PINS: Bad Thing EP.

24 03 2017

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In some ways, I guess I could just say this blog is dedicated to the same bands over and over. That probably makes me boring, but I don’t care. It’s not my fault that a solid few I love put out excellent music that deserves being written about. I’ve been writing about PINS for a long time now, and every time I write about them it is as if I find something new to love about them. Everything they put out seems a step above what they previously did. They have a really strong sound, and aren’t afraid to be different and more importantly, create a sound that is so important.

As part of the Bad Thing EP, PINS have worked with the King of Punk. The Godfather of Punk, Iggy Pop on the lead track Aggrophobe. The partially spoken word track captures why we love him- his voice. Speaking or singing, Iggy has such a distinctive voice and with Faith’s voice merging with his on the hook, you kind of want Iggy to be a permanent member of PINS. It’s such a brilliant song, and the video to it is equally great.

Bad Thing is a handful of songs that show perfectly just how great PINS are and how their sound and beautifully evolved. I need to touch on their stunning cover of Dead Souls by Joy Division. Not many people can work a cover and add something to it. I think if someone is going to cover a song, they should do something that makes it theirs. That makes you believe it is their song and doesn’t belong to someone else. They’ve done it beautifully with Dead Souls. When I first heard PINS a part of me heard familiar hints of Joy Division in their sound, and I’m so happy they chose this as the Joy Division song to cover. It’s one of their best ones, and PINS make it their own but still leave parts of Joy Division within the song. It is 4 minutes and 35 seconds of ethereal darkness. It’s comforting and sacred. For me, PINS are made up of 5 excellent musicians who are the best at what they do. If you’ve seen them live, they’ve probably all left you wishing you could play an instrument. I firmly stand by Sophie being one of the best drummers I’ve ever seen.

After spending my morning at work listening to Bad Thing, I’m pretty much set on In Nightmares being my favourite song. Faith’s voice is gorgeous on this song. There are a number of songs by PINS where her voice just sounds so haunting yet angelic, In Nightmares is easily one of them (Everyone Says is another, from their last record) In Nightmares is the song you go back to and play constantly. Irrespective of your mood, it’ll make you feel like you’ve got a safety net and well, we all need that at times and sometimes it takes form in the shape of music.

All Hail is a song they have already been putting in their shows, and it is so good to see. It’s got this wonderful gang-like feel to it as they sing, “All hail.” It’s like a protective circle around the band and those who love their music. PINS are one of those bands you wish you could join. You’d start a band if you could, but you know you wouldn’t be able to get a sound like this. There is something familiar about their sound, which makes you know it is them but there is something else that lies within their sound that makes you unsure if it is a band from decades and decades ago, or if this is really a band from 2017 making this ideal sound.

To be honest, PINS have got the ideal sound. But that’s just my opinion. For me their sound is everything I want from music and from a band. I love their lyrics but I also love watching their live shows. I’ve seen them at pretty much every London show they’ve done. They’re playing up the road from my house next month, and I’m so excited about it. They are a band that you have just got to see live. Each show they’ve done that I’ve seen just shows how much they have grown. Not just on record, but on a stage too. The confidence is properly there now, and I am so proud of them.

Bad Thing is out now, but limited copies are available.





GARBAGE:Strange Little Birds.

11 06 2016

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“Every broken thing can’t be fixed.
And all those fragile things we are,
They find their voice, they find their power.”

Some feelings we have can be replicated by others things, and other people. In a way I guess that can make us question the legitimacy of it- but that depends on the feeling and who/what made you first feel it. Feelings are hard to wrap our heads and hearts around, and like most, I use music as some kind of means to get into whatever is going on. It, for the most part helps. But there’s one feeling that can only come from one thing in particular. I’ll never feel it from anyone else. That feeling is when your favourite band, the band that dragged you through hell and back for over 20 years come back with a new record. Each Garbage record has matched a point in my life where only their music would do. Only their music would be the thing that got me through. I’m aware I sound like an oversensitive idiot- but I’m trying to state the importance of them, but do I really need to? They’ve been around for over 20 years and they’re still here, so that speaks more than my words ever could. Yesterday Strange Little Birds came out, and yet again, they’ve managed to make a record that fits comfortingly into what’s going on inside. I’ve read a few reviews where they have said that Strange Little Birds sounds a bit like their first record, but to be honest, it could be a really loud Acid House record and I’d still love it- because it’s them. I’m an unconditional fan for life.

Sometimes: A song that oozes destruction is always the perfect way to start a record. It starts with an intense piano intro which is followed by what resembles a rumble of thunder. Then Shirley’s voice kicks in and the words hit hard. It is such a haunting and dark song, and in a way that’s been what I’ve clung onto- Shirley isn’t afraid to speak of insecurities and ugly feelings we are always told to cast aside. There are many ways in which this band are my absolute heroes/heroine, and it’s their honesty that does it. I challenge anyone to not relate to: “Sometimes I feel like I vanished in thin air.
Sometimes I feel I’m not here.”

