Sunday, March 23, 2008

Sound and vision

I forgot to mention that I got the camera that I have been after for a while, the Nikon D40. I had been mucking around with my Fuji for a year or 2, to see if I could actually take a photo. I am satisfied that I can now, and combining that with a £250 spring offer price-tag, I went for it. This is my first experience of an SLR camera, and I'm completely blown away. I have fallen in love with it, in particular the amazingly versatile lens that comes with the kit: it has an awesome ability to focus really, really close to things. For a depth-of-field freak like me, this is good news, and has allowed me to take this kind of picture (which I never could before):

Talking of Spring, it has been snowing here on-and-off all weekend, which is a good thing. In the UK, we always have one last blast of Winter before the sun comes back. This Easter-time chill means that, in the next couple of weeks, the heat and light will be in evidence. Hopefully this summer is better than last year's damp squib.

Anyway, to the topic of the post (although the rambling on the camera could count as vision).

This week saw the release of an early contender for album of the year. A concept album about the Delorean car by an indie-dance crossover does not sound too promising, but Stainless Style by Neon Neon is a stunner. Songwriting and much of the vocals come from Gruff Rhys of the Super Furry Animals (an awesome pop-rock group who have been strangely underrated for ages) and tunes comes from electro/hip-hop producer Boom Bip. Spank Rock, Fat Lip, and Har Mar Superstar (in full-on Prince mode) lend a hand. The 80s seem to have come back into fashion as an influence in a big way, and this album is as brazen as it gets. Imagine Depeche Mode-style electro with shimmering production values and a Welsh accent, and you're almost there. I love a bit of electro-pop, and this album (in particular Raquel and Dream Cars) is almost as good as it gets. As a superstar-crossover type album, this is better, and much more consistent, than either of the Gorillaz albums. This album is well worth a listen, and it is going to take something really special if there is to be a better album this year.

On the vision side, this week's cinema trip managed to reverse the post-Blood slide. The Spiderwick Chronicles is a straight-up no-nonsense children's fantasy film. It is well-made, well-acted, has nicely-drawn characters and just the right balance of laughs and thrills. Freddie Highmore (of the awesome Tim Burton Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) does a good job playing both of a pair of twins, albeit with an American accent that seemed a bit weird on him. This film stuck to what it needed to do, did it well, and as a consequence was twice the film that either Vantage Point or 10,000BC were.

Now it's time to get ready for the last episode of Lost before the mid-season break, and it's sure to be a good 'un.


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