Review – The Sapphires

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The Sapphires is a crowd-pleasing musical comedy drama film that entertains its audience through infectious soul music and the incredible cast. The film has a lot of heart and the narrative is infused with an inherent sense of honesty.

 

The film mirrors a lot of African-American films where the Negros face racism and discrimination from White people and it’s a tale depicting the adversity they faced.

For example, the beginning of the film is set in a rural area in the Outback of Australia and it depicts the idyllic lifestyle for an Indigenous Australian – one where they can co-exist with nature and family.

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While similar films such as Dreamgirls and The Commitments have tackled similar issues, The Sapphires differentiates itself by having a rich screenplay that also tackles inclusive themes such as a family fighting for a better life while at the same time coming to terms with their painful past – themes that all individuals have experienced as everyone has experienced hardship before. The merits of doing so is that through humour, pathos and musical choices, the narrative of this film shines because the screenplay sets the story against the historic context of Australia’s scandalous treatment of its Aboriginal population and ties the infectious and sassy elements of music with the serious and racist moments in Australian history.

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The film is often praised for its stellar cast where Chris O’Dowd’s character was a great comedic device and all 4 of the main actresses turn in impressive performances that showcase not only their vocal talents, but also their ability to connect with one another and the audience. Each character had their own time and way to shine by each having clashing personalities.

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However, the film needs to be criticised for having stereotypical characters. For example,

Julie: the one with the talent

Gail: the one with the chip on her shoulder

Cynthia: the one with libido

Kay: the cute and innocent one.

However, while one can use this as an example of inclusive communication because they’re relatable, it’s a criticism because the characters become stale, predictable and repetitive. Another criticism regarding the film is that the film doesn’t take risks and it does follow a standard formula.

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However, this crowd pleasing film received a standing ovation at Cannes Film Festival and most critics agree that there’s a strange comfort in watching a film where any battle – from family feud to one of the bloodiest conflicts of the 20th century – can be eased by singing and dancing regardless of skin colour.


Lin Yang

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Tuesday Tunes #3

Australian indie pop band San Cisco continue to impress, dropping their sophomore album last week, titled Gracetown. This album is a delightful blend of fun, upbeat tracks as well as some deep soul-searching, moving songs.

Standout tracks: Too Much Time Together, About You, Skool

Action Bronson dropped a video for Actin Crazy, which is just well, crazy! It weird and wacky as hell and the beat on that song is just so sick.

Mumford and Sons have gone electronic with their new song Believe. It is sure to set up waves of arguments in the Youtube comment section but I think it is a powerful, soulful track, with elements of their folk sound still present. The moment when the electric guitar solo kicks in with the pounding drums evokes such a visceral feeling.

Finally Kanye’s All Day has been released. The song was first premiered at the Brit Awards, where he gave an absolutely vicious performance, with a hundred-strong crowd and flamethrowers on stage. It is by far the most aggressive track he has unveiled from his new Album, So Help Me God.

Here’s the playlist on Spotify.

Enjoy!

Tuesday Tunes #2

Tkay Maidza kicks off this week’s Tuesday Tunes. Her new track M.O.B brings us her unique blend of electronic music and rap. It’s a sure bet for a party starter!

Paces, a producer for Tkay on her Triple J Hottest 100 track Switch Lanes, recently dropped a track called Nothing’s Forever. It features Kučka on the vocals and it is a gorgeous banger.

UP and coming producer UV boi فوق بنفسجي from Brisbane released an excellent remix of Australian rapper Citizen Kay’s Chosen. I love the heavy-hitting syncopated bass hits, which seem to be a signature of UV boi.

Finally as summer down under is drawing to a close, have a listen to the classic, Summer Breeze, covered by the Isley Brothers. Put this on, relax and let the good times roll.

Enjoy!

