Now this is music #94: PVRIS, Chase & Status and Blossoms, Goo Goo Dolls, Ainslie Wills, Akouo ft. Montaigne

 

Done right, and thankfully so much of it is, music should move you deeply and completely and wholly.

Mind, body and sould should be engaged; you should never hear a song and just go “Oh … that’s nice.” Upbeat songs should move you to dance or turn a dark mood into something a little bouncier. More sombre songs should go into the very marrow of your being, articulating emotions you’re feeling in ways that might defy you at the time.

Whatever the song or genre or mood, it must have some effect on you or it’s just been-there-done-that ear candy of limited value.

These five artists have the ability to craft songs that actually affect you in a real, tangible way; no earworm filler, although the songs are undeniably catchy and listenable, but songs that matter, that evoke, that change you … and make your world a better place, even if only for 3 minutes or so.

 

“Winter” by PVRIS

 

PVRIS (image via official PVRIS Facebook page)

 

Hailing from Lowell, Massachusetts, PVRIS (Lyndsey Gunnulfsen, Alex Babinski, and Brian MacDonald) – once known as Paris, they changed their name citing “legal reasons” – are a lush-sounding rock band with a synth-laden edge.

“Winter”, which you might expect to be dour, cold and, well winter-ish, is, in fact, a barnstormer of a song, picking up more and more pace on its full-speed, melodically-rich course.

It’s one of the lead-singles for their sophomore album All We Know of Heaven, All We Need of Hell, due out 25 August, and it packs quite a punch, musically and lyrically.

It’s very much in the vein of the band’s music to date which is gorgeously epic, cinematic and drenched in what feels, winningly, like every emotion at once; if you got #allthefeels, then PVRIS are your band.

 

 

“This Moment” by Chase & Status and Blossoms

 

Chase & Status (image via official Chase & Status Facebook page)

 

Keep the epic momentum going, with added harmonies, is “This Moment”, an insanely catchy collaboration between English drum & production band Chase & Status, and Mancurian indie pop band Blossoms.

It has grunt, charm and melody and came about, as many great collaborative endeavours do, as Blossoms front man Tom Ogden, who provides vocals on the track, told NME:

“The collaboration came together really quickly and naturally. It was a good buzz to step out of my comfort zone. I believe the kids call such tunes ‘fucking bangers’.”

Bang it most certainly does, a powerful piece of perfect pop that sweeps you up in its non-stop headiness and doesn’t let you go for a second (not that you’ll be complaining).

 

 

“Use Me” by Goo Goo Dolls

 

Goo Goo Dolls (image via official Goo Goo Dolls Facebook page)

 

To be honest, my interest in the Goo Goo Dolls,until recently, came and went with their luminously-affecting song “Iris (City of Angels)” which provided the musical heart-and-soul of the 1998 film City of Angels.

While in many peoples’ minds, including truthfully my own, they were likely marked as One Hit Wonders, but as “Use Me” beautifully demonstrates, the Buffalo-New York formed, multi-platinum, Grammy-nominated band are still producing mightily good music.

In fact, so good is “Use Me” that it will be cycling in and around and through your earworm for days after you first hear it.

It’s giddily upbeat, harmonious as hell – the chorus alone is worth the price of admission – with a bit of ’60s-Roy Orbison-esque thrown in for good measure.

 

 

“Running Second” by Ainslie Wills

 

Ainslie Wills (image via official Ainslie Wills Facebook page)

 

Fresh from wooing the hell out of the UK, festival appearances at the likes of Splendour in the Grass and the Falls Festival and with her first headline shows in Sydney and Melbourne since 2015 under her belt, Melbournian singer-songwriter, is making waves with “Running Second”.

Anchored by her pure, fresh vocals, enough emotionally-resonance to affect the hearts of anyone lucky enough to hear her songs, and lyrical insightfulness, Wills’s songs are deep, rich and accessible all at once.

“Running Second” is a stunning example of Wills’ craft, delivering up an important message – “The message within it, is dedicated to all of us who feel that for whatever reason, we aren’t good enough.” (source: Triple J Unearthed) – wrapped in sublimely-moving pop that can’t help but move you.

This is pop at its pinnacle and explains why Wills has become increasingly popular, not just in Australia but across the world where people are flocking to listen to real music that means something.

 

 

“Feel That” by Akouo ft Montaigne

 

Akouo (image via official Akouo Facebook page)

 

“Feel That” brings together two brilliant Australian musical talents – producer Akouo (pron. ah-kooh-oh), known for his exuberantly upbeat electronic masterpieces, and the captivatingly-good Montaigne, whose transcendentally-rich voice slips in effortlessly to this immersive piece of pop.

