But still, here we go.
MY TOP 10 KERRANG! ALBUMS OF THE YEAR
- EARTH – ANGELS OF DARKNESS, DEMONS OF LIGHT 1
- WOLVES IN THE THRONE ROOM – CELESTIAL LINEAGE
- RETOX – UGLY ANIMALS
- THE ICARUS LINE - WILDLIFE
- BLOOD CEREMONY – LIVING WITH THE ANCIENTS
- RAMESSES – POSSESSED BY THE RISE OF MAGIK
- WORMROT – DIRGE
- CARLTON MELTON – COUNTRY WAYS
- WILL HAVEN – VOIR DIRE
- LETLIVE. – FAKE HISTORY
MY TOP 10 NON-KERRANG! ALBUMS OF THE YEAR(ineligible due to musical unsuitability or merely not getting reviewed in those pages...)
TOP 10 TUNES OF THE YEAR
- FUJIYA & MIYAGI - VENTRILOQUIZZING
- PJ HARVEY - LET ENGLAND SHAKE
- THE JOY FORMIDABLE - THE BIG ROAR
- KING CREOSOTE/JON HOPKINS - DIAMOND MINE
- ZOMBY - DEDICATION
- NIGHT BIRDS - THE OTHER SIDE OF DARKNESS
- CAINA - HANDS THAT PLUCK
- SEA BASTARD - THE GREAT BARRIER RIFF
- PEGGY SUE - ACROBATS
- GHOST LIMB - INFRASTRUCTURE
GIGS OF THE YEAR(in alphabetical order)ANACONDAZ @ The Prince Albert, The Cowley Club and The Green Door StoreBRING ME THE HORIZON @ Brixton Academy and DownloadDEFEATER @ The ConcordeELECTRELANE @ The KomediaEVILE @ The Underworld, The Hydrant and DownloadGHOST @ DownloadGHOST LIMB/BLACK KITES/RESURRECTIONISTS @ The Prince AlbertGINGER @ The HydrantHELLBASTARD/PANZER BASTARD/SUICIDE WATCH/CONSTANT STATE OF TERROR/BLOD DRUNK @ The Cowley ClubHYRO DA HERO @ The Concorde and DownloadTHE KING BLUES @ The Concorde and DownloadLA DISPUTE/TOUCHE AMORE/SOUL PATROL @ The HydrantLETLIVE. @ DownloadLITURGY/CARLTON MELTON @ Hector's HouseLOS MENDOZAS @ The HydrantMARIACHI EL BRONX @ The ConcordeMONARCH/PAGAN ALTAR/SEA BASTARD @ The Green Door StoreNIGHT BIRDS @ Sticky Mike's Frog BarPARTS & LABOR/TEETH OF THE SEA @ The Green Door StorePETTYBONE @ The Green Door StoreTHE PHANTOM BAND @ The Prince AlbertPRIMAL SCREAM @ The Brighton CentrePYRAMIDO/CLOCKED OUT in DeptfordRATZ ASS @ The UnicornROLO TOMASSI @ The Green Door StoreSAVIOURS @ The Prince AlbertSLOATH @ Hector's HouseSTATE ICONS @ Sticky Mike's Frog Bar and The Green Door StoreTRASH TALK @ Download and The ConcordeVENETIAN SNARES @ CoalitionWILD EVEL & THE TRASH BONES/KING SALAMI & THE CUMBERLAND 3/THEE VICARS @ The Concorde
- FUJIYA & MIYAGI - PILLS
- BIG DEAL - TALK
- DAM MANTLE - NOT A WORD
- I BREAK HORSES - WINTER BEATS
- ZOMBY -ALOTHEA
- WOLVES IN THE THRONE ROOM - WOODLAND CATHEDRAL
- DERADOORIAN - MARICHKA
- SPYCATCHER - REMEMBER WHERE YOU WERE WHEN MICHAEL JACKSON DIED
- KING CREOSOTE/JON HOPKINS - BATS IN THE ATTIC
- WILL HAVEN - WHEN THE WALLS CLOSE IN
THE 4 FILMS I SAW IN THE CINEMA IN 2011
THE HANGOVER PART 2
TV SHOWS OF THE YEAR
1. THE KILLING
OK, it seems a bit cheaty to include a show first aired in 2007 and 2009, but it wasn't until this year that the two series of The Killing were made accessible to viewers in the UK. The first series was so gripping that when we went on holiday and discovered our house in Britanny could receive BBC channels, we actually stayed in to watch a Danish show with English subtitles - in France.
Plenty of words have already been gushed about the first series, but it seems to me that the second series picked up a lot less praise. I'll try not to include any major spoilers here, but if you haven't seen it and want to ensure nothing is given away, maybe move on to the next bit...
In some ways, the basic formula of The Killing doesn't change much for the second series. The mysterious killer, the tangled investigation which keeps on going down dead ends, the shady politics, the innocents caught up in it all. As when reading two consecutive novels in David Peace's Red Riding series, it's hard not to feel that while (most of) the characters have changed, this landscape is stuck in a constant loop of murder and corruption. Sarah Lund returns, of course, and the story is once again told through three main strands: as in the first series, these include the police investigation and the politicians implicated in it, but where previously the story followed the bereaved family of the victim, this time it focusses on a sectioned former soldier, his family and former colleagues. As before, each episode ends with a snapshot of where these strands are, the tense accompanying music somehow almost comforting in its familiarity.
