Wednesday, December 13, 2006

THERE ARE ANGELS SINGING! THE BELLS! THE BELLS!

So, it's nearly Christmas. Seen the news stories about global warming? - there will no longer be snow, etc, etc? Well, I'm still hoping for snow. Why? This song:



Swimming

In Dulci Jubilo

Trivia: It uses a technique called binaural recording. It makes the song lovely. The kids talking and laughing at the start, and all you can think of is an ice-rink in the middle of a snow-covered piece of land surrounded by the whole community.

The guitar comes sliding through the ice, skating along - no fear - just nice, and casual, and simple, and perfect. All the instruments arrive - they heard maybe Santa was coming? And if not, it's just nice to be outside in their duffel coats with their hoods up and the air cutting through them. Each breath an effort but a lush, refreshingly invigorating one: so, this is what it feels like to be alive?!

This is the type of song they play at outdoor ceremonies - you know the type: a religious message and freshly made tea served in polystyrene cups and mince pies and the Angels come along to dance. To keep it brief: this song is triumphant, it's laughing, it's complex but seems simple, it sounds like anyone could've arranged this - but, could they? no! of course not! - it's like stepping outside, and slipping and falling onto the concrete - oh, but of course! there's ice all around! ice and snow! - and looking up and seeing an Angel laughing at you.



The Late Greats

Sleigh Ride

Frivolous like a fairytale, Christmas is the time of snow, and cards written in a loving hand, with a carefully thought-out message inside, something cliché and earnest. Writing about music is pretty much the same - somehow the words aren't quite right, the sentences aren't as honest as intended. But still, here's another song, and there's really not much to say about it other than:

It's building a snowman in the freezing cold; it's waking up in the morning and your little brother picking up your new Christmas present and throwing it out the window - but it's Christmas, it's funny, you're not mad; it's ice-skating but falling so many times that - oh my, my back, my back! i think i've broken it! ah, help me up, oh please! plea - and pulling that person down with you; it's dancing with someone exceedingly attractive; it's learning to laugh; it's being happy again.

Buy this album! I beg you! All proceeds go to Shelter! The songs are beautiful, and silly, and classic! Stream more of the festivity! It's Christmas!

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

When your heart takes over

Let's state the obvious first, as a sort of pre-requisite: there's lots of music. Lots and lots. More than you can imagine actually. About everything. Ever.

Songs about strangers on trains that we are immediately drawn to; trees and bushfires; politics and religion; glaciers and hurricanes and tragedies; tears and sadness and deaths in the family; parents that left before birth, promises that were never fulfilled; the 'what if's and 'but's and everything that could've been done differently, and everything that might never have happened, and everything that despite our prayers and wishes never did; the money lost on the bus; the gambling debts that ruined a marriage. Songs about distance and time and space and the big fuck-off "WHY?!... Why are we here? What's our purpose? Who is my God and what of my life and when was I most pure and where is hell?"

And there are a lot of songs about love. But this one. It's summed up in the words that emerge through the laughter at the end: "Oh God". It is one of the most elegant, sad, delightful little songs I have ever heard. It's poorly recorded, and it's casually performed, and it's so so unbelievably fucking heartbreakingly beautiful.



Elizabeth Frazer and Jeff Buckley

All Flowers In Time

Reunion! Union!



Stars

Reunion

Striking down on that first chord like some sort of smiling tribute to The Smiths, dancing and twinkling with the musical equivalent of controlled chaos. Conjuring images with the fantastic frivolousness:

driving to school, and home again, with the wind in your hair and tears in your eyes from the gush of air, and the freedom, the beauty of the scenery - it's not much to look at, actually - but right now, in this, precise moment, it's beautiful. Palm trees instead of Palmpilots. Staying up during the night dreaming awake and then eventually nodding off.

(You couldn't slip into slumber like that these days when you're doing an all-nighter 'cause you know you have to have that essay in by noon, or else.)

But before you left the waking world, all you could see in your thoughts was the girl you kissed on the cheek; the girl who's hand you held and afterwards convinced yourself you were in love! - the one you said you cared for, sort of. 'Cause even though you were by parts shy and by parts confident - your own little enigma - you could never tell that girl, all the things that you probably should've told her. I'll let this song be your story. It's smiling, it's nostalgic, it's sad. It harks back to innocent days of drinking yourself silly - as much with happiness as with alcohol. It recalls a time when you were too scared to tell a girl, well... that... you...

truly truly loved her.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Don't Write Tired

Tiredness filled the page. The young artist watched as the canvas filled itself with ink, almost by magic. When he awoke in the morning he didn't know who'd been in his drawing room. He remembered a rough sketch, a simple idea, and a palette full of colours which he didn't know what to do with. When he awoke his ideas had been realised, his palette emptied, he almost felt betrayed. His subconscience came out and it filled the canvas and something about it made him sad, hopeless. Somehow it felt like he didn't own the beauty because he didn't remember creating it.

Who knows where thoughts come from. They just appear. That's right Lucas. That's right.

I have a blog? I have a blog. I'm at uni... versity. Glasgow, since you ask. Updates will begin again. Sometimes you get so lonely in this place all you can do is write. Especially when you can't download. Then you upload.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

FOR THE TINIEST MOMENT IT'S ALL NOT TRUE

It's light and floating. Children's toys strike a chord. They sparkle with innocence. The voice is matter-of-fact. There is blind hope in this song. There are tears and there are memories. There is joy and glitter. Imagine colouring books lying open on a hall table. Imagine a telephone lying beside it. Imagine the chance of a fresh start, a beautiful dream, one final pleasant sleep next to a pillow smelling of her perfume.

Snow Patrol

You Could Be Happy

There are heart-felt tears. There are regrets. There are mistakes. There is a dream of forgiveness. There is real-life.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

YOU SAY NOTHING'S WORTH A FIGHT NO MORE

You say... every day's the same,
But I will never close my eyes again.


Difficulties. Stupidity. Loss of innocence. You will be judged. Everyone knows.

Why is there suffering?
Without suffering there would be no compassion.
Tell that to those who suffer.


That's from some film. Maybe "A Walk To Remember". Anyway. The End. [I hope not]

Disco Ensemble

Mantra

If it's something to die for;
if it's something to cry your heart out for;
when the times are hard, don't walk away,
don't walk away from me

Sadness Echoes

Sadness is something that some people are born with. Sometimes it is immovable. I believe I was born with sadness. Certain events trigger it. Self-loathing is occurent everynow and then. Words are made up to describe feelings emotion. Sometimes a scream is better than a thesis. Ralph Waldo Emerson. I could type shflkjldksghkjh and it would make as much sense as a fully coherent sentence right now. Elliott Smith is playing through the speakers. Sometimes people do stupid things and cover them up with words, lines, sentences. Not expressing the whole truth is the same as a lie. The truth should always come easy, there should never be mistakes made, the world should be an idyllic place. Sadness is expressed with words, with tears, with sighs. Sadness is expressed with silence, with trembling, with body language. Stand slumped over a shelf. Lie down on a bed and not want to get up. We all have the potential to be horrible, horrible people. We all have the potential to be monsters. We all have the potential to do something great. Dreams keep us alive. I had one today. It was beautiful at the time, but afterwards - two to three hours, or five minutes, I can't remember - I realised that it was too ideal, too pleasant, too simple. Too impossible. Everything is always fucked up, sometimes. Faith.

Find your own song.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Fiction Becomes Fact. Mistakes Are Made.

Sometimes you create a song about what you've become. What you will become. What you might become. Unwittingly, the subconscience within you will become an outward thing. The text comes from 'The Contortionist's Handbook', by Craig Clevenger. The last line is from the Biffy Clyro song 'Justboy'. Fiction... will become fact. My voice, tells me the truth almost as a mistake. Sad but definitely hopeful. I should keep listening. I should keep listening. I should keep listening. Sometimes silence is the most awful thing.

The white, twenty-five to thirty year old, American male, drinks twelve to fourteen beers a week, or five to seven glasses of wine a week. The average legal limit in most states is .08 BAC which is about two beers. So two beers gets you legally drunk. The implicit question is not, How much do you drink? but, How often do you get legally drunk? or, How often do you have more than two beers within a given hour during the course of a week. I'm legally drunk seven days a week, but no one needs to know that... From the dark clouds a light will break through.



