Monday, 26 November 2018

White Lies 'Believe It' New Video

White Lies are back and returning with a new album out on February 1st from PIAS Recordings. Below is a taste with new video for 'Believe It' from the album Five.

Some years ago, the band had a massive hit with single 'Fairground' and were set to break the ceiling along with contemporaries Editors; yet it did not happen.

That has not stopped the band writing and have created a ten-track album that is the broadest and most commercial friendly songs they may well have written.

The song 'Believe It' would be familiar to those fans of Bastille and the undoubted influence of Depeche Mode; a band who who able to marry between electronica and rock. White Lies are a band who embrace both the keyboard and the guitar; lyrics of alienation fit perfectly with this mixed up world we are living in currently.

Directed by Mexican David Pablos, in his hometown of Tijuana, he wanted to shoot about 'the "otherness", that is, the people who are rarely seen, but also confirm the identity of the city.'

The album is released on February 1st, the band then embark on an extensive European tour in February and March featuring a show at London Forum on Valentines Day.

You can pre-order the album here.

White Lies are Harry McVeigh (lead vocals, guitar), Charles Cave (bass, vocals) and Jack Lawrence-Brown (drums).

Follow the band on Twitter @whiteliesmusic 

Wednesday, 14 November 2018

Restorations 'LP5000'

Released by Tiny Engines at the end of September, the fourth studio album by Philadelphia band Restorations entitled LP5000 is out now on all platforms.

Coming in at seven tracks long and under 30 minutes in length, this is an album full of vigorous energy and an abundance of heart; with hard work dripping from the amplifiers and the smell of the end of week bar screaming through the short set list.

Throughout the album there is a polish to the musicianship, a band who are tight together and in unison reminiscent of The Hold Steady and the working-class roots of Bruce Springsteen; vocal young men shouting to be heard, and hopeful the world shouts back at them.

From the album opener 'St.' there is a rhythm to match the rock and roll that strikes through the core of the listener; there is more melody on second track 'Nonbeliever' coupled with the subtlety of 'Remains'.

The album has its marker though on 'The Red Door' a shout of adrenaline that will get toes tapping and heads bopping at once.

For fans of The National and Band of Horses, this is a rock and roll album fit for the current age of attention or lack there-of. This is not a disservice to the album, it is short, sweet and superb.

LP5000 is out now from Tiny Engines

Thursday, 8 November 2018

It Looks Sad. 'Sky Lake'

The debut album Sky Lake from It Looks Sad. is released by Tiny Engines on 9th November

The first material from this pair in nearly three years, It Looks Sad hail from Charlotte, North Carolina a region of America which has beaches and gorgeous coastal lines but nothing that would make you think of rich Californian beaches in the pure sunshine.

Following band changes, the band now comprise of the duo Jimmy Turner (vocalist and keyboardist) and Alex Ruiz (drummer). Despite the hiatus Turner has not stopped writing and progressively has moved from the earnest writing of three years ago to a more formative composition; writing songs within a sonic landscape.  He asks you to embrace the sound and feel of the record.

Starting with the shimmering thumping of 'Shave' it tells us that there is a series of two-minute interludes which continues with the wonderful 'Bike'. The album is full of hooks worthy of comparison to their label mates Spirit of the Beehive and the UK's own Night Flowers

There has been this recent uptick in albums of quantity married with quality - bands want to be short but sweet to linger with your earworms a la Frankie Cosmos and Tony Molina. Maybe this is indicative of the lack of attention span in people nowadays, but if new bands feel this is a sow to plough then its fine by me.

From the pulsating 'Sisters' to the gorgeous 'Palms', this is an album full of priceless pop and at some points reaches moments of glory from a bygone 80s album.

Sky Lake is an album full of summer shimmers and magnificent pop that will make you smile and groove.

Sky Lake is out from Tiny Engines on all formats from Friday 9th November

Wednesday, 7 November 2018

David Nance Group 'Peace and Slightly Pulverized'

Released by Trouble in Mind Records in early October, this latest album is entitled Peaced and Slightly Pulverised. Below is the single 'In Her Kingdom'

David Nance is anything but prolific, and after a six year period releasing albums for labels Grapefruit and Ba Da Bing, including cover albums of Lou Reed, The Beatles; he returns with a full length album for Chicago label Trouble in Mind credited to the David Nance Group which comprises of himself, guitarist Jim Schroeder, bassist Tom May and drummer Kevin Donahue.

The album is a seven track piece of old fashioned rock and roll, featuring distortion pedals, long solos, meandering lyrics and giving the group the space to seemingly jam and riff to their hearts content to create an album that sounds both fresh and something from a by-gone era.