As Purple Sneakers perfectly notes, the song has a lot going for it:

“Montaigne‘s vocals soar benevolently over Akouo‘s masterful, shimmering production, which elegantly pulsates in the background to create a wondrous sound floor. Carefully curated instruments, trumpeting riffs and beating percussion sets a feel for an exotic wilderness, with touches of echoing vocal samples to coagulate the ambience of this soundscape.”

You can well understand why Akouo is attracting so much interest – he pairs the oft-cold bleakness of electronica with a human warmth and analogue brightness that togetherness creates music both winningly ethereal and remote, and intimate and deeply personal.

 

 


NOW THIS IS MUSIC EXTRA EXTRA!

 

PINK, one of my favourite music artists in the world has a new song, “What About Us?”, a new album Beautiful Trauma out 13 October, and her finger right on the zeitgeist as Vulture points out.

Rejoice and be glad with insanely appealing attitude.

 

 

You know what you’ve been missing all this time? The gang from Sesame Street performing a series of ’80s pop hits. Hole in your soul remedied! (source: Laughing Squid)

 

Game of Thrones: “The Queen’s Justice” (S7, E3 review)

“I’m the Queen!” “So what? I’m the King of the North!” “So what? I’m the Queen” … and on and on went Daenerys and Jon Snow, giddily obsessed with their new power-trumping game (image courtesy HBO)

 

  • SPOILERS AHEAD … AND DRAGONS … AND SOILED PANTS

You have to hand it to Jon Snow (Kit Harrington).

Against near-unanimous advice from his bannermen and his sister Sansa (Sophie Turner) – who got the keys to Winterfell, and the even more-obsessive attention of Lord Petry Baelish (Aidan Gillen) in her brother’s absence and shut up thereafter – and trusting only his instincts, which to be fair, have been damn good to this point, Jon Snow, King of the North, went south to Dragonstone to meet with the would-be occupier of the Iron Thrones, Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke).

What drove a man who’d spent his life dodging almost every figurative bullet that came his way, including a fairly-conclusive but not terminal case of death, to leave the relative safety of Winterfell – bearing in mind the White Walkers are on their way en masse so safe is an extremely relative concept – and meet with the daughter of the Mad King who had, ahem, put to death some of Jon’s Stark relatives?

Why good old pragmatism and the sense that, when undead push comes to still alive shove, that Westeros will need all the help it can get to survive the great enemy bearing down on it.

In an action-packed episode where a whole lot of able, well-placed and aspirational people sank to some pretty petty behaviour as they kept rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic that is the Seven Kingdoms now that winter, and the Night King (Vladimir Furdik) have arrived, Jon Snow put his own interests aside for the greater good of his homeland.

And what did all this selflessness garner him?

Well, at first, not all that much, thank you very much.

Daenerys engaged in a swaggering pissing contest, asserting her right to just about everything including the kitchen sink, by virtue of her supposedly unassailable claim to the throne, a claim Jon Snow rather bravely pointed out was based on a whole lot of self-belief, three great big dragons and not much else.

OK so the dragons were a pretty big calling card, and an argument ender par excellence but that didn’t stop him asserting his right to not bow the knee, to not pledge fealty and to not play Daenerys’ “But I am the Queen dammit! I have flying lizards what ho!” game.

Granted it’s a pretty compelling game when the dragons swoop low overhead – only Jon Snow and Ser Davos Seaworth (Liam Cunningham) dropped to the ground, a little embarrassing considering no one else did; but god bless Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) he admitted, if it was a little white lie, that the rest of them wanted to – but not necessarily a game-changing and one that depends very much on Daenerys staying alive and in control (not guaranteed as Tyrion pointed out when one arrow can end her).

 

And they’re down! Dragons 1 Winterfell 0, Clean pants -45 (image courtesy HBO)

 

Once all the posturing was out of the way, and Tyrion had stepped in to argue, rather convincingly as always – he is, he admits, rather good at talking, and like everyone who’s good at something, likes to do it as often as possible – that it to Daenerys that it might not be in her interests to play the Divine Destiny card quite so hard, and to Jon Snow that he might want to accede a demand or two, The would-be Queen and the King of the North got on reasonably OK.

Which, to be fair, meant a grudging acknowledgement that Daenerys might kinda sorta possibly have a little teeny-weeny bit of a claim to the throne (but don’t get ahead of yourself) and Jon Snow could mine all the Dragonheart (obsidian) he needs to kill the zombies – which only Tyrion actually believes exist – as long as he did it quickly and got the hell out of the way.

