SINFATUATION.

Sound Infatuation. Interviews, reviews, and shameless fan ramblings.

Tag: writing

The Stone Pony

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The sunset dwindled as Bad Religion brought punk back to Asbury Park. My heart physically swelled. I looked up towards the Stone Pony header above the stage. We were surrounded by American accents and people who look like they are actually interesting. It wasn’t long until the sky darkened to night, a perfect backdrop behind the bright lights of the Summer Stage. The Offspring came out and it turns out I actually knew almost every song they played, which I wasn’t expecting, they were really good and it was so fun. Everyone surrounding us was in an incredibly happy mood, people who had already drank a few too many were dancing extravagantly to the songs, the air was warm, everyone had a beer in their hand and smiles on their faces. Laughter and sing alongs danced through the sea air as the music blasted out across the shore. I looked up to the sky with all of this going on around me, and with all of my disbelieving heart, I thanked Peter Davies who funded my trip to this wonderful place. He was a brilliant family friend and one of the most hilarious, charmingly odd, unwaveringly sweet and thoughtful people I have ever known, and I was mentally thanking him as much as I can on every day of this trip. He left me some money when he died in early 2013, and I wanted to use it to do something that would mean more to me than paying the rent. I hope somewhere in the atmosphere, in amongst the atoms that make up our physical world, the most mystifying nights and the most magical skies, somewhere in there I hope we collided for a moment long enough tonight for him to know my gratitude and love.

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After the show, we all went and stood on Asbury Park beach (“boardwalk talk in the dead of night”). We played The Patient Ferris Wheel and The Backseat by Gaslight Anthem on my phone, we listened to My Chemical Romance and Misfits, paying a small tribute to the wonderful bands that Jersey has given us. We felt the rain lightly spitting down around my umbrella. It was then that the moment returned to us. This was the same water, the same place where Gerard Way had looked out to the sea and had known My Chemical Romance had to die. Bamboozle Festival, the end of it all. We huddled under the umbrella and sung along to Helena, Talie cried and I hugged her but through some miracle, and possibly for the first time, I did not join in with crying. My eyes welled a bit, but I just felt it and for once this emotion didn’t manifest itself in tears. I took some damp grains of sand from beneath my feet and felt the texture and really tried to KNOW I was there. The whole night felt like a dream.

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Its High Tide, Baby

 

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Merthyr Rock

 

Still The Best in Town

So Saturday the 28th of March saw the final date of The Blackout’s last ever tour after twelve years of being a band. The end of this era drew to a close in the perfect location, right where the journey began; in the town of Merthyr Tydfil.

The Blackout have brought Hope (ha), pride, envy, inspiration and excitement to their hometown over the years following their success, demonstrating to many aspiring local musicians on the South Wales music scene that it is entirely possible to achieve your dreams.

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Pontypridd

 

This is a band who have been the backbone of many a memorable night, and been the soundtrack to many situations throughout my adolescence and early twenties. The Blackout are one of a handful of bands who always cheer me up and energise me. A lot of my favourite bands are brilliant because they somehow have managed to mirror a deep seated emotional agony or, at the very least, some kind of personal feeling. The Blackout are all that passion, and a fireball of infectious energy, yet for the most part they are able to keep me feeling positive rather than spiralling off into that familiar cavern of philosophical life analysis. So here is a list of the top memories that I associate with The Blackout.

The Full Ponty 2007

On our way to The Full Ponty

On our way to The Full Ponty

Still living in the small town of Bradford on Avon at the time, the chance to escape to another small town nestled in the Valleys, home to several rising bands that I was a fan of, seemed very exciting indeed. I got to step out of the westcountry world for a day and back to my original roots in Wales, the country I still always considered my home and gravitated back to whenever possible. On top of this day out, I got the privilege of an incredible line up. Kids in Glass Houses, Paramore, The Automatic, The Gallows, Miss Conduct, Lostprophets, and of course, The Blackout were amongst those who played. That was the first time I saw a full set by The Blackout, and it was love at first listen. I became addicted to I’m A Riot You’re A Fucking Riot from that day to this. The fun song names, the combination of heavy and catchy music, the band’s effortless and often hilarious interactions with the crowd, alongside their performance being impressively aerobic. Seeing Sean Smith climb the rigging whilst screaming into the mic was wonderful entertainment. Showcasing a potentially life threatening manoeuvre is always a crowd pleaser. They were just so alive and that feeling in their music was consistently contagious.

Terry’s, Trowbridge

Throwback

2007 Flashback

Well. This, I can tell you, was a moment of utter disbelief. This was far, far back in the day before I even owned a laptop. Whilst using the family computer for one of my regular MySpace trawls, I was half way through my usual rounds when I stopped breathing. I had been lazily scrolling down The Blackout’s page, when I saw something on their tour dates section that I would have to read about five times to believe. The Blackout were playing Trowbridge.

