The Everything Else of 2018

JadeBird

I’ve decided to mix things up a little bit with my end of year round ups, for a start I’m moving away from the ‘award’ format itself but also I’ll be splitting things in a more simple way. One round-up for games and another for ‘Everything Else’.

So without further ado, let’s get into The Everything Else of 2018!

Musically it’s been a phenomenal year – full of big beats, guitars and wonderful pop. My Spotify round-up playlist is embedded below but some highlights were: Jade Bird, who continues her rise as one of the UK’s most under-rated female singer/songwriters, Billie Eilish, who delivers material well beyond what you’d expect from a 16-year-old, Sigrid, who is currently one of the best pop stars out there, Greta Van Fleet, who are on a mission to bring fun guitar music back, Robyn, who returns with another stunning single, Bobby Sessions, who brings a sense of levity and some political musings to proceedings and Carly Rae Jepsen, back again with a huge slice of pop goodness in ‘Party For One’.

I managed to do quite a bit of reading last year, a mix of fiction, fact and some great graphic novels. Of course the Overwatch graphic novel series continued with some really fun moments that help to flesh out the back story of the world and characters. The first volume of Lumberjanes was super fun, a nice collection of characters, it’s all about a group of girls at a summer scout camp. Everything is not as it seems though as strange creatures and otherworldly events transpire.

My favourite graphic novel this year though was Reborn from Mark Millar. Telling the story of Bonnie Black, an elderly lady who passes away on a stroke ward and suddenly finds herself in a new, younger body in a weird place called Adystria. Not only is this world some sort of limbo, it looks like she is the chosen one – here to save the world. It’s a standard fantasy set up but the art is lovely and its a clever idea. Word in the Summer was that Netflix have optioned Reborn as a TV series/film, should be an interesting watch!

Reborn

In terms of factual books, I thoroughly enjoyed Blood, Sweat and Pixels by Jason Schreier – a fascinating look behind the scenes on some of the industries biggest and most interesting titles. If you’re into games, this is definitely worth your time. But it’s hard to look past the epic tome that is Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari. It’s a big read but this look at how the world has been shaped by Humans is in equal measure spellbinding and horrifying.

Once I got past the heavy cockney accents in Gaie Sebold’s Shanghai Sparrow I found it be a really great read and look forward to exploring more titles in the series soon. I managed a double-header of Lee Child books in 2018; Night School and The Midnight Line, both of which I thought were good. It’s nice to see Child has diversified slightly from his well-worn (if enjoyable) formula to mix things up a bit. Another double was parts 2 (Authority) and 3 (Acceptance) in Jeff VanderMeer’s fantastically creepy trilogy that had started with Annihilation. I loved these and would recommend to anyone looking for something a little bit different. Probably my favourite books of the year, despite their unsettling nature.

I also stepped up my reading of some classics: Old Man and The Sea – Ernest Hemingway, The Trial – Franz Kafka, Chess – Stefan Zweig, Ethan Frome – Edith Wharton and Chronicle of a Death Foretold – Gabriel García Márquez. These were all great (they are classics for a reason!) but for me Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton was my favourite. I also really liked Chess and The Trial but the ending of Kafka’s story was just too much of a let down for me personally.

Sabrina

On the TV front it was another great year. I enjoyed Erased, a Japanese show about time travel but wasn’t sure about A Discovery of Witches, which I just struggled to get into. There were plenty of shows that continued to be a good watch – Jessica Jones, iZombie, Legends Of Tomorrow and Blindspot all veered between the sublime and the ridiculous but kept me entertained. While I enjoyed Legion it definitely felt like a hard watch at times, the confusion from the first season continued but this season was even darker than the last. I caught up on seasons 3 through 5 of Marvel’s Agents Of Shield which, while still enjoyable, has got weaker as time goes on. The flip to space lost me but (as usual!) it is the time travel stuff that keeps me on board.

