Archive for the ‘features’ Category

features, Lifestyle

How to devilishly decorate your own haunted house this Halloween

By Gerald Lynch on October 17th, 2012

haunted-house.jpgreview-line.JPGThe witching hour is almost upon us! Yep, come the end of the month, the ghouliest ghouls and the creepiest creeps will stalk the streets in search of tricks and treats, as Halloween night descends over Britain.

While the 31st of October bash is more of a big deal in the States than it is over here, every year us Brits get more devilish in our fright night antics. Whether you’re throwing a party or putting together a haunted house to scare the bejeezus out of ickle trick-or-treaters, this Tech Digest guide to decorating your home in the most frightening way possible will get you screams and smiles in spades.

review-line.JPGSTEP ONE: Cover the walls

First things first, you’re going to want to cover up your lovely flowery wallpaper. Halloween comes but once a year, so don’t go crazy and start painting the place. Instead, head down to a local hardware store and grab some inexpensive black tarpaulin and pin it to the walls, or pin some black bin bags to the walls. If you shred the the bin liners and hang them from door arches, they make for creepy tentacle things too.
red-light-bulb.jpgSTEP TWO: A bit of mood lighting

Your IKEA lamp shade just isn’t going to cut it in a haunted house, so take any covers off your lights for a creepy dangly exposed bulb. White lights wont do at all either; pick up some red light bulbs for a hellish, warm glow. They’re inexpensive and can be picked up from places like Maplins or even your local £1 Store. You could also buy a strobe light too, but they’re very expensive. For a cheap alternative, head over to YouTube on your Smart TV or by hooking up a laptop, and do a search for strobe lighting videos, like this one:

These can be then played through the telly stretched to fullscreen, downloaded and then set to replay over and over through your media player of choice for a far more cost-effective scare. Flashlights too dotted around in unusual places can cast strange shadows as well.

LowLyingFogMachine.jpgSTEP THREE: Atmosphere

Nothing says “graveyard chic” like a bit of fog. You can achieve this two ways; either grab some dry ice, or get a hold of a smoke or fog machine. Dry ice is a pretty tough material to get hold of, is expensive, and can really damage your skin if not used correctly, so grab a smoke machine instead. They’re available from Maplins too.This one’s probably best if you’re building some kind of outdoor event, but it’ll work inside too, providing you keep an eye on how hot the smoke machine is getting. They can be very hot indeed, so handle with care, and make sure not to leave them near anything flammable, nor where someone could easily spill a drink over them.

blood-bath.jpgSTEP FOUR: More gore

This step is not for the feint of heart. To really send a shiver down the spine, you’re going to need to get some fake blood. Gallons of the stuff. The bathroom is always a good place to splatter some of the stuff as it is easier to wipe tiles clean than, say, carpeted rooms. For a fake blood recipe that doesn’t stain, try this concoction we found on Yahoo Answers (use at your own risk!):

Take a teaspoon or two of Arrowroot (a white powder used in baking that you can easily find in health food shops) and add to water heated on the stove. Stir continuously until the mixture becomes gloopy. Add a small amount of red children’s non-toxic powder paint and stir in. The mixture should now be bright red. Add a tiny amount of brown powder paint or coffee concentrate (make this by adding a small amount of water to coffee granules) to darken the blood as required. Store in a bottle or jam jar and thin by adding water to make the blood the required consistency as and when you need it.
pigs-head.jpgOnce you’ve got the bath all covered in red, try plopping some fake body parts in there, which can easily be picked up from joke shops. If you’re truly committed to getting some scares though, head down to your local butchers and ask for a bag of offcuts and offal. That’ll be all the weird guts and stuff they don’t sell, maybe even a pig’s head if you’re being truly messed up. It’ll be a really convincing scare, but also one hell of a clean up job afterwards.
ws_Halloween_pumpkins_1024x768.jpgSTEP FIVE: Demonic Decorations

With your haunted house starting to take shape, it’s time to start pulling together some of the finer details. Plenty of household items, if used correctly, can look pretty darn creepy. Gardening tools, for instance, look really weird and creepy if taken out of context and put inside your house. It might not just be flower bulbs buried with that spade, if you catch our drift.

But many decorations can easily be found in second hand shops and charity shops if you need to grab some more bits and pieces. Old photographs black and white, especially weathered or torn ones, can look really scary. And there’s nothing like a line up of old fashioned dolls to freak someone out with.
doll-parts.pngThen there’s the classics, like fake spiders webs, and of course a carved pumpkin. Brownie points for inventive designs, of course.fake-spider-web.jpgYou can pick up plenty of props from toy shops and joke shops too, but shop around and you’ll get some real treats. The Box O Zombies from Firebox is great, detailed little toys that you can dot around the house.zombie-line-wide.jpgThey come in packs of 6, measuring roughly five centimetres each and cost £8.99. You’ll get a real chuckle out of your mates when they come across these hidden around your flat.zombie-heads.jpgReally just try to think out of the box and be a bit creative with it. Got an old bit of rope lying around in the shed? Then you’ve got yourself a hangman’s noose. An old sheet with holes in it? The world’s simplest ghost if you put a torch underneath it. Put your mind to it and you can make a dark, dingy den for just a few quid.


