In the last several months here in England, I’ve come to love many things about the U.K. There are, of course, things I miss (umm, TARGET!), but that’s another post… I’ve mentioned before how I think UK commercials (“adverts”) are far superior to US ones. This is reemphasized every time we watch a show on Hulu; every now and then the US ads don’t work and we’ll get 60 seconds of silence and a black screen, making it the best day ever.
But anyway, today I’m going to talk about a few random shows, movies, bands, etc. that are popular here that you might not be aware of that I think you should check out! (Please keep in mind that I haven’t in fact been in the US recently and I’m not exactly sure of the popularity level of these things in the States, so bear with me if you’ve heard of every single one of them. Thankyamuch.)
Alright, where to start?
Moone Boy – a television comedy
I never had an imaginary friend as a child, but I doubt anyone’s imaginary friend is as hilarious and amiable as Chris O’Dowd. While watching IT Crowd, I think Sam and I laughed every single time his character spoke. He added a warm normality to the crazy drama of Bridesmaids. And now, in Moone Boy (which he also co-writes), he stars as Sean Murphy, the ever-reliable imaginary friend of goofy and bumbling 12 yr. old Martin Moone. Did I mention it’s set in Ireland in the 80s and 90s? On top of all that, it is witty, fun, pretty clean, and I think it has guest appearances of most of Britain’s other 20 actors! And also, it is available to watch on Hulu. (*Disclaimer* I do realize that this comedy is from Ireland not Northern Ireland and is therefore not from the UK, but it airs on Sky, a British channel, so I’m counting it.)
Tom Odell – his new album is “Long Way Down”
I think he’s becoming big in the US; at least I think I’ve heard some of his stuff on US commercials. If you haven’t heard his album, please look it up and listen to it. I downloaded the whole thing and don’t regret it one bit. He plays and sings with raw passion and talent that clearly comes across in his music. He’s a bit of a grungy-John-Mayer-on-piano. My favorites are Hold Me, Grow Old with Me, and Another Love. Check this out:
Sunshine on Leith (a Scottish musical film) & The Proclaimers
First of all, you’ve heard of The Proclaimers whether or not you realize it… Have you heard “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)”? Well, then you’ve heard The Proclaimers! The band is just two Scottish identical-twin brothers and they were HUGE over here in the 90s; they are still much adored by many (including David Tennant). A few months ago I coaxed Sam into going to see Sunshine on Leith with me while it was in the theater. Sunshine on Leith is a musical based around The Proclaimers’ music, much as Mamma Mia was based around the songs of ABBA.
I wouldn’t say it’s quite at the same level as Mamma Mia (in performance quality or popularity), but it is a fun and catchy movie! The only disappointment for me was their rendition of 500 Miles, but then again, it’s a hard song to cover! Sam and I have been listening to the soundtrack and The Proclaimers ever since. And we’ve seen references to The Proclaimers everywhere! Here’s a clip from a weird show over here called Not Going Out:
Build Your Kingdom Here by Rend Collective
Rend Collective is a Northern Irish worship band that I’ve only recently heard of. They have been together for a while so there’s a good chance you’ve heard their music. I don’t listen to Christian radio (or really any radio) so I’m not sure if they’re played much or not. But, our church over here does a great version of this song and I seem to always have it stuck in my head. It isn’t formulated like many worship songs (read: it’s interesting melodically and rhythmically!) and the words are powerful.The video is fun as well!
The Angels Share – movie
Sam and I watched this movie a few months ago before the Blockbuster in our town closed it’s doors. Wah wah. IMDB summarizes it well: “Narrowly avoiding jail, new dad Robbie vows to turn over a new leaf. A visit to a whisky distillery inspires him and his mates to seek a way out of their hopeless lives.” Taking place in Scotland, there are thick accents to wade through (I recommend subtitles), but the good news is their accents make the F-word sound silly! Yes, there is language and violence in the movie – clearly a plotline surrounding whisky is not for kids – but it is an uplifting story of second chances and an enjoyable peek into the less-likely-to-break-in-to-song half of Scotland. Watch this and Sunshine on Leith and you’ll get a pretty good view of Scotland. I kid, I kid.
Haim – my new favorite band that I cannot get enough of!
This one might be cheating a bit. They’re from California. But, BUT, I originally heard them on BBC during a live showing of their concert at Leeds. I stood in the living room (too enthralled to sit) and watched their entire set. These ladies can rock.
“‘Haim’s sound has been described as ‘nu-folk-meets-nineties-R&B’ and ‘music that sounds like it was written on a lakeside retreat attended by Stevie Nicks, John Waite and En Vogue.'” (Acccording to Vogue and The Guardian via Wikipedia). And the bassist sister definitely channels Mick Fleetwood.
I have listened to their album “Days are Gone” almost once a day (at least several times a week) since I discovered them months ago and I’m still not tired of it. By the way, Haim rhymes with time. And rhyme.
So there you have it. A few of my current faves from this side of the pond. Check them out if you’d like!