Category Archives: Favorites of 2013

Favorites of 2013: Books

I’m somewhat disappointed with my reading this year overall. I thought I did pretty well earlier in the year, while I was still living at home, waiting to hear what would happen with PhD applications and such. Once I moved to Lawrence, though, and started school, my for-fun reading dropped off a lot. It’s been all textbooks for the past eight months, which I very badly want to rectify over break. It also feels like a cheat and, quite frankly, a bore to talk about classroom reading, although I enjoyed reading The Next American Essay, edited by John D’Agata, quite a bit. It’s ostensibly a collection of lyrical/experimental nonfiction writing, but it’s really a mixed genre writing anthology. I found myself reading it outside of class sometimes just because the writing challenged me to recontextualize my own writing and create new reading strategies. So, it gave me a fair amount of mental and creative exercise.

Books I’ve written about here before, which I would include among the best of my year in reading, include Street of Crocodiles by Bruno Schulz, The Divinity Student by Michael Cisco, and Cataclysm Baby by Matt Bell. There are still several books I want to read too. I’ve heard fantastic things about Alice Nutting’s Tampa and Rachel Kushner’s The Flamethrowers, as well as George Saunders’s Tenth of December. For now, though, I’ll wrap up the year in reading with these.

5643595329_ca2ffaeaa9Arthur Rimbaud, Illuminations (Trans. John Ashberry): Rimbaud is probably my favorite poet ever. I have this really intense draw to his writing in general. His poem “Wandering” touches a part of me that I still have trouble expressing at times, and so I let the poem do the hard work for me. The way he uses language to challenge my mind and provoke my emotions, while crafting some of the most beautiful and surreal imagery I’ve ever encountered, continues to influence me. I read all of Illuminations, however, for the first time this year, courtesy of Ashberry’s deft translation. A strong candidate for my favorite book I read this year.

the_stories_of_vladimir_nabokov.largeThe short fiction of Vladimir Nabokov: I finally, finally got into Nabokov this year. I’ve tried getting into his work in the past, and for some reason it just didn’t click with me in a meaningful way. That changed this year when I read his story “The Leonardo” while helping Jeff VanderMeer with edits on his and Jeremy Zerfoss’s Wonderbook (which is also easily one of the best books I’ve read this year; go get a copy now!). I love the playfulness of Nabokov’s writing and how he so casually manipulates the reader and what she sees without that manipulation feeling jarring or undeserved. I also love how so much of his writing plays on the edges of fantasy without committing to hard-and-fast fantasy tropes. It feels fantastical, which is lovely.

16057298Nathan Ballingrud, North American Lake Monsters: My favorite short story collection from this year, pound for pound. It’s hard to believe that the stories in this collection were taken from almost a decade of publications. It really speaks to the unity of Ballingrud’s creative vision and approach, I think. These are dark, difficult stories, but they’re the best kind of dark and difficult because of their close eye to humanity and the kind of wisdom and awareness one can gain from reading such stories in the first place. It would be hard for me to pick favorites, but there are some stories I consider required reading for horror fans, such as “You Go Where It Takes You” and “The Monsters of Heaven,” which is utterly devastating.

0819573493.02.LZZZZZZZKit Reed, The Story Until Now: Great retrospective of short fiction from a writer with a long, accomplished career. Reed deserves merit as both a literary and genre writer, I think. She excels at excavating the minds of her characters and ensuring that their perspectives filter how readers interact with stories. The story we reprinted at Weird Fiction Review this year, “Special,” is an excellent example of this. I also love how she either mixes genre tropes freely or outright challenges and flouts them. She utilizes a great deal of freedom in her writing. Maybe that’s why she hasn’t garnered a lot of acclaim in the form of awards and nominations for her science fictional and fantastical writing. That’s a shame.

Lynda Barry, What It Is: One of the best books on writing I’ve ever read. I’m used to reading craft books that are so stuffily academic and interchangeable with each other that there’s no point reading more than one or two in my lifetime. They all say the same things, quote the same people, reprint the same stories and writers, etc. Boring. This book? Not nearly so much. It’s idiosyncratic, sometimes contradictory, sometimes opaque, and always stimulating. It’s also an absolutely gorgeous construction worth reading as a work of art in its own right.

