Monthly Archives: May, 2013

Miles Kane: Don’t Forget Who You Are Review (9/10)

It’s funny what a few years and a clutch of shit hot songs will do for a fella’s career. Think back just a couple of years ago and Miles Kane was, to most, nothing more than the other half of The Last Shadow Puppets.

Now if you’re gonna be known as the other half of anything, it might as well be one of the best British bands to have come out of the past two decades, but obviously Mr Kane was not content with stopping there.

As a result, in 2009 he released debut solo album Colour of the Trap. Not a perfect album by any means, but one with a fierce selection of tunes such as Inhaler and Come Closer (we all know ’em by now). Songs that can remind the casual observer why music can be so, so much more than samples and processed beats.

And now, in 2013, Mr Miles Kane seems to have invented the chorus. I don’t mean to suggest that he invented the term, or anything so arrogant, but fucking hell the rest of the albums this year are going to have a hell of a job topping the feel good, goosebump inducing explosion of nostalgia and sheer joy that almost every song on Don’t Forget Who You Are seems to erupt into.

You see, there isn’t a single song on this album that doesn’t have a genuinely catchy or unforgettable moment. The first three tracks rattle along at a breathless pace; Taking Over kicks the album off with an Electricity style riff and some tasty vocal harmonies on the chorus while I can only describe Better Than That as a jubilant sixties street party.

We’re afforded a moment of peace with Out of Control. A cracking little number which slows things down but still has a sweeping orchestral chorus that induces chills. Then it’s back into it with a slightly more rock oriented selection of tracks.

Bombshells is a very Secret Affair style number, nice and moddy, while Tonight is like a dancier, glam rockish cousin of Come Closer and has a very nice solo tucked away in there.

Unfortunately, acoustic track Fire in my Heart is basically Half The World Away. That isn’t to say it’s a bad song, but the obvious comparison becomes kind of offputting and after another slew of heavy, fast tracks, another sudden break seems slightly jarring in the grand scheme of things.

Fortunately, You’re Gonna Get it has Paul “King of the Mods” Weller written all over it, as the mod couple wrote it together and it is a standout track. Pure, unashamed, undiluted rock and roll and frankly, mod as fuck.

And then it’s moving swiftly onto Give Up, the first single from the album, which is nothing short of a stomping, dirty great indie tune with a clear aim to tear up the crowd at live shows. The military drum roll, the chant, the chorus, the beasty riff, all the makings of a classic.

Album closer Darkness in Our Hearts has a very Strokesy, Last Nite sound going on (even the drum beat is the same), but it quickly changes into a sound which is unmistakably Kane’s. He’s clearly big on chanty, repetitive lyrics on this album, but it suits him well.

Don’t Forget Who You Are is, in short, more of a refinement of his sound than a full on evolution. He’s kept everything that made his first solo effort great and thrown on a fuck load more chorus, tune and mod magic. If this album doesn’t make you want to go straight out and throw on the sharpest suit you can buy, you’re listening to it wrong.

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Ten Actors Who Should Play The 12th Doctor

The fateful day has come. Matt Smith has announced he is leaving Doctor Who, giving Steven Moffat the chance to ruin Christmas for a nation. A task he will no doubt relish.

So here is a list, in no particular order, of ten actors who could replace him, or should play the part somewhere down the line for the show. If you disagree feel free to comment with your name and address so I can come over and slap you across the face for not seeing things my way (that was a joke, I’m a pussy).

Oh and just to clarify, if you’re the sort of person who expects to see Russel Brand or Noel Fielding on this list, you shouldn’t be watching Doctor Who. Seriously, just stop.

Ten: John Hurt (Harry Potter, Alien, Doctor Who, Much more)

I always wanted John Hurt to play The Doctor before the big reveal at the end of the recent series (honestly). As such, as soon as I heard he’d been cast for the 50th I kinda had the feeling there was only one part he could possibly be playing and I nailed it. Although, I nailed it at the expense of spoiling for myself what was meant to be a brilliant reveal during The Name of The Doctor.

In any case, since the show came back I’ve wanted to see an older man playing The Doctor again, if only because if they carry on the way they’re going the 13th Doctor will be a ten year old.