I lived in Bradford on Avon, which  is roughly two minutes from Trowbridge, and there were no bands that I was a huge fan of that ever played closer than Bristol. Being from a tiny town transport was often difficult. Finding someone else to come with me also often put a spanner in the works and pushed me to the lows of bribery. To have a band which I was (am) a massive fan of play in the local shithole bar was absolutely incredible to me. Back then, that was on the same level of likeliness as my fantasies of bumping into Gerard Way at the bus stop down the street. My parents were calling me to get off the computer (one of them wanted to use the phone, remember dial up?), and I emerged from the study, breathless, blinking at them both, unable to form words but eventually I spluttered, “The Blackout…are playing…Trowbridge???!!!!!!!!!” Even my Mum, who couldn’t really care less expressed genuine excitement and a gasp of shock. “What are they doing in Trowbridge?!” Her questions echoed mine but the answers were irrelevant, what was important was that I use the phone first to ring the venue and reserve tickets immediately. I say venue, it was barely three ft wide, but that’s what made it the perfect gig.

It was my easiest battle to the front ever. Half the room was made up of my friends, the amp was digging into my leg, and my ankle practically shared the stage with them. It was such an intimate set. It was Sean Smith’s birthday, and he threw up on stage. He had a photograph with me after the set and I tried to put into words my genuine adoration for what they were creating and the fact they brought it almost to my doorstep. They had enabled me to attend a gig without that element of stress that usually accompanied rushing for the last train home. I hoped desperately that I had been able to convey my gratitude enough.

Bristol 2008

A regular issue for me as a teenager in Bradford on Avon was finding someone to come to shows with me. I had a few sympathetic friends, and managed to coerce one of them into coming to see The Blackout with me in at the o2 Academy, Bristol. I took a few pictures of them and put them on Myspace, and remember Sean Smith commented on one of them. I unleashed a shrill scream of excitement, hurriedly tore my laptop from its charging socket, and dashed into the living room to show my Mother. “SEAN SMITH HAS COMMENTED ON MY PHOTOGRAPH!!!!” I squealed, genuinely believing this to be a significant moment in my bid to become a music photographer. To be fair, I would probably still have quite a similar reaction now at the age of 23 in 2015. 

Interviewing The Blackout in Pontypridd

Interviewing The Blackout in Pontypridd

Merthyr College, 2009

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With Snoz, drummer of The Blackout

 Once again, I had managed to convince one of my newer friends to come with me from Bradford on Avon after sixth form, three hours on the train to Merthyr Tydfil. It turned out she was dating a guy from Cardiff, so we were able to factor meeting him that into the plan. We got onto the train with all the essentials, primarily vodka smuggled into lemonade disguised in a Spite bottle. We first stepped onto the platform of Merthyr Tydfil train station on a warm spring evening feeling slightly tipsy, and met a group a other fans who we had spoken to online, some of whom went on to become life long friends. I didn’t know it at the time, but that show was to be a pivotal occasion for me. We watched my friend who we were staying with do the lighting for the show, managed to fit in a few songs in the front row, and hang out upstairs drinking for a while. I met so many wonderful people that day, and am always so happy I attended that show. That was the start of my new life in Wales.

Upstairs making friends before the show

Upstairs making friends before the show

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Jenny, Leah and I just before Leah did the lighting for The Blackout

 

Walking home after getting exam results

I can’t remember exactly what the occasion was, but I remember walking home after getting something good back from school, possibly A Levels results, possibly a good essay grade, but whatever it was, I remember I was listening to the Blackout’s then new album, Best in Town. It was such a perfect reflection of my mood at the time, and just always makes me happy when I think of it. Walking back in the sun down that enormous hill back home and feeling content. Also, its always a massive relief when a band you love release new material and you like it.

Hard Slamming

I got the CD of The Blackout! The Blackout! The Blackout! for Christmas one year and was so excited. My Gran was staying with us, and I remember playing Hard Slamming in my bedroom. When it got to the most scream-y bit of the song, she popped her head around the door with a look of genuine concern on her faced and asked, “is he alright?!” It always makes me laugh when I remember my Gran’s comments on my music over the years. She continued to question Sean Smith’s health throughout that Christmas holiday.

Words: Rachel Harris

Interview with Beth Blade

Beth Blade And The Beautiful Disasters

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Fuel 5/4/2015

There is a comfortable atmosphere between band and audience tonight. “We are going to rock your socks off”, Beth announces. A grunt from the audience. “Don’t like your socks? What about your pants then?” this idea seems much more appealing to the beer clutching crowd.

