THE Welsh National Opera continue their run at Llandudno’s Venue Cymru last night with an excellent performance of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s famous opera, The Marriage of Figaro. The opera featured bass David Soar as the title role, Figaro and soprano Elizabeth Watts as Susanna, his would-be bride.
The whole performance was extremely believable. Set in 1930s republican Spain, the assembled crowd laughed appreciatively in all the right places, and were on the edges of their seats in others.
It was a performance of a comedy love story that really included the audience effectively; it was very easy to feel for Susanna and Figaro in their quest to avoid the schemes of the frightening Count Almaviva and be together. It was also easy to feel sympathy for the plight of Countess Almaviva (who was convincingly performed by Rebecca Evans), especially in Act 3 during her aria as she struggled with her mixed feelings of love and fear of her husband, the Count. The Count himself was performed by Dario Solari, who had a knack of reminding the audience frequently that he was the character with the power, and that they were watching an opera about the plight of an underling, rather than an equal, and the relationship between him and Figaro was therefore convincingly tense.
The inclusion of Jurgita Adamonyté as Cherubino was a wonderful addition; there was real chemistry between him and Figaro, who teases him playfully at the end of Act 1, and added very well to the comedic aspects of the opera.
The scenery was exquisitely designed, consisting almost of pure white walls, furniture and extremely high doors, which added both to the sense of grandeur and splendour of the setting
and the whiteness also helped to focus the audience attention on the characters. The scenery during the final act, set outside in a garden at night, was made up of several floor-to-ceiling mirrors that were able to slide backwards and forwards, which cleverly helped create a sense of claustrophobia during the more intense scenes, moving closer to the performers, and easing off again during more calm moments by moving backwards. It was very effective.
Overall it was an extremely successful and convincing performance. The singing, music and scenery all combined together excellently to create beautiful and yet slightly modern-looking
The Welsh National Opera performs La Traviata at Venue Cymru on Friday, March 16 and The Marriage of Figaro again on Saturday, March 17 before continuing their tour around the UK.
Hertfordshire based indie rock quartet The Electric Modern, return with the follow up to their debut self titled album of last year with an EP entitled Motives. Formed in 2008, the band claim that this EP reflects a new found focus and a renewed love of writing catchy indie music, music that’s anthemic and inspirational.
At first listen, Motives is a refreshing rebrand to the indie scene. It has an excellent trait of sounding extremely familiar and yet sounding really new and fresh at the same time. It’s a light and fresh sounding release, with melodic and emotive sounding and excellently sung vocals and sing-along, chants and choruses that can really get a listener to smile. It’s in some places almost a curious fusion of some 1980s electronica with 2000s indie rock, especially with the presence of uplifting background synth sounds on Let’s Get Away.
Musically, it’s what some might call simple and refined. It’s a well written album, the band obviously have bags of songwriting talent and know what to include and what to cut in order to make the structure of the music work for the genre really well.
The listener gets the impression that no instrument has been wasted and every note is exactly what the song needed. There is no sense that The Electric Modern have gone over-the-top and put everything they’re capable of into every song, but only included what each song needs to sound good. As a result, everything sounds well put together, and sounds quite light and airy. The effects on the guitars and the presence of prominent bass guitar sounds come together to create something that’s almost halfway between indie-rock and electronic-rock.
It’s an excellent sounding, fresh take on the indie genre. The bass solo on Too Much to Ignore is also an excellent and surprising feature, it was wholly unexpected, and it added an excellent twist to the song and deserves a special mention.
Motives won’t be to everyone’s tastes, though. It can sound a little like pop music in some places, which won’t appeal to everyone, but will certainly appeal to others. This reviewer is nitpicking for the sake of putting forward a balanced review, though, and it’s really not an issue.
Overall, it’s a new and refreshing sound to come out of the South of England, a county that’s making a name for itself for producing some high profile bands, such as Enter Shikari and The Subways. The Electric Modern is a fitting name for such an electronic sounding, modern take on the indie genre that was starting to get quite tired. Armed with more music like this, The Electric Modern should be set to be the name on everyone’s lips in the not-too-distant future. Keep an eye on these guys. 8/10.
