2009 round-up

…AND YET MORE LISTS

Top 10 Singles of 2009 (with Spotify links/some kind of link when not available) 1. Shakira – She Wolf(I’ve said a lot about this already: it’s the latest in a long line of songs reinvigorating my interest (and belief) in Pop Music this year. Found out recently this was written by Sam Endicott, the guy from- flashback time- The Bravery.)2. The Horrors – Who Can Say(Researching this list is creating a lot of weird discoveries. I didn’t know the spoken-word part of this track- definitely the reason I pick it out of an album I liked, but didn’t listen to enough- was taken wholesale from a 60s boy-band song. Not sure whether that pleases or unsettles me. Like Primary Colours, this is something an ‘anticipating future me’ choice, but I specifically remember grinning uncontrollably to it strongly enough that I know exactly where I was. I don’t know how many times I’ve listened to it since.)3. Lady Gaga – Paparazzi(The song that let me finally get Lady Gaga. So glad.)4. Los Campesinos! – The Sea Is A Good Place To Think Of The Future(To which I’ve listened loads but only recently realised, in the middle of its gloom-fest, lie the lyrics “to left and right a crazy golf course”. One day I’ll actually write about how Los Campesinos! are what Emo promised to my young mind, before I actually heard Emo*.)5.Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Heads Will Roll (A Trak Remix)6. Major Lazer – Pon De Floor(Both of which I discovered like 10 days ago. This list is skewed, kinda purposefully to what’s in my head now. ‘Cus that’s the nature of singles, right? Also worth noting that Major Lazer actually sounds better in my mind, making those ears-submerged-in-the-bath laser sounds.)7. Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Zero8. Lonely Island – On A Boat(I went a bit mental about this for Redbrick and overstated a little, I reckon, about what it does. Still, for a lowly comedy song, it sounds really good, and is as listenable as it is singable as it is quotable.)9. Camera Obscura – French Navy(I’ve listened to My Maudlin Career many, many times now and as far as I’m concerned this song is still everything Camera Obscura have ever done.)10. Black Eyed Peas- Meet Me Halfway(This is the one I’m going to regret saying, isn’t it? But it just feels so epic. The video hardly hurts, but that bit where he’s all “Build a bridge- to the other side”. That just feels so comic book. Gave me the Ex Machina hard-on I’m missing having not read any of this year’s Ex Machina.)11. Are You Gonna Bang Doe – Funky Dee(Apologies to anyone on the end of my fever for this ludicrous, ludicrous song the last few days. Powered me through the 2009/2010 transition without sleep- largely thanks to its first 3 seconds “You should know about me/You should know about me/I’m Funky Dee”. I’ve never learnt, in my music journalist training, how to describe how unexpectedly choppy that is, and subsequently how funny. Holy, in its shallow way.) *Almost definitely my favourite album of 2010, about which I’ve already had as a rich a conversation as anything from 2009. And I haven’t even heard it yet. Top 5 Albums of the DecadeJust to give you a glimpse of how the Redbrick Top 40 might’ve looked, if I’d been given free reign. Not necessarily what I voted for there, largely because I was being tactical and sneaky. Because that’s how I operate. #5 Daft Punk – Discovery#4 Los Campesinos! – Hold On Now, Youngster#3 Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Fever To Tell #2 Arcade Fire – Funeral(The only one of these I didn’t get to write about. I always remember it as a safe choice, and then go back and actually listen to it again and, bam.)#1 Radiohead – Kid ATop 5 Comics of 2009 #5 League of Extraordinary Gentlement: 1906(Pretty much a token mention; it was my discovery of the series at large that really defined the year. It’s a brilliant idea, which happened to link up perfectly with a lot of my university reading list.)#4 Batman & Robin #3 Invincible Iron Man(Just good superhero comics. But something about it- and I’m not quite sure what- felt special. A cut above. Which allows me to excuse picking this when I’m still not quite up to date with the 12-part epic that was World’s Most Wanted.)#2 Scott Pilgrim Vs. The Universe(One of the two cultural artefacts that kicked this blog into life back in March- along with Britney Spears’ Circus album. I said a lot about it then. IT HAD A SHINY COVER!)#1 Phonogram 2: The Singles Club(The single thing off all these lists which will, I suspect, sit heaviest on my brain for the longest. Got to a point where I don’t even necessarily enjoy Phonogram that much, it’s just necessary sustenance- there’s a reason the only thing I (directly) wrote about it this year focused on consumption. As I work with my own music/prose experiments, it’s for seeing how in-line Gillen’s thinking is with mine**, and where he’s ahead of me, and where I should go, and where he’s using ideas I had for my own stuff. Enjoyment can come later.)I lost track of a lot of comics this year. I’ve already mentioned Ex Machina and Invincible Iron Man. But also Secret Warriors, Chew, Mighty Avengers, Young Liars… I never finished Umbrella Academy: Dallas. Hell, I really liked the first couple of issues of that X-Men Noir thing. It was a year for reading around comics- continuing to dive back into the history and back-catalogue; discovering writers (Jason Aaron, Matt Fraction and Jonathan Hickman all broke into my consciousness) and learning how to write about comics. But truth be told, off the top of my head, I can barely remember what I actually read this year. A bit of a twin to my year in music, actually. **Worth noting is that I suspect I might be the Laura Heaven […]