Sunday night at Fuel, a little cave teeming with rock fans tucked away in the city centre of Cardiff, felt like a homage to rock music. As a rock bar, this is not an uncommon feeling, however tonight felt especially honest and fresh. The multiple covers that Beth Blade and the Beautiful Disasters played paid tribute to their inspirations, allowing the audience snapshots of what the collaborative band was born of. What stood out about BB&TBD was not just the vocalist’s powerful voice, or the brilliant choice of covers, (eg, The Cranberries, Fleetwood Mac, Halestorm, Black Stone Cherry) or the fact the band had only been together two weeks yet sounded like they had been practicing for years. It was that their own songs were just as attention grabbing and enjoyable as the covers. Quite often at a live show, the crowd will perk up for a song they know but settle back to their drinks and conversation for an unknown artist’s unfamiliar own material, but Beth Blade and the Beautiful Disasters went down a storm.

Considering all the current discussions on how difficult it can be to make a break in the music industry and earn a living from your passion, young musicians could be perhaps forgiven for losing some of the enthusiasm and wonder on the subject of their creations. No chance of that with Beth Blade. Where songs and styles can get tired, a musician with genuine fresh passion for what they do never seems old, and breathes a breath of new life into any genre. Beth Blade describes the feeling of performing as “euphoric”, and talks about music with the same enthusiasm she plays with. Just after their show at Fuel, Beth took the time to have a quick catch up with me.

Beth has always sung, but has been performing seriously since the age of fourteen. She has played enough live shows over the years to banish most feelings of stage fright that so many suffer from, but there is one aspect that still makes her nervous. “I get really awful guitar stage fright, because I play guitar, and I sing, and I usually do it separately, but doing it together absolutely terrifies me, I don’t know why, it just does. When I sing, my hands forget what they’re doing. For a woman, I’m not very good at multitasking!”

Beth herself might not be too nervous about her live performances, but she reveals that someone else is. “My parents have driven down from near Manchester tonight, and my Dad has to stand at the back of the crowd and not look at the stage because he gets stage fright for me, which is nuts”. She spends most of the night hanging out with her parents, and it is clear to see acts of support like this are important, as well as the connection she makes with her audience.

The live sound of Beth Blade and the Beautiful Disasters is a blend of classic rock and metal, with the vocalist’s ability summon a soaring note as well as a rough rasp. Although drawing on multiple influences, their sound has a personality of its own. “I like to try and cover lots of different genres because I like so many different types of music” Beth explains. To her, the music they make conjures images of “sex! Or old school tattoos, swallows, all that kind of thing. Lots of different colourful shades, like a painting from the 1950s.” We also asked Beth and guitarist Jack Davies what animal their band would be, both responded with “tiger”. “Like Sex Panther, the fragrance”, Beth elaborated.

While their live music feels very current, new and exciting, Beth’s ideal musical era to experience first hand would have been any time before nineties hair metal. “I would love to have been thirteen in New York in 1973. That way you get all the hard rock and Led Zeppelin, I would have grown up loving The Beatles. It would have been amazing to be around when it was all new, like Hendrix, seeing all that for the first time whereas as now it kind of seems like everything is just rehashing the past”. We talk for a bit on the topic of revolutionary music, and discuss how perhaps our generation isn’t completely out of room for progress. On the subject of being a girl in music, Beth admits she does sometimes notice that she is treated differently specifically for being female, but it does seem to be getting better. She dreams of a day when female musicians won’t be referred to as “female musicians”, and just as “musicians”. Female fronted bands won’t be highlighted as “female fronted”, they will just be “a band”. We might not be all the way there in many aspects of equality, but our generation does seem to be discussing the issues. “If I want to sing about sex, love and partying, I should be able to”. Beth draws on examples such as Taylor Momsen and Hayley Williams for being “slut shamed”, and points out how many amazing talented musicians are out there, and are gradually getting closer to being equally appreciated.

Cardiff certainly has room for more new music. “The Cardiff music scene is kind of clique-y”, Beth gives us an insight. “There’s a lot of post-hardcore stuff, and a lot of folky acoustic stuff, which is great, but I really think there is a gap in the market for some really good hard rock and metal. A lot of local bands are doing really well, like Breathe The Silence, Falling With Style, but they’re all in that same kind of genre, Personally I want to see some more hard rock and metal come out. Its getting some attention, and hopefully more stuff like that will start coming out now.” Beth Blade and the Beautiful Disasters are working on their debut album throughout June and are planning for a release date in July.

The vibe at the show tonight was intimate, but you get the feeling that this sound is entirely capable of filling a much bigger venue.

Words: Rachel Harris

The ’59 Sound – Gaslight Anthem

I have to express how excited I am that I have just found this album, I have been looking for it for the best part of two years. Obviously, it was just shoved in the back of another Gaslight Anthem album case. On one hand, I do wish I was more organised so this would never happen, but on the other, finding it after ages has made this morning much better than if I’d known where it was all along. So basically, be messy, it leads to nice surprises when things turn up after a period of separation.

