Hi, blog. Sorry I’ve neglected you. I’d blame NaNoWriMo, but that only covers November. Anyway, another year is coming to a close, and end of the year lists are being published every day. Why not add to the chatter? 2014 has been a strange year in that there have been a few albums/books/films that I have adored and obsessed over, but then I struggle to think of other entries to round out the top ten. I don’t know if that’s a sign of being incredibly passionate about my choices or just apathetic about most things this year, but if you’re reading this, you probably trust my taste anyway. Or you’re just really nosy.
1. Hozier – Hozier. No church puns here. I downloaded the “Take Me to Church” EP back when it was free (hipster), and when I saw that he was coming to New York in March, I snagged a ticket. I hadn’t been to a gig in a while, and I was curious. For $10, worth the investment. I was blown away and immediately started to bother everyone to check him out before he blew up. Proof you should always listen to me.
2. Damien Rice – My Favourite Faded Fantasy. Rice has been a soundtrack to my frustration and a source of inspiration for years. Was this album worth the wait? Absolutely.
3. The Twilight Sad – Nobody Wants to Be Here and Nobody Wants to Leave. I have been listening to this obsessively the past few weeks. I can’t really put into words what it is about it. Each time I listen, it gives me a certain twist in my stomach like reading a great Iain Banks novel. It’s a lovely sort of nostalgia, looking back to move forward.
4. Damon Albarn – Everyday Robots. When I was a teenager, one of the first bands I got really obsessed with was Blur. Like tracking down Japan-only releases, in the fan club obsessed. There’s not much Albarn has touched that I dislike. Not only is this a great record, but I finally got to see him live. He touched me. It’s on YouTube.
5. Elbow – The Take Off and Landing of Everything. Beautiful, romantic, heartbreaking, sad. Guy Garvey is like the occasionally drunk uncle we all wish we had.
6. Ed Sheeran – x. Sheeran could have settled for doing some samey acoustic business for his second record, but instead he stretched out, collaborated, and did a bit of everything. There are a few songs that I always skip, but the good songs are really, really good. And most of this record is good songs.
7. David Ford – The Arrangement. Ford could have sold out and made a bigger name for himself ages ago, but he makes the music he wants on his own terms. Thank God there are still guys like him. It’s acoustic, it’s orchestral, it’s lovely. This may be more EP length, but it’s my list and I do what I want.
8. Little Matador – Little Matador. Sometimes you just want big, dirty riffs and musical venting. Here’s the soundtrack for shaking your hair out and getting your rock boots on.
9. James Vincent McMorrow – Post Tropical. I almost forgot this came out this year because it came out so early in the year. Here’s the case of another artist starting out on the acoustic path and then experimenting. The electronic elements only serve to augment how lush McMorrow’s arrangements are. Plus that voice? That falsetto? Damn.
10. Taylor Swift – 1989. Stop rolling your eyes. I am far too old to deal with people getting pissed off because music is popular or “overexposed,” particularly since 99% of those people will spend their next breath praising Beyonce or Katy Perry. We like what we like, and I like Taylor Swift. I don’t care what you think about that. 1989 is fun, ’80s throwback goodness, and let’s face it: Swift could work with anyone, and she chose Imogen Heap. That in itself is cool as fuck.
I didn’t love love love many books this year, particularly books published this year. I’ve read 85 books so far this year, so that’s a bummer. Here I’ve tried to scrape together ten from 2014 worth reading (based on Goodreads publication dates, so if their listings mislead me, sorry). Insert “you tried” gold star here.
1. Broken Monsters by Lauren Beukes
2. The Ghost in the Electric Blue Suit by Graham Joyce (An author lost far too soon. His novel The Silent Land is probably my favorite read of the year.)
3. The Sex Lives of Siamese Twins by Irvine Welsh
4. The Wolf in Winter by John Connolly
5. The Final Silence by Stuart Neville
6. The Spinning Heart by Donal Ryan
7. Revival by Stephen King
8. Bryant & May and the Bleeding Heart by Christopher Fowler
9. Outside by Barry Lopez
10. Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King (Yep, repetition because I’m flailing.)
I feel like I went to the movies a lot this year. Books and music obviously have genres, but I don’t have a problem picking out my favorites. Film I find much more difficult to weigh. Can I really justify three comic book adaptations? Apparently I can. Caveats: these are by US releases, so I know there are a few that came out ages ago overseas, and I know there are a lot of great films I just haven’t seen yet (like Boyhood).
2. Good Vibrations
4. Captain America: The Winter Soldier
5. Guardians of the Galaxy
6. The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby
7. The Grand Budapest Hotel
9. X-Men: Days of Future Past
10. Under the Skin
The only television show you needed to watch this year was “True Detective.” Rust Cohle thanks you for your time.