John Hurt just seems to look the part in a way few actors do. In Harry Potter he had the whole mysterious “I know more than you Harry lololol” thing going on which The Doctor should always have. He can also let deadly larval aliens burst out of his chest like no other actor on the planet, which is a bonus. On the other hand, if we can’t have an old Doctor…

Nine: Andrew Garfield (The Amazing Spider Man, The Social Network, Doctor Who… again)

This one has nothing to do with my worryingly powerful man crash on him, or the fact that his hair rivals David Tennant’s in the so good it must be alien category. From what I’ve seen of him, I just genuinely believe he has the potential to be a truly mad, eccentric Doctor full of energy.

On top of that, we know he can do the whole “acting” lark quite well and cleary has a good range. Something that is probably helpful when you’re playing a batshit crazy alien. Again, you may call me shallow, but it mostly boils down to me thinking he has the right “look” about him. I can’t put my finger on it. I guess I just fancy him a bit too much.

Eight: Thomas Sangster (Nowhere Boy, Doctor Who… sorry)

I will admit that in the case of this chap, we’re gonna need to give it a few more years, but I think he’s got the potential to make a cracking Doctor.

It’s mostly his appearance in Doctor Who (Human Nature/Family of Blood) that got me thinking about him for the role. It’s not that he does anything particularly Doctorish, but the way he delivers some of his lines remind me so much of third Doctor (Jon Pertwee) that I think he could play the role in a similar way. Stern yet stylish with a penchant for Velvet. Maybe not the velvet thing.

Seven: Paterson Joseph (Neverwhere, Doctor Who, oops)

I know what you’re thinking when you look at the picture. How could they cast the Doctor as… someone without hair? P J was actually strongly rumoured for the role after David Tennant announced he was leaving and I for one thought it would have been a brilliant call.

You only need to watch him as the smarmy and eccentric Marquis de Carabas in Neil Gaiman’s excellent Neverwhere TV series to see why he would make a fantastic Doctor.

Six: Martin Freeman (Sherlock, The Hobbit, Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy)

Hold onto your panties fan girls of Tumblr, but I don’t think that Benedict “Sherlock” Cumberpatch should ever play The Doctor. He is a terriffic actor, but I think for the most part his characters are just a little too graceful, cold and in control. If there’s one thing The Doctor should never be, it’s completely in control… and very rarely cold.

Freeman on the otherhand is immensely likeable and can play the bumbling adventurer very well. In Sherlock, The Hobbit and Hitch Hikers, he is a character who is unwillingly pulled into an adventure. Of course the Doctor is always looking for adventure, but never trouble. Freeman would make a cracking unwilling, bumbling and perhaps quite hapless Doctor.

Five: Alan Rickman (Harry Potter, Dogma)

Perhaps not these days, as most people would have a hard time getting Professor Snape out of their heads. However, in Kevin Smith’s Dogma he played a brilliantly smarmy, sarcastic dick that – if toned down a little -would have made quite a good Doctor.

Of course, we’d have to see a little more than smarminess or we’d get pretty bored of him before long.

Four: Richard E. Grant (Withnail & I Surprise… Doctor Who)

Annoyingly, this will never happen now as he recently played the big bad of Series 7 as the revived Great Intelligence. It’s a shame since on two occasions he played the Doctor during the Series’ state of flux. Once in a kind of forgettable animated format. The other occasion was for about thirty seconds but much more memorable…

Steven Moffat (whoever that guy is) wrote a spoof skit for Comic Relief in the 90s featuring Rowan Atkinson as the 9th Doctor. He regenerates into some well known actors several times in the spoof but by far the best performance was Grant’s. It was only a sketch and only a few seconds but he just nailed the part. A shame we’ll never see him do it again.

You can check him (and some other big names) out as The Doctor here:

Three: Paul Mgann (Withnail & I, Doctor Who)

GIVE ME BACK THE EIGHTH DOCTOR. GIVE MGANN MORE SCREEN TIME NOW.  Sorry.

Two: Dylan Moran (Black Books, Shaun of the Dead)

I’m not really sure if this is because I think his eccentric bastard Bernard Black character would make a good Doctor, or if it’s just because I want to see him and Manny travelling together in the TARDIS. Either way I think I’d be sold on this one.

One: Andrew Gower: (Being Human)

Sadly, I’m only aware of Gower from Being Human, but it was one of those rare moments for a picky bastard like me where I just knew I wanted to see him as The Doctor.

He just has something of The Doctor about him. The Tennant/Baker wide eyes, the madness… just a general air of Doctorishness. Gower is my top choice for Doctor number 12.

