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Buy or Design: Is it worth buying an app template?

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Have you ever wondered what it takes to create your own Android app? I'd always assumed it requires a ridiculous amount of genius programming skills to create an app or mobile game but apparently that's not quite true. 

Just like blog layouts can follow a general, customisable template, so too can apps and there are sites out there that create ready made app templates. You can choose the template that best suits your needs and then customise it and reskin according to your brand. Sites like Chupamobile go even one step further and run a customising service where they will design your app according to your requirements and you don't need any coding or design skills. 

The questions remains as to whether it is a good idea to buy an app off the shelf, so to speak. The life cycle of an app is quite short so you're going to want to minimise your time from development to market so that you can start making money and recover your investment. In terms of this, buying an app template and customising it yourself or paying someone to do that would be a good idea. 

Just like with any good business investment, it is always a good idea to know what you're doing and you're definitely going to need to know how to fix the app if it breaks or customise it further as your brand evolves. There are readily available online courses that will teach you the basics of app development. 

The key is to do your research and look at other apps to see what works about them. An excellent example is the Ubrain app which blows its competition out the water. 

So do you think you're ready to design your own app? Super. Just remember to plan carefully and while you're at it, consult this excellent Mashable article on 10 tips to avoid if you're designing your own mobile app. 

Film Review: The Face of Love

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How far would you go to bargain in the face of grief? The Face of Love is a romance with quite a dramatic twist and stars Annette Bening, Ed Harris and Robin Williams. It is directed by Arie Posen (The Chumscrubber) who wrote the script along with writer Matthew McDuffie.

Nikki Lostrum (Annette Bening) sits alone in the dark remembering the loss of her husband five years earlier. He was the love of her life, a talented architect who designed and built their beautiful home with the infinity pool. Now the house feels like a prison, the four walls closing in as she rattles about in the house alone.

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Just as Nikki begins to pick up the pieces of her life, she meets Tom Young (Ed Harris), a dead ringer for her husband Garret. Unable to stop herself, Nikki is drawn to Tom and pursues a relationship with him, despite knowing in every fibre of her body that it is wrong.

Meanwhile, unaware of lies that Nikki is telling him, Tom becomes ever more invested in the relationship but what secret is he hiding in turn?

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The Face of Love presents a moral paradox that is wrong on so many levels. There is no credible scenario in which what Nikki does is acceptable, or is there? Anyone who has ever suffered grief will understand the need to bargain in the face of such loss. How far would you go to reverse your fortune?

Annette Bening gives a powerful performance as Nikki, at once drawing the audience in with her display of selfless love while repelling them with her pathology. She shares an on-screen chemistry with Ed Harris that is so simple and believable that you almost forget for a moment how pathological the relationship is.

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Ed Harris gives an understated performance, holding his great secret up his sleeve until the very end. There is just something about Ed Harris - he is like an older version of Michael Fassbender (or should that be there other way round?)

The best performance of the film is undoubtedly Jess Weixler in her role as Nikki's daughter Summer. The scene where Summer meets Tom is simply superb and absolutely believable. Robin Williams and Amy Brenneman star as Nikki's neighbour and Tom's ex-wife respectively. This superb supporting role from Robin Williams was sadly one of his last.

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The Face of Love is an intelligent film that remains in your thoughts for a long time afterwards as you ponder the moral ambiguities and paradoxes therein. While other films might have relied on an explosive climax, The Face of Love delivers a simple yet elegant finale which ties together the threads of the film beautifully.

I thoroughly enjoyed The Face of Love and am reminded why I like Annette Bening and Ed Harris so much. This is a clever romantic drama with a twist and I'd give it a healthy four out of five stars.

4 Stars

Released by Signature Entertainment, The Face of Love is cinemas nationwide and on digital platforms from December 12, 2014.

Check out this exclusive clip from the film below.


An screener of this film was provided to me for the purposes of this review and all opinions contain herein are my own.

SeaRISE Blog Tour: Commander Hadron Speaks

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Timeshift anyone? Commander Hadron sells us his vision of the C-Bean

A guest post by Sarah Holding

Welcome to 2014. My name is Commander Hadron. As exclusive and valued members of our revolutionary TS100 programme, you will shortly undergo a comprehensive induction session with one of Hadron Services’ agents. You have been assigned agent AFOS21XV. The following are provided as back-up notes and will be circulated as a digital handout at the end of your induction.

