RECORDS OF 2013.

21 12 2013

I thought I had 10 solid records to list as my favourite this year. My utter favourite has not changed; that was the only one I was 100% sure on. I change my mind a lot, about most things. What I like today, I may dislike tomorrow. Or in 10 minutes. It keeps things interesting to an extent, then it just gets confusing. I don’t like order or structure. Music is my favourite sound. People bragging about how much they drank the night before is my least favourite. If only there was a mute button for conversation.

With it being close to the end of the year, everyone thinks their opinion is better than other people’s when talking about their favourite record, songs, books etc of the year that has passed. My opinion isn’t made for counting or even worth acknowledging. To the one person who’ll read this; I hope you own at least one of the records I mention here. Of course, you don’t have to own it but you know..buy yourself something nice. Anyway. This isn’t in order, but the last record I mention is my favourite of the year.

Dirty Beaches- Love Is The Devil/Drifters. Anything Alex does always blows me away. He’s someone who, when you listen to his music, you can tell is truly in an untouchable zone when he makes music. You can sense that nothing distracted him in the process, and when you listen to his music nothing distracts you from that intimate moment you have listening to his music. To an extent music is pretty voyeuristic. We are listening in on other people’s thoughts and feelings. They know someone is listening; they just don’t know who. I’ve read vile criticism of this record from those who wanted Badlands part 2. It’s rally unfair to Alex because he’s one of the most passionate musicians out there; and to assume he’s going to make the same record over and over is just wrong. Same goes for many more, I know. But Alex’s music just stands out. I finally got to see him live this year, and watching him felt like you were witnessing someone unleash every demon that their body posses. It was a truly beautiful show. I interviewed him, and although it was done via email I could easily sense just how much music means to him. He’s not someone who’s had success come easy to him, and that hunger is firmly within him to keep making music. When I heard the song, Love Is The Devil it just broke my heart because it had this raw beauty to it, but pain also. It was overwhelming at times to listen to this record because of the rawness of it. The honesty in this record just makes you proud to be a fan of his music. Alex’s music makes you want to everything behind and fall in love with a gloomy European city that has history of romantic and haunting literature, with locals telling stories in dingy cafes.

Ezra Furman- Day Of The Dog. The hot pink cover did it for me. Ezra is an incredible song-writer; Day Of The Dog showcases this better than before. The songs are full of lust, self-doubt, hate (directed at the self and others) and is done in a way that doesn’t seem like it is self-pitying bullshit. So far from it. The philosophical lyrics with the delightful sax playing just makes this record a pleasure to listen to. For me, Tell ‘Em All To Go To Hell is a brilliant “fuck you” and is the perfect soundtrack to those pissed off moods we are all prone to. Ezra has this way of touching on dark subjects in a way that disguises just how dark the feeling is. It’s the kind of music you speed off into the sunset too, where night-time is all you crave. His song-writing skills are enviable. He’s not afraid to pour his heart out for all to hear; for me that’s what makes this record wonderful.

Deptford Goth- Life After Defo. For the most part, what I listen to is some kind of take on Garage rock. However, sometimes something in music happens and I just fall for it. I have no idea what genre Deptford Goth’s music falls into. I don’t really care. There’s only two kinds of music for me- music I listen to and music I don’t listen to. Why waste your time on pointless sub-genres that feed those pretentious idiots out there. Deptford Goth’s debut record is one I have played constantly on train/tube journeys as everything is dark and the odd flickering street-light is all I see. I’ve walked country roads listening to this when I was living at my mum’s- when the evenings were light. His music fits the night-time perfectly. His gentle voice makes you feel as if you have something like a best friend walking with you to guide you through anything and everything. This is the kind of music that just stays locked in the heart. I’ve tried listening to Life After Defo when it is light out, but when you start to feel tired when on a long journey as the day fades- his music becomes so apt. I advise getting on a train just as it’s getting dark, head into your nearest city and walk around listening to this record. It just makes everything feel alright and secure.

SISU-Blood Tears. Fronted by Dum Dum Girls’ drummer Sandra (she’s also the best drummer I’ve ever seen live) SISU make hypnotic music to lose your mind to. Blood Tears has an eerie feel to it, as if it should be in some insanely fucked up horror film. Th best songs usually have this feel to them don’t they. Yet Sandra’s delicate voice makes you feel at ease. It’s the kind of record you play when the sky is covered in a haunting mist; the sounds will direct you where you want to go. You get lost in the beautiful moments that Blood Tears creates. Blood Tears posses this attitude that makes you think you can pretty much take anything and anyone on. Think, Garbage’s debut record- that kind of powerful. Dominant but not obnoxious in the slightest. It’s a powerful record that pretty much merges everything I love and adore about music.