Endebted to the album work of early Neil Young and Crazy Horse, up to and including the oeuvre of Jim James and My Morning Jacket.  For rock aficionados, there are songs that will rock many a boat from the opener 'Poison' which is perhaps the most ear catchy song with a riff and a rhythm that would not be out of place on AOR radio currently.

While the second track 'Ham Sandwich' is a bit hit and miss due to the abundance of distortion on it, the album regains purpose when '110 Blues' and 'Amethyst' come along - songs that carry you on a wave of emotion and euphoria as solos give way to words.

The album is out now from Trouble in Mind records 

Thursday, 25 October 2018

Stan and Ollie

Very pleased to share with you the new clip from forthcoming movie, Stan and Ollie, out from Entertainment One.

The film chronicles the illustrious partnership of Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy, one of cinema's greatest partnerships, directed by Jon S. Baird.

The film stars Steve Coogan (Laurel) and John C. Reilly (Hardy) as we follow the pair through some of their landmark moments as they look back when on a variety tour of Great Britain. Gone are the golden days of Hollywood, and this is their farewell tour.  Despite a hectic schedule for an ageing pair, the pair's love of performing and for each other endures.

Co-written by Steve Coogan, the film promises to be a faithful tale for a pair who deserve a great depiction on the form they helped path the way for.

Stan and Ollie will be in cinemas from 11th January 2019.

Thursday, 4 October 2018

Jack Gilden interview

Jack Gilden is the author of the brilliant new NFL book Collision of Wills about the tumultuous pairing of two behemoths of the Gridiron in Johnny Unitas - the first great Quarterback - and Don Shula, the Hall of Fame coach whose paths crossed together at the now defunct Baltimore Colts.

His novel is a look back at a very different NFL where running was key to success, games were won at the line of scrimmage and a quarterback was a game manager who rarely threw downfield and merely handed off to a tailback.

Gilden successfully weaves a narrative that has an abundance of characters and stories, and charts the changing climate of a sporting landscape going hand in hand with an ever changing socio-political context of the late 1960s in the shadow of foreign wars, political assassinations and freedom of expression.

I was lucky enough to gain some time with Jack Gilden, in the week leading up to the book's release to ask some questions about the book and his takeaways from it.

What was the idea for the book?
When I was a high school student I went to a conference for high school journalists put on by the old Baltimore Colts at their new facility near my school.  There was a famous (famous in Baltimore) old newspaperman there named John Steadman who was very close to the franchise and especially to the old Colts players.  He happened to mention that Unitas and Shula hated each other.  I thought to myself then, 'How interesting that the greatest player and the brilliant coach (he would later surpass George Halas as the biggest winner in league history) spent seven seasons together and never won a title.  Plus they didn't get along.  That's a great idea for a book.'  When I finally started the project (in my 40s) I discovered the discord between the men echoed their nation, which was also in deep conflict.  The men and their times, I felt, offered an origin story for America and professional football in the 21st Century.

- How much research was involved?
There was a great deal of research for this book.  I went back and talked to as many men (and a few women) as I could find who could shed light on the careers and personal lives of both men.  I read as many books as I could on the men, the Colts, football, and the 1960s in general.  I pored through periodicals and newspapers of the era for news that was contemporaneous to the events.  I watched as much film as I could that pertained to the old Colts and to football of the 1960s, including both raw game footage and documentaries so that I could describe the players and the events as I saw them through my own two eyes.

- What were your preconceptions of both Unitas and Shula going into the book?
When I started the book Johnny Unitas was my hero.  I played football in high school for four seasons.  I started off as a quarterback who was under 100 pounds (I was the smallest player on the field in every game in which I ever played).  Unitas's long shot story and rise to unprecedented success resonated with me then as it does now.  As a high schooler I read everything I could about him in order to learn the secrets of his success and apply them to my own game.  In general, however, by the time I entered high school both men were still living and still relatively young, but they were both already mythologized. At that time, they seemed to represent the American virtues:  Hard-nosed toughness prevailing over all, duty, and adherence to the chain of command (as opposed to later day players who seemed to upstage their coaches, their teams, and the game itself.)

- What are your conclusions of the men now?
I found that the men were quite different than what I, and many others had assumed about them.  Unitas was far from a dutiful and unquestioning warrior.  By the time he came under Shula's tutelage he was egotistical and felt he knew more than the coach.  Sometimes his actions were insubordinate, as when he would change or ignore plays that were sent in from the bench.  I also think the pressures of his position mounted on him and caused him to act out in certain ways.  Both men are considered among the biggest winners the game has ever seen, but they were forced to deal with crushing defeat during their time together.  They didn't always handle it well.  After researching them, my conclusions about them are that they were far more complex than the public knew.  They had big egos, and stunning vulnerabilities. They were very good men, incredibly driven to succeed, but at times their emotional weaknesses got the better of them.

