james debate
james debate

Sunday, 26 June 2022

Are you surrounded by water? Is the sun shining? Does the year end in an odd number? No... but, let's pretend that it does. It can only mean one thing. It's time for the Biennale!

ephemeric venice biennale 2022 art
Every two years, or three in this most unusual of circumstances, the Venetian Lagoon becomes the centre of the artistic community for six months. Quite why it was determined that the intense lagoonal humidity made an ideal setting for enjoying fine art in large crowds is lost to time, but it doesn't matter. All the big names in the world of art are here. So, after a late morning cicchetti and a quick vaporetto from the Zattere, we find ourselves at the Arsenale.

Superyachts line the canal as we approach the Giardini. Every corner of this town is burnished with special exhibitions and installations during this period, but it is here that one finds the main event: the national pavilions, permanent structures owned and managed by each of the participating nations, each housing the representative artist chosen by that nation's ministry of culture. 

There is much to see, more than can reasonably be done justice here. These are the highlights of what La Serenissima has to offer this year.

Republic of Korea

venice biennale korea 2022

Top of everyone's must see list at the 2022 Biennale is the Korean pavilion, exhibiting the work of Yunchil Kim. It's easy to see why, comprising a dazzling array of creations and machines that harmoniously blend the mechanical and biological. The centrepiece is Gyre (pictured), an undulating, mechanical snake-like contraption covered with articulated panels of iridescent fluid that honestly needs to be seen in motion to be appreciated. Other installations include a chandelier of liquid canisters, pistons and tubules that pumps Venetian water, a cascading tower of lights that reacts to subatomic particles, and a kaleidoscopic series of light-bending panels that uses special lenses to create a beautiful pattern effect around the movement of fluids. Korea's pavilion is a marvel both of engineering and aesthetics, a room of living, breathing sculptures that is everything a Biennale installation should be.


france biennale venice 2022

Taking a very different approach is Zineb Sedira's French pavilion. An ode to the activist filmmakers of the 1960s and 1970s, the pavilion is transformed into a film set, an editing room and a screening room, with cameras even set up to allow guests to briefly appear on screen. As an immersive setting, this is quite interesting to explore, albeit somewhat undermined by the many thousands of other Biennale guest cluttering all of the show spaces, occupying what interactive elements exist.


malta biennale venice 2022

Another one that really needs to be seen to be appreciated, Malta representatives Arcangelo Sassolino, Giuseppe Schembri Bonaci, and Brian Schembri have created an installation that utilises induction technology to create a shower of molten steel droplets falling into cold water, before hissing and fizzling out of existence. This is, believe it or not, intended to be a kinetic reimagining of Caravaggio's The Beheading of Saint John the Baptist. As a visual effect it is quite eye catching and oddly haunting, although I wonder if it would still be so without the ominous music playing over the room's speaker system.


venice biennale hungary 2022

This one you either love or hate. In this solo exhibition, Zsófia Keresztes uses tile mosaics to create some truly unique images. Moulded surrealist sculptures with an organic feel to them representing metamorphosis of the body. It's like someone tried to bring the imagery of Dali and Kafka to life in a Gaudi-esque form. Some people react with revulsion, others with fascination. In either case it's certainly worth seeing.


venice biennale austria 2022

With Austria's pavilion, Karola Kraus explores body consciousness through the imagery and tastes of our pop cultural history, drawing on the aesthetics of television, fashion and music to create a psychedelic dreamscape that. For something a bit lighter and more ironic, this is worth a look, as well as for its clear visual charm.


venice biennale uzbekistan 2022

Uzbekistan's pavilion is likely to fly under the radar somewhat, due in part to its location away from the main event space in the Giardini, but their Garden of Knowledge, created by Charlie Tapp and Abror Zufarov stands out to me as one of the more visually memorable spectacles. Floral sculptures and a fully reflective stainless steel floor create the illusion of walking on water in this most serene exhibition space (no shoes allowed though). There is something sublimely refreshing about this room, so long as you can get over the immediate sense of vertigo one gets from looking down.


venice biennale italy 2022

No round up of the different national pavilions can be complete without a mention of the home-team, Italy. By far the largest exhibition space, Gian Maria Tosatti has used the pavilion to reflect on the state of the nation and economic ennui. Divided into two sections, the first allows guests to explore a series of dusty warehouses filled with disused machinery and operational spaces, evoking the economic depression and stagnation that has become endemic. "The rise and fall of the Italian industrial dream". The second then turns to the balance of humanity and nature with "the destiny of comets", a dimly lit space filled with harsh, mechanical sounds astride a seemingly endless corridor of water, with the only visual landmark a series of moving, twinkling lights. Obtuse? Sure, but interesting.

The Central Pavilion

venice biennale central pavilion 2022

Of course, no visit to Biennale is complete without seeing the central pavilion, an expansive gallery space that features hundreds of different artists spread across multiple buildings. There's something for everyone, from fluorescing flowers to digitised cosplay that expertly blends computer and practical effects to create scenes that become difficult to separate reality from imagination. Precious Okoyomon has turned one gallery space into an expansive butterfly garden. Bogota-based artist Delcy Morelos turns another into maze of soil and farming equipment as a representation of cocoa and cinnamon farms. Most bizarrely, one room consists of a giant strange of what looks like human hair that fills the room. This one made me uncomfortable, not going to lie. The content here doesn't always succeed, but there's enough spectacle and ambition to justify the price of entry and make for an entertaining day out.


venice biennale other anish kapoor 2022

But Biennale extends far beyond the boundaries of Giardini and the Arsenale and worthwhile exhibitions can be found all over Venice. My pick this year was British-Indian sculptor Anish Kapoor, known for his ambitious, often surreal installations. This year he has taken up space in his own workshop at Palazzo Manfrin, as well as some gallery space at the Gallerie dell'Accademia. There are some old Kapoor favourites here. His wax catapult (unfortunately inactive here), his room of mirrors, and all manner of mind-bending optical illusions including recessed carvings that look to be floating and sculptures that appear 2D from some angles and 3D from others. Always worth a look.

So there you have a whistle-stop tour of this year's Biennale. This is, of course just a sample of all that there is to see around town this year. But for now, I need to find a place to cool off with a drink and some gelato. See you in two years' time!

Saturday, 18 June 2022

So much noteworthy new music, so little time. Looking for a new jam? I hear you buddy. The summer is now upon us, and as such we will be doing the Spring Music Round-Up, a rough and ready summary of some of the most interesting new releases of the recent past.

Specifically we will be looking at the new albums from Arcade Fire, Father John Misty, Beach House, and Kavinsky. Let's dive right in.

"We - Arcade Fire" Album Review
Genre Rock

arcade fire we new album 2022We represents something of a comeback for Montreal alternative rockers Arcade Fire. That is not to say that their last album, Everything Now was bad, but when your discography to-date consists almost entirely of seminal, genre-defining records, expectations can be high.

