This year has been the strongest in recent memory for Irish music, managing so despite the dissolutions of a great many leading outfits in the community in times of yore, among them this year Fight Like Apes, Enemies and Funeral Suits.
In the eight months your writer has been doing daily explainers on Irish independent music, there’s never been a morning where we’ve been without content, a story to tell, something that’s exciting to put in post and press ‘publish’ on.
What a lot of us figured would be a passing golden era a few years back has become the foundation for something far more sustained – without so much as a look from daytime radio or television, and with minimal coverage from our country’s mainstream media (all this despite good people in each, fighting the good fight, might I add).
Ireland’s music scene is easily the equal of any other offering, anywhere in the world, and arguably, pound-for-pound, the best in terms of quality of releases.
With that being said, let’s dig in to the list.
The divisively-named Top Ten Irish Records of 2016 does come with a caveat, though – joint winners (both ranked #1, with the #2 spot vacated, for the pedants among you).
Michael Keaton runs through Times Square in his pants, and his career gets a well-deserved boost. Yes, Birdman was released in 2015 (Waaay back on the 1st of January in fact). Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s one-take meta-textual dramedy was hilarious, creative and wholly original. Amongst all the sequels, prequels, reboots and retcons, Birdman was a reminder that mainstream film still has the potential to give us something fresh.
Because The Leftovers was just too damn bleak. Yah sure Fargo’s first season was real good there, but season 2 went back to the 1970s and upped the ante. With a little Bruce Campbell and a lot of Minnesotan weirdness, Fargo was shocking, funny (often at the same time) and thoroughly brilliant. You betcha.
Daniel Day–Lewis in My Left Foot is the obvious comparison, but for my money, you’d have to go back to John Hurt’s Elephant Manto find a better physical performance. A tough gig bagged Redmayne the Oscar, and deservedly so.
Honourable Mention: Bertie Ahern (The Banking Inquiry) – I believe I can fly etc.
Blanchett’s effortlessly elegant turn in Todd Haynes’ homage to old school Hollywood hit every note on the emotional spectrum. From the giddy excitement of first love to the melancholy of heartbreak, Blanchett was profoundly affecting throughout.
“I hear you’re a pornographer now, Father.” If Terry Richardson made a movie, it would be Love. The competition was fierce (I’m looking at you, Entourage), but Gaspar Noé’s meditation on “sexual sentimentality” blew the rest away. I would assume that at least half of the production budget went on class A drugs, which might account for a seven-page script. Exhausting and unrelentingly foul. And can you imagine the stink on that set?
Dishonourable Mention: Ted 2 – Like the first one, just without the jokes.
Sure, Orange is the New Black was a real chore this year, but True Detective 2 was the biggest anti-climax since the millennium bug. Despite Colin Farrell’s best efforts, nothing could save this mess of miscast actors, clunky dialogue and an underwhelming story.
Dishonourable Mention:Broadchurch 2 – Pointless, unnecessary, and oh so boring.