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Jeff VanderMeer and Jeremy Zerfoss, Wonderbook: This might be cheating, since I helped Jeff and Jeremy with this book during the editorial stage (copyedits and other assists, basically), but damn it if this isn’t one of the most original and helpful books on writing I’ve ever read. I love the sheer number of people cited in this book, and the idea of reading the voices and opinions of many different writers with many different opinions. A lot of attention has been paid to how great this book looks (and it is gorgeous, by the way; besides Zerfoss’s featured art, there are a ton of other artists included to help demonstrate writerly concepts). In addition to that, I want to point out how objective and fair this book is because of its effort to be inclusive.

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13542949Stefan Kiesbye, Your House is On Fire, Your Children All Gone: I read this book around the time I watched The White Ribbon, and they eerily complemented each other, with similar basic story structures: a group of children in a small German town do horrible things to each other and other people while living out often stultifying and hard lives. They’re still different experiences in the end, most obviously because this book offers a possibly supernatural reading of things while Ribbon does not. This book, also, revels in darkness while still strangely offering and developing sympathy for the characters, while still acknowledging the cruelty of the things they do. It doesn’t lead you by the hand in terms of telling you how you should feel about the characters, which I really liked. This is a huge turn-off for some people, who like having characters they can “root for.” I, however, found myself regarding this difficult, excellently written book as my favorite of the year.

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Favorites of 2013: TV

This was the year when I finally started catching up on a lot of shows I’ve missed in prior years. For the most part, this was a rewarding experience. There are still a few new series I need to dip into, namely Black Mirror, Orphan Black, and Orange is the New Black (hat trick!). The most important part of my playing catch-up was easily…

Breaking Bad: Holy shit, this show. I can’t believe it took me until now to finally watch it. This is one of those instances where peer pressure definitely helped; many of my friends and coworkers at KU were fond of the show, and they gently coaxed me into starting. I blazed through it in a matter of weeks once it began. The overall run of this show constitutes one of the best stories I’ve ever read or seen. The character work is impeccable; the White/Schrader family and Jesse Pinkman rightly stand as some of the best television characters ever created. The acting is masterful on pretty much all counts, and the writing more often than not was spectacular. The entire back half of the final season was tense and horrifying, especially the episode “Ozymandias,” which features my favorite moment in the series as a whole, the pivotal moment when the White family finally fractures. It was terrible and sad to watch, and yet I was rapt for every second of it.

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Mad Men: Another impeccably acted and written show that I finally started watching this year. Jon Hamm really does deserve an Emmy for his portrayal of Don Draper, but rightly so could much of the cast for their respective performances (Elizabeth Moss is a particular favorite of mine as Peggy, as well as John Slattery playing Roger Sterling). This whole show runs on the dramatic irony of me knowing that these men in power of advertising, and as a result cultural thought, are so woefully equipped for the changes that will rock their status quo throughout the 60s. I never expected to find myself enjoying these sexist, racist, misguided, naïve characters and their stories so much, and actually finding glimmers of empathy within them. Much credit to the cast and crew on this one.

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Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra: I’ve made no secret of my fondness for animated shows and movies in the past, so it might be surprising that up until this year, I’d never watched more than five episodes of Airbender and nothing from Korra. Luckily, I rectified that situation this year (thanks to my girlfriend Alyse). These shows aren’t just fantastic cartoons. They’re excellent stories, period. I love the care that the writers and animators take in so fully realizing these worlds – the worldbuilding is splendid overall – and I also love that they don’t get so wrapped up in the worldbuilding that they forget to tell fun, engaging, challenging stories.

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Gravity Falls: My favorite discovery last year was Cartoon Network’s Adventure Time, which still merits inclusion among my best of 2013 (the episode “Simon and Marcy” deserves its own entry). Gravity Falls snuck up on me this year and quickly became a personal favorite. It’s also an example of how I actually discovered a show I knew otherwise nothing about through social media, in this case GIF files on tumblr such as this one:

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Or this one:

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It’s an audaciously imaginative show with bizarre and mind-blowing scenarios unlike much of what I find on cartoons primarily made for all audiences. It also features character work and storytelling that wouldn’t be out of place on something like Adventure Time. I don’t want to harp on that comparison too much, though, because Gravity Falls is a great work in its own right.

