The Air Conditioned Nightmare- Doldrums music review


Usually chaos isn’t a positive aspect of an album – however, Doldrums have created an intriguing exception to this rule with The Air Conditioned Nightmare. Inspired by the works of Henry Miller, the music conjured up by Airick Woodhead (who mixes punk rock vocals with DJ produced samples and sounds in place of a guitar truly) does the American writer justice, with his famous quote “nowhere else in the world is the divorce between man and nature so complete”.

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Modest Mouse album review- Strangers to Ourselves

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Modest Mouse have been around for over two decades. Their creation in 1993 spawned a new era for the genre of indie rock, with the band seeing a turning point of success in 2000 with the much loved albums ‘The Moon and Antarctica’ and ‘We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank’ in 2007. Following that, their eight year hiatus from the music industry sadly ends on a bum note with their new comeback album ‘Strangers to Ourselves’ with no spark, little to remember, and most importantly, lacking soul and personality – making the album title sadly fitting…

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Lower Dens review on


Following on from their second album Noostropics three years ago, Lower Dens, the indie experimental band from Baltimore, have returned with a new LP ‘Escape from Evil’. 

Earning a reputation for their distinct vocals from front woman Jana Hunter, right off the bat the interesting choice of name for the new album creates a sense of ominous anticipation for the music to come. What sort of evil has Hunter gone through and escaped and just what is the title asking us to question?



An Interrailer’s Survival Guide

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Like many students, this summer you’re planning to go interrailing. Your friends and family are all telling you different things; what to bring, where to visit and where to avoid. You’ve all heard the great stories people have had during their travels as well as the horror stories. Here I give the advice I wish I’d known before I went last summer.

Set a reasonable budget. I know that it seems best to take the minimum amount possible to ensure you don’t spend too much, but the best thing to do is take a little more than you think you’ll need. Whatever budget you calculate at home will always be nothing compared to your actual expenditure in reality. You don’t want the stress of calling home to ask for more money before a night out in Berlin.

Book hostels in advance for every city you visit. Lots of people do the spontaneous thing where they travel with no bookings and hope to find a hostel with a vacancy somewhere in the city. That’s pretty risky, especially during summer time when hostels are in highest demand. You don’t want to end up sleeping on a bench out in the cold, so book them at least a few weeks before you travel. Strangely, some people I spoke to actually enjoyed sleeping on the benches when they couldn’t find a hostel, but they were certainly in the minority.

Try to avoid going out to the nightclubs that the hostels promote and avoid bar crawls. It may seem like they are giving you a good deal, but the ‘free shots’ and ‘discounted entry fee’ are advertised for a reason. It’s either going to be scam once you’re in there or a terrible atmosphere. We made the mistake of booking a bath party in Budapest promoted by the hostel we stayed in and it was one of the worst night of the trip. We got a discounted entry fee so decided it was a good deal, only to then find out there was a tab limit of £16 and the baths were filled with unidentified fluids and floating condoms.

Search online for the best clubs and ask around before you make plans. It’s also a good idea to see where other groups in the hostel are going too. The bar crawls are also a rip off, on average costing you £10 for what you could do yourselves for free.

Don’t make a travel route that’s too all over the place. No one wants to be travelling for 14 hours every train ride. Pick a route that won’t tire you out and that makes sense from country to country. However, a beautiful scenic route once in a while will reminding you what you’re there for.

TV review: Drugs live: Cannabis on trial

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Channel 4’s Drug’s Live: Cannabis on Trial attempted to distinguish the difference in the feelings and effects induced by hashish and the reportedly “three times stronger” skunk, which has created much debate in recent years. Millions of people in the UK smoke cannabis every year and it’s an experience many students go through at some point during their time at university.