We Came In A Coma

From The Dark Clouds A Light Will Break Through (Chapter 1)

As Elliott Smith wrote, "I'm not half what I wish I was."

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Stop Repeating Yourself



Drugscene

Coronation

A skyscraper stands proudly in the middle of Los Angeles. There are angels in the architecture, dancing around the double-glazed windows. Curtains have been pulled across the sun. There's commotion, like there's always commotion. Laughter but very little. Hustle and bustle and chatter and nerves and tension. Second chances and dreams being shattered. Lights flicker into focus and out again. Reflections are there to be stared at. By the time of the chorus your surroundings have changed, but you don't realise. So distracted by your own indie-chic-ness. You're in a club with lights on off disco glitter lights flicker. Pounding pounding disco music. Lights flash cameras flash girls flash so much music so much noise just get lost in the music now now now.

Drugscene are typically stylised, typically cool, I haven't seen the press photo's but in my mind's eye it would make sense if they're wearing tattered suits and flippant red ties with long-short hair and beautiful smiles like moviestars. Imagine The Killers and Hot Hot Heat and We Are Scientists and The Bravery and the million and one other bands that those names conjure up. Imagine a catchy indie-rock beat beat beat. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn't. Sometimes it's like watching a waterfall with the water running out. The focus is on creating a song based around a melody and sometimes the melody isn't there. They do succeed, however, on Coronation. Listen, count the influences on two hands, and dance, simultaneously. Bonus points for realising that it sounds like they hired in Conor Oberst for the vocals and gave him an extra dose of indie-dance-ability in his morning cup of coffee. [Discover]

Friday, July 28, 2006

dance dance drink sleep drink dance write poetry

I'm tired. In fact, I'm in bed. I was out last night. I saw Oppenheimer. Hang on... Oppenheimer? Yes, Oppenheimer. They are FANTASTIC live. Absolutely. I'm going out tonight as well, after work. First, I must go to town to see Oppenheimer. Hang on... Oppenheimer? Yes, Oppenheimer. For free. In Cool Discs. An intimate gig? An intimate gig. Can't beat that with a big stick. But like I said. I'm tired. Too tired. I'm not going to write anything. Here's a poem, and some songs. Maybe they're linked? Or maybe I wrote the poem ages ago and found it and thought well I'm too tired to post but would like to post so fuck it. Maybe.



Untitled

for every little thing a name.
a new label
a description
making it seem amazing, new, trendy, fashionable,
marketable
love prepackaged
phone the number
written in black
on the barcode
i wonder if you can afford it
if not just join the lines
make them all the same thickness
for no reason
other than.
it. fucks. with. the system.
so why not?

You Say Party! We Say Die!

The Gap (Between The Rich And The Poor)
Cold Hands! Hot Bodies!
Love In The New Millenium

Saturday, July 22, 2006

you won't disappoint me; i can do that myself

I was in London for a week. Before that I was in the North Coast of Ireland... soaking up the rain. Yet... London was hot; sweltering; beautiful. So much to be absorbed in so little time. So much to do but so little money. Just the will, the determination. You can learn a lot, and feel a lot, just by walking around a city slowly. Well, I've been away, so this hasn't been updated. Here's a post / a draft / a rough attempt at putting feelings into words, which I've had kicking about since before London.. Since that time when I was walking beaches in the North Coast getting wet, getting cold, enjoying the view, being enlightened by the darkness.



Glen Hansard & Marketa Irglov

When Your Mind's Made Up

Running through a foreign city in the middle of their summer. Or is it their summer? Maybe it's winter? Do they have a winter? You can't tell, everything is new to you. These market stalls filled with kitchen utensils and throwaway junk, all these walls made of dust. The only water you've seen since you've been here was on your windscreen when that kid, he ran out, and he shouted, he waved, you nodded - obsequious - and he showed you his hands - a filthy t-shirt, and some dirty dish water, and he washed your windscreen.

It's two weeks later, and you suddenly realise she's never loved you. She just walked out the door fifty-seven minutes ago - you know, because you've been counting the seconds; said she was away for the groceries, even though the make-shift cupboard is full. You're running through this foreign city and you realise all these things about yourself - things that hurt you, things that confuse you. You're a desperate man. You don't even know if you love her, but you'd do anything for her, anything in the entire world, and you tell her time and again. She laughs. You laugh. It's a running joke between the two of you; only with you, it's the truth. You make it trivial as if you'd do it for anyone... You tell yourself you're a considerate, caring, compassionate person. You tell yourself you love everyone equally. You would do it for everyone. You would. You would. Would you?

You know you wouldn't... and that's why you're out the door in a flash, running the streets trying to find her, the only thing that holds you together; the only person that makes you feel whole, like a real human - like a nice person. With her you are at least half of what you wish you were. We never learn, do we?

Glen Hansard & Marketa Irglov

Leave

But maybe, just maybe, you learnt something about yourself. It's doubtful but it's possible. And maybe, just maybe, it was something essential. Something necessary. Something undeniable. It doesn't matter how it was learnt - through alcohol abuse, or running screaming through the darkness, or with your head on a pillow soaking in your own tears and praying for sleep. And maybe, just maybe, this song is the essence of that realisation. The guitar and the words and the voice, when experienced live, are overwhelming. This studio version is only a let-down in so much as my eyes don't well up with emotion I never knew I still felt, the way they did when I heard it, live, for the first time - performed by Glen, on his own, as an encore, with just an acoustic guitar and that voice.

[Buy / Discover]

Saturday, July 08, 2006

the DJ was asleep



True. False. Which is it? Don't know. I have been sleeping a lot but I've been keeping late hours recently, so it evens out. I was awake for 21 hours yesterday, so why didn't I post on the blog? Bit of a break that's all. Well, to make up for it I'm going to update you with what's been breaking into the mainstream recently and getting well-deserved radio coverage. First, the title of this post is from a Regina Spektor song called "On the Radio", which she played on BBC Radio 3 quite recently, and the recording is taken from it. As with most excellent / rare / brilliant / beautiful / raw things, I found the recording on Kwaya Na Kisser. Read the blog, find hidden gems, download, listen for days, sleep eventually. Repeat. Before that though, download the rest of the tracks from the session... sorry, yea, they would be here. Yea cool. Enjoy.

---



Anyway, what an appropriate song to begin this post with, eh? So let's continue. Jamie T. I've said alot about him before. I've been enthusiastic to the point of hyperbole, excited like his music is a sugar rush. Fair play. I don't take it back. He's amazing. And now everytime I listen to BBC Radio 1 at night, I hear "Sheila", and I smile to myself. And some nights he does live session tracks. And some nights he just does a phone interview. In other words, his rare breed of music is breaking through in a big big way, and even the NME have decided to lavish him with their ridiculously 'hip' and hyperbolic praise. Amazingly however, he deserves it. Here's what they had to say:

An all-singing, all-swaggering West London rude boy specialising in tales of booze, birds and being broke. They don't call him the one-man Arctic Monkey for nothing.
They're right, y'know. No one calls him the one-man Arctic Monkey at all, mind you. Jamie T has 22 demos online, that can be found rather easily, and a few of them are simply fantastic. I've always liked "So Lonely Was The Ballad" for it's perfect portrayal of laddish friends - "always take the piss but they're loyal in the end, but watch out, 'cause they'll steal your girlfriend". I've also been a fan of "Ike & Tina" since those days sitting trying to study/revise/waste time in the library at school when the sun was out from its hiding place behind the clouds. Perfect song for that exam period before summer - "kids don't study / they cram, Goddamn!". It's clearly a very adolescent song, but don't let that put you off - it has enough wit and beat to keep everyone interested. Plus, I've always been endeared to the song for the way out from this low-quality and sometimes jarring recording, the words "off of my face, need a hug" appear like a rainbow through the drizzle. It's such a perfect and acute observation that's sang so lazily - I've lost count of the nights I've been drunk and just dying for a hug from anyone. I'd never heard "A New England (Another Girl)" but I'm glad I now have. A very low volume recording with only a bass backing him up as he proclaims, "well I don't want to change the world / I'm not looking for a new England / I'm just looking for another girl". By turns self-deprecating, ironic, bitter, humorous, and sincere, it's a lovely simple song that shows another side of this clearly multi-dimensional talent. There's no album yet, but when there is, expect to hear a lot more about him.