My favourites from the year though were The Chilling Adventures Of Sabrina, The Bodyguard, Glow, The Good Place, Howard’s End and Dark. Sabrina had the right amount of camp and scares for me, The Bodyguard was intense and full of twists, Glow was depressing and hilarious in equal measure, The Good Place continued to be a highlight, Howard’s End was a completely unexpected delight and Dark was a German language sci-fi show that crossed genres in different and strange ways.

HowardsEnd

Film-wise I saw lots of interesting things this year. I loved the book so was really excited for the film version of Annihilation. While it was definitely a visual spectacle I really felt that perhaps Netflix might’ve been better to do the whole trilogy as a TV series. The Aftermath was a brilliant film, with great performances from Keira Knightly and Alexander Skarsgard. I thought Lean On Pete, the story of a young kid who gets into horse training but can’t let his horse go, was heartwarming. The London set musical Been So Long was a vivid, vibrant look at life in the capital. Meanwhile, Blue Iguana was a crime thriller with a more grounded trip to London.

I was also fortunate enough to see a couple of films that will be out in 2019 but were screened at festivals in 2018. Driven, the true story of DeLorean creator John DeLorean and Wild Rose, the fictional story of a country singer from Glasgow who dreams of visiting Nashville. I thought both of these were great but I did work on them music-wise so take that as you will 🙂

WreckIt

I loved Bohemian Rhapsody, it was a really uplifting look at one of the world’s biggest bands. Just before Christmas I saw The Grinch, which I thought was a fun festive film and The Christmas Chronicles, in which Kurt Russell delivered the Santa I never knew I needed! I really loved this and suspect it will become an annual viewing experience in my house. My absolute favourites of this year though were The Incredibles 2 and Wreck It Ralph 2, both of which I thought had some great writing, music and (of course) visuals.

So there you have it – 2018 in a (large) nutshell. As always feel free to comment or reach out on socials to let me know what your highlights have been from this year and what I missed but should check out.

 

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GregHorrorShow: The Music Of 2017

Lorde

2017 was the year that the general public fully embraced streaming and it was fascinating to see changes in attitudes towards the charts and what constitutes a ‘hit’.

There was plenty of amazing music released through the year, here is a Spotify playlist with some favourites in there:

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I listened to a huge amount of pop throughout the year, I enjoyed new stuff by Carly Rae Jepsen, Katy Perry and Taylor Swift. I loved the Lorde album and Green Light was a brilliant single. Charli XCX dropped Pop2 a week ago and I’m still digging into that, it’s great. Also shout out to Shawn Mendes for the earworm that is ‘Nothing Holdin’ Me Back‘. Add to that standout singles from Sigrid and Selena Gomez and it’s been a hell of year for great pop songs.

JessieWare

The Haim sisters returned with a set of killer singles and a fantastic album, along with the ever awesome Jessie Ware whose album is great. Sam Smith delivered his second album and he didn’t disappoint. Pray being a particular highlight for me.

On the OST front I loved the music in Baby Driver and on the game front Ruiner was amazing and Garoad had me hooked on a soundtrack for a game I haven’t even played yet!

Logic

On the hip hop front Logic‘s album is one of the best I’ve heard in ages, complimented nicely by DAMN by Kendrick Lamar, which is also brilliant.

Benjamin Clementine‘s album was a challenging listen but it’s growing on me and Mr Jukes‘ album was a very pleasant surprise. Greta Van Fleet kept the rock flowing, Sampha won the Mercury Music Prize and it was nice to see Liz Lawrence return with new material.

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GregHorrorShow: The Music Of 2016

music2016-main

As someone who is fortunate enough to work in the music industry, it’s easy to forget that for a lot of people mainstream radio is the main way to consume music. That is changing with the arrival of streaming services that offer new and exciting ways to discover new music, and old music of course. I always like to try and highlight some of the lesser known bands I’ve discovered through the year while showcasing great tunes from different genres in general. And so my playlist for 2017 is bigger than some previous years. Strap yourselves in and enjoy some great new tunes!