The Real Reason We Broke Up – Younha

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I started actively listening to K-pop around 2009, when a string of addictive songs were released, such as “Fire” from 2ne1, “Abracadabra” from Brow Eyed Girls, “Gee” from Girls Generation, “Sorry Sory” from Super Junior, and “Nobody” from the Wonder Girls. The tunes were addicting, fun, colourful, and their music videos were absolutely captivating. It wasn’t until the end of 2012, during the Christmas holidays that I started to delve away from K-pop, and more into contemporary, indie artists that South Korea had to offer. It wasn’t until then that I started seeing the beauty of music. From then on, I started taking music more seriously and critically, and my musical taste changed for the better. I learned all I could about music since then so I could continue to enjoy songs I love and appreciate more music that isn’t mainstream pop.

So the song that really captivated me, and made me re-focus my attention in pop music was “The Real Reason We Broke Up” or “우리가헤어진진짜이유, by Younha. “The Real Reason We Broke Up” is a song that I not only still listen to constantly, it’s a song that, more than half a year later, still gives me goosebumps. It’s a song that is technically strong, that is musical and well-thought through, and therefore can pay full attention to being a beautiful song, as opposed to scrambling to become an actual song.

What I like the most about “The Real Reason We Broke Up” (and I like a lot of things about it), is that it’s unpredictably predictable. It’s a song that doesn’t make you expect much at the beginning, but slowly builds on that, and by the middle you’re at the edge of your seat waiting for what’s next. You don’t know what’s going to happen next, but when things do happen, they make sense. It tells a story, and it achieves this gracefully.

My initial reaction to the song was bad, because when I heard the intro of “The Reason Reason We Broke Up“, I was preparing for the worst – the worst being a boring acoustic ballad with no life. But I was in for a surprise when the song did a complete 180 and exploded into this beautiful mishmash of an ethereal melody and a confidently sharp guitar line. And just thinking about how all it took for the song to achieve that effect was two elements, vocals and guitar, is such a reassurance to me of my point that there are musical people in pop.

The song has an element of complexity, and it’s executed perfectly. The complexity is subtle, but it’s there. There is intensity to the song, there’s dynamic to it, and there is a forceful grace to the delivery.Those aren’t things you’d associate with a run-of-the-mill female acoustic act these days, but Younha does it, and does it well.

It’s a song that instead of trying to push listeners away by trying so desperately to be “avant-garde” in “breaking boundaries” (and most of the time failing), actually brings the music closer to the audience by challenging that. It’s a song that shows an audience what music can be, what pop music can be, when it’s in the right hands. That’s what “The Real Reason We Broke Up” is – it’s a pop song. It may be better executed and thought about than a lot of others, but that doesn’t mean it’s not longer a pop song. To me, this song proved that there is art in pop music.

Strap on a good pair of headphones, close your room door, turn off the lights, lie on your bed in complete darkness and silence, and enjoy the beauty of the song.


Lin Yang


 

Chrome Sparks – Goddess

Goddess is the title track from Chrome Sparks’s forthcoming EP. It is a really broad, vast track, creating a diverse and incredible soundscape as you listen. After a gradual buildup, the song climaxes, with a multitude of funky rhythms bouncing off each other like fireflies dancing in the night, while the glorious melody just absolutely sings on top. Eventually the track slowly dims down, back to nothingness, which is when I press play, to feel the journey all over again.


Jeremy


Work Drugs – Insurgents

As autumn begins to kick in, or if work begins to pile up (looking at you uni assessments), or just if stress is getting you down, take some time out to listen to Work Drugs’s new album, Insurgents. For those of us down under, it will take you back in time to those glorious summery days, while those of you in the northern hemisphere can look forward to the summer not so far away. The album is filled with catchy vocals and synth lines to send you into that happy place, away from all the hustle and bustle of everyday life. My favourite tracks are Insurgents, Time, Digital Girl and Zeroes and Ones. Enjoy!

You can grab their album HERE.

SNSD – Mr.Mr.

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After reinventing their music on their last messy single, “I Got A Boy”, by combining 4 genres into one song, they dialled down the crazy for their comeback single, “Mr.Mr.”