---



On Across The Line (I can't quite remember if it's still called that or not, but let's assume it is) - another show on BBC Radio 1 - they played "When the Night Turns Cold", a song by the Swedish artist Tobias Froberg who's friends include José González and Ane Brun. It's a classic pop tune harking back to a time seemingly long since past. However, I'm still more partial to Froberg's other efforts. No matter, here's what he had to say about this song:

It’s actually two songs that I compressed into one. We wanted the middle section, or the bridge, to sound completely different from the rest of the song, like the odd part in Simon and Garfunkel’s ”You don’t know where your interest lies,” from the Bookends-sessions.


---



MTV's often superb 120 Minutes program and Pete Tong (of BBC Radio 1) have played Lazy B's new single, "Underwear Goes Inside The Pants". It is absolutely breath-taking. The chill-out vibe fades the song in and then fades out, and a newer, intenser vibe falls into its place - it's a brilliant backdrop for the words, and the words themselves stop you in your tracks. I believe there is a very strong element of Bill Hicks in the lyrics to the song - his bitterness, and his acute tongue which was able to portray reality in such a way that mere facts have the ability to deem reality absurd. The similarity is especially apparent in the lines, "that is the greatest disease ever! How do you get that? That disease comes with a hot chick and a puppy", as well as other lines towards the end of the song. Lots of satire, and lots of irony. Listen to it. It's like a modern-day "Everybody's Free (To Wear Sunscreen)" - the Romeo & Juliet director, Baz Luhrmann's song - only instead of advice, it focuses on offering insight and perhaps raising a smile - "I can't watch TV for four minutes without thinking I have five serious diseases".

---



Related to that brilliant song is this fascinating discovery (it appears I'm slow; You Ain't No Picasso wrote a post on him around this time last year): Rx. Think The Avalanches. He samples George W. Bush's speeches and makes songs. You know the way when you type "failure" into Google and hit "I'm Feeling Lucky", the official biography of The President appears on your screen? Like this: look! First result! Well, these songs are like that. Different words taken out of context and then shuffled to make statements - political, social. I can't force the right words into the right sentences to describe it. Not coherently. I'll offer a few stand-alone words though.

Political ### Heart-felt ### Sincere ### Beautiful ### Sad ### Funny ### Important ### Protest ### Ironic ### Satirical ### Generation defining ###

You should explore for yourself. "HIV AIDS" is heartbreaking. "Sunday Bloody Sunday" is one of the most accomplished efforts - mastering not only the samples, but also the beat behind it, and the humour. It's a wry humour. A not-amused humour. Laughing with bitterness. But fuck it, "My Generation Rx" just kick-started the party. Were you there? Were you listening? Were you drunk, coughing in the bathroom? Or were you with me in the kitchen pissed off your face, hugging people and laughing and laughing and laughing. At my dancing. At the music. At life. With joy we poke fun at the lives we lead and the world we live in. We only feel redemption when we're talking about it, revelling in it. "My Name Is Rx" joins in on the party vibe, fabulously falling over it's shyness and grooving out onto the dance-floor. This is freedom. It's in the words. Or should that be samples? "I don't give a fuck!"



I would guess that My Generation is a pseudo-cover of The Who, and My Name Is is a pseudo-cover of Enimem, but Sunday Bloody Sunday is definitely a relatively straight-forward cover of the U2 song. Never heard it? Okay, here: "Sunday Bloody Sunday" by U2. Anyway, Radiohead are also anti-government and always up for making a fuss - something you'll realise if you read Dead Air Space - so I think they'd probably appreciate Rx's take on the song, which they have also covered live. Yea I know, check it out: "Sunday Bloody Sunday (live)". For some reason I really like the cover. So, listen.

---



And how about this for linking? The LA band Sunday's Best sound slightly slightly like Radiohead in the opening lines of "The Salt Mines of Santa Monica". I would class the music as driving indie rock with emo-tendencies and probably leave it at that. Well, textually I would leave it at that. But if you were beside me, I would visually point you in the direction of my speakers, whilst sticking on "Love My Friends Hate My Life" for your aural pleasure. After that I'd send you out of my room, unplug my laptop, unplug my speakers, and fall asleep. Right... about... now. Goodbye.

---

Downloads:

Regina Spektor - On the Radio
Jamie T - Sheila (demo)
Jamie T - So Lonely Was The Ballad
Jamie T - Ike & Tina (demo)
Jamie T - A New England (Another Girl) (Billy Bragg cover)
Tobias Froberg - When the Night Turns Cold
Lazy B - Underwear Goes Inside The Pants
Baz Luhrmann - Everybody's Free (To Wear Sunscreen)
Rx - HIV AIDS
Rx - My Generation Rx
Rx - My Name Is Rx
Rx - Sunday Bloody Sunday - (video)
U2 - Sunday Bloody Sunday
Radiohead - Sunday Bloody Sunday (live)
Sunday's Best - The Salt Mines of Santa Monica
Sunday's Best - Love My Friends Hate My Life

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

A shoebox stuffed with memories

I've been living in other people's houses, staying away from the internet and over-dosing on alcohol - hence the lack of writing. It'll calm down at some stage.



Bran Van 3000

Speed

James DiSalvio is a conjurer. He is a magician who folds different coloured handkerchiefs up his sleeve and lets them unravel at will. He wears long sleeves at all times. They hold an abundance of tricks which fall out into his songs with subtlety. This song is a shoebox stuffed with post-cards from friends you've forgotten, pictures bursting with sunlight, letters written with joy and read with sadness. I first heard this on a compilation CD that came free with Uncut magazine. It is the essence of my childhood - as far as soundtracks go. It's filled to the brim with Bruce Springsteen references. They're there, they're obvious, will you pick up on them? It wasn't these references that sent the shivers down my spine when I rediscovered this gem. It was the sheer exuberance of the composition - yet it was also the extreme sadness that folded out and scoured my soul, looking for my heart... It found its target.



Bran Van 3000

Drinking in L.A.

Is this other song - by the same band - last years summer? I remember one extreme session - "just me and a friend... working on a movie" - sipping on vodka and orange diluting juice until around six am, sunlight coming over the hill. You've probably heard this one before. I hadn't until about a month ago. I got my hands on a digital copy straight away. I think it was the video that persuaded me. Visually it's someone waking up sleepy-eyed in the morning. Not quite hungover, yet not quite right. Tired and happy, bemused and smiling. You don't really care that you wasted the day before - there's a whole summer to do something constructive. But you know, deep down, that maybe some other people are mad at you about your laissez-faire attitude. But hey, fuck it. The sun is out and shining. The clouds are lazy as they sway from one side of the sky to the other. A dazzling blue. A brilliant gold. A lazy summer.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Mini Saturday Mix

I posted a mix-tape I had made, as one of the very first posts on this blog. That can be found here. It's Saturday, I'm tired, I'm going out soon, so I figured instead of not posting anything, I should post the tracks from that which are still online, so that maybe you can investigate some new music. Sounds good to me. Some of them have appeared here before, but... Here they are:



Songs from my very first online mixtape

Dispatch - The General
Voxtrot - The Start Of Something
The Spill Canvas - All Hail The Heartbreaker
Robin Allender - We, Emmanuel Light, Love Ocean
Great Lake Swimmers - Moving Pictures, Silent Films
Reverie Sound Revue - Walking Around, Waiting Downtown
The Silent Type - Ink and Blood
Say Hi To Your Mom - Hooplas Involving Circus Tricks

Watching The Fire Burning



Astronautalis

Ocean Walk (Highly Recommended!)

The self-proclaimed "Van Morrison of rap" actually sounds like Bruce Springsteen sitting around a garden full of midges, rapping over a loose lazy piano line - played by the head of Bella Union (Simon Raymonde). This song is a breeze of fresh air; the spinning of your head as you fall from a long day's hassle and sweat into your bed - still dirty but relaxed. The constant talk of 'steps til' is reminiscent of an Army Sergeant preparing his men for the march ahead. The fields of life they'll have to walk through. The beaches they'll fall apart on. Words don't quite describe this song. It's more of a feeling you experience. Like walking through the city across seasons - past the homeless freezing outside in Winter; past the youth's breaking into cars during Summer. Like a barbeque with friends that gets rowdy. But you know it will all work out ok. This song is the sound of summer - sad, reluctant, lazy, hopeful, triumphant.