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May we congratulate you - you have made an excellent decision and we value your custom. Timeshifting is not the right option for everyone, but for those who choose to make the leap through time, a bright and promising future awaits you, in the past.

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The twenty-second century presents a unique set of challenges to humankind following the cataclysms of the twenty-first. Many people find these challenges are best overcome with a move to an earlier time, while some move off planet, and others venture forth into the unknown and select the our newest TSplus100 Programme, although participants must sign a disclaimer as there are no guarantees that life in 2214 is any better.

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As a participant in our TSminus100 Programme you have elected to be shipped back 100 years in time to 2014, together with the barest essentials you will need to integrate with everyday life in your chosen century: a passport, a month’s worth of local currency, plus clothes and personal items appropriate to this era. Please note that oxygen is plentiful in 2014, and your Bioports will not be needed.

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Your agent, AFOS21XV will act as your local guide and chaperone for the first 48 hours. Arrival is provided in an urban location in a temperate latitude.

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Having successfully completed our Language Optimisation Training Programme, (LOTP) you will also be equipped to speak the local dialect of the people living in the city of arrival. For additional support, we provide you with a Voicoder App.

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Any unusual medical problems should be reported to your Agent, and if necessary he will order antidotes. Your base station is the C-Bean itself, which will remain in the vicinity for 72 hours after your arrival, disguised itself as something that will enable it to blend naturally with its surroundings.

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You will each be provided with a Mailboat to facilitate telepathic communication with your loved ones in 2114. We recommend however that you only use this once a day to avoid Consciousness Leakage from being detected by the local law enforcement. There have been cases of alien arrests on suspicion of possession of telepathic equipment. You are also reminded to be alert to any vigilante telepathic activity by your Alter Human. They will have undertaken the switch to your Birthtime at the same moment in another C-Bean, but sometimes participants have experienced intense headaches and other symptoms as a result of their Alter Human trying to make contact during transit. It is not advised that you respond if this happens.

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Please remember there can be no refunds or reversals. 72 hours after you arrive in your TSminus100 location, your contract with Hadron Services is terminated and you have no further recourse to us for technical support or customer relations.

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We at Hadron Services pride ourselves in offering a unique service to the luxury end of the market, and we recommend that you take out Hadron Insurance to protect your investment. If you have selected the Remote Viewing add-on, this insurance protection is mandatory.

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You might also wish to pledge a few extra Bars to our Bio-Offset Project, whereby for every human we relocate to the past who pledges 50 Bars or more, we can bring 50 mammals, 100 birds, 1000 insects or 10,000 seeds to the future.

The final book in Sarah Holding’s SeaBEAN Trilogy, SeaRISE which features the character of Commander Hadron, is now out. (Medina) available here.

About the Author:

Sarah HoldingSarah is a full-time children’s author, juggling writing with looking after a family of three children. They live in Surrey in a funny old house with a leaning tower. When she’s not writing she’s singing, and when she’s not singing she’s playing sax in her jazz band. She says she knew there would always come a time when the abandoned island of St Kilda would feature somewhere in her life, little thinking it would be the setting for her first children’s book.


This guest post was the penultimate post in the SeaRISE blog tour spotlighting the third and final novel in Sarah Holding's SeaBEAN trilogy. If you enjoyed this post, be sure to visit the other blogs in the tour.

1st December – Sci-Fi-London
2nd December – Sci-Fi Bulletin
3rd December – Fiction Fascination
4th December – Feeling Fictional
5th December – Cherry Mischievous
6th December – The Overflowing Library
7th December – Book Passion for Life
8th December – Bookaholics Book Club
9th December – The Secret Writer
10th December – Addicted to Media
11th December – SeaBEAN Trilogy Official Website

Win: Sarah Holding's #SeaRISE Goody Bag and Books

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I have excellent news! If you’ve been dying to get your hands on a copy of the third and final instalment of Sarah Holding’s SeaBEAN trilogy then you’re in luck because this month I’m running a huge SeaRISE giveaway!

