. The guitars almost feel too distorted – could be the crappy upload though. So far, there’s nothing akin to Maiden at all, so good to see Smith again branching out further. The solo work hasn’t been amazing on these two tracks – more like any number of rock bands from the era. Not the most exciting song, and not as engaging as the opener.

Psycho Motel: Has a thankfully different intro, coming in with acoustic (?) guitars and some near Eastern arsing about before the fat riff drops. It’s another very groovy riff, more of the dirty tone – this one feels more like a single. There’s a greater melodic quality and it feels more coherent. It’s a foot tapper. Reminds me of a heavier, slower Slash’s Snakepit. This is the best song so far, but nothing special.

Western Shore: Starts with an acoustic shuffle, something like Soul Asylum or Mr Big or any of the 80s bands when they decided to have a ballad moment. The vocals work well along with the guitar, if a little Richard Marx-like. In the second verse they drop a string section when I was expecting a drum blast. The drum blast comes for the second chorus. Then there’s a sudden transition into a strange funk jazz rock fusion – an excuse for a bit of volume and twiddling. I’m not sure it fits, but it’s not bad.

Rage: A big crunchy intro leads to a screechy verse where the riffs pause for the vocals and vice versa. There’s some swirly vocal effects in the bridge, and the chorus is a bit of a nothing. It’s all quite bouncy so old school headbangers will get some mileage from the beat and volume, but for someone like me looking to make more of an emotional connection or hoping for something more inventive, there isn’t much to get behind. It’s a short one.

Killing Time: A squealing intro makes way for a great driving riff, which in turn drops away for a much more middle of the road, average rock verse. It’s all quite muddled and none of it makes much of an impact. What I assume is the chorus drops before the second minute mark, and it’s better. Not better enough to save the whole song, but still an improvement. Then there’s some solo stuff and the band fannying about. I’m not sure what this is meant to be, it feels like three separate jams or a batch of unused ideas squeezed into a single song.

Time Is A Hunter: Drums. Chords. The song name gives me Zeppelin vibes. The lyrics definitely give that early bluesy Zeppelin feel. The comparison doesn’t go much further. The melodies aren’t exciting, the music is just sort of ‘there’ and yet in the background. There’s a neater middle section which again offers some slight improvement. It returns to the blues and keeps going for another few minutes.

Money To Burn: A decent twangy riff gets a metal overhaul and segues into a decent verse and then a decent chorus. This one is more catchy than most of the other songs, decent all round. Again, hardly a song to light up anyone’s life, but fun nonetheless.

City Of Light: Does this sound like Peace Sells? There’s something familiar and Mustainey about the song. A siren guitar and some clanging single notes at least offer a taste of atmosphere. The songs feels like it’s building to something, rather than a collection of random unfocused notes and riffs. The bridge into chorus together is a little strange, but does offer a different type of melody. There’s some start/stop going on to which helps the rhythm along.

Excuse Me: Jeepers, this is full on grunge – on the softer side. That verse feels part Bush, part Soundgarden. Man, the vocals and the guitar and the melody is straight out of Seattle. Is this a cover? I don’t think it’s amazing, but it’s different enough from the rest of the album to make it feel unique, and it does have a much greater melodic quality and it feels like a single. There’s that added coherence to the structure. Maybe a minute longer than it should be.

Last Goodbye: These last two tracks seem to be re-release or extra tracks, but I’ll cover them anyway. Assuming this isn’t a Jeff Buckley cover. It opens with some ominous guitar and effects and soundbites before the jump-scare guitar drops with a stomping pace. Aside from the chorus, it’s more of the same really – heavy, but doesn’t leave me with anything interesting to say. It’s just loud, middling rock music which doesn’t demand my attention.

Can’t Wait: This one feels more chaotic, moderately faster, with a touch of funk. The bass is doing some funky bits and it is more melodic in places. But definitely chaotic – a lot of noise, and not a lot of it making much impact.

Not the most exciting album in the world then, even by mid-nineties hard rock standards. The majority of the album just felt like bang average rock songs – not a lot of edge, not a lot of emotion, melody, or originality, but for people who like to have any heavy music to stick on in the background to get them though the day, they shouldn’t have many complaints. I’m including myself in that group. Each song had something I liked, but those best bits never lasted or elevated the song as a whole. The band must have had fun and must have had a measure of success if they returned for another album. I won’t say I’m looking forward to hearing that one, but I’m marginally curious to see if they change their sound or if it’s simply more of the same.

Let us know in the comments what you think of State Of Mind!

Nightman’s Playlist Picks: Psycho Hotel. Money To Burn. Western Shore. Excuse Me.

Nightman Listens To – Pop Smoke – Shoot For The Moon (2020 Series)!

Greetings, Glancers! Since starting out on this 2020 journey, a small number of the artists who I had absolutely zero knowledge of at the outset would come to be peripherally known to me by the time I got around to hearing their output. Maybe it was seeing their name in a magazine, on a poster, or someone else recommending them. It’s now 2023 and I still have no clue what Pop Smoke is. Is is a band? A solo artist? Is it indeed pop, or R’n’B, or Rock? I  have no clue. Lets see if the album cover tells me anything.

