My 2017 – a look back (part two)


As I learnt writing the last look-back, 2017 has been a pretty packed year as far as entertainment is concerned, and there’s been plenty of highlights over the months.  So continuing this little bit of nostalgia, I thought I’d give a portion of this to my music highlights of the year, of which there have been many.

In the summer, Garbage made a return to the stage going on the road with the iconic Blondie for their co-headlining ‘Rage and Rapture’ tour which over 20+ dates travelled the United States and from what I hear was a roaring success.  During the tour Garbage released a stand alone single, the politically charged ‘No Horses’ accompanied by a powerful, hard-hitting video (see below).  It was another belter of a track from my favourite band, but wasn’t the only highlight of the year for me…

PVRISIndie electro-rock band PVRIS returned with their second album ‘All We Know Of Heaven, All We Need Of Hell’, and it was a step up from their impressive debut and cemented them as a new, unique voice in my music landscape.  Add to this British four piece Wolf Alice also delivered their second album ‘Visions Of Life’, and like PVRIS it was an improvement over their debut and a haunting, artistic experience full of emotion and effective songs that has made them one of my favourites.  A couple of more veteran artist also released new material and although I don’t listen to everything out there, I am glad to have discovered Paramour with their fun, energetic album ‘After Laughter’ proving worthwhile.  I was also happy to see the return of possible my favourite female solo artist Kelly Clarkson and her latest release ‘Meaning of Life’ really impressed and proved this singer still had it after her previous, otherwise forgettable ‘Piece by Piece’ album.

Well back to the movies and such…

July to December

As the blockbuster season continued, I didn’t get around to all the big hitters but was pleased to see the latest of one of the best franchises around right now, War For The Planet Of The Apes which again proved powerful and exciting with stunning effects.  Less engrossing but still fun was the rather hypoed but run-of-the-mill Baby Driver.  Adding to the disappointment was the surprisingly un-engaging Christopher Nolan WWII drama Dunkirk which for a war movie directed by one of the best around, proved strangely boring and lacking in character or spectacle.  It sure was ‘pretty’ though.

war-planet-apes

Get Out was a rather unsettling thriller and an interesting take on the racial tension subject, and hyped book adaptation Girl On The Train was an enthralling mystery with a great central performance from Emily Blunt.  One of my favourite directors, Park-chan Wook returned with The Handmaiden, an erotic period movie that although a tad drawn out was an engrossing love-triangle thriller.  Mark Wahlberg’s based on true events thriller Patriots Day was also powerful and gripping, whilst Jake Gyllenhaal sci-fi thriller Life was particularly effective and scarily-relevant.  August finished up with one of my personal horror highlights of the year, the far better than it should have been sequel Annabelle Creation.

Twin Peaks

Around this time I also watched the highly anticipated and very long awaited new season of Twin Peaks.  This was probably one of my most perplexing, strangely gratifying and definitely unique experiences of the year.  David Lynch’s magnificently bizarre and utterly surreal 18 episode ‘TV event’ is still something I am trying to piece together in my head even months after finishing it.  I had the box set for Christmas so may well be diving back in.  That ending though….yeesh.

French cannibal horror / coming of age drama Raw  proved effective if disturbing and distasteful but has certainly stuck in my head.  However, the latest entry in a once beloved saga, Alien Covenant was very underwhelming, having more in common with the tiresome Prometheus than the Alien movies.  Then I stumbled upon Netflix movie Gerald’s Game, a surprising, engrossing and creepy-as-hell Stephen King Adaptation.

I finished (at least the story) of the highly acclaimed and heavily hyped The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and as if testament to just how much fun and appealing that game was and still is to me, I still find myself going back to finish every shrine, find every weapon and do at least the majority of side-quests.  I even recently purchased the season pass.  Yeah I can’t get enough of this game.

Super Mario Odyssey CappyThe highly anticipated Blade Runner 2049 disappointed, with a plodding pace, forgettable visuals and was only marginally saved by a good turn from Harrison Ford.  However all was not lost as November rolled around and the much anticipated Super Mario Odyssey was finally released … and proved to be everything I had hoped it would be.  Add to this I finally got my hands on the highly acclaimed Japanese animation Your Name which proved to be a decidedly clever and thought-provoking body-swap drama.

