Thursday, 30 January 2014
Welcome back to The Ephemeric's 2014 Hot List. We hope you enjoyed our last entry in the Hot List dealing with the hottest new music in 2014. This week we will be turning our attention to the year's line-up of television shows, in particular the brand new series starting in the next 12 months.
The story of television in 2013 is one of renaissance; a new golden age driven by the premium content on networks like HBO which has led many observers to declare that television, once the maligned stepchild of Hollywood's cinema screens, is now to be considered the superior medium of story telling. After all you can tell a much deeper and richer story in 10 hours than you can in 2.
Of even greater interest is the Netflix revolution. The former small-time DVD rental company has grown incredibly in recent years to the point of being considered a direct threat to the conventional TV networks, and this was only further cemented by the company's move into original programming in 2013. Hit shows like House of Cards, Orange is the New Black and Arrested Development have instantly taken Netflix to the very forefront of television, and the company has duly been rewarded both in financial terms and critical, with particularly notable success coming at this year's Emmys, and even an Oscar nomination to boot.
Both these game-changing factors will be key to what lies ahead in 2014, but whatever happens it seems reasonable to say that we are entering one of the most exciting eras in TV history. So without further ado here are the most exciting television shows, both new and returning, that will hit the airwaves in 2014:
10. Sherlock - BBC
Sherlock has become one of the biggest British TV shows in a decade, and achieved that rare feat of being equally successful across the pond.
With the renowned creative minds of Steve Moffat and Mark Gatiss working behind the scenes, and bona fide Hollywood stars Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman starring, the show has hit a winning formula, both reverent of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's classic source material while still full of new ideas and cutting edge narrative style.
After a two year hiatus the show returns for its third season, which by the time of publishing will probably have finished. In classic British style the season will only be three episodes long, departing all too early and leaving audiences wanting more. But in such frustration we find comfort in the real prospect that Sherlock could follow in the footsteps of TV shows like Poirot and become a long recurring national pastime, re-emerging every few years with new episodes. As long as Cumberbatch and Freeman are on board, the game is afoot.
Release Date: January 2014
9. BBC First World War centenary season - BBC (New TV Show)
The BBC has some grand designs when it comes to the next four years and the centenary of World War I, a massively ambitious schedule of four years worth of programming which all falls under the banner of the great big BBC First World War Centenary Season.
Programming begins in 2014 and ends in 2018 to correspond to 100 years after the war and will include 130 newly commissioned radio and TV broadcasts, lasting 2500 hours with more than 600 hours of new content. This content will run the gamut from documentaries to dramas, arts and music, debate shows, and even children's programming, and hopefully many reruns of Blackadder Goes Forth.
The season begins late January with a four part Jeremy Paxman documentary Britain's Great War, but watch out for dramas The Passing Bell, and Great War Diary, as well as a two part Gallipoli documentary coming later in the year.
Release Date: 2014 - 2018
8. Gotham - Fox (New TV Show)
TV shows based on superhero comics seems to be the big new thing, with last year's Marvel Universe tie-in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. among the major events in television, albeit a hugely disappointing one. This year DC comics are getting in on the action, first with an adaption of The Flash, but what has us at The Ephemeric most intrigued is Gotham.
Set in the wonderful Batman universe, Gotham tells the story of police commissioner James Gordon, a character notably played by Gary Oldman in the recent movies, though it is yet to be announced who will play him here. The Batman himself will feature here, along with several notable Batman villains, but the main focus will be on the day-to-day of Gordon and the Gotham City police force. If played right it could provide a uniquely relatable and gritty take on a superhero franchise, and one that is well suited to the lower budget realities of television.
No word on a premiere date yet, but as so few details have yet surfaced we can expect it at best for the fall 2014 line up, hopefully not slipping back to 2015.
Release Date: Fall 2014
7. Fargo - FX (New TV Show)
In an extremely unlikely turn, FX has decided to take the classic Coen Brothers film Fargo and turn it into a ten episode TV series. The brothers themselves are only involved as producers and none of the original cast return, but in their stead has been assembled a very fine all-star cast including Billy Bob Thornton, Martin Freeman, Colin Hanks and Bob Odenkirk.
The original film was highly praised for its dark, violent humour, and it will be interesting to see how this can be adapted onto television. Perhaps then it is not so much of a surprise that it has been picked up by FX, a network known for being edgier and less stringent with censorship.
The episodes are already in post production, but so far a firm air date has not been revealed, aside from the network's vague "sometime in Spring" indications. The smart money says to expect a debut once the current run of shows ends in April.