Empty: Firstly, please play this as loud as you can and secondly, this is the one that captures their first record in 2016. Like a lot of Garbage fans, their first record changed my life. I was just approaching 10 years of age, my dad wasn’t doing so good (he died a few weeks after their first record came out, and I saved up for a tape copy of it with my pocket money) and this record, as young as I was became everything to me. As I got older, I related to the songs more. And to hear something that takes me back 21 years is messing with my head big time but you carry on, you have to. What I get from Empty is being able to not relate to everyone who has to pour their lives on to social media in order to seek validation of others. Maybe they are the ones that are empty. We all are in a way, there’s always something missing. I think the lyric I love the most is this: “So I work at staying patient. Good things come to those that wait, or so they say.” However, I’m not entirely sure what I’m waiting for.

Blackout: The bass on this is one of the best moments for me on the record. It’s got this deep, swirling sound which is like Warpaint meets The Cure. It’s dark, intense and spins you off into a dream. With it being over 6 minutes long, it’s just bloody ideal. It’s an intense ride that feels like a telling off to the self. It’s the perfect way to get back at anyone or anything that’s pissed you off. I guess with how Shirley sings this and the gorgeous menacing lyrics will make some link this to the likes of Stupid Girl. I see it, I really do but the sound on Blackout is so big and so powerful, you in a way, forget all that’s come before Strange Little Birds. What I’m getting from this record so far is that Garbage don’t sound completely like a band who have been around for 2 decades here, they sound like a brand new band who are here to show us how it is done. They’ve got more power, bite and determination than a lot of newer bands, and that alone just deepens my love for them. I love the sheer attitude in this song that comes out from all of them. Perfect.

If I Lost You: This song is painfully open and hugely vulnerable. That’s what drew me towards Garbage years and years ago. The openness and carefree honesty always touched me. Maybe it’s for the good or bad that I’ve never been jealous of the person I’ve been in a relationship with, but the lyrics to If I Lost You are so easy to relate to, you imagine going through it. Or, you can imagine how the other person feels. I’m swaying towards the latter and it brings out a change of ways. I just think this is line is one of the most powerful on the record: “Are you so strong, or is the weakness in me?” We’ve all felt that way- friendship, relationship, all felt it.

Night Drive Loneliness: I love songs that give off a feeling that you can only get when you listen to them at a certain part of the day/night. There are a few bands I love that I can only listen to at night time because of the mood they create. I’ve never really felt that way with Garbage until now. Night Drive Loneliness would probably sound better if I could drive and if it was dark out. Instead, I’m at my desk in my room at 2:15pm and it’s raining. Again. Maybe that’s my version of a night drive. This is my escape. I love how this song captures the desire to escape everything and everyone so beautifully. A feeling that doesn’t always leave, and I think if we didn’t want to escape every now and then we’d have robotic tendencies and be blank humans. Or maybe you can go the other way with this song. Maybe it’s feeling lonely when surrounded by a load of people. Maybe it’s a touch of both. Take it however you want, and make it your own.

Even Though Our Love Is Doomed: This one hits close to the bone for many reasons. Maybe all love is doomed to an extent, but me personally, I’d rather go towards something that could be doomed than not have every single part of me challenged. Basically, love should feel like a Nick Cave song. Even Though Our Love Is Doomed is such a beautiful reassurance that, even though some of us have difficulty with it- we can still love, and it can be warped and twisted but it’s still love. We all find someone who makes us feel this way and you can’t rush it. Maybe you’ll find it now, maybe you already have or maybe it’ll just take time. This vulnerable kind of love is the kind that is good for the soul. The last minute and a half of the song has this huge build up that evokes SUCH urgency. It’s one of the most important Garbage songs ever. Cling tightly onto this one.

Magnetized: Unlike the song before, this one is not a love song of sorts. It’s a lust song. It’s about being hooked on someone without the falling in love part. We’ve all been there. It’s about 2 souls clashing who are polar opposites and sometimes it works out. Maybe love develops but with this one, just being hypnotised by the person is a safer bet than falling in love. Such a simple line, but I adore this: “Get so close that it hurts.” Sometimes you just have to let something like this in and let it hurt you. Go into the unknown and just see what happens. Life would be a bore, a dull ache if we didn’t step into the unknown every so often.

We Never Tell: The heavens have now opened in London, and I can’t think of a better record to play as the rain falls harder and harder. I just went to check on my housemate’s cat to make sure she’s okay. She’s gently napping, so I gave her a kiss on the head. This means nothing to the outsider, but show affection where and when you can. We Never Tell is a great song and I love the lyrics. I really love the line: “We’re on the outside always looking in. You don’t trust humans and I feel the same.” I would take the trust of animals over people any day, and when you find people who get that- that’s when you know. Mutual understanding goes a hell of a long way, especially as people seem to be getting colder. Hey I can’t look after myself but I’m pretty sure I could look after a dog, no problem. We Never Tell is a great “fuck you” to those you want to prove wrong or to those you want to shut up.

