Battles first came to my attention a couple of years back. Rumours of a group featuring ex members of Don Caballero and Helmet were to these ears (on paper) the equivalent of musical nirvana (spiritual, not Seattle). I presumed they would sound like Don Caballero, only heavier (Helmeter?) On preparing to listen to their debut EP, I was braced for a flurry of slaps round the face - only to receive a well-mannered stroke of the chin. This wasn’t musical machine guns - it was clever musical noodlings in the territory of arch-noodlers Tortoise, and well; I had Tortoise for that sort of thing. So, Battles slipped off the mental radar, only to sporadically reappear in the form of some live shows last year, live shows I didn’t attend but from whose reviews I learned that the drummer had a massive cymbal stand.
When Mirrored arrived in the in-tray, my memory was jogged to that early hope. After a quick, half-hearted first listen, it appeared my preconceptions were right - here were a bunch of incredibly talented and tight musicians, overly pleased with themselves for making music more enjoyable to them than the listener. Like a series of ‘in’ jokes they were reluctant to share.
But how wrong I was. Spend some quality time with Mirrored and it soon becomes clear that it is a great record on many levels.Yes - they are having a good time, but this is by no means an exclusive party. Opening track Race:In sets the tone nicely and is a good snapshot of what Battles seem to be about. A driving hi-hat and snare rim percussion, and a subtle - repetitive lead guitar part - are joined at various stages in the songs 5 minutes, with whistling, chanting, chimes, what appears to be some sort of pipe percussion, a xylophone, sleigh bells, keyboards, great drum beats. And this invention, never at the cost of quality, continues over the other 10 songs, before closing with Race:Out (a speeded up/slowed down version of track one).
All of which comes together to rock hard, groove hard, be at once serious and intelligent whilst good fun and high-spirited. Mirrored has pulled off a great trick of sounding unlike anything else, and whilst a venture into unchartered territory could require a certain level of pretension, it remains completely open and accessible to all. Mirrored will most likely feature in end of year ‘best-of’ lists and is quite possibly the soundtrack to the best movie not yet made. A movie where Gary Busey gets kicked in the shins by a midget. That’s the vibe of the thing.
Listen to track here (Windows Media):
16th May 2007 - Tumblr4
Rough Trade Shops - Counter Culture 07
Series 2, ep1
(dir. Lexi Alexander)
Intense, terrifying, riveting thriller from Tom Ford. Great performances and assured direction.
22nd Jul 2017Read more 4 star reviews
Reasonable zombie drama. More rewarding than Walking Dead, but still a bit derivative.
14th Jul 2017Read more 3 star reviews
Intense, borderline arthouse Canadian kidnap drama from Atom Egoyan. Ryan Reynolds impresses.
8th Jul 2017Read more 4 star reviews
Self-important, slightly contrived mainstream indie with the one with the good hair from Friends.
8th Jul 2017Read more 3 star reviews
More clichéd Terrence Malick. Amazing cinematography. Meandering improv. Great real-world settings.
6th Jul 2017Read more 3 star reviews
Brutal 80s TV movie, imagining nuclear winter. Age has blended the stock footage to horrifying perfection.
3rd Jul 2017Read more 3.5 star reviews
Surprisingly charming, sentimental, old style movie with no need for an antagonist. Plus, solid DeNiro.
1st Jul 2017Read more 3.5 star reviews
Never Go Back
Serviceable action sequel that ticks a lot of boxes without thinking outside of any.
27th Jun 2017Read more 3 star reviews
Totally predictable, thoroughly inspiring animated sing-a-long for the X-Factor generation.
24th Jun 2017Read more 3.5 star reviews
B-list, mis-cast, low-ball girl gang comedy. Weak.
19th Jun 2017Read more 1.5 star reviews
Catastrophically miscast black comedy that fails at every turn. Big let down from star and director.
11th Jun 2017Read more 2 star reviews
Effortless retread of a show that survived well past it's sell-by date.
29th May 2017Read more 1.5 star reviews
Codswallop that's as indecipherable as every other recent DC movie. Terrible script, hammy acting.
22nd May 2017Read more 1.5 star reviews
Chaotic, bloated sequel. Low on humour and mostly involving bad guys flying through plate glass.
17th May 2017Read more 2.5 star reviews
Lazy, half-baked remake/reboot, totally lacking in charm.
17th May 2017Read more 2 star reviews
Wafer thin parenting parable, barely coasting along on the charm of Ferrell and Wahlberg.
16th May 2017Read more 2 star reviews
Classic western tropes burn slowly to an intense finale. Classic Jeff Bridges.
