Reviews

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Mac DeMarco - Salad Days

23 Apr 20144 stars

New-found smoothness to 80s and 90s college rock sound from young Canadian songwriter

Mac DeMarco is only 23 years old, but already he is world-weary. His second full-length album, Salad Days, sees the Canadian songwriter eschewing the weirdness of previous releases, like 2012’s 2, for something approaching wisdom, complete with…

Damon Albarn - Everyday Robots

23 Apr 20144 stars

Debut solo album of understatement and maturity that never completely leaves low gear

It’s taken him more than two decades in the music industry to arrive at his debut solo album, which leads us to the rather strange experience of hearing sometime Blur frontman Damon Albarn’s new release being trailed with terms like ‘long-awaited’, as…

Oneohtrix Point Never - Confessions I

23 Apr 20144 stars

Dreamy, intoxicating and cleansing compilation of electronic experimentalism

Daniel Lopatin, under his Oneohtrix Point Never guise, has long since wandered off into the conceptual, compositional undergrowth where you are fêted almost no matter what you do because, hey, you’re pushing sonic boundaries, ‘challenging’ listeners…

Of Spire and Throne - Toll of the Wound

23 Apr 20144 stars

Expertly crafted and highly satisfying slab o’ sludge from Edinburgh doom trio

Following last year’s split release with Groningen sludgelords Ortega, Edinburgh-spawned doom trio Of Spire and Throne return with a limited edition EP on cassette, CD and black or red vinyl. With bleak cover art and a tracklist that promises three…

Gabriel Kuri: All probability resolves into form

23 Apr 20143 stars

Kuri's Glasgow International survivalist sculpture show puts a political twist on hard theory

In case of emergency, natural disaster, nuclear fallout or biblical engulfment, Mexican artist Gabriel Kuri is probably a very good man to have on your side. By stocking up on blankets, fire extinguishers, boxes of matches, bottles of water and assorted…

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188th RSA Annual Exhibition: Focus on Film

23 Apr 20144 stars

An expansive and essential Scottish film art showcase, featuring Rachel Maclean and Peter Capaldi

Perhaps the biggest criticism that can be levelled at this year’s Royal Scottish Academy annual members’ exhibition is that there’s almost too much to soak up. Between the vast submission-based selection upstairs and the curated rooms downstairs, there…

Bigert and Bergström: The Weather War

23 Apr 20143 stars

The Swedish duo explore man's attempts to control the weather

Man’s attempt to control the weather is the focus of this exhibition by the Swedish artists Bigert and Bergström. The installation’s focus is a film, which serves as both a walk through the history of the weather and contemporary methods of weather…

Alex Frost: Reproduction

23 Apr 20143 stars

Astute, creative comment on the commodification of human reproduction, part of Glasgow International

The birth rate in Britain has leapt 18% in the last decade. That means, in statistical terms, we’re in the midst of a baby boom. Alex Frost uses this as a playful stepping-off point to explore issues of reproduction, human and artistic, in his solo show…

Ibibio Sound Machine - Ibibio Sound Machine

23 Apr 20143 stars

London-based eight-piece combining dancefloor production Nigerian highlife, afrobeat and gospel

Given Soundway’s excellent track record in reissuing vintage African funk and psychedelia, it’s fitting that they’re now showcasing acts who are updating those sounds for the 21st century. London-based eight-piece Ibibio Sound Machine’s name is a…

Pigfoot - 21st Century Acid Trad

23 Apr 20144 stars

Modernist take on trad from British quartet featuring Liam Noble, Paul Clarvis and Chris Batchelor

This debut from British quartet Pigfoot is a witty and affectionate détournement of the 1920s and 30s New Orleans and Chicago jazz favoured by the trad jazzers who, pre-rock 'n roll, energised the youth of post-war Britain. Trad jazzers have often been…

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Ai Aso - Lone

23 Apr 20144 stars

Warm and inviting live set of psychedelic pop hypnosis

A gorgeous set of psychedelic pop hypnosis from Ai Aso, Lone sees her strip back the psych-rock of previous collaborations with lynchpins of the Japanese underground like Michio Kurihara of Ghost, and Wata and Michio from Boris, to focus on the core…

John Burnside - I Put a Spell on You

22 Apr 20144 stars

The writer's latest is a semi-memoir that partially explores the theory behind the practice

Probably by commercial necessity John Burnside’s I Put a Spell on You is being promoted as a memoir, the missing link between his earlier volumes A Lie About My Father and Waking Up in Toytown, but it is a far stranger and more haunting book than those…

