Foals’ debut album, Antidotes, just turned 10 years old, providing an excuse to revisit this British indie staple. Today it would be hard to argue that Foals aren’t one of the best British bands of the last decade, consistently impressing release after release and garnering critical acclaim. In the past ten years the band have gone from playing local clubs in their hometown of Oxford to playing main stages of festivals around the world. All of this success stemming from one of the best debut albums to come from the indie scene.
Foals are often being referred to as being in the genre of “Math Rock”, which peaked as a musical style in the late 80s; it could be said that Antidotes is a Math Rock revival album. With the style of the album feeling very different from its contemporaries, who all began to sound increasingly similar since the success of bands like Arctic Monkeys, The Kooks and Franz Ferdinand. The album perfectly managed to keep an upbeat post-punk sound whilst creating something new in the UK indie scene, which at times was just plain boring and predictable.
The tracks are consistently catchy throughout the record, sounding cohesive as a project yet switching up tempo just enough to keep listeners guessing from song to song. The dreamy, intricate instrumentals on the album range from atmospheric and subtle to memorable moments that would go on to be an essential to any house party in the late 2000s. The vocal performance from Yannis Philippakis is also another standout feature of Antidotes as he takes a different approach to song writing compared to many other indie acts from the same time, and it really pays off. The lyrics are simple yet abstract, often repeating over the tight, upbeat guitar and groovy baselines found throughout the album.
This new approach to up-tempo catchy songs definitely shook up the British music scene, providing an important alternative to some of the more popular bands and going on to influence bands such as Two Door Cinema Club and Everything Everything. The versatility that was displayed on Antidotes, which sees the band regularly switch from soft spoken and delicate to shouting and abrasive, sets the foundation for what Foals have further explored on later releases, continuing to improve and make such great albums as Total Live Forever and Holy Fire. These records brought them to the mainstream and have gained fans from all corners of the globe, allowing them to sell out headlining tours and feature as highlights of festival lineups across the world.
Ultimately, Antidotes kick-started the career of one of the most exciting and charismatic bands to come out of the UK in recent years. The album really struck a chord with young fans that saw through the surface level indie rock replica bands, who were searching for something different and new. Many of these people will now look back fondly on Antidotes as a classic indie album, as well as acting as an introduction to Foals, whose reputation as one of the most exciting acts to see live is well earned.
There is no secrecy or mystery between the linking of football and music. The terraces are constantly changing iconic lyrics with the names of their nippy winger or slating the opposition with “____ are falling apart, again” to the tune of Joy Division‘s Love Will Tear Us Apart. One connection between the two industries is closer to home and often overlooked by passive gamers – the Fifa, originally Fifa Football, franchise is constantly churning out a quality soundtrack year after year to millions of players around the globe.
With hundreds of tracks being on the Fifa jukeboxes over the past two decades it is impossible to make a solid, fairly ranked list of the best, but here I look at what I call the golden tunes EA Sports have included over the years since Blur’s Song 2 hit us in 1998 like a Steven Gerrard worldie.
Before revealing the list below, there are a few that could easily have been added including:
Flogging Molly – To Youth (My Sweet Roisin Dubh), Bloc Party – Helicopter, The Strokes – Machu Pichu, and Caesars – Jerk It Out.
5) Morrissey – Irish Blood, English Heart [FIFA 2005]
Okay. So, in my opinion, Morrissey’s solo stuff isn’t THAT great, but this tune soundtracked endless hours of rinsing the PlayStation 2 version of Fifa Football 2005 while I was winning various titles with Ajax. Nestled amongst a brilliant soundtrack (more of which are on this top five list), Fifa may be to blame why I am a Smiths-loving loser…just maybe.
4) The Sounds – Seven Days a Week [Fifa 2005]
Another gem here, The Sounds, who I still know absolutely nothing about except they are a Swedish outfit, have old-school Blondie vibes and an abundance of sass. Seven Days is easy listening and was always allowed to be played through fully rather than hitting the R3 button to skip. The Sounds have made it to endless Spotify playlists I’ve made in the past and thanks to Fifa I actually have a vague idea of who they are.
3) The National – The System Only Dreams in Total Darkness [Fifa 2018]
A modern great in the form of The National. Needing absolutely no introduction at all, they are a band who have only excelled themselves time and time again and even though I don’t own this edition of Fifa, it is heartwarming to know that anyone who (stupidly) hasn’t discovered the band themselves will be introduced to some ambient brilliance.
Oxford’s math rock maestros have featured on Fifa soundtracks a couple of times, but it is Olympic Airways that makes the list. Added pretty much at the same time as their debut, Antidotes, dropped. Foals, like the Fifa series, have been a constant companion to my life for a long time now and to see the two combine is fantastic.
THE tune that got me into music. As a football-loving eight-year-old, who thought it’d be such a stressful life at that age, I didn’t really understand the whole blue Topshop top or being a 9 and a half in four beers time, but knew the lyrics off by heart. It took a fair bit of convincing but I managed to get A Grand Don’t Come For Free on CD that Christmas and had to play it through headphones because of the parental advisory sticker. In short, I have to thank EA Sports and Fifa for effectively making me the person I am today.
Do you agree with the list of Fifa soundtrack greats? Let us know on the usual social media places with your favourites.
There’s an ongoing joke about the cleanliness at Coachella: compared to the rugged, filthy conditions that music lovers at UK festivals thrive in, the California located event is the aftermath of a cillit bang advert. This, in addition to the near soulless crowds, results in people brushing off Coachella as nothing but an overhyped fashion show that also happens to have acts playing there.
That’s where this post comes in. Whilst I’d love to jump on the Coachella slagging bandwagon, it would be unfair to forget the fact that the festival has some of the best acts in the world performing at it, year in, year out. What follows is a list of some of my favourites from this first weekend that should, hopefully,display the diversity the festival has to offer.