- How different is the NFL now to then?
I believe that the NFL of the 1960s represents the apex of both the league and the game.  The sport hit its highest levels then with so many players and coaches considered among the greatest in history all active at the same time.  Unitas, Jim Brown, Dick Butkus, Paul Warfield, Jim Parker, Raymond Berry, Gino Marchetti, Bart Starr, Jim Taylor, Paul Hornung...the names go on and on.  In the coaching ranks, there was Lombardi, Shula, Paul Brown, George Halas, George Allen, Blanton Collier, Chuck Noll and Weeb Ewbank.  In the AFL there was Al Davis, Sid Gilman, Hank Stram, and others.  It was extremely hard to make the postseason then.  In '67 the Colts lost only a single game and had the best record in football and still did not make it.  So every game then was filled with great players and coaches, and every single game crackled with import.  The theatre of of it all was so compelling it propelled the sport past baseball as the number one game in America and it had people tuning in for special prime time games...the precursor of Monday Night Football.

- Why has Weeb Ewbank been lost to history, a man who never lost a Championship game winning 3?
Weeb isn't totally lost to history; he is in the Hall of Fame.  He was also the winning coach in the two most famous and important games in league history:  the '58 Championship Game, and Super Bowl III.  He is the only coach in history who does NOT have a losing record in head-to-head competition with Lombardi.  Even so, he clearly doesn't get his due.  I consider him to be the best football coach in history.  His low-key reputation comes from a couple of factors.  Number one, he was fired from the Colts.  In his era that was an ignominy, and after he left Baltimore no one in the NFL wanted to hire him.  He was forced to go to the supposedly inferior AFL.  To a certain extent, Weeb's strengths are precisely the things that overshadow him.  Number one, he was a superb team builder.  Unlike Lombardi and Shula who both walked into teams that had excellent players already on the roster, Weeb essentially inherited two bankrupt franchises and built both of them from the ground up.  Consequently his winning percentage is low even though his championships are high. He chose all the talent for both of his franchises, including finding and developing two of the games greatest-ever quarterbacks in Unitas and Namath.  His teams were slow to build but ultimately were brimming with depth.  Unfortunately, the charisma of his QB's overshadowed Ewbank.  Both Unitas and Namath were taught to be superb and autonomous play callers by Ewbank, so the public assumed that Weeb had less control of his teams and was less responsible for their successes than, say, Lombardi, who seemed to dominate with a (supposedly) mediocre quarterback in Bart Starr.  (In fact, Starr was superb and extraordinarily accurate.)  In other words, Lombardi was bigger than his teams, while Ewbank prepared his teams to be bigger than himself. 

- And for that matter Earl Morrall, four Super Bowl wins
Actually, Morrall went to four Super Bowls, but won three.  He lost Super Bowl III to the Jets.  Earl was the best player on one of the best teams in history, the '68 Colts.  Earl was MVP of the league that year.  He also quarterbacked the undefeated Dolphins to nine straight victories, more wins than Hall of Famer Bob Griese had that year.  Morrall is lost to history because his very poor showing in Super Bowl III swallows his entire legacy.  In fact, he was a heroic player with statistics that are similar to Joe Namath's.  He deserves to be in the Hall.

- The names that pass through the stories – Lombardi, Ryan, Noll, Namath for example – are amazing, it must have surprised you to see how far this coaching tree extended to current history of the NFL
It is a testament to how great the football was in the 1960s to see how the coaches, players and front-office personnel influenced the game over the next several decades.  Former Baltimore Colts employees dominated football in the seventies and eighties, showing how deep and great that franchise really was. 

- What is your NFL team?
Today I am a season ticket holder and fan of the Baltimore Ravens.  Nothing, however, can supplant the love I had for the Baltimore Colts.

- What are your opinions of the game now? What can be changed?
My opinion of today's game is that it has been watered down a great deal, making it less exciting and compelling than the game was in the 60s.  I think the quarterback position seems to be more important than ever, and yet the modern quarterback is diminished.  With the modern rules designed to protect the quarterback and improve his statistics the position seems less genuine. With so many plays coming from the sidelines quarterbacks are no longer the intellectual leaders of their franchises.  I'm not sure what can be done to change modern football to 'fix' it.  It's just a different game than it was, and not necessarily better.

