In House: This week's home entertainment hot list
All you need to know for the week ahead.
World Peace is None of Your Business
In an alternate universe, Morrissey would have made an interesting choice as Deco Cuffe in The Commitments. If only for that scene in the bus station when asked by Jimmy Rabbitte if there was "anything worth eating", to which came the reply, "It's all poxy". But then, mistrust and often loathing of the world around him is nothing new to Morrissey.
The trick now, 30-odd years into his recording career, is finding a new way to couch it. And it's a trick that's eluding him. As with Meat Is Murder, his vegetarianism comes into play, using it as a prime means to remove himself from what he sees as being the typical man.
And for one of the most gifted pop lyricists, things have gotten very "moon in June". .
In Neal Cassady Drops Dead we have "little fella" followed by "rubella". Then there's the "Gaga in Malaga, no mercy in Murcia" of The Bullfighter Dies. The political order (the title track), war (Istanbul) and marriage (Kick The Bride Down The Aisle) are all speared.
Despite its flaws, I'm reminded of the RandyNewman line, "He may be a fool but he's our fool". He's a grouchy aul divil, but would we want him to change now? A new, more- deft-of-touch band mightn't go astray, however.
The Divine Comedy
Victory For The Comic Muse
Victory For The Comic Muse was perhaps a surprise winner of the 2006 Choice Music Prize. Not that folk really questioned its quality. I suppose it's more a case that by this, Neil Hannon's talents were kind of taken for granted. Also, there's the erroneous theory that such awards are usually hoovered up by young upstarts.
Victory . . . cherry-picks from the best elements of The Divine Comedy oeuvre that had gone before. And with the cover of The Associates' Party Fears Two, the most obvious nod at that which had influenced it.
Victory . . . opens with a tale of male teenage desperation to cast off the yoke of virginity, funnelled through the stomp of Mr Blue Sky. Many of the album's characters sound as if they've just emerged from a stay in Wes Anderson's Grand Budapest Hotel, particularly in Count Grassi's Passage Over Piedmont and the special Lady of a Certain Age.
The latter, a tale of a once well-heeled, well-connected socialite whose light has become dimmed by the passage of time.
Not only the album's most memorable track, I dare say it's one of the best songs this island has produced during our pop history.
At a glance
With Busy Earnin', they've already released one of the most vital singles of the year and now – as Todd Terje put it – it's album time.
Jungle is a record that attempts to wriggle free of defining by genre. Too wonky to be pure soul, too organic to be EDM, too soulful to be indie.
The one underpinning element is groove, whether on Time or Accelerate.
Jungle settles somewhere between sounding like a heat-warped cassette of Off The Wall and Disclosure's more chilled brothers. Its off-kilter synths, and treated beats make it one of 2014's more interesting debuts.
. . . in which the pairing of Rebecca Taylor and Charles Watson become proper grown-ups.
The first thing that leaps from this album, as opposed to their previous two efforts, is its soulfulness.
From the slinky, Curtis Mayfield-esque falsettos of Tears of Joy to the shimmying Motown beat of Suffering You, Suffering Me.
Unfortunately, not an examination of time-stopping 90's CBBC show, The Queens Nose – as well as Not Mine To Love – are barroom laments reminiscent of Cat Power.
But the album's standouts are the solo trades of Watson's Paraguay & Panama, and especially Taylor's heart-wrenching Dependable People . . .
Spotify party playlist with nialler9
Everyone knows one of the best times to listen to music is when you're getting ready to go out. So with that in mind, here are 10 tracks released this year that will fit into any going out playlist.
Never mind a night out, this horn-laden soulful song from the UK band heralds in a season, a year and a state of mind all at once.
For her latest album Food, the Cordon Bleu-trained chef cooked up some tasty funky soul music.
With producers like Terje leading the space-disco charge, Norway has become one of the leading lights of modern dancefloor electronica rather than just a place to see the Northern Lights.
Seasons (Waiting On You)
There's nothing like a bit of chest-thumping musical theatrics to get you pumped up.
The Swedish electro-poppers released their most succinct dancefloor song yet this year.
Classic stomping piano-pop that harks back to a night out before you were born.
The late-night funkateers have made a career out of suave 80s throwback electro-pop and this Toro Y Moi-featuring recent single from their album White Women is no exception.
Disclosure feat. Mary J Blige
F For You
Take one of the greatest R&B singers alive and smash her into a big garage-house tune from the English brothers and there's enough energy left over to power Clonmel for a week.
Ireland's finest electro band released a real muscle-flexer this year. Do it now, discover how.
Royksopp and Robyn
Do It Again
Norway has the last say with the amazeballs dancing and singing pop star Robyn teaming up with her fellow countrymen for an electrified dance jam.
By Ben Keenan
MONSTER HUNTER FREEDOM UNITE
iOS: €13.99, App Store
A port of the original release on Sony's PSP in 2008, Monster Hunter is an action RPG from the Japanese school of game design. The graphics are punchy and the gameplay is tight and well-designed, but it is very repetitive. There is a point at which the repetitive grinding becomes compelling, appealing to the anal retentive completist deep down, but it doesn't take long to come full circle.
The controls are also quite fiddly and often annoying and unresponsive. The game provides support for physical controllers, which apparently work quite well, but in the likely event you don't own one, this may be one to avoid.
CIVILIZATION REVOLUTION 2
iOS: €13.99, App Store
Based on the critically acclaimed (and hugely successful) turn-based Civilization series for PC and Mac, the first Revolution game released on consoles and mobile platforms in 2008 was an interesting achievement at the time. Nobody had tried to condense such a complex game about exploration and strategy to mobile before, and while they did an admirable job, the effort seems quaint by today's sophisticated standards.
This latest iteration is much more graphically ambitious, and brings some new depth to the simplified format, while keeping the playtime for an empire-building campaign prudently short; around an hour in our experience. Also worth noting is the commendable decision to avoid free-to-play mechanics, striving instead to be worth the once-off asking price.
THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL (15A)
With nested flashbacks and voiceovers on voiceovers, the plot of The Grand Budapest Hotel isn't short on artifice or narrative devices, but that melts away once you fall in love with the characters and craft. The film isn't just shot nicely, it's a beautiful work of production design, writing and performance featuring exquisite costumes and great turns from the immense cast (Ralph Fiennes, Jeff Goldblum, Saoirse Ronan and many more).
The sometimes chilly Anderson has always had a penchant for the wacky and drily zany, but he manages to thread the needle here, creating a film that is lovingly cinematic, brimming with heart and true to his offbeat style. HHHHH
THE LEGO MOVIE (G)
Nobody expected much from a film about plastic bricks; as blatant product tie-ins go, it sounded as promising as Battleship! but five minutes into this blocky story, filled with cool cameos and fun quips, it dawns on you that you've had a big smile on your face since the start and that feeling doesn't wear off until long after the movie has ended. Made with a mixture of CGI and real lego, the action sequences are frankly astonishing, well-paced and peppered with a quick wit we haven't seen since Pixar.
It isn't perfect – things get a little baggy around the start of the final act – but the razor-sharp humour keeps you giggling right up to and after the credits have rolled on the surprising ending. HHHHH
First published in INSIDER Magazine, exclusive to Thursday's Irish Independent