Albums Of The Year 2015

This year, I bought 91 albums. I heard way more than that but those 91 were the ones I chose to invest in, to own.

So, it’s with great sadness that I had to take 51 outside and quietly push them off the cliff of NO REMEMBRANCE.

If an album appears below, it’s a winner. It made the cut. *phew*

Blanck Mass - Dumb Flesh

40. Blanck Mass – Dumb Flesh

Glorious walls of pulsating, wet, thundering noise.

ASC - Imagine the Future

39. ASC – Imagine the Future

The mantras enfold you, as do the hypnorhythms.

Kid Wave - Wonderlust

38. Kid Wave – Wonderlust

Far more straight ’80s indie than the shoegaze they’re tagged with, glory in Lea Emmery’s marvellously disdainful crooning.

Colder - Many Colours

37. Colder – Many Colours

Slightly, er, warmer than previous Colder, there are still many stark moments of beauty and lovely Frenchitude here.

Action Bronson - Mr. Wonderful

36. Action Bronson – Mr. Wonderful

I played Brand New Car to a goth mate of mine in the car. She nearly cried. What higher recommendation can I sling your way. Hip hop with not so much a swagger as a burp.

Container - LP

35. Container – LP

Look, you either love Container’s noise or you don’t. If you haven’t heard it, it’s a bit like throwing a load of coins in a clothes dryer and then sticking your head in till you die. Lovely.

Fort Romeau - Insides

34. Fort Romeau – Insides

Deceptively accessible, there’s some lovely fuckery going on in the background of this album. Meandering electronica in the best possible sense of that.

Counterparts - Tragedy Will Find Us

33. Counterparts – Tragedy Will Find Us

Stocked with riffs, breakdowns and the inevitable muttering slightly off-mic, if you like your hardcore spare and raw, buy this.

Shunkan - The Pink Noise

32. Shunkan – The Pink Noise

Pure, fresh indiepop. But also with slower tracks that drift into proper post-pinkness. Er… post-punkness.

Eternal Summers - Gold and Stone

31. Eternal Summers – Gold and Stone

Chiming guitars, floaty vocals… yes! INDIE SUMMER DREAMPOP MAGIC IN A BOTTLE!

yup!

Bansheebeat - Lumine

30. Bansheebeat – Lumine

Look, no matter what people tag this, I’m NOT gonna call it ‘sputnikcore’ cos that’s silly. What it sounds like is more like the rambling, beautiful game music that comes on the pause screen when you’re out of the room but when you come back it stops. And you never hear it again.

Hanne Kolstø - While We Still Have Light

29. Hanne Kolstø – While We Still Have Light

The sound of an assured powerful singer-songwriter finding the perfect arrangements for her work. Just great songs.

Infinity Girl - Harm

28. Infinity Girl – Harm

Yes, more nugaze but I’m not gonna complain if it’s all as catchy, poppy and wonderfully swoony as Infinity Girl. Got to see these live.

Goodbye Tomorrow - A Journey Through The Mind Of A Non Believer

27. Goodbye Tomorrow – A Journey Through The Mind Of A Non Believer

First time I heard GT’s ‘Jay Z,’ I knew it’d be a hit. But I had no idea who Goodbye Tomorrow are. I still don’t but, eh, does it matter? Solid hip hop. Mmm…

Nai Harvest - Hairball

26. Nai Harvest – Hairball

There’s sooo much energy on this album, it’s a sprawling, gunky mess of a record in all the best ways. Sometimes sounding like Dinosaur Jr., sometimes like someone raised Husker Du on J-pop, it’s an essential pop punk record.

Öxxö Xööx - Nämïdäë

25. Öxxö Xööx – Nämïdäë

One of two albums in this list that features the throbbing, itching brain of Gautier Serre, this record is doom incarnate, planets exploding, a furious whale flying through the sky, hailstones made out of human skulls. Drink it in.

A Place to Bury Strangers - Transfixiation

24. A Place to Bury Strangers – Transfixiation

Straining, violent with obvious echoes of both Joy Division and early New Order. But standout track ‘Straight’ shows they have their own, beautifully arrogant thing going on. The energy of this record is perfect at 4am when you’re driving around like a fat, ugly Ryan Gosling.

