Amazon Vine Freebies – January 2017

It’s a brand new year! Or at least it was when it started, all those months ago. Here’s what I grabbed:

John Frieda Sheer Blonder Hi Impact Vibrancy Restoring Shampoo 250ml

Head Restorin’

John Frieda Sheer Blonde Colour Renew Tone Correcting Shampoo 250 ml

‘Ed Sheeran

John Fridea Frizz Ease Miraculous Recovery Shampoo, 250ml

Frizzin’

John Frieda Frizz Ease Forever Smooth Shampoo 250 ml

Smoothin’

The LEGO® BATMAN MOVIE: Choose Your Super Hero Doodle Activity Book (Lego® DC Comics)

Doodlin’

Baylis & Harding La Maison Linen Rose & Cotton Luxury Wash Bag

Hardin’

Waterpik WP-950 Complete Care 7.0 Sonic Toothbrush and Water Flosser (UK 2-Pin Bathroom Plug) – White

Flossin’

Mr Men: My Mummy (Mr. Men and Little Miss Picture Books)

Mummin’

Dr KittyCat is Ready to Rescue: Pumpkin the Hamster

Pumpkin’

The Time Machine (Oxford World’s Classics)

Delorean’

RED WAGON Girl’s Suede Skirt, Black, 6 Years

Wagons Rollin’

Advertisements

Nightman Listens To – David Bowie – Lodger

lod.jpg

Greetings, Glancers! We’re back in the weird and wacky and often infuriating musical world of Monsiour Bowie and his thirteenth album Lodger. I’ll be honest and say that it’s not one I really know anything about – I never hear anybody talking about it and I don’t recall seeing it in many Best Album lists. That will probably mean it turns out to be my favourite by him so far. Well then, I see no sense in ‘anging ’bout.

Fantastic Voyage. Drums. Guitar and piano. Familiar Bowie vocals and beat. A little woozy and gospel. Building. Big note. Sounds like the lyrics are just as vital today. A nice start.

African Night Flight. Noises. Worse noises. Bangs. Tribal space loops. Rapping. This is certainly different. Can’t help but smile at this one. I mean, it’s not good but it’s certainly hypnotic, ambitious, and draws you in. I think I wold like this more with multiple listens.

Move On. Guitar phased. Galloping. Deep vocals. So a lot of this is being inspired by Africa. Name dropping other places. Very loose. None of the songs have had a traditional structure or obvious hook yet, though each has been interesting in its own way and not off-putting. Shouty vocals now.

Yassassin. Jaunty guitars and organs. Reggae beat. Arabian string sounds. Arabian vocals. It’s interesting again, another one with a sound different to the songs before it. So far these are all songs that are difficult to capture on first listen – they seem dense and mysterious and will only reveal their secrets after a few more goes.

Red Sails. Low. Building drums. Faster. Asian vocals and noises. A little spacey. Crazy guitar. Crazy vocals. Like a bunch of space pirates on acid. It’s okay, it’s a little too close in pace and general style to his glam stuff, but different enough in sound to not put me off.

DJ. Drums. Disaster strings. Funky. Bass loopy, guitar disco. Lyrics sound like he is taking the piss out of DJs for self important. Goes on a bit too long.

Look Back In Anger. Fast. Boxing ring bells. Great drums. Guitar spikes. Good vocals. Another interesting one that does its own thing.

Boys Keep Swinging. Well, I know this one. Or more accurately, I know the Susanna Hoffs cover from her mostly crappy debut solo album. I haven’t heard the original before. That Hoffs album has notoriously bad production, this sounds better instantly. I can see why she chose to cover it, but it’s not amazing. Good bass. These last albums have all had fantastic musical work from the surrounding band. Solo. Sounds an awful lot like some of the solos on The Holy Bible so I assume the Manics borrowed this sound.

Repetition. Guitar chord. Bass weirdness. Falling through a dream. Dazed wandering through a crowded foreign city. Sounds like a song about beatings. The sound and song title suggesting madness and inevitability and no escape? It’s another weird one, but okay.

