Dec 30, 2012

Favourite Films Of 2012

Maybe 2012 could be described as the year of the Anderson. My two favourite films were directed respectively by Paul Thomas and Wes. Maybe it was the year of the independent drama/comedy. There were quite a few this year that sparkled. I really enjoyed Safety Not Guaranteed, Liberal Arts, Ruby Sparks and Your Sister's Sister even though none made my top ten in the end. It did feel like a quiet year for Australian film. Not Suitable For Children was probably the pick of the bunch. It was the year that a silent film took home the Oscar for Best Picture. The Artist was a fine film. Delightful and original, but one has the feeling it won't stand the test of time. Hugo would have been a better pick. Of course The Tree Of Life would have been the ultimate pick. But I knew it would be too original to take top honours. Similarly I think The Master is basically no chance in 2013's ceremony. The Academy have snubbed Paul Thomas Anderson in the past and I don't see anything changing now. Having said that The Master was easily my favourite film of 2012. It was a compelling, daring and original piece of cinema. I should note a few films that I thoroughly enjoyed but just missed by top ten. Ben Affleck's Argo was intelligent and satisfying. Kenneth Lonergan's Margaret finally saw the light of day and was definitely worth the wait and Once Upon A Time In Anatolia was quite remarkable. But I have settled on ten. Please enjoy.

1. The Master, directed by Paul Thomas Anderson
The Master is a remarkable, challenging, perplexing, confronting film. It is many things, but most of all it cements Paul Thomas Anderson as the greatest film maker of this generation. His films are all basically masterpieces and this one might not be his best, but it still towers over 99% of cinema out there. This is a psychological drama, a love story, part history lesson. The story of a psychotic drifter who falls under the spell of a religious leader in 1950 is a powerful one and a compelling one. The acting is off the charts good with Phoenix and Hoffman sublime in every scene. Shot with rich and beautiful colour this film demonstrates a director in complete control. A film with minimal plot, it rather is a complex character study, a study of the weaknesses of humanity and the need to find a meaning in life. This film will do many things to you, but most of all it will make you think.

2. Moonrise Kingdom, directed by Wes Anderson
In all of Wes Anderson's dedication to style and form, and it's pretty great in that regard, there is something always overlooked in his films. A deep undercurrent of reality and sadness. Sure his films are hyper real in look and attitude but there is so much heart and love in his films. This small and personal film ranks with his best yet. Set in 1965 New England a boy and a girl run away to create their own world. The awkward interplay between them is quite precious and lovely. Trailing in their wake are a motley group of emotionally broken adults. All played with grace and intuition by Norton, Murray, McDormand and Willis. This lovely film contains the usual Anderson flourishes and wry comedy but it also displays a sad heart that will stay with you long after the final credits.

3. Beasts of the Southern Wild, directed by Benh Zeitlin.
A remarkable film. Without doubt one of the films of 2012. Set in a small rural community, The Bathtub, off the New Orleans we meet Hushpuppy and her rambling father. They live unlike us and survive unlike us. We are drawn into their world with equal parts stark realism and joyous magic. This low budget film that uses non actors is overflowing with heart, humour and pathos. There are scenes that will make you cry and feel all of the weight of the world. The use of Auroch creatures is particularly effective and is just one of many things that will drill a hole in your heart.

4. Hugo, directed by Martin Scorsese.
A near perfect film that utilizes 3D to full effect. Scorsese's love poem to cinema is superbly welded to the story of young Hugo's search for redemption. This film sings with love and is full of heart and magic. Paris is captured with exquisite beauty and grace. A knockout film that will stay with you for days. This was Scorsese's best film in years and was unlucky not to win Best Picture.

5. Shame, directed by Steve McQueen.
Steve McQueen has crafted another compelling, powerful and brave film about human addiction, weakness and need. Michael Fassbender is incredible as sex addicted New Yorker Brandon whose narrow lifestyle is put into disarray with her arrival of his wayward sister. How he wasn't Oscar nominated is beyond words. This film is dark and unsettling but unique and necessary. Beautifully shot, it is a revealing look into the soul of humanity.

