My 2015 favourites

HI! Hope you all had a lovely New Year, spent with friends, family, a bottle of wine, or perhaps just a comfy bed.

This is just a small post about some of my favourites throughout 2015. Film, literature, music, random little things that made me happy throughout the year. ENJOY!


 

MUSIC

I spend a lot of my time commuting, so having something good to listen to is essential for me.

My first favourite is not actually music – but what I listen to music through.

One of the few perks of working in retail are the discounts companies give to re-sellers of their products. Now, I’ve always been a huge fan of Bose, so when I was able to buy some of the headphones for a ridiculously good price, I jumped at the chance. I now listen to pretty much everything through Bose Qc25s. They have active noise cancellation technology inside them – which basically means they cancel out every piece of ambient noise around me. On top of that, the sound detail is exceptional. Worth every discounted penny I paid for them!

Here is a link to the favourite tracks I’ve listened to this year. Not all of them were released this year, but why should that matter? This was the year that I discovered how amazing Fleetwood Mac are – nothing like being 40 years late to the party.

Enjoy the eclectic mixture!

FILMS

2015 was an incredible year for cinema, and choosing a small number of highlights is a very difficult task. But here are the top 5 films of my year.

#5 SLOW WESTDir., John Maclean

A brilliantly dark-humoured western. To me it was a skewed retelling of the damsel-in-distress story – except the damsel in question was in no need of rescuing from the well-intentioned, but often inept Jay Cavendish, played superbly by Kodi Smit-McPhee. Michael Fassbender also stars, and as we’ve come to expect, is excellent, as the outlaw turned guide to Cavendish.

#4 ME AND EARL AND THE DYING GIRLDir., Robert Eggers

You would be right in thinking that cancer is hardly a topic that is suited to comedy, but in the case of Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, this couldn’t be further from the truth. This film is such an honest portrayal of how shit scary something like cancer can be – and it is hard to watch at some points. However, the darker moments make the lighter ones even more uplifting. The film is sentimental without being mawkish. It is charming without being sappy. It is funny without being cliche. It is a wonderful example of how to rightly portray adolescence on film.

#3 Mad Max: Fury RoadDir., George Miller

I really love the first two Mad Max films. The originals, with Mel Gibson before he got really weird. They’re gritty, and the production levels are so basic, and campy, and hammy, and just so great. So it was with trepidation I stepped into the theatre to see not quite a sequel, but not quite a reboot. Even with the star power of Charlize Theron and Tom Hardy, I was nervous. Turns out, this was completely unfounded. A brilliant film where you can practically smell the grease and petrol emanating from the screen. It’s a physical experience to sit through, hearing the gears grind, metal shearing apart, sand whipping into your eyes – and it is made even better by the outstanding leading role played by Theron. It would not be amiss if the film was called Imperator Furiosa, rather than Mad Max – for nearly all of the film, the male lead is mute, or speaks in grunts. Cinema got the feminist hero we were all waiting for, finally!

#2 Star Wars: The Force AwakensDir., J.J. Abrams

No spoilers. I will just say this film was exceptional. It payed homage in all the right ways to the original trilogy, whilst making me deeply invested in the new additions to the Star Wars universe.

#1 Inside Out Dir., Pete Docter, Ronnie Del Carmen

Not many films make me cry. But this one did. Perhaps the greatest Pixar film ever made, which is quite a tall order, yet I do stand beside that. Beautifully realised, it is deeply touching in all of the right ways. This film made me think long and hard about my own emotions as a child, and where they have led me as an adult. It made me think about how my actions must have negatively affected my parents – we all laugh about how parents worry about us, but it wasn’t until I saw this film I even contemplated the emotional torment I must have put them through. It’s not all emotional contemplation it provokes – like any Pixar film (except perhaps Cars 2) I was laughing continuously throughout. Having Amy Poehler, who is one of my favourite actresses certainly made me laugh all the harder. I want nothing more than for this film to win the Oscar for Best Picture. Not just as it would be groundbreaking as an animated feature has never accomplished this – but for the simple reason that it deserves to!

