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Places I've written for:
Candid Magazine
Posh Posh



Their one and only prior release, the Pre-Release EP, went on sale in 1999 to a mixture of acclaim-bordering-on-worship from those in the know and a complete lack of acknowledgement from just about everybody else. But despite their lack of purchasable content, the five-piece pioneers have since the mid-nineties amassed a cult following as one of the most confusing, innovative and beloved groups on the circuit. 

Read full review here.

Born with the more easily pronounceable name of Jack Colleran in Newbridge, Republic of Ireland, MMOTHS is already an incredible talent at the almost disgustingly young age of 19, with his ambition and dedication standing at extreme odds with the expectations usually placed on such youthful dreamers. Combine his juvenescence with the fact that he was discovered via a plethora of Internet uploads and to a casual observer, he might be presumed to be the natural successor to Canada’s chief export, Justin Bieber, or the Brighton lad with the suspiciously similar backstory, Conor Maynard. Fortunately, even a cursory browse of his extraordinary output should be enough to alleviate such fears.

Read full review here.

Candid Magazine Issue 6: The Faith Issue
Featuring the top ten albums of 2012, as chosen by me.
Now available digitally on the App Store and Google Play.

Candid Magazine: New Music - Diamond Rugs

Between them, they may have won a fistful of Grammys, worked with (and been) some of the most influential names in contemporary alternative music and performed for the President of the United States – but don’t call them a supergroup.

Formed after a series of drunken concert run-ins, naturally, Diamond Rugs is the new collaborative project between some of the hardest-working men in rock today[…]

Click here for full article.

I wonder if she’s ever seen
"Days of Wine and Roses"
or will the next ten years of her life
come as a complete 

[A reading from 2009 on the subject of music, culture and identity]

Singer Pete Wylie first coined the term “rockism” in 1981, and it is a word that has come to be used to describe a bias within music criticism, which treats the rock genre as normative. Although Wylie later claimed that he did not intend it to take on its current meaning, music journalists at the time had long been concerned about this issue and latched on to the new word as the perfect umbrella term for all their misgivings. Paul Morley in The Guardian claims that this development was so exciting as it was a word that could be used to “explain why Wire were better than Yes” and to “swiftly and yet fairly dismiss Phil Collins”. He does, however, go on to claim that it is an “abstract speculative idea” and that “if the idea of rockism confused you […] you were a rockist, and you were wrong.” This seems to imply that the term is unable to be used in a technical sense, but it also rightly states that it is a term to help describe a subculture that was rapidly developing with the rise of more experimental genres. Kelefah Sanneh of The New York Times describes rockists as “someone who reduces rock ‘n’ roll to a caricature, then uses that caricature as a weapon”. I will be aiming to answer the question of why this public perception of rock music and its producers has become so important, and why society currently refuses to acknowledge the artistic merits of those who step outside these constructed boundaries. I will be exploring the cultural phenomenon of ‘rockism’ and the reasons it has risen in today’s society. I aim to look at the stereotype of the rock star and band, and why it has become acceptable for them to be seen as “authentic” musicians when artists in genres such as hip-hop who reject these normative values are criticised.

Rock music originally grew from the blues and gospel music typically performed by the black working class of America in the late Forties and early Fifties. Originally these types of music were relegated to “race music” stations, going virtually unheard by mainstream white audiences. However, once these songs began being broadcast to mixed audiences, the styles were quickly appropriated by white musicians and became increasingly popular. Given rock’s origins, it seems strange that hip-hop, a relatively fledgling genre with similar roots in black working class culture, is looked down on by today’s typically Caucasian rock fan.

How much do stereotypical views of race factor in to this decision? Has white society on large become so conditioned to rock music being ‘their music’ that they are unwilling to accept new developments? Sanneh writes, “Could it really be a coincidence that rockist complaints often pit straight white men against the rest of the world? […] [T]he current rockist consensus seems to reflect not just an idea of how music should be made but also an idea about who should be making it.”
It appears that rock music has been the norm, the prevalent genre, for so long that we are unwilling to let go of the group identity we have built around it, even as rock music becomes more set in its ways and increasingly irrelevant.

As rock has developed the rules of how to be a “real” Rock Star, less room has been left for experimentation and so rock music’s capacity to grow into something fresh and once again relatable has been stunted. Sanneh goes on to write, “Countless critics assail pop stars for not being rock ‘n’ roll enough, without stopping to wonder why that should be everybody’s goal.”

Perhaps having this group identity is important. Rock stars may not be thought of as typical role models, but the experiences discussed in their songs can help shape their listeners’ ideas and perceptions in a positive way, performing an important ‘bardic function’ as described by John Hartley. Tim Riley in his book Fever: How Rock and Roll Transformed Gender in America states: “Yes, there are characters who you wouldn’t want to model your life after but the songs really tell a very coherent story. I much more trust the artist. […] Mick Jagger has not had a heroic personal life but Jagger’s songs about women are more complex and tender than his treatment of women in real life” and goes on to claim, “the best rock ‘n’ roll music celebrated sexual openness, honoured tolerance, individualism and social responsibility in a way that helped baby boomers become better partners and better parents.”

