Monthly Archives: June 2012

Guernsey Festival 2012 – videos and photos

Over the weekend of 23rd and 24th June 2012 the Guernsey Festival took place for the second time at The Rabbit Warren fields.

The weekend featured bands from Guernsey, the UK, Jersey and France including The Charlatans, Kaiser Cheifs, Maverick Sabre and Macy Gray.

Guernsey music was represented by Teaspoonriverneck, CourageHaveCourage, China Aster, Deemas J and Last of the Light Brigade amongst others.

I was reporting on the festival for BBC Introducing Guernsey , you can hear my show featuring the coverage here, and you can see my photos from each day by clicking on the pictures:

 

 

 

 

 

You can read my full review of the weekend here and this is the abridged version that appeared in Gallery Magazine in July 2012.

And here are a few videos I got at the Festival of some of the local acts:

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BBC Introducing Guernsey – Guernsey Festival and The Crowman – 27/06/12

The Crowman and Emma – Picture by Tom Girard, courtesy BBC Guernsey

For this month’s BBC Introducing Guernsey show I had a busy time reviewing the Guernsey Festival (with CourageHaveCourage live in the studio) and a live session from The Crowman and Emma.

In the Guernsey Festival review I also heard from the organisers, Teaspoonriverneck and Last of the Light Brigade.

On top of this we played a few tunes from some of the bands playing this year’s Chaos festival and announced the main stage headliner… Viking Skull!

You can listen to the show here.

Click here to see some videos I got at the festival and, soon, read my review of it.

Tracklist:

And as I couldn’t really play it on the radio, have a taste of Viking Skull!

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Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

For a film that screams all title no substance, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, manages to be a thoroughly entertaining, if immensely silly, hundred or so minutes.

When I first heard that a film was being made with the title Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, my first reaction was that of extreme excitement, largely due to the ridiculousness of the title.

That was soon followed though by the realisation that movies with titles like this rarely live up to their poster (see much of Troma’s back catalogue and any number of grindhouse movies for proof) and that, since Night Watch, Timur Bekmambetov hadn’t really lived up to expectations either.

So it was with a sense of hope, but not much more, that I headed into the cinema.

With an opening quote from the bible and a very cheesy opening scene of Lincoln as a child trying to rescue a slave family my hopes continued to be a bit low, however soon this was to change.

Once we had left child Lincoln, to be replaced by Benjamin Walker’s twenty-something Abe, things suddenly turned up a gear as he headed out to avenge his mother’s death and ran into vampires along the way.

Two things really provide highlights for me in this movie; first is the fact that rather than being ‘The Young Abe Lincoln Chronicles’ it actually follows his life through the Civil War and his presidency, all with the backdrop of vampire hunting, which struck me as a brave move as it tried to weave real events into the plot.

Secondly is the action scenes; using slo-mo and gravity defying CGI to enhance the action in brilliant ways, it backs up the whole over blown tone of the movie to create something very close to being a comic book on-screen. A highlight of this was the climactic train based sequence that felt like a much higher quality, steampunk, version of Jean-Claude Van Damme’s Derailed.

My only criticism of the action scenes is that there were points where the 3D intent of them was a bit over powering and actually distanced me from them (in the way that 3D can do) even though I was watching in 2D, this was a particularly odd experience, but generally soon left me as some other ridiculous happening took place.

Once the credits rolled and I saw Tim Burton’s name crop up the production design suddenly made a lot more sense as it had his finger prints all over it, and I could easily see Burton having cast Johnny Depp as Lincoln had Burton directed, which, in this case, thankfully he didn’t.

I think it is in this involvement of Burton, combined with the stylistic flair, and vampire action nouse, of Bekmambetov, that is the cause of this films surprising level of success. The two styles merge excellently to create something a bit left of centre but at the same time straightforward enough to be great entertainment, and it even has a bit of a message to it (albeit one we’ve heard many times before and that isn’t really fully explored).

In the end Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is, as the title suggests, a wildly silly movie but it delivers in such a way as to live up to its b-movie style title with some suitably knowing performances and great straight-faced action which combines to create what could easily be a truly enjoyable guilty pleasure of a movie – if only all movies with excellent titles could live up to this… Robert Rodriguez the challenge has now been made, lets see what you can do with Machete Kills!