So We Can Stay Alive: Gentle vocals but aggressive lyrics and ferocious guitar courtesy of Duke. This is one of the angsty songs I’ve heard in a long time. Sometimes you just need something to bring out that dormant rage that others beg you to tone down. Don’t let nobody in this world make you tone down whatever you feel. Don’t let anyone try tame or change you. Speak up don’t shut up. Call the fuckers out on what they’re doing wrong. I love how rowdy this song is, in all the right places. The guitar kicks in to back up Shirley’s gentle voice. But that gentle voice is unleashing a fury that will make you run. But you better listen up, chump! You can try break a person but they will eventually get their own back when you least expect it. The weak can find strength, in time. In their own time, they get there.

Teaching Little Fingers To Play: I’m trying my best to not make any references to old songs, but for me this sounds like the aftermath of Medication. Of course that self-destructive feeling stays but then something kicks in and you realise you’ve got to do certain things on your own. For me, Teaching Little Fingers To Play has that same fragility as Medication but without wanting to destroy oneself. Instead, this focuses on being able to pick oneself back together again without anyone around. We’re always told we need to have others around to fix us, but sometimes you can do certain things on your own. You can get tough in your own way. This is less co-dependant and more dependent on nobody but yourself. It’s a kick up the arse, in a way. “Nothing ever stays the same.
Youth and beauty don’t remain.”
Gorgeously accurate.

Amends: The last one on the record, sadly. Just play it again. That’s all you can do. A wave of sadness always hits when you reach the end of a record. Me being utterly sentimental, it does bring on a hint of sadness. You don’t want it to end. You want that first moment you listened to keep coming back. Over and over. But fortunately, I get that feeling every time I listen to Garbage. Amends is a beautiful song that deals with any kind of loss you’ve had with a friend, lover, whatever. Sometimes we forgive, sometimes we forget, sometimes we physically cannot do either. The hurt and rawness of being hurt in this song is very close to the bone and my god, you feel the hurt. There’s a part in the song that sums up perfectly how anyone has ever felt. It’s not a nice way to feel, but we’ve all been there: “There is nothing you could say to cause more hurt, or cause me shame. Than all the things that I have thought about myself.”  We are all capable of hurting ourselves more than we can hurt another person, and sometimes it easier to break our own hearts than someone else’s. There’s this dignified rage in this song that is so eloquently put together, and you know what? It’s the perfect ending to the record because it feels like healing. With a lot of their records, the last song on each one does feel like healing. They’ve done it all over again here with Amends.

On Monday I’m seeing them again at the Troxy which is about half hour from my house (thankfully.) It’s one of my favourite venues. There’s still some tickets left. Garbage are the band that have helped in some way make me alright with whoever it is I am. I keep a handful of uncertainty because I’ll never be fully settled with it. If it wasn’t them, I wouldn’t have this inner toughness that I reserve for certain things. Certain things I thought would ruin me in some way. Certain things that make me get a little braver each time. The got me through the pains and torment of school and the uneasy ride of adulthood. There will never ever be a time where I don’t turn to their music for some form of comfort and for that I am truly, truly grateful and forever in debt to them.





THE KILLS-Ash & Ice.

9 06 2016

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“We were dancing to a beat of our own, flying with our speakers blown.”

 

For the past week I’ve been constantly listening to Ash & Ice by The Kills. Today I can finally listen to it properly on my record player which I carried up a hill to get home in this ridiculous heat. I wouldn’t mind, but having a knackered disk in my back isn’t too much fun. It’s alright, now I’m seated and playing it as loud as I can. I can associate every record by The Kills with certain points in my life, and since Blood Pressures came out until last Friday it defined certain moments, feelings and people. I fell so heavily in love with that record and to take myself away from it so I could give in to Ash & Ice I thought, would be really hard. I was wrong. Ash & Ice is now defining whatever is going on now- good, bad, average and brilliant. It’s a chaotic safety net.

As I helplessly love this record so, I’ll go through each song. It might be safer for you to just go buy the record and listen to it rather than subject yourself to my ramblings about it.

Doing It To Death: I remember hearing this a couple months ago now, and just playing it over and over again. Something about it just made me realise yet again, why I adore this band. Why they are easily one of the most important bands in my life. There’s something about Jamie and Alison that leaves constantly wanting more and more. I love the line, “Baby lately, the plans we’re making are the shape of things that never come.” It’s a gut feeling that I reckon most feel, but not many want to actually face it. Fuck it. Face it, and carry on.

