Now this is music #91: Fare Soldi, HAEVN, Goldmyth, LAUV, Tyzo Bloom


Stop right there! Yes … YOU.

I know modern life is busy af and slowing down seems like anathema, the desperate beats of FOMO drumming mercilessly through every thought and feeling, but there is a real joy and reward in taking a few steps back, finding a seat somewhere and taking things down a notch or 300.

These five exquisitely well-wrought tracks by five very talented artists manage that task with aplomb and in no time at all you will find yourself kicking back and wondering why the hell you didn’t do this way sooner.

Let the bliss begin …


“Curly Curly” by Fare Soldi


Fare Soldi (image courtesy official Fare Soldi Facebook page)


In the bio section of their Facebook page, Italian electronic act Fare Soldi (Luka Carnifull & Santana Pasta) pose this Q & A to their fans (and would-be listeners):

“Smiling while dancing make the people dance better?
Medical research, corrupted by major-driven issues of less importance like deadly diseases, always ignored this matter. But now 2 Italian electronic producers are trying to give an answer.”

Trust me, it is an answer you will not only love but will enjoy listening to over and over.

Combining hip-hop and good old-fashioned disco, “Curly Curly” is an instrumental slice of Italo House heaven that is the perfect finish to a fun night out or the best party starter ever.

However you listen to this trumpet-filled, playful track, you will invariably find yourself dancing and in so doing, discover that, yes, smiling to a mischievously fun song while you’re dancing does improve the rhythm and the groove.

You’re welcome.



“Finding Out More (EDX’s Acapulco At Night Mix)” by HAEVN


HAEVN (image courtesy official HAEVN Facebook page)


Ensconced in their studio in Amsterdam, where songwriter Marijn van der Meer & film composer Jorrit Kleijnen began their musical journey, HAEVN have crafted some insanely listenable tunes.

It helps, of course, that they enlisted the services of Tim Bran, who’s worked with the likes of London Grammar and Birdy, before one track even saw the light of day, but you get the feeling that duo, who found great acclaim way back in 2016 with featured track “Finding Out More” and “Where the Heart is”, would have done pretty well for themselves even so.

Now the song that impelled Spotify to label HAEVN as one to watch for 2016 – honestly if you’re still watching them now that’s totally OK too – “Finding Out More” has received some brilliant remix treatment from Italian DJ and producer EDX (Maurizio Colella) which elevates an already wonderful piece of music still further.

It has been described rather poetically, by Graham Porter at Your Music Radar as “a little deep house, a little sunset and little golden nugget for the ears” which nicely sums up a laid-back, blissfully groovy track given an extra bit of sparkle and zing by this perfectly-judged remix.



“Faded Dream” by Goldmyth


Goldmyth (image courtesy official Goldmyth Facebook page)


The harp is a wildly-underestimated instrument.

Seen as fey and underwhelming by many, all evidence provided by the immensely-talented likes of Joanna Newsom and Active Child to the contrary, they are never quite given their due.

But if you value deliciously ethereal music, such as that created by Utah-based singer-songwriter Goldmyth, you will come to appreciate how vital a role they play in creating richly melodic musical atmosphere that you can quite happily lose yourself in over and over.

“Faded Dream” is beautiful beyond words, buoyed by the harpist’s soft, light voice which is suffused by an exceptional emotional resonance that carries the track aloft.

This is no exercise in light and fey music making – “Faded Dream” may be ethereal in sound but it is a profoundly substantial piece of music that proves a delicately lush counterpoint to her more upbeat pop songs such as “Lover’s Letdown”.



“I Like Me Better” by Lauv


Lauv (image via official Lauv Facebook page)


If you’ve ever wished John Mayer was still making the effervescently-bouyant folk pop of his early days, then you should embrace American musician Lauv aka Ari Staprans Leff with much gratitude.

Bringing his stock-in-trade knack for ruminating with lyrical gift and melodic beauty on the nasty, heartbreaking nature of break-ups to the table once again, he injects a more jaunty air, creating a delicious counterpoint between lyric and melody.

It celebrates how finding romance with someone special elevates all the best parts of yourself, drawing out all the good things, and sending all the crappy parts of you to the back of the class, hopefully to be lost forever.

