This list was much longer when I first started it. I have no probelm with long personal lists of favorite albums. The ones listed at the bottom are great, and you can’t go wrong with any of them. But what is most significant to me about 2016 is the number of records that I have a deep, personal connection with. I found religion with Chance, partied with A Giant Dog, experienced broken familial relationships with Eric Bachmann, discovered the stories of small town Canada with Andy Shauf, and learned about freedom through forgiveness from Beyonce. I remember hearing music from these fifteen records for the first time, and how strongly I reacted to it.
I made more time this year to indulge in music. PJ and I had long afternoons playing each other records. I listened intently to a different album every week and wrote about it for Off Your Radar. I actually kept up with my secret “New” playlist on Spotify where I dump new records.
A few notes: I say this every year, but I am not a critic. I can’t hear a majority of records that are released in any given year. Therefore I call these my “favorite” records, and not the “best.” I mostly post these lists so I can get my five readers to listen to Andy Shauf, and as a catalog of my yearly favorites (I look back on them all the time). Also, because I couldn’t decide if I should put Lemonade or A Seat at the Table first, this is in alphabetical order.
Eric Bachmann- s/t
Chance the Rapper- Coloring Book
Childish Gambino- “Awaken, My Love!”
A Giant Dog- Pile
Itasca- Open to Chance
Mitski- Puberty 2
Kevin Morby- The Singing Saw
Angel Olsen- MY WOMAN
Andy Shauf- The Party
Solange- A Seat at the Table
Weyes Blood- Front Row Seat to Earth
Jamila Woods- HEAVN
And others: Open Mike Eagle, Summer Flake, Johanna Warren, Nothing, Lydia Loveless, EZTV, Jeff Rosenstock, Sam Beam and Jesca Hoop, Chairlift, Shearwater, Kweku Collins… A really good fucking year for music!
Songs from these records and many more can be found on my Spotify playlist, Songs I Was Obsessed with in 2016:
Trailer Tuesday in which we try to discuss upcoming movies, movies we have recently watched, movies that are new to video-on-demand, Netflix and Amazon films, AND of course TV (because it’s our favorite). We also focus on inclusion and, of course, women in film –which is especially important to our collective culture.
Out this week in theaters, VOD, streaming, and TV
Jackie, opened last Friday
This is Natalie Portman’s bid for Oscar number 2 and it looks almost as loopy and weird as Black Swan. I really like bio-pics/historical fiction films that focus on one sliver of time as they seem to be weirder and way more interesting. If there is a reason to be thankful for the existence of the Star Wars prequels it’s that Portman made so much money that she has made really interesting film choices. Now I just need to remember that Jane Got a Gun is on Netflix. [Hey, ANOTHER movie that does that sliver of time thing is The End of the Tour! It’s really good! One of the words that has been used to describe Jackie is “weird” so I will definitely see it. It’s not playing in my town yet. I hope the 60s bob makes a comeback. Also of note: more John Hurt! I feel like he is always almost close to becoming well-known again. -M]
All We Had, opens Friday (directed by a woman)
Katie Holmes directed a movie, ya’ll! This actually looks kind of good. The kid might be a little too precocious but who am I kidding I would watch this just for Richard Kind, Judy Greer, and Luke Wilson. [Hell, I’ve watched much less (Red Oaks) just for Richard Kind. MARK CONSUELOS! He doesn’t even need to work, as he’s got all that daytime TV money from Live with Kelly… and yet he still does! GO MARK! -M]
Mozart in the Jungle, season 3, Friday on Amazon Prime
If you have Amazon Prime I demand you watch Mozart in the Jungle and if you don’t have Prime you should get it FOR Mozart in the Jungle. Seriously if you enjoy workplace comedies, classical music, Lola Kirke (the BEST Kirke), and/or appreciate Gael García Bernal this is the show for you. [I agree that Lola Kirke is the best Kirke but Jemima is also excellent on Girls, though everyone is elevated by Adam Driver because he is just amazing. Please watch MITJ! Maybe Katie and I will tweet about season 3 this weekend if you’re good. -M]
What’s coming up
La La Land, December 16, 2016
This movie looks fantastic and I LOVE Ryan Gosling BUT I’m not sure I will ever get over Emma Stone playing an Asian woman in Aloha (also Aloha was a terrible movie). Imagine if you will a world in which this character was played by human delight Anna Kendrick (who can actually sing –it’s not that Emma can’t sing it’s just her voice is so thin, but maybe that’s the point). All of that to say that I will love this movie, it’s a movie musical made the way they are supposed to be made. ALSO John Legend. [She was so great on SNL for the THIRD time! I love love loved Whiplash and I trust Damien Chazelle. My dad loves musicals so he’s pushing for this to be our Christmas Day movie. If I can even wait that long. -M]
Rogue One, December 16, 2016
Let’s praise Kathleen Kennedy for making Star Wars both more diverse and awesomely lady-centric! I bought my ticket and am SO EXCITED! [We have our tickets too–my husband, who does not use as much leave time as I do, is even taking a half day to see it with me! The cast is a dream–seriously every single actor is perfect. I am turning into such a SW fanatic since the movies are good again. I really don’t even want to wait a week and a half. -M]
Fences, December 25, 2016 (directed by a person of color)