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During my working day I’m exposed to a ton of great, fresh music but there were also some returning established artists that had good stuff out too. I wasn’t a huge fan of the new Britney Spears album but ‘Clumsy’ was a good cut, I really liked ‘Hurts’ by Emeli Sande and the return of A Tribe Called Quest was most welcome. Ryan Adam’s new single ‘Do You Still Love Me’ is fantastic and I also thought the latest Primal Scream track is the best thing they’ve done in a while. I really liked Lady Gaga’s ‘Perfect Illusion’ as well, a great single to return with.

music2016-vaults

The best band I saw live this year was Vaults and their album (finally) dropped late this year – it’s definitely well worth a listen. I feel like, for me at least, 2017 has been much more about tracks as opposed to albums but there were some great ones to check out. Savages, Polica and Michael Kiwanuka all delivered amazing albums but I found myself listening to more and more playlists rather than fully fledged albums.

In among all the other regular tracks I’ve included a handful of tracks to highlight my favourite game music from the year. It has been an amazing year for game scores – I’d definitely recommend checking out Spotify’s game section to find some more releases from this year.

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BEST ALBUM

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It had to be ‘Love And Hate’ by Michael Kiwanuka. This album is ridiculously good, possibly the best I’ve heard in years. ‘Cold Little Heart’ is a 10 minute epic that kicks things off but this album is a great experience. Sit down, relax and enjoy!

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BEST SONG

music2016-sigma

I almost gave this to Toothless for ‘Sisyphus’ which is my current jam but I can’t look beyond Sigma for this, which is a surprise to me as I haven’t been a huge work of their previous tracks. Teaming with Birdy for ‘Find Me’ they have a track that ticks a lot of ‘pop’ boxes. And I played this on a loop more than I’d care to admit.

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So there you have it, another year down and with the music industry remaining in growth it should be exciting times ahead!

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GregHorrorShow: The Music Of 2015

Music 2015 Chvrches

It’s been a pretty fantastic year for music in 2015. Returning artists like Adele, Justin Bieber, Florence + The Machine and Ellie Goulding saw huge success and the further rise of streaming took an interesting turn as Apple finally joined the fray.

I have put together a playlist on Spotify of my recommended tracks for the year, give it a click below to listen.

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I saw a lot of new bands this year and while I really enjoyed Clean Cut Kid, Aurora and Solomon Grey, the best new band I saw live in 2015 was Slaves at the Scala. It was a brilliant gig with a friendly, upbeat vibe. Overall though the best thing I saw live was Health, which, with a combined audio/visual performance, really was something special.

Music 2015 Oh Wonder

I really liked what we’ve heard so far from Jack Garrett and I found the Oh Wonder album to be a wonderful listen. Halsey stepped into Lorde‘s shoes and delivered a really great album, for me it lacks a little of the punch of Lorde’s stuff but Castle is a superb track.

Disclosure returned with a brilliant album and, after an extended absence, so did The Chemical Brothers. It’s a really cool album with lots of great featured artists on vocals. As well as being stunning live, I loved the Health album this year – it’s definitely worth checking out.

Tame Impala came back with a chilled out bang and Kendrick Lemar continued his hot streak of releases with ‘To Pump A Butterfly’. Another returning band was Sleater-Kinney, whose album I enjoyed.

Music 2015 Kendrick

Robyn returned with ‘Love Is Free’ which was one of my favourite songs and, of course, The Weeknd‘s ‘Can’t Feel My Face’ was huge. There were also great songs from Petite Meller, Kagoule, Charli XCX and Duke Dumont, among others.

You can check all these tracks out on the playlist above, if you haven’t already.

