Friday, 24 July 2009

Musical Discoveries Circa July 2009

Jamie TJamie T via

Its been a while since I've done a [music] post, so I thought I'd do one now. So without further ado here are my top 3 things of the moment (presented in glorious Spotify link form if you'd care to click the links):

The anthemic title track is sure to be a hit, with the same great poetic storytelling versus shouty chorus that made Sheila so popular, but the other tracks should definitely not be overlooked: St. Christopher is a sweet little song that shows a stripped-back, sensitive, melodic side, On the Green has more than a hint of The Libertines about it and The Dance of the Young Professionals is a suitably daft finisher with drunkenly swaggering lyrics set over a Brahms sample.

With it's combination of chirpy hook-heavy radio-friendly tracks with a few more unusual offerings in between, Far feels very much like the logical extension of Begin to Hope. The melodies have grown slightly, sweeping higher and further, and the production, which is altogether more glossy, reflects this.

3. Florence + The Machine

Florence Welch and posse's debut album 'Lungs' was released a couple of weeks ago, and I have yet to hear it! But if the tracks floating around the Hype Machine are to be any guide, it's gonna be an absolute corker. With huge songs which build from ethereal, reverb-laden and harp-ornamented verses to pounding tribal drum choruses with pulsing guitars and belting vocals. Highlights so far include 'Cosmic Love', 'Blinding' and 'Dog Days are Over'.

And that's 3. Laterz!

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Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Big Art People Pebble Diary

Just to show I wasn't bluffing about The Big Art People being the best thing ever, here's some video based evidence:

Sunday, 12 July 2009

Ianto is dead. Deal with it!

Torchwood - Radio TimesImage by jem via Flickr

Last week's Torchwood miniseries 'Children of Earth' had the nation gripped, pulling in over 6m viewers every night, a level of popularity which no-one could've guessed possible for Doctor Who's clunky (and sometimes a bit shit) cousin, and deservedly so: the series has been an absolute triumph. I have never been a fan of Torchwood's Doctor-Who-with-sexy-bits styling of the past, but this was adult drama in the truest sense of the word: masterfully paced, beautifully written and spectacularly polished in its presentation, with some of the best (and most chilling) dramatic moments I have seen on TV in some time.

The climax of the series was epic and challenging and certainly took it's toll on the Torchwood team. You can't help but feel that certain doors have been intentionally closed to give the series some closure should the move to BBC One prove unsuccessful and kill the series off; the team has been left in tatters with Ianto dead, Gwen pregnant and Jack off on some intergalactic redemption mission. Thankfully, the series' success should have secured the show a future, though whether in its original format or this new one remains to be seen, though I hope for the latter: serial drama seems to be a better fit for the series.

The series contained many tough scenes: the politicians calmly discussing which children to send to satisfy the 456's druggy demands, John Frobisher preparing to kill himself and his family to save them from such a fate, and Jack having to make the horrifying decision to sacrifice his own grandson to save millions of other children. But what seems to have touched the biggest nerve with the fans is the death of Ianto Jones. Five minutes after the episode ended, the Wikipedia synopsis of the episode actually read as follows:

"Ianto dies! And so does Clem! i am actually crying cos ianto is dead me too it is so sad"

This has, in turn, led to a series of petitions on the internet to save him with vitriolic and outraged headings:

We, as fans, are outraged and devastated by [the death of Ianto], and we are planning to show it!

We believe we CAN bring him back!

I do believe in Ianto. I do. I do. ;)

Join our Campaign ... The left hand menu will show you all the ways you can help!

Proclaims the header of

Yesterday they killed off Ianto Jones, who for many was the only reason to watch Torchwood. They showed that they don't care what the fans want. By killing Ianto, they killed Torchwood, and we should kill their ratings. We should show them the power of an angry fan.

Says another petition entitled Boycott Torchwood for Ianto.

This post-Twitter era we now inhabit has clearly changed the world for the better, it could be argued that it has even made the world a little more democratic, especially after the role social networking has played in the Iranian election saga. This is a good thing. But the one area where we really don't need more democracy, is storytelling. How does the old saying go? Too many cooks and you end up with Pirates of the Caribbean 3, that is to say, a giant hulking turd.