Astronautalis

Somethin' For The Kids
Gaston Ave.

#1: Slow, silly, summer. Once again, hopeful. Opportunities sprawl in front of us and lie down like sleeping dogs. We have to know what to do with them when the time comes. Similarities can be found with Shawn Mullans' Lullaby.
#2: Do I hear 'A Wolf At The Door'? A nice female vocal is tethered onto the mix. Chill out for the chilled out. But neither of these two songs quite match up to the brilliance that is Ocean Walk, it seems - they're mere sketches in comparison to the fully realised potential.

Simon Raymonde's first impressions: 'A very young kid from Florida. This guy was so... so articulate, so intelligent. A really beautiful kid. Looks like a beach, sort of, surfer, sort of, dude.'

Bonus:

Radiohead - A Wolf At The Door

[Listen / Closely / Buy]

Monday, June 19, 2006

Something about those bright colours would always make you feel better



Bright Eyes

Haligh, Haligh, a lie, Haligh

Where did my love affair with Bright Eyes start? Was it on that balcony in Spain through the cheap broken headphones connected to a now broken mini-disc player? Or was it all those nights I stayed up 'til 7am on the internet? It was dial-up then. Every song had to be worth it. And how many Bright Eyes songs did I download that were woeful (no pun intended) - constructed with the most heartbreaking lyrics yet delivered with the most unlistenable voice?

Too few, it seems. Since that time three or four years ago, Conor Oberst has changed his sound a bit. He's become more versatile, able to deliver electronic renditions with a heart, and traditional country singer-songwriter tales with real emotion - not just the faux, take-it-or-leave-it pop kind associated with the style. And obviously, his vocals have become much more... mainstream? Less raw in any case.

But back then... A dog barks. A kid whines. Still young, still growing up, still melodramatic. Let your guard down and you'll feel the emotion. You won't write it off, as another piece of hipster chic. It's not another angsty anthem. It's genuine emotion; innocent, broken-hearted, strummed solemnly.

But now we speak with ruined tongues
And the words we say aren’t meant for anyone.
It’s just a mumbled sentence to
A passing acquaintance,
But there was once you.


Even if you hate his voice - and many do - you have to admit that his lyrics are breath-taking. I relate to that little excerpt quite a lot. It's a smile, a nod, and a turn away. Find a distraction quickly. Speak quietly and hope she doesn't hear you. You understand the way things are now; you were her best friend, now you're not. Are you unclear? Do you not understand how things ended up this way? Go on, let the guard down. Break it down through tears and alcohol. Let yourself be free of all your lies, just for this minute.

He says the choices were given
And now, you must live them
Or just not live,
But do you want that?


Fuck.

Me.

---

Bonus:

Bright Eyes - Padraic My Prince
* [this song is the definition of lo-fi intensity]

Elsewhere: Daytrotter has some excellent session songs by Casey Dienel. Not only is the writing on the site constantly excellent, but they also feature fabulous artists, and host exclusive tracks. Do you need reasons to like Casey Dienel? Ok. She's got a lovely voice. She's been compared to Regina Spektor. She covers Pavement as one of her session songs [...And now we see the flock follow the hyperlinks]. She sounds like this:



Casey Dienel

The La La Song

Intrigued? Discover her Daytrotter session.

Friday, June 16, 2006

World Cup Round-up

Maybe your team didn't get into the World Cup [thank you Ireland]. So? There's 32 countries in it... Surely you'll find one, no? Well, due to a work thing where teams were drawn out of a hat, I'm now Spanish for a month. Call me Amadeo. So without further ado:

Most Impressive So Far:

Spain (amazing football.)
Croatia (Can't think what to say other than: you know it's true.)
Argentina (who else was over-awed by today's performance? Seriously... 24 passes, 9 players involved... all for one goal. Top stuff.)

Biggest Disappointment:

Brazil (What age is Ronaldo anyway? I remember watching him in like 1994 and he was a superstar. Is he like 90 now? However, they do have Kaka... and Kaka is a LEGEND.)

Least Deserving of ANY Hype:

England (Trinidad and Tobago? And you struggled? 'nuff said.)

Out But Should Be In:

Poland (can't believe Germany beat you in the most boring match of the century... that was unfortunate)

Who do I think will be in the final?

Spain and Brazil with Argentina getting to the semi's at least.

Anything else?

One word left. Two syllables. Have you guessed what it is yet?



Bouncing Souls

Ole

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Jesus, Etc



Wilco

Jesus, Etc.

This song by Wilco is beautiful and sombre; it's uplifted and innocent. Like a kinder-garden kid who painted a picture, and then placed it on the fridge with his favourite Ben & Jerry's fridge-magnet. The picture was surrealist; cheap paint on thick paper - dispersed unevenly, dispersed joyfully. The picture was of a baby; no, not a baby. The picture was nothing more than a crescent; highly visible - luminous even - in the flourescent pink and green he'd chose. You might say it looked like the moon but it didn't. What it did look like was a frown. And the boy turned it upside down to make a smile. And he smiled at what he'd done.

But this song isn't childish: like I said, it's beautiful. It's chirping from the start. You turn to your lover and you tell her you love her. You make these rhymes that sound silly on paper, but charming and alluring wrapped up in melodies. And who can't relate to the line, "last cigarettes are all you can get, turning your orbit around", apart from non-smokers? [yes, I realise the silliness of my point. but a fact is still a fact.]



I guess I don't have a point other than this: I can relate to it. I think it's beautiful. I've said beautiful lots and lots of times, and that's because it's true. It's got a country twang, an indie intelligence, a lyrical flawlessness and a strong focus on melody. It hasn't been on that many blogs, and it's a shame. Yankee Hotel Foxtrot was lauded, and I mean, lauded by Pitchfork - it was one of those rarities: the album that managed to get all 10.0 points... It's why I bought it in the first place. And it seemed a bit weird, at the time, considering I was thirteen.

I ripped open the packaging and put the album in the CD player, waiting to be blown away instantly. But I wasn't. There was lots of seemingly useless noise scattered around the mix. I know now I was missing the point - I think I knew then - because albums - the truly touching/amazing/intriguing ones - take their time to grow. And what I also realised straight away - upon the first notes of this song - was that when they did away with the pretension and the experimentation, Wilco still managed to come out with an absolutely amazing song. And the song is neither complex nor exceedingly simple - just perfect in its innocent execution, like the kid who paints a frown and turns it upside down. The two states are interchangeable, he thinks, when he looks back on it now.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Silly, silly, silly!

First things first: Let's hope I don't resort to doing this tomorrow.



So, let's fill in the odd detail here and there. I love Radiohead. I liked Thom Yorke's solo album, The Eraser, and will obviously be buying it when it comes out. Yet others criticised it; got frustrated with it. They thought it was a lack-lustre performance. Like a dull and average all-star Brazilian team; notable only for the big name involved, and not the actual quality of the album.



Listening to early early Radiohead demo's [from the days when they were called On A Friday] is a bit like that photo. Big names involved; lots of happiness. Silly glee. Stupid bliss. Before anti-anti-anti-everything kicked in. When youthful and still dreaming. Shouting about random stuff. Happily, sillily, stupidly. Grinning wildly. Oh, sweet innocence.

I apologise for the writing in this post; it's abbreviated, it's shortened, it's forgetful, it's leaving out details, it's neglectful: it's average. That's what On A Friday are. Like that band that played in your local pub that you can't remember the name of. You know they provided you with a few laughs - but why? Was it happiness or was it a scornful laugh? Could you do better? Whatever. Just lap it up and smile.

Radiohead (formerly On A Friday or Shindig)

How Can You Be Sure?
Upside Down
Life With The Big F
Sinking Ship

#1: I recommend 'How can you be sure?' Lazy in execution; Thom Yorke smiling through half-hearted tears. These demo's were recorded in the summer of 1990; a summer-break from University for the band. Unsurprisingly then, the lyrics seem to describe University life: the alcohol, the poverty, the uncertainty, the relationships, the occasional downer. The recording quality is poor - sounds like it's been recorded in his Halls - but the song overall is still endearing and lovely to listen to.