I think that Brian Fallon is a fantastic lyricist. I don’t know if I have quite made that abundantly clear on this blog so far, I think there’s only about 5 posts detailing my love for his words, when if I really let myself go, it’d be more like 50. Its not the same quoting them and typing them out, the only way of really communicating how beautiful they sound is by listening to the songs.

Writing down, “I miss you sometimes, shaking like a leaf on the corner of life but I heard its alright, the radio spoke to a good friend of mine and i can feel it coming up as the nights getting warm, saw your summer dress hanging on the back of the lawn, like a dream I remember from an easier time with the top rolled down on a Saturday night” is all well and good but I can’t explain in full the nostalgia of it and the way it pulls on your heartstrings a bit, not enough to make you sad but it makes you feel like its your own fond memory. Half of the lyrics I adore by Gaslight Anthem or Horrible Crowes are not directly relevant to my life, but I still feel such a connection to his words. Even, “I kind of sort of wish I looked like Elvis”. I love when he sings that. Not because I wish I looked like Elvis, but I can understand aspiring to be someone, admirning someone, wishing you were more like them. His lyrics are the sound of the underdog, the quiet observer with an underlying pain. His songs encapsulate a sadness and happiness combined. His songs are like missing someone, that combination of happy and sad and it combusts together in a perfect mix. The bottom line is, I think, that its heartfelt. Its the core of the blues, it genuine, its coming from someone who is willing to speak honestly about how they’ve been let down and how they view themselves.

This is turning into a ramble without particular direction, as most of my Gaslight posts inevitably descend into. I find it so difficult to define and pinpoint what it is about them that evokes this uncontainable love. I just can’t keep it to myself because I feel so much every time I play one of their songs. Its just honest and raw, which is exactly what I like about Punk, about Evanescence, about My Chem, most of the music I like stems from the fact that its honest and its a way that person has found of venting their flailing emotions and I respect that. They’ve sorted through it and put it into a solid format. A type of art. It just so happens this time, its worded perfectly. I love reading, and I fucking love a good sentence. I grew up as a huge fan of Dawson’s Creek simply because of that raging angst in almost every episode, the moments when someone broke under the pressure of what they were feeling and unleashed this torrent of perfectly phrased expression. Listening to Gaslight Anthem is like reading a book or watching a black and white film about a nice honest boy who has had his heart broken and just quietly accepts it and just tries to get on with it again and again, watching those around him and how their lives unravel as well as his. Sometimes I feel like I want to put a good film on that I’ve seen before, but its just The Patient Ferris Wheel or Backseats. There is so much imagery and it paints such a picture. Sometimes it reminds me of this book I read by Dean Koontz called The Funhouse, which was a book adaption of a movie screen play that he was asked to do. He felt like it wasn’t his best work, but I liked it. Sometimes it reminds me of a film like The Notebook, which I am indifferent about, or Pleasantville, which I really like. Gaslight Anthem do more than write songs, they write worlds. “I’ve never felt so strange, standing in the Jersey Rain” will always be one of my favourite lines and you just have to listen to how he says it to understand why its so powerful. I just love that line so much.

Brody Dalle – Electric Ballroom

Brody Dalle – Electric Ballroom

Here’s a link to the Kentish Towner where my review and photographs were published following the Brody Dalle show in the Electric Ballroom, Camden. Such an incredible gig! 

Songs I am Obsessed With This Week.

 

 

Okay lets just get this resurfacing obsession with Brody Dalle out of the way first. Her new album, Diploid Love is amazing and at the moment, my favourite song is Don’t Mess With Me. It is (arguably) the most immediately catchy and striking song, so naturally I have it on repeat, but based on experience I expect this obsession to soon branch out to every other song on the record.

Every song on Diploid Love is good. There is not one track I don’t like. But for the time being, I am completely infatuated with Don’t Mess With Me and after seeing it performed live last Thursday at the Electric Ballroom in Camden, I cannot get enough!

 

Coral Fang – The Distillers

I don’t think I particularly need to go into depth about why this song is good because within seconds of pressing play, it becomes blindingly obvious. That voice has become the soundtrack to any journey I have made in the last couple of weeks. Walking anywhere is so much more enjoyable with Brody Dalle’s rasp bellowing into your ears, just a heads up, everyone should try it. Distillers songs are so much more than just fast music and shouting. Every line is an amazing hook, every lyric, every note, it just all culminates in a hundred fucking amazing songs, just give me them all. I have lost the ability to coherently describe my adoration. Just listen to it. I just don’t think there is any way you can avoid being completely engulfed by passion and aggressively intense emotion when blasting  The Distillers.