Special mentions: Brooklyn; Ex Machina; Samba; Still Alice


 

BOOKS

‘YES PLEASE’ – Amy Poehler

As mentioned only briefly above, I’m a big fan of Amy Poehler. Parks & Rec is one of my favourite comedy shows, and as a person, Poehler is pretty inspiring. She is a writer, performer, and has set up a Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls – an online space for women and girls to encourage, inspire, and motivate one another. Her book ‘Yes Please’ was wonderful to read. Part memoire, part advice book, part comedy sketch, it reinforced all the things I believed about Poehler to be true. She is smart, super funny, articulate, and incredibly passionate about what she does. If you need uplifting, this is the book to do it.

Collected War Memoirs – Spike Milligan

My hero, Spike Milligan wrote 7 volumes of his war memoirs, and to my shame I can’t remember which number I started off with this year. However, it doesn’t really matter. These memoirs are a beautifully funny account of one man’s dance with sanity in one of the most insane situations a person can find themselves in – a World War. The 6th and 7th volumes actually take place during peace time, as Spike shuffles around Europe, developing as a performer and finding and losing love, and ultimately, describing his tentative steps in UK show business. These final chapters were incredibly revealing about one of the greatest comics we’ll ever know.

‘Chavs: The Demonisation of The Working Class’ – Owen Jones

This was a incredibly enlightening read. A very detailed and thoughtful examination of vilification of certain social groups within the UK – in this case, the demonisation of the working class through the term ‘chav’. Whilst incredibly interesting in terms of subject matter and analysis, what was striking, was what I learned about myself through reading it. I learned how easy a trap to fall into shaming other people can be – purely out of convenience. It is incredibly simple to target a social group that is not as well off as the one you are in, and mock that. I like to think that I’m far more aware and sensitive to things like that now – and even actively try to help others. I’m glad I read this book, if only for the reason that it has helped me understand how important it is for me to be mindful of other people.


 

2015 felt up and down for me. I’m very happy in the life I’m living – I have a steady, if unfulfilling job, I have a safe home, and a loving family. One of the best parts of my year has been maintaining some great friendships, and making some new, wonderful ones.

In 2016 I’m enrolling in a journalism training scheme, and will hopefully begin a career that I can be proud of.

Fingers crossed.

J.

 

 

A Swingin’ Friday Night

This past Friday, I was lucky enough to spend an evening at The Proms watching the wonderful John Wilson Orchestra pay tribute to Frank Sinatra, a celebration of 100 years since his birth.

If you’re not familiar with The Proms, it is an 8 week long music festival held at the magnificent Royal Albert Hall in London, and over the past several years has expanded to other locations outside the capital. It celebrates many different styles of music, from classical, to light music of the 1950s, to the present day. The organisers of The Proms should be credited with the wonderful job they do of bringing together so many varied types of music under one roof. I was lucky enough to hear swing music at its finest, whilst the previous week, there was a performance dedicated to the iconic music of Ibiza. You would be hard pressed to find anywhere else in the world that would cater to the fans of Mozart, Sinatra and Pete Tong.

John Wilson is someone who I have followed and admired for some time, so an opportunity to see him was something that I jumped at. As well as the local pride stemming from his Geordie roots, he has brought back to life some of the music from my childhood that I cherish the most. As well as being raised during the Disney Renaissance, (think Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King), I also remember watching the classic MGM films of the 1930s and 40s: Singin’ In The Rain, Show Boat, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, to name but a few.

If that wasn’t enough to excite me, John Wilson brought back a singer he has collaborated with several times before to sing in the place of Sinatra – a man none other than Seth MacFarlane. Yep, that Seth MacFarlane.

So, the stage was set for what was sure to be an electrifying evening. Sure enough, I was not disappointed. The sheer scale of the venue, the Royal Albert Hall blows you away. Th huge vaulted ceiling defies the level of intimacy you feel listening to the performers and orchestra. Starting with ‘Let’s Face the Music and Dance’, a wonderful interpretation of a classic Iriving Berlin song, we were treated to other classics throughout the evening such as ‘Cheek to Cheek’, ‘Come Fly With Me’ and ‘I’ve Got You Under My Skin’.

MacFarlane was not the only vocal talent on show, vocalist Jamie Parker split the singing duties admirably during the evening, and jazz singer Claire Martin was there to duet.