6. The Sessions, directed by Ben Lewin.
The true story of polio victim Mark O'Brien is emotionally honest and deeply moving. It's directed with tenderness and care and the performances are all superb. John Hawkes and Helen Hunt are especially great. Both give very honest and expert displays of fine acting. This is a sad tale that will deeply affect you, it's full of beauty and pain. It's rare for a Hollywood film to display this sort of honesty.

7. A Separation, directed by Asghar Farhadi.
Intelligent, extremely nuanced film about family conflict, truth and lies in modern day Iran. A wife wishes to divorce her husband so she can leave Iran. He refuses, wanting to stay behind to look after his ailing father. A woman is hired to help in this duty and an incident creates conflict with devastating effect. This film is so complex and subtle, showing that people can easily be wrong and right, truthful and dishonest in so many situations. Superbly written and acted, a great film.

8. Killing Them Softly, directed by Andrew Dominik.
This film is a conversation and also of conversations. It's a stark conversation about modern day America and broken promises, empty dreams and economic breakdown. This superb film is also a series of conversations. Between men living on the outskirts of society. Some desperate, all violent. Andrew Dominik is a singular film maker. He has crafted an extremely tight, robust crime thriller set in Louisiana in 2008. Brad Pitt, stellar again, shines as Cogan, a man whose job is to 'take care' of people who get in the way of the mob. Filmed with great clarity this a brutal film that doesn't play the easy card.

9. Looper, directed by Rian Johnson.
Inventive, compelling cinema. Rian Johnson is an exploding talent. In his third feature he has given us a film that will keep you guessing, have you enthralled and sometimes gaze in awe. Gordon-Levitt is superb as Joe, a 'looper' in 2044, who disposes of criminals sent from the future. Time travel films can be tricky to make work but here it does. With a superb cast, Emily Blunt is fantastic, the material is exciting, intense and quite often cerebral. Rich and exciting cinema

10. The Descendants, directed by Alexander Payne.
Wonderful, honest and perceptive film about a man who has to confront a terrible truth and at the same time try and keep his family together. Alexander Payne has superbly directed and written a film that easily moves between humour and pathos. George Clooney is outstanding as the father and husband who is swimming in a sea of worry. This film is full of rich and warm characters who are shaded grey. They are flawed people just trying to manage and get by. Rich and rewarding.

Films I plan to see in 2013-
Life Of Pi
Django Unchained
The Silver Linings Playbook
Zero Dark Thirty
A Late Quartet

Dec 29, 2012

Chum-Earl Sweatshirt

I have recently fallen in love with this song.
If I had heard it earlier it would definitely featured highly on my Best Songs list for 2012. It's just that good!

Dec 24, 2012

Best 50 Albums Of 2012

My last post was about the concept of taste, good and bad and how can that possibly really be defined. So I'm here to define my taste for you for 2012. These are my favourite albums of 2012. The ones that drilled into my heart and brain. They have variances in style but I guess they are mainly rock based with crucially plenty of melody, heart and emotion and hopefully originality. 2012 seemed like a good year for music. Probably quiet to start but strong to finish. Especially that week in September that hit like a cyclone. In one remarkable week we received new albums from Grizzly Bear, Woods and Menomena. All of them sublime and all finishing in my top 5 albums of the year. Up until then I was pretty certain the debut album from Father John Misty would rise above all, but it proved that Portland trio Menomena would come out on top. Their heart breaking and honest album struck a chord like few others. There were, in the end, other albums that didn't strike with me. I can easily see the artistic merit of Frank Ocean's opus but I guess the style didn't gel with me. Albums from Japandroids and Grimes also didn't hit with me. I really couldn't see the fuss over those two. There were disappointments too. Band Of Horses, Silversun Pickups and The Shins released albums that ranged from bad to average. But let's not dwell on the negative. Here's to my favourite albums. These all excited and delighted me in 2012!

