Throwing a couple older releases I really got into this year.
Courtney Barnett - Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit
Jason Isbell - Something More Than Free
Run the Jewels - Run the Jewels 2
Sturgill Simpson - Metamodern Sounds in Country Music
Tobias Jesso Jr - Goon
Disclosure - Caracal
Young Fathers - White Men are Black Men Too
The Orb - History of the Future Part 2
Rah Rah - The Poet's Dead
Genesis - Selling England By the Pound
Toro y Moi - What For?
Haven't gone to as many shows these days. Saw Sturgill Simpson recently which was good. Not great, but good. Can't remember if it was this year or last, but saw the Musical Box perform Foxtrot. Seriously, if you ever get a chance to see them, do it. As my friend said, it's a historical re-enactment. It's not a cover band. Sadly, I can't remember other shows I've been to. There have been half a dozen, I'm sure.
Some TV shows I've really enjoyed this year:
Hannibal - truly a great run. Last season a bit weird, but...
An Idiot Abroad - wow. So entertaining.
Hello Ladies - think I caught it this year. great sound track
Fresh off the Boat - love all the mid-90s hip hop references and Shaq-fu
Last Week Tonight
The Jinx - my buddy got me to watch this since it starts off with the guy's time in Galveston which is near where I grew up.
Limitless - surprisingly better than I thought it would be
Last man on Earth
You're the Worst
Red Oaks (Amazon)
Man in the High Castle (Also Amazon)
ugh, I watched a lot of TV this year I guess. I was unemployed for 2 months recently and was dead set on doing more than watching TV. Maybe the second week I was feeling great like I accomplished something that day. Then I realized that I had just finished watching Season 3 of Homeland. ha.
Big Game - I LOVED Rare Exports. Great stuff from the same director and actor
Ex Machina - my wife fell asleep, but thought this was a great story
Mad Max: Fury Road
Notable moment in sports:
1. Watched the first game of the Seattle Sounders US Open Cup vs. Portland (ack) at Starfire which holds about 3,000. Usually a great place to see a game and it is. But not this game. Brad Evans gets 2 yellows. Obafemi Martins is injured after all subs used. Michael Azira straight reds and Clint Dempsey, frustrated, rips up the ref's notebook. The game ended with the Sounders fielding 7 players. I think there's a video of me out there repeatedly yelling profanities. Walking out of the stadium chanting a rude chant for PDX, I felt bad because a kid was near me. That is until his dad picked up a chair and threw it on the pitch. Dempsey suspended for 3 MLS games, gone for failed Gold Cup and starts the Sounders on something like a 9 game losing streak.
2. Seahawks lost the super bowl.
3. great time catching a sounders game down in Houston with my old buddy, Troy.
Top ten in no particular order:
1. Alvvays Alvvays
2. Sufjan Stevens - Carrie & Lowell
3. Fantasma Free Love
4. Bob Dylan Shadows in the night
5. Burial - Kindred
6. Paul Westerburg 14 songs
7. Soak Before we forget how to dream
8. Throwing Muses The real Ramona
9. The Revenants Horse of a different colour
10. Luna - Penthouse
That time of year again, time to review the activities, milestones and events of the year. Personally - massive changes, settling into Dunboyne and the associated commute, local GAA nursery, house and garden renovations, new role in work, joined the Athletics club and ticked off the marathon. Really loving country life - just last night was taking the short walk to the end of the lane to put out the bin - no artificial light - just the brightness of the moon..... Great for the soul!!!!
Some of the more memorable shows were (with special thanks to Dave for reminding me what I was at!):
Van Morrison - 3Arena - Wasn't really looking forward to this - but by far the gig of the year. Blues, Jazz, pop, even a few jokes. Amazing band, fantastic performance.
Mark Lanegan - Academy - always a personal favourite, great to see him on his own after a festival appearance as a Glimmer Twin. Not much between song banter, just plenty of great tunes.
Mogwai - Olympia - Tom remarked that sometimes music takes you out of the moment, and that was the case here. Couldn't agree more.
Mini Mansions - Workingmen's club - great pop tunes, big sound from California's finest
Yo La Tengo - NCH - just over 20 years since seeing YLT put on an amazing show in Essen - always have the highest of expectations. Griselda was a highlight of a show that just didn't ignite - even with Autumn Sweater during the encore
El Vy - Vicar St - 3 companions commented separately on how talented different members of the band were. 'Sorry, we've no more songs' apologised Matt Berninger when the crowd were demanding an encore. Must be true - they played a Fine Young Cannibals cover!
Sonos and Spotify have ensured I've listened to more new music than for years. But, although Romare was by far my most listened album, had to check what the name of it was!!
Too many good albums this year to get it down to 10, with Royal Headache and Sleaford Mods sneaking in in the last few weeks. But the album I've listened to most, and kept discovering little nuggets in the lyrics, is I Love You, Honeybear by Father John Misty. I wasn't able to see him live this year but making up for it when he tours in April.
I Love You, Honeybear - Father John Misty
What Went Down - Foals
The Magic Whip - Blur
Currents - Tame Impala
Perpetual Motion People - Ezra Furman
Sometimes I Sit and Think and Sometimes I Just Sit - Courtney Barnett
Carrie & Lowell - Sufjan Stevens
Multi-Love - Unknown Mortal Orchestra
Modern Nature - Charlatans
The Race for Space - Public Service Broadcasting
My Love Is Cool - Wolf Alice
Alternative Light Source - Leftfield
Key Markets - Sleaford Mods
Grey Tickles, Black Pressure - John Grant
Undertow - Drenge
High - Royal Headache
Blur at Hyde Park were incredible but gig of the year was Foals at Nottingham's Rock City, a small venue for a band that size. Packed to ceilings with the crowd singing every word, we even braved the pit at the front before deciding being able to breathe was more important, all topped off with the lead singer stage diving off the balcony during the encore. Also got to see some artists revisit classic albums live, Underworld with dubnobasswithmyheadman, Ride with Nowhere and Badly Drawn Boy with The Hour of Bewilderbeast
Foals - Rock City, Nottingham
Blur - Hyde Park, British Summer Time Festival
War On Drugs - Rock City, Nottingham
Courtney Barnett - Wulfrun Hall, Wolverhampton
Unknown Mortal Orchestra - The Institute, Birmingham
Ride - The Institute, Birmingham
Underworld - Colston Hall, Bristol
Public Service Broadcasting - The Institute, Birmingham
Blossoms - The Institute, Birmingham
Wolf Alice - The Institute, Birmingham
Drenge - The Institute, Birmingham
Mark Lanegan - The Institute, Birmingham
Badly Drawn Boy - Rescue Rooms, Nottingham
Teleman - Hyde Park, British Summer Time Festival
Charlatans - Civic Hall, Wolverhampton
Marika Hackman - The Rainbow, Birmingham
Not seen nearly enough films this year, but Birdman was the best by some stretch, looking forward to The Revenant by the same director in 2016. I did manage to see two very different music films back to back, the excellent Brian Wilson biopic Love and Mercy and Eden set against France's electronic music scene (feat. Daft Punk) in the 1990s and beyond.
2015 was a big year for us. We finished building our house after a few years of a books worth of shenanigans, it was so sweet yet surreal to finally move in this June. Project managing all that took up a lot of time. I also completed my first year lecturing in the local institute of technology on a Wednesday evening. I had to build a course up from up scratch which took massive effort. This semester just passed I was teaching Java which was a lot more manageable and good fun. I did manage some other goals like getting back into climbing, running our local half marathon again and doing an open water swimming event but my passion for music listening suffered.
We've had poor\no connectivity since moving house. So no streaming at home since early summer and I've had issues getting my speakers set up (gotta get that sorted this week!) so no vinyl either - indeed I have a few purchases from this year unlistened to. So I was confined to work streaming which limited my opportunities. I gave a bunch of stuff one or 2 plays but typically not enough to embrace. There was one outstanding exception - Kendrick!! I enjoyed the little bits I heard of Sufjan Stevens. Also, the parts I have heard from Kamasi Washington's Epic are outstanding.
Insanely good. His first album was my #1 and this is better, next level stuff, love it! So many high points, that's all it is really! Like the base on king kunta, chilling and then the kick in of the hi-hat & keys; the blacker the berry with the Cannibus like kick in rap, yaaaaaaaaa.
The first of what would be a very decent amount of trips to Dublin this year, on a Monday night too. Special evening in the 4th row for my first time in the NCH. I'd have preferred not to be sitting but it was magical.
Flying Lotus, supported by Shabazz Palaces - Vicar st - April 29
Well worth the drive up & down. Next level mind blowing visuals from this creative genius.
The Red Army - Gabe Polsky (2015) - Dublin Film Festival, March 20
Excellent doco about soviet ice hockey.
While we're young - Noah Baumbach (2014)
I made my first trip over to the Eye cinema in Galway for this on my birthday - we don't get much current indie cinema on Athlone screens. I loved his first release, The Squid and the Whale, back in the mid naughties so couldn't miss this chance, I really liked it, e.g. the scene were the 40 something visited the 20 somethings apartment was just so spot on in many ways - touching, funny, moving. Baumbach had a later release this year, Miss America, which I unfortunately missed.