Run The Jewels
My hands down favourite moment of the entire festival, Run The Jewels managed to steal the show despite performing early in the afternoon. Not only did hip hop heavyweight NAS come on stage to perform with Killer Mike and El-P but MOTHERFUCKING BERNIE SANDERS INTRODUCED THEM ON STAGE. Who says socialism and rap can’t be friends? (Well no one but I’m trying to pad this out as much as I can.)
Was I really gonna pass up the chance of talking about Foals? Even in the face of severe technical issues, a broken PA is gonna do all sorts of damage to your sets quality, the band still managed to get the crowd going. Just look at the image above: attendees helping someone crowdsurf? Who’d have imagined it! Any worries about Foals not deserving that headline slot at Reading and Leeds can be laid to rest.
A video posted by Jasmine Bahremand (@dogluver007) on Apr 18, 2016 at 2:05am PDT
It isn’t only an honour but a privilege to be able to see Death Grips perform live. Not many can claim to see the experimental hip hop act play their deafening discography in person and the audience at Coachella were aware of this, documenting the night which allowed for some clips of Hacker, I’ve Seen Footage and Hot Head to surface online. Don’t watch any unless you want to be left green with envy.
Everyone’s favourite Australian gal entertained an enthusiastic Coachella crowd with some fantastic tracks off her fantastic 2015 LP Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit.
Out of all the headliners, one act stood out as a real attention grabber (before they got confirmed for pretty much every festival on earth): LCD Soundsystem. After reuniting this year, the James Murphy fronted act put on a great show that included a touching tribute to music icon and wonderful human being/alien David Bowie in the form of a cover of Heroes. Beautiful stuff.
So what do you make of Coachella? Got a favourite performance? Let me know what you think in the comments down below and follow this blog for more news and reviews.
2015 has been one of the most eventful years in recent history. A year just as full of tragedy as it was brimming with joyous occasions that put a smile on our faces.
An annual event since 2013 when I made my first compilation of best albums, here’s another Best Of from us here at blinkclyro.com. As always, we have another great cast of talented writers who have helped with this list of sorts with more contributors than ever. I’ll be giving my favourite of each respective category at the end of the month because my real aim in all of this isn’t to further inflate my already tiny ego: it’s to be a platform for opinions and that’s what will be on show today. Don’t agree with any of them? Then leave your rage induced comment down below.
So what are we waiting for? Let’s get started.
If 2014 didn’t please you enough, 2015 had the return of not one but two gigantic series: Mad Max and Star Wars, both of which have been critically lauded. With this in mind, let’s see what entertained us most on the big screen.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
You may think this choice comes from either fanboyism or nostalgia, and while both of those things are true, after one showing I can say that the Force Awakens is better than all of the prequels combined.
The plot is very reminiscent and will feel familiar to fans of the original Star Wars, but with that said the power of this film to play on the hearts of fans cannot be underestimated. To be back in the universe that I love is such a great feeling. JJ has achieved what he set out to do, with use of practical effects and shooting on location, everything is real! From the sweat on Finn’s face on Jakku to the bitter cold of the Starkiller base. The Force has awakened. Have you felt it?
What can be said about Sicario that has not already been said? it’s a great exploration of both suspenseful filmmaking and unexpected character development that twists and turns at every chance it gets. Emily Blunt, an FBI agent is thrown into the deep end of the Cartel infested pool of Juarez Mexico. Alongside a CIA spook played brilliantly by the overbearing and charismatic Benecio Del Toro, Blunt finds the lines of morality blurred as a shooting at the Mexico/US border leaves her startled and losing a grip on her own sense of purpose and life. Film of the year so far, presented brilliantly by Denis Villenevue.
Mad Max: Fury Road
This summer’s blockbuster season was ‘mediocre’ in the words of Fury Road’s main antagonist, Immortan Joe. At least Mad Max redeems it somewhat. Fury Road is almost a documentary on how create a world with only a camera and practical effects. Through visionary George Miller’s keen eye for detail, what he creates is an adrenaline fuelled punch to the senses and then a hefty dose of nitrous oxide to our bodies. With real vehicles pushed to almost 200mph and a hell of a lot of stunt actors jumping across the chase vehicles rode by our main protagonists played by Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron, Fury Road is one hell of a motherf****** ride.
Straight Outta Compton
I don’t think anyone expected this. Not even me. Straight Outta Compton is the story behind some of the past centuries’ greatest hip-hop artists including: Dr.Dre, Ice Cube, Tupac and Eazy-E. The story of why these Niggas With Attitude became so famous is one that will definitely pull your heartstrings right out of your chest. Come to think of it now, I don’t think there has been another film this year that has moved me the way this film did. The struggle of a movement, powered through music and brutal words that speak of a reality known to many back in the 80’s, Straight Outta Compton is a must see for everyone. Emphasis on Must see.
From book to film, it’s another one of these adaptations. Only this one is superbly done, like really well done! Of course, one expects nothing less from Ridley Scott, even if he has been letting himself down lately (I won’t even go into his Prometheus shenanigans) The Martian throws Matt Damon onto our red neighbouring planet as a stranded astronaut who must survive for over 300 days on a planet that doesn’t support life. Now this sounds like another gritty Gravity type scenario, but it’s far from. While it’s visually just as beautiful, it takes the more light hearted route and gives us a feel good space film, distancing itself from both the past two years massive budget sci-fi films. The Martian is definitely a beautiful and just god damn fun film to watch. So go watch!
6 years is a powerful film from 2015, starring the likes of Taissa Farmiga, better known for her role in American Horror Story and Ben Rosenfield. The story follows a couple who hold a ‘perfect’ and idyllic relationship. Their love seems to hold no ends while they engage in ‘typical’ teenage life; parties, friendships and careers. Director, Hannah Fidell, really leaves you feeling like this is what you want in your own life.