I am a revenant – The Distillers

This one is special to me now because it is one of my best friend’s all time favourite songs. We didn’t expect Brody Dalle to play it on Thursday, we had a quick look at her prior set lists and didn’t see it there, so my friend prepared herself to hear a number of songs she loves, but not this one. But then it began and the excitement was truly ridiculous. We both screamed in each other’s faces for as long as our lungs would allow and then turned to face the stage, our hearts brimming with disbelief, gratitude and joy. Half way through I turned to grin at my friend again, and saw one solitary tear making its way down her cheek, despite her claims that she wouldn’t cry tonight when seeing her idol in the flesh for the first time. This of course brought a lump to my throat, I felt so stupidly happy for her and also happy for myself because I couldn’t believe I was lucky enough to hear this voice live singing songs I have loved for so long and thought I would never get to hear at a show. Every time I play this song now I remember that moment and the immense enjoyment that came with it and that entire night. It makes me so happy. There was a moment during I am a Revenant where I heard Brody Dalle say so clearly “another year has passed and I’m alright”,  it stood out so distinctly. This is going to sound ridiculously dramatic, soppy, whatever. But. I was speaking to my old housemate and friend the other day, and she pointed out that it was approaching a year since we both left a situation that was pretty awful, and i don’t like to dwell on it, but when I heard that line, that conversation flew back into my mind and I felt so full of happiness. It initiated my first real moment of reflection since being far enough away from the whole ordeal, the first moment I stopped to think about how I have been doing since we left, properly consider it, and I am alright. I have normal people problems. I hate paying bills and I hate being skint and I hate having disagreements and I hate boy issues but I am so glad that I no longer have to hate a whole other set of bizarre, rage inducing scenarios.
I wondered if I should bother writing that, because its quite personal, and its always a bit weird when people go that far into expressing themselves online, but that is what music has always done for me. Made me assess situations, myself, guided me, comforted me, reassured me, given me a new perspective and phrased my own views, often better than I can myself. I have always found comfort in finding a reflection of myself somewhere in a lyric, a sound, a tone, it could be anything, and I really, honestly, appreciate being in a room full of other obsessive music fans all screaming the same words and having that mad glistening look of love in their eyes as they don’t move them from the stage. Its a room bursting full of passion, gratitude, angst and love and there are moments when I think I even fit in.

Well, I warned you it was going to be dramatic.

The other thing is that Distillers music is actually really fun and I’m sorry if I have just made that a bit too heavy for anyone to be able to even picture fun now.

Taking Back Sunday, Flicker, Fade

I love Taking Back Sunday and I think I did hear this when it came out, but its taken until now to for me to really connect with it and pay attention. What I always love about TBS is the way their songs build up and during the last minute, its like an explosion of their sound. They really go for it, Adam Lazzara screaming and the band steadily escalating into an eventual chaos. I think that, to an untrained ear, it doesn’t sound like the most chaotic of music, but when you really get into the song, you feel the rise in desperation and intensity in the tone of it, and in Lazzara’s voice. Like in My Blue Heaven, that’s not a song that initially stood out to me. I liked it, but I didn’t expect it to become a favourite the way that it has. When I heard Flicker, Fade, the video was what initially stood out as it reminded me of a short film I made in Uni with all the stuffed animals and weird things. Then the chorus lured me in and got stuck in my head and once that happened, I had to download it and have since listened to it over and over and am completely in love. The song structure is actually pretty similar to My Blue Heaven, especially from about 2.50 where it softens, and then comes the slight bitter and gruff edge to Lazzara’s voice which is barely noticeable but present nonetheless. This just-detectable snarl to his words which was not there when he said the same lines earlier. It lulls you in and then explodes in a firework of sound at about 3.06, at which point I can’t help envisioning smashing up a room with total abandon. How can you not want to move to that bit of the song?! It just makes you want to physically trash something but in a good, fun way. This sounds really weird but i can imagine it being an amazing song to do ballet to…the tiny small movements leading up to an enormous twirling dance at the end. This was a surprising association that has only just come to me whilst listening to it now, but that is kind of what it is like.
Lazzara’s screaming combined with the words he says never fails to make me feel like a wave of emotion has just engulfed me. The way he screams “you wonder why it always is the same” in this particular song. And its not because that is how I feel but they way the song is, it really communicates his/their emotions so clearly. Also, I really like John Nolan’s hair grown out in the video. Sorry not sorry for that shallow addition to my observations.

 

Two covers by Gaslight Anthem to finish with on a lighter note!

