Step Down, Eddie: A Tribute

by Oliver Butler (@notoliverbutler)

Apologies, apologies for those of you who were expecting a column last week. I know there’s probably one of you, two of you maybe. I’m probably just going to give up soon. Do you want an excuse? Sure. Sadness, and an inability to find the right words to justify this column in such a short space of time. However, one week has passed, and there’s an ability to now put into digital print just what the passing of “Fast” Eddie Clarke means to me, and the wider music community.

With Eddie‘s tragic passing at just the age of 67, this now means that the ‘classic’ Motorhead line up is no longer of this earth. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve dropped the edgy r/atheism side to my personality, I don’t really care what people believe as long as they’re good & righteous in their actions, and taken a wider view as to what happens to us when we die. Whilst I don’t know what happens when we die, I do hope, wherever the Three Amigos have ended up, there’s a bottomless bar, a stack of Marshalls and some er… ‘nasal decongestants’ to paraphrase Philthy Animal.

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But with his passing last Wednesday, the last connection to some of the most influential rock ‘n’ roll records in the world was finally closed, to an outpouring of love & sadness from the people who inspired him most. Despite the fact he hadn’t played with Motorhead since 1982, his lightning riffs & screaming solos laid the blueprint for some of the biggest bands in the world, including Metallica, Anthrax, and Megadeth. Whilst Lemmy will forever be remembered as the beating heart & snarled face of MotorheadEddie should forever be remembered as the soul of Motorhead. “Fast” by name, “Fast” by nature, he contributed to the full-frontal speed based attack that made Overkill, Bomber Ace of Spades so good and why they’re still widely regarded as some of the band’s best works, despite all being on the cusp of 40 years old.

Which says it all, considering that he spent considerably more time out of Motorhead than in Motorhead, both he and Philthy Animal are still held in such high regard, not just because of their raw talent, but because as a trio, they were, and still are a formidable combination. 50% of early Motorhead was the music, the other 50% was because they looked & sounded like biker pirates from outer space, who’d steal your wallet, your girlfriend & your heart in the same one hour set. If someone wanted to dress up as a rockstar for the evening, you’d just need to show them a photo of late 70s Motorhead and be done with it. That was and still is rock ‘n’ roll. But there was no posing involved, that’s how they genuinely dressed, cool as ice as they played red-hot music.

However, it’s not like Eddie left Motorhead in 1982 and then just disappeared after falling out with the band over recording with The Plasmatics; or being pushed out of the band largely by Philthy, depending on which version of events you believe although no member was available for comment on this via ouija board. After leaving, he formed his own hard rock, heavy metal express Fastway. Was this just a way of keeping himself busy? Absolutely not. In the eighties alone, Fastway released five full-length studio albums, each bottling the essence of heavy rock itself; fast, loose and unforgiving. Had glam rock risen to prominence in the mid-Eighties, history may remember Fastway a bit more kindly, but music nowadays is all about finding those hidden gems. Go and stick Fastway and All Fired Up on, you’ll be pleasantly delighted. It’s not quite Motorhead, but it’s still got that roll-in-the hay filth to it.

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With Lemmy’s passing just over two years ago, which I’m still not fully over, the death of Philthy a few weeks prior and now Eddie, it’s terribly sad that the creators of some of the finest rock and roll albums ever have now passed on. Eddie made sporadic appearances here and there with Motorhead, one of which I missed because I was on holiday with my awful, horrible, nasty girlfriend at the time, and every time he climbed on stage, he was greeted as if he never left. Every fan in that audience, even the ones born years after he left Motorhead recognised and understood Eddie‘s contribution to the rich tapestry that was those first five records, plus No Sleep ‘Til Hammersmith, still one of the finest live records out there.

So with this, after booking out an entire column to pay tribute to you, all I can say is thank you, thank you, thank you, Edward Allan Clarke, for playing a huge part in writing some of my favourite albums, for inspiring some of my favourite bands, and for forever creating a white-hot rock & roll aesthetic.