Yet as the plot unravels we view their relationship to turn sour and, more importantly, violent. New sides of the characters are evident as their conflictions tear their relationship apart, until eventually they break up.
Ultimately, 6 years, leaves the viewer understanding that violence can be present in any relationship, at any point, while personally feeling the loss and pain that the characters suffered, as simultaneously their relationship and who they are unravelled.
Absolutely Anything was an easy choice for me, despite the bad reviews it received that made me neglect watching it until only weeks ago. It’s a typical film starring Simon Pegg – funny, touching (in a strange way), but it leaves you wanting more and wondering ‘what if that was me’. The plot follows a school teacher, whose life seems to be going not so well, until aliens provide him with powers to do anything.
We see he struggles to comprehend this initially, which portrays how differently his life is under this influence, including his romantic interests and work relationships. His now talking dog was a favourite of mine, bringing a whole new life to the wonder of what pets actually think.
Absolutely Anything is a feel good film that will definitely get you laughing.
Paper Towns was an eagerly awaited film of 2015 due to being based upon John Green’s book of the same title. John Green also wrote ‘The Fault In Our Stars’ which was also adapted into a film the previous year.
Director, Jake Schreier, creates a moving yet powerful film that explores the mysteries of people and life in general, as we follow the adventures that emerge when childhood friends, Quentin and Margo, are reunited. The inherently young adult nature of the film provokes a definite sense of growing up, (and ultimately moving on). Yet it shows you to make the most of what you have as we see Quentin’s character evolve with confidence and happiness. Ultimately, Paper Towns leaves you feeling nostalgic, and sad in a strange ‘did I do enough’ way, yet it is equally beautiful in the characters present and the way it appears upon screen.
In a year that saw the rise of grime, a barrage of AAA rock releases and a terrorist attack at a gig (the heart of the art), here’s the best albums 2015 had to offer.
5. Bring Me The Horizon – That’s the Spirit
I don’t know how this happened. BMTH are a band I thought i’d grown out of, but here they are in 2015, dragging me back. This record is an absolute slobberknocker. 11 songs of sheer melodic metal mastery. Frontman Oli Sykes and the boys have been noticeably improving with each album they’ve released since 2006’s ‘Count Your Blessings’, and this is the album where their talents are truly realised.
In my humble opinion, this is the years essential metal album. Cracking stuff.
4. The Cribs – For All My Sisters
Ah, The Cribs. Anyone who knows me knows that my love for the Jarman brothers and their musical output knows no bounds, and this album does not disappoint. Recorded with The Cars Ric Ocasek, this is by far The Cribs poppiest album, filled to the brim with fantastic melodies (see album opener Finally Free, what a bloody chorus). However, the guitar work on this album shines brightest for me. Some of the riffs on this thing are sublime (That’s not to say Gary and Ross aren’t exceptional, however.)
In short, for all my sisters is the Cribs at their best: heavy, poppy, brilliant.
3. Sleaford Mods – Key Markets
What a fucking album this is. For those out of the know, Sleaford Mods are a two piece, politically charged post-punk band from Nottingham, England. Members Jordan Williamson and Andrew Fearn are angry. Very angry. Attacking a variety of well deserving targets (Tories to people being cunts at their gigs), the boys desecrate their chosen victims with scathing aplomb. The most surprising thing about this album, for me, is just how funny it is. Williamson’s wit really shines on Key Markets (“You live in Carlton you twat, you’re not Snake fucking Plissken”).
But it’s not all fun and games with Sleaford Mods, and that’s maybe what I like about them. They don’t take themselves too seriously, but they’d never let you think that. Slaves who?
2. Foals – What Went Down
What Went Down is the result of a band realising their full potential. This is Foals magnum opus, an absolute joy of a record. One thing I’ve always admired about Foals is their ability to go from skullfuckingly heavy (What Went Down) to utterly, utterly gorgeous (London Thunder) on the same album. It sounds like two different bands at the same time as it sounds distinctly Foals.
They’re dancey, they’re powerful, they’re beautiful, they’re Foals. And, simply put, they’re one of the best bands on the planet.
1. Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp a Butterfly
It couldn’t be anything else, could it? Leagues above anything else released this year, TPAB is quite simply one of the best albums of all time. There really isn’t much I can say about this album that hasn’t been said countless times by countless other journalists. There are not enough superlatives in the English language to describe what Kendrick managed to create with this album.
Tackling his inner demons head on, the songs truly seem to serve as a release for Lamar, he bares his very soul on some tracks on here (particularly “U”, “The Blacker the Berry” and the ending speech from lead single “i”). To Pimp a Butterfly is as funny as it is politically minded. Lamar really has struck a perfect balance between #Banger and social consciousness.
If, for any reason you haven’t listened to this album. I heartily advise you do so. I can almost guarantee you’ll love it.
Wavves and Cloud Nothings- No Life for Me
I guess it’s technically an EP and not an album but I’ll include it anyway because I march to the beat of my own decisions, as they say. Wavves have always been one of those airy-fairy-here-we-go-touch-the-surf-man kind of bands for me but with the addition, and dare I say guidance, of Cloud Nothings something magical happens- like when someone actually touches the surf, man. The title track is a stand out with a ridiculous amount of drive and energy from the very start. It blends the two bands’ sounds like a lovely audio cake mix, ready to be put in the oven at gas mark fun.
The closing track “Nothing Hurts” takes a more sombre approach leaving behind the drum heavy sound of the rest of the EP in favour of jangly guitars and a warm layer of synth which is uncharacteristically evocative for a song that doesn’t even last 2 minutes (which is the amount of time it’s supposed to take you to brush your teeth but who does that? Am I right?).