Red Money. More weirdness. Military beat, off kilter bass. Off kilter everything. This is slow and mesmerizing again, but along with the previous song feels like a slow down, or a peddle off the gas, both in terms of pace and quality. Still good though, but maybe a little too experimental for most.

I said this would probably be my favourite because I didn’t know anything about it, and honestly it’s pretty close. As I mention a few times above, I think the songs here demand multiple listens and unlike some of his other stuff I am more than willing to stick this one on again – it could be that the songs don’t work on a personal level after I hear them more and are more like cutesy tracks that only work once, but I expect them to grow on me more. There are no obvious hits here so I understand why this one is not rated as highly as others, but there are no weak songs here and each one is quite different.

Let us know in the comments what you think of Lodger. Were you around when it was first released? How do you rank it alongside Bowie’s other works?

Kids

*Note – Originally written in 2003

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Larry Clark’s debut is a bleak and unrelentingly honest look at how city teen life can be. It stirred up much controversy upon its release and is still powerful today. Drugs, sex, violence and no remorse for one’s actions all make this daring film-making, and almost essential viewing.

It is Telly’s mission in life to have sex. Preferably with under-aged girls and if they are virgins – all the better. The film opens with his seduction of one such girl; he spouts all the sincerity and caring words he can muster and she gives in. As soon as it is over he is out the door, mission accomplished, telling his friend Casper everything that happened in gory detail. We follow the two around their city as they steal, talk about sex, fight, get drunk, get stoned. They are part of a young gang which seems to have spread throughout the whole city. Morals are non-existent, but they believe that homosexuality is evil, or at least a joke. AIDS is a joke too, and all other STDs, as none of them have ever heard of anyone who has had any. We see the juxtaposition of guys and girls talking about their experiences, and planning ahead for the night. Jennie has only been with one guy, Telly, and because one of her friends has been with 9 guys, she decides to go to the sex clinic as support. Her friend comes out clean, but Jennie tests positive for HIV. Jennie begins a very slow race to find Telly, perhaps before he can destroy another girl’s life. Telly is once again on the prowl.

Each performance here is outstanding, particularly Leo Fitzpatrick and the late Justin Pierce as Casper. None of the characters repent what they have done – it’s all they have, and they enjoy it. Even Jennie appears to be passive, taking drugs when she should be finding Telly. None of the sex scenes are particularly explicit, but it is the fact of their age, of course, which caused such an uproar. However, this behavior obviously does go on, you only have to hang around most city streets at night to witness it. The violence is also cleverly edited, but like the sex and drugs, we only need a glimpse to set our imagination and disgust off. There are no happy endings or answers here, perhaps giving fuel to those who say this is just exploitation. For me, Clark is simply exposing a particular reality, maybe in the hope that we can do something about it. The fact remains that (some) teens have, and probably always will continue to do these things, but maybe not with such a lack of remorse.

Let me know in the comments what you think of Kids and if it has any message to get across.

Gemma Hayes – The Roads Don’t Love You

roads.jpg

Gemma Hayes’s first album was a surprise hit, a success with critics and a select group of fans, but it never made the impact it deserved to on the British or American charts. Selling well in her home of Ireland, and doing okay in other territories it was a sign of a singer songwriter with a bright future. After relocating to LA, and it would appear mulling over what to do next for some time, she returned with this 3 years later. This album is a departure from some of the folk stylings of her first, but keeps the big melodies and hits. The album covers a variety of themes and moves from bleak to joyful in single bounds, but it retains her wonderful voice and much of her arm thrusting guitar work. While not as critically successful as her first album, this is equally good- less experimental but more fluid there are any number of fantastic songs here proving that she isn’t a one hit wonder.

‘Two Step’ opens the album in familiar territory with Gemma’s gorgeous, husky voice playing over soft folk guitars. The chorus bursts open in appealing style and we know that she still has a rock soul burning under her heavy heart as well as an ear for a memorable melody. Lyrically honest as always, she sings of (the central theme of the album) travel, of running away and returning, of the solitude of the road as well as the freedom. The brief middle part shows of her voice at it’s yearning best before returning to the chorus.