Community: I’m still making my way through this show on Hulu Plus – currently early on in Season 2 – and it’s already one of my favorite network comedies of the past ten years. I’ve never watched something on television that is so conversant with the conventions and expectations of both itself (for its audience) and of other shows and genres. It has a sense of awareness of itself and its tone and purpose that stays the same from episode to episode. Many of the parodies are spot-on as well, with my personal highlight being “Modern Warfare” so far (the first paintball episode). The zombie episode, “Epidemiology,” is spot-on and fantastic as well. Above all, though, this show has some of the best character development and interaction I’ve ever seen in a sitcom. Color me impressed.

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Kaiba: Slowly but surely, I started getting back into anime this year. Kaiba is easily the best anime I watched (though I also really enjoyed Elfen Lied). The animation and art style is simple, yet beautiful. It reminds me of a more psychedelic take on Osamu Tezuka’s art, kind of a mashup of 2001: A Space Odyssey and Astro Boy. That’s actually a rather good description of the story too. The whole series revolves around a future where people can transfer their consciousness between different bodies, provided they can afford the procedure. It’s amazing how the writers take a basic (and admittedly cool) science fictional premise and make it into something so existential and emotional at its core. The ending of the series goes off the rails a bit, but that’s something you just have to roll with when it comes to most anime.

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Bates Motel: One of my favorite new shows from 2013. Psycho is one of my all time favorite movies, and I wasn’t sure how I would take a series that essentially rebooted that story for new purposes. This show quickly acquitted itself for me, though, thanks to smart and suspenseful writing and some fantastic lead performances from Freddie Highmore and Vera Farmiga as Norman and Norma Bates. Farmiga especially impressed the hell out of me.

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Hannibal: My other favorite new show from 2013. I am in awe of what they did with this show, on all counts. I never expected to like a new take on Thomas Harris’s Hannibal universe this much, but Bryan Fuller has turned out to be the right man for the job. They do stuff on this show that I never expected to see on network television; the violence and menace is so disturbing, and yet it’s so surreal at points and artfully done, and it always turns back on the characters and its impact on them, so it never feels sensationalistic. Special mention should go to this show’s Hannibal, Mads Mikkelsen, for providing a brilliant take on the character without stepping on the toes of Anthony Hopkins’s iconic version, and also to Hugh Dancy as Will Graham, one of the best, most complex “tortured” protagonists I’ve ever seen. The show rightfully revolves around these two.

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The League of Gentlemen: One of the best, and most twisted, shows I watched this year. I could never imagine something like this working on American television. The show – revolving around the citizens of a backwater English town named Royston Vasey – is so macabre and horrific that it would be a great horror story if it wasn’t so funny. Special mention goes to Dr. Chinnery, a kindly veterinarian who somehow winds up killing off his charges in increasingly horrific ways. What’s so great about the show is that they play the horror of everything completely straight, and yet it still winds up being hilarious.

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Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace: Speaking of horror-comedy! This one makes a great one-two punch with The League of Gentlemen. It’s ostensibly the brainchild of a hack horror writer, Mr. Marenghi, who created a show in the 80s revolving around a Marty Stu of himself saving people and fighting monsters in a cheesy soap opera-esque hospital. The intentional terribleness of the show is hilarious, best exemplified by The IT Crowd’s Richard Ayoade playing Marenghi’s friend and partner Dean Lerner, who may also be the most horrible actor in existence.

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Black Books: If nothing else, I’m thankful to this show for introducing me to one of my new favorite television characters: Bernard Black, one of the crankiest, foulest, wittiest characters ever. He actually wound up serving as a spirit animal for me at various parts of the year, when I could feel my usual nice guy self beginning to crack. We’ve all been in situations like that, when we want to drop normal niceties and just let people have it. Which is why it’s so gratifying to watch Bernard do it instead sometimes.

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Favorites of 2013: Movies

I did not see a lot of the big movies that came out this year, unfortunately. The first 2/3 of the year was spent living in a town with a six-screen cinema that mainly played the big stuff that came out. The final 1/3 was spent during a busy semester where I struggled to find time to go to the movies at all. What I did see wasn’t bad, necessarily, but it wasn’t what I would consider great. Pacific Rim? Very fun, but flawed. Thor: The Dark World? Again, fun, but also kinda boring. Man of Steel? Don’t. Get. Me. Started. I’ll probably wind up seeing the new Hobbit movie at some point, though I’m in no rush. And the Anchorman sequel was quite underwhelming overall. Also, I did not care much at all for Star Trek Into Darkness, which did nothing to improve my current impression of J.J. Abrams and the quality of his filmmaking overall. Iron Man 3 was fun, but it also hasn’t stuck with me throughout the year. And I’ve seen movies like Elysium and The Wolverine, which I liked, but didn’t love for various reasons. I’ve also so far missed out on features like 12 Years A Slave, Gravity, Blackfish, The Act of Killing, Inside Llewyn Davis, Her, The World’s End, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, The Place Beyond the Pines, Trance, and other movies that I still want to see.

