Mr. Wavvy's "Top 5 Top Five"
With 2014 coming to a close, it is fair to say that the year has been nothing short of spectacular when it came to entertainment. Whether it was watching Hip-Hop's greatest duo reunite or getting picked on by a comedy legend (I'll get to that later...), the year certainly provided me with thorough stimulation throughout its duration. With that being said, here's my "Top 5 Top Five", a comprehensive list that takes a look at the best in the following categories: movies, music (best albums, best concerts), comedy and of course, my 5 favourite interviews that I shot in 2014:
2014's best villain does not sport a cape, have robotic arms or have a plan for world domination. The year's best villain goes by the name of Terence Fletcher, a prestigious conductor at a top New York university who will stop at nothing to see his band play perfectly. J.K. Simmons is without a doubt the best supporting actor of the year in this one.
As much as I loved ol' Jakey in other recent roles in films such as End Of Watch and Enemy, his determined, sociopathic character in Nightcrawler allowed him to deliver his best onscreen performance since 2005's Brokeback Mountain.
3. The Drop
Undeniably the year's most slept on film. Author Dennis Lehane excels in his debut film script, maintaining the ominous and mysterious tone seen throughout past films based on his novels such as Mystic River and Gone Baby Gone. The film also did a tremendous job at bidding an appropriate farewell to James Gandolfini, who's appearance in the film serves as his final role.
I first heard about Boyhood when I was about 10 years old while surfing IMDB. The idea of a film being announced 8 years in advanced (at that point) seemed unfathomable to my young mind, let alone the fact that the film was being shot throughout the duration of that time. Being arguably my all-time most anticipated feature, I was very pleased with its final result. It is safe to say that the film indeed lived up to the hype.
There is so much to say about Birdman. With its flawless editing, refreshing score and terrific performances from the entire cast, it is safe to say that Birdman is the year's best film. Besides all of the technical aspects, I still find myself thinking about the deeper meaning behind the film, what messages it was trying to get through to its audience. When a film is able to have me thinking in such a way -- months after its release -- it is sure to get bonus points from me.
5. Freddie Gibbs & Madlib - Piñata
With Freddie Gibbs no longer signed to Jeezy's CTE imprint, an album like Piñata only seemed right for him. The Indiana emcee flawlessly stunts over Madlib's lush instrumentals, a combination that seems as it if were created from the heavens.
4. Lana Del Rey - Ultraviolence
Lana's musical offerings in 2014 resulted in what is probably my favourite concept album of the year, a love story through the perspective of the mistress. With her sultry voice and woozy lyrics, one can't help but to reminisce back to the days of Millie Jackson's Caught Up.
3. Run The Jewels - RTJ2
Following up last year's stellar self-titled debut, Killer Mike and EL-P continue to swagger over some of the year's rawest beats, while tackling important political issues like police brutality and government control. Can't wait for them to cover the important issue of the C.I.A. in 2015...of course, I'm talking about the Cat Instrumental Album, Meow the Jewels.
2. D'Angelo and the Vanguard - Black Messiah
If someone would've told me at the beginning of 2014 that we'd be getting a new D'Angelo album, I probably would have called them crazy. Alas, it has arrived! After 14 years of nearly no new music, D'Angelo is back! The cool thing about this album is that D had been recording it throughout the duration of his absence and that all of the songs weren't just penned this year. Well worth the wait.
1. Mac DeMarco - Salad Days
Shame on all of the music websites that omit this album from their lists. Mac DeMarco's sophomore LP displays immense signs of growth. Mac, a generally immature person (see Granny with Tyler The Creator for example) shows how self-aware he truly is, even in those opening lines: "As I'm getting older, chip upon my shoulder". DeMarco also touches on themes of addition (Let My Baby Stay), solitude (Chamber of Reflection) and much more that many weren't aware Mac had in him prior to the release of the project.
SIDEBAR: Ain't it funny how all of the year's best were released on vinyl ;-)
5. Crosby, Stills & Nash
Got a chance to see one of the tour's first dates in NYC during the summer. Despite their hair being gray'ed out and a bit less energy than when they started, their voices remain some of the most beautiful the world has ever seen. Wonderful harmonization, superb choice of songs, all around great show.
4. Kanye West
This was the second time I saw a live show of Mr. West, the first being when he toured in support of the Watch The Throne album with Jay-Z. This time around, the theatrics were surreal, undeniably the best I've seen from a Hip-Hop show. Aside from that, Yeezus was one of my favourite albums of last year, so seeing it live was more than a treat, as it lead to me having an even better understanding of the complex story that Kanye was trying to convey with it.
