Wednesday, 26 September 2018

Calvin Johnson 'A Wonderful Beast'

The new album from Calvin Johnson, is as much a collaboration as a solo album. Recorded at the Audio Eagle Studio in Nashville, Tennessee, Johnson with producer Patrick Carney and chief engineer Marc Whitmore, used the motif 'Rock and Roll will Never Die' as a premise honoring the electric guitar, modern synthesizer and trap drum kit circulating around the chords of A, C and Dm. The results is a creation unlike any rock and roll album before.

The name Carney may well be familiar to musos, as one half of Ohio's rambunctious The Black Keys, a band who were built around not setting itself limits by its own mere limitations of two musicians performing.

Johnson has released an album which is an amalgamation of invention and creation, one bursting with promise looking towards the future as well as being respectful of the past and where they have come from.

His drawl is reminiscent of early Johnny Cash and yet there is a vibrancy to the work, he may not sound infused when singing 'Kiss Me Sweetly' but there is a resilience coursing through the album

Tuesday, 25 September 2018

NFL 2018 - Week 4 - False Economy

What struck me most about watching the bewildering set of results happen on Sunday was not just the Any Given Sunday motto ringing truer than ever, but that there is a False Economy in the league. We buy stock in people who are hot and then the next week go colder than England in February.

This rang true for the Minnesota Vikings who were the epitome of complacent at home to the winless (now winning) Buffalo Bills; the Jacksonville Jaguars get revenge versus the New England Patriots yet cannot muster any offense superiority versus the Tennessee Titans who somehow have two wins both coming by a combined six points. The Miami Dolphins are 3-0 but have beaten three losing teams and face another one this week in New England in a tasty divisional encounter.

The Saints remain the most complete offensive unit in the league week in, week out but are being upstaged by the Patrick Mahomes show who led his side to a perfect record. The Rams are favourites for the NFC because no-one can stand up to them on either side of the ball.

Week 3 Predictions: 9-6 - Best pick KC over 49ers by 10 points, they won by 11
Week 4 Preview
Byes: Washington Redskins, Carolina Panthers

Thursday Night Football
Minnesota Vikings (1-1-1) at Los Angeles Rams (3-0)
It may only be late September, but the Vikings laid the biggest egg in time for Easter; like Sunday they were either too late or way too early; much like our supposed hype for them. The defence vaulted Josh Allen to new heights and a Bills side much derided put on a show in Minnesota. The last thing you want is to probably travel cross country, lick you wounds and play the most complete team in the NFL. Alas, the Vikings play the Rams on Thursday night - the same Rams who are scoring at will and have enough on defence to stop the Vikings.
Prediction: Rams by 9

Cincinnati Bengals (2-1) at Atlanta Falcons (1-2)
Despite Matt Ryan throwing for 5 TDs and no turnovers, they succumb to bitter rivals the Saints in OT. The Bengals lost on the road to Carolina, but still showed offensive production but could not contain Cam or McCaffrey. The Falcons at home are the surer bet here you feel with Calvin Ridley having three TDs himself on Sunday, the two headed monster of Ridley and Jones may pay dividends again.
Prediction: Falcons by 7

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-1) at Chicago Bears (2-1)
The Fitzmagic is era, its over, turn off the lights, the Winston regime returns, crab legs all round. They may have lost but the Bucs were unfortunate in certain aspects and rallied in the fourth quarter for a memorable comeback. Now the decision has to be made in regards to who starts, however they would be doing Fitzpatrick a disservice should Winston step back in. On the road to the Bears could be a challenge, and Fitz can get the ball out quicker which may be necessary against that Chicago line whereas Winston is prone to lapses in concentration. Dependent upon who starts is how my pick goes, at the moment I'm leaning towards the Bucs in a closely run contest.
Prediction: Bucs by 2

Detroit Lions (1-2) at Dallas Cowboys (1-2)
The Lions got a win at home to the underwhelming Patriots, and now travel to Dallas who lost to Seattle last week. The Cowboys have little or no offense and are reliant on Elliott so expect Detroit to load the box on run plays and contain Zek, and with Darius Slay in the secondary the Lions have playmakers to turnover, this could well be a road upset if Stafford does not get flustered.
Prediction: Lions by 3

