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Khumba: Film Review

Maybe Khumba is best watched with a bowl of Frosties - yes, it’s all about earning one’s stripes.

It’s about a half-striped zebra (voiced by Jake T. Austin) who is rejected by his superstitious herd and blaimed for a drought. Here we are - fear of the different, social problems.

As much as these animated adventures often play out with morals and messages, Khumba is a touch jaded by the fact it plays up to stereotypes that themselves verge on slightly questionable.

Khumba’s character is saddened by later upbeat and innocent. He’s young and full of fervour - going out on a quest across the sweeping landscapes of souther Africa to find himself and realise his potential. In turn, of course, establishing himself in his zebra community.

The rest of the personalities are as desparate and used as a 20-year-old hipflask. These are no better examled by the rounded wilderbeast, actually called Mama V (Loretta Devine) who has been created countless times in countless films; and Bradley, an ostrich (Richard E. Grant), who is the English, quirky addition.

Khumba is saved by the pair from a tricky wild dog called Stalk (Steve Buscemi), and Mama V and Bradley incidently join him on his journey.

It’s all so incredible trivial and uneventful, while having all sorts going on. The animation too is rather poor, at least considering what else is on offer at the moment, while the voices, though having great tones from the likes of Buscemi, Laurence Fishburne, and Liam Neeson, are sadly a tad wasted on the back on a dull flick.

Khumba’s nothing more than a way of entertaining kids on a very dull day indeed - of course it’ll do that, it’s not an awful film, but in terms of originality and subject it’s only tiring.

Director: Anthony Silverston
Produced by: Mike buckland, James Middleton, Anthony Silverston, Stuart Forretn, Jean-Michel Koenig, Vanessa Sinden
Release: April 2014
Running time: 85 minutes

- Joshua Barrie

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Divergent: Film Review

On the back of a bestselling novel of the same name by Veronica Roth, Divergent is perhaps most easily grouped with the likes of The Hunger Games, the Twilight series, or maybe even Cloud Atlas.

Such categorisation fits here - the story sees Chicago as a dystopian world, a future where humans are set into factions. This frat-style tribalism allows social order to be maintained and is chosen at birth; each individual has their place on earth, each has a set of characteristics, skills, and inhibited abilities to offer something to carrying on our existence.

There are Abnegation, who are selfless and work in government; Amity, a sort of Armish lot; Candor, truthful types; Erudite, intelligent thinkers; and Dauntless, the brave law-keepers who jump from trains and are often the best looking.

But there too are Divergents - people who harbour more than one form and are seen by the authorities as potential troublemakers. They might think for themselves and disrupt the harmony.

Beatrice Prior (Shailene Woodley) is one of these Divergents. She grew up in a family of Abnegation, caring for the poor and high up in the government. However, at her test her results are kept a secret thanks to Tori (Maggie Q), a Dauntless woman and she chooses to be in the faction, meeting the muscled and cut form of Four (Theo James), a hard, meaty leader.

Neil Burger directed Divergent and, while the story is a reasonably well constructed sci-fi on the back of an interesting idea, the narrative seems more than anything disjointed here. It appears to be too heavily reliant on the promise of a good tale - lacking sharp enough dialogue and enough about it to carry it for its length. Even with ample performances from a credible cast.

It plays out without much more than this - the matter at hand is of course a threat to human existence, though this seem trivialised and diluted past philosophy and musing. Indeed these later ideals are respectable and certainly more worth delving into at times, but here there’s not enough process or thought to warrant anything more than a basic futuristic caper.

Director: Neil Burger
Produced by: Douglas Wick; Pouya Shabazian; Lucy Fisher
Theo James, Shailene Woodley, Ashley Judd, Ray Stevenson, Zoe Kravitz, Miles Teller, Tony Goldwyn, Maggie Q, Kate Winslet, Jai Courtney
Release: April 2014
Running time: 139 minutes

- Joshua Barrie

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Sophie Delila announces new album + Jeff Beck tour

Sophie Delila announces new album 'My Life Could Use A Remix'
includes tracks co-written with Don Black, Judy Tzuke and Monarchy

Sophie to support Jeff Beck on two his UK dates
including Royal Albert Hall: March 14th 2014

Sophie confirms London Headline Show
at Roundhouse Studio: June 12th 2014

Performs the Judie Tzuke co-penned track Letters unplugged

'She's classy pop' - The Sunday Mirror
'Sophie Delila's the real deal' - The Daily Mirror

London based French born singer songwriter Sophie Delila has written for artists including Rumer and Duffy, duetted with the likes of Jack Savoretti and Plan B, toured with the likes of Mika and Lionel Richie and appears on Jeff Beck's soon to be released solo album - as well as regularly performing live as a member of acclaimed French collective Nouvelle Vague.