Sannhet - Revisionist

23. Sannhet – Revisionist

Where Sannhet > Deafheaven and the others in their metalgaze cohort is the ferociousness of the prog elements of what they do. I don’t know how this will, er, progress. At the moment, one has to strain to hear it. Will they go cleaner and progger or noisier and less twiddly. That whole debate is in this album.

Reso - Ricochet

22. Reso – Ricochet

A beautiful … what album? DnB? Some bits… Electronica… some bits? Trancey floatiness… yessss…. Hell, there’s some gritty shit going on here too and some absolutely mental manipulation that, a few years ago, only people like Venetian Snares and Igorrr were doing. The genius of this album, the genius of Reso is the sheer musicality of it all. Everything is subsumed by the song, the track. Everything serves the mood. Thus… a great album with it’s own atmosphere absolutely nailed in place.

And So I Watch You From Afar - Heirs

21. And So I Watch You From Afar – Heirs

When it comes to my twiddly postrock / mathjammms, I’ve always had a soft spot for ASIWYFA. The thing is, they have this sense of pure fucking joy that so few others do. Post rock can be such a dour, beardy, chinrubbing genre. ASIWYFA make it sing like qawwali, they tap into some kind of spiritual shit. On ‘Heirs,’ they can throw off the hyper pop of ‘Fucking Lifer’ and then follow it with ‘A Beacon…’ and it all works. It shouldn’t but it does. They should be ambassadors for their entire fucking genre.

Susanne Sundfør - Ten Love Songs

20. Susanne Sundför – Ten Love Songs

The minute I heard ‘Delirious,’ I was hooked. I did wonder why it had the THX intro and then it all made sense: this was the soundtrack to a future cyberpunk version of James Bond. Unashamedly melodramatic from the machine-gun snare fills to the the lyrical allusions to homicidal mayhem.

And ‘Delirious’ is only one of the delicious offerings Sundför offers up, all wrapped in her icy katana of a voice. This album just floats on her voice, soaring over so many desperate ’80s wannabes by being actually better than the ’80s were. Buy this if you love synth opera. She really, really needs to do a cover of ‘Vienna’….

Everything Everything - Get To Heaven

19. Everything Everything – Get To Heaven

The follow up to ‘Arc’ is a much poppier affair overall but it still doesn’t lack EE’s trademark  squawks, shrieks and reallyfastbitswhereyou’renotquitesurewhatthey’resingingGIBBONwaitdidhesaygibbon?

That’s the joy of Everything Everything. They are the reincarnation of XTC, coming steaming in with straight-ahead pop (‘Making Plans’ / ‘MY KZ’) and then wandering off into not prog but not pop, a twinkly hinterland where anything goes as long as it’s inventive and poppy.

Public Service Broadcasting - The Race For Space

18. Public Service Broadcasting – The Race For Space

I usually loathe the ‘spoken samples over beats’ genre as it all seems very lazy and 1990 and haven’t we all done that. But PSB marry their sampling with such sublime and appropriate soundtracks that all is forgiven. This album is an actual soundtrack. If you give it time and space (heh), it will expand around you and you’ll feel like you just watched ‘The Right Stuff.’

Standout track is ‘Yuri Gagarin’ because it’s the kind of soultastic workout that At The Drive In could have kicked out in their prime. I need to dance to this in a club. I probably never will just as I’ll never set foot on the moon.

guilty

17. Guilty Simpson – Detroit’s Son

Way, way overlooked which I don’t get at all; this album has such a cinematic feel. Every track is proper, finished, not just a scratchpad of will-this-do trap sounds thrown over whatever (you know what I’m talking about).

But when it comes down to it, don’t judge this record on all that, judge it on the lyrics that cut you, the beats that bump you and the whole aesthetic which is as idgaf as any hardcore band. That’s why I love it.

Miaoux Miaoux - School Of Velocity

16. Miaoux Miaoux – School Of Velocity

The best soundtrack for an AU ever: float through cityscapes patrolled by flying cars and disturbed by the occasional mortar blast. Though everything seems so shiny and beautiful and perfect, we know from the lyrics that life isn’t that simple.

It’s this bittersweet groove that Miaoux Miaoux completely, utterly rules on ‘School Of Velocity.’ The crystalline synths combined with the wheezing, fluttering percussion and then the voice riding over it all, indecisive and argumentative; it all works together.

Beliefs - Leaper

15. Beliefs – Leaper

Unashamed nugaze, a band that formed over love of everything MBV and shimmery, Beliefs have still managed to make a surprising album. Granted, it is shoegaze but it also reaches and explores, sometimes slipping into more Cocteaus, 4AD dream pop territory.