#2: 'Sinking Ship' is endlessly fascinating: there's saxophone - cheerful saxophone; Thom's 'the captain of the boat'. It brings a smile to the face of a weatherbeaten sailor.
#3: 'Upside Down' - nothing much to say - 'can't stop loving you', dear Radiohead?
#4: 'Life With The Big F': what's going on? Why's he happy? What's he la-la-la-ing about? Is he slaggin' off the French? Fuck it, I don't care anymore.

For more information, and the other 14 tracks feel free to go here and here - that's where I got the tracks from in the first place. Excellent discoveries are excellent. Say thank you to Pierre.

Heylo sunshine

I was going to write something spectacular and flowing; imagetic and hectic. Well, I think I'll save that for tomorrow, since right now my head is still floating around in cyber-space somewhere and when I listen to music with any drums what-so-ever everything goes fuzzy and something inside my skull cracks and splits and then aches. So, for now, make do with sunshine and lollipops, in the form of Lily Allen's two mixtapes. And yes Lily, your shadow does look like 'Peter Pan in a pixie hat':



Lily Allen

My First Mixtape
Mixtape #2

I haven't found the time to listen to these in their entirety yet, but all of her songs are rather good. Charming with lots of potential. And if you must make the comparisons: yes, she does sound like a female version of Jamie T; yes, there is a distinct link between her music and that of Mike Skinner; yes, there are many more that will undoubtedly be made... but not by me; not right now.



The first mixtape starts with 'LDN', the song that everyone has been fawning over. The song of course being a sort of 'i love you London' endorsement that is never overly flattering, and always honest, whilst being, yes, charming. It's like a badge to stick on your blouse; except you stick it on your iPod instead and play it in the background as you lie down on a sunbed and read your favourite novel. That's it... after song numero uno you're on your own. Enjoy the discovery. Think Disney. Be happy.

[Read a review of 'My First Mixtape' - click]

Monday, June 12, 2006

this X is a surrender

Study too much. Study too little. Learn nothing. Learn exasperation.

Chad VanGaalen

Clinically Dead

Feeling: dead - broken heart, broken spirit, crushed demeanour. When I walk my arms hang by my sides. My knees bent - ready when the time comes to roll over, fall on my back, sleep forever. I'm dreaming. They saw my youth and they stole it from me. Replaced my free-will, my vigour, with emotions too complex for me to understand. Placed textbooks in front of me and insisted, "These are a distraction! These are essential!" I tried to absorb every word from those books. I tried to glean sense, knowledge, sort it through in my head, compartmentalise everything into different theories, thoughts, transitions; different feelings isolated, then placed into darkness - took away all lightbulbs. I convinced myself I would perform perfectly, like a well-oiled machine in these exams. Dream on.

Why don't you put up a fight? Dream on.

This X is a surrender. A kiss goodbye. My white flag - I would hold it higher, but...

x : all my love, always and forever - even if you never know; especially if you never know. We never learn, do we? [Learn...]



Bright Eyes

No Lies, Just Love

When I am reborn I will be pure, like snow... like gold! When I am reborn I will decide my own future, my own emotional leanings, where and when my intellect is birthed, which words I will use, I will be king of the Dictionary. I will be in love and out of love, at my choosing, I will be happy, I will be happy - God knows I've waited long enough. Dream on.

When I am reborn I will be the same; but wiser. Hardened by experience, aged by emotion, drowned in a sea of well-meant yet ill-devised intentions. The critics they will call me naive; they will do as they do; they will never cease with their criticisms; they will ask, "well how can you be so sure?" And I will never answer their question. [Discover...]

I am dreaming of a summer day or a winter-sky; an oil-painting burnt to unrecognisable pieces. I am dreaming of a second chance.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

house-beats



Superpitcher

Dntel - (This Is) The Dream of Evan and Chan (Superpitcher Kompakt Remix)

Four thirty-seven AM. The party should've ended a long time ago. In truth, it has ended already. It's just the stragglers now. The hardcore drinkers. The clinger-on's who know that when they wake in the morning, it's a sore-head, and a day-job they despise that they're waking up to. You try to keep the party alive. The last light-bulb went out - filament snapped - just like your enthusiasm. Still you sway, drinking and smoking, lolling your head from side to side, trying to get a drunken glimpse of that beautiful girl across the room...

Why's she still here?
Why hasn't she left yet?
Does she love me?
Well, does she?
Perfect real-love?
Or faux-love?


And that girl you were with earlier...

...where is she now?
Did she really rest her head against your neck?


And...

...is this what love feels like? The pulsating beat of a hang-over strolling towards you? A thousand questions and few answers? Nervous melancholy; insistent sadness; the end of a party; a miserable farewell; a downpour of rain as you stand watching the skyline; a sinking boat? A bundle of descriptions - gift-wrapped - that - like that new dress you bought (one of) your dearly beloved - don't quite fit? [pause] Sober up, kid. You've got a long day ahead of you. [Discover / Art]

Thursday, June 08, 2006

sound-tracks

Two years ago, I watched one of my best friends smash a pint glass over his forehead, by accident. It remains one of my favourite memories. One day later and he was still alive, uninjured, unhurt, ready for another drinking session: but there would be no White Lightning this time. Nah, this called for pizza, and vodka. A lovely combination. Then the vodka ran out. What did we do? We drank snake wine: that is, alcohol which has been flavoured by having a real-life (but thankfully, dead) snake in the bottle. Needless to say, I was violently sick. So was my brother. That didn't matter: we still ate lots of pizza and sang along to Hot Hot Heat's fantastic Make Up The Breakdown.

One day later, it was Euro 2004, it was the final, lots of friends and myself and my brother, all drinking, all watching TV... We never saw the second half. Left the house and went to the bar. It's all still very blurred to be honest. I remember shouting along to these songs with everyone else; I remember going and nearly getting our heads kicked in for our religion; I remember my brother getting called a skater and throwing a pint glass at the ground near to where the guys were standing. I remember Jack getting on his moped which we'd promised we wouldn't let him do. I remember him coming back and shouting, "you's bastards! that was a test! and ye's fucking failed!"

I also remember Philson standing on my glasses the next morning; me labouring over them until they were fixed. Walking down to the bakery and feeling like we were about to die; laughing at Niall as he went to his gardening job. Going into town to meet Lauren; our heads still very much up in the clouds - walking into the wall, getting a milkshake, trying to stay upright.

---



Hot Hot Heat

Get In or Get Out
Bandages

It was a crazy weekend, and Hot Hot Heat provided the soundtrack to it. The whole weekend is as vivid now as it's always been; it was brilliant, stupid, silly, drunk fun. Make Up The Breakdown will always hold a special place in my heart for that reason: because I remember going on the internet and finding the lyrics so that we could sing along. The World Cup starts tomorrow - so it may well be another crazy summer - and therefore, Hot Hot Heat are the perfect band to be listening to. After this summer I hope to be going to Uni, but I'll still love my friends and my memories, and let's face it, I'll always love Derry: "ugly or pretty, it's still my city".

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

erase you : ignore you



Sara Culler

At Least Like Melissa

Maybe...

I picked out a page, as blank as I could find. Found a couple more. An old textbook served me well for paper. The blank pages at the end. Over 100 novels resting on my bookshelf all with three or four blank pages near the end, near the front. Stories I'd read already, sometimes twice. I turned off the lights, closed the curtains, flicked a match off a matchbook, heard the clllick, saw the spark, lit a candle. Dragged a reluctant pen from its case and began to write. Wrote my whole life story, got it all down on paper in fourteen hours - couldn't sleep that night.

I blew the candle out; forwarded the makeshift book to a publisher. It wasn't marketable, it wasn't intriguing enough. Their editors said my life story was just the same as everyone elses - "But look at the grace and honesty with which its written!" I protested - it doesn't matter, they said, none of this does: who's your target audience? What type of genre are you going for? They took my story, and years later they cut it up into millions of little pieces. Tore me straight from the page - lifted my beating heart and found one that beat faster - replaced me with someone more beautiful. Changed the setting to somewhere more exotic - we were thinking of Thailand, Hawaii, Tokyo, Rome.

