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.
Hi everybody! Grab yourself a cozy blanket and put the kettle on…Oh no, I am so sorry, for a moment there I thought I was a writer at “New Day” newspaper. It’s a UK newspaper that launched this week, and I’ve bought a copy of issues. It’s umm, ok I guess. It’s ultra light with a lot of fun advice (“Smiling is good for you!”) and little quizzes (“Did you marry the wrong person?”). It’s like a mix between Readers Digest magazine and spending a weekend with your oddball but harmless aunt whilst listening to Radio 1 newsbeat. Still I love newspapers so I suppose it’s a good thing, and I hope it works out.
Last night I watched “Amy“, the Amy Winehouse documentary. I’ve also been listening to the Elliot Smith “heaven adores you” soundtrack – more of him in a second… I’m also reading a bleak biography of a fantastic Austrian writer who killed himself (Stefan Zweig). I’ve just been sent “love and mercy“, a film about Brian Wilson I’m going to watch tonight.
Oh happy day…
No, but this is where life is for me. I’ve always being drawn to the broken, the weak, the outsiders, to people who don’t quite fit in, those who have broken families and broken hearts. People who try to make sense of the world with music, with words, with art. Sure it’s fun to tune into Absolute 80’s radio and dance around when I’m doing the washing up, but put on a Mark Kozelek record and life makes sense again. Somebody makes a record, makes a song and It feels real and pure, and I think it’s those moments when you can experience life for what it is, feel it’s presence around you, and you feel connected, if only for a moment, of yourself, the music and of the spinning crazy world around you.
So Elliot Smith…That sums him up, and I’m really excited about a new tribute album “Say Yes!” out later this year with covers by J Mascis, Lou Barlow, Juliana Hatfield, Mark Kozelek and Tanya Donnelly…who also has just reformed Belly, a really cool band from the 90’s!
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?
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.
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
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
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
Julie Ruin “???”. Kathleen Hanna. A new record! Nobody knows anything about it, but it’s recorded and ready to go
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.
Summer news is always silly, even though I took a few weeks on holiday away from British media-consumption, the most interesting news stories of the summer appear to be some nasa astronaunt who was the 6th person on the moon telling everyone a big military secret, get ready for it…space men came to Earth during the cold war to dismantle some nuclear weapons that would have caused world war 3. I like this story, as silly as it is. The idea somewhere far away some aliens care enough about us to bother to come to Earth, and help us out in our crazy ways somehow comforts me.
On a similar “totally nuts” theme I read some big-shot scientist is convinced we aren’t real, we are all part of a computer game some alien kid put together for his school science project! He said because the universe and everything seems so perfectly formed, almost like a computer program, we’re all just robots or computers unaware of the “real world” outside. I guess he’s half there, see I think God made the universe perfect, not some alien bratty kid making it up to pass his school GCSE science class and to impress some nerdy girl. Funny idea though.
The good good great news is Jeremy Corbyn looks set to be the Labour leader, “Our timeless task in the Labour Party is to stand up against injustice wherever we find it”
I’m so bowled over by the new sun kil moon album. Mark Kozelek is the most interesting and talented songwriter around at the moment. I don’t think anyone can touch him at the moment, and if you only get one album this year, please make it “universal themes“. It will knock you out, blow you away, all that good stuff. It finishes with this hypnotic beauty, which you lucky people can listen to below: “Traveling and playing and writing until I’m fucking dizzy, some people love what I do and some get fucking pissy, but I don’t give a fuck, one day they’re all gonna miss me”
I’m back from summer adventures overseas, boat trips and lost car keys, overheated coffee and a 48 hour fever in Berlin, reading the New York Times and drinking sparkling water, 9 hour car trips and table tennis, letters to Salinger and peppermint ice cream. Yep, that’s how we roll.
Then there’s the music. I’ve been away, I don’t know what’s going on. It looks like those of you who stuck around saw some amazing live music.
Mark Kozelek with Thurston Moore which really seems crazy, and a couple of years ago an impossible match. But with x-sy drummer Steve Shelley working with MK, somehow this now makes perfect sense. A great song, Thurston plays the part perfectly and Kozelek is as cool/crazy as ever.
Then there was this. Kathleen Hanna played some songs at a music festival too, and everybody went nuts. I saw her a few months ago in Brighton, and I’m just so happy she’s getting better, she’s healthy and she can still write songs like this.
Kathleen Hanna is also re-releasing the Bikini Kill demos, first out back in 1991. It’s out on cd, record and cassette. I cant wait to hear this. You can find out more info here. Oh, and next year there is a new mark kozelek album…of course there is…here are the tracks for the Jesu/Mark Kozelek album out Feb 2016, that’s just half a year away now 🙂
Good Morning My Love
A Song Of Shadows
Last Night I Rocked The Room Like Elvis And Had Them Laughing Like Richard Pryor
America’s Most Wanted Mark Kozelek And John Dillinger
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.
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….
Some 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.
So, 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.
It’s crazy warm here in Sussex, pretty much November now but the leaves are still all green and aside from the usual rainy day wipe outs it feels more like July…wait a minute, isn’t that a Dashboard Confessional song? Anyway, autumn’s a good time to reflect on change and I usually write a few poems about hope falling fast, just to cheer myself up…
Which brings me nicely to Mark Kozelek and that whole thing with war on drugs. For those lucky enough not to know anything about it, I won’t bore you with the details here, but Kozelek’s released two “diss tracks” about the war on drugs guy who in turn seems to be super offended and music websites which are silly enough to allow comments are full with people saying how much that hate Mark Kozelek and make some awful remarks about him having “mental health issues” and that they won’t ever listen to him again.
Still I said it before and I’ll say it again, Kozelek can do whatever he likes because he is the most interesting, creative and talented musician of our generation. Nobody can touch him, if I could only listen to one cd it would of course be a red house painters or sun kil moon one (the bands he’s fronted). I even paid a ridiculous amount of money on ebay to get an out of print Spanish edition of his poems/songs. I listen to his msic more than anything else.
But that doesn’t mean he’s not an asshole. Back in 2001 I went with a girl to a red house painters concert. She was shocked and offended by his stage antics and the way he talked about “chicks” and going to bars to “pick up girls”. She said afterwards she would never listen to his sweet lullaby tender love songs anymore. I have no idea if she’s kept that up because shortly afterwards I met my future wife, but it wouldn’t surprise me.
I don’t know why though. Back in my freelance journalism days I wrote a few pieces about literary heroes of mine – Jack Kerouac and William Faulkner. They weren’t the “nicest” people. I’m reading this biography of JD Salinger, he also wasn’t a nice guy but any stretch of the imagination. Then there’s Hemingway, a guy I wouldn’t want to cross he’d tear me apart. Where does it say your heroes have to be nice, friendly, kind, caring, loveable?
So you could say all those examples are men, and you might have a point it can get too much. I never got that macho stuff, it bores me, and as much as I like to pretend I feel “connected” to these writers I couldn’t see myself hanging out with them as such. Not even Kerouac. I’m way too soft.
It’s like that with Mark Kozelek. He’s a complicated person, he can’t fit into some box of what’s “cool” or what’s “socially acceptable”. He’s been an outsider all his life, and just listen to any of his songs to get a glimpse of his genius. Like the best writers and artists though he’s troubled. I do think it’s funny the way he responds, but it’s also kind of nuts too, but it’s the way it has to be.