If there is one thing that I could find fault with, it was that the show was so short! It flew by in an hour and a half, not including the five encores taken by John Wilson and the performers! I can assure you that my hands were stinging once they finally departed for good.

spotify:user:jdrees90:playlist:6Rcft9eoKILyIeiLlrCvpW

I hope that you have a chance to listen to some of the songs I’ll link to this piece, perhaps watch some of the videos of The John Wilson Orchestra performing, or even try and watch the entire performance. It’s available on the BBC iPlayer, so give it a watch, and enjoy an hour and a half of truly spellbinding music!

2014: My year in review

Last year I wrote a blog post very much in this vein. I remember it being one of the blogs I most enjoyed writing as it gave me the time to remember so much of the awesome music, films books and culture I devoured during the year.

My taste in pretty much everything is eclectic to say the least. I’m more than happy to have a playlist with some Taylor Swift and Beyonce mixing it up with Mastodon and Slipknot. If a film has subtitles, more the better for it, but hey we all love explosions right. Except when Michael Bay does it. Fuck you Michael Bay. In terms of literature over the past year I have read anything from the Game of Thrones novels to biographies to a study of the year 1913.

I’ve learned as I’ve grown older to try my hand at anything, as being close minded doesn’t do me any favours. I’m glad I have done so, as it’s opened up so many more worlds to me to enjoy.

ANYWAY. Diving right in.

Music

2014 was the year I went over to the dark side and started using Spotify Premium, which inspire of it heralding the death of aspiring musicians trying to make a buck or two… is AWESOME! Every day I get to listen to music I wouldn’t normally come into contact to. So here are some of my favourite songs I’ve listened to this year.

Lana Del Rey – ‘West Coast’

When LDR first exploded onto the scene, I honestly couldn’t understand the hype. Admittedly I thought she had a unique look and sound, but nothing more than that. However, upon hearing the opening toms beat their rhythm on this track I was hooked. The track couldn’t be cooler if it was a picture of James Dean, smoking a cigarette with the ‘Hefe’ filter cranked up to the max.

Sun Kil Moon – ‘Carissa’

I stumbled across the American folk trio Sun Kil Moon on a compilation of some of the best artists so far in 2014. They more than justified their inclusion on such a list with their album Benji. The song ‘Carissa’ stood out in particular for me. The sparse acoustic guitar plays out behind mournful lyrics describing the pain a family experiences after the death of the titular Carissa.

Beck – ‘Morning’

I first came across Beck in an episode of Futurama. In it he was described as ‘a musician-poet who transcends genres even as he re-invents them’. Yep, that seems about right. Since discovering him through that brilliant cartoon, I’ve learned to see Beck as equally as brilliant. Each album I listen to seems to reveal more about him as an artist, yet makes him even more inscrutable. The only common ground appears to be their excellence. On his latest outing, ‘Morning Phase’, the second track ‘Morning’ has been the song that wakes me up since I first heard it.

Mastodon – ‘The Motherload’

Mastodon are the Atlanta-based prog-metallers that have well and truly taken Metallica’s metal crown. Steadily releasing mind-bendingly complex and deep metal albums, their magnum opus was this years ‘Once More ‘Round the Sun’. It’s a rare breed of band that manages to make progressive metal accessible to a wider audience. ‘The Motherload’ is a all out assault on your ear drums. The rattling of the snare drums weave in between the thrum of the bass and the duelling guitars to create a wall of sound that knocked me down when I first heard it, and still does.

Taylor Swift – ‘Blank Space’

So here’s the deal. Until recently I saw TS as just another tween pop star from America, rolled out from Nashville. She sings well enough but I’m just not the target demographic for what she produces. Challenged by a friend to give her latest outing ‘1989’ a listen I submitted. I’m trying to be less of a judgemental person these days, and this would be a great exercise showing how much I’d grown. However, I was not expecting to find the album one of the standout releases of the year. No kidding. It is a brilliant slice of pop. Filled with the echoed synths that wouldn’t be out of place on a HAIM record, but at no point feels patronising, something that a huge deal of contemporary songs are guilty of. Now I’m no die-hard fan (YET!) but I can see that ‘Blank Space’ is Taylor taking aim and knocking down those who have built her up to be a man-devouring psycho cliche. A thoroughly brilliant, catchy track. I’m definitely a converted Swifty now (that’s what we call ourselves you know.) I am now very aware that this TS related paragraph has taken up more space than the previous entries combined. So I’ll stop now.

