2016. Was it worth it?

Good morning, suspects
It’s getting weird innit.
This is a long one, so put the kettle on.
It’s definitely past weird now.  We are watching civilisation go backwards.  And it’s far from clear how we can do anything about it.  If that buffoon takes office in America, the nutters will take over.  I honestly don’t think Trump is evil or even particularly racist.  He’s just giving the people what they want.  I am sure if I was trapped in a lift with him, and what an opportunity that would be, he’d promise me free Chinese food and Radiohead shows.  But the nutters will work their evil behind his back, while he fills his pockets.
Turning on the news fills me with a little fear each morning….
There have been good bits.  A few.   Right?
DARE continues to sell in a very pleasing fashion.  It just got reprinted again (just over 2000 sales now) and is still available fromwww.abookcalledDARE.com and Amazon and Kindle and shops all over.
                                                                 
I also wrote a screenplay called Small On The Map.  My first effort.  It just got shortlisted in a Ridley Scott sponsored competition for new writers.  It didn’t win but has been read by a few film bigshots now and is actually being taken seriously.
I KNOW, right.  I am as shocked as you are.
What’s it about, David, I hear you shouting…
OK, calm down….it’s a tense, darkly funny political thriller, which someone Hollywood type cleverly summed up as:
When a peaceful protest turns deadly, a young British woman finds herself caught in the crosshairs as a witness to murder. Unsure of the truth, she is forced to team up with the white hat hackers who are being framed for the terrorist act.
I’ve nearly finished the 1st draft of a second screenplay.
A sci-fi tale of strangers and quantum entanglement called Welcome To The End.
In the world of music,
The SIC stable have done wonders, as per usual
PIANO WIRE have recorded the best rock’n’roll album I’ve heard in years. It’s out in Feb.
If you haven’t, they sound like this, this and sometimes this.
It’s the album I’ve listened to the most this year, and would easily be in my Top 10 if it was out yet.  PRE-ORDER NOW for some noisy leather jacket rock’n’roll.  Ideal for fans of 80s Matchbox B-Line Disaster (obvs), The Clash’s Sandinista, QOTSA’s Songs For the Deaf. 12 huge tunes in 35 minutes with production assistance from Gil ‘Pixies’ Norton.
They played a sold out show last night at Metropolis studios and things will kick off again with shows in London in January.
New french artist, TIGER LION made a beautiful lunar advent calender to house her ep.  It’s called The Moon Inside Me and it features, music, videos, dance, painting and photography. An incredible new talent for you.
SEBASTIEN FORRESTER aka Holy Strays released his first new music in ages, the entrancing, intense and dubby Exaast.  He’s also been working on a soundtrack to a documentary, airing on BBC2 next year, about evil corporations ruining Peru. Here’s a little360 snippet that’s had 2.4m views so far.
I’ve just started working with a band from Bristol called SCARLET RASCAL.  JoyDiv, Television, The Cult, Neu, and the Fall all feed into their debut album on Geoff barrow’s Invada label.  Oceans of space in these brilliant mini-anthems.  They sound like they are wearing leather jackets and black suits. And they are. Drummer Maya is Klaus Dinger incarnate. Expect wonders from them next year. This is a weird lil deconstruction of the music video experience. And a great tune.
Other people also made great music this year.
This is my ALBUMS OF THE YEAR, in some sort of order. Best first, obvs but these are all keepers.
                                               (Pic by Moose Allain. Follow him on twitter. He’s a funny funny man.)
Black Star                                          Bowie
obviously…
A new way of saying goodbye. As good as everyone says and his most complete and audacious album since 1980.  You should probably buy it now if you haven’t already.  You won’t be sorry.
A hugely ambitious album that succeeds on any number of levels.  David’s death at the start of the year was the end of…something, wasn’t it?  It affected me very greatly.  And things really did start to unravel after that.
