2017 LISTS (first draft)
Beck, Colors (Capitol/Virgin EMI)
Kendrick Lamar, Damn (Top Dawg/Aftermath/Interscope)
Various, Afro Beats Hot Hits (Shanachie)
Arcade Fire, Everything Now (Columbia)
Jon Langford, Four Lost Souls (Bloodshot)
Saint Etienne, Home Counties (Heavenly)
Old Crow Medicine Show, 50 Years of Blonde on Blonde (Columbia/Sony Music)
Dan Auerbach, Waiting on a Song (Easy Eye Sound/Nonesuch)
Mary J. Blige, The Strength of a Woman (Capitol)
Chuck Berry, Chuck (Dualtone) (NB, not a sentimental glitch)
Chuck Prophet, Bobby Fuller Died For Your Sins (Yep Roc)
Sunny Sweeney, Trophy (Aunt Daddy)
Thundercat, Drunk (Brainfeeder)
The New Pornographers, Whiteout Conditions (Collected Works/Concord)
Mahler, Symphony No. 4, Kenneth Slowick (Dorian)
Bach, Trios, Thile, Ma, Meyer (Sony)
Schubert, Quintet and Lieder, Quatour Ebene (Erato)
Brahms, The Symphonies, BSO, Andris Nelsons (BSO Classics)
Schubert, Impromptus, D 899; Moments Musicaux, D 780; Six German Dances, D 820, Lars Vogt (Ondine)
Brahms, Violin Sonatas, Christian Tetzlaff, Lars Vogt (Ondine)
Bartok, String Quartet No. 6, Jerusalem Quartet (Harmonia Mundi)
The Crown versus Victoria—Those Brits have a neurotic habit of making their encrusted royalty seem almost sympathetic, never more so than when Helen Mirren made the current Queen appear sensible in the wake of Lady Di’s fatal crash. In this latest battle of elites, Claire Foy wins out over Jenna Coleman, and John Lithgow won a richly-deserved Emmy for his Churchill, the best this side of the inimitable Brendan Gleason. Rufus Sewell steals it as the Duke of Wellington, in a remarkably un-Nazi-like reversal of his role on Man in the High Castle.
The season one finale of Millions sealed it as an elite soaper for sharks (even if it featured a face-off between Paul Giamatti and Damian Lewis). Giamatti should stretch and play more puppy dogs like he did in Sideways. I couldn’t stick with it. Dig down in Netflix for Terriers (2010) featuring the enjoyable Donal Logue alongside the sleeper, Michael Raymond-James, as private dicks in Florida. It avoids nasty clichés and doesn’t hurt pipes.
Pay it Forwards: Writing Prompt for Dave Eggers
After Baby Driver (orphaned savant with a heart of gold does one last job to save his deaf foster father, and, after good behavior parole, walks into the arms of Downton Abbey‘s Lily James, the waitress with a heart of gold) and “The Only Living Boy in New York” (cripes you think I watched that?) don’t you think the other tracks on Bridge Over Troubled Water should get pitched? (Actually, Baby Driver had a whipsmart soundtrack, climaxing with “When Something Is Wrong With My Baby,” by Sam and Dave, and “Every Little Bit Hurts,” by Brenda Holloway, in the Diner scene where Jamie Foxx goes all heebie-jeebie on Hamm’s ass. Where’s the essay about the cunning dialogue between 70s prog-rock like Focus and Queen vs ultra sheer soul of the Detroit Emeralds and Barry White underlining the core values of connection, how ensemble can transform a song, and faith in bigger things? And who rescued Young MC [“Know How”] from the bins for that great car final chase? Kudos.)
“So Long, Frank Lloyd Wright”—In a world where conformity took on religious airs, one architect yanked the rug from under tradition—and nobody’s house was ever the same.
“Keep the Customer Satisfied”—”…because if the Marketing VP catches us here alone together, he’ll kill us both!”
“Why Don’t You Write Me?”—Meg Ryan, a kooky yet desirable salesperson, plays hard to get with Tom Hanks, a charming corporate overlord.
“Cecilia”—And that girl had one leg.
“The Boxer”—If you thought Jake LaMotta had a jealous heart, wait until you meet his humble rickshaw-driver cousin: a welterweight who works his way up from the projects to beat the odds.