‘Another For The Darkness’ begins with tender acoustics and sorrow filled vocals to bitter lyrics. The glorious chorus is only bettered when she plays it live, and with lines like ‘I don’t understand better than most’ she is again baring herself but saying she isn’t the pinnacle some may take her for. A love song, a song about the bad parts of fame she has experienced it is complex but easily absorbed thanks to the delivery and melody.

‘Happy Sad’ is one of the first singles from the album, an up-tempo track with commercial stylings, but it doesn’t really show off her vocals and lacks the edge of Let A Good Thing Go and Hanging On from her first album. Lyrically she shows again her bleeding heart poet side, but there is always hope and sunshine. Typically a love song about her ‘sadder boy’ being the only one who can bring her out of her malaise, it is pretty good but there are other tracks which could have made better singles.

‘Easy On The Eye’ is an utterly gorgeous acoustic ballad, sung in the style Gemma does best- as if it is just you and her in the room and is played for both of you alone. It is her barefaced tribute to the one she loves, emotionally charged and with simple, gentle lyrics which appear highly personal. When played live the crowd doesn’t make a sound- always the sign of utmost respect and adoration.

‘Keep Me Here’ begins in top form with a brilliantly performed dark verse, but the chorus doesn’t fit for me as well as I thought it would. Nice clanging guitars as always and quite lyrically downbeat, singing of the separation we can feel when we are together and there is an air of despair throughout, although this is shot through with acceptance- she is trying to convince the other party that it will never work.

‘Undercover’ is the other main single from the album and I much prefer it to Happy Sad. Everything is so melancholy and honest, the verses sets the tone while the chorus is melodically beautiful and emotional. I often imagine this is heavier than it actually is, maybe I’m used to her rocking more when she plays it live. Either way, either style it remains a great song, I like the siren style backing vocals in the chorus, but mostly it’s the yearning, tearful vocals which stand out.

‘Nothing Can’ is a song I often forget about, I’m not certain why as it is very good. The traveling theme continues and the piano/xylophone melody is effective at creating an energetic mood. Gemma is intelligent enough to recognize that while running away may be a solution for a while, the grass is rarely greener on the other side. She sounds as if she is making a stand here, showing her strength, and being decisive. Some of her chorus vocals are heartbreaking as she blends gentle and husky styles, making this one I should listen to more.

‘Helen’ slows things down greatly, with pianos and strings and her guitar laid to rest. The lyrics look to the past, begin quite placidly, but end on a note of sorrow. Most of the vocals are whispered and it is almost too sweet, but she opts for a pretty anti-melodic lead- this means it is sometimes difficult to remember this song.

‘Something In My Way’ along with EOTE is my favourite song on the album. Everything about this is Gemma perfection- soaring chorus vocals, a gentle, shoulder surfing verse, sublime melodies, rocking guitars and heart felt lyrics. This should have been a single, and it really deserves to be huge especially when compared to most of the other female led dross in the charts. This rolls along at a high tempo, has typically brutal and dark lyrics- like I’ve mentioned before this really becomes timeless when she performs it live.

‘Horses’ has a memorable chorus, but something about the rest of the song doesn’t work for me. I don’t think there is anything special here, especially when it is surrounded by truly great songs. This is pleasant enough, but doesn’t stand out.

‘Tomorrow’ closes the album in hopeful tones with the refrain ‘I’ll be here tomorrow’- great news for the fans as, sweet jeebus, Gemma Hayes is great. It is a fairly simple song, similar to Horses with soft melodies. It is a gentle ending which leaves us wanting more.

‘Pull Me In’ is a short hidden track, showing Gemma’s penchant for experimentation and noise. A simple lyric backed up with distortion and percussion it isn’t anything too remarkable, but still a curiosity.

The album isn’t exactly one of two halves, although I prefer the first songs rather than the last few, with Something In My Way preventing the last part from being overly dreary. You could argue that conceptually the first part is about running away, and second about facing things and deciding to return, but most of that is irrelevant. We have another collection of beautiful songs which for the most part will stay in your mind for a long time- I’ll say it again, catch her live and experience some of these songs for yourself.

