Wallows ‘Nothing Happens’ – album review/analysis.

By Mollie Campbell.

Band: Wallows

Members: Braeden Lemasters (Vocals, lead guitar, bass guitar), Dylan Minnette (Vocals, rhythm guitar, keyboards), Cole Preston (Drums, backing vocals).

Genre: Indie, Indie-Rock, Alternative.

Rating: 8/10

 

The album opener ‘Only Friend’ is just the kind of opening track you would expect from this indie/alternative trio, a catchy, fuzzy riff accompanied by the nonchalant style of singing that they execute so well. It is simple in a musical sense, which fits in with the laid back vibe of the song, a relaxed introduction to an interesting album. The lyrics paint a picture of modern life and what it entails for young people, the loneliness in a Social media driven world, and the isolation that comes with the transition into adulthood. I like that they used the riff right up until the end of the song without any pause, as it shifts into the next track. It really sets up the concept of the album and the continuity we will be following as listeners.

Next is ‘Treacherous Doctor’, opening with a catchy and rocky riff mirroring the sound of 2000’s British indie bands, is a brutally honest reflection of the band’s feelings of hopelessness in the world in 2019. The lyrics: ‘You grow up, gone, so what’s the point of connecting to anyone? Is a relationship bought or is it won?’ really highlights the negatives behind modern love and relationships, and seems to be telling us that despite Social media being there to connect with people, it can actually make you feel even less connected, and in tune with your own sense of isolation and loneliness instead. The song has an interesting instrumental section, full of loud crash symbols, it seems to be a random exertion of energy, possibly mirroring the emotional distress they are singing about, before resolving back to the message they are trying to portray. I wouldn’t say this is a particular highlight of the album, it is kind of monotonous at times, but that might be the point, and I appreciate the attempt.

The next track is ‘Sidelines’, portraying the classic tale of ending a relationship with someone, but still caring about them. The narrator is breaking up with his girlfriend, but he can’t help watching from a distance, on the sidelines, he begins to regret his decision when he sees her with someone else, and he can’t help but think about it: “I see you loving on the sidelines, I think about it at the wrong times, I see you loving on the sidelines, (I don’t wanna know), who you’ll be taking with you tonight”. Musically, the album is indie-rock/alternative, but certain songs like ‘Sidelines’ have poppy undercurrents, resulting in a much more mainstream sound. The bareness to the drums and the lucidity of the lyrics actually work well, the simplicity creates a clever result, a good transition song, linking the opening to the bulk of the album. The next song and the first single ‘Are you bored yet?’ featuring Clairo, gives the listener another perspective on the album concept, a refreshing female voice to prevent any kind of monotonous tone that may be starting to grow. The lyrics centre around two people in a relationship wondering if their time has come and whether the other person is bored or not, I like the way Minnette sings at the same time as Clairo, portraying the idea that often people are thinking the same things in a relationship as opposed to the perceived opposite stance, and that sometimes the relationship comes to an end in a really natural way. There doesn’t seem to be much of a sadness portrayed, mostly because there is a sense of trying to salvage what is being broken: “ If you could tell me how you’re feeling, maybe we’d get through this undefeated”.

‘Scrawny’, the second single, begins with that customary Wallows sound, an indie-rock riff accompanied by a fragmentary style of singing. This light-hearted interjection serves as a buffer between more serious themes on the album, with the narrator referring to himself as a ‘Scrawny motherfucker with a cool hairstyle’ several times. I like the vibrant style of drumming and the clean sounding guitar riffs in between choruses, and nonchalance of the lyrics. ‘Ice cold pool’ provides us with nostalgic basslines and trombone licks, this delves into the exciting unpredictability of youth, and how much we want to hang on to this sense of invincibility of our teenage/young adult years: “What’s the fun if you know what’s comin’?, I don’t want to escape it’. I love the carpe diem attitude to the song, mirroring what the majority of the target audience is feeling at this point in our lives, the idea of living for the now before we grow older and less passionate: “The plant inside that never seemed to die, you cut it down before the leaves were brown, the gate was closed, we know that we’re too old, the pool is cold, the pool is cold”. For me, this is an album highlight; it gives us an infectious sense of inspiration to experience life fully before it is time to grow up, and the inevitability of the passage time.

The next track ‘World’s Apart’ is quite plain musically; the lyrics are the real focus. It focuses on the questions that are running through the narrators mind when he feels as though he is becoming even more disconnected in his relationship with each day, it also delves into the concept of an empty love and the problems involved when trying to decipher whether your feelings are real or just a façade: “Am I afraid of you? Or do I pretend I don’t care? Just like the stars can tell all the worlds apart”. It may also be touching on the emptiness of  Hollywood and the superficiality that seems to be infectious: “A voice in the hall, you’re famous for something, it’s hard to recall”…are they simply together as an attempt to not feel alone in the LA bubble they find themselves in? The next verse: “Do I exist in your heart? Or did the ship sail away while I was in the gift shop? You swim with the sharks, and I know we’re worlds apart” May be referring to the narrator losing his partner to the magnetism of fame and superficiality, the gift shop could be a metaphor for the tourist and fame centred town they are in, attracting swarms of people that they are getting lost within. And at the end of the day, no matter how hard he tries to keep it together, he knows that it’ll never work because they are literally ‘World’s Apart’.  This is clearly an important message for this Los Angeles – based band.

