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
Surprisingly underwhelming biopic that doesn’t find its feet until 20m from the end.
24th Nov 2018Read more 3.5 star reviews
Utterly derivative / thoroughly enjoyable ‘Heat’ rip off.
21st Nov 2018Read more 3.5 star reviews
Well crafted character study, with some nice touches.
10th Nov 2018Read more 4 star reviews
Brutal revenge thriller. Stylish and violent, with plenty of explanation… https://t.co/VfjHjpveUJ.
4th Nov 2018Read more star reviews
Intense indie drama from Netflix. Impeccably acted and directed.
27th Oct 2018Read more 4 star reviews
Disappointingly unoriginal superhero movie, complete with dull CGI action.
27th Oct 2018Read more 2 star reviews
Continually clichéd rock romance that never breaks into originality.
13th Oct 2018Read more 1.5 star reviews
Dry Morrissey biopic that gets arty by avoiding using any Smiths songs.
7th Oct 2018Read more 3 star reviews
Decent rehash of vintage indie movie tropes.
7th Oct 2018Read more 3 star reviews
Mumblingly wordy western that’s big on self-importance and low on drama and tension.
25th Sep 2018Read more 2.5 star reviews
Muddled biopic with occasional moments of eccentric comedy madness.
22nd Sep 2018Read more 2.5 star reviews
Like a long episode of Girls that’s all about one of the more boring characters.
16th Sep 2018Read more 2 star reviews
Slightly confused slice of post-Michael Mann LA crime.
7th Sep 2018Read more 2.5 star reviews
Sympathetic retread of Single White Female, with added #hashtags.
26th Aug 2018Read more 3 star reviews
Welcome to the Jungle
Fun updated reboot with added Breakfast Club.
26th Aug 2018Read more 3 star reviews
Low-tide mark for super hero movies. I only finished watching to see how bad it could get.
14th Aug 2018Read more 1 star reviews
It’s a cover version of every other Mallick pic, but the setting is inspired and the improv from Gosling is enjoyably enthusiastic.
8th Aug 2018Read more 3 star reviews
Well written, well paced sequel. Surprisingly competent and heartwarming.
4th Aug 2018Read more 3.5 star reviews
70s pot boiler that lazily meanders through a series of mediocre set pieces.
23rd Jul 2018Read more 2.5 star reviews
Enjoyable change of pace for the super hero genre. Comedy wins.
21st Jul 2018Read more 3.5 star reviews
Great concept, but shoddily directed and utterly devoid of jeopardy.
17th Jul 2018Read more 2 star reviews
Small scale wartime espionage flick. Decent, but a bit laboured.
15th Jul 2018Read more 3 star reviews
Sub Roland Emmerich swill, with Gerard Butler saving the world from crazy weather.
13th Jul 2018Read more 2 star reviews
Derivative but fun romp through 80s CIA drug and gun running.
12th Jul 2018Read more 3 star reviews
Brutally sincere, painfully thin yakuza flick. Jared Leto goes full Gaijin.
6th Jul 2018Read more 2 star reviews
Huge misfire from Tomas Alfredson, with a multitude of bizarre choices. Like a bad 80's VHS rental.
6th Jul 2018Read more 1.5 star reviews
Brutally violent, post-Tarantino western. It’s all a bit mechanical.
2nd Jun 2018Read more 3 star reviews
A Star Wars Story
Reasonable, forgettable addition. Overfilling that mysterious back story.
1st Jun 2018Read more 3 star reviews
Lazy double-crossing spy drama, directed with a certain amount of swagger.
24th May 2018Read more 2.5 star reviews
Stylish, incredibly depressing portrait of life on the margins.
12th May 2018Read more 3.5 star reviews
Minimally written and confidently directed, with a brutally violent third act. Starring thin Vince Vaughn.
4th May 2018Read more 3.5 star reviews
Unofficial sequel to The Last Detail. Surprisingly slight effort from Linklater.
29th Apr 2018Read more 3 star reviews
Another tired entry, trotting out the same old tropes, plus new nonsensical gibberish.
13th Apr 2018Read more 2.5 star reviews
The Last Jedi
Every moment is undermined by a gag and the few serious scenes are sloppily handled.
13th Apr 2018Read more 2 star reviews
A third crack at Spider-man. Fun-ish, but it’s zero-stakes, zero-jeopardy. Bit smug too.
31st Mar 2018Read more 3 star reviews
Another garish super-hero flick. Slightly above average, mainly by being more old-fashioned.
30th Mar 2018Read more 3 star reviews
Overly dry, eccentric western. Jarmuschian overtones.
16th Mar 2018Read more 3 star reviews
Incredible, tense, original thriller. A western with snowmobiles.
14th Mar 2018Read more 4 star reviews
Career retrospective doc that keeps it fun and doesn’t outstay it’s welcome.
11th Mar 2018Read more 3 star reviews
Blockbuster-by-numbers as Universal clumsily attempt to build a franchise.
24th Feb 2018Read more 2 star reviews
The Story of Mudhoney
Unsurprising history run-down, enlivened by the band’s ferociously DIY attitude.
21st Feb 2018Read more 2.5 star reviews
Some good ideas, buried by shambolic direction and storytelling.
20th Feb 2018Read more 2 star reviews
Intense, eerie thriller that’s surprisingly straightforward and a little old-fashioned.
30th Jan 2018Read more 3.5 star reviews
Disappointingly slow, underdeveloped and literal monster metaphor from Nacho Vigalondo.
27th Jan 2018Read more 2.5 star reviews
Long, but moving and stylishly directed period drama. Fantastic cinematography.
15th Jan 2018Read more 3.5 star reviews
Grown-up superhero flick. Handled far better than most, but ridiculously violent.
6th Jan 2018Read more 3.5 star reviews
Slated by the critics, this is a stylish, slight, small movie - with two massive stars in it.
6th Jan 2018Read more 3 star reviews
Fun, original take on an otherwise ageing property. Apocalypse Now meets Watchmen.
5th Jan 2018Read more 3 star reviews
Clunky Brit thriller that telegraphs every one of its sub-Hitchcockian twists, despite the decent premise.
3rd Jan 2018Read more 2 star reviews