But that’s the thing with a new Doctor at the end of the day. I can almost guarantee it won’t be anyone we’re expecting. You can ignore all the odds involving Rupert Grint and James Nesbitt and the names that come up everywhere. If any one person on the planet can tell me they were expecting Matt Smith to be the 11th Doctor, they’re a liar.

One thing’s for sure. Whoever they pick, they’re gonna have one hell of a job replacing the man who made me forget David Tennant in less than five minutes.

Looking Back: Pokemon Crystal Version

Even the game cartridge sparkled with promise. I mean, it looked like it was made out of fucking crystal how cool is that? Of course, now I’m aware it isn’t crystal but don’t go telling that to an eight year old me.

That’s what Pokemon Crystal is to me. Memories. Really, really great ones too. It was the first Pokemon game I ever played, brought from the top floor of a strange smelling comic book store in Nottingham second hand.

The cardboard box was all crumpled, the previous owner was called Sam and he had a level 98 Meganium he had tastefully nicknamed tits.

I can remember throwing my Master Ball at a Skarmory because I thought it was a legendary Pokemon and I very vividly remember getting massively stuck on the second gym every time she brought out Sycther and getting my big sister to do it for me.

Maybe it’s just because Crystal was my first Pokemon game that I remember loving it so vividly and that it is the only Pokemon game I can happily replay without getting bored one bit. But I think it’s more than that. I genuinely think that Crystal was the pinnacle of Pokemon.

For a start, there were some welcome additions to the Pokedex but we hadn’t yet reached an overwhelming and ridiculous number. The starter Pokemon weren’t as cool as the likes of Charmander or Squirtle but they weren’t completely shit either.

The introduction of baby pokemon was also a nice inclusion, even though they were pretty shit and Espeon and Umbreon were and still are the dons of the Eeveelutions.

Then there was a natty little day and night system, a radio and a phone. All awesome things that were weirdly dropped for Ruby and Sapphire. Clock based events, like only being able to catch Lapras on a Friday night added to the immersion of a huge game.

And what more than anything else made this game feel so colossal? Two motherfucking regions. I pretty much lost my eight year old shit when a fat guy first told me I had set foot in Kanto. Further shit was lost when I realised that I could pick up eight more badges and explore an entirely new land just as big as Johto was.

Frankly I have felt cheated from every single subsequent Pokemon entry. I always expect to be told I can go off and explore another land and every time I am dissapointed. An extra eight badges and the chance to go off and lay the beat down on Red, the all time pimp daddy trainer deluxe? I’ll take that over getting to go see maybe one or two more towns or a shitty little island cheers.

I literally cannot get bored of playing though Crystal. It is a faultless game that tugs at my nostalgia strings to the max and has destroyed hours of my life (in a good way, I think).

Looking Back: The Legend of Zelda – A Link to the Past

A Link to the Past is a faultless game. Released for the Super Nintendo in the 90s, a sequel was announced just last month and the internet pretty much collectively lost their minds. That’s how popular this two decade old game is.

And it’s hard to see why people wouldn’t be in love with it. For a start, the game is huge. Two completely different and giant overworlds to explore in the game’s genius light/dark world mechanic added an entirely new level to exploration. Gamers would discover that an action in one world could affect an object or environment in the other. That’s some sophisticated design for the time.

While the original Zelda laid the foundation for mass exploration, ALTTP hands down nailed it. For a start, it was actually worth looking around as it all looked and sounded beautiful, had secret items and upgrades everywhere and was littered with NPCs that added to the rich backstory of the game.

Speaking of the story, this is the first Zelda to weave a genuinely captivating yarn. Eight maidens being kidnapped for mysterious purposes, an evil wizard that assassinates the king, the death of your uncle and a prison break all occur in the first half hour of the game. I haven’t even mentioned some of the genuine twists and shocks that pop up. After games that basically boiled down to “go here and do this”, we had a refreshing change of pace.

It was the first Zelda to offer up huge, challenging and puzzling boss fights. For the first time you couldn’t win by simply going at it with your sword. The bosses required analysis and careful study to pinpoint and exploit weaknesses. Once you’d done that, you could go at it with your sword. But you’d earned it, so it was satisfying as hell.

The sheer amount of weapons to discover in Link’s armoury was truly a joy. Tracking down the bow and arrow, the hookshot and the Master Sword all felt massively rewarding. Add to that optional items like an invisibility cloak and medallions that essentially butchered anything onscreen and you were in business.