It seems to be a flower? A rose? A chrome rose, shot in darkness? I suppose it suggests darkness shrouding something beautiful? But if I’m trying to guess the genre of music, it could be anything from Pop to Metal. Ah well, lets just get on with it.

It didn’t take me long to learn about the tragic story of Pop Smoke, or Bashar Jackson. Gunned down at the stupidly young age of 20 it’s another story of a talent taken too soon. I didn’t read too much about the details concerning his life or his death, but this knowledge does inevitably lend a certain context and tone to the album. It’s a Hip Hop album and it isn’t wildly different to the other Hip Hop albums I’ve listened to on this journey, at least to my untrained ears. It stays away from the Sci-Fi music and surface imagery of those albums, instead honing in on a more traditionally modern sound. But lyrically, once again, it’s song after song about violence, sex, and wealth. While Auto-tune rears its inevitable ugly head, there isn’t as much of it on Shoot For The Moon, and the vocals are likely the biggest distinction. Smoke has, for lack of a better term, a smokey voice. It’s deeper, rougher than any of the rappers I’ve heard on the 2020 list. We do get the expected host of guest voices, but none of those sink to the annoying depths of some of the failures from the last few Hip Hop albums I’ve listed to.

With that being said, I struggle to write anything else about the album. I can’t relate to it, and it’s not my kind of music. The Production is excellent and it’s more to my tastes than any of those Lil Whatever The Fuck Is Name Is. I wouldn’t go as far as to say it’s more of an introspective sounding album, but it’s less of a party album than My Turn or Eternal Atake. It still has clear, defined beats, you can still dance to it, cruise to it, chill to it, but it doesn’t feel like the sort of thing which is filled with room filling bangers. It’s more of an album to slouch in a couch to, drenched in low purple neon lights, while other people dance around you to a completely different song. In that sense, it’s an album I could see myself having on the background without giving it too much attention. My Turn or Eternal Atake I would have to switch off, this could just be there doing its thing without getting on my nerves.

It’s not completely annoyance free – some songs such as 44 Bulldog have a lot of annoying vocal tics and shouts which add nothing. Do it once or twice and it would be cool, but on that particular song these tics are incessant from start to finish and are like an annoying child screaming for attention when you’re trying to record an important Zoom call with a client. Compare that to Gangstas which has its fair share of this bullshit, but it never becomes the focal point and the brooding piano riffs are not harmed by the childish grunting and trilling.

Until Hip Hop becomes less about beats and more about… something more, it’s not something I’m ever going to be able to call myself a fan of. I realise that’s a bit of a ridiculous statement akin to saying ‘until Metal becomes less about loud guitars I won’t be a fan’. But I know Metal is incredibly diverse. I assume Hip Hop is more diverse than what I have heard, but when the focus is on beats then I struggle to care. It’s why I don’t care much for EDM or Dance music in general. I need something more, or at the very least something else. I consider Public Enemy and Eminem as two of my favourite artists because they offer more. Their music is almost never focused on beat, and as such their beats are more potent to me. Shoot For The Moon has plenty of potent moments and a lot of the music is darker and more interesting to me than some of the other albums I’ve heard, but then I remember that the lyrics are still focused on crap I don’t care about that the flow and the smarts of individual lines get lost. As mentioned, if I don’t think about it too much, this is a perfectly average album that I can play for some base ambience, but it’s not anything more.


Sales: 4. It has been very successful so far, both in streams and traditional sales.

Chart: 4. I was going to say that I was surprised by how popular this was, given the fact that I didn’t know it existed – but then I remembered I’m both old and do not listen to any kind of chart show/playlist/whatever there is now to tell you what’s popular. Having listened to it, I don’t really understand why it has been so popular versus any other Hip Hop album. I don’t want to attach the whole posthumous thing, but I imagine that had an impact.

Critical: 3. Again, it’s difficult to separate critical thought from the guy’s death, and almost every review speaks of his talent and where he could have gone next. The temptation is always to imagine an improvement, but it’s equally possible he peaked here.

Originality: 2. Not my wheelhouse, but to these untrained ears it doesn’t sound drastically different from a lot of similar music, nor does it seem to be breaking boundaries.

Influence: 3. Too early to say of course, but the fact is that when a young artist dies it does give them a certain mystique which is often more appealing to the listeners and up and comers.

Musical Ability: 3. Sure.

Lyrics: 3. We know it’s going to be about sex and being rich, so what I’m looking for is, at the very least, some funny lines or double entendres about fucking. There’s one or two in there.

Melody: 2. A week after my last listen and I can’t remember a single melody. But there wasn’t anything annoying during my listens.

Emotion: 2. On face value, there isn’t much. Go to 3 or even 4 based on the context surrounding the album.

Lastibility: 3. It’ll last given its success and context.

Vocals: 3. The guest vocals aren’t particularly strong, Smoke himself is much more to my tastes.

Coherence: 3. I may be wrong, but I think this was likely not the final product which Smoke would have wanted, and as such maybe lacks the coherence of what could have been. The context again lends its own retroactive coherence.

