The Fnews


Fear Tactics

Posted in Life by Michael Slevin on November 14, 2015
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PARIS, FRANCE - NOVEMBER 13:  A policeman patrols near the Boulevard des Filles-du-Calvaire after an attack November 13, 2015 in Paris, France. Gunfire and explosions in multiple locations erupted in the French capital with early casualty reports indicating at least 60 dead. (Photo by Thierry Chesnot/Getty Images)

PARIS, FRANCE – NOVEMBER 13: A policeman patrols near the Boulevard des Filles-du-Calvaire after an attack November 13, 2015 in Paris, France. Gunfire and explosions in multiple locations erupted in the French capital with early casualty reports indicating at least 60 dead. (Photo by Thierry Chesnot/Getty Images)

I woke up to the news today that there had been in a co-ordinated terrorist attack in several areas in Paris overnight. 129 people killed. Nearly 300 hundred injured. Three teams taking and killing hostages at a concert and detonating explosives at the Stad France. Another act of barbarism intended to inflict fear upon the western world.

I was shocked and appalled by the news, saddened once again by the visual pieces showing the kind of hatred and terror that exists in the world. I watched the vine of the footage showing the grenades detonating at the France – Germany football match; read the tweets from hostages inside the Bataclan concert hall outlining that they were being executed one by one and begging for police rescue; viewed the article from the man who managed to escape the music hall as the attackers stormed the auditorium, feeling guilty about the people he was treading over to escape.

It’s dismaying to see this happen again, especially after the Charlie Hebdo and Sydney attacks earlier this year – the latter hitting home more closely as my brother had visited the area the hostage taker assaulted just the day earlier. I contacted my French friends to ensure they were safe (they’re okay) and have been keeping up with the news on TV. I thought about how closely the victims’ lives mirrored mine: I saw Eagles of Death Metal, the band playing at the Bataclan that night, a few years ago. I can only imagine how horrific for my family it would be if I innocuously went to a gig with my friends and ended up never coming back.

Paris' Bataclan concert hall Friday just before the attack. (Jon) Via Upvoted.

Paris’ Bataclan concert hall Friday just before the attack. (Jon) Via Upvoted.

Not only are these tragic events a reminder of how awful the world can be, I’ve been incensed by them. Why has this kind of event happened? How can people that exist in an isolated bubble of warped morals dictate that others live in fear simply because they don’t agree with a lifestyle different to theirs? How dare they use such cowardly tactics to do so, massacring people looking for a reprieve from their difficult lives – just like you and me – and taking the easy way out so they don’t have to face the consequences? How can they think this is an okay thing to do?

The collective confusion on how we should feel about these events is also palpable. Whereas my anger is focused on the lunatics who conducted and condone these acts, others are targeting their rage at immigrants and Muslims, misplacing blame for the events at the feet of desperate people looking for better lives and followers of a peaceful religion that just happens to have a violent sect of people associated with it. As a result, anti-immigrant sentiment and Islamophobia is rising, largely thanks to the media, leading to further resentment between the West and ISIS states.

And that’s exactly what ISIS is aiming for: they want a disconnect between themselves and the West in order to create a villain that they can engage in a Holy War with and die in glorious combat against. This conflicts with Western doctrine and can’t be tolerated, so what’s the best course of action? We bomb them, of course.

And by ‘we’, I mean the politicians and elites that run our country. Of course we don’t have a say as individual peons forced into the whims of governments. Whereas ‘we’ see the bombing of our enemies as justified, with innocents lives being lost since they’re so far away, the same can’t be said when it happens on our home soil.  ISIS activities are far from justified – they are utterly abhorrent – but how can our governments’ bombing activities are seen as ‘good’ fighting ‘evil’? This ‘us vs. them’ way of thinking is dangerous: the world isn’t black and white and you can’t boil down complex issues into only two extremes. There will always be innocents caught in the crossfire and human life is precious, no matter where it exists.