Bowie was and remains a clear sign that we can and must try harder to be better. That art is for everyone and standards absolutely need to be maintained.  Let’s not accept dogshit when there are diamonds to be found.
Dumbing down is becoming the national sport and it is so very pathetic to behold.  What has happened in Europe and American has been shameful this year.  What is happening in the Mid East is beyond shameful.  And what is happening to the Arts in this country is so unbelivably shortsighted…
Ignorance is not bliss, it’s terrifying.
I went to see His art collection at Sotheby’s earlier this year.  Damn, but the boy had taste.  So varied and eclectic, sophisticated and simple, ancient and modern, casual and complex.  All the world was there.
So let’s honour his memory and pull our heads out of our ass in 2017 and hold each other up to a higher standard of behaviour.  Aim higher.  Be better.
Wildflower                                          Avalanches         
This is, by far, the most popular one in my house/car this year. And with good reason. Just awash with fun, nostalgia, frazzling psychedelic colours in the guise of massive tunes and peculiar beats.  It’s a party in itself.  A cartoon world of the Jacksons, NYC in 82, the best house party ever and the future of the past.
Lemonade                                         Beyonce
Let’s be honest: all Beyonce’s albums have been shit. Particularly that last one that everyone seemed so struck with.  That said, a set of Bey’s greatest hits would be hard to beat.  We don’t need one now cos this record is ferociously good.  Bits of it sound like Led Zep, bits like Aretha, bits like woozy experimental hip hop.  The autotune is binned and her voice’s rough edges lift these righteously angry songs to the next level.  Astonishingly good.
A Moon-Shaped Pool                        Radiohead
No surprises (blammo) to see this here but another stunning effort this year from Radiohead. Intimate rather than anthemic, pastoral and really rather lovely.  It richly rewards repeat listens and you’ll all love it in a few years, as is the way of the ‘head.   Hearing it live in May was a treat, reconfigured as something slightly more ferocious and intense.   Even my friends who hate this band, and there are many, have has their minds blown by how great they are live.  I might even go back and listen to that dog of a last album now.
Lexicon Of Love 2                              ABC
You didn’t hear this, did you?   Sigh.  Absolutely magnificent 1982.0 joy from ABC.  Every single one a winner.  The Singer Not The Song particularly if you need persuading.
Sirens                                                 Nicolas Jaar
More strangeness and wonder form this young Spaniard.  How to describe this?  Hmmmm.  It’s experimental, playful, fun and really rather deep.  Dance music features heavily but it’s as much not that as it is.   Like Dean Blunt, Barry Adamson and well, scratch that – no-one really. There’s no instant gratification here.  It plays out over time.  It’s clever and you really should let it take your mind out for a spin.
Atrocity Exhibition                              Danny Brown
A recent discovery this. Extremely strange hip hop that avoids all that hip hops normally does, which is a good thing.  Smoke flavoured, f’sure.
How To Be A Human Being                Glass Animals
One of Britain’s best and biggest bands, which is something Britain will presumably wake up to at some point. Better Pop Music, smart lyrics, wonky Talking Heads vibes, mid period Talk Talk, Prince-y R’n’B arrangements, sounds charmingly drunk in places, like it might stumble BUT IT NEVER DOES.
Night Thoughts                                 Suede
The increasingly powerful and confident return of Suede is giving me chills.  This sort of revisits Dog Man Star 20 years on. Eloquent, meaty and widescreen.  Who could ask for anything more?   Roger Sargent’s brilliant album length film made for one of the year’s best, and most innovative shows.
Post Pop Depression                          Iggy Pop
Post Pop Depression Live                  Iggy Pop
I have bought all Iggy’s records and I like them all.  Except that last Stooges one. His recent chansons one was great.  This is similar to that in some ways but it was built to sound a belated finale to the Berlin trilogy started with Lust For Life and The Idiot. And it does. So you really do need to buy it.  Josh Homme deserves a bucket of respect for the guitar playing espesh.  And for making the whole thing happen.
