Days of war nights of love

Eight months have gone by now, last time I wrote it was Zwischenzeit …a time of in-betweens….now, it seems to never end, uncertainty, My life is stable, but Brexit bores are everywhere I look. I meet someone who seems kind and caring, then they say something dumb like”Oh the sooner we leave Europe the better!” and I just smile and think you are fucking nuts.  Newspaper articles confuse me, so I turn to home life, to snapshot this peaceful view from my bedroom window where I can hide away from life. I listen to music, I read books and I make long telephone calls. Away from politics there’s much to do, like making food for my family (now I mostly skip the analysis I find all sorts of fun things in the newspaper to enrich my life, like the recipe of the day!)

I still believe. I still read adbusters, I still want to break down falsehood and lies and hysteria and all the things that disrupt a life lived less ordinary. I still pray and read the bible, and I still look for meaning. I saw a book yesterday, funnily enough it was after we met my capitalist father for coffee, and this little book was called “Not working why we have to stop working”. At that point my 2 year old daughter starting crazily running around and throwing books around so I couldn’t investigate further. Still I love the title.

Moment of joy >>>> taking the train to London, having the most perfect cappuccino I’ve ever tasted at a little Italian cafe but having to drink it at super speed as it took them 10 minutes to prepare this perfection. So I guess it seemed rude that we drank it in under 1 minute because we had to get to the theatre to see “Home, I’m darling” which was about as enjoyable as a play can possibly be!

Music I’ve finally picked up a Mark Kozelek album I’ve been meaning to buy for months, it’s heavy but enjoyable. I listen an awful lot to the wonderful Tom Petty boxset, and I’m loving the Norah Jones interview in Mojo magazine.

I’m going to write more, much more. It’s how I figure out meaning in this crazy lost but enriching and beautiful world we share.

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.

 

 

life is beautiful, and yet….

It’s all about words now. I’ve just started a 2 year writing course, and as if that wasn’t enough I’m doing the final writing course on offer at my local adult educational school, and I’ve just got a new job working at a school. Helping kids to read and write, writing my poems, and putting together a book of short stories. That’s what I’ll be doing for the next couple of years, so stay with me. For now there are a few songs to talk about.

I once again had to defend my lov..sorry, admiration, for Norah Jones’ music. “How can you like such shit when you’re into sonic youth and Mark Kozelek?”. I tried talking about how amazing her voice is, how her lyrics are incredible, and just how relaxing the music is but it didn’t get me anywhere. Come on, the guy from Belle and Sebastian asked her to sing on his record! She’s touring the US now, and if you live there or are able to go, please go and tell me what the concerts are like because I’ve never seen her live. You can see the full list of those tour dates here. Meanwhile here’s that Belle and Sebastian/Norah Jones from a few years back

There’s another band out there called Stars, a Canadian band. They’re also not particularly “cool” but they write the coolest little songs. Poppy-love-trash songs about hope in a broken world. Anyway, they made a little film which is fun. You can watch it below.

In case you think it’s all too boring, and you need something to impress the hipsters down at the beat cafe, there’s a band called Algiers who are the music press are calling gospel-political-punk. They make really cool videos too, like this one here.

Last of all I got the new album by ANT. A few years ago when I did proper music journalism, I gave his cd 5/5 and had it down as album of the month. Despite this enthusiasm, for some reason it didn’t go platinum. This new one is lovely too, perfect for cold nights tucked into your blanket drinking hot chocolate. Oh but wait, there’s whiskey in the hot chocolate, because love has gone away and these songs will melt your heart. Please support this guy and buy this, he’s brilliant and we need music like this.

Finally, I need to let you know my German friend Daniel Benjamin and his ace band sea and air are currently touring the UK. Sadly no-where near me, although they are playing in Bury St Edmunds, a little small well off market town where I went to school and I don’t recall a single band ever playing there before. I hope they tore it apart. Catch them if you can on the dates below

Oct 15 UK – BURY ST EDMUNDS, Apex
Oct 16 UK – MANCHESTER, BOTW
Oct 17 UK – OXFORD, Oxjam
Oct 18 UK – YORK, Fibbers
Oct 20 UK – DERBY, Flowerpot
Oct 21 UK – BRISTOL, Louisiana
Oct 22 UK – WARWICK, Copper Rooms
Oct 23 UK – GUILDFORD, Boileroom
Oct 24 UK – CONVENT, Stroud
Oct 25 UK – PORTSMOUTH, Wedgewood Rooms
Oct 27 UK – LONDON, Funsbury Pub

I care about you. More soon xo

songs and books

Aside from collecting first edition Richard Yates books, I’m also enjoying Dave Eggers. I’ve occasionally read his magazine, and ended up listening to some of his novels on cd back when I was driving for hours all over the place for a fun but temporary job I did a while ago. Now I’m reading “the circle” and it’s the best modern book I’ve read in a long time. It’s a book I find myself thinking about when I’m away from home, working or doing shopping or walking the kids to school feeling excited for the evening to come so I can read the next page. Like a modern 1984 a stark warning about the dangers of internet obsessed society, and it’s funny/sad and makes your heart beat super fast. The writing is crisp, clear, intelligent and the dialogue is spot-on. I’m reading it along with a non-fiction book called “the internet is not the answer” and those two books together make a pretty compelling case for just dropping out of internet life and trying to find Walden Lake in 2015…

There are three songs I listen to over and over again at the moment that I hope to get you into too. The latest NOW music compilation is the biggest selling album of the year so far here in the UK, but I say forget the boring repetitive crap you hear in the charts, this is where it’s at.

