My Cultural highlights of 2015

My cultural highlights of 2015

New music.

A great year for me for new music. Of which my absolute two favourite albums of the year are:
Anneli Drecker – Rocks & Straws
I’ve been recommending this album to everyone, and everyone has loved it. It’s her best work ever (which is saying something), but the craft in these songs, the string arrangements, the hooks and the way she sings these beautiful words have haunted many an hour for me this year and will continue to do so. This is one of the best albums ever recorded.

Brice Winston – Child’s Play
A low-key release, but [only] the second album as a leader for Terence Blanchard’s Tenor Player is a great set. The band features David Virelles, Mike Moreno, Joe Sanders and Marcus Gilmore. And they’re all great on it – especially Winston himself. This is exactly how I like my jazz. I even like the guitar on it (and I’m not normally a big fan of jazz guitar). And did I mention it’s got David Virelles on it? Because he’s extraordinary – definitely the next big thing – and on this he plays straightahead.

I should also give honorable mentions to some more albums from this year that I just can’t stop listening to:

Faith No More – Sol Invictus
My only problem with this album is that – at just over 30minutes – it’s too short.
David Gilmour – Rattle that Lock
Between this and On an Island there’s one incredible album.. this one’s much stronger lyrically and thematically though.
Maria Schneider Orchestra – The Thompson Fields
Classy stuff – great writing
Brian Wilson – No Pier Pressure
Terrible pun of a title, terrible album cover, amazing pop writing.

James Farm – Cadogan Hall, London Jazz Festival
David Virelles – Kings Place, London Jazz Festival (Did I mention how incredible Virelles is?)
Marcin Wasilewski – Barbican Centre, London Jazz Festival
Anneli Drecker – RichMix, Shoreditch, December (Did I mention how amazing Anneli is?)

Mad Max Fury Road
SPECTRE (I’ve been meaning to write a longer review of this, which I will at some stage)

It’s always a bit difficult to think of anything else in a year in which Shane Meadows does something, and his This Is England ’90 was a suitable finale to this incredible series. But this is also a year which saw lots of quality TV towards the end of the year in particular, including a very satisfying and moving second series of the French drama The Returned (bringing lots of the answers we wanted after Series One and also leaving a lot enigmatically unanswered), the incredible London Spy (which was largely centred around one of the great acting performances of all time from Ben Whishaw), but and let’s hope it’s creator Tom Rob Smith does some more TV drama.

Also, honourable mentions to Catastrophe and the final series of Peep Show. PS set a new bar in comedy ten years ago and it felt like Catastrophe might not have existed without it. But both maintained very high standards and lots of laughs.

Roll on 2016.