Top 10 2014
Favourite albums of the year
- The Gloaming - The Gloaming
- The War on Drugs - Lost in the Dream
- Damon Alburn - Everyday Robots
- Sun Kil Moon - Benjii
- Perfume Genius - Too Bright
- Todd Terje - It's Album time
- Owen Pallett - In Conflict
Favourite TV of the year
All time Contributors
1. Lost in the Dream - The War On Drugs
2. Life after Defo - Deptford Goth
3. Anime Salve - Fabrizio De André
4. Tomorrow's Modern Boxes - Thom Yorke5. The Best of the Lemonheads - The Lemonheads
6. Futurology - Manic Street Preachers
7. Wrecking Ball - Emmylou Harris
8. Write About Love - Belle & Sebastian
9. The North - Stars
10. Satta Massagana - The Abyssinians
Top 10 Albums
1. The Gloaming - The Gloaming
2. Dawn of MIDI - Dysnomia
3. Georg Friedrich Haas - In Vain
4. Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh & Dan Trueman - Laghdú
5. Ben Frost - Aurora
6. Kate Ellis - Jump
7. Bernard Parmegiani - De Natura Sonorum
8. St. Vincent - St. vincent
9. Scott Walker & Sunn O))) - Soused
10. Beck - Morning Phase
Top 10 TV
1. True Detective
2. Mad Men
3. Boardwalk Empire
4. Game of Thrones
7. The Americans
9. Penny Dreadful
10. The Affair
After 20 years between Dublin, Milwaukee, (brief soujourn in) New Zealand, Dublin again, it's back to County Meath and about 12 km from where I grew up. For a number of reasons (I'll spare you the detail) it has been a full time move since late May - finally getting to settle in and make the house our own at this stage. Really loving the space and air in the countryside - we had a real fondness for the house in Dublin however we haven't looked back since we made the move.
In no particular order, some of the more memorable shows were:
- Bill Callahan - Olympia - One of the few performers that I will never miss. Fantastic tunes, mesmirising voice, cantankerous as ever. Amazing show.
- Real Estate - Whelans - Atlas was on continuous play early this year and their jangly guitar pop is recreated brilliantly here tonight.
- Foals - Olympia - The best bonus CD ever - Holy Fire. The gig was always going to be more straight up rock and roll, and delivers everything from crowd surfing while playing a cordless guitar to jumping off the balcony into the crowd. Never too old for this
- John Grant - Olympia - Did you ever to a gig that was great but you just weren't as passionate about the performer as everybody else in the crowd. There is a reverence shown tonight that reflects the fervent following he has here - some great tunes - Sinead O'Connor and Conor O'Brien add a lot to the night
- Gruff Rhys - Pepper Cannister - One of the most original and entertaining gigs I've ever attended. The search for mythical Welsh tribes in pre Columbus America is the theme for this night of storytelling, primitive visuals and great songs.
- The Necks - Christchurch - Probably the disappointment of the year - after a captivating gig in Whelans last year the poor sound quality and cavernous venue turned this into a night to forget. Some great conversations afterwards debating the merits of the show - I was firmly on the side of the doubters
Getting a Sonos system - it solved my music playing problems and opened up a whole load of music including Tom's favourites on Radio 6, Radio Paradise in the mornings, Second Captains on Monday and Thursday evenings, and now a Spotify to further broaden my music horizons throughout the house.
CNN reckon that the All Ireland Hurling final is the second best sporting event in the world. I just can't comprehend anything that could be better. Missed the drawn final for the first time in years but went to the replay. I don't know how many times I uttered something in disbelief of a piece of skill or a score from an impossible angle with half the opposition swinging a piece of ash at the scorer. If you can get a ticket go! And if you can get a second, give it to me :-)
Have to mention that my wife did the marathon - incredible achievement which was made all the more unbelievable with the fact she had no interest in running up to a couple of years ago. Great event - massive goodwill towards all runners - fantastic atmosphere. Now, where did I leave my runners???
Quality of life highlights
Still in the honeymoon period but having to cut the grass - and then the obligitory kick around on the freshly mown back garden.
Bringing my 5 year old daughter to have a look at a football nursery and 20 minutes later she is throwing balls with other kids and I'm running a ladder drill with a group of them.
Welcome to the post "Breaking Bad" world. Watched Love / Hate, Homeland and a few box sets and they all had their moments. By far the highlight for me was True Detective - great performances from Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey - great storyline and really looking forward to Series 2 with Colin Farrell, Vince Vaughn and Rachel McAdams.
Frustration of the year
Apologies in advance to anyone reading who earns a living from any of the mentioned professions
All the best in 2015!
How difficult is it to sell a house? Or to buy a house?
About 100 times more than it should be
This is basically a checklist that should be freely available / communicated and very, very straightforward. Now, maybe I'm just cynical - but is it made much more difficult from estate agents, solicitiors, banks, surveyors and insurance brokers just to justify exhorbitant rates? Why in the age of the customer and digital commerce should anyone have to wait 2 weeks for the exchange of 4 letters? Why can't I do this online myself?
Nearly 6 months of hassle for something that somebody else was being paid to do.
I won't bore you with the myraid of examples - I have plenty - maybe just a taster from the bank offical when I was trying to draw down my mortgage "Sorry about this - I'm aware that most insurance companies don't issue original schedules however our legal department insist on it for draw down". AAAhhhhh!!!!!
OK, rant over. Chalk it down to something that you do once, become knowledgeable about and then never need to do again!
ALBUMS OF THE YEAR
Really hard to put these in an order, but these are the albums I've played and loved the most in 2014.
- The War On Drugs - Lost In The Dream
- Royal Blood - Royal Blood
- Augustines - Augustines
- First Aid Kit - Stay Gold
- Caribou - Our Love
- Jack White - Lazaretto
- Todd Terje - It’s Album Time
- Jungle - Jungle
- Damon Albarn - Everyday Robots
- Sinkane - Mean Love
- Temples - Structures
- Courtney Barnett - The Double EP: A Sea of Split Peas
- Jimi Goodwin - Odludek
- Pixies - Indie Cindy
- Teleman - Breakfast
- Alt-J - This Is All Yours
GIGS OF THE YEAR
Busy year of gigs & festivals this year, bookended by two incredible performances by Augustines, one at a small venue in Birmingham and the second an emotional last-gig-of-a-world-tour to a packed-to-the-rafters Camden Roundhouse, managing to lift the roof off at both venues and playing a series of encores in amongst the crowd - incredible.
- Augustines - Roundhouse, Camden
- Augustines - The Institute, Birmingham
- Arcade Fire - British Summer Time Festival, Hyde Park
- First Aid Kit - Colston Hall, Bristol
- Royal Blood - The Institute, Birmingham
- Pixies - Field Day Festival, Victoria Park
- Jimi Goodwin - The Institute, Birmingham
- Wolf Alice - The Institute, Birmingham
- The National - British Summer Time Festival, Hyde Park
- Courtney Barnett - Field Day Festival, Victoria Park
- Future Islands - Field Day Festival, Victoria Park
- The Staves - The Institute, Birmingham
three things i really enjoyed this year were:
1. peregrine falcons nesting in killiney hill
2. archer season 5/true detective
3. natacha kudritskaya plays rameau
Music was more of a backseat passenger than I'd like this year. My only live gigs were Goblin playing live to Dawn of the dead at the dublin film festival & Scullion in St James Church. I listened to very little music in the last quarter of the year, with me taking on a second job not helping. Damon Alburn's album was the one I listened to most & Isaiah Rashad's album is just great hip hop.
- Everyday Robots - Damon Albarn
- Cilvia Demo - Isaiah Rashad
- Modest is everyting I love about hip-hop, just gorgeous spince chilling rap.
- So Long, See you tomorrow - Bombay Bicycle Club
- Out of the Black - Neneh Cherry
- Rave Tapes - Mogwai
- Contains last year's late release, the wonderful remurdered. A masterful band.
- Wig out at Jigbags - Stephen Malkmus
- The Gloaming
- Snakes & ladders - Wiley
- Spaces - Nils Frahm
- It's album time - Todd Terje
Song\Performance of the year
- Scullion - St James Church, Dingle - 2 Aug
- I have been wishing to get to St James Church, the home of Other Voices for ages. A wonderful setting watching from the small balcony munching the shared box of roses.
- Goblin - Lighthouse Cinema Dublin - 21 Feb
- Seasons - Future Islands on David Letterman
- Kev (McKellar) sent a mail earlier in the year to check this out and I still get goosebumps every time! What a phenomenal, defining a break out, performance. I love watching this with the kids with us all trying to dance like Samuel T.
- If the shoe fits - George the Poet
Big screen films
These were my cinema outings this year in order of cinematic experience, all had some entertainment value.
Small screen films
I enjoyed some re-watches this year, Funny Games, Blue Valentine, Jackie Browne, Cool Hand Luke (1967) & Serpico (1973). I watched a few sports documentaries, The Armstrong Lie, Rough Rider, The summit, all well done. This golden age of TV has meant of course less film watching these days.
- 12 years a Slave - Steve McQueen
- The Double - Richard Ayoade
- When we lived in London I used to take a day off every year and go to the london film festival. I decided to revive this tradition this year for the dublin film festival, seeing Only Lovers Left Alive, The Double & Dawn of the Dead. Jesse Eisenberg is perfectly cast for the Double, in this somewhat Brazil reminiscent other world. I want to check out Richard Ayoade`s first film Submarine now.
- Calvary - John Michael McDonagh
- Only Lovers left alive - Jim Jarmush
- Dawn of the dead
- My life event of the year with Goblin, who did the original sound track in the 70s, playing the score live to this midnight screening with craft beers available for purchase.
- Begin Again - John Carney
- Belle - Amma Asante
- The Imitation Game - Morten Tyldum
- Lucy - Luc Besson
- Noah - Darron Aronofsky
- I saw the first 2/3 of this standing up on the ferry over from Wales. I only stayed as long out of resepct for Aronofsky.
- Anchorman 2
- I forget what film we wanted to go to which was sold out (Boyhood perhaps)s and having seen Anchorman for the first time a couple of weeks before we opted for the sequel.
