December 20, 2008
Melissa Mann’s Blue Peter-style review of the year or “things that made me go mmmm in 2008”
• Amanda Palmer's debut Who Killed Amanda Palmer - this girl sounds like the secret love child of Siouxsie Sioux and Tori Amos and excites me in ways I find confusing!
• Flowering Spade by Sean Hayes - this guy has that perfect ‘gargle-with-gravel-and-Jack-D-twice-daily’ type voice you need for ambient folk. Plus any album with a banjo on it gets my vote every time, oh yes siree-bob!
• Two by Kathryn Williams and Neill MacColl (Ewan’s son, Kirsty’s brother) – close harmonies, heartstring-tugging lyrics and sparse guitars make this a sublime ‘tell-someone-you-love-em’ type listen.
• Eliza Carthy's Dreams of Breathing Underwater - sounds a bit like a musical jigsaw puzzle deliberately put together the wrong way, and includes a fine drinking song, Oranges and Seasalt.
• Love Tattoo by Imelda May - infectious fusion of Dinah Washington, Billy Holiday and the undisputed queen of rockabilly, Wanda Jackson.
• Down Where the Hummingbird Goes to Die by Justin Hyde – debut poetry collection from a storytelling poet-of-the-common-man, with a gift for writing killer left hook lines that come out of nowhere and floor you. Dudes like Hyde don’t come along very often. Never heard of him? Well if there’s any justice in the literary world, you will.
• The End of Mr Y by Scarlett Thomas – by jove, mainstream publishing finds its balls and has a punt on an “ideas” novel… halle-friggin’-lujah!
• Jim Giraffe by Daren King – anyone who doesn't laugh out loud at the Toilet Tart and Rhinoceros Poo chapters is far too sensible for their own good and should be banished from society in my view.
• Boys' Night Out in the Afternoon by the "Alan Sugar of Poetry" and one-time housemate of Buster Bloodvessel, Tim Wells - this collection is a rare thing: accessible, lowbrow poetry that’s clever, inventive, poignant and guffaw funny. Erm, so yeah, I liked it, a lot.
• Book of Longing by Leonard Cohen - twenty years in the making this poetry collection, but worth every second of the wait.
• Cosmopolis by Don DeLillo - I like being surprised when I read a book, something this novel kept doing, e.g. with its scenes of anarchists spinning rats by their tails in a cafe and a parachutist falling from the sky with his slogan-inscribed penis hanging out.
• Juan Munoz Retrospective at Tate Modern – a master of contradiction and a storyteller who used sculpture instead of words
• Cy Twombly's Cycles and Seasons at Tate Modern - another rule-breaker with his graffiti-like scrawls on canvases and his found-object sculptures.
• Francis Bacon at Tate Britain – wasn’t a massive fan of Bacon before I went to this exhibition, but was inspired by his obsession with fixing movement to the canvas.
• No Country for Old Men – oh that gun, that gun!
• Persepolis – it’s got punk, it’s got ABBA, it’s got women in full hijab. It’s a cartoon that shouldn’t work but spookily, it does.
• In Search of A Midnight Kiss - an intelligent, witty US indie film set in monochrome LA on New Year's Eve. A bit A Bout de Souffle-ish.
• The Orphanage – not since The Shining have I had the bejesus scared out of me quite so much.
• I've Loved You So Long - Kristin Scott Thomas does sad and angry, in French!
• Patti Smith – Dream of Life – in the spirit of ‘f**k the word, the word is dead’ read someone else’s soddin’ thoughts on it…
Melissa Mann is a neon sign outside a derelict transvestite shop on Manningham Lane in Bradford. She continues to act as a beacon of false-y hope for all those who now have to rely on Evans Outsize in the Arndale Centre for their extra large fishnets and foundation garments. Yes, Melissa Mann talks even more shit than Will Ashon for slightly more than free… you are paying me for this, right?