In all honesty, what made the cut for me this year were a lot of movies that weren’t made in 2013. I wonder if that says more about me or about 2013. Probably more about me. Anyway…

Berberian Sound Studio: This one is a headtrip that rewards repeated viewing and, I think, holds up to close scrutiny (as opposed to Upstream Color, which has gotten more attention, but I think is overly obscure). What starts out as a story of a meek British sound engineer brought on board an Italian giallo (read: slasher) film in the 70s becomes something more sinister and bizarre as it goes. The final act of the movie takes it completely into WTF-ville, in the best way. I’d love for more people to watch this movie, mainly so I could talk to them about it and hear their theories on what really happens.

Holy Motors: Another headtrip, and a deliriously imaginative one. Basically, a strange man moves through a large city, inhabiting a series of radically different lives at every stop, doing sometimes mundane, sometimes eerie, sometimes humorous, sometimes poignant things. Why he does this is never explained, but there is an actual sequence to it all that can be followed quite easily. The movie is brilliantly conceived – if it were literature, it would be New Wave SF, and good New Wave at that – and the acting is superb.

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Sauna:  Great little Finnish horror film that stayed in my head for weeks afterward. As a student of horror stories and storytelling, I consider this required viewing for anyone in the same vein. The level of historical detail and background is really impressive, setting the story at the end of the 16th century at the close of a 25-year war between Sweden and Russia. The story itself involves two brothers  – one a solider (who looks like the Finnish Walter White), the other a mapmaker and academic – who get lost in a Finnish border village where no new citizens are born and people live forever, despite still aging, and the specter of a young girl seemingly haunts them. At the edge of the town: the titular sauna, which houses horrifying visions for those who might visit. The horror of this movie is strongly derived from the intense, unnerving imagery and set design (the sauna itself is a high point), but much of the movie’s grip on me came from how deeply it excavated the guilt of the principals and made that guilt an axis for the story (the arc phrase for the movie as a whole is “Wash your sins,” and for good reason).

The White Ribbon: This one definitely wasn’t released in 2013, but that hardly matters here. What does matter is that it left a profound mental and emotional impact on me. Ostensibly a story of sinister happenings in a small German village in pre-Great War days, this movie pretty much cored me out as I was watching it. I felt like I was watching the origin story for a particular kind of evil that we are all familiar with from studying the events of World War II. What is often ascribed by some to seemingly supernatural causes – the rise and power of Nazism – is given a more realistic treatment here, and it’s all the scarier and sadder for it.

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Riki-Oh: The Story of Ricky: Lest you all begin to think I’m a completely mature individual with sophisticated tastes, feast your eyes on this. It’s a perfect example of how I can consider a movie to be great, despite obvious flaws in storytelling and moviemaking. This one feels like watching a live action anime made by a teenage boy given free range to creatively express his id-like desires. The main character punches holes in prison walls and ties a tendon in his arm with his fingers and teeth when it’s sliced during a fight. One of his foes smashes a poor fellow’s head with his hands like a soggy watermelon. Another one bloats up into a one-eyed demon when angered. You get the idea. Watch it late at night with your friends and have a laugh. (Side note: the following embedded video is the full movie.)

The Host: One of my absolute favorites that I watched this year. Part horror movie, part environmental cautionary tale, part family tragedy, part comedy, this movie holds up amazingly well because of its stellar story, which switches between and mixes several storytelling tones in a compelling and cohesive manner. The ensemble of actors and actresses in this movie is amazing as well. Indeed, if it weren’t for the naturalistic and relatable manner of their acting, I don’t know if I would have engaged with the movie’s more outlandish elements as well.

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The Red Shoes: Those of you with access to the Criterion Collection (like, say, Hulu Plus users) must watch this movie. It’s a masterwork. The writing is superb, as is the acting. The story follows a template seemingly old as dirt: an aspiring ballerina is caught in a tug of war between the struggling playwright she loves and the rich producer who loves her. The actual movie is more complex than that, especially once it starts taking more creative risks in externalizing the ballerina’s struggles. The centerpiece of this movie is a staged adaptation of the titular fairy tale, where the ballerina acts out an increasingly phantasmagorical and frightening drama that forces her to engage with her own conflicts. It blew me away when I saw it.