Once you’ve got people to come to your haunted house, you’re going to want to give them something to do. Bobbing for apples is a classic, so grab a decent sized barrel or container, fill it with water and apples and challenge your mates to pick a few out in under a minute. Mix a few red ones in with a load of green apples, and you can even offer a prize to those who can fish out the winning colour.ghost-hunt.jpgOr go a bit more techy. The Ghost Hunt game available from Firebox is a bit like a Halloween laser tag; it features a little Billy Bones ghost toy that projects spectres onto your walls, and screams when you shoot them down with the included laser pistol. It costs £29.99 and will be great fun for little ones.

Bigger kids may want to test fate by having their fortune told. Firebox also sell a beautiful little set of Zombie Tarot cards for £13.99, featuring 78 wondrously weird designs.zombie-tarot.jpgSTEP EIGHT: Spine-tingling tunes

With the party ready to get started, you going to need some tunes. Try this Spotify playlist that we put together. It’ll put the bump into your night, Monster Mash and all:

Also, if you’ve got a spare iPod dock lying around the house, load up an MP3 player with some creepy sounds (chalk board screeches, crow calls, rustling wind, wolf howls etc) and hide them around the house. Friends will get a real scare when they hear a random scream coming from behind the toilet.

So how did we do? Creepy enough for you? Or did we wuss out like a toddler on a ghost train? Share your thoughts and suggestions in the comments section below!

features, music

Forget Adele and Skyfall, these are the best James Bond songs EVER

By Gerald Lynch on October 5th, 2012

Gun sights darting from each edge of the screen. The iconic theme kicks in. A man in a tuxedo walks into view, turns to the camera. BANG! Fade to red.

BOND IS BACK! We’re just weeks away from the release of Skyfall, Daniel Craig’s third outing as 007, and the 23rd adventure for the world’s most famous spy.

Today’s also World Bond Day, marking the 50th anniversary of the release of Dr. No, Bond’s first silver screen assignment. With it comes the release of the latest Bond theme, “Skyfall” sung by Adele and written by the songstress herself along with Paul Epworth. It’s a return to the sweeping sound that characterised early Bond themes after a run of more rock-tinged tracks, but the classic sound hasn’t won everyone over. You can hear it in the video embedded below.

So what is the very best Bond song ever? We’ve pulled together our favourite Bond songs at Brandish below. See if you agree with our choices! Though our license to kill probably means you should think twice about disagreeing with us…

Carly Simon – Nobody Does It Better

The best Bond song ever? If it was down to the amount of times it had been covered by other artists, this one would definitely stand a good chance, with everyone from Radiohead to fictional North Norfolk radio host Alan Partridge (AKA Steve Coogan) putting their spin on the tune. The title song to The Spy Who Loved Me, it’s a classy, soulful track that stands up as a great pop song in its own right.

Louis Armstrong – We Have All The Time In The World

If ever there’s been a Bond song that’s transcended categorisation as purely a Bond theme, it’s got to be this one. What a beauty! Louis Armstrong’s last recorded track, it’s actually the secondary theme for On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, and soundtracks one of the warmest, most heart-warming endings in Bond history. It’s easily the best song on the list, but does that make it the best BOND song? We’ll let you decide that.

Duran Duran – View To A Kill

A definite change of pace for the series, Duran Duran’s theme swaps strings and brass for new romantic synths. It still manages to retain the suave Bond style though, and marked a new modern direction for the ever-changing Bond.

A-Ha – The Living Daylights

In the same vein as the Duran Duran track, The Living Daylights has a killer pop hook, and is one of the punchier Bond songs written.

Nancy Sinatra – You Only Live Twice

Kicking off with unforgettable lush strings, You Only Live Twice is the sound of Bond at his most dashing. Even heavy sampling by Robbie Williams can’t sully this song.

Paul McCartney and Wings – Live and Let Die

Wings: only the band The Beatles could have been. Here McCartney rocks out to one of the most instantly recognisable Bond songs, with an excellent riff and almost jaunty breakdown. Typical McCartney then. We actually prefer the Guns N’ Roses version though. Whatever. So shoot us.

Shirley Bassey – Diamonds Are Forever

Shirley Bassey, regular Bond songstress, laid the foundations for what we now consider that Bond theme “sound”. Though many point to Goldfinger as her best, we prefer Diamonds Are Forever. It sounds more modern, and in our opinion has aged better. Which is probably why everyone from Kanye West to the Arctic Monkeys have played about with the track in some way or other in recent times.

Tina Turner – Goldeneye

Not the biggest Tina Turner fan in the world, to be honest. You have to be a 50+ housewife to like much of the stuff she’s done since her 1960s R&B heyday in our opinion. But when she’s on form, she’s got a cracking voice, and she totally nails it with Goldeneye. Little known fact, but this one was written by U2′s Bono and The Edge. Listen to those strings again and you can definitely imagine a reverb-laden riff by The Edge taking the lead instead.

So what do you think of our choice? Do they leave you shaken or stirred? Let us know in the comments below!

features, Lifestyle, Lifestyle & Gadgets

Brandish guide to latest Amazon Kindles – Paperwhite and Kindle Fire HD

By shinychris on September 7th, 2012


By Becca Caddy, Shiny Shiny Editor

Last night Amazon’s Chief Executive Jeff Bezos unveiled a number of highly anticipated new Kindle products and although they’d already been revealed in a US TV ad earlier in the week, the three new Kindle Fire tablets and Paperwhite eReader didn’t fail to impress us.