The War on Drugs – ‘Under the Pressure’

Driving across America, top down on the convertible, sunlight glinting off your Rayban Wayfarers. When I hear this beautiful, epic of a song, that is the image I cannot help but imagine. This song nearly tops 8 minutes, but at no point feels overdrawn. Imagine it as a more ethereal take of Bruce Springsteen. This is the hardest song and album I’ve had to think about over the past year, as it’s truly one of introspection. It represents the best of what music can do to an individual, it makes you turn inwards to feel, and understand yourself better.

Honourable mentions: Taylor Swift – ‘Style’, The 1975 – ‘Medicine’, Kendrick Lamar ‘i’, Beyoncé – ‘7/11’, Foo Fighters – ‘I Am A River’, Aphex Twin – ‘aisatsana [102]’, Jamie T – ‘Turn On The Light’, You Me At Six – ‘Room to Breathe’, Paolo Nutini – ‘Iron Sky’, Black Label Society – ‘My Dying Time’, Lana Del Rey – ‘Once Upon a Dream’, Katy Perry – ‘Dark Horse’, La Roux – ‘Cruel Sexuality’.

Dishonourable mention: Chris Brown – ‘Loyal’. Not proud of this, as the artist is a colossal ass-hat, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t like the song. Gets me so hyped at the gym. I’m sorry. I’ll go.

I could go on and on (I probably have already) about the music I experience throughout the year. This was just a brief snapshot of the highlights of my year. I’m going to pop a link to a playlist on Spotify so you can listen to them (except the Taylor Swift ones). ENJOY!

Film

2014 was a standout year for film. I honestly can’t remember a better year in which films of such a high calibre were released. For the sake of the reader, I have agonisingly narrowed my best of list down to four choices.

The Grand Budapest Hotel – Wes Anderson

This is taking the number one spot. I couldn’t not have it as my top film of 2014. I walked out of the cinema desperate to see it again. It is a enthralling blend of the comic and the tragic, all shot in Wes Anderson’s iconic style – the seemingly never ending tracking shots through long corridors, or across the alpine landscapes of the fictional country Zubrowka. One of the greatest scenes of the film involves a chase down a bobsleigh run. Not only does Ralph Fiennes put in a star turn as the joyous M. Gustave, as do many of the other stars dotted throughout this wonderful picture, Christopher Walken especially. It is unconventional, but therein lies it’s charm. Time and again you will watch it and time and again you will discover more ways in which to love it.

The Lego Movie – Phil Lord, Christopher Miller

Everything is awesome! And everything WAS awesome in this film. When I first saw this film was in development, I thought it was the death of cinema. Finally, even cherished childhood toys, the fountain of so much creativity was now up for sale to the highest paying studio, ready to be packaged up and thrown at cinema goers for a cheap, cynical buck. How wrong I was. It is a sublime blend of slapstick, clever word-play and sheer childlike happiness. However there lies a deeper message about how creativity should not be stifled by mass consumerism. ‘YEAH RIGHT, IT’S ONLY ABOUT SODDING LEGO’ I hear you cry. Just watch it, and you’ll see the message. If not, hey, just enjoy it for the laughs, and there are plenty of those to keep you going!

Nightcrawler – Dan Gilroy

While 2014 has been the year of the McConaissance, and rightly so, there has been another actor who for me has displayed some serious acting chops I’ve never seen before. I’m referring to Jake Gyllenhaal and in particular his performance in the deeply disturbing Nightcrawler. I’ve always viewed him as a good actor, however in this performance he does what I feel makes a good actor great. He made me forget I was watching him. For the time I spent in the cinema I was transfixed by the odious, slimy yet completely charming man, Lou Bloom. The film explores the darker side of what goes into getting our news, a swipe at the news system that feeds our desires to see the sordid, the depraved and violent. Chilling to watch, but to engrossing to turn away. Gyllenhaal deserves the Oscar, with no reservations.

Guardians of the Galaxy – James Gunn

Seeing the trailer for this I exclaimed “huh?”. Then I sighed, seeing that after milking Iron Man et al for all they were worth, we were now going to be treated to the back catalogue of Marvel. But, like the Lego Movie above, I was proved very wrong. Whilst the bigger franchises involving already well known characters, GotG is allowed to express itself in a much fuller sense, as frankly, I’d never heard of Star Lord until the opening scene, and I’d venture not a great many other people had either. It has been compared to Star Wars, and whilst not entirely a fantastic analogy, it does have the feel of a space epic that could go much further if given the right director and support. Not tied down to conventional planets, I’m looking at you, Earth, there is a sense of fun and freedom that lets these guys do what they want how they want. Chris Pratt, usually seen being hilarious on Parks & Recreation is the ideal lead. Witty, likeable but not the conventional hero. He is, let’s face it, a bit of a douche sometimes. Combined with arguably the best soundtrack I’ve ever heard, it all makes a non-stop joy ride from start to finish.