Josh Allen was eye-catching to say the least v Minnesota

Buffalo Bills (1-2) at Green Bay Packers (1-1-1)
The Bills had the performance of the season, defeating the Vikings 27-6 racing out to a 27-0 halftime lead; the defence swarmed the Vikings in a showing that shocked many but Josh Allen had a coming out party to make passing plays and even hurdled tackles showing athleticism. The Packers meanwhile were not impressive again, their weaknesses being overshadowed by 'We have Rodgers' constantly - Washington got to Rodgers over and over, so if Buffalo can build upon that show they may well have a .500 record.
Prediction: Bills by 3

Philadelphia Eagles (2-1) at Tennessee Titans (2-1)
The Titans have probably been the least convincing side with more questions than answers remaining, yet they overcame the Jaguars in a field-goal battle. The Eagles have Carson Wentz back and they did enough to defeat the Colts but they were dominant in terms of possession outgaining by 170 yards and twenty minutes more time in possession. This was indicative of the Eagles last year, Wentz under centre controlling the game with long drives then suffocating the opposition. Eagles should have enough but they remain in close encounters not blowing anyone out yet.
Prediction: Eagles by 6

Houston Texans (0-3) at Indianapolis Colts (1-2)
In this divisional matchup, this is a must win as the loser will no doubt be eliminated from winning the division and the Texans need to show something. Time and again Deshaun Watson makes mistakes, three red zone turnovers this season has crippled their offence and the line did not force enough mistakes out of Eli. A returning Andrew Luck is showing life and the Texans' secondary of the Texans may be under attack from TY Hilton this week.
Prediction: Colts by 3

Tom Brady will be seeking consistency at home to Miami this week

Miami Dolphins (3-0) at New England Patriots (1-2)
Following the Patriots road loss in Detroit, this game becomes about AFC East supremacy. Traditionally, the Dolphins do not travel well to Boston and they would feel they have enough to overcome the Foxboro hoo-doo based on confidence, however, there three wins have come against the Titans, Jets and Raiders who have one win between them. They have beaten who they have faced but can they still trouble Tom Brady who cannot seem to find people downfield whilst Gronk is double teamed, and yet once the game was out of reach James White was finding room. The defence cannot make plays forcing the Lions to three punts all game. This will be close but could be messy.
Prediction: Patriots by 3

New York Jets (1-2) at Jacksonville Jaguars (2-1)
The Jaguars laid an egg themselves this week as they failed to defeat the Titans as they were again without Leonard Fournette and did not replicate their gameplan versus the Patriots failing for fluency on offence. The Jets had the indignity of losing to the Cleveland Browns, yet were 14-0 up in that game. There is hope in NY for Sam Darnold but expect an angry reaction from the Jaguars on home turf.
Prediction: Jaguars by 6

Baker Mayfield - The No.1 overall pick now starts for Cleveland

Cleveland Browns (1-1-1) at Oakland Raiders (0-3)
The Raiders are bad, they cannot seemingly play a full game. I remember Mike Lombardi stating this about teams last season, there are 45 minute, 50 minute and so on. The Raiders are currently playing 45 minutes and do not show up for the remainder. They burst to a 10-0 lead and yet left enough time for the Dolphins to come back. The Browns meanwhile are walking on air, the era of Baker Mayfield has begun and they must be giddy with this match up and the possibility of a winning streak.
Prediction: Browns by 3

Seattle Seahawks (1-2) at Arizona Cardinals (0-3)
The Cardinals are bad also, they seemingly cannot function and yet they were 14-0 up and lost 16-14 as the Bears shook off jet lag to get the win. David Johnson was involved but for only 31 yards on 12 carries. Sam Bradford turned the ball over too much forcing Josh Rosen to come in and attempt to muster a 4th quarter comeback. The Seahawks won their home opener versus the Cowboys and in this divisional match up should have enough to win so long as Wilson has time to make plays, though Chris Carson had 102 yards off 32 carries (!) talk about a workload, they forced three turnovers on Dallas also so expect more of the same versus the wingless Cards.
Prediction: Seahawks by 7

New Orleans Saints (2-1) at New York Giants (1-2)
You can have your Mahomes and Fitzmagic but if there is a more entertaining team week in, week out than the Saints let me know. They can go toe to toe with any team, overcoming a near flawless Matt Ryan by winning in overtime. Two receivers - Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara - had 100+ yard games, with Kamara adding 66 yards on the ground. They travel to the Big Apple to face a Giants team who got a much needed win in Houston, they got offense and shut up shop to get the win. However, can that Giants secondary and core stand up to the offensive barrage they should face.
Prediction: Saints by 8