Scenes of the year
- The wolf of wall street - Martin Scorcese
- Jimmy's Hall - Ken Loach
- Bad Neighbours
- Home movie of the year: Squarehead - 2025 - by the Gleason brothers
- Wolf of Wall Street - Jordan leaving the country club high on quaaludes and his struggles to reach his lamborghini. Scorcese amazingly shot this as a master shot. One of the funniest LOL scenes ever!
I saw 2 episodes of True Detective & loved it but have not got back to it, same with House of Cards Season 2. A few shows on this list are fillers - Weeds, The Following & Black List, but plenty of quality TV otherwise.
- Game of Thrones - Season 4
- The Walking Dead - Seasons 4.2, 5.1
- Rectify - Seasons 1, 2
- A super find thanks to Jim Carroll's on The Record blog.
- The Leftovers - Season 1
- 4 or 5 episodes in you were still not seeing any characters you recognised until the last few minutes of the episode. Fascinating.
- Borgen - Seasons 1,2,3
- Having watched the American version of The Killing finally got stock into some Scandanavian DR productions, thanks to TG4.
- Broen (The Bridge) - Season 1
- Arvingerne (The Legacy) - Season 1
- The Fall - Season 2
- Broadchurch - Season 1
- The Good Wife - Season 5
- Suits - Season 3
- Mad Men - Season 7 - Part 1
- Homeland - Season 3
- Season 2 was poor & I very nearly gave up on season 3 because of a brutal love interest story but it did have a couple of decent episodes.
- The Following - Season 1
- Weeds - Season 5, 6
- Black List - Season 2
- Seeing Danny Macaskill riding a mountain bike on the knife edge cullin ridge on the isle of Skye, where he is from, is without a doubt one of the most mind bogling things I have ever seen. I've been on the ridge a couple of times walking\climbing, so it resinates even more. Seeing him carrying is nike up the InPin (Inaccessiable pinicle) which I have sat on top of, was just nuts.
I didn't read many books this year, though Pocket tells me I read 772,153 words in 2014, which is practically 17 books, they say!
- The Martian - Andy Weir (2012)
- A great piece of science fiction about an astronaut who ends up stranded on Mars. Read it before you see the Film next year.
- The Lean Startup - Eric Ries (2011)
I loved this book, creating a Minimum Viable Product is such a fantatsically simple and brillant concept. Here are some choice quotes:
- As Peter Druker said "There is nothing quiet so useless as doing with
great efficiency what should not be done at all"
- "In every industry we see endless stories of failed launches,
ill-conceived projects, and large-batch death spirals. I consider this
misuse of people's time a criminally negligent waste of human creativity
- "if we stopped wasting people's time, what would they do with it? We have
no real concept of what is possible."
"we should not waste time on endless arguments between the defenders of
quality and the cowboys of reckless advance".
- Hunger - Sean Kelly (2013)
- I enjoyed Sean Kelly's book. I agree with Paul Kimmage and think it's a pity he does not talk about the drugs scene.
- Beggars Banquet - Ian Rankin (2002)
- A short story colleciton receieved for Christmas. I managed about a quarter of the crime stories staying at the inlaws for Christmas. We'll see if I get back to more fiction in 2015.
Trail of the year
- AIT International Arena Grand Prix - 26 Feb
- Ashton Eaton the raining Olympic Decaathalon Champion and world record holder was the star attraction. He was very garcioous with all the athleetes, cheering on the juniors too.
- Athlone Flatline Half Marathon - 13 September
- After Mountain biking in Wales, this was my training goal this year having never run more than 10k before. I was very happy to finish it in 1:50:33
- I rejoined the same group of mountain biker friends, 5 years after the first trip and after missing 3 in between. Getting back to the Beast of Brenin in May was amazing. This was my first training goal for the year this and was much stronger than my previous times on it. The amazing 16 century country house, Bryn Adda in Dolgellau, Snowdonia, Wales, we stayed in was most defintely the destination of the year!
- I used it at the start as a real quick way to transfer a picture just taken on your phone as opening on a tab on your browser on your computer. After reading the The story of Pushbullet via the excellent life hacker series behind the app, I started using to see notifications from my phone on my computer. If you are sitting at your computer, there is never a need to check your phone with this app, you can hide notifications from a particular app if you want. I would typically have my phone checking email every 4 hours and have notifications turned off on apps like Facebook but great to know if you have got a text without having to pick up your phone. Btw, if you think you check your phone a lot every day, install Checky to see your daily stats.
Kate Bush - Apollo. Dave will write extensively about this, so I'll be brief. I found this gig overwhelming and was challenged to take it all in. I expected it to be one of the most amazing gigs I've ever seen and so it came to pass.
Skylight - Wyndam's Theatre, London. This David Hare whow included two of the finest performances I've seen on stage from Carrie Mulligan & Bill Nighy. Really stupendous stuff, I'm only glad I check the time on the tickets to realise that iit was a matinee!
Clarance Darrow - Old Vic. This was another Kevin Spacey masterclass, a role he was revisitting. One man show in the round, truly superb.
Ballyturk - Olympia. This was mental. Cillian Murphy and Mikel Murfi in an Enda Walsh play about two men in a room…exhausting but exhillerating to watch.
Robyn Hitchcock - Edinburgh. I'm just so amazed that I came across this chap, that he remains so prolific. Great gig just under Waverly Bridge to about 100 of us diehards.
Betrayal / Harold Pinter - NYC. Tim Spall/Rachael Weitz and D.Craig in one of Harrys less disturbing plays. Masterful performances
Websummit - RDS. A bit geeky, but as I was presenting, I enjoyed it immensely!
Sinead O'Connor - Vicar St. When I think back on all the best gig moments 3 of them are Sinead ones! Not quite there this time but still only fab
Peter Gabriel - 3Arena. Wouldn’t brave the 3 for many but despite the venu, talkers, smokers and phoners still a great gig
Our few and evil days - Abbey. Disturbing this from Mark Rowe but superb acting from Cusack and Hinds
Eels - Olympia. An acoustic affair, but what a talented bunch
Too much music again this year. I still don't feel I've got the right balance between chasing new tunes and giving albums the time they deserve. I guess I'll just have to listen to even more music in 2015!
I'm going to bend the rules again by listing my top 10 albums, and also my top 10 electro albums.
Top 10 Electro Albums - in no particular order.
- Kiasmos - Kiasmos
- Leyland Kirby - Breaks My Heart Each Time
- Caribou - Our Love
- East India Youth - Total Strife Forever
- Echaskech - Origin
- Liars - MESS
- GusGus - Mexico
- Clark - Clark
- A Winged Victory For The Sullen - Atomos
- Todd Terje - It's Album Time
- Honourable mentions to Suicideyear, Dorian Concept, Röyksopp & Robyn and Francis Harris.
Top 10 Albums - in no particular
order (except for #1).
- Sun Kil Moon - Benjii (my #1 album of 2014 by a stretch)
- Protomartyr - Under Color of Official Right
- Alvvays - Alvvays
- Israel Nash - Israel Nash's Rain Plans
- Owen Pallett - In Conflict
- Tides Of Man - Young and Courageous
- Woman's Hour - Conversations
- Ex Hex - Rips
- Perfume Genius - Too Bright
- Hookworms - The Hum
- Honourable mentions to Sharon van Etten, Cheatahs, Gold-Bears and JJ.
Top 10 Gigs - in no particular order.
- Wye Oak @ Sugar Club
- The Frames @ Whelans
- The Afghan Whigs @ ABC Glasgow
- Perfume Genius @ End of the Road
- Tides of Man @ End of the Road
- Owen Pallett @ Whelans
- James Yorkston @ Workmans
- Elvis Costello @ BGET
- Woman's Hour @ Workmans
- Sun Kil Moon @ Button Factory
- Honourable mentions to the Wedding Present, Bill Callahan, Future Islands and Real Estate.
Spotify says my tune of the year was "Let It Go", but in truth it was "How You Got That Girl" by Ex Hex.
This album has hooks to die for, but it was this tune that completely snared me.
Tides Of Man at End of the Road. For me, live music is all about chasing those perfect moments, and this gig had a perfect moment.
Cinema trips were sparse again this year, but seeing "the Grand Budapest Hotel" on the big screen was my highlight. I loved the Lego Movie too :).
I made it to the theatre twice this year, twice more than most years! "Ballyturk" in the Olympia and "The Book Of Mormon" in the Prince of Wales Theatre in London. Both were breathlessly physical productions, in addition to the sharp dialogue. I enjoyed each hugely.
This is a Spotify playlist containing (too) many tunes that hooked me in during 2014.
Happy Christmas to all, and I look forward to reading the lists!
Review of the Year 2014
Poor show on the music n gig front; my only excuse housing moving and renovations took up lots of physical and mental energy – looking forward to setting up a new music system in the new abode, and embracing my aging hipster lifestyle, and with a pledge to buy new vinyl from the Truck store around the corner; Visitors most welcome! Lots of spare room!
New album of the year:
War on Drugs Lost in the Dream
Discovery of the Year:
Best dancing around the house in aeons, with ululating!
Comeback of the Year:
Sinead O’Connor Take me to Church
Great lyrics, great rubber outfit..
Gigs n Musicals
Kate Bush Before the Dawn
Moving, huge, life-affirming event, with lots of aquatic visuals and musical memories to submerge the senses.
(With big love and thanks to Sara n Eamonn for the prize ticket!)
Big Star Nothing Can Hurt Me
With Oxford band Dreaming Spires doing a tribute gig for good measure..
Such a moving film tracing the band bands love to love…
Here Lies Love
David Byrne’s musical based on the life of Imelda Marcos, told through the medium of (mainly) disco..
With Kate n Esra – we snook onto the ground floor level to dance, with David Byrne a breath away, keeping time and an eye on the preview…
Always loved Linklater, this is just too good for words.
Want to watch again, and again..
John Michael McDonagh
Brendan Gleeson as a priest with soul, and a beautiful daughter in Kelly Reilly. Dylan Moran is the disaffected post-Celtic tiger empty millionaire. Aidan Gillen is darkness. A narrative arc with redemption through self- sacrifice – somehow it works. Ireland is dark yet beautiful.
