Fade into love. Repeat.

Fade into love. Repeat.

Another month, another plane ride to Germany. Like the George Clooney film “up in the air” I pretty much know exactly how to get through airport security without ever getting my bag (or myself) searched. But, boy, can I spot those who are going to get caught out. Like a clockwork mouse I know exactly where to go, the quietest and best place to get a coffee at the airport and exactly what time to get on the plane and the best place to sit (3A if you must ask). I know exactly what the Ryan Air air stewards are going to say, they stick to their script like robots. Once we land I head to the EU only section wave my Irish passport through in Germany so avoid all the hassle of passport control interrogating non-EU British people (why are you here? where are you staying? show me your return ticket?) . In actual fact I can’t be bothered to renew my British passport, I’ll stick to Ireland. In another country I effortlessly slip into my other life – my German life, where it’s just me and two teenage boys, causing havoc in the controlled German cities with only a spaghetti eis to keep our dreams alive. Late nights, early mornings, walking walking walking looking for fun wherever we might find it.

Then, before I know it, I’m home again and life is stable. it’s school runs, drama and music clubs, baking cookies, reading Haffertea hamster books and nursery rhyme records spinning with crazy girls dancing and stepping on lego. Days off school because “it’s boring” as life moves pretty fast….when you’re 6 years old.

Meanwhile and mysteriously there’s still music and books and art and love. Driving home from the airport the other month the radio was playing an incredible song by someone called CMAT. It caught me off guard and I had to stop the car to experience the full blazing effect. I’ve now bought her cassette, it’s rad. She’s rad. Everyone should support her. This is the song

The Welcome Wagon are one of those special bands, so beautiful and tender yet as they have only released 3 albums in about 15 years, any new release is to be savoured and appreciated like the piece of art it is. I was lucky enough to get given a copy of their latest album – Esther – on my birthday. Every song is magnificent. It was hard to pick one, but I went for this

Another song by somebody I’ve never heard of is I can’t get my head around you by Billie Marten. This is another song I heard on the radio late one night driving home fro the airport, it’s perfect for late night confusion – something I’m prone to – and I just dig the gentle breeze and laidback vibes I get from this track.

The final song is a gloomy as hell, it’s probably one of the most depressing albums of all time. All about a broken marriage. Old Frank Sinatra is stuck in a boring town trying to raise 2 kids on his own and his wife has left him. There is no happy ending in this album, only more heartache when Sinatra realizes he will never see his beloved wife again and life aint got much meaning anymore. So, if you’re feeling kind of emotional it might not be the best time for this music, but sad songs are my friends. Enjoy…if that’s the right word…each song is a masterpiece, and I guarantee you won’t get through it without noticing your eyes getting a little bit moist. If you thought you knew Frank Sinatra thing again….

I’ve been reading a couple of quite extraordinary books recently. First one is Summer before the Dark, a snapshot of a little seaside town in Belgium where writers and intellectuals (including the brilliant Stefan Zweig and the hopelessly flawed Joseph Roth) spend one last summer together in 1936 with the world falling apart around them and their dreams of a united liberal and free Europe evaporating day-by-day. It reads like a novel, it makes you feel you’re sitting their at a cafe watching Roth get drunk and Zweig pretend everything will be ok. Throw in a few crazy eccentrics thrown in too for good measure. Best book I’ve read for quite a while. After this book is done I’m going to finally start Meg Mason’s “Sorrow and Bliss”

Zweig (l) and Roth (r) frenemies

Back in the early 90’s I got really into Star Trek – the next generation as a tween kid, I liked the weird kind of intellectual aspect of it, and the slightly odd romances and loneliness of the characters. I also dug the little fun things like a machine that would make you any meal you wanted instantly appear, and a virtual reality holiday deck. So I was strangely happy when I saw old Picard was back on tv. I’m a bit slow as it’s been out a couple of years now, but I’m starting at season 1. It’s really very much in the spirit of the star trek stuff and it’s pure escapism at it’s best.

That’s all. Keep on dreaming of a better tomorrow ūüôā

Advertisement

Think fast, act slow.