SeaRISE is out now and continues Alice’s adventures in time travel as she is transported to a fantastical future land devastated by climate change, inhabited by cyborg parrots and 3D printed trees and insects, and unable to support life as we know it.

In SeaRISE, Alice awakens in 2118 in a place she doesn’t recognise. She doesn’t remember who she is or how she got there but she begins to remember being interrogated by Colonel Hadron. Who is this terrifying man and what does he want with her? Worse yet, will Alice and her friends survive this ordeal and will they ever get home?

This month on Addicted to Media I’ve teamed up with MidasPR to give away a SeaRISE goody bag filled with signed copies of the entire SeaBEAN trilogy as well as a SeaRISE  t-shirt and arm-band. There are also additional prizes for runners up with TWO copies of SeaRISE to give away.

The giveaway is open to UK residents only. I’m giving you a whopping EIGHT chances to win using the Rafflecopter widget below. Remember to click on the widget to confirm which options you’re going with so that you can be entered into the random draw. You can earn extra entries each day by tweeting about the competition.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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I’m also thrilled to announce that I’m taking part in the Official SeaRISE Blog Tour. Make sure you come back on Wednesday 10 December for an exclusive guest post by Colonel Hadron where he will try to sell us his vision of the C-Bean.

Brand New: James Bond: Spectre - One Sheet

Gosh, it seems like only 3 minutes ago that the 24th James Bond film Spectre was announced yet my inbox is already full of emails about it. Principal photography begins on Monday but I'm sure we'll all be thoroughly bored about it by the time the film is released on 6 November 2015.

This will be Daniel Craig's fourth film as Ian Fleming’s James Bond 007 and he will be joined again by Ralph Fiennes, Naomie Harris, Ben Whishaw and Rory Kinnear as well as introducing Christoph Waltz, Léa Seydoux, Dave Bautista, Monica Bellucci and Andrew Scott.  Speaking yesterday in London, Spectre director Sam Mendes also revealed Bond’s sleek new Aston Martin, the DB10, which was created exclusively for the film.

Paul Potts to perform exclusively on Ideal World TV

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Christmas will come early this year with an exclusive performance from Paul Potts on Monday 22 December on Ideal World TV. The Britain’s Got Talent star is to be the first ever high-profiling singer star to appear on the channel, making this performance a real first for viewers.

At 8pm on the 22nd Paul will be performing three songs, including an exclusive track from his new album, ‘Home’, and will also be interviewed live on air! Paul’s performance will have a direct influence on his chart sales, as a number of limited edition signed copies of his new album will be available to purchase after the performance, selling at £9.99 (including Postage and packaging.)

Paul said, ‘I am so excited to be the first live act to perform on Ideal World TV. Singing on a shopping channel is such a modern way to showcase my music to fans, and I hope everyone enjoys the show!’

The singer first shot to fame in 2007 with success on the ITV talent show, Britain’s Got Talent. Performing classic and pop-opera music, his winning performance of Nessum Dorma, and debut album ‘One Chance’ were a huge success in nine countries.

clip_image002Andrew Gabriel, Managing Director of Ideal World TV, said: “We are delighted to be hosting this performance. Paul is such an inspirational story and is loved the world over. He really is a great talent and we hope viewers enjoy this early Christmas treat!”

Currently, Paul is involved in a world-tour for the promotion of his new album ‘Home’, which looks to be a huge success.

The performance on the 22nd can be viewed on Sky channel 654, Freeview 22, Virgin 747 and Freesat 812.

Film Review: Debug (2014)

Debug is written and directed by David Hewlett (Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Cube) and stars Game Of Thrones’ heart throb Jason Momoa alongside Adam Butcher and Jeananne Goossen. It is a tense and claustrophobic psychological thriller, a feat achieved even though the film takes place in the well-lit and vast expanses of the space freighter.

Despite this, Debug also manages to be incredibly boring.

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In the far reaches of the galaxy, a massive space freighter stands derelict. Six young computer hackers are sent across space to the freighter, charged with debugging the malevolent computer systems of rogue programmes as punishment for their cyber crimes. As they separate to apply their skills, it soon becomes clear that they are no match for a vengeful artificial intelligence that will stop at nothing to become human. What secret does this ship hold and what fate lies in store for the hackers?