Here’s a quick and dirty guide to the main announcements from Amazon:

Kindle Paperwhite


The Kindle Paperwhite is an eReader with a capacitive touch display, which is totally different to standard black and white Kindles because it’s got a high resolution screen with 62% more pixels, 25% increased contrast, a 212 ppi display and a built-in light for reading in all kinds of conditions.

Jeff Bezos said at the event in California yesterday:

“Paperwhite is the Kindle we’ve always wanted to build — the technology didn’t exist to build a display with this level of contrast, resolution, brightness and battery life, so our engineers invented it.”

The device has a pretty impressive 8 weeks battery life too, which Amazon claims will last even with the light on the whole time. There’s also built-in Wi-Fi (and free 3G connectivity in some areas), Whispersync technology that works for audio too and a new feature called Time to Read, which tells readers the amount of time it will take them to finish reading a certain chapter or a whole book based on reading speed.

The Paperwhite is 9.1mm thick and 7.5 ounces.

We’ve only got US details about the new Kindle Paperwhite for now, it’ll come in at $119 and the Kindle Paperwhite Wi-Fi + 3G is $179.

Kindle Fire HD


This high-resolution iteration of the Kindle Fire comes in two new sizes, 8.9″ and 7″. The larger version has a 1920 X 1200 pixel resolution and the 7 inch model has a 1280 X 800 resolution.

Both devices have super durable Gorilla Glass with a laminated touchscreen that Amazon claims will reduce glare by 25%.

They also have stereo speaks and an HDMI port for connecting up to other devices.

The Kindle Fire HD also has two wi-fi antennas and Mimo (multiple-input and multiple-output) technology to improve internet speeds and connectivity. The bigger tablet can also be bought with 4G connectivity with a heftier price tag over in the US.

The 8.9″ tablet comes in at $299 / £159 and the smaller 7″ version is £159 for the 16GB version and £199 for the 32GB version.

Kindle Fire

The current Kindle Fire product has now been improved with all of the best features but with a faster process for 40% better performance, twice the amount of memory and a longer battery life too.

It’s been reduced to $159 / £129 too.


Advertorial, features, Footwear, Trainers

Sponsored video: Snoop and lion introduce adidas Space Diver trainers to Foot Locker

By shinychris on September 6th, 2012

Well Prince did it. And now it seems that Snoop – real name Calvin Cordozar Broadus Jr. – has done it. The artist formerly known as Snoop Doggy Dog, then Snoop Dogg, wants to be known from this day forward as Snoop Lion after undergoing a spiritual rebirth during a stay in Jamaica.

In this video, we see Snoop – wearing his adidas Chile 62 tracksuit – along with his giant dreadlocked Lion introduce adidas’ latest Space Diver trainers from the top of a very tall Foot Locker building – as you do.

Inspired by basketball, these hi-top trainers feature a unique reversible strap and are available in two different colour ways: navy with pops of green and accents of silver leather; or white/blue/red in bold white leather with pops of red and blue.

The Space Diver trainers line will be available exclusively at Foot Locker stores from this month while the next products in the line up are set to be a windbreaker jacket (in black or grey) and a Chile 62 jacket track top in black nylon.

Want to win a pair of Space Diver trainers? Well adidas and Foot Locker have three pairs a day to give away to those who tweet about how they would them feel using the hashtag #inmyspacedivers. For more information about the competition visit

You can see Snoop Lion introduce the Space Divers in this video below:

For more information on the Space Diver range of trainers visit adidas and Foot Locker websites.

This post is sponsored by adidas and Foot Locker.

Advertorial, features, Shoes

The Many Faces Of The Formal Shoe

By shinychris on August 29th, 2012

The variety of styles, colours and looks of formal shoes is growing day by day. Long gone are the days of just being able to choose between a black pair and a brown pair, and having to have shoe laces, too. Here’s a look at some of the many new and traditional faces of formal shoes.

Here’s an example of the traditional formal shoe, I just mentioned, right? Wrong. It has much more to it. A traditional formal show with a contemporary twist:







The subtle studs and interesting soles make this shoe ideal for the young entrepreneur who wants to dress for business, but keep his rogue flair intact.






Bold colours are becoming ever more acceptable in formal shoe wear, and it’s also highly popular. These flash red formal shoes can be worn to a posh dinner party, as well as to a wedding to really show off with your style.








Having no laces on your shoes would’ve not that long ago been completely unacceptable, as only six hole shoes were deemed as formal shoes. These no lace and more loafer styled shoes are very popular due to their boot like appeal.








These Jasper boots are borderline formal. You won’t get away with them at a business meeting just yet, but times are changing so keep an eye out for these two leather style ankle boots.

These formal shoes and many more mens shoes are available from House Of Fraser. Be sure to stop by and take a look.

This post was created in collaboration with House Of Fraser


features, Sport, Sports, Sportswear

LONDON 2012: The 5 worst kits of the Olympic Games

By Gerald Lynch on August 2nd, 2012

Team GB really lucked out when they managed to bag Stella McCartney’s superb skills for the design of their Adidas Olympic kit. But for some nations, the Olympic catwalk has not been so  kind. Forget the empty seats at many events – for Brandish it’s been far more distressing spotting the sportswear sins some nations have forced upon their top athletes with their official kits. Here we highlight our pick of the worst five, including Team Russia, Team China and Team Germany. Scroll down to check out our picks!

