Monday, December 19, 2016

BAZOOM! 2016 Can Go F**k Itself, Yes?

By the middle of December 2016, the press had become so obsessed with celebrity death they reported the demise of Dave Smith, a 67-year-old plasterer from Plaistow because he had more than 100 friends on Facebook...

As a reader of the Guardian, it amuses me no end that this supposed cornerstone of ethical journalism in the UK has no idea, whatsoever, about who is buying the paper it produces. Is it any wonder the paper has lost a ¼ of its readership; people my age don't want Frank Ocean or DJ Phlegm forced down our throats; many of us Over 50s have avoided rap, hip-hop and modern RnB with great tenacity and we don't need people in their 40s trying to tell us that shit is cool. You just sound like grandads dancing. Oh and yes, Fleabag was excellent, but I also expect most people Over 50 probably found it a trifle unsettling at times and people under 20 avoided it like they avoid most things.

Reviews of the year are pointlessly subjective. Based really on what people think will make them look cool in the shadow of their peers. Radio 6's top 10 albums of the year sounded like Radio 1's without some of the more ludicrous MOBO music out there; but then again I think Radio 6 is about as alternative as having Cerys fucking Matthews as a DJ. If this music station actually filled its brief we'd have a lot less Radios 1 & 2 and a lot more proper alternative stuff. But, to be honest, when has conventional media delivery systems - the ones many of us have grown up with - meant anything anymore. If we've seen a revolution in telly over the last couple of years, we're probably also seeing the end of conventional radio as we know it. I struggle to find music stations that can hold my attention for a song let alone for an entire day.

For me 2016 will go down in memory as the Year of Death; as far too many people were taken from the stage. It has kind of blighted everything else. Have you heard the new #### album? No, I haven't, I've been far too worried that someone might die! What did you think of that new TV series ####? I haven't seen it because I was trawling the internet to see if someone else famous had died! Hasn't the weather been dull? I dunno, I've been busy posting my support of every dead person ever on my social media so that people don't think I'm a cunt.

A friend of mine lost her mother on the same day as Princess Di went. She said it was even more surreal than she could have imagined. This year as well as a list of famous people dying as long as Ron Jeremy's cock, a lot of my friends (and my wife) have experienced their own losses - family, friends, pets, livelihoods - so spare a thought for them.

We lump Lemmy into the 2016 deaths, but it was really last year and that is often the case with music and films; we still have holdovers from the previous year for the first few months of a New Year. We don't stop listening to something on December 31st because of some barrier preventing us taking music into a new rotation of the earth and as a result I often look at what I've played the most and see stuff from previous years littered throughout. This year saw a very meagre return in terms of new music - for me. The notable exceptions were: 4½ by Steven Wilson (not even an album, just a collection of bits and pieces to keep fans happy while he works on his 5th album). A Moon Shaped Pool by Radiohead, which is a bit like the SW 'album' in that very little on it is actually new, but this might have been a good thing as it actually sounded like a Radiohead album rather than a nightmare in a Gordon Ramsey kitchen.

Ordinarily, the Radiohead album would have won it hands down for me. As a lapsed fan this was the kind of epiphany I needed, but 2016 was to hold two largely unexpected musical treats. First was a new Sand album (Sand is the solo spin-off project of North Atlantic Oscillation's lead man Sam Healey), which didn't live up to expectations, but was never likely to as I regard the first Sand album to be the best album of the 21st Century (Imho). It was still an awesome, powerful and beautiful album and wins my album of the year award.

However... In 2015 I became addicted to something called Tim Smith and in 2016 the first 'new' Tim Smith material for 8 or 9 years surfaced. It wasn't actually 'new' new, it was like the Radiohead and Steven Wilson albums; it was stuff recorded ages ago that had been finally produced, but it was also co-produced by Tim Smith, which meant that the man who suffered a catastrophic double heart attack and stroke in 2008 was now well enough to go into a studio and supervise the finish of a long waited for album. The Sea Nymphs - On the Dry Land isn't the best album of the year, but like David's Blackstar it can't really be categorised and therefore sits outside of what is allowably review-able.

