A Short Rant On The Great Spotify Debate

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The internet has done wonders for music;  never  before has it been more accessible to explore a bands discography, never before has it been so easy to share tracks or listen to albums in full. As an audience, we are free to dip in, dip out and vary our music listening  due to the readily available content on the interweb. In fact it could be argued that as of 2005, the internet seemingly solidified the careers of several bands emerging from the post punk revival genre due to the excessive fanbase that resided on the web; take the Arctic Monkeys for example. The Arctic monkeys blossomed from word of mouth on threads and forums describing them as the next big thing. Now onto their fifth critically acclaimed album, the Monkeys have stood true to the hype from 8 years ago. Would this be possible without the internet? The answer is a solid yes, however in any case it quickened the pace and established an immediate following for the band. This, in my opinion is one of the greatest things to happen to a musician/ band, especially in the case of earning an income. It seems obvious; the bigger the fan base, the more investment into the band themselves. So why has Spotify, a music streaming service with an optional membership, which offers upcoming bands exposure,  come under such attack?

 

I guess you could say Radiohead’s Thom Yorke had something to do with it when he pulled his side project Atoms For Peace debut album off of Spotify. His reasons? Apparently Spotify is a company that is bad for “new music and doesn’t compensate artists.” Lets bear in mind that this is from a man who let the general public pay whatever they wanted for Radiohead’s In Rainbows album. I myself paid five pounds, others paid one penny. So surely Thom’s statement is outweighed by his previous actions?

 

With Spotify creating playlists that match even the most unique of music tastes, finding the new and obscure is easy. Genres unexplored, sounds otherwise hidden, artists lost in the midst of mainstream talent are now a thing of the past. Through Spotify, I myself have discovered bands that have become some of my favourites, which inevitably have lead me to buy albums, t-shirts and other merchandise of theirs. In an ideal world I would be able to just buy an album at random without hearing it first and play it later. But I can’t. What Thom seems to take out of account here is that, in order to do this you have to be wealthy. Spotify acts then as your own personal talent show, the bands that make the cut ultimately deserve your money. It also means that through this, new artists are able to get a shout.

 

It has to be noted that Spotify does in fact pay their artists. However it is in literally pennies ,which does not seem fair to the artist themselves. Here is where I can see where Thom is coming from.  Yes, Spotify can provide exposure and introduce the public to new bands and musicians, but no, it doesn’t compensate artists trying to make a living. However in Thom’s case and following the success of albums with Radiohead, and sold out tours and shows; I don’t think its going to be a problem anytime soon.

British Sea Power- From The Sea To The Land Beyond. Album Review

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Imagine a voyage out to sea. Imagine the seagulls, the cool waves, and the soft blowing wind. Imagine the feeling of really being alive.

If you can picture this then you have immediately captured the essence of British Sea Power’s Soundtrack to Penny Woolcock’s documentary of the same name. The documentary itself; a collection of one hundred years of film on the British Coast Line was released in June 2012, the soundtrack receiving a commercial distribution almost over a year later in December 2013.

Listening to the album on its own is a bizarre, joyful experience. Without even watching the documentary it is easy to establish a sense of “the sea”; the building up of cymbals attributing to the crashing of the waves, violins corresponding to the sound of seagulls and various brass instruments and guitars adding to the sense of the “classic British holiday on the beach”.  It is rich and my god, it is powerful.

Whether BSP were chosen for their coincidentally appropriate name, or because of a back catalogue of emotionally driven songs that lift you out of whatever dire situation you are in and plant you back on solid ground, is a question only Woolcock can answer. Whatever the answer, I’m so glad she did. FTSTTLB is an album so perfect that it makes you wonder why British Sea Power aren’t more famous, especially considering a thirteen year career span along with six other albums.

The soundtrack itself is an eighteen track powerhouse, consisting mainly of instrumentals and slow sea shanty’s. When I mentioned BSP’s emotionally driven songs, I really meant it. As sad as it sounds I was welling up at the landscape that the music alone was creating for me. The album is essentially a piece of nostalgia to everyone who has ever been on holiday with their family or friends; the sound of seagulls, the soft clash of waves and a feeling of peace amongst other things pushes its way to the forefront. It is haunting, ethereal and enchanting . Everything has been viewed with consideration, the songs invite a story, which supposedly come alive within the film itself, however it is also just as easy to envision your own;  listening to various songs such as Red Rock Riviera create the picture of a family holiday  filmed through a flickering sepia lens, for example. Well, for me at least.