RANKED – The 10 Best Motörhead Albums

By Öliver Butler (@notoliverbutler)

And on the 20th day… of the er, 7th month… of the nineteen thousand and seventy fifth year, God created Motörhead. God saw what he had created, and it was fucking loud. Louder than the big bang, which was 120 decibels, which created everything, and Motörhead’s mantra was “Everything Louder than Everything Else”, so it’s cool AND factual, the best kind of cool.

For 42 years now, stages, speakers and spleens have been ruptured to the growling thunder of Motörhead, with that guy Lemmy leading the charge. Despite him no longer strutting this earth, his presence is still felt, missed and celebrated, with July 20th marking the second official Motörhead day, a day of heavy riffs and steady boozing, just the way he’d want it. So in celebration of this Christmas of sorts, should we have a look at the 10 best Motörhead albums, as ranked by me?

10 – Inferno – 2004

“Well we come up from the gutter, the wrong side of the tracks”

Kicking off with a bold opinion, had this album been released around the Motörheydays of the early 1980s, it’d be widely regarded as one of their finest albums. That’s my bold opinion and I will scream free speech over this until I’m put in the cold hard ground, it’s a fine piece of work and rightly deserves its place in tenth position.

One of the highlights of this album is one of the most surprising numbers that Motörhead have ever brought out with the easy ridin’ acoustic jam Whorehouse Blues, featuring a lil’ mouth harp blues from Lemmy (a solo he could still get note perfect in late 2015, just a few weeks before his death). Songs like Killers, Terminal Show, Fight, In the Black and In the Name of Tragedy are absolute quality and have a larger, wider feel to them than most classic Motörhead tracks, which doesn’t mean much, except that the steam train that hits you is larger… and wider, something that is indicative of the era where Cameron Webb produced their records. It was still Motörhead, it just felt… bigger, which could be said for all the albums from Inferno onwards. They just pumped out great, enjoyable albums, nothing that’ll be as good as the classics, but I’d argue that between 2004 – 2015, there wasn’t a bad Motörhead album.

If there’s one Motörhead album that’s a little unloved, I’d argue that it’s this. The tightness of the Kilmister-Campbell-Dee express holds this album together, with the rhythm and blues section holding the ship steady as Campbell went off on one of his shredxpeditions.

Whilst 10th position will forever be up for grabs, with many great albums snapping and clawing their way into the top 10, the prize goes to Inferno. However, as a post-script in this section, it was a straight fight between this and Bomber, but Inferno was the first Motörhead album that I’d ever been fully exposed to, so it slides in on sentimental grounds.

9 – Motörhead – 1977

“Fourth day, five day marathon, we’re moving like a parallelogram”

Where it all began! Well actually, the beginning was On Parole, which was recorded in 1976, but only released when Overkill and Bomber established Motörhead as a serious proposition. Motörhead and record companies, a dangerous mix.

Purely based on the fact that Lemmy got to use to word ‘parallelogram’ in a song and make it rhyme, Motörhead, by Motörhead, off the album Motörhead should be regarded as one of the finest albums and songs ever. 

A mishmash of originals, Hawkwind songs written by LemmyPink Faries songs borrowed from former guitarist Larry Wallis, Motörhead isn’t the best album they’ve released, but it’s the blueprint and the genesis of everything that would follow, and part of the primordial ooze that’s still in the DNA of any slightly heavy song that’s recorded today. This album also proved a savvy business decision, as including the song Vibrator no doubt helped launch the range of Motörhead branded vibrators, available from all good toy stores. Fucking Vibrator though. No doubt Lost Johnny has some implication around a lost prophylactic as well. You can never fault that band’s sense of humour. But that’s what it’s about, Vibrator, White Line Fever and Motörhead, sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll.

Whilst all interests in the band would later complain about the sound, there’s only so much you can achieve in a mobile studio when you’re buzzing off your tits on speed and finish the album in a weekend, but this album has the feel of a live album, something that Motörhead did so well in all incarnation and lineups. The sound is a bit jagged, a bit dirty, but it’s the kind of dirty that you find yourself thinking about at the most inappropriate times, which is always a good thing.

