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Music Review: Crossing State Lines by Bryyn

Year: 2011
Genre: Singer/Songwriter, Indie Folk, Shoegaze, Acoustic, Country
Similar Artists: [Jamendo: Michael Ellis, Nicolas Falcon, The Grus, Azwell and  WhiteRoom], [Other: Tally Hall, Midlake, Grand Hallway and The Autumn Defense]
Online: Official Website, Jamendo, Facebook, Twitter
Tracks:

  1. Giraffe
  2. All My Life
  3. Dubai
  4. End of the Age
  5. Coffee in Tokyo
  6. Interlude
  7. Salvador
  8. Got it Done
  9. Abba Ingee
  10. Love Song
  11. Tunisia

Crossing State Lines is 2011 album release of prolific singer-songwriter Bryyn. It is an Indie Folk album that delivers eleven well-crafted tracks that have a whimsical edge to them. My initial reaction when I heard the album was that it reminded me of Tally Hall. If you don’t know who Tally Hall is, then I recommend that you guys check out his music as well. In any case, I was pretty happy with the albums as a whole.

Do I have any favourite tracks? If I had to chose it would be the fifth track, Coffee in Tokyo. This would be followed up closely by the sixth track which is a short instrumental piece entitled Interlude. I find myself listening to those two tracks more frequently than other tracks on the album. Coffee in Tokyo has a wonderful retro appeal reminiscent of Midlake whilst Interlude brings to mind music by The Grus without vocals.

In conclusion, this album is a pure joy to listen to. If you are looking for a contemporary or easy listening soundtrack for your creative projects then I highly recommend Crossing State Lines. If you decide to check out the album, then be sure to check out the rest of Bryyn’s catalogue as well as that of the similar artists listed at the top of this post. I am sure that you’ll find something that you’ll enjoy in there.

Have other Jamendo artists that you want me to check out? Be sure to let me know in the comments sections or by dropping me a line via the contact page.

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Sunday Playlist 02/18/2018

This week’s playlist theme is “New Beginnings”. Whether it be sea changes, tree changes or changes in mindset, we’ve all gone through a change at some point in our lives. Whether good or bad, large or minuscule, change is the one constant in our lives. Sometimes, change is forced upon us by circumstance. We are forced to adapt in order to survive but these changes also offer up new possibilities that would otherwise remain unavailable. This playlist attempts to evoke the idea of positive change, change as a chance to become a better version of ourselves and find happiness.

  1. Himitsu, Village by the Sea by Vitne from Endless Blue (album) [NOR]
  2. On the Rise by The Green Duck [FRA]
  3. Let’s Get Out by The Moose from Scandinavian Sound (album) [SEW]
  4. Walking Shoes by Slim from Interstate Medicine (album) [USA]
  5. Evoke by Killo-gram from Evoke (album) [UKR]
  6. Fresh Start by Anitek from Anitek Instrumentals Vol.1 (album) [USA]
  7. Empty Streets by Omonoko from Animals (album) [GBR]
  8. Two Kids by The DLX [USA]
  9. Portasoul by State Shirt from Lost Hills (album) [USA]
  10. I Shall Cross This River by The Black Atlantic from Reverence for Fallen Trees (album) [NLD]

You can find the playlist here.


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Video of the Week #024

Given my renewed focus on the writing process, I’ve started devouring more material on the subject. YT videos, books, blog posts, articles, etc… are all a part of the process of getting into the mindset of creating fiction and blogging. In this VotW, writer Chris Fox discusses how he improves his focus in order to get more writing done. If you know of any other videos on the subject, feel free to share in the comments section.


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TV Review: Please Love the Useless Me

Year: 2016
Episode: 10 episodes. JDrama series adapted from a Josei manga series (English sub version)
Other Names: Dame na Watashi ni Koishite Kudasai
Online: Wikipedia (Re: Manga)MyDramaListAsianWikiIMDB
Genre: Romantic Comedy, Slice of Life, Drama

Yes, I know that it has taken me close to a year to finish this series. A lot has happened over this time. I’m not saying that it was aliens… but it might have been aliens. 😉 Anyway, I watched the last two episodes this morning and felt compelled to post my thoughts on the series.