The first noticeable difference this time round is the pace: trimmed from twenty episodes to ten, this rattles on at quite a speed. There's a second killing relatively swiftly, and it soon emerges that Lund and her pals are chasing a rather active serial killer. The scale is much larger too: as hinted at above, the killings involve the army, while the politics are now at a national level. Race may have played a part in the first series, but European reaction to the War On Terror and Islamic fundamentalism is foregrounded in this investigation, and the trigger for the whole state of affairs appears to have been an incident involving Danish troops in Afghanistan.
Somehow, this latter point occasionally makes The Killing II feel a little like an extended episode of Waking The Dead, which often tended to riff on a theme of the sins of the past having grim consequences upon the present, while the enigmatic, (mostly) unseen killer and his nasty methods recall the bad guy of Harper's Island, that underrated US exercise in teen-friendly Grand Guignol, particularly in a sequence on a Swedish island. While neither of those comparisons are intended as insults, though, The Killing still outstrips anything that came before it on every level: its acting and writing are exemplary, and it even manages to use hackneyed signifiers (police investigating darkened warehouses with torches, that kind of thing) without ever seeming cliched. There's evidence of some thawing in Lund's distant exterior, but she remains the socially awkward, damaged and driven detective who proved so enthralling first time round. A third series is apparently likely, and while I agree with actress Sofie Grabol's assertion that it should be the last, I'm already looking forward to it.
Oh, and if you refuse to watch this series on the basis that it's subtitled, just fuck off. Or learn Danish.
2. THE SHADOW LINE
With criminal business and conflicted coppers at its heart, this inevitably got commentators dubbing it the UK's answer to The Wire (see also: The Hour as the UK's Mad Men). It wasn't - it was much stranger than that, with a tendency towards the surreal and nightmarish. Amongst an excellent cast, Rafe Spall's manic, babyfaced thug stood out, with a Radio Times correspondent even suggesting that his story could be a prequel to Heath Ledger's Joker. Full disclosure: I haven't yet watched this series to the end, but what I have seen already puts it head and shoulders above anything else the UK produced this year.
3. EDUCATING ESSEX
OK, it was a terrible name, but it didn't miss the point as much as the people whose only reaction to this show was to slag off the "chav" kids it portrayed. I've no idea how they managed to convince staff and parents that it was a good idea to put 65 cameras into a Harlow secondary school for a year, but by doing so the programme makers fashioned a moving portait of teaching in the 21st Century. The kids weren't demonised, but emerged with both their hopes and their problems laid out, sometimes in heartbreaking fashion. The teaching staff, meanwhile, gave 2011 some of it most unlikely TV stars, not least Deputy Head Mr Drew (a pedantic rule-enforcer but probably brilliant teacher, first seen singing tunelessly along to Fairytale Of New York while eating cereal), while Head Teacher Mr Goddard proved particularly likeable; when he teared up a couple of times in the last episode, well, let's just say he wasn't the only one. These were teachers who genuinely cared, who were visibly upset when Vinni, who they'd spent years trying to encourage, dropped out in the term of his GCSEs. There was outcry amongst simpletons when one teacher, clearly jokingly and perhaps even affectionately, referred to his class as "scumbags". Appearing on BBC Breakfast, Mr Drew lamented that these children had a better understanding of irony than some adults.
See also: 24 Hours in A&E, made by the same people, which preceded Educating Essex with more moving/hilarious recordings and genius editing, this time centred on Kings College Hospital in Lambeth.
4. THE CRIMSON PETAL AND THE WHITE
A rare adaptation, in that it totally captured the feel of the novel it was based on, this was a grimy, morally conflicted tale of prostitution and society in Victorian London. Like the evil twin of a more trad, Dickens-derived vision of the times, this boasted both all-star cast and brilliantly-conceived sets while ensuring the viewer never forgot that they'd been dropped into a dangerous, bewildering environment.
5. DOCTOR WHO
Splitting this series in two seemed a strange decision, but it effectively gave it two end-of series peaks (let's not give the first the clunky name of "mid-season finale", OK?), not to mention two rollicking openers (Let's Kill Hitler was a terrific introduction to the second half). As always, there were both clunkers (The Curse Of The Black Spot seemed like a belated attempt to shoehorn pirates into Doctor Who, while we didn't really need James Corden to pop up again in Closing Time - Daniel Mays fulfilled a similar role so much better in Night Terrors) and massive revelations (River Song's identity being the big one), but the standout episode was clearly The Girl Who Waited, which combined the sort of time-twisting plot device beloved of Moffat-era Doctor Who with a genuinely wide emotional range and great performance(s) from Karen Gillan. When she leaves, apparently next year and probably in, oh God, a "mid-season finale", this will be the episode we'll remember her for the most.