The Live at the Royal Albert Hall album picks from all three albums and is amazing too.
The Soft Bounce                                 Beyond The Wizards Sleeve
Couldn’t the afford the ltd edition with the sleeve made of actual smoke and mirrors but this album, like Weatherall’s, takes a krauty, Stereoabbly soundtracky amble from the 60s to the future.  Sounds a bit like a mixtape sometimes.  Which has been levelled as a criticism.  It really isn’t. They’re just mad talented and easily bored, thank the lord.
Commontime                                    Field Music
Prince approved growed-up pop from Sunderland.  You will like this. Features an absolute embarrassment of melody.
You Want it Darker                            Leonard Cohen   
Another last will and testament album, this one from Lenny (RIP).  Stirring, majestic, funny, brutal, honest and huge of tune.  Not sure I have been impressed by an album from an 82 year old before.  If you like Len, you’ll love this.
99c                                                      Santigold
Not sure why Santi isn’t huge.  R’n’B pop with a trashy pick’n’mix mentality.  Irresistible, irrepressible.  It sounds like 10 massive hits to me.  Sigh.
The Revenant OST                            Ryuichi Sakamoto
What a film.  You saw it, right?   I loved it. We have the poster up at home. There is so little onscreen that the music is really to the fore for much of its duration and it is brilliant to listen to its austere and colossal strings at home too.  When everyone else is out obvs.
Purple                                                Baroness
It’s heavy metal.  Yep. This lot and Mastodon make fast, loud, non-stupid, non-embarrassing metal records.   Huge, angry and very clever.  A bit stoner rock in places.   Not as good as the Blue and Red albums. Better than the Yellow and Green one.
Debutante                                         Femme
As per Santigold, I don’t know why local girl Laura isn’t way bigger. Smart, eclectic pop. So many bangers.  If you like MIA, XCX, MNDR or Icona Pop, then pay attention.
Awaken, my Love                              Childish Gambino
Still figuring this guy out. As Troy in Community he’s made us laugh like drains and his first album was weird AF.  This is much more fun, brighter, off-balance R’n’B, Motown, rap. Sort of like a tribe Called Quest, Shaft and Curtis Mayfield through a kaleidoscope.
Singing Saw                                       Kevin Morby
Beautiful set of slightly mournful but not dour, slightly tripped out but not deranged,   Bright Eyes-y /indie or Leonard Cohen-y songs.  Persistent percussion and rhythms keep it leaning into the wind.
Teens of Denial                                  Car Seat Headrest
Overly long but extremely smart set of mid-fi Pixies/Dinosaur Jr indie rock.  Mazing tunes with real momentum.   Super talented young indie kid with about 23 albums to his 23 years.
Infinite Summer                                  NZCA Lines
Michael’s 2nd album of slightly icy modern pop with a dash of 80s synthery. Huge tunes, weird and extremely unique lyrics.
Hope Six Demolition Project               PJ Harvey
A sequel to Let England Shake musically. Brassy political poetry with a more angry international flavour. Come back, wait. Polly never puts a foot wrong, you know that. One of the best shows of 2016 too with Sir Terry Edwards leading the charge onstage.
Convenanza                                     Andrew Weatherall
This one lifted the start of a shit year with confidence and style. Sounds like a million things at once, from the Specials and Ian Dury to bleeding edge beats.
Yoncalla                                            Yumi Zouma        
Sleepy disco vibes from this hugely underrated NZ band.  Somewhere between C86 and Hall & Oates.   Wonderful laid back winners.  There is more melody in one of their tunes than most bands stretch across an whole album.
Outer Heaven                                    Greys         
Foursquare Indiepunkrock from the middle of nowhere in America. Not one single fresh musical idea. The production is, shall we say, basic.  Ten brilliant tunes tho and one I’ve played a LOT this year.  Features a song called Complaint Rock.