- What are you working on currently?
I'm currently working on my second book.  Again, it examines the success/failure dynamic.  It is a horse racing story that uncovers issues of drug abuse, mistreatment of a child, and true stories that have never been told.

Collision of Wills is out now from University of Nebraska Press and available on all platforms.

Wednesday, 3 October 2018

NFL 2018 - Week 5 Preview

The NFL starts making a bit more sense once teams have played a significant proportion of their games. Remember we are four weeks in and bar Washington and Carolina, all teams have played 25% of their games. That is a quota enough to start making clear who are contenders, who are also rans and who are looking for the draft next year already - looking at you New York G-men.

What did we learn from Week 4 - that the two best teams are the Rams and the Chiefs, they have two young quarterbacks who are ready to reach for that brass ring and make noise that needs to be heard. Whilst the Rams were thoroughly dominant in usurping the now treading water Vikings, the Chiefs had to come from behind to get a road win in Denver - a big step for Patrick Mahomes and company.

The false economy I alluded to last week was evident in the very poor performance by the Miami Dolphins who laid a huge egg on the road in New England, a team that still has question marks on Brady's consistency and yet could not muster a jab on them. The Chicago Bears are legitimate contenders now, partly due to a weird division where teams trip up at every occasion and also having a Top 3 defence led by Khalil Mack and Mitch Trubizky looking able to make plays and amazingly throw across his body.

Teams that are flailing for life remain the New York Giants who picked Saquon Barkley in a win-now draft pick but are struggling with Eli Manning getting any rhythm; the Pittsburgh Steelers are being let down by no consistency from Big Ben and a weak secondary; the Buffalo Bills could get nothing on the road at Green Bay unable to get pressure on an ailing Aaron Rodgers. In another two weeks it will be clear which teams are playoff bound and which are sucking for a higher draft pick.

Week 5 Predictions
Byes: Chicago Bears, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Thursday Night Football
Indianapolis Colts (1-3) at New England Patriots (2-2)
Following Frank Reich's brain fart of a call to punt the ball away to Houston in overtime and allow them sufficient time to get into field goal range, the Colts look a little bit lost. They have not got a lot of talent on the roster and they are struggling to be taken seriously; although Nyheim Hines a fourth round pick at RB had himself a day and is probably a fantasy football pick. They travel to Boston to face New England who have Julian Edelman returning for his first game, expect targets a plenty underneath which could well open up Josh Gordon for big plays downfield. James White was big in this game and the Patriots showed some efficiency on offense for once this season.
Prediction: New England by 10

Tennessee Titans (3-1) at Buffalo Bills (1-3)
The Titans are probably the most pleasant surprise finding themselves 3-1 despite starting Blaine Gabbert for one game but they are not scoring a lot but they tough out games sticking with the Super Bowl champs in overtime; their defence is excelling themselves and this is despite a plethora of injuries that seem to mount up for them; Mike Vrabel is getting the best of his charges. The Bills at home finally after what seems an eternity could provide some resistance but can they get any fluency against that D-line of the Titans.
Prediction: Titans by 3

Miami Dolphins (3-1) at Cincinnati Bengals (3-1)
The Dolphins were woeful in Boston and a road trip to the red hot Bengals might fill them with dread as Andy Dalton the Red Rifle is throwing for 300+ a game and has weapons everywhere in AJ Green, Ross, Boyd and Bernard. The defence remains elite and will try and snaffle up any productivity the Fins can muster.
Prediction: Bengals by 8

Baltimore Ravens (3-1) at Cleveland Browns (1-2-1)
The Ravens had a good road win against Pittsburgh and this looks like a good battle between two stellar defences, the Browns swarm hunting the ball at every opportunity while the Ravens will try to win the line and force Mayfield to throw downfield where Eric Weddle will be waiting. Flacco is getting big plays when he needs them with John Brown outside.
Prediction: Ravens by 4

Green Bay Packers (2-1-1) at Detroit Lions (1-3)
The Packers are being very professional, winning games concisely and not outdoing themselves or forcing issues while Rodgers still recuperates on the fly. The defence is exceeding expectations and will fancy their chances against a team struggling for consistency.
Prediction: Packers by 7

Jacksonville Jaguars (3-1) at Kansas City Chiefs (4-0)
This should be a great game, the perfect Chiefs have the league's most exciting QB prospect but they do not have a defence that can stop many teams. Blake Bortles has showed an improvement in game management and the ability to find his pacy receivers in open spaces may exploit this leaky Chiefs defence. This is definitely the biggest test of Mahomes career against the Jags.
Prediction: Chiefs by 6

