Looking for something to read, watch or listen to? Relax - Jim Carroll has you covered...

(1) All the Pieces Matter: The Inside Story Of The Wire

Oral histories rock, but you can feck off right now if you think I’ll ever pen one myself. When you speak to anyone who has ever embarked on and successfully completed one of these yokes, the faraway look in their eyes when they discuss the work involved in the task says it all. 

For fans of The Wire, Jonathan Abrams has done all the heavy lifting. All the Pieces Matter is a definitive piece of work, a book which stitches together the narrative behind all five seasons from many different angles. Biggest takeaway? Actors are really only concerned about making bank from the next gig. Second biggest takeaway? Ed Burns is a bad-ass. Third biggest takeaway? Man, that David Simon musical about The Pogues is going to be tropic. 

(2) 120 BPM

A film about life and death, 120 BPM is still unspooling in your mind days after the screen fades to black and silence. Robin Campillo’s story of gay activists in the Paris chapter of Act Up in the early 1990s is ambitious, remarkable and defiant. Capturing the lives of those fired up souls fighting against and protesting about the ignorant, prudish and lazy approach to the AIDS crisis, 120 BPM is remarkably wise in how it captures both political points and personal dramas. 

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(3) Cardi B - Invasion Of Privacy

You probably know more about Cardi B’s back-story, Instagram feed and reality TV run-ins than you do about her musical prowess. Flip that script right away because Invasion Of Privacy is well worth a 180 turn. This is an album with heavyweight swagger, a set of songs which command your attention with how they swing and roll. Hear her roar. 

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(4) The Cow Book

There are as many stories in rural Ireland as there are cows. John Connell’s lovely heartsore memoir captures a season on his family farm in Co Longford as he returns from the flim-flam of a modern world to a place where tradition continues to hold sway as it has always done. Between charting man’s 10,000 year history with cattle and rubbing a finger over the charts of his own family bloodlines and relationships, Connell produces a work of considerable honesty and majesty. 

(5) Brigid Mae Power - The Two Worlds

A powerful album from Brigid Mae Power which comes with scars, wounds and gashes galore. Power has spoken of late about an earlier abusive relationship and you get a sense of that experience when you head down some of the dark corners here. But there’s also a spikey defiance at play and that’s writ large on Don’t Shut Me Up (Politely). An album which takes giant steps.

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(6) Landless - Bleaching Bones

Deep, spooky, ghostly and fierce, the debut album from Ruth Clinton, Meabh Meir, Sinead Lynch and Lily Powercontains sounds to still and hush a room. They can do this live time and time again, but the record is just as finely applied. The attention to detail throughout, the magnificent way in which space becomes another ingredient and the spellbinding delivery of those harmonies makes this something to truly relish. 

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(7) Kacey Musgraves - Golden Hour

Prepare to have many expectations overtured on Kacey Musgraves’ third album. Golden Hour is a pop album which could only have been minted with Nashville in and out of mind. Brimming with both a traditional lean to country’s songwriting smarts (those opening lines on Slow Burn are A-grade) and a feel for pop’s more footloose tendencies, this is a delight. 

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(8) Kamasi Washington 

If the Los Angeles jazzer’s second album Heaven and Earth is half as good as his debut (which was epic by name and nature), we’ll be sucking diesel. The first tasters from the album are immense: Fists Of Fury and The Space Traveler’s Lullaby are two examples of the colourful, mesmerising sounds which the one-time Snoop Dogg session player can hear in his head and can happily translate for the rest of us. He’s playing The Beatyard festival in Dun Laoghaoire in August and you’ll want to be there.

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(9) Andreas Gursky

The German photographer’s retrospective at the re-opened and spruced up Hayward Gallery in London is big on every score. Large-scale, eye-catching, sense-expanding takes on the stuff around the world – and the stuff which makes the world go round. 

Andreas Gursky at the Hayward Gallery

(10) Money Heist

These days, I seem to be reading more TV than I’m watching. There’s a rake of quality non-English TV shows on Netflix – no Ros na Rún yet, mind – and they’re certainly all killer with little filler. From Call My Agent (a must for anyone who’s ever dealt with a clueless Mr or Ms Ten Percent) or Fauda (heavyweight Israeli thriller), there’s much to see, sorry, read. Money Heist (or La casa de papel which was its original title) is doing more for my Spanish than DuoLingo – a superb, taut, multi-layered caper about a bunch of ne’er-do-wells, led by an enigmatic dude, robbing the Royal Mint Of Spain. 

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