It's been a pretty good year for music according to my ears, and I've struggled to prioritise my top 5. The fifth place provided the most struggle and I narrowed it down to two albums I've overplayed and am currently on hiatus from - TV On The Radio and Vampire Weekend. I suspect they will both remain firm favourites, but song for song I'm going to have to bump Vampire Weekend into 6th place. Other notable mentions go to No Age (fuzzed up easy listening), Silver Jews (these guys finally clicked for me), Tapes and Tapes (an uncut diamond marred by shoddy production), Tindersticks (a comeback I would have betted against), The Wedding Present (it's all fours) and White Denim (lo-fi grandeur).
4. Ladyhawk - Shots
"Ladyhawke is in the toilet, she'll be here in a minute" joked band leader Duffy Driediger, as the original Ladyhawk launched into an awesome show at the Borderline - cementing beer-swilling, hard-rocking second-album Shots into a place in my list. No frills rock, with a lot of personality.
3. Flight of the Conchords - Flight of the Conchords
On paper, this record had to stink. Who wants to listen to the same gags over and over again? In reality, every song provides a remarkable understanding of music history, picking just the right sounds to serve the story - with so many jokes you hear a new one every time. Never, ever fails to light up Chimp HQ on a dreary day.
2. Fleet Foxes - Fleet Foxes
Another one that may have been temporarily overplayed, but this 70's throwback has been a pretty remarkable debut. Almost slipping unnoticed when it arrived in the office, it has been a solid player all year and I can't help but feel like it's greatness will soon be overshadowed by an even better follow-up. Unless they crack under the pressure.
1. Black Mountain - In The Future
Since it arrived on my desk in December 2007, In The Future has held the top spot for the year - and it still shows no sign of slipping. After a debut and a few side projects that paved the way, this was somehow exactly the record I expected and it never fails to impress me. Every note, every riff, every drum fill is just when and where I want it.
Best Songs: Portishead - The Rip, Port O'Brien - Close The Lid, Catfish Haven - Set In Stone, Fleet Foxes - Your Protector (for keeping BW running, if nothing else).
Best Gigs: Black Mountain rocked hard (again) at The Scala, Davin Berman's Silver Jews thoroughly proved their worth at ULU, Ladyhawk + The Dudes led the Canadian invasion at The Borderline, Oxford Collapse went under-appreciated at The Windmill and Jim James brightly shone a small light for the future of MMJ.
Live Clangers: Ween were truly disappointing.
Best Movies: In Bruges was a must-see despite an awful trailer, Iron Man andThe Dark Knight proved pretty solid superhero action, while This Is England and Dead Man's Shoes proved to be overlooked gems. Perhaps the biggest shock was the fact that the Sex And The City movie didn't totally suck - and in fact addressed the TV shows many shortcomings to make for a great movie.
Movie Clangers: Indiana Jones was as forgettable as you hoped it wouldn't be, while Somerstown didn't follow it's siblings in quality. There Will Be Blood did follow it's predecessors, with style over substance.
TV: The Wire came to a fantastic finale, Entourage continued to provide lifestyle envy, Breaking Bad took an original direction, Mad Men provided some slow-burning drama, while Summer Heights High provided some simple laughs. Undeclared and Freaks & Geeks finally caught my attention this year, wishing I'd caught both much earlier.
TV Clangers: Heroes just gets more and more contrived.
As a final note, headline of the year goes to chimpovich, regarding Men Called Him Mister's support slot for Foals in Madrid: "Band of Small Horses"
31st Dec 2008 - Tumblr5
Another touching Pixar tale from Pete Docter. Stylish and inspiring.
29th Dec 2020Read more 4 star reviews
Perfect Christmas movie that sails close to the wind of parody without getting swept away.
26th Dec 2020Read more 4 star reviews
Stirring, straight shooting, well rounded finale to a classic trilogy.
13th Dec 2020Read more 4.5 star reviews
Note perfect, brisk, entertainingly convoluted classic.
13th Dec 2020Read more 5 star reviews
Genre defining 80s classic that still hits all the right notes.
13th Dec 2020Read more 5 star reviews
Unsurprisingly slight, but the one thread of plot is held together by an enjoyable Bill Murray.
21st Nov 2020Read more 3.5 star reviews
Incredibly straightforward Clint drama, anchored by some great central performances.
10th Nov 2020Read more 3.5 star reviews
Not exactly imaginative re-imagining, but it gets the job done in the right spirit.
1st Nov 2020Read more 3 star reviews
Ambitious, stagey epic. Plenty of tropes and it falls in all the usual 1-take potholes.
27th Oct 2020Read more 3 star reviews
Thoughtful, stylish drama with a zen central performance.