It’s gloriously, sublimely wonderful and it’s hard not to agree with We Are: The Guard when they describe this feel good gem thus:

“The song is a neat package of expert arrangements and sweet storytelling and its all quite simple, but in the best way possible. What we mean is that We Are: The Guard can presume that this is meant to be a song you can sing along to, to put you in high spirits, and the tune achieves just that.”



“Tip Toe (feat. Casey Cook)” by Tyzo Bloom


Tyzo Bloom (image via official Tyzo Bloom Facebook page)


His wonderfully evocative stage name aside, LA producer/songwriter Tyzo Bloom (Casey Chen), has a talent for crafting trippy, beautiful songs that still manage some emotional heft.

In “Tip Toe”, which features the delicate vocals of Casey Cook and a dreamy melody that curls and turns around you and settles over you like an old friend who is comforting and ineffably cool all at once, he has crafted a meandering pop gem that talks about taking it slow from someone who simply wants to savour a sublimely-good romantic journey of discovery.

And don’t let the simplicity of the sound fool you; there’s a lot of good things going on in “Tip Toe” as We Are: The Guard notes:

“Brimming with chimes from what sounds like a digital xylophone, ‘Tip Toe’ is a feast for the ears that is as playful as it is catchy. Besides the percussion, Cook’s vocals construct an atmosphere filled with dreaminess and surreal sense of calm that is the aural version of the chill pill. If death metal gets you amped, this would surely do the exact opposite. Like the other tracks in his library, it is difficult not to feel relaxed after listening to it. Ethereal might be the correct word to describe it.”

Ethereal it mostly definitely, the perfect track to usher into chilling, relaxing and brain-relaxing nothingness, something we all need to aspire to from time-to-time, the better to make the most of life’s most charged moments.





Mini-music review: “Ti Amo” by Phoenix


From the get-go, French band Phoenix’s new Italian-inspired album, Ti Amo, is adorably, beautifully, dreamily romantic.

It is damn near impossible not to listen to opening tracks “J-Boy” and “Ti Amo” and not swoon as the band, which has always had a way with rich, synth-drenched textures, and muscularity etherealness, drenches in all the feels with a sophistication and insouciance that seems almost effortless.

Powered by hook after earworm-latching hook, the songs of Ti Amo, and indeed pretty much everything Phoenix has ever released, are gloriously, impossibly giddily happy and content, suggesting all the best kinds of things at the best possible time of the year, as SPIN notes:

Ti Amo is a big, juicy starburst of romantic synth-pop and disco, redolent of Italian summers, flickering like random snippets of Fellini on an improvised beach-towel screen. It suggests nothing more sinister than a roller-skating date; the darkest thing about it is that, being recorded in a Parisian opera house turned tech incubator, it reminds us that everything old and beautiful is now fated to become a tech incubator. Mostly, it’s like seeing how many expensive European candies you can fit in your mouth at once, savoring bright layers of contrasting flavors: artisanal pralines and pastel pistachios, pink scoops of sorbet and yellow gelato. I’m not really being rhetorical—this is an album with songs named things like ‘Tuttifrutti’ and ‘Fior Di Latte.'”

Perhaps it’s growing up in Versailles, France, or perhaps it’s simply being French, a fabulously glamorous people known for their romantic disposition – it may be a cliche but as cliches go, it’s pretty good – but Phoenix are the kings of stylish, clever, artfully-constructed pop songs that radiate love, romance, the possibility of endless good things coming your way, and frankly, who doesn’t want more of that?

Read more about what led to the album’s creation, how it was launched and why Phoenix are so damn cool.

Winter is here – and so is a fearsome new Game of Thrones S7 trailer and posters

(image via IMP Awards (c) HBO)


At the end of season 6 Daenerys’ (Emilia Clarke) dragons and her immense army were finally on the way to Westeros, where Cersei (Lena Headey) has now become Queen after the death of her children. The Night King’s (Vladimir Furdik in season 6) army is heading south, and a battle appears to be imminent. (via Coming Soon)

Winter is here.

Oh lordy, by the Old Gods of the Forest and the Seven, winter is most definitely, catastrophically here.

And as expected, it is bringing death, destruction and near-apocalyptic menace as the Night King sweeps south with his ghoulish undead army trailing menacingly behind.

