Film Review: Black Mass

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Review: Black Mass
Director: Scott Cooper
Release date: 27th November 2015

With an outstanding cast including Johnny Depp, Benedict Cumberbatch, Joel Edgerton and Kevin Bacon, Black Mass attempts to tell the story of the infamous FBI informer James ‘Whitey’ Bulger and the Winter Hill Gang.

To describe Black Mass as gritty would be quite the understatement. The film shows a snapshot of life as a member of the renowned gang in South Boston (or Southey as the locals call it).

Depp is superb as the lead character, James ‘Whitey’ Bulger, showing him as the dark, intimidating character Bulger is. The scene where Whitey confronts FBI agent John Morris on a minor secret he reveals makes for some tense viewing. This scene alone shows the power and fear Whitey commands.

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Theatre Review: Peter Pan Goes Wrong

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Having seen The Play that Goes Wrong at the Cambridge Arts Theatre last year, I had high hopes for this offering from the same company.

As the lights dimmed and the ‘directors’ introduced the show, I knew I wasn’t going to be disappointed. From the opening scene (although that’s a loose term here), there were genuine belly laughs heard throughout the packed theatre. In shows such as these there can be a worry that the slapstick and ‘laugh out loud’ elements can be a little dry and be a bit hammed up but I can safely say, Mischief Theatre gets it spot on every time.

From dodgy stage scenery to bust ups between the actors, wardrobe malfunctions to the wrong audio takes, this truly is the classic retelling Peter Pan going wrong, complete with interesting ‘flying’ from Peter and co. The show is a great visual extravaganza and, at times, it’s hard to know what is really going wrong and what is scripted!

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Album reviews: Cast

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Artist: Cast

Album Titles: All Change/Mother Nature Calls/Magic Hour/Beetroot

Label: Edsel Records

Release date: 3rd February 2014

I’m not too sure what Noel Gallagher was getting at when he described seeing one of Cast’s performances as ‘a religious experience’ but this re-release of four of their albums acts as a great package for fans of the 90s Merseyside foursome. It’s also a good introduction to the band for people unfamiliar with their work.

Featuring members of  The La’s and Shack, at the height of their fame Cast were described as ‘the Who of the 90s’ and this collection certainly shows the breadth of their musical talent.

The package begins with ‘All Change’, their debut album released in 1995. ‘All Change’ features top 20 singles such as ‘Finetime’ with its classic Britpop guitar riffs and anthemic choruses. This album reached number seven in the UK charts and was a prominent album in the Britpop years.

This debut was followed two years later with ‘Mother Nature Calls’ which broke the top five. From around 1997, the Britpop sound was changing and bands such as Blur and Oasis were taking a slightly darker alternative move with their music. Cast were no different with ‘Mother Nature Calls’ containing lazier, almost grungy tracks such as ‘Soul Tied’ and top 10 hit ‘Live the Dream’.

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Album review: The Rifles ‘None the Wiser’

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Artist: The Rifles

Album Title: None the Wiser

Label: Cooking Vinyl

Release Date: 20th January 2014

This latest offering from the Rifles is an upbeat collection of indie goodness.

Although it would be nice to hear something a little grittier from the Rifles, the catchy feel-good essence of the tracks on ‘None the Wiser’ fit their style to which they are brilliantly suited.

This new album signals the return of the five-piece doing what they do best – creating great music with talented musicianship and top class songwriting skills. The fact the Rifles only release a new album every few years supports this, unlike bands who churn out new music every year, arguably without much musical input.

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New music review: The Rifles – Minute Mile

Rifles press pic 1Following the release of ‘Heebie Jeebies’ in October, The Rifles share ‘Minute Mile’, ahead of the release of their new album in January next year.

Even after a couple of listens it is clear that this new track is sure to be a catchy anthemic tune, a favourite amongst fans and a great introduction and teaser to the new album. The four-piece return in their original line up, delivering a punchy, indie track with strong guitar rhythms and brilliantly matched vocals.

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New music review: Josh Taerk – Josh

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Josh TaerkJosh Taerk brings his debut  to English shores later this year with his eponymous album released on 4th November.

The last few years’ have seen Taerk’s popularity grow, having toured the UK with The Soldiers last year and having picked up fans in, among others, Max Weinberg of Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band. In fact, Weinberg was so impressed with Taerk’s performance and musicality, he invited him to open his show in Weinberg’s hometown of New Jersey. These tours and performances show Taerk is no stranger to the stage, especially one that is not in front of his own fans.

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