If We doesn't quite achieve the heights of albums like Neon Bible or The Suburbs, it is definitely a step in the right direction, musically. My biggest criticism of Everything Now was that it seemed to be an album that put its concept on too great a pedestal, at the expense of the music. We, by contrast, is more melodic, more sincere in its songwriting. This is still Arcade Fire, so of course it is going to be political and full of social commentary. But for the first time in years, Arcade Fire seem to have tapped into that multi-instrumental musical talent that made their early work so iconic. Prime example being Lightning I, II, a song that sounds like it could easily have come from a Funeral-era Arcade Fire album.

Ostensibly written as a reaction to the pandemic and the current state of detachment we feel from society, to the extent that the album is even structured as two separate segments, I and We. It's possible that We may be trying too hard to be loved. The lyrics are clunky and lacking in subtlety, a complaint in common with their previous album. A great example of this is End of the Empire I-III, not a bad song by any means, but one which gets its point across in a rather artless and obvious fashion.

There is plenty to enjoy with We, and certainly you are unlikely to find a more ambitious rock album in 2022. But while the music is memorable, conceptually this album still feels like a bit of an imitation of Arcade Fire's more celebrated work.

"Chloë and the next 20th Century - Father John Misty" Album Review
Genre Jazz-folk

father john misty chloe and the next 20th century new album 2022Josh Tillman, aka Father John Misty, has had quite a journey in recent years. From the side project of a Fleet Foxes band member, to hipster darling, to bona fide superstar. 

Tillman shows no sign of slowing his roll here, with Chloë and the next 20th Century, an ambitious genre-mash of an album that sees Tillman blend his usual folk stylings with some vintage-flavoured jazz and big-band. 

With Father John Misty, Tillman has always walked a fine line in songwriting between being brutal and raw, versus arch and satirical. He finds himself in funny form again here with dense and witty lyrics that meld the music's ostensibly mid-century trappings with contemporary subject matter; issues of race, women's rights, classism.

The vibrant Hollywood trappings make for an easy listen throughout, but particular mention needs to be made of the opening track Chloë, a delightful Cole Porter-esque jaunt about unrequited love, or the luscious Funny Girl. But if there is one standout track it has to be Q4, an irony-laced critique of the art-for-profit industry that skips along with its rolling harpsichord track.

It all reminds us of why we love Father John Misty and his music. The comedy, the tragedy, it's all here and with new musical experimentations, inventively composed. Definitely not one to miss.

"Once Twice Melody - Beach House" Album Review
Genre Dream-Pop

beach house once twice melody 2022 new albumBaltimore dream-pop duo Beach House are a band that have achieved a fair amount of notoriety in the indie music scene over the past decade. Known for their easy listening style and lush, intimate soundscapes, Beach House has followed in the well-worn tracks of those that came before, like a Stars, Broken Social Scene or Au Revoir Simone for the 2010s. They've had some hits. They've always been a pleasant, inoffensive group. With new album Once Twice Melody, Beach House are launching themselves into the stratosphere.

Once Twice Melody is their grandest vision yet. Bold, epic and "big" from the very first track. The music retains their dreamy, ambient style but with an added drive that allows the music to sink its teeth into the listener in a way that their earlier work rarely did. It's a work of far greater ambition that we've seen to date and one that establishes them firmly among the upper echelons of musicians working today.

Divided into four parts with 18 tracks total, this is also a longer album that we are used to seeing from bands in recent years. Yet it never feels long, so consistent is the stream of strong, memorable tracks. The duo of title track Once Twice Melody and Superstar is an opening salvo that any band would envy, and it follows quickly with RunawayOver and Over, and possibly the most impressive track on the album, New Romance. It's a remarkable string of music.

This is an album worth listening to, with great tracks, great variety, and consistency throughout. Top notch work and another reminder of why this band is so highly regarded.

"Reborn - Kavinsky" Album Review
Genre Synthwave

kavinsky reborn new album 2022 outrun zenithThere aren't many artists who can be credited with having invented a genre. But while it would be a stretch to say that Kavinsky truly invented the synthwave genre (he still owes much to his French House forebears, notably Daft Punk) his music has so come to typify the genre that the name of his first album, Outrun, is often used as an umbrella term for music and other media connected with this aesthetic.

For a while, it looked as though Kavinsky would take the iconic status of his debut and ride off into the digitised sunset (Outrun came out almost a decade ago at this point). But in recent years he had been teasing a return and in 2022 that has finally come to fruition with the release of Reborn

Fans of Kavinsky will certainly recognise the staples: a slickly produced paean to the music and film of the 1980s, cinematic in scope and content. But while Reborn is clear on its influences, it is by no means stuck in the past; often experimental in form and with a digital quality that is as futuristic as anything in the genre. 

But where Kavinsky's debut felt like a relentless livewire of energy, Reborn often feels somewhat more measured. The sound is fuller and more polished, but also slower and more introspective, sometimes bordering on balladic. At its finest moments, Reborn dazzles, but at other times it can come off as surprisingly bland and mainstream. Certainly there is nothing wrong with an artist trying to evolve his style, but Reborn is still very much at its best when it captures that energy, as with lead single Renegade and title track Reborn.

But the absolute highlight of this album is Zenith. Billed as a spiritual sequel to Kavinsky's most famous hit, Nightcall, this is the one track above all others that manages to successfully marry the new introspective approach with the wild exuberance of Outrun. An instant classic of brooding intensity and white hot saxophone solo. 

Kavinsky returns in strong form and with a level of polish that leaves us excited for what the future holds. While the album as a whole may not leave the indelible mark of its predecessor, it does contain some absolutely fantastic tracks that are not to be missed.

Sunday, 29 May 2022

Another doozy of a season in the record books, which means it is time for The Ephemeric's traditional end of season review. We had drama, tension and last minute twists, but who did what and which players caught our eye? Read on to find out.

premier league 2021 manchester city champions klopp pep guardiola tuchel lampard chelsea ephemeric european super league
The 2021/22 season kept us in suspense right up until the final whistle, but in the end it is another title for well-funded Manchester City, a title that may seem something of a consolation prize for a team still eluded by the European glory they so crave. For runners up Liverpool, however, it is a tale of oh-so-near. Having been within a realistic shout of an unprecedented quadruple just days ago, they instead need to settle for the two domestic cups, neither of which, it has to be said, were claimed all that convincingly. The tale of English football's top clubs is rounded out by Chelsea who, while injury crisis prevented them from sustaining a title push, did manage to end the season as Champions of the World and with another Super Cup to boot. 

Now we head into the next season with so many tantalising plotlines to follow. Have Tottenham finally got it right with Antonio Conte? Can Erik ten Hag work his magic and find a way to turn Man United's cast of disparate starlets into a cohesive unit? What does the future hold for Chelsea in a post-Abramovich world? The Premier League remains football's most exciting competition, and we are already looking forward to next season.

Now without further ado it is time to move on to the Ephemeric end of season awards, followed by our carefully selected Premier League team of the year.

The Ephemeric Premier League Awards 2022:

Winners: Manchester City 

Relegated: Burnley, Watford, Norwich 

Player of the Year: Mohamed Salah (Liverpool) - Arguably the best player in football today. Salah topped both the goals and assists table and remains the essential player of one of the world's best sides.