So what can we as individuals do to change things when we have little say in the machinations of massive organisations, other than watch the news, feel horrible about current events for a while then distract ourselves with a plethora of entertainment at our disposal – possibly being killed for doing so? Why are young people becoming do despondent that they feel this is the only viable course of action? The ‘PorteOuverte’ hashtag on Twitter, which Parisians used to help those seeking shelter from the attacks and the vigils held around the world are a heartwarming display of solidarity against such horrible events, reaffirming some of my faith in humanity, but why is France becoming more and more right-wing in its politics? There must be other methods we can use as a collective to stand firm against such brutal acts and the decisions of the powers-that-be in the future.

Surely there must be other ways?

Creative Loop Media Festival 2015

On Thursday 1st October 2015, Creative Loop launched their Autumn Media Festival in Glasgow in grand style, hosting talks from industry experts across several media at the CCA. Talks ran simultaneously throughout the day, allowing attendees to either focus solely on one area of the media or take part in a variety of talks focusing on TV, Radio and career and programme development.

Kicking off the day on the TV side was the ‘Get It Write!’ session, where BBC producer, presenter and comedian Julia Sutherland interviewed comedy sensation Sanjeev Kohli, perhaps best known for playing Still Game’s Navid, discussed his origins as a writer and how he got to where he is now.  One of the main pieces of advice given across was when you have an idea, you have the resources to create something and then immediately share it with the world. In Kohli’s words, ‘just do it’.

On the radio side, Bauer’s Gavin Pearson hosted ‘Is There Anybody Out There?’, a masterclass focusing on radio audiences and how to reach them. Recalling anecdotes on mistakes he has made in the past – including ill-thought ‘celebrity I’d like to punch in the face competitions’ and mentioning on-air that Ray Wilson-era Genesis wasn’t as good as the Phil Collins led band-, he put forward that you can never know who is listening to your show and thus you have be ‘really really careful of what you say’.

Tinopolis

Just before lunch, Head of HR at Tinopolis Group Hayley Payne gave advice on what to do at job interviews – don’t turn up hungover being at the top of her list – and offered one-to-one CV advice.

The final radio session of the day was Any Radio Questions, an open Q&A with panelists Colin Paterson (BBC Radio Scotland Editor), Brian Paige (Regional Contact Director, Bauer) and Richard Melvin (Director) Dabster Productions), hosted by Bauer Scotland’s Head of News Lorraine Herbison. When asked how to impress with demo tapes, Paige said ‘entertain me now’, with Paterson adding ‘don’t make it long’. Melvin said don’t be afraid of failure, as 99% of projects don’t make it off the ground, but the 1% that does makes it worth it.

Bringing together established industry talent with up-and-coming content creators, Creative Loop’s Media Festival 2015 was a great event to inspire new talent in the creative industries.

I Made This

Posted in Life,TV and Film by Michael Slevin on October 25, 2014
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BBC Academy

Originally written for the BBC College of Production but never published.

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I Made This

I worked on…

24: Live Another Day

24-live-another-day__140203015820

Job title and what that role involved on this specific programme

Trainee Floor Runner

This is what I did…

Assisted the AD team in filming in the studio and on location. Monitored and co-ordinated the movement of cast and crew members, ensuring final checks were made and everything was ready when the director was ready to shoot.

Locked off sets during filming, both in studio and on location.  Distributed call sheets to everyone in the studio. Operated heating equipment, restocked refreshment stands and delivered lunches to cast and crew members.

Who I worked alongside

I worked mainly alongside the 1st and 2nd Assistant Directors and the other Floor Runners, although I helped out other departments when needed.

What my typical day involved

Work usually started at about half six, so I’d wake up at five, grab a shower and then wait for one of the other runners to pick me up. Upon arriving at the studio, I’d have a quick bit of breakfast then head into the studio to tidy up sets and make sure the coffee table was well stocked before the crew entered. I’d start up the heating machines to warm up the studio for everyone coming in as well. I ensured that the cast and extra holding areas were warm and well-stocked with water.

Once all the crew had set up, I listened out for instructions from the 1st and 2nd ADs via talkback, such as when to power the heaters down and call for crew rehearsals.  During shooting, I locked off the set, ensuring crew members remained as quiet as possible and did not leave or enter the studio while the red light was on so as to avoid spoiling a shot.