As Jon Snow rightly observes in his entreaty to his allies and enemies to come together against their common foe, the White Walkers are the real enemy to worry about, and should they prevail the game of thrones that has sustained the show for the last six seasons, will be exposed as a futile waste of time and energy.

“Don’t fight in the North or the south. Fight every battle everywhere, always, in your mind.” (Ser Petyr Baelish)

That doesn’t mean of course that anyone will likely listen to him, and we can expect a great deal more death and destruction before the truncated seventh season, which runs to seven episodes (though two episodes are 60 minutes plus and the finale is 90 minutes long), runs its blood-stained course.

Game of Thrones premieres its seventh season on 16 July on HBO.

For a far more detailed plot recap, go to Game of Thrones Wiki and for a breakdown of the trailer and what it all means, go here and here.



Want more posters? Here’s more posters plus you can find the full set here.


(image via IMP Awards (c) HBO)


(image via IMP Awards (c) HBO)


(image via IMP Awards (c) HBO)


(image via IMP Awards (c) HBO)

Landline: When people were harder to reach

(image via IMP Awards)


In 1995, a teenager living with her sister and parents in Manhattan discovers that her father is having an affair. (synopsis via IMDb)

Wouldn’t it be lovely if life worked out exactly as we imagined it would?

Well the good bits anyway …

In Landline, Jenny Slate’s character Dana admits to her father, who’s left-turn life decision has left his two daughters reeling, that “I’m just trying to figure out if the life that I’ve picked for myself is even the one that I want.”

Aren’t we all sister, aren’t we all?

As Variety notes in their review, the themes in the film are pretty universal ones, despite the New York setting:

Landline is a dramatic comedy about a family full of secrets, and what’s mature — and, in its way, reassuring — about the film is that it views this state of affairs as an all-too-natural one.”

So there are some pretty big but relatable questions canvased in what looks promisingly like a genuinely touching, warm and funny indie film about family, life, and way it can be messy and glorious all at once as we try to figure what the hell is going on.

And yeah, let’s be honest maybe we never will and that’s OK too.

Landline opens 21 July in USA after premiering at Sundance last January.


Is there existential depth to Rick & Morty? “Wubbalubbadubdub yes!” says creator Dan Harmon

(image (c) Adult Swim)


One of the really impressive things about Rick and Morty, Adult Swim’s incredibly clever animated series about an alcoholic scientist grandfather and his often hapless but EQ-rich grandson, has been the way it merges bright, funtastic visuals, amazingly imaginative worldbuilding and intelligent storytelling that doesn’t just spin out a narrative but says something really funny while it’s doing it.

Plus of course, it’s funny – really, really funny.

In this video released by Adult Swim to promote the upcoming third series, co-creator Dan Harmon muses on the existential underpinnings of the show; specifically about the recurrent tussle between creator and created, and the angst about life and its meaning that results.

In the face of these big unversal questions – to which the answer is not 42, much as I wish it was – Harmon muses about the end point of Rick’s constant declaration that nothing really matters.

“While Harmon doesn’t subscribe to Rick’s belief that nothing matters, if you get through the ‘terrifying threshold’ of accepting it, [he acknowledges that] ‘every place is the center of the universe, every moment is the most important moment and everything is the meaning of life.'” (source: Mashable)

We always suspected there was a lot of going on beyond the crazy aliens and outrageous plots but this brilliantly-informative, thoughtful video underscores just big the philosophical 90% of the iceberg under the water of Rick and Morty really is.


Fear the Walking Dead: “100” (S3, E4 review)

Always devolving? Daniel proves that it is possible to grow as a person in the apocalypse (photo courtesy AMC)



Water, water, every where,
Nor any drop to drink.
(from Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge)

Never were truer poetic words committed to the written word.

And never were they more pertinent or desperately poignant that in the latest episode of Fear the Walking Dead, “100”, which saw the unexpected return of Daniel Salazar (Rubén Blades), looking and moving like a singed zombie but very much alive.

Turns out the man that Victor (Colman Domingo) talked to last week from his prison cell – he was placed there by his old “friend” Dante Esquivel (Jason Manuel Olazabal) who knows a conniving survivor-at-all-costs when he sees one – who looked a lot like Daniel Salazar was in fact … Daniel Salazar!

Talk about a survival story and a half.