San Francisco 49ers (1-2) at Los Angles Chargers (1-2)
Two losing sides meet but two teams going in different directions, the 49ers had bad news as they lost both Jimmy G to an ACL tear and with that goes any hope the Niners had of causing a stir in a bridging year. They still have Breida and Goodwin is back who had a good connection with CJ Beathard last year in relief.  The Chargers show potential as always and yet cannot get the victories to back up that up, expect that to alter this Sunday.
Prediction: Chargers by 10

Baltimore Ravens (2-1) at Pittsburgh Steelers (1-1-1)
The Steelers redeemed themselves somewhat against the Bucs getting a vital road win to remain relevant in the now competitive AFC North, a home game versus the Ravens means no respite and this rivalry will be enhanced again. Steelers won thanks to big plays from Vance McDonald and Antonio Brown, yet the underrated secondary picked off Fitzpatrick three times. This will be a game won at the line of scrimmage, if only the Steelers had a ground and pound type running back.
Prediction: Steelers by 3

Patrick Mahomes - the front runner for the MVP

Monday Night Football
Kansas City Chiefs (3-0) at Denver Broncos (2-1)
The Broncos ran out to a big lead on Sunday, but could not sustain the performance at Baltimore. They return to Mile High to face the dominant KC offence and the hottest property in the NFL right now - Patrick Mahomes. The question remains though on the KC defence which bleeds points against anybody. The Broncos have those two quality wide receivers and a decent running back combo (if one remains on the pitch). Can the Broncos make Mahomes look mortal, we shall see, but no fresh quarterback has seen the field like Mahomes has, though the possibility of Von Miller getting him is appetising.
Prediction: Chiefs by 6

Fantasy Football Advice

- Tyler Boyd (CIN, WR) with injury concerns remaining over AJ Green, Boyd had a big day with 6 catches for 132 yards and a touchdown. He overtakes John Ross as the #2 in Bengals depth chart.

- Baker Mayfield (CLE, QB) now confirmed as the starter you can anticipate Mayfield going big against the haphazard Raiders. He will find comfort in targets such as Duke Johnson (himself one to pick up) and Jarvis Landry.

- Marquis Goodwin (SF, WR) had a great relationship with CJ Beathard last year in his six games as starter - expect more of the same. Beathard will also dump off to Breida much like he did to Carlos Hyde for catches in space. Breida has had a great start and luckily has not suffered as bad an injury as sadly Garoppolo has.

- Stirling Shephard (NYG, WR) has been a good receiver for a couple of seasons for the Giants who no doubt will be involved in a shootout with New Orleans this week.

Monday, 24 September 2018

Doe 'Grow Into It'

The London outfit Doe return with their new album Grow Into It; and it shows a band who are moving on and maturating into a grown up sound as the album title would suggest.

Those unfamiliar with the band - they are a punk garage band with rock and roll sub-text - the sound of the group is one indebted to the early 1990s garage sound reminiscent of The Breeders and The Pixies; with male and female voices vying for superiority across songs.

From the sombre sounding strum of guitar strings on album opener 'My Friends' this album is explicit in showcasing how growing up is hard to do; how strong bands diminish when personal feelings come front and centre in an ever expanding world.

The band though are not merely a loud crash and thrash band, they have pop capabilities as evidenced on single 'Labour like I Do' which has a funny video with the band wearing alien head masks to show how even though you may look different you still experience the same problems.

The band are making big strides with a push for them to break the mainstream in this country, yet they have played sold out gigs in the USA also; the sound of the band is distinctly American which may be the stumbling block to break the airwaves in the UK yet if you give the band a chance you will come away with something from this album.

Full of sonic sounds and indie rock hook, this album explodes with life and authenticity which is rare to hear and see nowadays.

The energy from such tracks as 'One at a Time' to the thoughtful 'But It All Looks the Same' which has a drive to the anthemic climax is indicative of a band growing up both personally and collectively.

The album Grow Into It is out from Big Scary Monsters on 28th September and they are on tour supporting Speedy Ortiz throughout October.

My thanks to One Beat PR for the audio link opportunity to review.

Wednesday, 19 September 2018

NFL 2018 - Week 3 Preview

By the end of Week 2 there are some events becoming more set in stone; this occurs because teams maintain a week 1 performance level or they have a drop off because they may be on the road or suffering from home debut nerves. Other people maintain performance and still we are surprised - those that we are surprised by are Ryan Fitzpatrick and Patrick Mahomes; Mahomes has started his career with three road games and three road wins.