The next song ‘What You Like’ seems to be a continuation of ‘World’s Apart’, but from a completely different perspective, this time the narrator is admitting to not really being switched on in his relationship, and not paying any real attention to the personality of his partner: “Go ahead, tell me now, what you like, maybe this time I’ll listen, go ahead, tell me now, what you like, maybe this time”. He is now regretting not listening to her and being as present in the relationship as he should have been, because now she is distancing herself from him: “You’ve got a new place in the world, that I can’t find”. I like the instrumental before the final two verses, it is kind of hectic and chaotic, representing the mess the narrator finds himself in. ‘Remember When’ begins with a nostalgic ‘Every Breath You Take’ vibe in terms of its opening riff, it is clean and musically pleasing/catchy. Then it switches to a deeper and more prominent riff before the vocals come in. The song, which runs for less than 3 minutes, is a catchy and easy listening indie track. The lyrics seem to be focused on the nostalgia of memories, and possibly the idea of navigating through the false perceptions and deception of adulthood and the ‘real world’, a polar opposite to the freedom of youth, as we grow older we are less trusting: “Thought I saw your shadow under the door, just a trick of the light I’ve seen before, I can never tell what’s real anymore, anymore, anymore”. It also deals with a lost relationship that he has left behind, and the fact that he feels kind of embarrassed for wanting to revisit that period in his life.

The penultimate track on the album ‘I’m Full’, is an energetic song with twangs of nostalgia as it reflects on themes portrayed earlier on in the album, for example, using the lyrics of previous songs: ‘Tell me what you like’, ‘You’re my only friend’. This song was actually written by the band years ago, meaning that it was probably the basis of the whole concept for this album; this is the foundation and a really important one at that. It is interesting that they put it at the end of the album; a literal confirmation of the idea’s we as listeners have been surmising throughout. The lyrics seem to be encapsulating the idea of bad habits that we cannot break out of no matter how hard we try, the things that are slowly killing us are always disguised as our friends. “I’m at it again, alone with a friend”, this precedes a loud instrumental. Then the voice becomes distorted and echoed, as the narrator pleads with someone, possibly himself, before letting out a tortured scream. The guitars become heavier and the drums get louder as the song reaches its end, this is a much more complex track and is quite impressive for a penultimate track due to its quality, and haunting concepts. It is a very raw and honest song, leading us into the final track: ‘Do Not Wait’.

The final song is over 6 minutes long, and whilst it does have a lot of interesting instrumentation, the music seems to have taken a back seat in order to focus fully on the richer and more complex lyrics. A raw and personal end to a meaningful and honest album: “You will say you’re dreaming up a way, you’re dreaming up a way to explode, there’s a time you’ll seek out a disguise, when you think people hate you the most, and it gets worse before it gets better, that’s one thing that I have come to know”. As the song continues, the dynamics of the music itself shift back into focus, acting as a prop to the story being told so deeply. There are some interesting distorted guitar licks before constant repeats of the line ‘Nothing Happens’, they finally delve into the meaning behind the album title. The song is continuous yet fragmented, almost as if the lyrics and music were written in the style of chapters.

Overall, this is an impressive effort for a debut album, giving us an insight into what this band is all about, and the promising future that awaits them.

 

The Pros and Cons of the domination of digital newspapers and how they are using their platforms to monopolise the market even further.

By Mollie Campbell.

It has been said that by 2040, newspapers will have become extinct worldwide, but the way in which things are going at the moment, tells me that they will disappear long before that date. In fact, in the UK and US, newspapers are already being deemed insignificant, and really, how many times do you see people reading newspapers instead of clutching phones when you’re walking down the street? Newspapers are going out of print every day, as the necessity to read the news physically has been wiped out by the convenience of online magazines, apps and even just search engines like Google.

The launch of online newspapers/news sites has completely dominated the journalism industry, everything is done online. I love reading books, but I haven’t bought a newspaper in over a year, now, I could sit here and lecture people on the importance of keeping reading (newspapers) alive, but I am a culprit myself. Yet there are some important things that we really are forsaking if we ditch newspapers for good. The first is the way the press write features and headlines, when a journalist or editor is writing a story for print, there is always at least some element of caution when printing something that they perceive as risky. There should be some kind of truth to it, only because of how final printing a paper is, once it’s out there it can’t be edited, people will see through any sort of lie that you have published, which could lead to a loss in sales. Well, for broadsheet papers at least, I can’t say the same for tabloids, who seem to print just about anything and everything! But when it comes to publishing articles online, nobody is as cautious, because if they publish something that is too over the top, or in factual, they can just edit it, or even delete it, in a second. Not only does this make it far easier for people to be subject to some sort of hidden political agenda, but it also makes writing a lazy/sloppy area.

Moreover, if people are aware of the fact that they can just delete or edit articles when things go wrong, they won’t take as much time to really think about what they are writing. The effort and patience is gone, creating a generation of lazy or even grammatically challenged journalists. They won’t have the same calibre as that of a writer forty years ago, who actually had to make sure that their final draft was impeccable, or the whole world would see their mistake, which could have led to them being fired or damaging the reputation of the newspaper. There isn’t that same level of care anymore, which is happening in a lot of area’s because of Social Media.

The topic I am about to delve into next is one that is and always will be a very big part of journalism, advertising. In newspapers, there are pages and pages of printed ads, surrounding every article you read. Newspapers were the perfect opportunity to reach audiences, but despite it taking up nearly every page, you aren’t forced to read it. You can skip over it, turn the page, or just completely ignore it, we had that option. Now that is gone, online newspapers now have the opportunity to turn their entire operation into something that is completely central to advertising; they put the needs of advertising before the needs of their actual content. Many newspapers like The Guardian for example, make you sign up in order to read an article, without doing so you can only read the first few sentences. So not only are they calling all the shots on how we read things, but they are also charging more than we would ever pay for a physical copy of a newspaper, with many online sites now charging monthly subscriptions. And if all newspapers online start doing this, we will have no option but to pay, completely monetising the industry even more than it already is. And when we do pay to read the articles, we are bombarded with ads left right and centre, often blocking the words on the screen in order to force us to consume them.

