Hello Pawns in the game!
This year I became a writer. Got a union card and everything.
A strange change for me. Still doing a few music projects but writing 6+ hours every day. After DARE did so well (toot!), I started writing another music book but shelved it in favour of trying my hand at screenplays. I finished one last autumn and it got shortlisted in a fancy pants US competition. Go me.
I’ve spent this year teaching myself screenwriting and a lot more about the business. I’ve rewritten my 1st effort, Small On The Map, a darkly comic British political thriller, and it’s been shortlisted by the BBC in their screenwriting competition too. They had me in for a Writers Room thing the other day.
I’ve finished another two, one of which I am very happy with, one not so much.
And I’ve sketched out 4 others, scene-by-scene, ready to start a 1st draft and have many further half-baked and three-quarter-baked ideas.
Next year, some like-minded fellows are shooting a short film I wrote which will be exciting cos it introduced characters from Small On The Map
I’m entering the two finished ones that I’m happy with into the Big Hollywood Competitions.
It’s been a hella steep learning curve but it has been fun as hell.
My two music projects have also kept me busy.
PIANO WIRE released their debut album of brilliant angry psychedelic rock, Dream Underground (**** in MOJO, KKKK in Kerrang), toured across Europe and are working on LP2.
TIGER LION has played some absolutely stunning shows including a barn storming one at Exeter Cathedral. A short film about that one drops in January and he new EP comes in March.
I was going to write about the insane politics of 2017 but if you follow me on Twitter or FB, you’ll know how I feel about the shower of halfwits that are running/ruining the UK, USA and the world.
2018 offers some hope of Trump being ousted and Brexit being stopped.
That would be just great.
See to it, would you.
THINGS OF JOY THIS YEAR
- LCD American Dream
The Cure do New Order? New order do The Cure? Something like that. Absolutely built for me. And for now. A stunning record and an instant classic. I miss him too.
- PERFUME GENIUS No Shape
I’ve enjoyed previous PG albums but this is next level. Actually, it’s maybe 5 levels up. Sumptuous, opulent, magnificent, intimate and really weird. Huge tunes, thudding bass and glitter canyons.
- ST VINCENT Masseduction
I’ve appreciated Annie before but this is all kinds of proper loose, sexy fun. Bangers left right and centre. Hyper Pop Music for now.
- IDLES Brutalism
Brutally funny. Horribly anxious. Righteously angry. Joe’s songs about the rough end of life, the death of his mother and the hideous, hilarious contradictions of life in Britain if you don’t have money to fix problems are compelling and brilliant pop. Ian Dury meets Big Black. Funny fact: I was sacked for trying to sign this band.
- JANE WEAVER Modern Kosmology
Two on the bounce for Jane. Psychedelic disco folk? Something like that. Massive tunes. Throbbing bass.
- ZOLA JESUS Okavi
Never really clicked 100% for ZJ before. She was weird goth throb, then wore an ill fitting pop crown. This is probably half way in between. Operatic and epic, intimate and powerful. This album sounds better the louder you hear it.
- LORDE Melodrama
The debut was excellent but this is ridiculously great. She has a way with a melody that is unique. These songs worm in and take root in your brain. A family favourite round our house .
- ALGIERS The Underside Of Power
A super promising debut set expectations high for this. Absolutely stunning powerful agit rock. Post punk, gospel, noise, trap beats and Motown melody whips up the crowd for Franklin’s righteous vocals. Yes it never seems hectoring, always uplifting, hopeful. Saw them live the other day and they took the roof off
And the rest
PIANO WIRE Dream Underground
One of mine, I know, but a brilliant angry psychedelic rock record, chipping chunks off QOTSA, Brainiac and the Clash. Skyscraping tunes. Amazing reviews. Poor sales. Buy a copy.
Seems to have divided people but I think Beck is at his best when he builds plastic lipstick palaces on artifice. It suits him. 10 massive laser-tooled pop songs.
POWERDANCE The Lost Art Of Getting Down
Super late DISCOvery for me. NYC Gay Disco circa 82 vibes. Irresistible. Constantly demands a segue into Last Night A DJ Saved My Life. Reeks of drugs too. FUN.
MARTIN CARR New Shapes Of Life
Somedays Martin is a genius. This is one of those times. Y’know when you sequence a mixtape so well that people say it all sounds the same when it really really doesn’t? No? Just me? Whatever. That though. Skips through genres, tilting at the windmills of his mind with sumptuous melodies and all kids of weird things neatly concealed within
Not possible on paper. Russ is 69. Ron is 74. One of the best shows I saw this year. A brilliant and stupidly mad pop record with more ideas than your band ever had and tunes to match.
CIGARETTES AFTER SEX s/t
A gentler record. Took me ages to get around to it cos I thought it was mopetronica. It is, a bit. But it has a graces that lifts it from a very crowded field. Stupid name obviously.
KELLY LEE OWENS s/t
This is more mopetronica but it’s very very addictive. A bit too subtle for its own good but a set of total earworms if you let it lick your mind over time.
A TRIBE CALLED QUEST We Got It From Here
This missed last year’s list due to late arrival. It’s incredible. You probably know that. An important voice in hip hop. And a brilliant weird psychedelic voyage, skewering the broken heart of America.
HERE LIES MAN s/t
The man in the shop said it was a sort of Afrobeat Black Sabbath. He was entirely correct. Sort of like a mostly instrumental album based on Sabotage by the Beasties. So that’s a good thing, right?
