Monthly Archives: December 2019

Best of 2010s – Top 50 Albums

So here we are with the second of my tops of the decade. I probably could have done one for TV shows as well, but it’s hard to know where to draw the line for shows that cross the decade lines.

With albums though, there is no such handicap – so after a few months of tabulating – here’s where my Top 50 of the decade ended up. It’s worth noting that some of these positions are different compared to when I do my annual ‘albums of the year’. It’s one of those things, I guess, where some albums just keep looming large whilst others start to fade.

50. Utada Hikaru – Fantôme (2016)
49. Marina & The Diamonds – Electra Heart (2012)
48. Arcade Fire – The Suburbs (2010)
47. Neko Case – Hell-On (2018)
46. Cults – Cults (2011)
45. Lorde – Pure Heroine (2013)
44. Nicole Atkins – Mondo Amore (2011)
43. Arcade Fire – Reflektor (2013)
42. Fiona Apple – The Idler Wheel… (2012)
41. Marina & The Diamonds – Froot (2015)
40. Weyes Blood – Titanic Rising (2019)
39. Kacey Musgraves – Same Trailer Different Park (2013)
38. Björk – Vulnicura (2015)
37. Sufjan Stevens – The Age Of Adz (2010)
36. Jenny Lewis – The Voyager (2014)
35. Janelle Monáe – The Electric Lady (2013)
34. Andrew Bird – My Finest Work Yet (2019)
33. Jeff Rosenstock – POST- (2018)
32. f(x) – 4 Walls – The 4th Album (2015)
31. FKA Twigs – LP1 (2014)
30. Sky Ferreira – Night Time, My Time (2013)
29. Hurray for the Riff Raff – The Navigator (2017)
28. Robyn – Body Talk (2010)
27. Nicole Atkins – Slow Phaser (2014)
26. case/lang/veirs – case/lang/veirs (2016)
25. Namie Amuro – FEEL (2013)
24. Rosalía – El Mal Querer (2018)
23. Grimes – Art Angels (2015)
22. St. Vincent – Strange Mercy (2011)
21. PJ Harvey – Let England Shake (2011)
20. Carly Rae Jepsen – Emotion (2015)
19. Neko Case – The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You (2013)
18. Jenny Lewis – On The Line (2019)
17. Joanna Newsom – Divers (2015)
16. Aimee Mann – Mental Illness (2017)
15. Bon Iver – Bon Iver (2011)
14. Janelle Monáe – The ArchAndroid (2010)
13. St. Vincent – MASSEDUCTION (2017)
12. Aurora – A Different Kind of Human – Step 2 (2019)
11. Kacey Musgraves – Golden Hour (2018)

10. Sufjan Stevens – Carrie & Lowell (2015)
9. U.S. Girls – In a Poem Unlimited (2018)

8. St. Vincent – St. Vincent (2014)

7. Father John Misty – I Love You, Honeybear (2015)
6. Grimes – Visions (2012)
5. Sleigh Bells – Treats (2010)

4. Jenny Hval – Blood Bitch (2016)
3. Laura Veirs – July Flame (2010)
2. Lorde – Melodrama (2017)
1. Bon Iver – 22, A Million (2016)
Advertisement

Best of 2010s – Top 50 Movies

Since it’s the end of the 2010s, and I watch and listen to a lot of things, I thought it would be cool to do some best of the decade posts. So, today’s post will be counting my Top 50 movies from 2010-2019 and tomorrow will see me counting down albums.

As much as I love movies, this decade has had the handicap of some very dark periods in my life as well as the abnormally large focus on movies from the 1001 list. Still though, I’ve managed to make a pretty decent list – even if it is a bit dominated by animations.