It’s been a long time since I came across something that would take me by surprise so much. If anything, this album could be filed alongside  albums with titles such as “The Sound Of Dolphins” or “Whales Saying Hello”. For it to come from a British Indie Rock band is strange, yet all the more commendable.

Though on occasion, it does feel as if the same effect or the same song is re-ladled in to the mix, there is no doubt that From The Sea To The Land Beyond is a fresh emergence for British Sea Power which leaves me wondering why this isn’t an official studio album and why it serves only as a soundtrack.

10/10

Problems with the D.C.U Warner brothers

ImageProblems with the D.C.U Warner Brothers?

As I am a self-confessed  D.C comic books fan you are going to have to excuse any bias that this article may contain.

 

Warning Alert Terrible movie on the way!!!

Okay so there I was just casually browsing the internet and looking at some videos on I.G.N, when I noticed something about JLA plot details leaked.  So I clicked on the video to find the most horrifying thing. Apparently the JLA movie (that was scheduled for a 2015 release) is turning away from darker tones set within the Man of Steel universe to a series of comic books in the 70s involving trans-matter and the dimension of the gods, oh and Superman villain Darkseid kidnapping a god. 

 

Script has been binned?

It has since been reported that Will Beall’s script has been scrapped due to it being a pile of crap that no director would go near. Mark Millar who read the script has remarked that it was “excellent way of losing $200 million”.

Now it is thought that the new script is going to be written by David Goyer who also wrote the Dark Knight Trilogy. I don’t know about you but I think to write a movie the scope of which Warner Brothers are after you would need a team of two writers Someone like Goyer who is a decent scriptwriter and a comic book fan himself and someone with more experience of writing more realistic movies. This combination would probably produce something that is more realistic and believable yet has enough comic book knowledge to satisfy the fans.

 

What is happening?

It seems to be clear that the D.C.U (D.C comics universe) obviously became motivated by the $1.5 billion made by rival comic book company Marvel when they released the avengers in 2012.

 

Originally 2015 was the scheduled release year for the Justice League movie. Now that has been pushed back to 2017. I am glad of this as it means they are going to take a little more time to produce the movie rather than throwing things together in a few years. However I am not entirely convinced Warner Brothers have any idea what they are doing at the moment. With so little known about Batman Vs Superman and surprise castings being made every five seconds, there was even a period where we thought Justin Bieber was being cast as Robin.

 

With all the drama related to Batman vs Superman and Will Beall’s script being thrown out, are Warner Brothers even thinking about the J.L.A movie?   

 

Nolan to take control?

 

According to Latino review there is talk of Christopher Nolan becoming in charge of the D.C.U at Warner Brothers.

 

This can’t be true can it? I mean we all knew that Nolan directed the Dark Knight trilogy that by itself earned over $2 billion at the box office. We all knew that Nolan said he wouldn’t direct Man Of Steel but would produce it. But is making him in charge of everything D.C related that taking it a stretch too far? 

 

For a start, it looks like Warner Brothers are looking at the success of the Dark Knight Trilogy and saying ‘let us put the man responsible in charge that’ll work.’ Have they even considered that the Man of Steel universe (which looks like the one that could set up a Justice League movie), is in no way the same as the universe that the Dark Knight Trilogy was set in.

 

BRING BALE BACK 

 

Whilst trying to find out if the whole Nolan thing was/is true I came across an argument which I thought had been put to bed. ‘Bring Bale Back!’ According to sources, when (and if) Nolan has been made in charge of the DCU he contacted Bale who by the way said that he wouldn’t reprise his role of Batman, even though he was reportedly offered $50 million for doing the part only four months ago.

 

The response Bale apparently gave to this of makes mee want to jump for joy then almost die straight away. As he said he’ll do a 4th if the script is right. It really makes you wonder though doesn’t it, about back in August when Bale said no to a 4th he knew something about the script of Batman Vs Superman that we didn’t.