Amy - Asif Kapadia (2015)
I never listed to Amy Winehouse's music and went only because it was made by the Senna creator. My only film seen this year in the lighhouse, probably the best cinema in Ireland (I guess it pegs Dingle), - it's nice to be able to enjoy a craft beer at the flics. I came out with a great respect for Amy and her music.
Straight out of Compton - F. Gary Gray (2015)
Mad Max- Fury Road - George Miller (2015)
Charlize Theron is excellent in this big screen treat!
Black Mass - Scott Cooper (2015)
The Water diviner - Russel Crowe (2015)- Dublin Film Festival, March 20
I do like Russel Crowe and enjoyed seeing his debut direction and hearing him speak after.
Spectre - Sam Mendes (2015)
We have a tradition now of going on a date for the latest bond film. Mendes & Craig have been an excellent combination.
Family film of the year
I never saw Inside Out or Song of the Sea, got to rectify that.
I really wanted to see this in the cinema and it certainly lived up to expectations and is one I will rewatch.
180 degrees south - Chris Malloy (2010)
Fascinating documentary I watched on Netflix on an overnight in Limerick back in March. Just the other day I read via twitter about the death of North Face's Douglas Tompkins in a Chilean Kayak accident at the age of 72, he leaves his footprint on this doco.
Valley Uprising - Peter Mortimer, Nick Rosen (2014)
I have read about a lot of the Yosemite characters and it was brilliant for this doco to join all the dots in the Valley's climbing history. It was poignant to see Dean Potter in action, he inevitable died this last May base jumping in the Valley, his home, at dawn.
Foxcatcher - Bennett Miller (2014)
Nebraska - Alexander Payne (2013)
The American - Anton Corbijn (2010)
Interstellar - Christopher Nolan (2014)
Would have liked to have seen this on the big screen.
It Follows - David Robert Mitchell (2014)
Greenburg - Noah Baumbach (2010)
Started to catch up on some Baumbach films I've not seen.
Winter's Bone - Debra Granik (2010)
Mount St. Elias (2009)
Netflix has some good docos for sure.
Contagion - Steven Soderbergh (2011)
The art of flight (2011)
A snowboarding flic I enjoyed at the time but can't remember it now!
Binge watched this over a few evenings in June, it deserves such a viewing, outstanding in all respects, season 2 didn't have a chance.
Game of Thrones - Season 5
Engrenages (Spiral) - Season 1-5
It's been around since 2005 and season 6 is coming in the new year. Well worth investigating, great characters.
Broen (The Bridge) - Season 2 & 3
The Affair - Season 1 & 2
The Leftovers - Season 2
Is anyone else watching this?
Walking Dead - Season 4 part 2 & 5 part 1
Some plot holes were frustrating but great story telling the way 2 days were told over half a season.
House of Cards - Season 2
What an insane start Frank makes to this season. We haven't got to Season 3 yet, as we have been out of broadband coverage since we moved home (though I still am coughing up every month originally to keep the old price but need to look at that!).
Silicon Valley - Season 1 & 2
Arvingerne (The Legacy) - Season 2
Another qality Danish drama.
Les Revenants (The Returned) - Season 2
More questions than answers but superb cinematography & music (Mogwai again).
Catastrophe - Season 1
Les Témoins (Witnesses)
The Good Wife - Season 6
Suits - Season 5
Nurse Jackie - Season 6 & 7
Broadchurch - Season 2
True Detective - Season 2
Mad Men - Season 7 Part 2
Lost interest a while ago really. Brilliant ending scene to the series.
The rise of superman - Decoding the Science of Ultimate Human Performance - Steven Kotler
My first audio book, I listened to this exclusively while training for the Athlone half marathon. Gripping stories of adventure sport feats interspersed with theories on flow
Brooklyn - Colm Tobin
I finished this on 4th January but will include it as a 2015 book. My first time reading Tobin and not my last for my only fiction book of the year. As an immigrant, albeit from a different generation, I found this a phenomenal read. I'm looking forward to the film.
Roy Keane - The second Half
Kind of like a CV for Keano. Reading this and watching him work with Martin O'Neil and I don't doubt he will have further success as a manager.
I am Ozzy - Ozzy Osbourne
The white spider - Heinrich Harrer (1959)
Red - Gary Neville
The Dingle Peninsula, A walking guide (Colin's Press) - Adrian Hendroff
I must mention this one since I get a credit in the acknowledgements - I look forward to sampling some of these mouth watering hikes.
On January 14, 2015, Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson made the first free ascent of The Dawn Wall on Yosemite's El Capitan. Watch Tommy climb pitch 15. It was a unique climbing event with people following in on the web including myself.
Finally climbed Tower Ridge. Martin & I had said we would climb togther in 2015 and it happened! 3 visits to Dalkey this summer and all in shorts, which was very lucky considering how wet this summer was.
The App I want has not been written yet. Cite exists for the iPhone but there is no equivalent for Android. I love the idea of being able to tweet a TextShot quote from an article I am reading instead of having to convey a message in 140 letters.
2015… Eschewing the lists for a more narrative approach as the lines by which we categorise are increasingly blurry…
Spotify and iTunes have largely made my CD collection redundant, so with no hint of nostalgia I gave pretty much everything away (not the Engine Alley’s of course…they’re a bit trickier to find on the new technology!) I remain dismayed at how derivative so much of the musing on offer is - I rely on Tom’s Top 10s to help me find original and innovative artists. This year, I’ve given Bat for Lashes (The Hunter) and Charlotte Gainsborough (Live at Sunset Sound, 5.55) plenty of spins, while Robyn Hitchcocks back collection has never been far away, particularly the recordings with the Egyptians. Beck’s Morning Phase was great, really enjoying Bowie’s Blackstar 10 minute teaser and I’ve been spending time with the MC5s, Marianne Faithful, Pixies. I recall that the ‘digital era’ was meant to herald the end of the ‘album’ as people just picked their favourite songs; for myself however I’ve gone the other way and used streaming to uncover vast swathes of back-catalog, which is only great so it it! And while I think of it, does anybody else find the weekly mixtape on Spotify uncannily accurate. Just listening to Galaxie 500 and Arthur Russell; who’d have thought!
On the TV: House of Cards, The Last Panthers and the current season of Homeland are all outstanding pieces of television. I suffered through the first couple Game of Thrones, Orange is the New Black but got out early on with my sanity intact. I went through the entire Mad Men catalogue, loving the politics/NYC setting and acting from Hamm and Moss. Better Call Saul was a real highlight, featuring the same stunning photography as Breaking Bad. I’ve a bit of a soft spot for Albequerque as it turns out.
On the Big Screen (which is obviously the small screen ‘cause I’ve kids and it costs €100 to see something on an actual big screen. Unless it’s a God, with an updated commandment, it’s not worth it): Nightcrawler, The Imitation Game, Boyhood, Interstellar (not that I had a clue what was going on!) Ex Machina, Inherent Vice, Kill the Messanger: Frank (probably my favourite film of the year), Cloud Atlas, American Sniper, Birman, Far from the Madding Crowd, Never Let me Go, Montage of Heck, Mr Holmes.
On the Actual Big Screen: Star Wars obviously, Spectre….and I’m sure there were others but they’re entirely forgettable (or I’m entirely forgetful…can’t remember which).
Live Music / Theatre
U2 - 3 Arena. After maybe 25 years of underwhelming U2 shows, this show in the point was right up there with Cork, 87! Hugely innovative stage show, incredibly tight band…I had to run straight off to watch Killing Bono. Thoroughly enjoyable, evening.
The Walworth Farce - Olympia,Dublin. All the Gleesons in another Enda Walsh outing. I still had Ballyturk ( Cillian Murphy/Mikel Murfi) in my mind which was a step into the surreal. This was a step further again. I just don’t think a play that relies so much on comic timing as this would work without such a high calibre cast.
Seawall, Project Arts Centre. Almost no notice on this one man show with Andrew Scott, who greeted people on the way to their seats in the round before telling his spellbinding/horrifying story…I won’t spoil it for those who haven’t seen it…but when it comes around again just go see it…there were a lot of people who were disappointed to have missed it!
The Who, 3 Arena, Just love to see the Who, when they come around, this was the 50th Anniversary Tour and it wasn’t that much different in terms of stage show from the Tommy tour…but they were in much better form…it was almost as if they liked each other…very cool…and they always have great support acts!
Curious Incident… - Bord Gais Theatre - Not my usual fare, but highly enjoyable indeed topped with a superb performance from young Joshua Jenkins
Photograph 51, Noel Coward Theatre - Nicole Kidman in the role of Rosie Franklin who did herself no favours in getting credit for discovering the structure of DNA. Still an outstanding cast allround making science fun and engaging all at the same time.
