My Favorite Albums of 2019

Well howdy there, ladies and gents, I hope you’re all doing great. It’s that time of year again. That time when I go over my favorite albums from the year that’s recently passed. It’s a yearly tradition on this blog, and I have no intention of stopping it yet. So, let’s go over some rules first.

Rule 1: Please keep it civil. These are my picks. If you don’t agree with them, that’s fine. If you want to have a discussion about good music from last year, then I’m very much open to it. All I ask is that you keep it civil. Be kind and respectful.

Rule 2: No movie soundtracks/scores. I love listen to movie music, but if I included any of those albums, this list would go on for days, and no one has time or patience for that.

Rule 3: No “Greatest Hits” albums. I think that explains itself, no compilations of a band’s best songs. That’d be cheating.

That should about cover it. Now, without further ado.. my favorite albums of 2019!

Number 15: Rival Sons – Feral Roots (Sample: Do Your Worst)

Kicking off the bottom of the list (bottom does not equal bad, just means least awesome) is the latest release from Californian rock band Rival Sons. These dudes have a very old school approach to their style that I appreciate, since good ol’ fashioned hard rock doesn’t dominate the airwaves as much as it once did. So it’s good to hear a band keeping that sound alive. It’s a fun album.

Number 14: Dream Theater – Distance Over Time (Sample: Untethered Angel)

At number 14 we got the latest release from long running  prog-metal band Dream Theater. It’s a slightly more stripped back and focused affair than some of DT’s other releases… but that doesn’t stop it from being a fun, epic, and frankly fun album to listen to. It doesn’t really do much to seem like something new in the band’s discography, but it also doesn’t need to, because it’s still a badass album.

Number 13: Whiskey Myers – Whiskey Myers (Sample: Die Rockin’)

At number 13 we find the latest release from Whiskey Myers, an American country/southern rock band from Texas. I actually discovered them earlier in 2019 when I heard two of their older songs in an episode of “Yellowstone”. Obviously liking what I heard, I of course started checking out the band more (like their previous album/social media). And that’s when I found out they were releasing a new album, which had me interested. And when I listened to it… well, the inclusion of it on this list should be a dead giveaway as to my feelings on it. The band is like a heavier version of Lynyrd Skynyrd, and I really like that sound, which is why this is on the list.

Number 12: Beth Hart – War in My Mind (Sample: Bad Woman Blues)

Next up we have the new release from American blues singer Beth Hart. In this release, Beth strikes a nice balance between blues, funk, and soul to create a sound that is simply magical. I’ve enjoyed Hart’s music for a few years, and this album doesn’t disappoint at all, it is a blast to listen to.

Number 11: Phil Campbell – Old Lions Still Roar (Sample: Rocking Chair)

Coming in at number 11 we have the solo album debut of former Motörhead guitarist Phil Campbell. Even with the experience as guitarist in one of the greatest metal bands of all time, you never know how well your solo stuff might turn out. But Campbell (along with his many guest acts) really knocked it out of the park. Some are more stripped back affairs like “Rocking Chair”, but then you also got tracks like “Faith in Fire”. But one thing one notices throughout it all is that Campbell is quite contemplative in his tunes, which makes for a rock album that pleases both poetically and in terms of being fun to listen to.

Number 10: Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Ghosteen (Sample: Bright Horses)

Now we’re getting into the meat and p’taters of this list, the top ten. And kicking off this section is “Ghosteen”, the new release from Australian artist Nick Cave, and his band, The Bad Seeds. It’s a direct follow-up to their previous album, “Skeleton Tree” (which also made it to my best of the year list when it came out). In that album, there were moments where Cave was dealing with the recent death of his son, and Ghosteen is him fully embracing that dark and contemplative process, making for a beautiful and haunting album that, while not something I’d put on at any time, still had a lasting effect on me thanks to its beautiful production, and Cave’s soulful and pained vocals.

Number 9: Tyler Bryant & The Shakedown – Truth and Lies (Sample: Shock & Awe)

At number 9 we have “Truth and Lies”, the new album from blues-inspired hard rock act Tyler Bryant & The Shakedown. If you like heavy blues-rock, then this should be right up your alley. I certainly like that sound, and I really like this album, it’s cool.

Number 8: Lana Del Rey – Norman Fucking Rockwell! (Sample: Norman fucking Rockwell)

Every year there’s usually at least one album that sneaks onto my list that I didn’t expect in the fucking slightest. And this time, it’s the latest release from American pop singer Lana Del Rey. It’s a soulful and cleverly written album which features Lana discussing some interesting stuff, all while a beautiful strings and piano-based production backs her up. And it’s all great, making for an enjoyable trip that I wouldn’t mind listening to again.

