waiting for the day

The news isn’t really Brian Wilson related, although he does have a new record out soon and good to hear he’s sticking to his guns even if “fans” disagree (see his reaction here), but there are two other records due out soon that are worth a mention as both could well be the album of the year (so far it’s sun kil moons “Benji”)

The first is the singer of my little boy’s favourite band Dinosaur Jr. (in case you’re interested, his second is the fall, whereas at his age I only listJMascis-TiedToAStarened to my dad’s Queen and Michael Jackson tapes!) – the one and only J Mascis whose new album “Tied to a star” comes out on 25th August and you can hear on youtube a track below. His previous effort, 2011’s “Several Shades of Why” remains one of the best albums of the last few years and, along with Bob Mould, he’s an emo rock hero to more than the hipster reception class set.

The second one is a guy I’ve only just got into, after hearing some stuff on the radio. It’s Hiss Golden Messenger, with an intriguing title called “Lateness of Dancers” out on 9th September. He made a soulful video explaining the record which just about blows my mind, you can check that radness out below too along with some tour dates.

If you missed the Norah Jones Blue Note performance, here’s one last chance to watch her play with a trio of jazz superstars which was sensational, oh yes!

That’s enough, I’m all emotional after the world cup opening match, so can’t write any more except these 6 magical letters…. Brazil.

Hiss Golden Messenger Tour
11-07 Winnipeg, Manitoba – Winnipeg Folk Festival
15-07 Nijmegen, Netherlands – Valkhof Festival
16-07 Amsterdam, Netherlands – Paradiso
18-07 Suffolk, England – Latitude Festival
19-07 London, England – Bush Hall
20-07 North Devon, England – Somersault Festival
25-07 Carrboro, NC – Cat’s Cradle (Merge 25 Festival)
26-07 Winston-Salem, NC – Southeastern Center of Contemporary Art
01-08 Happy Valley, OR – Pickathon
28-08 Asheville, NC – Harvest Records Transfigurations II Festival
20-09 Montreal, Quebec – Ukrainian Federation (Pop Montréal)


just my kind of hope

Had a crazy day, a whole range of emotions and feelings thrown in today. Some edited highlights included hanging out with the jet setter since 6am, trying to fix stereo cable that was chewed off by little ol’ Pluto the hamster. Finishing off a brilliant political spy thriller by John Le Carre, drinking coffee. Driving around counting the circus posters, and getting all sad reading the Daily Mail (don’t ask) and watching part of a football match I don’t understand. Trains to Germany. Flights to Spain. Our Children French film. Intensity. Fragments of a day I can’t keep.

But that’s not why you’re here. You’re here to listen to this super rad song by the always inspiring, always brilliant Kathleen Hanna. It’s a little love song to her husband, and it might just melt your heart. I’m putting it up because of course it’s cooooool, but also because Ms Hanna is suffering a relapse from the Lyme Disease that crippled le tigre a few years ago, and she’s had to cancel her European tour. I spent a blissful childhood in a kind of wild forest, I was always out – hours every day – running around and exploring the forest with my dogs, and ticks were part of life but I never thought a tick bite could really destroy your life. I hope she’s better soon.

“The punk singer” a documentary about Bikini Kill, Le Tigre, Kathleen Hanna is out on dvd on 23 June, and I’ve already reserved my copy.

Talking of “rock” dvds, I saw Mark Kozelek’s the other day rich which was full of subtle, beautiful, intoxicating sadness and hopeful daydreams of lost memories and the passing of time. Perfect for days like these.


