Music

Goldhawks: Trick of Light

Freshman UK act set their sights on stadiums with their overreaching debut LP.


Goldhawks

Trick of Light

Label: Mercury
US Release Date: Import
UK Release Date: 2010-09-06
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When Goldhawks frontman Bobby Long goes to sleep at night, he dreams that his band is onstage in front of a sold-out house at Corporate Sponsorship Stadium. While the band launches into the smash single "Keep the Fire", Long gallops down the Bono ramp and out into the crowd. There, amid a sea of outstretched hands and glowing cell phones, Long slides his guitar around his back and drops to his knees. He calls for his band, playing anonymously under a thick cloud of smoke, to slow it down a step. Breathing heavily into his wireless microphone, Long asks the crowd for a little help with the chorus. He stretches out his arms and stares up at the JumboTron where he sees thousands of fevered faces screaming "We gotta keep this fire to keep burning on!" into the middle distance.

Such is the rarefied air that these young London upstarts not-so-secretly wish to occupy. With their buffed and polished debut album Trick of Light, these Goldhawks are hoping to go from the attic to the arena with very few stops on the way up. Unabashedly borrowing from U2 as well as other modern day practitioners of shamelessly gargantuan pop (Coldplay, The Killers), the Goldhawks have little use for subtlety. Nearly every moment of their album, from the bleacher-shaking anthems to the wailing-on-the-mountaintop ballads, seems engineered to propel the listener's fist into the raised position. In an era that rarely rewards musicians for overreaching ambition (unless you happen to be Arcade Fire), it's refreshing to see a young band swing so fearlessly for the fences.

Ambition, however, does not alone provide for a satisfying listening experience. The main cause of concern for these riled up lads appears to be seeing how many clichés can be packed into an 11-track album. While they have no problem copping their sound from early '80s U2, they have zero interest in any of the sort of subject matter that gave that music it's heft. Almost all of Trick of Light's songs find Long shouting down a nameless lover for apparently not being on the same page as him. He's hot under the collar, most likely due to all of that fire he's been keeping, running from, or shouting into -- this album has more fires than an entire season of Rescue Me. Long sings every note with honest-to-goodness, chest-clutching passion, yet boneheaded pleas like "We're looking back on the world going up in flames / Back on the world never to be the same / Where in the world can we find the time to get away?" should ensure that those Springsteen comparisons dry up pretty quickly.

Ultimately it's a shame the band isn't aflutter over something a bit more specific. For all of its lyrical shortcomings, Trick of Light is teeming with catchy choruses and spirited performances. With the legendary Gil Norton (Pixies, Foo Fighters) in the producer's chair, the band is filming in widescreen throughout. It's easy to find yourself swept away by the massiveness of adrenalized album opener "Everytime I See You Cry". With its chorus full of gang-shouted "Get Ready"'s, the track seems designed to be played before major sporting events, as does the aforementioned "Keep the Fire". When the needle stays pinned at 11, the words tend to become less distracting. If they'd only found a way to work a pair of down-on-their-luck meth addicts into "Up on the Altar", the track would easily outshine anything from the latest Hold Steady album.

The band members, along with whoever bankrolled their lavishly produced record, believe they will have no problem charming legions of fans with their vapid yet crowd-pleasing arena-ready rock. They may very well find fast and easy success, but longevity seems unlikely unless they're able to mature as songwriters. The people aren't going to truly believe unless you give them something to believe in.

5

From drunken masters to rumbles in the Bronx, Jackie Chan's career is chock full of goofs and kicks. These ten films capture what makes Chan so magnetic.

Jackie Chan got his first film role way back in 1976, when a rival producer hired him for his obvious action prowess. Now, nearly 40 years later, he is more than a household name. He's a brand, a signature star with an equally recognizable onscreen persona. For many, he was their introduction into the world of Hong Kong cinema. For others, he's the goofy guy speaking broken English to Chris Tucker in the Rush Hour films.

From his grasp of physical comedy to his fearlessness in the face of certain death (until recently, Chan performed all of his own stunts) he's a one of a kind talent whose taken his abilities in directions both reasonable (charity work, political reform) and ridiculous (have your heard about his singing career?).

Now, Chan is back, bringing the latest installment in the long running Police Story franchise to Western shores (subtitled Lockdown, it's been around since 2013), and with it, a reminder of his multifaceted abilities. He's not just an actor. He's also a stunt coordinator and choreographer, a writer, a director, and most importantly, a ceaseless supporter of his country's cinema. With nearly four decades under his (black) belt, it's time to consider Chan's creative cannon. Below you will find our choices for the ten best pictures Jackie Chan's career, everything from the crazy to the classic. While he stuck to formula most of the time, no one made redundancy seem like original spectacle better than he.

Let's start with an oldie but goodie:

10. Operation Condor (Armour of God 2)

Two years after the final pre-Crystal Skull installment of the Indiana Jones films arrived in theaters, Chan was jumping on the adventurer/explorer bandwagon with this wonderful piece of movie mimicry. At the time, it was one of the most expensive Hong Kong movies ever made ($115 million, which translates to about $15 million American). Taking the character of Asian Hawk and turning him into more of a comedic figure would be the way in which Chan expanded his global reach, realizing that humor could help bring people to his otherwise over the top and carefully choreographed fight films -- and it's obviously worked.

9. Wheels on Meals

They are like the Three Stooges of Hong Kong action comedies, a combination so successful that it's amazing they never caught on around the world. Chan, along with director/writer/fight coordinator/actor Sammo Hung and Yuen Biao, all met at the Peking Opera, where they studied martial arts and acrobatics. They then began making movies, including this hilarious romp involving a food truck, a mysterious woman, and lots of physical shtick. While some prefer their other collaborations (Project A, Lucky Stars), this is their most unabashedly silly and fun. Hung remains one of the most underrated directors in all of the genre.

8. Mr. Nice Guy
Sammo Hung is behind the lens again, this time dealing with Chan's genial chef and a missing mob tape. Basically, an investigative journalist films something she shouldn't, the footage gets mixed up with some of our heroes, and a collection of clever cat and mouse chases ensue. Perhaps one of the best sequences in all of Chan's career occurs in a mall, when a bunch of bad guys come calling to interrupt a cooking demonstration. Most fans have never seen the original film. When New Line picked it up for distribution, it made several editorial and creative cuts. A Japanese release contains the only unaltered version of the effort.

7. Who Am I?

Amnesia. An easy comedic concept, right? Well, leave it to our lead and collaborator Benny Chan (no relation) to take this idea and go crazy with it. The title refers to Chan's post-trauma illness, as well as the name given to him by natives who come across his confused persona. Soon, everyone is referring to our hero by the oddball moniker while major league action set pieces fly by. While Chan is clearly capable of dealing with the demands of physical comedy and slapstick, this is one of the rare occasions when the laughs come from character, not just chaos.

6. Rumble in the Bronx

For many, this was the movie that broke Chan into the US mainstream. Sure, before then, he was a favorite of film fans with access to a video store stocking his foreign titles, but this is the effort that got the attention of Joe and Jane Six Pack. Naturally, as they did with almost all his films, New Line reconfigured it for a domestic audience, and found itself with a huge hit on its hands. Chan purists prefer the original cut, including the cast voices sans dubbing. It was thanks to Rumble that Chan would go on to have a lengthy run in Tinseltown, including those annoying Rush Hour films.

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