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Assorted Albums Almanac//August 2017

Last night my dreams involved a combination of a free-scoring Wayne Rooney returning to the England team, and Pennywise the Dancing Clown. It was surreal and confusing but not unenjoyable.

The featured artists this month (let’s pretend this is a monthly feature and not some totally irregular, basically biennial splurge of words) don’t sleep so easy. Car Seat Headrest’s Will Toledo sees nightmares of global gloom and knows war is coming (if you want it); James Murphy returns with LCD Soundsystem to ask us how do you sleep; and Nadine Shah, Tyneside born singer-songwriter of Iranian descent, is plagued by the plight of refugees in an intolerant, ungenerous world. EMA’s nightmares may not be veiled by sleep, but the world of a 33 year old nihilistic woman in 2017 is laid bare in her dreamy, angsty new record.

But first some quick ones – some choice singles from the past month or so and some sub-A albums.

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Game of Thrones: Season 7 Recap

DRAGONSTONE

We begin.

In an offscreen moment, Arya Stark kills Walder Frey. She then, maybe, cuts off his face and…wears it? Continue reading

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Review

Arcade Fire//Everything Now Review

“We’ve all got this “literary” fiction that simply monotones that we’re all becoming less and less human…and we all buy the books and go like “Golly, what a mordantly effective commentary on contemporary materialism!” But we already “know” U.S. culture is materialistic. This diagnosis can be done in about two lines.” – David Foster Wallace to Larry McCaffrey

How about “Infinite content/We’re infinitely content”?

Arcade Fire have never sounded so shallow, tired or cynical. It’s been coming for a while – their three most recent albums have all featured a track or two dedicated almost solely to Win bitching about the youth – but it’s never seemed so fatal.

The relentless ‘message’-ness and moralising of Everything Now – it’s about how we have everything now and infinite content has not made us happier – makes for pretty poor company most of the time, made worse by a smug sense of superiority and half-baked experimentation. Continue reading

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Review

Animal Collective//The Painters & Meeting of the Waters EPs

The perception of an artist’s’ prolonged excellence can often thank gradually reduced expectations for that longevity; same applies for Animal Collective. After the underwhelming but still compelling Centipede HZ. and the largely uninteresting Painting With, this year’s EPs have seemed like a resurgence – even if they’re not. Continue reading

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Assorted Albums Almanac//Spring 17

There have been many months of music, film and anything else noted and not uploaded here. But when you unload those thoughts and experiences, surely best to start from the present rather than the past? Here are a selection of albums that caught the ear – or, more often in the process of discovery, the eye – over the past month or so.

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Best of 2016: Film

1//Arrival

 

2//I, Daniel Blake

 

3//The Witch

 

4//The Wailing

 

5//Green Room

 

6//Hunt for the Wilderpeople

 

7//Under the Shadow

 

8//The Lobster

 

9//Zootopia

 

10//Silence

 

11//Hell or High Water

 

12//Captain America: Civil War

 

13//A Monster Calls

 

14//Hail, Caesar!

 

15//10 Cloverfield Lane

 

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Best of 2016: A Subjective Ranking

Look past the losses of 2016 and what you’re left with is an otherwise stellar year for music.  It speaks volumes, however, that so many of the year’s finest albums predicate on darker themes. But across albums that tackle topics as diverse as racism, sexism, age, death, tragedy, loneliness, what proves profoundly striking is the shared sense of fire, grit and perseverance that resonates through each. It has been a year in which so much of our music has dealt with despair and yet managed to deal out hope. Acceptance is perhaps the other big theme; self-acceptance, mainly. Whether it’s Angel Olsen’s defiant Woman, Chance’s celebratory Blessings, Bowie’s terminally beguiling Lazarus, or Solange’s soul-searching Cranes in the Sky. The mutual catharsis of this year’s best music seems to have given artists an urgency and vitality, a striking sense of relevance, that has allowed 2016 to become a year of music in which a Kanye West release can seem like only an afterthought.

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