So, back in the 90’s I was listening to this tape by some girl called Kristin Hersh. This tape was lent to me by a cool indie girl, who was constantly eating jelly babies and wearing Raccoons t shirts. Anyway, this tape was full of sad songs about being haunted by a nasty break-up, quite sweet but a little too acoustic for me, like a first love falling apart, and at 15 I didn’t have time for sad songs, I’d swap over pretty quick to my jesus and marychain tapes.
Here we are almost 25 years later, and I’m listening to some girl called Kristin Hersh and her sad songs about being haunted by a nasty break-up, but this time somethings different. The nasty break-up is over a 25 year marriage ending, and it’s not so sweet anymore. It’s actually pretty angry. She screams “Tell me no secrets and tell me no lies, I’m so fucking tired of dissolution”, and its an emotional enthralling mess of an album, full of rapid thoughts turning into short songs, angry songs, bitter songs, and there’s no acceptance here. No silver lining. It’s raw. It’s heartbreaking, but it’s amazing, I absolutely adore it. Just take a listen :
Snow comes, snow goes, reading “the hardest winter of them all” in a bear cave, drinking hot chocolate with my little boy. I spend the day skating on frozen lakes and rivers. I stumble alone around the frosty paths and woods, dreaming of a better world, and the music in my headphones gives me hope. The world’s gone crazy it seems, this month we’ve seen a nutty new president in town, and we’re living in a world where lies are now called “alternative facts”. We must stand up and fight for truth, for equality and for justice and for the weak and the helpless who are in real danger in this beautiful planet we share.
Then sometimes it’s just good to escape for a little while. I saw La La Land today , and it’s nominated for a ridiculous amount of oscars. It’s fun, but kind of like going to a birthday party when you’re 5 and overdosing on ice cream, chocolate, cakes, crisps and pepsi.
A better way to escape is through a great indie pop album. I was lucky enough to be aimlessly walking around a record store yesterday, and I picked up the new(ish) Veruca Salt album “ghost notes” and I’ve been playing it relentlessly. It’s catchy, it’s fun, it’s got great little hooks, and their voices fit together perfectly. Here’s a couple of songs to cheer you up, first a slow one about breaking up with someone after one too many arguments, the second a fun grizzly frizzy pop song. So go for what you feel like, or play both. Enjoy!
It’s not the greatest album of all time, but neither is La LA Land the best film of all time. They serve a purpose though, and the world is a better place for it.
This album completely knocked me out. I remember reading late last year how Conor had to cancel a tour due to exhaustion and was sent back home to Omaha to recover. Turns out he was suffering a full on breakdown. Every single song on ruminations is amazing, and nothing else could touch it. Beautiful, heart felt songs about a guy losing everything and trying to find peace in a world he doesn’t recognise or understand…
I’m so happy it’s the julie ruin, and this was almost my album of the year. I’ve written so much about Kathleen Hanna there’s little more to say, so here is the single. She still has the coolest voice around. The album, hit reset, which strangely enough I bought on cassette, has so many amazing songs on, I think it’s one of her best albums to date.
Uber-hip and occasionally annoying Thurston Moore said something silly this year like “I only buy tapes these days”, and of course that’s a ridiculous way to live, but it’s true there are an awful lot of amazing bands that only release things initially or on cassette. A few years ago I’d be scoring tapes at little charity shops getting over excited by a copy a early 7o’s Elton John tape for 25p, whereas I get things now like the new julie ruin album and twin forks on cassette and hardly ever pick up old stuff on tape anymore.
So, it’s no surprise that the best EP of the year is out as a download and on cassette too. It came out in October and by it’s a little New York band called Wild Pink. The title may not be the most exciting (4 songs), but the songs are. Calming, instinctive and soft. It’s reflective beautiful music, and that’s where I am right now, and I think where a lot of people are after all the craziness. “Don’t let the fear of losing me keep you from moving on….I’m the one that goes away”. Poetic daydreaming songs for daydreamers. What more do you want? Not only EP of the year but a close contender for track of the year too, to find out who gets that title come back in a few days.
So turns out I needed a 6 month break. Everything fell apart, but then it started to grow again in a different way, full of light so strong it could blind me. So, I turn back to music and books, and it’s a good time to reflect on the past year. Over the next couple of weeks I’ll be celebrating my favourite music video, song, album and EP of the year. Going to start with video.
It’s been a crazy dark year, and it certainly seems like every music video reflects that. A couple of years ago there were lots of fun bright, breezy videos of people going surfing, or falling in love in the summer. This year it’s all about the end of the world, darkness and people falling apart. Even Lily and Madeline have a horror film for their new video! I’m still trying to make sense of the world in 2016, but I know, like Fontane wrote, there’s no way back. We’re in a Brexit, Trump, broken world. Now need to find the happiness and hope, and joy of everyday life. I’m hoping the music videos next year help bring some of that.
Anyway, here’s the best video I’ve seen. Radiohead. For anyone, like me, who dreams of moving to Camberwick Green…or maybe not, if this is what it’s become in 2016.
next week >>>> EP of the year.
Last time I’m going to write until after the summer so here goes….Quiet night here in the countryside, apart from a hamster chewing on my socks, I’m thinking of a Mark Kozelek sad song about him staring at the ceiling and singing about all the people he has lost in his life. Thinking too of all my favorite writers – Kerouac, Richard Yates, Stefan Zweig and how they all suffered so much. I’m writing poems again, many disposable lines that I just throw on the fire at the end of the day. I’ve kept a few, but I don’t need a poetry collection, throw them all away 🙂 It’s much better to spend 10 minutes writing a poem about the day than scrolling down facebook feeling disconnected. I’ll read a couple of these poems out at poetry club, but that’s as far as it will go.
International Noise Conspiracy once had a song called “abolish work”. The title “what do you want from me” is from a scene in Reality Bites. Ethan Hawke (of course) trying to explain why he doesn’t want to get a job because he wants to be free. Winona Ryder is saying he’s wasting his life and is going to end up a loser like his dad and doesn’t understand why he doesn’t want to get a job like everyone else.
I use to make that same argument as Ethan 15 years ago. I use to read “days of war nights of love” and had this romantic idea about a better world. I still believe it, but the book has now long gone from my life. I guess things change, people change, life is a weird mix of happiness and sadness at the moment, but hope is eternal.
Enjoy the summer. Here’s a song from a few years ago. It’s a bit crazy, but that’s ok…The best things in life tend to be. Oh, and don’t forget to buy the brilliant new Kathleen Hanna “julie ruin” album.