People say Ocarina of Time changed the series, but I say it all started here. This was when The Legend of Zelda stopped being good and started being so much more. I would argue that out of every game from this generation, A Link to the Past holds up the best. Check it out for yourself.

Doctor Who: The Name of The Doctor – Review (10/10)

And there, on a Saturday evening on BBC One in 2013, was William Hartnell as… The Doctor. Excuse my language but fuck me that was enough to make me explode with joy. After fifty years, finally getting a glimpse of the moment The Doctor decides to run off with a type 40 TARDIS and see the universe was something truly special for me.

And it only went and got better. We saw Doctors one through seven, including that strange moment in Dragonfire where for some reason, Seven decides to crawl down a cliff. I think I’d already decided this was a perfect episode from that 50th montage and that was only the bloody pre credits sequence.

Of course, some of the meshing of archive clips worked better than others, but when you’re watching your childhood colliding with the present day of your favorite program, who really cares?

The Name of The Doctor managed to set up everything that needed to be set up for the 50th shenangins all while answering some questions that have been around for years and still managed to be an enjoyable, witty and in places quite chilling episode.

Did the big question, the Doctor’s name get revealed? No. Of course, it was never going to be answered in a straight forward “my name is…” way and frankly anyone with a fundemental understanding of Doctor Who would have known that from the off. Moffat is a fan and as such knows full well that is a question we never need to hear the answer to.

And if you were expecting an asnwer, it’s hard to have felt shortchanged from this gem of an episode. River’s final farewell was truly quite heartbreaking, seeing The Doctor’s assertion that he hates goodbyes is a deeper glimpse into who he is than his name could ever tell us.

Some might gripe at lack of explanation towards why The Doctor could see and touch River, I couldn’t care less when the payoff was such an emotional scene and that line “God knows how that must have looked”. It would be a shame if this was River’s last appearance but she couldn’t have gone out on a better note.

Matt Smith was firing on all clyinders once again, showing anger, heartbreak and at times, genuine fear. The scene where he found out he had to go to Trenzalore was quite unsettling. This is not how The Doctor is supposed to be and Matt Smith played it perfectly, not too much and not too little emotion.

Strax, Vastra and Jenny still need their own spin off series, that much will never change. I admit I was watching this episode in the fear that one of them would bite the dust and that horribly chilling scene where Jenny realised she had been murdered set the stakes very early on. Frankly, I don’t know what I’d do without my favorite Dinosaur/Victorian Maid Lesbian Crimefighting Couple. Although Strax is genuinely brilliant, his comedy did detract from the drama at times, which felt a little frustrating.

I think Jenna Louise Coleman’s character has come under a lot of unfair criticism this series. She’s constantly been brilliant in my eyes and to be honest I never could really stand Amy Pond. Sorry, world, but I just think Clara is miles ahead.

Some reviews have complained that since we haven’t known Clara that long, her sacrifice doesn’t mean as much. I would argue that surely it means that much more? If she hasn’t known The Doctor that long and is willing to tear her very existence apart to save him, I think that’s pretty big.

Incidentally, The Doc and Clara’s chemistry was great here. Maybe it’s because Clara finally saw a deeper side to The Doctor, but they really seem to care about each other much more in this one. Although I am glad River wasn’t sidelined so The Doctor could canoodle with Clara as I initially feared.

There isn’t too much to say about The Whispermen and Richard E Grant. Grant is always brilliant and hopefully we haven’t seen the last of him and while the Whispermen looked creepy as hell, they didn’t really do much besides… whisper. Not that cool.

Oh yeah, introducing John Hurt as The Doctor? Jesus Christ, November 23rd cannot come fast enough.

Doctor Who Series 7 Finale Leaked?

According to the Official Doctor Who Facebook page, a lucky few in America have recieved their series 7 part 2 box sets. Obviously, this means the last episode, the fan boy baiting Name of the Doctor is out there ready to be leaked. If reports are to be believed of course.

You see, I think it’s bullshit. A publicity stunt.

Despite the fact Moffat has promised a special clip of the 10th and 11th Doctors if no details of the finale get out, I’m convinced it would be everywhere. Not even The Moff can control the entire internet. This would have exploded by now… call me a cynic, but that’s the way I think it is.

Moreover, I don’t for a second think that Moffat is above using something like this as a ploy to boost publicity. That man is one crafty old jackrabbit.

