Tom Whalen Poop 2015


1. Father John Misty, I Love You, Honeybear (Sub Pop)
2. Deafheaven, New Bermuda (ANTI-)
3. Horrendous, Anareta (Dark Descent)
4. Courtney Barnett, Sometimes I Sit and Think, Sometimes I Just Sit (Milk!)
5. Kendrick Lamar, To Pimp a Butterfly (Interscope)
6. Desaparecidos, Payola (Saddle Creek)
7. John Carpenter, Lost Themes (Sacred Bones)
8. Craig Finn, Faith in the Future (Partisan)
9. Moonknight, Valinor (Rising Beast)
10. Car Seat Headrest, Teens of Style (Matador)

As with Sun Kil Moon last year, a single, sharp voice made the year for me—Father John Misty’s album is all at once great entertainment, giddy yet devastating satire, somber true-life folk. New friend Barnett and old friend Finn took me similar places, small stories, less-than-small stakes, real voices. The deservingly ubiquitous Lamar album totally mystified me at first but was impossible to shake off, blossoming the more I played it and talked about it. For my phlegmy garage emo, I happily cashed Payola, a 30-minute torpedo of a record; sure, Titus’ Lamentable had higher highs (“Dimed Out” is easily my favorite jam of the year) but none of the naval-gazing balladry did it for me. Carpenter’s debut remained staunchly moored to the aesthetic of his heyday, an 80s-synth miracle—that he hasn’t directed a memorable film in some time makes the other-world scenes Lost Themes cast in your head all the more welcome. Teen of Style is technically a compilation culled from the 11 albums Car Seat Headrest have released in the past 5 years. It’s all new to me, mysterious yet weirdly familiar. And it was a great year for heavy stuff—Deafheaven and Horrendous somehow managed to exceed my extremely high expectations, both releasing their best, most intense music to date; Moonknight’s Valinor is the kind of weird singular pleasure that only DIY metal can provide, a lo-fi incantation, depressed but righteous.

Apologies to Gehennah, Metal Police (Metal Blade); Colleen Green, I Want To Grow Up (Hardly Art); Waxahatchee, Ivy Tripp (Wichita); Kamasi Washington, The Epic (Brainfeeder); Wilco, Star Wars (dBpm); Bell Witch, Four Phantoms (Profound Lore); Chemical Brothers, Born in the Echoes (Astralwerks); Sleater-Kinney, No Cities to Love (Sub Pop); Slugdge, Dim and Slimeridden Kingdoms (self-released); Titus Andronicus, The Most Lamentable Tragedy (Merge)


1. The Hateful Eight, Quentin Tarantino
2. Mad Max: Fury Road, George Miller
3. It Follows, David Robert Mitchell
4. Ex Machina, Alex Garland
5. Bone Tomahawk, S. Craig Zahler
6. Tangerine, Sean Baker
7. What We Do in the Shadows, Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi
8. The Revenant, Alejandro González Iñárritu
9. Kingsman: The Secret Service, Matthew Vaughn
10. The Duke of Burgundy, Peter Strickland

As with the chicken or the egg, it’s hard to know whether it was my own taste biases the made this feel like a great year for genre film or whether the year itself was truly special. Suffice it to say few could have predicted Fury Road would prove to be the year’s resounding critical darling—a truly riveting, singular film. Hard as it was to choose one favorite (and to leave Mad Max off of the top spot), Tarantino’s latest weird history epic was ultimately the film that had me most entertained when I was in my seat and the most puzzled and enamored once I had left it. A marvel of scripting and composition, deliciously violent and confrontational, H8 also offers a more conflicted and challenging vision of our country’s racial history than the typically solemn Oscar fodder. Also both a sheer joy and a sneakily weighty watch, It Follows refracts typical slasher tropes into a suburban-gothic fable of longing and confused intimacy. Ex Machina, Tangerine, and Duke of Burgundy are all love stories at heart, each a different shade of tragic, and each buoyed by inventive design, inspired writing, and terrific performances. The same craft kudos extends to the unforgettable Bone Tomahawk, a sharply scripted genre hybrid featuring the most viciously realistic and totally unsettling death sequence in recent memory. The gimmick behind vampire mockumentary What We Do in the Shadows has no business working as well as it does for as long as it does, but alas, it’s brilliant and hilarious, with some powerful character elements to boot. Kingsman was an absolute blast, a hard-R James Bond riff with outrageous energy and bar-setting fight sequences. And the much-ballyhooed Revenant was, indeed, as engrossing as advertised, a technical wonder, and a bit more rich with feeling and hope than some would have you believe.

Apologies to Sicario, Dennis Villenueve; Star Wars: The Force Awakens, J.J. Abrams; The Gift, Joel Edgerton; Hard to Be a God, Alexei German; Yakuza Apocalypse, Takashi Miike; Deathgasm, Jason Lei Howden; Trainwreck, Judd Apatow; The Nightmare, Rodney Ascher; The Green Inferno, Eli Roth; We Are Still Here, Ted Geoghegan

“Ole’ Mary Todd’s callin’, so I guess it must be time for bed…”

24 January 2016

1 Comment on "Tom Whalen Poop 2015"

  1. Good stuff!

Comments are closed.