Nights of Love

Been so caught up in the merry-go-round of school/children/domestic bliss/regretting regret/to-do-lists that I’ve not had time to capture much in writings, either poetic or here. Doesn’t matter, as I read in an essay by the American essayist Mark Grief that people  waste their time trying to write diaries or take photos because people like that…like me….he argues do not fully experience life, but merely live in a fantasy escapism trying to catch time before it rushes on to the next experience. He says better to just drift through…Well, Marky Mark, I’ve been doing that a bit too much recently, and it somehow doesn’t quite fulfil me. Maybe I’m into escapism as I need to record words more than ever these days.

For my birthday I had a HMV voucher so I picked up the latest albums by Neil Young (Peace Trail) and Thurston Moore (Rock ‘n’ Roll Consciousness) Neil Young is  here is railing on in an enjoyable way about how he doesn’t understands the modern world, and he’s angry with too about people messing with nature, native Americans and the workers, and it’s full of energy and protest. Thurston Moore is a nice collection of breezy 10 minute songs, with flowing guitars and a relentless drumming by good old Steve Shelley. It’s got Debbie Googe on too, and it feels like early 20th century sonic youth. That’s not a bad thing. I’ve been listening to it a lot driving to and from work, and it’s got the right balance of escapism and interesting lyrics to keep you focused after a crazy day working in a little school.

Been reading lots of interesting things. Really like this Dutch magazine called Flow. Also got a copy of the always brilliant and funny PJ O Rourke “How the hell did this happen” in which he attempts to understand how the hell Trump got elected. Also the new Gwendoline Riley “First Love” which I’m hoping will win the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction this year, because it’s the best modern novel I’ve read in ages. It’s sad and brutal though, but as I watch “Neighbours” everyday for 20 minute blasts of escapism in sunny Australia with nice happy one dimensional characters, I need to counter it with something like Gwen Riley.

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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.

 

 

 

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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.

 

 

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

Mark Kozelek Round 10.

RecordSome things you can predict. I was reading the newspaper the other day, and saw a tip for a horse that, apparently,  “can not lose”. I don’t gamble at all, so I thought I might as well throw away £20 and see what happens. I was already planning on spending my winnings on the new Kim Gordon book, or maybe I’d take Rebekka out to the fancy hotel du vin for a nice meal.

Silly. The horse came 5th. I lost. Yep, I’m an idiot. I’m not doing that again.

Other things are more certain. Day follows night, and every year there’s something new from Mark Kozelek, a guy I keep on feeling compelled to write about here about how crazy good he is and he’s often the only music I really listen to, how whenever I hear him sing I have to stop whatever I’m doing, lay down on the sofa and just soak up all that beauty and wonder.

sunSo, here’s the deal. Sun Kil Moon have a new album out in June.  It’s called “Universal Themes”, it’s got Steve Shelley (x sonic youth) on again. It could well be my album of the year.  Kozelek plays a huge world tour to promote it. People will probably walk out of his concerts in disgust. Others, like me, will melt in the sublime music he performs seemingly so effortlessly.

Anyway, this is not a mark kozelek song. It’s by a band called “the frank and walters”, it’s very sweet and as winter fades into spring it seems appropriate. Bis bald.

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

best books ever written (and why I quit the internet)

Yep, before we get onto that list, here’s the why bit : I’m taking a break from the internet for a little while which already makes me sound either super cynical, a little dumb, or superior. All three of those I’ll rebuke (except perhaps the second at certain moments). Let me explain – it’s all part of trying to live a simple life and living life for what it is. Ok, that too but really because…. the other week I was reading about Thurston Moore’s new girlfriend and clicking on all the follow up links, and then following that up by reading through New York Times, CNN, BBC, Guardian Online, Mirror Online, Sydney Morning Herald, Huffington Post, NPR and before I knew the whole morning had passed and I hadn’t actually really done anything, learnt anything, or even felt particularly happy or even peaceful about it. I’m not even going into Facebook and how that sucks away at your idea of self. I’m only online now to check e-mails and my bank balance. Also for “work” reasons which is pretty strict. It means if I’m writing an article about why Sonic Youth broke up I can check out that article about Thurston Moore’s girlfriend and how she “broke up the band” but otherwise all that stuff is strictly off limits.

So, of course I’m aware I’m going to miss out on things. Only printed press allowed for me, so I’m sure I’ll miss out on a lot of interesting new words and guitars unless somebody plays it on the radio or writes about it in my printed newspaper. But it’s alright, it gives me time to look back on this glorious past – in a week or two I’ll post my top 10 records of all time, but for now from the top of my head here are the books

1. William Faulkner “The Sound and the Fury”

2. Jack Kerouac “On the Road”

3. JD Salinger “Catcher in the Rye”

4. Gwendoline Riley “Sick Notes”

5. Sythia Plath “The Bell Jar”

6. Theodore Dreiser “Sister Carrie”

7. Willa Cather “My Antonia”

8.  Fyodor Dostoevsky “Crime and Punishment”

9. Richard Yates “Eleven Kinds of loneliness”

10. Alfred Hayes “The Girl on the Via Flaminia”

So, that was fun I wrote that pretty quickly which is the best way to do these things. You can buy all these books from your local book shop or order them from the library. Please no Amazon though.

This will automatically post to facebook, but I won’t check it till I’m back from Romania in May!