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
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… https://t.co/Vm7dMUrd3i.
4th May 2018Read more 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
Stylish, fast-paced, amusing antidote to the endless stream of generic superhero movies.
27th Dec 2017Read more 3.5 star reviews
Disappointingly slight award winner, that doesn’t find its stride until 10 minutes from the end.
27th Dec 2017Read more 3.5 star reviews
Left-field genre mash-up that pitches itself just right. Solid action, good humour. Thoroughly enjoyable.
25th Dec 2017Read more 4 star reviews
Bleak, real-time journey through the realities of living on benefits.
25th Dec 2017Read more 3 star reviews
The Last Jedi
Shambolic sequel that squanders the promising set up from JJ, plus 40 year… https://t.co/SdXpv8B5hj.
21st Dec 2017Read more star reviews
The Extra Terrestial
Kids on BMXs sticking it to the man. What could be better.
19th Dec 2017Read more 5 star reviews
Lifeless sci-fi horror. Gravity meets Piranha.
12th Dec 2017Read more 2 star reviews
Disappointingly flat and uninsightful documentary from Michael Almerayda.
5th Dec 2017Read more 2.5 star reviews
Amiable, zero jeopardy comedy from Soderbergh. Slightly unsure what it’s trying to be.
2nd Dec 2017Read more 3 star reviews
Another thoughtful biographical effort from Mike Mills. Stylish but a little long and sprawling.
25th Nov 2017Read more 3.5 star reviews
Stylish, but utterly nonsensical drivel. Knowing anything about the game might vaguely help.
24th Nov 2017Read more 2 star reviews
Bland, predictable potboiler that could have been written, directed and acted by a computer.
18th Nov 2017Read more 2 star reviews
Stylish, touching movie. Nicely acted if a little slow.
12th Nov 2017Read more 3.5 star reviews
Historical engaging, but languidly edited thriller surrounding the 1980 Iranian Embassy siege.
5th Nov 2017Read more 3 star reviews
Intense, mournful coming-of-age drama. Very stylish and operatic. Terrence Mallick via John Singleton.
21st Oct 2017Read more 3.5 star reviews
Intricately plotted, but seamlessly crafted into a lighthearted modern classic.
20th Oct 2017Read more 5 star reviews
Belated sequel that remixes the original with some success, but the nostalgia runs a little thin.
15th Oct 2017Read more 3.5 star reviews
A Beautiful Mind meets the A-Team. Convoluted actioner that doesn’t transcend its premise.
11th Oct 2017Read more 2.5 star reviews
Solid, uplifting biopic. Well structured with moments of real tension despite the inevitable ending. And 91m.
11th Oct 2017Read more 3.5 star reviews
Good visuals, nice music, flabby storytelling and a confusing plot. A worthy sequel.
6th Oct 2017Read more 3.5 star reviews
Convoluted, charmless sequel. A rare misfire from Pixar.
17th Sep 2017Read more 2 star reviews
Andrea Arnold transplants her class observations to the US. Unforgivably long, if beautifully shot.
17th Sep 2017Read more 3.5 star reviews
Billie Joe Armstrong plays a former star dealing with 40. Good concept, rendered as flat as possible.
16th Sep 2017Read more 2 star reviews
Woefully inept, on-the-nose sci-fi romance. A reasonable concept executed in the worst way possible.
10th Sep 2017Read more 1.5 star reviews
Nicely directed, but a true story often doesn’t make for a well shaped film.
31st Aug 2017Read more 2.5 star reviews
Over-complicated, over-stylised mess from a director who clearly fluked his debut.
30th Aug 2017Read more 2.5 star reviews