On Sunday in Pittsburgh, he showed no nerves as he threw for 6 touchdowns and no turnovers as the Chiefs gained their second win of the season; they are tied with the Broncos who defeated the Raiders at home. The Chiefs are in better shape and more impressive as they opened on the road while Denver have had the comfort of Mile High.

Cleveland still cannot catch a break; they lose by three points in New Orleans with new field goal kicker missing two extra points and two field goals. A team that cannot win, will always find a new way to lose.

Jacksonville are not going away and neither is Blake Bortles - he shouldered responsibility with Leonard Fournette hamstrung - throwing for four touchdowns as the Patriots questionable defence cost them again. Early days in the season but the Pats are behind the Dolphins for East supremacy but no shame in losing to a genuine contender in the AFC but may count come playoffs and home field advantage.

Week 3 Preview
Thursday Night
New York Jets (1-1) at Cleveland Browns (0-1-1)
A team that conspires its own downfall play a team that came back down to earth. Tyrod Taylor again played badly but he will probably get the start due to quick turnaround, while Sam Darnold threw for over 300 yards but two interceptions proved costly as the early scores came from costly turnovers. Miami did not have do much to gain the victory. The Jets may have a few more weapons but can the Browns get it together, we hope.
Prediction: Browns by 2

New Orleans Saints (1-1) at Atlanta Falcons (1-1)
The NFC South is going to be the toughest division this year, three good teams anyway but one team exceeding expectation. The Saints got over the line versus Cleveland though they the reliance on Kamara is proving them to be one-dimensional. The Falcons bounced back at home to Carolina, and they are a different beast in the Mercedes-Benz stadium seemingly. The Falcons have a greater balance on both sides while the Saints look for an answer before Ingram returns.
Prediction: Falcons by 7

San Francisco 49ers (1-1) at Kansas City Chiefs (2-0)
The Chiefs finally get home to Arrowhead and the atmosphere will be electric, the 49ers will be buoyant after their first victory of the season however they are going up against a rampant KC offense led by the lights out Patrick Mahomes who had six touchdowns and no turnovers on the day in Pittsburgh. The defence is giving up numbers though so it will again be a 60 point game probably, but does JimmyG have the firepower to contend with Tyreek Hill and company.
Prediction: Chiefs by 10

Oakland Raiders (0-2) at Miami Dolphins (2-0)
The Dolphins have quietly gone under the radar gaining two wins to lead the division, and they face the woeful Raiders at home who have to travel from coast to coast. Although they showed improvement and lost only by one point, you feel the chance was gone and this will be a tough trip for them. Miami though have an efficiency and force turnovers that result in points; facing a mistake prone Oakland side that could be a match made in heaven.
Prediction: Dolphins by 3

Buffalo Bills (0-2) at Minnesota Vikings (1-0-1)
The Vikings have a lot going for them, but for a questionable roughing the passer call they may have lost to Green Bay; while the Bills were again abysmal versus the Chargers. Josh Allen is starting for Buffalo and he showed promise but he has no talent outside and if LeSean McCoy cannot get running room there is little chance for productivity. The Vikings defence will be too strong for the Bills
Prediction: Vikings by 9

Indianapolis Colts (1-1) at Philadelphia Eagles (1-1)
Andrew Luck is an inspiring figure gaining his first win since his return usurping Alex Smith and the Washington franchise who stutter despite the good efforts of Chris Thompson. The Eagles meanwhile, got thrashed by the Bucs and Fitzpatrick who showed up their questionable secondary. The Colts have one great receiver and the Eagles did well against one great WR such as Julio Jones, the problem was against a squadron of WR. The Eagles may have Carson Wentz back which would be interesting to see, and they may have enough.
Prediction: Eagles by 6

Green Bay Packers (1-1-0) at Washington Redskins (1-1)
The Packers have Aaron Rodgers who is nursing himself through a knee injury, this may be the toughest game to pick as the Packers have a questionable secondary which Washington may exploit. Alex Smith has the skills to manage this game, while the Packers still need to find their offensive identity despite having a great quarterback.
Prediction: Washington by 3

Cincinnati Bengals (2-0) at Carolina Panthers (1-1)
This should be a great contest, the Bengals came out firing against the Ravens and shot out to a huge lead that they never gave up. The Panthers will be licking their wounds after losing in Atlanta, but McCaffrey got a huge amount of yardage and can Carolina get to Dalton enough to force mistakes.
Prediction: Panthers by 4

