Ripper’s Recommendations: Best Of 2010

If I’m being perfectly honest, 2010 has been a somewhat interesting year. First of all, I’ve not listened to anywhere near as much new music as I normally would have done, mostly due to a fear of illegal downloads and repercussions that would render me bankrupt. Therefore, what I have managed to get my hands on has been limited in a way, relying on things available in my own country and iTunes than exploring more further afield. Secondly, I’ve probably been to more shows in this year than any other in my life, utilising my university’s proximity to Birmingham to its full, as well as somehow finding a punk scene in Leamington Spa that by rights probably shouldn’t exist and is in fact waning, with the lack of available venues. Thirdly, I’ve played a lot of video games. But that’s not exactly anything new. I’ve also read a lot of books, thanks to my university course and a rediscovered love of reading again, found an obsession in certain comic book series, watched a lot of films and generally spent my money on a plethora of things I shouldn’t have.

So instead of the traditional best albums of the year, because not only am I lacking in new music but my memory of what actually came out this year is also lacking, I’m going forth with a ‘Ripper’s Recommendations’ for 2010, making use of all those different avenues I’ve ended up going down this year. So there’s a mixed bag of everything!

Best album of 2010: Fake Problems – Real Ghosts Caught On Tape

I reviewed this earlier in the year, when I managed to get my grubby little mitts on a copy. It was the first album of the year I gave five high-fives to, and while it wasn’t the only release to get one (Frank Turner’s latest EP was the other), it was certainly the most deserving. It may not have been like earlier Fake Problems, which was also stellar, but it was a certain step in a new but founded direction, and it was glorious. From the seductive ‘5678’ to the deceptively dark ‘Songs For Teenagers’, right back to the wonderfully jangly ‘Grand Finale’, it’s not to be missed. Despite coming out in the autumn, it’s a summer album and I know that it’ll be my soundtrack of choice for my trip to Florida this Christmas. If you actually like music, then you should like this. Plus, if you play Audiosurf, actually try doing ‘5678’ on that. You won’t know what you’re letting yourself in for.

An honourable mention goes to the aforementioned Frank Turner EP, Rock And Roll. You know what you’re getting with Frankie T, and it’s pure genius every time. My Chemical Romance’s latest effort, Danger Days: The True Lives Of The Fabulous Killjoys was also a surprising standout for this year. Generally, with My Chemical Romance, I’m a bit sceptical, but I thoroughly enjoyed the new album and to be honest, it set me back on the path to actually listening to them again.

Best live show of 2010: AFI/Kill Hannah

I just couldn’t choose. I have seen so many outstanding artists perform this year, but in the end, it came down to two. I saw AFI for the third time in April and was blown away yet again. There are many reasons why AFI are my favourite band and their live performances are just one of those. Admittedly, Crash Love was not the album I expected. It was good, but it wasn’t great. It wasn’t classic AFI, it was new AFI and I loved it like I would any other album they did. However, it was clearly written with a live presence in mind as they made those songs sound phenomenal. The basic formula is always there – they play the new songs, they play about three old songs, Davey wears pretty clothes and does his makeup just so. But the way they play, the stage dives, the god walks, the guitars flung five feet in the air… it’s a visual treat, as much as an aural one. And it’s impossible to not get swept up in the atmosphere.

Kill Hannah were also amazing this year. I’m unsure of whether the fact that I’d been waiting for years to see them, always having been unavailable when they toured over here, came into it, but I’ve not seen anything as fluid, as involving or as impressive all year. Not to mention, they played American Jet Set, which they haven’t played in years, and was one of the very first songs I ever learned to play. It was incredible to hear all the classics, as well as a bunch of new material from Wake Up The Sleepers. Mat Devine is the very frontman I imagined him to be – charismatic, enticing and a bloody good singer. If you get the opportunity to see Kill Hannah, do so.