The show promised a great deal, with star academics such as Professor David Nutt, and charismatic presenters like Christian Jessen all taking part, but it lacked purpose. Its attempt in making a flashy and exciting introduction fell short, with a selection ofconfusing camera shots showing each presenter walking in different directions, followed by a comment from Richard Branson, a completely random choice of celebrity to include in the show. Even he seemed somewhat bemused when Jessen came over and put him in the spotlight. The lab coats and tacky studio layout didn’t help to make the show more interesting either, just undeniably cheesy.

As it continued, the show became increasingly similar to an awkward video a teacher would put on in a science class before half the students fall asleep. The only really enjoyable part of the show was the moment Jon Snow had his famous panic attack in the middle of an MRI scan after smoking skunk. However, presenting what was to happen at the beginning essentially ruined the surprise of it.

One flaw of the television experiment which was never addressed was the fact that being high and being forced to talk about feelings of anxiety would considerably increase these feelings than if, say, the participant was sat listening to music and eating a bag of Doritos. After all, anxiety feeds on loops of thought. This could have been a crucial reason as to why Jon Snow had such a bad reaction; never mind the fact that he took the strongest strain of the drug that there is.

When it came to interviewing ‘real life’ stoners and not fifty-year-old, middle class presenters, they couldn’t have picked a more stereotypical bunch if they tried. It basically consisted of a group of students saying how good cannabis made them feel and how great high sex is. They just seemed happy to have a few moments on television more than anything.

The deluded message that creativity correlates with cannabis use, even though it may have been unintentional, could be inferred incorrectly by some of the audience. Music sounds better to a high listener, that’s agreed. But there’s no proof it makes anyone more creative and this shouldn’t be implied on an ‘informative’ show.

The results provided little new revelations about cannabis. The dramatised promise for a massive discovery came to a flat finding that skunk is in fact worse than the better known, normal strain of cannabis and hash. This created a strong sense of purposelessness and inadequacy; Drugs Live: Cannabis on Trial was one hour of television seriously lacking.

The Art of Poetry

Poetry is something that many people struggle with. There’s so many ways you can write it and I like to call it “the expression with no boundaries”.  You’ve got haiku, free verse, lyrical, ballad, limerick and sonnets.  Each method has benefits and drawbacks and can be used to show an emotion or tell a story in a specific way best suited to it. I advise if you are a beginner of poetry to read poems of all types and see what you enjoy the most. Then try it out with your ideas and see if it is compatible with your trails of thought. I have an opinion that each poet is particularly talented with writing a certain type of poetry. This is not to say that they won’t be good at other types, just that one type is their forte (like Shakespeare was with sonnets). This is why leaving your options open at the beginning is vitally important for your progress as a poet.

I began writing poetry about two years ago. It came to light as I listened to music with catchy beats. Pink Floyd’s album, The Wall and Dark Side of the Moon helped me format words in my head in such a way where it actually had rhythm as you read it. I began writing my own lyrics for instrumentals of songs like Eminem’s Rock Bottom and Mob deep‘s Shook Ones. The rap beats made it easier than any other music to create stanzas of words that sounded good, and by the end I had a variety of lyrical verses to go with them.

As time went on, I was opened into a whole new world of poetry. Writing my own lyrics to songs only seemed to be the surface of a very large iceberg. Exactly twelve months ago I wrote my first poem, The Solemn Crackhead. It originated from a collection of lyrics I wrote for instrumental beats. I spent weeks putting them together into a sort of ballad/ sonnet. I wanted to create my own mark within the world of poetry so I purposely mixed up the rhyme scheme my own way. I wanted to express through this the confusion and pain that the crackhead had gone through in his life.  I stuck to rhyme, sonnets and ballads in my future writings and with every poem, the meaning and the flow got more interesting and complex. After all, poetry is all about practice. The more you write, the more you discover.