So we come to December and particular stand-outs were Despicable Me 3 and the otherwise maligned Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets.  Bigger name movies like Spider-Man Homecoming and even Star Wars The Last Jedi didn’t fair as well for me but still had their moments.  With Christmas upon us again, I always enjoy writing these look backs and considering the movies that will eventually make up my Top Ten.  I’ll have that particular post out on New Years Eve, so please drop by then and check it out.

I also managed to get my hands on a new phone.  Previously and for about 3 years I’ve had the Samsung S6.  However now I have the recently released iPhone 8, which I’m loving so far and along with my iPad, that’s me all Apple’d-up going into the year ahead.

So there we have it.  That was my 2017 in two big entertainment nutshells.

Roll on 2018.

Craig.

Not a music blog


13346426_1176376935716579_4775983290790319072_nI have never considered this blog turning into a ‘music blog’, and I’ve never been into music enough to start up a blog solely dedicated to music.  However this is also a place for me to share my thoughts on what sort of things I am currently into and following my continued interest in the band Garbage, having motivated myself enough to actually see them live twice in less than twelve months … music has become something I feel I need to explore more of.  Which isn’t easy in this rather over-hyped and narrow-minded music landscape we live in.  What we’re told to like or buy isn’t the entire story and there are many artists that go unnoticed and un-talked about that deserve more exposure.  My favourite band are certainly in that category and despite enjoying big success in the 90s have been often ignored or dismissed since they returned in 2012 following a long hiatus.  You see the media and magazines don’t really want to promote an artist on their own independent record label as there isn’t the money being thrown around to get them that headline article or that TV interview or that music video exposure like you’d see from the likes of Rihanna, Justin Bieber or Adele.  There’s not any real money in it for the media so why promote them?  Actual quality of product doesn’t compared to cold hard cash it seems and reviews you’ll see across the board for many high profile stars will be massively exaggerated and marked up compared to their smaller, independent counterparts, regardless of the content.  Sadly the general music buying (or streaming) public are like sheep and they’ll blindly follow whoever they’re told to follow.

radiohead

But perhaps more as an experiment than entirely conforming to such media brainwashing, I chose recently to dip my toe in the pool of the hyped and celebrated to see if such attention can possibly equal quality … and purchased the latest albums from Beyoncé and Radiohead, two artists I’ve at least liked in the past but haven’t explored in a long while.  Out of the two Radiohead’s acclaimed ‘A Moon Shaped Pool’ is instantly engrossing with it’s almost meditatory, lucid feel and Thom York’s dreamy, emotional delivery.  It sounds like them, it feels like them and has all the musical imagination, weirdness and brooding self-loathing I would expect.  I’ve only given it a couple of listens so far but have found myself very much swept away.  On the other hand, Beyoncé’s heavily hyped and almost universally praised ‘Lemonade’ has been a bit harder to beyonce-Lemonadeappreciate.  It’s themes of betrayal, infidelity, loss and jealousy are commendable and some of the songs on work very well, but it’s been a grower and initial impression was: they call this music these days?  But tracks such as ‘6 Inch’ and ‘Daddy Lessons’ really kick in after a couple of plays and I’m enjoying it overall.  The included (on the CD set) DVD that covers many of the tracks in video form is decent with several stand out, very artistic moments and only proves how photogenic and iconic Beyoncé has always been.  As a package it impresses in places but feels a bit ‘meh’ in others unless you’re entirely wrapped up in Beyoncé and her private life, which I’ve never been.

I plan to continue exploring more artists and seeking out a few lesser known (or less publicised) bands or singers just to discover someone that hasn’t been rammed down our throats.  I tend to resent such aggressive publicity and it’s the reason why I usually don’t have a good word for Adele.  Nothing against her music (she’s actually a very good singer and songwriter) but the attention is ridiculous and diminishes such obvious talent.   So I wouldn’t mind getting the debut album from The Purple Harts for example, who supported Garbage during their European tour recently and they rocked.  I also hear good things about the singer Ladyhawke as well as bands like Churches.

But don’t worry regular or first time readers.  This is not turning into a music blog, but may have the odd deviation from movie reviews and videogame discussion to talk about a really great album I’ve been listening to recently.  It’s also not turning into a Garbage blog, as much as that’d be really cool to me … you guys wouldn’t want that either.  So normal service will resume shortly.

Craig.