The interstellar cast of Debug

It seems that it is the ultimate curse of the film fanatic: the more excited you are about an upcoming release, the more disappointed you will be when it just doesn’t live up to your high standards. This was certainly the case with Debug. The premise sounded incredible and I was really looking forward to different kind of psychological thriller, one set in space and with a plot that involved hackers, artificial intelligence and a lot of action. In fact, the trailer just about promised non-stop action.

Debug final scene featuring Jason Momoa

Warning: Spoilers ahead. The problem is that in creating a beautiful, atmospheric and claustrophobic film – the cinematography really is quite good – the director managed to achieve a clinical, sterile and rather eventless film in which the characters are picked off one by one and nothing really happens. Even the deaths seems to happen with such precision that you’re left wondering how exactly you should feel about them. It really did remind me of those nightmares where you die and wake up in a hospital ward which is frightening in and of itself but nothing else happens because that is scary enough.

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Ultimately the film relies too much on what amounts to be a couple of plot holes. Why did Kaida (Jeananne Goossen) lead them to the space freight? She said it was to get them home sooner but how on earth could she possibly suspect that would work?

Jason Momoa as Iam in Debug

There were some good performances in the film. Jason Momoa was very good in his role as the murderous I Am but I would certainly have liked him to ham up the horror a bit. Adam Butcher was good in his role as James McKay although how he landed up being the protagonist of the film when he spends most of the climax passing out and bleeding to death is beyond me. Kaida (Jeananne Goosen) is the ultimate anti-heroine of the film but was let down greatly by a really flaky plotline involving a colleague she may or may not have murdered in order to save the rest of the crew.

Jeananne Goossen as Kaida in Debug

Ultimately, I’d say that Debug was the greatest film disappointment for me in 2014.

I'd give Debug a disappointing two out of five stars. I wouldn't say it is a complete waste of time but I'd definitely recommend that you catch it on DVD or Blu-ray rather than going to see it at the cinema.

2 Stars

Released by Signature Entertainment, Debug is out on DVD and Blu-ray in the UK and is available for purchase from Amazon.co.uk.


An advance copy of this DVD was provided to me for the purposes of this review and all opinions contain herein are my own. This review contains affiliate links.

The Final Klaxons Gig: 4 November 2014, Shepherd's Bush Empire

Tomorrow marks the Klaxons' nine year anniversary. Nine years of mayhem and chaos, magic and stratospheric success but "alas Shepherd's Bush", says Jamie Reynolds, "there is no other time". And there won't be because this is it: the final Klaxons gig in the UK.

It's a pretty bitter pill to swallow. For me, the Klaxons represent my entire journey in the UK from the moment I first heard "Not Over Yet" shortly after my arrival to this Monday morning at 7am, blasting out "Children of the Sun" on my iPod to dispel the Halloween cobwebs.

There were highs and lows, of course. Highs would be when I first saw them at the NME Big Gig at the O2 in 2008 and last year's brilliant comeback at Hard Rock Calling in Victoria Park.

I had no idea this morning that this was going to be the last Klaxons gig I would ever see but I am so very grateful that I had tickets to see it.

And what a performance it was.

Tonight was, in a word, spectacular. It felt intimate, like a small farewell party for just the band and a couple of hundred of their biggest fans. It looked like the four lads were really enjoying themselves on stage and I'm pretty sure Jamie was crying at the end there (although I was crying big girl tears so I might be mistaken).

Klaxons burst onto stage with "New Reality" and went straight into "Atlantis to Interzone". Jamie didn't waste time confirming what we'd heard, that this was their final gig but very little else was said about that. They lead into "There Is No Other Time" to thunderous applause from the crowd, followed by "Gravity's Rainbow", the drum mastery of "Twin Flames" and "Show Me a Miracle".

"Golden Skans" was next and it felt like coming home. Suddenly it was the summer of 2007 again and Klaxons were playing 6 times an hour on Xfm and everything seemed possible. "Invisible Forces" followed and the crowd went ballistic.