Moreover, this turns the industry and Social media in general, into a market, and we are the buyers being forced to shop even if we didn’t intend to. Then, these online newspapers, like many websites these days, have cookies and data policies. And we have to accept them in order to keep on reading, this gives them even more power, not only have they made us pay prices we wouldn’t have before, and bombarded us with tons of ads, they have also invaded our privacy in order to pile even more ads onto the screen, this time tailored to our interests by monitoring what we do online. If that’s not a modern example of Orwell’s 1984, I don’t know what is. Of course, there are pros to this as well, and not everyone is annoyed by these ads, in fact for a lot of people find them helpful, with some viewing them as an extraordinary possibility in this modern world, I just think that it’s a tad too invasive.

Although, there are many pros to the abolishment of newspapers, firstly, we could save a ton of paper which would be an incredible step in the right direction for the preservation of the planet, which is something that is much more important than people think in 2019. Secondly, it is more convenient to read the news online, with many people in full time work, juggling responsibilities, it doesn’t leave much time in the day to sit down and read a paper. This way, people can keep up to date with things, without sacrificing precious working hours, with many people reading news online during their commute to work. But there might not be as many of the population in favour as these newspaper companies projected, when the Independent ceased to print and moved online in 2016, they found that a lot of people didn’t take that digital leap with them, instead they just lost customers who switched to different physical newspapers. The switch to online platforms might actually just make people less interested, physical newspapers are harder to ignore than little online articles that people just seem to glance over instead of reading. The loss of the Independent as a liberal buffer between the left and right Guardian and Times will be felt politically, but other than that, it stands as a warning for newspapers out there thinking of making that digital leap, and the risk of losing such a large proportion of their readership if they do.

So there are many pros and cons to losing newspapers, and they are going fast. But according to statistics, people are still reading physical copies, and not everyone who reads articles online have stopped reading newspapers, it will take a while to get there, but when we do, what will happen? How will this shape the industry, and ultimately society?

Thanks for reading, and I’d love to hear some different opinions on this subject!

The Importance of putting your Mental Health before Social Media.

By Mollie Campbell

 

Have you ever scrolled through endless pages on Social Media apps for a longer amount of time than you would care to admit, and end up feeling like your happiness or emotion has been drained out of you?

If the answer is yes, you are not alone. In fact, a statistic I keep coming back to is that, according to NHS UK, 91% of 16-24-year-olds in the UK use the internet and other social networking sites regularly. More importantly, rates of anxiety and depression in young people have increased by 70% over the last 25 years. This is a scary and unforeseen companion to Social Media that has slowly and surreptitiously been following the trail of the world’s internet advances for the past 25 years, not becoming too much of a worry until we saw an actual change in the development of children who belong to generation Z.

Why? There are a variety of reasons behind this increase in internet users with low self-esteem from any generation, but particularly post-analogue. The first reason, which I have written about before, is that Social Media has arguably become the most important aspect of modern teenage life; children do everything on the internet, expressing themselves on a platform. Due to this, they see popular digital trends being labelled as ‘successful’, it bombards them so much that the line between personal dreams/desires and the world’s desires is blurred, massively. This completely and utterly strips them of any kind of individuality, instead they follow the crowd, never really delving into what they are passionate about, instantly creating a generation of people who aren’t happy in what they are doing.

Another major aspect, which can happen at any age, is how these Social Media sites force us to compare ourselves, even if we aren’t aware. Let’s take something like Instagram for example; its sole purpose is sharing photos of our lives with the world, which sounds great, and it is, as long as you use it for its basic feature. But that almost always goes out the window because we as humans just can’t help ourselves from making comparisons. We end up seeing everyone living their best lives, looking like a million bucks at all times, and it makes us question ourselves. For example, in a shop window, you are always going to put your best and most flattering items on display. It is the same on Instagram, we are just sharing with the world our own little shop windows, portraying all of our best moments, to live up to this perfect image. Nobody is going to upload a mediocre photo to Instagram, which lulls people into a false sense of perception, making people think that this perfection is what people look like at their worst. And if you’re constantly looking at photos of people at their very best, you cannot help but compare yourself to them, even if you don’t know you’re doing it. It sets completely superficial and unrealistic expectations, and if it this impactful with fully developed brains, think about what it is doing to the mental health of young people. With me, it wasn’t exactly about comparing myself from an aesthetic point of view, and I didn’t even know I was doing it until I realised that every single time I came off of Instagram, I went into full on panic mode about my career, my life-choices, I questioned what I was doing with my time, should I be doing more enriching and mind-altering things with my life? This all stems from seeing one travel photo, or someone climbing up their career ladder.

What is worse is that these things aren’t always easy to detect either, that sluggish post-scroll feeling is overlooked, placed on a shelf in the back of our minds. But what we don’t realise is that it never filters out of our brains, it sits there, festering, growing larger until one day it hits us in multitudes. A silent monster, preying on our mental health and the vulnerable position the internet puts us in.

How do we change this? Unfortunately, we cannot change what technological advances have been placed in front of us, but we can change our attitude and approach. There are tons of positive things that Social Media has to offer but you have to question whether you are on there for yourself, or simply because everyone else is doing it. We come back to that classic cliché quote:  if your friend jumped off a bridge, would you jump too? It’s corny but it has never lost its meaning. I often observe how people act in public with regard to phones, if a group of friends all take their phones out and you’re the only one left standing there without it, chances are you will follow their lead and end up on your phone too. Why should we all follow the crowd if it is something that is damaging us, we cannot change Social Media but we can change the way we use it. My point is that you shouldn’t feel pressured to spend your time on it just because everyone else is, take a break, steer clear from it for a while. Retune your mind with nature, planet earth, your mental health is an incredibly important thing and if Social Media is the reason for it slowly being chipped away at it, it is ok to step away from it.

