Music Review: Lee MacDougall – If Walls Could Talk

Hey there…

When the Beatles came to the United States in 1964 to perform on The Ed Sullivan Show in New York, could anybody have predicted the wave of British acts going viral in America? The British Invasion brought us groups as diverse as The Kinks, The Rolling Stones, and Dusty Springfield. Now fast forward nearly 50 years. Since the invasion continues today with acts like Bobby Long coming out of London’s booming acoustic movement, could there be others waiting in the wings?

Of course there are more acts and they’re not waiting long! Lee MacDougall is the latest musician to come out of the London open mic circuit and find an audience outside the U.K. MacDougall’s link to Twilight‘s Robert Pattinson hasn’t hurt his popularity in the States either. His song “Falling in Love for the Last Time” from his self-titled EP (and on his new album) garnered a ton of attention from Twi-hards when word got out it was written for Pattinson and Kristen Stewart. But we’ll get more into that song in a bit…

The eleven-song album is If Walls Could Talk and it was just released to coincide with his U.S. tour dates with his friend Rob Hargreaves on guitar and backing vocals. Every song seems well grounded and written about relationships and life. The best part for me was the innocence and passion in each lyric, which seems very genuine. Hopefully he has better luck with the ladies than these songs suggest, considering that some of the girls in the songs seem to lie, cheat, and lead him on every other verse!

It was when I hit the second song on the album – “She” – that I found myself really engaged. On the surface, it’s about a girl who has self-esteem issues due to an abusive father. “She’s beautiful I know / but she doesn’t know / she can’t shake her heartache / her teenage dream has gone to waste / She’s beautiful I know / but she doesn’t know that’s the case…” He wants to get her out of the house and is willing to put himself in harm’s way to do just that. But the upbeat, almost happy beat and guitar strums neatly obfuscate the tragic story in the words.

A few songs later is “Falling In Love for the Last Time” and I can see why it might have been adopted by the Twilight community as Bella & Edward’s love song. It’s a warped love story about a girl the singer can’t have even though he’s in love with her and she knows it. She uses that little fact to torture him a bit. “I want to tell you a tale about a mess that I’m in / and it all starts with a girl / and she’s breaking up my world / she’s got these big green eyes and they’re as wide as the moon / yeah they can take you to bed without ya leaving the room / I would kill just to be her man / she’s too cool to give a damn…” With a lazy, walking beat on a snare and a few strums on a guitar, you’re drawn into the story.

And before the end of the album, he explores more self-esteem issues in “This is My Story.” “Flatter me and I will be yours forever / get too close and I’ll run…” It’s a classic tale of that person who attracts all the attention but doesn’t feel comfortable in his own skin. “This is my story who knows how it ends / each page a memory of lovers and friends / always a dreamer my life has no plan / I know I’m not perfect / my mum says that I am…” Hasn’t everyone been here?

The arrangements are straightforward with mixes of guitar, piano, and drums. But it’s the lyrics that really captured my attention. The stories woven into poetry and sung with such conviction. That conviction should make him an instant favorite with anyone who loves a good love song. The ability to convey such an emotional connection with each song will go a long way to win MacDougall more than a few hearts on his current U.S. tour.

For more information about Lee, his music, or his tour, be sure to check out his homepage at LeeMacDougallMusic.com. I look forward to hearing more from MacDougall in the future! The album is currently only available on his tour, but hopefully a few tracks will find their way onto iTunes soon.

(This article first appeared at BlogCritics.org here.)

–Fitz

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Book Review: Zombie Brittanica by Thomas Emson

Hey…

Have you ever had a sinking feeling when you read a new book by your favorite author? I’ve read the last three books from Thomas EmsonSkarlet, Maneater, and Prey. He’s brought vampires and werewolves into the real world, so I was looking forward to seeing what he’d do with zombies.

I love zombies. But I really only love them when they’re presented in a unique way, not relying on standard cliches. Unfortunately, I found myself wondering when the bad zombie movie would end.

Zombies are wonderful beasts. They’re men, but they’re monsters. Add in the fear of disease, the dead rising, and the repulsion of teeth ripping human flesh and organs, and you can really push some buttons. George Romero knew this when he wrote and directed Night of the Living Dead in 1968. He and other directors and movie makers have been terrorizing moviegoers ever since.

More recently there have been some great zombie novels that have been reinventing the genre. Mira Grant’s FEED and Jonathan Maberry‘s Patient Zero have been among my favorites. Grant merges blogging, politics, and a zombie apocalypse and Maberry uses biological warfare to spread a zombie plague.

With Emson’s previous reinvention of vampires and werewolves, mixing myths and history with the modern day, I was expecting more inventive approach to zombies. That “inventiveness” only went as far as having the dead rise during a particularly nasty heat wave in Great Britain.

Three main characters drive the action… Carrie Asher is a mother seeking to get through a zombie-infested London to rescue her six-year-old daughter Mya. Vincent is a young man stuck in a Welsh castle with the girl he loves and the zombies closing in all around. And Craig Murray is trapped with his family in a traffic jam in Scotland. Not only must he battle the undead, but the people seeking to prey on the weak during a time of crisis.

Woven into the narrative are all the typical zombie tales… They eat flesh and infect those who get bitten and manage to survive an attack. The survivors are like zombie grenades thrown into the future. When the victims die, they become zombies themselves. Add to that the people who break under the pressure – relying on their dogma to explain the situation, controlling others through fear and intimidation, and the people who simply give up.

I really like Emson’s prose, but I couldn’t get past all the cliches. Perhaps if I’d seen this on the big screen instead of read it as a novel, I would have enjoyed it more. But it’s been done to death, no pun intended.

If you’re interested in how the zombies capture London, I’d recommend the book. But if you’re looking for an original take on things, I’d avoid Emson’s Zombie Brittanica. Instead, check out his books Skarlet, Maneater, and Prey.

This article first appeared on BlogCritics.org here.

–Fitz

p.s. Check out these great books below:

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[Short Film] Mr. Bojagi Has a Gift for Everyone…

Hi all…

Ran across this short film today – Mr. Bojagi – starring Brian Blessed (Prince Vultan in the 1980 Flash Gordon among other great roles) and Hildegard Neil in a short fantasy film that recently won the 2010 British Lion Award for achievement in film and the Jury Award for Best Short Film at the London Independent Film Festival.

This is a very cute, very interesting short film with some definite appeal for further exploration. I absolutely love the magical shelves that go to the sky and scroll across forever at the touch of a lever.

What do you think? If you like it, share it around – a full length script around Mr. Bojangi has been written so if they get enough interest, I’m guessing we’ll see more.

Here’s an interesting short about how they made the film:

I absolutely love Brian Blessed. His gregarious character in Flash Gordon is one that has always left a lasting impression – and obviously he’s still having fun in film. It’s great to see that he would be involved in such a splendid project!

Be sure to check it out!

–Fitz

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