I love Doctor Who, but I’m afraid if it was out there I would not be able to wait. Not for an episode as tantalising as this little gem. However, I think we will be waiting till Saturday and we should all just stay calm and maybe avoid the shadier corners of the internet… just in case.

Doctor Who: A Nightmare in Silver – Review (7.5/10)

Like Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS, this episode was burdened with perhaps an unfair level of expectation for two reasons. Firstly, the return of the Cybermen. But more importantly than that, the fact that Neil Gaiman was writing the episode.

Of course it didn’t do anything to numb my excitement that Coraline, Neverwhere, and Anansi Boys are some of my all time favorite reads. Factor in that Gaiman also wrote series 6’s sublime The Doctors Wife (probably the best episode of New Who) and watching the episode was more a case of “how shit you’re not” rather than “how good are you?”.

So get the most boring and unfair part out of the way before I review the episode on its own merits: Yes, I was expecting a lot more from Gaiman. Unfair, I know, but there it is. Moving on…

The main draw of the episode for me was the upgraded Cybermen. I was never a fan of the stompy Cybus variety, they looked too much like plain old robots and never really hammered home the point that Cybermen are supposed to be us.

These new chaps are much more muscular and humanlike. A welcome new look after the misfire that were the rainbow Daleks. The fan boy in me also adores the facial resemblance to the Tomb of the Cybermen model.

But besides a new look, it was the fact that they were a real threat again which delighted me. In my opinion the Cybermen haven’t been taken seriously since the Daleks laid a smack down on them all the way back in Doomsday.

Here are a race that can move at super speed, sneak up on you, turn their heads exorcist style and upgrade to overcome any weakness. I’d be interested to see the Daleks take on these Cybermen.

Sadly, the scariest thing about the episode were the child actors though. The girl in particular was such an infuriating little shit that I found it a struggle to care about her at all. Not good when they’re meant to be in peril. Thankfully, they didn’t take up too much screen time, or this episode could have been a hell of a lot worse.

Matt Smith nailed his internal struggle with the Cyber Planner (sadly not the most threatening name going). It’s always good to see a slightly darker side to Eleven, although I do think it could have been a little darker. Ah well, any internal battle which has a brief slideshow of all 11 Doctors does me just fine.

Warwick Davis was great, more of him please. The other soldiers were forgettable and ever so slightly annoying though it was cool to see Clara take charge of the situation. The way she knew it wasn’t the Doctor because he’d never admit how he felt was a nice moment too.

Overall, the Cybermen are scary again. If nothing else this episode achieved that, so that’s cool. It was a fun enough romp but I doubt it’ll stay in the memory for as long as something like… I dunno… The Doctor’s Wife? (sorry).

As a closing remark, I would just like to point out that the fantastic Jason Watkins was wasted as the eccentric park manager. He could have been a fantastic Master, or in my ideal world, The Doctor. Go ahead and watch him again with that in mind. I dare you to tell me I’m wrong.

Doctor Who: The Crimson Horror – Review (9/10)

It’s grim up North…

If anything, this episode of Doctor Who has left me with a slight feeling of sadness. Sadness that we might never get to see a spin off series of Penny Dreadful like adventures with Strax, Vastra and Jenny who absolutely made this episode and were the reason I had been looking forward to it for so long.

Of course, there’s something about Doctor Who that just works with the Victorian era. Talons, Tooth and Claw and The Snowmen all became instant favorites of mine. That the writer Mark Gatiss has a penchant for the macabre only added to the atmosphere.

The episode was stuffed with absurd moments, from an old woman letting a prehistoric leech suckle from her chest (That put me reet off me pie) to The Doctor as a wax zombie and his sonic screwdriver getting some kind of reaction to the sight of a leather clad Jenny. (Rightly so, I suppose).

But the good news is, it never descended into complete ridiculousness, by Who’s standards, anyway. For as much as it could, everything stayed grounded and real. Again, The Doctor’s newfound protective streak was on show for Clara and it was just as adorable as ever.

Ultimately, it was the small moments that made this episode the fun, throwaway slice of Saturday night entertainment it was meant to be. The sepia tinged flashback sequences, the (fantastic) reference to classic Who girl Tegan, the origins of the Tom Tom (genius) and above all, the potato dwarf who has a fondness for sherbert.

If this series has proved anything, it’s that Who is at it’s best when it isn’t trying too hard to be a blockbuster every week. At least for me, it’s always been at it’s best as a small scale, unassuming drama about a mad man in a box,