Robyn Hitchcock, Union Chapel, London - Headed to this with Rich (who you wouldn’t know but did see the Ramones 3 times in a week and the Police at Hammersmith back in the day). Amazing Church in North London, with a super interesting story…check it out yourselves! Robyn was in great form; had his new girlfriend Emma (new girlfriends at 62! Fair play!) as support act and for a few backing vocal spots.
The Facts: Tops on the business front would be ‘The hard thing about hard things’ by Ben Horowitz, now a VC by a guy who’s been through multiple startups and really nails it. He’s not shy to point out his failing and there’s an insight on every page. I also enjoyed the slightly more academic ‘Zero to One’ by Peter Thiel. It’s a bit irritating in that the greatness of Peter is a pervasive theme, but it’s not the longest… A longer read is ‘The Everything Store’, the history of Jeff Bezos (madman!) and Amazon. And Elon Musk, another chap with megalomaniac tendencies, but incredibly inspirational got his biography seen to by myself too…He’s become my new crazy hero. And finally, one for the hard sums people was The Signal and the Noise by Nate Silver. That Nate is some lad too. The book start with ‘As I said to Donald Rumsfeld in the White House the other day….’ The books about predictions and covers weather/gambling and much more…very good…like a hard Freakonomics.. And I’d recommend the ‘Business Battlecard’ by Paul O’Dea (who’s also my chairman, so fair play). One cracking read actually was ‘Dead Mountain’ about a Russian hiking expedition that went very wrong in 1959. Another one in that vein was Frozen in Time about airplane’s that got lost at the end of WWII in Greenland. That’s by Mitchell Zuckoff who made the book all the more entertaining by keeping a blog going after the book was published.
The Fiction: Got big into Robert Harris this year. There’s more than one mind so if you’re on the Kindle and impulse buying…you’re looking for the former Panorama correspondent! An Officer and a Spy, The Fear Index and Archangel all had great writing, compelling narrative and most share his technique of combining fact and fiction. I’m sure Dan Brown would say the same, but there’s a bit more fact here! Tangentially I saw Dan Brown, at WebSummit, he seems very pleasant! The Luminaries was one of the best books I’ve read in a long time. It won an award a while ago, can’t recall which, but is one of those book you don’t want to end…and there’s so many pages you often feel that it never will. Read the two Herman Koch’s (The Dinner and Summer House with Swimming Pool) which are worth a spin. Girl in the Spiders Web, the ‘fourth’ of the Stieg Larsson trilogy was also entertaining enough if entirely formulaic.
The Fantasy: One of my absolutely favourite writers, Terry Pratchett, died this year but left the final part of the Tiffany Aching trilogy to enjoy. Kindle tells me I’m just 18% into it, but it’s super so far; more melancholic than previous efforts, which I guess reflects his state of mind when writing it. I did get to Raising Steam his last Discworld novel this year and that is entirely superb and in keeping with the other 50 odd books in the series. To assuage the sadness of his passing I also checked out the Science of Discworld, which is a lot harder than you’d think to read and The Long Earth, which didn’t rock my boat entirely. Into this category I’ll put Jon Ronson’s ‘So you’ve been publicly shamed’ because although true, it’s entirely surreal. I also read the Psychopath Test for bonus entertainment.
Black Moss by Johanna Warren - this tune gets me every time I hear it.
I took my 8 year old daughter to Glasgow to see Belle & Sebastian, one of her favourite bands. It was nowhere near the best gig I saw this year,
but jumping around with her to her favourite B&S tunes will live long in my memory :).
The fuzzy warm welcoming embrace of Despacio at EP following a 90 minute stint in the cold, underwhelmed by Blur.
I saw Ride play Feile 20 something years ago, but this year I finally got to see them play a club show, and they didn't disappoint.
My best cinema experience this year happened at 11.30am on Dec 17th :) #TheForceAwakens
I also recall enjoying Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck, Selma & Paddington.
I only recently watched "The Jinx - The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst". TV at it's finest, it was gripping all the way through, with a jaw-dropping finale.
I watched the Marriage Equality referendum unfold on TV & it was wonderful. Vincent Browne reporting from The George, throwing balance & fairness to the wind, was surreal. Now I get to see my friends Buzz & Peter marry on Dec 28th, hurrah!
This is a Spotify playlist containing a few tunes that hooked me in during 2015.
Best wishes to all for 2016, and I look forward to reading the lists!
Here's a quick music top 10:
Sufjan Stevens - Carrie & Lowell
Max Richter - From Sleep
Jon Hopkins - Immunity
King Creosote & Jon Hopkins - Diamond Mine
Burial - Rival Dealer
Future Islands - Singles
James Vincent McMorrow - Post Tropical
Kronos Quartet - The Music of Vladimir Martynov
FKA Twigs - LP1
The Gloaming - The Gloaming
1. Shane Long's goal v Germany, talk about taking the one chance that we got. Honourable mention to Darren Randolph for being just so shit cool.
2. Galway v Tipp All-Ireland semi-final, great game with a great finish.
3. Galway v Cork All Ireland QF, good game but made better by the setting: I've made a habit of going to an Irish Bar on holidays at least once to watch GAA matches and it is great craic. Had a feed of pints followed by a 15 minute stroll to the beach for a sobering swim. Bring my lads up the right way, or what?
4. Low light. The local one. Mark's team (U14) losing to the hated Pike Rovers in a replayed cup semi-final on penalties. The context was that our lads were 3-0 up in the original match and their GK feigned an injury to get the match abandoned. A glorious defeat to a drug money funded shower of mercenary knackers and two of their players have since gone to the UK as apprentice players.
5. Ditto Mr McDaid: Barney v Van Gerwen. MVG averaged 105.78 over the 7 sets, the highest ever losing average at the PDC.
6. This year's Vuelta for the dramatic way that Douimalan cracked under the planned attack by Astana on the penultimate stage. It wasn't pretty, but it showed the power of teamwork in the last week of a grand tour. The only downer was that it was Astana, the junkies of the peloton.
1. Sufjan Stevens - Carrie & Lowell
2. Chvrches - Every Open Eye
3. Father John Misty - I Love you, Honeybear
4. Bob Dylan - The Cutting Edge 1965-66: Bootleg series Vol.12
5. Jamie XX - In Color
6. Jason Isbell - Something More Than Free
7. Blur - The Magic Whip
8. Ryan Adams - 1989
9. Deafheaven - New Bermuda
10. Foals - What Went Down
Honorable Mentions / Stuff that I really liked / Stuff that I'm too old for really but when you've two teenagers in the car what are you going to do (Delete as appropriate)
Earl Sweatshirt - I don't like shit, I don't go outside
Alessia Cara - Know it all
Bob Dylan - Shadows in the Night (Good enough in its own right although this entry might also be because it prompted (yet another) week spent immersed in Blood on the Tracks)
Natalie Prass - Natalie Prass
Kacey Musgraves - Pageant Material
Ellie Goulding - Delirium
Muse - Drones
1. Alessia Cara - Here
2. Chvrches - Leave a trace
3. Foals - What went down
4. Macklemore & Ryan Lewis - Downtown
5. Jason Isbell - The life you chose
6. Ryan Adams - Welcome to New York
7. Sam Smith - Writing's on the wall
8. Blur - Lonesome Street
9. Ellie Goulding - On my mind
10. Justin Bieber - What do you mean? (the Hey, bite me mix obviously)
- Not getting to nearly enough live music but special mention to Ron Sexsmith in Dolans the night we beat the Germans in October. A surreal evening.
- Limerick Vs. Drogheda, June 2015. (I could have picked any of the Market's Field games in our so near and yet so far push for survival but this was the first game back home, the pitch and evening were perfect and the crowd a signal for what was to come in the Autumn)
- Ireland (both squads) qualifying for France. As long as there isn't a tedious argument about flags in the south west of France next summer it should be something special. Didn't make either big game (Germany or Bosnia) much to my chagrin. Couldn't even watch all the German victory live due to the aforementioned Dolan's gig, but before there are any suggestions that my 'hobby' is losing its grip let's move onto…
- UL Vs. Maynooth, Harding (Freshers) Trophy Semi-final Feb 2015. (2 up in the 89th minute and ended up being one down in a penalty shoot-out but were still able to pick ourselves up off the floor to prevail. Less said about the final the better - UCC in a Mardyke final with officials chosen specially for a preferred outcome - still leaves a bitter taste.)
- Waterford U15s Vs. Limerick U15s. March 2015 (Still suffering a Kennedy cup hangover from the previous year we travelled to Deise and came out on top in a 9 goal thriller. Ref played 9 minutes of injury time in order that they might get a draw out of it, Heart-stopping stuff!!)
- Aisling U15s Vs. Limerick FC U15s. May 2015. Cup semi-final (Try explaining a pulsating 0-0 draw and subsequent penalty victory to aliens - go on!!)
- Ireland-France in the RWC. Even I could appreciate the intensity despite not being an egg chasing sympathiser.