Last we saw the onetime CIA-trained paramilitary killer-turned-L.A. barber, he was not in his right mind and going up in flames at the estate of Victor’s dearly-departed husband Thomas Abigail (Dougray Scott) with most of the rest of the alive population of the once-safe sanctuary.

But he escaped, he says thanks to his daughter Ofelia (Mercedes Mason) who has been M.I.A. since the start of season 3, emerging back out into the cold, cruel world of the apocalypse with one hell of a limp, a BBQ’d leg but nevertheless, gobsmackingly, surprisingly alive.

We find him at the start of “100” dragging himself through the streets of Tijuana, narrowing avoiding being chomped on by a zombie – here’s to strategically-placed and timed barking dogs – and saved by Efrain (Jesse Borego), a man who wanders the streets delivering mercy to stray walkers and saving near-dead souls like Daniel’s.

As a character study in the way humanity can actually thrive and grow in the apocalypse, rather than devolve to base, grasping survivalism, “100” was a masterclass, showing us a bleak, unremitting view of the end of the world as we know it, but also showing that along with the bad and the opportunistic (exhibit A is Dante himself, a close second Victor) come with the good and the caring, people who understand that now, more than ever, humanity is needed is all its merciful, selfless abundance.


One good turn eventually deserves another … but it’s a rocky road getting there (photo courtesy AMC)


In that respect, the episode played magnificently well to the strengths of Fear the Walking Dead, a show which has showed an admirable knack for examining the day to day privations of the apocalypse as well the big picture fight for survival (a particular focus of its parent show, The Walking Dead).

“100” examined how, in the face of deep, life-ending privation and hardship – Dante has taken over Tijuana’s dam and thus its drinking water, ruthlessly shutting down anyone who tries to take it without permission – that real poignant, touching moments of humanity can shine through.

More than that though it showed how one man, who by rights should have kicked into hard-arse survivalist mode – if anyone has the skills and the aptitude, it’s Daniel – can learn and grow and choose to listen to the better angels of his nature.

It was quite a journey though with Daniel moving from grateful to penitent in the face of Efrain’s selfless kindness and care to uneasily compliant with Dante’s regime – Dante guesses he was one a paramilitary figure and assigned an uncomfortable Daniel, all too aware his old life has temporarily cost him Ofelia’s affection – to an outright rebel who takes a stand over the warlord’s distinctly inhuman parceling out of water to those he deems worthy or useful.

And in choosing to take Daniel on that journey, a left field choice in light of the fact that many shows including The Walking Dead would have chosen to make him colder and meaner, we were given a refreshing antidote to the idea that the apocalypse can only means grasping opportunism and violent taking.

In “100” we were greeted instead by kind, selfless souls who knew what the stakes were, and how dangerous taking a stand might be, but took it anyway, a muscular force of mercy-laced rebellion that Daniel chose to side with rather than uphold Dante’s neo-liberalist agenda.

As character studies in the effects of deprivation and loss on the human spirit go, it was beautifully done, with nuance and care, a series of interconnected moments that showed us how powerful it can be when people choose to honour their humanity, no matter how dire the circumstances, than cast it aside.


Is neo-liberalism the only creed worth following in the apocalypse? Daniel says NO (photo courtesy AMC)


Don’t be fooled – this was no hallmark-framed fairytale, fringed with pink lace and soundtracked by “Kum Ba Yah” on a loop; rather it was people knowing full well what they were up against but choosing to do the right thing anyway.

Inspiring stuff and not what you’d normally associate with the apocalypse but entirely reflective of humanity who shows again and again that it is capable of being joyously generous and sacrificial even even there has been great catastrophic loss.

That is the great mark of difference with Fear the Walking Dead – not only does it show the apocalypse in raw, rough day-to-day terms, but it also acknowledges that the net effect of the end of civilisation doesn’t have to spell the cessation of all civility.

It matches a new mood in apocalyptic storytelling which acknowledges the loss and the destruction, and the propensity for the opportunists, the cruel and the morally-blighted to hold free rein, but also maintains that it is possible to hold fast to all the good things that make us human.

By telling Daniel’s transformative story in “100”, Fear the Walking Dead showed it is very much in that qualified optimism vein, all too painfully aware of what has been lost but keenly observant of the fact that, if people are willing to take a stand, and Daniel takes one hell of a stand atop the dam, how much can be gained too.

