…vs My Brain

9 05 2017

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With it being Mental Health Awareness Week, I guess now is a good a time as any to ramble on about my past year. In fact, it was probably longer than a year- I just put off dealing with whatever my brain was telling me, and not telling me.

Last October I think I pretty much had my very own breakdown. It was at 2/3am. I remember sitting on my bed in some weird position crying, having a panic attack after panic attack. I was at war with my head. I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t switch off. Nothing maintained my attention. I was starting to worry about myself. Prior, I just didn’t care. I went to the doctor and after a few minutes I was told to do a self-referral for treatment. I put this off for a few weeks, then stopped being a stubborn dick and did it.

Now I care more than I did. I went to the doctor a second time earlier this year, as my referral for CBT was going to be some time- the second stage of it. I made no improvements with the first lot. Labelled as having severe anxiety and mild depression. Labels are for foodstuffs- I’m not for consumption. Things shouldn’t define a person, just like their actions always shouldn’t. In this case, I wasn’t going to let this be something that ruled who I was and my life- enough was enough. I went to my doctor. She looked at me and asked how she could help. I cried. I broke down like a child and cried. I said “I can’t cope.” Finally admitting to myself that I couldn’t hack whatever was going on in my head.

As someone who can’t take paracetamol without assuming the worse, I had to resign myself to the fact that at this stage- I probably needed something other than talking. I agreed to take medication. Since starting the medication in late February, I am pretty sure that every side effect I had (I had them all) has been worth it. I’d rather have continuous dry mouth than have another fucking panic attack. The side effects have virtually gone. I do have days where I get this really bad pain in my stomach or the occasional headache, but I’d take that over how I was and what I was putting myself through. Or rather, what my brain was putting me through. I had my assessment for my second stage of CBT. I was being asked questions that weren’t relevant and being asked to focus on things that I really don’t need to. I felt as if I had to say what they wanted, and I didn’t want to be made to bring things up that don’t need to be. So I discharged myself. I decided rather than waste their time (and mine) I would give up my place for someone else who needs it more than me. I tried, and for me, that’s the main thing. But it just wasn’t for me.

Everyone bangs on about it, but support is key. I’ve got a handful of people that I know have my back and are there for me. Just like I am there for them. It also helps having a girlfriend who has a similar shit sleeping pattern so I have someone at 1am when I can’t sleep and everything seems too much. She’s my rock, and I try my hardest to be hers.

Music has been a massive help for me. We went to see Banks in March, and for me I think that was the point where I solidly felt okay. At one point going to gigs was just overwhelming. Going to work was overwhelming. Not because I hate my job or anything like that- far from it. But the effort of having to get out of bed and the overwhelming feeling of being on a packed train. My brain was slowly failing me. Or maybe I was failing myself for not taking better care. Music has been my other rock. Certain songs (which I’ll link below) have played a massive part in my brain healing and keeping me calm. I go the gym during the week after work to allow myself to take care of my body as well as my mind.

My bad days now don’t feel near as half as bad as they once were. I don’t have to fake being alright because I genuinely feel just fine at the moment. I’m not thinking long-term because that shit is scary. If I can get through one day without feeling terrible, I’m fine. My last panic attack was on the 2nd March. It’s been two months. I still feel a little shitty at times and certain things at the moment are fucking tough but, you can’t control everything.

I am not brave, I am not tough. All I did was reach breaking point. All I did was let myself get worse before I realised something needed to be done.

I’m alright. I’m happy with that. I’m alright.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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“Between the cities, between the thrills. There’s something inside you, it doesn’t sleep well.”

22 12 2016

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“It won’t last forever
Or maybe it will.”

 

A few months ago I went to the doctor because I felt like shit. Shit is the only word I can use, I guess. Although I don’t think it covers it. I told him everything I felt and he said “depression and anxiety.” You can’t even make it sound good. You know, at least if you have a cold your voice gets a bit husky and suddenly people want you to talk more. But anxiety and depression? You might as well say you’ve got something not mentioning. For me, I’m conflicted. Part of me is sort of glad I know what’s wrong with me but the other part wants it gone. I’ve been told it gets better but right now, no part of me sees that. I have more bad days than good.