This is such an enjoyable album though, it’s got the razor blades and sledgehammer approach that’s synonymous with Motörhead’s live sound, but it’s got the smooth crusin’ blues influences that caused Lemmy to pick up a guitar in the first place. This was Genesis, but the drummer’s much better…

8 – We Are Motorhead – 2000


“And I will plead no contest, if loving you’s a crime, so go on and find me guilty, just one more fucking time”

What, when you’re known worldwide, have had many acclaimed albums and are 25 years into your life as a band do you name your next album? We Are Motörhead of course, making sure you properly introduce yourself to the six people on this earth who’ve never heard of fucking Motörhead, and what an introduction! As soon as the trademark Mikey Dee machine gun drum beat kicks in at the start of See Me Burning, you just know you’re strapped in for a ride.

One of the deeper cuts off the album is possibly one of the best. (Wearing Your) Heart on Your Sleeve is a raughty rattler of a rippin’ record that could wake the dead, and one of the best songs released by Motörhead in the 21st century. However, no matter how raughty and rippin’ that song is, it doesn’t have a patch on the slow moving, thunderous One More Fucking Time, perhaps made more meaningful after Lemmy’s departure, but it’s a deep, moving track, again showing the sonic flexibility of the sledgehammer attack.

This album is just the classic speed-infused rock ‘n roll attack that quite literally says We Are Motörhead, with Stagefright/Crash and Burn moving at a hundred miles and hour, with tracks like Slow Dance and Wake the Dead providing that blues-coated-in-razor-blades sound that makes this band so unique, and so fucking enjoyable.

Despite having a catalogue of originals, Lemmy and the boys just couldn’t resist a cover over the years, with a monstrous cover of Sex Pistols’ God Save the Queen, done louder, done harder, done with more distaste for the monarchy. Fucking lovely stuff, that. Titular track We Are Motörhead is probably one of their best later-era songs, and whilst obviously self-indulgent, it’s not wrong, they are Motörhead, come to kick your ass, they don’t have No Class, they were the first, and they still might just be the last. Will we ever have another Motörhead? A band with charisma, humour, and a sledgehammer approach? Not until Phil Campbell and Mikkey Dee return my calls.

7 – 1916 – 1990

“I make love to mountain lions, sleep on red hot branding irons!”

Stylistically, this is probably one of the deepest and most complex Motörhead albums, but the departure from full-frontal rock ‘n’ fuckin’ roll pays huge dividends in 1990’s 1916, earning the band a Grammy nomination, losing to Metallica, who had a similar sonic departure with their eponymous album. The students had become the masters, but they’d be nothing without Motörhead.

Tracks like Love Me Forever and Angel City don’t adhere to the Motörhead style guide, but they work so, so well. Does a saxophone belong on a Motörhead record? Debatable, but it feels right at home on Angel City. Claves and tambourines are not welcome on Motörhead records, as producer Ed Stasium found out when he slyly added them to a mix of Going to Brazil, and was promptly fired for it. Stasium then went on to state that Lemmy’s drug and alcohol intake had far exceeded his patience, so he quit. As if he was unaware that Lemmy was a man who enjoyed a snifter of whiskey and a cheeky sniffle of speed. Try again, Ed.

Nightmare/The Dreamtime is another sonic departure, that’s just creepy as shit, but again, it works. It’s not your set menu Motörhead, but you’re dining a la carte, and it’s delicious. Titular track 1916 could well be presented as one of the finest tracks Motörhead have ever produced. A dark and sombre ballad, inspired of the Battle of the Somme, Lemmy’s vocals and the use of a cello for the solo is beautiful, inspired and poignant.

But were you still being repeatedly hit by a truck on 1916? Of course you were, this is Motörhead, with the rockin’ and rollin’ Going to Brazil still remaining a fan favourite, and was a setlist regular until the very end. R.A.M.O.N.E.S, Shut You Down and The One to Sing the Blues repeatedly punching you in the face, with I’m so Bad (Baby I Don’t Care) containing one of the finest, daftest lyrics ever seen in the history of music.

