Saturday, July 30, 2016

GFreedom's Juke Box No.170

Hello all!
Those who are following or checking my blog from time to time, know that in most Saturdays I'm uploading here the 'Juke Box' post, which is my weekly Top-5 songlist for you.
During this week I've listened to some really nice songs, and I decided that the best ones are the following:
TIM BUCKLEY: Look at the Fool (Look at the Fool - 1973)
SIVERT HOYEM: Give it a Whirl (Long Slow Distance - 2011)
JETHRO TULL: We Used to Know (Stand Up - 1969)
THE DOORS: Strange Days (Strange Days - 1967)
SERJ TANKIAN: Sky is Over (Elect the Dead - 2007)
By clicking on the following YT links you will be able to listen to the songs in my list right away. Enjoy the music and have a great weekend! :-)
Thank you!
TIM BUCKLEY: Look at the Fool
SIVERT HOYEM: Give it a Whirl
JETHRO TULL: We Used to Know
THE DOORS: Strange Days

Friday, July 29, 2016

TV Series: NARCOS (1st Season)

   Are there any people around that the name Pablo Escobar doesn’t mean anything to them? The younger ones maybe… But for those who are over 35 years old, it is impossible not to know the name of one of the most notorious and legendary criminals of the 20th century. Speaking for myself, I knew some things about Pablo Escobar and his “business”, but I never understood why especially this guy was so famous. Well, now I know! 

  For those that haven’t guessed it already, ‘Narcos’ is a documentary-like (on many occasions) series, about the rise and fall of the legendary Colombian “King of Cocaine” Pablo Emilio Escobar Gaviria. The 1st season consists of 10 episodes (each episode varies from 45 – 55 minutes) and I watched them all in just 3 days! Yes, it is THAT good! 
  But let’s take it from the start:
Narcos is a very good show where bad men do bad things and good people get hurt. There have been plenty of movies or shows that cover this familiar ground, but Narcos in maybe one of the best ones. The first episode of the series opens with the quote: “Magical realism is defined as what happens when a highly detailed, realistic setting is invaded by something too strange to believe. There is a reason magical realism was born in Colombia“, and they are right. I mean, many people, including myself, have heard the story of Pablo Emilio Escobar Gaviria, the man that came from nothing, built an empire on drug money and was even featured in Forbes magazine, worth more money than General Motors.
  Narcos does a great job of introducing us to the figure of Pablo Escobar, the family man who was also a kingpin, the man with so much money he could buy anything and anyone. Not only do we get to know him as a character so driven by his ambition, we also get to know the events that led to the mass production and trafficking of cocaine, and most importantly; the meaning behind the politics at the time which are vital in order to fully understand Escobar’s story. Indeed, magical realism was born in Colombia; there is no other way to tell this story without having people wondering what’s real and what isn’t. Personally, after each episode, I found myself doing a research on the internet, because every time I was saying: “No, that is impossible! It probably never happened”. But guess what? EVERYTHING that is described in this show happened, and to be honest, many more actually happened, that are not included.
  In the role of Escobar we see the Brazilian actor Wagner Moura, in the role of his life! Moura, moved to Escobar’s hometown of Medellin in order to understand the real-life man and the culture behind his character. Furthermore, he learned Spanish and gained about 10 kilos (maybe more) especially for the role. After all these, the only thing we can do is to congratulate him for his efforts and his fantastic performance. (He received a Golden Globe award for his acting in Narcos).  
 [At this point I should mention that I read many complaints from Spanish speaking viewers, that his accent is really bad and that influenced their opinion on the show. (I forgot to mention that in a big part of the show, the actors speak Spanish, which I think it was a brilliant idea. And since I don’t speak any Spanish, I had no problem with that).]
  Now, if you are planning to watch Narcos, have in mind that this is not a show to have on in the background while you pay your bills, or doing something else (particularly if you don’t speak Spanish). It requires your full attention, but it’s totally worth it! Narcos rewards its viewers with a fast pace and something new and surprising that is happening all the time. Most importantly, the events are so strange that unless you’re extremely familiar with Colombian news from the late ’80s and early ’90s, you’re not going to be able to guess what’s coming next.
  I could go on and write more details on the subject, but I will not do so. You’ll have to see it and form your own opinion.
Just have in mind that Narcos is a very violent series, therefore it should be not watched by kids or people who are not fond of violent scenes.
By clicking on the YT link below, you will be able to see a trailer and have an idea. 
           As for my rating, I will give a solid 9.0 out of 10.0

