2017: what the hell was THAT about?

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
and
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
ALBUMS
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. JANE WEAVER Modern Kosmology
Two on the bounce for Jane. Psychedelic disco folk?  Something like that. Massive tunes. Throbbing bass.
  1. 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.
  1. 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 .
  1. 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.
BECK Colors
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
SPARKS Hipppotamus
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
Get Out
Colossal
Wonder Woman
Thor: Ragnarok
Dunkirk
Kong Skull Island
Free Fire
John Wick 2
Wind River
Logan
War For The Planet of the Apes
Blade Runner 2049
Hell or High Water
Elle
Love Witch
Brawl In Cell Block 99
Spiderman: Homecoming
Baby Driver
…and I daresay
Death of Stalin
Last Jedi
Paddington 2
TV
Legion
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.
Mindhunters
Fincher is back. I loved this stoned, heavy freefall into darkness. So addictive.
American Gods
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.
Preacher
Of a piece with American Gods and Legion. Batshit, intense and gloriously gory.
Happy!
From the mentallists who made crank. Ultra dark noir with a blue animated pony
Mercedes Man
You missed this right?  Brendan Gleason plays an alcoholic retired detective taunted by a serial killer. Or not.  This year’s The Night Of
The Sinner
Nailbiting, creepy Jessica Biel and Bill Pullman psychodrama. This year’s other The Night Of.
Billions
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
Right?
Sundry things that have made 2017 way better than it seems:
My wife and kids
Sesame dressing.
The Duchamp / Dali exhibition
Majestic Wine
DJing and doing a DARE Q&A in Berlin with Simon Price.
Discogs.
David Bowie
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.
Borough market
My new DMs.
Re-watching The West Wing (stunning TV even tho it seems like escapist fantasyland now)
Robert Mueller
Seth Abramson
that’s it
we may need our fighting trousers next year, so have a restful Xmas/holidays
David
x

 

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Autumnal post

Hi

I’ve been a bit quiet this year. Writing.  Films.

In February, some fine people are going to shoot one of my short stories.

In December I’ve been invited by the BBC to come in and get better at screenwriting so that’s a buzz.

I’ve completed 3 screenplays. One of them sucks somewhat. The other 2 are pretty good.   I have ideas for a bunch more.  I’ve entered a few competitions and been shortlisted twice.  Going to try my luck in some more, as of now.

Also setting up a new EP from TIGER LION coming in the New year.

And there is going to be new material from PIANO WIRE in the New Year too.

 

 

 

 

hey YOU.
If you only buy one badass punky rock record this week, make it this QOTSA-Clash-Iggy-type belter, stuffed full of fat feisty tunes.
 
SIGNED COPIES AT RECORDSTORE.co.uk      iTunes
piano-wire-dream-undergroundf-1400-x-1400

“Harnessing a twisted pop sensibility, alongside the swagger of prime QOTSA, it gets catchier and weirder with each listen” KERRANG KKKK

“album is exhilarating, rib-cracking, brutal fare” CLASH

“A sharp edged prowler of obsession and shivering illogic” MOJO

“no denying the strength of these tunes or the band’s dark energy” UNCUT

“cinematic post-punk with a QOTSA twist” LOUDER THAN WAR

“a raucous, thrilling listen” ROCKSOUND

‘swaggers with the same confidence as Queens of the Stone Age” DIY

“excellent…a killer new radio-friendly unit shifter” THE QUIETUS

“genius…scuzzy grunge” NME

 “Fantastic…somewhere between Iggy and JAMC” Screaming Guitars

 “the start of an exciting love affair” SONGWRITING

“Deep, fuzzy and full of swagger” SOUNDSPHERE

“blend of QOTSA swagger and piercing post-punk” THE LINE OF BEST FIT

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

SMALL ON THE MAP

My first attempt at writing a screenplay is called Small On The Map.

It’s a tense, darkly funny political thriller set in London.

A better mind than mine has summarised it thus

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 reach out to a team of white hat hackers who are being framed for the terrorist act.

I submitted it to a competition sponsored by (Ridley) Scott Free, Energy Entertainment and a brilliant Hollywood screenwriting website called The Tracking Board and it got shortlisted.

I have been meeting with producers and sundry Hollywood types and it seems to be being taken seriously.

Amazing.

I am writing a sci fi action film now.

WELCOME TO THE END

A story of immigration and quantum entanglement

A supply ship is crippled and catapulted across space and crashes into a scientific habitat on a distant planet.  The visitors and the damage their arrival causes, ramps up existing tensions, leading to fighting over an incredibly dangerous but utterly fantastic new invention.

 

On Snowden, surveillance and Donald Trump

I watched Snowden last night.

Unsurprisingly sympathetic portrayal by Oliver Stone.  Amazing cast, thought-provoking film.

Here is that actual thought.

This mass surveillance happened under Obama.  There were murmurings of repealing/curtailing the constant and total surveillance of EVERYONE, facilitated by Prism at GCHQ, among other places.  But it didn’t really happen.

Obama seemed to reassure people that it was being used judiciously.  The man seems reasonable.

Not sure if that covers putting latent cyberbombs in Japan’s power-grid infrastructure (just in case, y’know) but whatever.

Toward the end Snowden posited that one of the reasons he felt compelled to go public was because there might come a time when the US has a new leader, or leadership, that thinks very differently.

One that might want to flip the switch and start combing America for people they just didn’t like the look of.   For whatever reason they chose.

Hmmmmm.

That is happening now.

A week or two ago Newt Gingrich suggested reconvening The House of UnAmerican Activities.

Out loud.  In Public.    He’s not some lone wolf nutbag on the fringes of politics.  He’ll probably end up with a Cabinet or Presidential Advisor position under Trump.

Cos we all look back fondly on. McCarthyism.   Thing is, a lot of older white Americans do.

HUAC 2.0 would be to look for ISIS obviously.

ISIS being responsible for so many American deaths lately.

Fun fact, Toddlers with guns killed way more Americans last year than ISIS.

As did alligators.

And peanuts.

And, by a factor of 10, falling out of bed.

I don’t have a solution obviously.  I just find the whole idea very scary.  And let’s not forget that GCHQ aspect.  That keeps the Special in Special Relationship.

Sigh.