Maruta - Remain Dystopian

14. Maruta – Remain Dystopian

If, by now, you don’t like grindcore, I doubt this album will change your mind. But if you’re open-minded to all music, think there’s space for all moods and feelings, give this a listen. I think you’ll appreciate the energy. And you’re not gonna get bored since most of the songs are around one minute long.

It’s this compression of time which marks Maruta out for me. In those sixty or so seconds, they cover so much fucking ground. If you took one of these tracks and timestretched it to six minutes, you’d probably have the greatest postrock track ever. The breaks and fills, the guitar riffs, everything is so on point.

When I listen to this album, I feel totally alive afterwards, like I need to go out and punch a bridge or something. It’s lovely.

Corpo-Mente - Corpo-Mente

13. Corpo-Mente – Corpo-Mente

This is the other album touched by Gauiter Serre. Corpo-Mente is, um, electronic operatic metal. I’m sure someone else will come up with a snappier genre tag (they’re certainly not trip-hop!).

This is one of my favourite albums because it is unlike anything I’ve heard in 2015. It’s soundscapes of classical instruments (Benjamin Violet)  over which the beautiful voice of Laure Le Prunenec rises and falls, threnodies twisting over the gnarled, dead trees.

Basically, if you loved the alien opera singer in ‘The Fifth Element,’ I think this’ll be right up your alley.

Tame Impala - Currents

12. Tame Impala – Currents

A restrained erection of an album, ‘Currents’ is all throb, throb, c’mon, c’mon. Seeing where Parker started off, in psych territory, it’s bewildering to find him so masterful in this neosoul landscape. Yet, he is.

Standout track, ‘Cause I’m A Man’ is humpingly slow and wonderfully, wobblingly obese. That bassline could suffocate you. And those creamy synths… oh my! It’s a way more organic funk than that of Daft Punk, more meaty and less cheesy.

It’s also a testament to Parker’s sheer pop skills that he throws away one of the kookiest tracks (‘Disciples’) after a mere 1.48. Every time it finishes, I’m like ‘WHAT?? WHERE’S THE REST, MOTHERFUCKER???’

 

Shinobu - 10 Thermidor

11. Shinobu – 10 Thermidor

And then skittering in the door come Shinobu, making every old Pavement fan’s eyes moisten and even a few Promise Ring fans well up. And, yes, there’s obviously some Weezer in there too, how could there not be?

But around their influences, they’ve built their own house with their own colours and a pretty cool doormat. The songs they sing are more accessibly personal than Pavement, less sarcastic than Weezer and more remorsefully realistic than The Promise Ring.

It’s like they know all that stuff, they know we know it all too. So, let’s take that shit as read and see where we can go that’s new, that’s now and that is possibly way weirder.

I like that. I’m going with them.

Soko - My Dreams Dictate My Reality

10. Soko – My Dreams Dictate My Reality

I knew zilch about Soko so I had to google her – apparently she is foremost an actress and only started singing while in a film. Well, if this album is by a part-time musician, maybe we need to put some of the people in the charts on three-day-weeks.

Soko’s voice is as versatile as her songwriting and she covers a broad range with both here.  ‘Who Wears The Pants?’ is the track I play to other Soko newbies because it’s so defiant, post-punk and in your face. But then you have a song like Monster Love which is just beautiful and quiet and like a lost Cure b-side from 1980.

Speaking of which… It is a very ’80s post-punk / protogoth Cure-ish album. But that’s no bad thing because Soko’s lyrics don’t pretend to be lost in time. She’s now even as she’s then. So we get this wild mix that’s more like Siouxsie and then that’s weird because, of course, Bob worked with her too… argh, ’80s AU manifesting… eject…

BUT WAIT – here’s ‘Keaton’s Song’ where she sounds completely different and like Hello Saferide and utterly vulnerable. Guess we can’t just pigeonhole her neatly after all, eh?

Menace Beach - Ratworld

9. Menace Beach – Ratworld

DISCLOSURE – I am biased because the bassist from this band is a mate of mine and I know a couple of the other members. That being said, if I didn’t like the album, I would have left it off the list because I’m horrible like that, ask anyone.