Tennessee Titans (1-1) at Jacksonville Jaguars (2-0)
The Jaguars are for real, despite the injury to Leonard Fournette, Blake Bortles had the keys to the cars and drove through New England with reckless abandon, Keenan Cole had a huge day with great runs supplemented by Ryan Grant. Bortles was able to find receivers open anywhere on the field. The Titans got a good game out of Blaine Gabbert but can imagine Sacksonville having a field day here.
Prediction: Jaguars by 7

Denver Broncos (2-0) at Baltimore Ravens (1-1)
Another good even contest, the Ravens will be in need of a reaction following the woeful submission to the Bengals on Thursday night. The Broncos rode their luck at home to Oakland but they have a perfect record. Again though the big travel across country may count against them, the Ravens though face a formidable defensive line while Keenum has shown great poise under duress. A field goal to split them here.
Prediction: Ravens by 3

New York Giants (0-2) at Houston Texans (0-2)
One team will get a win, unless we have our third consecutive tie, and for all the promise and talent on display in the Big Apple there is a real worry that the Giants may be looking at a terrible September; is Eli Manning just past it now? The Texans have a home game opener and they showed promise but need to find better protection for Deshaun Watson who nevertheless threw to both DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller for over 100 yards each. The Texans may have enough, while the Giants are merely treading water.
Prediction: Texans by 6

Los Angeles Chargers (1-1) at Los Angles Rams (2-0)
The Battle for LA - but the Rams are appearing to be the most complete team in the NFL, they brushed aside the Arizona Cardianls 34-0, Todd Gurley ripped them up and the defence swallowed up Sam Bradford. Goff is executing McVay's game plan with little fuss and you cannot see anything but a Rams victory here. The prediction may seem harsh but this due partly to Rivers prone to errors be it fumbles or interceptions.
Prediction: Rams by 10

Chicago Bears (1-1) at Arizona Cardinals (0-2)
This Bears defence is frightening, they looked good admittedly against a poor O-line of Seattle which necessitated to Russell Wilson having kittens; yet it is Trubizky doing enough when required either with passes or on his feet. There is a nice balance in Chicago which may come to greater fruition, and this defence against a weak Cardinals side may eat up more sacks again on the road.
Prediction: Bears by 6

Dallas Cowboys (1-1) at Seattle Seahawks (0-2)
A few seasons ago this would have been a prime time fixture, now it is two franchises in a state of flux and flabbergast. A one-dimensional Dallas side reliant upon a running back due to the lack of receivers against a Seahawks side who still have defenders to make plays. Can Seattle get to Dak enough, does Dallas have enough pressure to force Russell to get out of his comfort zone with Doug Baldwin still sidelined. Feel the Seahawks will sneak this one in an ugly contest.
Prediction: Seahawks by 3

New England Patriots (1-1) at Detroit Lions (0-2)
The Patriots have a questionable defence, they leave receivers wide open and cannot get pressure up front on third downs to force mistakes from the relevant quarterback; they face a good quarterback with receivers but their old defensive co-ordinator Matt Patricia who has not had a good start to his head coaching career. The Patriots should have enough to overcome this defence and the importance of having match ups and fooling the Lions is key, would like to see more of James White.  The Patriots got outplayed and even Brady cannot overcome that defence and scoreline.
Prediction: Patriots by 7

Monday Night Football
Pittsburgh Steelers (0-1-1) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-0)
It is strange how schedulers are sometimes laughed at, and yet happen stance or good fortune results in hot properties getting their due attention. The Buccaneers have turned some heads with a road win in the opener in the Superdome followed by a defeat at home of the Superbowl champions, Philadelphia Eagles. Thanks in no small part to the resurgent Ryan Fitzpatrick, with 8 touchdowns in two games, but a defence that is swallowing up offensive lines. This is the last game of Jameis Winston's suspension, meaning the Bucs will have a huge decision to make. Fitzpatrick has made great start to seasons before and tailed off, but he gives a level of dependency you will not ordinarily get from Winston with fewer turnovers. Plus the explosive nature of three wide receivers gives them a match up nightmare for any defence, and facing a Steelers secondary that gives up big plays after big plays - can you see anything but the continuing Fitzmagic spell?
Prediction: Bucs by 8

Fantasy Advice
- Austin Ekeler (LAC, RB) - has to share workload with Melvin Gordon for carries but outrushed Gordon who was used more in screens, had 98 total yards on Sunday in Buffalo. Will aim to get a TD this week albeit against the stellar Rams defence.
- Philip Lindsay (DEN, RB) does all the hard work - 107 yards off 14 carries but Royce Freeman got the TD. On the road at Baltimore that may alter this week.
- Philip Richardson (WAS, WR) - 63 yards off of four targets, they are at home to Green Bay and their questionable secondary. Ample opportunity there for big numbers.