This isn't Strictly Come Dancing, people! Ianto was a well-loved character, yes. This should have increased the emotional impact of his death, not led to a campaign to reverse the decision. How anybody could call themselves a fan of the show, then demand that the writers ultimately cheapen it by a) removing any sense of gravity in Ianto's and any future or former character deaths (of which there have been many) in the series, and b) use an inevitably contrived narrative conceit to revive someone who has been shown as a corpse onscreen, is utterly beyond me.

Attempting to pander to what the fans supposedly want has destroyed shows such as Heroes, a prime example of what happens when a show is written by a large team of writers. If these fans start demanding and threatening the writers of the shows they supposedly support, creativity doesn't stand a chance. So I applaud the Torchwood writing team for taking a tough and controversial decision: rest in peace, Ianto Jones, rest in peace.

UPDATE: Stephen Moran, one of the writers of the show responds to criticisms.

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Tuesday, 31 March 2009

The Big Art People

My my I'm a terrible blogger. I am truly, deeply sorry to everyone who has invested their valuable time in reading this blog. I've neglected you, I've resolved to change, and there's not even been the slightest hint of reform.

Anyway... I have been somewhat busy lately setting up The Big Art People, an exciting outfit that runs art projects in primary schools and communities, and it's been an awful lot of fun.

And now we have our very own website!

Please please please go and check it out, and pass it on to anyone who might be in the slightest bit interested.

We also have a Twitter, a page on Facebook, a Flickr cos we're like super web 2.0 savvy like.

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Cultureshock Rantpage: Channel 4 Child Abuse Claims

The original Channel 4 logo, used from 1982–1996Image via Wikipedia

Channel 4's 'Boys and Girls Alone' has been generating controversy ever since it was announced, but now seems to be reaching fever pitch, with various social services bodies and child psychology experts demanding that the show be pulled for 'child abuse'.

Now it wouldn't take a so-called expert to predict that someone would try to pull out the child abuse card, but I think it has taken just a smidgen too long for someone to point out the absurd, and frankly disgusting implications of that claim.

If 'child abuse' is 24 hour supervision by trained chaperones, parents watching and able to intervene at any moment and camping trips by the seaside, then what the hell is the fuss all about?

There was me thinking child abuse was a serious issue.

Oh and let's not forget paedophilia! I actually didn't see that one coming. Maybe I should be a little more cynical next time:

“There is something almost paedophilic in the way Channel 4 exploits children to attract sensational audience figures.”
Labour MP Denis MacShane (
To so casually chuck in a reference to paedophilia is irresponsible, insensitive, and far more sensationalist than anything contained within Channel 4's programme, not to mention staggeringly ignorant.

This knee-jerk reaction is easily as childish as anything that occurs within the programme, which has received nothing but positive feedback from the parents and children involved, with claims that the children are more mature and confident following the experience.

And why wouldn't they be? The constant bickering/bullying/arguing/sniffling and fighting of the first couple of episodes was no worse than anything they will have put up with in the playground every day of their wretched traumatic lives. And if anyone had bothered to actually watch the programme, they would have seen the children developing more tolerant and mature attitudes astonishingly quickly.

Tuesday's episode saw the girls gutting, skinning, cooking and eating rabbit, and the boys catching and preparing fish. I very much doubt that would have happened if these child experts had jumped in at the first sign of 'trauma'. The series has also seen the boys move through fighting for dominance (resulting in the much reported 'knife threatening incident', involving an extremely dangerous butter knife at an extremely dangerous minimum of six feet away), to effectively agreeing that a democratic approach is better for everyone.

To cry 'child abuse' over something so trivial is nothing more than shameful, reactionary sensationalism, exactly the kind lampooned by the infamous Brass Eye in 2001, which itself probably had a few of the same feathers ruffled. Grow up.

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Friday, 13 February 2009

Happy New Year Innit.

[ add note for 2009 here ]Image by Môsieur J. via Flickr

I just finished writing a nice long post that was to be my triumphant return to my poor neglected blog, as well as the first blog of Cultureshock Rampage 2009, but Blogger, instead of publishing it, lost it.

At this stage I am far too annoyed to write it again, so I'm gonna go to bed instead.

Blogger? Bastard more like.
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