12th May 2017Read more 4 star reviews
Tired, pointless rehash of a franchise that long ran out of steam.
6th May 2017Read more 3 star reviews
Stooges doc that is interesting by default, but dull given that Jim Jarmusch is behind the camera.
28th Apr 2017Read more 2.5 star reviews
Poingiant doc of the latest Bad Seeds album. Still falls into the usual making-of box.
26th Apr 2017Read more 3.5 star reviews
Stylish, thought-provoking indie contemplating the weighty responsibilities of parenthood.
22nd Apr 2017Read more 4 star reviews
Great 90s blockbuster, with Harrison Ford carrying the movie on top finger-wagging form.
18th Mar 2017Read more 5 star reviews
Accomplished character piece. Almost stretches itself a bit thin, but it's stylish enough to transcend.
18th Mar 2017Read more 4 star reviews
Dated indie classic that uses music to create pseudo-sentimental highs of little real substance.
18th Mar 2017Read more 3.5 star reviews
Engaging, nostalgic doc which meanders through the rise and rise of 1995’s greatest band ever.
14th Mar 2017Read more 3.5 star reviews
Quintessential Gus Van Zant. Great art direction, acting and photography. Possibly better with age.
7th Mar 2017Read more 4 star reviews
Confident indie comedy-thriller that pitches itself perfectly.
4th Mar 2017Read more 4 star reviews
Thoughtful character study, with Eddie Marsan standing up for those who slip through the cracks.
26th Feb 2017Read more 3.5 star reviews
Brutally fast paced meta-fest, backed up by the most sensible bat-plot for a long time.
16th Feb 2017Read more 4 star reviews
Tenuous financial hostage thriller, that doesn't add up to the sum of its parts.
11th Feb 2017Read more 3 star reviews
Disappointing punk rock horror thriller, that doesn't make the best of its left field set up.
9th Feb 2017Read more 3 star reviews
Potentially forgettable buddy cop pic, elevated by a killer script and live wire performances.
1st Feb 2017Read more 4.5 star reviews
Accomplished, charming NZ indie comedy that wears its influences well.
1st Feb 2017Read more 3.5 star reviews
The Story of the Greatest Fan Film Ever Made
Inspiring doc about the kids remaking Raiders over 7 summers.
24th Jan 2017Read more 3.5 star reviews
Eight Days a Week
Inspiring reminder of the sheer volume of trail blazing laid down by The Beatles.
22nd Jan 2017Read more 3.5 star reviews
Seminal kids movie that I underrated in '85. Shot with an easy pace, until the free-swim at the end.
Halliwell says: The bottomless pit of the Spielberg genre, a silly tale which takes forever to get going and is acted by children who have not studied elocution. The trick effects when they come are OK, but it's a long annoying haul to that point.
22nd Jan 2017Read more 3.5 star reviews
Glacially paced, pretentious arthouse fluff, that fritters away a potentially interesting set up.
21st Jan 2017Read more 2 star reviews
Unremarkable potboiler from Le Carre, with a disappointingly bland turn from Ewan McGregor.
17th Jan 2017Read more 2.5 star reviews
Small scale period drama, anchored around strong central performances.
15th Jan 2017Read more 3 star reviews
Ambitious small scale sci-fi that drags a bit before it all gets a bit wacky.
11th Jan 2017Read more 3 star reviews
Tarantino zeros in on the most-tedious-film-ever award. Someone get the guy a new editor.
7th Jan 2017Read more 2 star reviews
Inventive ensemble drama, as David O. Russell takes another shot at Scorsese's crown. Great soundtrack too.
7th Jan 2017Read more 4 star reviews
Dawn of Justice
Mind-boggling, convoluted actioner that seems to have been written by picking ideas out of a hat.
4th Jan 2017Read more 1 star reviews
Extended super hero punch up, not dissimilar to the news man brawls of 'Anchorman'.
1st Jan 2017Read more 2.5 star reviews
Seamless CGI remake, lacking in humour and executed with the seriousness of LOTR or Apocalypse Now.
30th Dec 2016Read more 3.5 star reviews
Text-book rom-com that rebooted the genre and set the template for the next 3 decades.
26th Dec 2016Read more 4.5 star reviews
Decent enough animated parable from Disney. Lacking the usual emotional Pixar punch.
25th Dec 2016Read more 3 star reviews
A Star Wars Story
Second viewing and it's still holding together well. The third act is incredible.
22nd Dec 2016Read more 4 star reviews
A STAR WARS STORY
Impeccable world building and a nail biting finale mark a solid expansion of the universe.
18th Dec 2016Read more 4 star reviews