Number 7: Neil Young with Crazy Horse – Colorado (Sample: Olden Days)

More like Neil Old, am I right? Joking aside, how the fuck is Neil Young still releasing good music. Sure, his voice isn’t quite what it once was. But the fact that the songwriting still hits me and his voice still conveying every emotion perfectly is testament to his skill. Combine that with his first teamup with Crazy Horse since 2012, and we got a really well produced album that finds Young still knows how to reach into my heart and make me think.

Number 6: Bruce Springsteen – Western Stars (Sample: Western Stars)

From one old legend to another, at number 6 we have the latest release from The Boss himself, Bruce god damn Springsteen. And he hasn’t lost his touch yet, “Western Stars” is a beautiful country/soft rock album that shows Springsteen at his strongest once again. I don’t know what else to say here, Bruce Springsteen making good music shouldn’t really be much of a surprise to anyone.

Number 5: Airbourne – Boneshaker (Sample: Burnout the Nitro)

From nice and soulful, to high octane rock n roll. This was seriously one of, if not my most anticipated album of the year. I am a huge fan of this band and their AC/DC-esque sound. A new Airbourne release is always fun to listen to, because they just make some badass rock n roll. When I first listened to it, I wasn’t the biggest fan of this one. I thought it was fine, not making much of an impact. But further listens have made me appreciate it more. It’s not groundbreaking, but it’s certainly… a boneshaker.

Number 4: The Highwomen – The Highwomen (Sample: Redesigning Women)

At number 4 we have a self-titled album from all-lady country band The Highwomen. Sound-wise, it’s a classic country sound, showing that “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. Where it stands out however is in the lyrical department, making some interesting commentary on society and women’s role in it, which I find quite fascinating and engaging, especially when paired with the beautiful country composition.

Number 3: Leonard Cohen – Thanks for the Dance (Sample: Thanks for the Dance)

We’re getting into the nitty-gritty now, y’all. In the bronze position, we find the new release from the late, great Leonard Cohen, which he of course recorded before his passing in 2016. Produced by Cohen’s son, Adam, this is a beautiful, emotionally charged, and soulful experience that sees Cohen at his finest. It’s a nice posthumous send-off for one of the greatest songwriters ever.

Number 2: King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard – Infest the Rat’s Nest (Sample: Planet B)

Well, this is certainly a leap in genres. In second place is the newest release from Australian rock band King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard (possibly the greatest band name ever). And it’s an old school thrash metal album, hearkening back to mid-80s Metallica or Slayer, while still putting in some minor flourishes of their own to make it stand out. And good god damn, I am in love with this album. I only heard it for the first time very recently, and yet it has made quite an impact for me. Partly because of the interesting storytelling concepts throughout the songs, but mainly because I am a big fan of old school thrash metal, and this is one of the finest takes on that genre.

NUMBER 1: Gangstagrass – Pocket Full of Fire (Sample: You Can Never Go Home Again)

In previous years, I’ve had a rule against including live concert albums. But I decided to loosen that rule this year because 1, this my blog (so I can do whatever I want). And 2, I really really really wanted to mention this. What we have here is American hip-hop/bluegrass band (yes, that mix does work) Gangstagrass at various live venues, playing their songs, and making it all sound fantastic. Seriously, these are some of the best and most head-bobbing recordings I’ve heard of these songs. So yeah, my number 1 is technically cheating my own rules, but I also don’t care, because great music transcends everything.

So those were my favorite albums of 2019. But now I’d love to hear from your guys, what are some of your favorites? Let me know in the comments.
Have a good one.

Month of Spooks 2019 Roundup

Hiya. It’s November. Take down the fucking christmas decorations, ya dingus. Also, the Month of Spooks ended not too long ago. So let’s talk about the stuff that was posted during it by me and my little spookers.

Let’s start with my stuff since that’s the least interesting.
Shelley Review
Candyman Review
Mulberry Street Review
It Review
The Invitation Review
Evil Dead 2 Review
The Strain Season 1 Review
From Dusk Till Dawn Review
Mimic Review
Dawn of the Dead Review
Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust Review
Constantine: City of Demons Review
Cabin in the Woods Review
Case 39 Review
Fortitude Season 2 Review

And now it’s time for the post of my spookers.

The Craggus

First up on the list is The Craggus. This is the fourth year in a row he’s taken part in the Month of Spooks, which makes him the most frequent collaborator of mine. He is also responsible for any and all Month of Spooks graphics you’ve seen used here (like the three at the top of this post). And he has written a few different posts under the Month of Spooks banner this year. From a review on the recently released Countdownto 80s slasher Sleepaway Camp, to Robert Kurtzman’s Wishmaster. The Cragmeister has given us a whole load of posts, and I’d recommend clicking over to his site to check them out.