In conclusion, whilst the internet and Social media has its benefits, we must accept that everything has a downside. And if we start to feel the aftershock of this negativity, there isn’t anything wrong with reducing contact with the thing that is making you miserable. It is evident that Social media has become an addiction within society, and every addiction results in the necessity to change your lifestyle. If the internet is having a negative impact on your life, don’t be afraid to put your mental health before the needs of Social Media, it might just be one of the most life-changing things you can do.

 

 

Netflix’s ‘After Life’ – Season 1 Review

By Mollie Campbell

Genre: Dark-Comedy, Drama

Cast: Ricky Gervais, David Bradley, Penelope Wilton, Ashley Jensen, Tom Basden

Rating: 9/10

As someone who has experienced the turmoil that is grief first-hand, on multiple occasions, I am naturally very defensive when it comes to representations of grief in Movies and TV shows, the writers always seem to lack any knowledge whatsoever on the subject, often resulting in some ridiculous lines that they seem to have acquired from the ‘grief handbook’ e.g.  the textbook of phrases for people who have never experienced grief, those who stress the formula of the ‘stages of grief’ and tell us to ‘move on’.  So I sat down to watch this show, not expecting much and preparing myself for my imminent annoyance, but it never happened. Nothing in all of the 6 episodes struck me as insensitive, offensive or quite frankly just absurd. I enjoyed every second of it.

The show centres on Tony Johnson (Ricky Gervais), and his grief after his wife dies of cancer. We see him in a complete depression, barely surviving; the only real interaction he enjoys is with his dog. He attempts to commit suicide multiple times but the only thing that prevents him from doing so is the responsibility he feels for his dog, who he cares too much about to leave behind. These suicidal feelings cause Tony to become someone who is cynical and rude to everyone, he takes risks and doesn’t care about the consequences because his argument is that if things go wrong, he can always commit suicide. The concept is talked about very heavily, and he is quite frank when he expresses these feelings. It is very accurate when it comes to portraying how other people react, some are incredibly helpful, some do not know how to react and some people compare grief to things that are sad yes, but in no way match the incomprehensible feelings that grief leaves us with, they just don’t understand that death is final. We will never see that loved one again. This show perfectly demonstrates what life is like after you are hit by the grief train, how it changes us as people and how living through another day feels like a chore.

But deep down, we are still there. And as the show goes on, it is clear that in all of this, Tony’s conscience and kindness is still in there somewhere because he slowly starts to realise that whilst it is understandable to be in such pain, it makes you feel worse if you keep causing others to be miserable when they do not deserve it.  This is a comical yet touching and honest portrayal of grief, and how people who haven’t suffered through it just do not understand what we are going through. It balances humour incredibly well, nothing is out of place, and it is harsh and brutal but still somewhat light-hearted in certain areas. One of the most memorable lines is something that has been whirring around my brain for years but has only just properly come to light because of how Gervais has written it, it resonated with me so strongly that I had to press pause and just sit quietly for a moment, collecting the words in my mind. When talking about the reality of the afterlife existing, Tony says:

“I know, she’s nowhere, alright. But get this through your head, I’d rather be nowhere with her, than somewhere without her”.

This sums it up for me, not wanting to die, but equally not wanting to live without your loved one. I have never seen this concept so accurately portrayed before, it touched me deeply. I was half-smiling, half-crying, although, it did actually throw me into a bit of a depressed spin the night after I watched it; it took me right back there, not that I ever left. So obviously that’s not really a good thing for me personally but on the other hand, it helped me at the same time, a reassurance that it is ok to feel this level of pain and depression. And that no two people react to grief in the same way, and that is something that is never portrayed that well within the sphere of Film & TV.

It also focuses on the connection we have with animals and how they help some people more than a human ever could. Whether it is because of their selfless and affectionate nature, or their inability to feel the darkness of the world, I don’t know, but I loved that they added this perspective into the show. It is something  that means so much to me as I have recently lost my dog, she helped me to survive when I lost my father, I wouldn’t have been able to keep on going if it wasn’t for her. So this storyline resonates with my experiences so deeply, it felt like I was watching some elements of my own life being portrayed on the screen in front of me. I have never seen anything like it, it is clever, unique and above all else, true. It is simply a true depiction of trying to survive throughout the constant cloud of grief, something which is incredibly important and should be focused on a lot more, maybe this is the start of that journey.

Captain Marvel – Movie Review

By Mollie Campbell

Genre: Superhero, fantasy, action, drama

Cast: Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, Lashana Lynch, Ben Mendelsohn, Jude Law

Rating: 8/10

 

I must admit, in recent years I have grown a little tired of the relentless domination of superhero movies that have been overriding our movie theatres. MCU movies really took off again with the release of Iron Man in 2008, but it is over the last 3 or 4 years that they have really controlled the film industry, just when the hype for one movie has died down, another Marvel movie is released, breaking more box-office records. Despite this all being one heck of a lead up to the final Avengers movie, set for release next month, this tyrannical reign from Marvel has really started to feel quite boring to me, it’s constant. But I’ve kept on going, watching them as they are released, sometimes more for the depth and rich histories of the characters than the actual plot. This is why I was pleasantly surprised when I watched Captain Marvel, it was actually fresh, unique and thoroughly enjoyable from start to finish.