They took all those pages that I poured my soul into and they turned my memoirs into a novel full of high-octane thrills. The press loved it. The readers loved it. They loved the truth of it all. They loved the intrigue, the mystery. They loved the way it seemed so real, so genuine. Now I'm a wounded, stray dog, who's laugh is a nicotine coated bark.

I'm whispering, so my words can't be heard and taken apart and replaced. I'm a beating heart, I'm a bruised body, I am real, and I "spit out my smile" for all to see. Back then, I decided that my art from that point on was my life. In life I would be a readable book - but first you'd have to meet me, stare me down, watch me "shiver down the left" and "bleed down the right".

When my life story was drifting towards its conclusion, I didn't know how the last page should be read... I picked out my favourite book from that shelf - fittingly, it was a memoir - and cut out its last page, and then left it blank. No one knows what ever happened. But the critics and the readers alike, they tore the meaning apart, said I was too beaten down to carry on, got myself into such a mess I couldn't continue, so sad I couldn't get out of bed. My father died when I was only twelve, so the story goes, and I'd been hiding the sadness until I finally couldn't bear it and broke down. The ones who knew me, they whispered to each other, words coming out as breaths so as no one could hear, "I think he escaped".

---

This song took me by surprise. The instrumentation sparing and quiet, allowing way for the voice to float in with venom disguised as a platitude; a whisper in your lover's ear. Escape and freedom resonate from the ending chapter of the song where words are ditched in favour of ad-libbed vocals cascading along tributaries. It's the voice of a fallen Angel; still angelic and beautiful, but further from Heaven than any of us could ever know. And at the end of the song, as a deep breath is taken and then coughed back out, you accept your sadness. Because it's your sadness; no one elses. You embrace it with open arms; you look at yourself in the mirror and see it staring back at you - your one, true, reliable friend.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Wake up! Everything is ok!

The Cooper Temple Clause

Waiting Game (live)

Deep breaths. Inhale. Hold it. Exhale. Count from one to ten. You're standing still as you neck a full bottle of red wine. Oh how you hate wine. But it's a crap party - something has to be done. It's five minutes later: you're feeling slightly nauseous as the party gets into full flow and you're swept over to the side. You're ok. You're ok. Steady, steady. Feel the wall, it's still there, it's not spinning. Calm down. It's ok.

Deep breaths. Count down from ten. It's ok, you did it two hours ago, you can do it now. Talk to the person next to you. Talk talk talk. Ah, this feels good. Still alive. And yea, it is, it really is: it's two hours later and you're on top of the world, if you're even on the world. Seems like you're so high you're not even touching anything; the sphere looks so small from where you are. You can't feel your feet; maybe you're floating. Full of love. The alcohol has had the desired affect, it's just past two am, and you rule the Earth. The world hasn't ended. There was no Millennium Bug. It was all talk.

All the computers in the world haven't automatically shut down, the economy hasn't collapsed; you'll wake up in the morning and your head will hurt but you'll be alive. This was a good night - the fear led to an extraordinary amount of alcohol being drunk, and every guest at this party - like every party everywhere else - was in the mood for laughter - nervous laughter - and glad of the company they had around them. At least if the world was going to end, your last breath would've been in the company of friends. You turn to your friend, spilling his drink in the process: I really fucking love you.

Next morning: wake up, phone a friend.

"That was the best New Year's Eve ever, wasn't it mate? ... You remember that anthem they kept playing over and over? I mean, which bloody joker put the CD player on repeat, just so he could sing exuberantly, "And 'is this the end?' is all I can say". Was it Eamonn? He's got the best music taste... Bloody good tune, that was an'all... He's still a wanker like but now that it's over I can only laugh... Still; you don't know how relieved I was that they had no R-E-M. If them people in that house had started laughing and singing "It's the end of the world as we know it", I swear I would've just found the nearest balcony and jumped... Haha, aye, I figured you felt the same... But seriously mate, I had a great night. We gotta see each other more, yea? ... Yea I know man. Sure, I'll text you or whatever... Yea you too."

You find the CD, and you put it on repeat - just so as you remember that hook, how'd it go again? The twinkling keys and steady shock of the guitar chords make you feel higher than Heaven - or maybe that's the alcohol; hasn't quite left your system yet. Beep Beep. Text comes through on your cellphone: "How much did you drink, in the end up? ... Bloody great night all the same yea? ... You were really something else... Daft eejit"

Malcolm Middleton

A Happy Medium

Occasionally you hear a song, and it's like hearing the essence of happiness. It's a sunny day, and it's the feeling of being outside walking along the street, or cycling by the river. Deft leg movements, the feeling of fitness. Passing by the alcoholics in the carpark, and then you've gone further than you meant to - actually on the cycle path now; looking to your right you see the Toucan II - the Derry boat that'll take you along the river and back again.

It's beautiful looking to your right, all this potential, all this greenery far in the distance; mountains, when you look further still. The water's filthy - travel further, you're nearing Sainsbury's and before-you-know-it you're looking over the edge: there's a shopping trolley ditched and thrown over the railing. But, like I say, the sun's out, the water's sparkling - clear and true - and you're smiling, and you don't really know why. Maybe it's the season, maybe it's the feeling of forgetting everything else going on in your life.

This song is a wonder, in that it conveys the very brilliance of being alive. Maybe you're generally not a happy person, but there are pure moments of absolute joy that you experience, just like the rest of the world, and you're glad the world's not over, that you still are alive, that everything - for the moment - is A-ok. "Woke up again today, woke up again today, woke up again today". Hear the twinkling, the pleasing calm guitar notes, the ecstatic drum notes, the chirping of the birds. It's the same birds you heard this morning when you were out walking, getting the paper and a croissant. And to be honest, it's quite amusing, the lyrical honesty of it all. "Realised I hate myself". It's one of those songs that you hear and you actually realise everything's ok.

It's a song of hope. Realising the error of your ways, some things need to change, some part of your life needs to change, you're in it for the long-haul but by the end of it you're going to be a better person; you'll feel brilliant. This isn't the sound of silence, it's the sound of the sun coming out, illuminating all the dark spots you've been too scared to look at. It's not the end of the fight, it's not a white flag; it's the start of a summer full of golden opportunities - they're staring you right in the face, laughter trickling down from the sky, eyes twinkling in the mid-day sun, and you're staring right back, beaming the most genuine smile you've shared in a while. Every song's an anthem. Every smile's a blessing. Every day's an opportunity. "Everything's ok / I'm obviously unhappy".

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Stop The Pretense and Just Drive



That's the ugliest limo I've ever seen. Not that exact one. But one like it. Just outside, there now. If you're going to spend money on a limo why not get a nice one? Maybe that would be a good idea, no? But instead you waste a wee bit of money on some silly looking thing. And then...

Staring at me whilst I'm smoking a cigarette through the passenger window is really not going to make me like you any more. Seriously. I mean, ok, maybe you're dying for a fag. Gasp, gasp, too much alcohol was drank tonight, I'm dead stressed about the hang-over I'll have in the morning, I would love a cigarette. That'd be okay probably - I understand that situation. But when you have a look of sober contempt on your face, through the glass of a cheap wee rented limo as if you're better than the rest of the human race - well, suffice to say you've moved beyond the "probably wouldn't want to talk to you" category, to the "I will never ever allow myself to be in the same room as you for the rest of my life" category.

What's wrong with cars? I hear they work just fine.

Stop The Pretense and Just Drive - Mini Mini Mix

Snow Patrol - Chasing Cars (Acoustic)
Imogen Heap - Speeding Cars

In case you were wondering, the moon looked lovely tonight - probably still does. Had a lovely little halo of white dust floating around it. Clouds illuminated just enough to see them moving away from the reservoir of the moon, and away to the ocean of darkness surrounding it. So life is good. Some people are not, but they're the select few, and luckily I don't hang around with cheap limo-renters. It's. All. Good.

Friday, June 02, 2006

but she's out with her answerphone

Type a thousand words of regret into notepad. Erase them, start again. How many times is that now? More than enough, you answer. The words never quite fit. Which friend are you writing about this time? I'm not sure - maybe all of them, you answer. You try again, this time in public; words have always failed you when it came to the truth. They probably still will. You try anyway.



