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Page: 1
by Régis Hautière
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £14.26

5.0 out of 5 stars An unexpected tale of love, loss, despair and maybe just a little hope, 8 July 2013
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This review is from: Abelard (Hardcover)
Abelard is quite simply one of the most moving things I've read, be it graphic novel or otherwise. In terms of graphic novels, it ranks up there with Daytripper and Swallow of Me Whole as astoundingly brilliant pieces of literature that get you right in the heart and stay with you long after you've read them.

Abelard is the simple tale of young man (a little chick but please don't let the anthropomorphic nature of this put you off) who seems to want something a little more from life and is curious about the world. He soon falls in love with a beautiful creature and decides that to woo her, he must gather for her stars from the sky, rather than just plain old flowers. Not being able to reach the stars via a ladder, he hears that in America they have flying machines and since he'd already wished to travel beyond his immediate surroundings, he embarks on a quest to America to get some stars.

It's safe to say Abelard is somewhat naive and he seems to be in total awe of the world around him but the real heart of the story is when he meets the cynical, world weary Gaston. After an initial reluctance from Gaston, they embark on a journey together. It's at times funny, sad, heartwarming, tragic yet ultimately hopeful. That last one really depends on your point of view though but I have no doubt that if you're a fan of the graphic novels I mentioned at the top of my review, then you'll be profoundly moved by Abelard.

Even if you haven't heard of the aforementioned graphic novels, then I'd implore you to give Abelard your time and money. The artwork is truly beautiful and although somewhat child-like, this isn't really meant for young kids.

I don't want to say to much more but to perhaps quote The National;

'All the very best of us string ourselves up for love'.

I feel it's an apposite quote in relation to the book and sums up a little about how I felt after reading it. Also, I really love The National.

Abelard is about the fantastical notions of love fading to reveal something much more profound, something much more grounded in reality but equally as potent. Do yourself a favour and buy this wonderful book.

Community - Season 2 [DVD]
Community - Season 2 [DVD]
Dvd ~ Joel McHale
Price: £10.50

5.0 out of 5 stars Best Show on TV, 27 May 2013
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This review is from: Community - Season 2 [DVD] (DVD)
Community Seasons 1-3 are simply the best episodes of smart TV comedy that you'll find. Just buy this already if you've seen seasons 1 and 2. Season 3 Community may just be the best season of tv out there.

Price: £11.91

5.0 out of 5 stars Surprisingly brilliant, 27 May 2013
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This review is from: Hummingbird (Audio CD)
I came to Local Natives knowing little or nothing about them however I'd heard that Aaron Dessner of The National had produced the record and I was instantly intrigued as I'm a huge fan of The National. Also, Aaron Dessner had previously produced the little heard but uniformly excellent 'The Conformist' by Doveman.

So, what to say about Local Natives? Quite simply, they're not really like The National as the tunes are much more summery sounding but they do share that dense instrumentation that The National are so good at and much like Boxer or the recent Trouble Will Find Me, Hummingbird really does warrant repeated listens and it's a surprisingly hopeful album although death and heartbreak feature quite heavily.

If you're a fan of The Antlers or The National, then there should be something about Hummingbird that appeals to you. Gorgeous melodies and beautiful vocals make this an essential purchase and one of the best albums of 2013 along with Trouble Will Find Me and Pedestrian Verse. Give 'Breakers' or 'Heavy Feet' a whirl and you should know if this album is for you.

Lil Depressed Boy Volume 1: She is Staggering TP (Lil'l Depressed Boy)
Lil Depressed Boy Volume 1: She is Staggering TP (Lil'l Depressed Boy)
by S. Steven Struble
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.64

3.0 out of 5 stars Wasn't bowled over but have heard it gets better, 27 May 2013
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I personally thought this was just ok and I'm not exactly sure I'm the demographic for this sort of graphic novel either. This was recommended by a friend who was extremely vocal about how good this is. Upon his recommendation, I picked it up but it just didn't grab me.There are some cute and funny moments and there's a particularly funny Street Fighter reference but it didn't amount to a whole lot for me.

The artwork is fine but nothing approaching Nate Powell levels of excellence. And there lies my bias. The sort of graphic novels I tend to read are by the likes of Nate Powell, BKV, Marjane Satrapi and Gabriel Bá and Fábio Moon. If those names look familiar and you like them, then perhaps Lil Depressed Boy isn't for you.

I have heard it gets better though as the series progresses and if you like your a graphic novels with an emo tinge, then Lil Depressed Boy could be right up your alley.

Pedestrian Verse [Deluxe Edition]
Pedestrian Verse [Deluxe Edition]
Price: £15.18

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best Frightened Rabbit album to date?, 2 Mar 2013
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It's hard to put my finger on exactly why but this is quite possibly Frightened Rabbit's finest release to date. Lyrically, they've moved up a level from 'The Winter of Mixed Drinks'. In fact there's lyrical gems to be found in every song. Gems on a par with, quite possibly the best band around at the minute, The National.

'So if we can't bring an exorcist/I'll settle for one of your stiffest drinks' from 'Dead now' is typical of Scott Hutchison's dark sense of humour. It's not all bleak though and despite the fact that it doesn't retain the reborn again optimism of 'The Winter of Mixed Drinks', there's an optimistic streak running throughout 'Pedestrian Verse'.

