Radiohead release videos for “Burn The Witch” and “Daydreaming”

Radiohead have this week unleashed two brand new music videos for the lead singles from their new album, which will be released on Sunday night at 8pm GMT.

The first single arrived on Tuesday afternoon and was immediately available to download. Titled “Burn The Witch”, it carries with it an urgent orchestral riff that crescendos into an electronic beast of a tune. Whilst this was hailed as a new direction by their manager Brian Message, the classical music influence is hardly surprising – guitarist Johnny Greenwood has been moonlighting as composer-in-residence for the BBC Concert Orchestra for some years and has also tried his hand at several film soundtracks, collaborating on the last three Paul Thomas Anderson films (There Will Be Blood, The Master and Inherent Vice).

You can watch the video below. It’s a bizarre cross between 190s stop-motion children’s cartoon Trumpton and 1973 horror film The Wicker Man, and it’s utterly brilliant.

The second video, released earlier today, is for a track called “Daydreaming”. This is a piano-driven track full of ambience and subtlety that would be at home on Kid A. The video has a cinematic quality to it, following singer Thom Yorke through various residencies and buildings before seeing him climb a snow-covered hill, into a hollow and falling asleep next to a fire as the tune collapses around itself.

You can watch “Daydreaming” here:

What do these songs say about the album? Well, they don’t sound like a drastic departure away from the sorts of sounds we’ve heard Radiohead produce before. Certainly they haven’t stood still, but both Kid A and Amnesiac are brought to mind with the material heard thus far, with heavy influences from Greenwood’s mature concert orchestra brain.

If they wanted to whet our appetite, they’ve certainly succeeded.

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Film review – Joy (David O’Russell, 2016)

Of all the stories of all the people that have ever existed on this planet, perhaps one of the last you’d think to turn into a film would be that of Joy Mangano, inventor and telesales presenter. It’s not that she’s unremarkable or boring, but she is far from a controversial character. What she does encompass, however, is both a traditional tale of the American dream and a figurehead for strong-minded women that have ever felt oppressed in work or at home.

If you’re wondering what Joy Mangano looks like in real life, there’s a popular video below of her selling her first major breakthrough invention: The Miracle Mop. From then on she became a self-made millionaire, invented many more successful products and created a business empire.

It has to be said that whilst she may be a household name across the USA, the rest of the world remains unaware of her background. Or at least they did. That was until the film Joy came along. Starring Jennifer Lawrence in the title role alongside the likes of Robert De Niro, Isabella Rossellini and Bradley Cooper, the film reveals the journey she went on to get to where she is today – from divorced mother-of-two working for Eastern Airlines right up to her first business successes.

The first forty-ish minutes of the film try really hard to give us a potted history of the causes of Joy’s personality traits, actions and outlook. It usually works on a scene-by-scene basis but the pacing causes issues and seems to lack direction until Joy herself finds a focus in her life.

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From this point on the film has hit its stride and she breaks free from the oppression and the doubters. There are moments of humour (which surely explains the Comedy Golden Globe nomination, no?), edge-of-the-seat excitement (her first sell on QVC springs to mind) and fist-pumping success (I recall here a scene near the end set in a California hotel room). This is all driven by a remarkable performance by Jennifer Lawrence, reminding the world again that she isn’t just the girl from The Hunger Games but rather a girl with acting talent far beyond her years.

So whilst this film has its merits, the scatter-gunned first act and lack of consistency mean it won’t go down as one of the great films of the year, though Lawrence’s performance is worth the ticket money.

Joy is on general release globally now.

 

 

 

 

The Walking Dead: The Game – Season One (Telltale Games, 2012)

One way to further your total immersion into the Walking Dead universe is to take on the emotionally-tiring episodic video game series from Telltale Games. Be warned: do not attempt if you have a history of heart conditions.

Whilst most modern games push for bigger and better graphics, more epic explosions, larger guns and loud noises, this take on the interactive adventure genre instead induces panic by forcing the player to make incredibly tough decisions in a snapshot of time without much prior warning.

The action takes place in the events immediately after the outbreak of the apocalypse in the same Atlanta locations as the early parts of the comic and TV series. You take control of convicted murderer Lee Everett, a character we are yet to meet in any other canonical Walking Dead media, as he comes to terms with the loss of his family, whilst trying to keep himself and young girl Clementine alive.

The character Clementine is the masterstroke of the game, giving it an emotional edge seldom seen in video games. The decisions made aren’t on the level of which zombie to kill first to keep us alive, but rather how can Lee earn the trust of Clementine to make sure she sides with him and can be kept safe. In this way, whilst there are always choices to be made, there is a tendency to take the moral high-ground and sensible options to ensure the right impression is made at all times.

Decision, decisions.

Decision, decisions.

This is easier said than done. Often the prompt to make a decision flashes on the screen and a button input must be made immediately. There may be four options displayed but there is always the fifth option available too: doing nothing at all often leads to the worst outcome. Mild panic ensues each time the decision prompt appears – a great way to keep players on edge.

There are some nice touches, with several familiar characters appearing to help Lee and Clementine on their early missions. Hershel, his son Shawn and Glenn appear, though these are the only ones seen in the first game.

The game was released as an episodic series in 2012 in five parts, with the 400 Days DLC released soon after. As a result, each episode is left on a slight cliffhanger, a nice touch that makes it necessary to go back for the next part (much like the comic and television series).

Stylistically, it stands on its own away from the designs of the comics and the TV series. Yet, somehow it inhabits both worlds. This is testament to both the design team and the guidance offered by the fully realised world of the source material.

As an immersive experience, The Walking Dead: The Game – Season One is one of the most accomplished video games this genre has ever seen. If you’ve completed it, you can always check out Season Two and the upcoming Michonne DLC, due in December.

The Walking Dead: The Game – Season One is available to purchase as a Game of the Year Edition, featuring all episodes and DLC, now.