When moving sets, I helped transport equipment over to the new shooting location. I was on hand to swap out and replace used radio batteries to members of the crew.

We’d have an hour’s break for lunch and then get back to shooting.  I’d be on hand to undertake any ad-hoc duties, including directing extras during shooting. After a long 12-hour (often longer day), shooting would wrap and the runners would stay behind, helping pack up equipment, handing out the next shooting day’s call sheet to all members of the crew and tidying the studio. Afterwards, I’d get a lift back home, climb into bed and be ready for another early start the next day.

A moment in this production I’m particularly proud of

Directing the movements of background extras during shooting for the first time.

 Something I learned that I’ll take on from this production to the next

Working on drama is extremely hard work, with lots of physical labour and long working days. You’ll be on your feet the vast majority of the time and doing a lot of heavy lifting, so you need a high level of stamina and some sturdy footwear. Whether you’re working in the studio or outdoors, it’s essential to have warm, waterproof clothing: studios can get cold and weather can change in an instant and it’s important not to be caught out.

My biggest surprise was

I jumped when I heard my first gunshots and explosions. Those things are loud!

The programme I’d kill to work on

Doctor_Who_Logo

I would love to work on programmes like Black Mirror, Star Trek and Breaking Bad (one of the greatest TV programmes ever made), but I absolutely adore Doctor Who and it’s one of my life goals to work on it at some point in my career.

 

I Didn’t Get to Where I am Today Without…

Posted in Life,TV and Film by Michael Slevin on October 23, 2014
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BBC Academy

Originally written for the BBC College of Production but never published.

NB: the article was written in April this year and as such some of the information in the responses is now out of date.

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1. Briefly – what is your job and what are your key responsibilities?

I’m a Runner, which means that I’m on hand to help out productions wherever and whenever possible. The exact responsibilities vary from job to job, but they usually involve driving to various locations, picking up and dropping off items and members of the crew, helping out in the office and on location and making cups of tea when needed!

2. What was your first job in your area and how did you get it?

camp orange logo

I was a delegate of The Network in 2011and it was through a fellow attendee that I managed to get my first work experience placement as an Office Runner in the Flame Television offices in London. My first paid job working on Nickelodeon’s Camp Orange was through an email sent out by The Network.

3. How long did it take you from there to where you are now?

I’ve been in the TV game for over two and a half years now.

4. Was there a formative person or programme which made you want to work in your area?

I adore Doctor Who and would absolutely love the chance to work on the programme at some point in my life. It’s THE show that spurred me into getting into drama and working on it has been a life goal of mine for a while now.

5. What is your favourite TV/radio programme or online offering at the moment?

I’ve been catching up with Black Mirror, Charlie Brooker’s modern take on classic Twilight Zone-style anthologies recently. An inspired exploration of different aspects of modern life taken to their most logical and morbid extremes, each story is a mix of cutting commentary of the drawbacks of our technology-infused lives with the black comedy that Brooker excels at. It’s brilliant stuff.

6. Has there been a moment where you’ve thought, “I can’t believe I get paid to do this!”?

Michael Slevin 12 Again Doctor Who Special Archive Assistant Credit

While working at CBBC, I was an Archive Assistant for 12 Again’s Doctor Who special. This involved watching, logging and ingesting both new and classic episodes of the show. I got paid to watch my favourite series and assist the editors in the post-production suites. It was fantastic!

7. What’s been the proudest or most memorable moment of your career so far?

me kickaboutMost memorable: Appearing on CBBC in a Match of the day Kickabout sketch.

Proudest: Being asked to work on 24 thanks Creative Skillset’s Drama Trainee finder, especially as my first drama job.

8. What things do you always have with you – physical objects and personal skills?

I carry a runner’s pouch on me – a little red folder containing lots of pens; tapes, highlighters; post-its; even electrical tape, which has saved the day on a few occasions. Call sheets and unit lists are vital, as are sat-navs and in-car phone chargers.

Communication is vital, so I always have my phone charged and ready on me so I can be called if anybody needs me or if I need to look up a number or address.

I’ve invested in a good pair of sturdy shoes and waterproof clothes. These things will always come in handy whether you’re in the studio or out on location.

