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

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.

https://soundcloud.com/leonardcohen/leonard-cohen-darkness

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!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zMbLzaVkn2s

i came into some money I don’t need you anymore.

music goes in circles, we all know that. I’m really excited there’s a new Rural Alberta Advantage album out soon (that’s the people above your screen). I’m happy with the new Twin Forks record and it made me think of Dashboard and the old days.

My old days of America. I use to sometimes go with some other college kids to see a math-rock band. Sometimes we’d go to a cd shop. On one such visit I picked up a cd because it had a nice cover of a dolphin on, and the little record shop in hipster town Chapel Hill (North Carolina) only had the best stuff. It was where I got into joan of arc too.

Anyway. Imperial Teen. They blew me away, I had that cd playing in my college dorm every day and night, I played it trying to impress American arty girls but it never worked somehow. Still, I was amazed by the funny wordplay and the despair and arrogance of the singer. Every single lyric here made me feel like I was listening to a modern day Holden Caulfield. “We’re living in the cloisters where out subtext is out plot…back in your life (but) we can’t even mess up right”. Of course I got the gay references and the Kurt Cobain stuff, but somehow that just made them more cooler because I knew not everyone would get them and I thought that was cool (I was a teenager back then and was into the whole outsider art thing!)

Imperial Teen made sense to me. Music is awesome guitar pop too. I love it when intelligent lyrics and guitar pop burst with this much energy.

songs to drink cocoa to

I’ve got another week off work with this chest infection. It’s really not too bad though, it just makes me sleepy and gives a few other odd side effects such as a strange tendency to over-analyse scenes from “Before Midnight” and to spend too much time plotting a green revolution. I even joined the Green Party. Hmmm.

Anyway, I’ve told you about all those cool books I’m reading every night, and here’s a little mix of songs to go with it to keep you going over cold January days. Let’s call it “songs to drink cocoa to”, some old and new things to keep you warm! You need to click the links to listen though and watch the videos – mostly live versions.

Fun Home “Wasting Time”

Sun Kil Moon “Admiral Fell Promises”

Corrie Tucker Band “Kill my Blues”

Hiss Golden Messenger “Drum”

Broken Bells “Holding on for Life”

Spiritualized “Life is a Problem”

Norah Jones “After the Fall”

Mudhoney “I don’t remember you”

The Julie Ruin “Oh Come On”

Thurston Moore “Detonation”

Memphis “I Want the Lights Out After Dark”

Rural Alberta Advantage “Edmonton”

Kingmaker “Ten Years Asleep”

The Welcome Wagon “American Legion”

That last song gives me goosebumps every single time….see you soon xo

i can’t stand what you do (and Lou Reed)

It’s a starry-eyed autumn night, one of those rare moments where life feels rich and full of possibilities, I’m listening to Rural Alberta Advantage by the hissing fire. RAA are a band who for a while now I’ve been absolutely taken with their mix of lonely love songs dashed with if not roaring, at least rolling, guitars.
But I’m not going to write about them. Instead it’s time to talk about Lou Reed. He may not have been a particularly nice guy, and we can’t blame him for all those awful bands formed by kids getting their minds blown on the velvet underground records, but he was Lou Reed, and for a while back there I couldn’t get Transformer off my record player.
I first heard about the Velvet Underground through a free cd from a music newspaper called Melody Maker. I was 17, and my music world was rapidly expanding and I was always looking for something fresh, something exciting, and something fun and I usually found such things on Saturday afternoons at the record shop in Bury St Edmunds (a place I hated, which somehow made Andy’s Records all the more exciting). Anyway this free cd didn’t actually have Velvet Underground on, but had a really beautiful song by a band called the Modern Lovers called “Hospital”. This song was about the singer visiting his girlfriend in hospital after she’d taken a drug overdose, and the song completely knocked me out. All I knew about this band was the few lines written on the cd case that they were “highly influenced by Lou Reed and the Velvet Underground”.
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I had no idea who Lou Reed and the Velvet Underground were, but i was excited to find out. A few months later I found Lou Reed’s transformer in a charity shop, and I was even more excited to see that David Bowie – a guy I’d also recently discovered (I think through the guy from Blur raving about) produced it. I’d never heard anything like that before, it was playful, silly, but unbearably tragic and somehow pure. I never went through a whole Lou Reed period, (apart from listening to Transformer feeling tired and bewildered after parties) perhaps he made some brilliant records, i don’t know. At university boring hipsters got me high listening to the velvet underground and all that, and I never quite got it. I don’t know why, perhaps I was getting tired of hipsters already at 18. It wasn’t my scene, it was too druggy. Anyway the reason I wanted to mention Lou Reed at all is that he’s the cover star in this week’s NME there’s a really spectacular interview with him from 1975. in this interview the famous (and kind of strange) journalist Lester Bangs went to war with a drugged up and aggressive Lou Reed, it’s quite extraordinary to read and I’d really recommend you get a copy of the magazine or download it online.
I’m not going to play Lou Reed now. Instead let’s go back to that Modern Lovers song I was telling you earlier. You might need to get the tissue box out though for this.