Denver Broncos (2-2) at New York Jets (1-3)
The Broncos had a 10 point lead over the Chiefs and have shown a toughness not seen in recent years as Case Keenum does enough on offence; Von Miller must be licking his lips to attack Sam Darnold as his learning in the big boy league is getting harder with every week; talent wise they have not got enough game changers.
Prediction: Broncos by 7

Atlanta Falcons (1-3) at Pittsburgh Steelers (1-2-1)
A match up between two teams with records they would not have been expecting, and the team that loses this matchup could be eliminated from play off consideration as they will be cast adrift at the bottom of their respective divisions. The Falcons have been firing on offence with Matt Ryan not turning the ball over and yet they have been outgunned by Drew Brees and Andy Dalton in the last two weeks; the inability to not get stops on defence may offer hope to the struggling Steelers but they themselves are poor on defence and lack a fire in them to stand toe to toe with rivals currently.
Prediction: Falcons by 6

New York Giants (1-3) at Carolina Panthers (2-1)
The Panthers return from a bye week and are at home to the timid Giants - a team failing to land a punch of note in this season. Barkley is running great but the pressure on Eli Manning to perform at a high level is not coming to fruition; the ability on both sides of Panthers will be too strong for the Giants to even get close. This could be the most one-sided scoreline of the week.
Prediction: Panthers by 12

Oakland Raiders (2-1) at Los Angeles Chargers (2-2)
The Chargers host the Raiders who got their first win last week in overtime against the Browns, though they got a few breaks to go their way. The Chargers are still exciting but they could do with Joey Bosa to return on defence and would it hurt to have a decent field goal kicker to stop leaving points on the field.
Prediction: Chargers by 7

Minnesota Vikings (1-2-1) at Philadelphia Eagles (2-2)
At the start of the season, this would have been earmarked as a great game now it is between two teams failing to meet expectations. The Eagles are suffering a hangover from Super Bowl celebrations, and the Vikings got hit by the LA Rams buzzsaw which can be forgiven as they are the best team in the league. This is a hard one to call though Cousins showed enough in defeat to warrant another chance to back him.
Prediction: Vikings by 3

Arizona Cardinals (0-4) at San Francisco 49ers (1-3)
The winless Cardinals face the Jimmy G-less Niners, yet the 49ers were resilient on the road against the Chargers and CJ Beathard is a good set of hands in the offense and has weapons that are ready to stand up. The Cardinals could be picking one overall at this rate and be lucky to get 2 wins this season.
Prediction: 49ers by 8

Los Angeles Rams (4-0) at Seattle Seahawks (2-2)
Expect more of the same from the Rams against a defence that was ageing before Earl Thomas' season ending injury on Sunday. The Rams d-line will be able to get after Russell Wilson and this could get nasty early if the Rams explosive offence catches fire again.
Prediction: Rams by 10

Dallas Cowboys (2-2) at Houston Texans (1-3)
This is Sunday night football and everything is bigger in Texas. The Cowboys overcame the Lions despite having 240 total yards from Ezekiel Elliott who is taking the team on his back and dragging them to unlikely victories. The Texans show plenty on offence although the inability to close out a Colts side they were leading 28-10 and nearly tie and/or lose the game is a worry for fans who must still have question marks over Bill O'Brien's tenure.
Prediction: Cowboys by 3

Monday Night Football
Washington Redskins (2-1) at New Orleans Saints (3-1)
The Saints are a very good side able of scoring quickly. From a 12-7 half time scoreline, before you blinked it was 33-18 due to the big playmaking ability of Alvin Kamara. Mark Ingram returns from his PED suspension which will give the Saints another dimension to their play. Can they get pressure to Alex Smith though in an under-rated Washington side, should be a good game.
Prediction: Saints by 7

Fantasy Football Advice
Courtland Sutton (WR, DEN) - have mentioned this man before and his yardage and targets has gone up week upon week. This week away at the Jets expect him to get a red zone look for sure

Nyheim Hines (RB, IND) - a 4th round pick who had a huge day with 2 receiving touchdowns and with a weak backfield in terms of depth and TY Hilton got multiple injuries on a short week against a still unproven New England defence, Andrew Luck will need a safety blanket.

Mark Ingram (RB, NO) - back from a four week suspension, it will be intriguing to see what this does for Alvin Kamara's carries and numbers. Either way it will not stop New Orleans' offensive juggernaut.

Nick Chubb (RB, CLE) - he had three carries for 105 yards for two touchdowns. One carry was for 1 yard. He had a big day, at home to Baltimore might be a tough match-up but he will provide that option for Baker Mayfield.

Follow me on Twitter for NFL @JamieGarwood