Ratworld is  a beefy, sinewy indie album. I wouldn’t call it indie rock but it’s way too alt to be indiepop. It’s in its own little sphere. Even though they sound nothing alike, this album most reminds of McClusky in that it has its own little world and seems quite content to flick Vs at the other kids in bands.

My fave track is ‘Tennis Court’ cos it has all my fave bits in it: stops and starts, disjointed riffery, floaty girl vocals, feedback and a slider bass bit. Yaaay! I’d say start here if you’ve never heard the band before as it’s very accessible.

Then you have the slow burn of ‘Blue Eye’ which is all tender, sparkly build-up and then lovely nasty guitar comes in. It’s all a bit Loop. OR IS IT? (it is)

It’s very hard for me to genre-ise MB because, frankly, they’re all over the shop. There are elements of psych, shoegaze, prog and even post rock going on but it’s all syncretically eclectic, with biscuits, even.

Widowspeak - All Yours

8. Widowspeak – All Yours

So, I bought this album, stuck it on and… from the opening beats of ‘All Yours’ and Molly Hamilton’s vocal arpeggio, I was hooked.

This duo is lush beyond lushness, dreamy isn’t even coming close. Everything on this album from the songs to the reverb tails seems tailored to seduce you into the pillow talk universe of Widowspeak.

Even when the tempo rises, like on ‘Borrowed World,’ the feel is still intimate. This isn’t stadium rock. It’s as shyly tiny as The Cure’s ‘Close To Me.’ I love that Widowspeak have looked at the album as a whole, as a feeling and have made sure that the groove, the dreams carry on from song to song. Bizarrely, this reminds me of the Tame Impala album, not at all for timbres and themes but for the strict preservation of aesthetic.

Obviously, a huge part of this is Molly Hamilton’s effortless vocals. She is languid and lonesome, she is winsome and coquettish. She is wherever the song takes her; the perfect unreliable narrator.

More than anything, Widowspeak have delivered an album of songs that are way more than reverb and effects. These are songs that will be treasured and sung by others, songs to be covered.

 

Soak - Before We Forgot How To Dream

7. Soak – Before We Forgot How To Dream

Bridie Monds-Watson has a simply stunning voice and she’s an adept, powerful songwriter too. Not bad at 19 and it’s not like she’s gonna get any worse, is it?

The first thing I heard by Soak was ‘Blud’ and it was one of those moments where a song burns into you. It could be the lyrics, could be the chords – fuck knows what it was. But I do remember having to pull the car over as it had upset me. The good kind of upset where you know you have to think about shit you’ve been running from for months. Maybe years.

So, I was a little apprehensive when I got this album. What if that one song was it? What if the rest were merely okay, without the cruel power of ‘Blud?’ Well, my fears were foolish. ‘Before We Forgot How To Dream’ is a jewel of a debut album. Yes, you have the slow, brooders like ‘Blud’ and ‘B a noBody’ but you also have upbeat, less-introspective tracks like ‘Garden.’

I’m jealous of Monds-Watson’s talents, I’m particularly jealous of her voice. If I look back at the songs I was writing when I was 19… well, I’m glad there isn’t an album of them, put it that way.

I’m looking forward to where she goes from here. She couldn’t have requested a better start.

 

Jakub Zytecki - Wishful Lotus Proof

6. Jakub Zytecki – Wishful Lotus Proof

A huge album! Covering a lot of ground from heavy djent riffing to far more flowing, free jazz forms. Take the track ‘Majin,’ the intro and riff are pure, lovely metal. You need to bang your head, to punch stuff. The energy is all up in your chest and it needs to come out.

Then the very next track, Eywa O.F.F. is clean and sparkling, the notes like cascades of water over the top of a waterfall, both measured and rushing under Zytecki’s expert hands.  A lot of people would assume these tracks were from different bands, let alone different albums. But then, around halfway, the heavy solo kicks in and we’re definitely rocking now. This is flowing, unashamed prog. The twists and turns, the cascades and hinted modalities are simply stunning. If I try to listen as a musician, I get overwhelmed, I cannot process it all. But that’s listening and Zytecki is actually playing this mad shit!

If I had to say one track to listen to (which is ridiculous with an album as varied as this), it would be ‘Satya’s Diary.’ The intro sets the scene: dark and moody but then the track proper starts and it opens out, folds back leaves of space. The atmosphere morphs to one that is simultaneously open and airy and dense and scary. The long, sustained keyboard note (not quite ostinato but getting there) contrast with both the guitar and guttural vocals.