Trust Fund- Seems Unfair
It’s quite hard to write about this one to be honest. Seems Unfair only came out at the end of October but I’ve already killed it for myself by having it on repeat for the last few weeks. I guess this is a testament to the album in a way- there was nothing else I wanted to listen to when I knew that I could be treating my ears to this gem. This is the second Trust Fund album of the year and the progression is pretty apparent: The drum sound is noticeably better, the songs are, at times, a little darker and the tone of the album as a whole is a bit more coherent. I know it’s a cliché but it sounds like the band has grown up a lot since February. I bloody love it.
(Side note- I missed Trust Fund supporting Speedy Ortiz earlier in the year but I caught Ellis after the gig and promised to bake them a loaf of bread for the next time they play in Glasgow. I’m a man of my word and now a man of yeast and flour).
Sufjan Stevens- Carrie and Lowell
Lots of people weren’t all that keen on Age of Adz (2010) because it was such a departure from Stevens’ usual laid back, haunting style. This album sees a return to the utterly-melancholic following the death of Sufjan’s mother some years back. This tragic stimulus inspired some of his most beautiful songs to date as the album veers from heart wrenching (Blue Bucket of Gold) to lilting/terrifying (Fourth of July) and back again with the grace of seven swans (see what I did there? I don’t know if it counts as a joke but it’s a reference at the very least). It’s definitely not one to listen to alone on your birthday in a dark room round the back of the butchers.
I promise this didn’t happen to me, but if it had happened my reviews would be written in shit on a wall because of the immense emotional vulnerability that I’d be overcome with. Once again, this didn’t happen to me. It didn’t. I’m fine. Just let it go.
Honourable mention: Built To Spill- Untethered Moon
THIS BAND IS STILL WRITING GREAT MUSIC HOW DO THEY DO IT.
1 – Motӧrhead – Bad Magic
Forty years. That’s how long Lemmy & friends have been plugging it in, turning it up, and playing it loud. Recent health scares have caused the big man to discard his trademark diet of whiskey and speed, but couldn’t water down the sonic force that is Motӧrhead. This year saw the release of Bad Magic, the 22nd studio offering from the band, but still as raw as the eponymous debut album in 1977. Before you’ve even sat down to experience another rock ‘n’ roll punch to the face, Lemmy’s scream of ‘Victory or Die’, followed by a shock & awe aural assault.
The most notable highlight of a solid a 22nd album that any band could offer is the slowed down, lighters up, tears in your eyes ‘Til the End’, the most emotional Motӧrhead track ever penned, and one of the diamonds on the album. There’s nothing more to be said for a band, and more specifically a man, that is a true blue rock and roll star. Not a stereotype, not a poser, just a man who plays it loud, blows your eardrums out, and steals your girlfriend. God bless Lemmy Kilmister.
2 – Enter Shikari – The Mindsweep
They just can’t make a bad album, can old Shikari. Their youthful aggression has been channelled into a sonic rebellion, and 2015’s The Mindsweep was no stranger to the danger we all face. If nothing else, Rou and the gang are hardwired into the dire state of affairs this world is in.
In a rallying cry to dispel hate & care for your fellow human, ‘The Appeal & The Mindsweep I’ starts off a frank & noisy tour through the current state of affairs, screaming at the idea of privatised healthcare in ‘Anaesthetist’, refusing to be beaten in ‘The Last Garrison’, talking about the emperor & the arctic fox, and more seriously, the perils of global in ‘Myopia’, the absolutely thrashing fistfight that is ‘There’s A Price on Your Head’, and the only track that’s made me cry repeatedly this year, ‘Dear Future Historians’, which is probably one of the best tracks Shikari have ever put out. Also tipping my fedora to the iTunes bonus track ‘Slipshod’ & the video for offering a bit of comedy on an album that could be a political manifesto for one of the good parties.
Referencing only a few tracks on this album hasn’t done the album justice, because the whole album is a finely-crafted masterpiece, so do yourself a favour and get mindswept.
(Honourable mention for the Hospitalised version of this record)
3 – Broken Hands – Turbulence
CURVEBALL TIME. This was literally a fatal four-way between Foals, BMTH, Muse & these guys for my final album of the year, but the scrappy underdog just powerbombed those behemoths through the canvas. If you’ve heard of Broken Hands, you’ll be smugly pursing your lips, nodding in agreeance that Broken Hands are probably the most exciting band you’ve never listened to. Below will be a brief overview of their album, but don’t worry about that, just grab a copy of Turbulence & crack on. Doing a concept album is brave. Doing a concept album as your debut album is exceedingly brave, but what’s fear to Broken Hands, they’ve supported the Rolling Stones! They’re influenced by Hawkwind! WHY ARE YOU STILL READING THIS? The album references flight & planes throughout, with the first track ‘Spectrum’ kicks off with ‘There’s a jet engine in my head’, and we’ve all felt like that in some way shape or form. We then journey into the bouncy little jam they call ‘Meteor’, a slowed down singalong for ‘Impact’, which I’d gladly slowdance at my wedding to, another moody tome in the form of ‘747’ where the sustaining voice of Dale Norton prays for doom, death and destruction to come soon and keeps erm, sustaining (honestly he can hold a note longer than Arsene Wenger can hold a job. Really nice guy too, had a chat with all of them and they’re a great bunch of lads, even if they were terrible musicians you’d want them to do well because they’re nice guys).
The fact that in my twisted worldview, their debut is enough to trump some of modern rock’s biggest heavyweights, take influence from some of the rock and roll gods including Hawkwind, Sabbath and Motӧrhead and turn it into an experience, and that says a lot about their future.
3. Lana Del Rey – Honeymoon
Typically lugubrious though Ultraviolence was, Del Rey truly bought her A-game back with her third album in three years. Where Ultraviolence fell down with its tendency for bland album tracks, Honeymoon was full of heart-wrenching and nostalgic tunes such as The Blackest Day, Salvatore and the Bond theme-esque 24.
It’s Elizabeth Grant doing what she does best: pining about drug lords and establishing her iron-clad aesthetic as the all-American girl stuck in the wrong era. Beautiful,elegiac and razor-edged.
