Top 10

The 2015 Top 10

Here’s my top 10 of everything from 2015 (Just for you Ben…and the pedantic guy who always points out which albums/films didn’t come out this year)

skip to 10 things that didn’t get enough love in 2015

Top 10 Albums (I Heard For The First Time) in 2015

Alone At The Microphone (David Bazan)
Safety Fifth (Mucca Pazza)
Bazan Monthly Volume 1 (David Bazan)
LYA (Mucca Pazza)
Aeon: Peace To The Puzzle (Scorzayzee)
It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back (Public Enemy) – Chuck D is the Dad I never had
Mezmerize (System Of A Down)
Live At The Academy (The Band)
Plays Well Together (Mucca Pazza)
Motown Gold (Various Artists)

Top 10 New Films (I Saw For The First Time) in 2015

Bad Words
Inherent Vice
Mad Max: Fury Road
Grand Budapest Hotel
The Martian
Blue Ruin
Avengers: Age Of Ultron

Tomorrowland is nowhere near as bad as everyone says. Some people just don’t like a positive message I guess. Ant-Man, Locke and Home were also good (though Home‘s musical ‘score’ almost amounts to a Rhianna commercial every 15 minutes). Paddington and Pixels were in the ‘expected them to suck but they were actually well done and a lot of fun’ category.

It’s too early to call Star Wars: The Force Awakens, even though I’ve seen it twice, but I can say it and Fury Road both had compelling and fully realised female heroes which threw Jurassic World‘s dated “serves you right for trying to have a career instead of children and wear high heels in the jungle” sub-text into sharp relief. Which is ironic as JW writer/director Colin Trevorrow is lined up to take charge of SW ep 9. I’ve got a bad feeling about this.

I’ve got Ex_Machina but haven’t watched it yet. Ditto for Inside Out. Pixar is like the girl who broke my heart (by dating all those sequels) and I just haven’t been able to forgive her yet.

Top 10 Old Films (I Finally Got Round To Seeing For The First Time) in 2015

There Will Be Blood
Apocalypse Now Redux
Fight Club
Vicky Christina Barcelona
All The President’s Men
The Imposter has a great score by Anne Nikitin
Jackie Brown
Miller’s Crossing

I also enjoyed the big dumb comedy of Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story.

With Inherent Vice, There Will Be Blood and Grand Budapest Hotel it was a good year for the Andersons. I also saw Moonrise Kingdom and The Royal Tennenbaums which were good but didn’t make the cut, and bought Magnolia, Punch Drunk Love and The Master but haven’t watched them yet.

Top 10 Books (I Read For The First Time) in 2015

Team of Rivals (Doris Kearns Goodwin)
War And Peace
A Tale Of Two Cities
1983 (David Peace) – the finale of the Red Riding quartet, not a George Orwell prequel
Fascinating Rhythm: The Collaboration of George and Ira Gershwin (Deena Ruth Rosenberg)
Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World (Haruki Murakami)
Words Without Music: A Memoir (Philip Glass) – great though I still prefer the film Glass: A Portrait Of Philip In Twelve Parts
Steal Like An Artist
A Farewell To Arms
Love May Fail

The 10 Best Songs I Wrote In 2015 (In No Particular Order)

Kiss Me Beneath The Mistletoe
Faster (Than The Speed Of Light)
Bullingdon Boys
Tonight (with Harry Verity)
The Architects Of Our Unhappiness
Where Did The Time Go? (with Liz Frencham)
If You Screw Up (with Hamilton Poolhall)
Christ Will Come Again (with Steven Wesley Guiles)
Polishing A Turd

Other Stuff

The Best TV I Saw In 2015

Jonathan Strange And Mr Norrell
Agents Of Shield Season 1 (got S2 haven’t watched it all yet)
Dr Who Season 9 (finally got stories worthy of Capaldi’s acting)

Best Gig Of 2015

The Most Ugly Child headline set at the Idolin’s album launch laid waste to the venue like a bunch of carnival folk who turn up uninvited at your cousin’s wedding and get everyone drunk, pregnant or fighting. Ably support by Lisa De Ville.

Other top 10 posts here

Humour Showing Up

Monkey Umlaut

After spending most of yesterday recording and editing, and most of today teaching and recording I was just too burnt out to do anything when I got home. I trudged over to Shabby Road for more teaching and a blog post (for wed) after falling asleep in front of the surprisingly good Space Chimps.

The film’s closing song is Another Postcard by the endlessly witty (Steven Page-era) Barenaked Ladies, a group that, like a million misspelled, mis-umlaüted, metal bands, obviously acquired their name in pre-internet times.

Not many white Canadians would dare to cover a Public Enemy song (and do it so well) but I see then as heralds of the future – rap music will become the folk music of the 22nd century – faithfully reproduced by people who have nothing in common with the people who created it and have little idea of what the words and phrases actually meant.

Production Recording Songwriting

Rick Rubin on Songoverwriting and Underproduction

Rick Rubin gave a brilliant interview to Andrew Romano’s in the The Daily Beast. Here’s some excerpts on songwriting and producing

I’d say [to Kanye] “This song is not so good. Should I start messing with it?” And he’d say, “Yes, but instead of adding stuff, try taking stuff away.”

There’s a tremendous power in using the least amount of information to get a point across.

For me the Beatles are proof of the existence of God. It’s so good and so far beyond everyone else that it’s not them.

My job [as a producer] is to be a professional version of the outside world—a listener who is not attached to any of it, who doesn’t know the story of how it was written, who doesn’t know how it works, who doesn’t know why this is important to you.

I never decide if an idea is good or bad until I try it. So much of what gets in the way of things being good is thinking that we know.

There’s a cycle that’s dictated by the reality of being a touring artist [when you only have eight weeks between tours to make a record]. At some point in time the cycle takes over, and even though you’re not really ready to make the record during that window, it’s the only window you have, so you put it out. Cracks in the foundation start. And slowly, over time, the creative process gets eroded, and [making a record] becomes something that’s just a window in the schedule instead of the most important thing that drives the whole train.

I always request that artists overwrite. Write as much as possible—and then we can narrow down—because you never really know. The best song you write might be No. 25, not No. 12. For every System of a Down record, we’ve recorded probably 30 songs to get the 12 or 14 that are on the record. The same with Chili Peppers. It was a little bit of a struggle with Black Sabbath…We probably recorded 16. And there are eight on the album. It made sense to me [to work that way] because in the past they were on a roll from album to album, and now they haven’t been a band together in 35 years. The idea that after 35 years the first 10 songs you write are perfect is unrealistic.

How did you discover Public Enemy, another one of the greatest rap groups ever?

D.M.C. played me a tape of Chuck D hosting a radio show. The show was called “Public Enemy Number One.” So I called him, and he said that he had already done the rap thing. Now he had a regular job. He wasn’t interested. He felt like he was too old. He was probably 20. Chuck thought he’d missed his chance. He worked at a record store. I called him every day for six months, probably. He would leave a message with whoever was there, like, “Tell Rick I’m not here.” And then eventually I got a message: Chuck wants to meet. And he comes in, and he’s like, “I’m willing to do it under these terms: it’s called Public Enemy. It’s a group. It’s more like the Clash than a rap group, and it’s me and Flavor Flav, and Griff and Hank are involved.” And I said, “Whatever you want to do is fine.”

Read the full interview here

Check out my Black Sabbath/ Beastie Boys mashup here