Mike Leigh’s beautiful script and light-filled cinematography sets Timothy Spall’s grunting, randy truculent Turner in context.
12 Years a Slave
Maybe a bit overblown, but beautiful cinematography and such strong performances all around: Solomon Northrup (Chiwetel Ejiofor), Patsey (Lupita Nyong’o) and Killarney’s finest Michael Fassbender as Master Epps…
Viral Phenomenon and My Irish Person of the Year
Panti Bliss A Noble Call
‘neat Orwellian trick…. homophobes are the victims of homophobia…’
All the way to the Pet Shop Boy’s Remix:https://soundcloud.com/rory-brendan/the-best-gay-possible
And the INTO Annual Conference:
What is the What Dave Eggers
A present from my summer school students, the lifestory of a South Sudanese boy refugee, from Sudan to Ethiopia, Kenya and the US, as told to Dave Eggers. Was dubious about the appropriation of the lifestory, but it’s a great moving epic read, and doing some good too:
A Man of Good Hope Jonny Steinberg
Jonny Steinberg’s account of a Somali’s journey to South Africa and the US
Life After Life Kate Atkinson
Picked up on post-conference weekend on the Italian coast when I’d finished a dull book whilst on the move and had a limited selection of English novels to choose from. Not really my thing at first glance, but the literary snob in me was reassured by Hilary Mantel’s cover endorsement (‘a box of delights’). Uses an odd device (the main character is reborn many times throughout) to animate a very English story through the world wars. Absolutely disturbing, engrossing and brilliant.
Stoner John Williams
A recommendation from a much respected mentor and his wife; a portrayal of the emotional structures and repression of another era (I hope!). Beautifully written account of a near-joyless life of compromise and duty.
Brian Friel, at the Oxford Playhouse
Had read the play, but going to see it performed for the first time with a Kurdish friend and scholar of Kurdish nationalism brought up lots of issues for us both. Set in 1833 in a rural Ireland peopled with poor but learned Irish-speakers (my ancestors), a few of whom can also manage Latin and Greek, the British Army arrives to translate Irish place names into the King’s English… Captures the inexorable inevitable cultural injustices of colonialism and their violent consequences.
Arcola in E London (a new favourite haunt)
Set in 2003, Mazrat Gaol tracing the descent into torture and abuse when under US military control. The writer Henry Naylor is ex-Spitting Image. This is heavy stuff without the light relief, appropriately so.
First Love by Beckett
Sad but funny, as only Beckett can be. Good to see Conor Lovett again (last saw his Malloy upstairs in pub in Dublin a lifetime ago). He has now done 18 roles by Beckett.
House of Cards
Brought me into 2014…
An Honourable Woman
Hugo Blick’s 8 part mini-series… So much to praise: Maggie Gyllenhall was so intriguing and watchable; Israeli-Palestinian politics so well interwoven with personal narrative; so timely (Gazan tunnels featured as the Israeli pummeling of Gaza was happening in reality). I could rant a lot about some of the dubious characterisations and prejudices, but it was the best telly of the year and I longed for each new episode.
The Trip to Italy
Perfect comedy. The great trio of Michael Winterbottom, Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon back together for another culinary tour.
Art & Exhibitions
Jeremy Deller, English Magic, Bristol
A good one for Bowie fans…
(looking forward to seeing Love is All you Need in Oxford)
So much good stuff in AroS, Aarhus, Denmark:
Highlights: Michael Qvim (see below), seeing Bill Viola’s angels again, and the amazing rainbow walkway by Danish-Icelandic artist, Olafur Eliasson:
Cinque Terre, Liguria
Portugal, Algarve, Swimtrek
Finding my swimming mojo again…
Hampsted Heath Ponds, butterfly lessons, 3rd August 2014
Slip to Shore, Ballyheigue, Co Kerry … Dermot Dillane commenting on the open water swimming boom in Ireland: “Swimming is the new pub, Cathryn”
Mallorca, Colonia St Jordi, three weeks of my ideal two swims per day, with my favourite swimming companion:
A lot of good gigs this year including some bands, like Mogwai and Jurassic 5, I had wanted to see for a long time. And already 4 or 5 gigs lined up for next year so 2015 is looking good. Book reading was dismal, new albums were so thin on the ground that I didn’t even bother making the list. But film watching was up! I hope everyone has an amazing 2015!
- Scroobius Pip vs Dan le Sac @ Vicar Street & Indiependence
- The Frames Whelan’s 25th Anniversary Gig @ Whelans
- The Hold Steady @ The Academy
- Sun Kil Moon @ The Academy
- Mogwai @ Electric Picnic
- Onyx @ The Voodoo Lounge
- St. Vincent @ Electric Picnic
- Girl Band @ Electric Picnic
- Chris Thile & Brad Mehldau @ NCH
- Chet Faker @ The Academy
So many great gigs. Highlights included two standout gigs from Scroobius Pip and Dan le Sac, including the Indiependence show which is their last ever Irish show. I was lucky enough to get into The Frames Whelan’s 25th Anniversary gig which was everything a Frames fan could hope for (including a free bar courtesy of Glen and the lads!). Girl Band and St. Vincent both blew me away in the Picnic, absolutely stunning. Onyx were great but didn’t hit the stage until 00:30 which meant I had to listen to an awful lot of shit Irish rap beforehand. Delighted to be at the front for Mogwai and doubly delighted that I had earplugs with me.
- Next Goal Wins
- Finding Vivian Maier
- Lift to the Scaffold
- The Grand Budapest Hotel
- Pink Floyd: Live in Pompeii
- Only Lovers Left Alive
- The Punk Singer
- Inside Out
Everyone needs to watch Next Goal Wins. It doesn’t matter whether you care about football (which I don’t) or not. Really uplifting. Finding Vivian Maier was also amazing. Some music-related films found their way on to my list. I watched Floyd’s “Live in Pompeii” film after having the bootleg cassette for years since a kid. I loved it and it reminded me how important the drummer, Nick Mason, is to their sound., I loved seeing Lift to the Scaffold and Miles Davis soundtrack is perfect. The Punk Singer about Kathleen Hanna was interesting mostly for the portrayal of her relationship with Ad-Rock.
- Inside Out - Nick Mason
- The Silent World - Captain Jacques-Yves Cousteau
- Running with the Buffaloes - Chris Lear
- The book of the Bivvy - Ronald Turnbull
- All Quiet on the Western Front - Erich Maria Remarque
The Nick Mason autobiography on Pink Floyd is really well written and captures it all, without taking sides. The scale of what Cousteau and his colleagues were doing, the sense of the unknown. It comes across in this book. Stunning pioneers. I was hoping to use my Bivvy this year but the one night I headed out with it I was driven off Tonelagee by sideways driving rain. I will be back in 2015!
- Dublin Old School
- Our Few and Evil Days
I saw some terrible plays this year. Steven Berkoff’s “An Actor’s Lament” still fills me with rage when I think about it. And I know I am flying against public opinion here, but I thought Ballyturk was weak. However there are still great plays being written. Dublin Old School with Emmet Kirwan And Ian Lloyd Anderson is absolutely stunning, Oddie Braddell’s Bastard was really well done and Our Few and Evil Days is Mark O’ Rowe at his best.
- Ranulph Fiennes @ The Glive
- ROA exhibition @ Stolenspace Gallery
- Run the Line
- Powerscourt Ridge
- A house
I finally decided to stop waiting for Ranulph Fiennes to come to Dublin and I flew over to London to see him talk. Absolutely delighted I got to see him, such a hero of mine. I also got to see an exhibition by ROA in the Stolenspace Gallery in London which I loved. I tried two new races this year, both crackers. The 16K IMRA Powerscourt Ridge race which goes up over Maulin and Djouce, and the 26K Run the Line mountain race which were both run in great weather. It’s just so inspiring to be able to be back running in the hills. Oh yeah and just before the end of the year we finally bought a house, so that was pretty exciting! :-)
Top 10 Albums 2014
- The Gloaming - The Gloaming
A magnificent masterpiece, who knew it was possible to make music this beautiful? Was lucky enough to see them play in St. Canice's cathedral in Kilkenny during the summer, a truly remarkable experience that I'll never forget
- British Sea Power - From the Sea to the Land Beyond
Another soundtrack from this really interesting band, this time to a film of archive footage of the British coastline; many of the tracks are reworkings of older songs, but it all fits together beautifully
- Aphex Twin - Syro
- Typhoon - White Lighter
Lots of very catchy but serious tunes from this 11 member US band
- Jon Hopkins - Immunity
Listened to this based on last year's Top 10s; thanks for the recommendation
- King Creosote - From Scotland with Love
- Damon Albarn - Everyday Robots
Was never much of a Blur/Damon fan, but this has changed my mind
- Pixies - Indie Cindy
Was skeptical about this beforehand, but I did end up playing it a lot
- Withered Hand - New Gods
- Owen Pallet - In Conflict
Here's a spotify playlist for my 2014 listening:
- Real Estate - Atlas
- Perfume Genius - Too Bright
- Conor Oberst - Upside Down Mountain
- Beck - Morning Phase
- Mogwai - Rave Tapes
- September Girls - Cursing the Sea
1. What - Mr. Scruff - Friendly Bacteria - I've been a long-time fan of Mr. Scruff, ever since dancing my feet raw at a live set at Glastonbury years ago. Got to see him at a great venue in SF this year, 6-hour set. Maybe the best live show of my year, or at least tied.
2. Haunted - Mr Little Jeans - Pocketknife - these guys totally sucked at a live show in SF this year, but I went because I love the stuff in this album.
3. Mwana Yokatoli - Jupiter & Okwess International - Hotel Univers - This band blew me away at a live show in Kinshasa, and I've been obsessed ever since. They played Glastonbury this year, and if you read up on them, or know anything about the DRC, that is just an awesome thing.
4. Diana - Priscilla Ahn - This Is Where We Are - finally saw her live this year. Massively talented woman, really lovely show.
5. Drowning - Banks - Goddess
6. Rêver - The Shin Sekaï - The Shin Sekaï, vol. 2 - these guys were on repeat in the little cafe I ate lunch at near my office in Kinshasa.