Michiko Shibata (Kyoko Fukada) is a 30-year-old unmarried virgin that is heavily in debt due to some poor choices. When her former boss Kurosawa Ayumu (Dean Fujioka), comes to the rescue with a room to stay in and a part-time job at his new restaurant, Michiko is forced to reevaluate her life. In the process, she makes a bunch of new friends, adopts a cat, and must come to terms with her feelings towards Kurosawa. Also, she has to deal with her fascination with meat.

This series is a live-action adaptation of a manga series that I read several months prior to watching the show. It can be easily described as a romantic comedy but is a lot more than that. I won’t go into such silliness as “it is a way of life” or other such nonsense, but the series leaves a lasting impression long after you’ve finished an episode or read a chapter of the manga. It is a warm and fuzzy feeling that you get when you recall a pleasant memory or spend quality time with a loved one.
The casting was excellent. Fukada and Fujioka were spot-on for the roles of Michiko and Kurosawa. They were backed up by a host of other talented actors and actresses, such as Ono Takehiko as Koida Kazuo, Suzuki Takayuki as Terui “Teruii” Manabu and Nonami Maho as Ikushima Akira. Director Hayato Kawai had a lot of talent to draw from during the filming of the series, with the cast of veterans having a fun script to work with.
To characterisation, I liked each character. Sure, each has their flaws, but these flaws also add to their charm and often contribute meaningfully to the story. It isn’t very often that I can say that. In Please Love the Useless Me, characters aren’t demonized or made to be villains just so that we would root for one of the characters. Being a “love rival” doesn’t necessarily make your competition a bad person. And sometimes a character creates their own problems by making poor choices such as not being sceptical of what another person is saying. This approach worked for me.
Whilst there were noticeable changes in the live-action version, these changes were meaningful and managed to hold true to what made the manga a compelling and entertaining read.  One character that appeared in the manga is deceased, creating some interesting opportunities for storytelling which were taken advantage of. Whilst I initially thought that this change was for the sake of brevity, it offered something meaningful to the story. Whilst some changes were actually for the sake of brevity, they still held true to the spirit of the manga, making this one of the better live-action adaptations that I’ve come across in recent years.

Whilst there is likely to be a few things that I missed out on during this review, I have to say that it is one of the best Asian drama series that I’ve seen to date. I haven’t completed Goblin yet but I am guessing that the two series will be on par as far as entertainment value is concerned. In any case, I recommend this series to anyone with a love of romantic comedy and slice of life stories.

Have recommendations for other series? Feel free to drop me a line via the contact page or by commenting. I look forward to hearing from you guys.

 


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TV Review: Altered Carbon

Year: 2018
Episodes: 10
Genre: Science Fiction, Cyberpunk

Altered Carbon is a NetFlix adaptation of a Richard K. Morgan book. I’ve never read the book but I am a fan of science fiction and cyberpunk. I was also unfamiliar with the premise as well but I usually give any science fiction series a run.

Centuries into the future, a technology is invented that allows memories to be collected via an implant (stack) effectively making human beings immortal. Nefarious figures have consolidated power over the centuries since. The settled worlds have become predatory and corrupt.
The story follows Takeshi Kovacs, a man that has been brought back after centuries. He was a member of a rebellion that sought to destroy what they deemed to be the corrupting influence of stack technology. In a new body (sleeve) he is given the task of looking into the apparent murder of one of the wealthiest people on the settled worlds, Laurens Bancroft.

Whilst I really liked the theme and premise of this story, it manages to fall flat on numerous occasions. Little things, such as police security and procedure, tended to try to disrupt continuity. The producers seemingly tried to distract from these weaknesses in plot and technical considerations by throwing nudity at the audience. I suppose that boobs and male genitalia might work for some audience but it isn’t a great way to tell a story.
I also have issues with the likeability of the characters. There is a lack of redeeming features in the majority, making it difficult to care for their plight. In my personal opinion, sentient hotel Poe and Hacker Ava Elliot are clearly the most likeable. It is just a pity that they weren’t main characters. There was a morality argument in the story as well, but this did not hold up very well given that the supposed good guys are often as bad as the bad guys.
I wasn’t overly impressed with the acting either but this seems to be more of an issue with direction rather than the skill of the cast. An example is veteran James Purefoy who plays Laurens Bancroft. Unfortunately for these talented actors and actresses, they had to contend with characters that lacked depth. It often feels as if many of the cast were heavily constrained by their roles.
What the show did have was decent world-building. Solid design, CG and special effects backed this up, giving it the feeling of a living and breathing world setting. If all you are looking for is an awesome cyberpunk setting to look at, Altered Carbon delivers.