50. The Social Network (2010)
49. The Queen of Versailles (2012)
48. Life of Pi (2012)
47. The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzimiya (2010)
46. The Big Short (2015)
45. Paddington 2 (2017)
44. My Life as a Zucchini (2016)
43. The Artist (2011)
42. Spotlight (2015)
41. Frozen (2013)
40. Call Me by Your Name (2017)
39. Silver Linings Playbook (2012)
38. La La Land (2016)
37. Phantom Thread (2017)
36. The Tale of the Princess Kaguya (2013)
35. Booksmart (2019)
34. Gravity (2013)
33. It’s Such A Beautiful Day (2012)
32. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017)
31. Zero Dark Thirty (2012)
30. Hugo (2011)
29. Amour (2012)
28. O.J. Made in America (2016)
27. Mirai (2018)
26. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018)
25. Before Midnight (2013)
24. Moana (2016)
23. Inception (2010)
22. The Hunt (2012)
21. The Shape of Water (2017)
20. Roma (2018)
19. The Favourite (2018)
18. Toy Story 3 (2010)
17. Arrival (2016)
16. Zootopia (2016)
15. The Lego Movie (2014)
14. The Other Side of Hope (2017)
13. Moonrise Kingdom (2012)
12. Melancholia (2011)
11. Black Swan (2010)

10. Your Name. (2016)
9. Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)
8. Isle of Dogs (2018)
7. The Farewell (2019)
6. Parasite (2019)
5. Coco (2017)
4. World of Tomorrow (2015)
3. Over the Garden Wall (2014)
2. The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)
1. Inside Out (2015)

In Review: Music Of 2019 (10-1)

And now we conclude my top albums of the year that was started yesterday. There are so many albums that I never got around to listening to – if there are any you’d think I would enjoy, please leave a comment below.

#10 – Serotonin II by Yeule

There is a whole in my musical life that has been looking for a Grimes album to fill it. Thanks to Singaporean artist yeule, there is Serotonin II which more than scratches the itch. Every now and then I’ll find great video-game inspired tracks, but never a whole album like this one. My finding this album was pretty much down to chance as well, which just shows how much music is out there what we might love and never find – so thank you TinyMixTapes for giving me the album of swirling Final Fantasy and Grimes style music that made a last minute entry into my end of year countdown.

Top Tracks: Poison Arrow, Blue Butterfly, Pocky Boy

#9 – Time For Us by GFRIEND

The position of this album is probably inflated as this Kpop album became the official album of my trip to South Korea – being played most nights as I was writing up what we did during the day. This isn’t even an album I heard about before listening, I just saw one of the band members acting goofy in a gif on Reddit and here we are. I still contend that ‘Sunrise’ needs to be used in an anime opening sequence, the chorus is just too perfect to not have something fantasy-based like Konosuba or That Time I was Reincarnated as a Slime feature it.

Top Tracks: You are not alone, Sunrise, Memoria

#8 – The Practice of Love by Jenny Hval

To call this Jenny Hval’s most accessible album, whilst true, is a very weird sentence to write as this is still pretty out there in places. With ‘Ashes to Ashes’ she made something close to a commercial single – then included the sentence “like how I used to dream of fucking before I knew how”. This album is Hval’s meditation on love it’s effect on the environment around us both directly (in terms of resources) and indirectly. She enlists the help of three collaborators to bring this world to life, the title track being a direct conversation about two of their own perceptions on their place in the world.

Top Tracks: Ashes to Ashes, High Alice, Lions

#7 – i,i by Bon Iver

After 22, A Million, anything less than perfection was always going to show a decrease in quality. At least for me anyway. Bon Iver’s back catalogue is beyond extraordinarily and, thankfully i,i is another worthy addition to the canon – even if I would rank it as his third best album. In his first three albums, There was a definite evolution and deconstruction in sound, but here we have an album where it feels like they’re going to take time to explore and broaden the soundscapes from the previous album. Considering my feelings towards his last release, you’ll hear no arguments from me.

