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Kevin

Mar 012015
 

SpotifyLogo

Regular visitors to Power of Pop will be aware of my obsession with British pop-rock, from The Beatles to the Who to the Kinks to the Stones and on and on and on…  Since the end of the 90s (and the demise of Britpop), I have always been hoping for a revival of British pop-rock (and I do not mean the post-punk revival like The xx! Ugh!!)

Well it’s now 20 years since the heyday of Britpop and surveying the British pop-rock scene in 2015, there appears to be a couple of promising acts that hopefully will make the grade to generate enough buzz for this particular brand of pop-rock to dominate once again. In fact, I have found 20 bands that fit the bill completely – check out my playlist below and do let me know if you have other recommendations?

… still there’s more … 

Mar 012015
 

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Even as I find the leading actors utterly unremarkable (it is obvious they were cast purely for their good looks), I am enjoying Syfy’s re-imagining of 12 Monkeys for its proper exploration of time travel implications. Sure, even that is not perfect but one can appreciate the genuine effort. This episode seems to superficially wrap up the series (it does not of course, in reality) but it was intriguing the manner in which we were led to believe it was. The mechanics of time travel for James Cole (it is all past for him) and Cassandra Raily (living in real time) is that their shared experience may not be linear and that is the beauty of the story-telling. With the various changes in time that Cole is effecting, surely the question must arise is whether there is one timeline or are we witnessing the splintering of various alternate timelines. One suspects that the latter is a tad too sophisticated for a TV audience, even for a scifi drama series but wouldn’t it be nice?

Mar 012015
 

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The 2nd season of Helix has done very well in shifting focus on different characters and casting as protagonists and antagonists in equal measure depending on particular perspectives. Amongst Alan, Peter, Michael and Amy it was never clear who was the actual villain of the piece. But finally, the role has settled on Michael. Yes the placid, seemingly even-tempered cult leader is actually a 400 year old immortal, who has lost touch with his humanity decades ago and despite appearances to the contrary, appears to be aware of every single machination within his community. Enough to be constantly ahead of the game, so to speak. Rather masterful writing, I must say. Discovering the truth, the CDC team now have to thwart Michael as he executes his horrible endgame.

That all said, it is strange that Julia’s story seems to have fall out of the narrative almost completely. What happened in the 30 years later timeline? Will we get back to that? Too many questions in that respect. But definitely worth finding out!

Feb 282015
 

Nimoy

I grew up in the 60s and thus Star Trek was a massive influence on my love for science fiction and space opera. Leonard Nimoy in his role as Mr. Spock was instrumental in making Star Trek the iconic series it has become almost 50 years later. Nimoy passed away on 27th February at the age of 83. One of his final memorable roles was as Dr William Bell in Fringe, where even in his latter years, he was an imposing presence. He will never be forgotten.

Found this moving tribute at Youtube from The New York Times.

Live long and prosper, Mr Nimoy…

Feb 272015
 

Chappie poster

So… February was largely disappointing for new movies. Kingsman: The Secret Service was alright but Jupiter Ascending was abysmal. Sigh. Pray March will be better.

5th March

CHAPPIE
Directed by Neill Blomkamp.
Starring Hugh Jackman and Dev Patel.

Getting somewhat nervous about this one. Blomkamp did not do too well with Elysium and the idea of sentient robot is not exactly original, is it? Jackman is in it as well, as I generally do not like any movie he’s in. Ah well.

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Feb 272015
 

SpotifyLogo

What else was worth checking out in February? Here goes…

BLACKBERRY SMOKE – HOLDING ALL THE ROSES

An obvious choice. A real band playing real music. In this case, Southern Rock, country-folk and old time rock n roll make it simple. Recommended.

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Feb 262015
 

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King Henry VIII of England reigned from 1509 to 1547 and certainly is a monarch that has always captured the imagination of modern audiences with his six wives (two of whom were executed) and infamous duplicity. The most recent being The Tudors starring Jonathan Rhys Meyers as Henry. Wolf Hall casts Henry VIII in a supporting role (with Damian Lewis), choosing to focus on one of his right hand men, Thomas Cromwell (played by Mark Rylance).

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Feb 262015
 

Well, it’s been slim pickings regarding the Fantastic Four reboot even after the release of the teaser trailer. But Empire has first pictures and here they are!

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It’s Reed Richards (Miles Teller) in some kind of astronaut suit with Tim Blake Nelson (who is playing the Mole Man) in the background.

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Susan Storm (Kate Mara) in a black outfit with bodies on the floor.