Literature

I’ve been ashamedly lax during 2014 when it came to reading. My newly discovered Spotify meant that my time was unfairly devoted to music. Not sorry though, see above for the fantastic education it gave me!

When I did get the chance my reading was varied any immersive. Here’s a look at some of the pages I turned in 2014

A Song of Ice and Fire – A Game of Thrones, A Clash of Kings, A Storm of Swords, George R. R. Martin

Like a vast number of others, I came across this series from the TV series (no need to say how good it is, everyone knows by now). I was really taken how engrossed I became so quickly with these novels. Not since I read War and Peace had I felt like that. Now I’m not comparing those novels in terms of quality, as in my option W&P is the greatest novel ever written. However in terms of the desire to read as much as humanly possible, as quickly as possible, my reaction was the same. My reading of this saga is currently is on hiatus. I enjoy watching the TV series for the suspense I feel every episode. I feel that by reading the books ahead of the series I would ruin some of the great moments I’ve experienced. The benefit of this is by going through the books, I get to enjoy just how more richly the text illustrates George R. R. Martin’s vision of Westeros. I can’t understate how much I am looking forward to picking up these books again.

For Whom the Bell Tolls – Ernest Hemingway

A harrowing, honest and truly stark picture of modern warfare. Set in Spain during the Spanish Civil War, Hemingway draws on his own experience of that conflict to guide us through one man’s struggle with the reality he is part of. The book is a juxtaposition of the beauty of nature and the cold mechanisation of modern war. As Hemingway writes, you can almost smell the pinewood forests, feel the wind blow through your hair, tread the rocky ground underfoot. You also hear the click of the metal bolt of a rifle, the whistle of the round cutting through the air, man being rent apart my explosions. This was a tough read for the burden it places on the reader. Hemingway finds a way of writing as if you were the only person his book was intended for. You are force to confront the grotesque position that war puts men into. Yet in it’s darkest pages, there is still beauty to be found, however hard that is to imagine.

1913: The Year Before the Storm –  Florian Illies

In the centenary year of the beginning of The First World War, hundreds, if not thousands of books were newly published documenting every aspect of one of the defining conflicts of human history. However, a fascinating, and perhaps under-looked topic is the years preceding the conflict. It is a tragedy that the youth of the early 20th century were sacrificed across the battlefields of France, Belgium, Russia and further afield. This book takes a look at the richness of cultural achievement that was going on, right up until the beginning of the war. Freud and Jung were battling over the better method of psycho-analysis. Future dictators of the right and left in the form of Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin lived within a few miles of one another in Vienna. Artists sought to redefine what art could achieve in the form of Cubism, one of the boldest artistic movements of the 20th century, at least in terms of the schools it preceded. This book is phenomenal for many reasons, if anything, it shows the tragedy of the progress, the wonder and inspiration that the Great War so tragically curtailed.

Well. That’s me done for now. I hope you enjoyed only a small part of the journey I went through this past year. I want to try blogging a bit more in 2015 as it occurred to me that it’s one of the positive outlets I have for expressing myself, short of twitter rants!

Here’s hoping we all have a wonderful 2015! 🙂

J

2013: My review.

I’ve quite enjoyed 2013. On a personal level mind you, as a member of the human race, it’s left me even more annoyed, disheartened, pissed off and ready to simply stop breathing out of sheer frustration than 2012 did. BUT this is New Year’s Eve, and a time for celebration, making promises you never intend to keep and looking to the future. Basically, you are getting into a relationship with 2014. You say you’ll stay (or get into) shape, embrace life more and do all the things on your bucket list, but two weeks in you’re bloated from too much festive food, cursing the man who invented sambuca, and suffering from the early stages of gout.

Here is my run down of what has been great for me in 2012, what has sucked, what music has blown my mind hole and other tidbits that have left an impression on me this year.

