Top 5 albums
#1. The National – High Violet
Not an original choice. But unignorable. Any doubts were dispelled by an incendiary live show. A collection of songs which on paper shouldn’t instill euphoria but actually do.
#2. Sun Kil Moon – Admiral Fell Promises
An austere collection of icy finger picking, perfect for wintry mornings.
#3. Lloyd Cole – Broken Record
The comeback of the year. Edge is gone, but an addictively relaxed collection of country-rock.
#4. Isobel Campbell & Mark Lanegan – Hawk
Look past the dull title to another strong chapter in this pair’s collaboration.
#5. Neil Young – Le Noise
Who’d have thought that this feedback drenched solo album would be a return to form for Neil Young? Even when the noise is off for a track or 2, it works.
Top 5 singles:
#1. The Twilight Sad – The Wrong Car
An epic from Scottish noisemakers Twilight Sad, the Middle Eastern vibe might point the way to next year’s album?
#2. And So I Watch You From Afar – Straight Through The Sun
If this is anything to go by, the next album from the North’s finest will smash through new boundaries.
#3. The National – Terrible Love
A great way to open the album of the year…
#4. Sun Kil Moon – Australian Winter
Doomy guitar picking. Awesome.
#5. Lloyd Cole – Writer’s Retreat
The catchiest good tune of the year. Bar none.
Top 5 gigs:
#1. The National – Olympia
Bit of a recurring theme here. I swear I don’t work for them. Thankfully they didn’t make a film!
#2. FMC – And So I Watch You From Afar/Jape/Fionn Regan – Whelans
The best value gig of the year, and in ASIWYFA and Jape, 2 vital Irish live bands.
#3. Peter Broderick – Pavilion, Cork
Startlingly talented multi-instrumentalist can not only record great music, but reproduce it live.
#4. Mark Lanegan – Academy
Return visit in August shades it for one of the best rock voices in the business.
#5. Stone Temple Pilots – Olympia
A guilty pleasure. But a damn good one.
Top 5 films:
#1. The Road
Bleak and wonderful. Almost as good as the book. And perfectly timed with the weather, then and now.
#2. White Material
Confusing and at times a hard watch but another intriguing tale from director Claire Denis.
Probably the most enjoyable movie of the bunch. Entertaining and confusing in equal measures. And I didn’t hate Leonardo Di Caprio.
#4. Far North
Very bleak, beautifully shot with a genuinely disturbing ending.
More lunacy from diretor Jeunet. Virtually indescribable.
Honourable mention should also go to Tindersticks, Mogwai and Bill Callahan. Just because.