Team Russia

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Picture 1 of 5

The red and white squiggles of Team Russia's kit are supposed to be inspired by Moscow's street art. But these kit catastrophes couldn't be any further from the cutting-edge wit of street art if they tried. Perhaps they're a cast off from axed KGB camouflage gear from the seventies. You'd have blended in with Cold War-era wallpaper with ease in one of these tops.

features, Grooming, News, Retail

Carter and Bond: London’s hidden grooming gem

By Gerald Lynch on July 23rd, 2012

Hidden a few streets away from Latimer Road station, tucked inside a studio unit on the corner of a housing estate, is one of London’s finest hidden grooming gems. Carter and Bond, established in 2002, offers traditional cut and shave services of the highest quality, as well as a store touting a range of superb male grooming products sourced from across the globe.

Entering now its tenth anniversary year, Carter and Bond’s focus on quality, hard-to-come by goods is spearheaded by managing director Joe Cotton, whose time in the armed forces helped cultivate an appreciation for the finer points of men’s grooming practices.

“We’ve found that people want to go back to quality products that they can trust and traditional grooming and shaving regimes that were being lost,” explains Cotton.

“A lot of people were finding that they weren’t getting the satisfaction they wanted from the mass market, high street products. It’s all just cheap and nasty foams and gels out of aerosol cans, full of chemicals and propellants and razors with 3, 4, 5 or 17 blades with cartridges that you need to take a mortgage out on to be able to afford.

“Whether it’s in architecture or fashion or cuisine, there’s a desire now to rediscover a bygone era, to look at how things were done in the old days. We cater for that desire in male grooming.”

Though rising rates recently forced a move from Carter and Bond’s Royal Oak home to its current location, the new shop retains the charming decor that helped make Carter and Bond so dear to its loyal customers. Model Airfix planes litter the barber’s showroom, piles of Commando comics are stacked in every corner and tin robots gaze at you from atop glass-fronted, brush and blade-filled cabinets.

It’s a unique spin on the traditional grooming emporium, but Carter and Bond’s skilled barber Mustafa’s cut and shave work is as solid as it comes. Specialising in styles from the 1950s and 1960s, a cut at Carter and Bond is a friendly, warm and carefully considered affair, while the 30-45 minute full facial and hot-towel shave is the ultimate in men’s pampering.

Carter and Bond take their niche online too, offering the same range of classic grooming products through their long-serving website. Brands like Agua de ColoniaBaxter of CaliforniaCzech & Speake, D R Harris, Dovo of Solingen, Floris, Geo F TrumperHeadBlade, Marvis, Merkur, Musgo Real, PashanaProrasoand and Truefitt & Hill can also be purchased through the Carter and Bond online store.

“As the male grooming boom took off in the mid 2000s, there were lots of bandwagon brands popping up,” explains Cotton.

“Most of them didn’t last for ten minutes. So I became cynical and skeptical about these brands and became a lot more confident in the brands that have been around for decades or hundreds of years, particularly old English brands and their equivalents in other countries.

“Because these brands are quite niche and not widely available, we find our customers are very loyal.”

In a world of flash-in-the-pan fashions and trends, Carter and Bond’s classic take on grooming style looks set to stand the test of time.

“Both online and offline, we’re in a minority,” says Cotton.

“We’ve got our speciality; there’s not many people that do what we do, and the way that we do it, and I think our customers like and appreciate that.”

The Carter and Bond barber shop can be found at 15-17 Baseline Studios, Whitchurch Road, London, W11 4AT. Open Monday to Friday and Sunday, the shave and cut services are available Wednesdays and Sundays. While you can turn usually turn up without an appointment, you’re encouraged to book roughly a week in advance, especially for Sunday sessions.

A wash and cut costs £22, a standard shave costs £27, while the full facial and shave costs £35. Double deals for cuts and shaves are also available. 

For more info, click here. 


features, News

DARK KNIGHT GUISES: Who is the best Batman? Bale? West? CLOONEY?

By Gerald Lynch on July 19th, 2012

THE DARK KNIGHT RISES IS ALMOST HERE! One of the most hotly anticipated movies of all time, it’s the final part of Christopher Nolan’s epic Batman trilogy which elevated the potential of comic book movies to Oscar winning heights.

While Nolan’s take on the caped crusader is now widely regarded as the definitive silver screen offering, the debate as to which actor donned the Dark Knight’s cowl most convincingly rages on. From Adam West through to Michael Keaton to George Clooney, Batman’s been played by a fair few thespians since being first created by Bob Kane back in 1939. 

But who was best? Brandish enters the Batcave in our definitive rundown to uncover the finest Batman of all time.

Adam West: 1966 – 1968

KAPOW! Adam West stared in the 1960s super-camp Batman TV series, and a few TV movies that followed it. Far from the high-tech wizardry we expect from Batman today, West’s Batman wore just a spandex suit and a “groovy” navy cowl. His slow and measured voice showed a Batman almost always totally in control, while the show’s colourful comic caption flashes during fight scenes have become iconic. Though the West-era Batman gets a lot of stick for its playful tone, many forget that it’s a pretty-much bang-on representation of the “Golden Age” era comics that inspired it. It was a simpler time, when we could totally buy into ridiculous gadgets like “shark repellant”, which Batman just so happened to always have whenever he was jumped by one of the aquatic beasties.