Heart Of A Dog: Like the above, this ended up being on repeat constantly when I heard it. Every line in this song is apt and if I could every word to this tattooed on my body- I probably would. “It’s life or death why I chew through the chain” is a line that’s just so raw and brutal. I know what it’s like to have parts wander off but for the heart always be loyal. You go back to what you needed in time. It takes time, but you get there. You just need to let it out sometimes, I guess.

Hard Habit To Break: I LOVE the intro to this so much. I think it’s most definitely one of my favourites off the record. Sometimes you’re the bad that someone else wants or needs, and they can take that bad and make it good. In time. I’m pretty sure that this will be amazing to see live, and I’ve seen clips of this where Alison just lets rip and flails her body in ways that if you or I tried to do- we’d end up in hospital. Worth the attempt, right? Pretty cool way to end up in A&E. I love the line “Maybe when the lights fade, maybe it’s my (your/our) mistake.” There’s only so much blame a person can carry before they realise others have played their part too.

Bitter Fruit: At first I just really loved the song. Then I paid close attention to the lyrics and some weird revelation hit me. I can’t decide which lyrics I love the most. It’s between “I gotta save my soul from the bad in you” and “I could pray, but can’t you see the kind of things I pray for are cursing me.” Both are pretty tough lyrics, and easy to identify with. That’s what I love about their songs, they just paint emotions in a way that I never ever could. They take every feeling imaginable and make it something to be proud of- even if it is a truly ugly feeling.

Days Of Why And How: In some ways this reminds me of Rodeo Town, Wait and Baby Says. It’s got that soothing feel to it. I think it has some of the best lyrics on the record: “When I hear your name, it’s a like a freight train. Shake shake shake shake shaking me, off my tracks.” I don’t know if that lyric is for good or bad, but it’s so gorgeous and powerful. I could listen to it forever and not get tired. An impending fear mixed with devotion. That’s just how it goes sometimes.

Let It Drop: I don’t really have much of an opinion on this one, and I think it’s because it’s the one I’ve not really listened to that much. Jamie and Alison have this sound that makes them stand out from everyone else, and I think Let It Drops experiments with this in a really great way. It sounds like they’ve massively pushed themselves with this song, and I think it’ll be one that I end up loving as much as the rest- I just need to stop being attached to other songs on the record to let this one in. However, the line “You’re giving me reasons to turn my teardrops into death threats” is just a gorgeous piece of poetry.

Now, if you have the vinyl copy this is where we take it over to side B.

Hum For Your Buzz: This has that brutal but Blues feel that caused me to first fall heart first in love with them 13 years ago. 13 years ago I heard The Kills and it changed everything for me. Every single time they bring out something new, I just fall more in love with them and I remember exactly what it was that drew me in the first place. Hum For Your Buzz has a beautiful feel of vulnerability surrounding it, and their fearless approach to writing lyrics will always be something I admire and love. “I am a vision you looked for so long at your door sweetheart.” That’s my solid favourite from the song. Subject to change, as ever.

Siberian Nights: The only way to listen to this song is to have to obnoxiously loud. Everything about this just makes you feel like you can overpower any feeling of love or lust a person may have towards you. It’s bold but endearing in its own way. I love the lyric, “I can make you come in threes, I’m halfway to my knees. Am I too close for comfort?” It’s the right kind of filth. The whole song is full of lines that make you feel a bit braver than you are. I guess with lines like “For the tyrants in a rut, I got a love” makes it for us underdogs. I couldn’t imagine getting tired of listening to this song. You pick up different things to love with each listen, and I love their vocals together on this. Check the guitar Jamie uses on this also.

That Love: The Last Goodbye from Blood Pressures probably broke your heart, right? Well, you’re not getting off lightly this time. I read the lyrics to this before I heard it. I’m not sure which is more heartbreaking. However, it’s a song I needed. It’s a song I probably won’t go back and listen to on repeat. It’s a heavy song, emotionally and I think it’ll be a mountain of strength for those who need some form of courage. We all need to be brave at times, there’s no right or wrong time for you to be brave. You just have to do it. I’m not going to pick a line from this, it’s too difficult. Maybe it’s obvious which ones will mean the most. You can’t feel bad for the rest of time.

Impossible Tracks: I adore how menacing this one sounds. It’s got that thumping sound of Future Starts Slow on it, and again, it’s one you need to play insanely loud. “Oh you get what you give, I don’t regret what I did. Well if a real live liar can set you on fire, then don’t you settle for it?” It’s real mean this song, and it makes you feel so tough when you listen to it. I also love the line, “And we hold our smiles inside like we’re holding back the tide.” If I could write something as rebellious as that, I’d be pretty happy. I think this is definitely one of my favourites off the record.

Black Tar: The line, “London’s bloodthirsty” is enough for me to know that I am mad about this song. The imagery in the words is just nothing short of stunning, and it’s just a realisation of why I bloody love The Kills! I’ve never ever doubt my love for them, and I never could. There are just consistently mind-blowing and their lyrics have always been such a huge part of who I am- whoever that may be. Some things you don’t figure out, even when you’re 29. This song makes you want to get in a car, and drive off into the night without looking back.