1. Moms-Menomena
After Brent Knopf left we possibly weren't sure what would happen next. I doubt we expected an album of this magnitude and complexity. This music relates on so many levels. It has grooves and moves thrashing out everywhere and contains an emotional honesty rare in any form of music. It's angry, confident, fun, revealing in each and every song. Every time I listen to this album I discover something more. I'm actually stunned I don't see this more on top 50 lists. It belongs there and how. This is an ebullient, scary good album of great, great, music. 
MP3: Plumage

2. Shields-Grizzly Bear
Is there a band on earth more on top of its game? This is four supremely talented musicians making music that is complex and engaging at all levels. Each listen revealed a little bit more. It's harmonies and melodies overload at times. The arrangements are supremely magnificent and like all good music it has a startling emotional complexity. "Shields" will only get better in time too. When some faddish 2012 music will fade in time this album will resonate strongly for decades.
MP3: Sleeping Ute  

3. Fear Fun-Father John Misty
This album made me smile like no other in 2012. Each song was just so much fun and so incredibly warm. J. Tillman stepped out from behind the drum kit and showed off his voice and even his dance moves. He embraced the Laurel Canyon sound and delivered us song after song of ridiculous melody and golden harmony. This is purely great music.
MP3: Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings

4. Bend Beyond-Woods
Man, do I love this band and this album. Speaking of melody this New York band does it better then anyone. Their songs are mostly short and sweet but they are oh so sweet. The opening chords hit instantly and often, producing songs that lodge in your cranium and stay for days. I don't think any other album this year had the ability to stay and stay with me.
MP3: Wind Was The Wine

5. Bloom-Beach House
"Myth" signaled greatness from the opening second and this superlative album didn't let up or let me down. The Baltimore duo weave a magical tapestry creating songs of grace and beauty. The arrangements are subtle and complex, giving us music full and imagination and verve.
MP3: Myth

6. Heaven-The Walkmen
Maturity doesn't have to mean stagnation. The Walkmen are the perfect example. They are growing old gracefully, creating music that is stirring and powerful. They might be mellowing a touch in their style but they are producing albums of graceful power.
MP3: Line By Line

7. Allelujah! Don't Bend Ascend-Godspeed You! Black Emperor
I wasn't expecting a new album, but I was oh so grateful for one. This legendary band returned after a long break with a slab of power and divine beauty. "Mladic" would become the song of the year. Twenty minutes of epic glory. A statement. We need this band in our lives.
MP3: Mladic

8. Clear Moon-Mount Eerie
If Phil Elverum didn't exist I think we would have to invent him. The man is a genius, a musical savant. In 2012 he released two album of greatness. Two albums that connect with the heart and the earth that we live on. This one was marginally better.
MP3: House Shape

9. Local Business-Titus Andronicus
Following the monumental masterpiece that was "The Monitor" was always going to be a tough ask. So the band went smaller and still managed to give us a great album full of rage, fun and honesty. It screamed, it cried, it laughed. It puked. I loved it. It made me scream with pleasure.
MP3: Ecce Homo
10. A Thing Called Divine Fits-Divine Fits
What happens when Britt Daniel and Dan Boeckner form a band. A band that knows how to write a damn fine song. There was plenty to love here even if the music didn't steer too far from the Spoon/Handsome Furs template. But that's hardly a bad thing. Intoxicating.
MP3: Civilian Stripes

11. America-Dan Deacon
If not as great as "Bromst" this was a damn fine album. The first half was a pleasure, a sugar rush. The second half gave us the epic "USA" suite. Dan's the man!

12. Charge Group-Charge Group
Australia's finest produced the finest Australian album of this year. Their second album was robust, stirring and complex. Sweeping and epic, it was rewarding and satisfying. 

13. Heartbreaking Bravery-Moonface
Any regular reader would know of my high esteem for Spencer Krug. He once again produced the goods with epic songs of lyrical dexterity and dripping emotion.

14. Centipede HZ-Animal Collective
Not their greatest album? Well, it's still better than 90% of music being made out there. This was difficult at times and certainly challenging. Perhaps that's why I love them so much.

15. We Keep The Beat Found The Sound See The Need Start The Heart-Jonathan Boulet
Hello Australia! Don't sleep on this band. Drop the Boy and Bear and get some Boulet in your life. It's ecstatic and euphoric. Fun and ferocious.

16. WIXIW-Liars
This band consistently produces albums of dark, brooding hypnotic music. This was perhaps their best album yet. Pushing the boundaries and making us all happier for that.

17. No One Knows What Happens Next-Hallelujah The Hills
File this under 'most under rated band in the world'. There's nothing wrong with guitars and drums combining to produce songs of stark honesty and great melody.