U-21 Player of the Year: Conor Gallagher (Crystal Palace) - A competitive year for this prize. On another day I could easily have awarded this to Reece James or Phil Foden, but in the end it is the Crystal Palace loanee that has most impressed. To make his Premier League debut and immediately exert such influence and poise is a remarkable accomplishment and hopefully the beginning of a very strong career.

Best Goalkeeper: Alisson (Liverpool) - The most clean sheets, and just a constant presence in this Liverpool defence. Alisson just seems to have every attribute a keeper needs.

Top Scorer: Mohamed Salah (Liverpool) & Son Heung-Min (Tottenham) (23) 

Most Assists: Mohamed Salah (Liverpool) (13) 

Manager of the Year: Antonio Conte (Tottenham) - For years Tottenham have seemed like a club adrift, consistent only in their underachievement, even under the stewardship of some top level managers. In Conte it seems the club may finally have found someone with the will to elevate these players and finally achieve some level of consistent results.

Best signing of the season: Luis Diaz (Liverpool) 

Worst signing of the season: Dele Alli (Everton) 

The Ephemeric Premier League Team of the Season 2022:

english epl bpl premier league best team xi of the season 2021
A surprisingly difficult XI to pick this year. Alisson in goal picks himself, along with the league's two standout players Salah and Son, but for every other position there were at least two or three players who could have made a credible claim to be in this team. 

The inclusion of Reece James over Trent Alexander-Arnold may raise a few eyebrows, but quite frankly it shouldn't. TAA has shown himself time and time again to be shaky at the back (as we saw this past weekend to tragic effect), while James has been arguably Chelsea's most rock-solid defender, to the extent that he has often played at centre-half. James' attacking talents are also underappreciated, the fact that he has a higher combined goals and assists tally than TAA despite being injured half the season says everything. Trent is a fantastic footballer, but Reece James, when fit, was arguably among the league's best players this season.

Harry Kane is another who seems to have flown under the radar, possibly as a result of Son stealing the headlines. While it is true that Kane has had a quiet season by his standards, the statistics don't lie. 17 league goals and 9 assists, a very formidable tally by anyone's standards. Kane remains one of the most dependable attacking talents in world football.

Then there is Kevin de Bruyne, the Premier League's official player of the year. His pick over the likes of Salah and Son may be questionable, but there is no denying that he is a world class talent and the beating heart of a very good Manchester City side. I choose a tantalising central midfield for this XI with the marauding creative talents of De Bruyne and Mount (fun, underappreciated fact: only two players in the Premier League had a greater combined goals/assists than Mount) playing off a Declan Rice fulcrum. 

Completing the defence with the standout players of the league's most miserly defences seems like a no-brainer.

So there we have it, another season of Premier League football gone by. We'll see you again next season!

Saturday, 21 May 2022

Directed by Rupert Goold
Written by Mike Bartlett
Starring Bertie Carvel, Tamara Tunie, Lydia Wilson
Theatre Old Vic

47 47th old vic donald ivanka trump biden kamala harris theatre 2022 bertie carvel charles
Even though his time in office has come to an end, it's clear that it will take some time for the world to shake the spectre of the 45th President from its collective consciousness. This fixation comes not just from a place of revulsion, but fascination. There are many out there who still yearn to understand, not just the man, but his following. How could such a person command a fervent and loyal base of support from so many? How could his reprehensible ideas and obvious nonsense find any measure of resonance, not just among the uninformed, but in some cases the intelligent and powerful? For all his controversies and corruption, Donald Trump remains a mystery that compels interest in even those who stand against him. The 47th indulges that fascination and in doing so crafts some superb entertainment, without ever really providing any deep new insights.

Politics makes for great theatre and indeed this is far from the first look at the 45th President that has graced the London stage. But politics can be tricky to get right, particularly when the subject matter is so current. Writer Mike Bartlett, fortunately, has a record of doing political theatre well. His most recent original West End show, Albion, made for an astute and memorable Brexit parable. But the 47th shares most of its DNA with what is arguably Bartlett's most notable work to date, King Charles III

King Charles III envisioned the succession of the British monarchy to a more politically inclined Charles interpreted as a Shakespearean court drama, even going so far as to be penned in blank verse. The 47th pulls much the same trick, imagining instead the succession to the Trump dynasty amid a hypothetical third run for office. But where King Charles III was a fairly straight-faced homage to Shakespeare, The 47th mostly uses those influences to comic effect, relishing the contrast between the stately Shakespearean form of language and the contemporary crudeness of Trump and his circle. Hearing these characters lace an eloquent monologue with inelegance and references to the likes of Selling Sunset and Lin Manuel Miranda is inherently humorous. In an odd way, Trump's nonsequitious manner of diction fits well with this style. His constant asides and tangents are reminiscent, as indeed the play itself notes at one point, of Shakespearean characters playing to an audience during a monologue.

If King Charles III was an homage, The 47th often feels more like a pastiche. Rather than simply being a modern play in the classical style, the plot here lifts heavily from specific plays, with very clear lifting of narratives and characters from the likes of King Lear, Macbeth, Richard III and Julius Caesar. Trump's offspring vying for his patronage, Joe Biden's fretful sleepwalking, Ivanka Trump's machiavellian scheming, even some directly borrowed dialogue ("for Ted Cruz is an honourable man"). Where Bartlett saw serious Shakespearean drama in the succession to Elizabeth II, here he sees pomposity and self-aggrandisement ripe for the mocking. 

If it is perhaps all a bit too knowing and wry, it's hugely entertaining, Bertie Carvel's swaggering performance in particular. But aside from tantalising brief glimpses into the psyche of Trump himself offers little in the way of fresh insight as to the movement or people behind him. The depiction of public unrest and insurrection inspired by Trump feels more like a retelling of the January 6th attempted coup than any kind of prophecy, right down to the lifting of imagery from that day (the buffalo-horned shaman even makes an appearance). The 47th depicts vast masses of people enthralled by conspiracy theories and lies without ever really asking why. It reminds us of the threat Trump poses to democracy, but doesn't really extrapolate further from that point in the way that King Charles III did. 

Where The 47th does ask compelling questions is in how far one can go in order to defend what is right and just. As Trumpism ravages the nation in carnage and chaos, those who stand against him are faced with the dilemma of how to counteract his movement. Continue to play by the rules and likely lose out to his dirty tactics, or compromise your principles and lower yourself to his level. It presents a sort of Faustian dilemma wherein whichever choice you make, you lose. Either maintain your ideals and lose the fight, or win the fight but in doing so validate the anarchic worldview you stand against.
The show ends with the sting in the tail that posits Ivanka may be the more dangerous Trump, similar to King Charles III's final act depiction of Kate Middleton. But whereas King Charles III fully demonstrated Kate's ruthless ambition and machiavellian scheming, that really isn't felt in this instance. We see Ivanka briefly demonstrate her political nous, before being largely overpowered by her father's chaotic whims. We don't really see anything to suggest that she has that capability, so this parting message rings somewhat hollow.