-Golden Horn's Arc de Triomphe victory against a dazzling field containing quite possibly the best horse I have ever seen, Treve, was simply outstanding.
- Hurricane Fly's penultimate Grade 1 victory at the Leopardstown Christmas Hurdle. An honour to have been there to see one of the little master's last victory laps.
- Annie Power capsizing at the last with the Cheltenham Mare's Hurdle at her mercy in March. Two legs of an opening day treble up at the festival, (those who know the game will know what this means) cantering up to the final flight and I'm thinking I didn't have half enough on this and then……..
TV (As you can see Netflix has basically taken over my viewing life)
Doctor Who was a triumph this year IMO
Master of None
Orange is the new black
Bridge of Spies
Straight Outta Compton
Spectre looked sumptuous and deserves a mention for the opening sequence alone.
I also enjoyed the Hunger games conclusion despite myself!!
It's been a fun year. Looking back on it less gigs than is normal. Part of that due to not hitting any festivals at all this year. Next year might be tough for festivals too given the second kid on the way but I bought EP Loyalty tickets just in case :-) Live in hope! Looking forward to seeing everyone's lists. This is such a brilliant tradition to keep going. Fair play
Iiro Rantala @ The Hugh Lane Gallery
Metz @ Whelans
Amanda Palmer @ The Academy
The Frames 25 year anniversary @ The Iveagh Gardens
Mogwai @ The Olympia
The Decemberists @ Vicar Street
Punch Brothers @ NCH
Utterly stunning gig in the Hugh Lane by improvisational Jazz pianist Iiro Rantala. I didn't know anything about him before I went but took my brother's advice and it was an amazing gig. Metz blew up Whelan's (and the guitarist's amps) in a savage gig. Amanda Palmer (accompanied by her husband Neil Gaiman) was actually a brilliant gig. I appreciate that she can be pretty grating to a lot of people though! I had to go straight from the airport to see the Frames 25th Anniversary gig but it was absolutely worth it, amazing. (Yeah, whatever Caro & Niall, you guys missed out). Mogwai, The Decemberists (my first time seeing them finally) and The Punch Brothers rounded out at least 10 great gigs.
II - Metz
v2.0 - GoGo Penguin
Holding Hands with Jamie - Girl Band
Dead Planet - Eat Static
Where does a child hide in a small town - Body in the Thames
Noise rock carries my top 5 this year with Metz and Girl Band both featuring. Gutted that Girl Band had to cancel their gig. A brilliant album by GoGo Penguin I only got turned onto this year and a new Eat Static album together with some tracks from Body in the Thames round it out.
20000 days on Earth
Breathe - A Freediving FIlm
A recommendation for Maidentrip, a film about the girl who became the youngest to sail solo around the world, is a really fascinating documentary. All praise due to the editors. Another documentary about the bizarre world of free-diving and the documentary about Nick Cave (with a fantastic story about Nina Simone which confirmed my own opinions, was anyone here at that gig she did in the Point way back? Petrifying) were all unexpected gems this year for me. Whiplash was great of course and Salvation and Wild Tales were two good finds in JDIFF.
Behind the Dark @ The Phoenix Park
Scotch and Soda @ The Spiegeltent
The Night Alive @ The Gaiety
Conor McPherson's "The Night Alive" was as solid as you would expect. "Scotch and Soda" was a really good (if you ignore the pointless nudity) circus along the lines of No Fit State. The woman walking across the tops of champagne bottles showing how you can flabbergast without a need for impressive props, lighting or flashy effects. But my favourite play this year was "Behind the Dark" from the Fringe. Performed at night deep in the trees in the Phoenix Park and involving people being dragged screaming up into the trees by unseen beings, creepy children appearing and disappearing, people spinning around tree trunks high above your head. And all viewed through sheeting rain which only made it more effective. Risky and absolutely stunning. We need more theatre like that
Henry & Heidi
The Tim Ferris Show
I have been listening to a lot of podcasts this year. "Marathon Talk" is a staple of course. Supplemented by the Rob Watson show. Scroobius Pip's "Distraction Pieces" and Henry Rollins' "Henry & Heidi". Dylan Haskins and Lisa Hanigan's "Soundings" Arts podcast and then Tim Ferris' (4 hour work week) show, e.g. check out his one with Laird Hamilton, Gabby Reece and Brian McKenzie. And for what is the current big battle in my life (and in the year to come I guess) sleep, check out the "Barbell Shrugged" episodes with the brilliant Dr. Kirk Parsley
Ben Nevis Race
Wicklow Way Ultra
Sir John Soane Museum
I finally got up the courage to enter the Ben Nevis mountain race this year. A stunning race, beautiful tough ascent and then a horrific descent which left me scrabbling not to fall out the back of the race. A beautiful sunny day, which is unheard of for the Ben, amazing views (when you could look), a crazy carnival atmosphere in the Shinty field in Fort William and even legal shortcuts. I will never do it again though! I can't think of a race that suits me less but it was an amazing feeling to get to the top of the Ben by your own honest effort. Took me about 5 days to recover,
The Wicklow Way Ultra was another beautiful race closer to home on much more forgiving terrain and with a great atmosphere as well.
And the Dublin marathon (after a seven year gap?) always inspires with the great support. Even if you go off far too fast for your ability and detonate spectacularly!
I took up Archery as well this year which is good zen-like fun (and a magnet for gear freaks, think triathlon for people who don't want to do much exercise).
And two places in London, one old and one new were great this year. The Sir John Soane museum in Holborn, home of the architect who designed the first day-light art gallery, the Bank of England, the London phoneboxes etc. His home shows off his tricks of light manipulation as well as a huge collection of artefacts (A complete set of Hogarth's paintings, the sarcophagus of Seti I, pieces of Pompeii that must have "fallen into his pocket"). And the second is the Neasdon Temple, which used to be the largest Hindu temple outside India. An amazing temple and friendly community centre in the middle of nowhere. Definitely worth the trip.
This is my top 10 guide to 2015:
1) Faith No More - Sol Invictus: A terrific comeback from FNM, up there with some of there best stuff in my opinion. Cone of Shame a delight!
2) Dan Mangan & The Blacksmith - Club Meds: Caught this by chance and loved it, don't know much about him/them.
3) Dungen - Allas Sak: Another great album from the Swedish psych-rock group.
4) King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard - Quarters: Four tracks of sublime goodness, their album Paper Mache Dream Balloon is also stunning.
5) Tame Impala - Currents: Grower of the year for me, having loved his/their earlier stuff, was knocked sideways by how synthy it sounded on first listen but definetely grew on me.
6) Matthew E. White - Fresh Blood: Rock N' Roll is cold is one of my tunes of the year, the rest of the album is brilliant too.
7) Duke Garwood - Heavy Love: It's no surprise he's collaborated with Mark Lanegan, gravelly voiced and blissful guitaring. A real treat for me.
8) Patrick Watson - Love Song For Robots: Another beautiful piano based album from Patrick Watson, the title track is gorgeous.
9) Unknown Mortal Orchestra - Multi Love: Another grower and one that I was lucky to see translated on the live stage.
10) Pond - Man It Feels Like Space Again: Up with their best, another sonic blast of psychedelic rock.
Live Events - only two music gigs this year :( but lots of comedy :)
1) Mark Lanegan - Birmingham Institute
2) Unknown Mortal Orchestra - Birmingham Institute
3) Sean Hughes - Ivybridge Watermark
4) Sean Lock - Ivybridge Watermark
5) Rob Beckett - Ivybridge Watermark
6) Phil Jupitus - Ivybridge Watermark
We've been very fortunate this year at our local library (The Watermark), with a new employee having plenty of contacts on the comedy circuit. All of the gigs are to 200 people and cost no more than £15! Bargain and some brilliant comedy.
3) Kingsman - The Secret Service
4) What We Do In The Shadows
5) Edge of Tomorrow
7) The Homesman
8) A Most Violent Year
10) Stonehearst Asylum
(I'm chucking in Star Wars 7 too - although seeing it in the morning!)
2) Game of Thrones
3) Peaky Blinders
7) Car Share
This year I bought the fewest albums ever, so Spotify has
truly become the source of all listening material. Managed to make it
out to a few interesting shows, NCH had a great line up
Sufjan Stevens - Carrie & Lowell
Incredibly powerful album from Sufjan, some of the saddest songs he's ever
written and he's written some sad ones. Its a brutally
personal account of his relationship with his mother and gives some
tragic insights into his upbringing showing, as we already know,
that major events in your youth stay with you forever. 4th of July
Jamie XX - In Colour
I absolutely love this Album, gives me a lift everytime I listen to it
and it was the album I listened to most this year. Not a dud track
on it, and some epic dance anthems, Loud Places was a classic sound
of summer. I heard Jamie interviewed on KCRW, worth checking out,
he's a lovely guy and he plays a brilliant set on on the show.
Ibeyi - Ibeyi
I first saw these Cuban twin sisters on Other Voices and their voices
blew me away. Gorgeous harmonies and roots influenced sounds from
Cuban and Africa, mixed with some modern day electronic beats.
