new ideas

There’s a little Irish band called Villagers, well actually it’s just one guy. An incredibly talented young man I saw a few years ago on TV looking like the new Conor Oberst, now somehow he’s got older, greying hair, but his music is still poetic, emotional and he sings like the falling snow – crisp, clear, illuminating fears and time itself.

He has an interesting new album out. A re-recording of songs from the past 5 years, recorded in a day. It’s much more musical, an almost classical take on his songs with harp and grand piano included. I think it makes these already great songs stronger. You can listen to the whole thing on his website, or just watch the video below. Either way it’s really worth listening to, especially if you think all music sounds the same these days…

The other album I’m listening to is, of course, the new Sun Kil Moon. It’s very loud. He shouts a lot and swears a great deal. He sings about his day, and hanging out with his girlfriend, watching boxing matches and things like that. I think it’s amazing, but I know it won’t be for everyone. Mark won’t let any of this stuff go up on youtube, but you can listen to a song here from his website.

Finally I must write I’m half way through reading Owen Jones “The Establishment and how they get away with it”. It’s such vital important reading even if, like me, you already assumed the government and big business are far too cozy.  Some of the facts and interviews in the book are really inspiring. The book shows how important it is we vote in elections, we get involved in things we believe in,  and stand up for our diplomatic rights and to be critical independent thinkers. It shows how can power can, but doesn’t have to,  lead to absolute corruption.

Last of all, news about a film being made about a young JD Salinger excites me! What happened to those new books of his that were promised in 2015?

 

 

new music to beat the january blues

Hello. So, here we are in January, and it’s been an electrifying start to the year. I got some great books for Christmas (including Laurie Lee collection and Owen Jones). Aside from the Year 2/Year 3 work I do, this month I’ve started the breakfast club at school too. Sadly it’s not like the film, but like Gordon Brown once said, it certainly wakes you up in the morning.

I don’t have any new year resolutions. I’ve not read a single magazine article about losing weight or going to the the gym, work out, whatever. I don’t have time for that right now, besides I got a wearable step monitor for Christmas, it’s fun but after a while it bores me as I don’t particularly care if I’ve done 5,000 steps or 8,000 or even 1,000 (hey it’s Sunday!). No resolutions as such, but I do however have some poems I need to put together, and I’m continuing the writers course down by the seaside so hope to keep writing fiction.

But perhaps what I’m most excited about this year is the amount of rad music due in the next few weeks! I can’t remember a year I was so excited about new albums in the first couple of months. Unless you count the new New Kids on the Block album when I was 10 🙂

So, here’s a list of just a few of the coolest records due out very soon.

  1. Jesu/ Sun kil moon – yes, this is Mark Kozelek’s latest. Yes I spent most hours listening to his songs, so of course I’m excited about this. I don’t care the Koz-Cats saying it’s going to be rubbish and “this is the first mark kozelek album I’m not going to be buying and I’ve bought everything since 1989”.  This one is out on 21st Jan you can listen to a song on the sun kil moon website here it’s very “dear diary, today I thought life is sad but I try to look at the nice rainbow and then I feel happy again”, but I like that kind of thing
  2. Nick Zubeck “skydiving” – Ok, I’d not heard of him before, but he plays with Mark Kozelek so straight away he gets my attention. Turns out his music is also pretty nice too. Slow, rich and comforting with the right about of heartache and confusion to make things interesting.  Out 11th March
  3. Lily and Madeline “keep it together” – They make really beautiful music, “the wolf is free” from 2014 was my favourite single of the year, it’s all kind of bleak but if your heart is broken there’s nothing better than music like this. Out 26th February
  4. Julie Ruin “???”. Kathleen Hanna. A new record! Nobody knows anything about it, but it’s recorded and ready to go
  5. The Welcome Wagon – If, like me, you really struggle with church check this out. If you dig reading the bible and praying, but find yourself feeling uncomfortable in church and with religion, this is the music for you. It’s, err, Sufjan Stevens’ church pastor and his wife and they make the coolest music (including this one, which is one of my all time favourite songs. Makes me cry every time…but let’s move on)

Finally, I just got the new album from a band called hop along. The singer has a terrific raw shrieking voice, the coolest voice I’ve heard in a while. She’s like a younger cousin of Corin Tucker. Cool name too. It’s worth checking out, so here’s a song to enjoy.

Catch you later…

 

 

Election Revolution so vote

First off, I’m a political junkie. Even if you don’t agree with what I will say, I’ve always followed politics so let me explain a few things. There’s a youth TV station here in the UK called E4 that’s shutting down for 24 hours on Thursday as it’s the day of the general election. They say things are more important that re-runs of Hollyoaks. In that spirit I’m taking a break from writing about writers, musicians, songs, poems to talk about politics. Next week I’m writing about Richard Yates, but even he worked briefly as a speech writer for Robert Kennedy.

I was shocked, completely shocked, when my favourite newspaper The Independent gave it’s backing to another 4 years of Conservative-Lib Dem government. They wrote Labour aren’t “yet fit to govern”. How can a left-wing leaning newspaper endorse not just the status quo, but 4 more years of harsh cuts, and tax breaks for the wealthiest of in our society while making the most vulnerable in our country suffer the hardest? Because they don’t like Ed Milliband as much as they like their good old pal Nick Clegg.

A BBC interviewer asked Ed Milliband (leader of Labour government) if he is “too left wing” to be prime minister. He’s been fiercely attacked by the press, the right wing press, and somehow now the liberal newspapers like the Indie.

People laugh at Ed Milliband, he trips over a lot. He’s not stylish, he looks geeky and people make fun of him eating a sandwich. Cameron meanwhile looks ultra slick and modern. A “pumped up” guy ready to “fight” to win. The kind of super confidence you can get when you’ve got, according to respected observers, a £30 million private fortune ready to cash in if you don’t happen to win on Thursday. No wonder he doesn’t seem that bothered if he wins or loses.

But it’s not all about money, it’s about principles and morals, and the way I see it Ed Milliband and Labour are the winners this time. I’m a member of the Green Party, I thought it was a foregone conclusion they’d get my vote again, but this time I’ve been so impressed with Ed Milliband, that Labour will get my vote on Thursday. He’s a million miles away from Tony Blair, closer in ideals and fairness to old Labour like Neil Kinnock and John Smith, and I urge anyone who can to vote Labour. We know it’s going to a be a tough few years, cuts and sacrifices have to be made but I believe Labour will do all they can to protect for the vulnerable and weak in our society, and stand up to the corporations and powerful elite that have far too much influence in the country.

Russell Brand’s interview with Ed Milliband was what did it for me. Brand I can take or leave, of course he’s nihilistic and self-centered, but he cares about people and doing the right thing. Brand famously urged people not to vote, now he’s telling us to vote Labour. I’m with him 100% you can see why below. Great article here by Owen Jones about all this.

Do the right thing, do it all the time.