Top Tracks: Hey Ma, Naeem, Holyfields,

#6 – Norman Fucking Rockwell! by Lana Del Rey

Every Lana Del Rey fan has been waiting for this album. Up until now she’s been an amazing singles artist who made good (if a little long) albums. On NFR! everything has finally clicked into place and the promise she made with the release of double a-side ‘Video Games/Blue Jeans’ earlier this decade has been fulfilled. No one else does this melancholy old world California balladry quite like she does, and what’s great is that she’s done it on her own terms and given us plenty of joy along the way to her magnum opus.

Top Tracks: The Greatest, Venice Bitch, Mariners Apartment Complex

#5 – Punk by Chai

I’m kinda thrilled that this year I have more than one non-English language album, and this album by CHAI is a exuberant shade of batshit. According to Spotify, ‘Great Job’ is my most played song of the year – probably because it’s one of those songs that I have to listen to twice without fail. This is one of those albums that just brings you a smile to you face whether it be because of the maniacal laughter on ‘Great Job’, ridiculous brass sampling on ‘This is Chai’ or the bright synths of ‘Future’. Given the end to the year in UK politics, I’ve leaned on this album a lot.

Top Tracks: Great Job, This is Chai, Fashionista

#4 – Titanic Rising by Weyes Blood

When I first heard ‘Movies’ you could have broken a sledgehammer on the goosebumps that erupted. Same for the next few dozen listens as well. It’s beyond atmospheric and that voice. Wow that voice. Listening to this is like if the Carpenters went electronic and attended Julliard – the rest of the album, whilst not as strong as this smashing single, held up to the extreme amount of repeat listens with ‘Everyday’ and ‘Andromeda’ being the other obvious stand outs.

Top Tracks: Movies, Andromeda, Everyday

#3 – My Finest Work Yet by Andrew Bird

This year Andrew Bird, has carved out the top male spot in my (as usual) female dominated top listens of the 2019 and his work has never been too far from the play button. His knowing folk stylings that take on the world as it is today, along with his trademark whistling on beautiful tracks like ‘Bloodless’ and ‘Manifest’ kept me coming back for more and now that 2019 is over I look forward to properly exploring his back catalog in the beginning of the new year.

Top Tracks: Sisyphus, Manifest, Fallorun

#2 – On The Line by Jenny Lewis

As always seems to happen with my albums list, the runner-up slots are the albums with my Song of the Year and this year is no exception. Both ‘Red Bull & Hennessy’ and the title track have had regular plays this year to the point where I have ended up listening to one of them pretty much every day since the album came out. Good thing that it’s surrounded by what is Jenny Lewis’ strongest work yet, which is saying a lot.

Top Tracks: Red Bull & Hennessy, On The Line, Hollywood Lawn

#1 – A Different Kind of Human – Step 2 by Aurora

What I love so much about music is that an album can just come out of left field and set the tone for the rest of your year. When I first listened to this album back int he summer it was to bolster the numbers on my list and yet I immediately realised that this was likely going to end up being my album of the year.

Great music shouldn’t just stay in your head, but it should also be able to make you feel and, sometimes, inhabit something more primal. That’s exactly what Aurora managed to do this year with an album that somehow contains so many multitudes that, like crystal, appears to find new facets depending on the season I listen to it.

Top Tracks: Dance on the Moon, Animal, In Bottles

In Review: Music Of 2019 (20-11)

Well folks, it’s that time of your once again where I look back on the wealth of music that I have listened to over the year and try to separate out a Top 20. Since I spent such a long time deciding on top albums from the rest of the decade, the number of albums that I’ve listened to this year is reduced compared to last year. My diving into the world of podcasts didn’t help either.

This year, as this post takes such a long time to put together and write-up, I am going to be limiting myself to one paragraph an album rather than droning on and on. I’ll still be doing my top tracks though, as that’s always fun.

