Band of the year

It’s been an astonishing 12 months of music, and no doubt you’ve read most of the highlights in the music press, butI found it really hard this year to choose a favorite album of 2014. I suppose the obvious choice is Mark Kozelek. Sun Kil Moon had a wild year, Benji is featured in all the end-of-year round ups (but usually beaten by, err, war on drugs) yet somehow, despite this public affection – at least of the music if not of Kozelek himself – it’s not my favorite. I prefer “Among the Leaves” and “Perils from the sea” both from 2013 which I think are the best things he’s done in years. I saw Kozelek play in Brighton earlier this year and the show was so enchanting it was easily the best concert of the year. But best album? No.

I am giving another kind of award this time. The best band of the year, and it goes to Kathleen Hanna and her band Julie Ruin. If you have not seen the incredible documentary “the punk singer”  (released this year in the UK) you’re missing a rare glimpse in the sheer awesomeness and determination of this American lady. feminism is still all important, but the Julie Ruin now have broadened that to fight for human dignity. She suffers from a major health problem, in fact had to cancel a big tour this year due to it, but her husband looks after and stands by her. She is married to Adam Horovitz and I don’t know, after Thurston Moore turned out to be such a phony, she and Ad-Rock are quite an inspiration for people like me who have been happily married since the early 00’s. 🙂

Here’s “one of my kind” which came out in March. Love songs still matter in 2014.

See you next year.

five go adventuring again.

You don’t want to read about my h(l)azy summer with my kids rolling along the French countryside, Mark Kozelek singing his sweet songs on the stereo, trying and giving up camping, prowling through bakeries, drinking Chinon wine, playing table tennis with a communist and watching surfers on the SW coast. No, you don’t. You want music to blaze away your senses and to accompany you on autumn walks and autumn heartache. Right? Right!

It’s astonishing the amount of great records coming out at the moment, so I’m just going to post five of the more interesting ones for your entertainment :

Rural Alberta Advantage released the best record of 2009 with hometowns, those happy sweet/sad songs sprinkled with hope summed up everything that music should be about..Anyway they’re back with a new album due soon and their love is strong enough.

Paul Draper, the guy from 90’s indie idols Mansun has a album out “soon”. I have no idea what to make of this, it’s all still too new and to shocking to really understand but a glismpe of his first music for, what 11 years, can be heard here.

J Mascis has a new record out too. I’m probably biased because Dinosaur Jr. is my 5 year old son’s most requested cd to hear in the car. Anyway, this one sounds pretty ace too.

Thurston Moore who played the most disappointed show I’ve ever seen back in 2013 is back. No longer with Kim Gordon and Sonic Youth is long gone. He’s now living in London with his hipster bookish young girlfriend, and I’d pretty much given up on him. Then I heard this song and fell in love with his voice all over again.

Leonard Cohen releases a new album for his, err, 80th birthday celebrations. This one sounds dark and moody, but full of life too with glimpses of salvation. He can still write clever songs/poems, and in a perfect world this would get straight to number one.

Five new releases. If you’re missing girls, then go watch the Kathleen Hanna documentary the punk singer, it’s the best documentary I’ve seen in years. She’ll inspire/transfix and blow you away with her radness and determination to fight for a better world. Oh, and Adam from the beastie boys seems really nice too! Watch the preview below for a taste!

Conor Oberst and the thrill of it all

I was worried I’d miss something important by being away from the internet, but hurrah for the newspapers and radio which keeps me up to date on all that really matters. So on Wednesday morning, instead of scrolling through Facebook pages and looking at pictures of somebody’s home made cookies or new dog, I was listening to the radio whilst cooking my kids dinner, and who should come on for an interview? None other than Mr. Emo himself Conor Oberst!

I don’t know about you, but I had almost given up on Conor. Back in the late 90’s he’d released some amazing lo-fi self confessional angsty bittersweet songs on tape (commander venus) and later cd (every day and every night), and then the first part of the 21st century he’d put out some pretty interesting music like this one which still remains one of my all time favorite songs, but then it got kind of quiet. I was worried he might turn into Ben Lee, an Australian guy who hit his musical and creative peak at the age of 15 with Noise Addict back in the early 90’s, and after getting signed to Thurston Moore’s and then Mike D’s record labels went sadly rapidly downhill ever since. Last I heard that guy was talking gibberish about the joys of psychedelic drugs that get him high in the Amazon rainforest or something. Whatever works for you, man, but that’s not quite my scene.