 

Where would this leave Affleck

The bringing back of Bale, only a rumour at this point which originated from Latino review which is a website that has a long track history of getting these things right. Where would this leave Affleck who has now been cast as Batman for Batman vs Superman? My guess is no where unless Affleck’s Batman is hugely successful.

 

Please stop re-hashing movies

One thing is for sure Warner Brothers needs to decide a line of vision for the JLA movie as up till now they have just been re-making movies around Superman and Batman and doing nothing with them. They now need to decide a clear direction for the D.C.U rather than the ‘slap it together approach they are currently taking.

Batman Vs Superman

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In July 2013 it was revealed that Batman would be in Man of Steel 2.

Why add Batman?

My first thoughts were ‘No! Warner Brothers what are you playing at?

You may have heard of two animations ‘Superman/Batman Public Enemies’ and ‘Superman/Batman Apocalypse’, both of which are brilliant! They show us an amazing relationship between the two iconic characters which includes, arrogant ups and downs and an underlying bromance to top it all off .

After watching these I could not get my head around how a relationship between the two would work on the big screen. I mean are they going to work together? Are they going to hate each other?

Now it is a fight?
It was then announced that the name of the movie would be changed from Man of Steel 2 into Batman Vs Superman. How do you make a movie from that title? Is Batman just going to throw a Batarang at Superman, before being hurled around like a rag doll?
The only way Batman would stand any chance in this movie is with the backing of Kryptonite which hasn’t been introduced into the Man of Steel universe yet. (They were trying to exploit other weaknesses of Superman before jumping to the oh so readily available green stuff.)

With that said I don’t actually see a relationship developing between Batman and Superman in this film, just a very angry face off.

Introducing… Wonder Woman

On December the 4th 2013 it became official: Wonder Woman joined the cast!
Now other than the fact she is being played by Gal Gadot the former miss Israel who kicked buts in the fast and franchise, which is great and all but
WHY DO THIS?

It’s bad enough that we have a completely new Batman in the Man of Steel universe but now we have a Wonder Woman as well? Is it me or are they just trying to make this a JLA movie right now? I wonder if we’ll see a power ring or a speedster being dropped in anytime soon.

The three reasons
After giving it some thought I could only come up with three logical reasons to introduce a Wonder Woman into a movie that already appears to be creating so much trouble across the web.
1. A potential love interest of Superman’s
Let’s face it the writers were clutching at straws with the romance between Clarke and Lois in Man of Steel. Maybe a rival love interest would spice things up a little.
2. Superman vs Wonder Woman fight
This would be a pretty epic thing to see on the big screen… But would it totally destroy the point of the movie being called Batman Vs Superman?
3. Hurry, Hurry, Hurry
The third reason of a Wonder Woman introduction to Batman Vs Superman would be possibly the best and the worst scenario of all. As it would be a way of Warner brothers and D.C introducing more characters into the Man of Steel universe so that they can set up a world for the JLA movie (expected in 2017). But would this mean incorporating several characters into the Flash and Wonder Woman movies?

In need of a Batman reboot?
When there is so much angst and confusion in the air maybe Warner Brothers need to take their plan back to the end of Man of Steel and think more on how they would bring other DC characters into this universe. For instance Fans think of Batman as the Christian Bale version now, however Ben Affleck has been cast as Batman in Batman vs Superman. Perhaps DC should consider a Batman reboot so we can learn the new character of Batman before this movie. Also doing this would allow other characters such as Flash and Wonder Woman to be introduced via their own movies, rather than just trying to throw core members of the DC universe into each other’s movies.
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DVD Review – ‘Fast & Furious 6′

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The Fast & Furious franchise has undertaken some not-so-subtle changes lately. In the beginning they were a bit like the child in the playground who ate worms to entertain others. Not a lot of people understood him but those who did were happy enough to watch. As this child has got older, however, everybody who watched him eat worms has grown out of it and so the kid has to start eating dirt too just to keep people interested.

