Okay, so here is my belated review of year for 2013.
I confess, I haven’t seen many new movies at the cinema, but of the ones I have seen three stand out:
3. Gravity 3D. I’m with Mark Kermode on this. Not many films deserve 3D but this did. Watching it on a cinema screen (even a relatively small one) was an utterly immersive and disturbing experience. Utterly claustrophobic and beautiful.
2. Upstream Colour. Very “indie”, perhaps trying a bit too hard but really immersive. I found myself drawn into the story, the plot zips and zaps back and forth, the viewer is left wondering what is actually reality which adds to the power of the movie wonderfully. Just over 90 minutes when it could have been hours too long, the film is fantastically intriguing and I through the central actors did brilliantly.
3. The Place Beyond The Pines. This movie could have been the best thing just about ever on the big screen, but it wasn’t. The three part storyline had a great start, a not quite great middle and a slightly less great than that third section. On my first viewing I didn’t quite believe one of the teenage actors in their role as the son of an upcoming politician, but it was really good.
Broadchurch - naturally!
Lost Kingdoms of South America. So fascinating. Made me want to travel.
Norma Jean - Wrongdoers. Screamo, mathcore, whatever, Chariot-esque, wonderful, with a combination of styles.
Daughter - If You Leave. Fragile and yet uplifting, this set of songs draws the listener in. I delight in the song, “Youth”. Like a mellowed out song of youth angst. Live they are fabulous and full of nervous energy.
Tegan and Sara - Hearthrob. My favourite Canadian duo go all synth-pop, electro and its fantastic.
Mogwai - Les Revenants. The soundtrack to The Returned. Mogwai play the quiet - loud game beautifully as always, a great album to work to.
Chvrches - The Bones Of What You Believe. Having been on a list for Sound of 2013 I loved what I heard straight away and waited until the album’s release to buy it straight away. An out and out pop album, full of clanging synths and just wonderful melodies. With a darker heart than might be expected. Superb!
College - Secret Diary. Synths, electro, great collection with some stand out tracks.
Sigur Ros - Kveikur. Sigur Ros do the Dark Night of The Soul and its brilliant.
Waxahatchee - Cerulean Salt (Deluxe edition featuring 2012 album American Weekend). Loved this for the new album but the inclusion of her debut album was a stroke of genius. Lo-Fi fabulousness like the early 1990’s on the debut with a more post-grunge circa 2000 for the second LP. Great stuff. Understated and wispy brilliance.
Listener - Time Is A Machine. My best album of 2013. Not an instant killer hit, like Wooden Heart but full to bursting with slow burners. Favourite lyrics change week by week, but it is so so so so good.
Chagall Modern Master (Tate Liverpool). An honour and privilege to see such great works present in one place. There were a few pieces I would like to have seen there, (White Crucifixion), but great to see the chronology of his themes and practices develop. Red Roofs and The Village and I were highlights.
Peter Stanford, How to Read a Graveyard: Journeys in the Company of the Dead. Not morbid, a delightful reflection on rhythms of life, on mortality, on cemeteries themselves. Great.
Christine Valters Pintner, Eyes of the Heart: Photography as a Christian Contemplative Practice. An informed book by the author of the fantastic, The Artist’s Rule. A wonderful short book to encourage encounter with the divine in the mundane.
Michael Symmons Roberts, Drysalter. 150 poems, each of only 15 lines. So beautiful.
Chloe Aridjis, Asunder. This book stays with you!
Sigur Ros at the Manchester Apollo. Like a piece of performance art being unravelled over the course of 2 hours. Best staging for a concert I have ever seen. It was sensory overload and such a worshipful experience. All we needed was some incense.
Sigur Ros at Jodrell Bank. Projections on the telescope and a festival feel in comparison to the above gig. Splendid.
Tegan and Sara (with Waxahatchee) at the Ritz in Manchester. Again. Brilliant live. (Like everytime I see them!)
Annihilator at Sound Control Manchester. Could have gone to see Chvrches. But this was amazing. Jeff Waters thrashing through the riffs.
Mogwai performing along to the movie Zidane at the Albert Hall in Manchester. Mogwai wrote the soundtrack to the great football film Zidane. In this incredible (urban decay-ish) space they played the album live along with the film. So amazing.
Listener at the Kraak Gallery in Manchester. Felt like being part of a new movement, this was utterly incredible. An old office now a music and arts venue. So intense. Loved this so so so so so so so much!