6 – Sacrifice – 1995


“The pain is on you now, do not consider flight for gain, in you the poison breeds, crawling with the mark of Cain”

Unless you’re REALLY into your Motörhead, it could have taken you forever to guess that they released an album in 1995 called Sacrifice, but this was in a pretty shitty period for the band; March or Die had refused to march and er… died in a slump, and whilst Bastards was arguably one of their finest hours (oh, we’ll get to that), you could barely find it outside of Germany, leaving Sacrifice to be forgotten under a pile of old Radio Times issues in the garage, shame really, because it should be put on the mantle and shown to guests, Lemmy regards it as one of his favourite Motörhead albums, and he’s had a few.

This album goes a notch above the heavy sledgehammer attack from the Motörhead blueprint, pinning the listener down and shoving nails in their ears whilst dropping bricks on your head. The brawlin’ riffage on this album are some of the best riffs you’ve never heard, the ringleader in this being Over Your Shoulder, which comes up behind you and breaks your shoulder. Sex and Death, All Gone to Hell, Order/Fade to Black and the titular Sacrifice are the sonic equivalent of a multi-vehicle pileup on the M6. No survivors, just carnage. There’s even a song about you, Dog-Face Boy. The song In Another Time is also quite apt, because in another time when Motörhead, this album would ascend from the heavens, being worshipped by all. But instead, it gets the title of hidden gem.

5 – Ace of Spades – 1980 

“There ain’t no way, you’ll see another day, I’m shooting out your lights, bring you eternal night”

Oh yeah! MotörheadAce of Spades! Is a conversation any ‘Head head will have to endure many times. So much as mention your affection for this band, and you will have to converse with someone about Ace of Spades. Trick is to say you’ve never heard it. But outside of the title track, which is the most well known track for an exceedingly good reason, there are some absolute fucking rippers on this album!

Believe it or not, this album is a more mature offering, compared to predecessors Overkill and Bomber. Working with produced Vic Maile, who, Lemmy’s words; “[Vic] was great. He was the first one who told us we were all cunts and work harder.” And clearly, being told you’re all cunts and to work harder pays off, as a more solid, much more tighter Motörhead appeared on this album.

Commercially, this was one of Motörhead’s biggest hits, and it’s not hard to see why. Choice cuts like Shoot You in the Back, The Hammer, The Chase is Better Than the Catch, Fast and Loose, Bite the Bullet and (We Are) The Roadcrew are definitive classics. Are there better and more preferred Motörhead albums out there? Yes, we’re only at number six, but if my yet-to-be-concieved child asked what music daddy listens to, they would have this pumped into their ears until they wanted a Rickenbacker for Christmas. It’s the defining Motörhead album, and apparently one of the best metal albums ever. Except they’re not a metal band, they’re a rock and roll band. So either everyone who’s said that is an idiot, or it’s so good it’s permeated into other genres. The good times never really ended for Motörhead as the party never stopped, but this album, coupled with the rip-roaring No Sleep ‘Til Hammersmith may well have been as good as it would ever get. But I doubt anyone in the band would care, as in the words of ‘Fast’ Eddie Clarke;

“We weren’t trying to get a message across, apart from have a good time, you know: get pissed, get stoned, and fuck a chick. And that’ll do…”

Hm, yes, quite.

4 – Another Perfect Day – 1983


“Rock and roll’ll save your soul, and I got it, give it to me loud and free, don’t knock it”

Everyone hated this album when it came out, but as they say, time’s a healer, and 34 years later, it’s regarded as one of the most unique, but one of the best Motörhead albums of all time. Featuring the one and only Brian Robertson of Thin Lizzy one his one and only Motörhead album, ‘Robbo’ certainly improved on ‘Fast’ Eddie’s handiwork, with the solo on side one, track one, Back at the Funny Farm instantly shredding through your skin. Good as he was though, Robbo just wasn’t Motörhead, with the recording of this album and subsequent live performances being a smidge more than frustrating. Hell of an album, mind.