Jeff Buckley

Morning Theft

Your first friend sat with you in a kebab shop that's long since been burnt down - accidentally by its own staff, no less. Huh, ironic, you think. She sits there so effervescent, her hands always moving, your eyes always darting about - the ceiling, the staff, the customers, the food, your words - everything takes on a new meaning, a new life, a new freshness when you are with her. You look away from her; out the window - you've always loved windows; looking out, looking in - raining outside: I guess I don't mind walking in the rain with her, you think.

You look back and she's made you a star out of an aluminium ashtray. You didn't smoke at this point in your life. This star: it looks like a piece of rubbish yet to be disposed of. To you it is something special, something to be cherished, a remarkable gesture, your first gift from your new best friend. You get home, hold it in your hands and then set it down... the next day you wake up and it's gone; dumped. Huh, ironic, you think, as you sit here typing these words thinking of all that happened after; all that hasn't happened since.

---

Your second friend was your next best friend; she wasn't a replacement. Every friend is different, special in their own way, this one is special: truly, truly special. Others stare and gawk; watch you like hawks. They think there is something more than friendship - there has to be, look at how they laugh; they think if they stare long enough it will appear, it will be written in your eyes. There isn't anything to be seen, of course, but it puts a weight between you. A heaviness hangs in the air; words unspoken, difficulties raised. You never knew what to do about these things; so you ignore them, convince yourself everything's going to be ok.

You sit beside each other, stare at the sky, the clouds, pick out patterns and faces, tell secrets that no one else would want to know. You listen to each other. Now after everything the main thing you remember is laughing with her; at friends, at music, at stupid things, at important things - laughter was your escape. These days you laugh sometimes, but it's never a real laugh. It's always a bitter laugh, ha ha ha, isn't it funny how things turn out. The guy who wrote the song you best relate to is now dead; drowned in a river, and no one will ever know whether it was an accident or not.

---

Lyrics stand out when they're sang by such a melodious, beautiful, and powerful voice: "friendships battered down by useless history / unexamined failure", "what am I still to you? / some thief who stole from you / or some fool drama queen whose chances were few", "though the meaning fits, there's no relief in this / I miss my beautiful friend". Sometimes friendships fall into place, and sometimes they don't, but no matter what, sometimes it's impossible to let go. So you're trying to hold onto the ones that do, while mourning and possibly repairing the ones that don't. Jeff Buckley helps. It's an ok world, isn't it? You realise you're smiling. This is the first time, since...

Relevant Bonus x 3:

The Frames - Star Star (live at the Fine Line Music Café)
Alexi Murdoch - Song For You
Cloud Cult - As Long as You're Happy (live at KEXP)

Thursday, June 01, 2006

It's a song of commas; not full stops.



Azure Ray

Rise

It's that feeling of being so down, it's a drag to even get out of bed in the morning. Or the afternoon. Or the evening. Or even at all. What does this world have to offer me? Is there beauty in sadness? Or is there just sadness? Maybe I should be thankful for this feeling. It's an understanding; it's not bitterness, it's simple resignation. Maybe things could be different. Maybe things were meant to be this way. But it can be consoling to sometimes just fall apart. Let all the pieces come together at their own pace. Every flower in time will bend towards the sun. Everything will fall into place. Maybe time does heal all wounds, but for now, I'm accepting this feeling of pure, unadulterated sadness. "Hey, look how low I've sunk / Don't ask me to rise / I lost you when I was high".

This song exudes such sentimentality, but not sloppily. It's... pretty - for lack of a better word. Listening to it is like sitting inside, with the window open, watching a drizzle fall from the sky. The sun is out, the raindrops are falling, and there is a rainbow. A little ray of hope in all the sadness. It's a song that calls to mind elongated vowel sounds; soft smooth contours; the smile on the face of the person you love, as the tears fall down their cheek; the smell of their perfume lingering on your pillow - you still hold that pillow close to your chest three months later.

It's a song that echoes and resounds and lays down to rest within your heart, like the baby Jesus laying his head upon a bed of straw. The vocal-line is a waterfall, a lake, a reservoir; calmly flowing tap-water, not so much splashing into the sink as touching it briefly, before moving on. It's a song of commas; not full-stops. And it's perfect for lying in bed to, either before you go to sleep, or before you find the resolve to leave the house in the morning. "Today I crawl out of bed." [Find out more...]

Bonus:

Azure Ray - Displaced

*Notes: Read to understand.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

The death of a weapons specialist...



Thom Yorke

Thom Yorke - Harrowdown Hill [click link, click another link, download]

Radiohead have always been a politically conscious band; Hail To The Thief was a blatant snipe at the American elections. Thus it shouldn’t really be a surprise that on Thom Yorke’s solo album, The Eraser - which is in effect a collaboration with Radiohead’s longest running producer Nigel Godrich - more of Yorke’s social frustrations get vented.

---

Dr David Kelly - a weapons specialist - said five months before his death that he would "probably be found dead in the woods" if the American and British invasion of Iraq went ahead. In the events leading up to this, Kelly came under fire from the Ministry of Defence who allegedly put him “through the ringer”, after he admitted to a BBC journalist, that the dossier intended to persuade the invasion was “sexed-up”. For example, the dossier claimed that Iraq could have their nuclear weapons equipped and deployed within 45 minutes – an untruth according to Kelly.

According to Barney Leith, secretary of the National Spiritual assembly of Britain, “The teachings of the Baha'i faith strongly emphasise the importance of ... keeping one's word." This faith is one which Kelly himself prescribed to, and it is likely that he took his own life out of a feeling of guilt. This guilt arose from his involvement in the dossier, and also his promises to Iraqi officials and scientists to whom he had given his word that co-operation with weapons inspections would prevent an invasion from going ahead. However, if an invasion did go ahead, Kelly felt he “would have betrayed his contacts, some of whom might be killed as a direct result of his actions".

---

Kelly’s prophecy was a self-fulfilling one – he committed suicide and was found on Harrowdown Hill, with his wrists slit. Thom Yorke glares as he sings on his techno melodrama, Harrowdown Hill, “don’t ask me, ask the Ministry”. The whole song revolves around the thoughts that must have been circling Kelly’s head at the time he decided to end it all; the lyrics understandably bitter, especially the opening lines: “Don’t walk the plank like I did / You will be dispensed with / When you become inconvenient”.

As you would expect from such an outspoken and seemingly anti-Government (even anti-everything, would fit) figure, Yorke explores whether it was actually suicide or whether it may have been simply a case of manslaughter by the press, the MoD, the Government: “did I fall or was I pushed?” The entirety of the song is a glaring indictment of media pressure, and the fragility of the human heart. Exploring loneliness and how much a man can take: “I can't take the pressure / No one cares if you live or die / They just want me gone”.

If you didn’t know what the song was about, you would be forgiven for thinking it was typical Radiohead fare - if ever-so-slightly gloomier - but when you put the song into context and realise what it’s actually about, it becomes a political point, a moving, socially-conscious vignette that further proves the relevance of Yorke as a songwriter – capable of getting to the core of an issue and inside the heart of its subject. It hits you like a Bukowski poem - your heart is floored, but your head has trouble dealing with all the points raised. You don't know whether you agree or disagree - hell you don't know if there's even anything you can agree or disagree with - you just know that somewhere inside you something broke and you're both inspired and terrified. All you want to do is lie down; but you know you'll have the song on repeat instead.

*Sources: Guardian, BBC, BBC
*Notes: that Bukowski poem I linked is really fucking good.
Trust me.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

This is real-life (part 2)



Nathan Asher and The Infantry

Turn Up The Faders

It's the summer, you're ten, the sun is out; lights breaks all around; blue skies filled with floating white clouds. It's a beautiful day for playing football; running around on the grass, your mother warns you not to hit any windows, you laugh, and when you do hit one it's a joke, it's funny, it's shared with friends and you're all laughing. You're not a vandal, you're just a kid; this life is brilliant.

Tired from all the running about you head over to the ice-cream van, get a 99 with that Flake that you like so much. Eat it up, spill some on your shirt - it was a mess anyway from the grass-stains. Time to lie down, you lie next to the grass of your neighbours caravan - you don't live here, but it's your holiday home, it's a good place to escape.