Mood: 3. Sure.

Production: 4. Good.

Effort: 3. Fine.

Relationship: 2. Little to me to relate to.

Genre Relation: 4. Sounds by and large like most of the other recent hip hop albums I’ve heard.

Authenticity: 3. I’ll allow a 3.

Personal: 3. This is a very low 3, given the fact that I can’t say I enjoyed it, but I equally can’t say I disliked it. I naturally score high.

Miscellaneous: 3. Again, context pushes this up from maybe a 2.

Total: 60/100

Let us know in the comments what you think of Shoot For The Moon

Sh*t I Watch – Ozark

Ozark - Rotten Tomatoes

Greetings, Glancers! When was the last time I did one of these? From my perspective, it’s a little odd that I do so few Television posts versus Music and Movies considering I probably spend at least the same amount of time (if not more) watching TV as I do watching Movies or listening to Music. In the time since my last Sh*t I Watch post, I’ve completely finished a bunch of TV shows so I may as well bore you by talking about them.

One of my first TV posts was my thoughts on Breaking Bad. The short version of that post is that I liked Breaking Bad well enough, but I was in no ways a super fan and it was never going to become a personal favourite. Unlike most viewers, I never got pulled into the story or cared much about any of the characters. It was just a thing to watch, mainly because so many people gave it so much acclaim. Flashforward and my wife says to me one night that she’s heard good things about Ozark. I was a little apprehensive because everything I’d heard about the show made it sound like a watered down, less interesting, less acclaimed version of Breaking Bad. Why would I want to watch Breaking Bad Junior, if I wasn’t a big fan of daddy?

Turns out that I enjoyed Ozark a hell of a lot more than Breaking Bad. Is it a better show? What comes first tends to be highlighted as the superior show, but I think Ozark took elements of the template which Breaking Bad laid out, and improved upon it; the drama, the story, the characters, the tension, the humour, the violence. From a story perspective, it starts out in a similar place; an intelligent, somewhat devious man finds himself in a tight spot, and finding no alternative willingly doubles down to a life of crime while trying to hide his other life from his family. From there, the comparisons end because before long his family both finds out about his life, and willingly gets involved in it too.

Jason Bateman seems from the outside like an unusual choice as Marty Byrde. He has just the right amount of everyman appearance, anger, cynicism, futility, and humour to make the role work. Joining as his wife is Laura Linney – a woman with many secrets of her own, their teenage kids with their own problems, and a bunch of Cartel killers on their heels. Early in the show, the family is forced to move from the big city to The Ozarks which Marty thinks is an untapped haven for drugs and money laundering. Almost immediately, he finds that The Ozarks is more of a hive of scum and villainy with drug lords and minor crooks a visible presence. There’s Peter Mullan and Lisa Emery as the murderous heroin farmers with connection to local politicians, Julia Garner and Charlie Tahan as cousins within the infamous petty criminal Langmore family, and a couple of FBI agents in tow. Poor old Marty has a lot of money to make with all of these eyes on him – because if he doesn’t, the lads from Mexico will be knocking on his door with a few bullets ready for him, his wife, and his kids.

Throughout its four season run, Ozark has several twists and turns meaning that the Byrds find themselves sucked even deeper into crime and danger while plotting their escape from it all. It seems that every time they have an escape route, some new group or individual comes along and burns it down if it isn’t done by their own mistakes or ego. This may be frustrating for the viewer as it leads to questions of contrivance for the sake of keeping the show going. There’s a point in the second season when things are turning rosy and it seems like the family has a way out – but someone makes a decision that is somewhat out of left field and buggers things up completely, setting up the final two seasons.

But this is one of the recurring draws of the show – it’s a fine example of shit always going wrong, always getting worse. Whether it’s the business, or the feds, or the kids, or some random mishap, there is always a new and stressful situation for Marty to puzzle and talk his way out of. While there is plenty of talking in the sharp script, the show doesn’t shy away from both the threat and actuality of violence – there are plenty of sudden and gruesome deaths throughout the series. Knowing that many of the characters are both highly protective of their families and their business, while also being a tad psychotic, it lends that constant tension over anyone being knocked off at any moment.

Julia Garner's 'Ozark' Performance as Ruth in Season 4, Episode 7 | TVLine

At the end of the day, it’s the characters, the performances, and the emotions which drew me in most over the likes of Breaking Bad. Julia Garner’s Ruth Langmore is the MVP, her drawling cynicism and hick wiles being a counterpoint to the usual trend of high-powered, highly intelligent or utterly useless foils we tend to see. As mentioned above, she cares deeply about her family, conflicted as she is, and is always looking for a way to get rich and get free. As abusive as the world she contributes to is, she thrives within it and uses and is used by the Byrds and the Business.

If you enjoy crime shows, indeed if you enjoyed Breaking Bad, then Ozark seems like a logical recommendation. It has similar humour, similar conflicts, and similar tension while being set in a similar world, but the locations and voices are different. It’s definitely worth your time. Let us know your thoughts in the comments!