2. Peace – Happy People
The Birmingham quartet have firmly established themselves as major players on the indie music scene. Happy People, their second album, sees them continue with their breezy, catchy brand of indie pop. Gems include the radio-friendly Lost on Me and Money, in which satire is made of the modern day careerist mindset: ‘You’re going to be happy, you’re going to be rich.’
The light-heartedness of Harrison Koisser and co. make them a refreshing change from some of the more glum faced present day rock bands, and this album shows their potential as a crowd-pleasing headliner.
1. Grimes – Art Angels
The second female artist on this list with a kooky alias, Grimes somehow managed to outdo Visions, the demonic album that your religious aunt would probably frown upon, and one that took her from underground to mainstream with its heavy beats and otherworldly music videos. The long awaited Art Angels is Visions with added sweetness and a pair of fangs: it is Claire Boucher, established and unafraid of mixing the feminine with the fierce.
Instead of deep voice distortions we have tinny electronic instrumentals and girlish Taiwanese rap, and it somehow all works perfectly.
Television was once seen as the inferior alternative when compared to movies: now TV gives the cinema experience a run for its money with some brilliantly made shows gracing our screens. Was 2015 any different? Let’s find out.
I’m a student; a university student, to be exact, and if there’s one thing that my £9,000 a year education (bloody Tories) has taught me so far, it’s that there’s a hell of a lot of TV waiting to be watched when I have essays that need doing. With that said, it’s time to dive in to my retrospective on the top five TV shows of 2015.
#5 Louie (Season 5)
Even in its fifth season, when the majority of sitcoms begin to run out of steam, Louie only gets better. More comedic than the fourth, the fifth season proves that there is still endless comic potential in a show about a sad, white father (it’s funny, trust me).
#4 Empire (Seasons 1 and 2)
The numbers don’t lie; Empire is the first series in at least 23 years to gain viewers each week for its first five episodes. A gritty, dramatic soap opera for the 2010s, it’s caught fire extremely quickly, and it’s easy to see why; Taraji P. Henson’s iconic turn as Cookie Lyon has cemented her position as one of the most talented actresses right now. 50 Cent might think there’s “too much gay stuff” (really, Fiddy?) but the rest of us can’t get enough.
#3 Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (Season 1)
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt fills the 30 Rock-sized hole in my heart, in a very good way; the dizzying, interlocking jokes have Tina Fey’s wonderful fingerprints all over them. It’s a blindingly funny tale of a girl finding her way in New York after spending the majority of her life in an underground Doomsday cult, but for my money, it’s the flawless Titus Andromedon that steals the show. Trust me, you’ll have Pinot Noir in your head for weeks, and you’ll soon be counting down the days until the next season is available for streaming (Spring 2016, folks)
#2 BoJack Horseman (Season 2)
The second season of BoJack Horseman, another golden dingleberry from the gloriously clean Netflix Original butthole, is dark, layered, and hilarious. It’s the type of show that rewards the viewer for watching; its fast, densely-packed dialogue reveals more and more upon each subsequent watch, and every episode guarantees you a startling cocktail of belly laughter and deeply emotional introspection. It’s odd to think that in 2015, the TV show that provides the most accurate portrayal of mental health issues is an animated sitcom about a talking horse played by Will Arnett, but that’s where we are right now, and I love it.
#1 Master of None (Season 1)
Aziz Ansari’s new Netflix sitcom has it all: pasta, relationships, pasta, informed feminist rhetoric, pasta, Eric Wareheim, and pasta. The dude loves pasta. He tackles important subjects such as interracial dating, sexual harassment, racism in the media, and most importantly, how to get the best tacos in New York City. Most of all, however, Master of None is fucking real; Aziz approaches problem subjects like racism and sexism and handles them with a refreshing openness and honesty that’s unlike anything on network television, while not straying into preachy territory. Aziz changed the god-damn game with this one.
It’s been over a year since the beginning of the television spin-off to the Coen brothers’ cult film Fargo and as its second season comes to an end, Lorne Malvo and Lester Nygaard are names of the past. Many were anxious that the second season in Noah Hawley’s darkly comical anthology would not live up to the first due to it’s new cast and storyline set almost thirty years before the first. However, those worries were put to rest within the first couple of episodes as Fargo season two has proven to be one of the best shows on television this winter.
This time the story follows a young Lou Salverson (Patrick Wilson) in 1979 as he is caught up in the struggle between the menacing Gerhardt clan and the Kansas City Mob. Wilson is not alone in this all star ensemble however as he is joined by the likes of Kirsten Dunst and Ted Danson who along with the rest of the cast, thoroughly display their talent throughout. Bruce Campbell also pops up to do his best Ronald Regan in the season’s fifth episode.
Once again writer Noah Hawley gives us an enticing and entertaining story from start to finish with his clever dialogue and colourful characters. From the paranoia between accidental murderers Peggy and Ed Blomquist (Kirsten Dunst and Jesse Plemons respectively) to the insidious journey of the hired hand, Hanzee (Zahn McClarnon) there is plenty going on throughout, but it all comes together in the thrilling penultimate episode. There’s also a subplot involving UFO’s but let’s not get into that right now. The Coens themselves are only executive producers on the show but fear not Coen fans as there are multiple references to their films throughout (most notably through the choice of music used this season).
Along with the stellar acting and cleverly woven script the show is also visually appealing, once again filmed in the beautiful Calgary, Alberta. The snow-covered landscapes and coniferous forests contrast with the violent events that develop around them.
One worry many people (including myself) was that nobody could top Billy Bob Thornton’s performance as Lorne Malvo last season. While this is arguable, there are several characters who definitely come close, most notably the previously mentioned Hanzee and the silver-tongued Mike Milligan (Bokeem Woodbine). These two characters contrast each other, the former being silent and reserved while the other is talkative and extravagant, although they rarely ever interact they certainly make just as good villains as Malvo in the previous season. There are other memorable roles such as Campbell’s Ronald Regan and the always entertaining Nick Offerman as the paranoid Karl Weathers, a character reminiscent of Walter Sobchack from another Coen brother’s film, The Big Lebowski.