The 47th is an immaculately presented piece of theatre marked by a spellbinding central performance. But much like its subject matter, it is gaudy and designed to elicit a visceral reaction, rather than a true exploration.

Sunday, 27 March 2022


oscars 86th academy awards 2014
Welcome back to The Ephemeric. It's that time of year again where this blog astounds you with its super accurate Oscar predictions. Ideally I would have liked to post this last week, but unfortunately it has been about four months since I have been able to get away from work. Instead, we will need to make do with what is a very last minute effort! Think I'm exaggerating? Look up last year's post, this paragraph was copied word for word. It's not laziness, that's how short of time I am!

This year I find myself in the unfamiliar position of actually agreeing with most of the likely winners. Looking at the predictions below, it's only the two big ones with which I take issue. Whether that is a sign of one or two particularly strong frontrunners or a generally weak roster I will leave for interpretation. So take a gander at the list below, an idea perhaps of who is likely to come away with a statue from this year's ceremony.

Best Picture

  • Belfast – Laura Berwick, Kenneth Branagh, Becca Kovacik and Tamar Thomas
  • CODA – Philippe Rousselet, Fabrice Gianfermi and Patrick Wachsberger
  • Don't Look Up – Adam McKay and Kevin Messick
  • Drive My Car – Teruhisa Yamamoto
  • Dune – Mary Parent, Denis Villeneuve and Cale Boyter
  • King Richard – Tim White, Trevor White and Will Smith
  • Licorice Pizza – Sara Murphy, Adam Somner and Paul Thomas Anderson
  • Nightmare Alley – Guillermo del Toro, J. Miles Dale and Bradley Cooper
  • The Power of the Dog – Jane Campion, Tanya Seghatchian, Emile Sherman, Iain Canning and Roger Frappier
  • West Side Story – Steven Spielberg and Kristie Macosko Krieger
And the winner: CODA
Who should really win: Belfast
Explanation: This awards season has shaped up to be a two-horse race between CODA and The Power of the Dog, the latter of which had generally been considered the presumptive favourite. There are many reasons to think that CODA will fall short: the lack of below-the-line nominations, (a travesty in and of itself) its early 2021 release date, the lack of a big name filmmaker and its relatively modest awards-season campaign efforts. Despite this, CODA has gone to pick up two of the three biggest and most predictive pre-Oscar awards, the Producers' Guild Award for best film and Screen-Actors Guild Award for best cast (the other major award, the Directors' Guild Award for best director, went to The Power of the Dog). For this reason, plus the fact that, you know, CODA is a vastly superior film to The Power of the Dog, I am going to go with CODA for the win. As to which film should win. CODA is an excellent film and a deserved winner, but I still contend that the peak of 2021 cinema was Belfast, an absolutely masterful and impeccably produced picture.

Best Director

  • Kenneth Branagh – Belfast
  • Ryusuke Hamaguchi – Drive My Car
  • Paul Thomas Anderson – Licorice Pizza
  • Jane Campion – The Power of the Dog
  • Steven Spielberg – West Side Story
And the winner: Jane Campion - The Power of the Dog
Who should really win: Kenneth Branagh - Belfast
Explanation: Jane Campion was always going to be a strong contender for this prize. She is one of those beloved and highly technically adept filmmakers that the Academy loves to celebrate. Having already won the DGA award for best director, she is basically a lock here. But I think there's more to directing than just slick cinematography (after all, that is why there is a separate award for best cinematography). The handiwork of a great director can be seen in everything, from the staging, the attention to background detail, to the choreography of the actors. I think you rarely see a film where every detail has been so masterfully crafted as with Kenneth Branagh's Belfast. He would be my pick for this prize.

Best Actor

  • Javier Bardem – Being the Ricardos as Desi Arnaz
  • Benedict Cumberbatch – The Power of the Dog as Phil Burbank
  • Andrew Garfield – Tick, Tick... Boom! as Jonathan Larson
  • Will Smith – King Richard as Richard Williams
  • Denzel Washington – The Tragedy of Macbeth as Lord Macbeth
And the winner: Will Smith - King Richard as Richard Williams
Who should really win: Will Smith - King Richard as Richard Williams
Explanation: I feel bad for Andrew Garfield, who in any other year would have been in with a good shout for his musical-biographical turn in Tick, Tick... Boom! But this year it was only ever going to go to one person. Hollywood loves to reward lifetime achievement with its acting prizes. Will Smith has been around forever and has a number of nominations to his name at this point, there was always going to be a sense of "maybe it's his turn". But this is not some DiCaprio-esque coronation, Smith's performance in a complex and tonally challenging role is undoubtedly excellent. For my money, he just about edges it.

Best Actress

  • Jessica Chastain – The Eyes of Tammy Faye as Tammy Faye Bakker
  • Olivia Colman – The Lost Daughter as Leda Caruso
  • Penélope Cruz – Parallel Mothers as Janis Martínez Moreno
  • Nicole Kidman – Being the Ricardos as Lucille Ball
  • Kristen Stewart – Spencer as Diana, Princess of Wales
And the winner: Jessica Chastain – The Eyes of Tammy Faye as Tammy Faye Bakker
Who should really win: Jessica Chastain – The Eyes of Tammy Faye as Tammy Faye Bakker
Explanation: Best actress is always a tricky one to call. The bigger films of the year still tend to focus on male protagonists (or perhaps those with male protagonists get better traction with the Academy, make of that what you will) and so these nominations tend to come from less widely distributed pictures. Nevertheless, the usual factors apply. Jessica Chastain now has three unsuccessful Oscar nominations to her name and has collected several of the big acting prizes already this year. I expect this will be her year.

Best Supporting Actor

  • Ciarán Hinds – Belfast as Pop
  • Troy Kotsur – CODA as Frank Rossi
  • Jesse Plemons – The Power of the Dog as George Burbank
  • J. K. Simmons – Being the Ricardos as William Frawley
  • Kodi Smit-McPhee – The Power of the Dog as Peter Gordon
And the winnerTroy Kotsur – CODA as Frank Rossi
Who should really win: Troy Kotsur – CODA as Frank Rossi
Explanation: The main tools of an actor are his face and his voice. Conveying emotion without one of the two requires extraordinary skill and that is precisely what Troy Kotsur has demonstrated in CODA. Ciarán Hinds comes close, but it's difficult to see this award not going to Kotsur, especially if CODA ends up having a good night.

Best Supporting Actress

  • Jessie Buckley – The Lost Daughter as Young Leda Caruso
  • Ariana DeBose – West Side Story as Anita
  • Judi Dench – Belfast as Granny
  • Kirsten Dunst – The Power of the Dog as Rose Gordon
  • Aunjanue Ellis – King Richard as Oracene "Brandy" Price 
And the winnerAriana DeBose – West Side Story as Anita
Who should really win: Ariana DeBose – West Side Story as Anita
Explanation: Ariana DeBose is having a bit of a moment. From bit-part player in Hamilton to a starring turn in AppleTV+'s hit musical series Schmigadoon, and now headlining a Spielberg picture. West Side Story may have been a qualified success, but one thing it did not lack was charisma in its second lead actress. DeBose is no longer just a star in the making and it seems to only be a matter of time before she becomes a household name.