LISTS AND LISTS AND LISTS…

As I might’ve mentioned, oh, two or three hundred times by now, it’s basically the end of 2009/the decade/time. To celebrate, some lists of Good Things, and, where the inspiration strikes me, a bit of explanation. Top 5 Albums of 2009#5 Horrors – Primary Colours(People are talking about this as, yay, Horros reinvent themselves as good. But I actually quite like Horrors mk.1. Still haven’t given this the time it deserves, but enough to recognise, if I do give it what it deserves, it will be probably one of the most long-lasting likes on here. So ludicrously tasty and thick sounding: thanks new sound system!)#4 Karen O – Where The Wild Things Are(Still a little unsure about the film- more on that later – and haven’t listened to this since seeing it. Beautiful, but probably the most likely record to get kicked off the list, retrospectively. Realise now I never linked to my Redbrick review.)#3 Emmy the Great – First Love(This year’s largest sufferer of ‘love-the-band-but-I’ve-heard-the-songs-enough-by-the-time-the-album-comes-out’ syndrome. Will, no doubt, rediscover at some point, like I did this year with Dan Le Sac/Scroobius Pip’s Angles.)#2 Patrick Wolf – The Bachelor(I’m probably wrong but, my favourite Wolf. It is, as I learnt this summer, great runnning material, really determined stuff; though, thanks to my limited stamina I’m not that familiar past the first half an hour.)#1 Yeah Yeah Yeahs – It’s Blitz(I’ll write something huge on this at some point, no doubt. YYYs have been by far my biggest band this year- in both gig and album, but I haven’t had a proper Think about them since 2007ish.)Top 5 Games of 2009 #5 Wii Sports Resort(Screw you, Borderlands! A more pop choice, for the sheer family-uniting powers it has brought to bear this holiday. And I’m still interested in exploring its single player modes…)#4 Batman: Arkham Asylum(Was tight. Did tights right.)#3 Time Gentlemen Please(For making me laugh more than anything else this year. A perfect year would’ve provided me with Brutal Legend, to make a pure comedy Top 5; drop Batman and everything on here has provided more laughs than your average Apatow film, in one way or another. Oh well, no year is perfect, right?)#2 Red Faction: Guerilla(Second-biggest laughs provider. A game about revolutionary freedom-fighters/terrorists blowing up builds not funny? Wrong.)#1 Spelunky(This one has definitely got more coming. Not that there has been a lack of writing already. Haven’t touched it much since Autumn, but it’s left its mark. No doubt I’ll buy the upcoming 360 version too.) Top 5 Films of 2009#5 Let The Right One In(Beautiful, creepy, Swedish. Still annoyed I missed this in the cinema, but it’s possibly the film that’s held my mind for the longest#4 Inglourious Basterds(Provided I’m actually right about it. Recently found Tarantino’s introductory speech for it, and am a bit concerned about my reading. Although, death of the author and all that, does it really matter?*)#3 The Wrestler #2 Milk(As my girlfriend put it last night: “Why are all the films you like the ones that make me cry?”)#1 Up(More than any other, this is the one that made me realise how are hard, and rubbish, lists are. I forgot this until a quick Google. It’s the only film I’ve seen twice this year, and it genuinely held up. I think pretty much everything has been said by now- it’s surprisingly heartbreaking at the start, loses it a bit here and there, but still has a lot of the year’s best moments. Even the action-hero bit at the end doesn’t feel forced, and genuinely worked. Wouldn’t bother with 3D though.) This one was, surprisingly, the hardest to cut down. So much extra stuff that I really loved this year- I guess it’s easier to give yourself to something once. Pending a second viewing, Where The Wild Things Are might have a shot at knocking, I dunno, Inglourious Basterds off the list.All in all, it hasn’t been a year where I’ve cared much for the contemporary. I do love the YYYs album, but haven’t visited it as much as I would’ve had it come out in, say, 2006. And I have, as usual, struggled to keep up with the cinema, while discovering stuff like the Coens’ back catalogue. Probably played more TF2 than any other (non-Spelunky) game this year. In the case of gaming, money’s probably an issue. One free game, one that cost me £1.99, two I had on rental and a Christmas present. Hey, I started the Moneyless Gamer for a reason. Musically, new was even harder than contemporary. My favourite albums are almost all by bands I already knew and liked before. Even though, when I’ve got my Music Editor hat on, we get a constant stream of new into our inbox, and people are raving about this and that, I’m falling behind. Looking at Top Album lists for inspiration, I feel passed-by. Such band names! Crystal Stilts? Neon Indian? They sound like futuristic versions of bands I like. Can these really have come out without my noticing?. And bands I remember hearing about a few years back, when I couldn’t keep my nose out of the NME/blogs. Wild Beasts. Future of the Left. Bands I’ve tried with, and nothing’s happened. Bands I like who I didn’t even know had new stuff out. Sonic Youth. Gallows. Perhaps I’m just getting old.

