BBC – Music – Review of HEALTH

If its coverage elsewhere has conveyed the sense that this is a ‘moment’ in the relationship between the videogame and music industries, HEALTH’s score for Rockstar Games’ newest triple-A title has served its purpose well.

Reputable musicians have long enjoyed flirting with button-bashers and the like: Amon Tobin’s work for Splinter Cell 3 attracted admirers in 2004/05, and Nitin Sawhney contributed stirring sounds to 2010’s ambitious action-adventurer Enslaved: Odyssey to the West. Before them came Bomb the Bass on classic shooter Xenon 2: Megablast (1989) and John Foxx (as Nation 12) on high-profile platformer Gods (1991), and more besides.

Where HEALTH’s involvement differs is in the distance between commissioner and commissionee. Rockstar is the videogaming equivalent of a film director like Steven Spielberg or Ridley Scott: a company that doesn’t (often) align itself with projects that aren’t going to be phenomenal successes. HEALTH, on the other hand, are a Los Angeles-based quartet loved by a passionate following but about as mainstream-friendly as a Basic Instinct-themed Barbie doll, ice pick included. On paper, their collaboration might seem a recipe for disaster, potential ripe for a squalling, ill-fitting soundtrack.

But play through the game and it’s clear that HEALTH have approached this differently to their ‘regular’ albums. The familiar shrieks, clangs and buzzes that have peppered their two studio LPs to date surface, but generally Max Payne 3 is a very measured affair, each cue tailored to the accompanying action, or relative lack of. Standout track Tears is the one new song proper: a slow grind of organic pulses and metal-on-metal percussion, it’ll register immediately with the faithful while simultaneously pulling in newcomers (as evidenced by YouTube comments). Its pace is comparable to USA Boys, the new track that opened remix set ::Disco2, but its execution is more Terminator than Twilight.

A newly recorded instrumental version of Get Color’s Severin is one of this score’s most hectic inclusions – primal pounding complements its scene, an airport runway chase, excellently. But Torture and Pain are sombre affairs, perhaps oddly so given their titles, and a balance is struck between intensity and introspection that well suits the conflicted protagonist of the game series. It all points towards an exciting future where the next blockbusting Batman brawler could conceivably come complete with music by Modeselektor.

BBC – Music – Review of The Band Perry

Currently wowing the country charts in their native USA, The Band Perry’s eponymous debut album offers 11 highly polished songs. Fronted by the strident, assertive vocals of Kimberly Perry, they proffer bright and breezy fare that’s the usual lyrical recipe of meetin’ ‘n’ cheatin’, percolated throughout with fizzy bubbles of crossover pop.

With Kimberly still shy of 30, she’s nevertheless the oldest in this family troupe that’s been working the stateside country circuit since 2005. Along with her younger brothers Reid and Neil (handling mandolin, bass and backing vocals), their short career hasn’t stopped the family mantelpiece bowing alarmingly under the weight of the numerous awards and accolades to have been thrown their way.

Whilst there’s no faulting the tightly-drilled performances turned in by the trio and an array of skilled sessioneers, the delivery has a by-the-numbers feel that’s workman-like rather than inspired. Perhaps the fault lies with a set of committee-written tunes that are well-worn and overly-familiar. If I Die Young ponders a life cut short, though not before the heroine has had time to listen to Taylor Dane’s Tell It to My Heart prior to her untimely demise. 

While it’s not always fair to isolate lyrics, clumsily trite observations such as “Like a girl wants her chocolate / Yeah I know that I’ll miss you” and “As far as I can run / To where freedom’s free” leap out, alongside many other examples of hackneyed wordplay. This sort of blandness becomes difficult to ignore and, it must be said, forgive.

Of course, such churlish reservations will not affect the The Band Perry’s radio-friendly momentum. One can only hope the raw talent that exists beneath the glitzy lacquer of this debut will mature and emerge with a more distinctive and original voice on its second album.