When the Talking Head's inspired 'Dead Now' reaches it's climax, the chorus of 'There's something wrong with me' doesn't sound self-pitying but something triumphant along the lines of The National's 'Abel'

Sonically too, they're stretching themselves further and they've found a wonderful collaborator and producer in Leo Abrahams, a frequent partner of Brian Eno these days. He adds a spritely sense of urgency to some of the songs whilst lending deft sonic touches to some of the mid tempo songs recalling some of Brian Eno's best production work.

Rather inevitably, people who are fans of FR will ask if this is better than 'The Midnight Organ Fight'. I can't answer that at this point as 'TMOF' means an awful lot to a lot of people, including me. I think it just might be though.

One thing is for sure, Frightened Rabbit are in a league of their own and I'd be hard pressed to compare them to any other band out there at the minute. They're able to create anthemic songs without sacrificing integrity or sincerity - A lot like The National to be honest and certainly Scott Hutchison gives Matt Berninger a run for his money in the lyrics department. Sonically and tonally, there's not a lot of comparison. Hutchison's 'voice like a gutter in a toxic storm' certainly sets the two bands apart.

'There is light but there’s a tunnel to crawl through
There is love but its misery loves you
There’s still hope so I think we’ll be fine
In these disastrous times
Disastrous times'

Frightened Rabbit have moved up to a bigger label and thank God, they've not lost their bite. They're still biting and tearing away at life without losing that wonderful sense of realism,humility and hope that makes them totally unique. I love this band and I love this album.

Swallow Me Whole
Swallow Me Whole
by Nate Powell
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £12.90

5.0 out of 5 stars A haunting tale of growing up, being different and finding some meaning in it all, 30 Jun 2012
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This review is from: Swallow Me Whole (Hardcover)
I rarely leave reviews for these things but this book moved me so much and left me thinking about it for days afterwards. It's hard to pin down exactly why this book is so good. The art work is sublime and it stays in your head long after you put the book down. The story too is told with a slow and considered pace that ultimately builds to a beautiful, haunting and melancholy final act. But there's something more going on in this book and I can't quite express it in words. It's a stunning piece of work.

The dialogue is sparse but when it's there, it's hugely impactful and particularly in the final act, there's little dialogue. In fact, the very last piece of dialogue in the book is used to such devastating effect, I don't know whether or not it's hopeful or sad. You'll remember it though.

The final act is possibly the most moving I've ever come across in any sort of book, graphic novel or otherwise. It could be read as being highly ambiguous but you really know what's going on if you've been paying attention. You care so much about the two main characters that you really do want them to find peace and to find a way of living life as full as they can whilst conquering their demons.

I don't want to say too much more except that Swallow Me Whole is up there with Daytripper and Persepolis as one of the best graphic novels I've read. It's probably one of the best novels I've read full stop. I also liked that the ending is left totally up to the reader. You get to decide what you want to take away from this. This is an important book and not just for showing people with mental health issues but also how hard it can be just growing up and that the desire to be understood and accepted is a universal one that we can all relate to.

Lars And The Real Girl [DVD]
Lars And The Real Girl [DVD]
Dvd ~ Ryan Gosling
Price: £5.84

5.0 out of 5 stars A sweet-natured film that isn't syrupy, 29 Oct 2011
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This review is from: Lars And The Real Girl [DVD] (DVD)
This is a real gem of a film that, despite it's ridiculous premise, is all about tolerance and acceptance. Ryan Gosling really makes this film as his performance is believable, funny and tragic all in the same frame. A really remarkable performance from him and he's provided with some great supporting performances lending this a great deal of authenticity. It's essentially a fairy-tale, albeit a strange one, and it also essentially shows the better side of human nature too. You could say that that isn't very realistic but then you'd probably be a cynic. In other hands, this could have been a dark film but it's message of perseverance, tolerance and acceptance of what is usually accepted as weird is not only refreshing but uplifting. It's a quiet film but it's quietly brilliant.

I can't really compare it to any other films as it is pretty unique in subject matter but any fans of Ryan Gosling should really check this out. For anyone else, this is one of those hidden gems that sadly go past most cinemas. Films like this, Persepolis, Blue Valentine (another great Gosling film), Linha De Passe, Waltz With Bashir... all great films that deserve a larger audience.

The Squid and the Whale (Screenplay)
The Squid and the Whale (Screenplay)
by Noah Baumbach
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully written script to a superb mini-epic..., 3 Aug 2011
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For anyone who is interested in screen-writing and who loves the work of Wes Anderson and Noah Baumbach, this is an essential purchase.

It's a beautifully written script with some excellent additional notes. Watch the film first and then see how brilliantly realised the script is. Great for screenwriters but it's easily one of my favourite films of all time along with 'Superbad', 'City of God', 'Heat' , 'The Departed' and 'The Life Aquatic'.

Price: £7.28

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sublime late night listening..., 3 Aug 2011
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This review is from: Boxer (Audio CD)
If you're a fan of The National already, you know you are in for a real treat for the ears. This isn't soul music but it's music for the soul. A much more meditative album than 'Alligator' or 'High Violet' but no less rewarding. It's lyrically intricate but hugely satisfying. A sample line from 'Mistaken for Strangers' goes 'Well you wouldn't want an angel watching over you. Surprise, surprise they wouldn't want to watch'. Pretty ace.

The real proof is in the opening track, 'Fake Empire', which builds to a beautiful horn fanfare crescendo and it's easily the best song that they have in their songbook. They paint a beautiful picture and if you're in any doubt, just listen to 'Fake Empire' and you should be sold. Although not my favourite album by The National (that honour would go to 'Alligator'), it's one of their most rewarding that give repeated listens that extra sparkle.

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