Friday, 19 August 2011

Warpaint - Fool

This year’s Glastonbury Festival has done me proud.  First the singing Pierce sisters prompted me to listen to their current album and now Warpaint, the female foursome from the west coast of the USA have done the same.  As a consequence of being beguiled by their set on the John Peel Stage I immediately used up a bit of credit at iTunes and downloaded their album, ‘Fool’ and what a good decision that turned out to be.

In fact there is a strong feeling of Déja Vu at work here.  I remember the first time I saw The Cure at Hammersmith Odeon in 1980 just after the release of ‘Seventeen Seconds’ and was mesmerised by their minimal gated drums and chiming chorused guitars.  It was a studied architectural sound when all around, the rest of the world was snarling and making as much punky noise as possible.  Listening to Warpaint gives me that same sense of wonder 30 years on.  Their sound is very much rooted in the intricate gothic structures of The Cure and Siouxsie and the Banshees only it is flecked with the sunny disposition of California rather than dour new-town-ness and suburban uniformity of Crawley and Bromley.

Interestingly, their setup of twin guitars/vocals, bass and drums mirrors that of that other west coast female band, the Bangles yet their sound couldn’t be more different.  Don’t you just love how rock can spawn such variety from the same roots?  It’s what keeps us all interested after all this time.

As suggested by their name, their music has a slightly tribal quality that manifests itself as a trance-dance flow that draws you into its unique ritual where you half expect virgins to be sacrificed at any moment.  There are no solos, just intricate rhythms and carefully constructed guitar and bass figures underpinning muted vocal harmonies.  Lovely stuff when you’re in the mood but perhaps a little frustrating when you’re not.  Sometimes you just want to shake them out of their carefully constructed cathedral and tell them to let go and lash up a tent on the moors.  Perhaps this will come with maturity in the same way that ‘Love Cats’ followed ‘A Forest’ for Bob and his mates.

Nevertheless, ‘Fool’ is a fine achievement for a debut album and I shall be agog to see what happens next.  Here is ‘Undertow’ from their appearance on Jools Holland earlier this year.

Friday, 5 August 2011

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2

Yes it’s true; I’m a big Harry Potter fan.  I read all the books as they appeared AND didn’t opt for the ‘Adult’ covers so that people could snigger at me on the tube.  For heaven’s sake, a book’s a book - how can a different cover make it an ‘adult’ version?  I think the books are a great read.  Not great literature but written by someone who knows how to pay out a rattling good yarn from page one and that, for me, is enough.

So when the films came out I was a little cautious as we all know that a film never really represents the book it is based on.  In fact I didn’t see any of the first five films at the cinema but curled up with a glass of wine and the DVDs when they became available.  Generally they have been well constructed but lacking in the sort of detail only a book can provide as is only to be expected by the time constraint of a film.

However, for the final film, ‘Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows - Part 2’ I took my daughter, a fellow fan, to see it on the big screen – and in 3D.  It seemed only right that the concluding film should be witnessed as intended on a huge screen with deafening surround-sound.  And I was right.  The 3D was good, (although frankly, I could’ve lived without it) and the film was possibly the best of the series.  The popcorn seemed to have an everlasting charm on it as no matter how much we ate there always seemed loads more to go.  But best of all was the sound which was awesome.  Clashing spells had the impact of a nuclear bomb and the destruction of land and property rumbled under our feet.

For once, I didn’t really miss the fine detail as the film seemed to be very focussed upon drawing together JK Rowling’s rather disparate plot strands into a final conclusion.  In fact it did a better job than the book in explaining the eventual denouement.  So hats off to the Screenwriter and Director for a thoroughly memorable experience.

Nevertheless, I still am not wedded to the cinema for one reason and one reason only.  Why do gaggles of schoolgirls find it necessary to whisper and giggle through the entire film ruining all the poignant moments with their juvenile lack of consideration for others.  Must brush up on my Cruciatus Curse ready for next time…on no!  There isn’t one.