Edging into 2023, neither triumphantly or anxiously, the dust has now settled so I’ll allow myself to look back. Waking up the other day on the first day of 2023 I didn’t feel like I did 23 years earlier, where the world feltfresh and open, and just being alive seemed exciting. On that bright new morning, 1/1/00 my then-girlfriend and I tuned into the radio as soon as wewoke up just to ensure there was no 2k meltdown, then we wrapped up warm and took a train to have a champagne breakfast at the coolest cafe (now sadly closed) in St. Benedicts Street. Everything felt possible. A new century. It was our century….Happiness and hope was in fashion Easy to say we’ve messed things up. But I won’t say that. Change ispossible. Life is possible. Love is possible. If not now, then soon. The ideaof tomorrow is intoxicating if you make the right choices. Now it’s a few days into 2023, and I’m off to Germany – actually to the best town in all of Germany – for a few days, but before I go, it’s time for my yearly highlights….
ALBUM OF THE YEARMarcus Mumford (self-tilted) – In what feels like another world I use to write music reviews. There was a new band called Mumford and Sons, and I gave it 9/10. However I didn’t really listen to their subsequent albums much and I had pretty much forgotten about them. Then one autumn evening I heard Marcus Mumford on the Jo Whiley radio show and his new songs completely blew me away. A few days later he was on Jools Holland and I was hooked. I picked up his cassette. This was honest and raw music, and emotionally almost too difficult to listen to, if it wasn’t for the heartbeat and love flowing through the album.
TRACK OF THE YEARthe beths “expert in a dying field” – swirling indie rock from New Zealand, but what sets it apart are the poetry and feelgood guitars that rattle through the album. I’m still saving up (?) for the album, but this song has kept me in high spirits all year long. The beths along with soccer mommy are the most exciting bands around at the moment.
LIVE ARTIST OF THE YEARremember sports. I saw them on a rainy slow Monday in Brighton, and the crowd was kind of annoying and uninterested, but sometimes that creates the best concert. This little lo-fi punk rock group effortlessly write dreamy and catchy love-gone-wrong songs and melt even the hardest hearts.
BOOK I’VE READ THIS YEAR – I haven’t quite finished Kerouac‘s original scroll “on the road” so instead I’ll say Dave Eggers “The everly”. Reading it means you’ll very likely to throw your smartphone away and that can only be a good thing….
FILM OF THE YEAR – As a beautiful summer drew to a close, I went to the cinema with my 2 teenage sons and we saw Elvis. I hope it wins lots of Oscars, as a cinematic event it was perfect. The best film I’ve seen all year though was a 2019 social=-realism Irish film called Rosie about the impact of poverty on an ordinary and loving family. About as different as Elvis as you could possibly get.
TV SHOW OF THE YEAR – the tourist. As good as tv gets, and super cozy evenings watching this over coffee and flipping out over the wild storyline. As the year ended we’ve been watching the old Colin Firth version of Pride and Prejudice which is perfect winter watching too.
VIDEO GAME OF THE YEAR – I’ve got a soft spot for Denmark ever since I went on a little road trip there with some friends back in 2002 and not only was it one of the best holidays of my life, I also had the nicest hot chocolate I‚Äôd ever tasted that I find myself still talking to my wide-eyed small children about. So Gerda, a Flame in Winter is an old fashioned point and click adventure game set in 1944 Denmark under nazi occupation during a bleak midwinter and it gets my vote. I’ve got a PC but I think it’s out on whatever system you play games.

under the April skies….

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.

 

i don’t care anymore

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 ¬†‚ÄúTell me no secrets and tell me no lies, I’m so fucking tired of dissolution‚ÄĚ, 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 :

 

Track of the Year

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.

EP / Cassette of the Year

Processed with VSCO with c2 presetUber-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.

 

 

 

/

it’s ok I dont need you anyway….

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.

 

 

sadness comes, sadness goes

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.

 

 

storms and stars

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.

qbAt 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.

more than this

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 seeminglybferry 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, butfoxes 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.