Alright, that was a somewhat labored analogy, but the point remains. The Fast and The Furious was a film which basically gave children and teenagers who enjoyed playing Need For Speed something to watch and keep them entertained. It was an excuse to watch pretty cars have street races and drive fast, with a plot and script which was dire at best. But it didn’t matter, because pretty cars.

Bring yourself to the present day and we find ourselves with Fast & Furious 6, a film incredibly different to the first. The child and teenage audience from the first two films has grown up and has come to realise that the whole idea of owning a car with green neon lighting underneath is quite stupid. The ridiculous orange and green Toyota Supras have been replaced with plain black BMWs, the dialogue (whilst still terrible for the most part) has distanced itself from the “Yo dawg” territory and instead of street races and awful cop-drama we’ve got a generic action movie.

That’s what the Fast & Furious films have become of late and this is no exception. If anything it’s the best of the series, although that’s a bit like saying that that your most recent kick in the crotch wasn’t as bad as the previous ones. This is mainly because of the action, which is certainly above average. Justin Lin deserves a tip of the hat for his action set-pieces, having directed the last three of the films (on top of Tokyo Drift) and each of them have significantly outdone the previous films. The action looks real and that’s because it is, rather than just having cars drive down streets at 30mph with shaky-cam to make it look more dramatic than it really is.

However, I’m afraid that once you get the action out of the way then there’s really not much else to praise F&F6 for. The acting is, as to be expected, terrible, with the notable exception of Tyrese Gibson and surprisingly Ludacris, who actually have believable on-screen chemistry which makes for some funny moments. Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson plays the steroid-bound creature he was in Fast 5, spouting terrible cliché action dialogue which doesn’t even really make sense (“These people strike like thunder and disappear like smoke” being one particular highlight). Vin Diesel and Paul Walker have about enough life in their performances to match a graveyard and even then I reckon it’d be a pretty hard fought draw. Luke Evans plays Shaw, the film’s bad guy and his job is literally just to play the role of “cockney antagonist type A” which is neither difficult nor interesting. Michelle Rodriguez plays Michelle Rodriguez, there’s not really much else to say about her. I know it’s a bit nit-picky to complain about the acting in an action film as it’s never really a massive deal. We all know that Bruce Willis is no thespian, but he’s good enough at sounding pissed off and giving backchat for it to work in Die Hard. F&F6 tries to add in the emotional side-plot of Diesel and Rodriguez reuniting, which completely falls flat because both of them are about as good at expressing emotions as a brick wall is at telling jokes.

The plot of the film sees the gang from the previous film, having become incredibly rich notorious criminals, be called back to help stop a gang that is getting the parts together to create what is effectively a nationwide EMP, which they can then sell to terrorist organisations for profit. For some reason this is a problem that only Vin Diesel and the gang can possibly solve and so they’re brought in, on the promise of full pardons if they succeed. But wait, there’s a twist! Michelle Rodriguez, who we saw “die” in the fourth film, is actually not dead. When you find out how this is possible, you will be left wondering how anybody ever actually believed that she was dead.

The downfall of this film is the gift of afterthought. When you switch your brain to autopilot as you go in and watch the film you can accept everything that’s happening, but the moment you set foot outside the theatre and actually think about it then the whole thing falls apart. For one, the motivation of the bad guys is never really made clear. Sure, they have the promise of money and that’s all well and good, but if they sell this EMP to a random terrorist cell then who’s to say that they’re not going to blow up the country the bad guys live in? In one fight scene in a London Underground station, one of the bad guys beats up three policemen in front of a crowd of bystanders, and then is simply allowed to walk away with nobody in the crowd even bothering attempt to stop him. It’s baffling things like this that ultimately make the film crumble.

If you’re somebody who A) has watched the previous Fast & Furious films and enjoyed them, B) can switch their brains off completely and not think too much about a film after it ends and C) likes car chases, you’ll definitely enjoy this film. If you’re anybody else, however, chances are you’ll probably dislike it or at the very least dislike it when you actually start to think about it afterwards.

Christmas Games – PS3

Christmas is only just over a month away and, let’s be honest, we can’t all afford a PS4 or Xbox One. Plenty of us are going to be spending Christmas with our trusty PS3 or Xbox 360 and there’s nothing wrong with that! There are plenty of brilliant games on these consoles and you won’t be restricted to the mediocre launch titles the two next-gen consoles have to offer.

