Back in the late 80’s and early 90’s I use to get the Hits and the Now That’s What I Call Music compilation tapes, I use to play these all the time, and dance and sing along to bands like Duran Duran, INXS and New Kids on the Block. Then something strange happened , on one of these tapes in between Tiffany and Debbie Gibson was a weird Jesus and Mary Chain song called Reverence which just felt strange, loud swirling guitars and someone screaming “I wanna die just like Jesus Christ, I wanna die just like JFK”. At 10 years old it didn’t make any sense and freaked me out, so I’d always press fast forward on my tape to find Pet Shop Boys “Always on my mind”, and sing “Little things I should have said and done I never took the time” wildly with a hairbrush in my hand to my bemused looking border collie. Anyway…
Fast forward a couple of decades, and I no longer sing to a dog. In fact I don’t even have a dog, but I do have the Jesus and Marychain, and I absolutely adore them. They’ve got a new album out called Damage and Joy which you can also get on cassette, but their back catalogue is just unbelievable. In a dorky way I need to admit that their 1987 album darklands is one of my favourite all time albums. For no other reason than to celebrate their brilliance here is a collection of some of their best songs. Enjoy.
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 :
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.
I don’t usually write much about films, except once last year I suggested 7 films for 7 days , but I am pretty excited about the new Richard Linklater film “Everybody wants some” a kind of sequel to one of my favourite films ever made, Dazed and Confused. Pretty much everything Linklater does I enjoy, boyhood and the before sunrise triology – particularly the final one “before midnight”
Something else to be happy about is the new Norah Jones album, out in a few months. She played a concert a few months ago with some new songs, and so if you feel so inclined you can check out a couple of songs below! It’s not the best recording, some kid with a mobile phone I think, but it still sounds pretty interesting.
Finally… I just ordered the twin forks album on cassette. It’s a limited edition 100 copies only thing. I think tapes are the kind of thing I can afford to collect. I tried collecting first edition books but it got far too expensive! Just because it’s Monday, and because I love everything Dashoard Confessional and Twin Forks have done, here’s a video too which feels like a little short film (the sequel is “cross my mind”). Enjoy.
Tonight I’m listening to sun kil moon’s sad sad songs, and I’m trying to get this poem right I’ve had in my head all evening. Things distract me though like lost car keys and a wild hamster eating my socks, but I’m pretty much awestruck once again by Mark Kozelek, who writes the most beautiful songs I’ve ever heard.
Before that, I’m excited to hear that Kathleen Hanna’s little band the Julie ruin have a new album out in the summer, there’s a song you can listen to at the bottom of this post. Just hearing her voice is enough to infect enthusiasm into your life, and I’m happy to see this album is out coming out on cassette. There’s been so many ace albums on cassette recently, I almost feel like going into WHSmith and asking for the tape section.
But Mark…I don’t know, he just makes things ok when things aren’t ok. He could write the saddest bleakest song in the world, and somehow it would make things seem ok, because he’s a poet. Like Thurston Moore once said “sadness comes, sadness goes” but it’s what you do with it that counts. Mark Kozelek creates art out of it.
Good night here’s the new Julie ruin single “i decide” and straight afterwards a mark kozelek song from a few years ago which is one of the most astonishing 7 minutes of music you’ll ever hear.
When I started this blog a couple of years ago I made a decision to leave the personal stuff to a minimum, I’ve got my secret diary for that, so I’ll just say sometimes you just need to escape into a bit of punk emo sonic distraction.
At least I do. So I ordered the new Quarterbacks album, who call themselves a “twee punk band” who have released some rad cassettes, sadly they’re all sold out but their first proper album is out tomorrow (10 Feb) on Conor Oberst’s Team Love records. If you want to download it for a few bucks you can do so here. It’s impulsive and slow with a toxic mix of sweet and clever lovesick lyrics “When you said you loved me, did you just mean you missed me?”
It reminds me of my time at university in South Carolina at 19, being drunk and silly just to make the pretty girls talk to me. It reminds me of being 24, married, and living above a supermarket in Germany daydreaming about tomorrow. It reminds me of today, at 37, and watching the stars explode trying to make words come alive.
I’m always searching for sounds that will transform my little world, shake things up a little in my rural East Sussex hideaway, it doesn’t really matter if that’s by someone who has sold gizillions of albums or somebody who has just a few cd’s for sale at the Buxted village hall – if it grabs my attention I’ll absorb it’s radness and then write about it here….
I’ve just watched a Roxy Music concert from the early 1980’s, and I was transfixed with the seemingly effortless coolness and beauty of it all. I have a bunch of Bryan Ferry cd’s and throughout the years I’ve picked up the Roxy Music vinyls, and they have become the most played records I own. The atmosphere and the elegance, with the glitzy and lost Fitzgerald-esque lyrics just blow me away every time. So, ok, Bryan Ferry has a new cd out on 17th November called Avonmore. I don’t know if it will compare to “Country Life”, but Ferry is the kind of singer you can’t have to much of. Even if his last one “Olympia” was kind of boring, this new one has Johnny Marr and Flea on too so I live on hope. Also a nice little interview with JM in NME this week too.
Something which I can promise you isn’t boring is the new release by a small, but super talented, band called Foxes in Fiction who I discovered one night drinking too much green tea whilst reading the Pitchfork website and it seems to be only out on tape and record – but wait, don’t let that put you off! It might be enjoyed by American hipsters in Corduroy, but trust me It’s really glorious and sad and slow, and perfect for driving about in your car too. I think the tapes have now all sold out, one of which is whirling its way across the Atlantic to me, but you can get it as a 12 inch or for a while you can get a free download too (you lucky people!) at the Orchid Tapes website.