7. Sexotheque - La Roux - Trouble in Paradise
8. Hal - Yasmine Hamdan - Ya Nass (Extended Version)
9. She Came to Give It to You (feat. Nicki Minaj) - Usher - Single
10. Nasekomova - Leonid Agutin - Mystery of Glued Pages - another one that played at the little cafe in Kinshasa. First place I've been where western music does not dominate.
11. The Ballad of the Pajama Kid - John Murry - The Graceless Age - we walked into this show at a little bar in our hood in SF, and were summarily blown away. This guy.
12. Still With Me (feat. Bo Bruce) [Disco Citizens Mix] - Chicane The Sum of Its Parts - Chicane was one of the first electronic albums I ever had, and so many memories tied up in their songs. Had to include this one from their latest.
13. Come a Little Closer - Cage the Elephant - Melophobia - Saw them live twice this year. Absolutely mad energy and brilliant songs.
14. Buy This Thing - Cauldronated - Buy This Thing - Original. Doesn't happen that often. Watch this space. Dave Barbarossa brings it to whatever he gets involved in.
15. The World Is My Land - Jupiter & Okwess International - Hotel Univers - This is how it all goes. Jupiter knows my life.
Here are my Top 10 lists:
Cinema trips are still few and far between so we generally try and take in the odd blockbuster or two when we get the chance.
(In no particular order)
1) 22 Jump Street - I know it's dumb but it's quality dumb! Had me in stitches.
2) Guardians of the Galaxy - Quite nice having a Marvel movie without knowing much about the characters before watching it. (Cinema trip!)
3) Way Way Back - very surprised at this, a feel good 'coming of age' movie with a great performance by Sam Rockwell
4) The Lego Movie - Everything IS awesome!!! This was our first full family trip to the cinema, kids and I loved it, Em was confused for the first 20 minutes!!!!
5) Inside Llewyn Davis - another Coen masterpiece with a beautiful soundtrack
6) Nightcrawler - wow, a great creepy performance by Jake Gyllenhaal (Cinema trip!)
7) Locke - don't ask me how a film about a man driving from Birmingham to London making phone calls to his family and about concrete could be riveting - but it is!!!
8) X-Men: Days of Futures Past - probably the best X-Men film, who wouldn't want to be Wolverine? (Cinema trip)
9) Rise of the Planet of the Apes - So much better than I anticipated, even with the introduction of new human characters. Serkis and Toby Kebbel who play Caesar and Koba are superb!
10) Secret Life of Walter Mitty (Em's choice - i'd have snuck in The Raid 2!) Although this is the wife's choice, I also enjoyed it!
Notable mentions to:
The Raid 2
In A World
The most difficult top 10 list to compile. Personally I think 2014 has been another solid year for music and so many good albums have failed to make the list (see notable mentions!)
Again, in no particular order:
1) Mark Lanegan - Phantom Radio (so looking forward to seeing him live in January!)
2) Gruff Rhys - American Interior. Was lucky to be called to the Royal Courts of Justice in London on the same day he played this at an intimate gig at the Soho Theatre. It was brilliant.
3) Sturgill Simpson - Metamodern Sounds in Country Music
4) Budos Band - Burnt Offering
5) Timber Timbre - Hot Dreams
6) Todd Terje - It's Album Time
7) Ty Segall - Manipulator
8) Sylvan Esso - Sylvan Esso
9) Temples - Sun Structures
10) Jungle - Jungle
Parquet Courts - Content Nausea
Foxygen - And Star Power
Wytches - Annabel Dream Reader
Axxa/Abraxas - Axxa/Abbraxas
Wampire - Bazaar
Damien Jurado - Brothers & Sisters...
Phantogram - Voices
Sharon Van Etten - Are We There Yet
Beck - Morning Phase
Royal Blood - Royal Blood
(there are more.....)
I've had a good year for books, read plenty (such as catching up with the Lee Child 'Jack Reacher' catalogue and Michael Connolly books) and was bought a Kindle for my 40th (used to hate them but now concede they are useful!)
But my stand out books are as follows (and would heartily recommend if you haven't already read them!)
1) The Martian by Andy Weir. A great sci-fi book surrounding the survival of an astronaut left for dead on Mars. It's chock full of scienceporn but even I followed most of it ;)
2) Police by Jo Nesbo - the latest offering in the Harry Hole series was just as good as the other books.
3) Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn (I know it's been out for a few years!) - thoroughly enjoyable in it's twisty turny context. Haven't seen the film yet as waiting for the wife to finish it too!
4) I Am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes. Parts Jason Bourne, parts Homeland and parts James Bond. A decent spy/terrorist thriller.
5) Galveston by Nic Pizzolatto. Done by the guy who created True Detective (best TV Series this year) it's another tale of Deep South Noir.
That's about it for me - wishing you all a great 2015!!!!
- ProtoMartyr - Under Color of Official Right
- Thanks to Richie Evans for the heads up on this, I couldn't stop listening to the album, favourite song changing daily. This is no nonsense classic indie guitar driven sound, powerful delivery and dark subject matter from a Detroit band firmly influenced by the likes of Joy Division, Pixies.
- Sharon Van Etten - Àre We There
- Big regret of the year missing this lady live. This is a truly moving and powerful album, apparently very personal documentation of a long term relationship that appears to be dysfunctional, judging by the lyrics. Your Love is Killing me is epic and tragic.
Break my legs so I wont walk to you/
Cut my tongue so I can't talk to you/
Burn my skin so I can't feel you/
Stab my eyes so I can't see/
- Owen Pallet - In Conflict
- Ownen gets his Dance on. Some classic tunes on this album that could be turned into dance/club anthems, I think he could be big in Ibiza. A treat to see the man twice this year in contrasting venues, both were superb, he loves his trips to Ireland.
- Sisyphus - Sisyphus
- This one from early in the year, was on constant rotation. Sufjan hanging out with some Hip-Hop dudes, and it is just that, Sufjan's sounds overlaid with a hiphop sound track and it really works.
- Angel Olsen - Burn your Fire for no Witness
- Amazing quality to this woman's voice, it bit like a classic 1950s country singer, serious emotion, brilliant songs, very disappointed to miss her show due to holidays.
- Perfume Genius - Too Bright
- More of the same, perhaps not as poignant and heartfelt as Put your back into it, more uptempo however, his trademark voice is haunting.
- Caoimhin O'Raghallaigh - Music for an Elliptical Orbit
- Trad gone mad, a crossover album from renowned trad musician and collaborator of many artists. It's hypnotic and mesmeric and transports you to another world, I'm guessing that's where the title came from.
- The Drums - Encyclopedia
- The Drums have a formula that they are not messing with and I like it. 3 minutes of guitar driven pop with fabulous stories of outsiders survival in cruel loveless world. Listen to the spotify commentary of the album, it's really good, gives great insight into Johnathan's mind.
- Interpol - El Pintor
- A return to form for these new york rockers, if you used to like them, this will make you like them all over again, soaring guitar sounds that will sweep you away, can't wait til the Olympia gig.
- Morrissey - World Peace is None of your Business.
- Absolute epic stand out tune on this album Istanbul, some great versions doing the rounds. World peace is catchy and there are a few other good tunes on this but it never gets near the previous 2 albums. perhaps missing Alain Whyte for the music.
- Young Fathers - Dead
- I first spotted these lads on the Mercury awards, their performance of Get Up blew me away. I listened to the album a few times, the vocals reminded me of Lewis Parker from many years ago, the music is a real mix of influences and styles, soul, rock, jazz, dance but it really works. I also saw their final song on Other Voices which was incredible.
- The Gloaming - The Gloaming
- I resisted this at the start, I don't like the name and the idea of a super group of trad musicians felt too contrived. However, after a few listens on Donal's various podcasts and shows over the year I relented and gave it a proper listen and I really liked it. If you are afraid of trad, like I was, no need to be afraid of this, it's mixed up enough to make you forget that it is grounded in Irish music.
- Damon Albarn - EveryDay Robots
- I didn't think I'd like this but every song I heard on the radio I liked so I gave it a chance and it's very good. Get over whatever prejudice you have about Damon and you'll like this. I'll have to do the same with Thom Yorke, by all accounts his solo album is excellent very strong showing from the M40 category.
- James Yorkston - The Cellardyke Recording and Wassailing Society
- In here becuase of Guy Fawkes Signature, what an amazing song. If you liked any of his previous albums you'll love this, more of the same softly sung/spoken folky tunes.
- Jennifer Evans - Works from the Dip and Foul
- Finally an album from this lady after years of waiting and wondering would she ever get around to doing it. Not as good as the live experience but her voice is incredible and on a few songs you do get an idea of how great she can be, a female version of Jeff Buckley, wonderous guitar playing and soaring vocals.
- Francis Harris - Minutes of Sleep
- This is like an electronic God Speed You Black Emperor, courtesy of Donal Dineen again, I don't know what I'm going to do in 2015 if he doesn't get back on the radio.
- Kormac - Doorsteps
- Only really heard about this lad at the tail end of the year and some serious collaborations on his album, great beats and some great tunes. I really liked his performance on Other Voices.
- Giant Giant Sand - Tuscon
- I rediscovered this when doing some revision for my Howe Gelb gig. It's supposed to be an alt country opera, plenty of heartbreak stories evoking great images of the hot desert. I love Detained, it was on high rotation earlier in the year.
- Arthur Russell - World of Echo
- Thanks to Donal Dineens radio show I first heard of this artist. it seems like a lot of the music now I like had its origins with this man. Oringinally a classical cello player got into experimenting in electronic music and creates incredible rambling rythmic tracks with haunting vocals that swept me away. Well worth some investigation
- Owen Pallett @ Whelans
- Sun Kil Moon @ Button Factory
- Howe Gelb/Grant Lee Philips @ Whelans
- Mos Def @ Vicar St.
- Bill Callahan @ Olympia
- Earl Sweatshirt @ Academy
- Shabazz Palaces @ twisted pepper
The Spotify Playlist
Gigs : Indoor
“Remember me, forget my fate” - Morrissey
Neil Young and Crazy Horse – Marquee, Cork
Just got a ticket that day, drove down from Dublin after work and make it just in time.