And so to wrap things up I’ll move onto the awards…

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BEST ALBUM

Music 2015 Best Album

It’s no secret to anyone who follows me on social media that I love Chvrches. I thought their previous album was brilliant and I wasn’t sure how they would follow it up. Thankfully ‘Every Open Eye‘ didn’t disappoint. Retaining their trademark sound but varying it enough to sound fresh, Chvrches delivered my album of the year.

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BEST SONG

Music 2015 Best Song

I had to think long on this one as there have been so many great tracks this year but the one I returned to over and over again was ‘Stonefist’ by Health. It’s an assault on the ears in the best possible way, a clarion call that keeps you hooked until the end.

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What you have you guys been listening to? Let me know of any albums I’ve missed or that you think are worth checking out!

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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 Music Of 2013

Haim

Well, it’s been a great year for music again, with a host breakthrough acts and some great albums by established artists.

As usual I’ve popped my recommended tracks onto a Spotify playlist that you can check out HERE directly or embedded below.

I’ve only put one song from each artist but I’d recommend delving into the albums if you haven’t already 🙂

So here are the tracks that I’ve enjoyed in 2013, there are 38 in total so give them a listen:

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On the album front I’d give all of the above a try but there were some stand outs for me. Anyone who follows me on Twitter will have seen me raving about Haim from the get go and although we’d heard a big chunk of the album already as singles ‘Days Are Gone’ was probably my album of the year. Full of summery upbeat pop-rock it just clicked with me.

Despite being a bit heavy-handed lyric wise I also enjoyed the Frank Turner album and Laura Marling delivered a slightly lower key album than previously but it impressed me nonetheless.

Chvrches

Deap Vally’s was an album that I always recommend to people if they like that Queens Of The Stone Age/Eagles Of Death Metal sound. Both Disclosure and Chvrches had fantastic albums and breakout sensation Lorde gave us a great album in Pure Heroine.

I enjoyed the latest Eminem album as well, maybe not quite back to his best but some of it certainly felt in line with the original Marshall Mathers LP, which must’ve taken some doing! Most surprising album for me was 13, the new Black Sabbath offering. What a great rock album! If you like any of Sabbath’s previous stuff make sure you check this out.

As usual I made it to quite a few gigs this year – the two best for me were Black Sabbath and Haim. Sabbath at the O2 were just so good it was unbelievable – considering Ozzy’s long standing issues his vocals were great and it was a great experience, getting to see one of the most legendary rock bands ever. And with Haim, you can tell they’ve been playing music together for a *long* time! It was really tight and they put on a great show.

BlackSabbath

Deap Vally at The Scala were also excellent and even with lead singer Lauren Mayberry suffering from a heavy cold Chvrches gave a great account of themselves at Sheperd’s Bush Empire. I also saw Lana Del Rey at Hammersmith Apollo and she certainly knows how to put on a show for her fans. Mingling with those down at the front and posing for photos during the set!

So there you have it, a nice round up of 2013 and now we can look forward to seeing what 2014 delivers.

What have you guys been listening to this year? Any recommendations?

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GregHorrorShow: The Music Of 2012

NikiDove

2012 has been a pretty stellar year for music and a wealth of new bands have broken through. With streaming on Spotify (among others) blossoming, there has never been an easier way to uncover great, new music.

Here’s my pick of the best albums from 2012:

  • M.Ward – ‘A Wasteland Companion’
  • Lana Del Rey – ‘Born To Die’
  • Jake Bugg – ‘Jake Bugg’
  • Frank Ocean – ‘Channel Orange’
  • Ellie Goulding – ‘Halcyon’
  • Of Monsters And Men – ‘My Head Is An Animal’
  • Niki And The Dove – ‘Instinct’
  • Ladyhawke – ‘Anxiety’
  • Citizens! – ‘Here We Are’
  • Gaggle – ‘From The Mouth Of The Cave’

I don’t think I could pick one favourite if I’m honest. M.Ward ‘A Wasteland Companion’ is a truly superb piece of work. Of Monsters And Men delivered a great set of tracks with an album that grabs you immediately.