In conclusion, the world-building and effects make up for some of the weaknesses in characterisation, plot and technical considerations. However, it wasn’t enough for me to enjoy the series. It was a let down because it offered so much promise. It is also an indication of the declining quality of NetFlix shows of late.

If any of you guys have seen the show, I’d be interested in reading what you thought of it.


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World of Keiko 2018-02-13

It has been a long week. After grandpa’s passing, we had several days of pleasant weather. Then came stinking hot days along the east coast. Some relatives in Brisbane had their own complaints about the heat. I found numerous dead frogs, leading to a sinking feeling. I suppose that the frogs aren’t dealing with the weather very well either.
The duck and the bush turkey made a few appearances after not being seen for weeks. The duo brought a smile to my face, as did some finches that were nomming on grass seeds in the yard mid-week. Hubby’s pseudo-vendetta against the bush turkey continues. He makes out that he dislikes the bird but I know that he kind of digs having the silly bird visit on occasion.
In the early hours of today, we had a power outage listed on the Ergon website as “fallen trees”. Thank goodness for generator power, as it was another hot day today. The outage occurred around 2 a.m. and finished around twelve hours later but felt longer than what it was. At least it finished a few hours earlier than the 4 p.m. estimated fix time because there was likely a few other people in the area that were also put out by the outage. At least we could tether our phones for internet during the outage.

There isn’t much to add on the writing front. I was heavily distracted all week and in some sense distracted myself with things such as conversations on Twitter in order to not think about Grandpa. That led to an unproductive week overall.

After playing a lot of FFXIV over the past few weeks and finally getting our FC house last week, I decided to take a break from gaming over the past few days. It will likely be another week before I get to the Stormblood storyline as I’ve decided to focus on some other content in the meantime.

That is it for this week’s update. Thanks again to older subscribers to this blog and a big shout-out to some recent newcomers. I leave you guys with the following lyric video by Caleb Hawley:


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Music Review: Comets by Falling Blind

Year: 2010
Genre: Rock, Hard Rock, Indie Rock
Similar Artists: Breaking Benjamin, Atris, Tool, Dead Letter Circus, Icarus Crash (Spanish rock group)
Online: OfficialJamendo, Facebook
Tracks:

  1. The Intent
  2. Complex Story
  3. Cupid Kills
  4. Comets
  5. Modest Opinion
  6. Reason

I’ve listened to a lot of reviews over the years. However, it isn’t very often that I get around to reviewing artists that regularly visit Australia. In the case of Falling Blind, they do the rounds at various music festivals up the coast. However, it wasn’t until last year that I got around to listening to their music. It was well worth the listen.

Comets is a six-track release that gives the sense of a musical drama. Not in the same style as Muse, mind you, but the songs feel connected by a central storyline. Unlike a few bands that have attempted this, Falling Blind succeeds in delivering something meaningful. Of course, this does mean that the songs are best played in order to get the most out of Comets.

Do I have any favourite songs? Whilst I love each song on this album, I find myself listening to Cupid Kills more often than other tracks. The song has flawless changes of pace that make it an epic love song that would be an awesome wedding song.

In conclusion, I absolutely love this album. It has become a regular listen and something that always manages to bring a smile to my face. I recommend it to fans of rock and for writers looking for an epic, action-packed rock soundtrack. Suggested Genres? Urban Fantasy (low magic) Action, Post-Apocalyptic Action Adventure, Martial Arts Action, Mecha Action Drama, Industrial-themed Science Fiction – to name the ones that immediately spring to mind. If you give the album a listen and like what you hear, be sure to tell others about it.