TV – The Returned (Aly, Walk With Me)

The Returned ("Les Revenants", 2013)

The Returned (“Les Revenants”, 2013)

If you haven’t seen it yet – it’s one of the latest imports for British television audiences, this time from France – The Returned (“Les Revenants” – literally, “the ones who came back”).

After The Killing and The Bridge it feels like we’re in a 90s / 00s out-of-control “The” bands names frenzy (The Vines, The Hives, The Killers etc,…), but this time instead of bands,  it’s thrillers conceived on the Continent.

I’ve only seen the first episode of the eight, so I’m not entirely sure where it’s headed yet – but the premise of the opener was the reappearance of loved ones who had died several years ago, not as ghostly apparitions but as fully corporeal…well, people, just not having aged since their passing and with no recollection of it happening.

We’ve had Vampires and Werewolves fairly frequently recently….but here: Zombies.

Aside from hearing whisperings of great reviews before the first episode aired over here, the promo played a significant part in my deciding to watch the show. Uneasy and mysterious shots of a rural french town, a re-animating butterfly breaking free of its glass display case and – a perfect and eerie accompaniment to the supernatural themes suggested by the trailer – a soundtrack provided by another “The” band, Danish rock duo, The Ravonettes.

This is “Aly, Walk With Me” from their third album, Lust Lust Lust (2007, Fierce Panda):

The Ravonettes – Aly, Walk With Me [amzn]

What was most intriguing about that first episode for me, was the range of emotional reactions from the people whose loved ones had returned – I say “loved ones”, we obviously don’t know the backstories yet and the episode titles suggest they follow along the lines of Heroes and Skins, focusing on a different character in each episode, the first one “Camille“, whilst building up the main cast – from joy, to fear, to denial all with an underlying sense of bewilderment alongside the expected disbelief – how could this be happening?

These mixed reactions were, I’m hoping, indicative of the differing relationships between the characters and maybe, for some, direct involvement in their passing?

I’m intrigued to say the least and will definitely be watching at least the next episode. Catching up tonight.

If you’ve been watching, would love to hear what you think – about the series and the music, which, in general, was penned by Mogwai, whose album Les Revenants [amzn] soundtracks the series.

Penny and the Quarters – You And Me

Blue Valentine Soundtrack (2011)

When I first heard about Blue Valentine towards the end of last year, I couldn’t wait to see it – Ryan Gosling (The Notebook, Half Nelson & Lars and the Real Girl to name a few) and Michelle Williams (ex-Dawson’s Creek *fourth wheel* in the Dawson-Joey-Pacey love triangle, grown up into a talented actress) in a movie telling the interwoven tale of love’s hesitant blossoming and its ungraceful demise six years later.

This isn’t a movie review but I feel the need to say I left the cinema angry that day. Angry at Cindy (Michelle Williams) for not being happy with Dean despite his best efforts and angry at Dean (Ryan Gosling) for not being enough for Cindy. Even though I, as everyone in the audience, knew it would end that way right from the start.

Wasted potential.

What it did give me though, is this song:

Penny & The Quarters – You And Me

The recording has the crackly vinyl quality to it that instantly makes you feel nostalgic and at home – a song played over and over again on repeat because the owner of the record loves it that much.

The story on the bio makes me sad – the song is from a box of tapes found at an estate sale in Columbus, Ohio containing demos, rehearsals and a few finished songs recorded in the late 60s and early 70s for Prix Records at Harmonic Sounds Studio. The bio says that Penny & The Quarters‘ “You And Me” is a random rehearsal by a group nobody can remember – I wonder how many more lost recordings just as great as this one are fading away, never having been heard…

The Numero Group and their Digital Dig is somewhere I think I’m going to be spending a fair bit of time rooting around – who knows what else I might find courtesy of this archival media treasure trove.

The rest of the soundtrack is mostly Grizzly Bear…with a musical cameo from Ryan Gosling himself that features in the film.

Mazzy Star – Into Dust

Mazzy Star - So Tonight That I Might See (1993)

9am on a Saturday morning I could hear music coming from my flatmate’s room above me. I thought it was this:

Mazzy Star – Into Dust

Turns out it wasn’t, but I wanted to post it anyway.