Gavin

Next up is Gavin, from filmnstuff. This is his third year doing Month of Spooks. And he’s been able to talk about… films and stuff. And he placed this under his 31 Days of Horror tag, where you can read all his wonderful posts from this year.

Maddy

The third and final spooker I collaborated with this year was the wonderful Maddy, who runs the blog fivethreeninety. And she made two posts that I could class under the Month of Spooks banner. One is a review of the recently released Zombieland: Double TapAnd the other is of romantic spook movie Ghost.

And that’s the Month of Spooks 2019. Huge thanks to the three people who decided to take part in this silly little thing of mine. And huge thanks to anyone who’s read and/or interacted with any posts. The support people show is what keeps me going, and what makes this so much fun. Thank you.
Have a good one.

Movie Review: Glass (2019)

What a weird franchise this is. Supernatural drama “Unbreakable” in 2000, turning out to be a superhero origin. Horror movie “Split” in 2017, turning out to be a secret sequel to “Unbreakable”. And now we get the culmination of that entire thing. What a strange and wonderful world we live in.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Glass”.

Ever since his emergence 19 years ago, David Dunn (Bruce Willis) has continued to stop bad guys as a cloaked superhero. And as he’s using his abilities to do this, he’ll run in to his old acquaintance Elijah Price (Samuel L. Jackson), as well as the recently emerged Kevin Wendell Crumb (James McAvoy). It’s really hard to talk about this plot without spoiling stuff, so that’s where I’m leaving it. I will however say, don’t fully expect “Unbreakable”, and don’t expect a big, climactic superhero action movie. It’s like a hybrid of the superhero breakdown stuff from “Unbreakable” and some of the psychological thriller vibes from “Split”. And for the most part I think it’s really solid, I was thoroughly entertained by the plot here and found it really interesting from a storytelling standpoint. Though the attentive reader also noticed the use of “for the most part”, and that does ring true. I really enjoyed where the plot went for most of it, but by the end I felt weirdly unsatisfied. It’s when we get to the final act and the ending. It’s entertaining and pretty well handled, but it felt just a tad off. So yeah, good plot, even if the ending leaves a bit to be desired.

The characters in this are pretty interesting and overall quite entertaining. First up we have James McAvoy as Kevin Wendell Crumb, the man with 24 personalities living in his noggin, all vying for some time in the spotlight. And like with “Split”, McAvoy has to go between these different personalities, which can be tough for many actors. But McAvoy nails it, sometimes bouncing between them faster than you can “M. Night Shyamalan”. He’s incredible in the role. Next we have Bruce Willis as David Dunn, the seemingly unbreakable (HA) man. Seeing how he’s evolved as a person since last we (fully) saw him is quite interesting, and he does have some decent character development throughout. And Willis is pretty good in the role, you can tell that he’s actually trying to act here, compared to a lot of other things he’s done recently. And we of course also have Samuel L. Jackson reprising his role as Elijah Price/Mr. Glass. It takes a while for him to get going, but when he does, he’s one of the best parts of the group of characters. And Jackson is great in the role. We also get supporting turns from people like Sarah Paulson, Anya Taylor-Joy, Spencer Treat Clark, Charlayne Woodard, Luke Kirby, and more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

As with “Split”, the score for “Glass” was composed by West Dylan Thordson, and it was great. It does emulate some of the stuff that James Newton Howard did with “Unbreakable” without making it come off as a ripoff. But it does also have a lot of horror cues, which of course are nods towards “Split”. And the finished product is an emotional, tense, and overall well done score that works very well for the movie.

As you all know by now, “Glass” was written and directed by M. Night Shyamalan, and I think he did a damn fine job on that front. You can tell that he’s gotten most of his groove back, which gives us a lot of fun details throughout that adds to the experience, whether it’s a thing in the background, or the use of colors throughout to symbolize the different characters. This is old school Shyamalan working on a somewhat more ambitious scale than his first few movies, which works quite well here. And the cinematography by Mike Gioulakis (who also worked on “Split”) is pretty damn good too.

This movie just came out, but has so far gotten quite the mixed reception. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 36% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 42/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,4/10 (as of writing).

While it doesn’t stick the landing, “Glass” is still a really well done movie and a decent enough conclusion to this trilogy. It has a good plot, good characters, great performances, great music, and great directing/cinematography. As previously mentioned, the ending isn’t the most satisfying, which is what brings the score down a bit. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Glass” is an 8,75/10. So while it is flawed, it’s still worth buying.

My review of “Glass” is now completed.

What a strange little trilogy.