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Third Guernsey-based artists compilation released – BBC Guernsey

Dead Wing – Photo by Tom Girard, courtesy BBC Guernsey

My latest piece for BBC Introducing Guernsey takes a look at GBG#3, a compilation of music from Guernsey, Alderney and Sark:

A third compilation of music from Guernsey-based artists has been released.

Record label Twist Records and the Guernsey Arts Commission‘s Music Sub-Committee teamed up to produce GBG#3.

Across 29 tracks, spanning genres from hard rock and heavy metal to folk and electronica, the double CD collection acts as both an insight into what is going on in island music right now and as an archive document of Guernsey’s music scene.

Mark Le Gallez, the man behind Twist Records, said: “I am glad I put this record out as it is a time capsule of what is happening at the moment.

“There are some other bands I would have like to have included, but at least we have a span of different generations which is something I really like.”

Continue reading…

You can read my review of GBG#3 from Gallery Magazine here:

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Last of the Light Brigade – Floggin’ A Dead Horse

The mod punk rockers grow up (in the best of ways) on album number two.

In a recent live review I wrote about Last of the Light Brigade I stated that I thought they were a band that Guernsey should be getting excited about – well, as if to back this up, their new album Floggin’ A Dead Horse continues their trend for making great music that is also accessible to a mainstream audience.

Hot on the heels of their debut album, The Ones You Left Behind (which came out less than a year ago), here we find the band (and in particular songwriter Tyler Edmonds) in much more thoughtful and mature mode.

Starting off with recent single, Left In Ruins, this really shows how the band have developed even in the last year, going from brash punk tinged indie rock to a slower sound, somewhat reminiscent of the ‘big’ songs by bands like post-Richey Manic Street Preachers or Oasis, but still with the Light Brigade’s own features standing out.

Photo by Ettienne Laine

From there the album (or with just 7 tracks and a total runtime of only 20 minutes, maybe mini-album) goes in two directions; first is two reworked versions of tracks from The Ones You Left Behind, rearranged with piano parts being added alongside the guitars.

While this works well and displays a new talent from Tyler that, previously, we hadn’t really seen exploited to the full, it seems odd that this release features a pair of ‘old’ songs, though as this is their first release that will be more widely available (via Detour Records imprint Paisley Archive) maybe its only us Guernsey fans who will pick up on this.

The second direction sees the band develop on their edgy mod and punk inspired sounds which have previously been their stock in trade. In particular She’s Alotta Woman and Beyond Loneliness do this excellently with a darker tone coming in alongside their old sound.

Tyler Edmonds – Photo by Tom Girard, courtesy BBC Guernsey

These new elements aren’t to say the band have moved completely away from what made their name and Bridge Kitchen in particular is a slice of the more full on, enraged and energised sound that the band have become known for, especially live.

As well as the more developed songwriting Floggin’ A Dead Horse also features a production job that matches any professional record in my collection, giving the whole thing a much more professional sound and goes to show that even a new or part-time band can make something that sounds as good (or better) than any professional band in this day and age, if they are prepared to save up and put in the money and effort.

All in all, Floggin’ A Dead Horse is a sure step forward for Last of the Light Brigade and adds another band, along with CourageHaveCourage and Teaspoonriverneck, that Guernsey, and the world, really should and could get behind.

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The Muppets

Jim Henson’s creations get the reboot treatment in this at once knowing and innocent picture that harks back to the team’s heyday while adding in something new.

It was with a mix of anticipation and concern that I slid The Muppets Blu-ray into my PS3. I have been a fan of the rod and felt creations since Nickelodeon UK reran the Muppet Shows in the early/mid 1990s and I first properly encountered Gonzo The Great, Fozzie, Kermit et al, so the idea of them being ‘rebooted’ didn’t entirely fill me with hope.

Now I’ve seen the film though I have to say that while it wasn’t all I had expected it was still an entertaining and well made movie which captured the essence of the Muppets much better than their last few big screen outings.

The thing that struck most about this film is that it is unashamed variety, much like the original Muppet Show was, with a mix of song and dance numbers, bad jokes, and all the other things you’d expect from the Muppets, all with a light-hearted adventure plot weaving it all together.

Its clear from the start that the filmmakers wanted to make it obvious we were not in the real world, but we are in a world where the Muppets had a popular TV show and were ‘real’ people in their own right, just ones made of felt and fur, giving it the feel of the original series and its associated movies.

On top of this there was a somewhat knowing feel to the whole thing with constant references to the fact that this was a film along with some very self-conscious musical numbers.