Michael Keaton: 1989 – 1992

It took a long time for the dust to settle after the West-era show, but the late 1980s saw a massive resurgence in popularity for Batman, mostly thanks to comic book writer Frank Miller’s massively influential The Dark Knight Returns and Batman: Year One comics. The Tim Burton-helmed Batman films that followed, starring Michael Keaton as Bruce Wayne and Batman, were perhaps the movie adaptations that came closest to the gothic feel of the comic books.

It helped that Michael Keaton was not only a great Batman, but an excellent Bruce Wayne too. Though not focussing massively on Wayne’s traumatic childhood, Keaton always effectively gave off a feeling of loneliness that is central to Batman’s character. He pulled off action scenes excellently too; the opening action scene in Batman Returns in which Batman faces off against the Penguin’s clownish thugs is superb, with Keaton’s comically timed use of gadgets giving Batman the much-needed cool factor. Though sometimes overshadowed by stellar villains (both Jack Nicholson and Danny DeVito made for amazing Jokers and Penguins respectively), Keaton had it all.

Val Kilmer: 1995

From Batman to Fatman, it’s hard now to remember how massive a star Val Kilmer was back in 1995. He was also a great Batman too, with his “chicks love the car” quip one of Batman’s most memorable silver screen lines. Val Kilmer came across as believably intelligent; in the scene where he shatters the dreams of a pre-Riddler Edward Nigma, you can totally believe he’s the head of the massive Wanye Enterprises empire. However, though his pretty-boy looks bagged him the girls as Bruce Wayne, he looked just a bit too pouty under the cowl.

George Clooney: 1997

Ugh. Batman and Robin. I’m not exaggerating when I say it’s my least favourite film OF ALL TIME. On paper, it all seems so right: Schwarzenegger as Mr Freeze, Uma Thurman as Poison Ivy, and of course, George Clooney as Batman. You’d think Clooney would be the perfect fit for Batman, but he proved to be terrible. Far too smarmy, Clooney had the chin to play the Bat, but failed to channel any of the vulnerability needed to effectively pull off all angles of the multifaceted crime fighter. And while the costume design wasn’t Clooney’s fault, the less said about Batman’s “nipple suit” used in the movie the better. For a few years now rumours have circulated that Clooney could return to play an ageing Batman in an adaptation of The Dark Knight Returns comic book, which could be great, as Clooney would make for a far more convincing middle-aged hero in our opinion.

Christian Bale: 2005 – 2012


Christian Bale’s realistic take on the Batman role, under Christopher Nolan’s superb direction, totally rejuvenated the Batman franchise. Here was a close look at a genuinely troubled Bruce Wayne, constantly dealing with the guilt he carried over his parent’s death. From stoney faced watchman to playboy billionaire, Bale’s performance covers all bases.

Bales commitment to the role is also legendary, training hard to pile on massive amounts of muscle after an astounding transformation verging on anorexia for The Machinist. He brings a much tougher physicality to the role than previous Batmen; you wouldn’t want to be on the receiving end of a smack from Bale’s superhero sleuth.

Bale’s trademark Batman bark, often ridiculed, is just fine by us. Attempting to be more than a man, a terrifying symbol showing that crime won’t be tolerated in Gotham City, Bale’s Wayne completely embraces the theatrical. His aggressive tone would strike fear into the hearts of his foes, while also sensibly masking his true voice and identity. Nolan couldn’t have picked a better star for his take on Gotham’s protector.

WILDCARD – Kevin Conroy (Batman voice actor) 1992 – present day

Do you remember Kevin Conroy as Batman? Or even know who he is? Probably not, but you’ve almost certainly heard him. Conroy is the hardest working Batman on this list, having been the go-to voice actor for Batman in everything from games to animated TV shows for the last 20 years. For many comic book fans, he’s the best Batman there’s ever been, effortlessly moving between the reserved Bruce Wayne and the might of Batman better than any other person on this list. A true Dark Knight, New Yorker Conroy also helped with the clean up effort following the devastating Twin Towers attack of 2001.


Wow, it’s a tough one! For Brandish, it comes down to two actors, who we just can’t separate: Michael Keaton and Christian Bale. Both are perfect for the differing Batman visions they are a part of. Michael Keaton nails the morally charged, lonely eccentricity of the Batman comic books, while Bale’s realistic take on the Bat is so good that you totally buy into the real-world possibility of a billionaire moonlighting as a masked vigilante. When we’re after gothic gloom and outlandish thrills we’ll go for Keaton, but Bale’s tense troubled Bat gives us our intellectual kicks too.

 The Dark Knight Rises hit cinemas nationwide tomorrow (20/07/2012)

features, festivals, music, News

REVIEW: The Stone Roses at Heaton Park – A second coming worth a 16 year wait

By Gerald Lynch on July 2nd, 2012

The Stone Roses - Heaton Park 2012

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Picture 1 of 30

Reunion shows aren’t quite the mystical occasion they once were. From the Pixies to Suede to Led Zeppelin to Pulp, long-missed musical heroes are now a staple head to the line-up of summer festivals.