Release Date: Spring 2014
6. Archer - FX
One of the funniest shows on TV unsurprisingly returns for a fifth season, but with big changes this time around.
In what is being pegged as a sort of reboot for the series, the spy agency setting is to be shed for one reason or another and season five will see the team peddling drugs in order to make ends meet. Like Scarface, only with more laughs. Hence this season has been branded with the title Archer Vice.
Regardless of the setting, the show's trademark wit and satirical humour remain. Indeed it's refreshing to see a series that is not afraid to mix things up from one season to the next. The new season starts in January.
Release Date: January 2014
5. Telemark - FX (New TV Show)
This makes three FX shows in a row on this list, and as a further sign of the network's growing clout in the industry, this one comes with some serious heavy hitters.
Telemark is a dramatized telling of the true story of the Norwegian resistance movement during World War II and their attempts to sabotage the Nazi production of nuclear weapons.
More interesting is the fact that none other than Danny Boyle, the famed British director of Slumdog Millionaire, 127 Hours, Trainspotting, 28 Days Later and the 2012 Olympics Opening Ceremony, is at the reins, and he's bringing with him his frequent collaborator Simon Beaufoy. With such talent attached to the project this is going to be one to keep an eye on.
No firm date has been given, and it's entirely possible that this may slip to 2015, but tentatively we're pencilling it in for later this year.
Release Date: Fall 2014
4. Parks and Recreation - NBC
One of the most likeable shows on TV right now, with an increasingly impressive cast. Parks and Recreation keeps going from strength to strength. Certainly one of the smarter comedies on TV right now, brimming with light political humour and some of the most genuinely hilarious characters since The Office.
It's been a big year for the show, with increased recognition leading to its first Golden Globe award for Amy Poehler, While Chris Pratt is widely tipped as one of 2014's potential break out stars. The fact that all the talent involved are so keen to keep going is a testament to how this show is special.
The 6th season is still running, and has just been renewed for the 7th to commence in Fall 2014.
Release Date: Fall 2014
3. Marco Polo - Netflix (New TV Show)
Now we're getting to the really tasty stuff. Epic historical drama Maro Polo tells the story of the famous Italian explorer's early years in Asia, promising a hugely ambitious mix of martial arts, intrigue and swashbuckling spectacle.
After a prolonged bidding war, Netflix has won the rights to make Marco Polo the latest in a long line of high profile original series, and a very impressive array of talent has since been attached to the project. The show is being co-directed by an Oscar nominated Norwegian director and the director of hit TV series Game of Thrones, and will be produced by the Weinstein Company, a company known for sweeping all the very highest honours in cinema.
All of those details indicate this is shaping up to be something very special indeed. No firm date has been revealed aside from "later in 2014", and as with all Netflix shows all nine episodes will be released at once.
Release Date: TBA 2014
2. True Detective - HBO (New TV Show)
HBO have something of a reputation as the television network known for producing shows of the highest quality, shows which aspire to be more than the typical network fare. Their back catalogue reads like a who's who of the best TV shows in recent decades, featuring names like The Wire, Boardwalk Empire, Game of Thrones, Flight of the Conchords, Curb Your Enthusiasm and The Sopranos to name just a few.
The newest original content to come out of the premium cable company is True Detective, a gritty police drama with a superstar cast, starring the duo of Woody Harrelson, a man who has two Oscar nominations, and Matthew McConaughey, whose incredible career transformation now sees him considered the heavy favourite to win this year's Oscar for lead actor. The pedigree is simply remarkable, and up until recently almost unthinkable for a TV show.
The show starts on HBO in January of this year and will run for eight episodes. Definitely the pick of this year's brand new TV shows.
Release Date: January 2014
1. House of Cards - Netflix
Last year's best TV show has been renewed for a second season, set to commence later in 2014. House of Cards is the best political TV show since the West Wing, and the jewel in the crown of Netflix's fledgling original content studio.
Directed/produced by household name David Fincher and starring one of this generation's greatest actors Kevin Spacey, House of Cards' first season was met with critical acclaim and went on to win Golden Globes and Emmys, the first Netflix show to win such accolades.
The release date is set for Valentine's Day, and once again will be thirteen episodes long, all released simultaneously.
Release Date: February 2014
So there you have it folks: 2014 in television. Tune in next week for the essential new movies of the year!
Monday, 20 January 2014
Happy New Year everyone and welcome back to The Ephemeric. Over the next few weeks we will be rolling out The Hot List, the essential guide to your year ahead. This week we begin with a look at the most exciting new music set to hit the airwaves in 2014.