1. Lily and Madeline “blue blades” – I’m so in love with everything about this little band. The words, the melody, the lush harmonies and sad reflections of nature and broken hearts. I’ve just downloaded their new EP too.

2. Puss N Boots “down by the river”. Ok, so I own the entire Norah Jones back catalogue, and not many people bought her folky-country band puss n boots, but guess what? I did and this is my favourite song on it.

3. Libertines “Gunga Din” Ok, so they are pretty much on the cover of NME every week, and will outsell most albums this year, but this song makes me happy. Maybe it’s because those last two songs are kind of depressing that you’re ready for the party to begin. And I know I want to go a party put together by Pete and Carl….

4. Mark Kozelek “Caroline” – If I had to throw away my record collection and never restock it, but could keep one thing it would be my Mark Kozelek records and cd’s. This song is about as perfect as it gets.

voice + melody = love

I must begin by apologising for long delay in writing. Political (dis) engagement, trips to Sheffield, quick trip to Romania, fun family weekends in London, visits from relatives, working at the school, watching cool films. late night conversations and the like that I’ve simply just had no time to write about how rad the new girlpool album is! 😉 So click on those links if you’re bored, but do come back because I’m addicted to making lists like this :

1. The new girlpool album really is rad. Play it loud and dance away.

2. But the new sun kil moon album is even better. Play it soft and cry.

3. I saw Kathleen Hanna’s band Julie Ruin in Brighton a couple of weeks ago. It was so much fun, the music is so infectious my 9 year old son and I are driving around the sleepy Sussex villages blasting it out at the moment. She’s also, apparently, making a new album and just this week there’s a brand new fascinating interview with Ms Hanna in Pitchfork where she talks about the challengers of making music with a chronic illness and why she’s sick of hearing about her “supportive” husband. She makes a pretty good point really that everyone tells her how cool and great her husband is because he pretty much had to be her full-time carer, and although she says he is of course supportive and totally cool, she said if it was the other way round everyone would expect the wife to be the supportive one for the sick husband, but when it’s the other way round everybody makes a big deal about the “supportive and caring” husband, when it should naturally be this way. She says it a lot better than I have just now. Check it out.

4. I sent my first payment for the Brighton Writers 2 year course. It gives me two years to write a book. It’s suppose to make-or-break writers, and some have gone on from this course to win the booker prize and all that. Others have faded into obscurity

5. I was reminded of just how epic Norah Jones is. I listen again and again to her cd’s, and I’m often so transfixed by the sheer beauty of her voice and the brilliant love-gone-sour lyrics it just gives me goosebumps. She was on David Letterman a few weeks ago, when he did his final shows, and she played an old song that was simply gorgeous. So gorgeous I’ve put it below. Sorry those hoping for the Kathleen Hanna girl punk, or the hipster lo-fi indie of girlpool that will have to come another time.  I’ve always been a sucker for voice and melody and you can’t beat Norah Jones at that….

ordinary acts of life

I took my excited kids on a little road trip to see their granny in the wild forests of Norfolk this weekend. Nothing better than hitting the road with a bunch of cd’s (who says Norah Jones and Mudhoney don’t mix?), an open road and stopping off on the way for refreshments. I have no strange sense of sadness anymore, and I know it’s because for over a week now I’ve not been on any social media or news/music sites online. Happiness is in fashion.

To think I was worried I’d miss something! Like what happened to that guy who drank 10 cans of coke a day for his Facebook page as an “experiment”? Did he manage to see the dentist? Has he developed diabetes? Oh well now I’ve quit facebook until the spring I’ll never know so I can concentrate on the ordinary acts of life. Hooray.

Actually I’m enjoying reading the printed newspaper more than ever. I read there’s a new Sufjan Stevens album out in the spring, I mean a proper lush summer meadow happy Sufjan Stevens album not some experimental noise trash like his last couple of albums. I then read an interview in Uncut music magazine with the impossibly cool Sleater Kinney, who really just blow me away.

Their “No Cities Left to Love “is the first great album of 2015. I got into them during hazy lost post university days in the early 20th century. I stuck their punk girl rock songs on at the pizza hut stereo where I worked in London when I was 21 and I played it loud, and the customers didn’t seem to mind. It’s really so cool to hear them played on the radio now, and it makes me excited about the possibilities of words and guitars all over again. This blog after all pretty much got it’s name from one of their songs from the late 90’s.

I believe the ordinary acts of life are the best. There’s poetry to be found in every day life. I use to think I’d move to Paris or Sydney and write poems there hanging out with the beatniks and disillusioned. I now realize it’s everyday life that brings out the pure romance.

Here’s the new SK. “We’re wild and weary but we won’t give in”. Enjoy.

video of the year

Week two of my little round up, and after swooning over the brilliance of Sarah Winchester and her wonderful EP last week, it’s time to let the visuals take over for my video of the year. It was between the Norah Jones “Kentucky” surfing record and this little two part story by Twin Forks. Both are kind if similar visually, but I just can’t get my head round summer surfing sitting here drinking hot chocolate,  wrapped up in a scarf and hat. So, here is Twin Forks “Back to you”. I love the whole feel of this video, childhood memories tainted by the sadness of today, before that glimmer of hope at the end (part two is a far happier tale, you can watch that one here)

Next Monday it’s Single of the Year 🙂