This article (and one which is eventually going to follow) is going to look at some brilliant games you can get for Christmas which are incredible value for money. Let’s get started with some awesome, cheap games you can get for your PS3!

 

METAL GEAR SOLID HD COLLECTION – £15.43

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As one of the most notable titles of the Playstation family, the Metal Gear Solid series pretty much had to be on this list. Of course, it made its name on the console for good reason. The games’ perfect blend of stealth, action, innovative gameplay and fantastic (if a bit confusing) storytelling has made it renowned over the course of the Playstation, PS2 and PS3.

The HD Collection allows you to play the classics in PS3 HD (well, as much as you can with the original MGS and its Playstation graphics) and it’s a brilliant addition to make to your games. For those who haven’t played the series already, it’s well worth sinking your teeth into. Those who are fans of stealthy gameplay, cinematic story-telling and a blend of science-fiction and espionage, these are the games for you. At just over £15 for three full, lengthy games, how can you complain? Exactly, you can’t. So buy it!

 

HEAVY RAIN – £15.99

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Quantic Dream’s first foray into interactive storytelling within games was met with greater critical reception than their most recent attempt, Beyond: Two Souls. Exploring the mystery of a kidnapping which comes from a man known as the origami killer, the game follows a series of characters and their connections to the investigation.

There’s Ethan, the father of the kidnapped child and a man who constantly looks like he’s just been told that his son has been kidnapped (wait, hang on…), Norman, a FBI agent looking into the case of the origami killer, Scott, a private investigator who is also looking into the origami killer case, and Madison, a woman who gets naked a couple of times and falls in love with Ethan. I wish I could give a less sexist and blunt description of Madison, but I’m not sure what else her story brings.

The main criticism that this game gets is that it is incredibly reliant on quick time events and it’s a fair criticism, there’s a lot of moments where your inability to keep up can cost you dearly. The great story and vast number of endings make up for any gameplay issues, however. It’s definitely worth picking up for the price it is, it’s a unique game in terms of storytelling.

 

JOURNEY – £14.99

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This is where the recommendations get a bit hipster, but Journey is a truly awesome game. It has a brilliant art style and a fantastically simplistic story and gameplay. The story follows a character that I can’t really describe in any way other than “cloth man”. He starts in an endless desert with a large mountain in the distance. The aim of the game is to reach the mountain.

It sounds like a dull story and there’s no dialogue or anything to compliment it. Just a series of gameplay and short cutscenes tell the story of the character’s, well, journey. An emotional climax tops off a fascinating series of gameplay with some lovely art and gameplay. There’s no real better way to describe this game than nice. It’s just a nice experience. The game isn’t very long, you could easily complete it in a two or three hour sitting, though with the retail edition you receive the developer’s two previous titles, Flow and Flower, both of which are also fascinating games.

 

ICO AND SHADOW OF THE COLOSSUS HD COLLECTION – £12.66

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This is a game that has gone largely under the radar with people of my age, which is understandable. I attempted to play ICO when I was about ten and I just lacked the patience to really play it properly. The aim of the game is very simple. You are a boy who has been trapped in a castle and you have to escape. On the way out, you find a mysterious magical girl and you must escape together, dragging the girl round with you wherever you go. All the while, strange shadow creatures are constantly attempting to drag her away into the shadow realm.

I would rank ICO in the top 3, at least, of games that I’ve ever played. The puzzles in the game are brilliant and the game challenges you by not giving you any information about the game’s mechanics whatsoever. You have four main controls: Jump, swipe your weapon, interact with objects and hold the girl’s hand. You’re left to discover things for yourself. Don’t know how to get past the current location? Tough shit, you’re stuck there. Well, not now, seeing as the internet is a thing and you can find a walkthrough in moments, but if you use a walkthrough you’re a cheat.

Shadow of the Colossus is the sort-of sequel to ICO. It’s heavily suggested that the two characters in SotC are the same as the two characters from ICO but it’s never really confirmed. A man takes a woman to a shrine in the middle of nowhere and asks some kind of God-like spirit for help to heal her. The God says, “kill these ridiculously huge stone-creatures for me and I’ll help you, thanks lol”. We have ourselves a game.