Then I attempted free verse for the first time which opened yet another door. Free verse is brilliant because it allow you to tell a story however you choose without being limited having to rhyme; it is known as the poetry of no rules. This means you can use more than a handful of words in your poem. It also means you can lengthen or shorten the lines whenever and allows you to emphasize phrases or words that can send a strong message to the reader. The flow in free verse poems depends on the natural rhyme of speech rather than using a rhyming meter. It’s all about how the previous line goes on to the next through a stream of consciousness, the eloquence of descriptions and well used metaphors that create a vivid image for the reader.

This is not to say rhyming poetry should be ignored. It can get the reader into the flow of the poem much quicker and drive the message home more effectively. While you may be sometimes limited by the rhyming, it can create the sound of undeniable beauty when read out loud. The lines, as an effect of the rhyme, will be better remembered by the listeners/ readers because patterns of the words in their head. This creates a sense of communication between poet and listener. That is why it was used in the ancient Greek times for spoken word and is something to consider when you write poetry. However, you shouldn’t just use rhyming in your poem to make it look pretty. In fact, the rhyme can be used to express a certain artistic message and open the audience up to a new insight they were previously unaware of.

Another thing that will help your poetry to develop is to read other poetry. There’s so much influence out there and the more you see, the greater amount of methods you will know about for your own work. This allows you to be diverse and avoid repetition in your poetry. It’s no good practicing and spending your time coming up with ideas for a poem when you lack knowledge of methods and techniques that will show those ideas in the most creative and original way.

Creating Romance in the Plot


Developing feelings between characters in the plot of your story is a tricky thing to do. It’s adding another dimension to them which may have an important influence of what happens in future chapters. Not only this, but how do you create a unique love interest with personal interactions and one of a kind moments? One thing you learn in real life is that every relationship has its own way of functioning and being. Therefore, your story should have a romance of its own being too.

True love is hard, dark and sometimes twisted. It should open all the gaping flaws of your characters and lay the innards out on the table. A romance should make your characters happier but more vulnerable to sadness. It should add this sense of uncertainty for the future.  Of course, love also brings this surge of unexplainable happiness to the characters. It’s the conflict between uncertainty and happiness that creates the most enticing and realistic romance. People may argue that as we get older, love doesn’t make us uncertain because we are more settled in and self-aware, but I disagree.  Love is a feeling that will always defy reason and disregard logic. It is one of the things that make humans, in their purest essence, complicated. This should be expressed in the love interest within your story.

The complexity of love shouldn’t just be shown through a few heavy arguments and a cry. It must be ingrained within the relationship itself, the problematic cracks must show. Whether you choose to do it subtly or outright is your choice. The characters must be drawn to their limits and tested on every emotional and psychological angle. Let me explain this with an example:  Say your main character has a job and is naturally a workaholic; the love interest would put strain on this attribute as the character must now focus on two workloads. Will the romance create problems with the quality of work? Is there someone else at the characters job that’ll get jealous or always has been over the bond and begins to create problems? Do new personality traits arise in the characters that they themselves would never think possible? These all must be considered.

A strong part of a romantic bond between characters is passion. This is, in my opinion, an important thing to describe. Passion takes the romance to a new level, sexually or emotionally (ideally both!). The reader should feel that they are holding their breath for the two to stay together and begin to think illogically and hope irrationally for the outcome of the story just as if they were in love themselves. One story that really hit me hard with its romance was Hubert Selby’s novel, Requiem for a Dream. In the story, it follows four characters living in New York. Harry and Marion are the couple and the story really well describes the intensity of their romance. But the romance is conflicted with their addiction to junk and it is drawn to its limits and cracks begin to show. When they are together, they are undeniably happy. However, this doesn’t stop the reality of both their situations which comes between them where things start to go wrong and their love for each other becomes a battle to find junk. This romantic battle is what got me; it left me with a large range of emotions for the couple and it made it feel so realistic. I vouched for Harry and Marion and hoped they wouldn’t leave each other, I truly did. There were dimensions to their love because it wasn’t perfect, and even though it wasn’t perfect it still made you feel a sense of fulfilment over the character’s bond.