It’s from the album “So Tonight That I Might See” which was originally released in 1993 but I don’t know it from then. Apparently Virgin Media used it on this ad 15 years later but I don’t think I remember it from then. It’s possible I first heard it on The O.C. “Pilot” but I don’t think that’s where I found it either.

Who knows…wherever I first heard it – it’s by 90s U.S. Alternative Rock band, Mazzy Star and it’s deeply pensive, stripped back and imagines, for me, a tragic love story between a human and a ghost…or maybe an angel…whose brief but intense time together reaches an inevitable end as she fades into oblivion when her limited time on this plane is exhausted as she serves the purpose for which she returned.

I think I might watch too many teen vampire/ghost/alien movies/TV shows.

Dark Dark Dark – Daydreaming

Dark Dark Dark - Wild Go (2010)

Sitting at home with flu-type symptoms and a sore throat, I was catching up on Grey’s Anatomy Season 7 (thank you Sky Player!) – and heard this song:

Dark Dark Dark – Daydreaming

TV shows like Grey’s are such a great showcase, not just for finding new music, but also for rediscovering music floating around the outskirts of your memory. I found this track last year on a blog and tucked it away in an ‘I like this’ playlist somewhere on my work mac but pretty much forgot about it otherwise.

It’s hopeful and optimistic on the surface but with a wistful and melancholy subtext hinted at by the piano which, though playful, is also tinged with sadness. Daydreaming about wanting to be somewhere else.

It’s perfect for the scene it backdrops – Grey’s Season 7, episode 7, it comes in when Arizona and Callie are arguing in the airport: Arizona hopeful in her move to Malawi to work with children needing surgery, ready to live her dream, and Callie going against her own dreams to follow Arizona in hers. “Oh if you knew what it meant to me”.

Trying really hard not to give away the plot line here…

The song is from the latest LP, ‘Wild Go’, by Dark Dark Dark – released on Supply & Demand Music in October last year and you can get it for free by signing up to their mailing list.

They’re a six-piece chamber-folk group who look like a they could be a family – playing at The Tabernacle on 18 May.

Julian Casablancas – I’ll Try Anything Once

The Strokes - Heart In A Cage (2006)

I wasn’t really expecting anything from this film. I know Sofia Coppola directed The Virgin Suicides (incredible film) and Lost In Translation (Oscar-winner I’m yet to see)…but I remember her from The Godfather Part III – and then as an actress, not a director – which, needless to say, wasn’t the best of the Trilogy.

So I went to the cinema willing to give it a fair go and, although it didn’t seem to have a discernible or forward-moving plot, nor particularly leave me with feelings of empathy towards any of the characters by the end of the 97 minutes it ran, it was a beautifully shot and quietly understated film.

The one scene that stood out for me was the under-water tea party Stephen Dorff and Elle Fanning, who played his on-screen daughter, had in the swimming pool of their hotel – mostly because of this song:

Julian Casablancas – I’ll Try Anything Once

It’s stripped back, simple and heartfelt – perfect for the playful and also sentimental moment shared by father and daughter towards the close of the movie. It’s also, I think, the B-side to the 2006 release Heart In A Cage and an early version of what was later released as You Only Live Once, which sounds completely different.

I wouldn’t watch Somewhere (2010) again myself, but I wouldn’t ever tell someone not to see it. Unless they only like action movies.

Edwin McCain – I’ll Be

Edwin McCain - Misguided Roses (1997)

This is probably another song to add to the teen-angst zone that also featured Band of Horses, Vast and Lifehouse – I’m fairly sure I first heard it on Dawson’s Creek (quick IMDb confirms yes, it’s likely I did…way back in Season 1, 1998).

Edwin McCain – I’ll Be

So why is this coming up now? No – I wasn’t given a DVD box set of Dawson’s Creek seasons 1-6 for Christmas (one for next year’s list?) or I hope I would have known that was where I heard it.

I was in Monsoon yesterday just having a wander and this came on over the PA. Nice and unexpected (unnecessary extra word there) surprise in the post-Christmas, pre-New Year lull that brought back memories of my teenage years. I like when that happens.

I’m not going to end my blogging year on this note, don’t worry – there’s another one coming tomorrow. I just wanted to share this with anyone else who might have been a tad addicted to the story of the intertwined and incestuous love lives of Dawson Leery, Pacey Witter and little Joey Potter before she became Mrs. Cruise, back in the late 90s.