Find out more about The Electric Modern here: www.theelectricmodern.com
Welsh National Opera at Venue Cymru, Llandudno
The internationally renowned, highly praised company Welsh National Opera returned to Llandudno’s Venue Cymru this week, putting on a spectacular performance of Giuseppe Verdi’s three-act La Traviata, as part of a 17 date tour across the UK.
The indisposition of Carlos Osuna, who was to play lead character Alfredo in the opera, added an extra pressure on the performers, but ultimately wasn’t an issue, with the role being taken over by Italian-American tenor Leonardo Capalbo, who filled the role marvellously. His on-stage love Violetta was also superbly portrayed by Joyce El-Khoury, who made her company debut with the opera just last month.
The entire show went off without a hitch, from the opening notes of the overture to the dramatic and moving quintet death-scene that ended the performance. The audience was captivated, and by the end some of them were in tears. It was a believable performance too, the audience were drawn in to the all-consuming and desperate nature of Violetta’s and Alfredo’s love for each other, and felt a palpable pang of urgency for the crisis to be resolved, when it seemed like all was lost and they would never have the opportunity to love each other again.
The orchestra was passionately led by conductor Julia Jones, and added a light, fresh sound to the opera. The sound was quick, agile and attractive, and never drowned out the performers, but instead gelled with the voices extremely well, to create a light and airy atmosphere that contrasted very well with the dark and sad themes of the opera.
The set and costumes were sumptuously designed, with a luxurious colour scheme of purples, charcoals, midnight-blues and dark, inky blacks. The entire effect was accentuated by the warm glow of many lit candles. All of this combined gave off a constant effect of twilight, which drew the audience in and made it feel up-close and personal, and again contrasted with the light and airy sound of the music. It was an intense and wonderful performance.
Welsh National Opera round off their stay with Beatrice and Benedict tonight, and of The Marriage of Figaro tomorrow, March 15. Tickets www.venuecymru.co.uk
Read the original article here: http://www.dailypost.co.uk/leisure/theatre-reviews/2012/03/14/la-traviata-55578-30530152/
Lettie, well travelled electro-pop queen, is apparently one of the most extensively musically experienced yet new artists on the scene today. She has released two of her own albums with no promotional help, worked with Anthony Phillips (formerly of Genesis) and, in her own words, “seen the advent of many female artists and remained herself under the radar”. It’s no wonder, then, that she is starting to get noticed herself.
This album, Good Fortune, Bad Weather, is Lettie’s third studio release, but the first that has been promoted commercially. It has had a turbulent journey into existence, and it shows. It’s a mature sounding album from a would-be new artist, which comes across initially as a bit confusing. It’s a unique sounding album, with a confident, mature vibe that sounds like it should come from an artist who has years of music experience behind them – which Lettie does – we just don’t know it.
As sounds go, it’s essentially a huge melting pot of synthesised electronic noises and instruments that somehow manage to structurally work together. Vocally, Lettie’s singing is in a strange position. She sings in short and snappy bursts on a lot of the songs, which, when mixed with the constant sound of the instruments, should mean that her vocals take a backseat. On the contrary though, they’re right at the forefront and very noticeable – very cleverly done. She has emotive and mature lyrics that are another aspect that show off her experiences despite her lack of commercial success. One of the vocal highlights is Mister Lighter, a song that manages to tone down the album in a pleasant way and showcase Lettie’s range extremely well.
In some places it’s a bit eerie, actually. At times, eerie in a pleasant way – relaxing and chilled music that wouldn’t be out of place in a backstreet European cafe – and at others eerie in just a scary way – for example Aluminium Man.
Lettie’s chosen image of ‘musically-experienced-but-fresh-on-the-scene’ artist is actually quite accurate. As an album it has sounds that are recognisable as influenced by some of the best in the electro-pop genre, but at the same time it’s not quite like anything that has been heard before. The title track, Good Fortune, Bad Weather,is a prime example of this – it reminds of everything from Genesis to Michael Jackson to Kraftwerk, and yet it’s different to all three in many ways.
Overall, it sounds like Lettie has waited long enough and worked hard enough to deserve her own musical success, and from the quality of this album it seems like she has the talent to get it too. This reviewer would not be surprised if the music scene will be hearing from Lettie again very soon, and every listener should be looking forward to it. A thoroughly deserved 7.5/10.