X - Rotten Tomatoes

I’ve been a fan of Ti West for a while now. Every time it looked like he was getting traction or had made something that would be a hit, it never seemed to come to anything. His films were always well received, but unlike the Get Outs and Hereditarys of the world, his films seemed to fly under the radar. Perhaps with X, and the prequel Pearl, that tide has turned and the dude will get his mainstream dues.

Take the above paragraph, and replace Ti West’s name with Mia Goth’s. Mia Goth has appeared in a number of high and low profiles horror movies in the last decade, but in 2022 her name skyrocketed both within the horror world and beyond, with one of the prime reasons being her dual role here in X. She plays an aspiring adult performer who is travelling with a small cast and crew to the middle of nowhere to make a new movie, hopefully beyond the prying eyes of the law and anyone else. Given that the opening scene of the movie, reminiscent of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (which is one of a number of clear influences), sees police encountering a scene of death and carnage, we can guess that this group of people are heading into something nasty. In typical Ti West fashion, the film unravels at its own pace with tension and intrigue and the threat of violence growing step by step.

Mia Goth’s Maxine is joined by her McConaghy-esque Producer boyfriend, two other performers, and a director/assistant couple. They arrive at a nicer looking cabin in the woods in the Texas countryside owned by a wizened old farmer Howard and his equally decrepit wife Pearl, also played by Goth. Neither Pearl nor Howard seem like the most approachable people, but given their age it seems obvious that they aren’t much of a threat. Being a horror movie with Chainsaw vibes, we know that there’s more to the elderly couple than meets the eye. What’s cool is that we get this dual story in which we learn about both parties – the couple, and the porn team. We see the intentions of each side and wait for them to clash, and we are drip-feed little character moments which both heightens the immediate tension but makes each person fully formed.

This being a horror movie ostensibly set in the amateur porn world – yes, you can expect plenty of sex and violence. Once the gore comes, it comes thick and fast, and it is often of the sudden brutal sort which West is known for. Together with the pumping soundtrack and the near ludicrous nature of the antagonist, becomes a highly entertaining old-school popcorn movie, the sort of thing you almost need to see in a drive through with your partner, surrounded by cars filled with screaming, fondling couples. And yet it’s more – the performances are better than what you would have seen in those old-school movies, the characters more nuanced, the screenplay smarter. Out of the recent horror movies I’ve subjected my wife too, this is the one she has enjoyed most. With both Goth and West, and now a Wednesday famous Ortega on the rise, I hope to see more more these guys.

Let us know what you think in the comments!

Mortal Kombat

Jax Briggs Delivers a Gory Fatality in This New Clip from 'Mortal Kombat'!  - Bloody Disgusting

Every gamer has that one game, that one series, which truly sucked you into the hobby. Most of us end up having quite a few of these – those games which took over your life for a time and which felt like more than just another thing to play. For me, as someone who has been gaming since the Spectrum days, I have a tonne of formative favourites but Mortal Kombat is one of those which went beyond purely gaming. I was obsessed with games 1-3, learning the moves and fatalities for each character, reading the lore and imagining each character’s lives beyond the games. I loved the first movie and bought the VHS, I was excited for and disappointed by its sequel, and I even enjoyed the short lived TV show. Somewhere along the way I moved on to other things, the games rarely came to my console of choice, but I still hoped for more movies and shows based on the franchise.

Mortal Kombat is the latest in the long line of franchise reboots. Given the enduring popularity of the videogames, and a recent resurgence in its popularity, a reboot seemed inevitable. What’s interesting and commendable about the reboot, is the lack of a big name cast. Outside of Hiroyuki Sanada and Tadanobu Asano, the cast are lesser known stalwarts of TV and Cinema and convincing in their martial arts abilities. Several of the guys have a history in martial arts which helps the film feel less Hollywood and more authentic. The level of gore isn’t quite on terms with the ridiculous nature of the games, but there are plenty of visceral kills and moments which are apt given the game’s history, and not the sort of thing you tend to see much in a mainstream release these days. In terms of being authentic to the games, we have a roster of familiar characters to prop up the new character of Cole Young – essentially your Build A Character guy. It’s expectedly cheesy when people say things like ‘flawless victory’ and ‘get over here’, but that’s the nature of the beast.

With a world so messy and involved as this, it’s difficult to pick a single strand and run with it, while avoiding too much exposition. The writers know that most of the people watching this will have a background in the lore, but just in case, they have to do a little back story and world building. Opening with a fairly brutal scene set in rural Japan a number of centuries ago, a famous fighter’s home is attacked by a group of warriors. His family is slain and he has a final showdown with the group’s leader. It’s a bloody battle, but the fighter is killed. One infant was stashed away in an attempt to secure his bloodline. Flash forward to present day and we learn that one of the fighter’s descendants is an American, down on his luck MMA type. He also happens to have a birthmark which, we later learn, is mystical in nature and highlights him as one of Earth’s warrior champions. Every generation there is an intergalactic martial arts tournament known as Mortal Kombat, in which the best fighters from every realm, fight to the death, for glory, and for the protection of their worlds. Earth is on a 9 tournament losing streak, and if they lose a tenth, then all of the evil of the worlds beyond will have free reign on Earth and likely turn humanity into slaves.