2013 was by all accounts a blockbuster year for music; heavily dominated by established megastars like David Bowie, Daft Punk and Arcade Fire, but arguably lacking when it came to new artists and debut albums. 2014 looks set to be the exact opposite, with some of the most exciting acts coming from newcomers and unknowns.
It's going to be an exciting year for music, so without further ado here is the top ten list of albums to keep an eye on in the coming year, starting with number 10:
10. Brandon Flowers
The Killers may have cemented their position as one of pop music's megastar bands, but when frontman Brandon Flowers decided to bud off into solo work his debut album Flamingo was met with lukewarm reception.
With his notoriously off-the-wall creative stylings free from the shackles of his fellow band mates the result was as variable as one would expect. Some songs were a hit, like Jilted Lovers and Broken Hearts and lead single Crossfire, while others smacked of pretention and over-the-top production, case and point: Only the Young.
Mid way through last year Flowers announced his intention to release an as yet untitled sophomore album in 2014. If the promising new tracks on last year's Killers greatest hits compilation are anything to go by then it's certainly one to watch out for. The good news is even if the album is no better than his first, that means it will still have at least one or two great songs on it.
Release Date: TBA 2014
9. Luke Sital-Singh (New band)
This one has been coming for a long time. Luke Sital-Singh first came to our attention in 2012 with his much acclaimed EP Fail For You. Since then the music world has been licking its lips at the prospect of a full album. Many expected it to come in 2013 but no album materialised, just a smattering of new singles.
His music has been described as "soulful", "intoxicating" and "a breath of fresh air in the folk music scene". This high praise that has attained him an unusual level of recognition despite never having released a full LP.
With the long awaited debut album now due in Spring 2014, and with his recently being featured on BBC's Sound of 2014 poll, big things are expected for this young man in the coming twelve months.
Release Date: Spring 2014
8. "Innocence" by Electric Youth (New band)
If this Swedish pop band sounds familiar on first listen that's because you've probably heard them before without realising. Electric Youth collaborated with College on 2011 hit A Real Hero, which was notably featured on the movie Drive and achieved a fair amount of widespread success.
Now the band has signed on with record label Last Gang Records and are prepping a debut LP for release sometime in 2014.
So far only one song has been revealed from the upcoming album Innocence, and it's clear the band intends to maintain their dreamy, 1980s-tinged image going forward. It's also quite a beautiful track, sounding a lot like A Real Hero except better because it has actual music in the background. Definitely a hot property to watch out for in 2014.
Release Date: Spring 2014
7. Girl Talk
The art of the mash-up, creating new songs by piecing bits of old ones together, is hardly a new idea. But few have taken the idea to such an extreme, and such mainstream success, as Girl Talk.
Girl Talk in particular is known for his blending of genres, a rap vocal track with a 1960s pop guitar riff for example, and in particular for his schizophrenic style of production, jumping between different sections of music every few seconds in a way that renders his albums less a collection of different songs than one long single mix.
It's a unique style that hit its peak with 2008's Feed the Animals, a mash-up of such singular quality and perfectly honed production that it simply flows and holds up better than anything else in the genre. Now a new album is due in 2014, but as his most recent album All Day shows it will be difficult to top Feed the Animals.
Rumours suggest this album could see quite a drastic departure for the artist, including potentially writing original songs rather than simply taping bits of existing ones together. Only time will tell if it works.
Release Date: TBA 2014
6. The Avalanches
We're hesitant to even put this one on the list as there have been so many false starts before. A second album has been rumoured ever since the band's critically acclaimed debut fourteen years ago, and its continual delays, allegedly due to copyright issues, have earned it an almost mythical status.
Also a mash-up artist of sorts; but whereas Girl Talk staple bits of songs together in a fairly Frankenstein manner (brilliant though it may be), The Avalances are more like Daft Punk, using samples from existing songs as the basis for wholly original compositions. On their first album they used this to stunningly unique effect with classic tracks like Since I Left You, Frontier Psychiatrist and Electricity. It's no wonder anticipation is so high.
Recently there has been a lot of whispering that this sophomore LP may finally be close to a release. A short demo was released in 2012, followed by numerous collaborators indicating that they have contributed towards new tracks, including rapper Danny Brown and psychedelic pop group Ariel Pink. One journalist even went so far as to suggest that a February 2014 release was on the cards. However the radio silence that has permeated since then leads us to doubt this claim, but nevertheless it does seem that we may be getting closer.
