Andrew Hamlin shares his favourites of the year.
Top Ten Albums
1. Sara Gazarek and Josh Nelson: Dream In The Blue
So subtle and richly so, I’ll be digging out its secrets all next year.
2. Jad And David Fair: Shake, Cackle And Squall
Some of the greatest guitar solos of the 21st Century, because they
don’t give a fuck how a guitar solo should sound. As Half Japanese,
they broke rock and roll; now they’re playing with the pieces.
3. Herbie Mann: Live At The Whisky 1969: The Unreleased Masters
Pop songs become springboards. Into the air, a double-flip, then deep
down. Hold your breath in rapture.
4. Ravi Shankar: In Hollywood 1971
Ashamed that I don’t know the rules of this music. Exhilarated at how
much it does for me anyway.
5. MC Chris: MC Chris Is Dreaming
Nerdcore hiphop? All I know is, solid hiphop overwhelmed,
magnificently, by long dialogues with Freddy Krueger, plus an
existential horror suicide (not Freddy Krueger’s).
6. Beth Orton: Kidsticks
Matter-of-factly frightening, how much she knows about what people
feel but rarely say.
7. Paul Simon: Stranger To Stranger
He flashes his privilege here and there, but “Wristband” makes for a
prezel-logic look at privilege. Elsewhere, gentle harshness at
mortality and longevity.
8. Perez Patitucci Blade: Children Of The Light
Such a broken year. So reassuring that three men know how to wing it
and win every time.
9. Ingrid Michaelson: It Doesn’t Have To Be Perfect
She’s mourning her mother, her dog, her marriage, her health. She
still managed one of the most affecting albums and one of the
catchiest, angriest hit singles (“Hell No”) of the year.
10. Kendra Shank and Geoffrey Keezer: Half Moon: Live In New York
Another piano/voice duo. Unknown tongues, encyclopedic moods, and a
song made up on the spot, because they can.
Top 5 Books
1. The Boys In The Bunkhouse, by Dan Barry
2. The Most Famous Writer Who Ever Lived, by Tom Shroder
3. The Maximum Security Book Club, by Mikita Brottman
4. Old Records Never Die, by Eric Spitznagel
5. Ten Days A Madwoman, by Deborah Noyes
Top 5 Films
1. Indignation, directed by James Schamus
Like a punch in the face. A meticulous clockwork of beautiful cruelty
and impeccable ruin. Passion has no place in the machinery of
2. Max Rose, directed by Daniel Noah
Jerry Lewis is not funny. He’s manifesting pain. He’s been doing
this and not being funny for a long time and no one seems to
understand. A brilliant, plain film about pain.
3. Miss Hokusai, directed Hara Keiichi
The most beautiful film of the year.
4. Arrival, directed by Denis Villeneuve
Folks vow to do their duty, keep their cool – and still succumb to
temptation from nimrods with webcams exhorting us to never think
outside base instincts, a great grating chorus of worst wheels
ratcheting towards the worst noise.
5. Unbroken Glass, directed by Dinesh Sabu
The only documentary on this list. Facing family, and the truth about
family, can be hardest of all.