The rumbling intro to "Two Receivers" sounded next, the first track from their debut album Myths of the Near Future. Once again it struck me as poignant, a return to their roots and where it all started. I could almost feel in my bones what was to follow.

"Magick". I don't know what else to say. I'm pretty sure I once listened to this track on repeat for six months and even then it was only superseded by the Metronomy remix of "Atlantis to Interzone". The performance of this track tonight, this fabulous, perfect track, was phenomenal. They were never going to simply go through the motions and play it. The band stopped midway and paused, whipping the crowd into a frenzy before descending into a rapturous finale. It was something I doubt I'll ever forget.

The final songs of the set were a bittersweet "Atom to Atom" and "Echoes". I knew they'd come back for an encore, of course I did but as the band left the stage, I couldn't help feel that this was it.

They soon exploded back on stage with thunderous renditions of "The Bouncer" and "Four Horsemen of 2012". With the dance floor in utter chaos they broke into a particularly momentous "Children of the Sun" before their final farewell. It was the first track I'd ever heard by then and only fitting it should be the last: "It's Not Over Yet".

How strange that my favourite dance track of all time would lead me to one of my favourite bands of all time. (I once searched high and low for over a year to lay my hands on the CD single for Grace's "It's Not Over Yet" in the days before the dawn of the Internet).

And suddenly it was over. I can't help but hope that we see Klaxons again at festivals or in comeback tours but if that was it, if I'll really never see them again, well then it was all worth it. Tonight will count as one of the best gigs I have ever seen and a fitting farewell.

Thank you Klaxons!

Klaxons final concert

Shepherd's Bush Empire: 4 November 2014

Setlist

New Reality
Atlantis to Interzone
Flashover
There Is No Other Time
Gravity's Rainbow
Twin Flames
Show Me a Miracle
Golden Skans
Invisible Forces
Two Receivers
Magick
Atom to Atom
Echoes
 
The Bouncer
4 Horsemen of 2012
Children of the Sun
It's Not Over Yet

Movie Review: The Adventurer: The Curse of the Midas Box

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Life can be pretty mundane when your father is a renowned professor and you're made to sit through his lectures while he waffles on endlessly about antiquities. Mariah Mundi (Aneurin Barnard) is a young seventeen-year-old Victorian gentleman and his life centres around his family and his younger brother Felix. All of a sudden Mariah's life is thrown into turmoil when his parent's disappear and Mariah and Felix are chased from their home by intruders. On the run, dirty and penniless, they soon find themselves in a reformatory where the enigmatic Will Charity (Michael Sheen) arrives to their rescue.

Aneurin Barnard and Xavier Atkins in The Adventurer

Well, almost. In the chaos that ensues, Mariah and Felix are separated and Felix is carted off by thugs. Will explains to Mariah that the events are linked to his father’s work and the search for the legendary Midas Box. He suggests to Mariah that his only chance of rescuing his parents and younger brother is to investigate the mysterious Otto Luger (Sam Neill) and accept a position as an undercover porter at the Prince Regent Hotel. 

Aneurin Barnard in The Adventurer

There Mariah travels and soon discovers that the situation is far more grave than he could imagine with monsters terrorising the town, children disappearing and danger at every turn. Can he solve the Curse of the Midas Touch in time to save his brother?

Sam Neill and Lena Headey in The Adventurer

The Adventurer: The Curse of the Midas Box is a daring Victorian caper with hidden treasures, secret passageways and a host of clues to solve. This is a visually spectacular film with vibrant colours, steam powered contraptions and handsome Victorian fashions. The film draws comparisons with The Mummy and Indiana Jones but stands out for its healthy dose of fantasy with magical medallions and enchanted cards. It is directed by Jonathan Newman and features the cream of British acting stars including Michael Sheen, Sam Neill, Lena Headey, Ioan Gruffudd and Keeley Hawes.

Mella Carron and Aneurin Barnard in The Adventurer

Welsh actor Aneurin Barnard is perfect as the dashing Mariah Mundi and I can see that he has quite a career ahead of him as a teenage heart throb. (Someone really needs to give him a role as a teenage vampire). He is joined in his adventures by Mella Carron in her role as Sacha, and together with Michael Sheen they steal the show.