Thursday, 13 September 2018

Spirit of the Beehive 'hypnic jerks'

The Spirit of the Beehive release their third album, second with Tiny Engines label, and it is an album that is part dream and part consciousness - a piece of work that is at times blissful but angry.

Starting with odd audio samples, which drop in and out throughout the album, it gives the impression of an album that is very much of the now and the moment; but while the album lilts along with the electronica influence and dreamy soundscapes, the audio samples jolts you back to earth away from the synthesizers.

There are moments in this album that remind me of Kevin Shield's work with My Bloody Valentine and the Lost in Translation soundtrack which featured Shields, Air and Phoenix; that film felt very much as a dream for a fish out of water; this album is full of harmony and swooning.

Something came to mind when listening was that the electronica clashing with the guitars creating these moments of reverb made me think that this would be an album made by At the Drive-in if they had any semblance of romanticism or sentimentality.

There are moments though of beauty coupled with grim lyrics giving the impression of a fantasy dream pop, the subtext may be grim but on the exterior the album is light - such as 'd.o.u.b.l.e.u.r.o.n.g.' in contrast to the lighter 'fell asleep with a vision'; this juxtaposition much like Jim James' album Uniform Distortion this year the height of euphoria undercut by some sombre.

This is one of those albums that will be benefited by numerous listens to create a sonic soundscape which is unlikely anything you will likely hear this year.

As frontman of the quintet,  Zack Schwartz puts it, '(the album is) the state between wakefulness and sleep', and the band Spirit of the Beehive is awake loud and clear.

Another brilliant release from Tiny Engines, who I thank for the review opportunity and audio link.

hypnic jerks is released from Tiny Engines on 14th September


Directed by character actor John Carroll Lynch in his directorial debut, Lucky stars Harry Dean Stanton in the final role of his career before his death in late last year.

Lucky is a combative and cantankerous 90 year old atheist, who has out-smoked and out-lived his contemporaries and lives a happy life going from the coffee shop in the morning where he does his crossword to a bar at night where he listens to the same old stories.

'Lucky' is surrounded by equally memorable and quirky characters who admire his longevity; yet a brief fall leads Lucky on an unlikely journey of self-discovery and enlightenment towards self-exploration; these characters from David Lynch (in a rare acting role) and Tom Skerritt act like ghost of acting past from Stanton's career.

Carroll Lynch has worked with various luminaries of the cinema world from the Coen Brothers to Martin Scorsese to Clint Eastwood - and he embues the film with an unbusy camera, allowing the performer Stanton to be front and centre in an understated manner.

In another year, Stanton's performance would be lauded by awards and showered with praise on a farewell tour; however, his passing gives the film the polish it deserves as a film that stands as the lasting memory to his esteemed career.

Stanton's recognisable face acts like a blank canvas to which he exudes the story of a life lived to the full, its own special effect for which Carroll Lynch can craft a story worth telling, one lucky enough to stay with you thanks in no small part to the wonderous performance of Stanton.

Lucky is out from Eureka Entertainment on Friday 14th September at selected cinemas.

Wednesday, 12 September 2018

NFL 2018 - Week 2 Preview

It has been a while since I have done an NFL piece, but I enjoy writing these preview pieces and following the absolutely insane Week 1 this first draft takes place before the Monday Night Football double-header.

Week 1 was crazy, road teams doing the business. Some teams that promised mediocrity exceeded themselves and were even worse (Bills), while a team that has been mediocre did not lose (Browns).  Some things remain true - Aaron Rodgers is the best QB in the league, Tyreek Hill is the most dynamic player right now, Julio Jones still cannot find the end zone and Russell Wilson still runs like a headless chicken avoiding sacks.