It wasn’t the easiest of asks by Jon Snow – “Give me stuff to kill zombies what ho!” – since it equated to a modern day pitch somewhat along the lines of “Hey, there are Yetis, the Loch Ness Monster and sundry other mythical beasties coming to eat you!” but Jon Snow argued it, Daenerys went along with it, and that’s about where everyone landed at that point.

Daenerys, of course, was convinced through much of the episode that she was going to triumph come what may, but the loss of her Dornish/Iron Islands fleet storming towards a hoped-for glorious siege of King’s Landing, and the rather all-too-easy taking of the Lannisters stronghold Casterly Rock by the Unsullied – all while Euron Greyjoy (Pilou Asbæk) set fire to their ships and Ser Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) took the Tyrellian redoubt Highgarden and killed off Lady Olenna Tyrell (Diana Rigg) who left one zinger of a parting oneliner – rather took the, ahem, wind out of her sails.

She isn’t down for the count of course – she has way too much self-belief for that and in a speech to Jon Snow that was one of the high points of the episode, made it abundantly clear why she needed it all, and then some – but short of burning the place to the ground, her options had narrowed quite substantially. (Yeah, yeah if she believed Jon Snow’s tales of zombies and goblins oh my!, she’d know her options were already boiling down to not much at all but she doesn’t and so that’s not even a factor.)

 

Modeling the latest in Cersei’s line of revenge chic, Dorne’s Ellaria and Tyene realise that King’s Landing etiquette is not what it once was (image courtesy HBO)

 

Back at King’s Landing, where plotting was infantile, vengeful, and hideously damn effective, it became patently obvious why Daenerys was having such a hard time of realising her “Dammit I’m Queens Manifest Destiny.

As Olenna Tyrell observed, who knew a thing or two about keeping tight hold of the reins of power, Cersei had found the line in the sand that most people in power wouldn’t cross, and merrily skipped across it with the kind of gleeful abandon that would make a hardline autocrat blush; it wasn’t hard to see where her son, the ex-king, had acquired his nastily brutish tendencies.

In fact, Cersei seems intent on leaving his naive cruelty in the dust, seeing off a challenge by the Iron Bank of Braavos, and poisoning Tyene (Rosabell Laurenti Sellers), the daughter of Dorne’s Ellaria (Indira Varma), with a potion so potent and yet long-acting that mother would watch daughter succumb, die and rot while they sat chained across from each other in a rancid, but well-lit (the better to see vengeance play out) jail cell.

Cersei’s flamboyantly melodramatic but hideously cruel act of vengeance for her daughter’s death at Ellaria’s hands was shocking but it was part of a long pattern of doing what it necessary to get ahead and stay ahead, the kin of willful abuse of power that history has shown time and again works well in the shortterm but does not make for long, enduring dynasties.

Still, as Daenerys showed, no one is thinking longterm here, and as long as no one believes in magic, dragons (OK, maybe a little bit) and White Walkers, the great game of ultimately useless realpolitik will continue until the last living person is a snow-flecked shambling member of the Night King’s undead.

The shining light of great humanity once again belonged to the lovely, selfless Samwell Tarly (John Bradley) who cured Ser Jorah Mormont (Iain Glen) and got punished, though praised too, by the Grand Maester (Jim Broadbent) for his troubles.

Ah well he saved a life while everyone else was taking some so points to him for holding on to his humanity while most of the rest of Westeros lost theirs in ways large and small; may the White Walkers spare him!

  • In the next episode, “The Spoils of War”, which leads you to suspect no one is playing peaceful and kum ba yah-ish just yet, if at all, there’s gold, dragons, well-worn looks and, yep, no more clever plans …

 

 

 

And here’s a Game of Thrones virgin explaining what this episode really means. It’s brilliantly entertaining, and actually oddly illuminating (source: Laughing Squid)

 

Toying with expectations: Michael Tucker examines the storytelling of #GameofThrones

Jon Snow at the Battle of the Bastards (image courtesy HBO)

 

With season 7 of Game of Thrones mere nanoseconds away from kicking off – a slight bit of hyperbole but after waiting so long, it does feel like that – Michael Tucker aka Lessons From a Screenplay arrives with a timely look at the way HBO’s ratings juggernauts frames its narratives for maximum effect.

Using the storytelling lessons of Robert McKee’s Story, which says that “a scene is unified around desire, action, conflict and change“, Tucker expertly dissects a number of key scenes from Game of Thrones, including the epic 23 minute long Battle of the Bastards which sees Jon Snow (Kit Harrington) and Ramsay Bolton (Iwan Rheon), illustrating in the process how this most complex of shows skillfully uses the most simple of narrative devices to powerful effect.