State of Love and Trust – Pearl Jam cover
Tumbling Dice – Rolling Stones cover

My friend’s Dad copied the Gaslight Anthem B Sides CD for me because I said I was waiting to be able to afford/play the vinyl release. I don’t have a record player at the moment but I am going to get one, and I just wanted something of Gaslight on vinyl because I think they have that old sound to them that would suit being played via a more old fashioned format. I also just love the sound and feel of records and how there’s so much more to them. So anyway, I told myself to wait until I could afford that and then let that be the treat but now I am ecstatic because I have cheated and played the CD of their B Sides all the way through four times already today. It was a beautiful sunny day and the light was flooding in through the windows in my living room. It was even warm enough to open them and let some air in. I turned the volume up as loud as I judged to probably be annoying to neighbours but not so annoying that they would actually complain. Some annoyance is unavoidable, I can cope with that, what I can’t cope with is playing something I hold an uncontainable excitement for quietly. No. Anyway, after a couple of beautiful acoustic tracks came on State of Love and Trust and its just such an upbeat happy sounding song and gives the album a burst of energy amongst some slowed down versions. The same goes for Tumbling Dice, its just such a nice song to listen to. I really could listen to it all day, it just makes me so ridiculously happy.

 

 

Completely Unnecessary Post About Patti Smith.

This is only unnecessary because so much has already been written about Patti Smith and this is a well documented subject, but I am new to it.

I have just finished reading Just Kids. This book has exposed me to the diverse range of art, poetry, performance and music by Patti Smith, and the incredible union that goes beyond friendship, best friends, soul mates, any of those terms I am already familiar with. I have taken so much comfort in reading about the many potential paths she had laid out in front of her, and how at the age of twenty two she didn’t have it all figured out. Beyond this age she still found herself crying on trains without having realised when she begun, tracing the geographical patterns of artists before her and visiting sites where events unfolded that became meaningful on a large scale, or inspirational for her personal interpretations. I have been privy to a world which sounds like a thriving mass of flamboyant characters weaving their ways in between one another, colliding, collaborating, all just trying to either establish themselves with what they are certain they have to share, or immersing themselves in this creative cloud of people to discover what part of themselves is going to emerge as the most prominent. At twenty two, I often feel like my youth is slipping by, and I occasionally fret about the way in which this youth is spent. How to make the most of what could well be my prime years. Will I ever have a clue what I’m doing? Will there ever be a day when I don’t sit on my sofa at 22.47 wrapped in a red velvet blanket, wracking my brain for a clear direction? I know the answer is yes, and that day could well be tomorrow, as is the nature of the turbulent and painful process of growing up. This, a process, I foolishly presumed came to a succinct close at around twenty. Perhaps not as precise as the turn of my 18th birthday, I’ll give it a couple of years for certainty to manifest itself. On reflection, it is possible I should have extended that period to a decade or so beyond that birthday. I wish I had read this book sooner. I feel selfish writing this and feeling as though I have derived so much wisdom and insight from a tale primarily about two incredible souls that found each other and were tragically separated prematurely when Robert died of aids, but at least they had their youth together. She just packed her bags and did what it took to survive in New York without much compromise in terms of her values. Sometimes I don’t even know what my values are or even if I have any. Another day I think they are carved in stone. This is going to sound dramatic, and I know this is a blog I created for discussing music, but I feel like this book has reminded me of what I initially thought. I slip up, I do things I regret every day and often words come out of my mouth that I will reflect on possibly moments later and furiously wonder why I was ever granted speech in the first place. But art, creating, not adhering to a brief or creating for money…of course it would be incredible to be able to make exactly what you wanted and earn loads for it but I don’t expect that. Only a few weeks ago I was feeling frustrated because I didn’t know when I was next going to make something, or what the point in making it would be. Without university to guide me, set tasks or grade me, without a publishing platform to submit to, what is the point of practicing art? If I’m creating a physical perception on paper, or whatever medium, of how I see a fraction of the world then what is the point if no one sees it? Well Patti Smith has just completely reignited the urge to create anything I want simply because I want to. I don’t give a shit how “good” anyone considers what I do to be. That is the beautiful thing about art. You can draw a line on the page and if it means something to you, that’s good enough. I don’t care about judgemental people who just want to see an accurate reflection of surface level reality and allow themselves the moment of shock and awe at how lifelike it looks. That says nothing to me. I know there are a million things in between these two polar opposites of creation and each is as valid as each other. Perhaps I am just struggling to find my place, find an actual place where I “fit” (that will never happen) and a mental standpoint where I can finally relax and think “I’m here, this is where I’m supposed to be”. And maybe these are two ambitions which are simply not going to be achievable, and it is highly likely that no one ever finds these. I don’t know. I’m only twenty two. But Just Kids is honestly an incredible and genuinely inspiring read and I have fallen completely and utterly in love with this autobiographical snippet of what seems to me like an enormous poverty-tinged privileged insight into the art world from the 1960s onwards, from a personal perspective, and also from what was perceived through a wider lens. I feel so happy and so glad that Patti and Robert found each other and I feel like their paths were inextricably intertwined, and that there is no way they could not meet. I might well be floundering but so was she, and she did come out the other side an established artist, achieving many things that she may well have often suspected were not within her grasp. I like that it took her several years to find out what she actually wanted to be within her grasp the most, one of them being the thing that was initially the least tangible. She found her direction and Robert found his, despite being tortured soles finding themselves in attic spaces, hotel room homes, sleeping rough in parks and collapsing into taxis, roaming the streets of Paris and San Francisco, being drawn back to New York and being certain that the only solid thing they knew they had was each other and their art. I know I probably see it in a romanticised way and the reality may have been much different but the pain has in no way been dumbed down in Patti’s words. Not that I have a first hand experience of the real events to compare it to, but when she described those darker times I really felt as though it was those that made the eventual success so triumphant and made hers and Robert’s bond so tight. Everything was necessary and everything happened in the order it was meant to and I can only trust that the same is happening in my life now. Its all unseen organised unraveling.