This game is fantastic and a worthy sequel to ICO. There’s not really much exploration gameplay going on, with the exception of the occasional bit of climbing to get to various colossi, though the majority of the travelling is done on horseback. The real challenge with this game is killing the things themselves. You’ve got to work out how to kill them, again with no help whatsoever. With the exception of shining light off your sword to discover the weak spot on their body, you have no way of finding out how to reach it or when to do so. It leads to some truly cinematic and nail-biting moments during the fights, prepare for lots of trial and error as you attempt to kill these things!

Xbox one vs Playstation 4

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By Will Tyler

The first games console that appeared on the market in 1972 and was the Magnavox odyssey. It predated the Atari pong by almost three years and was sold at $100 in the U.S, which in today’s money is around $559. This is more expensive than both of the next generation consoles being released in 2013, in the US market, at least.

Since the Odyssey, gaming has come such a long way. Let’s face it, we are no longer using cubes as characters and the picture quality is getting so good that it’s almost real. Gaming experiences have also evolved in the previous 41 years as well, due to the introduction of modems which have allowed gamers everywhere to upload and share data and also play together on the same games. All this was kick-started in 1998 and 1999, long before the days of Xbox live or the Playstation network, by the Sega dream cast, which was the first console released onto the market with an in built modem.

Nowadays, games consoles are much more than just pop a game in and play. They play DVDs (and in the case of the Playstation 3 Blurays), they connect to the internet and you can watch films and T.V. However, with the imminent release of the Xbox one and the PS4, the question has to be asked; just how much further can they advance from the 360 and the PS3?

Since the announcement of the Xbox one in early 2012 it seemed that Playstation had the edge. Microsoft left their pre-existing fan-base disgruntled and makings lots of them consider getting a PS4. This was largely due to such proposed ideas as plans to get rid of trading games and the second hand games market, as if the console wasn’t expensive enough! Priced at a whopping £429, this makes it the most expensive standalone console ever sold in the UK. At least Microsoft revoked this policy fairly soon after they announced it, but it seemed to be too little too late.

Aside the usual processer and graphics chip upgrade, Microsoft are marketing the Xbox one as more of an entertainment system than a games console. This could  be a quality that either makes or breaks it for the console, as Microsoft say that if you have an Xbox One you will not need another device to plug in to your television. If this is true then at least the high price tag will be slightly justifiable. The only problem with the Xbox One being an entertainment system is that it appears that it has took away some of the focus of actually being primarily a games console and this could certainly hamper its chances in the new market.

There is some remaining debate as to whether the Xbox One could be Microsoft’s last console. Personally, I think that there this is merely people trying to stir online, but it all comes from the fact that Microsoft have stated that the Xbox One will have an ability to update itself and somehow make itself  better through the cloud system the console has implimented. The major problem with this is that while you can improve software, the hardware will remain the same.

The Playstation 4 has without a doubt been the better marketed games console, largely due to Sony’s emphasis on games. However, early this month there was a picture about a so called red line of death which seemed to bring out a lot of Xbox fanboys on various many forums. Let’s face it, up till now they haven’t really had a lot else bad to say about the PS4. To clear this up the console in question was in a tiny glass display cabinet. I mean if you were to put the Xbox One in that situation, how long would it take to do the same?

Also some sources have said that the PS4 is up to 50% faster than the Xbox one in terms of loading and response. Now, this paints the picture that the Xbox One will be very slow indeed, though realistically the average person wouldn’t mind. The more hardcore gamers, however, will definitely see this in favour for the PS4.

You would think, with so much debate over the two consoles, that Sony and Microsoft would have chosen the same launch day, or at very least be fighting too get there console out before the other and you would be right. In early October, Sony announced that the PS4 would release in America on November 15th, which is a week before the worldwide release of the Xbox One on November 22nd, except for in a few small countries (if you can call Russia a small country!). However Sony also stated that that the rest of the world will have to wait till November 29th to get their PS4, which is an agonizing wait for Playstation fans.