The issue, however, is that other musical genres are not given the same opportunities, for whatever reason. It is generally assumed by non-fans that hip-hop music is only concerned by the material world and engaging in the demeaning of women. Many hip-hop artists struggle against this image and use their music to send a message, but even within the hip-hop community, the battle to accept this form as a mainstream genre rages on, as they are either termed “Underground Rap” or “Conscious Rap” in order to differentiate it from the music criticised by the genre’s detractors, rather than include it in an effort to broaden the image.

Sanneh also stated “rock bands record classic albums, while pop stars create ‘guilty pleasure’ singles”. This is certainly true, although there is no reason why it should be. It is only because society has considered this to be fact for so long that we consider it now, and the idea is perpetuated and so the cycle seems to continue eternal, in a classic example of groupthink. It can be suggested that people are rock fans by default, and although some stay in that mindset because it truly speaks to their personal taste even as they develop further, some are too stubborn and habituated to broaden their horizons.

So, I watched Insidious for the first time recently and I have some feelings about it that I would like to talk about, if that’s alright with you. There are definitely going to be spoilers here, so if you’re late to the party like I was, you probably shouldn’t read on.

Insidious is a film in which a family moves to a new house and are tormented by unseen forces, culminating in their son falling into a medically inexplicable coma. The film was released in April 2011 and is written and directed by Saw creators Leigh Whannel and James Wan, respectively, and produced by Oren Peli, writer/director of the first Paranormal Activity and co-creator of TV creepfest The River. With that modern horror pedigree behind it, this was almost guaranteed to be, at the very least, a “pulse-pounding thrill-ride” to quote every review of everything ever. And it occasionally was. Let me explain:

The first hour or so is incredibly well-crafted, packed with moments of gripping tension and sincere terror. I was especially pleased that the shots are able to hold the attention without the cameramen feeling the need to swing their instruments about every few seconds, usually the mark of a film whose characters are actually worth listening to. Despite a few missteps, such as the recurring image of a large, clean, bloody handprint appearing on bedsheets and windows (whose blood is it supposed to be? I have no idea. Maybe we’ll find out in the sequel,) the scares are largely understated, taking the time to develop character and atmosphere rather than relying on cliches and jump cuts. There are moments of foreshadowing which are incredibly on-the-nose, but the fact that they are included in the first place in order to allow a buildup rather than just saying “a witch did it!” during the climax was much appreciated. 

Spoiler alert - a witch did kind of do it.

Wan deftly avoids familiar tropes by having the family move out of the house once the ghostly mayhem becomes too much to ignore, thereby setting up the film’s central marketing gimmick that it is not actually the house that’s haunted, but their son, Dalton. Although they really should have seen that coming, because who wouldn’t be haunted by a name like that? Sorry, kid. Maybe your parents were big Living Daylights fans.

Unfortunately, the feature this turns into after the move fails to live up to the potential of the earlier portion. Despite offering another good, early scare, in the form of a giggling, dancing, demon-child who consistently keeps his back to the camera, the movie takes an irrevocable leap in trying to offer a concrete explanation for the mysterious occurrences via the introduction of a pair of comic relief Ghostbuster-types and their boss, the neighbourhood psychic. Turns out, the son is an accomplished astral projector (as the psychic handily explains, “He’s been doing it for a long time - he has been since he was young!”) If you’ve watched the earlier part of the film, it will come as no surprise to you that the father (Patrick Wilson, great as always) is also a skilled astral projector (projectionist?) and it is he who has passed on the trait to his son. The problem is, Dalton got too cocky and ended up flying off to a strange parallel dream world called “the Further,” leaving his body as an empty vessel to be taken over by creatures from the other realm. As it happens, once such creature had previously followed Patrick Wilson around all throughout his childhood, a memory which he has since repressed.

The scene in which Patrick Wilson has to project himself into the Further in order to save his son is genuinely brilliant and probably my favourite depiction of a dream in any film I’ve seen. The nightmare scenes are so wonderfully conceived of and executed that it’s a crying shame when it doesn’t turn out to be a total return to the film’s earlier promise. After a fantastic sequence involving Wilson wandering around the “Further” version of his house, a territory that, although familiar to him, has become something twisted and utterly terrifying, the writer and director decide that all this subtlety is getting boring so they make Darth Maul jump out of a closet or something.

"And now for the scariest scare of all - Spooky Face!" - an actual quote from Leigh Whannell, maybe.

Maybe it’s just personal taste, but I don’t find this type of horror make-up at all scary. I don’t think that any of the great horror movies have achieved their reactions by doing nothing more than showing things which just happen to be slightly different colours or shapes than the things we see every day. Which is essentially what all such horror monsters are. As humans, we are only able to visualise creatures that resemble, in some way, those already found in nature. That’s just how our minds work, sort of like how we can’t make up our own colours, just shades of ones that we already know. Sure, we can pick and choose animal parts to make a potentially scarier amalgamation, but a squid-tentacled shark the size of a dinosaur is really only reminding us how scared we are of those individual parts in our real, waking lives. So when a film throws a red, fanged humanoid at me, all I’m really seeing is a slightly sillier version of the people I walk past in the street all the time. That, to me, is not enough.