This whole album is a fucking rush, it makes me want to make crazy videos for it, full of massive spaceships and suns going supernova. Honestly, if this isn’t the soundtrack album for some mad future space opera, there is no justice!

 

Band Of Gold - Band of Gold

5. Band Of Gold – Band of Gold

Nina Mortvedt helms this album which is such a curiosity that I’m still not quite sure what to make of it. The songs are classic, catchy, they remind me of the best of The Carpenters or Abba. But then the arrangements and production call to mind Fleetwood Mac or even Al Stewart or sometimes Hall & Oates or Prince and I’m so lost in time(s) that I don’t where now is.

In the end, you have to trust the artist and let go. Just sit back, listen to Mortvedt’s pristine vocals and the similarly magical arrangements weave through the air around you and see if your world doesn’t shine a little more brightly.

There’s only one band this album reminds me of: Komeda. At their height, they could switch as effortlessly between genres and times without sounding forces, just as Band Of Gold do. Don’t get me wrong, you won’t find any metal on here or any drill’n’bass. It’s all very dreamy and wafty and adult and complex without being prog. But the songs themselves are varied and the production seeks to support that but also find some kind of unity throughout.

And it works. It never fails to hook you. At its best, on tracks like ‘Surface Me,’ it surpasses its obvious antecedents and makes something new but still classic.

Title Fight - Hyperview

4. Title Fight – Hyperview

I saw Title Fight live in 2013, they were touring their last album then, Floral Green and I loved it’s Fugazi-esque sound. (In fact, it made my Best Of 2012, look here!)

I was surprised when I first heard Hyperview. Where Floral Green had still been definitely hardcore in its vocals, Hyperview features the most indie-ish vocals they’ve delivered (so far). But you know what? I like it when bands I love change and take chances. And If I had to pick a top nugaze / shoegaze album for 2015, Title Fight would win because they have the songs as well as the trems, flangers and huge sonic cathedrals of sound.

Royal Headache - High

3. Royal Headache – High

These are labelled garage cos they’re Aussies but, over here, they’d go down a fucking storm at Indietracks. Tracks like ‘Another World’ are pure, genius Buzzcocks without being a carbon copy: it’s the energy they have, the rawness.

But more than that, Royal Headache’s singer Shogun knows how to be vulnerable. When he holds back, it’s magical. And then, when he goes for it, the passion is real, the passion is infectious and makes your heart pound.

This is the best indie(pop) record this year and I think it’s a fucking tragedy that more indie fans won’t hear it than will. This record has it all, soul, dreams, dancing, love, heartbreak. What more do you want? What more could you take?

ornage

2. L’Orange & Kool Keith – Time? Astonishing!

Time travel is real. How do I know? I have this album, right here in front of me and it’s full of tales of the chasms of time, the betrayals of the seconds by his majesty Kool Keith.

This is a fucking wonderful album.

Producer L’Orange reminds me most of Prince Paul at his De La height. The cuts he picks, the way he sews them up and makes the new, it’s a magic trick, it’s a miracle. Remember when you worked out how many loops made up ‘Eye Know?’ You’ll be doing that with this album, seriously. The ripping snares, those low, low kicks… it’s all so sweet and slow and in the slot. Perfectly.

Then, you have Kool Keith taking all that and being inspired by it, pure just going off on jaunts that are as wild as anything old Dr. Oct did but not so showy, way more assured.

If you’ve only got time to listen to one track, check out ‘Dr. Bipolar.’ It just fucking rocks along on that kick and gated, shitty snare. That tom fill is wrecked but totally fits. Then that cool guitar riff with kooler Keith sliding over it. WHAT ELSE DO YOU NEED?

If you’ve ever liked any hip hop ever, just buy this record. You need to. You have to.

Andrew Combs - All These Dreams

1. Andrew Combs – All These Dreams

When it comes down to it, I love pop songs. And that’s why Andrew Combs is the top artist in this chart, because he’s written the best songs I’ve heard in 2015.

What’s the album like? Well, it’s pure country. It’s not alt, it’s not indie, it’s not some hipsters in Brooklyn who’ve put on stetsons and ridiculous drawls and “gone country.” Combs is a  kid (he’s only 29, recorded this when he was 27/28, I’m guessing) who’s country through and through, moved to Nashville to pursue his dream of being a proper writer.