the lost world of book lovers

Ever since I read a rather charming review back in November in the Guardian newspaper about an unusual novel-within-a-novel called “S” written by JJ Abrams and Dorst I’ve been anxiously waiting for a copy to turn up at my local library. “S” is the strangest book you’re likely to read this year – it’s written in the form of an old novel called “Ship of Theseus” from 1949, and it’s lovingly scribbled in with pen notes from two university grad students who fall in love, and try to decode the mystery of the novel. Inside the book too there are letters, postcards, pictures, and it’s a celebration of boosk, book collecting, anImaged the simple joy of finding treasures and connecting with “uncool” people. Here’s the thing – I had no idea who JJ Abrams was. I’m not really into sci-fi he’s directing the new Star Wars and Star Trek, I’ve have never seen “Lost” which he wrote, so I guess that makes me not only slightly at odds with that offbeat world of mass consumption and nerd-hipsters, so I suppose I approached the book with a kind of naivety and innocence, but ever since I picked it up I’ve been fascinated with it. Ship of Theseus is a great adventure story, but all those beautiful handwritten notes scribbled across the pages and the little secrets within this book is the real joy. For the most part I tend to skip books written in the 21st Century, and somehow this modern book is a celebration of the lost world and romance of someone like Stefan Zweig. It’s a book for book lovers, and those of us who feel strangely connected to the simple ways of old. It’s so enjoyable (even if perhaps not “great” but who cares about that when you’re having fun?) I’m tempted to join the rest of civilisation and watch “Lost”, but then again I’d rather listen to Mark Kozelek….

Whose new Sun Kil Moon album is getting serious attention 9/10 on pitchfork, 8/10 in nme. There’s little else to say, apart from this is surely the album of the year, right? February and it’s all over….

Last note – I’m off to see Matt Pryor from the get up kids on Sunday who sounds as cool today as he ever did, at least those old get up kids emo songs got my little family dancing and whirling around the living room the other night, which is always a good thing, right?

Goodnight xo

Books and Music for Winter Blues

It’s really raining an awful lot here in Sussex at the moment, so much so that the simple pleasures is starting to wane, you know like watching the rain splash on the pavement and wearing wellies and jumping in puddles, holding your nose in case that puddle turns out to be a secret lake. Or is that just me?

Anyway, I don’t know about your but I get tired of all these magazine articles about “escape the Winter Blues” full of tips to re-energeise your life like eating broccoli for breakfast, joining a gym, tedious positive thinking like staring at your tired face every morning and saying “you’re looking great, you’re a winner”, oh and jetting off to some luxurious Island for the weekend. Or wait, that last one doesn’t sound too bad but it was in the Sunday Times so is out of my price range.

So, rather than offer ways to beat the winter blues I thought it would be fun to offer a couple of new books and records that indulge in the melancholy a little bit, not too much though, but just enough for days when you unplug your phone, draw the curtains and curl up under the blankets with a couple of packs of your favourite biscuits to watch the Homeland box set with. You got the hot cocoa? Then let’s go…

Jenny Offdosill Dept. of Speculation A novel about “love, parenthood, infidelity, and a crumbling marriage “ already sounds great, right? This one tackles all that in an experimental way, so you’ve got a little novel crammed of poems, notes, reflections, scribbles. There’s a nice little interview with Jenny-O over at NPR, and this one is out in a few weeks and I’ll be checking it out. My second tip is the effortlessly cool Gwendoline Riley Opposed Positions, I already mentioned this last year, but now it’s just out this month in paperback. Nobody writes opbetter about modern love gone sour better, her crisp urgent sentences will get into your heart, and you can read this one in one setting, she’s the best writer under 40 around today, dark and broody but beautiful writing.

Onto the music, my first tip for embracing the winter blues is Benji, the latest by Mark Kozelek under his sun kil moon name. This will probably end up being my record of the year, as these days all I ever do is listen to Mark Kozelek records, but anymusicway here’s a nice piece he wrote for the New York Times last week where he talks about this record, and his crazy life. The guy’s the best musician and songwriter we’ve got right now, so support him and buy this record! Finally, someone I know very little about – I think I even skipped the page about her in NME last week – is Angel Olsen who has a new album out in February, she did this haunting acoustic set over at NPR (again!) which you can watch or download. I don’t even know if I like this music, I don’t know if it’s really for me, but it did transfix me when I heard this session. She sure sings about sad things though, so be prepared!

