GregHorrorShow – The Music Of 2014

Music 2014 Main

2014 has been a really good year for music, with breakout albums from the likes of Sam Smith, Banks and Hozier. There have also been some great albums from returning artists and even a very interesting film soundtrack collaboration.

Like last year I’ve popped my recommended tracks onto a Spotify playlist that you can check out here:

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I really liked Katy B‘s original album from back in 2010 so I was excited to hear the follow up ‘Little Red’. Keeping a similar vibe to her previous material, I thought this was a good listen. Maybe not as good as her debut but a solid ‘difficult second album.’ From an initial listen (albeit while working) I didn’t click with Beck‘s ‘Morning Phase’ album until a second listen cemented it as being up there with the best of the year.

The Phantogram album is fantastic, with stand out tracks like ‘Fall In Love’ and ‘Black Out Days’ throughout. I was also lucky enough to see them play an in-store gig at Rough Trade which was awesome. St. Vincent delivered a great album and I’ve been told I must check her out live soon because her shows are astounding. I really enjoyed the Dan Croll album, which has some good, laid back, pop tracks.

Music 2014 St Vincent

I think my favourite band this year has been Broods, who released their album ‘Evergreen’ a few weeks ago. I love their sound and they are great live. The stand out track for me is ‘Bridges’ but it’s a very good album overall. Jessie Ware returned with her second album which is among the best released this year. Tracks like ‘Tough Love’ and ‘Pieces’ cement Jessie as one of the UK’s best artists at the moment. Another returning artist was Lana Del Rey who dropped Ultraviolence in the summer. While I didn’t think it was as strong as her debut album it was a good listen and tracks like Brooklyn Baby and West Coast were highlights.

Hozier kind of came out nowhere to become one of the biggest artists of the year, his album is great with, of course, ‘Take Me To Church’ being the stand out track. Sam Smith has one of the best vocal performances I’ve heard in the last few years – like Adele or Florence Welch. Backed up by some fantastic tracks, he’s only just getting started! I’ve listened to the Banks album plenty of times and it’s just a really strong collection of tracks. I was fortunate enough to see her live earlier in the year at Koko and she was excellent in the flesh.

Music 2014 Hudson

On the live front I was lucky enough to check out lots of gigs this year. Aside from Banks and Broods, who I mentioned earlier, the highlights for me were Irish duo Hudson Taylor, Lorde – who was amazing at Shepherds Bush Empire, Ella Eyre, Hawk House and Hozier.

Azealia Banks finally dropped her long overdue album ‘Broke With Expensive Taste’ and while there were plenty of people lining up to watch it crash and burn, she actually delivered a really good, solid album. Would definitely recommend. Royal Blood make a hell of a lot of noise for just two people and I thought their album was brilliant. I’ve always liked The Roots and their new album ‘And Then You Shoot Your Cousin’ is up there for me as some of their best stuff. A great listen from start to finish.

Music 2014 Vaults

Other albums I enjoyed this year came from Vaults, Death From Above 1979 and Ben Howard. Another good listen was the soundtrack to The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part One, curated by Lorde it had some great artists involved with some cool tracks as well.

I’m sure there are plenty of artists and albums I’ve missed in this round up but shout out in the comments if there’s anything great you’ve been listening to this year.

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GregHorrorShow: The Books Of 2014

Books 2104 Main

Wow, I can’t believe it’s already almost the end of 2014 – having said that, looking at the long list of books I’ve made it through this year at least makes me feel like I’ve experienced a lot of great stories.

I’ll get straight to business – if you like sci-fi and you haven’t read the Wool trilogy (Wool/Shift/Dust) by Hugh Howey then you are in for a absolute treat! These books were the best I read this year with a gripping story and wonderfully written characters.

I caught up with an old title by another of my favourite writers, Aimee Bender, with ‘An Invisible Sign Of My Own‘. Telling the story of Mona Gray, a young woman who finds solace in mathematics before taking up teaching, it continues Bender’s surreal slant to stories and I really enjoyed it. I also read ‘Gone Girl‘ which, despite being pretty depressing and containing no likeable characters, I just couldn’t put down. It’s well written and strings the reader along throughout. Great fun.

