Let’s face it, 2014 was a pretty awful year in music. 2015 may have been a top-heavy affair but there were gems sprinkled throughout. This list is mostly an update of my half yearly list with some new additions and rearrangements.
25-11 (in alphabetical order)
Beach House – Depression Cherry
The first of 2 albums Beach House released this year, Depression Cherry sneaks ahead mostly for the unexpected and welcome shredding on single ‘Sparks’.
It’s that time of year again where I claim that albums I listened to for the first time last week are destined to become future classics and where I very quickly run out of adjectives to describe simple musical terms.
I don’t often post album reviews here mostly because I believe albums take time to endear themselves to me. So instead of posting a ‘best albums’ list for records that have only been out for a few months, here are my favourite songs from the first half of 2014. As with my list last year, I’m limiting myself to one track per album/EP/single in order to increase diversity.
Ahh Lisa. If not my favourite character, then the one I relate to the most. She’s the main focal point for some of my favourite episodes of The Simpsons, including my very favourite. This is because the show always treats her efforts, passions and insecurities seriously, even if they start to bore or annoy other characters in her family and in Springfield at large. She’s also the focal point for many of my least favourite episodes because her earnestness can sometimes start to bore the audience as much as it does those around her. Continue reading →
This wasn’t the easiest list to make, but limiting myself to the better, earlier seasons does mean that I have less to choose from and therefore less crap to wade through. The primary common denominator amongst these 20 is that the stories they tell feel rote or boring. I can handle stupid but funny, wacky but fun, but certain characters and situations are simply comedic deadweight.
Just like my ‘best of classic era‘ list, I’m defining the classic era as seasons 3-8. There’s no real consensus but that’s where I choose to draw the line. I’m not including clip shows for obvious reasons – they’re just the worst (despite my fondness for ‘The 138th Episode Spectacular’)
Choosing my favourite episodes of Community is both quite simple and quite problematic, because of the way creator Dan Harmon seems to pitch his show. Harmon is someone who tries so hard, some would say too hard, to produce a show that is more than ‘just a sitcom’. As such there are several episodes each season which will emerge from Harmon saying, ‘wouldn’t it be cool if…..?’. These episodes tend to be high-concept parodies of specific films and television shows or a mere riff on the conventions of film genre and form. Such episodes started being produced towards to end of season 1 and really thrived in season 2.
As I mentioned in my previous Top Simpsons Episode List (up to season 8), I am a lot kinder to the Mike Scully (9-12) and Al Jean (13+) seasons of The Simpsons than many others because I grew up with these episodes. Sure they were muddled in with the re-runs of classic era episodes, but at the time I couldn’t see much of a differentiation, funny was funny and The Simpsons continued to make me laugh, with season 9 and onwards providing me many hours of enjoyment. Having said that, it’s easy to now see a differentiation in the quality and tone of the show. The laughs were still there, but they came from a sillier place. The show became broader, cruder and targeted towards a younger audience. The satire was blunted in favour of Stupid Homer, or worse, Jerkass Homer as he came to be not-so-affectionately titled.
This list represents a ranking of the Studio Ghibli films that I have seen between 1984’s ‘Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind’ and 2010’s ‘Arriety’. This list is to somewhat celebrate the arrival of Hayao Miyazaki’s latest film ‘The Wind Rises‘ which will premiere at the Venice Film Festival. I’ve still yet to see ‘From Up On Poppy Hill’.
Studio Ghibli has made some of the greatest animated films of all time. Almost every film is beautifully textured and thoughtfully written. This list is ranked purely in terms of how much I enjoy these films; it’s not necessarily a reflection of how well made they are but rather how much I enjoy revisiting them, so there may be some controversial choices here.
Full Disclosure: I still have, to this day, 40+ VHS tapes of The Simpsons episodes that I taped off the TV (that’s right, I’m bad) as a young lad. I have all the DVDs up until season 11 where the horrible packaging made it impossible to remove the discs. Most embarrassingly, I have an entire folder full of sheets (almost 100 in total) which perfectly document which episodes are on which tapes (and a brief description), whether or not the episode exists in its entirety or was only half taped, and a grade out of 10 for each. So this list is in honour of that boy who had (and clearly still has) way too much time on his hands.