Sophie's sophomore UK album is set to see her truly step into the limelight in her own right. 'My Life Could Use A Remix' boasts an impressive array of collaborators such as the legendary Don Black, co-writer of the title track, singer-songwriter Judy Tzuke and producers Monarchy and The Suppliers.

'My Life Could Use A Remix' is due for release on June 9th, and features stunning lead single 'Bound To Fall', which was co-written with American singer-songwriter Julian Velard and inspired by the death of a friend who passed away in an accident. In Sophie's words the song is about "the highs and lows of life, the higher you get, the bigger the fall could be. It's about enjoying big moments as life is short."

"I've always got something to say about the stories in my songs", says the singer. And what stories they are. It's summed up by the bittersweet lilting title track of 'My Life Could Use A Remix', co-written with Don Black, the lyricist on classic film themes such as Diamonds Are Forever and To Sir With Love.

Born into a musical household in Paris (Ray Charles manager was a close family friend, and house guests in their Parisian home included the great Marvin Gaye), Sophie's story so far could hardly be described as typical. Winning a scholarship to the prestigious Berkley School of Music in Boston at the age of seventeen, Sophie moved to the US and ended up working in various studios and gigging regularly in New York.

Having moved to London six years ago, she is now established in South West London as an accomplished songwriter and producer in her own right. Her windowless studio near Putney Bridge has provided her with the perfect opportunity to hone her craft, and perfect her finest collection of songs to date - soulful, irresistible and impossible to pin down 'My Life Could Use A Remix' is an album with no gimmicks exuding quality and class.

Sophie will be supporting Jeff Beck on two of his UK dates in May and playing a headline show at Roundhouse Studio on June 12. Dates are as follows:

13th May: Southend Cliffs Pavillion - Westcliff-on-Sea
14th May: Royal Albert Hall - London
12th June: Roundhouse Studio - London

As a taster of what to expect from Sophie's forthcoming live dates, check out her unplugged performance of Letters:

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Chilly Gonzales Presents Re-Introduction Etudes & London Masterclass at The Roundhouse

‘Re-Introduction Etudes’ released 14th May 2014
Re-Introduction Etudes: The Masterclass – 29th July 2014, The Roundhouse, London

Chilly Gonzales brings some of the joy back to the lapsed amateur pianist with his Re-Introduction Etudes: a book of 24 easy-to-master, fun-to-play piano pieces specifically designed to unlock musical mysteries for those who gave it up. Then join Chilly Gonzales at The Roundhouse in London on 29th July for lectures, demonstrations and select on stage one-on-one lessons inspired by Re-Introduction Etudes.
Watch the video

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Muppets Most Wanted: Film Review

Any film that kicks off with a self-depreciating admittance of sequel disparity has the potential to fail. While on the face of it the idea is something we enjoy, you’ve got to love someone who can laugh at themselves, and is a clever concept, it needs to follow up with something above average at least.

This, however, is distinctly 50 per cent. It’s neither a cop-out nor a pleasure, only skims along the surface on worth, failing to utilise those loveable puppets in the same way, fortunately, it doesn’t destroy their charm.

The inclusion of Ricky Gervais is possibly a fault. Pas comedic genius aside, his cinematic propositions have often been filtered and spluttering, where actually there just doesn’t seem a way past a canned and produced dry line of dialogue and a few discerning looks into the lens.

Of course or green friend Kermit the Frog is as loveable as ever, and Miss Piggy is, undeniably, a hoot. But they need something more than years of gleeful existence to appear on screen for nearly two hours.

The story though is unconvincing, if topical at times. There are a few scenes above the half-weighed feel, and a peppering of the jokes take it above and back to the Muppet pictures we’ve giggled at in the past; but at no point does it reach the sweet and magnificent heights on 2011’s The Muppets. That was significantly funny, eventful, and indeed emotional.

It’s hard to simply view this as light entertainment because it’s capable of so much more – that’s been proven on more than one occasion. And to take on the name and fail to provide is, while I suppose highly likely, disappointing.