Last Friday I had 5 panic attacks in under 2 and a bit hours. I’d have much preferred someone to have punched me in the face for 2 hours. It would have hurt less. The aftermath of a panic attack for me is equally as bad as having one. I get a migraine straight away but with a normal migraine, the  pain is less tense and the nausea that comes with it I can sort of tame. After a panic attack, the migraine just doesn’t go. It’s a constant stabbing sensation in my head and the feeling of being sick stays. It’s debilitating and exhausting.
The thing with depression and anxiety is that no one sees it. No one can see someone is mentally unwell. They don’t see someone who has to set an alarm half an hour before they need to be up so they actually get up and go to work. They don’t see how everyday small things can set a person off. And that’s okay. Imagine if we could see it. It would be useful but as someone who hates any form of attention, I’d probably be worse. Most days I just want to stay in bed. I don’t want to see or speak to anyone. It used to be passed off by others as me being “difficult” or “unsociable.” I’m neither of these things. Although sometimes you do just want to tell people to piss off don’t you. But I think that’s just human nature.
There are parts of you that feel, “what if no one believes me?” I’m stuck with that constantly. I feel because I can force a smile at times and laugh- maybe I don’t have these things. Maybe it’s not real. It comes and goes. I don’t always feel shit, but I do and I think that’s okay. I’ve learnt to try find a safe space wherever I am. As I live in a stupidly big city, it’s hard to find any form of peace. For me, the gym is my safe space. I used to go because I hated being fat and hated my body. I still do, but now it’s to keep my mind clear as best as I can. Going to gigs used to be my safety net but the last gig I went to, I had a panic attack and had to leave. This was a month ago and since, I’ve missed a handful of gigs because I can’t set my mind free.
Like some, music is my safety net. Certain bands/singers voices and music take away how overbearing and how overwhelming this feeling is. Certain bands have become my safety net, my safe space for when I can’t physically get somewhere.
From the rowdiness of Melvins to the calming sounds of Beach House, certain songs take whatever is happening away. But not all the time. Sometimes it’s just no use- and that’s okay.
I’ve chosen a couple of songs that have been vital in calming me down and being my crutch whenever I’ve needed. The songs that store my sanity but as yet, don’t have the power to keep everything at bay. But that’s fine. I’ve experienced understanding and a lack of understanding through all this. I’ve started CBT and apparently that will work. As someone who has a dislike for things like that, it’s tough. My mind is open. Ironically, I had 2 panic attacks whilst on my way to my first session so that was a great experience. Maybe it will help, maybe it won’t. I don’t know- nobody does. And that’s okay.
Anyway, enough of the self-indulgent bullshit. Have some songs:

 

 





CROCODILES: Night And Day Cafe. 14th October 2016

16 10 2016


I feel I use my holiday allowance from work wisely-to go see bands. Sure I could save up and have a proper holiday, but seeing as my passport has just ran out and I don’t have the money to renew it, I go for sensible options such as going to different cities here to see my favourite bands. Friday night was no exception.

It’s not a lot, but Friday was my tenth time seeing Crocodiles. From finding their debut record by accident to this. I can’t think of any other band I could admire and respect as much as this. Easily the hardest working and most dedicated bunch of people I’ve ever met, and it truly comes through in their music, and in their shows.

This Friday (21st) sees the release of their new record, Dreamless. It picks up where Boys left off and takes you into another direction, again. The fact that none of their records sound the same makes them easy to just love and never shy away from having them on repeat. Their live shows are addictive and I think a lot of the time it can be to do with the crowd. I’ve seen them mainly in London but I’ve always found Manchester crowds to be the best. Not just for their shows, but in general. Night And Day is the perfect place to see Crocodiles. It’s just the right size and the atmosphere is how you imagine it should be when you see a band you love. I marked the occasion by, when leaving the venue, taking the poster of the gig from a board outside. I’ll get a frame for it, because I’m that sentimental.

The set is a solid mix of all albums. All of them make you leave the show feeling as if you should pick up an instrument and make your own noise. If you watch Charlie and you leave not wanting to play the guitar, then you missed the point entirely. They’re the band you need to see when everything seems a bit askew. Songs from the new record sound amazing live, and for purely personal reasons my highlight was Telepathic Lover. It’s not only my favourite song of the year but when I first heard it a few months ago, I knew instantly that it was my favourite song by them. The lyrics are ones I hold very close to me and helped with a lot upon hearing it. I owe them for that.

Songs like I Wanna Kill and Neon Jesus are always a pleasure to see live. Mirrors always unleashes a gentle but stirring rage inside.But for me, it’s their cover of Jet Boy Jet Girl that does it. Accompanied with an intro by Charlie, “this is from 1970 fuck you.” 