Aged to perfection, songs like Shine, I Got Mine, Rock It and Dancing On Your Grave popping up in setlists until the last days of the band, so whilst the birth may have been painful and frustrating, with fans recoiling at this ugly child, it grew into a beautiful swan of an album, which is why it’s at number four, obviously. Turkeys like March or Die still have to wait for someone to love them. I Ain’t No Nice Guy was a belter, mind. And Hellraiser, which Lem wrote for Ozzy, plus Mama I’m Comin’ Home in the space of a day. Hell of a wordsmith, that man.

Oh, right, yeah.

Despite the fact that many people try to deride Motörhead by saying “buhhh all their songs sound the same”, it’s fair to say they have a musical blueprint, but songs like Another Perfect Day and Turn You Round Again sound nothing like I Got Mine or Die You Bastard. Sure it’d take Robbo some seventeen hours to do one guitar track, but when you end up with an album that sounds as diverse and dirty as this, fuck man! Spend thirty four hours on your guitar tracks. Sure there’s the dirty bass track and the growling vocals, but past that, any sonic elements of a Motörhead album are up for the toss.

Another Perfect Day was Another Perfect Album from the ever changing Motörhead lineup, but nobody knew that back then.

3 – Bastards – 1993

“Alone and dying, I’m a thousand miles from home, I know I never was so broken and alone, I searched the sky for God, shivered to the bone, drowned in sorrow, lost in the ozone”

March or Die, as we covered earlier on, was a total flop. Failing to follow on from 1916March or Die had three drummers, nearly threw Motörhead’s
legacy in the bin and failed to score a hit with Ozzy and Slash because Sony were using WTG as a tax loss. Bastards, the lot of them.

Going back to the bulletproof blueprint for their next album, Lemmy, Phil, Wurzel and new boy Mikkey were going to do this album, hard, fast, and filthy. The result? Bastards, which is probably the best Motörhead album you’ve never even heard of. Their record label at the time failed to promote it outside of Germany, charting only there, Sweden and Japan, despite being one of the band’s crowning glories.

This album was very much a ‘back to basics’ album and as Born to Raise Hell correctly states, “we know how to do it and we do it real well”. The band loved this album, the fans loved this album, and any critics that were able to find this album loved it. It really is an inch perfect album with so much depth, with songs such as Lost in the Ozone and the harrowing Don’t Let Daddy Kiss Me providing a dark aura to the album. Don’t Let Daddy Kiss Me is probably one of the deepest, most powerful and darkest songs that Motörhead have ever done, but expertly executed, covering the horror of child abuse. It was offered to Joan Jett and Lita Ford, who understandably, turned it down. But do, give it a listen. It’s harrowing but moving.

But there’s movin’ groovin’ numbers on this album, with the honky-tonk piano and the bluesy feel to Bad Woman is incredible, heavy, stomping numbers like Liar and I Am the Sword frogmarching you through the album, with We Bring the Shake containing some of the finest lyrics you’ll ever get from Lemmy‘s pen. The only word for I’m Your Man is struttin’.

Standout track of this album though? Burner. It’s like someone took a classic Motörhead riff and stuck it on the record player at 77rpm. It quite literally burns a hole in your eardrums, causing you to burst into flames, knowing that you’ll never hear a song that filthy again.

If there’s one Motörhead album you need to listen to – it’s this. It’s perfection, it’s aggresive, it’s fantastic. But… it’s not the best.

2 – Orgasmatron – 1986

“And so the ballet starts again, exit stage left through the door, and we begin the horizontal dance, and he begins to know just what the claw is for”

I’ve got this album on vinyl, fucking SIGNED by Phil Campbell. Bought it off a lovely lady named Cath. Probably a bigger Motörhead fan than me, but she’s not writing for Blinkclyro. Lovely, lovely woman though.

The production values on this album were frowned at by the band, but I struggle to see what they say, it’s a roaring album, laced with entendre, riffs, and someone has a copy signed by Phil Campbell. The production and sound of this album only make it that little bit more special, as it adds yet another unique edge to Motörhead‘s sound. Tracks like Nothing Up My SleeveAin’t My Crime and Claw are laced with double entendres, and flow with the heavy force of a thousand monstrous trains. Fun fact regarding the cover; Lemmy was living in a houseboat and collection model trains because fuck you, I’m Lemmy, and said to long-standing cover artist Joe Petango “Joseph, I want a fucking train”, as the album was originally meant to be called Ridin’ With the Driver, a track that can also be found on this album. A fucking train was given to Lemmy, and a fucking great album cover was the result of said fucking train.

