Albums of 2014

So, if you’re anything like me, you will have asked Santa to bring you lots of CDs (or iTunes vouchers, you modern maniac) in order to catch up on the year’s best music. Despite trying my hardest, there are a fair few critically lauded long-players that have managed to slip me by, so come Boxing Day I’ll be playing catch-up living inside my Sennheisers.

With just over a week to go until the big day, there’s time to get your orders in if you too are looking for some much-needed new music. In need of inspiration? Here’s one Geek’s choice playlist for the year, covering everything from skewed indie rock (alt-J, Jack White), sumptuous songwriters (Perfume Genius, Tori Amos, Owen Pallett) and lovely ladies (Lana, Lykke and Jenny Lewis).

There’s something here for everyone, and all of it is pretty damn awesome. Happy listening!

2014 music

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Return of the Geek

So, May has been a month of game-changing gigs (thanks to Tori and His Royal Badness, Prince) and also ‘Office Space’-style trauma, where the day job has bled into the early evening and even the early hours.

mcgeek in may

But, alas, I am back to outgeek even myself with all the latest news, trailers, reviews and throwaway musings, such as today’s: there is only one Bank Holiday weekend left before Christmas. UGLY CRY.

sad spiderman

Unrepentant Tori

unrepentant-geraldines

After a long and varied career that has taken in musicals, classical albums and even UK #1 albums (those were the days), Tori Amos is back at her beloved Bösendorfer piano seat with a new tour in support of 14th studio album ‘Unrepentant Geraldines’.

The redhead fan favourite still has fire running through her veins and her ivory-tickling fingers, as evident on the new album. Although it isn’t officially out until Monday 12th May (my deluxe copy is in the post as I type), a pre-release leak confirms that Amos still has the talent and the ability to thrill and surprise even when most music fans remember her as the quirky girl at the piano who delivered ‘Little Earthquakes’ back when Kurt Cobain was still alive.

Of course, the Toriphiles know every key struck across her extensive back catalogue, even if some diehards are opinionated about the fact that the last decade of Amos’s work is not to their taste. Sure, the likes of ‘The Beekeeper’ and ‘Abnormally Attracted to Sin’ may have had flaws, but the truly dedicated must be able to see the progression of a true artist and piano prodigy, whatever musical direction she’s taken – and 2011’s ‘Night of Hunters’ easily ranks among her best work.

So, what to make of ‘Unrepentant Geraldines’? Latter-day Tori has seemed intent on moving her off-centre piano balladry into new musical areas, dabbling as she has with pomp-rock guitars, electronics and even more overtly classical orchestration. ‘Unrepentant’ touches upon all these and more, harking back to familiar points in her discography whilst also forging ahead with new textures and new themes.

Highlights include those typical Tori torch songs that will hopefully feature heavily in setlists for years to come: ‘Wild Way’, ‘Weatherman’ and especially ‘Selkie’ and ‘Invisible Boy’ are perfect new companions for Amos’s most worshipped song girls. The left-turns keep it fresh though; from the southern Gothic vibe of ‘Trouble’s Lament’ (see video above) and the jaunty fusion of politics and pies on ‘Giant’s Rolling Pin’ to the playful and even ambitious likes of ’16 Shades of Blue’ and the album’s title track, it’s clear Amos is not resting on her laurels. Throw in a gorgeous duet with her daughter Tash, and it’s a fulfilling record that may not recapture the raw energy of all-time favourite ‘Boys for Pele’ but shows women over the age of 50 may have a whole lot more to say – and a whole lot more talent – than the Miley Cyruses of the world.

Catch Tori on tour this summer. I’ll be doing the fanboy thing next week in Birmingham – will I be seeing you there??

Comics Just Got Cooler

I like comics. I like Neil Gaiman. I loveee Tori Amos.

I don’t live in London, which is why I don’t own a ticket to the sold out ‘Comic Connections’ event at the British Library this May, which brings those three favourite things together. Ergo: I’m going to cry over my copy of ‘The Sandman’ now.

tori amos neil gaiman

The Friday night session, which precedes ‘Late at the Library: Comics and Music’ (set to feature an appearance by Gaiman’s wifey Amanda Palmer), will team up fantasy writer Gaiman to converse with the Cornflake Girl to talk all things comic book, as there’s is a friendship based on a mutual admiration for each other’s work which has culminated in Gaiman writing flame-haired graphic novel characters and teaming up with Amos on her ‘Comic Book Tattoo’ anthology.

Sounds like a geek dream. Someone send me an inked and panelled postcard??

A Pink Birthday

tori amos

Happy birthday to ‘Cornflake Girl’ and all her friends! That’s right: Tori Amos’s sophomore album ‘Under the Pink’ is 20 years old, following its release this day in January 1994. Scary, right??

As Toriphiles prepare for the first listen of this year’s ‘Unrepentant Geraldines’, why not wish a seminal classic a happy two decades with a listen of one of its best tracks??

14 for 2014: Unrepentant Tori and Scully Falls Again

Next on 2014’s hit list?

Tori Amos has always drawn a dedicated and, well yeah, geeky fanbase – so last year’s unexpected announcement of new album ‘Unrepentant Geraldines’ and a supporting world tour was an early Christmas present for Toriphiles. Now we’re in 2014, we’re that bit closer to the spring release of Amos’s 14th studio album which promises to retain the orchestral flourishes of ‘Night of Hunters’ as her latest release on the Mercury Classics label. Can’t wait!

tori amos

2014 not ’90s telly enough for you? If you lived for the antics of Dana Scully and Fox Mulder 20 years ago (scary, right?) then no doubt Gillian Anderson’s blistering return to cult TV last year brought you back from your boxset blitz. Sure, she was a highlight of Bryan Fuller’s chilly ‘Hannibal’ (also returning this year, yay!) but Anderson’s turn as Stella Gibson in BBC crime drama ‘The Fall’ was perhaps the TV highlight of the year.

the fall season 2

She will be joined by Jamie Dornan as the scarily charismatic serial killer, in a role that proves there’s more to him than Christian Grey, for a second run of the show this year. It could be a risky decision a la ‘Homeland’ to extend the cat-and-mouse games, but if they pull it off it will be the one to watch in 2014. It’s filming now so let’s hope Aunty Beeb sets a premiere date later this year. Just make sure to lock your doors when you settle down to watch…

Tori Gives Light to Musical Princess

tori amos the light princess

You’d be forgiven for glancing at the picture above and mistaking it for the album cover of Tori Amos’s early album ‘From the Choirgirl Hotel’. Take another look then, for this image is an entirely different proposition: it is a promotional still from the new musical ‘The Light Princess’, a theatrical fairytale featuring music penned by the flame-haired singer/songwriter herself.

Of course, Toriphiles will already have their tickets and the most devout Little Earthquakers will have already caught Amos’s debut theatre work during opening week. I shockingly am yet to purchase a ticket, but am greatly intrigued by the prospect of Amos translating her increasingly orchestra-led songcraft to the stage.

‘The Light Princess’ tells the tale of Althea, a princess who is unable to cry following the death of her mother and so becomes light with grief and floats away. With music and lyrics by the iconic Amos and a book by playwright Samuel Adamson, director Marianne Elliott’s play runs at the South Bank’s National Theatre until early January.