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Feb 262015
 

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Now, I will come right out and say that a lot of Oliver’s motivations on “Narda Parbat” make little sense. I mean, after everything that Malcolm Merlyn has done, why the hell would Oliver risk, not only his own life but that of Diggle’s, to save Merlyn? Kudos to John Barrowman for making Malcolm a deliciously despicable villain that nobody but nobody has any sympathy for. C’mon, at least Slade was utterly messed up in the head by the mirakuru in his system. So what’s Malcolm’s excuse?

Anyways, much of this episode feels like a re-tread of the one where Oliver voluntarily challenged Ra’s Al Ghul despite everybody (but Malcolm!) trying to dissuade him and for that reason it falls rather flat most of the way. It does seem that ever since the mid-season finale, Oliver has been guilty of incredibly stupid decision making! And… did anyone expect Oliver and Diggle to succeed, against the bloody League of Assassins? C’mon! That all said, I did not expect that final scene with Ra’s – alright, you got me there. Well done!

By the way, can someone tell me why Atom comes across as a second rate Iron Man? That is NOT the Atom, CW? WTF

Feb 252015
 

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In Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Steve Rogers speaks to an aged Peggy Carter and tells her “knowing you helped found S.H.I.E.L.D. is half the reason I stayed”.

When Agent Carter was first announced, perhaps many thought that the story of how Carter “helped found S.H.I.E.L.D.” would be told. Instead, what we got was how Carter was marginalised at the SSR but still ultimately played a major role in stopping Leviathan from executing a diabolical plot to kill thousands of innocent people and take revenge on Howard Stark.

This final episode of the mini-series does what one expects it to, and with much aplomb. Hayley Atwell, Dominic Cooper and James D’Arcy provide the star power as Carter, Stark and Jarvis as required, whereas Chad Michael Murray (Agent Thompson) and Enver Gjokaj (Agent Sousa) are functionary at best. So while Agent Carter was a fun ride into the post-war MCU, hopefully subsequent mini-series will explore more seriously the founding of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Carter’s role in the same.

Agent Carter has done well to make connections with MCU films (unlike say, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.) and has exploited well the strengths of having a shared universe. Let’s hope there’s more to come.

Feb 252015
 

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By now, it’s plainly apparent that Better Call Saul as a series is going to be a proper examination of James M. McGill aka Saul Goodman. Vince Gilligan and company are in no hurry to rush through these opening episodes and instead letting the story of McGill play out naturally. It’s fascinating to see how McGill goes from struggling public defender and the perpetual loser to an opportunist seeing the possibilities in every situation. Sure, he is still a little awkward and a bit of a buffoon but this episode – “Hero” lays out the genesis of Saul Goodman for all to see. The straight and narrow seems to be a path rightly forsaken in exchange for success. For the audience, it is intriguing to witness McGill’s metamorphosis and to attempt to second guess each one of McGill’s moves as he manoeuvres himself into positions of favour.

Definitely in no hurry to go from this prequel sequence of events into the post-Breaking Bad continuity – hoping the series will stay with this timeline for awhile.

Feb 252015
 

CampbellApt

The Campbell Apartment, named after a bar hidden inside New York’s Grand Central Station, is the brainchild of Russian born singer-songwriter and oil painter Ari Vais. Ari’s new Sundogs EP is the proverbial breath of fresh air in a modern rock scene obsessed with superficialities. No such issues with Vais and his straightforward musical agenda. The songs take top priority – memorable melodies and relatable lyrics – clothed in classic pop-rock arrangements and instrumentation. Tracks like “Something in the Way” and “Heroic Audio Display” hearken back to a kinder & gentler times (the 90s), the last hurrah of the Pop Underground, where thought and effort are put into communicating a genuine emotional resonance through words and tunes. By the time one gets to the music hall jauntiness of final number “What Do You Think Of That”, it’s easy to feel a sense of regret that there isn’t more. But that’s the harsh reality of releasing marginalised forms of music in 2014. So if you love songs that balances intelligence with musicality, support The Campbell Apartment and the Sundogs EP! Find out below how and why Ari Vais does what he does!

How did you start writing songs?

I must have learned how to play guitar well enough as a 10 year old to learn a bunch of Beatles songs by the time I was in high school, and then Floyd, Zeppelin, finally some REM and Lou Reed songs, and then around 16, a slew of my own songs where the burst of writing didn’t cease until recent years. I still write but not as prolifically. I guess when I started as a teen, the tunes were based on traditional chords, as well as chords that I had no idea what they were, where my fingers were just doing some formation that happened to sound cool and go with the song, because I still didn’t know my way around a guitar that well, and trying for clever words or earnest poetic ones, hopefully with a tiny dash of humor, and a strong melody. The last bit was the most important, and very much still is.