Books 2104 Invisible

I loved David Glen Gold‘s ‘Carter Beats The Devil‘ so I was keen to check out ‘Sunnyside‘, his fictionalised account of the Charlie Chaplin based mass hysteria in the US during the early 1900’s. ‘Never Go Back‘ continued Lee Child‘s return to form, if you like Jack Reacher you’ll love this story. I can’t wait to check out the next installment in the Reacher series.

I’d been meaning to check out ‘The Quantum Thief‘ by Hannu Rajaniemi for a while and it didn’t disappoint, with a story that was at times both confusing and inspired. Ranjaniemi has created a fascinating look at an alternate universe with some ideas that may even find themselves into our world at some stage. I found myself a little disappointed with ‘Metro 2033‘ by Dmitry Glukhovsky. Actually let me re-phrase that as it was more of a post-apocalyptic burnout than genuine disappointment. It was a fairly enjoyable read but I couldn’t help feeling like I’d experienced most of it before, whether that was in other books or TV or films etc.

Running With The Firm‘ by James Bannon wouldn’t normally be my cup of tea but being so firmly rooted in the world of Millwall and set at the time I just started attended matches, it managed to pull me in. The first ‘Game Of Thrones‘ novel by George R Martin really sucked me in and I was amazed I could retain so many character, place and family names all at once! I’ll definitely read more of the books in the series.

Books 2104 Fatherland

I read a few older titles as well this year, many of which I enjoyed. ‘Breakfast At Tiffany’s‘ by Truman Capote wasn’t really what I was expecting at all. It was better than I thought it would be, with some interesting themes. I found ‘Fatherland‘ by Robert Harris thoroughly gripping – I’ve seen the idea that the Nazis won the second world war done many times but this was a really well fleshed out and believable world, with great characters. A classic novel that I just couldn’t get into was ‘100 Years Of Solitude‘ by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. I didn’t enjoy it at all, which is a shame as it’s so highly regarded by so many people.

Hyperion‘ by Dan Simmons was also a bit of a strange one – I really enjoyed the story but had no idea there was more than one book in the series. So I was getting into the final third of the book wondering how they would tie it all together, only to discover they weren’t going to and that the next set of events would occur in a later novel! Naomi Klein‘s hard hitting look at corporate culture in ‘No Logo‘ is a must read for everyone in the 21st century. Despite being over 10 years old it’s still as relevant today as it was then. Another book I enjoyed was ‘The Prime Of Miss Jean Brodie‘ by Muriel Spark which I wasn’t sure if I’d like but the characters are so well written it wasn’t hard to get sucked in by them.

You‘ by Austin Grossman was an interesting look at game development and the toll it takes on people’s health and relationships. Kate Atkinson‘s ‘Life After Life‘ has a great premise and I’m a sucker for anything time travel/alternate universe related so it was no surprise I enjoyed it. ‘The Girl With All The Gifts‘ by M.R Carey managed to turn me around as I was initially disappointed because I felt I’d heard this story before. But it soon shifted gear and delivered a great story that had me hooked until the very last page.

Books 2104 Girl Gifts

So there you go, here’s the full list of titles for 2014:

An Invisible Sign Of My Own – Aimee Bender
Sunnyside – David Glen Gold
Wool – Hugh Howey
Killshot – Elmore Leonard
No Logo – Naomi Klein
The Quantum Thief – Hannu Rajaniemi
Fatherland – Robert Harris
Prime Of Miss Jean Brodie – Muriel Spark
Hyperion – Dan Simmons
Never Go Back – Lee Child
Game Of Thrones (1) – George R Martin
100 Yrs Of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Shift – Hugh Howey
Metro 2033 – Dmitry Glukhovsky
Running With The Firm – James Bannon
Gone Girl – Gillian Flynn
Don’t Point That Thing At Me – Kyril Bonfiglioli
Breakfast At Tiffany’s – Truman Capote
Dust – Hugh Howey
You – Austin Grossman
The Girl With All The Gifts – M.R Carey
Life After Life – Kate Atkinson

What have you guys been reading this year? Any recommendations?