Channel Orange‘, for me, is the best R&B album in years – this was one of the albums that soundtracked my summer in 2012. For something totally fresh and out of leftfield give the Gaggle album a spin. I saw them live earlier in the year and it was a great gig. The album does it’s best to convey that ‘live’ vibe and it’s a cool bunch of tracks.

JakeBugg

Many have said it’s over-produced but I loved the Lana Del Rey album, it’s pure pop and very well written. Jake Bugg is a stunning talent and still so young. He is getting the recognition he deserves and his album is one you should definitely check out.

Albums that didn’t make the top ten but deserve an honorable mention would be Django Django‘s ‘Django Django’ (wonderful Hot Chip-esque pop), The Maccabees ‘Given To The Wild’, Cast Of Cheers ‘Family’, Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs ‘Trouble’ (worth checking out even if you don’t like electronic stuff), 2:54 ‘2:54’, ‘Give You Ghost’ Policia, Theme Park ‘Theme Park’ (I dare you to listen to this and not wish it was summer!), Two Door Cinema Club ‘Beacon’, Soundgarden ‘Been Away Too Long’ (a real return to form in my opinion) and Kindness ‘Kindness’ (barring a poor cover choice of ‘Anyone Can Fall In Love’ this is great).

It would be remiss of me, given the gaming content on this blog, not to mention a couple of outstanding game scores from 2012. I would highly recommend checking out Health‘s ‘Max Payne 3’ score (here) and also the awesome ‘Drive’-inspired ‘Hotline Miami‘ soundtrack (here). High quality stuff.

Spotify

Once again I’ve collated my favourite tracks into a Spotify playlist which can be found here if you’re interested:

GregHorrorShow: The Music Of 2012

My tracks of 2012 (in no order) are as follows:

  • ‘Family’ – Cast Of Cheers
  • ‘National Anthem’ – Lana Del Rey
  • ‘Black, White and Blue’ – Ladyhawke
  • ‘True Romance’ – Citizens!
  • ‘To Be The Best’ – Tenacious D
  • ‘Lightning Bolt’ – Jake Bugg
  • ‘Me and My Shadow’ – M.Ward
  • ‘Little Talks’ – Of Monsters and Men
  • ‘Somebody’ – Niki And The Dove
  • ‘American Dream Pt II’ – Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs
  • ‘Boy’ (Hostage Remix) – Nina Nesbitt
  • ‘Default’ – Django Django
  • ‘Dark Star’ – Policia
  • ‘Super Rich Kids’ – Frank Ocean
  • ‘Jamaica’ – Theme Park
  • ‘Lovers Of The Light’ – Mumford And Sons
  • ‘Sleep Alone’ – Two Door Cinema Club
  • ‘Figure 8’ – Ellie Goulding
  • ‘House Of Balloons’ – Weeknd
  • ‘212’ – Azealia Banks
  • ‘Pickup Truck’ – Willy Mason

It’s even more difficult to pick your favourite track than it is album but the one that has bought me the most joy this year is definitely ‘Me and My Shadow‘ by M.Ward. It’s just such a great song – nice structure and the introduction of the female vocal in the chorus is a great touch.

MWard

I saw some really good gigs this year. I already mentioned Gaggle above and I was lucky enough to see Nina Nesbitt at Dingwall’s in Camden, I suspect she’ll have a big year ahead in 2013.

Some of my other favourites were Of Monsters And Men at Scala, which was brilliantly intimate and M.Ward who had a great, tight band with him and put on a great show at Koko.

I enjoyed Michael Kiwanuka at Sheperd’s Bush Empire but that night was stolen by support act Jake Bugg, who was the best artist I saw live in 2012. The sheer effortlessness of Bugg’s performance was insane as he rocketed his way the set. Amazing stuff.

So there we go – check out the playlist (link here again) and let me know what you think – and what you’ve been listening to/loving in 2012 – in the comments below.

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