This is one of the points at which the film fragments a little. The entire film, unlike the original, is set pre-tournament. Shang Tsung, the leader of the bad guys, decides to take out Earth Realms champions before they get a chance to compete, thereby giving the bad guys a drastic advantage. It’s a little like The Terminator, and is an idea which would have been cool to truly delve into. If they had focused on Cole and a smaller group of fighters, with no knowledge of why they are being hunting down by these supernatural warriors, I could have got behind that idea. Instead, Sonja and Jax already suspect Mortal Kombat and have been researching for years, Liu Kang and Kung Lao are veterans, and some of the good guys even know the bad guys. It feels like the writers wanted to tell a story, but knew they had to keep the fandom happy by throwing as many game characters on the screen. Kano is fully fleshed out and is a lot of fun, but the likes of Kabal, Mileena, Reiko, Nitara, are mostly there for fighting and killing purposes. Cole is a family man too, which I understand and lends him an emotional connection to the audience and to Scorpion, but if we were following the Terminator idea, it would have suited the plot better to simply have Cole as a seemingly random guy thrown into this world of stretchy mouthed woman and stalactite botherers.

The more crucial point, for me, is why Shang Tsung even goes through with any of this. If I was on a nine tournament streak, I’d be pretty confident that I was going to win the next one. The best of Earth’s warriors have clearly been beaten for many generations, so why would I assume they would be so tough this time? I get that there’s this prophecy about Scorpion’s offspring preventing the bad guys from winning, but if you’re aware of this prophecy, why not simply go full T2 and kill them when they’re kids? It feels a little clunky, and I think they could have introduced the world and characters without having to go down this route. I’d maybe have preferred the story to simply follow Scorpion’s journey without having the character of Cole whatsoever. In addition, the film almost ends feeling unfinished with Shang Tsung promising he’ll be back with armies. The final fights are good, but feel somewhat anti-climactic, and clearly prepped for a host of sequels.

It’s likely fair to say that most people are not coming to Mortal Kombat for the story. Most people will want the peripherals, a few familiar names, and then let them behead, punch, kick, stab, and uppercut each other into spike pits. As mentioned, there is plenty of gore which evokes some of the series fatalities and the fights feel swift and visceral, and are more akin to the Eastern action movies such as The Raid rather than a Marvel movie. Even with the fantastical elements, it still feels grounded in using your body and your physical ability to overcome your enemy. In that respect, it’s a very traditional martial arts film which just happens to include four-armed monsters, thunder gods, and resurrected fire ninjas.

Let us know in the comments what you think of Mortal Kombat!

Scream 3

*Originally written in 2003

Scream 3 » Promotional Gallery, Posters and Art |

Scream 3 was not the most well-received film in the trilogy, either by the fandom or the critics, and yet it’s a film I had a lot of fun with at release and which I have a lot of nostalgic fondness for. By the time Scream 3 came out, the meta-approach era of film-making was coming to an end and charms and tricks and novelty of the prior releases admittedly don’t feel as fresh in this one, but the film-makers know this and instead push the film in a more humourous direction filled with guest stars, as they attempt to coherently wrap up the trilogy’s story.

Opening in typically shocking fashion with the killing of an established star – this time a longstanding character of the series – we then meet up with the rest of the gang. Sydney, traumatised by the events of the last few years, is living in isolation for her own safety and sanity, and working as a crisis counsellor, Gale is still doing her reporter thing, while Dewey is working in Hollywood as a consultant for the new Stab movie. When one of the cast of Stab is murdered, this triggers a local Detective to bring the gang back together to work out who is doing the killing this time, what their motive is, and what it all has to do with Sydney.

While Scream 3 is probably the least satisfying of the series, it’s the fastest paced, and leans into the inherent silliness which has been a hallmark of the trilogy. It is meant to be over the top, it tries to make convoluted tie-ins to the existing lore, and both Craven and the cast seem to be having a whale of a time. As always, Neve gives a fine performance and is committed to the character even if she may seem to be tiring of the role. Cox and Arquette are always fun, especially when together, and we have surprise cameos from previous stars and from Hollywood big hitters which brings a lot of laughs, head-nodding, and even a tear to the eye in one particular instance. The new cast members range from cannon-fodder to potential new favourites, but the focus is on our central trio.

While the audience interactive guesswork is still part of the package, it’s not a primary concern and instead we increase the amusing and gory kills. It lacks the genuine scares of Parts 1 and 2, but has its moments, such as Sydney’s creepy dreams of her mother. It’s very much a film about family, and while its attempts at emotion in this respect don’t always pay off, they are worth highlighting considering it’s a film which is at least 30% spoof. This is what has always set the series apart from the other countless slashers of the era – we feel for the characters, especially Sydney, and we want to see them live (and hopefully not have to fight) for another day.

Let us know what you think of Scream 3 in the comments!

Nightman Listens To – Perfume Genius – Set My Heart On Fire Immediately (2020 Series)!