While this may sound confusing it is the position the Muppets have inhabited throughout their careers and it continues to work for them and at no point did I find myself thinking of them as puppets but saw them entirely as the characters they are.

While the film did, at times, feel a bit over long, any time I thought it was going on a bit I was soon drawn back in by a classic Muppet moment which never failed to make me smile, from Fozzie’s fart shoes to Gonzo’s failed stunts it was like going back in time.

This sense of nostalgia was one of the things that really felt good about The Muppets and raised many a smile and laugh and I did find that throughout the film I was smiling more than I have in any film for a long time, and there were quite a few genuine laughs too.

Character wise new Muppet, Walter, fits in well with the rest of the crowd, despite my skepticism at the start, and the human characters are all drawn very broad but work well and are well-played by all involved to fit the tone of the movie.

As well as the homage to past Muppet adventures (including a fantastic reprise of the Rainbow Connection) the film features many cameos by a host of film and music stars, some as themselves (Neil Patrick Harris and Whoopi Goldberg) others as characters of one sort or another (Dave Grohl in particular standing out in the background as Animal tribute Animool), which harks back to the celebrity guests of the original Muppet Show.

In the end Jason Segel, James Bobin and co have created a tremendously enjoyable film that revives the Muppets in brilliant style without resorting to pointless post modernism, while still finding a place that works in modern cinema.

The one thing I would say though is that while I enjoyed this movie as a fan of its source material, I’m not sure anyone who hadn’t previously seen The Muppet Show would necessarily get everything that made it work for me.

But either way, it was good to see the gang play the music, light the lights and to be able to once again meet The Muppets on The Muppet Show tonight.

And simply because while finding pics for this I was reminded of it, here’s the combination of two awesome things; The Muppets and Weezer:

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Wind Down Zone – 18/06/12

Today I presented the Wind Down Zone on BBC Guernsey in a somewhat last minute fashion, pulled together some relatively chilled out tunes though and I hope I didn’t talk too much rubbish.

Anyway you can listen through the BBC iPlayer and such here.

And here is what I played:

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Inner Terrestrials, Insurrection and Shambollix – The Fermain Tavern – 15/06/12

Inner Terrestrials – Photo by Tom Girard, courtesy BBC Guernsey

A night of varied punk upholds the Earth Fair spirit and purpose and provides some great sounds despite the less than stellar turnout.

Check out my photos of the show on the BBC Introducing Guernsey Facebook page.

After a busy couple of weeks at The Fermain Tavern it seemed things might be returning to how they were a few months ago as Alderney’s Shambollix took to the stage to start tonight’s Vale Earth Fair fundraiser in front of a crowd of certainly no more than 20 people.

Despite this Derrick and Helen, who may be familiar to some as half of Rawcuz Crowzz, gave the set their all mixing the ‘blues’ of the ‘Thames Delta’ (inspired by the likes of Dr Feelgood) with the spirit of the pub rock and punk scenes of the mid 1970s.

Playing a selection of original songs, some of which were familiar from the Crowzz and others new to this band, they put in a performance which was much more together than when I had previously seen them play (under the name Crash ‘n’ Slide) and at times got heads nodding in appreciation of the stripped down lo-fi DIY approach the duo displayed.

Their sound came across like White Stripes if they were a pub rock act with the true spirit of making the most of what you have to make the kind of music you want to make.

As Guernsey’s own original hardcore punks Insurrection took to the stage a few more had made their way into the venue and, though the crowd was still small, it had added enough to the atmosphere in the Tavern to give the gig a good feeling.

Insurrection – Photo by Tom Girard, courtesy BBC Guernsey

With their second gig in as many months (prompting frontman Mark Le Page to comment, “Twice in one year!”) Insurrection came across much more intense and tight from the start tonight.

With the same mix of songs from their 1989 self-titled album and a couple of new numbers that we heard last time they played (when supporting Peter and the Test Tube Babies) the band tonight seemed more relaxed with Jon Langlois’ mix of classic buzzsaw style punk guitar and heavier playing working well alongside Mark’s vocals which keep the hardcore spirit alive while also clearly infused with elements of the darker metal sounds he has made since Insurrection first disbanded.

Once again I was left hoping that this isn’t the last we see of Insurrection this year as they are something different to anyone else in music in Guernsey today and always seem to get the crowd going.

