James Dean goes to Hell

Dirty Beaches – Badlands When we talk of escapism, is it the desire to be somewhere else, or to be someone else? To show the world through a stranger’s lens – in all its distortions, fears and curiosities – is the goal of many a film-maker. The fact that Alex Zhang Hungtai’s “movies” don’t have […]

Medication and companionship

The Beach Boys – Friends The sadness within The Beach Boys doesn’t smother their joy – it justifies it. After their beloved leader Brian Wilson experienced a now-legendary mental breakdown, the band pulled together to pick up the pieces. The result was some of the least self-conscious music made by a well-known band. Being born […]

Sunshine in negative

Stars of the Lid – The Ballasted Orchestra Not so much soaring above canyons as sinking into them, The Ballasted Orchestra is an intoxicating brew of searing daylight and jet-black shadows. The low drones have a tectonic rumble about them, but they’re never abrasive. They fill the room like a thick dry heat, folding the […]