Director: James Bobin
Produced by: David Hoberman; Todd Lieberman
Ricky Gervais; Ty Burrell; Tina Fey
Release: April 2014
Running time: 113 minutes

- Joshua Barrie

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Sia - Chandelier (Lyric Video)

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Focussing on Sia's iconic blonde bob, the striking new lyric video for Sia's new single "Chandelier" was released through Vevo this morning.

(New York - March 17, 2014) Multi-platinum, critically-acclaimed songwriter, recording artist and hit maker Sia releases today her brand new single entitled “Chandelier.” “Chandelier” is the first single from her forthcoming album due out this summer on RCA Records, and is available now at iTunes, Amazon and all digital providers. Click here to listen now.“Chandelier” was written by Sia and Jesse Shatkin and produced by her longtime collaborator Greg Kurstin, along with Shatkin.

An astonishingly prolific hit maker and songwriter, Sia has penned several monster hits over the last few years. In 2013 alone, she’s crafted songs for pop icons including Rihanna (“Diamonds), Katy Perry (“Double Rainbow”), Britney Spears (“Perfume”), Beyoncé (“Pretty Hurts”) and Celine Dion, as well as working with Diplo, The Weeknd, Kylie Minogue, Angel Haze, and executive producing label mate Brooke Candy’s forthcoming album.

Sia is also the featured vocalist on some of the most massive hits she has written for others including “Titanium” with David Guetta, “Beautiful Pain” with Eminem,  and “Wild Ones” with Flo Rida. Her most recent release is her hit single “Elastic Heart” from “The Hunger Games Soundtrack” written by Sia featuring The Weeknd and Diplo.

Her last studio album We Are Born was released over 3 years ago… Click here to read her Billboard cover story from fall 2013 entitled “This Artist is Responsible for over 12 Million Track Sales, Has a New Single on ‘The Hunger Games Soundtrack’ and Doesn’t Want to Be Famous,” which will fill you in on what she’s been up to since her previous release.

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Noah: Film Review

Firstly, those denouncing Noah as Biblically incorrect, sparse of the truth or factually faltered are probably failing to grasp the point. Noah, Darren Aronofsky’s latest epic drama, is indeed an adaptation – but it’s also a fantastical, twisted, exaggerated, self-defining film.

Yes, it’s based on the historic tale; the story many of us were told at Sunday school on a dreary morning. The basics are all there: a creator, a man and his family, the Ark floating as floodwaters wipe clean the face of a debauched and grimacing earth.

But so too is it shaped and sculpted into a Hollywood feast. CGI is used with vigour and purpose to embolden an old read into a formidably powerful watch – Aronofsky’s not held back here. But then the backbone of meaning is still noted. Although the retelling is not achieved word for word – it’s not meant to be – the crux of the matter remains.

Moreover, Russell Crowe is well-oiled and bustling as the builder, the father, and the ‘saviour’ of mankind. His muffled voice and frowns work well; in woodlands, later amongst raging battles as hordes of men, led by a brutal Ray Winstone, try to seek passage on the boat.

But the waves sweep in, and Crowe and his family, featuring a graceful wife (Jenniffer Connolly), three sons (Logan Lerman, Douglas Booth, Leo McHugh Carroll) and Emma Watson as his daughter in law, become the solitary fixtures. Watson, married to the kindly Shem, is resourceful and delivered. She’s far improved from her time in that magical children’s adaptation.

Noah is, if taken for what it’s supposed to be, a long and blustering take. Quite simply it’s taken one of the most famous stories and forged it into two and a half hours of big screen entertainment. There are hints, musings, poignant touches – but above all, in the beginning, there was Hollywood.

Director: Darren Aronofsky
Produced by: Scott Franklin; Darren Aronofsky; Mary Parent; Arnon Milchan
Russell Crowe; Jennifer Connelly; Ray Winstone; Emma Watson; Anthony Hopkins; Logan Lerman; Arnon Milchan
Release: April 2014
Running time: 138 minutes

- Joshua Barrie

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Klangkarussell announce London Shows

Friday 11 April

XOYO, London

Tuesday April 29

Cargo, London

The 25 year old Austrians previewed the live show at Eurosonic festival earlier this month and went down a storm. They will be playing more live shows throughout the year, including festival appearances both in the UK and Europe, to be announced in due course.

