GregHorrorShow’s Non Gaming 2020 Round Up

I’m kicking off my round up of the year that was 2020 with a look at all things non-gaming, the gaming round up will land early in the new year!

I was lucky enough to use some of my extra time at home from not commuting to plough through lots of books, mainly over the summer months. In terms of fiction I particularly enjoyed Before The Coffee Gets Cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi, a wonderful time travel story, Call For The Dead by John le Carre, an old school mystery thriller and Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto, a touching tale of loss and grief. The second Black Prism book, The Blinding Knife by Brent Weeks was also a novel I enjoyed – coming in at over 700 pages meant it was a hefty read though!

On the graphic novel front I really liked the 4th instalment of Lumberjanes by Noelle Stevenson, The Last Of Us: American Dreams by Druckmann/Hicks and Vox Machina: Origins by Mercer/Colville. However my absolute highlight was Paper Girls (Vol. 2 & 3), which might be one of my favourite graphic novel series ever. The story continues as the four paper girls meet future selves and travel through time – I imagine it won’t be long until this gets made into a TV show.

I read a lot of factual books as well in 2020. Spotify Teardown was an interesting, if dry, look at what makes the streaming giant tick and I really liked Ed Catmull’s Creativity Inc, a look inside how Pixar works and the best ways to work in a creative environment. Rockonomics by Alan Krueger was a brilliant look at the music industry and everything in it while my favourite book this year, EMI: Selling The Pig by Eamonn Forde, focuses solely on the troubled times of the legendary record label EMI before it was acquired a few years back. Fascinating stuff for music buffs.

As usual I have a playlist of some of my favourite tracks from the year, embedded below:

In terms of big artists it was hard to avoid Dua Lipa or Billie Eilish during 2020, with both delivering a great run of singles. Blackpink continued their dominance of the pop scene with tracks that included duets with Lady Gaga and Selena Gomez. Taylor Swift dropped two excellent albums within months of each other to remind everyone why she is one of the biggest, and best, pop stars in the world.

It was brilliant to see Haim back with another superb album and very early in the year The Big Moon released a fantastic album after some really great singles last year. Celeste was everywhere and for good reason, she is an amazing artist with a wonderful voice and we also saw a new album from Disclosure that had a host of bangers on, along with some brilliant vocal guests.

I discovered some awesome new artists in 2020 – Baby Rose, Gracey, Bree Runway and Tiana Blake all had a big impact and Chelsea Cutler‘s debut album was a huge highlight during a tough year. However my album of the year goes to Kelly Lee Owens for ‘Inner Song.’ What an amazing collection of songs, On, Melt!, Re-Wild – I could probably just list them all as high points. It sounds familiar but fresh, a most enjoyable listen!

I didn’t see a huge amount of new films this year, as we spent a lot of time as a family rewatching old classics (Bill & Ted, Sister Act, The Goonies etc.), but I loved The Go-Go’s and Motown Records documentaries. Both were brilliant looks at legendary performers and the Motown one was packed with stories about famous songs and artists. A great watch. One film that really had an impact was the excellent Rocks, the story of a young girl and her brother surviving in London after their mother leaves them alone. Trolls 2, Onward, Jumanji 2 and Spies In Disguise were all fun kids films and for the festive season we found some new holiday classics in the shape of Christmas Chronicles 2, Noelle and Jingle Jangle. My film of the year though was one that I actually didn’t have high expectations for – Enola Holmes came highly recommended via Netflix and ended up being a really smart, well written film that all the family enjoyed.

There was so much new TV arriving during the year that I feel bad about the amount of programmes I started but didn’t get through the season – I really liked The Comey Rule, The Mandolorian, The Pale Horse, The Queen’s Gambit and Devs but never made it all the way through. I’m sure I’ll return to them at some stage. We enjoyed Glitch Techs and Fast & Furious: Spy Racers with the kids but it was the Netflix trinity of She Ra, Carmen Sandiego and Kipo & The Age Of Wonderbeasts that really got the majority of family view time. All three of those are excellent, which work on various levels for both the adults and the kids.

DC’s Legends Of Tomorrow and Umbrella Academy provided some much needed superhero escapism, while The Inbetween and Evil brought the scares. Evil has been great so far and while The Inbetween isn’t up to that standard it does have my favourite scenery chewer Paul Blackthorne (Laurel!) so it’s not all bad. I really enjoyed Small Axe: Mangrove, an important show and a difficult watch but much needed during these times.

Blood and Treasure was continent hopping nonsense but good fun and Stumptown showed us the life of a struggling P.I, unfortunately the show was renewed but then cancelled due to the pandemic. I enjoyed Miss Scarlet & The Duke, a sort of historical Murder She Wrote with a new crime each week. The Rookie was back again and delivered some tense thrills and lots of warm hearted fun. Looking forward to seeing where they take things in the next season.

My favourite show of the year though, was Blindspot. Something I could sit and watch with a smile on my face and just enjoy. Is it a ridiculous premise? Even more so as time has gone on but the writing is fun and it’s fast paced with enough action and laughs to sustain every episode. And that’s exactly what I needed during this year. (Also can we get some sort of a Patterson/Rich DotCom spin off please?!)

So there we go, a weird and wild year in the rear view – hopefully better times ahead in 2021.

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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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