Unlike a lot of his generation, his inspiration is classic songwriters, whether that’s Kristofferson or Paul Simon or Guy Clark. The result is an album of songs that are melancholy gems. This is the country that also the blues, it lifts you up by helping you see you’re not alone, not that strange, not as fucked as you think you are.

Here’s the end refrain from ‘Foolin’ :

I do a line have a drink

Tell the world what I think

Keep it fast keep it mean

I don’t mean what I’m saying baby

Somebody save me…

Well, we’ve all been there, haven’t we, even without the coke and JD?

When I listen to this album and Combs assured, soulful delivery I’m reminded of Nilsson and Fred Neil. When I listen to the songs, I’m reminded of Newman and Nesmith. And, sometimes, at his most keening and sorrowful, Combs channels Orbison which I would never say lightly.

This is a singer and songwriter who is already gold and only going to get more golden. And that’s why ‘All These Dreams’ is my top album of 2015.

Doctor Who – Hell Bent

SPOILERS, DARLING!


I feel emotionally drained after that finale.

Heaven Sent was all Greg Egan-ish, just a mad, brooding, fantastic SF meditation on time and existence, reminded me hugely of the start ofPermutation City.

Hell Bent started off far more High Plains Drifter. The Doctor tramps across Gallifrey to his old home and almost has time for some tasty soup before staging a coup and ousting the entire ruling class.

These bits, I enjoyed but they didn’t touch my heart. They made me giggle, which is always good in Doctor Who.

No, it was the end of the pairing of the Doctor and Clara, that’s what did it. Let’s not forget that Clara was his Impossible Girl, a girl splintered throughout time and always, always saving the Doctor. They’ve been together far more than just the screen time they’ve shared recently.

The very first time I saw Jenna Coleman as Oswin Oswald, I guess I fell in love with her a little tiny bit. Yes, it’s that amazing face of hers, all eyes and monkeyish and nose and cute and STOP DOING THAT and here, this is my Tardis key, whatevs. Also, here’s my wallet. And my heart.

But it was obviously also the depth Coleman bought to that initial crazy Dalek and all the other Claras after that snared me. She did the very difficult thing of portraying a character who was superficially fluffy and soft but had a complex, steely inner core. This is an excellent complement to the Doctor who is so often proved to be the opposite.

When I realised that this was it, this was the last ep we’d see Clara… it did set me off. In so many ways she’s been the perfect companion – there’s been some flirtiness (well, with 11 before 12 went all stern and fatherly) but also a proper bf who was also an excellent character. She’s adventurous, hardly ever screams, seems to love diving into trouble (too much…) and doesn’t sound bad when she does have to do the obligatory “DOCTAAAAAH!” squawk. And she pushed, badgered, criticised and otherwise stood up to the Doctor, even when he was in mid pompous rant.

I know they’ve set Clara up nicely, I know she’s flying off in another stolen Tardis across time with Me, she’ll die but only when her heart beats again. I know they could have billions of years together.

But I’ll miss this little face:

Goodbye, Impossible Girl. *sniff*

Storage 24

Just started watching Storage 24 : 

And I was like… hold on, who is that handsome Irish fellow…

OH YEAHHHH!!!

O’Donoghue was born and raised in Drogheda, County Louth, in a Roman Catholic family. He initially attended Dundalk Grammar School, and then The Gaiety School of Acting in Dublin. At age 16, O’Donoghue went to Paris, France, for a month to learn the French language. Colin’s early career was mainly split between theatre and television work in Ireland and the UK. In 2003, Colin won the Irish Film and Television Award for “Best New Talent” for his role as Norman in “Home For Christmas. (Source)

I didn’t even know he was Irish till now. It’s freaky hearing him use what must be close to his own accent, same as when I hear Saoirse Ronan with her normal accent.

Noel Clarke, I’m used to seeing him pop up in mad things. Like Who and Trek. DIAMOND GEEZER.

EDITTTTT

SHIT! Now Laura Haddock has turned up!

This is the only thing I’ve seen her in apart from Da Vinci’s Demons: 

Who else is gonna turn up??

Looking At Pictures Of Attractive Women On Tumblr

I don’t follow any actual porn blogs as that’s what porn sites are for. But my dash is often peppered with pictures of attractive women because of the gynephiles I follow. (There are also lots of pictures of attractive men because of the androphiles I follow but since I don’t fancy men, my eyes kind of skim over those pics unless they exhibit startlingly good photography.)