When that’s all over and you’ve had enough of moping around the house feeling sorry for yourself, you can go and check out this cool blog by a summer camp member. It’s bright, breezy, fun, clever, much like summer camp themselves, who remain one of my favourite bands and I’m excited to hear their new record later this year. Like Promise Ring sang happiness is all the rage.

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

Album of the Year

Ok, time to do the right thing and finnish off this weekly look back at two thousand and thirteen with the only one that really matters, right? I am spending Christmas and New Year out here in a small small small “alles in ordnung” German town which means I get to miss the annual stampede of “best of” lists, but if the NME one is anything to go by I didn’t miss much. Maybe next year Divisionary will feature though?

So it’s, of course – who else can it possibly be – but Mark Kozelek and Jimmy LaValle and “Perils from the Sea”. I think it says something about the predictable and a little boring music world in 2013 that an “average” Mark Kozelek album is still better than anything else in 2013. Average isin’t really an accurate word to describe the sheer hypnotic beauty of these songs. For crazy kids like me who buy everything Mark Kozelek releases this one was particularly cool because he mixed his sublime beatnik poetry (as in write about everything) up with the loose electro beats supplied from the guy from the album leaf.

So, in case you missed it here’s a song to sing as the bells strike midnight and to dream of a better tomorrow. I’ll see you back in England in 2014 for more adventures with words and guitars xo

saying things you regret 20 years later

I had planned to list some songs i’ve been digging the last couple of weeks, an eccentric mix of old and new to brighten your day. But then I borrowed a car and forgot all this super cool songs. For this is a “new” (2007!) car with new features, like a cd player. Which means i’m taking a break from prowling around charity shops looking for tapes for my Citroen car. Instead I filled the car up with, errr, Mark Kozelek albums, play that loud and drive 100’s of miles over Sussex for Autism Sussex.

So. I’m putting up “Caroline” from this year’s Mark Kozelek and Jimmy Lavalle for some reason it doesn’t work on soundcloud, but a youtube video with no video is fine too. It’s not the best song on the album, but it’s the sweetest.

Aside from listening to MK, I’ve been checking out Ryan Gosling’s epic battle against the bad companies KFC and Mcdonalds, but somehow I’ve had no choice but to go into such places as part of my job (at least the coffee is fairtrade, I guess though!). I’ve been getting into the Norah Jones and Green Day boy album, and feeling kind of sorry for Ad Rock and Mike D from Beastie Boys over this whole sorry GoldieBlox thing.

If you missed it, GoldieBlox did some parody of 80’s Beastie Boys song “Girls” only this time turning it into a kind of feminist anthem to girls being able to do whatever they want, whereas in the original it was “girls to do my washing to tidy my room” that kind of thing. I feel sorry for them because GoldieBlox should never have done the advert video. it was a cheap marketing ploy for toys. Bringing up the past is a bad idea, and Beastie Boy can’t be accused of being anti feminist. Mike D is married to Kathleen Hanna of course too which has to stand for something. Beastie Boys were kids at the time of “girls” They were making a joke about people they thought were silly with those early songs, and ok it didn’t really work but so what?

When I was 15 and crazy all upset about life and messed up from my parents divorce I said to the school “feminist” in my class something really bad which still makes me cringe all this years later. I said “why don’t you go back to your kitchen.” Awful, right? I’ve always being totally pro womens rights and pretty much anyone’s rights for that matter, against all kind of exploration and awful things like page 3 and “lads magaizines”…and even back when I said that i knew it was a fucking dumb thing to say I was just pretending to be someone else. I think it was the same for Beastie Boys.