Suspiria and Deep Red: I went on a Dario Argento kick earlier this year, after watching Berberian Sound Studio, appropriately enough.  I’m not an Argento defender; his movies are way too scattered in terms of their quality, and once you see enough of his work, the Argento formula becomes exhausting. Tenebre and Phenomena and okay, though not great (and Suspiria is a partial ripoff of his own Suspiria), and I thought Inferno and Opera, though sometimes imaginative, were mostly terrible. Suspiria and Deep Red, however, are legitimate horror/thriller classics that I would consider required viewing. Suspiria is the quintessential creepy boarding school story, cooked with bizarre, metaphorically charged imagery and genuine suspense. The fantasy elements of the story work well enough (except for at the very end), making the movie feel like a twisted fairy tale, of sorts. Deep Red is a much more realistic affair, though still very much suspenseful and actually clever in its use of psychoanalysis as a mode of investigation. It also boasts a great lead performance from David Hemmings.

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Brazil: Why did it take me so long to watch this movie? Why? It’s so beautiful. It’s one of the best science fiction movies I’ve ever watched. It’s the best dystopian movie ever, period. It’s a fantastic satirical work and a product of genius. It’s also imaginatively and emotionally rewarding in equal measure. So brilliant that it will likely serve as a creative touchstone for me in decades to come. The best movie I saw in 2013, but it also shares that honor with the last movie…

Performance: The headtrip to serve notice to all headtrips. A genuine oddity of storytelling and moviemaking that couldn’t have been produced by any other combination of principals (Donald Cammell, Nicolas Roeg, James Cox, Mick Jagger), any other set of influences (Borges is a huge touchstone here), and any other time (the turning of the 60s into the 70s in London). The first half of the movie is realistic gangster drama, with Cox playing the volatile gangster Chaz finding himself in trouble with his bosses for breaking too many rules of conduct. He shacks up with Jagger’s drug-addled, philosophy-obsessed, creatively blocked rocker Turner in the second half, and that’s when the fun really starts. What we wind up with is the ultimate Cortazaresque/Borgesian story, a puzzle box of conflicting philosophies, gender and sexuality, and identity as a whole. The climactic music video where Turner burrows into Chaz’s psyche – that’s a fairly literal way of describing it, by the way – is easily my favorite movie moment from this year.

Other movies that easily make this list, but I’ve already written about on my blog: 13 Assassins (fantastic samurai historical action), Walkabout (gorgeous Outback coming-of-age story), Velvet Goldmine (glam rock tribute opus), Cemetery Man (wryly funny zombie mindtrip), If… (barbed boarding school satire), Trollhunter (found footage brilliance), Mother (heartbreaking Korean family tragedy), Santa Sangre (best Jodorowsky movie? possibly), The Good, The Bad, The Weird (madcap Korean western action), The Secret of Kells (beautifully animated gem), Brick (teenage detective story with stellar acting), The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai (deliriously weird and fun), and A Tale of Two Sisters (chilling family tragedy as horror).

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Favorites of 2013: Music

All told, this was a rather good year for music. I enjoyed a lot of what came out from new and established artists. There’s still some albums I need to get caught up on, and as always, I’m welcome to suggestions from people. Here’s what I consider my favorites…

Arcade Fire, Reflektor: Amazing that possibly my least favorite AF album could still stand alongside a year’s best albums in general. The back half of Reflektor is too inconsistent and maudlin for my tastes, but it also contains my favorite track from that album, “Afterlife.” The first half of the album, however, is classic. I’m impressed with what AF is able to accomplish by getting a little more groove-heavy, even if the results are a little scattered by their usual standards.

David Bowie, The Next Day: Excellent album that honestly stands along the better albums of Bowie’s career. Lots of highlights from this one, but “Where Are We Now?” is a personal favorite. I’ve always loved Bowie’s ballads.

The National, Trouble Will Find Me: I’ve been a fan of The National since I first heard “Fake Empire” years ago. That song, like pretty much every album of theirs I’ve listened to, always puts me in a very particular state of mind: mellow, clear-headed, maybe a little melancholy. They’ve inevitably become an important part of my internal soundtrack, and Trouble Will Find Me is no exception.