All HAIL Viola Davis and Denzel Washington! I can’t really say anything beyond the acting in this trailer looks phenomenal. [Everyone says Viola is a shoo-in for the Oscar, but I would be thrilled to see this get awards attention in multiple categories. It’s the kind of adult, family drama that doesn’t often get made. -M]
Nashville, season 5 premieres, January 5th on CMT
(The first half of the premiere is getting a sneak peak on December 15th)
I’m really thankful CMT picked up Nashville. Living life without Juliette and Avery is just so painful. Also it appears the new showrunners have corrected the shows lack of diversity, now let’s hope they correct the shows issues of character trait flip-flopping and weird story arcs that go nowhere. [Katie and I JUST watched the finale together in October–we didn’t want to watch it because we were so sad it was cancelled. Unfortunately, one black dude does not equal diversity, especially since he’s a “love interest” type and will probably be canned at some point. Strangely, I miss Lyla and Luke. -M]
Taboo, season 1 premiere, Jaunary 10th on FX
I have no real clue as what this is about other than Tom Hardy was thought to be dead and NOW is alive and it’s a period piece BUT I’m going to watch it for: the hats, Oona Chaplin, Michael Kelly, and Tom Hardy’s acting which often amuses me. It’s also on FX, I mean I watched 4 episodes of Tyrant surely I can watch this (Incidentally why did Tyrant get 3 seasons when The Bridge only got 2? Also why are there so many version of The Bridge? I tried to watch the UK/France’s The Tunnel but got bored very quickly.). [The Bridge is so much better than Tyrant. Maybe someone who worked for Tyrant is married to a Fox exec. Anyway, I too don’t really know what’s going on in this trailer, and I’ll definitely watch it, but if Tom Hardy turns out to be another boring masculine anti-hero I will probably give up. On TV AND on feminism. -M]
Big Little Lies, premieres February 19th on HBO
I like a good black comedy about rich people especially if someone gets MURDERED. I am sad that ASkars went back to TV without Pam though, let’s face it she would have been fabulous on this show as a pissed off rich mom –Kristen Bauer von Stratton needs to be in everything! [Laura Dern played Reese’s mom in Wild, so they’re reuniteddddddd. Reese has a delightful Instagram, where she appears to be normal and very cute–she’s posting behind the scenes videos of her new movie on her story. This is a seven-episode miniseries and I am ready for something that 1) is not all dudes and 2) looks more fun than Show Me a Hero. -M]
The actual cast of this is pretty freaking stellar, Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, Shailene Woodley, Adam Scott, Zoe Kravitz, and SLLS FAVE LAURA DERN! If I have the time in February and it’s seems like it will be easy to tease, I might cover this show (mainly so I can use that gif of ASkars naked that we love to use).
What’s good that you may have missed
Vikings, season 4 part 2 premiered Wednesday, November 30th on History Channel
I initially started watching Vikings because I thought it would be unintentionally funny but was pleasantly surprised when it was really really good. However, I do wish it was on pay cable so that they could say “fuck” instead of “sex” which always sounds weird (or they should do what TBS does with Mr. Robot and just drop the sound when people say “Fuck”). The acting is phenomenal and it does a really good job of showing both the male and female roles in a society we don’t learn much about. You can watch all past seasons on Amazon Prime (they even have season 4, part 1) AND the new season just started so if you can catch that onDemand. [I think I’m still on season 3. Rollo is really hot. I don’t have much else to say except maybe I’ll catch up one day. -M]
This or that
We pick an actor/genre/plot with two similar films available to watch, on TV, streaming, or in theaters and tell you which one is better.
This week, the battle of the Stark brothers! Also, Idris Elba, worlds sexiest man –FUCK YOU PEOPLE! ALSO also both movies have different UK/European titles versus American titles (for some reason MI-5 has been the US name for UK Drama Spooks –I guess we couldn’t figure out that’s slang– and we are too stupid to figure out Bastille Day is a French holiday) and are fun action spy movies.
MI-5 (Spooks: The Greater Good), HBO Go/Now, 56% on Rotten Tomatoes
I have tried to watch the MI-5 (Spooks) TV show multiple times and it’s okay but it never really holds my interest. This movie is a one off movie based around the TV show and was both fun and free. [How have I never heard of this??? -M]
If you want to watch a really good film with Jon Snow let me recommend Testament of Youth which also stars Alicia Vikander which you can see for free with a Starz subscription. It is an amazing film set in WWI based on a memoir by Vera Brittain.
The Take (Bastille Day), rent it anywhere, 47% on Rotten Tomatoes
The Take (Bastille Day) is more comical (or so it tries to be than MI-5), it wants to be serious buddy CIA drama. The other super weird thing about this movie is that it’s English and everyone in it is English BUT to appeal to a wider audience they all have American accents and are in the CIA. It’s good and fun. [I haven’t heard of this either!! These American accents are weird. -M] I don’t think I have seen Robb Stark in anything other than GoT or this so I can’t recommend anything better with him so instead I will use this as a plug for Luther! If you have not watched Luther (why?) you can watch all of it on Netflix, NOW!