Honourable mentions go to Against Me!, who are always fun, RVIVR who were excellent in that front room in Leamington and Blink 182 for fulfilling my childhood dreams.

Best video game of 2010: Fallout New Vegas

Fallout New Vegas was, in short, a masterpiece. I’m not entirely sure if it was better than its predecessor, but it certainly equalled it. Set in a post-apocalyptic Mojave, Fallout New Vegas had bigger guns, better mods and more intricate and hilarious quests. There was a whole bunch of lovable characters, such as the intriguing Yes Man, Rex the cyberdog and Lily, the Nightkin farmer. What I really loved about this game was the fact that it was so involving. It was as a good RPG should be; you feel as if you’re actually a part of the universe. I couldn’t put it down and am in fact still playing, trying to do as many side quests and find as many hidden areas as I can. New Vegas is brilliant.

Honourable mentions to Bioshock 2 for continuing what is an excellent series, Final Fantasy XIII for consuming so much of my life and being a worthy addition to the Final Fantasy series and Pokemon Soul Silver for reinventing what was one of my favourite childhood games without ruining it.

Best book of 2010: Tell-All by Chuck Palahniuk

I’d been waiting a while for this one. The last Palahniuk book I’d read was Pygmy and I somehow missed Snuff, but Tell-All was a return to a more classic Palahniuk. Pygmy, written in its strange dialectical style, didn’t quite seem like Palahniuk, even though it was clearly his brand of shock and awe. Tell-All, in contrast, was Palahniuk doing what he does best – bringing the reader along on a journey with a completely unforeseen twist. Tell-All was fantastic. From the point of view of ‘Hazie’ Coogan, the housemaid and companion of washed up actress Katherine Kenton, a tale of murder and intrigue is played out as Kenton’s new beau, Webster Carlton Westward III writes a tell-all memoir where Kenton is killed at the end… It was certainly original and it was great to see Palahniuk return to something a bit more down to earth, after the bizarre Rant and forays into hardcore porn with Snuff.

Honourable mentions to Anarchy Evolution by Greg Graffin, which is an absolutely compelling read, and China Mieville’s Kraken which is just amazing.

Best movie of 2010: Scott Pilgrim vs The World

I read the first couple of Scott Pilgrim volumes a while before the film came out. I thought that they were great, but didn’t really feel compelled to pick up the rest, not having vast amounts of time on my hand. And I was entirely wrong to, because the movie was just incredible. While there are a fair few differences between the graphic novels and the movie, it’s still as charming and wacky as the books are. Michael Cera is an excellent choice for the eponymous hero and is simply adorable as the hopeless Scott upon his quest to win the heart of Ramona Flowers by defeating her seven evil exes. Truly awesome.

Honourable mentions to Iron Man 2, which wasn’t too bad and Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part 1, which is one of the best HP films so far.

So, that’s it for my bests from 2010, what were yours? Email us or Facebook us and we’ll put them up on the site!

Ripper’s Recommendations Pt 3

Kitteh is hard at work on something new at the moment so instead, I’m going to once again dictate to you what you should be consuming. As always, hopefully you’ll find something new in here, or at the very least high five me on my choices.

Band of the week: Crazy Arm
I discovered Crazy Arm a few weeks ago when investigating the Lock Up tent at Reading and Leeds because for once, I had hardly any idea who the hell was playing. The majority of bands were alright (read it for yourself) but I was blown away by Crazy Arm. Folk punk from the same label as Frank Turner. That sentence alone virtually had me sold, but you have to listen to it yourself. Absolutely astounding music. Not too aggressive, but lyrically wonderful and excessively confident. Check out their Myspace.

Movie of the week: Toy Story 3

…was my initial reaction to the trailer. I wanted to see it on release day but sadly didn’t get the chance, so I saw it now and it was amazing. We waited eleven years for that film and it was worth it. If you like the original Toy Story movies, you’ll love this one. There are so many unexpected little cameos and references alongside one of the most heartwarming stories Pixar’s ever written. The short at the beginning is also brilliant. Truth is, Pixar have never made a bad movie but the Toy Stories are the greatest and this is no exception.