Julia Holter - Have you in my Wilderness
It's hard to describe or categorise Julia Holter, she is truly original.
She has a beautiful voice and sings in an affected theatrical way, I
imagine she's on some old style stage, belting out these epic
tunes of love and loss. Worth investing time and getting to know
Bjork - Vulnivura
What an amazing album from Bjork, heartbreaking account of the breakup of
her relationship. Gorgeous orchestration mixed with her trademark
electronic gymnastics. Not surprisingly playing this live must have
been too much for her as she cut the tour short. Black Lake is a
masterpiece, "Family was always our sacred mutual mission
which you abandoned" heavy stuff, I don't think she's
written anything as good before and I'm a big fan. There's
also a recently released strings version of the album worth checking
Low - Ones and Sixes
I only picked up on this following Low's appearance on Jools
Holland show and I'm glad I did, everything you'd expect
in a Low album, just a little disappointed I missed seeing them in
Other Lives - Rituals
Finally a guitar album on the top 10, the Oklahoma lads left the wide
expanses of the mid west and headed to the coast, Portland to be
exact, and the music does have a breezier feel to it, lots of catchy
guitar riffs, nice orchestration and as expected brilliant
Protomartyr - The Agent Intellect
Thanks to Richie for introducing me to these lads, I love the loud guitar
playing abandon and the Dave Gedge sounding vocals, brings me back
to the heydays of indie in the late 80s. Lots of misery in the
songs, but that's got to be expected they're from Detroit:
""There's no use being sad about it, what's the point of
crying about it"". Some Interpol sounding guitar riffs, which is
also a good thing.
Floating Points - Elaenia
I must thank Caroline for introducing me to this young English lad,
it's like electronic jazz, amazing drumming that reminds me of
Max Richter - Sleep
Heard this recently on the Book show on newstalk, sunday nights 8pm, the
presenter always plays gorgeous music between each the features and
I heard this music and it totally entranced me, really beautiful,
Belle and Sebastian - Girls in Peacetime want to DanceNot mad about the title but this is a return to form for the
Glaswegians, after the previous album which had only 2 or 3 decent
songs on it. Much more to get stuck into on this one, some great
poppy dance tunes and some nice slow stuff but there are a few dud
80s electronic songs that I find myself skipping.
Girl Band - Holding Hands with JamieExcellent screeching guitar sounds and lots of loud shouting, great for
letting some steam off, if the day has gotten you down.
Kendrick Lamar -Lots of angry spitting from Kendrick, backed up by all sorts of soul, funk
and jazz, it's like a journey through black american influenced
music. Kenrik destined to be massive after endorsement from Obama
and umpteen grammy nominations.
Roots Manuva - BleedsBrilliant hard hitting socially conscious lyrics backed up by some excellent
melodies, this is a real statement on the times we live in, plenty
going on here to keep you coming back for more. I love the Barry
White sampled Don't Breathe Out, epic tune, sounds like Justin
Vernon was lending some vocal help.
Young Fathers - White Men are Black Men TooContinuing on from the Mercury winning album with the same formula, these lads
produce another excellent eclectic sounding set of tunes that
document marginalised lives of youth
Girls Names - It had to be included as drummer Gib is a neighbour, it's also very
good, heavily influenced by all that's good about 80s indie
Anthony and the Johnsons - TurningThis is the soundtrack for a movie of a live concert at the Barbican
recorded in 2006 which was brought to my attention by the South Wind
Blows, only released in November 2014, I'm not sure why.
Interestingly, Thomas Bartlett is playing piano, and it sounds
beautiful. Anthony's voice is amazing considering this is live,
it's also really nice have the live orchestra brings another
dimension to the gorgeous songs. Daylight and the Sun is powerful.
Nils Frahm - SoloModern classical music that I can handle, a bit Michael Nyman and Philip
Sleaford Mods - Key Markets/Divide and ExitI saw these guys for the first time on Artsnight and initially I
thought it was a pisstake, the more I listened the more I liked, a
modern take on punk, no instruments required just a lad with a
baseball cap and a laptop accompanying an angry singer.
Beirut - No No NoAfter a long gap some new music from Zak via Istanbul. Not changing the
formula of the gypsy troubadour but perhaps a little mellower.
Villagers - Darling ArithmeticVery mellow, very melodic and very personal, seems to be a theme this
year. The timing of this album was perfect with the marriage
Jay Electronica @ Whelans.
Best show of the year by far,
he had the irish audience on stage freestyling and passing bottle of
Hennessey around. Hard not to be swept up with the euphoria of the
Sufjan Stevans @ Helix
Hard to follow up the previous
tour but still amazing. I loved the morphing of the new album into
Philip glass @ NCH
20 Etudes on piano, amazing to
see this master perform his own work, great to see people at that end
of the age spectrum showing
Calexico @ Set Theatre
Beautiful small theatre gorgeously lit and the band in
top form, can't beat hearing the brass section live, listening
to the recorded version does not do it justice.
Young Fathers @ Academy
Tons of energy from the mercury winners, some crazy
dancing but sadly and audience not ready to participate, still great
to see them close up
Interpol @ Olympia
Great to hear the latest album live and some classics
belted out, the band are best live.
Patti Smith @ Royal Hospital Kilmainham
I didn't know what to expect I wasn't sure if
Patti could still sing, I shouldn't have doubted, her voice was
powerful and she gave a poweful performance. She took a break and let
the band belt out 3 classic velvets tunes in memory of lou, it was a
Sleaford Mods @ District 8 (Tivoli)
Expletive driven angry beats, and lots of head bobbing,
the most eclectic crowd of the year. Someone from the audience got up
on stage and starteddancing the bouncer asked the laptop guy in the
band if the guy was in the band.
Sun Kil Moon @ NCH
Mark his usual grumpy self but still an amazing set with over 2 hours of music.
Ryan Boldt @ Kilkenny Roots
Deep dark country sounds all the way from Saskatoon Canada. Converted to this festival, will be making a b-line next
1. Super Bowl finish with Pete Carroll decision to pass rather than run from 3 yards out. Pass intercepted and patriots win. Statistically better to have called pass play but that's not how world saw it.
2. Kerry Schoolboy League U14 victory over Limerick Desmond League on penalties(15-14 or something like that) in semi final of Kennedy cup at UL. Highlight was injured Kerry player carried by two mates up to penalty box to take 11th penalty for Kerry. Of course he scored and mates then carried him back to halfway line! Kerry went on to beat DDSL in final.
3. Rugby World Cup, Japan beating South Africa. Amazing.
4. GAA Louth u17 beat Wicklow u17 with five Carlingford lads playing in goals, full back, centre back and midfield and corner forward. All played on same small primary school team. Felt very proud cos I had coached them on same local soccer team from age 6.
5. Darts, Raymond van Barneveld turning back the years to beat Michael von Gerwen in worlds.
Top 5 sports books I've read this year
1. Boys of Summer. Roger Kahn
2. Until victory always. Jim McGuinness.
3. Domestigue. Charley Wegelius
4. The blind side. Michael Lewis
5. Beware of the dog. Brian Moore
1 I suppose Limerick's u21 was the highlight for me.
2 Doing the marathon was a personal high.
3 Listening to ireland beat France in the rwc while training for the marathon was pretty special. Sweaty me topping up my bottle in a packed pub in O Brien's Bridge...I won't forget the looks I got that day!
4 I agree with Kev's inclusion of the Superbowl finish this year...gripping stuff.
5 The days of taking delight in ones own offspring's sporting endeavors may be coming towards an end now... So I'll lock away the memory of Niall and the young bomber Mark Harty togging out for Limerick in thurles and portlaoise this year.
Here's to a great 2016 to all of you!!!
Twenty years of Top Tens, incredible. Nice to hear I inspired it all those years ago, I never knew. Thanks Tom for acknowledging, and keeping it going all this time. Another year where I’ve enjoyed listening to so much new music. I find it really hard to pick a top ten, but I’ll try….
Everything Everything - Get to Heaven. Stonking tunes, great melodies, and loads of energy
Blur - The Magic Whip. Didn’t think we’d see another album from these guys. Beautiful ballads, radio-friendly pop songs, great lyrics - all recorded in 5 days. Wow
My Morning Jacket - The Waterfall. Never really listened to them before - why did I leave it so late? Super album
Mini Mansions - The Great Pretenders. This album may have had more spins than anything else this year - if it was vinyl, it would have been worn out. Says it all really
Sufjan Stevens - Carrie & Lowell. Gorgeous, tragic, amazing record - a real return to form
Sun Kil Moon - Universal Themes. The new narrative lyrical style is surely not everyone’s cup of tea, but this is overflowing with originality, talent and genius
Thom Yorke - Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes. I really enjoyed the crazy electronic beats and as-ever haunting vocals
Tame Impala - Currents. I might have overplayed this one, but only because I loved listening to it - a nice progression from his previous albums too
Belle & Sebastian - Girls in Peacetime want to Dance. The feel-good album of the year, I just couldn’t help enjoying the songs on this album
Villagers - Darling Arithmetic. Possibly his best offering, some beautiful songs
Other Lives - Rituals. A really nice late night album from a band you may not have heard of. Give it a spin...