Springsteen, Bauhaus, Misfits, a medley of musical loves and re-discoveries.

Okay, so I know bootleg copies aren’t necessarily “legit”, but I think we can all agree that we’ve given in to listening to/viewing them at some point or another. I know, in my case anyway, that the temptation to get an extra glimpse at anything more that an artist I love has produced is just all too much. I have just received some files containing some of Bruce Springsteen’s early recordings for the album Nebraska, under the title “How Nebraska Was Made”. So I’m sat here in my bedroom, on my bed, eagerly loading these files into iTunes. Nebraska was the first Springsteen album I discovered and is still my favourite. Others occasionally take up the title of ‘favourite’ but the Nebraska has pretty much sustained this status since the second I heard it. Its so simultaneously melancholy and beautiful, and perhaps this is why I felt like the wind had been knocked out of me when that first chord started on iTunes a moment ago. Its like hearing that album for the first time again, hearing its earlier forms, its degenerated state, each stage as perfect as the last in its own unique way. These are just practices, rough versions, but that makes them even more valuable to my ears. I feel like a squirrel scuttling eagerly to fresh seeds sprinkled in front of me, clasping them excitedly, holding them close to hide a grin of delight. Springsteen has indirectly chucked me some scraps and I have eagerly and gratefully gathered them and saved them before they could disappear. I really love these windows into an artist’s rougher work. The less polished the better, in my opinion.Perhaps that comes from my love of punk, and the rattling recording sounds that are reminiscent of a band’s first tapes recorded in a basement. That sound that I feel Misfits, amongst many, capture pretty well for me.

I treasure these insights into the musicians where their sound is usually well produced and combed for flaws and destined for perfection. I like to hear the flaws which had to occur in order for it to reach the end result. I like to know absolutely everything. I spent my adolescence, as I’m sure many did, retaining information about my favourite bands rather than dates and names that might have been more academically useful. Its a habit I have continued into what would now be defined as adulthood. In my twenties, I am as addicted to music as I was at thirteen. The only difference is that I have had more time to find more of it to get exhilarated by. I find there are very few things in life that spark that feeling (“can’t start a fire without a spark” – couldn’t help myself). And I am finding music that incites this feeling in me every day.

Today I was listening to Bauhaus, a band I haven’t made time for in years, and I can’t for the life of me think why I’ve been depriving myself. They were a brilliant band, and their sound propels me into another era, their sound draws out so many connotations in my mind, there is such a mood to their songs and they have the ability to transfer me completely to another world. How could I ever overplay that? Well, it turns out I did when I was about seventeen. Of course I have listened to them now and again since then, but it was only today that I really paid proper attention to their sound again. You know when you harbour a well established love for something, and it becomes so engrained for so long that when you manage to re-discover those moments that caused you to form that adoration in the first place, its just amazing. And the addiction re-ignites itself.

Old Loves

Over the last couple of days I’ve been revisiting songs I have intensely overplayed throughout the years and as a result had lost my grasp on how much these songs mean to me, and the beauty I see in their lyrics and sound.

When I was about fourteen, I was introduced to The Last Sunrise by Aiden. There was something weird about that voice and those guitars, something piercing…sort of nasal sounding. I know a lot of people have strong views that the band Aiden were awful. Perhaps it was the intensity of their ill informed judgements against this band that encouraged me to pursue the level of unrelenting love I ended up feeling for Aiden. When someone has nothing else to back up such a seemingly strong hatred for something other than their adamancy that this thing is “shit” and they refuse to elaborate, it makes me suspect that said thing might not actually be “shit”, just not to that persons’ taste. Which is more often than not the truth.