CHVRCHES, The Bones of What You Believe: Possibly my favorite album of the year, and one of the year’s best surprises for me in music. One of the best overall debuts I’ve heard as well. This one is responsible for a handful of my favorite songs of the year too: “The Mother We Share,” “Gun,” “Lies,” and “Recover.”

Kendrick Lamar, good kid, m.A.A.d cityI know, technically this is a 2012 album, but I didn’t get to listen to it until this year. I’m glad I did, because this is the best rap album I’ve listened to in a long time, since Kanye West’s My Dark Twisted Fantasy. “Swimming Pools (Drank)” is on constant repeat on my iPod, but really, the album as a whole is fantastic. It has a strong sense of narrative and pushes the boundaries and expectations of not just rap, but music as a whole, and in a necessary way.

Drake, Nothing Was Ever The SameBetween this album and his last one (Take Care), I got into Drake big time this year. He has a lot in common with other musicians with a strong sense of narrative and mood, like Kendrick Lamar and The Weeknd. “Hold On, We’re Going Home” is an amazing single and, surprisingly, reminds me of Sade. Another personal favorite is “Furthest Thing,” mainly because of how the song winds down at the 2/3 point, only to make a total musical and lyrical U-turn. I love it when something can surprise me.

Disclosure, Settle: This album totally snuck up on me toward the end of the year, but it made my radar thanks to suggestions from a few friends. I’m not a fan of mainstream electronic music in general, but I think this album demonstrates the genre’s potential when placed in the hands of meticulous, thoughtful practitioners. Also, the vast majority of the album is purely catchy and addictive.

Boards of Canada, Tomorrow’s Harvest: Three straight electronic-based albums? Hell yes. Also, this is Boards of Canada we’re talking about here. This album in particular should be considered as a straight-up album, which shouldn’t be listened to on a solo track-sampling basis. It sounds like a soundtrack to a lost John Carpenter movie, from the period when he was making classic movies (think The Thing or Escape From New York). I want to write the story that goes with this album.

My Bloody Valentine, m b v: This one’s not on Spotify, but that doesn’t matter. What matters is that this was one of the best albums of the year, and an excellent comeback album in a year full of great (and not-so-great) comebacks. I feel comfortable saying this album matches up splendidly with MBV’s classic Loveless.

Foals, Holy Fire: This one is getting hardly any year-end press, probably because it was released at the start of the year. It’s excellent, though, and a great follow-up to Total Life Forever. It’s also more consistent than that album, making this a wonderful step forward in quality for Foals.

The Joy Formidable, Wolf’s Law: The most epic album of the year, hands down. Loud, dynamic, dramatic rock music meant to be played at full volume, preferably while base jumping or something. I wish Muse’s last album (2nd Law) had been even half as good as this one (it wasn’t, sadly).

Queens of the Stone Age, …Like Clockwork: Speaking of great comeback albums! This one is possible QOTSA’s best album overall since their early work. Ten songs, all killer, no filler. Personal favorite tracks include “My God is the Sun,” “I Sat By The Ocean,” “If I Had A Tail” and the surprisingly funky “Smooth Sailing.”

Sigur Ros, Kveikur: So, Sigur Ros went dark on this one, and it sounds fantastic. Another album for the writing soundtrack playlist, preferably for stories with tons of internal struggle and storminess. At times this year when I felt particularly troubled or conflicted, this was almost a perfect musical interpretation of what I was feeling, much in the same way Bat For Lashes’s The Haunted Man did for me last year.

The Knife, Shaking the Habitual: Another great comeback album! This one is pretty massive, and to be honest it took me a few tries to get all the way through it. The album as a whole is rather exhausting, and rather daring too. The one-two punch of “A Tooth for an Eye” and “Full of Fire” at the very beginning is hard to beat too.

Haim, Days Are Gone: Haim actually visited Lawrence a few months ago to play at the Granada. I had no idea who the band was at the time, but I was assured of their quality afterwards by a coworker. Upon listening to the album, I immediately regretted not seeing the band in person. They’re quality musicians and songwriters. Also, “The Wire” is the best song of the year.

As an added bonus, in case anyone wants to check out my favorite songs of the year, here’s a link to my Spotify playlist. I’m not going to list it out here, but it’s safe to assume that there’s some good jams included.

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