#20 – U.F.O.F. by Big Thief

So many people have raved about the two albums that Big Thief put out this year and whilst, yes, U.F.O.F. has ended up on my countdown, it still feels like I’m missing out on something that so many other people have found here. As it is I find both of these albums to be beautiful pieces of folk music that are great to reading a book to. U.F.O.F. just happens to do it a lot more for me. Maybe, like Margo Price’s debut, these albums will haunt me and continue to grow in my estimation. I listen to tracks like ‘Terminal Paradise’ and can really see that happening.

Top Tracks: Cattails, Betsy, Terminal Paradise

#19 – Girl With Basket of Fruit by Xiu Xiu

This album is responsible for getting the phrase “my three-legged pig” stuck in my head for a full month. It’s such a clash of noises that, at times, feels like the initiation rites to some sort of rural cult. It’s also an album that is such a mindfuck at times that, if I am in the wrong mood, rubs me completely the wrong way. When I am in the right mood, it’s like a firecracker has been set off in my imagination that cannot help but spin off bizarre and contradictory mental images.

Top Tracks: Pumpkin Attack On Mommy and Daddy, Girl with Basket of Fruit, Normal Love

#18 – Wildcard by Miranda Lambert

I’ve been a fan of Miranda Lambert since she released ‘Kerosene’ way back when (God knows how I came across it) and a new album by her is pretty much guaranteed to end up being somewhere in my Top 20. Wildcard is another solid entry into the Miranda Lambert canon and sees her trying to redefine herself within her present rather than looking to her past. She’s been through a lot of heartache and it does continue to show here. She taps into her fears on the beautiful ‘Settling Down’ and, on other tracks, it feels like she’s getting back to the old humorous that I got to love back in the days of Revolution and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.

Top Tracks: Settling Down, Fire Escape, Mess With My Head

#17 – Pony by Orville Peck

Gay cowboy music sung by a man with a beautiful classically trained baritone that wouldn’t be out of place in Twin Peaks. I picked this album up as a bit of a curiosity of having an openly gay man sing country music – ended up with mood that has become a meme between myself and one of my co-workers. It’s an example of why it’s dangerous to start with the best track, it took me a long time before I could get to the meat of the album as ‘Dead of Night’ kept having to be played that second or third time.

Top Tracks: Dead of Night, Queen of the Rodeo, Roses Are Falling

#16 – Purple Mountains by Purple Mountains

There are times where you pick up an album as the artist died soon after releasing it and people are sad not only for the death but also because of the promise of the work recently left behind. This is how I came to listen to ‘Margaritas at the Mall’ on a summer day when I was struggling with some R code. I’m a real sucker for this kind of folk rock with Illinois style brass instruments and Purple Mountains is full of it. One day, I’ll need to investigate the back catalogue.

Top Tracks: Margaritas at the Mall, Darkness and Cold, All My Happiness Is Gone

#15 – Proto by Holly Herndon

How many albums can you say are out there by someone with a PhD into their work on the intersection of music and artificial intelligence? On her previous album Platform, Holly Herndon appeared to have a more a view that technology is coming after us, but with Proto comes her embrace as she introduces the world to “Spawn” an artificial intelligence that she’s training to sing and features across the album. It’s such an extraordinary thing to hear and, with tracks like ‘Evening Shades’ we can hear how an intelligence like this can be trained. This woman is a genius and I cannot wait to hear more from “Spawn”.

Top Tracks: Eternal, Frontier, Evening Shades

#14 – thank you, next by Ariana Grande

Whilst Sweetener may not have had much of an impact on me outside of ‘No Tears Left To Cry’, there was an immediate one with thank you, next. I am not sure if it was the internalised homophobia talking, but this because a bit of a guilty pleasure listen for me this year – despite it being one of the highest acclaimed pop albums of the year featuring the track that broke my hear the most from 2019: ‘ghostin’.