PINS-Girls Like Us. Debut record of the year; no questions about it. This ferocious and dark debut record from the finest band in Manchester is one I’ve been playing on constant repeat since it came out. Every song is addictive. My love for PINS started last year when I heard the anthemic LuvU4Lyf. If you’ve seen PINS live, you will know just how pleasurable this song is to witness live. It is like a battle cry for hearts that are full of love; all bouts of lust have faded, and it has become something tougher. Speaking of tough, Girls Like Us has a gang-like feel to it. All too often I’ve seen PINS be described as a “girl band.” If only people defined music by what it sounds like rather than the gender of those making it. PINS are pretty much the most exciting band in the UK and I honestly cannot praise this record enough. It is, in my mind, a debut masterpiece. I’m so excited about how their sound is going to grow; I just bloody adore them. You get that, right?!

POP. 1280-Imps Of Perversion. The only person I know who really loves this band aside from myself is my uncle. We both share a mutual love for all things weird and loud. POP.1280 are one of the best bands on the brilliant Sacred Bones label. You see, Sacred Bones have never released a shit record. Some labels do have questionable moments; but Sacred Bones do take risks, and they do it in a way that means the listener is going to experience some of the best music imaginable. By no means are POP.1280 easy to listen to. This isn’t a record to woo a lover to or to play to your Gran at a family gathering. Oh no. Imps Of Perversion is a collective of perverse songs that you should play in your bedroom as loud as you want to. Feel as free as you want. Let the music fuck you up and over. It’ll go through your bones, smash your skull and leave you wondering why this isn’t played on commercial radio. Let them have your noise; you’ve got your own. Imps Of Perversion is as noisy and as brutal as it gets. This is one record I’d love to have witnessed the recording process for. It is brilliantly weird and wired.

The Long Wives- A Collection Of Demonstrations And Demons. I’ve been writing about Brandy for some time now, and since accidentally finding her music there’s not been a day where I’ve not listened to her haunting voice. Her voice is scary and powerful. Her songs show that she is one of the best song-writers around; the way she tells stories enables you to feel the fury she feels in her songs. This is her debut record, but it’s pretty much a collection of old songs and demos on there. It does have my favourite, Judas Hex on. It’s one of my favourite songs by Brandy, but to pin point what it is that I love about her music would take an eternity; I simply cannot justify my love for her music. If I ever had the money and was okay with being on a plane for 8 hours, I’d fly to LA and hang out with her in a graveyard and discuss life in general with her. She’s like a stripped back version of Zola Jesus; by this I mean her music makes you think. And I mean REALLY think about everything around you. Her music to me, is romantic and can cure the heart of any illness that is surrounding it. Her lyrics are vulnerable and the way she sings is just breathtaking. She’s an inspiration for sure.

Willis Earl Beal- Nobody Knows. From one musical genius to another; Willis is the man who is putting some much-needed soul into music right now. He appeals to the loner in me, which as I get older, becomes more and more obvious. I like my own company more than I used to, which  guess is an adjustment to getting older. I hate being in large groups of people, I just really hate it. Willis’ voice has a lot of soul to it, and his debut record had a lot of pain surrounding it. Read his background story, and you’ll see why. Nobody Knows has bouts of hope and strength in it. His song with the gorgeous Chan Marshall (Cat Power) just makes you feel as if everything is going to be alright again. It also makes you want them to make a full length record together. Followed by a tour is dingy, intimate venues. I can picture it now. Perfectly. Nobody Knows is the perfect middle finger to those who think most fall victim to that “second record” beast. It is obvious for the most part that it is a myth. Willis stamps all over it. His voice is extremely powerful; just look up videos of him singing without any music and you’ll quickly realise that he’s one of the greatest.

Savage Sister-Savage Sister. Savage Sister; with a name like that you’d think they’d be making menacing goth style music. They’re pretty much the opposite of that. They’re as gentle as Youth Lagoon, Beach House and Tamaryn combined. Basically, they are ideal. Their dream-like debut release is just ethereal from start to finish. Of course it is like you are floating amongst the clouds with your eyes shut as everything just passes you by. You don’t need to take notice of anything around you, because with this record, Savage Sister create moments for you that stay lodged in your brain and etched upon your heart forever. This debut release was one I’d been hugely excited for last year, and when I was emailed a copy I was so excited to finally hear it. There is something magical about this band; and they are much more than a sacred listen. Everyone should listen to them because they could possibly be the soundtrack to those memorable moments in your life. Savage Sister make music to float away and dream to. Listen and dream away.