A superb start to a weekend in Cork. Neil Young is the real deal with so many great songs.
For a mega tent - it’s a good venue too.
Morrissey – O2, London
Still ill and all the better for it. Voice and singing stronger than ever
His choice to play mostly songs off the new album annoys those who just to hear the hits, but filters out the fair-weather fans.
Real Estate – Whelan’s, Dublin
Sucker for jangly guitars and catchy melodies and Real Estate from New York have it down perfectly.
Was packed but got a good perch to enjoy great gig. First time to see them live.
Tycho – The Button Factory, Dublin
Another sell out show. 3 of us went to this with a perfect spot up in the balcony
Super(b) dreamy visuals complementing the music beautifully executed live.
Shonen Knife – Whelan’s, Dublin
Perma-smiles and unquenchable Japanese enthusiasm. Never disappoint.
Morrissey – 3 Arena, Dublin
Never normally get a seat at arena gigs. Decided to this time and never again - diluted the atmosphere.
Asleep was incredible. Always there’s a shared forboding sense which seems like this could be the last time to see him live.
Jesus and Mary Chain - Vicar St., Dublin
False starts and mistakes in songs whether planned or real were a refreshing change to the squeaky
clean performances of other retirement fund reformations. This was just a really good gig.
Gruff Rhys– Whelan’s, Dublin
Once again, he defies tradition and comes up with his own unique take on what a gig should be.
This in support of his American Interior album.
Video, laptop, acoustic guitar, puppets, drum machine and storytelling centered around bizarre connection
between a Welshman and American Indians.
Damien Dempsey – Vicar St., Dublin
Haven’t seen him live in a while. He’s the real deal and always puts heart and soul into it.
Real Estate – The Academy, Dublin
Slightly bigger venue dilutes their impact somewhat.
Joan As Policewoman – The Button Factory Dublin
Can’t remember too much about it except that it was good and I was impressed by her talent
San Fermin – Whelan’s, Dublin
Didn’t really know much about these guys –were recommended by a friend.
Enjoyed it – strong melodies backed up with strong brass and a variety of styles – good live band
Gruff Rhys - Peppercannister Church, Dublin
Not as good as Whelan’s show – probably because I’d seen this audio-visual show before and there was no drink on sale in church
Gigs : Outdoor
horses ’n’ hipsters
Johnny Marr – Leopardstown Racecourse
Up for it as always – probably ran a few laps of course beforehand.
A bizarre venue that just worked really well. Great value - races & gig for €15.
Jack White – Royal Hospital Kilmainham, Dublin
A wet evening kinda spoiled it, but good enough.
Longitude festival – Marlay Park, Dublin
Decent but seemed better last year.
Forbidden Fruit - Royal Hospital Kilmainham, Dublin
Got a free ticket – OK but lineup has been better other years.
The sight of a bearded urban hipster being chased, rugby tackled, pinned and handcuffed
by two undercover drug squad cops was quite entertaining, as was the ensuing the chorus of boo’s by spectators.
Forbidden Fruit indeed.
Still have a lot to catch up on, but Moz delivered...
Morrissey – World Peace is None of Your Business
Beck – Morning Phase
Gruff Rhys – American Interior
Real Estate – Atlas
Johnny Marr – Playland
Tycho – Awake
Mogwai – Music Industry 3. Fitness Industry 1
Pixies – Indie Cindy
Best Coast – Fade Away
September Girls – Cursing the Sea
There’s more to life than books you know, much more..
Daily Rituals – ebook perfect for dipping in and out of
1 pagers on the daily habits of hundreds of different artists, writers, musicians, filmmakers from throughout history to modern day
Ben Greenfield – Beyond Training.
Fitness guru brought out his tome, which goes down the rabbit hole but is still readable.
Still dipping in and out of it.
Theatre / Other
Cerebral alternatives to gigs and movies
Ballyturk – The Olympia, Dublin
Bizarre, black and surreal. Borrows heavily from Flann O’Brien’s Third Policeman, imo
Enigmatic and mysterious but leaves you thinking about many of the memorable scenes and possible meanings for days afterwards.
Sounds Alive presents 99% Invisible – Grand Masonic Hall, Dublin
A live re-creation by host Roman Mars of one episode of this popular design podcast, enhanced by using video footage also
Story focussed on a huge bridge that swayed and eventually collapsed in the wind. Unsurprisingly sold out.
Invention of a new type of live performance – the “Podcast DJ” ?
An Evening with Noel Fielding - The Olympia, Dublin
Bizarre, funny and surreal in more of a Salvador Dali, Andy Warhol.
Very creative and entertaining stuff from Fielding.
Padraig Potts’ Guide to Walking – Civic Theatre, Tallafornia
A one man show with a minimalist, yet very clever set.
Engaging and energetic from start to finish.
TV / Netflix
No bingeing this year
Love / Hate : Season 5
Despite the brutal violence, this is still the best home produced TV drama Ireland has produced.
It’s a few years old, but was well worth the watch
French drama combined with a Mogwai soundtrack – great combo.
Good documentary on cyclist Marco Pantani’s tragic story, which doesn’t draw any definitive conclusions
but leaves you to make up your own mind.
Blue is the Warmest Colour
Some pretty memorable performances in this French film
Outdoors (running, biking, hiking, etc)
Routes and events on and off the beaten track
Cycle Against Suicide event : Portadown - Dundalk – Dublin
Superbly organised, atmospheric and euphoric event with thousands of cyclists.
Lasts for 2 weeks and goes all around Ireland. Only did two legs of it, but will do more in the 2015 event.
Even got to see the Giro D’Italia which came along part of same route.
Central Park, NYC :
Great place for exercise day or night - there are so many running and cycling here, it’s like a perpetual fitness event
Phoenix Park, Dublin still gives it a run for its money in some ways though.
Aran Mor Island, Galway :
For a full day’s peaceful cycling during the summer months, it’s hard to beat. Can take your own bike across on ferry.
Connemarathon ( Half ) :
My first half marathon enjoyed in the wind, rain and sunshine of Connemara.
Finished in top 15% so was chuffed enuf
The High Line, NYC - an urban hike, if you like.
Starting around Greenwich village, weaving through the buildings and rooftops of the west side of Manhattan
- a couple of miles of elevated paved reclaimed railway line replete with all sorts of planted vegetation.
Woodstock / Catskills Mountains (upstate New York)
Some good hiking (Overlook mountain) and rock scrambling here, with lots of national park trails in the vicinity
Corballis Golf Links, Dublin
Took a half day off work on a blistering summer’s day and drove out to play a great round of golf here.
Sunday’s Well, Cork
Slightly off the beaten track but a nice and relatively new secluded path along the leafy banks of Lee,
leads up to the Mardyke and on to UCC which in itself is a nice to run around, especially it being one’s Alma Mater.
..and still stomping around the old reliables
Phoenix Park, Dublin -
Still one of the best urban parks in Europe / world for outdoor exercise activity.
Bull Island, Dublin
Good spot for mountain biking through sand dunes and only a couple of miles from the city centre.
Got down here again a couple of times this year with some work colleagues for mountainbiking - good trail.
Ladywell Park, London
still like this place - ran there a few times again this year– chilled, with a river running through it and an athletics track in the middle of it.
Greenwich Park, London
Can run through a 100 year old pedestrian tunnel under the Thames and get good views along north bank.
Music for the soul, Podcasts for the head.
Multitude of design based stories historical and modern.
Binge listened my way through 140+ back episodes
true life murder story that has myself and 5 million others addicted
interesting productivity tips & interviews by Ari Meisel.
husband & wife team relay quaint/mysterious stories from history and end show with a lateral thinking puzzle
Ben Greenfield Fitness
Still going down the rabbit hole into a myriad of fitness areas
another podcast from the impressive Radiotopia stable – interesting crime stories – it’s the way they tell ‘em
15 mins episodes deconstruct a single popular song into its constituent tracks and go through how it was created with its writers.
Chris Ryan the host could make interviewing a fireman sound interesting – in fact he did. But interviews a lot of interesting characters from the fringes of society. Also has another travel stories podcast Talking out my Ass.
Self-promoting biohacker, who can at times be very interesting
Life in Scents
A podcast all about smells / scents. An abstract listen when the mood takes you.
In order of appreciation, here’s my list of films following 32 cinema visits.
The Imitation Game
Cold in July
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
Inside Llewyn Davis
The Wolf of Wall Street
The Grand Seduction
Under the Skin
Art and Craft
All This Mayhem
Dawn of the Dead (1978) With Goblin
Magic in the Moonlight
The Grand Budapest Hotel
20,000 Days on Earth
Quest for Fire (1981) : Special Screening
The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies
The Hunger Games - Catching Fire
Two Days, One Night
2014... One of the best ever years for live music from my perspective, and so many great new albums to choose from too. Here we go...
- Damon Alburn - Everyday Robots. Officially his debut solo release. Worth waiting for, a beautiful collection of songs
- The Gloaming - The Gloaming. Surprised myself with how much I enjoyed this, I spent many late evenings at home relaxing to the best Irish album I've heard in a while
- Stephen Malkmus & the Jigs - Wig Out at JagBags. Up there with the best Pavement albums, I really enjoyed this and played it a lot
- The Black Keys - Turn Blue. Probably about time I got into these guys. I need to check out the back catalogue now
- St. Vincent - St. Vincent. Almost forgot about this one - onwards and upwards for Annie. One of the best female artists of the last few years
- The War on Drugs - Lost in the Dream. Americana at it's best, very derivative, very slick, and very listenable
- Future Islands - Singles. Provided my favourite youtube clip of the year, & disappointed I didn't get to see them in Vicar St. The album is just full of energy
- Gruff Rhys - American Interior. Brilliantly brought to life in his solo performance last week - he's such a great songwriter. And quite mad
- Alt-J - This is All Yours. If their debut was (IMO) over-rated, this one was a cracker
- Owen Pallett - In Conflict. A grower, but as good as his previous releases, and the songs really stood up live
Best of the rest
- SBTRKT - Wonder Where We Land
- Perfume Genius - Too Bright
- Phantogram - Voices
- The Twilight Sad - Nobody wants to be here, and nobody wants to leave
- Glass Animals - Zaba
- Mogwai - Rave Tapes
- Real Estate - Atlas
- Elbow - The Take Off and Landing of Everything
- Flying Lotus - You're Dead!
