Archive for the ‘Sophia Augusta’ Category



freegalNot only am I a librarian, I’m also a patron of libraries (we currently use four!).  I’m also a huge advocate of library usage.  Everyone knows you can get free books at the library.  And many people know (but many people don’t) that you can get free CDs and DVDs from the library.  Well, I’m advocating a new service that many libraries have implemented (both the library where I worked and my local library have it).

It’s called Freegal and it allows you to download (and keep) three songs a week.  The selection is quite impressive, as they have made agreements with 10,000 record labels.  That’s 10,000 LABELS, not artists, so huge numbers of songs are available. I did a few random searches and was delighted by how much was there.

Even their genre divisions are impressive.  Just check out this sample selection from the B’s: BeBop Big Band Black Metal Bluegrass Blues Bolero Bollywood Brasil Soul Brazilian Breakbeat BritPop Broadway.

So check out to see if your library subscribes.   You get three free songs every Monday morning!  Not bad for the price of a free library card.

[READ: July 3, 3011] Five Dials Number 27B

I haven’t posted about a Five Dials in a couple of issues, primarily because I find writing about anthologies is very time consuming (I have recently read three McSweeney’s which I haven’t had the time to edit together into posts).  The good news is that I have only missed two issues, but I know that at least one of them is pretty large.  I was a little bummed to see another new one already, but then I saw that this issue was not only short, it was full of poetry.  And, since this is my poetry month, why not end the month with a little more poetry.

I enjoyed the offputting cartoon on the cover of this issue which is creepy and funny at the same time.  (Illustrations are by Sophia Augusta, Hannah Bagshaw, Kyle Platts, Tom Rees and Joe Prendergast.  I assume Augusta did the cover).

There was no letter from the editor or any of the usual suspects in this issue.  Rather this issue opens with a Letter from the Poetry Editor.  It is shaped like a poem but isn’t one.

SAM BUCHAN-WATTS-On Parenting Poems
Mentioning a 1954 parenting guide (from Elizabeth Longfellow), Buchan-Watts says that they asked eight young poets to choose a chapter heading from Longfellow’s book Points for Parents, and to make a poem starting from that title.

And it’s now that I admit that these poems have set me back terribly in my appreciation of poetry which I have been nurturing all month.  If ever there was a collection of seemingly random words, it is these. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: GUSTER-Easy Wonderful (2010).

This Guster album is confusing.  It’s rather short (compared to their other discs).  Combined with the (kind of flimsy) cardboard packaging, it feels almost like an EP.  It also seems to be kind of religious (although I don’t think it is)–like a themed EP.  And yet it isn’t off-putting or anything (a few mentions of Jesus is all, although that’s a lot more than usual).

But, like most of Guster’s releases, it’s super catchy kind of alternative jangly pop.  After one or two listens the songs are instantly recognizable.  There isn’t a bad song in the bunch.  However, they’re also mildly underwhelming compared to their previous releases.  The songs feel a bit more subtle, but really it seems like they might be just a little too smooth.  The dynamics aren’t quite as exciting as they have been.

Having said all that, the disc is still pretty great and I find myself humming a lot of these songs all day long.

[READ: June 18, 2011] Five Dials Number 12

Five Dials Number 12 has a theme explicitly stated on the cover.  The premise of the theme is that the Conservative Party of Britain had been claiming (in their TV ads and billboards) that Britain was broken.  This idea was relentlessly pushed across Britain.  And Five Dials wondered if people thought that that was true in general.  So they asked 42 citizens (no idea what kind of random sample it may have been, realistically) and they recorded the results.

The rest of the issue has some of the standard Five Dials material we’ve come to expect: essays and fiction, advice and lists.  The theme gives an interesting tone to the proceedings.

CRAIG TAYLOR-A Letter from the Editor: On Broken Britain and Nick Dewar
Taylor addresses much of what is said above.  David Cameron (I still can’t get used to him being Prime Minister, it’s still Gordon Brown in my head–I guess Cameron hasn’t done much yet) is the man who keeps trying to “mend our broken society.”  Even though (and statistics are similar in the U.S.):

They found that violent crime had almost halved since 1995, while crime generally fell by an extraordinary 45%. The figures for teenage pregnancies – a favourite of those talking about social decay – remain constant since Labour came to power in 1997; so too do those for teenage abortions.

The rest of the letter is devoted to the passing of Nick Dewar.  Dewar drew the illustrations for Five Dials Number One.  I really liked Dewar’s style, and his absurdist sensibilities.  Taylor says that Dewar’s color work was even better.  And I think he’s right. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: TINDERSTICKS-Claire Denis Film Scores 1996-2009 [CST077] (2011).

Constellation Records just released a 5 disc box set of Tindersticks movie scores.  Fans of the band will know the soundtracks for Nenette et Boni and Trouble Every Day which were released years ago.  Those are included here, along with four other soundtracks (on 3 discs).  The entire set includes Nenette et Boni (1996) White Material (2009), 35 rhum (2008), Trouble Every Day (2001) and two solo soundtracks: Stuart Staples’ score for L’intrus (2004) and Dickon Hinchliffe’s score for Vendredi Soir (2002).

As with most Constellation releases, this one is packaged beautifully.  The box is lovely with an opening for the top cover to show though. Each disc gets a cardboard sleeve with a cool still from the film.  And the booklet that accompanies the set is bilingual with lots and lots of still from the films and a cool interview with Denis and members of the band.

I have never seen any of Denis’ films.  So I was confused that some of these scores were only half an hour.  I thought maybe they were short films.  But indeed they are not.  35 Shots of Rum is 100 minutes for instance, even if the soundtrack is a third of that.

I’m going to review each score shortly, but since I’ve already discussed Nenette et Boni and Trouble Every Day, I’ll just put links to them.  In the meantime, the scores are really beautiful and moving.  Tindersticks are a very cinematic band to begin with, so it’s no surprise that they would make good soundtracks.

And the booklet is really interesting, showing how the band was introudced to Denis in the first place.  She loved the music of ‘My Sister’ and asked if she could use it for a film.  They said, well, maybe we can make a soundtrack for you instead.  And they began working together.  The combination proved so successful that they have scored virtually all of her movies since.  I really must get around to watching them some day.

In the meantime, I can just imagine what they are like from the music.

Here’s the opening credits for Trouble Every Day

[READ: June 24, 2011] Five Dials: Your Valentine’s Day Card

This Five Dials special issue doesn’t appear on the Five Dials home page.  I only found it while reading their news feed.  It’s not an issue per se.  Indeed, all that this valentine’s card is is one poem from Joe Dunthorne, and a cool cover illustration from Sophia Augusta. (more…)

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