The best music films and documentaries of 2017

Friday 1st December 2017

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“Writing about music”, some wise guy once famously quipped, “is like dancing about architecture”. Alas, what a sound and fury us music journos must then frolic and gamble ourselves into when we decide to write about music films… Come to think of it, even music films themselves often prove to be pretty bootless endeavours – from biopics to non-fictionals, musicals and even soundtracks, there’s way more examples of those talkies and flicks that stumbled by the wayside than those that tripped the light fantastic.

But on the other hand, there have been some great music films and documentaries to sing and dance about in 2017, some of which you’ve probably seen, some of which you definitely haven’t. So in no particular order, henceforth is my pick of the year’s best…

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Mac Demarco Live Review – The Coronet Theatre

Friday 17th November 2017

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Photo: Press

“There are fewer more distressing sights, than that of an English man in a baseball cap’’; so quoth The Libertines back in 2004. And a preponderance of you city youts probably agreed, donning your sixpence and raising a glass to Pete’s perspicacious wit. But now the baseball caps are back in droves, sent to the Capital with bulk orders of Vans and plaid shirts – for Mac DeMarco and his band from British Columbia, Canada are playing three sold out nights at The Elephant & Castle.

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The Lemon Twigs Live Review – 02 Kentish Town Forum

Wednesday 15th November 2017

Photo: Imogen Thomas

“We few, we happy few, we band of brothers”; if there’s any festering sibling rivalry between The Lemon Twigs’ frontmen Brian and Michael D’Addario, it certainly doesn’t come through on stage. As all followers of the baroque-rock mullet revivalists will be aware by now, in their live shows lead guitar and drumming duties are divided equally amongst The Brothers Of Destruction, each member of this formidable tag team taking his turn beneath the spotlight and behind the kit by virtue of a tactical half-time substitution.

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King Krule Album Review – The OOZ

Friday 13th October 2017

7.5/10 stars

kingkrule_newmusicPhoto: Press

Emerging from a counterpoise between The BRIT School and the avant-garde, it’s hardly surprising that the urbane cool of King Krule aka Archy Marshall has made him a subcultural celebutante. Since his 2013 debut 6 Feet Beneath The Moon, the artist has been smothered by the embrace of the Vans generation, by scores of magazine covers and big name collaborations – all nourished by the singer’s very marketable visage. And yet in truth 6 Feet Beneath The Moon was always the work of a musician still a little wet behind the ears, of a precocious talent awaiting delivery.

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Shigeto Album Review – The New Monday

Friday 6th October 2017

7/10 stars

shigeto_the_new_mondayPhoto: Press

“You could find the Abstract listening to hip-hop / My pops used to say, it reminded him of be-bop”. So went the opening lines from A Tribe Called Quest’s 1991 LP, The Low End Theory. Jump forward to 2017, and a hip-hop record will probably ‘remind’ very few people of jazz music, although the genres are more closely knit than ever. At this Tralfmadorian fulcrum point in our musical evolution, it’s not always clear who is borrowing from who, where one movement ends and the other begins.

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Queens of the Stone Age Album Review – Villains

Friday 25th August 2017

5/10 stars

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Photo: Press

Queens of the Stone Age frontman Joshua Homme is a virtuoso of the sex-rock guitar riff; when I saw him play live with Iggy Pop last year, his Herculean performance of classics like “Sixteen” and “Funtime” might have done what no other guitarist has done yet – cuckold the late Ron Asheton. But the old adage says that great craftsmanship doesn’t always make great art, and whether he’s bolstering the creative weight of Iggy Pop or even Alex Turner, it’s hard not to think that Homme’s most soul-affirming music has always come from the vision of these more discerning songwriters. At their best, I daresay Queens of the Stone Age can be ‘fun’, and yet their songs certainly never engage you beyond the fugacious joy of a thundering guitar riff.

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