Tired of fighting….

I normally love the changing of all the seasons, yes even the freshness of winter – and spring is normally a time of new beginnings, new hope, new love and a couple of wild birthday parties thrown in too for good measure. This year, it’s harder to be happy with a terrible war raging just a few hundred miles away from my cozy living room. Hard to be happy with the “cost of living crisis” and hard to be happy when doctors and specialists telling you you need to watch your own mental health…but happiness is here, if you look for it, it’s all around, and like always normally it’s being here in nature, feeling free in the wild, that means the most to me. City life, i love you and I love visiting you, but my God I’d be so lost if I didn’t live in the countryside with all it’s intoxicating charms and freedom. Nothing can beat being free and being brave. I don’t think you can live better than by being free and being brave.

One thing I’m also incredibly happy about is the easing of all restrictions. It means I’ve been able to visit Germany already a few times this year, and I’ve had the most beautiful and fun times over there. I take back goodies too to remind of these good times when I’m missing my “big boys”. It means I can drink cool stuff like organic “spring” tea (Frühlingstee) and read little Conni books to the little kids here. I told someone in Germany that my 4 year old daughter probably knows more German than I do just from watching Conni cartoons.

Sometimes though it’s good to just embrace the melancholy, and Angel Olson cetainly does that in her new song “All the Good Times”. It’s a haunting epic breakup song, one of the best songs I’ve heard this year. Don’t be afraid of the sadness. The video is great too. If you looking for happy scroll down to the next track….

When I was sick with a fever and in bed for 2 days with covid earlier this year, I had Virgin Radio on all the time. I’d drift in and out of sleep waking up to some 80’s power ballad. Something comforting about Virgin Radio especially when you’re ill, it’s like tomato soup. The presenters don’t really talk much they just play feelgood college rock. This song by Morgan Wade is super pop, but it’s rich and she tells a great story in this little tale of a young girl dating an older “reformed” guy without it sounding cheesy or creepy but somehow pure.

Sticking with the radio stuff, when I head to the city my car radio picks up NME radio. They play a real eccentric mix of songs, old and new. This one came on today, and I’ve just been humming it all day long and singing it to my confused kids.

Soccer mommy is someone I’ve recently “discovered”. I think I read an interview with her and she sounded totally nuts, which is how you want rock stars to be, and I was pleased to see that I really also enjoyed her music. She’s got a new album out that looks cool, but I’m going back to this little one from a few years ago before she became “cool” it’s all about lost love and a boy who broke hear heard whose name happened to be Jacob. It’s raw and it hurts but that’s where it’s power is.

Bryan Ferry is a guy I’ve followed since my dad use to have his tapes as we drove around too fast in his sports car when I was 7. Roxy Music have released some of the best records I’ve ever heard – country life will blow your mind even in 2022 – and now old Bryan has a little EP out of cover songs of very old songs I’ve never heard of. Anyway this isn’t the best Ferry, but who cares, I’m happy he’s still releasing anything. It’s a song called Love Letters. It’s a song to play when you;re about to go to bed, as I am now. Good night stay safe remember love always wins xoxo

Books and Music for Winter Blues

It’s really raining an awful lot here in Sussex at the moment, so much so that the simple pleasures is starting to wane, you know like watching the rain splash on the pavement and wearing wellies and jumping in puddles, holding your nose in case that puddle turns out to be a secret lake. Or is that just me?

Anyway, I don’t know about your but I get tired of all these magazine articles about “escape the Winter Blues” full of tips to re-energeise your life like eating broccoli for breakfast, joining a gym, tedious positive thinking like staring at your tired face every morning and saying “you’re looking great, you’re a winner”, oh and jetting off to some luxurious Island for the weekend. Or wait, that last one doesn’t sound too bad but it was in the Sunday Times so is out of my price range.

So, rather than offer ways to beat the winter blues I thought it would be fun to offer a couple of new books and records that indulge in the melancholy a little bit, not too much though, but just enough for days when you unplug your phone, draw the curtains and curl up under the blankets with a couple of packs of your favourite biscuits to watch the Homeland box set with. You got the hot cocoa? Then let’s go…

Jenny Offdosill Dept. of Speculation A novel about “love, parenthood, infidelity, and a crumbling marriage “ already sounds great, right? This one tackles all that in an experimental way, so you’ve got a little novel crammed of poems, notes, reflections, scribbles. There’s a nice little interview with Jenny-O over at NPR, and this one is out in a few weeks and I’ll be checking it out. My second tip is the effortlessly cool Gwendoline Riley Opposed Positions, I already mentioned this last year, but now it’s just out this month in paperback. Nobody writes opbetter about modern love gone sour better, her crisp urgent sentences will get into your heart, and you can read this one in one setting, she’s the best writer under 40 around today, dark and broody but beautiful writing.

Onto the music, my first tip for embracing the winter blues is Benji, the latest by Mark Kozelek under his sun kil moon name. This will probably end up being my record of the year, as these days all I ever do is listen to Mark Kozelek records, but anymusicway here’s a nice piece he wrote for the New York Times last week where he talks about this record, and his crazy life. The guy’s the best musician and songwriter we’ve got right now, so support him and buy this record! Finally, someone I know very little about – I think I even skipped the page about her in NME last week – is Angel Olsen who has a new album out in February, she did this haunting acoustic set over at NPR (again!) which you can watch or download. I don’t even know if I like this music, I don’t know if it’s really for me, but it did transfix me when I heard this session. She sure sings about sad things though, so be prepared!

When that’s all over and you’ve had enough of moping around the house feeling sorry for yourself, you can go and check out this cool blog by a summer camp member. It’s bright, breezy, fun, clever, much like summer camp themselves, who remain one of my favourite bands and I’m excited to hear their new record later this year. Like Promise Ring sang happiness is all the rage.