Echo Home: This has the gentle tones of Baby Says but there is so much sadness in this song. It’s pretty tough to listen to. I’d rather have That Love on repeat than this one because there’s so much overwhelming sadness in it. Every word in this song is just truly gorgeous, and for me this is the one that holds the most weight. It’s the one you play when you miss something/someone that’s been gone for some time. Have hope, because sometimes if the universe doesn’t totally hate you- it all comes back to you again. For me, it’s the line: “And if I take a turn for the worst and I call you on the phone, will you echo home when I call? Won’t you echo back and make it alright.” I know I’m too sensitive for my own good at times, but this line has this wealth of honesty and fragility to it that just breaks your heart. I just adore every single word on this song, and the way Jamie and Alison’s voices fit so perfectly on this song so so much.

Whirling Eye: And now we reach the end of the record with one of the most rowdy songs on the record. I think they’ve saved this one until last so the listener realises they’ve not had enough, and goes back to the start again. The whole song feels like a whirlwind. It sends you into some immense spin that no one can pull you out of. It’s so hypnotic. Alison’s voice on Whirling Eye has this insane urgency to it that makes you feel like you’ve probably joined a cult. If those two are the leaders, sign me up now. It’s definitely a song to make you feel like a total rebel to and it’ll make you want to ditch everyday life and hit the dusty road as fast as you can. Who cares where you go, just get there.

I could have easily summed this all up with saying this is the best record I’ve heard all year or just condensed my love for it. But the thing is, The Kills pull something out of me that nothing else ever has. They hit you with this urgency and this need to get whatever it is inside you all the way out. They have no filter when it comes to doing so, so why should you or I?

 

I will always have a soft spot for Keep On Your Mean Side, No Wow, Midnight Boom and Blood Pressures but with Ash & Ice, I feel like something completely different. I don’t know what it is. Maybe it’s that feeling of an old friend coming back home, it had been a few years since Blood Pressures and to finally have something new is just a truly great feeling. They could create their own version of the phonebook and I would still be madly in love with it. Sure there are many bands that I feel a connection with, but with The Kills it is this secret connection in my brain bound by their songs that creates this. This doesn’t always happen, and when you feel it, you cling onto it. It’s your own way of getting through the day and slowly, but surely, finding some self-acceptance. Ash & Ice means a lot for a lot of reasons- none of which will be mentioned but all I know is that it is bloody great to have them back.





KATE JACKSON AND THE WRONG MOVES: UK TOUR JUNE 2016.

7 06 2016

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“4:34 I’m a new romantic soul.”

 

When I was at university I managed to pass off going to gigs all the time and skipping lectures as part of my degree. Sure having a degree in Music Journalism & Broadcasting can give you a passion for words and music, but it gives you a great free pass to not getting up for a 9am lecture when you’ve been to a gig the night before. Whilst at university, I struggled a fair bit with homesickness. I didn’t understand because I really hated where I lived. There was nothing for me on the Isle of Man, so I left for 3 years to do a course that would in some way, help me do something with my life. I found a few bands to cling on from 2006 to 2009 whilst there. One band in particular that got me through bouts of homesickness and general “I can’t cope” feelings were The Long Blondes. Someone To Drive You Home became a soundtrack to every single day. Certain songs on certain days were played more often than others. I never saw them live, but I did meet all of them bar Kate at a signing at Virgin Megastore in Manchester. I sat behind Screech on the train down, and he recognised me when he signed my CD. Never once did I think the band would split, and I stand by them splitting up to hurt more than a break-up. I have my reasons for this way of thinking, but music is my everything. Fast forward a few years, and I finally get to see Kate play her debut record, British Road Movies.

Out of the 3 dates they played last week, I made two of them. If I had the funds I would have gone to all 3. You don’t grow out of wanting to see bands/singers you really love at any given opportunity. If you’ve heard British Road Movies you’ll be aware of the love of motorways and service stations that Kate has in the songs. For me, that was a huge part of my love for The Long Blondes. I grew up where there were no motorways or service stations-then all of a sudden, I was surrounded by them. I’m that sad I actually do have a Top 3 service stations list. I’m always open to visiting more.

Both shows showed that not only does Kate have the most incredible voice, but her band are nothing short of amazing. Her guitarist, Reuben, plays with this insane fury that reminds me exactly of Bernard Butler mixed with Johnny Thunders. In short, he basically leaves you wishing you could play guitar like him. He thrashes it about in such a gorgeous fashion. Her drummer, Shannon,  thumps the hell out of the intro to Metropolis (second song in the set) right after the quiet tones of set opener, Velvet Sofa From Number 26. The set starts quietly, and this dramatic and intense pause occurs. This is greeted with the most rowdy drum intro I’ve heard in a long, long time. You can’t help but stand to attention but yell along “This city pulls me to pieces.”