PERFUME GENIUS – ” Set My Heart On Fire Immediately “ | The Fat Angel Sings

Greetings, Glancers, and welcome to my first newly written 2020 Series post of 2023. I know I’m dragging this shit out like a child being torn from its parents, but I hope to finish off the 2020 series in the next couple of months. This will be album 16 of 24 (it was 25 but I removed Harry Styles for some reason). So there’s not many to go, and I’ll prioritize getting this finished before starting something else. Stop starting and start stopping, as they say. I’ll likely do some sort of Round Up ranking post at the end too, ranking the 24 albums by score and maybe some general comments.

Perfume Genius then. Is this a band? A singer? Male, female, or miscellaneous? Was it in the Metal category? Generic Pop? I can’t be arsed pulling up my original post at this juncture, which would surely give me the answer I so dearly do not crave. The artwork points me in no particular direction – a topless gent who looks like he’s spent the time down a mineshaft. Is that the singer? An object of the singer’s affection? A rando? The album title suggests pain, heartache, emotion. Which is just what I need after two Hip Hop albums devoid of those. I’m going in to this completely cold – I don’t know a thing about it and I’ve never heard the name of the artist or the album at the time of writing. By the time I begin the next paragraph, I will have intimate knowledge of both having listened to the album a number of times. Lets do this.

Most of those above questions were answered in the album’s rather lovely opener. Not only is it smooth, melodic, atmospheric, and the sort of subtle opener I generally enjoy in an album, it has a potent lyric, vibe, and voice which had me hooked and hopeful. It’s a powerful opening song, but the album only matches or succeeds this potential two or three more times throughout the album’s run time. There’s a searing frustration permeating my overall thoughts, because so many songs just miss the mark. It’s like watching your favourite football team or played having a solid game, but consistently missing the final product – a misplaced pass, hitting the post, crossing the ball and sticking out your neck only for the ball to graze your scalp and go sailing out of play with no consequence. There are so many positives and potential, but whether it’s personal taste on my part or something unspoken lacking, none of the songs perfectly hit the mark for me.

It’s frustrating because it’s clear there’s talent here, and it’s clear this could have been more impactful for me. Not that my personal feelings matter to the artist, but they matter to me for the purpose of my review. Even with my frustrations, it has been a more positive than negative experience and a few songs have been added to my near-mythical car-driving playlist. The vocals are good throughout, even if they do touch on the nasal at various points, but it’s refreshing to hear something unfiltered these days and great to hear some heart, melody, and emotion in a pop album, especially after my adventures in Hip Hop recently.

In terms of highlights, outside of the opener, Jason, Borrowed Light, Your Body Changes Everything, and On The Floor are the ones to return to. Elsewhere, you can feel the Cocteau Twins influence in the messy Describe and the dull Just A Touch, and Moonbend is a clear riff on Sia’s In Between. I can’t stand Cocteau Twins and In Between is a much more interesting and powerful song, with Moonbend at best a whimpering copycat. Even with that song, and others, which didn’t grab me, there’s usually some minor point of interest – Moonbend going all Rosemary’s Baby in the middle for example. Like quite a few songs on the album, there are potent component parts, but the whole is often much duller than those fleeting moments.

Production wise, it’s top notch, which has generally been the case all the way through the 2020 albums I’ve heard so far. There’s a bit of a seaside vibe throughout and there are many good choices promoting variance in instrumentation, whether it be the harpischord in Jason or the electric pianos and organs in Borrowed Light. It’s and approach which reminds me of The Beatles where they would write the structure of their song on piano or guitar, then head into the studio and say ‘what about if we replace this part with that instrument‘ or ‘what’s that thing over there, how can we stick it into this song to give it something different’?

A few of the slower, lower register songs and more mumbled and artistic efforts don’t do much for me, and bring the overall vibe and quality down for me, making the album plod in places. Leave is a prime example – as a piece of work it’s interesting and has a lot going on in its instrumentation and lyrics, but it’s a slog to listen to. Its pace and sloth is all the more striking given it comes just before the bouncing On The Floor, with its gorgeous melodies and fun synth guitars. Your Body Changes Everything is a dramatic highlight. I would have played the vocals plain, acting as a counterpoint to the synthetic potency of the instrumentation. I’d have tried to push a little more of the drama into the vocals, really bite into those lyrics and put some theatricality into it, accentuating the emotion.

After this mid-point, the album falls into a mire of stunted melancholy. Again, it’s interesting, but a drag to sit through so many songs which never get out of first gear or whose moments of brilliance are all too brief. These are not bad songs, but in the context of a full album play through they bleed into each other and the latter half feels like one mumbled, pained ballad after another. Which, by the end of the album, leaves me feeling somewhat worn out, frustrated, and bored. Going back to the opening paragraph, the overriding feeling I get from the album is frustration – the songs I enjoyed are significantly better than the ones I didn’t, and those songs I fully enjoyed didn’t have enough to get up to an A Grade score. As a whole, it’s a strong enough album that I won’t mind hearing again in its entirety, and those standout songs are solid enough that I’d be curious to see what else the dude has done.