Video game of the week: Dragon Age Origins
I shouldn’t have bought this, having many other games to finish, but I did and well… it’s awesome. Impeccable storytelling from Bioware in a game that is challenging and fun to play. My character, a level 20 rogue (that’s my first playthrough) has slain a dragon, got married to a king and woken up naked in prison. All in one game, you say? Well, that’s only one possible road. Bioware always make games with tons of endings and outcomes and possibilities, so it’s always worth looking at if you are an RPG fan. Not to mention, DRAGONS. EVIL ONES (my mummy doesn’t like that part, she thinks dragons are just misunderstood).

Book of the week: The Divine Comedy by Dante
Since being at university, I am a bit of a literature snob. I have expanded from reading trash about vampires – and may I remind you, NEVER Twilight… it’s all about Anne Rice – and have moved onto epics in terza rima. Sadly, I can’t actually read Italian so an English translation with beautifully gory pictures by Dore will suffice. You know the basic premise (and if not, Wikipedia it, it’s far more comprehensive than I am), and it’s certainly a compelling read. One of the ones I’ve always wanted to do. And hey, everyone enjoys a good allegory.

TV show of the week Youtube video of the week
Television is all very well and good but THIS is the only thing you need to see this week:

Ripper’s Recommendations Pt 2

It’s reading week and right now, I should be writing an essay or reading Renaissance poetry. It also means I’m lacking in ideas for an article this week so instead, accept my humble apologies and a bunch of recommendations for stuff you should be checking out. Again, as with last time, this shit might be virtually unheard of, popular as hell or just a timeless classic, and I hope you find something you like in here!

Band of the week: Off With Their Heads
After seeing that a few of the Punksoc guys were into them, I decided to give my ‘unknown buy of the fortnight’ (it’s a great practise – go online/into a store and buy something that you have pretty much no idea about in the hope you might love it. I heartily recommend it!) to Off With Their Heads. They are a punk band from Minneapolis who potentially have the gruffest vocalist I’ve heard in a while. A supergroup of sorts, Off With Their Heads play hard and fast and from the heart, and it’s some of the most honest music I’ve come across in a long time. Debut From The Bottom is well worth a buy, and new material is being released on Epitaph soon. Get in there before everyone else does!

Movie of the week: Up
I know, it’s a kid’s movie, but come on! Pixar have released nothing but gold and this film is wonderful. Having missed out on it at the cinema, I decided to go halves with my sister and bought it on DVD on Monday and have spent the rest of the week quoting lines from it to her. It’s got some of the most charming characters around, found in old man Karl, wilderness explorer Russell and talking dog Dug who “does not like the cone of shame”. Plus, attaching balloons to your house in order to find a random waterfall in South America is possibly the coolest method of exploration ever put onto the silver screen.

Video game of the week: Bioshock 2
My friend Josh brought his PS3 back to uni this term, and for that, he deserves a sainthood or something because I have seriously had to feed my Bioshock addiction. Ever since the first one, I couldn’t wait to dive back into Rapture and have found a new and irritating love in the multiplayer. The lobby is crap but the gameplay itself is fantastic and there is nothing more fun than running around as a souped up Splicer. Or, alternatively, in single player mode as a Big Daddy. You have the best of both worlds presented in the new sequel and it feels good to kick some ass.

Book of the week: Perdido Street Station by China Mieville
Until I had come to Warwick, I had no idea who China Mieville was. And then, I found out that he would be lecturing me in ‘Weird Fiction’, an optional module where we read Lovecraft and talk about tentacle rape. No, seriously. And I therefore figured that I should at least read one of his books and started with Perdido Street Station, the first in a series of books set in an alternate world known as Bas-Lag. It is fucking good. In a world comprised of humans and xenians in New Crobuzon, scientist Isaac begins work on creating a new method of flight for a garuda, one of Bas-Lag’s many interesting creatures, and then all hell breaks loose. It’s compellingly told and you really get to know and love the characters you’re shown. If you like science fiction, this is perfect.