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

NEMRUD: Nemrud (2016)

  For those who aren’t familiar with Nemrud, I should start this post by saying that they are a Heavy/Psychedelic/Space Rock band from Turkey. Although they have many Progressive Rock elements in their music, they are definitely not a Progressive Rock band.  
  Their discography consists of 3 studio albums so far, all of them really good and interesting ones. First came ‘Journey of the Shaman’ in 2010, 3 years later they released ‘Ritual’, and a few months ago their latest album named as ‘Nemrud’. All 3 albums, share some common characteristics, such as the long hypnotizing compositions, (including big instrumental passages in each one of them), and the few number of songs included in each of their albums .‘Journey of the Shaman’ was including just 3 songs, which were actually the 3 parts of one big song, with the shortest one being 12 minutes long. ‘Ritual’ was including 4 songs, with two of them being over 10 minutes long. 
As you can understand, ‘Nemrud’ couldn’t be very different. It includes 4 tracks, all of them over 11 minutes long, but there is a special (or limited) edition as well, which is including 2 of the album’s songs in “Radio edit” versions. This is something really good and helpful, especially for people who are involved with radio stations. (Like myself for example). These 2 songs are’ God of the Mountain’ and the really beautiful ‘Forsaken Throne’.
  Although their style in more or less the same like in their previous albums, I dare say that this album sounds more “mature” more “sophisticated” and it seems as the band members improved their technique and gained more confidence in comparison with the previous albums.The only "weak" spot I found is the vocals, but it is something you get used to and stops bothering you after a couple of listenings.
  I am not going to write anything about each song separately, because when I am playing the album I listened to it as a whole, but I should mention that the closing song ‘Forsaken Throne’ is my favourite one. (In both versions). (Also Euphrates is a fantastic tune).
  The important thing is that with each listening the album “grows” in you. You start noticing more and more details and musical turns that you haven’t noticed before, and that is surely something we should congratulate the band for, because it means that these guys payed a lot of attention in the details, and did a really good job.
I believe that this is an album worth to become more famous and more people should listen to it. Nemrud is a good band which shows significant improvement with every new release.
                          My rating would be: 3.5 out of 5.0 stars
By clicking on the following link you will be able to listen to the song ‘Euphrates’ just to get an idea.

Monday, July 25, 2016

MUSE Live in Athens (23/7/2016). The setlist.

As I wrote in this blog almost a week ago, the English band Muse gave a live performance in front of the Greek audience on Saturday the 23rd of July.  
The concert took place in a beautiful place next to the sea, and it was packed! A crowd of more than 25.000 people was gathered in order to enjoy the show.
Muse gave a professional and impressive performance that lasted for almost 100 minutes.
I'm adding here the concert's setlist and right after that a YT link in which you can watch the song Time is Running Out from the Athens concert. The video is from a mobile phone I guess, so the sound quality is not good, but it is worth checking it, if not for nothing else, then for the impressive crowd's sing along.
MUSE 23/7/16 Athens Greece:

Drill Sergeant / Psycho / Plug In Baby / Hysteria / Butterflies & Hurricanes / Bliss / The 2nd Law: Isolated System / The Handler / Supermassive Black Hole / Madness / Dead Inside / Starlight / Time Is Running Out / The Globalist / Drones.
Encore:  Uprising / Mercy / Knights of Cydonia.