Roosevelt                                           Roosevelt
Sophisticated European sounding disco pop from the edge of the HotChipverse.  As much 70s as it is 80s as it is very much right now.
Preoccupations                                 Preoccupations
The sound of Northern Post Punk filtered through America’s underbelly. PKA Viet Cong, this bulldozes through the Chameleons, Joy Div and Bauhaus.  No fun at all but the darkside isn’t supposed to be, is it?
Scarlet Rascal                                   Scarlet Rascal
Similarly, JoyDiv, Television, The Cult, Neu, the Fall and Bauhaus all feed into this overlooked gem on Geoff Portishead’s Invada label.  Oceans of space in these mini-anthems.  They sound like they are wearing leather jackets and black suits. And they are! Drummer Maya is Klaus Dinger incarnate. Expect wonders from them next year.
A Weird Exit                                        The Oh Sees
Deranged but super tuneful and well produced psychedelic and spacious garage rock. A bit glammy in places too.  Not unlike Ty Segall’s recent records.
We Got it From Here                          A Tribe Called Quest
Another album from a group long since presumed over.  About 3500x better than it has any right to be.  Angry, funky, smart and just brilliant.  It is very very good to have them back.  Feel kinda vindicated for wearing that Can I Kick it? T-shirt all summer.  If you think you might like it, you definitely will.
Jessica Rabbit                                   Sleigh Bells
A recent purchase at the Indie label Market.  When I put it on in the office, someone asked if this was the Gaga album.  If only.  VERY pop in places, Most of the jagged edges are gone but it’s all the better for it. Pop anthems take way more skill than noisy indie terrorism.  Deserves to be massive.
Quintessential modern pop production.
Hidden City                                       The Cult
I know, right! Another blast from the past. I still play Love a handful of times every year but I’ve not really loved a Cult album since Electric back in 1867.   This sounds like The Cult but also really doesn’t at all.  It’s a massive modern rock album which, although it has some Doors in there, some Creedence, is not a throwback at all.  Huge, powerful juggernaut songs with lush, epic and sophisticated arrangements.  They sound quite angry too and way less mad than they can be.  In MOJO’s Top Ten I noticed.
Do Hollywood                                    The Lemon Twigs
What to make of this…   Somewhere between that brace of 70s titans, Queen and The Television Personalities. As you do. Much Todd Rundgren-y gear changes and huge confidence all through it.   I was put off by their photos.  Don’t be.  Smart kids.
Woman                                              Justice
Daft Punk and Disco are the building blocks. Not overly original but it hits the spot, time after time.  Fantastic sleeve too.  Instant gratification.
The Impossible Kid                             Aesop Rock
I kind of lost faith with this alt hip hop gentleman a while back but this is absolutely stunning.  Weird and completely nails-hard production and 50 ideas-per-minute lyrics delivered in an old school jaw-dropping fashion.  His best since his first, which is one of this century’s key records, if you ask me.  You didn’t. I see that.  It is though.
Arrival                                                 Johann Johansson
You saw Arrival, right?  Sure you did.   This Icelander’s soundtrack to my FOTY last year, Sicario was ridiculously great. This sounds nothing like it. Or indeed anything else.  For an album about inchoate communication though, with titles like Xenolinguistics, it’s perfect. Brooding discordant strings and all sorts of odd burbling.  It’s not an easy listen but it is proper genius.
Of Desire                                             The KVB
Hmmm. A bit niche but this Cabaret Voltaire-y, krauty, album of intense martial mumbling, icy guitars, even icier analogue synths and menacing Sheffield via Bristol beats is so very much up my street, I can recognise the sound of it engine as it draws near, and I nod to it on the way home.
Puberty 2                                           Mitski
Clever eye-popping lyrics, all kinds of indie rock, and she has a huge voice and about twenty five chips on each shoulder.  It all makes for a refreshingly direct album.