17th Oct 2020Read more 4 star reviews
Stiff, poorly paced innovative film that hasn’t aged well.
11th Oct 2020Read more 3 star reviews
Inspiring, tightly scripted gem - overlooked by lockdown.
4th Oct 2020Read more 4 star reviews
Standard-issue airplane movie, with Joel Kinnaman standing in for Vin Diesel.
3rd Oct 2020Read more 3 star reviews
Sub LA Confidential gumshoe thriller - with an underplayed USP. Ed Norton misses again.
27th Sep 2020Read more 3 star reviews
Over explained threequel, that undermines a low key original.
18th Sep 2020Read more 2.5 star reviews
Intriguing, but generally incomprehensible sci-fi gobbledegook.
31st Aug 2020Read more 3 star reviews
The Next Level
Marginally less fun sequel, but still plenty of laughs.
16th Aug 2020Read more 3 star reviews
Beautifully imagined and lovingly restored, but it still alternates between a snail's pace and feeling like a trailer edit.
12th Aug 2020Read more 4 star reviews
Surprisingly enjoyable plane movie, though it owes a lot to the magnificent Copland.
8th Aug 2020Read more 3 star reviews
Tension-free Bateman rom com. Lacking rom and com.
8th Aug 2020Read more 2 star reviews
Incredibly stylish and wannabe cerebral sci-fi, that’s ultimately a little thin.
19th Jul 2020Read more 3.5 star reviews
Underwhelming space drama that’s a bit too intimate and not very epic.
5th Jul 2020Read more 3.5 star reviews
Dire, tension-free postcode gang drama. Just add drama.
21st Jun 2020Read more 1 star reviews
Magnificent documentary, re-assembling the moon landing from beautifully remastered footage.
14th Jun 2020Read more 4 star reviews
The 8th slow-paced Tarantino pic. Literally half entertaining / boring.
24th May 2020Read more 2.5 star reviews
Entertaining Brit-com, though it’s a bit on-the-beaten-path for Danny Boyle.
13th Apr 2020Read more 3 star reviews
Mildly enjoyable, thoroughly forgettable Nick Hornby pic ...once you get past the contrived set up.
4th Apr 2020Read more 3 star reviews
Kid-friendly(ish), super fun superhero movie.
23rd Mar 2020Read more 3.5 star reviews
Impeccably realised remake, but it’s emotionally flat.
15th Mar 2020Read more 3 star reviews
Standard festival thriller, with some style and decent moments - but it’s all a bit thin.
10th Mar 2020Read more 3 star reviews
Surprisingly enjoyable, Guy Ritchie-fied Disney remake.
10th Mar 2020Read more 3.5 star reviews
Cookie cutter biography that could literally have been written from his Wikipedia page.
7th Mar 2020Read more 1.5 star reviews
Text book indie, literally days out of Sundance. Interesting until it gets a bit too wacky.
9th Feb 2020Read more 3 star reviews
Strong slice of 90s skate nostalgia. Slow and subtle.
8th Feb 2020Read more 3.5 star reviews
Considered character study that strays into pretentiousness here and there.
25th Jan 2020Read more 3 star reviews
Enthusiasticly directed sequence of unrelated musical set pieces.
31st Dec 2019Read more 3 star reviews
Yet another biggest-battle-yet, with more than a passing nod to BTTF2.
30th Dec 2019Read more 3 star reviews
Thoughtfully assembled montage doc.
30th Dec 2019Read more 3.5 star reviews
Decent origin story, with charm and some 90s nostalgia.
27th Dec 2019Read more 3 star reviews
The Rise of Skywalker
Freestyle bouillabaisse with all the ingredients, but no chef.
27th Dec 2019Read more 3 star reviews
Quintessential indie movie ...funded by Netflix. Great perfs, lovely camera work and solid direction.
22nd Dec 2019Read more 4 star reviews
Superior modern thriller. Smart script and accomplished direction.
15th Dec 2019Read more 4 star reviews
Long, slow, thoroughly enjoyable loose jam through Scorsese/DeNiro/Pacino/Pesci/Keitel’s greatest hits.
2nd Dec 2019Read more 4 star reviews
Batman via Scorsese, in impeccably art directed, neatly packaged origin story.
28th Nov 2019Read more 4 star reviews
Surprisingly strong sequel that gets going after a convoluted start.
24th Nov 2019Read more 3 star reviews
Casual drama from Clint Eastwood, with the man himself anchoring things through a charming turn.
16th Nov 2019Read more 3 star reviews
Luscious period drama. Beautifully put together - like Wolf Hall+.
3rd Nov 2019Read more 3.5 star reviews
Throw away Breaking Bad expansion piece with little tension or jeopardy.
13th Oct 2019Read more 2.5 star reviews