In doing so, he underscores why this show is so successful – it’s not just epic for epic’s sake, a mistake made by many hollow modern blockbusters; rather, it employs great characters in extraordinary situations well-told where there are real issues at stake.

This creates a deep and compelling emotional resonance that invests people in the fate of the characters, and ultimately, the show itself.

But hey don’t take my word for it since Michael Tucker, who you can sponsor via Patreon, does it so much better.

 

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

(image via IMP Awards (c) HBO)

 

SNAPSHOT
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)

Everybody wants to rule the world: Gloriously good Game of Thrones montage video

(image via Gamespot (c) HBO)
(image via Gamespot (c) HBO)

 

It’s no secret, not after countless books by George R. R. Martin and six seasons of HBO’s watercooler-stomping megahit TV show, that everybody, and I mean everybody, wants to rule to rule the world.

Or in this case, sit upon the Iron Throne and look out upon the Seven Kingdoms and many and varied lands beyond.

We have witnessed this grand ambition played out in many different ways by many different people – the one constant being people died … A LOT – but never have I seen it captured eloquently and artistically, and damn near poetically, as in this montage video by Vine user Winterfell’s Princess.

Using the pitch-perfect cover by Lorde of Tears for Fears “Everybody Wants to Rule the World”, first released for the Hunger Games: Catching Fire soundtrack, which is saturated in portentous beats and grand melodic forebodings of doom, the video captures in all its melancholic glory just what it means to reach for power.

Not everyone gets there – haha Ramsey that means you! Never have I been happier to see someone … wait no I danced all over Joffrey’s poisoned corpse so as you were – and even those that do find it’s not all it’s cracked up to be.

The video captures all that and more and will hopefully help us to last the long and forbidding distance between now and the middle of 2017.

And no doubt wholly dissuade me from ever launching a quest for the Iron Throne … unless of course Lorde is scoring it in which case I may to reconsider that decision.

(source: IO9)

 

“Oh the Places it’ll Snow”: Game of Thrones gets a whimsical Dr Seuss touch

(image via C|net (c) Alex Cohen)
(image via C|net (c) Alex Cohen)

 

Oh the weather outside is frightful
Adn the White Walkers are not delightful
And since we’ve no place to go
Let It (Jon) Snow! Let It (Jon) Snow! Let It (Jon) Snow!

Granted those lyrics are from the famous song by lyricist Sammy Cahn and composer Jule Styne, “Let it Snow! Let it Snow! Let it Snow!” but they go to illustrate just how very differently we view winter (for the most part) to the residents of Westeros who see the impending. or not-so-impending arrival of winter, given we’re neck deep in a freezing season 6 of HBO’s monster (literally) hit of a show, as something to be feared not welcomed.

After all it lasts for a really, REALLY long time, and with it comes hardship, deprivation and snowy zombies known as White Walkers who mean to have this wintery world for themselves.

Sounds pretty scary right?

Well yes, but in the hands of illustrator Alex Cohen, whose books Oh, the Places It’ll Snow lends a whimsical, jaunty Dr Seussian air to winter’s arrival in the Seven Kingdoms, it isn’t as scary.

At the very least, its playful and it rhymes, and it features the adventures of one Jon Snow – current state of actual deadness TBA – and his faithful direworld Ghost as they venture out into the tumultuous lands around them.

 

(image via C|net (c) Alex Cohen)
(image via C|net (c) Alex Cohen)

 

But that’s not to say, as Bonnie Burton observes in her c|net article, that everything is absolutely hunky dory since this is, you know, George R. R. Martin’s tale of rivalry, power and bloodlust.

“Needless to say, just as in the Game of Thrones TV series, this book parody also shows many deaths and the Dying Place.”

But not to worry there is “also a very uplifting message about flying dragons.”

And oh not-so-uplifting tales of White Walkers but hey when you talk about them poetically they seem almost fun and quirky right?

OK, not so much? Right then, moving on.

If you would like to join Jon Snow and Ghost on their playfully poetic trip through Westeros, you can read the full story of Alex Cohen’s fan-made book at Imgur.

And wish that somewhere someone would make this into a real book, hold the zombie-filled winter please.

