Sonic Boom Six – Sonic Boom Six (album review)

Sonic Boom Six self titled album coverNo-one could accuse Sonic Boom Six of standing still or resting on their laurels. Each album they’ve put out has seen a clear progression, subsuming more and more genres into their all-encompassing sound.

Their latest, self-titled album takes in many influences, from The Clash to Pendulum via Mad Capsule Markets, but the most noticeable change is the influx of hardcore electronica and warped drum and bass samples. Every track throbs with heavily synthesised guitars and drums, and the vocoder-treated choruses make singer Laila Khan‘s voice sound detached and more than a little bit J-pop. It’s a change of direction that takes a fair bit of getting used to. Anyone who discovered SB6 via the UK ska-punk scene of Capdown and The King Bluesmight well recoil at this, and the band have freely admitted that they are going for a sound that is more “inclusive and inviting to everyday people”.

Lead-off single ‘Virus’ sets the tone as the album’s touchstone and this style is carried through onto the breathless rush of ‘Karma Is A Bitch’, which packs some serious boss-fight riffs. Meanwhile ‘The High Cost Of Living’ manages the impressive feat of blending pulsing beats, metal guitars, reggae percussion and a baroque piano sample, into one cohesive song.

To read the rest of this review on Virgin Red Room, click here.

University Challenge: It’s All Just Academic

How seriously should we take University Challenge?
How seriously should we take University Challenge?

I struggle to see why the BBC has made such a ridiculous fuss over the 2009 final of University Challenge. The disqualification of Corpus Christi, the Oxford college lead by virtuoso savant Gail Trimble, seems to be based more on nitpicking technicalities than on any significant grievances.

Where were the hundreds of complains to the BBC? It’s bizarre that the Beeb have pounced on this, particularly when so few were calling for action. Even Manchester, the default winners are reluctant to acknowledge the title as theirs.

Sure, Sam Kay was no longer a student at Corpus when the final was filmed back in November. After failing to get funding for his Chemistry PhD, he jumped ship and landed a job at PWC. Given the sorry state of graduate employment at the moment, I can hardly blame him. But importantly he wasn’t expecting to leave when he applied to be on the show and indeed when he competed in the first few rounds.

Perhaps he should have been honest as admitted that he had left and taken a job before the filming of the final, but no doubt that would have caused a whole host of different problems. Should he be replaced? Should the team be disqualified even if they did nothing wrong? More importantly – who cares? After all it’s just a game. A large part of University Challenge’s appeal is that it doesn’t take itself too seriously and the torrent of satire this show has both attracted and welcomed over the years is clear evidence of this.

To top it all, The Times has done some journalistic digging and found out that three previous winners of the UC title also had ineligible players in their team.

It remains to be seen whether this whole fiasco will dent the popularity of Gail Trimble, the brainbox captain who has reportedly

Legend: Bamby
Legend: Bamby

been offered a handsome sum to pose “tastefully” for Nuts magazine. An optimistic offer if ever I heard one and I can hardly imagine her new fiancé will be massively enthusiastic about the idea.

The most damning remarks come from former host Bamber Gascoigne, the only man who seems passionate one way or another: “To fail to produce a series of University Challenge, based on university life, not within a single university year, is pathetic. The whole thing is madness” Speaking of legendary producers, the BBC didn’t take long to get a reaction from the ever nonchalant Jeremy Paxman who seems like he could hardly care less.

On a related note: the qualifying heats for the next series of University Challenge are being held at City University this Thursday at 6pm in the Great Hall. Don’t all rush at once…