  • Next week in “Burning in Water, Drowning in Flame” we return to the ranch and the dubious safety of a sanctuary that may hide more peril within than lies without …



James Corden presents … Crosswalk the Musical: Mary Poppins

(image via IMP Awards (c) Disney)


No matter how you slice it, James Corden is a joy.

An actor, singer and host of The Late Late Show With James Corden, he is an imaginatively talented man who is responsible for the viral-happy Carpool Karaoke, very funny skits and interviews, and the subject of this post, Crosswalk Musicals, where he and a very nimble cast perform songs from much-loved musicals during the pedestrian walk intervals at intersections.

It’s an inspired idea, brilliantly executed, with some serious talent, gorgeous costuming and yes, split-second timing, essential if you’re to avoid being run over by impatient city motorists, some of whom don’t see the entertaining side of Corden’s time-sensitive artistic endeavours.

His latest effort, which involves just a little, or a lot, parodying of theatre life, is Mary Poppins, staged live in London to a mostly appreciative audience, save for the white van drivers and one impatient pedestrian who walks across the screen mid-performance.

It’s bright, fun and Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious-ly fabulous!


We were once humanity: Rakka, the first of the short films from Neill Blomkamp’s Oats Studios

(image via YouTube (c) Oats Studios)


RAKKA is the story of broken humanity following the invasion of a technologically superior alien species. Bleak harrowing and unrelenting, the humans we meet must find enough courage to go on fighting. (official synopsis via Laughing Squid)

There is something deeply, viscerally confronting about Rakka (Japanese 落下 meaning “fall”), the first short film released by Neill Blomkamp’s Oats Studios.

The first short film release by the master sci-fi storyteller, who masterfully injects social commentary into his taut, artfully-constructed films, is not some sunny, blockbuster-y  take on alien invasion such as Independence Day or War of the Worlds – for all their grimness, there was an overall cartoonishness to the action – but one suffused with bleak, dark despair.

It feels like the aftermath of an alien invasion would feel, ecological and societal devastation rampant, torture, oppression and genocide on the march, instigated by an invasive race that sees humanity as a resource, things on which to experiment and nothing more.

But as people have demonstrated down through the ages, even in the face of the most apocalyptic of scenarios, the will to live, to survive is incredibly strong and so it remains even with an enemy as unceasing, cold and cruel as this one.

With Blomkamp so vividly painting what can only be described as humanity’s darkest day with such fierceness and nightmarish horror, the spirited, desperate fight back looks like the real deal, a genuine titanic David vs Goliath fight against the odds that very few invasion films manage to adequately convey.

It helps that the rebel leader is played by Sigourney Weaver who brings her take-no-prisoners attitude that won her plaudits in the Alien films to Rakka, her every word – the film is relatively dialogue-sparse which only adds to the atmosphere of ruination and dread – making it abundantly clear that if humanity is going down, it won’t be without one hell of a fight.

It is a dramatic, deeply immersive, unnerving, compelling film, the first part of the Oats Studios’ strategy which comes with the aim, notes Collider, “of not only [gauging] interest in these short film stories, but to also serve as a sort of proof-of-concept for feature film ideas that may or may not secure funding and distribution.”

You can currently stream Rakka Volume 1 free on Steam, YouTube and the Oats Studios website … or here!


Watch happiness come pouring out: Goodbye Christopher Robin

(image via IMP Awards)


“Goodbye Christopher Robin” gives a rare glimpse into the relationship between beloved children’s author A. A. Milne (Domhnall Gleeson) and his son Christopher Robin (Will TIlston), whose toys inspired the magical world of Winnie the Pooh. Along with his mother Daphne (Margot Robbie), and his nanny Olive (Kelly Macdonald), Christopher Robin and his family are swept up in the international success of the books; the enchanting tales bringing hope and comfort to England after the First World War. But with the eyes of the world on Christopher Robin, what will the cost be to the family? (synopsis via Coming Soon)

Like many people, my love for the magical world of Winnie the Pooh runs long and deep.

Starting in early childhood when I devoured the books of A. A. Milne, who created the delightful bear and his friends including Piglet, Eeyore and Tigger based on the toys of his adored son Christopher Robin, and moving on through the movies and cartoons, I have loved everything about the merry, thoughtful inhabitants of the Hundred Acre Wood.