CROCODILES- CRIMES OF PASSION. So this was pretty much an easy one. It was my record of the year before it was released; before I even heard it. I just knew it was going to blow my mind. I heard it a few months before it came out, and I was trembling with excitement as I listened to it. I get the same excitement now when I listen to it. I notice something different about each song with every listen. I initially thought I could pick one song that I loved the most, but I realised this wasn’t going to happen for me. I love She Splits Me Up but I love the lyrics to I Like It In The Dark (“I don’t have the time for a graveyard of the mind that they call shame.”) But I adore the whole romantic feel throughout the record. I was beyond excited to finally meet the band in the summer and to be able to see them live a couple of times; when I interviewed them about this record, I started picking up on different things about it. Songs that influenced by poets such as Baudelaire to Patti Smith. I’ve loved Crocodiles since the start and to hear them go from the likes of Neon Jesus to Marquis De Sade is just amazing. Live they are on a different level. Their fans really feel the music, and know they are part of something unruly and unconventional; that’s why I love them. If I was in a band, I’d want to have the same approach to music as Crocodiles do. There are so many reasons as to why Crimes Of Passion is my record of the year; but for the most part, the meanings are sentimental and close to my heart. VIVA CROCODILES!

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10 Songs I Became Obsessed With In 2013.

12 12 2013

It’s the time of year where everyone voices their opinion on what was good and what was shit about this year, musically. Most do it all the time anyway and these lists are of course, boring. As someone who isn’t exactly thrilling, I might as well add to the boring lists much like I did last year. And probably the year before that. I’ve not got an impressive memory so I’ll start with songs that where out this year that I really liked. And by that I mean constantly playing them until I wished to never hear them again. I still play them. Music doesn’t bore me. Well, music I like doesn’t bore me.

For the past week I’ve been ill. Some kind of cold/flu thing. I missed the Peace gig last Saturday. That was pretty shit. But I was sensible, and I suppose it was for the best. A constant earache which is causing headaches and a constant feel of tiredness/exhaustion. Never mind. I’m here to write about what matters to me- music. Let’s see if I can write this without wanting to change my mind every 5 minutes. This will be in no order, aside from the last song I mention because that will be my favourite of the year.  Here we go:

Say Lou Lou- Feels Like We Only Go Backwards. Elektra and Miranda’s cover of this Tame Impala song is beautiful. Yes I could have mentioned Beloved or Better In The Dark. I chose this cover because they did it in a way that makes you feel as if they wrote it. I play this song most evenings on the tube home from work. Resting my head against the window and all I see are street lights. Everything is lit up perfectly, and this song evokes solitude. A state of bliss yet frustrations of never being able to get ahead. Something I think most can relate to. I finally saw Say Lou Lou live the day after my birthday in November, and it was such a magical thing to be part of. Their voices are angelic but can portray pain in a way most spend their life trying to figure out. There is something wonderfully charming about them. Something which you cannot get out of your head, and I’m just fine with that.

Deptford Goth- Bloody Lip. Pretty much everything I just said above about Say Lou Lou can be said for Daniel. His debut record, Life After Defo was one of the best to have come out this year. It was just a step ahead of everything I’ve been listening to, but also quite different from the bands I’ve been listening to. His music is ideal to listen to late at night when nobody else is around. Whether you’re laying in bed searching for answers or on the late train home with nothing much to occupy you. His music soothes the soul. His gentle voice offers reassurance for those times when you aren’t so sure. (I wanted to pick Union but that came out in 2012.)

Cold Cave- People Are Poison. After waiting years, I finally got to see Cold Cave this year. Seeing Wes and Amy live was a brilliant experience. I wasn’t really sure which Cold Cave song I wanted to pick. Originally I wanted to go with A Little Death To Laugh, but after listening to People Are Poison a few more times- I made my choice, of course I am likely to want to change my mind but for now I’m sticking with People Are Poison. Cold Cave are a band that have meant a lot to me for a long time, and Wes’ words have been my crutch for even longer (listen to American Nightmare) and he just has this brilliant way of unleashing fury and the like in a way that seems less daunting to carry around.

Ezra Furman- Tell ‘Em All To Go To Hell. I just love Ezra. He’s the kind of person you’d want to be in a band with, tour the world with. Get lost on the motorway with him and write an album’s worth of songs whilst waiting for help. The sax on this song is awesome. My girlfriend has a saxophone, but I doubt she’d want me to try play along to this song. Or any song. I fully appreciate that. I’d probably cause the windows to shake and break. I just love the opening line; “I’m a runaway dog and I’m kicking up dust. In a Chevy Express with a hood full of rust.” For me, that opening line is on par with Search And Destroy by The Stooges; “I’m a street walkin’ cheetah with a heart full of napalm.” They DO make them like they used to, you just got to dig a bit deeper to find it.

