james debate
james debate

Thursday, 30 December 2010

debbies 2010

Happy holidays once again! I hope you are all enjoying your time off, preferably by a crackling wood fire with loved ones and a mug of hot chocolate. But we are just a few days now from the biggest party night of the year as we ring in a new year, and hopefully a brighter year for all of us.

And so, before I head off to Paris, I will compile my massive annual review of the "best of" awards from the past year which have come to be known, lovably, as the Debbies. Each of these will then be divided into five categories: Cinema & TV, Music & Theatre, Videogames & Technology, Sports & Personal.

It's a hefty undertaking, but I will follow it up with a list of the hottest tips for 2011 in the coming days after new year that you should look out for, as well as a retrospective look at my predictions from last year.

So without further ado, here are the:

2010 Debbie Awards

Cinema & TV

1. The Debbie for TV Show of the Year
Winner: Dexter

Runner Up: The Office

dexter tv show

At a time when real quality on tv is lacking, Dexter has defied the critics by proving to be an enduring and unmissable part of the weekly lineup. Season 5 was always going to struggle in the wake of the previous season, which hit a whole new peak for the series, but the dry humor and continually inventive drama ensures that the show remains one of the very best around.

Meanwhile, The Office takes the runners up prize. Indeed it seems hard to believe that the American spin off was once considered little more than a cheap rip off the the British original, but now in the seventh season and the show continues to achieve a remarkable level of consistency.

2. The Debbie for Film of the Year
Winner: The Social Network

Runner Up: Inception

the social network

It is not too surprising that The Social Network takes this award, adding it to the best picture awards it has already received from the critics associations of Los Angeles and New York (mere trinkets compared to this one of course). A tight production featuring a director on song, a fiery script and a few breakout performances (Andrew Garfield in particular), the Social Network easily deserves this prize.

Christopher Nolan's latest, probably greatest film Inception comes in second, featuring a stunning ensemble cast and breathtaking directing. That being said, it only just edges out Black Swan and 127 Hours, and perhaps can count itself lucky that I have yet to see the King's Speech, which otherwise would be a strong contender for the top two.

Music & Theatre

3. The Debbie for Theatrical Production of the Year
Winner: After the Dance

Runners Up: Red

after the dance national

What's this, a non Donmar production winning the big prize? After the Dance at the National theatre was a top production, featuring Sherlock's excellent Benedict Cumberbatch reminding us that he's more than just a television actor.

Alfred Molina and Eddie Redmayne impress in arty production Red from the Donmar Warehouse.

4. The Debbie for Album of the Year
Winner: The Suburbs - Arcade Fire

Runner Up: Plastic Beach - Gorillaz

the suburbs

Musically and thematically, The Suburbs was unparalleled this year. Excellent as a whole and full of top songs like Sprawl II and Modern Man, Arcade Fire enjoy perhaps their finest moment.

Gorillaz broke with their usual style when recording new album Plastic Beach producing something fresh and always inventive featuring an impressive lineup of big name musicians. Great songs like Melancholy Hill make this an album not to miss.

5. The Debbie for Debut Album of the Year
Winner: Broken Bells - Broken Bells

broken bells

In a year which was not particularly great for new artists the obvious standout for a debut album as a whole would be Broken Bells with their eponymous album. A two-man band consisting of James Mercer from the Shins and multi-instrumental all around legend Danger Mouse, not every song on this album is a classic, but when it works it's pretty damn good as with hit single The High Road and Brian Eno-esque track Your Head is On Fire while the rest is interesting enough to make their partnership one to watch going forward.

6. The Debbie for Song of the Year
Winner: On Melancholy Hill - Gorillaz

Runners Up: Sprawl II - Arcade Fire

on melancholy hill gorillaz

There were two obvious contenders for this most coveted of crowns this year. The eventual winner On Melancholy Hill from Gorillaz is nothing short of a magical pop song, a danceable delight.

The close runner up is the 1980s Blondie tinged power drive of a song from the Suburbs, Sprawl II , a crucial part of the album and a great song in its own right.

Videogames & Technology

7. The Debbie for Greatest Technological Innovation of the Year
Winner: iPad


You would be forgiven for thinking that the iPad is a device from some Star Trek tv show, but with a beautiful and colorful screen, and near endless functionality, the iPad defines the moment when the tablet computer became mainstream. Also, iFooty is available in a gloriously optimised iPad flavor, you can find it on the top sellers list of the app store.

8. The Debbie for Lamest Technological Innovation of the Year
Winner: 3D media

3d cinema

Ok, it worked pretty well for Avatar, but now all of a sudden we need to watch everything in 3D, from our films to our tv, videogames and even the footy. It's getting pretty silly for a product which costs a lot and frankly doesn't add a whole lot 99% of the time. You're not fooling anyone, this is just a way to compensate for declining sales in HD TVs, now we need to go buy something new!

9. The Debbie for Videogame of the Year
Winner: Mass Effect 2

Runner up: Red Dead: Redemption

mass effect 2

It was a tough call between two or three really excellent games, but in the end Mass Effect 2 takes the prize. A true step forward for games in terms of narrative and cinematic flair, and a major improvement for the series in terms of gameplay, Mass Effect 2 was an absolutely breathtaking videogame experience which sets the scene nicely for the sequel due out at the end of next year (but probably not really until 2012).