Are You Afraid Of The Dark – The Tale Of The Pinball Wizard

maxresdefault.jpg

Greetings, Glancers! Since the series disappeared from Amazon Prime, I haven’t bothered trying to catch up on any more episodes. I see on the stats though that the old posts get a few views every so often so it’s time to kick off my ‘hilarious’ reviews once more. Looking at the title and the synposis, I have no memory of this episode. Does it feature a deaf, dumb, and blind kid who sure plays a mean pinball? I sure hope so. About that synopsis though:

Ross is a latchkey kid and spends his time after school playing pinball at the mall. Mr Ohlsen, manager of the arcade, leaves him there alone and warns him not to play the ‘Mystery Machine’. Temptation gets the best of Ross and he plays it anyway. He becomes absorbed in the game, loses track of time, and soon finds that he is locked inside the mall.

You see, this is promising. Malls and horror go hand in hand like zombies and chopper blades. And to that the fact (as I’ve probably mentioned here before) that I’ve always loved the idea of being trapped in a mall overnight – as a kid it was one of my dreams. It still kind of is. American Malls, I should add, are a hell of a lot different from the crap we have over here.

NewtownardsTills.jpg
All these are dead

While you have fountains and playing areas and multi-levels and hundreds of stores, all I had growing up was a large supermarket (or one on either end) with a few minor stores dotted around it. Everything would be on a single level, and instead of fountains we had tramps pissing in the corner. My favourite destinations were the Toy Store, naturally, and the doughnut joint where you could watch the doughnuts being made, splatting into the fryer, travelling up the belt, and being covered in sugar. For a while there things got better, with higher quality shops and better options – now though it’s just pound (dollar) shops and pointless clothes places. Who buys clothes, seriously?

19894823_10155250359610568_1824132263657239236_n.jpg
I rarely do

Regardless, who wouldn’t want to be stuck in a mall overnight. Ignoring being caught by the authorities, think of all the awesome antics you could get up to and all the food you could devour. If there was an arcade, of course you’d have to spend some time there. Which takes us back to the episode. We open as we generally do, with the campfire weirdos prepping for another night of just-pubescent terror. David is playing on his Gameboy (90s, yo) while Betty Anne watches, until Eric turns the game off. Shockingly, David does not use the Gameboy as truncheon to sprinkle shards of Eric’s skull into the fire. Fake Rufio (Frank), Kirsten, and Kiki all discuss videogames for a few moments until Gary shows up to tell his tale, reminding the viewer that in real life we can’t simply hit the reset button when shit goes south. And so, our Tale begins.

We get some nice opening shots of the mall which make 90s me jealous and angry about not living in America. Does anyone know what Mall this is and if it has appeared in any other media? It looks familiar. Ross is our (anti?) hero, hunting for quarters and dimes in the mall’s fountains and he is accosted by what appears to be a homeless person wrapped in luxury bedding. After being interrupted by an indoor-shades-wearing security chump, while sinister thumpy piano music plays, Ross checks out a super-soaker with two giant bronze dildos adorning its surface. Ross goes to speak to Mr Olsen, where we learn that Ross is doing an awful Sylvester Stallone impression. Is this supposed to make him look tough? Italian? It’s a very awkward performance. Olsen tells him to get out after he uncovers a mysterious new pinball machine. What the hell is this store? It looks like a Cobbler’s – there are no furnishings or paint on the walls or decorations of any type, just some old timey cash register and a fiery pinball machine.

Olsen has a change of heart and decides to leave Ross in charge for a while so that he can grab a late lunch. In true forbidden fruit style he reminds Ross not to touch anything, especially the new pinball machine. Can you see where this is going? In Ross’s defence, he does last about four seconds before abandoning his duties and going on a silver ball hunt. He appears to shove his hands down his pants to check his own balls are in place first. Note to employers – if this guy enters your offices, do not approach him or make contact in any way. The mystery machine has a cartoonish court jester as its central relief, surrounded by other regal emblazons. Inexplicably, Ross begins touching his genitals again while saying ‘wow’, and then sticks some money in the slot. As he plays, we get a shot of Olsen hanging around outside, listening and grinning. It’s all highly dubious and seemingly perverted.