Best Original Screenplay

  • Belfast – Kenneth Branagh
  • Don't Look Up – Screenplay by Adam McKay; Story by Adam McKay and David Sirota
  • King Richard – Zach Baylin
  • Licorice Pizza – Paul Thomas Anderson
  • The Worst Person in the World – Eskil Vogt and Joachim Trier
And the winnerDon't Look Up – Screenplay by Adam McKay; Story by Adam McKay and David Sirota
Who should really win: Don't Look Up – Screenplay by Adam McKay; Story by Adam McKay and David Sirota
Explanation: It may not have been especially subtle, but Don't Look Up is still clever, entertaining and deeply poignant, anchored by some very underrated performances (DiCaprio and Rylance in particular). This is one of those films that grows on you over time, and should be considered required watching in today's world.

Best Adapted Screenplay

  • CODA – Sian Heder; based on the original motion picture screenplay La Famille Bélier written by Victoria Bedos, Thomas Bidegain, Stanislas Carré de Malberg and Éric Lartigau
  • Drive My Car – Ryusuke Hamaguchi and Takamasa Oe; based on the short story by Haruki Murakami
  • Dune – Jon Spaihts, Denis Villeneuve and Eric Roth; based on the novel by Frank Herbert
  • The Lost Daughter – Maggie Gyllenhaal; based on the novel by Elena Ferrante
  • The Power of the Dog – Jane Campion; based on the novel by Thomas Savage
And the winner: CODA – Sian Heder; based on the original motion picture screenplay La Famille Bélier written by Victoria Bedos, Thomas Bidegain, Stanislas Carré de Malberg and Éric Lartigau
Who should really win: CODA – Sian Heder; based on the original motion picture screenplay La Famille Bélier written by Victoria Bedos, Thomas Bidegain, Stanislas Carré de Malberg and Éric Lartigau
Explanation: A lock if CODA has a good night, and perhaps even if it doesn't. Telling a story without words (for large portions of the film anyway), in a way that is compelling to audiences, is a remarkable accomplishment and a fine example of the artistry behind good screenwriting. CODA deserves this prize perhaps more than any other.

So there you have it, The Ephemeric's picks for the year. Enjoy the Oscars tonight, and when the results go as predicted, remember that you heard it here first! 

Saturday, 5 March 2022

Hello and welcome back to 2022's final post from the Hot List. This week we will be looking at the most exciting new movies set to hit the big screen in 2022 from March onwards, after the cutoff point for this year's awards season.

ephemeric hot list most best hottest anticipated new movies films 2021 exciting

2022 is looking to be a very well stocked year of cinema. Hollywood (and esteemed foreign equivalents) appear to be back in full swing with film productions proceeding apace. On top of this, we still have a number of very promising pandemic-delayed projects that look set for release over the next 12 months, promising a year that is stacked with quality. 

In particular, the 2022-2023 awards season is looking to be highly competitive. Spielberg, Chazelle, O'Russell, Scorsese, Cameron, Mendes, Iñárritu... name a great filmmaker and chances are they have a film coming out this year. A Baz Luhrmann biopic of legendary musician Elvis, a new project from renowned auteur Wes Anderson, these are among the films that did not make final cut, so you can imagine how exciting the remaining projects on this list must be.

So without further delay, the key films to keep an eye on in the coming year (trailers linked in the title where available), starting with number 15:

15. Men

men alex garland beach ex machina 28 days later best most anticipated film movie 2022First up is Men, the latest from noted author turned director Alex Garland

Garland will be best known to most for his writing, which includes novels such as The Beach (as well as the screenplay for the film adaptation) and The Tesseract, as well as the screenplays for 28 Days Later and Sunshine. More recently, he has moved into filmmaking and earned great acclaim for his debut Ex Machina and follow up Annihilation

His latest is a horror drama starring Jessie Buckley and Rory Kinnear, centred around a young woman who goes on a solo vacation in the English countryside after the death of her ex-husband.

Little else is known of the plot, but filming is confirmed to have wrapped last summer. Men releases in May 2022.

Release Date: May 2022

14. Canterbury Glass

canterbury glass david russel best movies films 2022 christian bale margot robbie
For a while, filmmaker David O'Russell was considered one of the darlings of prestige filmmaking in Hollywood, earning four Oscar nominations for his work on The Fighter, Silver Linings Playbook, and American Hustle. But between sexual misconduct allegations and a tepid response to his last film, Joy, the last few years have seen the director go quiet. That changes in 2022, which will see the release of O'Russell's newest film, Canterbury Glass

Described as a period film in which a doctor and a lawyer form an unlikely partnership, Canterbury Glass features an all-star cast of frequent O'Russell collaborators including Christian Bale, Margot Robbie, John David Washington, Rami Malek, Robert De Niro, Taylor Swift and several others. O'Russell will also collaborate for the first time with the great Mexican cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki, best known for his Oscar winning work on Gravity, Birdman, and The Revenant.

This is due for release in the awards season friendly month of November and will likely be one of the year's big hitters when it comes to the 2023 Oscars.

Release Date: November 2022

13. Killers of the Flower Moon

killers of the flower moon scorsese dicaprio best films movies 2022
Martin Scorsese's long-gestating adaptation of Killers of the Flower Moon will finally see release in 2022. 

Based on the non-fiction book of David Grann, this is the story of a series of murders in 1920s Oklahoma following the discovery of oil on local tribal lands. A core cast of Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert De Niro and Jesse Plemons, with smaller roles for Brendan Fraser and John Lithgow

This will mark the most ambitious foray into feature films yet by AppleTV+, whose success in TV productions has yet to see similar consistency on the big screen. Killers of the Flower Moon is targeting a November release date.

Release Date: November 2022

12. Wendell and Wild

wendell and wild henry selick jordan peele michael keegan key best films movies 2022 nightmare before christmas coraline
To say this one has been in the works for a long time would be an understatement. The Nightmare Before Christmas and Coraline are such beloved films, and yet for some inexplicable reason no studio ever seems to want to give their director Henry Selick work.

Well, Netflix finally seem to have seen the vast opportunity in embracing that fanbase and will produce his next feature film Wendell and Wild. Selick will be supported by Hollwood man of the moment Jordan Peele and Peele's long-time collaborator Keegan-Michael Key who will write and star in the film.

Release date is still very much up in the air, but I for one am very excited to see more of this man's unique vision come to the screen, and let's hope it leads to a long and fruitful relationship with Netflix.

Release Date: TBA 2022

11. Nope

nope get out us jordan peele best films movies 2022
The exciting nascent filmmaking career of Jordan Peele continues. The comedian turned horror maestro has earned massive plaudits and Academy Awards for his early directorial output with Get Out and Us

His latest, Nope, remains shrouded in mystery. Focused on a small town in America that bears witness to a mysterious and abnormal event. The trailer doesn't give much away either, although there's plenty of imagery there to suggest aliens.