Sales: 3. Didn’t set the world on fire (immediately), but seems to have done okay.

Chart: 3. Very middling, potentially a 2 depending on how you gauge these things, but it still charted Top 30 in US and UK.

Critical: 4. I struggle to give a 5 for such recent albums as critical thought can change even after a few years, but go on and give this a 5 if you want to. That’s because the album was very highly acclaimed, making many end of year charts and generally in the 90s%s in those aggregator sites.

Originality: 3. Personally, a low 3 for me. I didn’t find anything startlingly new here – it’s very much ‘just a pop album’ – but it doesn’t do much of what other pop albums these days do. It’s rich, it’s not over-produced, and it’s pure. In the grand scheme of things, maybe it’s a 2, but based on what I’ve heard recently, it gets a 3.

Influence: 2. I don’t see it influencing many people or musicians.

Musical Ability: 3. Fine, does the job.

Lyrics: 3. There’s a certain poetry there, and there’s a function to the lyrics in serving the vibe of each song. Nothing particularly fresh, no startling one-liners of new perspectives.

Melody: 3. A highish 3, but the best songs aren’t memorable enough for me and the monotonous songs don’t have enough.

Emotion: 4. Inward looking and exposing the artists fears and hopes, the album’s focus on and expression of emotion, is one of its plus points.

Lastibility: 3. We’ll see. The dude seems to pump out a lot of albums in a short space of time, and I don’t know enough about how this compares to those to say that this one, or any of them, will still be played ten years from now. Low 3 for me at the moment.

Vocals: 4. Smooth, expressive, good.

Coherence: 4. The ideas and the music hold together well.

Mood: 3. Drags in places, particularly in the second half, and not in a good way.

Production: 4. Solid.

Effort: 3. Fine.

Relationship: 2. In younger days this may have spoken to me more, but where I am currently I don’t think it gets to a 3.

Genre Relation: 3. This is a strange category – a crap album can get a high score because it sounds like everything else, but a great album can get a lower score because it stands apart. This is a decent, average album which sounds like many other pop albums.

Authenticity: 4. Dude seems to feel the words and the music, and put his whole being into the songs.

Personal: 3. Starting out I felt like the album was going to be a 4, but that second half drags things down. Repeated listens show that there are only a few highlights, but no stinkers.

Miscellaneous: 3. I’m happy for there to be a heartfelt male pop guy who doesn’t seem to be following the crowd and is happy to do his own thing.

Total: 64/100

I would have guessed this would get closer to the 70 mark, but this seems fair enough. Let us know your thoughts and scores in the comments!

Bill & Ted Face The Music

Bill & Ted Face the Music': Third Time's a Most Excellent Charm, Dude – Rolling Stone

Growing up, there were a handful of movies that I repeatedly came back to not only on my own, but with friends; Predator, T2, Wayne’s World, and the Bill And Ted series. Even in this age of any and all commodities, however barely remembered, being remade or franchised to further dilution, I never imagined I’d see a Bill & Ted sequel. Sure, we’d had the short lived animated series, and every few years we’d hear a rumour of a new script being proposed, but it seemed like the ship had sailed. No-one was interested in rock music any more, never mind movies about rock music, so why would anyone take a chance on releasing a movie which was barely marketable?

Yet here we are, decades later, with an older and somewhat wiser Bill and Ted tasked with saving the world, again. What’s more, the prophecies outlined in the previous movies didn’t really come to pass. Bill & Ted’s band had some success, but like most guitar bands of the era, they split up and are now seen has has-beens barely able to play in a bar to 20 people. They’re still married to their respective babes and they even have daughters, daughters who also aspire to being kick-ass musicians, but all is not rosy; there’s a chance their wives may leave and there’s a chance the world may end. Enter the daughter of Bill and Ted’s old pal Rufus, who takes the lads to the future where they learn that, if they don’t write the perfect song by that evening, all time and reality will collapse. Bad news. There is also a time-travelling Terminator robot sent to destroy them. Luckily, they have their own time machine to try to travel to potential futures to hear the song they haven’t written yet, while their daughters use another time machine to go back and recruit some of the greatest musicians of all time. It’s incredibly convoluted and seems ready to fall apart at any moment.

And yet, it works. It knows it’s silly and it leans into the ridiculousness of it all. It’s funny, it’s nostalgic, and most of the cast members from the originals return. It’s a bit of a shame that the music isn’t great and that they didn’t lean into how metal has changed in the years since the early 90s, but my overriding thought is that I was happy it even existed at all and that it isn’t crap. We still have plenty of modern bands and artists making an appearance, but the script is less interested in the name-dropping and culture surrounding the music. Reeves and Winter initially seem a little awkward in their roles, but this seems to shed over the course of the film and they eventually revel in it. The returning performers equally enjoy themselves, and most of the newcomers are fun too.

The film will likely be completely bewildering for any number of factors to anyone who has not seen the previous movies, but it was made for the fans and those fans should get plenty of enjoyment out of this belated sequel. Let us know what you think in the comments!

Falling Down – Get Rekt!

