Saturday, April 28, 2007


The Twilight Sad [Buy / Info]

Cold Days From The Birdhouse

I woke up last night at 11:38PM. I haven't been to sleep since. A phone-call shook me out of my sleepy reverie. The phone-call ended, the words spoken were forgotten. But before that phone-call I had a dream. An ex-best friend was getting a piggy-back from a best friend. We were at the beach, right beside the ocean. I felt the sand curl around my toes, the warmth sinking into my skin. She was up on his shoulders; they were running. Everytime I caught up with them I tried to reach out to her, to feel the touch of skin on skin, hand on hand. And every time, they ran faster, further. She remained out of reach. When I went to rest my arm on her shoulder it was shrugged off.

I thought I didn't understand the opening motif of this song. I heard the words but they meant nothing to me. But the voice - intimate and warm, crackling like logs upon a campfire - the voice that sang them nearly broke my heart.

I realise now that I understand what those words mean. To me, at least. "You make it your own / But this is where your arm can't go." Everytime I try to rest my arm on her shoulder it will be shrugged off. I will never comfort her the way I did, once.

At the time, I thought I was making no difference. I knew that I couldn't possibly know how she felt. I'd never experienced the physical death of a loved one. I still haven't. But I did things that I knew how to do. Writing notes, sending supportive texts, sharing emotional songs. Often there was no reply. I didn't know what she was thinking; how she was coping. I didn't know if her brave face was all smoke and mirrors; if she was actually breaking inside. Afterwards though, she wrote a short card. A thank-you. It's under my bed, in a shoe-box stuffed haphazardly with memories. The magic from my life that's been captured, like lightning in a bottle.

"Your red sky at night won't follow me now / I won't wear your shoes" Friendships can develop out of mutual respect, trust, love. Friendships can develop out of shared experiences, walking in each other's shoes, empathising.

Friendships can develop out of similar likes/dislikes, loves/hates. But I only remember the things she used to like: bands, places, books. Any new interests she develops I won't be able to discuss with her. Anything new in her life I won't know about. When there's beautiful weather in her part of the world, it won't be something we share in common; it won't be something we discuss when there's nothing left to say. Never again will we sit together on steps and find shapes in the sky - in the clouds. I won't receive post-cards from her when she's in far-away places. No more magic will be conjured or captured.

Splinters of sentences rise up in the air like smoke that won't lift. Reminders of a scar that never heals. ("another hotel", "a romantic gesture", "another phone-call.") And can you hear that steady staccato-tap of a piano key that remains constant throughout? Like the second-hand's tick on a Grandfather-clock. It's the sound of time moving steadily on. The decay of memories.

What will happen when the memories run out? When I can no longer taste her in the air, or remember the way she walked when I hear battered Converse crunch along dusty gravel. When I can no longer look out upon a village, or a lake, or a meandering road along a cliff-side; when I can no longer look upon a thatched cottage, or a delicate painting, or the flowers - the roses, and the tulips, and the daisies - in a city-park and think, "This is beautiful. She would have loved this." What happens then? Is it as if she never existed? Except for some elegant hand-writing on an old-fashioned thank-you card? Will several words of hers, regarding a time I don't remember, be all that I have left? Will I just have a scar on each of my hands - a cigarette burn; knuckles dragged along a pebble-dashed wall - from long nights wrestling with impossible choices. Will I even remember those long nights?

"I won't clip your wings." Cowardly choices dressed up as good intentions. It is only in my dreams that I reach out to her, try to pull her close again. Even if things changed, circumstances and situations, I wouldn't even know the words to say to her. I could smile. I could hold a conversation for a few seconds. But after that I'd be lost. I'd chain-smoke; I'd drink myself silly. I'd stutter; I'd trip over my words. It's hard to understand how people once so close can be so distant.

"Will you come back?" She was up on his shoulders and they were running. Everytime I caught up with them I tried to reach out to her, to feel the touch of skin on skin, hand on hand. And every time, they ran faster, further. She remained out of reach. When I went to rest my arm on her shoulder it was shrugged off. I think I'm grateful for this.


This song is a perfectly constructed collage of thoughts and feelings. Invigorated, emotional, achingly beautiful. The sadness of life. The difficult decisions, the failed friendships, the silent betrayals. The need to keep moving on. The steady piano key... Even the slide-guitar that opens the song signals change. "You won't follow me now." [Buy / Info]

Friday, April 27, 2007


New Buffalo

Cheer Me Up Thank You

The vocal quirks - the deep sighs, the panned harmonies - remind me of Imogen Heap, but maybe slower, simpler. And is Sally Seltman really happier, or as she puts it, cheered up? Or is she still melancholic over the loss of a friend or a lover or a sibling yet trying to put on a brave face. It's no mistake that on its second outing the tail-end of the clichéd mothers-little-helper line, "and look at what we've got", is drowned out by wash-away coo's. Yet, when the song is this lovely I'm not sure that the pervading sentiment (whether truth or façade) even matters. But I do sometimes wonder. And why is it so lovely? The same words, looped, the music a constant, why do x + y = pleasing? Once again, maybe it doesn't matter. Maybe the song should be gratefully soaked up, absorbed and accepted without any real thought - like the words of loved ones sitting at the bedside of their comatose belovéd. The sentiments drift through the air and then wash away. [Info / Buy]

Tegan and Sara

Where Does The Good Go?

