Sam Smith, James Bond and the benefits of a hit theme song

Sam Smith - Writing's on the Wall, single (960x540)The James Bond series’ legacy casts a long shadow. And we felt that shadow last Friday when Sam Smith’s theme song, ‘Writing’s on the Wall’, for the forthcoming 007 film, Spectre, premiered on BBC Radio 1, and instantly garnered responses of delight and derision from listeners.

No modern James Bond film has appeared without a babble of disagreement over its accompanying theme song. Though some, including Sir Roger Moore, have praised Smith’s song, others have labelled it “bland”, “excruciatingly wimpy”, and suggested it “doesn’t seem to fit the possible theme of the film”.

Whether Smith’s (over)emotional outpouring makes it to number one or not, a hit theme song can do wonders for the life of a film, and the singer who performs it. Continue reading

Replay: Ridge Racer (PSP)

Ridge Racer (PSP), Namco, asset 03 (1280x720)Publisher: Namco  Developer: Namco  Format: PSP  Release: 2004, 2005 (US, EU)

When it launched alongside Sony’s first handheld game system in December 2004, Ridge Racer for PSP was a game out of its time. It was Namco’s attempt to recreate the technological leap that the series had signalled a decade earlier on the original PlayStation. It was also the Japanese development team’s chance to push against the current in the globalised racing market and reclaim its relevance. And it was a proposal that simple, neatly executed ideas were the ones that would work best on Sony’s powerful handheld. Continue reading

Jam of the Week: Laetitia Sadier – Dry Fruit

Laetitia Sadier - Dry Fruit single (600x338)French songstress, Laetitia Sadier, makes music that seems to be intrinsically anti-commercial. Here second solo album, Silencio, confronted politics and power, asking whether we are really better off under constant surveillance, and whether our leaders truly have our best interests in mind. Art-house philosophising of this kind is frequently shirked, but that doesn’t stop it being important – and it helps that Sadier delivers her oral treatise with melodic aplomb. Continue reading

Jam of the Week: Lyla Foy – Right to Be

Lyla Foy press photo 02, UMi, 2015 (1600x900)The music of Lyla Foy is imbued with the sense that this performer makes no action that hasn’t been carefully considered. Any unnecessary notes and lyrics are discarded, and what’s left is a well-practiced serenity. She’s soon to release a new EP, titled UMi (an abbreviation of the constellation, Ursa Minor, or the Little Bear). The sedate sound of ‘Right to Be’ is strong harbinger of things to come from the patient London songwriter. Continue reading

Choice Cuts: Danger Doom – The Mouse and the Mask

Lex Records, 2005Danger Doom - The Mouse and the Mask (800x450)Danger Doom’s album is high-wire fun that’d be an offence to anyone who takes themselves too seriously. So you can bet it’d go down well with smiley Liam Gallagher and today’s hardline extremists, right?

A collaboration between enigmatic super-producer, Danger Mouse, and equally reclusive masked rapper, MF Doom, The Mouse and the Mask is a marvel of audacious jams and masterful short stories, spliced with animated skits and more humour than a Hanna-Barbera classic. Continue reading

Jam of the Week: Kahlia Bakosi – Small Print (ft. Mumblez Black Ink)

Kahlia Bakosi - Small Print single (500x281)Kahlia Bakosi is revealing her talent like the slow unfurling of flower petals. Sounding like she’s perpetually on an emotional cliff edge, her honeyed vocals are tinged with projection approaching the big-ticket bombast of a Dawn Richard. She caught my ear some months ago with a track called, ‘Fire’. Continue reading

Jam of the Week: Jr Thomas & the Volcanos – More Than Memories

Jr Thomas & the Volcanos - Beware (500x281)With 2015’s Notting Hill Carnival still fresh in our memories, this week’s jam is a placid dub tune that spurs the gentle hip-swaying of couples on the dance floor. It’s ‘More Than Memories’ by Jr Thomas & the Volcanos. This songwriter, who hails from Minneapolis, USA, writes reggae and soul influenced music in a similar wheelhouse to The Skints. His upcoming debut album, Beware, was recorded at the Volcano Lounge in Los Angeles, and is out later this month on Truth & Soul Records. Continue reading