Mizuki-Horii-18-600x900
Any excuse

A hot girl enters the store looking for her music box to be returned and Ross thinks to himself I have some silver balls I’d like to return to your music box. This scene is very awkward too, at least this time it’s deliberate. She leaves and, you’ve guessed it, Ross rushes out back to touch himself again. After a brief montage of gaming cliches Ross realizes he has somehow been left in the store alone and the Mall has closed. Things take a creepy turn as Ross panics and receives mysterious, prophetic phone calls. Two Gestapo or MIB jump-scare into view and terrify Ross with their detachable limbs. A whole unit of these mindless fucks appear, but it seems they can’t pass over water – must be white-walkers or Baptists or something.

Hot girl appears once more, shrieking about keys and tiaras, while an extra from Prince Of Thieves struggles to hold her without touching her boobs. At least Ross appears to be somewhat resourceful, shoveling handfuls of water towards the MIB which makes them dance out of shot. Is Ross in the game? Has the game come to life? Nobody knows. Still, there’s some good jump-scares and weirdness and old school game noises to enjoy. The musical cues and music in general are pretty funny. He grabs a magical tiara then chases hot girl down a Workers Only entry, only to be jump-scared by Grotbags. That was actually a pretty effective and well timed scare – we’ve had a few of these in this episode, so kudos. I can imagine kids being freaked out by all this – on a personal note, I’ve always found high pitched cackling, the likes of which the witch emits here, to be deeply disturbing. You know those moments you have in the house in the dark where you think something is standing behind you or about to grab your foot as you tiptoe upstairs? It’s high-pitched wails that do it for me – I imagine myself entering a room and seeing a shadow figure rush towards me, wailing, and my sphincter sneezes.

Next up we have more awkward scenes with Ross and Sophie about keys, music boxes, tiaras, an executioner, the witch, thrones – Ross is as confused as us. Things get more confusing when Ross gently rolls a handful of marbles (clearly pinballs) towards the witch. The witch sees them coming but rather than step to the side, open her legs and let them roll through, or simply stand still and watch them bounce of her feet, she somehow does the whole Home Alone back flip onto her arse. There’s a torturous ‘chase the slow moving Tiara’ scene, more weird stuff happens, and just as it looks like the game has been won the bad guys come and send Ross back to the ground floor. Ross learns from his mistakes, grabs the supersoaker, and heads off to battle. After some furious squirting the enemy is vanquished and hot girl is crowned – yay! Just time for a twist ending and some more chatter from the campfire weirdos.

If there’s a message here, it seems to be that videogames are evil and for losers. Presumably as it’s the last episode of the season, Campfire Ross looks directly into the camera and says ’till next time’. Yeah, don’t push your luck, son. Some of the weirdos don’t even return for Season 2. Anyway, this was an inconsistent and weird episode that had good ideas and some good scares, but was let down my poor acting and too short a running time to really explore what they wanted to do. Still, for any kids watching this at the time it would have been a decent enough end to the season.

Lets take a look at the roster from today’s episode. Joe Posca starred as Ross and has some good, mostly bad moments, and according to IMDB he only managed two further credits – as Puerto Rican boy in some TV movie and Drew’s Teammate in some TV series. The hot girl – Sophie – on the other hand was played by Polly Shannon who has had a pretty bright career as writer, producer, and actress. She has been in a bunch of TV movies and series including Leap Years, La Femme Nikita, and The Girl Next Door. AJ Henderson (Olson) makes his second appearance in AYAOTD so we won’t talk about him again. One of the interesting things about the episode is that a few of the actors play dual roles – the bed mummy at the start is also the witch, the security guard is also the Sheriff, and the Wrestler, Nutcracker, and Executioner are all played by Normand James – he of the unnecessary D. He plays three roles here, but that’s all he ever did apparently. Tom Rack has had a long and varied career though, aside from his dual performance in this episode he has also been in many shorts, TV shows, done voice work and bigger movies such as The Human Stain and 300 albeit in minor roles. He also returns in a later AYAOTD episode. Finally, Witch/Mummy is played by Nathalie Gautier who performance her seemed to be her last, having previously been in a small number of unknown movies like Mind Benders and Night Of The Dribbler.