The best thing to happen to me this year was my trip to South-East Asia. Travelling with my BFF, Peter, we started off in Bangkok (a God-awful city) and pretty much when where we wanted for the following 6 weeks. It was an eye-opening experience, not only for the stunning sights and sounds, but for the disparity in how other human beings live their life. Obviously I understand how gut-wrenchingly unfair the world is, but that doesn’t make seeing deformed people beg on the streets, or the sexual exploitation of women any easier. In spite of this, what struck me most of all is how even in awful situations, the kindness of other human beings shone through. A homeless Cambodian girl and her brothers and sisters giving me jewellery and toys woven out of grass and plastic straws was one of the most touching experiences of my life.

My grass grasshopper

My grass grasshopper

I met some of the most wonderful people I’ve ever met: Janelle, Emily, James, Ralf, Finja and Corinne to name but a few! They made my experiences better than I thought possible.

LETS TALK SOME MUSIC!

This was a bloody fantastic year for music. 2012 fell a bit flat for me. No new bands really captured my imagination, and the festival circuit. However this year I discovered a lot of new bands, giving me hope that poplar music isn’t quite ready to evolve into some screaming One Direction/Beiber hybrid, farting out Simon Cowell penned nonsense for the remainder of my life.

London Grammar, HAIM, The 1975, Disclosure, A$AP Rocky to name a small number of artists, have really impressed me this year. I’m aware that a number of these artists have been going for many years, but they’re in this list because this is the year they ‘made it big.’ The 1975 are a band that I’m most pleased to see getting wide recognition and acclaim. I’ve followed them for a number of years, making me one of those wankers who proudly cry “I KNEW ABOUT THEM FIRST!”. You know what, it felt good and I don’t care! They produced a brilliant debut album after teasing us for a year with 4 EPs.

A band that similarly to The 1975 managed to write a self-titled album full of brilliant, 1980s twinged pop songs was HAIM. For me their debut, ‘Days Are Gone’ was the album of the year.

Two bands that have a Bowie-esque skill in reinvention are Arctic Monkeys and Foals. Arctics continue to become even more massive than they were the previous year, with ‘AM’, Alex Turner is continuing to cement his position as one of the songwriters of his generation.

Foals’ third album ‘Holy Fire’ was a stark departure from their previous work. After their first math-rock oriented album came ‘Total Life Forever’, a sombre and atmospheric work that grows on you with each listen. If ‘TLF’ was Foals’ smoking quietly in front of the house, then ‘Holy Fire’ was them kicking the front door in. ‘Inhaler’ was one of the standout tracks of the year.

London Grammar produced a beautifully minimalist album ‘If You Wait’. Guitars reminiscent of The XX, only more cheerful, blend perfectly with Hannah Reid’s haunting vocals. This is one album I’m going to have on repeat for much of 2014.

Special mention to Mastodon. They’ve been around since the early 00s, but I only discovered them this year. A truly outstanding metal band, I eagerly await their new album in 2014.

TELLYBOX

Who doesn’t love Idris Elba? And I haven’t seen him in The Wire (OK I HAVEN’T SEEN THE WIRE LET’S MOVE ON). One of the best characters on TV at the moment is DI John Luther. Luther has managed not to descend into sillyness, as many BBC crime shows seem to do (I’m looking at YOU Spooks), hopefully the gritty realism can remain for many years to come, just so we can see Ruth Wilson portray the completely brilliant, if slightly sociopathic Alice Morgan.

The BBC continue to impress me (as much as they disappoint me). The White Queen was a delightful surprise for a history nerd like myself. I’d grown accustomed to the often hammy, poorly written period dramas the BBC were once so good at, and didn’t expect much. BUT, I was very much impressed. The story din’t stray into cliche, but at least to me, tried its best to portray the myriad intrigues and deceptions of 15th century England. Bloody loved it!

Breaking Bad. Don’t really need to say much. It’s one of the best TV shows I’ve ever had the pleasure to watch. Vince Gilligan and Bryan Cranston deserve the highest praise for not only creating a character with such depth, but also how they developed him over the course of 5 seasons. Exceptional. Watch it. Also, Aaron Paul is just awesome, BITCH!

Finally, The Newsroom, Aaron Sorkin has the ability to create the type of world I yearn to belong in. I don’t care if his TV panders to the left, surely it’s better than pandering to the right, the same political leaning that is the reason that gay people can’t get married, stem cells cannot be used, and allows Rush Limbaugh a platform. For fans of the West Wing, this is the TV they have been waiting for.