The final episode of this season may come across as underwhelming to some, most characters are essentially where they were at the beginning, but that’s most likely why it’s titled Pallindrome. It wraps up some things but also leaves a lot of loose ends that leave viewers thinking, maybe Hawley will give us some closure if a third season happens but as The Soprano’s once proved, sometimes less is more.
Definitely living up to it’s previous season and opening multiple doors for a third, the second season of Fargo has been one of the highlights of television in 2015. Noah Hawley once again creates a variety of colourful and contrasting characters that he uses to weave his darkly comical crime story against the snowy Minnesota backdrop. Those who loved season one will love this one just the same despite the absence of fan favourite Billy Bob Thornton, they may even love it more.
It has some minor issues such as certain characters and plots being underdeveloped but all in all, Fargo season two is a unique and entertaining experience which has been a pleasure to watch from start to finish.
List season. It’s odd how something with such a boring name could cause heated debate amongst many, though that’s nothing new for the internet. So as I’ve always done since 2013, I’ve compiled a list of my favourite albums of the past 12 months, ranging from heavy rock to pop to grime to rap, there’ll no doubt be something here for you. Disagree with me? Well you could always contribute to my Best of 2015 post which is coming next Thursday, just message me on Twitter or Facebook and you’ll be sorted!
I hope you enjoy this list which took far too much time to make than I’m proud to admit. So put the pitchforks down for now and let’s dive in.
25. At. Long. Last. ASAP – A$AP Rocky
Following up his 2013 debut Long Live ASAP, Harlem rapper A$AP Rocky gets even more experimental on this sophomore album. While there’s significantly less chart gems present than his last outing, the same charm and production value can be felt on every track.
24. Purpose – Justin Bieber
Time for all those awfully spelt insults and memes we made about biebs to disappear. He is back and with a totally transformed sound as those who once slated him are now praising him as tracks like Sorry are pop perfection. While his vocals might be a bit lackluster and too safe, the influence Kanye, Skrillex and co. have had on the lad has paid off.
23. Back On Top – The Front Bottoms
While Talon Of The Hawk felt like a AAA version of The Front Bottoms’ self loathing lyric fueled sound, Back On Top feels like the beginning of a new chapter for the band. Historic Cemetery just screams Weezer and other tracks like Cough It Out are as catchy as a cold (albeit more enjoyable). A near flawless amalgamation of emo & pop-punk.
22. Every Open Eye – CHVRCHES
There’s no denying that CHVRCHES are one of the best new bands to come out in quite a while, breathing new life into the synth pop genre and yet again reiterating how vibrant the Glasgow music scene is. Every Open Eye is like the Empire Strikes Back for the band: more gritty, more epic but faithful to what made the band what they are.
21. For All My Sisters – The Cribs
West Yorkshire band The Cribs might have hit out with their best album yet, full of the indie punk greatness that put them on the radar in the first place. See Pink Snow for a chaotic crescendo closer that results in another classic album for the band’s discography.
20. Currents – Tame Impala
Despite constantly being compared to the likes of Radiohead for their album rock genius, Tame Impala somehow manage to merge frontman Kevin Parker’s uncontrollable love of pop and their trademark psychedelic sound to craft something truly special. A breakup album disguised as a feel good, funky gem, Currents is only as good as the sum of its parts and those parts are undeniably brilliant.
19. Sometimes I Sit And Think And Sometimes I Just Sit – Courtney Barnett
Courtney Barnett has proved time and time again why she deserves to be put on a pedestal, despite what she might say on Pedestrian At Best. Sometimes I Sit.. has an unprecedented charm to it and is insanely listenable. Absolutely exceptional.
18. Art Angels – Grimes
As abnormally appealing as they come, Grimes returns with a record which is far more pop orientated than anything she’s ever made before yet it still retains all her trademark characteristics. California is a radio friendly hit that never verges into sell-out territory. She may have scrapped an entire album before this but when the replacement sounds this good, we’re not losing any sleep.
17. Cherry Bomb – Tyler The Creator
While the ever controversial Tyler may have had a bad 2015 (OFWGKTA is no more, fall out with best pal Earl Sweatshirt, banned from UK), he can end the year knowing his latest album is arguably his best yet. A Frankenstein’s monster of sorts, Cherry Bomb fuses Tyler’s influencers (N.E.R.D, Stevie Wonder) and his own own dubious rap style to make a distorted masterpiece.
16. Another One – Mac DeMarco
It really is testament to how talented Mac DeMarco is that a mini album manages to stand above full LPs. In his own words, Another One is about “different kinds of facets of being in love, being out of love, wanting love, not wanting love”. This concept never grows tiresome over the record’s eight track length and further refines his already sublime laid back sound.
15. Happy People – Peace
Peace know what they are: floppy haired indie royalty, just like Arctic Monkeys before them. They’re not ashamed of this in the slightest though as they embrace this wholeheartedly. Happy People has exactly what you’d expect from the guys who brought you bloodshake as well as some even heavier tracks like I’m A Girl, showing the band are still as capable as ever to fire out some more indie-rock gems.
14. What Went Down – Foals
It’s hard to recall an album this year that has managed to balance balls to the wall heavy rock and cordial little tracks all on the one LP. Foals have proven yet again that it’s not in their DNA to make a bad album.
13. Are You Satisfied – Slaves
The debut album is often a record which most bands would play it safe on to be more approachable by the public. This isn’t the case for Kent punk duo Slaves who showcase their silliness on Feed The Mantaray while also trying to get their message across of “doing something with your lives” to listeners. Regardless if they succeed in doing so, the boys manage to stand out from every two piece band around at the moment, no small feat at all.