Rekt PNG Images, Free Transparent Rekt Download - KindPNG

Greetings, Glancers! Today I run a more critical eye over my tenth favourite movie of the year 1993, seeking to ignore my bias and provide a fair score based on the 20 criteria I feel are most important in the creation of a film. Today’s movie is Falling Down, Joel Shumacher’s story of a man who says ‘fuck it’, and goes on a rampage through LA.

Sales: 3. Do you go 4 here? It made around double its budget, but it was far outside the Top 20 Grossing movies for the year. That feels like a three to me. However, it did reach number 1 in the US Box Office for its first couple of weeks, so if you care strongly about initial audiences, then you could bump this higher. Of course, it dropped off quickly.

Critical Consensus: 4. While the moral complexity of the film, or perhaps more accurate to say the moral ambiguity, has always been a point for discussion by critics, consensus has always remained strong. The cast and the direction have been lauded, the script has taken a bit more of a beating as time has moved on due to the perceived racism and possible appeals to violence therein, but general consensus remains that it is a bold, violent, and funny satire on 90s society.

Director: 4. Schumacher had an impressive run from 85 to 95, making no less than 8 films. It’s a toss up between this and The Lost Boys as his best overall film and here he continues his use of setting, of soundtrack, of weather to heighten what’s already in the script. It’s stylish but not stylized and is ultimately played out like a futile tragedy rather than the rebellion emboldening statement some make it out to be.

Performances: 4. Michael Douglas is excellent in the lead, ably followed around by a game Robert Duvall, Barbara Hershey, Rachel Ticotin, and Tuesday Weld.

Characters: 3. It’s all about D-Fens, who is not, at least on the day presented, a very nice man. Sure he’s pissed that he’s out of work, divorced, late, his life is going nowhere, his expectations of the world aren’t being met, but does that mean he can go on a rampage? He’s supposed to be an everyman, at least for the men of the world who are angry at their lot in life, but taken to extremes. Depending on your POV, those extremes may only be slight.

Cinematography: 4. LA is so burned into our minds thanks to a hundred years of film and TV that it’s difficult to present it in an interesting way. It looks here just as it looked on news reports of the riots – an urban wasteland, brimming with chaos and only the facade of oases to make us think it’s some sort of paradise. The use of the sunlight and warmth is oppressive and hints that it’s not only this individual who is about to explode, but that the entire city could erupt at any minute.

Writing: 3. I’d love to go four here because the script is funny, and in my younger days I probably would have gone higher. But time moves on and attitudes change – there’s no getting away from the fact that parts of the script, intentionally or not, can be and have been co-opted by certain wings of society who would hold the movie up as a plan of action rather than a satire.

Plot: 3. At its core it’s very simple – it’s a classic ‘man wants to get home’ story. Regular glancers will know that that may be my favourite type of story. It’s a road movie mostly on foot. It’s simply a man trying to get from A-B, but he keeps being blocked on his journey and growing ever more enraged with the world.

Wardrobe: 4. It’s so simple, yet so effective. You think of this movie, and you immediately see Michael Douglas in his cheap shirt and trousers, with his briefcase.

Editing: 3. I’m not sure I’m ever going to give more than a 3 in this category.

Make up and Hair: 4. Again, very simple, but manages to be iconic. Which earns it the extra point.

Effects: 3. Not a movie filled with visual effects, but the practical work on the gunplay and explosive side are all solid.

Art and Set: 3. Compliments the Cinematography.

Sound And Music: 4. While the score itself isn’t overly tuneful or memorable, it is eerie and effective within the context of the film, and all of the other associated sounds help to build the paranoid and oppressive atmosphere.

Cultural Significance: 4. It’s on the outskirts of Cult territory in that it has all the attributes of a cult movie, except with a big name cast and director, and is marginally more known and seen. That said, the movie has had a cultural reach beyond its means, particularly in the music scene where many bands and artists have taken inspiration from it. That mirror of culture, The Simpsons, has also made reference to it.

Accomplishment: 3. I don’t feel this warrants higher than a 4 – it’s the sort of movie a lesser director may make with lesser known stars, but has been given the Hollywood treatment. It’s something of a throwback to films of the Dirty Harry and Death Wish movies in their outlook, but it’s not a strict revenge movie or cop against crime movie. It does elevate a simple idea though.

Stunts: 3. It’s not strictly an action movie, or a thriller, or a drama, but some Venn Diagram middle point. There is action but it’s on a small scale, and is more about the sudden abrupt outbursts, like how Takeshi Kitano would do things once upon a time.

Originality: 4. I went back and forth between 3 and 4 on this. It’s not the most original idea – we’ve seen angry man movies, we’ve seen trying to get home movies etc. But it’s the merging of these ideas, the positioning of the story in a modern day, recognizable, cosmopolitan warzone, and making the lead character conflicted and one who seems genuinely unsure of how to even exist anymore when his idea of how the world should be no longer exists.

Miscellaneous: 3. Nothing worthy enough to get me up to a 4. I love the poster.

Personal: 5. On another day if I was being more critical I’d go down to a 4, but I love it.

Total Score: 71/100.

Let us know your scores in the comments!