On a personal level, Stranded and 16 Years are the songs that really do it for me. When I saw her show on Friday, I’ll admit that me and my best pal did have our share of a few drinks and enabled me to sing a long thus ruining my voice even more so (I’ve been poorly, but I’m getting better now) but her show on Sunday, I stood at the front and took it all in. I was really lucky because I went to both shows with two people I absolutely adore, and sometimes you just need someone with you who “gets” it. I can’t really explain what it is about Stranded and 16 Years that mean a lot. I guess it is certain lines in the songs that mean a lot. From Stranded I’d take “In another dimension, you’re here with me” and from 16 Year I’d probably take either “You were my release” or perhaps “I could have helped if you asked me to.” Her lyrics are gentle, thoughtful and so easy to connect with. I think this is why I’ve always held her as highly as Morrissey in my mind. I’m massively into lyrics, and people like Kate justify this love of words.

Aside from songs off British Road Movies, the band play 2 new songs- The Westerlies and Future City. Both are exceptional, and real stand out moments in the set. I’m pretty sure the recorded versions of these will be brilliant.

Kate has this wonderful presence about her stage, and I was fully expecting to witness a difference between London and Sheffield crowds- there truly wasn’t. She doesn’t draw in crowds of obnoxiously drunk louts who yell obscenities at the end of every song or during any silent moments. Both crowds were there because quite simply, we just bloody well love her. I always think live shows should take you some place else compared to where the actual record takes you. I think it’s because you can actually see the songs coming alive in front of you, and certain parts of songs become more clearer and you just go off some place else. It’s a sacred feeling, and one that was very much alive at her London and Sheffield shows.

And you know, they do say to never meet your heroes but after her show in London my friend pretty much dragged me/shoved me in the direction of Kate. And with a hug, I managed to blurt out what I wanted to say to her. Words get you through and the songs become, and save your life.





KRISTIN KONTROL-(Don’t) Wannabe.

5 05 2016

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Everyone needs that one song they play when they just need a few minutes to themselves, to just shut everything off for a little while. I’ve got a bunch of songs that I do this to, and it’s never ending. Does that say something about me? Probably. Who cares. Anyway. In a few weeks Kristin is releasing her debut record as Kristin Kontrol. You’ve heard X-Communicate and Show Me, right? If you haven’t, go listen to them. Again. And again. Even if you have, just listen to them. X-Communicate has this insane feel to it that would make ANYBODY move. You can unleash some serious dance moves to it, don’t hold back. Same with Show Me.

(Don’t) Wannabe has this perfect moment of bliss almost immediately in the song, which carries on throughout. It just feels like a huge euphoric moment and I think that’s what makes it’s one of best songs I’ve heard all year. I’ve not heard the record yet, but I’m pretty sure it’s one of the best and I’m not being biased (I could be, but it’s alright.) X-Communicate is easily my favourite song of the year, but there is something about (Don’t) Wannabe that shows exactly why I love Kristin as a songwriter, not just as singer/musician. I fully stand by my statement from years ago when I said she’s the Patti Smith of my generation. What do I mean by that? Well, if you read her lyrics, they fall as gentle poetry that just soothes the soul and makes everything alright- exactly like Patti. Her newest single is a body of vulnerability that anyone can relate to. It is so easy to relate to her music irrespective of how she makes it, she’s just got this rare way with words. It doesn’t come around too often but when it does, you really connect with it. Kristin Kontrol sounds like the name of a superhero, and with songs like this- it’s fair to assume she probably is.

I love (Don’t) Wannabe because it’s got the strength of a power ballad mixed with the sadness of Say Hello, Wave Goodbye by Soft Cell. It is just a gorgeous song and the courage and honesty in the lyrics and in Kristin’s voice just makes it nothing short of powerful yet heartbreaking. Let it break your heart, gently. It’s alright. The truthfulness in this song will seep into you, and once it gets there nothing else will feel, or sound the same.





An Interview with 2:54.

17 03 2016

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Last February I finally got to interview a band I had been wanting to talk to for quite some time. A band that hold a wealth of importance to me. Besides, any band that references the Melvins in their name is bound to be great, right? I’ve written about 2:54 many times. There is something about their music that just makes me want to write about it. When I listen to their music, I notice things I hadn’t previously done or certain emotions come out. They’ve always struck me as a band you listen to in the dead of night, through headphones whilst the world sleeps. If any band or singer can give you that, then you’ve found something to treasure for life. In an ideal world, I would have typed this interview straight away. I didn’t. I lost my dictaphone, moved house, and thought it was lost forever until I found it in a box under my bed whilst looking for something else. Sometimes I am a world class tool.

I started off by asking Colette and Hannah how their music should be listened to. As I mentioned above, I set the scene for myself- but is that how they want their fans to take in their music? What are the perfect surroundings to listen to their music, or just music in general?