Let us know in the comments what you though of this one. Next time up, it’s The Tale Of….. Sweet Dreams!

b835461ff329a80b31981c2a85cfd078.jpg

Gemma Hayes – Night On My Side

*Originally written in 2005 (or something)

nih

Gemma Hayes crept into the charts with a series of folksy rock songs, garnering the attention of fans and critics. It wasn’t until her first album was released to acclaim that people started to take note. Nominated for the Mercury Prize (not really much of an honour anymore to be honest) it was a fusion of rock, pop, and folk, with husky Irish vocals, anguished and honest lyrics, gentle melodies, and some interesting arrangements. The chart success in Mainland Britain wasn’t huge, but she became a bigger name in her home land, and a series of tours and festivals spread her name to wider shores. Night On My Side wipes the floor with most singer songwriters which have come out of this decade- those one hit wonders, those one trick ponies who won’t go away- there is a touching quality to her tender moments, and an unchained rage in the heavier songs. Everything is on show here, a dangerous thing for any artist to portray as it can lead very quickly to obsessive fans who feel they know her intimately from the words and emotions on display here. Gemma would leave the madness of, oddly enough, LA while she mulled over her next move. While she has continued to produce great work, this remains her most respected.

‘Day One’ opens the album in a fairly bleak fashion with the raspy vocals, soft guitars, and harsh ideas. It is a folk style song, with a country and Irish twist. The highlight here is the lyrics, covering violent images with dedication and love, but it is over very quickly. It is a decent opener, setting the listener up for what is to come, but I feel she had better non album tracks from this time such as Gotta Low which could have been added.

‘Hanging Around’ opens with distorted riffs and opening refrain from Gemma before exploding into big verse and chorus melodies ensuring that this would be a live favourite for years to come. On the surface a simple love song, the lyrics show greater depth on closer examination as she opens her heart to none and all. Above all though, it is a jump around song with some unexpected guitars from a small blond girl from Tipperary. This one proves that she can rock- when I saw her at Glastonbury a loud guy in the audience kept shouting ‘You Rock!’ at her, and asking her questions- she always answers, another nice feature of her live performances. After a chat between the two of them he made his way to the stage and gave her a shot of whiskey which she gratefully downed to huge cheers before continuing with the set.

‘Back Of My Hand’ starts with almost harpsichord sounding guitars and lyrics of desperation. Gemma’s voice here sounds like she is singing just to one person, just to you- one of the many reasons she has a fairly rabid fan base. This is another tale of lost love where she sings of the pain it can cause, but also that she knows of the strength to move on. The emotions move from the aforementioned desperation, to bitterness, to going on with head held high, mirroring the feelings of a real break up.

‘Over And Over’ slows the pace a bit, an affectionate love song with Eastern strings and deliberately sandwiched between two grief stricken and angry songs. This one deals with almost losing the person you love but preventing it just in time, all played to dreamy guitars and gentle tunes.

‘Let A Good Thing Go’ is probably Gemma’s best known song and a fan favourite. With its instantly recognizable introduction, sad and drawled vocals, big melodies, and excitable guitars it is as much a sing along at live performances as Hanging On. Again we get insight into Gemma’s thoughts and feelings, and her experiences with life and love through her words which never shy away from truth. While other songs on the album speak of people leaving her and the pain it causes, this one talks about the stark realization that she has ended something herself and now regrets it. Regardless of the gloomy subject matter, the audience never fails to bounce around to this one.

‘Ran For Miles’ knocks you offside by opening with gentle notes and beats which would typically make you think of lazy summer nights, then cracks you over the head with the emotional vocal delivery and lyrical content. You can almost hear the tears welling up with each line of the verse, and the tender climbing notes of the chorus never fail to leave you with a lump in your throat. It isn’t until the end that she belts out the final few lines, unleashing all the pent up emotion and you don’t know whether to smile or cry.

‘What A Day’ shows Gemma’s more experimental side with strange noises, chords fading in and out, and a distorted drum loop. Again the lyrics are packed with honesty, but simple, and the melody is soft. I don’t think this one is particularly memorable and something like Evening Sun would have suited the album better, but it’s still an okay song for the middle of the album.