9. Most useful skill you’ve developed?

I’ve developed a number of skills over my career as a runner, including archive researching, audience handling, autocue operation, vision mixing and camera operation. I’ve also learned how to deal with challenging situations, such as dealing with difficult audience members or sensitive issues involving contributors in a professional, discrete manner.

10.Hardest lesson learnt?

There are times when your social life has to take a back seat. Hours in the industry are long and there are no set working patterns, so sometimes social plans will have to be postponed. However, it’s an industry I love working in and I enjoy working as part of a team making something that I can be proud to be a part of, which is a great trade-off.

11.Which tools do you use to keep up to date on the industry?

broadcast logo

My main source of industry news and events is my subscription to Broadcast, which I check online and read whenever it pops through my letterbox. I also follow a large number of studios, news sites and industry professionals on websites such as Twitter and Facebook, as well as messaging contacts I’ve made over the course of my career.

12.Anything you know now that you wished you knew then?

Networking is essential. People will be more willing to hire you for a role if they know you in real life and you’ve made a positive impression on them. Attend all the events you can and speak to lots of people. Even if they don’t offer you any opportunities straight off the bat, there might be a time when they’re looking for a runner and you pop into their mind.

13.What 3 tips would you give someone wanting to do your job?

1: No matter what job you’re given, carry it out to the best of your ability: even if it seems small, you’re contributing to the production and your effort will be greatly appreciated by someone.

2: Clarify every detail of a task before undertaking it: it’s better to do the job properly the first time than make a mistake and have to do it again. If in doubt, ask!

3: Apply to every single scheme you can. The Network and Creative Skillset’s Drama Trainee Finder have been essential in getting me started working in drama and TV in general, so I can’t recommend applying for schemes like these enough.

14.What are you up to next?

I’ve just finished as a Locations Runner on Outlander and I’ll be working with CBeebies’ My Story team on a week-long shoot around England. Over the summer, I’ll be running on the digital content series Cops and Monsters and then I’ll be a CGA Assistant for the Commonwealth Games. It’s looking set to be a busy year!

2013: A Retrospective

Posted in Life by Michael Slevin on January 2, 2014
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It’s funny how things can change so much in the space of a year. This time 12 months ago, I was looking forward to starting the perfect job in Manchester with an awesome girlfriend. Now I’m back in Glasgow, single and searching for my next break in the industry.

2013 was meant to be the year of the Mike, the one in which my dreams in life would finally come to fruition. While it started off promisingly, towards the midpoint things went wonky and changed drastically.

There were a lot of firsts last year: my first time moving out; having a steady job; walking a dog (you’re a good boy, Albert). Dizzy highs – working on Doctor Who specials, spending an amazing summer at the Edinburgh Festival, immersing myself in a new hobby – were followed by miserable lows – loss, rejection and stymied hopes. What started off as ‘My Year’ ended on a few soulless months.

I learned a lot about myself in 2013: how to expect to be treated in life, how much bullshit I’m willing to tolerate when it comes to other people and who to keep in touch with and with whom to cease contact. I’ve made so many new and amazing friends, rekindled with old pals and dropped the toxic individuals. I learned that sometimes it’s okay to be selfish and that there are points in life where putting yourself first is the best course of action.

I spent Hogmanay at the Edinburgh Street Party surrounded by good friends. As the clock struck midnight, I watched the fireworks erupt from the Castle as the events of 2013 exploded in one final spectacle before being carried away as ash in the wind. I danced with the rest of the revellers as I ushered in the new and hopefully brighter new year.

Life is all about experience and that’s definitely what last year turned out to be. I can’t say it’s one I want to repeat, but it’s hard to hate a year in which I grew so much as a person. My new year’s resolution is not to have any resolutions since, as this year has shown me, you never know where life will take you. Thank you to everyone who was a part of it: you’ve all taught me so much.

On New Year’s Eve, I really fancied a crêpe. On New Year’s Day, I finally managed to procure one. I’m still aiming to get my life sorted out, but for now, this first small victory of 2014 will do.

To end this blog, here’s the video of one of my favourite songs of last year.