When the film started, for around twenty minutes it felt a tiny bit stagnant, not a desirable beginning for the most highly anticipated movie of 2019, but after a while the plot starting emerging with more of a natural pace to it, enchanting the audience and not letting them out of its spell until the end credits. The film focuses on Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel (Brie Larson), a member of the Kree (military organisation); she has extraordinary superhuman powers, a result of an explosion, which caused her DNA to transform. The film follows her on her journey through the universe, (ending up on earth during the 1990’s), fighting the ‘Skrull’, the shape-shifting enemies of the Kree. As these events unfold, she delves into the life she had as a human on earth, discovers how her past has influenced her, learns the dangers of blind trust, and gives us as the audience an insight into the origins of the entire Avengers saga plot. Larson plays the role to a really high standard, refusing to conform to the negative stereotypes of female superheroes that have been portrayed over the years, whilst still staying true to the source material. This is exactly how we envisioned Captain Marvel to be, but it combines modern storytelling with a classic tale.

With Marvel movies, despite the constant action we see on screen, I sometimes find there is a lack of pace in terms of the plot, but this movie just got better and better as the minutes crept by. It is different than other Marvel movies, firstly, it has its own unique soundtrack that fits in perfectly with each scene, appropriate but never too corny. It also portrays a strong female protagonist (the first of its kind for a Marvel movie), which is inspiring to women/young girls everywhere. It also doesn’t rely heavily on the Avengers movies; it stands on its own two feet. It is comical but never forced, and the nostalgic 90’s references are an added bonus. The relationship between Captain Marvel and Nick Fury is given time to develop naturally, nothing in this movie feels rushed, it’s action packed yet it still grounds itself, bringing the origin story back into reality at several points. The acting is great, the special effects were thrilling, overall it was a very satisfying movie and I would definitely recommend watching it. Lastly, I didn’t realise that 2019 would be the year in which I needed to see a friendship between Samuel L. Jackson and a cat, but here we are… that’s what’s happening. Enjoy!

Daisy Jones & The Six – Book Review.

By Mollie Campbell

Author: Taylor Jenkins Reid

Genre: Music, Drama

Originality: 4/10

Overall rating: 8/10

 

Before I even begin my review, I should probably give you a little bit history about myself. My favourite band is Fleetwood Mac, Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks are two of my biggest influences, both as a duo, within Fleetwood Mac and in both of their solo careers. I am also a 70’s fanatic, I am obsessed with the era, I love too many 70’s bands to name, and I love California. So a book titled ‘Daisy Jones & the Six’, about a 70’s rock band in California…. dream come true right?

Well, yes and no. Daisy, Daisy, Daisy…where do I begin? I’ll start off by saying that I was looking forward to this book long before it was released, and I was the first person to buy it in my local book store. Everything about it looked awesome, the colourful front cover, the black sprayed edges, the fake ticket stubs when you open up the first page, the band’s album lyrics written at the end, and the hazy palm trees on the back cover…it is a music junkie’s dream. The book is written in different year groups e.g. 1965-1972, 1973-1975 etc. with the initial focus being on Daisy and her back story, with interjections from the other members of the band and how they began before they met Daisy, (they were just called ‘The Six’ back then). Eventually the stories combine and we see how they become ‘Daisy Jones & the Six’, what is a cool addition to the plot is the way it is written, in the form of an interview, with each member speaking at different times, resulting in what feels like an iconic Rolling Stone interview.

The characters are great, Daisy is a bit of a hippie, floating through life but she is fierce and knows exactly who she is, in fact, she clashes with anybody who tries to strip her from her own sense of individuality and freedom. Then we have Billy, the dark haired band leader who is just as artistically stubborn as Daisy. The rest of the band are called; Graham, Karen, Eddie, Pete and Warren, and this is the story of how they became the biggest band in the world, what got them there, what almost stopped them from getting there and how they gave it all up so abruptly. This is an addictive read, the layout makes it so easy to just plough through it in no time, the author has created a bunch of characters that every music fan will resonate with, they encapsulate every musician that ever existed in the 70’s. The hippie in them provided that laidback vibe, the determination in them gave us that inextinguishable creative fire, they were close to the average person, raw and emotional yet the sex, drugs and Rock & Roll that came with it is highlighted as exuberant, which is exactly what it was. Her commentary on this time in the industry, and within society is spot on, this tale has been lived before, it is wonderful to read, I wasn’t even alive in the 70’s but I could feel the nostalgia within my bones as I read this book.

I am a song-writer, I play the guitar, I love Fleetwood Mac,  I am obsessed with the 70’s, and I fell in love with the characters that were coming to life more vividly with every page I turned, so why, after all of that, did I finish the book with a sense of disappointment? I am going to be honest here, whilst I loved the idea of the format it is in, (it gives it a sense of uniqueness), and whilst I am impressed that the author managed to creative these characters within such a limited amount of space, I can’t help but feel a bit cheated. The reason it was easy for her to develop this story is because these characters aren’t fictional, we know them…the characters are Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham.  The band is Fleetwood Mac, their album ‘Aurora’ is ‘Rumours’, there is no denying it, the book is a complete parallel with the band, a carbon copy. Every scenario in there is relevant to Fleetwood Mac, the history, the time-frame, the location and it all felt a little too unoriginal. It is essentially just a love letter to the band, and that isn’t a major problem, but it just feels a bit too close for comfort.

