Our favorite things this week include "Gravity," Chvrches and Neneh Cherry.
A World Without Trolls?: One of my favorite thing about Chvrches, beside its wonderfully satisfying debut The Bones of What You Believe, is the group's focus on staying human. The three Glaswegians do all of their press together, resisting media instinct to blow up lone female member Lauren Mayberry as the shining star. They also manage their own social media accounts. It's a brave undertaking, but the personal touches on Chvrches' different social networks do make a difference. Surely the weirdly spelled electronic act didn't expect to get tangled up in the darker sides of the Internet.
Yet Mayberry, music-journaslist-turned-vocalist, indicated that this inevitable clash occurred last week when she published an op-ed at The Guardian addressing particularly depraved messages directed toward her from male fans on various social media. Summarizing Mayberry's point would take away from her personal perspective, so I won't do that here. Her argument is free of political affiliation, free of association with any movement or talking point. It's an honest plea from a human being to fellow human beings. Mayberry's call is for empathy. Hopefully, she and bandmates Iain Cook and Martin Doherty aren't too knocked down by Internet nastiness. Their effort to stay down to Earth is more than just good for their online brand. It's another important reminder in the Internet age that the artists and celebrities we scrutinize are just another face behind a computer screen. (Brian Sibile)
The Sound of Space: Already, critics are citing Alfonso Cuaron’s Gravity, as one of, if not the, best movies of the year. I’ve not only jumped on that bandwagon, I’m DJing in shotgun. Although there are plenty of exciting films on the Oscar season horizon, it’s been a long time since I’ve been so viscerally uncomfortable (in the best of ways) while watching a film. Part sci-fi thriller, part drama, the movie fuses the best of space flicks (particularly the early Alien franchise and 2001: A Space Odyssey) into an adrenaline driven, lost in space adventure that leaves the audience breathlessly cringing. I was particularly attracted to the at times eerie, at times dooming, interstellar musical score by Steven Price. While it seems that a movie about being in space might be most realistic without music, Price’s composition in Gravity works, building fear and suspicion of looming disasters, then calming sweaty audience members with cool, introspective melodies. Essentially, Price proves that space is more fun with a soundtrack. (Will Halnon)
I'm amused by all the American safety warnings on Jamie Oliver's 15 Minute Meals, reminding viewers to do nothing Oliver is seen doing. More than wanting to cook meals in 15 minutes, the show makes me want to hear Neneh Cherry's "Buffalo Stance," which serves as its theme song and bumper music. The song holds up pretty well despite keyboard sounds and drum programming that mire it in the '90s.
Part of its ability to remain engaging is that I still don't understand the chorus despite hearing every word. I assume in its day, "buffalo stance" and "the dive" meant something in the Bristol hip-hop community Cherry belonged to, but they haven't made it across time and the pond, and that privacy gives the song an enduring mystery. It's also a reminder of the road not taken by hip-hop, revealing how it developed in England free from the cult of hardness. It deals with outlaw life like American rap, but without guns, the guy's a pimp not a gangsta, and at the end of the song everybody's still alive.
I also love the early shout out to "harmolodic" and Ornette Coleman - a reminder that she is Don Cherry's daughter. (Alex Rawls)