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.

 

 

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for the weak

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!

 

And whilst we’re at it here’s a an original song

 

Last of all here’s a Belly song.

 

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…

 

 

space man save earth and album of the year

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”

Next week : a new poem called “whatever is pure”

i think you’re awesome

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
Carondelet
A Song Of Shadows
Last Night I Rocked The Room Like Elvis And Had Them Laughing Like Richard Pryor
Fragile
Father’s Day
Sally
America’s Most Wanted Mark Kozelek And John Dillinger
Exodus

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.