After watching that, I want to re-watch Luther –Alice Morgan FTW! [Ruth Wilson is the prettiest. And she is fanfuckingtastic in this show. -M]
Oh and which Stark brother spy movie is worth your time? The Take (Bastille Day), as Idris Elba makes literally everything better. That man is a human charm bomb. I would recommend waiting for it to be free though as it will surely be picked up by Netflix, Hulu, and/or Prime ASAP.
The weird and wacky world of the indie romantic comedy
Each week we rate the most indiest of indie rom-coms courtesy of Netflix and Amazon (there is so much weird and unintentionally hilarious shit out there) on their watch-ability using the following scale –Katie is more forgiving of romances and Melissa is more forgiving of comedies.
This movie looks cute and I am sad no one ever hyped it
This movie is perfect for a Saturday when you are doing laundry and want to both watch a movie but also read this weeks Entertainment Weekly
This movie was originally created for Hallmark, right?
This movie looks terrible and something I will watch in secret at 1 am on a Saturday as my secret shame
This movie looks unintentionally hilarious and therefore has become a must see the next time I have nothing to watch at midnight on Friday
Lust For Love, Amazon Prime
Katie – So the last movie we featured in this category was AWFUL so I chose a movie this time around that’s actually something I would watch. Based on the trailer I would give this a 4 in fact I’m kind of surprised I haven’t already watched this on a Saturday while doing laundry and reading EW.
Melissa- I think Katie and I watched this trailer together! The dude is kind of bland, but I like Dichen Lachman, and this reminds me of some of the random indie movies I’ve watched on Netflix while bored and alone. A 4 from me too! Don’t expect to see another one for a while, I hate everything.
Every week month Whenever the hell I feel like it, I post what I have been listening to, watching and reading lately.
While Tinashe’s last record came out just two years ago, I feel like I have been waiting for ages for Joyride, but we got Nightride instead. It’s another in a long list of challenging R&B records created by a woman that has been released this year.
It’s weird how even when a band releases records on a label you regularly get emails from, you can be completely unaware of them, which is why I discovered Captured Tracks’ EZTV in this powerpop post from Bandcamp. Both this year’s High in Place and 2015’s Calling Out are fantastic.
My Spotify Discover Weekly has been a bit off lately (so many rock dudes with nasally voices, which is not what I listen to AT ALL), but this Tom Brosseau song was a definite hit.
I randomly found Khalid on a Spotify playlist, and while he doesn’t have many songs posted, the few that are available are great.
Future note: I definitely plan to put out a favorite records list this year, and I’m aiming for sometime between the 16th and the 22nd! I always wait to see when other people put theirs out–I don’t want to be too early or too late, either!
Stop what you’re doing and watch this weird, hilarious “self-help talk show” (really, I have no idea what this is parodying, nor do I care) Womanhood, starring the delightful Aparna Nancherla and Jo Firestone. This is the last episode, so if you want to watch them in order, start with number 12 in this playlist.
Good Behavior tries so hard to be a feminist Justified but it’s more Rizzoli and Isles, which is totally fine with me. I have watched all four available episodes of this show since Monday. It is addictive and wonderful. I spent the first episode wishing Michelle Dockery was Keri Russell but I am at peace with the choice now. Now airing on TNT–all episodes are onDemand.
I was sure PJ would like The Get Down, but we didn’t have much time to watch it until the weekend after Thanksgiving (you know, when I was actively ignoring Gilmore Girls for fear of disappointment). I think the show is terrific, if not a little dopey (those intros with Nas rapping while Daveed Diggs moves his mouth? YIKES), but Shameik Moore is everything. EVERYTHING. Streaming on Netflix.
Don’t listen when people compare Good Girls Revolt to Mad Men. The two shows are nothing alike, besides some of the fashion. The show GGR actually reminds me of the most is, strangely, The Newsroom. Both center around real-life events, and create stories that are likely completely fictional around those events, though it should be noted that GGR is based on a nonfiction book. It’s a little weird to see Silas from Weeds all grown up, but the three female leads (Genevieve Angelson, Anna Camp and Erin Darke) are all fabulous, as are Joy Bryant (future DC congressperson Eleanor Holmes Norton) and Chris Diamantopoulos (Finn Woodhouse, editor of fake Newsweek, News of the Week). Streaming on Amazon Prime.
For book club we’re reading Phoebe Robinson’s You Can’t Touch My Hair. I love both her podcasts 2 Dope Queens and Sooo Many White Guys, so picking this up was an obvious choice (in fact, I already owned the book when it was selected!). It’s really funny and smart and gives me new things to think about in regards to black culture in America.
Speaking of that very topic, Angela Davis’ 1983 classic Women, Race & Class was mentioned as necessary reading after the election by a lot of people I respect. It’s a little more academic than what I am used to–as soon as I finished grad school I switched to mostly memoirs and pop-py nonfiction (outside of book club)–so it’s a little slow going, though I think it’s definitely a worthwhile read for anyone who wants more insight into the current political climate.