Over the last few years, I’ve started keeping lists of everything I’ve watched and listened to, interviews I’ve done throughout the year and gigs I’ve seen.
2016 was busy but there’s always room for improvement. I would have liked to get to more gigs, for starters, and this year I will make an effort to get out more for non-work stuff, as well as read a hell of a lot more.
58 interviews, 33 gigs, countless albums, 11 books (pathetic!), 71 films, 17 TV series/documentaries.
Must try harder.
Originally published in The Irish Post, November 2013
Actual graffiti spotted on a wall in Belturbet, Co. Cavan
IF THERE IS, as they say, something in the water in Cavan, then it has taken one band slightly longer than usual to fully ingest its magical ingredient. Twenty-four years, to be exact. The Strypes may have blazed a trail over the last year, making fans of Elton John, Noel Gallagher and Paul Weller and creating Beatlemania-like scenes in the tents of Glastonbury and the airport terminals of Tokyo alike – but they may have inherited the mantle of ‘Cavan’s most famous exports’ from a different band, if things had turned out differently.
The Would Be’s, the band initially formed by brothers Paul, Eamon and Matt Finnegan in Kingscourt, Co. Cavan in 1989, became the could-have-beens when their fairytale story turned sour. A brilliant debut single (‘I’m Hardly Ever Wrong‘) saw the quintet compared to The Sundays and The Smiths; John Peel played it on his radio show and invited them to London to record a session; Morrissey invited them on tour as his support act and they had A&R men from multiple major labels clambering for their signatures. The future looked promising – until a combination of bad decision-making and youthful naivety saw them sign to an independent label, Decoy Records, who failed to nurture their talent. The dream became a nightmare when media interest dwindled at the band’s failure to progress and release an album.
Yep, it’s that time of year again, and as I mercifully find myself in the rare position of being finished my year’s work early for once (!), I thought I’d list my highlights of the year.
I do love a good list, but not necessarily to rank ‘x’ over ‘y’ – I find that it’s really helpful to read other peoples’ lists and maybe get a good sense of any albums/songs/films that may have bypassed you during the year. It’s so easy to overlook records when you’re listening to so much stuff for work, and it can be difficult to keep up with the sheer volume of stuff being released. Nevertheless… below are my favourites of 2013.
Have a lovely Christmas! Continue reading
Originally published in The Irish Post, September 3rd, 2013.
Domhnall Gleeson creases up, eyes widening and shoulders shaking as he tries to suppress a bellyaching laugh and avoid spraying the room with the mouthful of water he’s just gulped back. I have just asked the young actor whether he is ready to be hailed as the next big rom-com dreamboat – what’s so funny about that? – but a line in his new film About Time may go some way to explaining his mirth. By modern standards, Gleeson is, perhaps, “too pale, too skinny, too ginger”, as his character puts it, to be your stereotypical leading man. Continue reading
Let’s face it: decent modern horror films are hard to come by. Striking the balance between tension, genuine scares and an original storyline is something that has largely eluded mainstream cinema in recent years, which explains why a lot of horror films fail to make it to the big screen and are fast-tracked to DVD before you can say ‘I’ll just go and check the basement out’.
James Wan has had mixed form up to this point. The Australian is best known for his role as co-creator of the dreadful Saw franchise (and director of its first installment); movies that were huge money-spinners, movies that caught the imagination of the multiplex masses, but not exactly the sort of art that a filmmaker would want to have quoted on their epitaph.
And then along came Insidious. A film that impudently borrowed from the golden age of horror – from the Hammer-style title to the superb Bernard Herrmann-esque score and sound effects – it was a revelation of the modern genre. Not without its flaws, certainly (the last third in particular saw the story majorly lose its way), but it was nevertheless a compelling narrative about a young family whose son’s talent for ‘astral projection’ leaves his body exposed to a host of malevolent ghosts and a scary red-faced demon, all of which want to possess him. Far-fetched? I’ll say, and that’s without going into ‘The Further’, the purgatory-style no-man’s-land where the dead supposedly wander around waiting for an ‘in’ back to the world of the living. Still, the film’s slow-building, creepy nature and multitude of clever jumps made for a hugely entertaining mainstream horror and Wan’s promising work on The Conjuring earlier this year only served to heighten the anticipation for this sequel.
I’m a bad blogger, please forgive me.