And just like that, it’s all over. Here’s to another ten shows and beyond. If someone told me to pick just one band to see live for the rest of time, I would easily pick Crocodiles. There’s something about them that makes me feel like I’m not in this lifetime. I love watching each of them on stage because each of them have this magnetic quality about them. They make it all look so easy. So effortlessly cool, it’s like Lou Reed has come back to life with Joey Ramone in tow. They take everything I love about music and make something that I’ve never heard before. As they take us on a journey through each of their records, you can’t help but wonder why they are so underrated? I have no idea why but it’s obvious how hard-working they are, and how loved they are by those at the show.

As mentioned, Dreamless is out this Friday. Buy it, learn the words and I’ll see you at the front.





CROCODILES: Dreamless.

5 10 2016

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“If you want somewhere to run to, and if you want someone to tell you the truth- go look out your window, baby.”

I’ve got a handful of things in life that make me truly happy. The obvious one being music. However, getting to write about a band who I adore (they’re not just a band, I’m lucky enough to class them as friends.) Writing about a band you love when they’re about to release something truly beautiful, well, that’s another great feeling entirely. I’ve had a copy of Dreamless by Crocodiles since May. I was given it at a point where I needed something, and I got it instantly from Dreamless. Hopefully when you hear it, you’ll get what I mean. I know I like to take apart each song when writing about a record, but I’m getting by on not much sleep at the moment so it probably won’t start or end well.

It’s so obvious how much I love Crocodiles music. From the moment I picked up their first record based on the artwork to fast forwarding to now, writing about Dreamless. Summer Of Hate and Sleep Forever had this amazing aggressive sound. Effortlessly menacing that left you wanting more. Endless Flowers took this menacing sound and mixed it with something so delicate which fully bloomed (pardon the pun) on Crimes Of Passion. Boys flirted with all their previous records- so what is left for them to do with Dreamless? Oh dear reader, they are just getting started.

I’ve looked through the records I own and also the music I haver stored on my laptop, and I can easily reel off the names of bands who much like Crocodiles change with every record. These are the kinds of bands that make you want to make your own, the kind that keep your attention constantly. Bands like The Kills and back to the likes of Captain Beefheart, Ramones, Patti, Morrissey- I could go on. And on. These are the ones who are gloriously fearless and can make each record sound as if they are a brand new band but still maintain a style that makes them tower above others. Crocodiles do it with every record. Dreamless is no exception. Although record in Mexico City, it sounds like it was born out a damp ridden apartment in Berlin circa early 70s. They’ve always given me that feeling, and for me- that’s how I want something to sound. I want it to take me somewhere I have physically yet to go, but mentally I am always there.

The record opens with Telepathic Lover, which consists of my favourite lyrics to any song I’ve heard all year. When I played it for the first time, it blew my mind. I felt this, massive connection to the lyrics, and they have been the backbone to a lot of thoughts I’ve had this year and god knows what else I’ve carried. “Telepathic Lover, please don’t look into my mind. Telepathic lover, you won’t like what you find.” Hands down my favourite lyrics of the year and probably my favourite by them, ever. There are so many songs by them I could list as being my favourite or what have you, but this one has something that just leaves me in awe of them. This is the one I keep going back to. It’s like meeting someone who really gets you.

Time To Kill has some gorgeous words to, and is beautifully sung. Brandon’s voice sounds like a gentle whisper on this one, and it makes the words echo more in your ears, and brain. It’s got a haunting sound to it, and this eerie tone lures you in. You feel secure but slightly scared all at once. Aside from the whole damn record being a work of glorious art and me obsessing over Telepathic Lover- you should know that Jumping On Angels is also one of the finest moments on the record. If this makes their live shows (I can only hope it does) then I’m pretty sure it’ll make the song sound greater than it already is. What I love about this record, is that the lyrics really make you think. I’ve spent a lot of time going back and forth over songs I love and finding lyrics that I love, and lyrics that mean something. With this record, Crocodiles have again made something that just makes you think and see things differently. They challenge themselves and the listener with every record, and that alone is a reason to completely love and respect them. Produced once again by Martin Thulin, it’s really no surprise that this is probably the best record you’ll hear all year.

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Welcome To Hell has this groove to it that makes you want to dance, but when you delve into the lyrics- you’ll again, see just how brilliant they are at writing songs that just make you take your mind elsewhere. Welcome To Hell makes you feel like you’ve wound up in a fight in the middle of some dodgy bar, and as you stumble home, the trouble just doesn’t leave you be. You just need to get yourself home and shut off.Welcome To Hell also has the brilliant line, “I never should have been a Peeping Tom.” Wonderfully perverse, in the best way. I’m Sick has this way of making you feel less alone with burden of self you can carry around at times. An easy song to relate to- listen to it and don’t be too tough on yourself.