PINS-Girls Like Us. Easily could mention every song off their debut record which finally came out this year. PINS are amazing live, anyone who’s seen them knows exactly how fascinating they are to watch. I chose Girls Like Us because it feels like a pleasurable punch to the face. I was going to go with To You, but there’s something about Girls Like Us which has an anthemic feel to it. It pumps you up and makes you feel as if you are part of something that makes you tougher than you initially thought you were. I just think PINS are one of the most exciting bands to come out of England in a very long time. Quite frankly, they are Manchester’s finest.

LOOM- I Get A Taste. There aren’t many bands around who posses the same energy that The Jesus And Mary Chain had. Not many are willing to express this rage and the like in that kind of way. It’s too much for them, they physically cannot do it. At least we have a band who are willing to do that. I remember liking their Facebook page and they virtually no one aware of who they are. Thankfully people are starting to listen, and they are seeing just how exciting they really are. They are beyond brutal and I think if you don’t feel as if you’ve been beaten up after you’ve listened to them, you’re not doing it right. I’ve yet to see them live, something always gets in the way of me doing so. Pretty such people will leave their shows with bloody faces and ripped clothes. Just as it should be!

Autumns- Who Would Have Thought. Soft Power Records are pretty much my favourite record label. They’ve been behind the best releases this year, and have exposed me to some truly great music over the past year and a bit. Out of all of their releases, Autumns has been one that’s stuck out the most. Autumns is just one guy making a lot of noise. He’s Derry’s answer to Dirty Beaches. He plays with this admirable passion that just leaves you stunned. He makes you want to pick up a guitar and make your own scene- to hell with what anyone else thinks or says. Who Would Have Thought really shows how brilliant he is, and how fearless he is with his music. He’s someone who is constantly leaving me in awe with what he does. I sincerely hope 2014 is just as amazing for him as 2013 was. He really does deserve it.

Royal Chant- Did You Pay Cash For That Panic Attack? Okay so this was recorded last year, but the video came out in January, so we’ll go with the date of the video. I love Royal Chant. I think Mark is an exceptional song-writer. Mainly because he manages to write the songs I wish I could. They’re good guys with big hearts, and I’ve vowed to not leave their side when they come to the UK. Did You Pay Cash is a tidal wave of unapologetic angst. They’re (pardon my language) fucking brilliant. I don’t know what I’d do without them. I went with this song because it immediately meant a lot to me. You can’t put a price on that nor are there words good enough to express it. They know though. They know.

Dum Dum Girls-Lost Boys And Girls Club. I’m just going to call Too True as being the best record of 2014. Nothing else needs to be released next year. It’s ALL about Too True. Lost Boys And Girls Club is not like previous Dum Dum Girls songs, and that’s why I’m a huge fan. Every record and EP they’ve put out has always been different from the last. Dee Dee isn’t afraid to experiment with sounds and be brutally honest with her words. Coming Down remains one of the few songs to truly pick me up when everything is just wrong. Dum Dum Girls make music to get lost in, and to also find yourself in. I love this song because it stays with that dream like/hazy feel that is always present in their songs. Dee Dee’s delicate voice is like a reassurance, a call to safety. It just takes you to where you want to be. Lost Boys And Girls Club feels like the ending of a party and you’re watching the sun rise on your own, but you feel alright in doing so. I could quite happily write a thousand plus words about why I love this song. I think all reasoning will come to life when I finally see the band on Saturday. You have no idea how excited I am about seeing them.

CROCODILES- ME AND MY MACHINE GUN. This was tough. At first I thought I wanted to go with I Like It In The Dark. Then I toyed with Teardrop Guitar. Then my mind flirted with She Splits Me Up. Basically, this was tough. I didn’t know which Crocodiles song to go with. This year I got to see them live twice and I got to hang out with Charlie and Brandon before one of their shows for an interview. I had waited since early 2009 to see them live, and to see them twice this year just really did make my year. Crimes Of Passion is an incredible record. It’s one I play every single day on the way to work and on the journey home too. There’s something about it that just blows my mind with every listen. I went with Me And My Machine Gun because it just captures everything I love about Crocodiles. “On the battlefield, search for something I can feel. Just so I can shoot him up. He may be tough but he’s no match for me and my machine. We don’t take no shit from anyone.”  The machine gun can be your loved one, anything you want really. This is a gorgeous song to see live, especially the instrumental at the end. It just catapults you into a different world. Everything about Crocodiles is all I want from a band, and from music.