Don’t get me wrong, I loved the book, in fact I was 99% sure I’d written it myself and that Taylor Jenkins Reid had just plagiarised it, this book was written for me, and every other musician like me. But it’s better if you just pretend it is a biography about Fleetwood Mac, which is what is enjoyable, it makes you feel like a fly on the wall during the recording of Rumours, giving us a fictional envisionment of what it was like to be there, an insight we’ll never truly get our hands on. That is why it is brilliant; it is a piece of fan fiction. And I think that was my main problem, it was just so easy to write, there isn’t a lot of depth due to the nature of how it was written, but I’m probably just annoyed that I didn’t publish it first. So in terms of originality I wouldn’t rate it very highly, but I do give credit where it is due, I love the characters, I adore the fact that she has taken the time to write lyrics to every single song from the fictional ‘Aurora’ album, and I love the references throughout. So thank you for transporting me into the centre of my wildest dreams, for that alone I’d give it a 8/10. Sorry if this review was a bit all over the place, I was trying to give an honest view without completely criticising it, because I did thoroughly enjoy the book and I would encourage people to read it, I just needed to explain a few of the things that didn’t quite sit right.

Despite the troubles that may simply only be present in my eyes, I did love it, everything about it. The good far outweighed the bad, and most of my criticism probably stems from my sacred worship of Fleetwood Mac, and the fact that it could easily have been written by any other music fan like me. And I am sure I will read it again and again, and heck, reading just a couple of words in the middle inspired an impromptu song-writing session, and any piece of material that inspires me to write a song that quickly, in my eyes, is a good one. Check it out, and let me know what you think!

Netflix’s ‘The Order’ – Season 1 Review.

By Mollie Campbell

Released: March 7th 2019

Genre: Fantasy, Horror, Supernatural, Drama

Cast: Jake Manley, Sarah Grey, Matt Frewer, Max Martini, Katharine Isabelle, Adam DiMarco.

Rating: 7/10

 

The Order is a supernatural/horror show focusing on College freshman Jack Morton, and his journey after he is accepted into ‘The Order’, a secret society in which members learn to use magic. Jack, along with his grandfather Pete have prepared for this day for years, due to Jack’s mother dying because of the leader of the Order Edward Coventry, who also happens to be his father. Jack embarks on a mission, but falling for fellow Order member Alyssa, and enjoying his new found powers distracts him from his ultimate goal to bring down his father. If things weren’t strange enough, Jack then discovers that he is a werewolf, and joins another secret society ‘The Knights of St. Christopher’ a group whose sole purpose is to defeat dark magic, therefore the enemies of The Order. He must choose between his legacy and his happiness, residing in the ground between the battle of two worlds, trying desperately to pick a side before the choice is made for him.

I won’t pretend that this show is perfect, whilst I was gripped by the plot, at some points the narrative is slightly messy and the acting is not always up to scratch but compared to some Netflix originals, it is worth it’s imperfections, in fact this is what makes it so good. It isn’t perfect, but it is thrilling and addictive, and it is also a fresh perspective on the whole magic/werewolves kind of show…it is much darker than I expected but also interjects a natural sense of comedy to it as well, giving it a much-needed sense of light-heartedness within all the darkness. Despite us as viewers being thrust directly into the centre of the action from the word go, there is a natural yet exhilarating pace to the plot, some unexpected twists and turns and a good sense of character development. Throughout the series we grow closer to these characters, we become desperate to understand their motives, and we are encouraged to question the characters being presented to us, making us wonder if they really are who they claim to be.

The Special Effects are good, and the show contains much more of a horror vibe than people are led to believe during the first few episodes. At the start, it would be pretty easy to dismiss this show as a throwaway, fantasy/teen stereotype, but if viewers have the patience to stick with it, they will discover it is far more than the show it is marketed as. It is dark, gripping and much more intricate than what we perceive at the beginning. I also like the fact that whilst it does provide us with necessary plot points from the backstory leading up to this moment in jack’s life, it certainly doesn’t guide us through it like some fairy-god mother, it catapults us right into the middle of a deep dark ocean, forcing us to navigate our own way to the shore through a riptide of emotions and surprises, and let me tell you, the shore is much farther away than you would think. This show really deserves much more attention than it is getting, if you really sink your teeth into it, you will not be disappointed, don’t judge the show by Netflix’s poor marketing and promotion for one of its own original series, watch it, every single episode.

Lastly, the soundtrack is the icing on the cake, it really encapsulates the laidback aspect of these teenage lives, contrasted with the life changing decisions they are making, and the sinister situation’s they find themselves in. It contains everything you could imagine and more, it is cliché, but in a good way and the plot is accelerated with each episode, trickling closer and closer to the jaw dropping finale we as a society tend to crave. The only thing I will say about the ending is; prepare to be highly irritated, the kind of plot twist that doesn’t seem obvious until it has actually happened. If Netflix doesn’t renew this series for a second season, I will be left as messed up as that ending. This show is just so easy to watch, it captures your imagination, and drags you into the adventure of your dreams, or nightmares, a world within a world, one which will be hard to leave long after the credits have finished.

 

Sky One’s ‘Curfew’ – TV review

By Mollie Campbell

Current episode count: 3

Airs: Every Friday at 9pm

Channel: Sky One (UK)

Genre: Dystopian, Science Fiction, Action, Horror

Cast: Adam Brody, Sean Bean, Billy Zane

 

Curfew is set in the United Kingdom, in a not so distant future, in a world that is growing familiar with the concept of a widespread virus slowly wiping out the population, essentially;  Zombies. The British government introduce a curfew in which anyone caught out between 7pm to 7am will be put into quarantine, an attempt to contain the virus and protect the population. The show is centred around many different characters who are brought together to compete in the same competition, an illegal, 1000km street race in which the prize comes in the form of a better life, protection, sanctuary.

This is an interesting and encapsulating show that is hard to stop watching, it is a classic ‘in the middle of the action’ show in which the reasoning and development up to this point is explained in the form of flashbacks throughout. This prevents it from turning stale, whilst still providing us with vital information about the character’s lives and the history behind the events that are unfolding in front of us. The characters are all complete opposites but they are united by their fight for freedom, anything is better than the world they currently find themselves in.  Just when you think that TV has exhausted every possibility in the zombie apocalypse genre, this show comes along, same old, yet riveting, action packed and quirky, and a much needed British version of a catastrophic dystopian future.