I even marked my 50th birthday by buying a series of Jim Shore artworks depicting Winnie the Pooh and friends; so it’s fair to say that the release of Goodbye Christopher Robin, a biopic of sorts of A. A. Milne is going to be very high on my viewing agenda for the latter part of the year.

The fact that it releases in Australia two days ahead of my birthday is an even bigger bonus, and if the trailer is anything to go by, which casts a warm but knowing humanity on the author and his family, this film should be a worthy companion to the tales of his own creations, a reminder that the creator and the created are never ever really very far apart.

Goodbye Christopher Robin releases in UK 29 September, USA on 13 October and Australia on 23 November.


Can horror be adorable? Oh yes, says Mary & Marsha in The Manor of Madness

Love can be scary … or it can save your life as Mary and Marsha discover (image via Vimeo (c) Kris and Kurtis Theorin)


Sinister secrets await as Mary helps her girlfriend Marsha escape from her parent’s gothic mansion one dark and eldritch night in a film which features a blend of hand-drawn art and 3D assets and takes us on a Lovecraftian escapade through the Manor of Madness. (synopsis via Vimeo)

We are reminded a lot these days, and thank goodness for that given the bigoted evil that still sadly exists in our world, that love is love is love.

It may sound trite to some ears, but it is as far from a saccharine Hallmark sentiment as you could ask for, possessed a muscular truth that love is strong, powerful and authentically real, no matter your race, creed or sexuality.

Kris and Kurtis Theorin bring this essential truth to gorgeously animated life in their delightful short film, Mary & Marsha in the Manor of Madness, which uses a pleasingly surreal style to underscore how real and powerful love can be, and how despite the opposition you might encounter, that it can your salvation and your life.

It’s whimsical film that is, notes the Theorins themselves, a mix of two completely different styles and genres:

“Our goal with this film was to combine the creeping horror of H.P. Lovecraft with the wacky action of classic Saturday morning cartoons. This bizarre juxtaposition of styles helps emphasize both the weirdness of the horror and the silliness of the humor. Also the idea of ‘Scooby-Doo chases in H.P. Lovecraft’ is just inherently funny, to us at least.”

It’s a gleeful delight but also wrestles magnificently and with great success with deep, substantial truth, a winning combination that makes viewing it one of the best things you’ll do this week (or year).


The only Batman for me: RIP Adam West

The incomparable Adam West as Batman (image via Pinterest (c) ABC)


One of my fondest memories growing up was watching Adam West and Burt Ward fight the bad guys with a BIFF! a BAM! and a POWWW! in ABC’s three season-long TV series Batman.

Camp, colourful and endlessly entertaining, it was the gloriously trippy Caped Crusader’s yin to Christian Bale’s yang, a melange of over the top abd guys, building-climbing oneliners and fabulously eye-catchingly bright action scenes.

To a young guy who loved everything bright and colourful, and as a grown, pop culture-loving gay man still does, Batman was a joy, and Adam West an exemplar of how you could be as silly as you wanted and simply make a character so compelling you want to keep watching and watching and watching, which is, of course, what I and so many others did for years after the show ended in 1968.



Adam West’s death last week at the age of 88 saddened me because it marked the passing of a very talented actor, who managed to invest a very silly take on a character (which was fantastically funny) with so much gravitas so effortlessly that I think a lot of people underestimated him.

Much like ABBA, whose songs sounds so gloriously simple that some people assume, utterly erroneously, that they were put together over a few lunchtimes here and there, Batman was a deceptively simple show with a great many moving parts behind the scene; like all things that appear effortless, it was, in fact, the product of intense effort and creativity.



West was at the centre of this wonderful balancing act of the silly and the serious and managed it beautifully, even if some people actually underestimated how many talent it took to look that goofy.

I loved him as an actor, well beyond his Batman days, with his appearances on Family Guy as the mayor a particular highlight.

You will be greatly missed Adam West – for me the consummate Batman (this years The LEGO Batman Movie proves how popular some Batman frippery can be), a talented man who enriched my childhood, and convinced that the good guys could win and do it with colour, pizzazz and shark-dispatching tenacity.

  • If you want to find out more about Adam West, it’s worth checking out this excellent documentary, available via Amazon (source: Laughing Squid)