Meanwhile, Read Dead: Redemption just comes behind in second place, despite its amazing technical achievements.


10. The Debbie for Footballer of the Year
Winner: Lionel Messi

leo messi

Lionel Messi, retains his trophy, being that he is frankly not in the same category as the rest of us mere mortals when it comes to footballing ability. For this reason I have decided that picking a runner up would bely the gulf in class between him and the rest.

11. The Debbie for Sports App of the Year
Winner: iFooty


Little surprise as the hot selling and critically acclaimed app that took the iPhone and iPad by storm continues to charm new users by the day as the "indie" football app of choice in the face of the increased competition from established corporations like Sky and Eurosport.


12. The Debbie for Party of the Year
Winner: Nightmare on M Street

nightmare on m street dc

Say what you want about Washington DC, but they know how to throw a good Halloween party. This year's was particularly crazy being on the same day as the mega rally which had pretty much every young person in the region buzzed.

13. The Debbie for Restaurant of the Year
Winner: City Zen

Runners Up: O Ya

city zen washington dc

City Zen, the restaurant at the Mandarin hotel in DC, offers one of the best meals money can buy anywhere. Full wine tasting menus, exquisite dishes and even a choice of fancy butters for the bread make this meal a decadent joy from start to finish (at least until the bill comes).

But mention must still go out to O Ya of Boston, one of the best restaurants in the world, so good as to make reference to it as a "sushi place" seem almost ludicrous.

14. The Debbie for Douchebag of the Year
Winner: Ben Fitzgerald


Perennial douche Ben takes the gold this time. Mazel tov! As a side note, last year's winner Digg.com has now pretty much imploded and turned into one of the great cautionary tales of the internet, apparently I was not the only one who found them laughable.

15. The Debbie for Nightclub of the Year
Winner: Strawberry Moons

ephemeric strawberry moons

Always guarantees a great night out, good drinks, good specials, good times.

16. The Debbie for Book of the Year
Winner: Freedom - Jonathan Franzen

ephemeric strawberry moons

Franzen returns, finally, and produces an unexpectedly beguiling piece of work.

17. The Debbie for Wine of the Year
Winner: Castello di Ama 2006

Runners Up: Brancaia Blue 2007

castello di ama 2006

Castello di Ama has long been a favorite of mine, but truly this is the year when the superb 2006 bottle really took the limelight and became the hottest tipple in town.

Meanwhile 2007 is turning out to be an exceptional year for wines, and a perfect example of this is the vintage of Brancaia Blue, fast becoming the major name in local wine.

18. The Debbie for Champagne of the Year
Winner: Billecart-Salmon Elizabeth

billecart salmon elizabeth

This year, the new year will be rung with Elizabeth and with good cause, as anyone who has read our recent guide to celebrating with champagne.

19. The Debbie for Hotel of the Year
Winner: Suvretta House, St. Moritz

Runners Up: Le Meurice, Paris

suvretta house

The Suvretta House still remains the resort to beat, providing the same standards of luxury and glamour that has made it such a famous name around the Swiss alps.

Well there you have it, another great year, and here's to the next one being even better!

Monday, 27 December 2010

New Years eve is fast approaching, and with it comes all kinds of dilemmae on how best to celebrate, what suitably flamboyant outfit to wear and with whom you wish to share that all important kiss when the clock strikes midnight. Well, while I can help you with all those problems, today I'm going to tell you all about champagne.

Picking the perfect champagne can be an art form, one that is only honed by years of experience and good taste. Here I will take care of the hard part, and suggest some excellent celebrative champagnes with which you can ring in the happy new year.

5. Prévoteau-Perrier Adrienne

The finest bubbles in Épernay go into this bottle from little known champagne factory Prévoteau-Perrier, named for the owner's infatuation with actress Adrienne Lecouvreur. Easy drinking and festive, this champagne is perfect for connoisseurs and lightweights alike and at the same time highly economical compared to bottles of a similar quality.

Rating on the Debs-Seal-of-Champagne-Approval:

4. Veuve Clicquot La Grande Dame 1998

Veuve Clicquot often seem to be a champagne label that's more about name brand recognition than actual quality, and it shows on most of their basic bruts. However, the Grand Dame is immune from this affliction and turns out to be one of the tastiest champagnes you will find anywhere. A taste of chardonnay and complex hints of fruity overtones make this into a champagne that may be on the pricey side but certainly worth the expenditure.

Rating on the Debs-Seal-of-Champagne-Approval:

3. Billecart Salmon Blanc de Blanc

Billecart Salmon has long been the connoisseur's choice of champagne in terms of quality, and nothing says elegance and finesse like their excellent blanc de blanc. At 100% chardonnay, this vin is clean and subtle while ranking up their with any vintage, and should you be lucky enough to get your hands on a vintage blanc de blanc 1998... well then you have a very happy new years on your hands.