3. Arcade Fire
I was reluctant to go to this show. Short on cash for the week, I had contemplated going. Alas, a child that stopped by my work was talking me up, telling me he intended to go, the look in his eyes as he cheerfully expressed his hopes for the concert reminding me of how excited I used to be at his age. With that being said, I spent all of my work money on a ticket and had a ball. Made it all the way to the third row, which meant getting an intimate look at the bands performance, not to mention a confetti bombardment!
I SAW OUTKAST LIVE! MY ALL-TIME FAVOURITE DUO DID THE UNIMAGINABLE AND REUNITED! I HAD BEEN WAITING SINCE I WAS 4 TO SEE THEM LIVE TOGETHER AND IT FINALLY HAPPENED! Nuff said.
1. Stevie Wonder
The final show I attended this year was certainly the best for last. For the 19th year, Stevie Wonder hosted his annual House Full of Toys benefit concert at The Forum in Los Angeles, in which all proceeds went to charity, along with Wonder asking attendees of the event to bring toys for less fortunate children. With 50+ people onstage at times, Wonder performed what is arguably his greatest album, Songs In The Key of Life, in its entirety. A truly remarkable performance, would go see him again in a heartbeat if he came to my city's Jazz Festival.
5. The Lucas Brothers
One of the most delightful surprises at this year's Just For Laughs festival in Montreal was Variety's 10 Comics to Watch show. Among the 10 comics were The Lucas Brothers, a duo best known for their roles in 22 Jump Street. Above is a similar set to the one I saw performed.
4. Ron Funches
I saw Ron Funches twice this year, the sets only a day apart from each other. Even though both sets were more or less the same, I laughed just has hard each time. Ron has damn near mastered his delivery, one of the standout features of his performances.
3. Jay Pharaoh
Had the privilege of also seeing SNL's Jay Pharaoh twice in 2014. Once has at a comedy club in NYC, the other at the premiere of Chris Rock's Top Five in Toronto. Although the above is technically not a full standup set, Jay makes the crowd roar with laughter, delivering some of his trademark impersonations.
2. Puddles Pity Party
By far the weirdest and most memorable set I've ever seen. After 2 minutes of abruptly walking on stage and being completely silent, this ginormous clown broke into Celine Dion's classic ballad, My Heart Will Go On. Absurdly hilarious!
1. Chris Rock
After seeing the world premiere of Top Five on my birthday in Toronto, there was an opportunity for the audience to ask questions. Being the inquisitive person that I am, I decided to go ahead and ask something.
The way I was going to word my question was essentially, "I just turned 18 and being of such a young age, I haven't had an opportunity to see you live yet. I know there's little hints in the film but I was wondering whether or not you think you'll be returning to standup anytime soon?".
Of course, Rock decided to cut me off at the birthday part and bag on me. This ended up being better than anything I could have ever expected, with Chris doing a mini set about why birthdays are such a foolish thing to celebrate. Best. Present. Ever!
Such an important interview for me. Chromeo are one of my favourite acts from my city (Montreal) and getting to sit down with a duo that I respect so much felt like such an accomplishment. Loved being able to surprise them with the Needy Girl test pressing as well.
4. Charli XCX
Although we filmed this in 2013, I decided to include it because it was released this year. Having conducted the interview before Fancy or her second album had even been recorded, it is interesting to see how much Charli has blossomed from an Indie Cindy into a Pop Princess.
3. The Orwells
By far the most down to earth band I've ever sat down with (rightfully so). Their easygoingness made it easy for us to tackle any topic, along with the hilarious Waka Flocka Flame story that Mario had to share:
2. Dillon Francis
Cats, chemistry and charisma; these are 3 elements that made our sit-down with the Mad Decent DJ so easy to love! Aside from the unique location (Montreal's Café Des Chats), and karaoke opening, Dillon was able to provide us with a few exclusive including upcoming collaborations, his Moombahton EP and his debut movie role.
Enter to win a signed copy of Dillon's debut album HERE!
1. Tech N9ne
I love interviewing legends. They always have the best stories, the most wisdom and a lot to share. These factors were no exception when we sat down with Stange Music founder Tech N9ne. Tech gave us many exclusives, including Jay Rock leaving his label and sending tracks to Lenny Kravitz for his new album. Aside from all of this, Tech is one of my all-time favourite rappers, so getting to speak with him was truly a blessing.
Once again, I'd like to thank everybody for their continued support throughout 2014. We've already got a handful of interviews planned for the new year, along with many other exciting endeavours for the site. Happy 2015!