Songs for all seasons: Watch Peter Dinklage + Coldplay in special Game of Thrones the Musical clip

Peter Dinklage belts out a a Coldplay-crafted tune for the first ever US Red Nose Day LIve Benefit Show on NBC, confirming he is "Still Going Strong" (image via YouTube (c) NBC)
Peter Dinklage belts out a a Coldplay-crafted tune for the first ever US Red Nose Day LIve Benefit Show on NBC, confirming he is “Still Going Strong” (image via YouTube (c) NBC)

 

*THERE ARE GAME OF THRONES SPOILERS AHEAD … BORNE ON SINGING DRAGONS WINGS*

What the world needs now is … love, sweet love?

No citizens of Westeros, and further abroad, what the world needs RIGHT NOW is Game of Thrones the Musical … or at least one song from it, created by Coldplay and sung by Peter Dinklage, who plays the urbane, crafty and utterly charismatic Tyrion Lannister on HBO’s watercooler-busting epic series Game of Thrones.

Released to mark the first ever Red Nose Day in USA, a campaign “dedicated to raising money for children and young people living in poverty by simply having fun and making people laugh” – In Australia, it’s dedicated to raising awareness of, and money for the fight against Sudden Infant Death Syndrome or SIDS – the song is part of NBC’s massive live benefit show on the day and is, according to Cnet, part of a swathe of Game of Thrones singalong-ableness (totally a word):

“Dinklage’s song is just one of the many Game of Thrones tunes that will be featured on the show, part of a series NBC is calling Game of Thrones: The Musical. The musical will feature several other Game of Thrones cast members singing the tales of Westeros and Essos with Coldplay”

Is there nothing that this amazing show and cast, especially Dinklage who can really a tune, cannot do?

I say no, and after listening to the song, it’s doubtful you’ll disagree.

Winter may indeed be coming but still, you’ll have this tune to sing along to so it won’t be all that bad.

 

 

 

 

Goodnight Westeros: The world’s most entertainingly bloodthirsty bedtime story

(image via YouTube (c) Mashable's Watercooler)
(image via YouTube (c) Mashable’s Watercooler)

 

Who, as a child, didn’t love a lovely relaxing bedtime story right before you went off to join the Sandman in the Land of Nod?

(A scary guy in himself, the very idea of whom gave me the heebie-jeebies as a child; neither he nor the land he inhabits actually sounds all that rest-inducing frankly.)

Everyone you would imagine … except posits Mashable’s The Watercooler YouTube channel, the good, sword-wielding children of Westeros who don’t want to be bothered with the sort of namby-pamby delightfully warm-and-fuzzy stories about happily ever afters that litters the usual bedtime story fare.

No, what these violence-prone youngsters apparently lap up is not something like the classic much-loved nighttime story book Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown and Clement Hurd with cows and cherubs flitting their way to the magical realms of dreamlands but blood-soaked tales of direwolves ripping out peoples’ throats, severed heads falling, treacherous whores and daggers, White Walkers and dragons setting cities ablaze …

Oh and good night George R. R. Martin who needs all the sleep he can get so he can finish the “f**king books”!

 

You thought winter coming was a downer? Try having Jon Snow as a dinner guest (Game of Thrones parody)

All that time on the Wall has left Jon Snow's social skills a little rusty, making him, initially at least, not the world's greatest dinner guest (image via YouTube (c) Late Night with Seth Meyers)
All that time on the Wall has left Jon Snow’s social skills a little rusty, making him, initially at least, not the world’s greatest dinner guest (image via YouTube (c) Late Night with Seth Meyers)

 

We’ve all been to dinner parties like it.

What seems at first like it will be a relaxed evening over great food and fine wines with very good friends suddenly becomes weird, awkward and interminably long thanks to the presence of one unexpected, strange and oddly-self-involved guest with the social skills of a longterm cult member whose only interests are canned goods and rainfall charts.

Or in the case of Jon Snow (Kit Harrington), the bastard son of Lord Eddard Stark (Sean Bean) of Winterfell, who turns up at Seth Meyer’s dinner party one night – it’s revealed they met at a Cross Fit class because even warriors need toning apparently – an understandably moody disposition, coarse dining skills and an obsession with death, betrayal and familial violence.

He is not exactly the life of the party and it’s not until Seth Meyers repeatedly takes him aside and coaches him on appropriate social etiquette that Snow realises the path to true dinner party acceptance, and possibly the love of a fetching single lass lies in tales of derring-do and high romance.

In fact, so well does he turns things around and enthral everyone with his tale that all the guests agree that Snow’s life and that of the rest of blood-soaked inhabitants of Westeros would make a fine series of books, or you know, even a TV series.

Fancy that!

Something to consider all right but not before all the wine is drunk, tales are told and a certain beguiled young lady is courted …