October Music Review; Kings of Leon, Lauren Pritchard and (radical stuff) a film as well

I go to the cinema about once every two years.  And I'm not a good attendee when I do; I fidget, have a short attention span, hate popcorn...

So when I say The Social Network absolutely held my attention for two hours and there wasn't a single minute when it (or I) flagged, that is unusual to say the least. It is an excellent film; best I've seen in years (although remember I don't see many).  I think you would enjoy even if you're not into Social Media and all that - the writing  acting, direction, even the music are all top class.  But if you're interested in business, or media it is probably even more worthwhile.  Some reviews have seen it as the revenge of old media on the new; but it seemed to me that the portraits of the main protagonists were affectionate, even if their eccentricities were highlighted.  Anyway, it is 'based on reality' rather than a biography...and thoroughly recommended.  9/10.

Come Around Sundown has already gone Gold so I don't suppose Kings of Leon will lose much sleep over my views.  But it is disappointing, despite some good tracks - Pyro is a slow burner mid tempo number with a great hook, and Back Down South is a tuneful country rock stomp.  But across the whole album, the music is both smoothed out and given a continuous U2 type background 'stadium rock noise'; lots of reverb and echo on the guitar and vocals, insistent rumbling bass lines. It's not terrible, to be clear; there are only a couple of really rubbish songs, Beach House being the low point of the 48 minutes, and the whole thing will sound fine in the background at the pub.  But two of their previous albums are amongst my real all-time favourites, so I'm disappointed.

When I listen back to the tracks I loved on those favourites, Aka Shake Heartbreak and Because of the Times, they validate the idea that "music is the space between the notes"  (as Debussy apparently said).  KoL build the tension through the dynamics of silence, rhythm and instrumentation; just the guitar for the first 40 seconds on Black Thumbnail, the almost faltering pace of Milk and Rememo.  There's nothing as subtle or interesting  amongst their new stuff; it all sounds designed to be blasted out across Wembley or some baseball stadium.  7/10

I wanted to find something else good for October and it has been a struggle.  But here's another (see previous reviews of  Lissie, Mynabirds, Caitlin Rose) in this year's sequence of excellent female blues / soul / country / rock singers - Lauren Pritchard with Wasted in Jackson. Think Sheryl Crow, Lucinda Williams, Dusty Springfield even - a great voice and very strong songs.  There's also an edge to the material and her voice (songs like Painkillers and Wasted in Jackson suggest it isn't all love and peace) which stops it slipping into Norah Jones MOR territory.  Highly recommended if you like this sort of thing.  8.5 / 10 and here is the lady herself.

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