East India Youth - Cultures of Volumes. A late entry after some recommendations from reputable sources. A grower
John Grant - Grey Tickles, Black Pressure. He continues to deliver
Dick Diver - Melbourne, Florida. Get past the ridiculous name. If you like the Go-Betweens… (yeah, I know Garbhan…)
Emanative - The Light Years of the Darkness. One for late evenings with a good book. Nice cosmic jazz-funk grooves, I believe...
I also enjoyed listening to all of these in 2015
Jose Gonzales - Vestiges and Claws
Kendrick Lamar - To Pimp a Butterfly
The Staves - If I Was
Alabama Shakes - Sound & Color
Father John Misty - I Love You, Honeybear
Paul Weller - Saturns Pattern
Hop Chip - Why Make Sense?
Deefhoof - La Isla Bonita
Wilco - Star Wars
Ghost Culture - Ghost Culture
Bjork - Vulnicura
The Phoenix Foundation - Give Up Your Dreams
Low - Ones and Sixes
St. Germain - St. Germain
Mew - +/-
Yo La Tengo - Stuff like that there
Special mention - best old album. Midlake - The Trials of Van Occupanther. Cracking tunes start to finish
Averaged one a month, not too shabby. Also, I hadn’t been the the NCH in years, but went there 4 times in 2015. Getting old, eh?
Sun Kil Moon - National Concert Hall (with Ken, Orla, Richenda). Powerful and mesmorising performance. Unfortunately, he couldn’t keep his big mouth shut between the amazing songs - very witty, though usually at someone’s expense
Sharon van Etten - Vicar Street (with Ken, Orla, Richenda). She just nailed it, cracking gig. Easy on the eye too, if I’m allowed to say that here
Mini Mansions - Workman’s Club (with Garbhan). Monday night, and the place was jumping - says it all. Great fun
The Gloaming - NCH (with Tom, Richenda, Sue). Lovely setting, gorgeous tunes, including some new ones, and easy banter. Blissful
John Grant - Vicar Street (with Richenda, Ken). He now has a real affinity with the Irish crowd and was clearly enjoying himself. As were all of us. Spellbinding ballads, and mad electronica.
Mogwai - Olympia (with Tom, Garbhan). Yes, there’s a formula, but wow, this was powerful stuff. And VERY loud
Mark Lanegan - Academy (with Garbhan). Very talented guy, tight band, and such a great voice
Deerhoof - Whelans (with Garbhan). Mental, and good fun
Julie Feeney - Project Arts Centre (with Richenda). Finally got to see her, in this very intimate venue (80 in the audience). We really enjoyed it, she’s pretty unique. And nicely bonkers
El Vy - Vicar Street (with Garbhan). Short and sweet from this one album band. Great musicians, and the songs were a step up in the live setting
Yo La Tengo - NCH (with Mary, Garbhan, Niamh, Richenda). Hard to fault the songs, but if anything a bit too mellow, and lacking the “oomph” of old
Mozart, Elgar etc. - NCH (with Richenda). Symphony orchestra and philharmonic choir, really great
Boarding in St. Anton - March. Spent 5 days trying to keep up with the skiiers, while the boarders slept off their late nights
Wales MTB - Beast of Brenin, Pony y Scethin, and - finally - topped out on Snowdon on consecutive days. The most epic trip we’ve done
Sicily. 2 very lazy weeks on the coast, heaven. Swam in the Med 14 days in a row
Changed job. Career highlight so far was winning the Workday pool tournament
San Francisco. Hadn’t been since ‘94. Checked out some old haunts, and biked over the bridge during a work trip. Hope to get back in 2016
Great Fjord Swim, Killary harbour. Stand-out weekend of the year after Tom and I dared each other to do this open-water race. We made it a family trip, the event itself was one of the best I’ve ever done, and the weather came good for Diamond Hill hike - spectacular
Ireland - Bosnia. Went along with fairly low expectations, and I was blown away by the atmosphere on a night of celebration for Irish football
Red Army. Documentary about the Soviet Ice Hockey team, standout cinema trip for me this year. Thanks Tom
What we do in the Shadows. Mockumentary about four vampires sharing a flat in Wellington. Really funny, check it out on NetFlix
Song of the Sea
Shaun the Sheep
The Railway Man
Better Call Saul
House of Cards
It’s always sunny in Philadelphia
I don’t think I’ve ever read so many books in one year. Concerted effort to read some classics, and I really enjoyed all of those. Here are all my favourites of the year
Mrs. Dalloway - Virginia Woolf. Beautifully written, one of my favourites this year
Great Expectations - Charles Dickens. Fantastic, just loved it
Huckleberry Finn - Mark Twain. Everyone should read this.
Robinson Crusoe - Daniel Defoe. You know how this one goes… and it’s an epic
Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert. The “50 shades” of its day. “She gave herself to him” was about as saucy as it got
The Furlongs - Pat Nolan. My favourite sports book of the year. I was in Croke Park in ‘82 when Martin Furlong saved Michael Sheehy’s penalty… so this story really resonated with me
The Last Gentleman Adventurer - Edward Beauclark Maurice. Great coming-of-age story from the Canadian Arctic during the 1930’s
Notes from a Small Island - Bill Bryson. Laugh out loud funny, one of his best
Hunger - Sean Kelly. Great insight into the great man
Kitchen Confidential - Anthony Bourdain. Highly entertaining and no-holds-barred expose of the restaurant industry
Full Tilt - Dervla Murphy. From Ireland to India by bike, in the 60’s, from one of Ireland’s great adventurers
How Music Works - David Byrne. Interesting insight into the recording process and stories behind his music
Solar - Ian McEwan. He’s always worth a read, one of the great novelists
Dear Life - Alice Munro. I haven’t read many short stories, but this collection was very enjoyable
Blood Meridian - Cormac McCarthy. Sprawling and very gory. You could imagine Tarantino getting his hands on this and bringing it life
Spotify - obviously
Google docs, photos, drive etc.
Strava - logged all my non-commuting bike rides, and hikes
Whatsapp - the death-knell for email. Some great discussions were had in the Sports Lounge
Netflix - can be a bit flaky with the Chromecast though….
Have a great Xmas and New Year folks. Over and out
OK… I’ll be brief… it’s been a good year of music for me, but I’m not sure how much of it is from this year… and I’m not sure what kind of a year it’s been for music… I’m not going to overthink it… so here we go;
The Skints - Part & Parcel
Rancid - All The Moonstompers
Mungo’s Hi Fi – Serious Time
The Meters – Rejuvination
Sly & the Family Stone – Live from Woodstock
Veruca Salt - Resolver
Fugazi - Repeater
Shawn Phillips - Second Contribution
Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds - Chasing Yesterday
Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell - The Complete Duets
Royal Blood - Royal Blood
Paris DJs Soundsystem - We Are The Fire Inside Your Mind - Tropical Grooves & Afrofunk International Vol.2
Goat - World Music
Paolo Nutini - Caustic Love
Straight Outta Compton
The Man From U.N.C.L.E
Brian Wilson Film
Mad Max - Fury Road
Sonic Highways 1 to 8
Where The Hell Were Your Parents - Nathan Weathington
Southern Style - Craig Marriner
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay - Michael Chabon
Shift - Hugh Howey
Stephen King - Steam
Fat Freddys Drop – These guys are simply amazing, and a must see if you ever get the chance.
AC-DC – I got bought tickets for Perth, and went with no expectations, but was blown away! Angus!
As always, well done to Tom for keeping this going from year to year. I’m pretty sure I’m usually the only one with no crossover to the other lists, but hey… Have a great 2016 y’all. Murph
Unknown by Saschienne. Deep French ambient electro gorgeousness (literally listening to it as I type)
Camera Obscura back catalogue in memory of Carey Lander who died this year
Hot Chocolate - you sexy thing. Gave it socks in the car - who could resist. Again, in memory of Errol Brown (what a great name)
John Grant - Grey Tickles, Black Pressure. Bitter sweet - lyrically dripping with anger, frustration, love sugar and irony. Although it feels a bit like an extension of pale green ghosts, that's not necessarily a bad thing.
Embrz - no album released yet but plenty of tracks on Soundcloud and free EP available to subscribers. Lovely electronica (and Irish to boot) - sub genre I think is ChillStep
Macklemore and Ryan Lewis f. Mary Lewis - Same Love Says it all really ! Genuinely brilliantly put together message for all. Hip Hop and Country anyone ?
Bit light on the silver screen this year but did get to see a few beauties
Whiplash - surely on everyones list this year !
Birdman - Michel Keaston was great.
