Archive | September 2015

No Closer To A Good Pun For This Post…

I’m sure there ain’t a heaven, but that don’t mean I don’t like to picture you there.

This is the most feels line that I am aware of currently in existence.

I had No Closer To Heaven playing on Spotify pretty much as soon as it was released here in the United King’s States of Englandshire. It’s been out for nearly two weeks, and about one week ago, this post would have been a lot sadder and filled with my post-teen angsty disappointment.

I was so disappointed with the album after the first listen that it made me genuinely very sad. The Wonder Years are one of my favourite bands and took pop-punk to another level with their last album, The Greatest Generation.

Coming off that I expected ridiculously big things, things too big to ever realistically happen since I pretty much wanted to love it more than TGG after no time at all.

Add the fact that I was familiar with and loved three of the album’s songs before release, and everything else just seemed kind of dull.

Skipping ahead to now, and I must say it is once again a new level that TWY find themselves on. I seem to remember a while ago saying that AB/AP by Fall Out Boy had the best four track run on any album I knew. No Closer To Heaven has the best EIGHT track streak.

The run from Cardinals through to Stained Glass Ceilings is full of intensity, passion and that all important raw emotion that sets The Wonder Years apart from everyone around them.

The last couple of songs aren’t quite as impactful, but the whole thing flows nicely, the sound moving from anger through to acceptance. Call it DABDA, call it Kubler-Ross, call it a coincidence, it works.

I’m not sure yet whether it’s better than The Greatest Generation, but it’s definitely better than my initial opinion of it. And it still keeps them right up there in my list of best bands around.

I had it on repeat all day at work last week, which must have been fun for everyone that loathes my music taste as it is. But I’m happy to say that it has won me over, just took a little time.

Also I listened to Neck Deep’s new album a couple of times this week. Not comparing or anything, Life’s Not Out To Get You is a very good pop-punk record; it’s catchy it’s fun and it’s short, but listening to the both bands shows, to me anyway, how far The Wonder Years have taken the genre in another direction.

Listen to:

  • I Don’t Like Who I Was Then
  • The Bluest Things On Earth
  • Cigarettes & Saints

(Then listen to the rest.)

Have a nice day, bang bang! – Cactus Jack

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Sons of Anarchy – Spoiler FREE!

Only took me nine months from the series finishing to me watching the last episode, but I finally finished Sons of Anarchy.

I started watching it on Netflix a good year or three ago, whenever it was I first had Netflix. It may have had something to do with the two leather jackets I bought last year, but since I have no money and live in England there’s no chance of a Harley appearing on my driveway soon. Not ever ruling it out though.

I’m fairly certain this is one of two non-sitcoms that I’ve managed to get all the way through, the other being the two seasons of True Detective that have been released so far. One of which I don’t really remember much about, thank you Bell’s and Mark.

This show was awesome. It’s about bikers, and has Hellboy in it. I love looking, however Hollywood-ified it is, at what it’s like to be in a motorcycle club. Living vicariously and all that.

Since season 7 – the final one – is the only one I’ve watched in full recently it’s the only one I remember in full. Emerald is currently working her way through the series though, so she’s refreshing me on what’s been going on. But this is the spoiler free version anyway, so it doesn’t matter!

So a nice, short, spoilerless review. Keepin’ it short today.

Seasons one and two were amazing. The MC evolves constantly, plenty of twists and I got the feeling that just about anything could happen at any point. Those tense moments and shattering, devastating scenes made the show incredible in its early years.

Sons was never quite as good for me after series three or so. Don’t get me wrong, I still loved it and wanted to keep watching, but it seemed to lose some of its shock value as the series went on. There were so many things going on I honestly ignored some of it, rather than rewinding or reading up on what was actually happening.

The relationships with the IRA, other SOA charters and rival gangs are all interesting enough, and really give enough different angles to keep the show feeling fresh after seven seasons, but sometimes it all just came together in a bit of a bloody mess. Presumably bang on what Sutter was going for.

Can I just take a moment to point out that my phone no longer has a :L emoticon? I also somehow feel really old still calling them emoticons, despite the fact I’m young enough to know the word emoticon. But what if I need to show how laughing I am with a little yellow face? I miss MSN Messenger.

