This week marks one year since the release of Sleater-Kinney’s brilliant No Cities To Love. As I wasn’t blogging last January, I didn’t really write about the album at the time (apart from offering unsolicited advice about the greatness of Sleater-Kinney to Matt over at The Lesser Column). Probably just as well, given that my initial reaction to the album was some kind of stupefied awe and I doubt that I could have written anything particularly coherent about it for a few months anyway. Once it got to December and I was gathering together my lists for the albums and songs of the year, Sleater-Kinney loomed so large over my listening for 2015 that it was possibly a little dishonest to restrict Sleater-Kinney to only three songs in my favourite twenty songs of the year. As I reflected more and more on No Cities To Love while writing these lists, I realised that it was not only clearly my favourite album of 2015, but it has pretty rapidly become one of my favourite albums of all time.
There’s not really any question in my mind that John Grant’s first solo album Queen Of Denmark is the best album of the past ten years. Musically, it is a dazzling 70s AOR masterpiece, which is filled with some of the smartest, funniest and most brutal lyrics you will hear. With his second album Pale Green Ghosts, John Grant’s distinctive baritone and acerbic wit were wonderfully matched to an 80s synth-pop inspired sound with the occasional soaring anthem (“GMF” and “Glacier”).
I have seen John Boorman’s baffling film Zardoz three times this year. I’m still not really sure why, but the film is such a curiosity it demands to be seen. My most recent viewing was of the excellent Arrow Video blu-ray which I bought for the simple reason that I seem to buy everything they release. As beautiful as the Arrow Video blu-ray is, it still didn’t really clarify for me what the hell was going on in this film. The simplest explanation for Zardoz is that someone ate a large bag of shrooms and wondered what The Wizard Of Oz would have been like if it had more guns, more sex and less munchkins.
Every year there is an album that I enjoy on first listen, but which unexpectedly grows on me over the course of the year to become one the handful that I return to regularly. Matthew E White’s Fresh Blood is that album for 2015. While I liked White’s 2012 debut album Big Inner enough to seek out his follow-up on release, Big Inner never resonated with me the way that Fresh Blood has. Continue reading “Matthew E White – Fresh Blood” →