The Fighter - only got around to seeing it this year but wow was it worth the wait. Christian Bale was totally brilliant - what a character portrayal - hard to believe he was Batman (literally - I thought he was the best BM ever !). Melissa Leo was outstanding - what a character transformation from the lawyer in Treme
Mad Max - on the list cause Orla loved it, me I was lukewarm about the whole thing. Good, but far from great
Great year for shows, including
Gotham. Craftily shot, great characters (The Penguin is a class act) and not a Super Hero/Baddie in site
Fargo Season 2 Wow, possibly the greatest number of fully rounded character of any show, brilliant acting, brilliantly shot, top drawer script. A contender for Best TV show ever ??
Jessica Jones - one of Netflix’s best.
Justified - S05 End of an era - great great show.
Rectify S03 Slow burner, intense and continues to enthral. The layers are begging to reveal (I think ?)
Narcos - probably in everyones top 10 this year ??
American The Killing - didn’t think Id like it but Series 1 and 2 were really good. Lost its way in 3 and 4 - pity - maybe they changed the writers ??
Disappointments included Les Revenants (tried to hard to be atmospheric and mysterious - too up its arse French ;-). The Leftovers S02 - started to feel like Lost i.e. pointless
Probably the biggest let down was True Detectives Series 2 . Talk about over engineeering the back stories. While Colin F was ok, overall the thing was forced and looked more like a blatant attempt to get him and Vince Vaugan some credible TV work...
Order is simply as they come to mind; each gig brilliant for the moment I experienced it
Grace Jones at Electric Picnic. She funked and grooved everyone on the main stage, a cool hoola-hooping, naked, body painted 68 year old Star
King Kong Company at The Academy. Mates from Waterford giving it big Dance Dub - great year for them playing twice at the Picnic (inc last act on Sunday night - late)
Blur at Electric Picnic. First time Ive seen them live - never a big fan and still probably won’t buy their stuff….but live they were great - They gave it all and the crowd lapped em up !
Happy Mondays Vicar Street. Late breaking free ticket so jumped at the chance although I saw them in the Olympia last time they played. They were even better this time around - great interaction, bounce and Rowetta was just fantastic - she gave it funky socks all the way. Gotta love Ryders comment near the end “not bad for an auld bird aye ?”
Sun KIl Moon with the imitable Dave & Richenda. Acerbic, funny, charming, obnoxious, story tellingingly hypnotic.
Sharon Van Etten - again with the imitable D&R. Great to see nice dark lyrics and mood coming from the US - even though she was typically American and loving us all. Cool to see her very proud Dad and brothers at the gig (standing beside us)
Pattii Smith - Kilmainham. 40th anniversary tour of Horses, and Gig of the Year, if not last few years. Weather pushed the gig indoors so it was nice and sweaty and electric starting off on a cold and wintery night in Dublin. Met up with a great crew and the crazed PS just set the atmosphere on fire when she walked out and kicked into it. She was funny, bold (hocking onto the stage every 5 mins), in great voice and the band simply rocked out. Mesmerising memorable forever gig
Underworld - Electric Picnic. 90 minutes of Dubnoheadwithmybassman raving. Not only did it not seem dated, it wasn’t dated and everyone just gave it socks
John Grant - Vicar street. Good gig - not my favourite but damn good nonetheless. Might have been cause the place was packed and we were at the back more than JG though (again, the luvly Richenda and grungy Dave in attendance)
The house - This was a mental roller-coaster of a year with our Builder throwing a wobbler, running out of money, looking for us to bail him out, getting weird, and eventually after 3 moths of careful negotiation and calm in the face of disaster, we got him out and a new guy starting…..if we finish this coming March it will have been a 2 year build ! Man those last 6 months of 2015 were fucking murder !
Twins - Nothing in the world can come close to the fact that 2015 is the year that we found out we are expecting twins ! After 8 long years of disappointment, tragedy, forging commitment, staying strong, retaining humour (well ya gotta) and near financial ruin (see house above !), coming to terms with not being a father, completing a 6 month adoption course, starting the fostering process, and I’m sure lots of other stuff, Santa is bringing us the best presents ever in the form of two envelopes under the tree with scanned images and a sex written on each for Orla and I to open Christmas morning….. now theres a surprise !
A brief history of 7 killings by Marlon James. Set in Jamaica, told through several voices, Bob Marley backstory. Great read !
Even the Dead, by Benjamin Black. Good page turner set in Dublin. A holiday book !
Lots of Ultra and Running casts Hard to find one thats not trying to over sell (i.e American) but enjoyed The Long Run and Science of Ultra
The Big Kahuna this year was 55k ultra race on the Laugavegur trail in Iceland. 7.5 hrs running through the most amazing scenery.
Wicklow Way Trail 26k’s is one of the best IMRA events of the year.
The Moonlight challenge race 28.5k from/to Glendalough in aid of the Glen of Imaal Mountain rescue was perhaps the best organised event Ive had the pleasure to be a part of…great race for a great cause
Lots of great training runs throughout the year mostly with my friend Kevin - including the accidental ultra of 47k’s when we got our distances wrong on the Wicklow Way
Its a pleasure to be submitting on the 20th year of top ten. Thanks for keeping it going Tom. My album of the year seemed to change with the months, a great year for music then, here goes
Mantana Roberts – Coin Coin Chapter Three: River Run Thee
Mantana Roberts for the second year in succession tops my list, this is astonishing piece of music made all the more real by her performance in London. It's art, it's jazz, it's noise, it's history, it's mesmeric and spine chilling - the totally beautiful and boundary pushing latest installment of Coin Coin
Sufjan Stevens - Carrie and Lowell
Deeply heart wrenching and personal, soaring happiness and crashing sadness, life and death.
Fourth of July sums up this album and is my song of the year, with every listen you almost have to hold back the tears, the way this song pulls you up close to death and passing and pain and yet ultimately it is a love song, an ode to love and memory, raw primal power
Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp a Butterfly
KL releases another genre defining album, I love the funk and the jazz, Kamasi Washington, George Clinton, Thundercat and Bilal - full of anthems and poetic justice, political and hard hitting with oh so smooth rapping
Kamasi Washington – The Epic
A triple album of epic jazz from Kendrick Lamar's jazz man, ground breaking, a throwback to the jazz greats. Its hard to listen to the entire work in one take but perseverance pays off, it is epic in all senses
Morning Evening - Four Tet
Two long tracks, all the skills of the best, most in demand producer around
Nervous - Siskiyou
I really like this from Canadian band Siskiyou, another of Constellation Records brilliant signings. "baroque pop in a northern Gothis style", appearances by Owen Pallett and Colin Stetson, it is full of energy and reminds me of Tarwater crossed with Suede
Roots Manuva - Bleeds
Brilliant album from Roots Manuva, rapping south London style, dark grime and air and light, super tunes
One and Sixes - Low
"Brooding intimacy has long been Low’s speciality; now it’s as though you are zoomed in even closer. Ones and Sixes is an ear-pricking listen"
What more can I add, brilliant
Outsiders Insiders - Emily Saunders
Think vocals in a Roisin Murphy style on top of Brazilian jazz beats
After drip feeding the Crosslines ep last year we get a full album and it doesn't disappoint. From favourite ex-Cane141 Mike Smalle with producer Matteo Grosso, laying out dreamy synthful electronica in what has become a signature sound since his Cane141 days. Some super tracks on here, like Lennon in America, Toyko, New York and Atur listen
I haven't listened to much new music this year and for me I really only had a top 3:
Gwenno: Y Dydd Olaf
Pleasure Beach: Dreamer to the Dawn
Then the concerts I enjoyed most were the Beck gig at the Royal hospital in Kilmainham June 17th and
The Loafing Heroes Sugar Club 8th May
What a mad time! Not much time for music or gigs this year as I’m expecting my first child, hence the entries here getting shorter and shorter as I worked my way back from 10, running out of time as I went along – there should be at least one link for everything though!
1. Kamasi Washington – The Epic
This album seemingly came out of nowhere, a fully realized triple album that listens well as one big thing or 3 individual albums. Washington has done loads with Flying Lotus, Thundercat, and Kendrick Lamar, but really comes into his own as a band leader here – saw him play live recently with Martino and was blown away, his (amazing) band is made up of childhood friends and the positive vibes on stage (he featured two of the band before taking a solo himself, including a 10-minute piano and keyboard workout in the first song – generous in a bandleader!) extended out into the crowd and very clearly also made it onto the record, which is a beautiful beast with hard driving funky rhythms alternating splendidly with mellow restrained beautiful pieces.
The 3rd record is my favourite, starting with a 14 minute funky jazz number, then a mellow piece with incredible vocals (3 or 4 vocal tracks on the largely-instrumental album), then a beautiful arrangement of Claire de Lune that makes me want to cry a bit, swelling and vast:
‘Epic’ doesn’t do this album (of the year) justice, seek it out!