- Aphex Twin - Syro
- Esls - The Cautionary Tales of Mark Oliver Everett
- Ryan Adams - Ryan Adams
- Beck - Morning Phase
- Caribou - Our Love
- The Afghan Whigs - Do it to the Beast
- Yuck - Glow and Behold
- Joan Shelley - Ginko
- Dean Wareham - Dean Wareham
- James Vincent McMorrow - Post Tropical
- Gemma Hayes - Bones and Longing
JAN 2015:ADDED BOXSETS, MOVIES, BOOKS AND EVENTS
- Kate Bush - Hammersmith Apollo. Despite so much build-up and excitement, this performance exceeded all expectations, and was quite simply the best live experience of my life. Fantastic to share the night with Richenda. Cloudbusting for the encore, we just did not want it to end. When it finally did, we were speechless and overwhelmed
- Arcade Fire/Pixies - Marlay Park. Great to be able to stroll down the road to see Arcade Fire for the fourth time, and spend a fantastic summer evening with Mary, Joe, Paul and Tara
- Owen Pallett - Whelans. Mermerising, I've never witnessed anything quite like this before - completely buzzed up on a Sunday night, and could barely sleep after it
- St. Vincent - Olympia. Sexy, brilliant, electric in all senses of the word. I haven't seen anyone wield an axe like this since Jack White
- John Grant - Olympia. Very charismatic and engaging, hard to go wrong with a catalogue of such great songs. Sinead O'Connor and Conor O'Brien on stage to help out too
- Gruff Rhys - Pepper Canister Church. Gorgeous venue, he presented a slideshow to accompany the American Interior story. I've never laughed so much at a gig, and in between he played great track after great track. Supported by Martin Carr of the Boo Radleys
- Bill Callahan - Olympia. Always good value, he didn't disappoint. I think he even smiled at one stage
- Jagwar Ma - Whelans. Groovy and full of energy
- Joan Shelley - Workman's Club. Perfect summer evening upstairs in the workman's, we went to this on spec having heard a track driving home from Owen Pallett. Lovely performance in front of no more than a few dozen people
- Real Estate - Whelans. Perfect pop tunes one after the other
- Kurt Vile - Whelans. Ex-War of Drugs, his solo albums are really worth a listen too
- Jurassic 5 - Vicar Street. Cheesy and plenty of fun
Boxsets, Small-screen etc.
- Borgen (series 1 to 3) - Danish political drama = small screen perfection
- Breaking Bad (series 5) - the final series did not disappoint. Cold turkey when it ended was hard
- True Detective (series 1) - lots of hype, but lived up to it and more. McConnaughy and Harrelson incredible
- The Bridge (series 2) - as good if not better than the first series. The 2 lead characters are just brilliant
- Spiral (series 2) - gritty French police drama
- Little House on the Prairie - the kids watched these start to finish on TG4. Real life, something for everyone, and they have aged really well
- The Armstrong Lie and Rough Ride were both fascinating in different ways
- The Imitation Game
- 12 Years a Slave
- The Summit
- Grand Hotel Budapest
- The Double
- Mr. Turner
- Herman Melville, Moby Dick - a true classic. Epic and brilliant
- Paul Murray, Skippy Dies - a great Irish tragi-comedy (the clue is in the title)
- Christos Tsiolkas, The Slap - I'd already seen the mini-series which was a pity, but the novel works on many levels and I enjoyed it
- Cormac McCarthy, Cities of the Plains. Transports you to a different time and place, concluding the 'pretty horses' trilogy
- Anne Enright, The Gathering. Large Irish family gathers for a funeral, really well evoked
- Haruki Murakami, Kafka on the Shore. I enjoyed this to a point, but it got a bit too surreal and metaphysical (whatever that means) for my liking
- Mark Williams, Mindfulness: Finding Peace in a Frantic World. The most important book I've read in a long time. Life-changing
- Johnny Cash, Cash - brilliantly written and fascinating autobiography
- Alfred Russel Wallace, The Malay Archipeligo. Unlike the other more famous discoverer of natural selection, Wallace writes a real page-turner. A great read
- F.S. Smythe, The Kanchenjunga Adventure. Gripping account of a British expedition to this mountain in the 1930's. Exploration in those days was truly hard-core
- Tyler Hamilton, The Secret Race. No big surprise to anyone now, but this was written before Armstrong was outed. The scale and depth of the doping is described in detail here
- Matthew De Abaitua, The Art of Camping. More a history of camping, the much more interesting parts of this book were based on his own (often catastrophic) experiences, to which some of us can relate
OVER AND OUT
- We sold Wanda (1977 VW) - there were tears - and bought 'Foldilocks' - a folding caravan - to replace her. Onwards and upwards, it barely qualifies as camping!
- Speaking of which... a perfect camping week with the Corcoran-O'Mearas on the Dingle peninsula. Morning swims, runs on the beach, kayaking, jellyfish, Blaskets, hikes, trips to Dingle, lots of eating, some drinking, and great company
- The week prior to that in Wicklow/Wexford was almost as good, highlight a BBQ on the beach in Cahore with Andy & Jill
- Sea swims - all that practice in the pool finally paid off, with around 15 biggish sea swims all over the country, including 2k with Tom on Béal Bán
- Wicklow Adventure Race - I won the mini! A wee 2 hour jaunt. I'd never won a race in my life, and couldn't believe it, great buzz. Shared with Ken and Willie, and came home to a great family welcome
- Killarney Adventure Race - nothing mini about this one, Ken, Andy and I entered the Expert (70k) route. Plenty of training, and a brilliant day out - best event I've done. Maybe Dingle AR next year?
- Weekend in London - Kate Bush was of course the highlight, but 2 nights away with the kids was bliss, including a much-anticipated visit to the amazing Natural History Museum
- Ski trip to Morzine, with Richenda, Ruby and Aster - by the end of the week the kids were keeping up with us, rocking the reds and blacks. Amazing week
- Beara peninsula - decided to do a new bike loop while in Parknasilla this time. A grey day, but really enjoyed this 80k spin over the Caha and Healy passes. Wild country
Top Ten (alphabetical):
Adult Jazz – Gist Is
Loose jangles that weave sadness with sunbeams, gesture paintings with surprising depth and longevity.
Amen Dunes – Love
Love and longing, flung by a full heart at the expanse. Epic, and unwearied by 3 months of repeated listens.
Caribou – Our Love
Fresh, but unmistakably Caribou, tumbled marble sounds mixed with club glitter.
Flying Lotus – You’re Dead!
Fly-Lo delivers on the promise of future jazz, Coltrane genetics hailing from the afterlife.
King Tuff – Black Moon Spell
Little nuggets of garagey indulgence, swagger with a smirk.
Samaris – Silkidrangar
Icelandic dub on silvered tongues, propulsive and haunting.
Sharon Van Etten – Are We There
Bedroom breakups and self-discovery, channeled at full strength.
Spoon – They Want My Soul
The end of my “bored with Spoon” streak, a return to substance but with gratifying pop moments.
The War on Drugs – Lost in the Dream
This album feels like an inevitable thing, a revelation, unexplainably right. Sometimes the most difficult solutions end up feeling simple and obvious once in hand.
Warpaint - Warpaint
Urgent and brooding, music full of feminine moxy.
A Winged Victory for the Sullen – Atomos
Terrible name, much better ambient music.
Abram Shook – Sun Marquee
More infectious pop from Austin.
Alt-J – This Is All Yours
Made the transition to the big leagues without totaling losing what made them so bizarre and interesting.
Angel Olsen – Burn Your Fire for No Witness
21st century troubadour, no bullshit.
Beaty Heart – Mixed Blessings
Blatantly inspired by Animal Collective, but saved by some great songwriting.
Eagulls – Eagulls
If Robert Smith were a dirty punk dropout.
Evian Christ – Waterfall EP
Punishing, a beat maker still carving out fresh ground.
Parquet Courts – Sunbathing Animal
Irreverent indie rock a la Pavement.
Perfect Pussy – Say Yes to Love
If the name bothers you, you won’t like the music. 12 non-stop fuckoffs.
Mac DeMarco – Salad Days
Everyone’s favorite weirdo, making that bouncy sway perfect for lazy afternoons.
New to Me (pre-2014):
Tin Hat Trio – Book of Silk (2005)
Mood-enhancing folk instrumentals, at turns romantic.
Cage the Elephant – Cage the Elephant (2008)
How did I miss these guys the first time around? I love this kind of rock and roll.
Linda Perhacs – Parallelograms (1970)
The original “freak folk”.
Stephan Mathieu – The Sad Mac (2004)
Cult classic for ambient aficionados.
Polmo Polpo – The Science of Breath (2002)
Organic, rhythmic meditations.
Tim Buckley – Happy Sad (1969)
Just a matter of time before I heard this. Every note is worthwhile.
Before I start, a fine effort as always Tom for keeping this awesome tradition going! It’s no mean feat to have had it going for so long and all credit is due!
Murph’s Top Picks of 2014
So here we go…
2014 has been, in my opinion, a stellar year for music, film and television. I could literally throw my list away and populate a new one with entirely different choices and still be happy… that being said we have to choose, and so here are mine:
The Interrupters - the Interrupters : This is very likely to be a Murphy family favourite throughout 2015. If I’d got it sooner there would be at least a couple of tracks on the Stocking Fillers
Bill Withers - Live At The Carnegie Hall : I bought a mint original of this in Singapore for $15 and it has blown me away this year. I’ve always liked Bill Withers and this is a magical live performance
Damon Albarn - Everyday Robots : Quality mellow vibes from one of our generation’s constant innovators
Ty Segall - Manipulator : Great garage-fuzz album. Has his dad playing drums on the final track.