12. The Mindsweep – Enter Shikari
2015 was undoubtedly one of the most important years for UK politics and no band knows and represents this better than Enter Shikari. From the feedback heavy track Anaesthetist dealing with the privatisation of the NHS to the unsubtly commentary on the corruption of bankers on Bank Of England, the band make their voice well and truly heard and it’s never sounded so good.
11. If You’re Reading This, It’s Too Late – Drake
For a man who is worth millions, if not billions, Drake’s latest album is surprisingly minimalistic in comparison to other rapper’s records. However, this surprise release benefits from this, managing to hit out with the anthems you’d expect from Drizzy while managing to be retrospective. A man that can’t be stopped.
10. Too – FIDLAR
Los Angeles band FIDLAR love drugs (despite just getting out of rehab), drinking and self loathing. They lay all their cards out on the table so that they and the listeners can get down to business and have a good time. Wouldn’t you know it, they do exactly that. Heavily inspired by the 90’s teen angst bands like blink-182, Too is a 42 minute record that is all about having fun and provides just that. Simple yet amazing.
9. My Love Is Cool – Wolf Alice
Is it any surprise that Wolf Alice are the biggest new act of 2015? The band have built up a hype hurricane since their very first EP which hasn’t been helped by the likes of NME naming them a “band that will change your life” and being nominated for multiple awards. Thankfully this hasn’t derailed the band who deliver a record bursting with heart and grunge-lite sound. One of the greatest debuts of the past decade.
8. Life’s Not Out To Get You – Neck Deep
Pop punk has had its own sort of renaissance this year with Knuckle Puck mixing the emo sound of American Football with the appeal a genre like this brings. Neck Deep have filled the converse of blink-182 with an album that is full of the same polish and emotion as Enema Of The State. A band that are worth keeping your eye on.
7. Positive Songs For Negative People – Frank Turner
You’ll struggle to find a solo artist with the same raw passion as Frank Turner. After constructing a record about heartbreak that was enough to make the toughest person feel second hand remorse, PSFNP does exactly what it says on the tin. Any self professed cynic will find themselves drawn in by the snarling guitars and folk rock genius of certain tracks, showing that Frank is arguably the most talented Turner in the business.
6. The Powers That B – Death Grips
Sacramento experimental hip hop band Death Grips are…weird to say the least. This statement proves to be the most true when listening to Jenny Death, the second half of TPTB, which came out of fucking nowhere in traditional Death Grips fashion. It serves as a reminder to why many fell in love with the band: pure uncut anarchy with the staple MC Ride delivery. Although it isn’t as tremendous as The Money Store, it’s the perfect combination of rap and rock, especially on tracks like On GP.
5. Integrity > – JME
Just like pop punk, Grime witnessed a second wind this year, solidified by artists like Skepta breaking into the charts and a flamethrower extravaganza at the Brits when many artists from the genre joined Kanye on stage. While it may not have topped charts, JME’s latest record is the best record in the genre since Boy In Da Corner. Independently released, JME preaches about keyboard warriors, veganism and his disinterest in others opinions. Over the 16 tracks and countless video game references, it’s painfully clear that JME is loving what he’s doing, not having to answer to a boss and in the process he’s stumbled upon one of the most refreshing albums of the year.
4. Get To Heaven – Everything Everything
Bare with me here. Yes, if you had asked me a few years ago if I would ever enjoy an Everything Everything album I would probably have laughed you off. However, the Manchester act aren’t regarded as genre defying for nothing and their latest release is proof of that. Full to the brim with infectious pop and insanely danceable tracks, Get To Heaven is unlike anything to come out this year. It has political commentary so well hidden by its 60’s beats and weirdly catchy alarm clock samples that even if they were stripped away, the album as a whole would still stand on its own. Imaginative and unique, Get To Heaven can be three genres at once but still be described with one word: exhilarating.
3. That’s The Spirit – Bring Me The Horizon
After a brutal history with the drug Ketamine, Oli Sykes says he came out of Rehab feeling like he didn’t want to scream anymore, he wanted to “sing from the fucking rooftops”. Just as Sykes overcame his addiction, so to have Bring Me The Horizon overcame the troubles that most bands face when changing their sound. Although hardcore fans who have been there since their metalcore days may be disappointed about the transition, there is no denying the layered and evolved synths and atmosphere that come in hand with them are on an such a level of quality that it’s hard to think of a band that does it as well as them. Without a doubt, the best rock album of 2015.
2. In Colour – Jamie XX
It’s hard to fault Jamie Smith when it comes to his skills as a producer. Many felt like working with The XX was limiting his range, musically, and whilst members of the band make appearances throughout, In Colour not only stands on its own two legs, it stands out as an absolute juggernaut of a record. The brilliant thing about In Colour is how difficult it is to pigeon hole. It’s been described by some reviewers as a rave album and some tracks like the aforementioned Gosh could imply that it is such an album. However each track can be interpreted in so many and the term “electronic” is so vague that it’s almost insulting. Whether you think it’s a rave album, a techno one or even a semi reggae one for some reason, you’re both right and wrong. One thing is for sure though and that’s that you’ll definitely be in the latter if you decide to give this album a skip.
And the best album of the year is…
To Pimp A Butterfly – Kendrick Lamar
What else was it going to be? Let’s all confess for a minute: we were all worried. How on earth could Kendrick Lamar top the move-esque masterpiece that was Good Kid m.A.A.d city? We were anxious as fuck but once To Pimp A Butterfly dropped out of nowhere, all those worries were laid to rest.