BBC – Music – Review of Willie Nelson

Still playing, still with a twinkle in his eye, Willie Nelson at 79 sounds like a man with nothing to prove. And he’s all the better for that. Those who have missed out on a recording career that began in 1956 will get a pointer from Roll Me Up – a rollicking piece of mischief recorded with Snoop Dogg while Willie had a marijuana charge still pending in El Paso.

And if that sounds a little messy, the album is actually a return to simple virtues after a couple of outings where Johnny Mandel and then T-Bone Burnett dictated the style. Buddy Cannon’s unfussy production measures out pedal steel, accordion, and Mickey Raphael’s dependable harmonica round a pin-sharp rhythm section. There’s no stricter theme than a lucky-bag of genres and guest singers that all hang on a legend.

It’s an easy brew to enjoy, too. The range takes in the roistering, exemplary Western swing of My Window Faces the South (written in 1937) and Home in San Antone (1943) to wistful readings of Floyd Tillman’s Cold War With You and Tom Waits’ Come On Up to the House. Old compadres Merle Haggard, Ray Price, Billy Joe Shaver and Kris Kristofferson jostle for the honours of grizzled sidekick, and Sheryl Crow is soulful on the Waits song.

There’s a degree of torch-passing as well, with three songs by Willie’s son Lukas, whose voice echoes his father’s dauntless quaver. Lukas’ Every Time He Drinks He Thinks of Her sits comfortably with the standards, likewise Cannon’s That’s All There Is to This Song and Willie’s own Hero. And if the hour ever drags, it’s on the Pearl Jam (Just Breathe) and Coldplay (The Scientist) covers; one talent Willie Nelson has never boasted is the rock-style gravitas of a Johnny Cash.

But if anyone asks how Heroes differs from the 65 Willie Nelson studio albums that preceded it, the happy answer is: not much. The expressive, intimate tenor, the matchless musical instinct and Willie’s distinctive ringing guitar lines are just as compelling, and just as delightful, as ever.

Mothercare Celebrates 20 Years in Ireland with the Launch of the Family Card

It’s hard to believe but it’s been 20 years since Mothercare started doing business in Ireland! The company was started by David Ward in 1992 and is now very much a family business with the second generation Ben, Jonathan and Laura holding the positions of commercial, operations and marketing directors respectively.

To celebrate this milestone Mothercare is launching the Family Card. The loyalty program offer customers 5% back on all purchases, making it the best value rewards scheme in Ireland. It’s a card that will be with parents “every little step of the way” and reward them with every step as well!

Speaking about the celebrations and the Family Card launch, Mothercare Ireland’s Managing Director David Ward comments: “As Ireland’s leading nursery store, we recognise the achievement of operating twenty years of business in Ireland and we can’t think of a better way to celebrate than by launching the Mothercare Family Card, to reward our loyal customers and thank them for many years of business based on trust, great value and quality for all the family. We look forward to the next twenty years.”

In addition to great value rewards and exclusive member offers, the Mothercare Family Card also offers cardholders access to exclusive events, as well as frequent bonus point promotions and updates on new and existing Mothercare products. The Family Card will be available from May 15th and can be used in twenty-three Mothercare and Early Learning Centres nationwide, as well as online on www.mothercare.ie. 

Mothercare Ireland is a wholly owned Irish company employing 350 people across the country. Mothercare Ireland is one of the original partners of the hugely successful Mothercare International Group, currently the fifth largest partner in the world. Mothercare International now has more stores worldwide than the original Mothercare company.

Mothercare Ireland has three Early Learning Centres stores, for which it also holds the franchise in Ireland. These stores are located in Dublin at Dundrum, Liffey Valley and Swords.

Shop online and choose from thousands of products on www.mothercare.ie. Find Mothercare on Facebook www.facebook.com/MothercareIreland and follow on Twitter @MothercareIRL.

Contact: For further information, interviews or imagery please contact Sonia Harris, Harris Public Relations Ltd by phone, 087 797 9703 or email sonia@harrispublicrelations.eu.