BJ Novak - One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories

22 Apr 20144 stars

An impressive debut collection from the writer/producer/star of America's The Office

It's tempting to approach One More Thing as an attempt to cash in on BJ Novak's celebrity status. After all, how many writers get their own photograph on the cover of their debut book – a short story collection, no less. Novak, best known as Ryan from…

Jordan Wolfson

22 Apr 20143 stars

An exhibition of high-end corporate ad-land stylings and provocative animations, as part of GI 2014

It’s the soft-core gloss that sucks you in first in ‘Raspberry Poser’, the 14-minute billboard-size video projection that forms the heart of Jordan Wolfson’s life-and-death fusion of high-end corporate ad-land stylings and provocative animations. A…

Warren United

22 Apr 20143 stars

Johnny Vegas, Darren Boyd and Morwenna Banks voice ITV4's hit-and-miss cartoon football comedy

The big pitch for this new animated sitcom about football and family from Baby Cow is that it’s here just in time for the Champions League Semi-Finals and Brazil World Cup. My guess is that people looking forward to those particular events won’t need a…

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Simon Wroe - Chop Chop

22 Apr 20144 stars

An authentic and gradually sinister look at life in a busy kitchen

Told from the perspective of a novice commis chef, known only to us as 'monocle', Chop Chop exposes the closed world of the restaurant kitchen. An English lit graduate with literary aspirations, Monocle is an outsider in the hard-working, masculine…

Neil Williamson - The Moon King

22 Apr 20144 stars

A lunar-fixated fable with quality storytelling and a rich setting

The moon can lend magic to any story, and in this one writer Neil Williamson has literally tethered it to his island city of Glassholm. In this land the months are marked by its wax and wane, and the effect on the citizenry is a sort of mass-bipolar…

Anne Donovan - Gone Are The Leaves

22 Apr 20143 stars

A lyrical and poetic historical novel from the author of Buddha Da

Set in the castle of a Scottish laird and his French wife, Anne Donovan's third novel tracks the fate of two young people in the gentry's employment: Deirdre, apprentice to her seamstress mother; and Feilamort, an orphaned choir boy. With their…

Leo Hollis - Cities Are Good For You

22 Apr 20143 stars

A heavyweight but accessible account of the evolution of the city

Over 150 cities come under the academic microscope of Leo Hollis in his heavyweight account of the evolution of the city. The 400-page work is largely accessible however thanks to Hollis inserting narrative drive to each of the sections, which serve as…

Blue Ruin

21 Apr 20144 stars

Backwoods thriller mixing Gothic melancholia with artfully foreshadowed bursts of violent action

A big hit of the festival circuit, writer/director Jeremy Saulnier’s backwoods drama is a twisty thriller that sits somewhere in the jet-black hinterland between Winter’s Bone and the less showy Coen brothers films like Blood Simple or Fargo. The…

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Tracks

21 Apr 20143 stars

Blends the hallucinogenic beauty and horror of the desert

Australian cinema has frequently explored the lure of the outback, from 1970s classics like Picnic At Hanging Rock, Walkabout and the just re-released Wake In Fright to more recent films like The Proposition and Wolf Creek. Now, director John Curran…

The Wind Rises

21 Apr 20144 stars

An engaging, deeply moving and mature Studio Ghibli film that exudes intelligence and compassion

Studio Ghibli founder Hayao Miyazaki has taken a few curtain calls in the past; if his final film is to be The Wind Rises, then he’ll be going out at the very top of his game. A beautifully animated study of Japanese aircraft designer Jiro Horikoshi…

Frank

21 Apr 20144 stars

Frank Sidebottom's story of musical chaos and mental instability is both hilarious and moving

Hiding Michael Fassbender's striking mug inside a papier-mâché Frank Sidebottom head for potentially an entire movie might seem like a crime against handsomeness. Instead, it's the appealing centre of the fourth feature from versatile Irish director…

Pompeii

21 Apr 20143 stars

Essential bad-movie fan viewing from Paul WS Anderson, with ill-judged performances and CGI chaos

Following up on his 2012 version of The Three Musketeers, which fancifully adorned Dumas’ classic tale with exploding airships, critically reviled director Paul WS Anderson turns his attention to volcanic action with Pompeii. The results are as…

Before the Winter Chill

21 Apr 20142 stars

Kristin Scott Thomas in domestic drama which awkwardly meshes family crisis with thriller elements

Writer/director Philippe Claudel enjoyed a successful collaboration with Kristin Scott Thomas in I've Loved You So Long, and they re-team for this domestic drama, in which a family crisis is somewhat awkwardly meshed with thriller elements. Scott Thomas…