18. Tramp-Sharon Van Etten
The album that brought Sharon to a whole wider world. Her voice soars and glides with little effort. With the help of some esteemed friends she produced a truly great album.

19. Ocean Roar-Mount Eerie
Pale Lights, Pale Lights, Pale Lights! What an opener to a wonderful album. I really can't wait to see these songs produced live in January.

20. Open Your Heart-The Men
Holy crap! My hair is on fire! This struck like a sledgehammer and did not let up. Ferocious and angry this is the sound of punk in 2012. Just play it loud for full benefit.

21. The Carpenter-The Avett Brothers
Country, blue grass, rock. Whatever you wish to call it The Avett Brothers do it as well as anyone. Once again they have crafted an album of enormous heart and purity.

22. The Bloom and The Blight-Two Gallants
Seemingly critically ignored I wish to plead this duo's case. Angry, fiery music with the utmost passion and brimstone. This album always gives me a kick just when I need it most.

23. Prophet-Ramona Falls
Out now totally from the Menomena family, Brent Knopf is staking his claim with music of subtlety and nuance. Music of fierce intelligence.    

24. Boys and Girls-Alabama Shakes
An album that came with plenty of hype but totally lived up to it. Soul for the 21st century. Brittany Howard's voice rises like a sentinel, swallowing us whole. Happily.

25. The End of That-Plants and Animals
You really shouldn't be sleeping on this Montreal band. If not at the supreme heights of their previous two albums there was still plenty to love and adore here.
26. I Predict A Graceful Expulsion-Cold Specks
A stirring and luminescent album of delirious peaks. It has been described as doom soul which does go somewhere close to giving you the idea of the effect of this album.

27. Put Your Back N 2 It-Perfume Genius
If you want and need emotional honesty and raw wounds then Mike Hadreas is the man to see. The songs are short and brief, but boy do they pack a big punch.

28. Acousmatic Sorcery-Willis Earl Beal
His story was a mystery. Where did he actually come from? But whatever this album contained many lo-fi gems infused with nuance and grit.

29. The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than The Driver Of The Screw And Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do-Fiona Apple
Seven years was definitely worth the wait for this quixotic woman to return with an album of electric songs, brimming with passion and revealing emotions.
30. Swing Lo Magellan-Dirty Projectors
Like most Dirty Projectors records this album contained highs and lows. Peaks and troughs. But the highs were knocked out of the park. There is no one quite like this band.
31. Total Dust-Dusted
Holy Fuck's Brian Borcherdt delivers songs that are minimal but muscular.

32. Spooky Action At A Distance-Lotus Plaza
Bradford Cox is not the only talented member of Deerhunter.

33. Blunderbuss-Jack White
His first solo album does much to increase the Jack White legend.
34. Toward The Low Sun-Dirty Three
After a long absence the legends return a album full of depth and beauty.
35. Maraqopa-Damien Jurado
Jurado is easily one of the best songwriters on the planet.

36. Shut Down The Streets-A.C. Newman
Newman's third solo album is a mellower yet still essential effort.

37. The Way We Move-Langhorne Slim & the Law
Rocking and rolling. Hearts asunder, much fun had here.

38. Zammuto-Zammuto
The Books are no more but this a good substitute for me to pin my ears on.

39. Valtari-Sigur Ros
The Icelanders still know how to create a world unlike any other.

40. The Clearing-Bowerbirds
Dark and tempting, this is quite simply a beautiful album.

41. Dark Shores-Strand of Oaks
Full of mystery and shining moments of melody.
42. Bill, Dance, Shiner-Bearhug
One of Australia's best young bands produce a commendable debut album.

43. Break It Yourself-Andrew Bird
Andrew Bird once again gives us a rich and complex musical creation.

44. Putrifiers II-Thee Oh Sees
Wild, wacky, chaotic and full of fun. But also depth.
45. Attack On Memory-Cloud Nothings
Epic and huge. Did I say huge?
46. Eight And A Half-Eight And A Half
Canada still has it. This was a delightful listen.

