2015 has been extraordinary so far, because I’ve had something to look forward to every month. Here’s a quick round up of the things that have been making my year.
A year in which my favourite band releases a new record is a year to be celebrated, and 2015 truly did deliver unto me a new Decemberists album. What A Terrible World, What A Beautiful World is a warm, gorgeous album full of rich arrangements and sweet tunes, and one of the songs is about cunnilingus. I saw the Decemberists live twice in February, and sometimes I think I’ve been on a gig comedown ever since.
My winter 2014 was soundtracked by Marika Hackman’s EPs, and my high expectations for her debut album were met by the dark and dreamy We Slept At Last, which arrived through my letter box on Valentine’s Day. Marika’s haunting vocals and intricate melodies work just as well stripped bare – she’s captivating in performance, like some sort of elfin grunge priestess – but the production on the album makes for sounds you could happily drown in.
My favourite gig of the year that wasn’t the Decemberists so far goes to Sivu, who put in a star turn in the tiniest of venues: The Tin, Coventry canal basin. The intimate setting amplified his keening songs into a shared experience of transcendence. It was really quite good.
Also, Florence & the Machine released a new album, and that’s nice.
I decided to watch all of Sondheim’s major musicals as a year-long project. Actually, I watched 2006 Company on youtube and developed a powerful crush on Raúl Esparza. (♥♥♥) But! On my birthday, I got to see Assassins at the Menier Chocolate Factory. I’ve long had a soft spot for the play and the theatre (for different reasons) so it was a real treat to see a kinetic, frenetic, often threatening production of one of my favourite musicals at such close quarters.
Back in January, I got to see The Frozen Scream, Sarah Waters’ first foray into theatre (written with Christopher Green). It was definitely a memorable and enjoyable experience, and that’s all I’ll say!
FILM AND TV
I basically only care about Hannibal. How do I love this beautiful, weird, pretentious, ridiculous, excellent, terrible, incredibly gay show? Sometimes it makes my heart ache, like, physically ache. I’ve never had a show like Hannibal is my show. Please watch it, even though it’s too late. (NBC recently announced it was dropping the show after season 3.)
Mad Max is a thing that happened! I’m not sure I’m ever going to watch it again, but holy moly, was that THE VERY DEFINITION OF A WILD RIDE.
I also saw Whiplash recently, which I was very into. Most notable is that I saw the film on my own, in the middle of the day on a Tuesday, and an old man sat next to me and told me about how often he goes to the gym, and said “Jesus!” loudly every time J. K. Simmons was a dick. It’s a legitimately great film though, and you should probably see it.
My relationship with books has been strained since I started reading YA. Being in the community makes me feel obliged to read the popular books so I’m in the loop. It also makes me stress out about my reading speed – there’s always something else I really ought to have read.
A few books made me forget about these serious problems I have. I unashamedly adore The Accident Season, which I now am able to hold in my grubby little hands as a real book with pages and everything! I’m also a new fan of Maggie Stiefvater’s Raven Cycle books, which positively spark with life and magic and smarts and IMPENDING DOOM.
I was also excited about Anna McKerrow’s Crow Moon, which has witches and Cornwall and tarot in, and came out on my birthday!
As you can see, I am immensely spoilt in my life by all this art other people keep making. I hope this post inspires you to check out some of my recommendations! Let’s hope the second half of the year brings just as many gifts.