I came back to the show with three episodes of season six left, and then the 13 episodes of season seven. They were, intense. And insane. Like, they were so crazy they made me question my memory of what I’d watched before that point, which seemed like it had a cool, chill, ‘occasionally kill people but we have such a close bond and such manly biker bants that’s it’s kinda hilarious’ vibe to it. Most of the time.

I don’t exactly know whether I should put my reaction to the last scene on here, even without describing it. Just in case. All I’ll say is, with fifteen minutes to go I wasn’t sure what I was going to be feeling about it. Fifteen minutes later, I feeled. I feeled feelings.

The one thing I will mention about the finale is the music. All the way through the series the soundtrack has been amazing, and season seven was probably my favourite for music on offer. There’s some cool hip hop/soft rock, and punk cover of a love song – for a car chase, obviously – and the final song we hear right at the end.

I’ve seen a couple of reviews talk about the musical montages being overly leaned on throughout the later seasons, and on some occasions I agree that the scene that precedes would be a much tighter, snappier ending. But they get it right more often than not, and when they do it’s glorious, whoever they are.

It’s the last one though, the last song from The White Buffalo & The Forest Rangers, that really just clicks so well. It plays over the top of not quite a montage, more one central, cascading river, every now and then splitting to a off-shooting stream, always returning to the river just before it enters the sea.

There, a nice, deep, meaningless prose to end it on. Would be perfect if I hadn’t kept on writing.

I’ll embed a bunch of my favourite songs into my next SOA post I think.

There have been a few times where I thought SOA had seen better days, that maybe it dragged itself out a little too long. That goes down, in my opinion, to the extended runtimes it had in the last couple of seasons.

That final season though, series finale in particular, was brilliant, because everything and everyone changed from the pilot, yet everything was somehow so familiar. I cared so much about so many. Also Chibs. I want a Chibs prequel on his personal relationship with the IRA or how long he had been involved with the Sons or which is his favourite pattern of tartan. Just anything for more Chibs please.

This was not short.

Emerald is working her way through season four at the minute, might have finished it as we type. Once she’s all done with it I’ll post my spoiler filled version, just in case she clicks it accidentally and then I get in trouble. Noone else can make me be in trouble I’m afraid so if you click on it by accident when it does go up I’m sorry, but it did finish nearly a year ago.

Have a nice day, bang bang! – Cactus Jack

 

Festival Season 2015! #4: Leeds (& Reading)

Leeds!

After a year away, missing Blink, QOTSA and a bunch of other awesome bands, I returned to Leeds Festival for the third time.

I took Emerald and we went down just for the Sunday; this year seems to have taken a rather more widespread, cross-genre approach.

Even though we weren’t there for Alt-J or Kendrick Lamar, I still had a really good time. Leeds was my first festival back in 2012, so I did enjoy going back. I’m pretty sure Emerald will always prefer Download over every festival ever, but she said it was good too, definitely better than T.

I’m sure her vlog will be on YouTube and in this space here soon. Here it is now!

There won’t be many words for this one, we didn’t get to the festival until 4pm, went in and wandered across the hills to the village, and then on to the arena. Nothing much has changed, only now they don’t have Yorkshire tea stands for some godforsaken reason.

Nipped into The Pit stage for PVRIS somewhere around 5. They didn’t sound quite as good as they did at Slam Dunk, maybe because of how much more tent they were in, but I got some videos and they were still awesome and Lynn sounded awesome and seemed more at home in the fields of Leeds, rather than the centre of Leeds. Leeds.

The video I took of them coming out is stupendously smoky, another tent related issue. Can’t wait for them to have more material to play, they’ll be moving up the festival bills soon.

After that we had an hour or so to hang around for Catfish, watched 30 seconds of Atreyu, wandered for a bit and didn’t get a cup of tea because there weren’t any stands around. Instead we sat just outside the Alternative tent, which was playing the last half of Montage of Heck, that Kurt Cobain documentary that Courtney Love doesn’t mind us seeing.

There were a couple of segments of Kurt at Nirvana’s MTV Unplugged set, so I am now claiming to have seen Nirvana at a major festival.