Anyway, Patrick Wilson eventually finds his kid’s spirit and follows the sound of his wife’s voice back to the real version of his house. He sets spirit-Dalton down to go and reclaim his physical body when he is confronted by - shock horror! - the weird old lady demon who tormented him as a young boy. He screams at her to leave him alone, and then his physical form wakes up. Long story short, it’s not really him, it’s the demon, and he strangles the psychic to death and maybe his wife too. The end. 

All in all, just as there was a creepy old lady inside of Patrick Wilson, there was a great film somewhere inside of Insidious, and it’s just a shame that it went so far off the rails before we were able to find it. If Wan and Whannell had stuck to the clever suspense and the character building, they could have had a true classic on their hands. Instead, they seemed to get bored and settle for schlock, resulting in a mostly quite fun, but incredibly uneven and ultimately unsatisfying end product. If you’re a dedicated horror fan, it may be worth a watch for the parts it does deliver on, but if not, it won’t hurt you to be a little later to the party. It’s not going anywhere. 

Hello Tumblr. Michael here, back with writing. In a departure from my other work, this is the start of an article I wrote recapping the 2011 Charlie’s Angels series. I know! It was supposed to be a regular feature on an online magazine but plans fell through in the end, as they often do. So naturally, I’m sharing it now, five months after the show was cancelled, while everybody is still at the peak of caring about it.

Charlie’s Angels Episode 1x01, ‘Angel With A Broken Wing’

Thursday 22nd September, 2011


Full disclosure – I am, without apology, a fan of the Charlie’s Angels franchise.  The 2000 McG-helmed sequel movie was the second DVD I ever owned, and I have probably watched it more times than any other movie out there. I would consider it a guilty pleasure, except for the fact that it stars Sam Rockwell, and nobody should ever feel guilty about enjoying anything starring Sam Rockwell.  I supplemented my young love by watching reruns of the original series on television and trying to forget the 2003 follow-up ever happened.

With my history as a fan, there was never any chance of me not watching this latest take on the Angels, which premiered this Thursday on ABC.

My initial thoughts going in

About four months ago, ABC released the official Fall Preview trailer, which I proceeded to watch approximately seven million times, in order to better grasp what I was in for. These were some of my biggest concerns:

·      “Last time I cracked one of these, it was under two minutes. But that was after two cosmos and I was hanging upside down.” This is an actual quote. I guess we all know who the Samantha of the group is. Cosmos!

·      Are all three Angels reformed criminals now? I can understand having maybe one bad girl on the roster at any given time, but having your detective agency staffed entirely by convicts doesn’t seem like the smartest business model.

·      Bosley is young and sexy now. The traditionally middle-aged Bosley has always been portrayed as the asexual Uncle of the group, so hopefully this dramatic change in casting won’t mean a dramatic change to the nature of his relationship with the Angels. Can we please just have one show on television with a genuinely platonic opposite-sex friendship? IT DOES EXIST, MEDIA CORPORATIONS.

Photo, Official Facebook

“Good morning, Angels” indeed.

·      THREE LITTLE GIRLS WHO AREN’T SAINTS. Bow-danna-na-nowwww! “Whoa.”

·      Seriously, they’re “little girls” still? Gross.

·      This will be the first version of the series not to feature the late John Forsythe as enigmatic agency owner Charlie Townsend. Robert Wagner was a good choice to take over for the pilot, but word has it that he’s since dropped out of the series proper, due to scheduling conflicts. Judging by the supposedly Charlie-delivered narration, it doesn’t even sound like Wagner made it as far in the production as this commercial. So, who’s going to fill the iconic speakerphone now?

·      Speaking of speakerphones, the new prop (left), which I assume must be what fancy, high-tech, modern speakerphones look like, is not so great. Small gripe, but it’s the little touches that really count.


·      There are three “Angel” jokes in a trailer lasting only 1m35s. Four, if you count “time to fly.” I guess they’re a team of cherubic Mr. Freezes now.

·      The 90s R&B flavoured remix of the theme tune already sounds ridiculously dated. Did you learn nothing from the Hawaii Five-O reimagining, ABC executives? That show got the theme tune issue down. Say what you like about seventies-era light entertainment, but they knew their stuff when it came to credits music. As the old saying goes, if it ain’t broke, don’t add a 90s R&B flavour to your theme tune.  

·      Remake or continuation? REMAKE OR CONTINUATION??

·      Minka Kelly.

With all that said, it’s time to get stuck in. Let’s watch Charlie’s Angels, episode one.

The episode itself

The first episode of this re-launched series is entitled, “Angel With a Broken Wing” which puts us at an Angel Pun Count of one before the characters have even opened their mouths. Ice to meet you too, new Angels.

AND THAT’S WHEN WE SCRAPPED THE ARTICLE. Oh and in case anybody was wondering, I actually quite enjoyed the rest of the aired episodes. It was largely inoffensive viewing, although it is a little problematic when you have a show that could potentially showcase three strong women in the leads, yet the most compelling team member by a country mile is the revamped Bosley. OK, BYE.

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