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GregHorrorShow: The Films Of 2014

Film 2014 Main

I’ve seen some great films this year and finally got around to catching up on some of the films I’ve missed over the last few years.

It’ll probably be no surprise to anyone to hear that Guardians Of The Galaxy was my favourite film this year – with such a great mix of characters and some strong performances to boot, it didn’t matter that I had no knowledge of the comics. James Gunn did a very good job of making sure you cared about the characters but that the tone stayed light for the most part.

Of the films I’d missed previously I really enjoyed Argo, a film that cements Ben Affleck as a really great director. It was tense, well shot and an interesting story. Alongside that, on a more sci-fi tip, I liked Prometheus, Pacific Rim and Avatar. Pacific Rim in particular was an enjoyable mech-filled romp and I thought Prometheus was much better than the critics gave it credit for at the time.

Film 2014 Paddington

Obviously having kids means I get to see some films that are aimed at a younger audience. The best two I saw this year were Frozen and Paddington. Paddington is one of the most British films I’ve seen in ages and is really a great watch, regardless of age. Likewise with Frozen, aside from the complete indoctrination imposed on me by my children, it genuinely is a lovely film and it’s nice to see a sibling bond as a central relationship as opposed to a romantic bond. Also the songs *are* great 😉

From the other kids stuff I watched, Mr. Peabody And Sherman was the new generation’s ‘Bill and Ted’, Boxtrolls was good but quite dark and Get Santa was a nice little Christmas film that I’d recommend checking out if you get the chance.

Another of my favourite films this year was the documentary I Am Ali, which was a fascinating look at the world famous sportsman using home recordings and interviews with his family and friends. It was a real insight, not only into the man himself but also into the fever that built up around him. I also saw The Place Beyond The Pines and 47 Ronin, both of which I enjoyed but didn’t really blow me away.

Film 2014 Ali

Two films that did have an impact, albeit for different reasons, were Zero Dark Thirty and Pride. Zero Dark Thirty I found completely compelling and coming to it as someone who watches Homeland, it fitted nicely into that US Black Ops/C.I.A mould. Pride is a great film, showcasing just how rough it was growing up gay in the UK during the 1980’s. It’s a bit of a hard watch at times but retains a light heartedness that is totally charming. Very enjoyable.

On a smaller scale I thought One Crazy Thing was a fun, cheeky look at the cost of internet stardom and how things stay online forever. While Set Fire To The Stars, telling the story of Dylan Thomas’ US tour in the 50’s, was interesting, if a touch depressing at times.

There are also some great films coming down the line including rom com Man Up, with Lake Bell and Simon Pegg; Legend with Tom Hardy and the Wachowski’s Jupiter Ascending, which looks stunning. Add to that Joss Whedon’s second Avengers film Age Of Ultron, Mad Max: Fury Road & Neill Blomkamp’s Chappie and 2015 could be another great year for film.

Film 2014 Mad Max

And a final shout out for one of my Twitter friends Jaz Moore who is hoping to get her horror comedy funded on Kickstarter. It’s called Ranger Danger and tells the story of a young forest ranger that suddenly realises he is working in a universe swarming with horror cliches! It looks like great fun so check out the trailer below and back it here if you like the look of it:

 

 

So that’s my look back at the films I saw this year and a few projects I’m looking forward to seeing in 2015. How about you guys? What were your favourites from this year and what are you looking forward to in 2015?

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GregHorrorShow: The TV of 2014

TV 2014 Main
It’s been a decent year for TV with plenty of new shows to get stuck into, with some great performances thrown in for good measure.

Let’s begin with some shows I missed out on before. Superheroes are very much in fashion and so it was no surprise to see TV networks bringing characters to the small screen and I genuinely wasn’t expecting to like Arrow (Season 1) as much as I did. Of course it’s cheesy at times but the cast is strong and once the team of Oliver, Diggle and Felicity came together the show motored to a strong conclusion. I do love a good SyFy production and having finally got around to checking out A Town Called Eureka (Seasons 1 and 2), I can see why people were raving about it. It’s a really fun show and a nice easy watch, which reminds me of Warehouse 13.