This time last year The Ephemeric made a much derided, audacious claim that a Daft Punk return was on the cards and it came true. This year The Ephemeric is making the same prediction for The Avalanches.
Release Date: TBA 2014
5. RAC (New band)
Once upon a time there was a loose affiliation of DJs and musicians referred to as the Remix Artist Collective or RAC for short. These days that title refers to the solo work of a single man, André Anjos.
RAC has become one of the industry's pre-eminent remix artists, transforming over two hundred songs that vary from chart topping hits to more obscure singles into a final product that's almost always an improvement on the original, often in ways that surprise and delight. Such is RAC's prolificacy that the chances are you've heard some of their work at some point.
Dreamy acoustic track Sleeping Lessons by The Shins converted into a soaring pop gem; Dirgy Theophilus London rap track Why Even Try? transformed into something delicate and playful; and Au Revoir Simeone's introverted pop stylings of Sad Song turned into something with drive and passion. RAC has the knack of focusing the most evocative elements of any song, while adding his own unique twist.
More recently RAC has begun to focus on completely original tracks, often with prominent collaborators, and so far this work has been excellent. Let Go featuring MNDR and Kele of Bloc Party fame is just an instant hit, while Tourist, featuring Tokyo Police Club has made an early claim for favourite song of 2014 so far. The album is due to be released by the middle of this year, and it sounds pretty wonderful.
Release Date: Summer 2014
4. Say Lou Lou (New band)
It seems every year there's some new Scandinavian band threatening to take the pop music world by storm, but Say Lou Lou is not just your average by-the-numbers affair.
The duo's shimmering dream-pop has caught the attention of just about every industry insider and found it's way unanimously into all the most prominent 2014 music previews. Say Lou Lou is arguably one of the most hyped bands in Europe right now.
So far the signs are there that the hype is justified. Only a handful of songs have been revealed and they're all gorgeous, slow-burning pieces of music, beginning with their first single from a few years back Maybe You, and continuing with their more recent EP releases Better in the Dark and Julian.
Say Lou Lou's as yet untitled debut album is due this June, and the buzz is that they are set to make a massive impact on 2014.
Release Date: June 23rd, 2014
Getting a bit speculative now, but massive if true. Coldplay are allegedly due to release their sixth studio album in 2014. I don't think we really need a blurb about what these guys are all about, one of the biggest bands in the world for many years and fine purveyors of both stadium-sized rock and intimate chamber-pop.
Little has been revealed so far, but frontman Chris Martin has suggested that the new album will mark a return to the band's more understated origins, which saw more songs like Yellow and The Scientist, in order to avoid becoming too "pompous", a welcome change in direction.
Otherwise there has been little hint of what we will get or when we will get it. Sources close to the group have indicated "hopefully 2014", which means at best we're looking at a release towards the end of this year. Watch this space..
Release Date: Winter 2014
2. "After the Disco" by Broken Bells
For anyone not familiar, Broken Bells is the collaborative project of Brian Burton, better known as the superstar producer Danger Mouse, and James Mercer, frontman of popular indie rock band The Shins.
Their eponymous debut LP in 2010 was met with critical acclaim as well as decent chart success in America, featuring some pretty great songs such as High Road and Your Head is on Fire.
The highly anticipated sophomore album After the Disco releases this February and so far it sounds like the band could be onto another winner. Out of the two tracks revealed so far, title track After the Disco in particular sounds like an early contender for the year's top songs.
Release Date: February 4th, 2014
1. "Everyday Robots" Damon Albarn (New band - sort of)
Which brings us to our choice for the number 1 most hotly anticipated album of 2014. This year the award goes to Damon Albarn for his upcoming debut solo album Everyday Robots.
While this may be Albarn's first solo album he will no doubt already be known to most of you as the frontman of Britpop group Blur which has produced classics such as Coffee and TV and Song 2, and more recently as the driving force behind experimental project Gorillaz, which has achieved worldwide fame through songs like On Melancholy Hill, Feel Good Inc., and 19-2000. That's not even mentioning theatre and soundtrack work.
So far only the title track, Everyday Robots, has been revealed, and if it's anything to go by it looks like Damon will be aiming for a unique marriage of his steady Blur pop-stylings and more adventurous Gorillaz production. Damon Albarn has truly earned a reputation as one of the most innovative British songwriters of his generation, so it is with great anticipation that we await his first solo LP.
Release Date: April 28th, 2014
So there you have it folks: 2014 in music. Tune in next week for the essential new television shows of the year!