Monday, 11 January 2016

Happy New Year!  I hope a fine time was had over Christmas and that the year's got off to a fine start for you.  Time to look back at what I enjoyed in 2015 - always great fun - and tell you my favourites, just in case you're interested.  What a year it was, for music especially!  So much great stuff being put out; people who moan that they don't make 'em like they used to are clearly not paying enough attention!

Great to see Paradise Lost, Koxbox and Kangaroo Moon return with stunning new albums (after years of nonsense/absense), and Vibronics and Sam Lee delivered the goods in their own unique style.  However I was most impressed by the offerings from the Outsiders, Plasmotek, Dirty Saffi (great times for trance!), and the ferocious Cattle Decapitation.  Cripes!

Two longhaul flights were the usual great excuse to catch up on recent films; Inherent Vice seemed really good but I couldn't hear it so gave up (shame), but I especially enjoyed Slow West (a real breath of fresh air with a pleasingly crooked yet humourous tone) and also Mad Max and Inside Out.  I think all were just about pipped in the closing days of the year by Star Wars, though.

I didn't see enough exhibitions last year but my favourite was definitely the EH Shepard one at Illustration House (it's on till the 24th of January so I urge you to visit if you've not been) - not big but one of those ones where you want to look closely at every last little bit and read all of every caption - great stuff.

As far as books go, looking back over the new ones I enjoyed last year, it seems I'm a year behind and they all came out in 2014.  Still, it was a good crop so I may as well duly enthuse and recommend - balls to time!  Fiction-wise I enjoyed We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler but I was blown away by Richard Flanagan's The Narrow Road to the Deep North - an absolutely outstanding book that was great in just about every way a novel can be.  A very deserving winner of the Booker and well worth the hype.  Very much looking forward to getting stuck in to this year's winner, A Brief Hitory of Seven Killings, which I got for Christmas.  I'd also recommend Show Your Work by Austin Kleon if you're anything like me, likewise Drawing Type by Alex Fowkes - best example of this kind of book that I've seen, whilst I'm still enjoying slowly making my way through The Incredible Unlikeliness of Being by Alice Roberts and The Ecologist Guide to Food for a good dose of knowledge!

2015 was also, sadly, the year that my favourite singer, for my favourite band, died.  It was out of the blue, after a show, and left me and thousands of others very shocked and upset.  Always quite hard to deal with when someone who you don't know but has given so much and enriched your life in a massive way for many years suddenly ceases to be around any more!  David Masondo, you will be seriously missed!  Maximum respect for all the great works.  Here's the man in action (he's the lead singer on the left).

Posted above are a few sketchbook pages from our recent trip to Thailand.

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