I don’t really feel qualified to compile any kind of authoritative or exhaustive list this year, as there is such a lot of new music I haven’t heard, and I’ve spent a good amount of my 2019 listening time listening to music that wasn’t released in 2019. But, in the nick of time, here goes. The order doesn’t really mean much, especially as you get nearer the bottom, and could easily change depending on how much more I listen to the works and live with them (or even which ones I’ve listened to most recently). So it’s all a bit arbitrary. Judging from other lists here, it looks like I have a lot of catching up to do.
1) The Delines – The Imperial
2) Bob Dylan – The Rolling Thunder Revue: The 1975 Live Recordings
3) Sunn O))) – Life Metal
4) black midi – Schlagenheim
5) Various Artists – Kankyō Ongaku: Japanese Ambient, Environmental & New Age Music 1980 -1990
6) Hildur Guðnadóttir – Chernobyl [Original TV Soundtrack]
7) The Flaming Lips – King's Mouth: Music and Songs
8) Angel Olsen – All Mirrors
10) Purple Mountains – Purple Mountains
11) Leonard Cohen – Thanks For The Dance
12) Oh Sees – Face Stabber
13) King Gizzard and The Lizard Wizard – Infest The Rats’ Nest
14) King Gizzard and The Lizard Wizard – Fishing For Fishies
15) Swans – Leaving Meaning
16) The Quiet Temple – The Quiet Temple
17) Nilüfer Yanya – Miss Universe
18) Chromatics – Closer To Grey
19) Ohtis – Curve of Earth
20) Richard Hawley – Further
Joan as Police Woman – Live at the BBC
Sharon Van Etten – Remind Me Tomorrow
The Felice Brothers – Undress
Slowthai – Nothing Great About Britain
I’ve already posted my Albums of The Year (a list that could already do with substantial revising.) Here’s my Films of the Year, 2019.
7) Ash Is The Purest White
Bubbling under: The Souvenir, Woman At War, Hustlers.
I didn’t like Joanna Hogg’s The Souvenir at all the first time I watched it, but I really liked it the second time. So why did I watch it a second time if I didn’t like it the first time? Well, there must have been something there that drew me back, even if it was only to find out why I didn’t like it, and a nagging thought that there was more to it than I was getting. Which, happily, there is. Not enough to put it in the Top Ten, mind. It’s slow and episodic, and demands commitment and concentration and attention to bring out its nuances. It can even seem self-indulgent at times. But even if it makes few concessions to the audience entertainment-wise, it is worth the effort. I kind of watched it is fragments the second time, which may be the ideal way to watch it. Like reading a novel, do it a chapter or two at a time.
Many of the films which are featuring heavily on critics’ end of year lists I either thought were so-so, or downright crap. In the ‘it is what it is’ former category: The Irishman, Once Upon A Time In Hollywood, Birds of Passage, Monos, Holiday.
I didn’t think much of In Fabric – fairly vacuous. Long Day’s Journey Into Night was all style and no substance – a bit like the dreams it purports to represent, although in my opinion there is lot more to dreams than beautiful but insubstantial images (see Maggie Lee’s excellent review in Variety, the only one that nails it, even if it goes against the critical consensus). And Midsommar was a downright utter campy hoot fest – not its intention, I think.
Her Smell was alright, Vox Lux not so much so – even if it had more of a story to it. I still have to see an indie film which deals successfully with the experience of the indie music scene, or contemporary commercial pop music. Both of these films suffer from the same problem that beset Lenny Abrahamson’s Frank: they come across (at least to me) as a straight’s idea of what it much be like being in an indie band. “They’re all fucking crazy.” Why do all film makers think all rock/pop stars are obnoxious, narcissistic egomaniacs? I’m not saying some aren’t, but the constant negative representation is irksome. Some of the nicest people I know are or have been in indie bands (myself included). The thing is, you don’t get to rise in that business if you have a bad reputation as being an asshole (unless you have an overnight mega hit which places you in a protective bubble). Most of the time you’ve got to make nice to get anywhere.
My Best Gigs of the Year to follow shortly.