My most anticipated movies of 2019

Hello and happy new year, guys! I’m back from my… two day break. Okay, I wasn’t gone for long, but I’m excited to be writing again. New year, new opportunities, new movies! And it’s that last one that we’re talking about today, which shouldn’t come as a surprise to you guys, since this blog is mostly built on movie stuff. So since the year just started, I think it’s only appropriate to talk about some movies that I’m excited for this year. Will all of them be amazing? Probably not. But I’m just looking forward to watching them all, and I thought I’d share some of them here with you today. A few stipulations for both of us here.

Number 1: Please be respectful. I’m asking you to have the exact same opinions as me, I’m fine with disagreement. Just don’t be a dick about it. I’m all for friendly discussion, please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments. Just be nice. This is a friendly space, yo.

Number 2: I’m not gonna talk about movies that had limited releases in 2018 that then get worldwide releases in early 2019. This is for those that have their first release in 2019. Understood? Cool.

Number 3: These are not ranked. These are just a bunch of movies I’m looking forward to a fair bit.

That should be it. Let’s get into the movies.

Glass.

First movie on the list is the first one I’ll probably see in the cinema this year… which would be pretty much unlikely a few years ago. A January movie by M. Night Shyamalan? Ew. But this is something I am genuinely excited about. So spoilers for previous Shyamalan movies, I guess. In 2000, he gave us “Unbreakable”, and it was amazing. In 2017, he gave us “Split”, and it was really good. And at the end of “Split”, it was revealed that it was a secret sequel to “Unbreakable”, which blew my fucking mind. And now we get the culmination of those two movies with “Glass”, and I am really hyped.

Avengers: Endgame

Yes, I talk about a lot of superhero movies. And yes, I am aware that a lot of people are either sick of or just don’t care about them. But you can’t deny that what Marvel has done with their cinematic universe is really impressive. And now we get the ending to it… sort of. It’s the sequel to 2018’s “Infinity War”, and it will be the end for a lot of these actors in this universe. It’s kind of bittersweet. Bring on the endgame.

Captain Marvel

Another superhero origin. This one starring Brie Larson. She’s a good actor. This looks pretty good. Has a stellar cast. It’ll be fun.

Godzilla: King of the Monsters

I am a fan of the 2014 “Godzilla” movie, so I was already excited for a sequel. Then it was revealed that some classic monsters would be involved in it, which got me even more excited. Then this trailer came out and showcased some gorgeous imagery, and it got me even more hyped. So yeah, this is one of the biggest ones for me this year.

Star Wars Episode IX
It’s “Star Wars”. The end of this new trilogy. It’s “Star Wars”. How could I not be excited? “STAR WARS”.

Spider-Man: Far From Home
I am a huge Spidey-fan, been for most of my life. And this is a sequel to “Spider-Man: Homecoming”, which I liked a lot. Tom Holland is a fantastic Spider-Man. So I’m excited. Plus, Jake Gyllenhaal.

John Wick: Chapter 3

“John Wick” was one of the biggest surprises of 2014. “John Wick: Chapter 2” was a great sequel. And in 2019 we’ll get the third part in this series. The hype for this one is real.

Knives Out
No footage. No on-set images. All we have is a good director, a star-studded cast, and the vague premise of a murder mystery. And that is enough to intrigue me. Let’s go.

In the Shadow of the Moon
Like with “Knives Out”, we know practically nothing about this. But at least “Knives Out” has a vague premise of what it could be… this one on the other hand doesn’t even have that. So how could I be excited? Well, it has several good actors involved, and it’s directed by Jim Mickle, who I’m a big fan of. I’ll be supporting him any way I can.

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

What do you get if you take one of the most star-studded casts even assembled and combine it with the mind of Quentin Tarantino? You get “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”. Anything that Tarantino makes, I’m already excited for. But add all those cast members and an interesting setting, and you most likely have my money as well.

Lucy in the Sky
*Starts humming The Beatles*. Oh shit, you’re still here. Right, so what’s this? It’s a sci-fi movie, starring the likes of Natalie Portman, Dan Stevens, Jon Hamm, and Zazie Beets, and it’s written/directed by Noah Hawley, who brought us two of my favorite shows; “Fargo” and “Legion”. That’s all I need. Bring on the weirdness.

The Irishman
Martin Scorsese. Robert De Niro. Joe Pesci. Al Pacino. Bobby Cannavale. Harvey Keitel. Jesse Plemons. Excited yet?

Jojo Rabbit

A World War 2 satire from Taika Waititi? With said Kiwi playing Adolf Hitler? And a good cast surrounding him? Yes please, hell yeah, this is interesting.

So those were a bunch of movies I’m looking forward to. I’m sure more will be revealed throughout the year, but these are my current picks. But I also wanna hear from you guys. What movies are you excited for? Leave any and all answers in the comments!
Have a good one!