Ah, fuck it! I was all poised to do another “Top 14 of 14” music list and then Bostonregina inspired me yet again to do a post like hers from last year (And hopefully this year, bb????) Anywho, without further adieu, here’s the RNRF Editor’s pick for 2014:
Best Album: The Faint-Doom Abuse
2014 was the year that electronics totally owned me or I totally gave myself up to electronic music. I’m still not sure yet. Either way, whether it was new discoveries like Mr. Kitty or Trust or Skinny Puppy ruling the live scene, electronic music simply owned my life this year. One of my favorite electronic bands also happened to drop a bombshell of an album this year seemingly out of nowhere. The Faint quietly reconvened in 2012 for the Danse Macabre tour and an EP of all new music and then…nothing. That nothing turned out to be this year’s Doom Abuse which was released in April. Taking the best parts of all of their previous albums and infusing their sound with an urgency not heard in some time, The Faint is more alive now then ever before. For our review, head on over here.
Best Song: Mr. Kitty-“XIII”
Mr. Kitty was my favorite discovery of 2014. I randomly found them on some metal site I frequent probably because the cover of their latest, Time, fits the genre jacket standard but they are far from metal. More suited for the dark clubs which have an “all black at the very least” dress code, Time is the ultimate goth soundtrack in 2014 and “XIII” is the fitting anthem to set things off. Read our review here and check out the bandcamp stream within.
Best Flick: John Wick
I’m a comic nerd through and through so it’d be easy for me to just sit here and say Captain America: The Winter Soldier or Guardians Of The Galaxy were my favorites of 2014 and honestly, they’re up there. However, it was the out of left field return of Keanu Reeves as a full on action star that really got me late in the year. The premise is so ridiculous (Retired hitman is widowed after wife falls to an illness but left a puppy by his dead wife who is subsequently killed causing title character to go back to work and kill everybody) but it works so well. It’s brutal, it’s intense, it’s everything I want from my ’80’s actioners and ’90’s mood pieces. The action is great, the score is perfect, and Reeves is totally badass as the main character along with some great performances from John Leguizamo, Willem Dafoe, Ian McShane and Lance Reddick. It’s like Michael Mann and William Friedkin teamed up for the perfect crime thriller.
Best TV Show: Longmire
I’ve loved this show since I randomly heard about it due to BSG’s Katee Sackhoff and Smallville’s Cassidy Freeman being involved. Season three bought everything to a head, wrapping up some storylines and bringing others to a grander scale in the Longmire universe. I binge watched my DVR recordings of S3 and almost died upon finding out the show was to be cancelled after the cliffhanger this season left us with. Thank Jeebus for Netflix (And the fans and producers) who picked up the show which starts filming in March of 2015. If you’re a fan of Westerns, Justified and general badass characters, this is a must see. Robert Taylor as the title character along with the one and only Lou Diamond Phillips as his best friend Henry Standing Bear deserve to be nominated ten times over for this show. Check out seasons one and two on Netflix now.
Best New TV Show: 3-way Tie! The Flash/Forever/True Detective
As a comic book fan, nothing gives me more pleasure than seeing the mainstream market flooded with super hero goodness (Not all of it is good as you’ll see below) and 2014 saw no less six or seven comic properties on the small screen. Of the new shows, The Flash ruled all. Embracing the comic book/sci-fi nature in spades, The Flash even surpassed fellow CW tights-wearer Arrow in terms of quality. Grant Gustin as Barry Allen absolutely steals the show and brings so much heart to the character. Add a ridiculously solid supporting cast (Jesse L. Martin! Tom Cavanough! John Wesley Shipp!) with great guests, strong ladies (Danielle Panabaker!),villains, and enough easter eggs to appease the nerdiest of us (GRODD!!!!!) and you have super hero gold. Plain and simple.
Forever is like Highlander if Christopher Lambert was the Chief New York Medical Examiner instead of an antiques dealer. Starring Ioan Gruffudd (Mr. Fantastic in Fox’s first two Fantastic Four movies, The TV Set) as the immortal Henry Morgan with Law & Order’s Alana De La Garza, Joel David Moore, and Judd Hirsch, Forever is a great CBS procedural with a unique twist.
And True Detective! OMG TRUE DETECTIVE. Like Twin Peaks on even more acid with solid, career defining performances from Matthew Mcconaughey and Woody Harrelson, this show was beyond fantastic. Spanning several decades focusing on one mystery, this show had everything: sex, violence, intrigue, drama….It’s hard to put into words how awesome this show was and knowing that the Mcconaghey/Harrelson team up for Season 1 is a one off makes things all the more bittersweet.
Best Show: Tie-Skinny Puppy at The Royale (January 2014) and….Skinny Puppy at House Of Blues (November 2014)
Yeah, so I saw Skinny Puppy twice in 2014 and they both happened to be my best concert-going experiences this year. They kicked off my 2014 with a headline show touring off of my favorite album of 2013, Weapon, with great visuals, great sound, great everything. When the Eye Vs. Spy tour was announced this summer with VNV Nation, Haujobb, and upstarts Youth Code also on the bill, I was in heaven. Soon after VNV Nation dropped off the bill and was soon replaced by Front Line Assembly whom I’ve never seen with founding Rhys Fulber in tow for a select few shows (Boston included). If there’s a higher plane above heaven then that’s the state I was in upon hearing this news and even moreso after seeing the bill live. Stay tuned for a review of the show soon.
Worst Album: ______
Honestly, if I don’t like it I don’t listen to it so maybe this is more a “greatest disappointments” award? How about Devin Townsend’s Z2 which failed to impress me and played more like overkill of Townsend more than anything else? Or what about the “comeback” albums from He Is Legend and Dog Fashion Disco which were among my “14 for ’14” list at the start of the year but failed to make my favorites list at the end? In all of their defenses, though, the albums weren’t bad per se but just brought nothing new to any of their respective musical palettes.
Worst TV Show: Tie! Gotham/Constantine
Like I said, not all comic TV shows are worth your time. DC Comics has spread themselves so thin on the small screen with no apparent consistency save for Arrow and The Flash that something had to give. In this case it was Fox’s Gotham and NBC’s Constantine. Gotham was atrocious and for the caliber of talent within (Ben Mckenzie, Donal Logue, Jada Pinkett Smith) I was thoroughly appalled. I made it through an episode and a half before giving up completely.
Constantine was marketed right (Blond guy who’s British! Woo hoo!) but the overacting and all around hokeyness of it derailed it from the get go. Gimme Keanu Reeves and Peter Stormare again. Please.
Worst Movie: Interstellar
I have no problem when Christopher Nolan wants to make “smart” Batman movies. When he tries to make “smart” smart movies is when I have problems. Bloated, predictable, and ultimately disappointing, Interstellar was visually stunning but loaded with needless plot points and a runtime that ruined the entire experience. As a film score major I had no problems with the supposed “loud” score but as a filmgoer I had a huge problem with smart characters doing stupid things and falling into dumb horror film tropes. As an aside, I was also unimpressed with The Expendables 3 but Intertellar still sucked more.
And there you have it. The inevitable “15 for ’15 is coming along with a slew of reviews, live blogs, and more in the new year. Thanks for reading!