Jimmy Eat World @ 02 Academy, 09/09/2013

Originally submitted to TicketMaster, but unsurprisingly never posted.

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jimmy eat world

Having seen numerous disappointing events at the Carling/O2 Academy over the years, I have avoided attending gigs there since there was a high likelihood that the venue’s soundsystem would ruin the artists’ sound. There have been several acts I’ve seen – The Prodigy, The Ting Tings, Basement Jaxx, etc – that have been incredible in other venues, but somehow sounded terrible playing in the Academy.

However, having seen Jimmy Eat World – one of my favourite bands – previously at the Barrowlands in 2010, I decided to take the risk and see if the venue had improved since the last gig I saw there (New Order last year). As I should have expected, though, this wasn’t the case, cementing the fact that this is the last event I shall be attending at the venue.

My friend and I arrived about midway through the support band and the previous sound issues that characterise the venue – indistinguishable instrumentation; fuzzy acoustics; constant droning in the background – were present and correct. I visited the restroom, where the security at the event acted in a strange and peculiar manner, making me feel uncomfortable for the rest of the night.

Eventually Jimmy Eat World came on and I tried to enjoy the music, but the impenetrable fuzz that overlay everything and the constant bassy ‘vworping’ sound accompanying every song made each sound identical and unsatisfying, a far cry from the bright, crisp and exciting sound the band had when they played in the Barrowlands. Bored, frustrated and still feeling weirded out from the encounter with security in the bathroom, despite fighting the terrible sounds and trying to enjoy ourselves, we left half an hour into the show, disappointed and disheartened at the waste of time and money the night turned out to be.

The O2 Academy has always exhibited disappointing gigs, but due to a combination of terrible sound and rude, disconcerting staff behaviour, that night’s experience turned out be possibly one of the worst concerts I’ve ever attended. The band themselves are amazing live in other venues: it’s a disservice to them, or any artist, to have their sound throttled and suppressed by the venue’s awful sound system.

I’ve given the Academy way too many second chances and benefits of the doubt: it consistently offers poor-to-mediocre shows. I won’t be attending any events there in the future, no matter who may be playing.

 

0/5

Answer Me This – Romance of the Three Kingdoms

Originally published on Ready Up on 14th September 2013.

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Wei Yan

Question: Can you force yourself to fall in love with a game?

In my last blog, I talked about how I was worried that I was losing my love for gaming. That amidst the huge changes in my life, my passion for my oldest hobby had waned. I wondered and worried about whether the unbridled joy I used to experience playing videogames was but a memory, never to be within my clutches again.

Since then, I’ve uprooted my life once again as I implement a change in the direction of my career. I moved back home, having three days off before undertaking my next month-long job in Edinburgh. For those three days, I slept, sorted out bank guff, slept, went clothes-shopping, slept, got my hair cut, slept, caught up with a few friends and slept. Did I mention I slept? I did a lot of sleeping. Being very tired does that to you.

 

Read the rest of this blog over on Ready Up.

Answer Me This – Enthusiasm Blues

Posted in Games,Personal Blogs by Michael Slevin on July 24, 2013
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Originally posted on Ready Up on 24th July 2013.

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Animal Crossing Ceremony

Question: Am I losing my love for gaming?

I’m having somewhat of a worry.

In my last blog, I was singing the praises of the 3DSXL, saying how brilliantly innovative and downright fun it was. Since then, I’ve picked up a copy of Animal Crossing: New Leaf and become the mayor of the town of Dodge. I’ve upgraded and filled my home, ploughed money into public projects and overseen the construction of bridges, benches and dream salons. In order to fund all this, I’ve been visiting the nearby tropical island to farm local fauna, donating any undiscovered species to Dodge’s museum.

Read the rest of this blog on Ready Up.

Answer Me This – Why Don’t Games Make You Smile Anymore?

Originally posted on Ready Up on 15th June 2013.

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Yes man

I recently got dumped.

To cheer myself up and to relive the joy of the mortgage-simulator that is Animal Crossing after New Leaf received glowing reviews, I decided to purchase a 3DSXL. After asking a few of my pals for theiradvice, I decided to plump for a Limited Edition Fire Emblem console – it has dragons and swords on the back, after all. After Googling around, I rather bizarrely discovered that you could get it cheaper at my local bricks-and-mortar Game store than online, so I made the trip and purchased a shiny blue and black 3DSXL (with funky Space Invaders carry case, of course).