Michael Sheen in The Adventurer

The Adventurer: The Curse of the Midas Box is a lot of old-fashioned fun and will certainly appeal to young children and lovers of adventure. I thoroughly enjoyed the film but do have one complaint in that I disliked the final scene enough to leave quite a sour taste in my mouth. I won’t spoil it at all except to say that I wasn’t happy with such a game changer taking place in the final credits and it seems like a nasty storyline to pursue in a sequel in any event.

Nevertheless, I do recommend The Adventurer: The Curse of the Midas Box and I give it three out of five stars. I really did struggle between placing it at three or four stars but ultimately it is good and enjoyable but not excellent.

3 Stars

The Adventurer: The Curse of the Midas Box is out in the UK this week and is available to buy from Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com.


An advance copy of this DVD was provided to me for the purposes of this review and all opinions contain herein are my own. This review contains affiliate links.

New Music Friday: Michael Cullen - True Believer

Whenever a music recommendation lands in my inbox proclaiming to sound like Nick Cave or Ian Curtis, I’m always equally curious and dubious. In most cases, the artist is simply trying too hard and what they gain on technique they lose in originality. No matter what, I always give them a listen.

It is rare that such an album will draw me in from the very first track and more unusual still that it will keep me captivated right to the end but that is exactly what happened the first time I listened to Michael Cullen’s True Believer.

Michael Cullen 7 High Res

About

Michael Cullen is an Australian song-writer and performer and is no stranger to the Sydney alternative music scene. In the 1980s and 1990s he was part of bands such as No Man’s Land, The Hardheads and Watershed before taking an extended break in the late 1990s.

Michael says that his influences range from ABBA, The Beatles and Elvis Costello to AC/DC, David Bowie and The Cure (it is clear that he has an excellent taste in music because those are pretty much my early influences too) but his music is clearly far darker than his influences. He plays old semi-acoustic guitars and like to record his music on tape machines, tube microphones and other analogue equipment. When combine with Michael’s intense baritone vocals, the result is a haunting sound that more accurately draws comparisons with Nick Cave, Tom Waits and Johnny Cash.

Michael has been collaborating with Tim Powles of The Church for almost 20 years. Powles produced and contributed drums to both of Michael’s solo albums and first collaborated with Michael on his debut album Love Transmitter.  Before joining The Church, Tim played drums for The Venetians, The Divinyls and Angry Anderson.

The Album

True Believer is Cullen’s sophomore album consisting of nine tracks and is released in October 2014. The album was mixed and recorded in Tim Powles Spacejunk III studio and Studios 301 between 2011 and 2013 and was co-produced with Powles and mixed by Danton Supple (Morrissey, Coldplay).

Michael Cullen True Believer v 2.0 4PAN1TCullen sets the tone for the album from the very first note and fans of Nick Cave will recognise his influence immediately. “Black Dog” is a tale of depression, self-loathing and loneliness which you can listen to below.  You know that times are hard when even Leonard Cohen can’t broach the depths of your bad luck.

“I asked Leonard Cohen / how lonely does it get/ for all the black dogs / who can’t forget”

The tales of woe continue with the organ-thumping “Believer” before the bitterness sets in with “Nothing Special”, “Black Coffee and Cigarettes” and “Damaged”.

“Cha Cha Cha d’Amour” is another standout track. This song has great rhythm and talks about the dance people take when they are playing games in a relationship.

The themes of betrayal and loneliness continue with Cullen’s epic organ-drenched anthem “I Walk Alone” and the rather bleak “I Never Knew” before the frenzied guitars and drums in “Broken Horses”.

True Believer is an emotional and intense album that draws you in from the opening chords. It takes the listener on a gut-wrenching journey of betrayal and loss before finally releasing them in a breathless state with heart beating out of the chest.

I give True Believer five out of five stars and really do recommend the album to fans of Nick Cave, Joy Division, Johnny Cash, Tom Waits or Leonard Cohen.

5 Stars

Listen

Buy

Amazon.com | Amazon.co.uk | Bandcamp | CD Baby

Links

Website | Facebook | Soundcloud | Bandcamp

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