As part of our running series, Eoghan O’Sullivan selects his 2017 highlights from the world of arts and culture.
I enjoyed a lot of indie rock music this year (Big Thief and Grizzly Bear in particular), but again it was rap music that felt most essential in what was a strange 12 months.
Kendrick Lamar’s DAMN sounded like the album of the year even before it was released -it still does. Loyle Carner’s Yesterday’s Gone is also up there. Irish wise, Talos’s Wild Alee sounds gloriously widescreen while Winter Aid’s The Murmur of the Land was the opposite, like a hug just when you need it. New Jackson’s From Night To Night reveals something new every time.
Sally Rooney’s Conversations With Friends more than lived up to the hype. Jon McGregor’s Reservoir 13, about a community continuing on after a young girl goes missing, is difficult to get into but once there you won’t want to leave. Sara Baume returned with A Line Made By Walking, about a young artist with life. It has stuck in my head throughout the year. Patricia Lockwood’s memoir about returning to live with her parents, Priestdaddy, is the funniest book of the year.
Jackie, with that stunning Mica Levi soundtrack, featured the performance of the year by Natalie Portman (right). Get Out, though, was the standout, a thrilling, scary film that is somehow, sadly, reflective of the times.
While it was great having Larry David back in Curb Your Enthusiasm, it was another neurotic-to-the-max character who stood out. BoJack Horseman, a Netflix cartoon whose protagonist is a talking horse, is hilarious, poignant and often heart wrenchingly tragic. The penultimate episode of season 4, ‘Time’s Arrow’ is one of the best episodes of any TV show.
With a different festival in a different part of the country almost every weekend from April to November, Another Love Story, in Killyon Manor, Co Meath, was a breath of fresh air. An intimate festival focused on Irish acts, it was great to see acts like Bantum, Ships, and David Kitt get such appreciative ears. Meanwhile, Radiohead in 3arena was exhilarating, a big band playing the big hits and on top of their game. An easy five stars.
There are still some great music shows on Irish radio if you look hard enough - if you’re up early enough on Sundays, you’ll hear Ray Wingnut, the most enthusiastic man in music, on Spin Alt on Spin Southwest.
There were a lot of big shows this year, but Missing Richard Simmons and S-Town ultimately disappointed. Two titans of the podcasting world, Bill Simmons and Marc Maron, chatted on the former’s show - it was nerdy (reciting the ads together) but I loved it. Maron’s interview with Lorde on his WTF podcast was also intriguing.
I really enjoyed helping to organise Crosstown Drift litfest as part of Cork Midsummer this year. Tom Morris saying anything was the highlight.
I’d like to see more books and music festivals take a chance, try something different, and innovate. It’s hard to tell the difference between too many of them now. It looks like It Takes A Village in Trabolgan in April might just shake things up.
I’ve been waiting ages to interview Rusangano Family for my podcast, The Point of Everything. The best live act in the country, I got to chat with them upstairs in De Barra’s a month after they won the Choice Prize. We continued talking for about 30 minutes after I stopped recording - we could’ve kept going all day, but they had to go perform downstairs.
LOOKING FORWARD TO
Leslie Jamison’s The Recovering is top of my reading list. I’m looking forward to hearing Wyvern Lingo’s long-awaited debut album, and hopefully there’ll be new Jape and Villagers releases too.
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