It’s been a long time, shouldn’ta left you…

Without some dope words to step to.* It’s been my birthday- a week-and-a-bit long extravaganza of partying, consumption of food and alcohol, and occasional self-harm. Which means I’m 21- taking stock of my life time, I suppose. But more importantly, each day flowing into the next and threading an endless canvas of hangover, I haven’t been able to update here. And I’ve got some really stuff kicking around on the internet, and specifically at my beloved Redbrick. First up is (co-produced with beautiful co-ed Erica A Vernon), my 60-minute round-up of 2009’s singles. Generally speaking, the best, but sometimes just the most important-seeming. I say a lot of vaguely controversial things like “DIZZEE RASCAL – DIRTEE CASHYeah, it’s not Bonkers (overplayed) or Holiday (failed single pushed until people believed they must like it). There’s a little something more to Dirtee Cash; the playful Rascal of old striking out at the world at a speed that mean you don’t notice. And that title can be only be a dig at the haters.” Though our photo-collage doesn’t seem to have been put up online, trust me when I say it was beautiful. Read the lot here. (And in the interests of multi-media content, a complete Spotify playlist.) Even more excitingly, our Top 40 Albums of the Decade comes to a close. It kicked off back in October, all the way back here. But if you’re just looking for a quick fix, and find out who was #1, check here. (For anyone keeping track, I wrote #21: The Libertines – Up The Bracket #19: Los Campesinos – Hold On Now, Youngster… #14: Daft Punk – Discovery #4: Radiohead – Kid A) I’m really proud of this list; it had a few WTF moments, I suspect, while the top end of the list was probably a bit generic (which is not to say wrong), but there are some really good you-should-listen-to-this-becauses on there. And you should listen to most of them. *A quick Google to double-check the lyrics (before bending them) proves that this is pretty much the go-to heading for ‘haven’t posted in a while’ blogs. I am no beautiful, unique snowflake.