So, it was encouraging to see that Conor Oberst did still put out some good songs now and again, especially with the band Desaparecidos, a socialist left wing punk band, who really are quite spectacular, but his last couple of proper “solo” or Bright Eyes stuff has been pretty mixed.

Then he played a couple of songs on this radio show the other day, one was so sweet it almost made the DJ cry, and once again I’m excited all again over this kid, or rather man nowImage, and what he’s got to say. The interview was pure and real, and made me believe in the romance and mystery of life and music all over again. You can check it out here where it’s up until the end of April.

On 20th May his new album “Upstairs Down Mountain” is out. I think if those two songs are anything to by, it could be a contender for record of the year, whoo! whoo!

saying things you regret 20 years later

I had planned to list some songs i’ve been digging the last couple of weeks, an eccentric mix of old and new to brighten your day. But then I borrowed a car and forgot all this super cool songs. For this is a “new” (2007!) car with new features, like a cd player. Which means i’m taking a break from prowling around charity shops looking for tapes for my Citroen car. Instead I filled the car up with, errr, Mark Kozelek albums, play that loud and drive 100’s of miles over Sussex for Autism Sussex.

So. I’m putting up “Caroline” from this year’s Mark Kozelek and Jimmy Lavalle for some reason it doesn’t work on soundcloud, but a youtube video with no video is fine too. It’s not the best song on the album, but it’s the sweetest.

Aside from listening to MK, I’ve been checking out Ryan Gosling’s epic battle against the bad companies KFC and Mcdonalds, but somehow I’ve had no choice but to go into such places as part of my job (at least the coffee is fairtrade, I guess though!). I’ve been getting into the Norah Jones and Green Day boy album, and feeling kind of sorry for Ad Rock and Mike D from Beastie Boys over this whole sorry GoldieBlox thing.

If you missed it, GoldieBlox did some parody of 80’s Beastie Boys song “Girls” only this time turning it into a kind of feminist anthem to girls being able to do whatever they want, whereas in the original it was “girls to do my washing to tidy my room” that kind of thing. I feel sorry for them because GoldieBlox should never have done the advert video. it was a cheap marketing ploy for toys. Bringing up the past is a bad idea, and Beastie Boy can’t be accused of being anti feminist. Mike D is married to Kathleen Hanna of course too which has to stand for something. Beastie Boys were kids at the time of “girls” They were making a joke about people they thought were silly with those early songs, and ok it didn’t really work but so what?

When I was 15 and crazy all upset about life and messed up from my parents divorce I said to the school “feminist” in my class something really bad which still makes me cringe all this years later. I said “why don’t you go back to your kitchen.” Awful, right? I’ve always being totally pro womens rights and pretty much anyone’s rights for that matter, against all kind of exploration and awful things like page 3 and “lads magaizines”…and even back when I said that i knew it was a fucking dumb thing to say I was just pretending to be someone else. I think it was the same for Beastie Boys.

Anyway I’m tired and that’s enough of the words, time for the guitar. Even if there isn’t any much guitar in this song!

Kathleen Hanna for president

I was reading in the Sunday newspaper about Hilary Clinton’s chances of running for US presidency in 2016, and as cool as that sounds, I’m more excited about the new Julie Ruin due out this autumn.

In a world where so many musicians who have interesting lives, inspired people, did crazy things, and just had that effortless cool streak running through them are now pushing 70 it’s good to celebrate the sheer radness of Kathleen Hanna. She of Bikini kill, she of Le tigre, and now Julie Ruin. The punk rock feminist married, yes married because whoever said feminists can’t get married surely deny romance and love, to Mike D of the beastie boys, and she’s still standing up for freedom and women’s rights. Her live shows are always full on fun, and the new album Run Fast will be out 3 September. The video is from the new album, and in my world this, and not daft punk, should be the dancefloor soundtrack of the summer! Oh yes, Kathleen Hanna for president.