Anyway I’m tired and that’s enough of the words, time for the guitar. Even if there isn’t any much guitar in this song!

the eternal dreamer

It’s been a hectic week for music (sales) as I’m still digesting over NME’s top 500 albums of all time, the death of Lou Reed, and the Mercury music prize. Let’s gloss over those quickly before getting onto something far more interesting. Ok, so NME had a fun list some cool things on it, but the smiths “the queen is dead” at number one is, of course, wrong, I’d put it in top 20 maybe even top 10 but no, 1? Maybe it just reminds me of bad times skipping school at 16 and following the train tracks looking for adventure I never found with a copy of the Morrissey and Marr biography I carried around with me along with “The Catcher in the Rye.” Umm, moving on…Lou Reed whose life has been written about elegantly and passionately by people like the Guardian and the Independent (and celebrated on Absolute Radio) there’s little else to say except it’s sad, but not really a surprise considering the amount of abuse his body took. Somehow crazy Iggy Pop and David Bowie are still  alive (and releasing cool records too). Finally Mercury Music prize. It’s a big thing here, mostly because it allows record shops like HMV and the immoral Amazon to sell a load of cd’s and downloads. For some strange reason James Blake won. I have no idea why.

So now I can finally get onto Mark. Who? Mark Kozelek who is only markkozthe greatest musician of our time! So he didn’t feature in NME’s list, but somehow that’s a good thing too. I saw him earlier this week play in a lovely old church in Brighton, which was an odd setting for someone who is kind of vulgar, but I don’t want to go there I want to talk about his music.

I’ve said for a while now I could throw away all my record collection and never listen to the radio again as long as I could keep my Mark Kozelek records. There’s something so haunting, so lonely and sad about those songs that if I’m a bit vulnerable and it’s late at night and I’m on my own I’m likely to get carried away and find tears rolling down my cheeks. It’s an astonishing mix of heartfelt beatnik soothing poetry and a lullaby gentle guitar sound that can take you breath away, make you stop whatever you’re doing and close your eyes and indulge in the sad world of Mark Kozelek.

He’s 46, as he reminded us the other night, but he’s still hung up on girls, he’s still looking for meaning, and he’s broken. Tuesday night proved that more than anything else, he’s a broken and lost spirit. He’s suffering from attachment issues, but that makes him even more special, even more brilliant, and certainly makes his music all the better. I guess I’m saying unlike James Blake, unlike Morrissey, even unlike Lou Reed, he’s a poet. There’s not many of those around now.

Live he’s brilliant too. Everybody always gets upset and disappointed when they see he isn’t the sensitive Nick Drake type though. Here’s what the BBC wrote a couple of years ago about a concert “The manner in which he (Mark Kozelek) goes about it is extremely disappointing… it only serves to emphasise the gulf between a stunning songwriting talent and an apparently indifferent personality.”  That kind of stuff is always said and it always gets on my nerves. Where does it say to write romantic songs you’ve got to be a super soft cry baby too fragile for the world?

Anyway, im super tired so….You can take any song and it would be brilliant. But here’s an old one…It’s a good place to start as any for those of you who’ve yet to discover his genius.

mark kozelek’s family snapshots

I don’t know how your summer has been, but mine has been pretty wild and I haven’t really heard much music apart from hipster 90’s songs from German weddings and catchy disco pop as the lemony sunshine baked me in Romania. Actually in rural Romania for 11 days I was kind of liberated from the world, for a news junkie like me it was a strange kind of freedom not knowing the daily political news or reading whatever garbage Liam Gallagher had said during a drunken night out.

 So, back to Earth gently with Mark Kozelek and news of yet another new album. This one will be released 14th January 2014 and features guest spots from Steve Shelley, Jen Wood, and Will Oldham. This, as yet untitled, sun kil moon album features songs about Marks childhood and family. That might sound kind of dull, but a sneak preview of a song he wrote about his mum which featured in a moving New York times piece he wrote earlier this year suggests yet more brilliance from this oddly compelling singer.

 I’m still intoxicated by the last sun kil moon album, among the leaves, and here’s a song to show why. I think among the leaves is the best record released over the last five years.

Mark Kozelek & Desertshore

Mark Kozelek is probably the interesting and most prolific songwriter around at the moment (in April he released the sublime “Perils from the sea” with Jimmy Lavalle).
Coming out at the end of summer – 20th August – is his next work, made with a little help from Desertshore, it’s simply titled Mark Kozelek & Desertshore which if this video is anything to go by could be a contender for record of the year! You may need tissues or a broken heart to fully appreciate it though.