Read the original article here: http://www.poppedculture.co.uk/music-reviews/music-reviews/album-reviews/item/231-lettie-good-fortune-bad-weather
Leeds-based singer/songwriter Rupert Stroud follows up his accomplished and critically acclaimed debut album with this, his latest full length studio release, entitled Chasing the Night. Stroud sells himself as a versatile and mature artist, and the album as a mixture of rock, indie and acoustic music. He’s looking to showcase his talents in the broadest and most ambitious way possible, but it remains to be seen whether he’s been successful.
From the off, it’s plain to see that this album is ambitious. There’s a definite mixture to all the sounds on it, rock, blues, indie and indeed acoustic do all indeed make an appearance at some point throughout the album, and this definitely shows off Stroud’s talent as a songwriter. In fact, the album physically, as well as audibly, shows off his talents as a musician, the album cover itself looks very impressive; it looks professionally done as well as sounds professionally done. It’s impressive.
The fact that it’s very ‘showy’ might also be its undoing, though. It does sound a little bit too much like Stroud has tried to get as many different sounds into his album as possible in order to show off his entire spectrum of songwriting ability. This means that there’s no real central ‘core sound’ to the album, really. The songs all sound very different to each other, which means it’s quite hard to get into, as Stroud chops and changes between styles all the time. This isn’t to say that the album itself isn’t any good, Stroud has done a very good job in showing off his musical talents, and musically it sounds very good.
Vocally, it speaks of the early-nineties grunge. Stroud has an almost monotone, drony kind of quality to his voice that lends itself well to all of the musical styles that he goes for throughout the album. It’s the one feature that remains constant throughout the album and allows the listener to remember that the same person wroteall of the songs. Lyrically, the album is extremely emotive and mature, showcasing Stroud’s abilities as a songwriter again.
The only other issue with this album is that it can get quite repetitive within each song. Whilst each song sounds different from each other, each song also repeats itself a lot, especially Sunday Night Blues, which can weight quite heavily on the ears after a while.
So, to sum it up, Chasing the Night is a showcase for the considerable songwriting skill of the young Rupert Stroud, who has wasted no time in letting his listeners know that he has the talent to do it and the determination to succeed. It might be said that he didn’t need to go so over the top to convince us that he’s a talented songwriter, it was obvious enough already, but this doesn’t detract from what is, overall, a very successful and charming release from the young Yorkshireman. A good 7/10.
Read the original article here: http://www.poppedculture.co.uk/music-reviews/music-reviews/album-reviews/item/232-rupert-stroud-chasing-the-night
Director: James McTeigue
In a nutshell: Grisly gothic mystery, with some great acting and ridiculous-yet-satisfying story.
The idea of ‘this film is real’ recently seems to be a common theme emitting from Hollywood. The idea that a film’s events “have happened” (The Blair Witch Project) or “could happen” (Chronicle) or even films such asCloverfield that purposely portray a sort of “is-real-life-but-at-the-same-time-blatantly-fiction” mentality are common in cinema these days. New gothic horror-thriller film The Raven is centered around the idea of the final few days of the life of famous writer Edgar Allan Poe, telling a story designed to look historically factual but realistically ridiculous.
Edgar Allan Poe (John Cusack) is introduced as a struggling writer, a not-so-recovering alcoholic and madly in love with girlfriend Emily (Alice Eve), who’s protective and harsh father Colonel Hamilton (Brendan Gleeson) refuses to acknowledge their relationship. Poe suddenly finds himself caught up in the investigation into a series of gruesome murders that seem to recreate events that Poe himself wrote in his stories. Detective Fields (Luke Evans) enlists Poe’s help to explain and capture the perpetrator, who, it is revealed as the murders increasingly become more personal for Poe, is bent upon taunting him into his own destruction.
Cusack is spectacular as Edgar Allan Poe, combining a sense of actually being physically hurt by the abuse of his stories that the killer is committing, and also maintaining a steady sense of dry wit throughout his performance despite the hardship, which portrays the idea of a writer in complete anguish perfectly. It is a welcome element of realism within a film with such an unlikely and odd plot. There is palpable tension between Hamilton and Poe over the issue of Poe’s love for his daughter, oddly-yet-realistically resolved by her abduction and Poe’s subsequent determination to free her.