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Feb 252015
 

Walking Dead 511 - 1

Possibly one of the best Walking Dead episodes in recent memory and it was achieved without having to kill a major character! All it did was examine the question of trust in the post-apocalyptic world of The Walking Dead. After having suffered at the hands of the Governor and the cannibals of Terminus, it’s easy to understand Rick’s reluctance to trust anybody. But what if someone comes along and tells Rick and group that there is a relative paradise waiting for them? Too good to be true? When does playing safe become dangerous? For Michonne, that time to trust a stranger like Aaron is now, and finally Rick has to decide whether he can do so and put his children potentially at risk.

It’s as simple as that but of course, it isn’t simple at all and the tension and drama flows from the audience asking the same question that Rick does – can we trust these people? Well, can we?

Feb 242015
 

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Another great opportunity for artists to get their originals heard is the SGMUSO Songwriters Night. Now a monthly event, the re-launch kicks off on Saturday, 28th February at The Barbershop by Timbre. Featured artist will be Tim De Cotta X The Warriors with the open mic segment to showcase Fym Summer, JAWN, Hell Low and Ciao Turtle.

See you there!

Feb 242015
 

SEOULSONIK 2014

Last June, we did an interview with Annie Ko, frontperson of Korean indie electro-rock trio Love X Stereo. Well, the group is now a duo consisting of Annie and Toby Hwang and is ready for the new year with a new EP, consisting of new material and re-recorded favourites. Part 1 of the We Love, We Leave album is already out now and indie pop fans will enjoy the new viz. the dynamic synth-pop energy of the sultry title track and the throbbing dance-able “My Anywhere” and the ‘old’ viz. the exciting versions of “Soul City (Seoul City)” and “Chain Reaction”. We caught up with Annie again to get some insights of where the duo is right here, right now.

Five of the songs on the new EP are re-worked versions of previously released tracks, why?

We were selected for government support provided by KOCCA in order to make a new record. Before we go any further, we wanted to take a step back to rearrange/rerecord our previous tracks, because we always wanted to. Originally, we wanted to make a LP with mixtures of old & new, but we had a strict time restraint, and that’s why we ended up splitting into two EPs. First one represents “We Love”, and the next one represents “We Leave”.

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Feb 232015
 

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Definitely the most intense season 2 episode thus far as Amy ramps up her plans to get away from Brother Michael and the island. One cannot blame her considering the outrageous revelations made concerning the relationship between Brother Michael and herself. The most unlikely villainess but kudos to the writers for making it so. The CDC team is not in good shape either as the mistrust bred amongst them threatens to destroy them, even as Alan Farragate plays his role as agent provocateur to perfection.

On Julia’s side, the writers chose to tell her story not from the ’30 years later’ perspective but a background tale on what happened after Julia joined the Ilaria Corporation. Disorientating to say the least. Not sure why the writers decided to make that jump as it does not seem to add anything to the ‘present day’ narrative whatsoever. Am just wondering how long it will take for Brother Michael and/or the CDC team to figure out that Amy is behind everything.

Feb 222015
 

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Yes, I will admit it – I am getting a little jaded with the TV versions of James Cole and Cassandra Raily. They are just too picture perfect for their own good. Also, I am wondering whether this plot device of going back in time to recover the ‘original’ timeline is going to get tiring soon. I mean, it was fun when it was done in Back to the Future 2 as Marty McFly did his best to avoid himself in the past but considering that this is the 2nd time it’s happening in 12 Monkeys? Ho hum.

But as usual, 12 Monkeys introduced a new element in the plot that pique my interest. What was the whole ‘red forest’ acid trip that Raily went through? What was that about? Another mystery – who is the Witness? Will they reveal this mysteries soon or will they end up as unresolved plot lines like Lost? And how does one keep track of the alternate realities Cole is setting up? Wait and see or give up – what do YOU think?

Feb 212015
 

Marvel_Studios

10 films that have changed the face of the movie industry. 10 films that exist within an unprecedented shared universe. 10 films that have collectively grossed over US$7 billion worldwide. Yes, there’s no doubt that commercially, the MCU films have done fantastically well but what about creatively? Can the films stand up to critical scrutiny or is their popularity a product of marketing hype and nothing more? Let’s investigate.