The cast sees Peele reunite with Get Out star Daniel Kaluuya, and Emmy award winning actress Keke Palmer, who has worked with Peele on some of his TV projects. The addition of Swedish cinematographer Hoyte van Hoytema, known for his work on Let the Right One In and his collaborations with Christopher Nolan on Interstellar and Dunkirk is also quite exciting. Whatever else comes of this, Nope will certainly look a treat.

Nope releases in July.

Release Date: July 2022

10. Next Goal Wins

next goal wins taika waititi best films movies 2022 michael fassbender elisabeth mossTaika Waititi is having something of a moment, the New Zealand filmmaker and actor has come a long way from indie comedy hits like Flight of the Conchords and What We Do in the Shadows to running the Thor franchise for Disney and, of course, his Oscar winning success with Jojo Rabbit.

His next film, Next Goal Wins, is based on the true story of Dutch football coach Thomas Rongen and his efforts to take the American-Samoa national team, then considered the worst in the world, to the 2014 World Cup.

Michael Fassbender stars as Rongen, and he will be joined by Elisabeth MossArmie Hammer, and long-time Waititi collaborator Rhys Darby.

Release date is still TBA, but after a number of delays filming is said to be complete and should see release in 2022.

Release Date: TBA 2022

9. Avatar 2    

avatar 2 way of water sequel james cameron best films movies 2022
Whatever you may think of the original film, it is impossible to do this list without mentioning the sequel to a film that, more than a decade later and even without adjusting for inflation, is still the highest grossing worldwide.

Avatar 2 was announced almost immediately after the first film in the series released, along with an improbably large number of sequels. Despite this, the project has never seen the light of day and has barely leaked any details through the veil of secrecy. 

I'll be honest, I thought the first movie was perfectly fine. Nothing amazing. I am bemused that such a great filmmaker has deigned to devote the latter portion of his career solely to this franchise (if it can even yet be called such), much less that a further four sequels are said to already be greenlit. But clearly Cameron sees something in Avatar that makes it worthy of such attention. This will either be one of the most high profile flops of all time, or the birth of something major.

Release Date: December 2022

8. Bardo

bardo alejandro gonzalez inarritu best films movies 2022
It seems that Alejandro González Iñárritu is going the Alfonso Cuarón route for his next film and returning to his roots in Mexican cinema for Bardo, a nostalgic comedy about a journalist and documentarian who returns home to Mexico City to face the problems of family, his memories, and changes in his home country.

Iñárritu, of course, is best known for his back-to-back Oscar wins with Birdman and The Revenant. Bardo will mark his first production in the seven years following the latter of those.

While it may seem like a surprising move, turning back from success in Hollywood to work on something more low-key and local, it is worth remembering that when Cuarón pulled the same trick with Roma it ended up being one of his more acclaimed and decorated films to date.

Release Date: TBA 2022

7. Lightyear

buzz lightyear pixar toy story best films movies 2022 docter chris evansLightyear looks set to be one of Pixar's strangest ideas to date and also one of its most ambitious.

While on the surface this would seem to just be another film in the Toy Story universe, this is not the case. Lightyear is actually a film based on the in-fiction character on which the toy in Toy Story is based. Slightly confusing, sure, but the rub of it is that there are no toys here, just a good old fashioned sci-fi adventure the likes of which, certainly, Pixar have never attempted. The result is something that looks closer to Interstellar or Star Wars than a typical Pixar movie, and that is quite exciting.

Directed by Pete Docter, arguably the best in the business as the only man to win the Best Animated Feature Oscar three times. Chris Evans, Keke Palmer and Taika Waititi star.

Release Date: June 2022

6. Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse (Part One)

spiderman spiderverse sequel 2 spidergwen across part one spider-verse spider-man best films movies 2022 miles moralesPixar have typically been considered the animation kings in recent years, and to a lesser extent Disney. So you can imagine the surprise when this unassuming Spider-Man animation from Sony managed to beat both (and Wes Anderson's Isle of Dogs to boot) to win the Best Animated Feature Oscar back in 2019. It was deserved, Into the Spider-Verse was an outstanding film. 

In 2022, we will see the sequel: Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse (Part One). The title itself is interesting, indicating not just some sequel but the start of a new series. This is in addition to potential film and television spin-offs in discussion. 

This sequel will see Mile Morales traveling across the Spider-Verse, teaming up with an array of alternate Spider-Men to take on a new enemy. Phil Lord and Christopher Miller return as writers. The main cast of the original returns, Shameik Moore, Jake Johnson, and Hailee Steinfeld. They will be joined by Oscar Isaac, who made a brief appearance in a post-credits scene in the first movie.

Spider-Verse 2 releases in October. I'll tell you one thing, the Best Animated Feature category this year is going to be competitive.

Release Date: October 2022

5. The Banshees of Inisherin

banshees of inisherin martin mcdonagh best films movies 2022 bruges three billboards ebbing missouri colin farrell brendan gleeson
Now we're getting into the real cream of the crop when it comes to this year's awards calibre films. The Banshees of Inisherin is the latest from Martin McDonagh, writer/director of pitch black comedies In Bruges, Seven Psychopaths and, most recently, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri.

Starring Colin Farrell, Barry Keoghan, Brendan Gleeson, and Kerry Condon, Inisherin follows a pair of lifelong friends on a remote Irish island who find themselves at an awkward time in their relationship when one of them no longer wants to be friends.

McDonagh is one of those artists you can't ignore. His work shocks as much as it entertains and it generally enjoys great commercial and critical success. McDonagh already has an Oscar to his name for short film Six Shooter. Nominated twice for Three Billboards, but ultimately missing out. Could Inisherin be his turn for the biggest prize?

Release Date: October 2022

4. Empire of Light

empire of light sam mendes best films movies 2022 olivia colman colin firthSam Mendes' career in film has been a bit hit and miss, starting brightly with American Beauty and Road to Perdition, but generally delivering one dud for every gem in the decade that followed. An ill-advised foray into the world of James Bond occupied much of his 2010s, although he did end the decade with arguably a career highpoint in 1917.

If he is currently on a good run of form, then his next project sounds positively delightful. Empire of Light is a period romantic comedy set in an English coastal cinema in the 1980s. The cast includes Olivia Colman, Colin Firth, Michael Ward, and Toby Jones. The almighty Roger Deakins is on as cinematographer. This is, notably, Mendes' first solo screenplay, having co-written 1917 previously.

Filming is apparently still in progress, but this is nevertheless scheduled for a release towards the end of the year.

Release Date: TBA 2022

3. The Fabelmans

fabelmans steven spielberg biopic biography best film movie 2022 michelle williams seth rogen paul dano
A semi-autobiographical coming of age period film from Steven Spielberg, penned by the Tony, Pulitzer, Emmy, Olivier Award winning writer Tony Kushner? Sign me up.

The Fabelmans is loosely based on Spielberg's childhood in Arizona and features a cast of Michelle Williams, Paul Dano, and Seth Rogen. An all-star behind the camera team of Janusz Kaminski (Schindler's List, Saving Private Ryan) as cinematographer and the great John Williams scoring. 