The biggest issue with this film is the claim made by the filmmakers that the final few days of Poe’s life are shrouded in mystery and are unexplained, and yet the film itself proceeds to tell a story of events that are extremely public, in fact plastered all over the newspapers. The filmmakers slightly cover this up by claiming that Poe writes the events that are actually happening as a work of fiction, although they are indeed designed to come true, however it is unrealistic to assume that fictional stories would end up as front-page material over the top of actual news. This is probably the biggest plot-hole, but doesn’t actually detract too from the performance, as long as it is watched with the mentality of watching a good film, rather than a realistic one.
The ending could quite easily have been better, however the audience know how the story is going to end from the opening scene, so it’s more a story of how it happened, rather than what is going to happen. Overall, a good movie to watch once, but probably not multiple times. 7/10.
Read this review on my Tumblr blog here: http://soundsofasamfordraving.tumblr.com/post/19124383717/review-the-raven
Luke Temple, the singer songwriter, has had a complicated history of album releases and collaborations, but his latest offering, entitled Don’t Act like You Don’t Care, is simple enough to understand. It’s slow paced, emotive country/folk music that differs from anything that Temple has released before. It’s ambitious and daring.
Don’t Act like You Don’t Care is an interesting concept for a genre, emotional, well written and well sung for good measure. As an album, it’s definitely unique, and definitely a talking point. Temple has talent when it comes to writing songs, and the idea of genre that he was going for has been nailed on the head – spot on. It’s sensitive and in some places slightly chilling, especially vocally, but on the other hand, it can end up being a little repetitive and a little bit too slow, which brings us neatly on to the bad points.
The pace of the album just doesn’t pick up enough. It actually seems to be at its quickest and most lively at the beginning, and it just slows down from there. By the end of the album the listener would be well within their rights to have fallen asleep. Its four-track recorded, too, which gives it an interesting, fuzzy grainy quality, which can be interpreted as either a good or a bad thing, depending on the listener’s attitude. In fact, the hiss of the recording in the background is really prominent at times, especially in the latter half of the album, which can actually be quite distracting.
It’s not a record that looks like to attract new listeners to Luke Temple and his work. There’s just nothing on the album that stands out and speaks to the listener to encourage them to listen to him. What’s on there is, in some ways, good, but there’s nothing particularly special about it. It’s slightly dreary which could repel the potential listener in the first place, and a listener would have to pay special attention to the good parts in order to actually enjoy listening to it.
Overall, then, it’s a good album in a bad album’s clothing. There are some very good elements to the music here, and Luke Temple is clearly a talented songwriter, but there are enough negative parts to this album to hide the true quality of the songs, which is actually quite high. This might limit Temple as an artist unless he can either eliminate this, or use this to his advantage. It would be good to give some advice on how to listen to this album – listening to all of it in one go is a bad idea, but if each song is listened to independently, it becomes much easier to appreciate Temple’s talents. 5.5/10.
Read the original article here: http://www.contactmusic.com/album-review/luke-temple-dont-act-like-you-dont-care
Leeds based band The Wedding Present have had a turbulent and epic history since their inception, years ago in the mid eighties. But, the spirit seems not to have been lost, as they seem ready to shoot back on to the scene with their latest album, Valentina, an album recorded and produced by tiny label, Scopitones, set up and maintained by the band’s lead singer David Gedge.
It’s good, too – it’s vintage-sounding rock ‘n’ roll. One can almost imagine music videos to the songs in black and white. It sounds aged, mature and thoughtful, with a happy, head-bopping kind of twist. It’s enough to keep the listener on their toes throughout the whole album, and there are some major shifts in how songs sound halfway through the songs themselves, such as the abrupt change from fast paced rock music to a haunting, buzzing synth sound on Back a Bit… Stop, which was totally unexpected. Also, the rapid change in pace on Girl from the DDR is another good example of this. It makes it sound interesting, free and creative.