I guess it shows at times I never re-read anything I’ve written, and I know I’ve probably missed out so much. I know I could have said so much more about Dreamless and how stunning it is. But, if you’re already a fan of Crocodiles then you’ll already know what to expect. You’ll already know that with every record, they blow your mind and do something to just make you love them even more. Songs like Go Now are perfect to play when you need some quiet time to get it together.

Crocodiles are currently on tour in Europe and will be coming over to the UK within the next few days. I’m skipping the London date and going to Manchester instead. You can’t miss seeing your favourite band at one of your favourite places, can you?!

Come out and see them at any of the following dates. Dreamless will be released on 21st October on Zoo Music.

1th October 2016 – Leeds Headrow House
13th October 2016 – Glasgow Broadcast
14th October 2016 – Manchester Night and Day
15th October 2016 – London Hackney Wonderland





CROCODILES: Telepathic Lover.

5 07 2016
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photo by Jimmy Fontaine

“Telepathic lover, am I under your control?”

 

This is going to be painfully biased. When it comes to Crocodiles, I can only form a biased opinion because it is blatantly obvious how much I love and adore them, as people and the music they make. I can tell you now that Dreamless is my favourite record of the year, I’ve been playing it solidly for the past few months. It makes my disdain for people being oblivious to personal space on public transport easier to get my head around. It makes living in an overwhelming city easier to deal with, at times. When I heard Dreamless, Telepathic Lover was the song I instantly connected with based on the lyrics. The more I listen to it, the more I can relate to it.

Many have said that Telepathic Lover is different to what Crocs have done previously, and to an extent that is true. But this song is as gentle as All My Hate, Screaming Chrome, She Splits Me Up and Blue. Brandon’s voice is nothing short of gorgeous on this song, and goes so well with Charlie’s tame guitar playing. For the most part what drew me to them was how loud and brutal they were. Neon Jesus grabbed me in a way that no other song did at that time. My first heartbreak was soothed by their debut record, and from then on I learnt how to not take everything to heart- there are worse problems, and breakups make you who you are-tougher. That said, I’ll cry at anything to do with cute animals. I can’t stop myself.

Telepathic Lover opens with my favourite lyric of the year, “Telepathic lover, please don’t look into my mind. Telepathic lover, you won’t like what you find.” I can reel off lyrics from Ash & Ice by The Kills and claim they were written for me, but this line is easily the one I can fully identify with. There’s so much truth in it. Having someone who knows every thought in your head before you try blurt it out is massively terrifying, but also comforting because if they stick around- then you know it’s worth more than anything else in the world. These are the ones you cling to and love for life. I’m into lyrics/ words in general in a huge way. As someone who is 80% useless most of the time with their own, I take a lot from others- mainly bands/singers. I’ve heard a lot of myself in the music that Brandon and Charlie make, and Telepathic Lover is by no means an exception. I’ve spent a lot of time listening to Dreamless, and I find myself constantly going back to Telepathic Lover. We’ve all met/had someone who is a telepathic lover- keep them. Makes life less daunting.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve played Telepathic Lover, but each time I, as cliched as it sounds, find something else to adore. From Martin Thulin’s (he also produced this record, along with Boys) captivating playing on the keys, another lyric to love, the way Brandon sings certain parts of the song, Charlie’s effortlessly cool guitar playing- there’s always something there in the song for me to keep going back to. Something new to love about the song. The whole record is made up of beautiful songs like Telepathic Lover, and I think that’s why Dreamless is going to be one of the finest records we will hear all year. It is made up of gentle and tough songs. If you’ve never listening to Crocs before, you’ve got until October to go back and listen to their previous five in time for record number six. What else are you going to do? Or maybe work your way backwards. Start with Dreamless in October, then go back . It’s up to you. Dreamless picks up where Boys left off, and it’s a great place to be in. They seem to put a record out nearly every year, and for me that commends more respect than most.

There is something still ferocious in their music, but it’s kind of like a Nick Cave kind of thing here- dark lyrics, gentle voice and hypnotic sounds. Crocodiles thankfully don’t have a set sound. They don’t have anything typical about them, and I’m so glad Telepathic Lover has been chosen as the single because it shows them exactly for who they are- if you expect their music to always sound like this, you’ll be proven wrong but you will constantly be blown away by how bloody brilliant they are.

You don’t have to take my biased opinion on board, I’m just glad I can finally unleash how I feel about this song onto any poor soul who may read this.