Criticise me if you wish but Lamar is the new king of rap as his scope reaches a ginormous scale you’d expect from a firearm. Showing the rage of Kanye (Blacker The Berry), romantic nature of Drake (Complexion) and the unpredictableness that only Lamar himself can provide, TPAB could have been a lame, safe follow up. Instead it tackles integrated racism in America, staying true to yourself by turning down stardom and…talking to Tupac. Seriously though, Kendrick is a man who knows where he stands in the music world. He knows he’s one of the biggest artists in the world and he uses this position for good, asking for gangs to reconcile, calling out rappers for being shams and telling the listener to love themselves.
There’s not much I can say about To Pimp A Butterfly that hasn’t been said already but what I can say is this: it’s not only the best album of 2015, it’s arguably the best album to come out this century.
Apple music’s simple description of Oxford rockers Foals’ fourth album may be short but as soon as the eponymously titled intro track What Went Down kicks off with a barrage of godzilla sized synths and riffs then you know those five words perfectly capture the sound this album dwells in.
Not that being heavy and loud is new to Foals. Just check out Inhaler off of their last album Holy Fire and see how making anthems is second nature the band, arguably something they’ve always been able to (Cassius & Red Socks Pugie off their debut album antidotes) but have only started to realise as time has went on. Dedicated fans of the band have always known this but even they were surprised when follow up track Mountain At My Gates was released just a few weeks later. Full of guitar breakdowns and cathartic noise, it was strikingly more calm than What Went Down to begin with but as the song reached it’s action packed climax, fans and newcomers alike knew the band were onto a winner.
A fourth album is usually the stage where most rock bands go one of two ways: either stick to the same formula that has served them well for most of their career or just go bat shit crazy. I won’t spoil what direction Foals have went in but do bare in mind that this is the band who bought cow and sheep bones to use for percussion after being inspired by voodoo.
There’s been development in the lyrics department thanks to frontman Yannis Philippakis’ new approach to writing them. Unlike how he would normally do it by making them intentionally mysterious, he wrote the lyrics for the tracks off What Went Down in a hypnagogic state which is where they are written on the verge of sleep to get straight to what the brain is thinking. Unlike what you might expect them to be like, a bunch of incoherent ramblings and regrets about how you screwed up that day at work, we get Philippakis singing about burying guilt and the things that we once believed “being lost to the depths of a hungry sea”.
Though they might have held back going quite so unconventionally for their sound like last time, the band know themselves what they’re best at: delivering fucking amazing guitar riffs and heavy anthems. Put on Night Swimmers and you’ll be forgiven for thinking you’ve found a Holy Fire b-side but as the song starts to unravel we get echoey vocals that are lucky enough not to be crushed by the destructive synths and guitars they’re paired up with. Then there’s Albatross that’s full of the afrobeat perfection that Foals have been affiliated with since their debut, standing out as one of the best tracks on the album and unintentionally serving as 5 minutes of pure nostalgia for fans of the band.
While we’re on the subject of the past, it’ll be clear to those who have paid attention to Foals that they’re not one to shy away from dark and chaotic subject matter. Hell, Holy Fire’s album cover had men on horseback, standing there in what looks like a sweltering heat: if that doesn’t scream of being a cryptic nod to an apocalypse then I don’t know what will. We get tales of lakes being set ablaze and bloody fistfights, along with one of my favourite lines off the whole album about how “love has put a gun in your hand” which may not be the most original lyric ever but in the context of how darker the album is sound wise compared to past efforts, it fits well.
That’s not to say that it’s all gloom and doom though. Birch Tree is a perfect example of how Foals haven’t forgotten the beautiful calm sound they experimented with on Total Life Forever. Starting off with a peaceful intro, the track is serenity embodied. “Come meet me by the river, see how time it flows” chimes the chorus, perfectly matching the nature of the song and follow up track Give It All keeps it consistent, featuring some beautiful lyrics of its own.
2015 has been one of the finest years of music I can remember. 2014 wasn’t awful but underwhelming in comparison to what this year has been like and What Went Down is a clear example of this. It’s hard to recall an album this year that has managed to balance balls to the wall heavy rock and cordials little tracks all on the one LP. There’s no doubt in my mind that this will be on a whole lot of Top 10 lists by the end of the year and who can really blame me for thinking that when Foals have proven yet again that they can’t make a bad album. Let’s hope I’ve not jinxed it.
So what are your thoughts on What Went Down? Loved it? Hated it? What was your favourite moment? Leave your thoughts in the comments below or tweet me them @blinkclyro since I’d love to see what you thought of it.
Last month I asked a simple question: do Oxford rockers Foals have a fresh future ahead of them? At the time they had just teased us all with a 12 second trailer consisting of mainly silence with some looming synths and thankfully since then things have become a lot clearer. Not only did we get a new Foals single What Went Down but we also got given a release date for their fourth album which shares the same name as their single. On the 28th of August we’ll have our question answered.
In the meantime however, how does the band’s latest single Mountain At My Gates hold up? After the absolute carnage and appealing mess of sound that What Went Down delivered, you’d probably be surprised by how much their new single differs though at this stage it would be stupid to pigeonhole the band. This is the band who went from math rock to soothing indie rock in the space of their first two albums. A band that, no matter what sound they mess about with, consistently deliver the goods and are yet to stumble in terms of quality.
If What Went Down was the Inhaler of their upcoming album then Mountain At My Gates is the Milk And Black Spiders. Front-man Yannis Phillipakis’ soothing voice transcends through angelic poppy harps and pounding drums whilst showcasing the uncensored lyrical approach Phillipakis is taking on album number 4. “Mountain At My Gates was from me getting more interested in seeing what would come out lyrically where there wasn’t a pre-conceived idea.” The songs’ finale is just as interesting with a breakdown of guitars and cathartic noise while Phillipakis somehow keeps his cool. A lovely end to a beautifully crafted track.
Acting on instinct has provided the band with one of their most dreamy and enchanting tracks to date, something that is obviously tame in comparison to their previous track but still leaves an impact. There’s no doubt in my mind that next year you’ll see Foals headlining Glastonbury or Reading + Leeds. God knows they’ve earned it.