‘Tear In My Side’ brings back the heavy guitars and is probably the loudest song on the album- not that we’re talking growling territory, just distortion and punching the strings rather than stroking them. The song simply repeats the refrain over and over with growing instrumentation and emotion. There are a few breaks in this growth where the background noise fades leaving the second refrain to repeat in a softer manner. This too grows louder before returning to the original refrain with even more feeling and sound. This is another great song which people tend to forget from the album.

‘I Wanna Stay’ is a beautiful track with an ever so minor country sprinkle (good as I can’t stand country music) on top. It is a quiet love song which for another time paints a picture of those lazy summer nights, just you and the one you love challenging the sun to never set. Simple lyrics which show devotion to one and nothing else, soft music, and airy melodies which will float through your mind all day. The song also features a hidden acoustic track at the end, just guitar and the sound of children playing.

‘Lucky One’ opens with mermaid/siren haunting vocals with Gemma insisting that someone is the lucky one. There are soft picked guitars with sudden distorted blasts and noise which increases through the song until it peaks with a blast off. Gemma continues her refrain as the wall of sound swells before fading off to Gemma’s light whispers.

‘My God’ is mostly glorious. The sad thing is that this is never played live. The lyrics are strong, story like, touching, the guitars wavering in the background while the vocals are packed with emotion and pleading.

‘Night On My Side’ closes the album in familiar style with laid back guitars and vocals, a few grains of country, and yearning lyrics. The melody creeps into your unsuspecting memory because everything is delivered in such a gentle, unassuming fashion. The hidden track ‘Pieces Of Glasses’ comes in after this, one of the softest songs on the album where Gemma admits a series of faults in typically tragic style.

Night On My Side is a brilliant debut, showcasing a growing talent. She already had much experience playing the bars in Dublin and releasing 2 EPs before this came out so her performances her are assured and confident. It is in the lyrics where her candor and strength truly lie here, slightly ironic given that she displays and lack of confidence in the subject matter. In an age of dreary middle of the road songwriters, Hayes is a breath of wonderfully fresh air, a unique voice who isn’t afraid to do things her own way rather than pandering to any chart style. If you’re looking for a new female voice with strong lyrics and memorable tunes, look no further.

The Guest

the_guest_main_one_sheet_cmyk

Adam Wingard may be heralded as one of the most successful and promising young upstarts of horror, but it’s clear he has more up his sleeve. The Guest is a throwback to another time – a time when any number of movies about creepy neighbours, babysitters, distant family members would come into the homes and lives of an innocent family and slowly unleash terror. The Guest is many things, horror included, but it also has plenty of action, uncomfortable laughs, tragedy, knowing nods to past classics, and some great performances.

The Guest sees a mysterious young man paying visit to a grieving family. Their son was a soldier but lost his life in Afghanistan, and the man who stops by introduces himself as a soldier and friend of their son. He has come to help look after the family, knowing they would struggle if their son was killed – he is the model guest, sweet, helpful, and interested in helping out any way he can. As is the case with such films, David (The Guest) isn’t being entirely honest and eventually suspicion creeps in leading to the twist and thrilling climax.

Although the story follows the usual expected plot for such films – nothing I’ve said above is really a spoiler (what follows may be spoiler territory) – though the twist is not what you’d expect, almost sci-fi in nature. The twist is fine and explains David’s various skills, but doesn’t really make sense. After all the good things he does for the family I don’t buy that he would be forced to kill them – it’s the fact that he seems so kind and goes over and above for them that makes the final act more ludicrous and tragic. It doesn’t harm the film much, just makes it less credible. Apparently there had been additional scenes which further explored David’s background but the director preferred the ambiguity. In the hands of a lesser director or worse cast it could have been a more noticeable problem, but Stevens gives a career best performance, Monroe is solid as always, and everyone else performs well. While this eventually becomes like a slasher movie, its roots are more firmly in the thriller genre. The action scenes are swift and often brutal, not overly bloody and more akin to something like Die Hard. It’s a film which most genre fans will enjoy and doesn’t suffer from dipping its toes in multiple pools.

Let us know in the comments what you thought of The Guest!