You can stream the single here: http://www.stereogum.com/1885271/crocodiles-telepathic-lover-stereogum-premiere/mp3s/

Dreamless is out 21st October on Zoo Music.

 






CROCODILES-Boys.

26 04 2015

There are some bands that repeat themselves with every record they make. Their blandness is what some may be drawn to and keeps them “loyal” but there are some bands who not only exceed any expectations one may have of them, but they also manage to come out with something hugely different to what they’ve done before. There are a few bands I love that fall into this category, and they’re ones that I’ll continue to write about because it’s just bloody wonderful to hear what they’re going to do next.

12th May is the release date for my pals new record. Crocodiles are finally releasing their fifth record Boys. Everything I am going to write about this record is just my biased opinion, and if I were you I’d just buy the record and sack off anything I may say because it’ll just be an enthusiastic ramble. But if you’re into that kind of thing, let’s be friends and go into this together.

I did want to do this as a track-by-track review but I don’t really like doing them because it’s so structured, and I don’t like any form of organisation.

For me, the record sounds like it has stemmed from the roots of depravity in the back streets of New York in the 70s when Punk was slowly but surely getting some attention. In all the right places, Crocodiles have picked up on the smuttiness and wit in the likes of Transformer and Sally Can’t Dance. They’ve also got something Iggy Pop-esque flowing around Kool TV. Last year when they played Hackney Wonderland, I remember them performing some new tracks and Foolin’ Around was one that really stood out. The bassline is slick as the one on Groove Is In The Heart. This record is sordid and brilliant. If this record was a place, it would be a camp dive bar in the underbelly of Mexico city. It makes the uneasy feel alright in their skin. Crybaby Demon sounds like something that The Stone Roses could have easily put out. It’s got something really special about it that just cements the idea that Crocodiles are probably the best around.

There’s a song that I need to do a special mention on. Blue is probably the best song that they’ve done to date. Every record they’ve put out has one song on it that towers a little over the rest. It’s just over 3 and a half minutes long, but it feels like a lengthy and satisfying daydream. It’s the perfect song to drift away to as the sun sets, you just gaze into nothing in particular and Brandon’s hazy voice sends you on this gorgeous trip. Charlie enhances the dream with the whirling guitar sounds that flow in and out of your ears. It is my personal favourite from Boys, and easily in my top 3 songs by Crocodiles. I would happily write a massive essay on the song, and when you listen to it next month you’ll see exactly why. A gorgeous song that you just have to keep going back to. You zone out properly to this one.

Although the record was done in Mexico, it feels like something from Iggy, Bowie and Lou’s take on Berlin. It’s got that something about it that just feels really familiar and comforting, but then there are songs that just feel like something you’ve never experienced before. There are many bands that are doing weird and wonderful things, but Crocodiles take it some place else. More than anything, I wish these guys were credited more for their lyrics. Their lyrics are bouts of depraved prose and thoughts to expand the mind.

Boys consists of songs you would hear in an underground drag bar in the depths of New York, Mexico, London…anywhere and everywhere. They are songs to lure in a lover at 2am when everyone is being spilled out into the street or to just throw your limbs about to (go nuts to Foolin’ Around, Hard and Do The Void.)

Writing about a band like Crocodiles is easy because they make every release as interesting as the last. Each record feels like hearing them for the first time. The first time I heard their music was back in 2009. I moved back home after being dumped, wandered into HMV and saw the cover of Summer Of Hate staring at me. I didn’t know anything about them, but I picked it up along with Love Comes Close by Cold Cave. I turned one of the worst feelings possible into something I could handle. I found two bands who have since become the world to me. The thing about Crocodiles that I love the most is that they make me feel like I am anywhere but where I am. I don’t feel like I’m in 2015; I feel like I’m in the 70s watching Punk win over hearts and guiding those who are fed up. Crocs are a mix of all the stuff I love and things I’ve never heard before. They bring all these insane sounds together and make something that is worth treasuring.

I’ll say it’s their best record until number 6 comes out, you know how it is. If you’ve yet to experience the world of Crocs, then let Boys be the one that seduces you, let it be the one that you cheat on other bands with. And in time, it will go from being your bit on the side to the love of your life.

Crocodiles start their US tour in 3 days time, and will be coming over to Europe in June. Personally, I’m massively excited to see them in Manchester as part of the Manchester Psych Fest along with July (this is fucking HUGE.) I’ve always wanted to see them in Manchester, and with July also?! Oh man who needs Christmas!

Boys is out via Zoo Music on the 12th May and is produced by the incredible Martin Thulin. And yes, it is my record of the year.