2. Low – Ones and Sixes
Running out of time writing this list backwards, so all I will say is that the masters of restraint have returned with a stunning album, returning to the sonic exploration of their older work without losing any of the beautiful songwriting and melody of recent years. A real treat, go listen:
Low – Ones and Sixes (official stream): https://youtu.be/btnqfqy71Yg
3. Duke Garwood – Heavy Love
Duke Garwood is an old-time blues dude who speaks with a London accent when he’s off the stage, and sounds like some grizzled thing from the southern states when he’s on. He’s got some well-deserved prominence in recent years from collaborating and touring with Mark Lanegan and Savages, and this year he really came into his own with his fifth album, Heavy Love. So tasteful, so lovely, so haunting….wish I had more time to rave about it properly!
Disco Lights: https://youtu.be/h0MqEtqSoH4
4. Godspeed You! Black Emperor - 'Asunder, Sweet And Other Distress'
The mightiest of symphonic post-rock titans are back with another album such an unexpected treat after their long years in the wilderness ended in 2012 with a ‘comeback’ album – one was a huge treat, a second is an absolute unexpected joy, especially as there was no fanfare or promotion, they just put the album out…
Heavy, haunting, beautiful, distressing, delicate by turns this album is a 45 minute live set that they play at their shows, laid down in album form…the heavy drone kicks in at 20 seconds, and its like they never went away - they’ve still got it!
'Asunder, Sweet And Other Distress' - https://youtu.be/rMgDyd2E6_8
5. Sufjan Stevens – Carrie and Lowell
What an album. If you haven’t heard it then you want to know the context before letting it sweep you away. This guy’s mother was mentally unstable and really not together as he was growing up, periodically abandoning her burgeoning family and goodness knows what else.. She got marries to a guy called Lowell for a while, who provided some much-needed stability for Stevens and his siblings, and eventually his mother committed suicide – and this beautiful, poignant, regretful, and surprisingly understanding album is basically a cathartic love-letter to his departed mother.
It’s a must listen. Beautiful sonically, haunting lyrically, you find yourself walking along the street singing and humming catchily-dark lyrics out loud “When I was three, three maybe four, she left us at that video store, mm-hm-HMM...’, it’s touching it’s moving, it’s CATCHY – it’s a serious piece of work is what it is.
No Shade in the Shadow of the Cross - https://youtu.be/qx1s_3CF07k
Fourth of July - https://youtu.be/JTeKpWp8Psw
Should Have Known Better - https://youtu.be/lJJT00wqlOo
6. Pile - You're Better Than This
You know Steve Albini, right? The famously-prickly amazing music producer. He has this incredible power trio called Shellac who I love, but somehow their long-awaited 5th album last left me cold – I couldn’t say why, I’d heard a lot of the songs live before and loved them…and I was a bit gutted I wanted to love his album…thankfully, around the same time, somebody introduced me to Pile. They’re like Shellac with shades of other great Touch and Go Records acts like the Jesus Lizard, but happy-go-lucky, a beer-punk band with surprisingly singalong hooks that don’t appear to take themselves too seriously, and yet have surprising lyrical depth and musical taste. You can play the whole thing on Bandcamp for free, one to check out if you like rough around the edges guitar and singalong bits…
7. Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp a Butterfly
Gosh. This guy has got something…hip-hop doesn’t get much more passionate, intelligent, (musically) tasteful, or aware than this. His last album was insane, a concept album about growing up in Compton, narrated as a (his) young man growing up – I do love a concept album! This one is all jazzy though, crazy inventive abstract workouts between hook-heavy singles that are searingly insightful about the state of 21st century America – crowds of protesters in places like Ferguson where racist police have gunned down young people for no (justifiable) reason have been chanting to lyrics to ‘Alright’ at lines of riot police – it’s been some decades since a song had such cultural and political power, no? All we are saying, is give this album a chance…
These Walls https://youtu.be/drV0QatqbRU
King Kunta https://youtu.be/hRK7PVJFbS8
8. Torche - Restarter
Love this band. So heavy. So catchy. A band that mixes two-minute pop blasts with the heaviest of slow grooves and most powerful of drums- if you like a bit of rocking guitar you should check this out, they come from a hardcore punk/metal background but are definitely one of those crossover bands…heavy, uplifting, smiling music – also, it shouldn’t be a thing, but in (some) heavy music it is a thing because of under-representation I guess – vocalist/guitarist/main dude Steve Brooks is openly gay in a scene where not that many artists are, and there is nothing like watching this band live and seeing a room full of tattooed and pierced punk and metal heads joyfully singing along with a tune like ‘Kiss Me Dudely’. Much positivity
Annihilation Affair: https://youtu.be/lWt7V-E9S7U
Kiss Me Dudely https://youtu.be/70e8_dUvYzI
9. Star Trek: The Next Generation onwards…
I used to really dig Star Trek The Next Generation, and I used to watch it whenever I could…which wasn’t actually all that often back in the day, I was in my mid-teens and there was only one TV in the house – no way did my folks want to watch Star Trek at 6pm when the news was on! Only one TV, simpler times…later, I was in my late –teens and Star Trek TNG finished – I’d managed to watch a bunch of episodes by then at friends’ houses and that, but not the whole lot. Star Trek: Deep Space Nine came on at this time as a replacement and it was amazing, watched the bulk of them and was left wanting more when it ended – never bothered with Voyager. There were some films after that bu they were a bit u and down…and that was Star trek.
I have my own TV now, plus multiple digital devices on which can watch video content, so I thought why not give it another shake? Oh my word, it’s SO GOOD. I went back to series one and I was hooked – this is a great example of how to write an ensemble cast with an adventure setting. While there are duff episodes and some annoying characters, you find yourself absolutely gripped when you get to the big action episodes were people live or die because they have built up rather a lot of emotional investment in the characters that you don’t even realise is there until half the crew is faced with certain death.
Plus, Patrick Stewart is acting in it. And oddly, so is Whoopi Goldberg. Don’t let that put you off.
It’s great to revisit an old show that still stands up, and has tonnes of episodes/content to get through. The amount of thought that went into it back then went right over my head, even down to the way that the naval chain of command structure is carried forward into the 20-whatever century.
There are some really lame episodes in the first two series, it has to be said, but I’m at the beginning of series 4 (shortly after Captain Picard was capture by the borg, and they put all their weird metal robot bits in his brain and made him a baddie) and series 3 and 4 are great, the show really hits its stride. If you liked watching this stuff in the nineties you could do worse than looking at some box sets – I’m going to do Deep Space Nine next, and then (finally) Voyager – I may still be talking about it next year!
10. Private Eye
“A detective story set in 2076, when everyone in the United States has a secret identity” Imagine a world sixty years in the future, without the internet. Imagine a world with the good sense to say ‘enough is enough’ when the digital cloud ‘bursts’ showering everybody’s online information onto the street for everybody else to see Imagine a world where everybody has a funky costume like a geek convention attendee would wear, just to go out to buy milk because privacy is suddenly the most important thing there is…and imagine that just becoming normal over the years, so everybody does it and its mundane.
Now, imagine that a fantastic detective story was written in that setting, and it was a comic book rather than a film or a novel or HBO series. Imagine that it was written by one of the best adult (rude words!) sci-fi comics writers of the last 10-15 years, and illustrated by some fantastic artist with a dead-eye for Herge’s ‘ligne claire’ (clear line), eye-bending camera-placement and progressive panel use (important in comics, trust me). Now, imagine that it was digital content only, and you could pay what you wanted for each of the 12 issues in the series…through Paypal.
Have a look at some of these reviews, quotes, and cover arts, and then think about checking it out. You can download it in PDF or CBR format (.CBR is a comic book reader file, it’s basically a zip file of images (the pages of the comic) in a format that an app can read and display like kindle pages) – and you can pay 1p for the first issue if you want, and then pay more for the others if you like it…
(One of my favorite little comments on today is the fact that the Private Eye’s Grandad is actually a really old dude who was a hipster back in the day – he and his saggy old hip sleeve tattoos miss Instagram so much, in the way that only a grumpy old man can….
Click the link below to listen to best of 2015 by Colin Waugh
Bit of a sketchy list this year.
4 of my favourite kiwi artists came out with great albums this year ,all deservedly in the top 10.
SJD again proved himself a master with an album to match the best of Wilco and Beck, but had to give the nod to Sufjan- a beautifully honest and raw album .
Check out SJD, Don McGlashan, Phoenix Foundation, Unknown Mortal Orchestra albums.
Top 10 Albums 2015
1- Sufjan Stevens - Carrie &Lowell
2- SJD - Saint John Divine
3- The Phoenix Foundation- Give Up Your Dreams
4- Don McGlashan - Lucky Stars
5- Hot Chip- Why Make Sense
6- Kendrick Lamar- To Pimp a Butterfly
7- Tame Impala - Currents
8- Ezra Furman- Perpetual motion people
9- Unknown Mortal Orchestra- Multi-love
10- Jamie xx- In colour
Not sure about a top 10 list . Would have to put Interstellar up there , not a perfect film but the most ambitious by far - docking scene blew me away :
Book of the Year
The Ibis Trilogy ( Sea of Poppies/River of Smoke / Flood of Fire- Amitav Ghosh) - hands down the best historical fiction I have ever read