Colette: “All my favourite music I listen to on the move. Train journeys, in the tour van. That’s what you want from a band or record you love, you want it to be transported. And I like that feeling of motion as you listen to it.”

This led onto my fixation of finding bands that are ideal to listen to at night (maybe that’s why I love going to gigs) and I asked them, what it is like to play during the day at festivals like SXSW (who put them on at 2:54 in the afternoon.)

Colette: “It is one of those things that absolutely changes the atmosphere. You can see people more and you definitely do feel more exposed. You can feel more self-conscious than you would normally but then those kind of challenges are exciting even if they are scary. It’s what being in a band is all about, it toughens you up a bit. And at festivals, not everyone is there to see you so there’s that dynamic as well.”

The first time I saw 2:54 live was at the Union Chapel, and I saw them again at St Pancras Old Church. St Pancras was more intimate and was just after The Other I came out, and I’m pretty sure they did most of the record. They came onto the stage with Tender Shoots playing out of the PA and it was so captivating as it echoed through. It felt like something was calling out to us. I’ve seen a few gigs in churches, and it is something I do enjoy. It feels sacred yet strange. What changes when you play in a church? I’m not religious, but the respectful side of me wouldn’t start yelling a string of swear words in there. Obviously 2:54 haven’t got the mouth of a sailor on stage, but you still have to be a like cautious I suppose.

Colette: “We were playing on the graves, which I found a little unnerving (St Pancras.) At the Union Chapel we had a sound monitor that we couldn’t go above.”

Hannah: “And you can’t have too much reverb! In churches, you can’t play too loud as the building can start to crumble.”

I’ve been to a fair amount of gigs in this country at various venues. I sometimes think I’ve worked out which venue is my favourite, but then I go to a gig at a new venue and I fall in love with it. I think it might be impossible for me to pick one place as my favourite venue. Is there any way a band could pick their favourite place to play? What does a venue need in order for a band to feel that they have just set foot into their favourite venue? Some may regard the sound, so may think of certain shows they have played there that gives it sentimental value. When a band based in London are asked this question, you automatically think “Bet they say Brixton Academy!” Fortunately this time, this wasn’t the case.

Colette: “For me, the Brudenell Club in Leeds. It has all my favourite kind of elements. It definitely has that social club vibe that we grew up on. It has that faded glamour, the layout and it’s so warm and welcoming.”

I guess that’s the North all over!

When I listen to a band I always seem to make a beeline for the lyrics first. Some people connect with a sound more than words (and there are some that I feel this way about also) but for the most part- it’s the lyrics. I did my dissertation at university about Punk and Poetry and it seems that sparked it all off again. Words are powerful, and when you find a band or singer that can make your mind expand on all that you see, feel and think- that’s when you know you’ve found something. I remember hearing Orion from The Other I and immediately thinking about when I first heard Siouxsie And The Banshees for the first time. It was dark, otherworldly and magical. I’ve always felt that 2:54’s lyrics are exceptionally sacred. You have to listen very closely to pick up on golden lines that will stay in your head for an age. Easy Undercover once summed up how crap I was being to someone once (more than once) and Blindfold helped me get out of a job that was making me ill. You make these connections and use it as armour. Their first record came out when I was living at home, and I used to take long walks listening to it. The darkness of the songs fit perfectly as I walked through quiet streets cloaked with fog. It fit the songs perfectly, and it killed time. So of course, I had to ask them what their favourite songs/lyrics were to The Other I.

Colette: “Blindfold and Glory Days. It was really cathartic writing Blindfold. And I love that it has a dance melody, a pop melody almost. And the lyrics are full of loads of questions, and anxiety really. I like that all of my favourite songs from the 60s have that- that melancholy.”

Prior to the tour last February, 2:54 did an interview with Rookie magazine (http://www.rookiemag.com/2015/01/theme-song-254/) and there’s a part towards the end of the interview where Colette mentions Horses by Patti Smith (she also mentions her and Hannah’s love for At The Drive-In and The Distillers which is bloody great!) Horses is probably THE most important record of all time, but that’s just my opinion. When I first heard it, I knew I had found something and someone who was going to change my life. I have my records on a few shelves in my room, and Horses is the first one I see every day. It’s a knowing nod on how to get on through life. Horses was the record that spurred on my love for music and poetry. There are moments on Horses that define greatness. Greatness that no other could compare to, greatness that will never happen again. I watched her play the record in full last November and I have never felt that way during and after a show before. It did something, something that stuck with me- much like hearing Horses for the first time. I don’t know many people who hold this amount of love for Patti, and I had to fit it in somehow after reading the Rookie interview. I asked Colette if how Patti writes is an influence.

Colette: “The poetry and the Punk elements- there’s a fearlessness about it that gets me every time. Such a strong sense of self that is completely seductive. I just find her the whole package, and when you first find out about her- it always seems to be at the right time. I first found out about her when I was supposed to be revising for my exams, and my friend had mentioned Horses to me and I just sat there. I was struck by it.”