47. We Are All Fire-Cars & Trains
Sweet little melodies wrapped in meaning and substance.

48. Algiers-Calexico
Calexico returned with another fine and rewarding album.

49. Let's Go Eat The Factory-Guided By Voices
What do you mean they only released three albums this year?

50. Passage-Exitmusic
Last but not least. A hypnotic statement.

Dec 18, 2012

Good Taste

We saw the new Josh Radnor movie "Liberal Arts" on the weekend. I really enjoyed it. It was thoughtful, insightful and generally entertaining. Anway there was a crucial scene in the film where the two main characters have an argument over the validity and worth of the 'Vampire books' (they didn't specifically name the 'Twilight' novels). Jesse, 35 and well read, said they were poorly written and basically trash. He couldn't possibly understand why anyone would waste their time with them. Elizabeth, 19, enjoyed them and thought that was enough. She knew they were of lesser value but didn't really care as she enjoyed them and so did millions. She thought Jesse was a snob who shouldn't worry whether people enjoyed this sort of writing. He should tell people what he loved but keep quiet about what he hated. In her words, 'it's not cool to hate'.

So, this got me thinking. I have sometimes, without malice I hope, been called a musical snob. In someways this worries me. In other ways it doesn't. I love my music and take it very seriously. I mean I get enormous enjoyment from it but I also respect its impact and value. To me it's not disposable nor lightweight. Naturally I think I have very good taste. But who doesn't? I'm pretty sure know one declares that they have bad taste and revels in it. We all believe what we like, whether it's music, film, books, etc., is pretty damn good. Why would we like it otherwise? I guess then, in my case, if you put a lot of time and effort into music then it's hard to comprehend how someone can love Robbie Williams or LMFAO and not understand the majestic sounds of Grizzly Bear or Mount Eerie. Which I guess is the nut of Jesse's frustration. He sees a society drowning in modern pop culture (mostly bad) and can not understand the situation. The counterpoint to this is the argument that all taste is subjective and there is no such thing as good or bad taste in reality. It's just one person's opinion against another. It's natural that we gravitate to people that share our taste. It's basically the reason why I started this blog. To write about the things I loved and hope that people were out there that shared my taste. In fact it's kinda how I met my wife. It started with Modest Mouse and extended to The Mountain Goats and Frightened Rabbit. We shared our loves in many things musical and that continues to this very day.

I often have the argument thrown at me that I don't like commercial music. Or I only like music that people haven't heard of. In some ways this is true. I look at modern pop charts and can not comprehend people liking this sort of stuff. I'm accused of thinking that if a band like Spoon for example somehow had a number hit I would therefore stop liking them. Of course this is not true. I would love it if bands like them or Arcade Fire or Menomena had world wide hits. It would bring back the glory days when musical titans like The Beatles or Springsteen topped the charts. Instead we are left we dreck like Flo Rida or Pitbull to shape our modern culture. I think this is basically the fault of modern radio which dictates what the general populace listens to. They need to find a song that they believe is easily digestible, is repetitive, has hopefully a catch phrase and has a good beat. It's not too in depth. That's why the charts end up being filled with The Black Eyed Peas. Which is also because for a lot of people music is not that important. It's something to provide background noise, something to fill in their gym schedule. Taste it, like it, move on. Godspeed You! Black Emperor is not part of the equation. This also brings up the question, what exactly is 'pop music'. It's short for popular music so basically anything that sells units by the millions is pop music. But I think we regard pop music as disposable, short and catchy. So it doesn't have to be bad but it often is. It could be The Shins or The Beach Boys, but it's normally Guy Sebastian or Delta Goodrem. I even see respected online sites singing the praises of Carly Rae Jepsen or Taylor Swift. I have tried but it's just not my taste. Aha! So we return to the argument. Is it good taste or bad taste? To be honest there is not a correct answer. There is just taste. I might consider myself to have good taste. But I can't prove it. I can only express it. I can despair of other people's tastes. In fact I probably will continue to do so. But I know it's futile. It doesn't really matter. If you love it, express it, tell people. If they don't get it, then move on. Find some one who might. Just make sure what you love you really love. Embrace it and devour it. And don't like something just because you are 'supposed to'. Or don't have 'guilty pleasures'. If you feel guilty for liking something then perhaps you shouldn't like it in the first place. Judge it for yourself. In the end you are the only person that you have to please. Be happy with your own taste. Keep searching. Keep looking. It's a great journey.