The Wedding Present, as a band, have a lot of history behind them, and as such a lot of songwriting experience. So, it’s only natural that they should have a more mature sound than perhaps some more mainstream, modern indie bands, and that’s exactly what’s happened here. It’s a mixture of old-fashioned rock and roll and newer styled indie music, so it’s therefore bound to appeal to a wide audience. It’s catchy, and also sounds like it can be used in many contexts – it’s good background music, but it’s also music that can be listened to intently, and enjoyed wholly in either situation.
Vocally, Gedge’s voice lends itself perfectly to the retro rock ‘n’ roll style. It’s melancholy without being depressing, tuneful without being over-the-top and masculine without being gravelly. It’s somewhere in the middle of pop-rock, indie and old-school, early-nineties grunge, and the fact that it’s so accessible and at the same time so unique is one of the things that makes it good to listen to.
The band have a long had a standing of deliberately not signing to a major label. So, this isn’t commercialised, manufactured music, it’s music that’s been written, honed to perfection and then recorded in a small studio, the way music was, in their opinion, meant to be made, not made on a computer and plastered all over the Internet. It’s an ode to ‘sticking it to the man’ in a less-punk-more-rock-orientated kind of way, an ode to freedom of expression and songwriting creativity. It’s pleasant to hear.
Some, more ‘new mainstream music’ orientated listeners might feel like it sounds like it’s recorded in a very ‘retro’ way which they might find sounds a bit ‘old’ for them – because of the fact that it obviously hasn’t been manufactured and processed. To many people, yours truly included, it will sound genuine and distinctly ‘not-artificial’, but to others it might sound antiquated.
But, on the other hand, maybe that’s what it’s meant to sound like, seeing as The Wedding Present have claimed that they have, since their outset, been “refusing to play the record industry’s game”. By making their album sound deliberately ‘old-school’, it reinforces the idea that anyone can make, record and distribute their music without the help of a professional label. It’s a good idea, it brings the idea of making music away from the commercial and, in some senses, unreachable and makes it more about creativity and freedom. It’s refreshing and pleasant, and it brings the band closer to their audience.
Some might even view this as a little bit ‘gimmicky’, but in this reviewers mind they’re a band that’s taken the idea of ‘indie’ to the extreme that, in some ways, actually needs to be done. It’s music with a message, and that message is to make and enjoy music for what it is – not a business.
Overall, then, it’s a total gem of a record, an excellent sounding, excellently written and recorded album. The Wedding Present may have been around for a while, deliberately avoiding major record labels in favour of musical and creative freedom, but it sounds like it’s a formula that works for them, and it’s a formula that helps them make good music that all can enjoy. A solid 8/10.
Read the original article here: http://www.poppedculture.co.uk/music-reviews/music-reviews/album-reviews/item/229-the-wedding-present-valentina
It seems like the trend these days is to create rock/electronic music, a fusion of two very different genres. This is something that Israeli club duo Rendezvous seem to have unwittingly managed quite successfully with their latest release, club/electronica compilation Another Round Please. Recorded in the midst of violent conflict in the middle of Israel, it’s a euphoric electronic release that’s set to soon be successfully occupying club dance floors everywhere.
From the off, there’s no element in particular that’s special about the music that Rendezvous have made; other than that it’s all just really rather good. It’s got plenty to keep the listener occupied – it starts off with a pulsating bassline and sparkly-sounding electronic sounds that have the power to catch the attention of the unsuspecting listener and draw them in within a matter of seconds, and this theme continues throughout the whole album. The use of synths is excellent, not too over the top and not used too sparingly so that it’s too rare, it’s just right.
It’s definitely not your everyday, run-of-the-mill club music, though. It has salutes to some of the lighter artists of the electronic persuasion, not just thudding basslines and bass-drums, like Kraftwerk, Jarre or Vangelis. It’s not as heavy-sounding as normal club music, it’s a lighter, more trance-esque sound that gives it a club feel without the pounding on the eardrums. It’s a more uplifting, euphoric mix than general dance music. The rock elements mentioned earlier take a slight backseat as the album progresses to make way for the electronic sounds at the forefront, but there’s some band-like elements in there for good measure to keep up the rock-side of the music, such as the use of an acoustic drum kit on Prisoner which keeps it sounding ‘real’ despite it being mostly electronic. It’s very well done, and a good word to describe some of the synth sounds would be ‘sparkling’ or ‘glittering’.