Finally tonight it was London’s Inner Terrestrials’ turn to take to the stage.

As my personal highlight of last year’s Vale Earth Fair I was greatly looking forward to their punk-ska sounds and sociopolitical lyrics and from the start they didn’t disappoint and it didn’t take long for some of the small but enthusiastic crowd to get the dancefloor skanking.

Despite a slight lull in the middle of the set, Inner Terrestrials played a great show tonight, though it was clear at points the small crowd was making it hard for the band to play off the energy in the room in the way they had done one the Earth Fair’s main stage last summer.

Once again the Vale Earth Fair tonight presented a night of great music which had a real sense of some of the things the Collective stands for and, while many missed out on a great night, for those of us in attendance we got to experience a top underground UK punk band.

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You Think You Know Me: The Story of Edge

WWE presents an in-depth look at the career of one of its stand out stars of the last 15 years with an honesty not often found in the pro-wrestling business.

With the sudden news the night after Wrestlemania XXVII in April of 2011 that the WWE’s World Heavyweight Champion was being forced to retire due to a neck injury, it was hard to know how to react, and how the WWE itself would react.

For the previous decade Edge had been a major player in the WWE ring and had risen to be the lead performer on its Smackdown brand, feuding with the greats and the up and comers and putting on great performances night after night, and, while he may never have become a household name like The Rock of Stone Cold Steve Austin, Edge certainly carried on the stellar work they began in the so-called ‘Attitude Era’ and acted as a bridge to the new, more ‘PG-13’ era of WWE programming.

Well its safe to say that this DVD (or Blu-ray) set shows that the WWE does indeed appreciate the work done by Edge as they have created what is certainly one of their best documentaries to date, probably running a close second to The Rise and Fall of ECW.

The main reason that the main documentary film of this set is as good as the previous ECW one is the same; the fourth wall of pro-wrestling is allowed to be broken, particularly by Edge, or Adam as we learn he prefers to be called, as he discusses his life long association with the ‘sport’ from being a young Hulkamaniac to saying goodbye live on Monday Night Raw the night after Wrestlemania.

This is an astonishingly frank and open approach from the WWE, which also includes comments from many current WWE performers and even a new interview with former WWE wrestler Rhyno who broke into pro-wrestling along with Edge and Christian.

While a few things are glossed over, or somewhat one-sided (some comment from the Hardy Boyz or Dudleys would have added some more context to some events where Edge is painted as the ‘good guy’ and, particularly Matt Hardy, comes across as the ‘bad guy’ in a real life situation) most of the talk about the personal/professional life crossovers that really made Edge’s name as he moved to main event status are, for a WWE documentary, remarkably balanced.

The other thing that impressed me was the fact that we were allowed to hear and see things from Edges pre-WWE days on the indie circuit including talk of previous gimmicks and how the matches he and Christian used to put on were put together were planned and staged.

While this is something WWE has always been more open about than some other wrestling organisations, it is always nice to hear and adds something to the documentary which lends much of the rest of it a sense of truth as well.

Away from the documentary we are treated to a selection of Edge’s matches which add credence to the comment made in the documentary that “Edge never had a bad match”.

Even the matches from WWE’s sometimes troubled era before C.M. Punk’s ‘pipebomb’ promo in early summer 2011 are of a higher order than most of the rest of the company’s output at the time, and it speaks volumes for Edge’s ability that the matches span styles (although there is a lot of the expected TLC gimmickry) and opponents from Rey Mysterio to Kane and Big Show showing the versatility of his performances.

The highlights of these bonus matches to me are the ones from the middle era of Edge’s solo career featuring Matt Hardy, Shawn Michaels and The Undertaker and the only match missing from this set for me is the one from Wrestlemania 22 against Mick Foley and featuring a flaming table.

And because I mentioned it above and it is something special, here’s the Edge vs Mick Foley match:

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Thee Jenerators in Gallery Magazine

For this month’s album review in Guernsey’s edition of Gallery Magazine Tyler and me took a look at the new record from Thee JeneratorsRejeneration.

You can read the full article, including Tyler’s part, online through issuu.com (pages 111 and 112), or if you are on our little rock you can pick up a copy from a bunch of different places.

But here is my part of the album review, suffice to say Thee Jenerators have created a blinding record once again!

Rejeneration is available now through Detour Record’s Paisley Archive imprint and you can read my review of the launch show for the album here.

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