Rating on the Debs-Seal-of-Champagne-Approval:

2. Alfred Gratien Champagne Brut Millésimé 1998

Not as decadent, perhaps, as some of the other champagnes on this list, but you will rarely find a better tasting bottle than this. A distinct and heavenly aroma of honey and exquisite flavour makes this simply one of the finest champagnes on the market

Rating on the Debs-Seal-of-Champagne-Approval:

1. Billecart-Salmon Elizabeth Rose

It's already been mentioned that Billecart-Salmon is the tipple of choice for the champagne cognoscenti, but even by that measure nothing screams "opulence" like a bottle of the Elizabeth vintage. Rich, refined, and yet everything is simply right with this champagne, Elizabeth remains the finest of celebratory bubbly for all the biggest occasions and new years.

Rating on the Debs-Seal-of-Champagne-Approval:

Sunday, 26 December 2010

Genre Mash-up
Label Illegal Art
Producer Gregg Gillis
Release Date Out Now

all day girl talk

The biggest name in the mash-up scene, Girl Talk, is back with a new album. All Day runs 12 tracks long and 373 samples mixed together into the kind of work that only Gillis can craft.

Fans of Girl Talk's manic style will not be disappointed. This is great party music, superbly mixed, and in many cases combines elements of known songs into something that's greater than the sum of its parts. But for those still yet to jump on the bandwagon, there is little here to suggest that Girl Talk is evolving.

In many ways it's a disappointment after Feed the Animals which was itself such a singular achievement and a whole new level for the mash up king. Feed the Animals was the first album which successfully managed to create a mature and smooth flow of music, really to even describe it as a mash-up did it a disservice. With All Day Girl Talk has regressed to the less subtle stylings of Night Ripper and earlier works. Those who thought that Girl Talk was starting to really bring the artform into adulthood will no doubt be disappointed.

The work here sounds less like a surgeon's careful dissection of pop music and more like Dr. Frankenstein with a hatchet, and often it will be the case that a track merely consists of two songs playing on top of one another unedited, almost lazily. At the same time, the music somehow manages to feel almost subdued for much of the album, rarely hitting the euphoric peaks of some of the songs from Feed the Animals, and little that will live long in the memory.

I must stress that this is by no means a bad album, it's just not the transformative redefinition of the genre that Feed the Animals hinted at, and it probably won't win over many new fans.

Monday, 20 December 2010

Less than a week until Christmas now, the decorations are up, the kitchens are stocked with turkey and mulled wine, and (hopefully) the gift shopping is done. On behalf of everyone at the Ephemeric, let me be the first to wish you all a very merry Christmas and happy holidays.

Christmas means different things to different people. This is a holiday of plentiful food, ostentatious baubles, and of course presents. But it is is also a holiday of melody, from the carols of medieval yore to the annually vaunted trophy of top spot in the pop charts. So this holiday season, let the Ephemeric suggest a few great Christmas songs for you. The yuletidiness of each song will be measured by our patented yule-o-meter, note that this is not necessarily proportional to the quality of the song.

5. "What's This" by "Fallout Boy"

what's this fallout boyA few years back, when the Nightmare Before Christmas was re-released in cinemas in 3D, Disney released a new version of the soundtrack to coincide. This soundtrack included covers of all the film's songs by big name bands, to capitalise on the indie fanbase that had arisen for this film. The highlight of the LP has to be this cover by Fallout Boy, a truly joyful, toe-tappingly catchy song. Turn it up and rock out for Christmas.

Rating on the Yule-O-Meter:

4. "White Winter Hymnal" by "Fleet Foxes"

white winter hymnal fleet foxesThe star of Fleet Foxes' acclaimed debut album, White Winter Hymnal may not be the most festive song but its frosted lyrics, sleigh bells and warming harmonies conjures an image of marching through a snowy woodland. For those of you in London, this is the perfect song to listen to while watching the snow fall in the coming days.

Rating on the Yule-O-Meter:

3. "Kindle a Flame in Her Heart" by "Los Campesinos"

kindle a flame in her heart los campesinosThe newest entry on this list, this song comes courtesy of up and coming British band Los Campesinos. There's just about an entire year's worth of indie holiday pep wrapped up into this pretty package.

Rating on the Yule-O-Meter:

2. "A Great Big Sled" by "The Killers"

a great big sled the killersFew things scream "Christmas joy" like this song. Overflowing with innocent lyrics and playful melodies, truly this is a song for modern Christmases. Toys, tinsel and iPods under the tree, if you're in the festive spirit, this is the song for you.

Rating on the Yule-O-Meter:

1. "She Came Home for Christmas" by "Mew"

she came home for christmas mewA 2003 remaster of Mew's song, She Came Home for Christmas ends this list on an emotional high. Is it a song about a lost love? Something more sinister? Either way it's a lovely song, and adds something a bit different to the catalogue of mostly happy Christmas songs out there.

Rating on the Yule-O-Meter:

Saturday, 11 December 2010

song of the week: "Dancing with the DJ" by "The Knocks"

thing that makes me sad today: I'm really going to miss DC.

pic of the day
fix computersIN:
Bernie Sanders
Josh McEachran

Barack Obama
Frank Lampard
Potato bread

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