Top Tracks: ghostin, thank you, next, bloodline

#13 – All Mirrors by Angel Olsen

Back when I wrote about My Woman I talked about how I felt a bit late to the Angel Olsen support party. Well, I’m well and truly there now – even if the album cover looks like an Adele pastiche. Then again, I get how a new sound requires a new image, and All Mirrors is a definitely departure from her rockier last album (which I rediscovered in a big way earlier in the year). She’s gone and done her take on a dark lady Kate Bush album and it’s such a gorgeous mood as the colder months move in.

Top Tracks: All Mirrors, Summer, New Love Cassette

#12 – Dedicated by Carly Rae Jepsen

Carly Rae Jepsen is one of the many acts that is proof positive that it is sometimes better to not win that reality show you are on. She has written down and sung some of the best acts of feel good pop of the last few decades, hell her leftover track ‘When I’m Alone’ was what first got me interested in K-pop. Dedicated is her taking a more sophisticated take on pop which, whilst not as immediate, has been a good friend in the kitchen during my long world cooking adventures.

Top Tracks: Real Love, Now That I Found You, Julien

#11 – MAGDALENE by fka twigs

An fka twigs album always takes a while to properly settle in my brain and reveal all its gifts. I know that, a few months into 2020, I will wonder how I didn’t end up placing this album higher. So much has happened to her between this and her last album, from the breakup of her engagement to surgery – and it’s a pain you can especially hear on album finisher ‘Cellophane’. She shattered and managed to get her pieces beck together in a beautiful dark experimental album that only she knows how to make.

Top Tracks: Fallen Alien, Cellophane, Holy Terrain

Graphic Content – All-Star Superman

List Item:  Read half of the 1001 Comics You Must Read Before You Die
Progress:
66/501Title: All-Star Superman
Creator: Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely
Year: 2005-2008
Country: USA

When you have a series as long running as Superman you are going to have your fair share of reboots and re-imaginings. With All-Star Superman they managed to come up with something slick and modern whilst staying true to what the characters had become. It’s hard to imagine how we got to this point from the 1930s, but I guess that’s just how comic books evolved and matured over the years.

In this twelve part mini-series, we start with the Man of Steel saving a manned mission to the Sun from disaster which sets off a timer for his demise thanks to over-exposure to solar radiation. What follows are a number of stories that see him trying to tie up the loose ends of his life, try to find a cure and ultimately find a way to keep Earth safe after he is gone. It takes someone who is God-like and has him come face-to-face with his own mortality.

The resultant stories are able to match a nuanced look at the human experience with complex superhero storytelling and a roll call of a large number of Superman references. The Superman in this series is thoughtful and quite philosophical in his outlook when compared to what I first saw in the early issues. He has also gained frailty and a degree of fear, whilst remaining the hero that we know him to be.

If there was a story that could explain to people why Superman is a franchise worth exploring, it would be this one. I was always turned off by him being basically invincible (therefore, what’s the point), but that’s not the case with All-Star Superman. Also, this must be the best that I have seen the Superman comics look out of the different decades I have seen them – it’s going to be a bit of a whiplash to go back to the old issues.

I’ll be reading a bit more Superman before I consider this huge franchise well and truly crossed off. It’s going to be near impossible to do justice to a character that has had more resurrections than Doctor Who, but I’m going to do my best.

Note: This is going to be my last regular post of 2019. Being the end of the year, I will be doing my customary countdown of my top albums of the year. However, since it’s the end of the decade, I am also going to do a countdown of albums and films of the 2010s.

🎻♫♪ – My Ladye Nevells Booke by William Byrd

List Item: Listen to half of the 1001 Classical Works You Must Hear Before You Die
Progress:
68/501Title: My Ladye Nevells Booke
Composer: William Byrd
Nationality: English
Year:
1591

You know the phrase ‘be careful what you wish for because it may come true’? There’s a ring of truth in the piece that I listened to today, seeing how it was over three hours of keyboard music. Now look, I know that I have been complaining about the abundance of choral music when doing this list chronologically. So here I am with hour after hour of keyboards and percussion without a voice to be heard and I’m complaining again.