Yes to all of this. It's hard to think of a film that looks better on paper. The Fabelmans releases in November and I will eat my hat if it is not one of the big awards season contenders next year.

Release Date: November 2022

2. She Said

she said carey mulligan harvey weinstein metoo maria schrader best films movies 2022
I suspect She Said is going to be some essential watching in 2022. Penned by noted playwright Rebecca Lenkiewicz, She Said is the story of how journalists Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey brought down Harvey Weinstein. This is also the first major Hollywood project of award winning German actress and director Maria Schrader

The duo will be played by Carey Mulligan and Zoe Kazan. Mulligan currently has two Oscar nominations to her name but zero wins, despite being widely regarded as one of the finest actors of her generation. Could this finally be her year? 

This is another November release. Its timely subject matter and strong talent throughout should make this one of 2022's most notable films.

Release Date: November 2022

1. Babylon

best films movies 2022 babylon damien chazelle la la land whiplash brad pitt margot robbieBut my number one pick for the year is the latest from writer/director Damien Chazelle, best known for La La Land and Whiplash, Babylon.

Still young by Hollywood standards at 37, Chazelle already has three Oscar nominations and one win to his name, and is considered one of the most exciting filmmakers in the world. His latest is a period drama set in 1920s Hollywood, with a cast that features Brad Pitt and Margot Robbie. Babylon once again sees Chazelle team up with composer Justin Hurwitz, the Oscar winning magician behind the music of La La Land, and cinematographer Linus Sandgren, who also won an Oscar for La La Land.

Chazelle is on something of a hot streak. His three last films all won Oscars, and if there's one thing the Academy loves, it's films about Hollywood. This releases in December and is my most hotly anticipated film of 2022.

Release Date: December 2022

So there you have it folks: The 2022 Hot List. I will be back with many more articles in due course, but for now stay safe and let's make 2022 a great year together.

Sunday, 20 February 2022

Welcome back to The Ephemeric's 2022 Hot List. This week we will be having a look at the most exciting new music due for release in the coming year.

best anticipated new music 2022 albums hot list
Music is always the most difficult list to compile. Every year the volume of new content seems to increase, doubly so over the pandemic years. On top of which, the advent of digital self-publishing through services like Spotify has made it more difficult to keep tabs on all the promising new talent in the industry, and resulted in release schedules that are less formalised and harder to predict.

But an abundance of options can hardly be a bad thing and while many exciting artists were axed in the process of whittling down to this short list, those that remain are very promising indeed, encompassing a healthy mix of old returning favourites and newcomers.

So without further ado, here is our list of the top albums to keep an eye on in 2022, starting with number 15:

15. Arctic Monkeys

arctic monkeys alex turner last shadow puppets new album 2022 best most anticipated musicAlex Turner has become something of an icon in the British music scene in recent years, but it is still his first vehicle, Arctic Monkeys that represents his most successful outlet to date. In 2022, AM is returning with their 7th, as yet unnamed, LP.

Currently little is known about the upcoming album other than that it is essentially complete at this point and will release this year. What little information is out there has been leaking out at a drip-feed via social media and word of mouth. By all accounts it appears to be a spiritual continuation of their last album Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino, an exploration of modern consumer culture most successfully conveyed in the lead single from that album, Four Out of Five

Given the lack of a formal release date, yet the apparent completeness of the record, I would expect this one to drop on short notice. Potentially in the spring, but more likely a summer release.

Release Date: Summer 2022

14. Sarah Kinsley (New band)

sarah kinsley 2022 debut album king best most anticipated new music
The "new band" label here would identify Sarah Kinsley as an upcoming star of the future, but in truth this is a tad misleading given the massive success she has already seen with her EP The King

Kinsley is widely seen as one of the next big things in music and a debut LP is expected to release in the near future. Her sound strikes that magic balance of big, catchy hooks and relatable vulnerability that the most successful pop acts strive for, and will certainly be one to watch.

A release date has yet to be confirmed, but this is expected to be a 2022 release.

Release Date: TBA 2022

13. Gabriels (New band)

gabriels debut new album 2022 best most anticipated musicAnother exciting newcomer in the form of LA's Gabriels. This soul-singing trio has been hotly tipped for success by many pundits in the industry and attracted glowing endorsements from heavy hitters like Elton John, who described last year's EP release as one of the most seminal releases of the past 10 years.

Gabriels' sound builds on the entire history of Black American music, with influences in gospel, soul and blues. A smattering of EP and single releases to date have earned hype reviews, most notably 2021's Love and Hate in a Different Time.

A full LP release is due to follow and will make for a refreshingly different sound in the modern music landscape.

Release Date: TBA 2022

12. "The Tipping Point" by Tears for Fears

tears for fears comeback new album tipping point best most anticipated new music 2022
Here's one I did not see coming. Tears for Fears are among the most iconic British bands of the 1980s, with well-worn hits such as Everybody Wants to Rule the WorldMad World, and Head Over Heels. Songs that most everyone will be familiar with and are likely to grace any best of the 80s playlist. 

It's thirty years past their heyday, and twenty since their last album. Yet, following a successful spell of touring in recent years, 2022 will see a comeback in the form of new album The Tipping Point. At the time of writing, the band has released a lead single of The Tipping Point, and it's more or less what you would expect from the band. The far more stripped down No Small Thing seems more interesting to my ears and suggests at something of a new direction.

Cash grab or return to form? Comebacks are difficult to pull off, but even if they aren't able to add to their stable of genre classics it will be interesting to see what fresh ideas they might have.

Release Date: February 2022

11. "Time Skiffs" by Animal Collective

time skiffs animal collective panda bear best new most anticipated debut album 2022
Animal Collective are one of those marmite bands. You either love them or hate them. The experimental Baltimore band have baffled and delighted music lovers for a good twenty years now (feel old yet?) and spawned a highly successful spin-off career for founding member Panda Bear. A new album, Time Skiffs, will release in 2022.

Their experimental nature makes this a difficult band to predict. Theirs is a sound that can range from the bafflingly mesmerising to the bafflingly unhinged to the actually kinda mainstream. Lead single from the new album, Prester John (loving the historic mythology reference), suggests a neat balance between their typical edge and commercial appeal, with something approaching a more breezy rock and roll sound.

Always intriguing, Animal Collective's latest will launch in February.

Release Date: February 2022

10. "As I Try Not to Fall Apart" by White Lies

white lies as i try not to fall apart new album 2022 best most anticipated musicAn underrated part of the British music landscape, White Lies have been putting out consistently solid music a number of years now. New album As I Try Not to Fall Apart releases in 2022.

Still best known for their chart-topping 2009 debut, featuring hit single Death, theirs is a sound heavily influenced by "big" rock of the 1970s and 1980s, bands like The Doors, Talking Heads and Tears for Fears. If new lead single Am I Really Going to Die is any indication, it seems like they have nailed the genre. If the album lives up to this quality then it will definitely be one to keep an eye on.