German shoegaze-EDM pioneer Ulrich Schnauss released a new album which ended up largely forgettable. Only one track really stood out (and not even all of that), but it did at least have all the euphoric splendour of headbutting Bez in the mouth - that was the title track... No better... That's how much of an impact it had, I'd need to go and check the name of the album to make sure I don't humiliate myself. I think you want new music to have a little more of a meteor-like impact...

Musically, that's it. I can't really find anything from 2016 that really floated my boat. I heard stuff I really liked, but whether a single track will develop into a band/brand like, I can't say. I'd like to see how Moderate Rebels develop, but equally one decent single might not amount to anything. I've got lots of music that can't even be called One Hit Wonders because they never were hits. Whereas my friend Roger (who admittedly runs a music review site) has played about 2000 new albums this year and has far too many (about 700) he regards as good, I have listened to lots of new stuff and found it wanting, which is why I seem to have spent most of 2016 listening to the past.

Yet, if you think I'm being a wee bit scathing about music, how about movies? I've wasted so many hours of my life this year watching shite. Have people forgotten how to make films? Do they know what a script is? Are decent plots a thing of the past?

I have a friend who has a top 50 films of the year. I honestly am struggling to think of ONE decent, thoroughly enjoyable movie I've seen this year. Possibly Deadpool and even that's slightly grudgingly and I'm not even convinced myself - I just remember it because a friend of mine created the character.



I've sat here for ten minutes and I really can't come up with a favourite film of the year. Not even a 'maybe'. I have nothing. Nada. Diddly squat*. I can give you a list of the worst films I've seen, but that's just shooting fish in a barrel, innit?

*I would like to point out that there are a few films I haven't seen that I probably should, but something like I, Daniel Blake is likely to have a negative effect on my health, so I avoided it.

Moving on...

TV has been okay. I can't say that what the critics say are the best shows of the year are mine and they all seem to have forgotten about No Offence (on last January), which took some beating by anything. Between the wife and I we watched most of the 'award-winning' stuff and yet still managed to miss 50% of it. For me the aforementioned No Offence, the bonkers Lucifer and ... well, there has been quite a lot of good TV and some of it has been not even good but because it seems that all of the love and affection that used to go into films is now being lavished on TV it makes it watchable if nowt else. Take Luke Cage for example - it was like the superhero equivalent of Homes Under the Hammer - 20 minutes of TV crammed into an hour. Marvel's latest superhero TV show could probably have been done as a 2 hour film and still felt slightly padded out and unconsciously racist. But, hey, it looked great.

There is a degree of spoilt for choice and this has meant that some things haven't been watched yet, adding to that holdover effect that music has. However, I'm not stupid and I can see a style over substance load of vacuous nonsense when I see it and the makers of Stranger Things certainly managed to pull off something with a TV series that under close scrutiny was an absolute load of shit. I thoroughly enjoyed it until I started to think about it and how it used its 1980s feel to gloss over things like a plot or a direction. It ended up feeling like a massive prologue to another series; a bit like season 2 of Daredevil and every other series of The Walking Dead.

Speaking of zombies lurching into the unknown, surrounded by redneck nasty bastards - how was 2016's politics for you? Tasty, was it? Getting everything you wanted? Control back in the right hands now is it?

Let me make this as nice as possible. 2016 wasn't a bad year. Some people actually had a good year and simply can't understand all your negativity. Yet, there will be people reading this who will be begging for 2016 all over again by the time Christmas 2017 rolls around because 2018 looks even scarier. How can I possibly know this? 2018 is when we leave the EU. I might not be the healthiest person alive, but I know how to forage and I also know what is edible and what is poisonous; that makes me more valuable in the future than someone who knows how to network his electronic gadgets.

And remember, it's Christmas... But it doesn't really matter when it is because we're all going to die. :-)

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