Limitations – repetitiveness is always an issue with this type of music, and Another Round Please is no exception. Rendezvous have found their formula on this album and stuck with it. It consists of a catchy bassline, drums to match and electronic synth sounds over the top, and this is the format that remains for almost all the songs on the album, which can get slightly ‘samey’ as the album progresses. Once a listener has heard one song on this album, there’s a tendency to say that they have heard the rest, although the melodies differ enough for each song to be easily distinguishable from the others, so this might be a slightly cynical view.
Overall, then, it’s a crystalline fusion of electronica, club and a small amount of rock music that’s sure to inspire the dance scene into taking notice. It’s ambitious and yet the same as what’s already been done at the same time, which is no mean feat. Recorded under intense pressure, Rendezvous seem to have kept their cool and produced something innovative and pleasing to the ear that is sure to set them apart from some of the other dance artists of today. In fact, it might even inspire a reformation of the old electronica classics.
Read the original article here: http://www.contactmusic.com/album-review/rendezvous-another-round-please
Young artist Maz Totterdell is creating quite a stir in the music scene recently. After her initial success by getting the opportunity to feature on BBC Radio 2 and also 6 Music, her debut album Sweep is out on May 28th 2012, and it looks set to shoot the young singer/songwriter to stardom. At just 15 years old, featuring on national radio, and writing and releasing a complete album is an impressive feat for someone so young, but judging from the quality of album it seems like this is just the beginning for the young starlet.
The album itself is a work that definitely belies Maz Totterdell’s years. It’s an extremely mature work for such a young artist, and therefore it should be reviewed as such. Ignoring her young age for a minute so as to be slightly more objective, the album itself is actually very good by anyone’s standards. It’s simplistic, ‘pure’ sounding music, in some places just the vocals and an acoustic guitar, which makes it pleasant music, reduced to its bare bones, and yet it somehow it doesn’t sound empty.
Musically, Sweep is extraordinarily pleasant, calming and relaxing, singing and acoustic music, with some other occasional elements thrown in for good measure, as and when they suit. The acoustic/vocal combination is the bare backbone of the album, though, but some of the other instruments can add some really quite good aspects to the music, to break up the repetition in style and keep the listener’s attention. The presence of the violin on Kaleidoscope is an especially lovely and effective addition to the music, and the use of piano (sparingly and effectively) is done perfectly. It’s very well done.
Vocally, Maz Totterdell manages to sound like she’s pulling off what she can sing without putting any strain on her voice, it all seems very effortless for her. This is pleasant to listen to, she seems confident and happy with her vocal range and therefore sees no reason to test it. Lyrically, the songs are poetic in fashion, captivating and trance-inducing. This actually adds to the whole pure-sound that the album seems to be going for, it’s almost minimalist in some ways, it’s not crowded at all and it’s a relaxing listen, sure to bring a smile to the face.
Issues – actually, there aren’t many. It can get slightly repetitive in the music and style itself, but this isn’t really a problem, but more one that musicians face in general, and now this reviewer is ‘nitpicking’ when he shouldn’t. Other than that, there aren’t really that many issues; only that it will be interesting to see how the music itself fares in the fast paced music scene of today, but Maz Totterell has definitely found a niche in the market that should prove to become her own style. It’s hard to see how anybody could fail to at least appreciate her talent, even if they wouldn’t go out of their way to listen to her.
It will definitely be interesting to see how Maz Totterell’s music matures alongside how she matures herself, but for now she should at least be celebrating what, upon its release, should prove soon to be the success of her impressive debut album. It’s also safe to say that it looks set to blast her straight from the heart of rural Devon to the fast paced world of musical stardom. An extraordinary feat for one so young, and a very high 9/10.
Read the original article here: http://www.poppedculture.co.uk/music-reviews/music-reviews/album-reviews/item/228-maz-totterdell-sweep
- Biffy Clyro – Opposites Album Review (Planetmosh Review)
- When We Were Wolves – The More Things Change, The More We Stay The Same EP Review (Planetmosh Review)
- Alexisonfire – Death Letter EP Review (Bring the Noise Review)
- Lewis Watson – Another Four Sad Songs EP Review (Never Enough Notes Review)
- Parkway Drive – Atlas Album Review (Bring the Noise Review)
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