Dec 15, 2012

Best Live Shows Of 2012

The live music experience is exactly that. An experience. It's more than just hearing your favourite songs reproduced live. It is, when done right, a vital connection between you and the artist and when the crowd is good a connection between the audience and yourself as well. When the planets align, we all come together to experience songs we love. Hopefully played with emotion, passion and that inexplicable feeling that we can't sometimes explain but we know what it is. It's feeling the hair on the back of your neck raise up a bit, it's the feeling of your heart pounding in your chest. Sometimes it's just pure fun and crazy eye smiles. Sometimes a tear is shed. Sometimes memories are made to last forever.

2012 had many great moments. Sydney Festival started the year with a bang with great performances by A.A. Bondy, PJ Harvey, Dan Deacon and Eleanor Friedberger. Laneway produced the goods again with Girls and Feist killing it and lovely discoveries found in EMA and Austra. November saw Harvest Festival put on a great day with Liars and Sigur Ros astounding all that saw them. 2012 also meant the return to Australia of the almost legendary Radiohead. They didn't disappoint anyone lucky enough to see them. Kanye West also gave us the stadium style show we wanted even if the sound was way too loud. But it was a Brooklyn band that stole the show in 2012. Their album was sublime. Their show even better!

1. Grizzly Bear @ Metro Theatre
Quite simply a perfect show. A band absolutely at the top of their game. Harmonies, melodies, sublime musicianship. Breathtaking one could say.

2. Fleet Foxes @ Sydney Opera House
A near perfect night. Two albums in and greatness beckons. Great seats for a great show. They also do the whole harmony thing pretty well.

3. Bon Iver @ Sydney Opera House
This was some show. From beginning to end were swept away with the sheer talent and astounding songs that enthralled some from start to end.

4. My Morning Jacket @ Enmore Theatre
Their reputation for enormous live shows precedes them. They did not let us down. They just give everything and then some more. Rock and roll!

5. Father John Misty @ Oxford Art Factory
Fun, fun, fun. Never stopped smiling. J. Tillman can sing with anyone and his dance moves are cool too. Plus my sister in law met him afterwards!

6. Bonnie 'Prince' Billy @ Sydney Opera House
A legend blew us way with his genius stark and present.

7. Feist @ Enmore Theatre
Holy cow the lady can put on a rockin' show.

8. Radiohead @ Sydney Entertainment Centre
Yeah, they pretty good this band. They have a future...

9. Dirty Three @ Sydney Opera House
Warren Ellis is not one of us.

10. Girls @ Oxford Art Factory
So much raw emotion and beauty. They will be missed.

11. Dan Mangan @ Notes
Dan is one huge slab of raw humanity.

12. Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks @ Factory Theatre
He's Malk. He's a legend. He's too cool for school.

13. The Mountain Goats @ Metro Theatre
Repeat after me. They never give a bad show.

14. A.A. Bondy @ Idolize Spiegeltent
Under the Parramatta stars we were dazzled.

15. Ryan Adams @ Sydney Opera House
Ryan shed the bad boy image and gave us his heart.

16. Jonathan Boulet @ Metro Theatre
Perhaps the most fun I've had at a gig in 2012.

17. The War On Drugs @ Oxford Art Factory
Guitars, guitars and more guitars.

18. Billy Bragg @ Enmore Theatre
Stories, lessons learnt, minds and hearts expanded.

19. Jack White @ Hordern Pavilion
Mr White is some sort of beast. He has IT.

20. Charge Group @ Red Rattler
Australia's best band? I like to think so.

Dec 13, 2012

Best Of TV 2012

I haven't written much about Television on this blog. But rest assured I do watch a fair bit. We have Foxtel at home, although most of the channels go unwatched. There are some channels though that get a heavy workout. ESPN firstly to look after my American sports obsessions. The AFL Footy Channel to follow the AFL and more specifically the mighty Essendon Bombers. We like The Comedy Channel and the Showtime Networks. The last place is where we go to get our fix of the amazing cable shows that are coming out of the USA. Free to air is basically ignored. Except for the ABC which is always offering interesting new shows. Of course I am a believer in watching shows on the old set in the living room. I don't download shows. I know plenty of people who do, but I just believe that it is plain wrong. It's called theft no matter how you wish to justify it. So, we have fairly fractured viewing habits, spread amongst pay TV, free to air and DVDs. Some shows we are right up to date with, some we are a season or two behind and playing catch up.