Royal Blood - Royal Blood : Not had too much time to dissect this album as yet, but suspect it will be a favourite noisy album
Asgeir - In The Silence : English language version of his Icelandic debut album "Dýrð í dauðaþögn", but with translated or new English-language lyrics by John Grant from original lyrics by Ásgeir’s father. Atmospheric and awesome.
The Budos Band – Burnt Offering : "Afrofunk, doom metal, deep grooves, murky atmosphere, hypnotic riffs… all played with joy and loopy abandon. Spooky, funky, freedom-loving fun: The chance to embrace something like this doesn’t come along often, and it’s to be cherished.” (Nuff said…)
Madlib - Shades Of Blue : Genius Hip Hop producer interprets the Blue Note catalogue to great effect.
Paolo Nutini - Caustic Love : Always like Paulo Nutini and his new long player has all the hall marks of a soul classic. Loving it.
Teenage Bottlerocket - Freak Out! : Brilliant feel good punk that doesn’t take itself too seriously.
Albums - Honourable Mentions
King Creosote - From Scotland With Love :
Jack White - Lazarreto
Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers - Hypnotic Eye
Kool & the Gang - Live At The Sex Machine
Foo Fighters - Sonic Highways
Classified - Classified
Rancid - Honor Is All We Know
Passenger - All The Little Lights
Damien Rice - My Favourite Faded Fantasy
DJ Format & Phil Most Chill - The Foremost
The Best Of Steely Dan
About Time : My film of the year. One of the best interpretations of time travel I’ve come across. A feel good film with depth and intelligence. Highly recommended.
The Hundred Foot Journey : Another just brilliant feel good film, stylishly done and full of rich characters
Healing : Small budget Australian film about a few damaged inmates who find therapy and bonding through a bird of prey
Box Trolls: My favourite kids film of the year by far… better than the Lego Movie.
Spring Breakers : Much darker and grittier than I thought it was going to be… surprisingly good.
Kick Ass 2 : If you liked 1, then you’ll like 2… Hit Girl is as cool a teenage girl character as there has ever been.
That Awkward Moment: Another film I had no, or low, expectations of, that I really enjoyed. Good plane film, or easy night in.
Dom Hemingway : Jude Law’s defining moment. This year’s Lock Stock…
The Book Thief: A classic book, and the film didn’t disappoint… thought there were a few changes fro the book so be warned.
American Hustle : Great period piece from the 70’s… all characters delivered in style.
I Have a Bed Made of Buttermilk Pancakes - Jaclyn Moriarty : A modern fairytale… had no idea what was going on until the last quarter, which was quite refreshing
Conquistador - Budy Levy : Awesome book about Hernan Cortes, King Montezuma, and the Last Stand of the Aztecs
Birds Without Wings - Louis de Bernieres : I’ve tried reading this before and put it down, but I stuck with it and it was worth it
Wheelmen - Reed Albergotti, Vanessa O’Connell : I actually didn’t know too much about the whole Lance Armstrong scandal, and I suspect this is a slightly biased account, but riveting.
Who I Am - Pete Townshend: A legend in his own words… loved that he admitted to wanting to fuck Mick Jagger!
The Twelve - Justin Cronin: If you haven’t read The Passage yet, then do so… then read this.
The Moneymaker - Janet Gleeson : The fascinating story of John Law, inventor of paper money, mathematical genius and inveterate gambler.
The Good Thief - Hannah Tinti : A charity shop buy that I loved
The Boys from Ballymore -Anthony Brown : Another charity shop buy that I loved
How To train Your Dragon – Cressida Cowell: We read this as a family and it was a brilliant kids book
Not much live music again this year, but I hope to do better in 2015, starting with Fat Freddys Drop on the 2nd Jan!
Music (new and re-visits)
Aphex Twin - Spyro. Bought by my lovely wife for my birthday. Thanks Orla ;-)
Miwon - A to B (City Centre Offices). Smooth German electronica at its finest
Phosphorescent -Muchaho. Americana with a Drum machine anyone ?
Ohia - Electric Electric Co. Ok ok, nothing wrong with good ol Country when its this good y'all
Slowdive - Souvlaki (revisited)
Bonobo - Late Night Tales
One off tracks - Tunes, Dancefloor Fillers, Pop and Electronic beauties!
Aki Bergin - into my soul
Lovebirds - This Time
Blaze - Most Precious Love (feat Barbara Tucker)
Luisine - Two dots
Rodriguez Jr - Shapes I see
Inxec - Unhinged
XX remix by Fourtet - VCR.
Rocket Sceintist - Upside down (original mix). Only on soundcloud. What a stonker !
South Street Player - (Who ?) Keeps changing your mind (perfect last track to a long night out !)
Not enough gigs again this year.....so need to sort that out in '15 !!!
Gig of the year was Bonnie Prince Billy solo @ Pavilion Dun Laoghaire. Unbelievable voice - hairs on the back of my neck bristled throughout the whole thing. Entertaining raconteur too !!
Gary Newman - Body and Soul. Dark high energy electronic madness. Surprise highlight of the festival for me ( and pretty much anyone who saw him)
Bill Cunningham - Olympia. As McG said, he even smiled a couple of times
King Kong company - Body n Soul. Dreadzone meets Underworld at their rockin best. Grabbed everyone by their gonads on Sunday afternoon and sent every groggy head into Hyperdrive !
Sumdaze - Kildare. More of a private rave in an old Country house for my mates 40th than a gig...but a bit niche for its own catagory
2 young postrock grungey shoegazey bands (names unknown) in an obscure venue called thejoinery.org (now closed) somewhere near Stoneybatter. Went with Hope Sandoval (Mazzy Star) and Colm O Ciosog (MBV) - the bands didnt even know they were there. .... I should have told them.
Quality TV shows a go-go in 2014 as the golden age of TV continues (thanks Tony Soprano for tarting this all!)
Treme - best TV show of all time ??
Rectified - Sundance Channel. Slow, thoughtful, quietly disturbing.
Olive Kitteridge - Frances McDormund: again, slow - miserable - nicely shot. Great show
The Missing - never liked James Nesbitt and not sure I do now, but this was good drama and well worth a watch
THe Knick - Great show - now thats what I call a period drama (up yours Downton Abbey)
The Good Wife - Season 6. Nothing terribly informative or thought provoking, but still comes up with the goods. A show about swanky lawyers actually worth watching
Honourable mention: Stargate Universe: Sure theres Aliens and space travel and hot chicks in uniform but im enjoying watching Season 1.
Revisit: Firefly - still great fun and if you havent seen it then get on it (sure theres Aliens and space travel, but they have 6 shooters and humour)
Again a quiet year for the ol flicks but definitely some worth catching;
'71. Tense thriller set against the bleak backdrop of the troubles. Well acted, scry this kind of shit happened so close to us.
The Iceman. Maybe its just cause Michael Shannon was in it but I thought this was a damn good one
Out of the Furnance: Woody Harrelson is chillingly good. Christan Bale and Casey Aflek were good too. Critics didnt like it...I did
Watching my house being built - wowza wowza wowza
Knocking ann hour off my time in the Killarney Adventure Race - good fun with Mc G and the boys
Finally forking out for Spotify paid account. So worth the spons
I'm afraid I didn't get to much this year but I did get to Arcade Fire in Marlay park...what else matters? Fantastic show and even better to see Pixies.
The belle and Sebastian gig shown after the premier of ' God Help the Girl', live satellite link from Edinburgh to the triskel. Enjoyed the movie too.
1. Arcade fire: Reflector and Suburbs
(Spotify says our most played track of the year was ' Afterlife' and it's no surprise...Both kids and parents are fans...Thank God
2.Frazey Ford: Indian ocean , fave track: September fields
3. The Gloaming.. perfect
4.God Help The Girl..soundtrack to Stuart Murdoch movie, best tracks: Come Monday Night, Musician Please Take Heed
5. First Aid Kit : enjoying Stay Gold ( fave track My Silver lining)and The Lions Roar ( best track Emmylou)
6.Martin Hayes , The Lonesome Touch
7. Introducing the lads to the Beatles..that has been a real highlight actually. Hard to beat belting out Hey Jude on car journeys!
8.elbow: the take off and landing of everything. ..One of joe's that I got to love through exposure
1. Where'd you go Bernadette: funny and clever
2. The Goldfinch: am still traumatised
3. Born to Run: inspiring but funny though am still not barefoot! Eat and Run by Scott Jure was also an interesting read in the same vein.
4.10% happier: very good read about meditation, self help but funny
5. A kind of loving: gritty 60 s realism , like old Coronation street..A kindle recommendation I would not otherwise have come across
6. Stoner: a fine novel , he nearly broke my heart
7. The rosie project: a bit over done but entertaining none the less
8. We were liars..did not see that ending coming.
9 Gone girl: as above re ending
10. Wild by Cheryl Strayed : should have put this near the top , brought me back to travels in the States, great read.
Currently reading Middlemarch. ..never read it before and I'm immersed..will probably be all I get through next year!
Joe liked Love/ Hate and Breaking Bad..I'm afraid I did not have the stomach for them.
Downton Abbey was my TV highlight.sure the story line was crap but that's hardly relevant! Also loved Borgen , fair play to TG4. I want to go to Copenhagen.
Enjoying earlier Portlandia. It can be hit and miss but worth it for the best bits.
Also inbetweeners...I shouldn't find it so hilarious but I do.
Awaiting the second part of Olive Ketteridge on Sky Atlantic..gripping , tense, absorbing.
Did Tom just mention that this is the 19th year of Top10? Dude, look what you started. Here it goes for 2014.
Yet again I have to start with An Taobh Tuathaill,
still going out 5 nights a week for two hours of inspired music choice. It is the starting point, directly or
indirectly, of a lot of the new music I get to listen to. Here is a
- Mantana Roberts – Coin Coin Chapter Two: Mississippi Moonchile
Mantana Roberts follow up to Coin Coin chapter 1, free vocals over free jazz exploring a black womans place in history. This is pure art.
- Zara McFarlane - If you knew her
Zara made a name for herself this year, winning a MOBO for best jazz act. Her cover
of Police and Thieves is beautiful
- Jason Lytle – House Show
ex- Grandaddy Jason Lytle has really found his voice here, a live recording with some absolutely wonderful melancholy gems
- Andy Stott - Faith in Strangers
So Andy Stott got his former piano teacher to do the vocals on this album and she is one of the stars.