The Stone Roses reunion, however, sits outside the realms of regular reunion shows . Following an acrimonious split, it’s been 16 years since the original line-up of vocalist Ian Brown, guitarist John Squire, bassist Gary “Mani” Mounfield, and drummer Alan “Reni” Wren shared a stage. With each member taken up with solo projects, other bands or ventures outside of music altogether, bassist Mani called reunion rumours “totally fantasy island”. It seemed like it was never going to happen.

But it did. Though big bucks obviously exchanged hands, this was always going to be about more than just the money. There was unfinished (monkey) business to attend to. Laying down the soundtrack for a generation with their eponymous début album, The Stone Roses took years to put out so-so follow up The Second Coming. From then on in it was a slow slide towards destruction with near misses (such as their heartbreaking headline Glastonbury show pull-out caused, by Squire breaking a collarbone while mountain biking) punctuating the run-up to the band’s inevitable implosion. The band that invented “baggy” and rejuvenated jangly indie pop never got their just deserts.

It was with genuine jubilation then, not cynicism, that fans welcomed the news of a reunion in October 2011.

Saturday’s second Heaton Park homecoming show (30/06/2012) was a triumph, silencing any naysayers and showing a band perfectly at ease with their “legendary” status. If the first night had been methodical and careful, the second saw the band enjoying themselves, playing loose with extended jams and Ian Brown prowling the stage; the King Monkey had reclaimed his throne.

Kicking things off with their traditional slow-building blinder I Wanna Be Adored, The Stone Roses powered through a set of fan favourites which included their first album in its entirety.

Though every song was rapturously received, highlights came in somewhat unexpected places. Fans sang at their loudest during first album track Made Of Stone and The Second Coming single Ten Story Love Song. A well lubricated crowd of all ages was in good, friendly spirits (a rarity in enormo-shows like these), bobbing with baggy swagger to the grooves of Fools Gold, with Squire, Reni and Mani regularly jamming segues between each song.

Though banter was kept to a minimum, Brown kept an eye on a lively crowd, commanding the swarming pit to “pick each other up if you go down”, and flying into an anti-royal diatribe before first album favourite Elizabeth My Dear.

Ending the only way an epic Stone Roses set could with an extended I Am The Resurrection, fans cheered a united, hugging band at the close as fireworks blasted overhead and Bob Marley’s Redemption Song blared out of the PA. A fitting end; after years of fighting and will-they-wont-they reunion rumours, the band have risen phoenix like, redeemed, proving their enduring relevance and position as one of the finest bands to ever hail from British shores.

The set remained identical to Friday night’s opener, and also carried over onto Sunday’s show, likely in order to help director Shane Meadow as he prepares to edit together a commemorative DVD of the weekend. Hit the Spotify playlist below to hear the Saturday night set-list in full:

Earlier in the day saw fellow Manc hero Liam Gallagher declare The Stone Roses “the best band in the world” as he lead his post-Oasis project Beady Eye onstage for the main headline slot. Carrying Gallagher’s trademark swagger throughout, a genial crowd paid most attention when the band tore through a handful of Oasis classics including Rock ‘n’ Roll Star and Morning Glory.

Beady Eye were preceded by Professor Green, whose dubstep-tinged rapping was at odds with the rest of the line-up. Despite a short barrage from hecklers, Professor Green eventually won over the crowds with hits including I Need You Tonight and Just Be Good To Green which saw a surprise appearance from Lily Allen.

The Wailers managed to bring out the sun during what was a heavily overcast day. Though few remaining members of the original Bob Marley-era line-up remain, they enjoyed mass sing alongs to One Love and I Shot The Sheriff.

Hollie Cook, daughter of Sex Pistols drummer Paul Cook, kicked off the day with a reggae/punk fused set welcomed by a crowd already fired up by a 16 year wait.


Celeb style, features, Grooming, music

20 Most Iconic Rock ‘n’ Roll Hairstyles

By Gerald Lynch on June 29th, 2012

Rock ‘n’ roll can be broken down as follows: 10% fashion, 10% music and 110% HAIR. We know that adds up to 130%. That’s why we’re writing for a fashion site and aren’t quantum physicists. But it also acts to highlight just how important good hair can be in the making of a musical and cultural icon, and cementing the status of bona-fide rock ‘n’ roll stars. Where would Elvis be without his quiff? Or Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust without his…his unique style? On the dole queue, that’s where. Here, Brandish pick out the 20 most iconic hair styles in rock ‘n’ roll history.

Scroll down to get started!

David Bowie

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Flaming red with a quiff up top and party mullet at the back, David Bowie's transformation into Ziggy Stardust was one of the most striking in pop history. With the sci-fi influenced Ziggy Stardust look, Bowie opened the floodgates for a whole sea of androgynous stars and, to a lesser extent, made homosexuality and bisexuality less of a rock 'n' roll taboo in the process.

Designer Spotlight, features, London Collections, Trends

London Collections: Backstage @ Jonathan Saunders

By Gerald Lynch on June 19th, 2012

Jonathan Saunders Spring/Summer 2013 @ London Collections

There’s little to compare to the buzz of backstage at a fashion show, and little else still when that show happens to be the Jonathan Saunders Spring/Summer 2013 showcase at the inaugural London Collections Men’s fashion weekender. Brandish popped down pre-show for a quick look at how one of the most eagerly-anticipated and talked about events of the weekend came together.