Either way there was one show that stood above all. Mad Men in Season 5 showed the show is not flagging at all. In fact it might be getting better. The writing is sublime and the characters are all so complex and nuanced. TV has never been as good as this. Season 5 of Breaking Bad was also astounding. Sometimes the tension is so great it feels best to watch it with the lights on. Of the new shows, Girls and The Newsroom were much loved in our home. The first was funny, sad and very revealing. The latter was insightful and supremely intelligent, despite receiving some mixed reviews. My favourite Australian show was the six part A Moody Christmas. It showed that it is possible for Australia to do comedy with insight and wit.

So without further ado, here is my list of the best 20 shows I saw this year.
1. Mad Men
2. Breaking Bad
3. Girls
4. The Newsroom
5. Parks and Recreation
6. Homeland
7. Modern Family
8. Louie
9. New Girl
10. A Moody Christmas
11. The Daily Show with Jon Stewart
12. The Big C
13. Nurse Jackie
14. The Gruen Planet
15. Veep
16. Boardwalk Empire
17. Treme
18. Rake
19. Howzat
20. True Blood

Dec 9, 2012

Best Songs Of 2012

2012 was many things. But to me in the end it became the year of the epic. The epic song. The song that stretches and expands your horizons. Makes you tremble in its wake. It's not relaxing. But it's not meant to be that way. Halfway through the year I really had Father John Misty's "Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings" as my song of the year. What a song it is. So effortlessly great and wondrous. I also loved the hypnotic "Myth" by Beach House. But in the end it was a resurrected song by a band that came back from the dead that sealed the deal. "Mladic" was previously played live close to a decade ago as "Albanian". When it popped up as the opening track on the unexpected new album from Godspeed You! Black Emperor I was stunned and gobsmacked. It is a twenty minute slice of doom laden beauty. I really can not wait to see it performed live in February. Other great constructs were the magnificent "Pale Lights" by Mount Eerie. The incredible "Wasted Days" by Cloud Nothings and the four part suite "USA" by the incomparable Dan Deacon. All great, all epic. All 2012. Below I have posted a few videos of some of my favourite songs and for good measure I have listed my top 100 of the year. I have limited each artist to no more ten 3 songs each. Hope you enjoy!