Not to turn this into a RIYL session, but: RIYL if you like The Weepies (mp3: Rocks & Water). Or recommended if you like pop music that is catchy, defiant, but inherently miserable. The dual harmonies are to die for; the sentiment is heart-breaking. [Info / Buy]


The entirety of Somewhere, Anywhere by New Buffalo is exquisite.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Triptych Festival: 25th - 29th April

So, Triptych starts today and carries through 'til Sunday (gigs strewn throughout Aberdeen, Glasgow, and Edinburgh). As a Glasgow resident, here are the local one's that I'm interested in:

Triptych Festival

Cat Power (mp3: Wonderwall) performing on the Renfrew Ferry with Tom Brosseau (today/tomorrow)


CSS (mp3: Music Is My Hot Hot Sex), Prinzhorn Dance School, Ratatat (mp3: Seventeen Years) at Barrowlands (tomorrow)


65daysofstatic (mp3: Retreat! Retreat!), Kling Klang, Stuart Braithwaite (of Mogwai) DJ Set at Subclub (Friday)


Etienne de Crecy, Loose Joints, Stevie Elements, Andrew Divine at Art School (Saturday)


Ballads of the Book: Idlewild, King Creosote, Sons & Daughters, James Yorkston, Emma Pollock, Lord Cut-Glass, Alasdair Roberts, Aidan Moffat, Mike Heron, Karine Polwart (mp3: The Good Years), Norman Blake, Trashcan Sinatras, Foxface, Hal Duncan, Rodge Glass, John Burnside, Bill Duncan, Alan Bissett (mp3: The Rebel On His Own Tonight), Robin Robertson, Laura Hird at Tramway (Sunday)


Beyond The Wizard's Sleeve: Erol Alkan & Richard Norris (mp3: Roscoe) at Admiral's Bar (Sunday)


Unfortunately due to lack of funds, I probably won't make it to that many of the gigs. Perhaps I'll go to David Kitt at ABC (not a Triptych gig) tonight though.


The internet is an odd thing. When it's gone you instantly want it back so you can Google that festival, find out what gigs are happening later on in the week, check your e-mails, use to define that word, find out an album release date, check out the cinema listings for your area, research whitening toothpastes in order to find out which of the commercially available one's is the least abrasive, find out what the weather looks like for tomorrow ('cause you're praying it's a nice day so you can go to the park and take pictures, but you don't know yet if you should even bother waking up), tell the world about that one New Buffalo song that's been on repeat all week, etc, etc.

But when you get it back, you wonder why you were so desperate in the first place. Anyway, for now it's back. It will be gone in an hour. While it lasts, I'm taking the opportunity to share with you some songs. Been working too hard? Been staying up too late? Been raining all day? Rest your feet on the chair next to you, drink some alcohol, and quietly buzz. You deserve a rest. You deserve a party. Shout-outs to Kiss Atlanta and Palms Out Sounds for bringing many of these to my attention. You want this mix described to you? Chilled out electro that indie kids can enjoy, party songs that never really become anthemic, pop songs for lovers of abstract paintings in art-galleries, music for the single man to put on while he's in the garden, sipping at his alcoholic drink.

Indie Kids Don't Dance

Editors - Munich (Pase Rock Bip Remix) [Info]
Daft Punk - Around The World (Killdahype Remix) [Info]
Lo-Fi-Fnk - Wake Up
Hot Chip - Colours (DFA Remix)
Chromeo - Needy Girl (Bloc Party's High School Prom Remix) [Info]
Van She - Kelly (Cut Copy Remix) [Info]
Vampire Weekend - Walcott (Insane Mix #2)
Bloc Party - Blue Light (Engineers Anti-Gravity Remix)
Peter, Bjorn & John - Young Folks (Punks Jump Up Special Disco Mix) [Info]
Dead Disco - The Treatment (Metronomy Mix) [Info]
Justice - D.A.N.C.E. (original)
Teki Latex - Les Matins de Paris (Surkin Remix) [Info]
Snowden - Anti-Anti (Treasure Fingers Remix) [Info]
Simian Mobile Disco - It's The Beat (The Teenagers Remix) [Info]
The Secret Handshake - Too Young (The Toxic Avenger Remix) [Info]


Click to download all tracks as a ZIP file.


[Info] = website of the remixer.
Listen in the order shown. Or don't.