TV show of the week: Destroy Build Destroy

Andrew WK teams up with a bunch of children and bids them to destroy some stuff, rebuild something out of the destroyed stuff, and then smash it to pieces again. So much fun. He’s wearing trademark white t-shirt as well, making it just that little bit more special. AWK deserves some love after all the recent rumours going around about him and there is no better way than watching the Party Hard master do engineering with kids. Aww.

Ripper’s Recommendations Pt 1

Being a fresher at university is a tiring and busy experience, and this is the first time I’ve been able to sit down and actually write something for this week – and I promise it’s not AFI related this time. I was going to review ‘Daisy’ by Brand New, but I left it on my PS3 and have no access to it whatsoever. So this week, I thought I’d do recommendations. They may not be necessarily new, they could be ridiculously well known, or they might become your new favourite. Who knows!

Band of the week
After seeing that there was a punk society at my uni, I got all excited and started listening to lots of hardcore in preparation. One of those bands was Cutting Class, a British(!) hardcore band who have released one hell of an EP. The free Tour EP is punk as fuck and great to throw down to. The lyrics are true and from the heart, and the breakdowns are some of the greatest I’ve heard in hardcore for a long time. These guys are going to be huge in the hardcore scene given chance, so give them all the support you can!

Movie of the week
Hot Rod is possibly the funniest film of all time. Seriously. The first three times you watch it, you wonder why you’re laughing, and why you’re actually watching it. Then you watch it a few more times and see its genius. Hot Rod is the brain child of The Lonely Island, a comedy troupe featuring SNL’s Andy Samberg as the titular character. Rod Kimble is a very shit stuntman who decides to pull off the biggest stunt his suburban neighbourhood have ever seen to raise money for his dying step-father’s heart transplant… all so he can kick his ass when he gets better. It is as stupid as it sounds, and that’s totally part of its charm! If you’re a Saturday Night Live fan, you’ll probably love this.

Game of the week
I have no access to my PS3, so I’m stuck with my DS. I did find someone here who brought their Wii, and after talking to them for a bit, we decided on the ultimate title. Super Smash Bros Brawl. Think Nintendo’s most classic characters battling it out for the top spot… whilst smashing each other to pieces. Brawl is ridiculously addictive, even if you don’t like fighting games. It’s got undeniable charm, as every character has their own special attacks relevant to their game. It doesn’t need to be in depth and you can pretty much just pick it up and give it a go. And it has Kirby in it. What more do you need?

Book of the week
I actually read this a few weeks ago, but I haven’t found anything yet which touches it on the scale of awesome. I’m talking about American Gods by Neil Gaiman. American Gods is an outstanding tale of a young man named Shadow as he gets tangled up in a war between the classic gods of old and the new gods of media and economics. The book is huge, but I managed to finish it in less than a week because I could not stop reading it. It’s fantasy at its very best, without being too confusing. The characters feel familiar because they are familiar, and even though you’ll recognise almost every god, Gaiman gives them a face, a name, a personality. It’s an incredibly in depth book, but it’s also very easy to read. If you don’t read any other Gaiman books, read this.

TV show… ever
Truth be told, I have never watched anything better than Supernatural. Not even Buffy, and I’m a big Whedonite. Supernatural is essentially the tale of two brothers who hunt demons and other big bad mythical creatures, all for the sake of revenge. Those two brothers, Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean (Jensen Ackles) Winchester are also ridiculously attractive, which certainly helps keep my attention at least. Good looks aside, the story is one of the most unique I’ve seen on television in a long time and it gets bigger and better with every season, unlike Sam’s hair. Supernatural can be found on Living TV at the moment, where they’re about to start Season 5 (which by the way, is EPIC).

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