Dream Underground                          PIANO WIRE
piano-wire-dream-undergroundf-1400-x-1400
it is out in feb.  It’s in next year’s Top 10.
FILMS
Adam Curtis’ Hypernormalisation was shockingly calmly terrifyingly logical.  Usually his films make an assumptive hurdle in the middle that makes you think, “Alright Adam, calm down…”  Not so much here.  So much food for thought in this one.
The Revenant   I assumed this would be boring.  It wasn’t.  It was nail-bitingly great.  It is grim, though.  I read the book.  It was OK.  They really made a better film out of it than would seem possible.  Clever them.
Arrival. Cerebral, emotionally exacting sci fi.  The idea of Blade Runner 2 shifts from stupid beyond belief to ridiculously exciting after Enemies, Sicario and this from our Dennis.
Hell Or High Water was a slow burner.   No Country For Old Men territory.  Kept a few cards back for act three that spun the whole thing around.  Chris Pine can act.  They should let him do that more often.
Doctor Strange.  Marvel’s run remains perfect.  I really want to see this again. Now.
Deadpool was funny and dark.  And funny.  And really dark.
Spotlight was serious, unflashy and very convincing.
Snowden was serious, unflashy and very convincing too.
The Greasy Strangler.  What. The. Fuck? Not something I’ll ever forget, no matter how hard I try.
Captain America: Civil War.  Of course.
10 Cloverfield Lane.  Intense. Clever. Indelible.
The Big Short was a brilliant way of telling a dull story. Loved it.
The Green Room was a super smart film set entirely in a Roadhouse where punk bands play.
Ask me in a few weeks and I expect to add Victoria, Tale of Tales, Hunt For the Wilderpeople, The Witch and Rogue One to that list.
I didn’t much like the Coen’s Hail Caesar but they all looked like they were having fun.  I cannot even begin to explain how Suicide Squad got made. What a colossal waste of time if, presumably, not money.
TV
I’ve been enjoying Westworld (obvs), Lucifer, The Exorcist, Line of Duty, Billions, Mr Robot 2, Night Manager, The Night Of, Luke Cage, Angie Tribeca, Brain Dead, Preacher, Planet Earth 2 and, as per, University Challenge and Antiques Roadshow.
In FOOD, seaweed has been making a strong comeback in the SIC kitchen. And pies.  Oh, and mint.  And raw vegetables (I am as surprised as you about that last one).  Not mushrooms though. They are wrong and vile until hot butter and garlic are applied.
I read some BOOKS but I don’t recall loving any of them.  Except Preacher, Sandman and Huck, which are “only” comics.   Oh…Ben Myers’ Turning Blue was ace. As was Miranda Sawyer’s book on being old.
I’ve barely touched the Xbox this year.  If you have hot recommends for this, then HMU.
As for SHOWS, if I said my faves were The Cure, Radiohead, Beck and PJ Harvey, it might sound like I only saw old bands.   Also loved John Grant, Piano Wire, Goat, Tiger Lion, Scarlet Rascal, Kero Kero Bonito, Glass Animals, Empress of and a good few things I can’t recall.  The Cure was gig of the year though. So many brilliant brilliant songs.
Sigh.
So I joined Labour in 2015, got involved, got enthused, got appalled, got disheartened, got angry and then, finally, more or less gave up. Corbyn would have been further ahead now if the party didn’t seem like it would sooner blow its own head off (over and over) than Oppose the government.  Are they able to win now?   I doubt it.  The way they are almost totally mishandling Brexit and failing to score all the many many, many, many open goals available is making me despair.   The local Labour party shocked me also.  What I saw is 100% not what I signed up for.
I dunno. Something new is required fast. A Common Sense party.  Is it really that hard?
Best knuckle down and muscle up cos 2017 is going to be even weirder.
And as for West Ham.
Even bigger sigh.
Happy Christmas
SICx
Advertisements