It was a pleasant welcome back to Andrew Luck and David Johnson; and perhaps Patrick Mahomes is the real deal while maybe some quarterbacks are in regression like Matthew Stafford

Thursday Night
Baltimore Ravens (1-0) at Cincinnati Bengals (1-0)
Crazy that we have a TNF in Week 2, perhaps they should bring in short weeks after the first bye week but the NFL demands a product and this should be a good inter-division clash as both sides look to build on a first week win following the tie between Pittsburgh and Cleveland.  Bengals should be favoured at home but the Ravens defence looked particularly strong and Dalton is prone to errors and pressure. This is a game that will be won in the trenches. Fancy the Ravens in this one.
Prediction: Ravens by 4

Carolina Panthers (1-0) at Atlanta Falcons (0-1)
The Panthers beat the Cowboys in opening day but was not convincing, while the Falcons were not firing on all cylinders versus Philly.  Matt Ryan is at risk of becoming the new Big Ben in terms of being better at home than on the road, the over-reliance of Julio Jones came to the fore again and freezing in the red zone cost them; despite their defence being strong. That will be key for them versus the versatile Cam Newton.  Feel the Falcons will iron out those weaknesses in home opener.
Prediction: Falcons by 3

Indianapolis Colts (0-1) at Washington Redskins (1-0)
Andrew Luck is back but a mixture of bad talent and bad luck cost him a comeback victory, while Washington led by Alex Smith were very professional on the road to Arizona.  That is the difference here I feel, Smith will marshal his troops he has Adrian Peterson doing his best and a fit Jordan Reed coupled with a solid defence. Again Luck will have too much to do and will end up chasing the game.
Prediction: Washington by 7

Houston Texans (0-1) at Tennessee Titans (0-1)
It was always tough for Houston to go into Foxboro and beat the Patriots so no shame in that, while Tennessee again laid an egg when the Dolphins were there for the taking; but again bad play calling, bad play by Mariota who again got injured and they have lost Delanie Walker for the season.  Just when they get a chance to win they turned the ball over allowing Miami an unlikely win.  Two winless teams go head to head but you think the pass rush of Houston might overcome any trickery the Titans may have as they compensate for the injuries that have already started to mount up.
Prediction: Texans by 3

Philadelphia Eagles (1-0) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-0)
Due to the Bucs amazing performance in New Orleans, this is the game of the week which could be a high scoring affair. Ryan Fitzpatrick again silenced his critics with a near perfect game and the Eagles stumbled through their opener. The Eagles need to find a balance and give Foles a fluency until Wentz is fit to start and can the two headed monster of Bucs' WRs Jackson and Evans pay dividends again.
Prediction: Bucs by 6

Kansas City Chiefs (1-0) at Pittsburgh Steelers (0-0-1)
The Chiefs were very impressive against a stellar Chargers defence with Patrick Mahomes ripping up the scoreline as Hill had a huge day.  The Steelers were 14 points up in Cleveland yet conspired to tie and with Le'Veon Bell still holding out, they have a ready made replacement in James Connor but the three interceptions suffered by Big Ben will be a worry.
Prediction: Chiefs by 7

Miami Dolphins (1-0) at New York Jets (1-0)
This is not a game where you thought it would be between two winning sides, instead we have a game pairing a tenacious Dolphins side who are being underrated perhaps versus the next big thing in Sam Darnold who was excellent following his first pass being a pick Six. Darnold was helped by the expert running of Isaiah Crowell who had 102 yards and two touchdowns, Crowell and Bilal Powell will keep the pressure off of Darnold who will be called upon to throw accurately and not force the issue. The Jets may well be 2-0 come Sunday.
Prediction: Jets by 3

LA Chargers (0-1) at Buffalo Bills (0-1)
The Bills were abysmal versus the formidable Ravens defence garnering 153 total yards and giving up 369 to Baltimore. Josh Allen will most likely start following Nathan Peterman's dire first half yet Allen was only 6-15 for 74 yards. He has promise but he is going up against that defensive line. With Rivers throwing for fun - 424 yards against KC - you can imagine the Bills giving up 40 points again.
Prediction: Chargers by 9

Minnesota Vikings (1-0) at Green Bay Packers (1-0)
The storyline will be more about Aaron Rodgers health which again is paramount to the success of the Packers as Deshone Kizer was woeful when called upon, forcing Rodgers to lead a comeback from a 20 point deficit off of one leg. The Vikings were solid, not having turnovers and being professional and with Dalvin Cook in space gaining yardage with ball in hand or catching it will be key against a still questionable Packers defence.
Prediction: Vikings by 7

Cleveland Browns (0-0-1) at New Orleans Saints (0-1)
There is hope in Ohio, the Browns did not lose an opening game but they probably should have won but they maybe should have lost despite the play of Tyrod Taylor (15-40 for 150 yards) who outrushed their quarterback. The Saints were taken by surprise by the Bucs and being at home will help them but perhaps not having the one-two punch of Mark Ingram to complement Alvin Kamara is evident. The Saints should have enough though the Browns defence led by Myles Garrett is one to watch.
Prediction: Saints by 6