It’s not that I’m never happy, it’s just that 3 hour 12 minutes of music in broadly the same genre can get a bit grating after a while. When it first began I was really wowed at just how different this is to the other works that came before it. There were pieces with aggression (like ‘march before the battel’ and the rest of the ‘battel’ section) and some that sounded very similar to ‘Good King Winceslas’. This all meant that, for the first hour, I was enjoying things.

I soon began to experience fatigue and ended up having to take breaks – even though I was cooking for part of it and had this music as some background noise. This really isn’t a selection to be gone through in one sitting. Once broken up a bit, you can really appreciate the complex keyboard work – which feels like his attempts to get the vocal polyrhythms of older pieces onto an actual instrument.

It’s an ambitious collection for some patroness that it looks like we’re still not completely sure of the identity. That, with the overall feel of the music, does make this a really interesting entry on the classical list… just not for 3 hours 12 minutes.

Level One – Punch-Out!!

List Item: Play 100 of the greatest computer games
Progress: 82/100Title: Punch-Out!!
Developer: Nintendo
Original Platform: Nintendo Entertainment System
Year: 1987

Thanks to a mixture of time swallowed by making my own recipe book, the world cookery challenge and the extended campaign of Red Dead Redemption 2 there just has not been a lot of time leftover for me to get to this gaming list. Kinda aggravating really seeing how close I am getting towards finishing it off (even if games have shuffled around quite a bit since I wrote up Silent Hill 2), but I am going to try and make more time for this. Even if I still have yet to finish the Red Dead Redemption 2 story mode.

Before playing this properly, I knew of Punch-Out!! from two main sources – a minigame in WarioWare and from Little Mac being part of the Super Smash Bros roster. I figured, somewhat incorrectly that Punch-Out!! was a straight-up boxing sports game with colourful opponents and with Mario as the referee. I was happy to be proven wrong on this as that really doesn’t sound like the makings of a Top 100 game of all time.

The thing I found really cool about Punch-Out!! is that it plays like a hybrid of a boxing, puzzle and rhythm game. Each player has a particular set of quirks that you need to work out and then exploit with (sometimes precision) timing and good choice in jab. This means some characters are just plain irritating (like Don Flamenco) whereas other (like King Hippo) give such a sense of achievement when you get the trick and timing down perfectly.

This isn’t a game where you end up spending an awful lot of time on due to the limited number of opponents and the lack of depth, but it was still a interesting way to kill some hours on a Sunday afternoon whilst you wait for the appropriate time to make dinner.

World Cooking – Saint Vincent and the Grenadines

List Item: Cook something from every countryCountry: Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
Progress: 47/193

Well I found the ingredients, so I’ll be able to cook something for the nation that comes after Malawi in the M.I.A. song ‘Matangi‘ (where she lists a bunch of countries). Since Trinidad is next on that list, and statistically my next move is to Europe, I’ll be leaving her list there. Still though, it was a cool way to get inspiration for this post.

Saint Vincent and the Grenadines are a chain of islands in the south of the Caribbean sea; the Grenadines themselves the northern half of a small group of islands, the southern half being claimed by Grenada. The majority of the population live on the main north island of Saint Vincent,  which is to the south of Saint Lucia.  Given how many island nations are in this part of the world, I figured it could be helpful to give an idea of where it is in relation to other nations.

In terms of cuisine, like Saint Lucia to the north, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines makes use of what they are able to grow on the islands and catch in the surrounding seas. One of the more interesting ingredients that I see coming up in a lot of their food is breadfruit – whose name pretty much speaks for itself. The rest of the cuisine pretty much conforms to the general Caribbean tradition which is rooted in years of trading and contact with neighbouring areas as well as those of the major colonial powers.

