The obligatory Top Ten of 2016 post – it is what it is. And what it is, more or less, is split into halves: 2016 releases and older stuff I picked up throughout the year. There’ll likely be full reviews of a lot of these titles to follow over the next wee while.
Some 2016 releases I haven’t been able to check out or pick up yet including at least a couple of heavy hitters, most obviously David Bowie’s Blackstar and Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds’ Skeleton Tree. There are undoubtedly others. I was sadly underwhelmed by Iggy Pop’s Post Pop Depression, ZZ Top’s Live Greatest Hits From Around The World (as perfunctory as its title) and The Cult’s latest but I’ll give them all a second chance at some point. The same can’t be said for Sturgill Simpson’s A Sailor’s Guide to Earth. It’s had its second chances.
Albums: Top 5 2016 releases
5. The Claypool Lennon Delirium – Monolith of Phobos
Endlessly entertaining psych-prog.
4. The Monkees – Good Times!
Their first new album since 1996’s Justus and it’s rather good.
3. Jeff Beck – Loud Hailer
Beck hooks up with London duo Bones to make what is easily his most compelling album since Guitar Shop.
=1. Tedeschi Trucks Band – Let Me Get By
A lush, soulful, roots-rock diamond of an album.
=1. The Rolling Stones – Blue and Lonesome
A covers album, no less; a wonderfully jagged-edge contemporary take on Chicago blues (reviewed HERE).
Albums: Top 5 “finds” of 2016
5. Dave Arcari & the Helsinki Hellraisers – Whisky In My Blood (2013)
Yer raucous, rootsy alt.blues.
4. Donovan – Barabajagal (1969)
Properly groovy psych-folk (with contributions from Jeff Beck).
3. Prince and 3rdEyeGirl – Plectrumelectrum (2014)
One of Prince’s best latter-day releases, much of it straight-ahead heavy rock.
2. James Gang – Rides Again (1970)
No matter how much music you listen to over the years, there’s always a stone classic that’s passed you by. Damn!
1. Eli Radish – I Didn’t Raise My Boy to Be a Soldier (1969)
Outlaw Country forerunner, a set of covers of wartime songs (from the American Civil War through to Vietnam) given the Woodstock-generation treatment. I’d been ages looking for this one and it was worth it.
I didn’t get to see half of what I might have wanted to; cinema is a too-expensive night out these days. I’ll no doubt catch up on home releases (anyway, this blog is meant to be about physical formats, right?).
I’m sick to death of superhero movies, though. I made the mistake of double-billing Batman v Superman and Captain America: The Winter Soldier in one seemingly endless night; watched through heavy eyes, it turns out they’re exactly the same film.
Movies: Top 5 2016 releases
5. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot
Underrated comedy drama based on a true story starring Tina Fey as a TV reporter in Afghanistan.
4. 10 Cloverfield Lane
A tense and enjoyable wee sci-fi suspense thriller (even if the basic set up was pillaged from the pages of Métal Hurlant).
3. Hail, Caesar!
Brash, bright and loud – the Coen brothers at their least subtle with a very funny send up of McCarthy-era Hollywood.
2. The Nice Guys
A quality addition to Shane Black’s long list of quality buddy-comedy /thrillers.
1. The Lobster
Mental, though eh.
Movies: Top 5 “finds” of 2016
5. The Vanishing (1988)
Superior Dutch/French thriller which takes some surprising turns. Until the dodgy ending, right enough, which unfolds as if from a rejected script for Tales of the Unexpected.
4. Empire Records (1995)
Hollywood knock-off of Clerks is way more entertaining than it has any right to be; a throwback to old rock’n’roll movies and ’70s fare like FM.
3. Bread (1971)
Obscure British movie trying to appeal to that elusive “hippies who are big Robin Askwith fans” demographic. Lots of great footage of little-known rock bands of the day.
2. St. Ives (1976)
J. Lee Thompson directing Charles Bronson as a writer-cum-private-eye, with Jaqueline Bisset being all sexy-like. Can’t go wrong.
1. Calvary (2014)
Bleakly funny, if ultimately just bleak. Brendan Gleason, though. Wow.