Maybe I won’t change my mind. I think this is a pretty solid list. However, there are some bands that blew my mind this year and they deserve a mention:

Brown Brogues

Feathers

Virals

Troumaca

Evol

Roses

Savage Sister

Little Death Machine

L.A Witch

Mikey & The Drags.

(PS Dirty Beaches will be mentioned on my record of the year..soon!)





EZRA FURMAN.

15 10 2013

 

“I came up in the world with a pain in my back,
And I never could run with the wolves in the pack.”

There is something, I guess, quite voyeuristic in a way about enjoying hearing really personal lyrics. I’ve always been fascinated with the way Morrissey manages to make ugly feelings seem comforting or the way Shirley Manson managed to drag me through my teenage years kicking and screaming with her words of encouragement. Patti Smith taught me how to be tough. Lou Reed showed me how to find some comfort in who/what I am. Bob Dylan freed my mind. The Jesus And Mary Chain and Nick Cave defined love in ways no one else really ever has. There’s still this amount of honesty floating around in music. Finding it is tougher than it used to me. With those I mentioned it was always there. Nowadays it is quite hit and miss, but there are of course, exceptions. There’s one guy that’s been on my mind for quite some time now. I had to listen for a while to want to write something of worth. Whether or not it is, well..that’s up to whoever reads it. Numbers don’t mean much. That’s why I write as if I’m the only one reading.

Last week Ezra Furman’s new record came out, Day Of The Dog. It’s the definition of pure Rock & Roll. Some songs have a real 50s vibe to it (The Mall, a Paul Baribeau cover) yet others have a real ferocious feel to them (Tell ‘Em All To Go To Hell.) He portrays love, loss and everything that is involved in these two feelings in such a beautiful way. The Mall, even though it isn’t Ezra’s song,  is one of the most heartbreaking and honest songs I’ve heard in a long time. You can really pick up the sadness here, and the sadness is so pure. “I am broken, wide open. Bleeding everywhere.” Sounds like it should be in a Hawthorne Heights song, right? Ezra sings it in a desperate way that makes you listen and really feel it. If anyone else did it, you’d probably tell them to fuck off. He’s got that loveable quality that is in someone who I really admire, Adam Green. He’s not afraid to be brutally honest. He doesn’t need to create pretentious prose in order for you to listen and to connect. Both are just brilliant musicians and lyricists.

As I listen to Day Of The Dog, it makes me glad that I stumble upon most music by accident. If I’ve not been emailed a band/demo, I usually find something by accident. Sometimes accidents are a good thing. Ezra plays with a glorious fury, and I think it is really clear on the song And Maybe God Is A Train. He’s got a Punk style to his words and music; he unleashes the frustrations of daily life out in a way that I wish I could. Pissed off at the government, lack of opportunities, the way people are shit to each other, the dullness of modern life- he just sums it all up in a way that may seem plain, but it hits you hard. You don’t need to sugarcoat situations at all, a great songwriter knows that. I think Ezra knows that. Slacker/Adria is one of the best songs I’ve heard this year, from a brutally honest kind of way. I think it is fair to say that this is probably Day Of The Dog could be the best thing Ezra has done so far.

Ezra is the kind of singer/songwriter those who want to make music should be listening to. He’s got the heart of Punk kid and the soul of a 50s Rock & Roll fanatic. The purity in his music is just magnificent. I’ve not really read any reviews about his music because for the most part, I dislike Music Journalists. The ones who just set up a blog or whatever and slag bands off- piss off. I studied Music Journalism at Uni, and I guess the degree I have serves no purpose, but people like Ezra are the reason as to why I don’t just love music; I need to have music playing. I need to find the next new band/singer that’s going to blow my mind or find an old band that make me realise yet again I was born at the wrong time. I should have been born in ’66 not ’86. I believe if you’re going to write about someone’s music, you should be passionate about it. If you don’t like it, don’t listen to it. Don’t write vicious words just to seem cool. Share the bands you love, and do it with love. If a band or singer are going to put their all into their music; you, as a writer of music, should put your all into writing about them.

That’s why I respect and admire Ezra. He puts his all into his music and time and time again creates something beautiful. His voice, his music and his words are just perfect and unlike anything else around. Maybe Ezra is a hopeless romantic like the rest of us, but he words it all in a way that makes the pains of everyday life less daunting to carry around. I think Metric summed it up best on their song Front Row, “He’s not perfect, he’s my hero.”