This whole week I have been debating on whether or not to write a review on the new SNSD EP. However, while having the entire album on loop for the past week, I realised I have only one general observation, which is shown quite well by the lead single.

Firstly, what made “I Got A Boy” the mess that it was, was the lack of cohesion within the song. Therefore, to have their comeback single, “Mr.Mr”, not make that mistake again, is a good thing.

“Mr.Mr” has a funky bubblegum bounce that carries the entire song, the abundance of lush synths that flows into your ears from the beginning to end, the fun disco strings that glide in on the chorus, and the very addicting EDM dance breakdown near the third quarter of the song.

Everything is carefully, and well put together in a nice little package, and the pop song pleases your ears. It’s everything a pop song should be, and for that I applaud them.

However, behind the songs glossy exterior, “Mr.Mr.” falls short on its very foundations.

It’s a nice song to have playing in the background at home or in a movie because you can take any ten seconds and everything that can happen, is happening — synth loops and guitars and bass — but that’s it.

This has been my issue with SNSD’s Korean repertoire for quite some time already. It’s that there’s too much focus on the style that the substance is lost in the process. Their songs aren’t dynamic, and they lack dimension. While I don’t condone style, in fact it’s half the make-up of a song, I still believe that substance and musical foundations shouldn’t be sacrificed in favor of it.

For example, it’s like a female wearing too much make up to attract a mate, or a film using too much CGI to become successful (Transformers), or a piece of food that looks amazing to eat, but lacks flavour. Just like how the style of the song trumps its substance.

Because of the lopsided amounts of style and substance put into it, “Mr.Mr.” becomes a very flimsy song — there’s very, very little underneath all the flashy synth loops and the gripping but disjointed melody.

When you can strip away an amazing production from a song and still have the remains of something brilliant, that’s when you know you’ve nailed it. However, that has not been achieved with SNSD’s latest single.

What are your thoughts on SNSD’s latest single?


By Lin Yang.


 

George Barnett – 3 Statues

George Barnett dropped a new single today called Three Statues. You may be familiar with his cover of Get Lucky, which seems to have been taken off Youtube and Soundcloud. Nevertheless, he is an incredible young talent, having recorded a full album titled 17 Days, playing all of the instruments himself. Check out his album HERE.

Since then he’s released a mixtape and his Animal Keeper EP and now he’s released a new track, titled 3 Statues. It opens with wonderfully layered vocals, which are then joined with a funky percussion beat. It’s combined with some groovy guitar lines and his impressive as always vocals leaving you with a very fresh-sounding track. Seeing him develop and refine his sound is a real joy and I can’t wait to hear more from him in the future.

Catch the Throne

Game of Thrones released a hip-hop and rap mixtape to promote their new season today. Titled, ‘Catch the Throne’, (a play on Jay-Z and Kanye’s album Watch the Throne) it features a variety of artists including big names Common, Wale and Big Boi. Sampling from the show’s speeches and soundtrack, there are some really great tunes on this mixtape. The standouts for me were The Ladder by Common, a track featuring one of my favourite speeches from last season (Chaos is a ladder!), King Slayer by Wale, taking the show’s theme song and mixing into a dope hip hop beat, and Born to Rule by Daddy Yankee, a really funky song with elements from the exotic sounds of Essos.

It is certainly an innovative collaboration and as you might expect some of the tracks fall quite flat. But there are some real gems and I love the audacity of the project.

You can listen to the album here:

Game of Thrones Season 4 returns on April 6th.

Vinyl Theatre – Chromatic EP

Vinyl Theatre released their new EP, aptly-titled Chromatic. Hailing from Milwaukee, their sound involves indie rock laced with funky synth lines resulting in a colourful, vibrant sound. Their songs feature a variety of flavours, and I could clearly hear some influence from Two Door Cinema Club (whom I love). With drums pulsating, guitar solos shining and killer sing-along choruses, this is a really fun and upbeat record, my favourite kind!

Listen to Breaking Up My Bones here:

Their EP is available on iTunes.