Klangkarussell had massive global success with their debut single ‘Sonnentanz’ (and the vocal version ‘Sun Don’t Shine’ featuring Will Heard) that sold well over a million copies and has had over 22 million YouTube hits to date. Created in a single night in the summer of 2011 and added to their Soundcloud without fanfare, it was only when an anonymous YouTube account holder uploaded it to the site in February 2012 that ’Sonnentanz’ took off and became a huge hit worldwide.

The much anticipated follow up single will be ‘Netzwerk (Falls Like Rain)’, due for release in the late spring.

Klangkarussell are currently finishing up their debut album, which was recorded in London and Berlin and will be released in the summer.

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FICKLE FRIENDS - "P L A Y" (the follow-up to indie-pop blog smash, S W I M)

"Pop that doesn't pander" - Pigeons & Planes

"One of those gems" - Hilly Dilly

This year on January 2nd, whilst a fair percentage of the planet were covered in snow or just freezing, Brighton's Fickle Friends warmed hearts as they introduced themselves, and debut single SWIM; their own brand of luscious, summer drenched 80's synth pop. Less than 3 months gone, a soundcloud building past 350K hits, these wonder kids are back with a brand new offering in track "PLAY."  The single will be instantly available via Killing Moon Records.

Listen vía Soundcloud here;

The track can be bought via iTunes here;

Following on from their 1st single which has seen them become one the the most blogged new artists of 2014, the band felt it right to go with PLAY.  "We chose PLAY as lyrically it's kind of a follow on from SWIM.  We also wanted to release something that contrasted with our first single musically" explains lead vocalist Natti Shiner and added "It's a little more fragile in parts, but also a bit more…. playful."

“’PLAY is about seeing someone who’s losing their passion. It's a continuation of the characters from SWIM. She’s getting nostalgic as he becomes less interested in everything.”

To launch the single, the band will be hosting a single release party at The Shacklewell Arms in Dalston (London) on April 9th before they spring into festival mode leading into the summer.  You can catch them perform at The Great Escape, Liverpool Sound City & Secret Garden Party. Check those dates, along with a few other shows added below:

Live dates:

09 - The Shacklewell Arms (London) (buy tickets)
19 - Springtide Festival (Gosport)
25 - The Boileroom (Guildford)
26 - Jailhouse (Hereford)

01 - Sixty Million Postcards (Bournemouth)
02 - Kazimier, Liverpool Sound City (Liverpool)
03 - Wardrobe, Live at Leeds (Leeds)
04 - City Sound Project (Canterbury)
09 - The Great Escape - The Green Door Store (Brighton)

20 - Lainfest (Atherstone)

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The Legend of Hercules: Film Review

The legend of this Greek demi-God makes for interesting reading. It’s a powerful tale of hardship, where man shows his strength and resolve. The ancient story is virtuous, exciting. He would be proclaimed and honoured were he to grace the earth in 2014 – at least by many.

This recounting is painful, however, but not because Hercules has just landed a killer blow upon the audience. It does no justice of the myth; the story, which has survived this long for a reason, is but a subdued and vain account that leaves far too many stones unturned and warriors vainly prancing.

Its first issue is a poor script. No, this was never going to be monumental in its dialogue, but the material is strained and airs a feeling of such budget and lack of care that everything feels like it was constructed specifically to a cheap flight to Turkey – out of season.

There aren’t any big hitters in the film either, though that’s hardly the fault of the piece. What they perhaps fail to give in terms of performance is far less a defining aspect, as everyone needs a chance; I’m sure too, given the platform, they may prove slightly more proficient.

The movie is supposedly a 3D adventure too, but the CGI and effects aren’t noteworthy either – often such a saviour in moderate filmmaking. The audience at least is taken on a ride through battlefields and swordplay.
It does in fairness stay fairly loyal to the works – Hercules is born, is dealt the perils of slavery and letter leads an army against tyranny, later rejoining his wife Hebe and walking happily under the Mediterranean sun.
This is not a complete disaster of a film, it’s simply exceedingly light entertainment – but Hercules would be far from impressed by it.

Director: Renny Harlin
Produced by: Boaz Davidson; Danny Lerner; Les Weldon; Renny Harlin
Kellan Lutz; Gaia Weiss; Scott Adkins; Roxanne McKee; Liam Garrigan; Liam McIntyre; Johnathon Schaech; Rade Šerbedžija
Release: March 2014
Running time: 99 minutes

- Joshua Barrie

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