So that’s my round up, there are so many great things that have happened this year I’d need a book to catalogue all of them. Needless to say there have been bad times, but I have great friends and a great family so FUCK YOU BAD THINGS.

In 2014 I’d like to see less of: Justin Beiber, One Direction, The X Factor, the Conservative party, Richard Dawkins being racist, less TOWIE (BUT MORE MADE IN CHELSEA) and on a serious note, I want to see the crisis in Syria end. It’s heartbreaking and something CAN be done, but just isn’t. Go to Save the Children to see how you can help. (Little speech over.)

Thank you to everyone who read my blog in 2013, even though in the past month I’ve neglected it so..but! I’m going to blame that on finally getting a proper job, with a salary and EVERYTHING!!

Have a great New Year!

Ciao!

Bed time songs.

Everyone likes a bit of chill out music at the end of the day. I am super cool, therefore let me share some that shuffle has kindly thrown into my lap, and now into your face holes. Enjoy!

I saw this song live a few years ago. Bombay Bicycle Club are a fantastic band, but the album version of this song doesn’t really do justice to how wonderful it sounds live, but it will have to do! The very talented Lucy Rose adds her vocals to this track.

I first came across Lianne La Havas at the same gig I saw Bombay Bicycle Club at. My friend was probably more excited to see her than the main act. His praise was well deserved as I think that La Havas is one of the best female acts at the minute. This is a beautiful track, with an equally beautiful video to match.

So many people have gotten into Metallica because of this song. That isn’t really a bad thing. I love their early, pure thrash metal so much. It’s genre defining, and perfect sonically. But, I don’t mind a sing a long either. It took a great deal of bravery for the band to go in this direction, but The Black Album, within which this track features, is a record that will last for decades, if not centuries to come.

Here is a live version they recorded in 1999. One of their best live performances, done especially for their live album ‘S&M’ (that stands for Symphony and Metallica, you sickos). Having the power, but delicacy of an orchestral backing really adds so much to this song, and its meaning.

 

Running songs

 

I go to the gym around 4 times a week, so you could say it’s a prominent part of my life. I thought I’d share some of the songs that I like to run to. I’m not really into listening to EDM when I run, so there won’t be any songs you’d find on an Ibiza compilation album. I’m more of an angry guitars, run fast BITCH! kind of person.

This song has such a great chugging tempo, it’s quite useful to maintain a good pace with this song playing. Also, it’s just freaking bad ass.

This song was originally recored by hardcore punk band, Discharge, but the version I listen to was the Metallica cover, from their 1998 album ‘Garage Inc.’

This is probably my favourite Skrillex song. I know everyone hates him now, but I really like this song. Reminds me of when I was 19 and he was only being played in these crazy little dub step clubs in Manchester.

 

Song of the Day

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Cliff Burton, 1985

I’m in a Metallica mood today. In a week, on the 27th of September, it will be the 27th anniversary of the death of Cliff Burton, bass guitarist of Metallica. He was technically not the first bassist for the band. During the first year of the band, that duty was filled by Ron McGovney, who left in 1983 due to clashes with other band members. However, he was the bassist for Metallica’s debut album Kill ‘Em All, released in 1983. A brilliant bassist, he was known for his innovation and musical virtuosity. He utilised the wah-wah pedal and brought soloing on the bass to the fore. Songs such as ‘Anaesthesia (Pulling Teeth)‘, ‘The Call of Ktulu‘ and ‘Orion‘ are standout examples of how much he wanted to push the bass guitar within the genre of thrash metal.

Tragically his life was cut short. He was killed in a bus crash in Sweden in 1986, during the tour for Metallica’s, and thrash metal’s magnum opus – ‘Master of Puppets’. ‘…And Justice For All’, Metallica’s fourth album, and their first without Cliff, a song was written, compiled from old demos Cliff had made. It was entitled ‘To Live Is To Die”, and it was the band’s tribute to their friend.

I was listening to this song today, and it always strikes me as one of the saddest and most personal songs the band has ever released. The opening and closing of the song has an aggressive sound, but in the middle section, there is a slower tempo, over which Kirk Hammett plays a haunting solo.

If you’re not into the heavier part, listen from 4.28. Hope you enjoy it.