Detroit Lions (0-1) at San Francisco 49ers (0-1)
Following their woeful MNF performance where they suffered countless turnovers, giving up big plays on special teams and could not put pressure on Sam Darnold following his first interception - it could be a long season in the Motor City which has talent but no consistency. They now travel cross country to San Francisco to play Jimmy G, who showed promise and whose defence got better the longer they played in Minnesota, and have capable cornerbacks to nullify the wide receiver threat of Detroit.
Prediction: 49ers by 7

Arizona Cardinals (0-1) at LA Rams (1-0)
The Rams were not entirely convincing in their own MNF triumph against the Oakland Grudens benefiting from Raiders turnovers, the Cardinals themselves seem solid and have a game changer in David Johnson. However, you feel the Rams have more than enough to go two for two.
Prediction: Rams by 10

New England Patriots (1-0) at Jacksonville Jaguars (1-0)
A rematch of the AFC Championship sees the Patriots travel to Florida to face Blake Bortles. The Patriots did not set the world alight due to some bad turnovers which made the scoreline perhaps flatter Houston. Jacksonville's D-line ate up the Giants O-line which gave Eli Manning no protection so this will be a severe test for Brady.
Prediction: Jacksonville by 3

Oakland Raiders (0-1) at Denver Broncos (1-0)
The Broncos did a good job to upset the Seahawks, yet the Seahawks are going through a huge amount of transition in terms of personnel. The Broncos have a dominant D-line which will seek to chase Derek Carr and stop Beast Mode from exacting his power. Coupled with the lack of pressure the Raiders got on to Jared Goff, the consistently inconsistent Case Keenum (3 interceptions) may be the guy to marshal this offence with a plethora of running backs along with Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas outside.
Prediction: Broncos by 6

New York Giants (0-1) at Dallas Cowboys (0-1)
The eternal battle for NFC East bragging rights has been bypassed by the Philly special but the Giants have promise due to the debut of Saquon Barkley and this is a battle of running backs with Barkley versus Ezekiel Elliott, who will win out and which QB will find his receivers. Janoris Jenkins was stellar despite the defeat versus Jags, and the Giants do not fear Jerryworld.
Prediction: Giants by 3

Monday Night Football
Seattle Seahawks (0-1) at Chicago Bears (0-1)
Really NFL this is a Monday night football worthy game? Seattle travel across the country to Chicago to have Russell Wilson get eaten up by Khalil Mack who was dominant in the first half versus Green Bay. Chicago took their foot off the gas when up twenty points in Lambeau and this young side needs to make that step up and win a game.
Prediction: Bears by 7

Fantasy Football picks:
- Ryan Fitzpatrick (TB) might well keep the job in Tampa, coupled with Chris Godwin (TB) at home to Eagles
- Get on Darnold (NYJ) at home
- Courtland Sutton (DEN) - the slot option underneath had 45 yards off of 2 receptions and 5 targets
- Bears defence as Wilson cannot get protection;
- James Connor (PIT) so long as Bell is out of the game,
- Adam Thielen (MIN) will get a TD this week consistently gets big yardage but Diggs get dibs on TDs

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Monday, 3 September 2018

illuminati hotties 'Kiss Yr Frenemies'

From the esteemed indie label, Tiny Engines, this album from producer Sarah Tudzin, the album features a plethora of female talent that has enthused this album Kiss Yr Frenemies with a passion and energy that you rarely hear on albums.

Focusing on relationships, friendships, love and loss with the odd message of skateboarding; this album from the sunshine of California is of a sunny disposition but has an abundance of layers and subtext.

From the slow build of short album opener title track we crash into the jaunty '(You're Better) Than Ever' which is reminiscent of recent female stars Courtney Barrett and the band Goat Girl.  The illuminati hotties have a catchiness and hook to their work which is at times infectious.

This trend continues in Track 3 'Shape of My Hands' and then into single 'Cuff' there is the riffing guitars and the powerful vocal lead.

Other good tracks are 'Paying off the Happiness' and while the albums intensity does slow down come the end of the eleven tracks; the initial response to the album's beginning is a favourable one that will stay with you.

Following on from the Wild Pink album, Tiny Engines remains a label to keep an eye on; one of promise and potential married with the passion of young artists.