I think anyone who has listened to Patti, or to Horses can really understand where Colette is coming from. When you listen to Patti you are in awe of what you’re hearing, and it just stays with you. Her live shows are out of this world- and whatever she sets out to do and to make the people feel, she does it. Live shows are a huge thing for me. I love going to gigs and there is nothing better than making sure I am at work well before 9am so I can bring on a panic attack whilst trying to buy tickets. This was shown in all its glory 2 weeks ago when trying to buy tickets to see The Kills. I failed. We don’t talk about it because it makes me and my friend sad. Next time, right? After the anxious feelings pass when you’ve bought tickets, the day slowly comes around where you get to see the band in question. I always want to know what bands want fans to take from their shows- do they want them to go start a band, if anything? Whenever I’ve seen 2:54 I’ve always left wishing I could drum like Alex or play the guitar like Hannah. Anyone I’ve dragged to see them has always said the same thing. There are a handful of bands that I’ve seen that always make me wish I was musically talented, 2:54 are one of them.

Hannah: “We want people to hopefully connect to the performance. We very much do feel like a tight gang on stage and we like being able to share that.”

Colette: “Growing up when we went to gigs, we always wanted to emulate that unifying feeling. I hope for connection, any potential connection is what I hope for.”

As generic as it is to ask- I asked the band who their influences were (not just settling for music based influences.) When I listen to them I can pick up on sounds from bands I love such as Garbage, Sleep and elements of Fugazi. Colette’s voice is gentle but tough when needs to be (like Shirley Manson) Alex’s drumming always takes me back to hearing Fugazi for the first time and the heaviness in Hannah’s guitar playing reminds me of Sleep and Rowland S Howard, but who influences them?

Colette: “I think it is the need to get something out of you – a release.” I think this one line sums up 2:54. The urgency in their songs- the words, the music. It all comes alive when you see them on stage and what better influence to have than that. The need to pull something out of you, and cast it into the unknown. It’s powerful, terrifying and inspiring. You don’t always need a list of bands, singers or writers to be cited as an influence- sometimes it is just the urgency to get it out there and I think that’s the most powerful influence anything can have over us.

I chose to end the interview with a question that, if I was asked would probably cause a mental block but is fine to ask others (especially if they are musicians.)

With a knowing nod, after asking what the favourite line from any song is, Colette answered with the always fitting and forever apt “Jesus died for somebodies sins but not mine.”

 

*At the end of the interview we shared what the first records we bought were. Colette’s was Pearl Jam which led on to a discussion about the Now compilations. There was one that had Enigma (the monk song!) and Enya. Those were the days. And if you must know, the first one I bought was Always & Forever by Eternal. From Woolworths. On cassette.





CANDY DARLING- Going Straight

6 04 2015

I remember when I first heard The Birthday Party; I wasn’t immediately taken in by Nick Cave’s vocals. It was Rowland S Howard’s guitar that lured me in. He could make it sound abusive and sad. At once and separately. His solo records do exactly the same. How does this link in with Candy Darling? Easily. Singer, Emily Breeze reminds me so much of Jonnine Standish who sang with Rowland on the haunting (I Know) A Girl Called Jonny.

Going Straight is a to the point and hugely fragile song. The drums make the song sound dark and create a massively tense build up throughout this song. Emily’s voice is so pure and delicate, yet powerful in all the right places. She has the strength in her voice that is found in the likes of Shirley Manson to Patti Smith. She can be as tough as you like but isn’t afraid to be vulnerable with her words. For me, that’s what makes a band/singer easy to relate to. You pick up on the pain and hope in this song, it comes through so clearly and beautifully in Emily’s voice. It’s a cross between a 4am chant with your best friend as you stumble home and falling apart on your own at unholy o’clock when nobody it around. Going Straight will break your heart and will probably make you take an overdue look at yourself. Maybe you’ll hate what you see, but there’s something about this song that pulls you back in. As you’re teetering on the edge, something about this song just slaps you in the face and you’re as alright as you can be. Have your tomorrow to start again.

Candy Darling released the wonderfully trashy Money last July, and now they’re about to show you a different side with their latest single, Going Straight. This song has the power to really mean a lot to whoever hears it. It can be their crutch, and goodness knows we all need one from time to time.

You can stream the single here, along with the b-side Waves:

Going Straight is to Candy Darling as to what Heroin was to the Velvet Underground. Listen to the tracks back to back, and you’ll get what I mean. Their sound can be brutal but on Going Straight they show a side that is slightly tame but with ferociousness to Emily’s voice. Basically, I adore this band.

When you cling onto nothingness, you start to feel as if you’re nothing and have nothing at all left. Then songs like this come around and you don’t feel like scum. You feel alright with the bad, and you’ll take the good whenever it comes back around. Thank goodness for Candy Darling.