Main: Roasted Breadfruit and Fried (Jack)fish

The national dish of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines is breadfruit and fried jackfish. Could I find jackfish? No I could not and, to be honest, if I did I can imagine that the mark-up would be something horrendous. Luckily though, I was able to order myself a few tins of breadfruit (and a tin of jackfruit for dessert) in order to make this recipe as close to the one from the nation’s own consulate.

Now, I have never had breadfruit before so I had no idea what to really expect. Fresh from the oven, they looked like calcified grapefruit slices – which is incredibly far from what they tasted like. The name comes from the fact that these are meant to have a taste not unlike bread. I kinda got that, but it reminded me more of the taro from many years ago. I’ve got more breadfruit for other Caribbean nations and will not be unhappy to cook that again.

The seasoning of the fish, as well as the sauce, was exceptional. I am not usually one for frying fish, but I think I could be a convert with this recipe. The red palm oil I used to fry the fish helped to make it aesthetically pleasing by giving it a brick-red colour – luckily this didn’t overpower the seasoning.

Like I said earlier, it’s back to Europe for the next country. Since I did Greece last time, I thought it would be a good idea to do one of the micro-nations. Therefore, if I am able to find a source of chard, I will be cooking for Monaco. If I can’t find any… well I guess it’ll be time for me to dig up something for Andorra.

1001 Songs – 1977: Part One

List Item:  Listen to the 1001 Songs You Must Hear Before You Die

God Save the Queen – Sex Pistols

This will be the batch of songs where we say goodbye to the Sex Pistols. They must be one of a select group of artists who not only have two songs listed from the same year, but also the same album. There’s no denying the level of influence that they had.

So, why this song. Well, it’s iconic for being a song that the UK music industry conspired against to prevent it from getting to number one in the singles charts. It’s really pathetic when you look back on it, especially as ‘God Save The Queen’ would now be considered pop-punk. It’s probably my favourite Sex Pistols song, but I’m not sure if that says a lot.

Trans-Europe Express – Kraftwerk

Where in the English-speaking world we were getting angry at the establishment, in Germany they were inventing a whole new genre of music. We had hints of electronic music being born from the ambient Neu! song from 1975, but here we are with something actual.

I originally listened to the album of the same name a few years ago and I have only appreciated them more and more since then. Songs like ‘Trans-Europe Express’ influenced so much of the music I love that I can only be thankful for it. It’s very simple, but it makes a statement of a new dawn breaking in music.

Sweet Gene Vincent – Ian Dury

Well, isn’t this a really strange song. There’s elements of old 1950s rock and roll here, there’s the scowl of proto-punk, then there’s some balladeering in the beginning and a strong cockney accent that comes out during the chant.

It’s a cool tribute to a rockabilly singer Gene Vincent, whereby Ian Dury mashes up his own style with that of the man he is honouring. Like a lot of interesting music, this caught be completely off-guard and is unlike any genre fusion I’ve heard before.

By This River – Brian Eno

Thanks to the ‘U Talkin U2 To Me’ podcast, I can never think of Brian Eno without Scott Aukerman referring to him as old sourpuss. Not exactly the name that comes to mind when listening to this gorgeous piece of ambient music.

This is another song where we are beginning to see the rise of the synthesizer and this explosion of different sounds to be found in music. ‘By This River’ is gentle and an interesting sign of the influence that Eno is going to have in the future as a producer.

Dum Dum Boys – Iggy Pop

I’ve heard a lot of Iggy Pop as part of the albums list, but that’s back when he was with The Stooges. In 1977, he released his first solo album and ‘Dum Dum Boys’ takes up about 20% of the run time.

This song, like the rest of the album, shows the beginnings of a new sub-genre that lasts to this day: post-punk. ‘Dum Dum Boys’ takes a lot of the punk instrumentation and slows it down to give this weighed down lament to the other members of The Stooges who have come and gone in the past.

It’s like a very rock and roll baptism where, through this song, Iggy Pop casts off his former life and starts on his next chapter… with help from David Bowie.