As I Try Not to Fall Apart releases in March.

Release Date: March 2022

9. "Once Twice Melody" by Beach House

beach house once twice melody album best new anticipated music 2022
Baltimore (seriously what is it with Baltimore and music?) dream pop duo Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally, known by their band name Beach House, have made a name for themselves with their lush, intimate music, perhaps best typified by 2015's Space Song.

But while they have had plenty of success over the past decade, there's always been the impression of more to come. Each album has seen their sprawling stream of consciousness finessed into increasingly fine-tuned productions, and with their new album Once Twice Melody there is the sense that this may be the moment where they really hit their stride. If title track Once Twice Melody and early single New Romance are anything to go by, this could be a pretty spectacular album.

Once Twice Melody will release in February.

Release Date: February 2022

8. Toledo (New band)

toledo debut new album best new anticipated music 2022New York-based indie due Toledo have been quietly building a reputation with a string of well-received single and EP releases over the past two years. 2021's return to the touring circuit saw them partner up with a number of well-known artists including Julien Baker and Dirty Projectors. With work now underway for an unnamed debut LP, many are tipping the band for success.

Theirs is a fuzzy, indie folk sound in the style of bands like The Fray and Fountains of Wayne (RIP Adam Schlesinger). It may be the 2020 release of single FOMO that first brought them to mainstream attention, but it's last year's Sunday Funday that most impresses as a polished piece of music. We will watch their career with great interest.

Release Date: TBA 2022

7. "Unlimited Love" by Red Hot Chili Peppers

red hot chili peppers 2022 unlimited love album best most anticipated new musicI do not think it would be controversial of me to say that the legendary California rockers Red Hot Chili Peppers have recently been punching somewhere below the peak of their heyday. But they are far from the spent force that some would suggest. There is a reason that the band has enjoyed the remarkable longevity of a nearly forty year career, during which time they have crafted an enviable discography.

As they approach studio album number 12, there is particular cause for excitement with the return of longtime guitarist John Frusciante, who had sat out the last two albums. For many, Frusciante's sound is key to the band's identity, and his return bodes well for what could be a major return to form.

The newest album Unlimited Love is said to be in the late stages of production, with a release expected this spring. So far, we have heard just the one single Black Summer, an introspective track with gorgeous guitar-work reminiscent of the Californication era. Looking forward to this.

Release Date: April 2022

6. Skullcrusher (New band)

skullcrusher debut new album 2022 best most anticipated musicA name like Skullcrusher evokes the blackest of heavy metal, but this couldn't be further from the reality of Helen Ballentine's music. This is some delicately crafted multi-instrumental folk pop. Tranquil, lush, and grounded with some deft lyrical work.

Skullcrusher spent 2021 testing the waters with EPs and singles, a productive output that saw the release of some wonderful early tracks in Storm in Summer and Song for Nick Drake. It's all sounding great so far and bodes well for the eventual LP debut that is expected to happen at some point in 2022.

No firm release date has been provided at the time of writing, but this is expected later in 2022.

Release Date: TBA 2022

5. "From Capelton Hill" by Stars

stars from capelton hill new album best most anticipated music 2022
Canadian band Stars are an iconic name in the indie music scene for many of my generation. A soundtrack to many a coming of age story and a consistent purveyor of gorgeous music over many years and nine albums. Album number 10, From Capelton Hill releases in 2022.

The band has many classic tracks to their name, including Your Ex-Lover is DeadAgeless Beauty and so many other near flawless tracks. If early single Pretenders is any indication, then the band finds themselves in fine, if familiar form.

From Capelton Hill releases in May and I personally am looking forward to it with great relish.

Release Date: May 2022

4. Aloboi (New band)

aloboi new debut album 2022 best new anticipated musicAnother year gone with no LP, but still Aloboi remains one of the most exciting new artists in electronic music. The Berlin-based composer has continued to release new tracks at a steady clip, each highlighting the artists flair for dreamy soundscapes and eclectic influences.

Aloboi's work-to-date has been highly impressive. From the retro chill out vibes of A Pleasing Smile, to the more danceable electronic stylings of Want To Love, the classical remix of Night Train (Claire de Lune), or the dazzling genre mash up of Somebody Feel, it's a very impressive array of work for a newcomer that is fast establishing Aloboi as one of the more exciting talents in the industry.

As we await a debut album, one gets the impression that there is a lot more to come from this artist, whether its in 2022 or beyond, Aloboi is definitely one to keep an eye on.

Release Date: TBA 2022

3. "Chloe and the Next 20th Century" by Father John Misty

father john misty fleet foxes chloe next 20 twentieth century 2022 new album best new anticipated music
The godfather of hipster folk, Josh Tillman may have started life as the drummer of outstanding Seattle band Fleet Foxes, but has since gone on to forge his own career under the stage name Father John Misty and achieve remarkable success. New album Chloe and the Next 20th Century drops in 2022.

Perhaps best known for tracks Real Love Baby and Chateau Lobby #4 (or my own personal favourite So I'm Growing Old on Magic Mountain). A new album is on the way, with early single Funny Girl suggesting a move into something a bit more classical and nostalgic. Could this be indicative of the direction for the new album? 

In any case, we won't have long to wait with a release set for April. This won't be one to miss.

Release Date: April 2022

2. The xx

the xx jamie new album 2022 best new anticipated music
Just over a decade on from The xx's debut and the former indie darlings and firmly embedded themselves as global superstars, with three chart topping albums (more if you count the outstanding solo work of Jamie xx) that seem to get better and better with each release. 

Despite this success, it has now been five years since the London trio last released an album. But that could be about to change, with frontman Jamie xx revealing last year that a fourth LP was near completion and due for release in 2022 (as well as a third Jamie xx solo album at some point, apparently).

We don't have an album name or release date, so I will just leave you with their best track, On Hold, as a reminder for how good these guys can be. I can't wait for this comeback.

Release Date: Summer 2022

1. "Reborn" by Kavinsky

kavinsky reborn renegade zenith nightcall new album best most anticipated music 2022
French house artist Kavinsky spent much of the 2000s developing his signature synthwave sound, inspired by the cinema and pop culture of the 1980s. That process culminated in his debut, and so far only studio album, OutRun.

An ambitious concept album, complete with its own mythology and distinct artwork. But it's the great singles we care about, including his most famous tracks Nightcall, and Odd Look. Indeed OutRun was so successful that it is considered among some internet subcultures to have created its own aesthetic genre, and is now an umbrella term used to describe any form of neo-futuristic 1980s revival.

Yet despite the success, there has been almost complete radio silence since that album's release in 2013. Until now. A follow up album, Reborn, is finally on the way and we have the first two singles. If Renegade makes for a delightfully funky, over-the-top slice of nostalgia, the second release Zenith is an absolute masterpiece. Oozing with atmosphere, melancholy, and even a twist of irresistible saxophone goodness. This is as close to an "event" album as it gets.

Release Date: March 2022

So there you have it folks: 2022 in music. Tune in next week for this year's final Hot List, where we look at the most exciting new movies in 2022.

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