There is a strong use of characterisation straight away, in just 3 episodes there has been barely any time for character development yet these personalities have been clear from the start. We instantly understand the characters, what makes them different, what unties them, how they react in different situations. To have already developed such bold and relatable characters in such a short space of time is why this show is so good, it contains many different qualities and is action packed but never excessive. There is also a scarily realistic vibe to it, as we as a society (apart from the zombies) really aren’t that far off from a world like this one, the dystopian future we’ve always been catapulted into through different media outlets, could be a reality far sooner than we think.

This show is a Futuristic, apocalyptic, dystopian, crazy, quirky, fight to the death game of Mario kart in which the characters are pawns in a science fiction video game, with a kickass soundtrack. I look forward to seeing how this show unfolds over its first season, tagging along for the ride with these eccentric characters and the risks they are willing to take in order to survive.

David Bowie: ‘Rock ‘N’ Roll Suicide – Analysis.

By Mollie Campbell

David Bowie’s ‘The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars’ album is a journey between the five years before earth is supposed to die, the album ends with the song ‘Rock ‘N’ Roll Suicide’ which is significant because he almost foreshadowed the end to his own character’s life (Ziggy). He envisioned himself as the classic shell of a ‘Rock Star’ in which he could let out a possible artistic yearning without jeopardizing his own mental health, something which concerned him greatly. Rock and Roll suicide marks the end of Ziggy, who has now been affected by the hollowness and superficiality of stardom, he is lost, a prediction that slowly comes true throughout the album. The song seems to capture the idea of the version of him that is ‘sane’, talking to Ziggy. This is delving into the concept of ‘two selves’ or personalities, which links to his fascination with mental illnesses such as schizophrenia, which links to his family’s mental history.  The song also heavily portrays the progression of time, which is a recurring theme within the album and character itself.

Rock N Roll Suicide lyrical analysis:

Time takes a cigarette, puts it in your mouth

You pull on your finger, then another finger, then your cigarette

The wall-to-wall is calling, it lingers, then you forget

Oh oh, you’re a rock ‘n’ roll suicide

You’re too old to lose it, too young to choose it

And the clocks waits so patiently on your song

You walk past a cafe but you don’t eat when you’ve lived too long

Oh, no, no, no, you’re a rock ‘n’ roll suicide

Chev brakes are snarling as you stumble across the road

But the day breaks instead so you hurry home

Don’t let the sun blast your shadow

Don’t let the milk float ride your mind

You’re so natural – religiously unkind

 

Oh no love! You’re not alone

You’re watching yourself but you’re too unfair

You got your head all tangled up

But if I could only make you care

Oh no love! You’re not alone

No matter what or who you’ve been

No matter when or where you’ve seen

All the knives seem to lacerate your brain

I’ve had my share, I’ll help you with the pain

You’re not alone

Just turn on with me and you’re not alone

Let’s turn on with me and you’re not alone (wonderful)

Let’s turn on and be not alone (wonderful)

Gimme your hands cause you’re wonderful (wonderful)

Gimme your hands cause you’re wonderful (wonderful)

Oh gimme your hands

 

Rock N Roll suicide has this overall sense of conclusion, as the last song on the album, it embodies this constant feeling of fading youth, and enthusiasm dying… many of the lyrics to indicate a sudden awareness of the finality to his young and creative mind. Also, as this person is growing older, time is slipping away and they are no longer young enough to be in denial about time and age.

“That was sort of a plagiarized line from Baudelaire which was something to the effect of life is a cigarette, smoke it in a hurry or savour it” – Bowie (1997) (on the opening lines of the song).

This cigarette could be perceived as a metaphor for time and life, as some people rush time, and waste their lives, whereas others savour life and enjoy its wonders. This backs up the point of ‘Ziggy’ sending a message to humans to change their ways. The symbolism and metaphorical meaning within Bowie’s album made him a pioneer in influencing society, in intelligent and complex ways, still within the field of art and music. The song continues to talk about things that could signify the passage of time, but he keeps reminding himself that there is a bigger picture.  The next line again encompasses what David Bowie was always trying to portray, different people and contrasting personalities. He sings ‘you’re too old to lose it, too young to choose it’ and describes the classic tale of the older generation being in charge and the young being powerless and how in time, this will repeat itself. This was another comment on the error of our ways, and another way of Bowie being able to write about issues that meant something to him, in a comfortable environment (music). The next line is a reference to human mortality. In the context of the line before, time which seems to be used in the form of ‘it’, and how it is slowly ticking away.

Bowie is clever here in the fact that he shifts time into the form of an actual living thing, and this person that is masked as time is actually a very dangerous and deviant figure because it restricts people on what they can do and how they live their lives and spend their time. This sinister character is Bowie’s way of tackling an issue through the form of a persona, much like the way he created his own persona in the first place.  “Your song” could be a reference to many things, it could be interpreted as a metaphor for someone’s life, and when the song finishes, it means that you are no longer alive. The line beginning with ‘chev breaks’ is a metaphor for the partying lifestyle of rock stars in the 60’s/70’s which is the sole character Bowie was initially embodying.  The character of Ziggy is generally perceived as being depressed, and he partly blames the restrictions of time on this. He tries to convince himself to stay living happily by not letting the ‘sun cast your shadow’ which is a link to the theory of his persona being a way to exert his demons in a healthy space.  The line ‘you got your head all tangled up’, signifying that whatever happened to Ziggy psychologically, left his mental state in a bad way. Ziggy (or Bowie) is desperately seeking help and reaching out in his own deluded or foolish way. He hangs onto the belief that he can change the people of the world and make them care about the things he does, things of value, not instant gratification. He believes this will guide him into a better state of mind. The song contains themes that will stand the test of time, which is why David Bowie’s lyrics were so innovative and important.