Here’s an example image:

The model’s name is Hailey Outland. I don’t have the photographer’s name, sorry, I even tried using TinEye to find out who it was. I’ve picked a deliberately safe-for-work picture here but, obviously, Tumblr delivers every variation of nude / naked you could ask for, every pose inviting, every pose targeted at us. I’m talking about this picture but I’m talking about all those pictures too.

So, I look at the picture. As a gynephile, I’m attracted to the model; she’s beautiful.

But then what?

This person isn’t my friend or even an acquaintance. I don’t know her, I’ll likely never know her. Maybe I’ll fantasise about her? Well, I could try but it’s pretty difficult as I don’t think her type is fat, middle-aged men. I mean, I could be wrong but judging from the female friends I have of her age, that’s not who they go for.

The picture is presented, obviously, to be looked at. It invites and nurtures our scopophilia. Moreover, it is bereft of complication. It is saying: here is a beautiful woman on a beach, she is wild and mysterious and here for you. We don’t see the photographer, their assistant(s), the make up artist, the stylist. We don’t see the time it took for the model to travel there, or that she’d maybe had a dodgy kebab the night before and was desperately trying to contain explosive diarrhoea. We don’t know her personality. Does she like cats? Is she into snowboarding? Is she actually a deadly CIA assassin using modelling as a cover for her international death spree? We don’t see that her feet hurt or that she’s got cramp in one of her calves from posing in an awkward position for too long while the photographer was fiddling with their grey card.

Annie Sprinkle covered this construction of fantasy perfectly in her Anatomy Of A Pinup:

No, instead of all that, my brain goes: mmmm, she’s gorgeous! And I can almost see her boobs!

We are encouraged into the dream of the scantily-clad woman waiting for us on the beach. The narrative of the picture is artful in its erasure of the reality of the woman and the creation of the fantasy. If you look around, at the pictures of women you see everywhere, there is a fundamental breakage between the narratives they portray and actual real, living, breathing women. (You may wish to look at the male gaze if any of this is novel to you.)

I wish I could look at pictures of attractive women on Tumblr and see through the picture to the actual person, to know her as a human being. But that’s impossible and, for the models, highly un-desirable. Imagine the nightmare for them if millions of sweaty old men could actually, you know, interact with them.

In the back of our minds, we know it’s bullshit, we know we’re lying to ourselves when we look at pictures of attractive women on Tumblr and imagine witty, flirty conversations with them. We’re not only being sold the idea of the woman, we’re being sold the idea that we are someone she would actually be interested in. When we see her youth and beauty, we can pretend that we are as young and as beautiful even though, truthfully, we aren’t and never were.

We know it’s a lie.

But we’re sad and lonely and alone.

So, we keep scrolling. We keep looking. We keep fantasising.

Elementary S4E1

Originally posted by heckyeahreactiongifs

I’m only twenty minutes into S4E1 of Elementary and I’m already loving it way more than any recent Sherlock. 

I know that’s heresy round these here parts and I’ll now get run out of town by Cumberbatch fans but eh.

Jonny Lee Miller brings a depth of pain to Holmes that’s missing from what Cumberbatch is allowed to portray. Note that I’m not saying that Cumberbatch is incapable of equalling Miller, I’m saying he’s not allowed to. The whole tone of the BBC foray is basically Who with naughty bits, it’s all YA to me. There is acceptable peril, acceptable character development, acceptable consequences. Acceptable, nothing too deep, nothing that’ll truly disturb.

There is never darkness like Miller’s Holmes kicking the shit out of a pusher and then stealing his stash. Darkness that makes you question the whole character and if they’re the hero at all.

And then…

And then we have Lucy Liu as Watson. An actress who could make a character’s night’s sleep riveting. She is the perfect Watson. She is insightful, resourceful, methodical, detailed. Yes, she is not the equal of Holmes in raw detection but she knows this and is fine with it because she’s still a damn fine detective. There’s no bumbling, save-me-sides comedy because, really, why would Holmes, the greatest detective mind in the world, hang round with a buffoon? No, Liu’s Watson is a sidekick associate detectives would fight over.

And I love that’s there’s a deep, loving friendship between them but zero sexual tension. It would have been so easy to heteronormalise the whole thing into some interminably drawn out OOH, WILL THEY? WON’T THEY? bullshit.

Fuck that.