Com’e profondo il mare – Lucio Dalla

I, uh, don’t really know what to say about this song. I’ve read translations of the lyrics and get how this is a song about the poor situation that many Italians found themselves in during the 1970s (although, I’m not sure how much has really changed since). I’ve read about his life and his successes as a song-writer, but I’m still left with not much to say.

The song has a simple backing, where Dalla tries to fit as many lyrics as he can into each bar before slowing down for the titular repeated refrain. It’s okay as a song, but that’s about it. Not entirely sure what else there is…

Ghost Rider – Suicide

You really cannot look up this band without Google making sure you’re okay and not about to do something irreversible. I just want to tell Google that I’m fine and I just want to listen to this punk-style song about the Marvel comic book character of the same name.

I had the same issues when I listened to the album 18 months ago and still I find the music of Suicide to be such a cool synth-driven style of punk. ‘Ghost Rider’ is just this brilliant little nugget of music that makes you want to repeat it once it is over.

Orgasm Addict – Buzzcocks

After a beautiful piece of synth-punk it is back to the world of punk rock… and the results are making me cringe (not as much as the final song in this line-up makes me cringe, but I’ll be getting there soon enough).

It wouldn’t be as cringe if the moaning songs were taken out… and then I could say that I like it. Again, this just shows how much pop music has hardened as this feels like something we would now term as pop-punk.

Holidays in the Sun – Sex Pistols

‘Holidays in the Sun’ is a such a weird ode to a trip that the band made to West Berlin. It’s a good song, but why is this on the list?

By this point we’ve now heard the Sex Pistols deliver three very similar songs on this list and those placements come at the expense of other genres that aren’t represented. Then again, that’s probably because they’re the iconic Sex Pistols.

Peaches – The Stranglers

I hate this song so much. It makes me cringe so much that I find it so hard to be objective about it. How the hell is this the same band that will give us ‘Golden Brown’ in 1981.

Right, why is this song interesting? Well, it’s another entry that shows how adaptable punk music is and was already proving to be back in 1977. This time it’s a punk-reggae mix with a prominent dirty baseline and a chorus that I hate. Objectively, I get why this is on there, but personally I’d be glad to never hear this song again.

Progress: 454/1021

XL Popcorn – My Life to Live

List Item: Watch all of the “1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die”
Progress: 758/1007Title: Vivre sa vie: film en douze tableaux (My Life to Live)
Director: Jean-Luc Godard
Year: 1962
Country: France

It has been over a year since my last Godard film and I’m finally feeling ready to try him out again. Vivre sa vie is the second oldest of his eight films that appear on the 1001 list (his debut Breathless being the oldest) and is one of the many to star his muse (and first wife) Anna Karina. It’s also an 80 minute film that felt more like a two hour film.

On the surface of it, Vivre sa vie sounds like an interesting idea. A story of a woman who left her family to become an actress who resorts to prostitution to support herself, all told over the course of twelve brief vignettes. The problem is that two of them are dominated by other media (one has a prolonged clip from The Passion of Joan of Arc and the other a reading from a work by Edgar Allen Poe) and large sections are dominated by the favoured topic within French new wave: philosophy.

I look back on this and think about another French film from the 1960s about a prostitute that I actually enjoyed – Belle de JourSure different directors have their different styles, but at the core they have a lot of similarities and I just find Buñuel to be the more engaging storyteller. The best thing about Vivre sa vie is the sudden ending that seems to come from nowhere. It still has shock value some 57 years later, but after the rest of the film it’s a shame that this abruptness is a welcome relief.

Two more Godard films left and I am really starting to wrestle with the idea of getting them out of the way before I hit the final stretch. I thought, at some point, I would be able to find one of his films that I would finish off and be able to say that I liked it. I’m still holding out some hope for Pierrot le fou and Two or Three Things I Know About Her, but that hope is dwindling fast.