Take the ball down to the beach and the wind blows it away so you're down in the sand and you're running out into the sea, and you're sweating, can't wait to dive in - hang on a second - this... this water's freezing. It's all in good fun something about the sunlight has made this day your own, it's there to be seized and you grab it pull it down - like in Bruce Almighty where he ties a string around the moon and pulls it closer - and you hold it in your arms. Your friends are your friends, and this summer has been brilliant.

---

It's only eight years later but suddenly things make less sense, you're still a kid but the world has changed it's not so receptive of you; when you do things you do them on your own - your friends help out sometimes, but rarely, only when you really need it. And you really need help most of the time; it burns you out the stress from your job, your education, you're tired, so tired, you did an eleven hour shift after getting two hours sleep, where was the sense in that, why do you do it why are these sentences falling from your mind and onto your fingertips where did the punctuation go why is everything so damn hard and everything it just

STOPS.

---

This song to me is the transition from those silly summers to the reality of real-life. No wonder it won the John Lennon songwriting competition. It aptly describes the way things were when we were younger and then progresses to flit around lust, alcohol... everything. Listen to the lyrics and you will understand; "encouraged to dance emphatically, manicly, even desperately"; "using liquor as a tourniquet"; "let's succumb to our desires / before we become just like our fathers". We are a desperate generation; endlessly discontent: "this used to be enough for me, now it isn't". Musically, it's that scene in Good Will Hunting when the eponymous protagonist is describing his social-life.

---

WILL
No, but, I mean you know...I do other
things. That no one knows about.

PSYCHOLOGIST
Like what, Will?

WILL
I go places, I interact.

PSYCHOLOGIST
What places?

WILL
Certain, clubs.
(beat)
Like, Fantasy. It's not bad.

Will gives the Psychologist a furtive look.

WILL (cont'd)
It's just that feeling when you can
take your shirt off and really dance.
(beat)
When the music owns you. Do you
understand?

---

I think I can understand that. It's the loss of innocence, and it's right there in the ending: Here's to all the new beginnings / We never got back from. [Find out more...]

Monday, May 29, 2006

This is real-life

This marks the first-post in an on-going theme of songs that are more spoken-word than most music you'll find. They all tend to have indie/rock sensibilities, the emotions made all the more palpable due to their spoken-word nature. The first of these is a mixture of spoken-word and singing, but I believe it's a nice choice to ease you in.



Okkervil River

Okkervil River - For Real

The tension is there from the beginning. The tentative voice is hiding its underlying emotion, but not very well. The guitar is turned up too loud, the amplifier is set to eleven - Spinal Tap style. The softly stroked chords come out louder than you'd expect for such tender playing. The guitarist stabs at the strings - you knew it was coming but you didn't know it would come so suddenly; you see the unveiling of the tension but it's still there and it remains there. Everything makes sense after the solo. But you're still just listening to the voice.

You hear no words, just noise. You hear a wounded tiger, trapped in a net, just trying to escape. It's a plaintive cry and you don't care what's being said, you don't want to spoil it; you can feel this music inside you - you know it makes sense. You want to cry, but this isn't a crying song - the drums, the guitars, the synths carry it along and its about redemption, it's about letting go.

The song ends; you feel better - cleansed but still on edge. You take a drink, it's too diluted, you make it stronger, you drink it up, you drink it straight, you take the edge off - just about - you get drunk you put the song on again and you start shouting at your friends, "I heard someone say this was the best single of last year. It really is. What do you mean you don't agree? What do you mean you don't... I need to lie down, I need to curl up, I'm going to bed, I'm going to sleep, don't wake me. Please, don't wake me..."

Saturday, May 27, 2006

We write letters...

I just toppled my laptop, from my lap and onto my nose. That was not paricularly pleasant. Before this I was outside. It's surprisingly light outside. It's 4:30 AM so that may go someway to explaining it. But from inside my room it now seems surprisingly dark. Maybe it's the artificial light resonating from the street-lights. When I was outside the birds were chirping. I am fully awake and yet gasping for sleep.



Marching Band

Letters
In a Little While

"We feel like good friends should be kept". Indeed. Tonight was a good night. Saul Williams was played. Obviously, it wasn't an Indie Disco. It was Funk, Soul, and Rock 'n' Roll. I only stayed for "a little while". Then the Bound For... the band there played modern loveable covers. It was simple. It was effective. It was enjoyable.

"I'm pretending you're looking outside, trying to decide; how to do it, how to get it right." I am a beating soul, a beating heart, a human body full of emotions, and the Marching Band are not so much marching as strolling towards conveying these feelings. They are the music you hear in the mornings when you're not tired enough to sleep, but too tired to dream; so instead you just think. You love the people you know. You hate the fact that you hurt them so often. Each and every regret has an accompanying moment of happiness.

I am fully awake and yet gasping for sleep... good night. [Find out more...]

x

That's reason enough to celebrate!

Reasons: It's Friday. I have some 'spare' whiskey. No point in having spare alcohol, eh? Friends don't waste wine when there's words to sell. This will be my first time being out of the house and out of the village, since Hell. Hell took place on Wednesday. Let's not talk about it. I have some 'spare' cigarettes. See above. Indie Disco is probably on. I'm going to dance. Music is great. I'm going to buy a hard drive soon.

Reasons not to celebrate: I have to buy a hard drive, soon. As in now. How soon is now? Too soon.



These songs are silly. They were always meant to be silly. Instead of aiming at touching your heart, they try to move your feet. Shake with enthusiasm at the thought of an alcoholic reprieve. Let's not glamorise alcohol, but sometimes it's pretty sweet. What's even better though? Friends and lots of 'em. What's even better still? Friends who dance and love music.



Friday's mini mix-tape

Professor Murder - Champion
Think About Life - Paul Cries
Smile For The Cameraman, Honey - Snips! 2
Radiohead - Idioteque
Snowden - Anti Anti
You Say Party! We Say Die! - The Gap (Between the Rich and the Poor)

* Champion makes me think of a messier Futureheads, less keen on trendy covers, and more keen on reckless abandon.
** Paul Cries is like a second-hand copy of a Unicorns disc. All fuzzy and muddled, conveying a bizarre energy that strives to make the party. A scratched record put on repeat that just loses itself. Ba-da bop ba-dada.
*** Snips! 12 sums up the Indie Disco in a very short space of time. super-disco, disco-making! This song is pretty much one for spazzin' out to - and of course dancing a lot as well. Imagine a kid with ADHD on ecstasy. Got it? Good.
**** Radiohead went from a straightforward rock band, releasing hit single Creep, to that weird art-rock political band that make crazy dance music infused with alot of rock and electronica. Is this a bad thing? No. Everything all the time.
***** Snowden start this song very much like it's a - and here's where it gets hard. Maybe like The Killers trying to be U2? Something like that, which sounds shite... but it's pretty great.
****** Imagine a soft-core female fronted Rage Against The Machine. This is what that song sounds like, and I love it. We're ending with this 'cause I have to get the bus and there's no better song to get me in the mood for dancing - except for maybe Snips! 12. I Say Party!

We came to party... street by street; block by block

Champion, knees up, SPLASH!!...


*Note: post originally written between 21:27 and 22:02. Blogger is shite. Thus it took a while for it to get posted. Post is for Thom. 'cause Thom's a good friend.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

It's just bad news.

Sure, there's a few clouds in the sky but they all blend into one; it's a canvas sky - it's been painted by one brush and one colour and then it's been smudged. It's a quiet evening - nearly summer - the barbeque aromas aren't hanging around beside the hedges yet, but it's getting there. Before it gets there, you're thinking of all the things you've done since last summer. You've torn down the walls between you and something you've always wanted to do. You've smiled alot, laughed alot. You've broken down the walls guarding a friendship, and you've destroyed the friendship. You've lied alot, you've cried alot. Maybe this is the song to sum all of this up. "Don't try to call / you'll lose it all". Sometimes, you have to look the other way, just to get by.



Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin

House Fire

"We did all we could." Denial. Self-aggrandisement. But, the thing is, you know it's self-denial - so that makes it all the sadder. "It's just bad news". Investigate the band further. Find out who Boris Yeltsin is.