Monthly Archives: December 2010

New Year’s Resolutions

What are your New Year’s Resolutions? This year mine are:

1. stop swearing. *

2. show up. **

3. fewer tweets but more words. ***

4. fewer treats. ****

* songs don’t count but onstage banter does.
** too often in 2010 I missed out by staying home. no more!
*** twitter makes long-form writing harder. Rationing one will fix the other.
**** I finally nailed exercise in 2010, so in 2011 at last I’m breaking the pattern.

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arts review of 2010

Here’s a list of cultural things I loved this year. Please feel free to stick yours in the comments (or a link to wherever you’ve published yours).

Although it was an OK year for culture generally, I think it was weak for music. So much over-complex, expensively echoing indie stuff – and glitchier R&B things with similar indulgence issues – that was hyped up through the year, left me cold. Several acts I love forgot to bring the songs. Also I suppose I inevitably feel detached – antagonistic even – because I had Love Is Not Rescue out there and because I didn’t travel overseas as much as usual, so got a less international feel for the year’s music. That said, looking back through previous years, this year’s Top 10 albums is as strong as any. Also, great telly and books. These moved me more, especially after I had my phone stolen, because I rediscovered reading.

Albums

1. Gill Sandell – Tarry Awhile
2. Pulled Apart By Horses – Pulled Apart By Horses
3. Laura Marling – I Speak Because I Can
4. The Xcerts – Scatterbrain
5. Thirty Pounds Of Bone – Method
6. Lianne Hall – Crossing Wires
7. Grasscut – 1 Inch ½ Mile
8. Arcade Fire – The Suburbs
9. Bellowhead – Hedonism
10. Taylor Swift – Speak Now

Honorary mentions (this would be my 11-20): Far, Seashell Radio, Napoleon IIIrd, Frightened Rabbit, Corinne Bailey Rae, Grinderman, Lissie, James Yuill, Gil Scott-Heron, Gypo Buggane, plus Springsteen’s remastered Darkness boxset and the private one-copy-only compilation album Songs In The Jim Of Bob that everyone made for Jim Bob’s birthday, which was incredible.

Songs (not on albums listed above)

1. Tom Williams & The Boat – ‘In Love’
2. Caribou – ‘Odessa’
3. Isy Suttie – ‘Pearl and Dave’
4. Kate Nash – ‘Don’t You Want To Share The Guilt’
5. Kanye West ft. Pusha T – ‘Runaway’
6. Frank Turner – ‘I Still Believe’
7. Robyn – ‘Hang With Me’
8. Tinie Tempah – ‘Pass Out’
9. New Pornographers – ‘Your Hands (Together)’
10. Eminem/Rihanna – ‘Love The Way You Lie’

Also nods to: I Am Arrows, Mavis Staples, Anna Madeleine, Robyn again for ‘Dancing On My Own’, LCD Soundsystem, Tim Minchin, Emily Barker, The Fall, The Hold Steady, Warpaint and She Makes War.

Special props here to Jon Boden’s Folk Song A Day project, where he’s released a new recording of a traditional song every single day since June. Without picking one out, the average standard is phenomenal. He’s basically on a one-man crusade to broaden people’s understanding of ‘folk’, which is important.

Books (not necessarily first published this year)

1. Hilary Mantel – Wolf Hall
2. Jim Bob – Storage Stories
3. Kirkman, Adlard, Rathburn – The Walking Dead books 1-8
4. Various – Dark Mountain volume #1
5. Stewart Lee – How I Escaped My Certain Fate
6. Paul Auster – Invisible
7. going back through the collected works of Geoff Dyer
8. Stephen Fry – Fry Chronicle
9. China Miéville – Iron Council
10. Malcolm Gladwell – What The Dog Saw and other adventures

Films

My favourite film by far was Inception which I saw twice at the cinema (which I almost never do). I also got a lot from American: The Bill Hicks Story and Four Lions. But I simply didn’t see enough of the big films out this year to make a list. After even just those three, I’m struggling to name anything.

TV

1. The Walking Dead
2. Tremé
3. The Trip
4. Miranda
5. Daily Show
6. How Earth Made Us
7. Sherlock (episode 1)
8. Wonders Of The Solar System
9. Caprica
10. Have I Got News For You

Gigs (watched)

My lamest year of gig-going for a decade; not for quality but for the few shows I actually attended. Properly gutted about this looking back – a wasted year. I have 10+ potentially great shows still listed in my diary from the past 12 months, where I just stayed home, or had something else to do that wasn’t worth the effort. 2011 will be about showing up… Meanwhile 2010’s best were:

1. Midwinter Picnic 2 at Brighton West Hill Hall (Dry The River, Singing Adams’ debut, Thirty Pounds, Tom White, Ben Marwood, Lianne Hall, many others)
2. Fonda 500, David Ford and Ingie with a live samba band at Mannifest 2010
3. Kathryn Williams at Queen Elizabeth Hall
4. Jim Bob + Isy Suttie at The Garage
5. Ultrasound at The Lexington
6. nine-hour ‘gong pooja’ at Florence House, Seaford, apart from the post-gong silence spoiled by snoring hippies
7. 65DaysOfStatic at Two Thousand Trees festival
8. Robyn Hitchcock at Brighton Komedia
9. Motel and others at Andrew Rayner’s 40th birthday party
10. Fever Fever, Something Beginning With L, Local Girls, Lily Rae at Brixton Windmill

Gigs (played) – rated according to my experience, not (particularly) whether I was any good (though of course that does have an effect). I don’t think my ‘best’ performance is in this list. So hard to tell, anyway.

1. Dartington College – playing an immense Steinway
2. Two Thousand Trees Festival
3. Several gigs on the Love Is Not Rescue tour, especially Newcastle, Bristol, Winchester, Glasgow, Cotherstone, Brighton, London. Memorable in the best way.
4. Hoodrats at SXSC Festival in Winchester
5. Marcus Brigstocke’s Greens benefit at Brighton Theatre Royal
6. Dublin with Frank Turner (Belfast was pretty class too)
7. Hoodrats at Lexapalooza where the music rescued an awful day*
8. Spoonhenge in Mr Spoons’ back garden with Mick Thomas
9. Uncivilisation Festival – for head-fuck conversations as much as anything
10. Bury Fringe Festival with Jim Bob
* sorry, clumsy phrasing: not Lexapalooza itself, which is always lush. I meant I had a stressful day elsewhere and missed 95% of the festival.

Visual Art

1. my Henry Moore walk
2. Brian Eno – 77 Million Paintings at Fabrica / Speaker Sound Flower Installation at Marlborough House
3. David Nash at Yorkshire Sculpture Park
4. Surreal Friends at Pallant House, Chichester
5. Decode at the V&A

Words, not music

1. Fiona Shaw  – ‘The Waste Land’ at Wilton’s Music Hall
2. Neil MacGregor – A History Of The World In 100 Objects (Radio 4)
3. Collings & Herrin Podcast
4. Just A Minute (Radio 4)
5. Private Eye
6. Johann Hari’s columns
7. Pecha Kucha on ‘The Nature Of Reality’ at Fabrica, Brighton Festival
8. Chimene Suleyman at War In The Park
9. Now Show into Any Questions on Saturday (Radio 4)
10. Vinay Gupta and Dougald Hine across social media