IRON MAN (2008)

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You know the story. Grossing over $500 million worldwide, Iron Man was an unexpected mega-hit for Marvel Studios’ first venture, marking the comeback of Robert Downey Jr and making the movie industry sit up and take notice. The post-credits scene was used for the first time, to introduce the concept of the MCU to movie audiences as Nick Fury said the words “Avengers Initiative” as a promise of things to come. Putting aside the milestones, it’s worthy to remember that this Jon Favreau-helmed film was very well made with strong performances from Jeff Bridges (Obadiah Stane), Gwyneth Paltrow (Pepper Potts) and Terence Howard (James Rhodes). The age of Marvel (films) had begun. (9/10)

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Feb 212015
 

MultiversityGuideBook

When DC first collapsed the multiverse into one universe in Crisis on Infinite Earths, I was rather upset to lose the alternative earths that gave DC its unique flavour. Most of all, of course, I hated what it meant for the Legion of Super-heroes. But that’s another story, altogether. Well, a couple of years ago, DC went the opposite direction and brought the multiverse back – 52 universes to be exact (I rather enjoyed the process though – the Flashpoint event). In the Multiversity series, writer Grant Morrison has begun to develop this concept and take it to its logical conclusion, exploring the diverse universes that the New 52 had introduced into the continuity.

Thus far, the most interesting issue was undoubtedly the one with “Pax Americana” (featuring the ex-Charlton characters) drawn by Frank Quitely and coming across like a Watchmen homage of sorts. The latest issue – subtitled as “Guidebook” brings the concept home with Morrison detailing the 52 universes that exist (with a few mysterious exceptions) within the greater DC continuity now. Potentially, this provides creators with lots of room to work with, without having to be limited to the continuity of Earth-0 (see below).

Earth-0

 

After all, there are 51 other universes to be explored! Seems like DC is the place to be to at least see whether they can make this ambitious concept work. Time to investigate them universes more closely!

Feb 212015
 

Scandal413-4

Yes, Scandal fans, if you haven’t seen the latest episode, I’ve just spoilt it if for you! But seriously, this was the solution to the ‘how do we get Olivia back?’ conundrum? Don’t really buy it! Sillier still if you consider that after all the brouhaha to demonstrate how much the enemies of America would want to get hold of Olivia, we are led to believe that a couple of new locks on her apartment door would keep her safe and secure? C’mon, these jokers were willing to pay a billion bucks!?! So, what’s to say some other bright spark would try the same trick? See where I’m going with this – how does the world go back to status quo after this?

Best part is that there was no hint of what the next storyline could even be remotely about after this. Which is rare for Scandal. I mean, how could they possibly top this? Over to you, Shonda…

Feb 212015
 

AgentCarter107-2

Things are looking grim for Peggy and the SSR. She has been captured and accused of high treason whilst Dr Ivchenko is free to work his manipulative hypnotism and instruct fellow Leviathan agent Dottie in his evil schemes. Jarvis tries his best to assist but ends up making things worse. Thompson and Souza have mixed emotions about Peggy as the evidence conflicts with their experience of Peggy himself. Chief Dooley has no such qualms and falls prey easily to Ivchenko’s machinations.

Slowly but surely, Thompson and Souza come to their senses and realize that Peggy is telling the truth but it is too late for poor Chief Dooley and pays the ultimate price for trusting Ivchenko. This episode also reveals what Ivchenko’s plans are and it is surprisingly similar to that of Richmond Valentine’s in Kingsman: The Secret Service. Great minds think alike? Or is there a paucity of ideas in the ‘genre’?

Either way, it sets up brilliantly for the final episode. Considering how long it took Agents of SHIELD not to suck, I say give Agent Carter more episodes!

Feb 202015
 

blur-2015

Blur is back! This time with the original lineup!!

New album ‘The Magic Whip’ out April 27.

New single “Go Out” sounds like a Bowie outtake from Low, not necessarily a bad thing but… not quite the comeback I was expecting. Ah well.

Pre-order now and get the track “Go Out” instantly:
Amazon http://smarturl.it/apoTMW
iTunes http://smarturl.it/iTMW
Official Store http://smarturl.it/osTMW

Feb 202015
 

Arrow 314-1

Like Thea, viewers of Arrow might be getting a little exasperated at the little twists and turns the CW series needs to take, in order to tell its stories. The last few episodes have been tough on Oliver’s little sister as she has had to deal with an almighty info dump and this latest episode was probably the worst, when she discovered that she was responsible for Sara Lance’s murder. The episode was a bit of a stopgap, serving as an incredulous training lesson meted out by Malcolm Merlyn (why do the Queen siblings continue to trust him when he has proven time and again to be untrustworthy?) but at least brought back Wilson Slade/Deathstroke for more unnecessary violent fun.

In the flashback narrative, Oliver finds himself back in Starling five years ago with Maseo (who is one of the brighter cast additions) which leads to Oliver acquiring his fathers guilty list notebook (remember?). Naturally, the show could not resist throwing in familiar faces into this mix – 2010’s version Tommy, Laurel, John, Felicity, Thea and a drunk Det. Lance all featured in mostly character-revealing moments with the introduction of Lt. Matthew Shrieve (Marc Singer!) at the conclusion spicing things up once again.

But in the present day, things need to move forward with the Ra’s Al Ghul plot line and soon. C’mon!