Posted in Album Reviews

Wolf Alice – Blue Weekend (2021)

Blue Weekend [Softpack]

When Glastonbury changed their format this year due to COVID, they broadcast several bands from different locations around the farm.  London’s Wolf Alice was the first band to feature and pulled off a great set of music that explored all areas of alternative rock from the last 30 years. Blue Weekend is the band’s third album and sees them on the edge of becoming Britain’s biggest band with a sold out UK tour planned for early 2022.

First track “The Beach” is a quiet hum of a song about friendship that builds into a roar.  “Smile” adds a healthy dose of fuzz guitar and menace that mixes Republica with Korn, a few songs later “Play The Hits” is a blast of punk blast noise.  Several songs see the band play with only minimal elements such as “Safe From Heartbreak (if you never fall in love)” and “No Hard Feelings” that are mostly guitar and the vocals of Ellie Roswell but somehow sound bigger than those spare parts.

Where the album really shines is on second track “Delicious Things” where Roswell asks “a girl like me/would you believe/I’m in Los Angeles”.  The inspiring track about living out your dreams in LA uses murmured Billie Eilish like vocals in the verses with a pop blast chorus that makes it one of the more memorable tracks of the year.  It’s no coincidence that the band uses Coldplay producer Markus Dravs to elevate several tracks that will be anthems in concert. Roswell does not have the strongest voice but the use of backing vocals, double tracks and electronic swirls more than compensate when an emotional lift is needed.  Touching on all different parts of alternative and pop, Wolf Alice have released a really great album.

8.5/10

Posted in Paper Chase

Q2 Read It 2021

Mansfield Park

Mansfield Park is the third published Jane Austen novel that came out in 1814 but did receive any public reviews for several more years.  As a child, Fanny Price is sent to live with her wealthy aunt and uncle and their four children. From there it follows the typical novel of this time of trying to find love and get married.  Slowly Fanny wins everyone over but it takes several years before she becomes the most beloved. Lesser of the first three Austen novels, Mansfield Park is still widely published and has been turned in radio broadcasts, TV specials, stage presentations and movies.

7/10

A Light That Never Goes Out: The Enduring Saga of the Smiths

A Light That Never Goes Out: The Enduring Saga of The Smiths takes it’s title from one of the band’s most loved songs.  The book starts out with extensive research into Irish immigrant life in Manchester, England before it finally lands on Johnny Marr and Steven Patrick Morrissey.  The band starts when Marr knocks on the future singer’s door and asks to start a band.  Adding bassist Andy Rourke and drummer Mike Joyce, the band take the nation’s indie rock fans on a nonstop ride until it all crashes down just a few years later. Fletcher’s account is very well researched and creates a vivid picture of life within the group.  It can more than hold its own on The Smith’s bookshelf alongside acclaimed books by Simon Goddard and Johnny Rogan.

9/10

American Dirt (Oprah's Book Club): A Novel

Jeanine Cummin’s American Dirt novel is about Lydia and her son Luca as they make the harrowing journey across Mexico to the United States.  Lydia is on the run from a Mexican cartel who brutally murdered her husband and the rest of her family. Upon release, the book met with both widespread acclaim and derision for the depiction of Mexican life. Hard to comment on that aspect of the book from Canada, however, the tale is a gripping one that is hard to put down as you root for them to make it across the border to “freedom”.

9/10

Will Grayson, Will Grayson

Noted authors John Green & David Levithan team up for this YA novel about teens Will Grayson and his fabulous best friend Tiny who is working diligently to put on a high school play about his young gay life. Will is the more subdued, loner type vs larger than life Tiny who is constantly hooking up and trying to get Will hooked up.  There are plenty of laughs and a few poignant moments as they try to get through high school life.  

7.5/10