How American Idol and the X-Factor have destroyed the music industry.

By Mollie Campbell.

 

Now I’ll start off by apologising in advance for the rant I am about to give, this is something I feel very passionately about. And this article is totally just my opinion, everybody’s is different but as a young song-writer/musician, I thought I would put my views together in one place!

Shows like American Idol and the X-factor were developed in the early 2000’s, singing competitions designed to create the perfect popstar. I’ll admit, not every single artist is bad, there have been some notable talented winners e.g. Kelly Clarkson (American Idol) or Leona Lewis (X-Factor). But the amount of rubbish that is churned out of this pop-factory is astonishing, they are either musically inept or have good vocals but absolutely no originality. It has caused an influx of people who are now trying to get famous instantly, meaning that the main aspect, music, is being stripped away. Because of these shows, children are encouraged from a young age to try and become successful in something that they haven’t developed or even worked hard at, their biggest desire is to become famous instantly without any hard-work, originality, creativity or talent. This has also developed societal expectations within the music industry to shift, the need to be perfect whilst at the same time showing absolutely no level of talent is becoming ridiculous.

When it comes to vocals, my opinion is that an artist should be able to hold a note to be considered a vocalist or musician filling the position of lead singer, but it doesn’t have to be completely pitch-perfect. Now obviously I am not underestimating why good vocals are needed, but before, it was ok and very popular within the mainstream music world that an artist may not have the perfect singing voice, but if the music was good, it worked and became popular.  Now everybody has to be ‘perfect’ which is something we have been trying to assure is impossible for years, there is no such thing as perfect so why are they telling young people that they need to be, this has not only narrowed everyone’s minds and creativity due to the fact that they are training on one instrument, their voice instead of learning what it takes to make music from the bottom up, but it has also restricted our access to record labels that would have been easy to sign with say 30 years ago. Technology/the Internet has created too much of this constant instant gratification, “if it doesn’t work in one minute, scrap it” seems to be the new mentality.

These days it is a major achievement if an organic artist who worked their way up from bottom actually manages to maintain their popularity after one year. Where has artist development disappeared to? A&R is essentially non-existent in 2019, unless you are one of Simon Cowell’s little protégé’s singing mindless crap which doesn’t mean anything. Song-writing has turned into the same monotonous structure each and every time, there is no diversity, why sit down and write a song when you can be handed one from the hit-making machine employed by Cowell’s chart-dominating label, we are all be subject to his musical brainwashing, and the internet has just added fire to the flames.

Some people tell me ‘look, there has also been crap in the pop world of the past, look at some of the terrible songs released in the 80’s’. But the point is, those terrible songs from the 80’s are now dominating the industry, there isn’t any space for quality music anymore. I mean, I am 21 years old and the only radio stations I listen to are classic rock or simply ‘older’ stations, because if I switch over to something like Capital or Heart, I only like an average of 1 out of every 30 songs played. In terms of the vocal dilemma I am referring to, I will give you an example that might put things into perspective. For example, when Tom Petty was starting to achieve commercial success in the late 70’s, some said that he didn’t have a very good singing voice. And at times it was true, he wasn’t always pitch perfect, but that was ok because it was damn good music. If Tom Petty was just starting his career now, in this music industry, he’d be disregarded without a second thought and songs like ‘Freefallin’ and ‘American Girl’ wouldn’t exist.  And that is what is happening now, there is some modern Tom Petty, Bob Dylan, Lennon/McCartney out there who has incredible potential and talent but is being let down and disregarded by this new music industry. We are missing out on so much because of our restricted opinions and endless expectations. But the only somewhat positive thing in all this are things like Spotify, now an artist doesn’t have to be signed to a record label to release their music. This means that they have their own sense of creative control, shaping their artistry themselves as opposed to being moulded into a perfect little pop-star.

Although there are some downsides to things like Spotify, e.g. taking away creative input like artwork and album sleeves, which I’ll talk about in depth in another article, and the financial downsides but it does mean that we have access to some pretty good music that isn’t being treated in the way it would if it was released 40 years ago. It means that we have all of this excellent music which would have been considered mainstream in times gone by but isn’t today. I urge everyone to listen to this music now, before it is too late and we have signed ourselves up to a never-ending circle of monotonous crap. I am sick of this continuous genre in which every song sounds the same and there is no middle ground, no space to venture out into the waters of diversity and change without being publically booted out of the limelight. Every now and then, a talented artist will sneak in under the radar, contributing heavily to a genre long-gone. These are the artists we need to hold onto for as long as we can, this is the only way we will be granted the power to change it up. Shows like the X-Factor are just worshipped by the masses yet there is no value to the music, it is incredibly ironic. If an artist signs up to Simon Cowell’s record label and doesn’t comply in the way he wants them too, they are dropped, they aren’t given the freedom to write songs and develop their own artistry, and if they are dropped, there is an attempt to completely erase them from the history of the show or the music industry itself. It has become a musical dictatorship, stay in line or they will make sure you are forgotten and destroyed. It sounds dramatic but it is happening right in front of our eyes, and it is only getting worse.

In conclusion, whilst there are pros and cons to the digital music world, there doesn’t appear to be anything good that is coming out of shows like the X-Factor, and I just hope that after it gets worse, it starts to get better. Where else can we go but back? We have exhausted every musical possibility, now let’s head back to the era in which the music mattered, and actually sounded good.