Check out the dark and haunting
Violence, one of my tunes of the year
- Captain Murphy - Duality
Flying Lotus' alter ego, brilliant hip hop - vocals, instrumentation and production
- Agustus and John - Crosslines ep
Matteo Grassi and Cane141's legendary Mike Smalle in his latest incarnation. One of my favourite artists and he doesn't disappoint
- Radian & Howe Gelb - Radian verses Howe Gelb
Radian perform some artistic surgery on the Americana of Howe Gelb, the result is brilliant
- Arial Pink - Pom Pom
Crazy Ariel Pink, a breath of fresh californian psychedelic pop rock air.
- Arvo Part – Tabula Rasa
I heard this album in a cafe in Greenwich, turns out Arvo Part is a famous Estonian composer but I never came across him
Listen to this astonishing work
- Bill Callahan – Have fun with god
This is a dub version of Bill Callahan's Dream River, prooving that
dub americana works
Gig of the year
Zara McFarlane - you have the voice of an angel - at Rich Mix with Michelle and Igor
Film event of the year
Beasts of the southern wild - with Nessa at the Barbican. Even more special because there was a live ochestra and the musicians that played the southern sounds of the brilliant film
I read several books based in Latin America this year, coincidence I think, lots of cycling memories brought back though.
Finishing the year with Thomas Pynchons Bleeding Edge. This is a real return to form after the disappointment of Inherent Vice.
I thought you were losing it Tom P, happy to see thats not the case
- The Sound of Things Falling by Juan Gabriel Vásquez
- Viva South America!: A Journey Through a Restless Continent by Oliver Balch
- Desperadoes by Joseph O'Connor
- Train Dreams by Dennis Johnson
- Bleeding Edge by Thomas Pynchon
Spotify playlist of Favourite tracks from my favourite albums of 2014
Top 10 Albums
1. Owen Pallett - In Conflict
2. Interpol - El Pintor
3. Perfume Genius - Too Bright
4. Sun Kil Moon - Benji
5. Run The Jewels - Run the Jewels 2
6. The Raveonettes - Pe'ahi
7. Shabazz Palaces - Lese Majesty
8. Sharon Van Etten - Are We There
9. East India Youth - Total Strife Forever
10. Liars - MESS
Bryce Dessner + Jonny Greenwood - St. Carolyn by the sea
Fat White Family - Champagne Holocaust
Isiah Rashad - Clivia Demo
Sisyphus - Sisyphus
The Amazing Snakeheads - Amphetamine Ballads
Hercules & Love Affair - The Feast Of The Broken Heart
GusGus - Mexico
Talib Kweli - Prisoner of Conscious
Flying Lotus - You're Dead
Azealia Banks - Broke with Expensive Taste
Scott Walker, Sunn O)))) - Soused
Van Hai - Intimicy
Top 10 Gigs
1. Owen Pallett - Whelans
2. Sun Kil Moon - Button Factory
3. Perfume Genius - The Independent - SF
4. Owen Pallett - Iveagh Gardens
5. Yasinn Bey / Mos Def - Vicar St
6. Shabazz Palaces - Twisted Pepper * 2
7. Earl Sweatshirt - Academy
8. The Amazing Snakeheads - Whelans Higher
9. Jennifer Evans - Whelans
10. Liars - Button Factory
Mat's Top Ten 2014, in no particular order whatsoever! Odd year, lots of guitars but little beats or jazz...let's see about 2015!
1: Sonic Highways
Dave Grohl's 8 part documentary on the music scenes of the 8 cities in which the Foo Fighters recorded their new album Sonic Highways. While you might not dig THEIR music, Grohl's music is still the punk rock and of course grunge that he grew up with, and so this series doesn't so much as try and fit in a full history of these cities so much as the music scenes that Grohl liked in these places...which is fine by me! The Washington DC, Chicago, LA, and New York dodos are particularly good, featuring some great interview with Fugazi's Ian Mackaye and Shellac's Steve Albini, and the Seattle episode is fantastic - Nirvana's drummer on the '90s Seattle explosion!
Each episode ends with a song the Foo Fighters recorded in an important studio in the town it was about, but even if you skip that you're left with a fantastic documentary series about American alternative music (plus a lot of Dolly Parton and Willie Nelson, in the more mainstream Nashville episode) - find it online, sure a dvd will be forthcoming soon!
Series trailer: http://youtube.com/watch?v=q0TrqXHoL10
2. Big Bang Theory
So I'd seen a bunch of these, as most people have, and being a geek loved all the comics and star wars jokes, but that was about as far as it went. And then my girlfriend made me watch it over from the beginning and I saw why is the biggest comedy on TV right now - AS WELL as all the comics and star wars jokes there's running gags that unwind and develop from series to series, surprisingly deft characterisation and archetyping, and actual plots running through the seasons that you need to find out what happens with next. It's amazing, get back to the beginning!
(no link required)
3. Slint - Spiderland reissue
This amazing album was first released to little fanfare in 1991 by a using band who would split up shortly later, and went on to be such an influence on Mogwai that they got snippy about it in early interviews. Pj Harvey asked to join the band by letter before starting out in her solo career. Incredibly mature songwriting and playing by a bunch of punk kids with hardly a hint of distortion on their guitars, here's a too-short collection of songs full of atmosphere and space by a band that sadly imploded before they could do any more. I was lucky enough to catch them reformed at All Tomorrow's Parties last year, and at another ATP event watch a work print of a documentary about Breadcrumb Trail by Lance Bangs - it was absolutely great, and comes on dvd as part of the Spiderland box set/reissue.
Slint - Spiderland (full album) :
Breadcrumb Trail documentary trailer :
4. Run The Jewels - Run The Jewels II
El-p and Killer Mike put out their second Run The Jewels lp (for free!) at the end of the year, and it's a killer collection of brash tunes with deftly combative rhymes...still free to download from their website, check out an awesome number featuring Rage Against The Machine's Zack de la Rocha - the line about Philip K Dick is ridiculous!
Run The Jewels:
Run The Jewels - "Close Your Eyes (and Count to Fuck)" [ft. Zack De La Rocha]:
5. Yob - Clearing The Path To Ascend
This doom metal album probably isn't to everybody's taste, but don't be put off by the genre, title, cover etc - it's fantastic! It's been one of the crossover metal albums of 2014 that the non -metal music press has been all over...four fifteen minute songs full of big riffs, uplifting (believe it or not) shifts, elastic beats - of you can get into this beast it'll keep rewarding you over and over! Link to one of the aforementioned fifteen minute numbers below, hope you dig it!
Yob - Unmask the Spectre :
6. Flying Lotus - You're Dead
Flying Lotus' wild new jazz album defies easy description, and indeed listening at first! It's nuts, and I'm still not properly into it after numerous listens - sprawling, conceptual, jarring, groovy, and with some well chosen guest spots including Herbie Hancock and Kendrick Lamar. Rewards further listening...
Flying Lotus - Never Catch Me ft. Kendrick Lamar:
7. Mastodon - Once More 'Round The Sun
Another 'crossover' metal album from this well established southern metal band that been described as their equivalent of Metallica's black album...wish is a bit of a disservice! It's maybe less heavy than it's predecessors, with shorter songs and catchy singalong hooks (honest!), but then Mastodon have always been stealthily catchy and who says that heavy songs have to be long? While it's not as sprawlingly classic as their concept albums about Moby Dick and Rasputin & astral travel it's still a heck of a listen, and heavily recommended if you like your guitars set loud!
Mastodon - High Road: http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=6Aw1WnNVcYw
8. Jeff Buckley - Grace
My girlfriend turned me on to this guy late last year and I'm still listening to this amazing lp, which sadly is all he wrote. Following in the footsteps of a musician father he never knew Buckley passed away at the ' magic age' of 27 with this one killer recording under his belt, just before beginning the sessions on his second album. A mix of rocky numbers and mellow ballads, the tunes here really show off his songwriting and musicianship, but it's his incredible vocal range and mastery of it that really stands out. There's been a couple of documentaries out since 2009 on Buckley that are worth a watch (and on YouTube for easy access), and give the album a listen of you get a chance - it's on Spotify etc so look it up!
Jeff Buckley - Grace:
9. Bohren & der Club of Gore
I may have mentioned this band before, but I saw them play in a dry ice filed church in Bethnal Green this spring plus they brought out their first lp in years... Don't be put off by the name, this German four piece may have started out as a hardcore punk band but they dropped it in favour of very,very minimal crushingly ambient jazz...kind of. I'm putting a favourite track from a favourite lp below, they don't all come with beautiful saxophone but they do all come at that lovely slow speed...
Bohren & Der Club of Gore - Faul:
10. Trampled by Turtles - Wild Animals
An unexpected entry into this year's top ten, but looking back on what I've played over and over in 2014 this one is definitely up there! I picked it up because it was produced by Alan Sparhawk of Low, but it is such a grower! The band was originally known for the speed at which it played but has slowed down a lot for this one - if you like alt-bluegrass that's heavy on the twang of banjo, scrape of fiddle, and catchy vocal harmonies then this may well be for you - or not, Martino politely hated it when I sent him a link! It's on Spotify etc, a tune link below too:
Trampled By Turtles - Are You Behind the Shining Star? http://youtube.com/watch?v=8sV1OffwUiw
1 Timber Timbre - Hot Dreams ( Grand Canyon my track of the year, strangely missing from the best of lists , standout album for me , Americana meets David Lynch)
2 Caribou - Our love
3 War on Drugs - Lost in the dream
4 Leonard Cohen - Popular Problems
5 The Gloaming - The gloaming
6 Sun Kil Moon - Benji
7 Beck - Morning Phase
8 Future Islands - Singles
9 St Vincent - St Vincent
10 Todd Terje - It's Album time
best gigs: Leonard Cohen, Lawrence Arabia
best Novel : The luminaries - Eleanor Catton
best Film/Tv series - True Detective ( better than anything on the big screen this year for me)
this is the Christchurch vote over and out for 2014, Merry Christmas!