16 posts categorized "Music"

March 29, 2021


COLESMITHEY.COMPunk 101: The band from Derry.

"Are teenage dreams so hard to beat?
Every time she walks down the street
Another girl in the neighborhood
Wish she was mine, she looks so good"

Even if The Undertones had only written “Teenage Kicks,” the band would stand as one of the most important Punk groups responsible for energizing international culture and music. Hell, the song's been covered by the London Philharmonic Orchestra, not to mention Nouvelle Vague's great version. And still the hits kept coming. "Mars Bar" is the ultimate non-commercial song about how a candy bar can keep you going when you're knee deep in shit of any political/societal strife.

The Undertones - Teenage Kicks watch for free or download video

"My Cousin Kevin" is a hard slag on every golden boy destined for oblivion. "Here Comes The Summer" is a joyful romp about the one season that promises anything and everything. I could go on but you need to listen to The Undertones records for yourself. 

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With significant on-screen assistance from legendary BBC Radio DJ John Peel, Irish documentarian Tom Collins packs every necessary punch into a lively 72 minute documentary.  

Review: The Undertones - Singles 1978 - 1983 | Vinyl Chapters

From 1975 to 1983, The Undertones held their own alongside Punk heavyweights such as The Sex Pistols, The Ramones, Blondie, Johnny Thunders, and The Clash. What musical excitement.

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That The Undertones’ sparkling brand of radio-ready power pop was created in the midst of Northern Ireland’s Troubles, which lasted from the ‘60s into the late ‘90s, is a testament to the group’s deceptive maturity despite their young ages.

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In the '70s, New York City was beset with garbage piling up in the streets and CIA-introduced heroin, but Derry, Northern Ireland was steel trap of military occupation. Bombings, shootings and guns stuck in kids’ faces everyday prompted The Undertones’ rebellion of musical sweetness. To watch this great documentary is to get a sense of how five young Irish musicians (Feargal Sharkey, John O'Neill, Damian O'Neill, Michael Bradley, and Bill Doherty) declared their freedom and individuality with infectious original songs about teenage angst. Contrary to the misconception that Punk was about kids who couldn't play their instruments, shouting unintelligible crap, bands such as X-Ray Spex, The Damned, Billy Idol, The Buzzcocks, and The Undertones made joyful pop that made you want to dance, fuck, and hang out with your pals. 

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The band’s lead singer Feargal Sharkey’s irrepressible tenor voice cuts through every song with an urgent passion that cannot be denied. Sharkey has an amazing voice that he puts to fierce fun-loving purpose. It’s sad that Feargal is interviewed alone while other bandmates share the luxury of each other’s presence in some sequences. Such is the fallout from the band’s inevitable breakup amid personal and social pressures. Nostalgic and bittersweet joy emanate from a labor of love movie that will get your heart pumping and your feet tapping. The band from Derry is unforgettable. 

4 Stars

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Groupthink doesn't live here, critical thought does.

This website is dedicated to Agnès Varda and to Luis Buñuel.

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November 08, 2019


Echo_in_the_canyonThis beautiful musical performance/documentary love letter to Los Angeles’s mid ‘60s Laurel Canyon music scene that gave rise to The Beach Boys, The Mamas and the Papas, and The Byrds, is an addictive experience. I’ve watched it four times, and will gladly watch it again.

Jacques Demy’s underseen L.A.-set 1969 romantic drama “Model Shop” serves as inspiration for Jakob Dylan (a revelation as the band leader for a concert with a rotating group of co-singers that include Jade Castrinos, Cat Power, Fiona Apple, Beck, Regina Spektor, and Norah Jones) to interview the musicians who created such classics as “Go Where You Wanna Go” and “Never My Love.” Tingles run up your spine. 

Echo petty

Jakob's cool-hang interviews with the likes of pop music royalty as Stephen Stills, Brian Wilson, Tom Petty, Ringo Starr, Roger McGuinn, and Lou Adler allow for some hilarious tales told outside of school. Jakob Dylan’s subtle sense of humor get nice traction with Brian Wilson when discussing a song’s key. Jakob offers to “get out the capos.” Funny musician humor, I know, but I love it. Jakob Dylan is as unpretentious as they come  


Recording sessions as historic Los Angeles recording studios where great artists have recorded countless hits segue into Jakob Dylan’s live concert celebrating Laurel Canyon’s 50-year anniversary. The briefly utopic community of musicians who gravitated to Laurel Canyon created a Niagara of poetic pop songs turning folk music into rock ‘n’ roll. This is a groovy movie about a brilliant period of music that flourished before its awe-inspiring flight came to an inevitable end. This is a really fun movie to savor. My only complaint is that they didn't feature another four or five songs.


Sidebar: Although it's never brought up in the film, the Laurel Canyon music was a direct outgrowth of Bossa Nova. Bossa's utopian romanticism came out of a desire to soften samba into a Sinatra-influences style. The early '60s period of Bossa Nova's explosive popularity in the country occurred prior to a movement of young musicians to turn up the heat on folk music and make it rock with the same attention to songwriting that Gilberto and Jobim utilized for their timeless songs.

Rated PG-13 — 88 mins.Five Stars


Groupthink doesn't live here, critical thought does.

This website is dedicated to Agnès Varda and to Luis Buñuel.

Get cool rewards when you click on the button to pledge your support through Patreon. Thanks a lot pal!

Cole Smithey on Patreon

June 12, 2019


RocketmanHindered by faulty construction and lax editing that tires out the audience long before its two-hour run time passes, “Rocketman” is nonetheless an energetic fantasy version of Elton John’s incredible career in music.

Inspired musical vignettes set to magnificent Elton John songs such as “The Bitch Is Back” or “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” arrive with dance sequences that put “La La Land” to shame. There are times when it feels like the scattershot story gets in the way of the music.

This film’s overall success derives directly from Taron Egerton’s infectious performance as Elton John. His facial expressions deserve their own chapter in the latest book on the craft of film acting. There is magic here.


This picture should serve as Egerton’s break-out feature film role given the vast gifts of physicality, emotional register, and dynamics on display here. You may not be familiar with Taron Egerton from his part in the forgettable “Kingsman” movie franchise, but Egerton’s Elton John blows Rami Malek’s Freddie Mercury off the stage. Judging from Egerton’s work here, it seems as if there is nothing this fine British actor cannot, or will not, do.


Jamie Bell elevates his supporting role as Bernie Taupin, Elton’s songwriting partner, to something sublime. Bell matches Egerton note for note, beat for beat, in every scene they share. The effect is mesmerizing. Bryce Dallas Howard fulfills her role as Elton John’s cruel mother Sheila with laser-like precision. It makes you want to see Bryce Dallas Howard in more movies.

Rated R. 121 mins.

Four Stars


Groupthink doesn't live here, critical thought does.

This website is dedicated to Agnès Varda and to Luis Buñuel.

Get cool rewards when you click on the button to pledge your support through Patreon. Thanks a lot pal!

Cole Smithey on Patreon

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