1. Mladic-Godspeed You! Black Emperor
2. Pale Lights-Mount Eerie
3. Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings-Father John Misty
4. Myth-Beach House
5. Is It Honest?-Woods
6. Pique-Menomena
7. Bend Beyond-Woods
8. Sleeping Ute-Grizzly Bear
9. Dark Parts-Perfume Genius
10. House Shape-Mount Eerie
11. USA (Parts 1-4)-Dan Deacon
12. Magic Chords-Sharon Van Etten
13. Lightshow-Plants and Animals
14. Civilian Stripes-Divine Fits
15. I Found You-Alabama Shakes
16. Wasted Days-Cloud Nothings
17. Tuck The Darkness In-Bowerbirds
18. You're A Animal-Jonathan Boulet
19. Headed For The Door-Moonface
20. Line By Line-The Walkmen
21. Country Song-The Men
22. Hearth Of Your Home-Charge Group
23. Golden Mile-Daniel Rossen
24. Varuo-Sigur Ros
25. Ecce Homo-Titus Andronicus
26. We Drift Like Worried Fire-Godspeed You! Black Emperor
27. Sisterly-Fang Island
28. Baby Get Worse-Divine Fits
29. WIXIW-Liars
30. Hungry Ghost Extraordinaire-Hallelujah The Hills
31. Holland-Cold Specks
32. We Can't Be Beat-The Walkmen
33. Still Life With Hot Deuce On Silver Platter-Titus Andronicus
34. Only Son Of The Ladiesman-Father John Misty
35. No Future/No Past-Cloud Nothings
36. New Town Burnout-Animal Collective
37. A Simple Answer-Grizzly Bear
38. Size Meets The Sounds-Woods
39. Open Your Heart-The Men
40. The Gold Is Gone-Charge Group
41. Wild-Beach House
42. Now I'm Learning To Love The War-Father John Misty
43. Winter In My Heart-The Avett Brothers
44. 2010-Plants and Animals
45. Winter Solstice-Cold Specks
46. Baton-Menomena
47. Brevony-Ramona Falls
48. Evening's Kiss-Willis Earl Beal
49. Passage-Exitmusic
50. Splitter-Calexico
51. Give Out-Sharon Van Etten
52. Nations-Cars & Trains
53. Clique-Kanye West
54. Inside Your Heart-Ty Segall
55. Flaggin A Ride-Divine Fits
56. Manhattan-Cat Power
57. Plumage-Menomena
58. Silent Song-Daniel Rossen
59. A Ring On Every Finger-Liars
60. Swing Lo Magellan-Dirty Projectors
61. Every Single Night-Fiona Apple
62. Black Smokehat-Jonathan Boulet
63. In A Big City-Titus Andronicus
64. Spore-Ramona Falls
65. Halcyon Days-Two Gallants
66. D.O.A.-Sleigh Bells
67. Yay-Zammuto
68. White Galactic One-Lotus Plaza
69. So On, Nevada-Damien Jurado
70. Get Me In A Room-Hallelujah The Hills
71. Time-Ty Segall and White Fence
72. Freedom at 21-Jack White
73. All Comes Down-Dusted
74. Winter's Youth-Two Gallants
75. Oscillation-The Men
76. Encyclopedia Of Classic Takedowns-A.C. Newman
77. They Told Me Too-Ty Segall
78. State Hospital-Frightened Rabbit
79. Penitentiary-Houndmouth
80. This Dead Bird Is Beautiful-Lost In The Trees
81. All Of This Will Go-Guided By Voices
82. Lamb-Lower Dens
83. You As You Were-Shearwater
84. Ho Hey-The Lumineers
85. Last Waltz-Horse Feathers
86. Paper Hearts-Why?
87. Just From Chevron-Dirty Projectors
88. September-The Shins
89. Go Ego-Eight and a Half
90. Cinema West-Bearhug
91. Maureen's-Strand Of Oaks
92. Rising Below-Dirty Three
93. Drifting In and Out-Porcelain Raft
94. Lonesome-Dr Dog
95. The Ghost On The Shore-Lord Huron
96. Short Cut-Martin Eden
97. S' Alive to Be Known (May We Starve)-The Music Tapes
98. Cherokee-Cat Power
99. Can't Hold Us-Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
100. In My Bed-The Orwells

Dec 8, 2012

New Beach Fossils

A couple of months ago I was very excited to see Beach Fossils on their maiden Australian tour. For unknown reasons that tour was cancelled. To ease the disappointment somewhat I am happy to inform you that the band will be releasing album number two in 2013. "Clash The Truth" will be released on February 19 on Captured Tracks.
First track is available below.

Clash The Truth Track Listing
1 Clash The Truth
2 Generational Synthetic
3 Sleep Arena
4 Careless
5 Modern Holiday
6 Taking Off
7 Shallow
8 Burn You Donw
9 Birthday
10 In Vertigo
11 Brighter
12  Caustic Cross
13 Ascension
14 Crashed Out

Dec 5, 2012

Mount Eerie Australian Tour 2013

File this under-
Stupidly excited
Giddy with anticipation
Mind numbed

It's happening!


presented by Wing & Gill, The Thousands, VICE and Noisey

Co-presented by Good Company
w/ Woods (USA)

Co-presented by Room40, Bon Voyage
w/ special guests

Co-presented by Radiant, The Gate
w/ Matt Banham

Co-presented by Polyester Records
w/ Pearls + Francis Plagne

Dec 1, 2012

Light Giant

Thursday night I saw a band that I think will quickly become my favourite new Australian band. Light Giant have risen from the ashes of the recently no more Parades. Parades were such a great band, even with only one EP and one LP. Light Giant create similar music but perhaps it's even more epic. Three guitars and drums combine to produce generous sound scapes of beauty and drama. They were part of The Gate's latest event, held in the Anglican Church on York St. These events are great. Superb music in unique situations. I can thoroughly recommend checking out The Gate AND Light Giant in the future!