TV 2014 Arrow

I’m still catching up on Homeland (Season 3) which is as great as ever and Bones (Season 5) continues to deliver consistently strong episodes. But my one of my favourite new shows is the exceptional Orphan Black (Season 1) which is my perfect mix of thriller and sci-fi. Tatiana Maslany is superb and having to play so many different characters makes her performance so impressive.

As for new programmes I’m really enjoying True Detective, what inspired casting to pair up Matthew McConnaughy and Woody Harrelson. For me McConnaughy’s performance as Russ is one of the highlights of the year. Hostages also impressed, with the novel idea of a surgeon’s family being taken hostage until she murders the President during a routine operation. On a more light hearted note Forever has managed to fill the gap between seasons of Castle quite nicely. It’s seems a little bit all over the place at times but it’s generally enjoyable and an easy watch.

TV 2014 Hostages

I had high hopes for The Spoils Of Babylon, Will Ferrell’s ‘Darkplace-esque’ spoof of 1970’s US TV. With an all star cast including Tobey Maguire, Kristen Wiig, Jessica Alba and Val Kilmer (among others) it started strong but outstayed it’s welcome by 2 or 3 episodes if I’m being honest. The Tomorrow People had an interesting premise with a few nice twists along the way but in the end collapsed under the weight of taking itself too seriously.

While it’s only just started I’ve enjoyed a few episodes of The Librarians, the spin off show from the movie trilogy of the same name. I mean it basically *is* Warehouse 13 but hopefully it can tread it’s own path while keeping a similar, easy going tone. I also thoroughly enjoyed Awake, which only lasted a season but wrapped with a good conclusion and is well worth checking out if you get the chance. Jason Isaacs delivers a really strong performance as a man who wakes each day in alternate realities, one where he and his son survived a car accident and another where he and his wife survived.

TV 2014 Blacklist

2014 saw a host of my favourite shows return – Castle, Defiance and Haven all shone as per usual. Defiance was a little darker than last season which made it a bit of a harder watch at times but Tony Curran was superb as the wonderfully unhinged Datak Tarr. Emily Rose in Haven deserves some serious credit for managing to play two roles and keep them different enough to be convincing in both. The Blacklist came back and picked up exactly where it left off, even throwing a few more side character issues into the mix for good measure. I love this show, James Spader is just so good in his role as Raymond Reddington – another good example of a film actor transitioning to the small screen.

The Middle moved to a new home on Comedy Central and I felt the show managed to transition seamlessly. There were some stand out episodes and with Axel away at college we got to explore Sue and Brick a little more deeply. New Girl managed to handle the age old sitcom issue of two characters getting together very well without disrupting the overall group chemistry. This was the show’s best season since the original run back in 2011.

TV 2014 WH 13

True Blood and Nikita both came to an end this year and I really felt that neither came to a satisfactory ending. In both cases the final seasons felt a little rushed and all over the place, although I did appreciate the finality of the True Blood ending at least. And we finally had to say goodbye to Warehouse 13 after 5 great seasons, what a great show, possibly one of my favourite ever TV shows, and they went out with a bang as expected.

I genuinely couldn’t pick between these two for favourite episode this year, both were great but with very different tones. In Warehouse 13’s “Savage Seduction”, Pete and Myka “fall in” to the TV and become characters of a Latino Soap Opera which was great fun and continued the Warehouse 13 tradition of putting the characters well outside their comfort zones! For Castle’s “Disciple” it was a gripping episode where murder victims who look exactly like Lanie and Esposito freak the gang out.

And just to confirm the winners 🙂

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Best New Show: True Detective

TV 2014 True Detective

 

Best Show: Castle

TV 2014 Castle

There are still shows sitting on my planner that I need to get to – The Newsroom (Season 3), Fargo, and The Intruders to name a few and that’s without a new season (4) of Homeland and House Of Cards (Season 2) to get stuck into!

What have you guys been watching? Any recommendations?

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