Read the rest of this blog on Ready Up.

Daft Punk – Random Access Memories

Posted in Music,Music Reviews by Michael Slevin on June 1, 2013
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Random Access Memories

So here it is: the latest studio album from Daft Punk after a wait of eight years. The excitement of fans such as myself was almost palpable: it’s been nearly a decade since we’ve experienced some of Daft Punk’s seminal electronic music and as it’s release drew closer, we grew ever more excited. Get Lucky was released and turned out to be a funky wee tune, so when Random Access Memories finally dropped, it’s with great excitement that this reviewer put on his headphones and sat down hoping to have his mind blown by some fantastic electropop once more.

So it was a bit of a surprise when album opener Give Life Back to Music, a slow-paced funk song started playing. ‘Okay’, I thought, ‘this is just the first track. It will pick up and the electronic sounds the French duo are known for will soon kick in.’ So it was a bit of a surprise when the next song, The Game of Love, turned out to be more or less the same: slow funk with Daft Punk’s iconic robot voices singing complicated lyrics over them.

It made no sense: Daft Punk’s previous releases were refreshing and invigorating, breathing innovative new life into the house and EDM scene. Yet here, Random Access Memories sounded nothing like anything they had done before: other than the robotic voices they are famous for, there’s nothing here that’s reminiscent of what made them great.

Feeling somewhat disappointed by the dullness of the first two songs, I cracked on: I endured the gruelling Giorgio by Moroder, a ten-minute semi-interview that also doubles as a lesson on audio pretension. By the next track, I was bored.

I continued listening to the rest of the album, but not because I was enjoying the music: I was listening out for any scrap of the sounds that Daft Punk were known for, anything that wasn’t the tedious sound of the tracks that make up RAM, but it was not to be. The latest album is dominated by mediocre and frankly boring disco and funk. The vast majority of songs consist of little more than the same crisp beats, plinky guitars and meandering navel-gazing lyrics delivered in robotic voices that simply don’t suit the style of music they warble over.

There’s nothing here that hasn’t been done better years ago: why bother listening to these drudging, samey ballads when you can listen to the seminal songs of bands like Chic, Kool and The Gang and The Ohio Players? Random Access Memories is apparently a love letter to the music that inspired Bangalter and de Homem-Christo and it’s always been known that it would be a departure from their usual sound, but when this big an abandonment results in such a poor, ironically soulless album, then perhaps it’s not the best direction to go in. It’s all fine and well maturing your sound and taking your music in a new direction, but with such dull results, perhaps it’s best to reconsider the bearing in which you’re heading.

It seems like Daft Punk have gone back to go forwards, but, if Random Access Memories is anything to go by, it sounds like they’ve gone back way too far. Rather than their usual innovative fare, RAM is filled with insipid, uninspiring and frankly dull rehashes of tunes that were made to a much better standard decades ago. Whereas before they sounded like humans trying to make fantastic robot music, here they sound like robots making bad human music. It’s not a good inversion. There are hints of the band hidden here and there, but outwith those, there’s little character here whatsoever.

It’s not completely irredeemable – Get Lucky remains a  funky wee song and Contact yearns back to the kind of music they used to make, even if the live drums sound weak and an annoying droning buzz ruins the song towards its conclusion – but two good songs do not a bad album redeem. If this was any other band, it wouldn’t be garnering as much attention as has done.

Bland, boring and with little to keep you interested for more than a single listen, Random Access Memories is a major step in the wrong direction for Daft Punk. It’s a bizarre decision to abandon their roots and plough forward in a genre to which the mythos and mystique of the robotic duo is completely lost. It’s astounding that Alive 2007, the closest thing to audio perfection yet recorded, is followed by such a hollow drudgery of an album. Hopefully this is a blip in the band’s journey and that their next offering is a punchy, more interesting affair. It would be a shame to see them go the way of Muse: I don’t want to fall out of digital love with these guys like I did with them.

1/5

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