In 2013, Beyoncé released her self-titled album with no prior announcement, no singles, no product tie-ins, no hype whatsoever. It was a strategy that shattered expectations. How could she and her label expect to make a return on an album that no one knew was coming? There were no pre-orders, no indication of what the demand would be, no focus groups to tell them if the sound was something people wanted to hear in the first place. But it worked. It worked so well, in fact, that in the following years, everyone from Kanye West to Avenged Sevenfold has been trying to recreate the energy that Beyoncé created.
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Known for her art-rock compositions with Goya Dress and the more straightforward pop songwriting of her solo career, Shetland-born Astrid Williamson returns to the classical musical training of her formative years to present Requiem and Gallipoli. A ten-piece set of orchestral compositions written by Williamson herself, Requiem and Gallipoli is a crystalline example of the songwriter’s talents as a composer.
Her work with the atmospheric and dramatic alternative rock outfit Goya Dress established Williamson’s skill in combining the storms of pop-rock structures with the understated and moody arrangements of a string section. The artist further expressed classical designs in her follow-up solo work, always within a pop context.
Is this London / Brighton trio’s collective name meant to evoke a fictional character? Is it a sentence fragment ominously failing to resolve who or what it is this Johnny figure is slaying? That the members—Tim, Cameron, and Lewis—all take “Kills” as a surname a la the Ramones further muddies the water and deepens the intrigue.
The ‘60s are often romanticized as the most tumultuous decade in contemporary US history. It is possible, however, that the ‘90s faced as much, albeit different, social upheaval. On 2 August 1990, America led United Nation forces in an invasion of Iraq. On 28 February 1993, agents of the Bureau of Alcohol and Fire Arms attempted to serve arrest and search warrants to David Koresch in Waco, Texas. Koresch was the leader of the Branch Dividians. Leading to a full-on siege that ended on 19 April when Koresch ignited several fires within the compound, killing 76 members.
On the second anniversary of the siege Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols parked a rental truck packed with explosives in front of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City; 168 people were killed in the explosion. On 12 February 1999 the House of Representatives impeached President Bill Clinton.
All of these events dealt with huge political issues of the exercise of power, both nationally and internationally. Ironically, the single most divisive event during the decade started with the intimate murder of two people.
These Blu-rays upgrade and preserve the contents of two DVDs from a box called Fox Horror Classics, reviewed by PopMatters back in 2007. You needn’t exert yourself to the clicking of links, however; your tireless reviewer has no compunction about recapitulating his erstwhile insights here.
Both films are directed by John Brahm, an expressionistically gifted stylist who emigrated to Hollywood from Hitler’s Germany and whose career flowered in TV, where he directed episodes of a virtual encyclopedia of classic series. His visual talent might be why he was tapped for the B-picture The Undying Monster, one of 20th Century Fox’s few attempts to cash in on the horror genre that was making so much money for Universal and RKO in the ‘40s, especially with movies about people who transform into animals.
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