Catfish were actually really good. I definitely thought I’d enjoy them more than I did at T, mainly due to everyone at Leeds not being dicks, but they were good to watch and the NME tent (second stage) was overflowing to the point of festival staff having to (attempt to) move the crowd back before the set started.

There were a couple of smoke flare things let off, inside a tent, during the set by some dopey moron who hopefully was put in a much smaller cage than the guy looking for his car. If people haven’t seen that story then I don’t have a link for you right now, I’m sorry.

As Catfish played the sun started going down and… parachuters? parachutists? Parachutes glided around over us for a while, presumably filming.

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On the way back to the car we saw Twin Atlantic’s last song, and I’d like to go back and see them somewhere. Apart from that the only other band we went for were Metallica. They were incredible. We’d heard that people at Reading were not at all happy with their efforts when they were down there, but at Leeds they were seriously amazing. Like straight from the album amazing.

For Whom The Bell Tolls, Ride The Lightening, Turn The Page were amazing. They didn’t put on masses of pyro or have a huge stage show, but after so many years they’ve got such a stage presence they don’t really need much else.

Sadly we didn’t make it to the end of their set, which was never the plan anyway since we took advantage of the emptyish roads. Unlike T I had to drive all the way home and get up for work the next day, so an early exit was definitely the way to go. I would have had a cup of tea to keep me alert on the drive, but…

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So that has been all of my festival experiences this year, I hope for money’s sake it’s the last. Four done this year so maybe none in 2016, but if an amazing lineup or nice payday comes around I’m sure we’ll be recording/writing about it.

Have a nice day, bang bang! – Cactus Jack

Festival Season 2015! #3: T in the Park

This is being written after I got back from Leeds, and also after I wrote the post about Leeds, so it’s a little strange trying to remember back, but let’s have a go.

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We drove up straight to the festival, and were on the trail to the car park before I realised that Lydia had to pay for parking at Download and we might need a pass that I didn’t have. I never had to pay at Leeds, and thankfully the parking is included in T tickets as well.

Once we were in the brand new lovely field they chose this year, we had a bit of an explore. Oh, they didn’t swap our tickets for wristbands which I’m very annoyed about. Anyway, we headed over to the main stage to watch James Bay. He was really good, voice was great from what we heard of him.

Problem #1 with T in the Park: the new Strathallan venue is either too small, or the organisers didn’t think that the crowds would be so big, for some reason. To have the rides and other village type things that blare loud music right next to the stages seemed like a bit of an oversight to me.

The following picture is unrelated to the text around it. Be prepared for it to become relevant later on.

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Anyway, James Bay was great, we got some noodles and passed by Paloma Faith on our travels. I really like her, she seems like such an awesome person, her sound just didn’t really scream FESTIVAL FUNNESS at me.

I am literally right now this second having to look up the lineup to see if I’ve forgotten anyone, this is how bad my memory is. We were there five weeks ago.

Everything Everything were also at Leeds, we didn’t see them here though. Also, Young Guns have played all three major festivals I’ve been to this year and I haven’t seen them once. They always seem to escape my mind or be on too early.

Good news, while I was saying those words it turned out I didn’t forget anyone, so it’s straight on to the big guns.

Catfish & The Bottlemen played well, probably. We didn’t get a great chance to hear them because of Problem #1, and we couldn’t really see them due to Problem #2.

Problem #2 with T in the Park: a large percentage of the people are dicks. Like, a percentage so high that you can’t just ignore them and go somewhere else, they were everywhere. Maybe we picked a bad day, or a bad year, but it was just bad.

We saw Catfish again at Leeds as you’ll soon read, they were brilliant, so they probably were here as well. At any rate they were too big for the second stage. Big time for them next year.

Stereophonics were my favourite band of the day. Probably one of the best live performances I’ve ever seen, the first time I saw them in little ol’ Carlisle back in 2008 was up there as well.

Seriously they are so very good, Kelly still has an amazing voice and they played a bunch of music that got me right back into their stuff, and British indie-rock in general. Which was just as well. That’s them in that picture up there, it turns out videos on this phone are unsuitable for general watching. So here is one!