A rabbit-warren of a venue with winding, near-vertical stairs that open out into a dramatic high-ceilinged space, Brandish climbed through the Elms Lesters Painting Rooms to meet with hair stylist Paul Hanlon. Not even a power-outage at the venue could stop him as he talked us through the Bowie-inspired look, using Fekkai products to pull back and add volume to the hair of the 11 models crammed into his makeshift salon.

Backstage before Jonathan Saunders' Spring/Summer 2013 @ London Collections

“I’m kind of trying to tap into that time after Bowie had done with his Ziggy thing. No more red hair, much more mature, more masculine, in a way, less glam rock. This was a time when he was wearing the big pants, shirts. He was much more elegant,” explained Hanlon.

“There’s elements of the fifties in there too, but never falling into rockabilly styles. I don’t want it too androidy though either, there are imperfections in there too, adding character. Think of ‘The Man Who Fell To Earth‘, all that sort of time, and you’d be right on it.”

Last minute line-up changes for the Jonathan Saunders Spring/Summer 2013 showcase @ London Collections

It’s a look both on trend and achievable, with clean lines and light sideburns, pulling blow-dryed hair back from the face through the roots with a wide-comb, strong wax and mousse for a sharp, uniform look that never veers into militarized territory.

With little under an hour till doors opened, models were still having the final touches applied, with last minute changes to the model line-up meaning a frantic rethink of how best to present the line.

Shoes by Christan Louboutin for Jonathan Saunders Spring/Summer 2013 @ London Collections

The show itself was rapturously received. Rather than a runway show, Saunders opted for a slightly more laid back static showcase, with the 11 models posing in a colourfully decorated corner of the Elms Lesters Painting Rooms. Chatting to each other beneath the striking natural light of the venue’s sloping skylight, the models entertained guests including David Gandy and Reggie Yates.

David Gandy @ Jonathan Saunders - London Collections

Rails of items from the collection were available for guests to browse, giving all in attendance the chance to get up close and personal with the range.

Rails on show at the Jonathan Saunders London Collections showcase

As Saunders first full men’s collection, the Scottish designer effortlessly played with his trademark striking colours, bringing together graphic, geometric prints on short-sleeves, suits, twinsets and casual wear. Knitwear too, used by Saunders as a “gateway garment” for men looking to add a slightly more subtle dash of colour to their wardrobes, also featured heavily. High neck lines throughout kept the line sophisticated, but the bold, retro stylings keep the collection from ever feeling stuffy. Christian Louboutin’s shoes were a perfect complement, with playful metallics and suede grounding a superbly wearable set.

features, Gallery, London Collections, News

London Collections: Sherlock star Benedict Cumberbatch made his catwalk debut at Spencer Hart SS/13

By Elisabeth Edvardsen on June 18th, 2012

The crowds were buzzing on the opening day of London Collections: – a new showcase for men’s fashion developed from men’s day at London Fashion Week – but it was nothing like the talk on Twitter when Nick Hart, the man behind Spencer Hart announced that a mystery guest would be walking the brand’s show.

Photo credit: Press Association

As the show drew closer, it was revealed that it would be genious detective, and upcoming Star Trek 2 villain, Benedict Cumberbatch, and we couldn’t wait to head to Old Selfridges Hotel to take our seats.

Nick Hart describes the Spencer Hart man as an independent thinker, which shows in the label’s sharp signature style. The spring/summer 2013 collection of the luxury Savile Row tailor didn’t disappoint; with Jazz age influences and old school glamour key looks included textured finishes, lightweight fabrics (perfect for warm summer days) and classic suede shoes. We particularly liked the mix of black and dark blue fabrics as well, often though as a no-go for many in the fashion industry.

Spencer Hart Spring/Summer 2013

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Cumberbatch has long been a Hart fan, having worn his designs on several red carpet events such as the TV BAFTAs and the Golden Globes, so his guest appearance wasn’t that much of a surprise. As part of a celebrity five piece, Cumberbatch took to the catwalk clutching a cigar and a glass of whisky, while showing off an elegant black silk pyjama set. He was joined by polar explorer Inge Solheim, former English rugby player Lawrence Dallaglio, award-winning artist Stuart Pearson Wright and Michelin-starred Pollen Street Social founder Jason Atherton.

What do you think of the Spencer Hart spring/summer 2013 collection?

features, Trainers

Reebok X Marvel Superhero Sneakers: Avengers, X-Men, Spider-Man trainers!

By Gerald Lynch on June 12th, 2012

Marvel Captain America Reebok Ventilator

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Picture 1 of 27

Seriously, what a year to be a comic-book fan. First the Avengers movie kicks up a storm in cinemas all over the world, then that’s soon to be followed by The Amazing Spider-Man and Batman Dark Knight Rises, and soon after that is the Judge Dredd movie and the Watchmen prequel comics.

And now these totally, totally ace superhero sneakers from Reebok. Above is a preview gallery of the new Reebok X Marvel collection, a collaboration between the comic book giants and the footwear veterans.

Put together by designer Anthony Petrie, these limited edition trainers include The Spider-Man Insta Pump, Captain America Ventilator and Wolverine Pump Fury HLS, the Sabretooth Night Sky Mid, Deadpool Pump Omni Lite, Red Skull Pump Omni Lite HLS, Chamber Blast, Venom Night Storm HLS as well as Freestyles for Emma Frost and Black Widow.