Friday, July 22, 2016

TV Series: MARCO POLO (Seasons 1 & 2)

  This is a series I watched without having any idea what they are like beforehand. I thought that it might be something different, that’s why I decided to give it a try. I wouldn’t consider Marco Polo as one of the best series I ever watched, but I can’t say I am disappointed either.
  The main story is about the Mongols and China in the 13th century. Genghis Khan conquered a vast area including parts of Asia and eastern Europe. (He has 64 million descendants living today). This is the story of his grandson: Kublai Khan, who extended his grandfather's empire into China. The television series places much attention on Kublai's efforts, what motivates him, and his struggle to manage a vast empire that includes many cultures that a son of the Mongolian steppe would be hard pressed to grasp. Kublai was faced with being an agent of change in a society that resists change, that’s why he faced a lot of resistance. It also portrays his wife as an important character who is both strong, wise, and important. And between all those things, Marco Polo enters the story; 

  Just as the real Marco Polo was sent to the court of Kublai to learn the ways of the Asian empire, the series portrays Marco Polo as an observer and student. You watch him learn. He must adapt himself in the Mongols traditions and way of living, without losing himself. His challenges are many and contribute greatly to the plot. The cultural setting is as authentic as it can be, without confusing a western audience. It is Asian. The rules of behaviour are Asian, and most of the cast are Asians.

  The production is a really expensive one, and that is obvious. (I read somewhere that is one of the most expensive productions ever). Also, most of the actors are playing their roles very well, and they “fit” perfectly in them. Especially the acting of Benedict Wong as Kublai Kahn and Joan Chen as Chabi, is a pleasure to watch!
  But as for the writing and the storyline, in my opinion is kind of slow, and I found myself trying to continue watching it in a couple of occasions. Especially the 1st season, which is slower than the 2nd one, made me think of stop watching it. But I continued, and I must say that the 2nd season was better by far. The pace was faster, the story became more interesting, and there is a really fantastic and epic episode near the end, which left me speechless! Also, have in mind that you need to pay close  attention to each episode to follow each plot line. Some of this is because of my own lack of familiarity with eastern culture. Names are difficult to remember, as are the family relationships, the alliances, the conflicts and the interests of the characters. This is not a show you can watch with one eye. To fully appreciate the story, you must be willing to pay full attention to each episode.  

  Without being an expert to the history and civilization of the Mongol empire, I assume that  this show is something between an actual historical drama, mixed with historical fiction. I can’t say which stories are right and which aren't, but I read something about it recently and I’ll add it here for you: [The story is taken from "IL Milione", known to the English-speaking public as "Book of the Marvels of the World". It was first written down by Rustichello da Pisa from stories told by Marco Polo himself, while held captive in Genoa. It's a collection of descriptions, stories and actual historical facts, and the chronicle of the dialogues between Marco Polo and Kublai Khan. It's an ancient and extensive text (183 chapters), that knew instant celebrity in its time, mainly because it was a first-hand depiction of Medieval Asia: a vast and mostly unexplored continent. The profound impact that the book had on the culture of its time, caused it to be translated, adapted and edited so many times, that the original manuscript had to be reconstructed almost three centuries later. The first attempt to collate manuscripts and provide a critical edition was printed in Venice in 1559. Even in Italy and in Venice, due to its obscure medieval language, the book isn't read as often as it deserves, yet it inspired Columbus to pursue his travels, and represent an invaluable source of information for merchants, cartographers and travellers].
  At this point I should inform you that both seasons consists of 10 episodes each. Each episode lasts for almost an hour (give or take), so in order to watch the 2 first seasons you will need almost 20 hours in total. Also, I should mention that the series are not over yet. As far as I know, there is at least one more season coming next.

  Now, having these things in mind, it’s up to you if you are going to watch it or not. My opinion is to do so! Be a little patient and be sure that you will be rewarded!
As for my rating, I would give 7.5 for the 1st season and  8.0 for the 2nd one.
                IMDB's average rating for both seasons is: 8.1
By clicking on the following link you will be able to watch a trailer for Marco Polo, in case you are interested.