Noel Gallagher. The creative force behind my all time favourite band. Seeing him was incredible, and he played Fade Away, which is one of my top Oasis songs. Sorry for the terrible sound quality, Noely G was on top form. Come to think of it all the videos from T had poor quality sound, so sorry if any others make it into the final print of this.

We didn’t stay for much more than that though, we had The Prodigy to go to.

As for The Prodigy, they weren’t quite as good as they were at the MK Bowl in 2009, but that day I was utterly amazed at the arena and the bowlyness of the bowl and the whole show in general. They had ambulances coming out of the stage and green lasers and it was amazing.

At T they still had that crazy energy, and The Day Is My Enemy (pretty sure that’s what it’s called, the new one) is an absolute filth of a music. They’re one of those bands outside my comfort zone that are just too cool not to like.

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After that it was hotel time, which was really nice since it allowed me to sleep rather than drive for two hours plus, plus it gave us the Monday to go into Glasgow and do Scottish things, so that was a plus. PLUS, Emerald did another documentary for me to steal and us to watch!

Probably not a festival I’ll head back to, but I spent £90 on three amazing artists and it was so worth it.

Have a nice day, bang bang! – Cactus Jack

Summerslam results! Darren vs Emerald

If anyone hasn’t heard, last week I teamed up with Emerald to have a little Summerslam competition. Well, it’s time to see who won!

This hopefully won’t be as achingly wordy as the prediction post, so I’ll save thoughts on the matches and event as a whole for during/after.

Right then, let’s jump straight in!

Sheamus def. Randy Orton (DH 0-0 EM)

Good start, so the whole ‘Sheamus will lose and cash in’ plan was out the window before half 11. Also Emerald predicted an announce table breaking for this match – albeit before we knew it was on first.


The New Day def. Prime Time Players, Lucha Dragons & Los Matadores (0-0)

Meh, tag teams. Dudley Boys are back though! Sad PTP lost. Next!


Dolph Ziggler vs Rusev ended double countout (0-0)

I probably should’ve predicted that these predictions would go badly. Also this match, ending especially, was just unexciting.


Stephen Amell & Neville def. Stardust & King Barrett (1-0)

I got one right! I thought the celebrity had to win, but what a performance by Arrow person! Doing kicks and jumping and stuff.


Ryback (c) def. Big Show & Miz (2-1)

To be honest I was outside for the first half of this match, but it looked a fun little filler match that didn’t exploit Show and Ryback’s flaws. Everyone came out looking pretty good.


Roman Reigns & Dean Ambrose def. Bray Wyatt & Luke Harper (2-2)

Emerald pegs me back, sadly. Not happy about the finish, Reigns got an even harsher reception than usual for some reason, but I definitely think if Reigns & Ambrose were going to win they had to be pinning Harper, not Wyatt.


Seth Rollins (c) def. John Cena (c) (2-3)

Well I could not have been more wrong, so despite Emerald’s unhappiness at picking Rollins she was right. New double champ though! Exciting, I shall see if he still has both titles at whatever the next PPV is.


Team PCB def. Team Bella & Team B.A.D. (3-4)

Slightly above the standard Diva match. Wrestling quality is way better, still failing to care.


Kevin Owens def. Cesaro (4-4)

The penultimate match, and I bring it back! This was probably my favourite match wrestling wise, but like the Diva match it didn’t feel like it had any emotion to it.


Undertaker def. Brock Lesnar (4-5)

Aaaaand, my ridiculous decision to throw a Lesnar curveball in lost me our first blog-related wrestling post. Yes. Although, TECHNICALLY, Taker tapped out (!!!) so Lesnar should’ve won. The whole ending made a great match into a bit of a farce, until Lesnar flipped off Taker and passed out.



 

Winner: Emerald!

Undertaker’s laugh. Just had to say that. Lesnar-Undertaker, Cena-Rollins and Owens- Cesaro were my favourite matches, in that order, Shield-Wyatt coming in just behind them.

Cool, all done. Still really late but earlier than the Wrestlemania one!

I’ll see if Emerald wants to add anything here, until then I may even get another post fired on here today.

Have a nice day, bang bang! – Cactus Jack