By Émer O’Toole and Tony Inglis
Here’s a rundown of the music released, films screening, shows playing, books read, events happening and stuff going on that we think is worth talking about this week.
Haim – Something to Tell You
A lot has changed in the four years since the Haim sisters released their debut Days Are Gone. An indie sensibility merged with mainstream pop is not only rife but, arguably, at its creative peak, especially with the recent release of Lorde’s exquisitely emphatic Melodrama. Early reviews suggest the siblings’ follow-up, Something to Tell You, isn’t quite the indie pop gem its predecessor was. Danielle, Este and Alana’s shtick doesn’t seem to draw the same goodwill it did as they rampaged round the festival circuit displaying their not insignificant musicianship and prowess. And if the tunes are gone instead of the days, it won’t be any surprise if their sophomore record is forgotten – or at least remembered as a drop in the ocean in a year filled with wonderful music. TI
We have already spoken about the T in the Park sized boots the newly established TRNSMT festival, kicking off at Glasgow Green today, has to fill. No matter how much we protest, this is Scotland’s flagship music festival now, and how it goes down this weekend will shed light on what we can expect from here on. T in the Park, whilst retaining some of its historic prestige, had become a dark shadow of its former self in its dying years. To witness a depleted crowd in front of one of the 21st century’s greatest acts, LCD Soundsystem, on their comeback leaves a bitter taste in the mouth.
On first look, TRNSMT seems to be righting those wrongs with an opening day that includes experimental rock behemoths Radiohead as well as hometown troupe Belle and Sebastian. They will be ably supported by London Grammar who, while not to my taste, straddle the line between the alternative and the mainstream to please those who likely only have day tickets to see Radiohead, and the punters out to get drunk in a park.
Sadly, from then on, quality and diversity take a massive tumble into the abyss. Saturday’s hellish lad rock wankfest that runs from Cabbage, fresh off sexual assault allegations during a support slot, through The Kooks (who knew they were still around), to Kasabian who have grown into the epitome of beer swilling, rocket-enticing boredom-mongering. Thank god for Stormzy, in amongst it all, flying the flag for talent and anything that isn’t white men with guitars putting people to sleep.
The Sunday is as safe as it comes for a festival line-up. It’s sad that Biffy Clyro will likely lead a triumphant final day sing-a-long now, fresh off releasing their worst and most boring album to date. When you look at the successes of mainland European festivals, Glasgow deserves better. TI
Song to Song
Song to Song is the new film by Terence Malick, once hailed a visionary and an auteur, set around the Austin music scene, and starring swathes of talent – Michael Fassbender, Cate Blanchett, Ryan Gosling, Natalie Portman, Rooney Mara, and musician after musician of high repute. This sounds like heaven but, in fact, Song to Song has generated a great deal of trepidation. Malick’s reputation as something of a hermit director, coming out of hiding to direct a masterpiece every so often, has given way to a prolificacy that hasn’t exactly borne riches. His recent work has stretched from profound to naval-gazing to insufferable. It remains to be seen what part of the spectrum this movie will fall on, but it’s worth seeing on the players alone. TI
This Restless House, Citizen’s Theatre — Glasgow and Edinburgh International festival
Zinnie Harris’ drama based on the epic Greek trilogy The Oresteia is back after premiering in the Citz last year. Directed by Dominic Hill, the adaptation of Aeschylus’s 2500-year-old drama includes beautiful music by Nikola Kodjabashia performed live on stage by the cast and composer. The production won Best New Play at the Critic’s Award’s for Theatre in Scotland and Harris’ update turns the plot into a modern family soap opera without losing any of the Gothic drama of the original text. This Restless House is at the Citizen’s Theatre in Glasgow until September 9 and Edinburgh International Festival from August 22-27 for a limited run of six performances. EO
Dead Cat Bounce, Kevin Scott
Two very different brothers are forced to put their disagreements aside in the hunt for the stolen coffin of their dead brother, Nicky, in Glasgow writer Kevin Scott’s debut novel. Eldest brother Matt’s quest to find £20,000 in 26 hours to get the coffin back results in a darkly comedic tale of two cities: one of the corporate banking world of London and the other of a the politics of gangs in Glasgow. EO