It’s a footwear fetish for “true believers”, as Stan Lee used to call his loyal readers!

What’s really great about the collection though is the attention to detail. I love how the Reebok logo is slashed on the Sabretooth pair, while we could totally see Andrew Garfield’s Amazing Spider-Man running around in those webhead-inspired Insta Pumps.

We’re totally loving these. While you’re at it, check out Petrie’s personal site. He’s got mad skillz.

Accessories, Advertorial, features, Suits & Tailoring

What David Gandy Can Do For Your Style

By shinychris on May 14th, 2012

Written in association with High and Mighty

As a man, you may feel a bit reluctant to look to the catwalk for fashion inspiration, and with the weird and not-so-wonderful pieces that often make their sorry way down it, you’d be forgiven for your hesitance. However, one feature of the most high-profile catwalks should be allowed to infringe upon your wardrobe choices, no questions asked.

That special feature is model David Gandy. With his dark hair and tall stature, he could so easily be just another male model, but his masculine face and well-built body mean he’s a man real men can aspire to.

If you too have the stature to tower over most men, you could do much worse than to take a few tips from the model’s repertoire when building your own style. Online store High and Mighty caters specifically for tall and large men, so could help you find the clothes that fit for your own spin on David’s winning look.

In recent photos posted to his Vogue blog, David is seen with a goose of all things, wearing dark denim jeans with turn-ups, work boots, a brown leather belt, plain t-shirt and cream scarf. He finishes the look with a chocolate brown jacket for farmer-meets-history teacher cool. His facial hair rounds off a perfect casual style for the masculine man. Oh, and the goose isn’t a requirement. In fact I’d advise against it; hissing isn’t sexy in anyone’s book.

So now you’ve got the idea; simple styles worn to emphasise masculinity, yet not shying away from “softer”, more fashionable accessories that show an awareness of what’s on trend – it’s time to build the look.

Go for earthy shades like browns, olives and tans when choosing boots and belts. You can introduce brighter shades with your scarf or t-shirt, but don’t go for cartoon-worthy colours. If you are tall with very long legs and a short torso, choose longer-length jackets to elongate your upper body.

If your torso is long, wear your jeans as high as possible and expose your belt buckle by half-heartedly tucking your t-shirt in, a look perfected by David in the goose shots.



features, music

Blur’s Parklife turns 18!: The Britpop classic comes of age

By Gerald Lynch on April 26th, 2012


Blur’s Parklife is 18 years old today! An ode to Blighty aimed at girls who are boys who like boys to be girls who do boys like they’re girls who do girls like they’re boys, Parklife was a wry, anthem-filled album that championed mockney Cockneys, a day at the (greyhound) races and…er…the shipping forecast.

All the people (so many people!) went out and bought Parklife that it became a pivotal moment in mid-ninteies UK culture, influencing not only the sound of music for a generation of now mid-30 something indie lovers, but also a revivalist fashion sense that saw all things Union Jack celebrated under the banner of Britpop.

Here, Brandish goes beyond the music to highlight just what made Parklife so seminal. Pop on the Spotify album playlist below and read on!


Britain, Britain, Britain. The Small Faces, The Kinks, the Blitz spirit, Carnaby Street, fish and chips. We’ve got a lot to be proud of as Brits, but in the early-to-mid 90s we’d all been swept up in a wave of Americana. Dreary grunge dominated the airwaves, and in the immortal words of Morrissey “it [said] nothing to me about my life.” However, the 1993 self-titled debut from Suede sent a shiver down the spine of the lumberjack-shirted invaders from across the pond, paving the way for a more sophisticated, theatrical Anglo-influenced sound. Picking up the Brit-focussed imagery of their own 1993 album Modern Life is Rubbish and refining it into flag-waving call for patriotism, Parklife made us all realise it was as cool to be British in the 1990s as it was in the swinging 60s.

The umbrella of Britpop would later open the floodgates for a wave of copycats and bandwagon jumpers (Menswear, Gene et al) and became a contrived export marketing tool of worldwide proportions following the Spice Girls Brit Award performance and Geri Halliwell’s infamous Union Jack dress, fuelling champagne socialists and ill-conceived political partnerships. But for a short while, and in no small part thanks to the popularity and imagery of Parklife, Britain was back on the map for all the right reasons.


“We wear the same clothes cos we feel the same “ sang Blur’s Damon Albarn on End Of A Century. And indeed we did, and Albarn did a fair bit to direct what we were all wearing too. After re-inventing themselves out of the ashes of baggy into Dr Martens-wearing mod warriors for Modern Life Is Rubbish, Albarn and co went a little more Carry On colourful for Parklife.

Clearly inspired by the 1970s sportswear of BBC Superstars, tracksuits from the likes of Kappa and Adidas were in, as well as Adidas Samba trainers, a little bling with a sovereign ring, polo shirts and parkas. Though pulling in brands from all over the world, it was quintessentially a melting pot of UK fashion trends from across the previous 30 years. And not a greasy mullet or plaid shirt in sight..


If Britpop did only one thing well it was its championing of British idiosyncrasies. It’s no better illustrated than in the swirling, epic closer to Parklife, This Is A Low. A floating journey around the the British coast, it referenced the antiquated shipping forecast radio broadcast, framing the album’s geographical pride. Pop it on now; it’ll give you goosebumps.

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