I want more TV which shows the tremendous redemptive power of intense platonic friendship. Every time a show degenerates into the asinine doggerel that is most TV romance, a little part of me whimpers and dies. And every time we have something like Elementary, where women and men work together as equals, I cheer.

Now, I’m going back to the show… mmm…

Rotterdam

Rotterdam

I got back from Rotterdam today and I’m already missing it. What a wonderful city, fabulous architecture whether it’s old like Laurenskerk or new like Erasmusburg.

And all the natives we met (Rotters? lol) were just the most laid-back, friendly and funny motherfuckers ever. Such total loves.

If you can afford to visit it, please do. I think you’ll love it.

Tigercub @ Rock City Basement, 7/11/15

Tigercub by Jyoti Mishra
Via Flickr:
So, usually, I walk into the Basement and there’s a band on and I leave about three minutes later after some dreadful neo-Hair Metal or other atrocity.

But last night, I went in and a band were on. I gave them a song. And then another song and by the end of their set, I was at the front grinning like a loon.

Ladies and gentlemen: Tigercub.

Take a nub of Jesus Lizard, a pinch of Big Black, some slightly psych guitar tones and a whole load of awesome, catchy songs and that’s Tigercub.

Jekyll And Hyde (ITV)

Just watched S1E1 of ITV’s new Jekyll And Hyde and I’m very pleasantly surprised!

First, they’ve obviously spunked some money out on this as the cinematography and production values are very high. Next, I was impressed by the writing. The show’s creator, Fast Show blokey Charlie Higson said he wanted it to be ‘Downton with monsters:’

“It certainly would have livened Downton up a bit. It’s very popular, I’m not dissing Downton, but I’d have watched more of it if it had a guy with a giant lobster claw turning up and smashing everything to pieces.” (Source)

The whole slot is pitched to compete with the BBC’s successful Dr. Who and there are some similarities but, overall, I think I actually prefer JaH, judging by this first ep. It’s very, very reminiscent of the campy, horror-lite tone of Stephen Sommer’s 1999 The Mummy in that there are thrills and spills but nothing really that disturbing.

Tom Bateman as Jekyll (and Hyde) is perfectly cast. When Jekyll, he looks suitably foppish and gentlemanly and then, when he Hulks-out, there’s a bit of CGI transitioning but it seems, so far at least, to be a lot of the actor just inhabiting the role. Maybe I’m wrong there and they’ll CGI him like they did the Hyde in LXG but that would be shame.

Before I go: Richard E. Grant. To be honest, I would watch anything with Grant in it, even a cricket match. The man is a grade-A loon and a national treasure. He’s quite, quite delicious in this so far, as the leaded of Military Intelligence Other, the secret monster wrangling squad of HMG. Check out Grant’s beautiful, autobiographical film Wah Wah if you want a peek at the insides of this extraordinary man. Here’s what Bateman had to say about working with Grant:

Quite bizarre. The first scene I had with him, we were in this garden and I grab him, pin him up against this wall, and smash his face in. It was quite odd texting my mum, saying: “Hi. Yeah, I’m just pinning Richard E Grant up against a wall.” The guy is hilarious on set and off set. He’s obsessed with smells. In this garden on the first day, he’d smell everything. Even in the studio he’s walking around just smelling the tables, smelling people’s coffees. Quite a bizarre man. He’s kind of mental. (Source)

Ever since Kolchak, I’ve been a sucker for Monster Of The Week series and after this promising start…. fingers (and claws) crossed.

Le Mystere De Voix Bulgares

I haven’t posted any Voix Bulgares for a while. And I do love them so! Their harmonies, their crazy interval leaping. The way the major sections break out like sunshine through clouds.

My parents always say they sound Indian but the truth is they sound Indo-European, which is hardly surprising considering they way language and culture ebbs and flows across Asia and Europe (or, as I call it, West Asia). The rhythmic bit at the end sounds so Indian my Dad always starts clapping along, bless him.

This next track is probably my favourite ever female lead vocal:

If I ever find a woman who loves this music as much as I do, I will propose. If they get it. If it makes their soul ache like mine does.

And now, I can’t leave this without the closest Brit equivalent I’ve ever heard:

4AD label-mates to Voix Bulgares, This Mortal Coil (which was basically a 4AD supergroup). Of course, SCOTTISH.

And now we’re back to TMC, we’re in firm goth territory and possible soundtrack music for your upcoming spoopy Halloween.