Dawson…or Pacey? Dawson…Jack…Pacey? No, Dawson….No, Pacey…

I think I might be forgetting someone… look out for her in Blue Valentine with Ryan Gosling in January in the UK.

VAST – Touched

Just when I thought I had overcome my addiction, with several of my favourite TV *dramas* either permanently migrating to the television archives (Legend of the Seeker, Dollhouse, Heroes, 24) or entering the bi-annual UK hiatus allowing for replacements (Grey’s Anatomy, Being Erica, 90210, Being Human) – I’m currently left with Spooks, Gossip Girl and on and off One Tree Hill – another one comes along.

VAST - Visual Sensory Audio Theater (1998)

I’ve recently discovered Nikita.

Some of you may remember the secret government assassins of La Femme Nikita (Dark Angel took it a step further with genetic modification) – this is effectively a follow-up after Nikita’s escape from Division and season one has just been picked up by Living TV.

I had just finished watching episode 2 when a trailer came on for the next episode, soundtracked by this song:

VAST – Touched

I’ve written about VAST before, “Please Don’t Take Your Love Away” from their 2004 album, Nude, but this one is taken from their 1998 album, Visual Audio Sensory Theater. I did not remember this, but it also featured in the soundtrack for one of my other favourite TV shows, Angel (Joss Whedon = Legend).

It’s the sample that I love this song for – a choral sample – and I think it was the perfect choice for the trailer.

Power and purpose soundtracking a mission to bring down Division.

If you’re a fan of spies and conspiracies, you may well become a fan of Nikita.

Screaming Trees – Nearly Lost You

I’ve been to the Barbican a few times before – concerts, films, my brother’s graduation and just for a drink at the bistro – and have always considered it beautiful, especially the water features, but never really gave it much thought. Until Thursday last week.

I went on an architecture tour of the Barbican Estate with some folks, not something I’d normally do, but I figured why not try something new – and it was, excuse the cliché, an eye-opener. The guide was extremely well-informed, clearly passionate about the subject, and gave an impressive delivery of what was effectively a one hour monologue covering the planning of and history behind the Estate – fielding questions at the end of the tour.

Screaming Trees - Sweet Oblivion (1992)

The Estate itself is a meticulously planned residential and cultural complex and could pretty much be a self-contained urban community in the middle of the City of London – with cinema, concert hall, art gallery on the cultural side, plus sports facilities, creche, a school and even an on-site dentist and physiotherapist!

I’d love to live there myself.

This isn’t an advertisement for property in the Barbican Estate – there is a (musical) point to my ramblings.

One of the prominent features of the estate is the trio of Towers, named Cromwell, Shakespeare and Lauderdale – and I was intrigued by the thought behind their construction. Our Guide mentioned that often visitors try to navigate their way around the Estate using the towers as anchors on the assumption that they will be visible from anywhere on the Estate – being three of the tallest residential tower blocks in London.

This is not the case, however, and actually, the Towers were intentionally constructed so that there are places within the Estate from which they aren’t visible and, said our Guide, the architects purposely positioned them so that it’s as though they move when you’re not looking at them – as if they’re playing some kind of game.

So this got me thinking in a “if a tree falls does it make a sound when there’s no one there to hear it” vein…and then I discovered the Mandrake which, according to legend, screams when the root is dug up and kills everyone who hears it. Hence the song:

Screaming Trees – Nearly Lost You

It featured on the soundtrack to the movie Singles, starring, among others, Bridget Fonda and Matt Dillon and is by 90s grunge band Screaming Trees.

Just to state the obvious – it’s the band name, not the song.

And that’s how my mind works.

Grant Lee Buffalo – In My Room

This probably isn’t the first song that comes to mind for most people when they think of rain.

Grant Lee Buffalo - In My Room (Friends Soundtrack, 1995)

There isn’t an obvious lyrical reference to rain, no rain sound effects, it doesn’t even mention water (unless you count crying)… but as I’m sitting here watching 4od distracted by the tapping…no…pounding torrential rain against my window this evening, it’s the one I can’t get out of my head:

Grant Lee Buffalo – In My Room

It’s a great cover of an old track by The Beach Boys.

What’s the relevance? It was used at the end of Friends Series 2 Episode 8: The One With The List. The song was played by the radio station after Rachel with the “chubby ankles” calls to tell them what Ross did to her. It was raining.

They don’t want to play his song anymore.