THE ROUNDUP : This month’s regional pop-culture highlights

Narcy ft. Mashrou Leila. (Image Supplied)
Updated 27 October 2018
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THE ROUNDUP : This month’s regional pop-culture highlights

DUBAI: Read on for a list of pop-culture highlights you can't afford to miss. 
“Time”
Narcy ft. Mashrou’ Leila
Two of the biggest name’s from the region’s alternative music scene join forces on this powerful track taken from Iraqi-Canadian rapper Narcy’s upcoming album “Spacetime.” Instrumentation and an Arabic-language chorus from Lebanese indie heroes Mashrou’ Leila and Narcy’s customary quickfire English-language rap make for an intriguing and engaging mix, and the track gets space-y weird toward the end with a heavily Autotuned Narcy vocal.

“Dead Pets, Old Griefs”
Interbellum
The second album from the Lebanese indie outfit led by singer-songwriter Charlie Rayne (or Karl Matar as he’s known when working as Interbellum). While the band’s 2016 debut “Now Try Coughing” had the exhilarating feel of a record knocked off in a couple of hours in someone’s garage, “Dead Pets, Old Griefs” has a (slightly) more polished sound, but is still heavy with distortion and dissonance. And Rayne’s melodic skills and knack for a stop-you-in-your-tracks lyric shine through once again.

“Lonely At Night”
Noush Like Sploosh
The Dubai-based multidisciplinary artist has an ambitious plan for her debut album, “Whimcycle.” She will release a video for each of its 10 songs. “Lonely At Night” is the second in the series. The beautifully drawn stop-motion animation is the perfect accompaniment for the dark drama of Noush’s song about working yourself to the bone to avoid facing up to anxiety and depression.

 


REVIEW: 'Stranger Things' season three

Finn Wolfhard (Mike Wheeler), Caleb McLaughlin (Lucas Sinclair), Charlie Heaton (Jonathan Byers), Sadie Sink (Max Mayfield), Noah Schnapp (Will Byers), Natalie Dyer (Nancy Wheeler) and Millie Bobby Brown (Eleven/Jane Hopper). (Netflix)
Updated 21 July 2019
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REVIEW: 'Stranger Things' season three

  • Hit series returns, funnier and freakier

DUBAI: Netflix’s “Stranger Things” crossed the line from hit series to cultural phenomenon pretty early on with its mix of Eighties nostalgia, sweetly humorous kids-coming-of-age story, sci-fi thrills and genuinely spooky scenes.

After a second season that brought a darker, more dangerous vibe but lost some of the fun, showrunners the Duffer Brothers seem to have struck a better balance between the two in the third season, released last week.

Set in the summer of 1985, the central gang of kids: Mike Wheeler, Will Byers, Lucas Sinclair, Max Mayfield, Dustin Henderson and telepath Eleven (or El — or Jane Hopper as she’s now the legal adoptive daughter of Sherrif Jim Hopper) are on school vacation, and it’s that awkward summer when the boys start to take more interest in girls than in Dungeons & Dragons, much to Will’s chagrin. Mike and Lucas are (at the start of the series at least) bumbling their way through relationships with El and Max respectively. The Duffers mine these awkward ‘first-love’ scenarios for rich humor and some genuinely touching moments, as well as some realistic takes on how the complications of love interests affects the tight-knit gang of boys we met in the first series. And of how they enable Max and El to bond. It’s great to see El relax into hanging out with her first real girlfriend (in the platonic sense).

There’s plenty of humor too in the double-act of Dustin and Steve Harrington — formerly the high-school heartthrob, but now struggling to retain his ‘cool’ edge while working in an ice-cream parlor in the town’s new social hotspot, the Starcourt Mall. New arrival Robin is his co-worker — and thorn in side, constantly puncturing his ego.

Of course, there’s a darkness stirring too. The sinister, otherworldly monster defeated by El at the end of season two is not, it seems, as gone as everyone thought. Strange power fluctuations trigger Will’s awareness of his nemesis, and the kids quickly realize that their summer holidays aren’t going to be as carefree as they’d hoped. There’s the issue of exploding rats, for starters, and Max’s older brother, Billy, is acting very, well, strange.

Everything that made “Stranger Things” so wildly popular, then, is still in place, including stellar performances from the ensemble cast and the eye-catching attention to Eighties pop culture (new Coke, Phoebe Cates and Ralph Macchio, for example), to — of course — the unsettling notion of something very wrong happening just beneath Hawkins’ shiny, happy surface.