This is another album that’s only gotten better with age, as despite the fact it was disliked by the band when compared to their earlier works, with the production values decried, it sounds fantastic, with the apolitcal, atheist themes in Orgasmatron’s title track being one of the highlights of this album. Built for Speed is yet another reference to the big man’s preferred nasal decongestant of choice, and is just as enjoyable. Probably. Whilst Orgasmatron sat on the shelf of unloved albums with Another Perfect Day, they were slowly brought into the hearts of Motörhead fans, turning them from rejected records to adored albums, which is why they rank so highly. But none rank more highly than…

1 – Overkill – 1979

“Know your body’s made to move, feel it in your guts, rock ‘n’ roll ain’t worth the name, if it don’t make you strut”

This is it. This is the number one Motörhead album. From start to finish, front to back, arse to elbow, this is the definitive Motörhead record. Whilst I was far from alive in 1979, I can only imagine what hearing that double bass drum fire up for the first time was like. Hell, if it wasn’t for Philthy’s double bass antics, Lars Ulrich would have been a mediocre tennis player, and we may never have had Metallica. Can you imagine? Wimbledon instead of Whiplash.

Motörhead had laid down the blueprints for the next 40 years, but Overkill built the foundation on which a mighty kingdom would stand, and would go on to inspire some of the world’s biggest rock and metal bands. From the first bar of Overkill to the last note of Limb from Limb, this is rock ‘n’ roll at high speeds. No Class sounds awfully like Tush by ZZ Top, unsurprising considering Lemmy is a fan, but this sound could only be considered an imitation, only if Tush had been weaponised and had a nuclear warhead slapped on it.

Songs like Stay Clean, Metropolis and Damage Case were setlist mainstays, especially the former, which never seemed to disappear out the set, and the big man could still nail the trouser-stretching solo until his last concert. This was the first full-blown fire and brimstone offering from Motörhead and to this day, it’s still one of the best. Maybe it’s because it was the first right hook, or maybe it’s because it was fuelled by passion, anger and of course, speed. It was raw, dirty and unapologetic, something that didn’t change over the course of 40 years, but it was the first time Motörhead stood on your toes and looked you in the eyes whilst grinning.

It’s another album where the sound feels gritty, as if it was recorded on stage and put into stores the following day. The way the bass cuts through on Tear Ya Down sounds as if Lemmy stuck his Marshalls in your living room and went ham at you. The stomping drums of Capricorn, the throat It was the grit and the guts that gave Motörhead the glory, and albums like Overkill are as gritty as a mouthful of sand.

Is it a sound-perfect, tone-polished album? No. It’s like having razor blades pushed into your ear whilst three reprobates kick you to death, but that’s why it’s a belter. It’s uncouth, it’s rude, it’s spilt your pint, but it’s a fucking riot. It grabs you by the hand and throws you over the bar. And that, kids, is why it’s the best Motörhead album ever.

But let’s be real, all Motörhead albums range in ratings from either ‘Great’ to ‘Fucking Great’.


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Best of 2015

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.

Film

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.

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Ryan Connolly (@RyanC826)

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

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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?

Sicario

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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

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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

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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.

The Martian

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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!

~

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Elle Wrightston (@c0mmonweather)

6 Years

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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

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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

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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.

Music

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.

 

Jake Cordiner (@jjjjaketh)

 

5. Bring Me The Horizon – That’s the Spirit

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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

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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

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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

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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.

~

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Tom Fraser (@crimeturtle)

 

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.

~

Oliver Butler (@notoliverbutler)

 

 

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

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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.

Beth Ellis (@0mgbeth)

 

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

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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

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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.

TV

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.

 

William Hardie

William Hardie (@netflixandwill)

 

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.

Sean Donohoe (@silentb0b_)

 

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.

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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).

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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.

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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.

Big love, Liam x

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