TY SEAGALL Ty Seagall
Rougher than Manipulator but another great set from Ty. Furious scratchy guitars and garage vibes. There’s another one due in a few weeks which I think will be even better, judging by the Hot Chocolate cover he’s trailing it with. Never seen him play. Must attend to that.
SNAPPED ANKLES Come Plays The Trees
This is a bit weirder. Percussive, insistent, rhythmic DIY fun from the poppier end of Post Punk. A bit like Suicide. Might have been on Y records in a different life. It is very repetitive. It is very repetitive. It is very repetitive. It is very repetitive. It is very repetitive. It is very repetitive. In a good way.
LANA DEL REY Lust For Life
I know, I know but it’s so lush and dreamy and huge that I can’t help but be seduced. I took my son to see her earlier this year and that was a moment. I admit I wasn’t ready for the screaming teen/gay mania that greeted her on stage. Great show.
VINCE STAPLES Big Fish Theory
Now this is a rap album I can get behind. Smart, weird, inventive and playful. This kid is a bit of a genius I think. Doesn’t sound like anyone else.
KING KRULE The Ooz / GHOSTPOET Dark Days & Canapes
Boy, did I get these two wrong. Less so with KK cos I really didn’t like his first stuff. I kind of slept on Ghostpoppet too. If you like Dean Blunt, Leonard Cohen, Barry Adamson, Tom Waits and surprises then these are Up Your Street. KK is a lot more ragged and rambling, GP maintains a deep head nodding groove throughout. Excellent albums each.
MOONLANDINGZ Interplanetary Class Classics
Sorta like a tin can Earl Brutus after an afternoon in the pub (so pretty much like EB then) playing ramshackle sci-fi-glam stomping nonsense all night
KENDRICK LAMAR Damn
Still not 100% on board with Kendrick (sue me) but he’s a good soul in a weird world and there is an embarrassment of music riches on this record.
KAMASI WASHINGTON Harmony Of Difference
2.5 hours shorter than his last record and better for it. Sci-fi-jazz in a Star Trek music sort of way. Loungey too and rather very far out. Doomy titles but this is uplifting, eneveloping jazz that non jazzers would enjoy. The wife didn’t even ask me to turn it off.
VARIOUS Hustle! Reggae Disco
As it says on the tin. Vintage reggae cover of disco hits. If you think you might like that, trust me , it’s brilliant. If you don’t, well, you’re missing out, ya damn philistine.
VARIOUS: Resistance Radio: The Man In The High Castle
I am the only person who noticed this record. Modern US indie types (Beck, Shins, Karen O, Kelis(!) etc) do barebones covers of 50s radio standards for the soundtrack of TMITHC.
PETE WYLIE Pete Sounds
A very long time coming. Sure I paid my Kickstarter £££ about 4 year ago but worth the wait. Epic Wylie, thrice Lord-a-Mersey serves up show-stopping Walker Brothers-y 60s pop for today’s agitiator.
Mentioned in dispatches
HERCULES & LOVE AFFAIR Omnion
BILL BAIRD Earth Into Aether
YUMI ZOUMA What’s The Story (Morning Glory)
MASTODON Emperor Of Sand
PROTOMARTYR Relatives In Descent
Sorry mate: Horrors, Bjork, Broken Swords, SZA, Kelela, QOTSA,
Old records discovered: Lodger, Odessa, Violent Femmes, New Boots & Panties, I Am A Wallet, Up, Either Or, She Hangs Brightly, Star, Pornography, Purple Rain, Are You Experienced?
FILMS OF THE YEAR
Kong Skull Island
John Wick 2
War For The Planet of the Apes
Blade Runner 2049
Hell or High Water
Brawl In Cell Block 99
…and I daresay
Death of Stalin
I’ve watched this about 4 times all the way through. It’s Marvel but it’s really not. Closest living relative would be Utopia but it’s WAY weirder than that. And less gory. And that ending OMFG.
Fincher is back. I loved this stoned, heavy freefall into darkness. So addictive.
Possibly further out than Legion but without the where-am-I immersive interactive fuckedupness. Never seen anything like this on TV. No-one has. Smart.
Of a piece with American Gods and Legion. Batshit, intense and gloriously gory.
From the mentallists who made crank. Ultra dark noir with a blue animated pony
You missed this right? Brendan Gleason plays an alcoholic retired detective taunted by a serial killer. Or not. This year’s The Night Of
Nailbiting, creepy Jessica Biel and Bill Pullman psychodrama. This year’s other The Night Of.
Loved this. Super intense grown up power playing thriller. SoA’s Maggie Siff getting inbetween Damien Lewis and Paul Giamatti
And we all loved….
The Handmaids Tale, Peaky Blinders, Game of Thrones, Taboo, Line Of Duty
Sundry things that have made 2017 way better than it seems:
My wife and kids
The Duchamp / Dali exhibition
DJing and doing a DARE Q&A in Berlin with Simon Price.
The Preacher graphic novels
Realising why I like Jack Reacher books
Getting my office to myself (I miss Dave but the calm is everything)
Those weird sweet Chinese chorizo type sausages.
A visit from Tess.
Clay pigeon shooting.
My new DMs.
Re-watching The West Wing (stunning TV even tho it seems like escapist fantasyland now)
we may need our fighting trousers next year, so have a restful Xmas/holidays