For me, Aiden sliced through something in my mind. There was something sharper about them, a different sound. It was less perfectly tuned than some of the other things I was listening to at the time, it wasn’t polished, it was raw, pure aggression, fast punk but not typical punk…there was melody there too, and it was catchy, and I suppose this came to be what was referred to as Emo. Useless genre subtitles aside, there was something different that appealed to me that was undoubtedly what some others found so off putting. It is extremely unsurprising to me that the very ingredient that turns masses away is the most prominent aspect that draws me in. Don’t get me wrong, I know Aiden and William Control, Will Francis’ side project, have a strong following, but I have all too often found myself at the centre of ridicule by various types of music snobs who fail to see how I could possibly take this band seriously. Well fair enough. But here’s the thing; they didn’t want to know either. I’m not saying the workings of my mind and the development of my preferences should have listeners on tenterhooks but if you fail to understand how another person can appreciate an art form, then the most interesting part is surely to hear what it is that has gone undetected to many other ears. Well that’s what I find interesting anyway, a diversity of taste rather than the somewhat simplistic, incredulous accusations of “shit taste” in music. This is what I have found most frustrating as a music fan; those people who fail to get past their own enjoyment of specific sounds in order to appreciate what might appeal to another person in the same way.

Anyway, I am going to list some of the lyrics and parts of Aiden songs which have managed to slice through the veil of indifference and come out the other side; truly impassioned addiction.

Song: Asylum
Album: Knives

I was listening to this on my train home today. There’s a lyric which always captures my attention in this song. Its at 0.33, and its “I feel a brazen cacophony of wave crushing, heart pounding, gut wrenching lonely”. I don’t, and I didn’t when I first heard it either, but I love his use of words there. I might not feel/have felt all of that energy towards loneliness, but I understand how it feels to be so embodied by an emotion that it feels physically overwhelming and as though you’re being engulfed by it, and so much so that your stomach churns and you feel physically sick. I know I spent a lot of time missing friends who moved away when I first heard this song but loneliness always seems to me as a desperation for anyone, to just spend time with people. I have never wished for that. I did spend a lot of time alone and I did feel isolated but loneliness was never a thing for me, but the “wave crushing heart pounding gut wrenching” was. Here’s some of the other lyrics from this song that I like.

“Subscribe to the medicine show where the walls melt away and my doctor’s so proud”
“Bring me pain, bring me horror, I’m not sick, I’m not insane”
“I stand on the threshold of death where my torture and beating subsides for a moment”
“The walls melt away and the world has gone mad”

Song: Bonus Track
Album: Nightmare Anatomy

This is another good example of a song by Aiden where I don’t love it for its technical perfection or Will Francis’s impeccable singing qualities by X Factor or general talent standards. That’s not what I’m looking for in music. There’s something about his rasping voice saying “I know that everything’s alright, and I know it always will be” that when I hear it, I actually believe him. I like the simplicity of this acoustic addition buried at the end of the already lengthy World By Storm on the album. And what actually ties me sentimentally to this song is a memory. December twothousandandwhatever, however many years ago it was that I was 14 (eight years ago…weird). It was Boxing Day, and my parents used to always insist on going for a walk on Boxing Day mornings before my cousin and her family arrived. We walked down the canal path opposite our house. I had been given an Mp3 Player for Christmas, and i don’t think there are many things I’ve ever displayed so much delight towards. I had finally worked out how to upload music to it, and was trailing along behind my parents in typical moody teenager fashion in my angsty prime, listening to this song. I listened to Nobody Puts Baby in the Corner by Fall Out Boy, 197666 by Murderdolls and Last Sunrise by Aiden too, and those are the three others that still throw me right back to that place and time in my mind whenever I hear them. I associate with this bonus track the cold, crisp, crunching grass underneath my feet, stiffened by an overnight chill and an early morning frost. I remember gloves and pockets and the icy wind occasionally whipping my face, making my skin feel dry and cracked. I recall gravel under my feet and swans in the canal drifting in and out of Bradford on Avon’s equivalent of ice burgs. I think of sparse trees, bare and disjointed branches clawing out against the white-blue backdrop of a winter sky, and I was grateful that it wasn’t raining. It was a nice day, but as usual in my adolescent state, I felt strangely detached and removed. I felt like I wasn’t really in this situation, just drifting along, observing. This song carried me away. I could stare into space and just listen to it and I would fully understand if someone would say “i don’t get what you love so much about this” because the truth is, I’m not sure I can pin point it either. But there is something about it that comforts me and blankets me and I feel at home when I hear that song. It reminds me of my emerging concern in my youth where I was feeling more and more detached but I never felt on my own because my obsession with music would always keep me company. I am aware that sounds a little bit crazy, but a teen’s gotta do what a teen’s gotta do to get through those especially hormonal years. Thanks Aiden, for making it much more bearable.

Song: In The End
Album: Some Kind of Hate

I am aware that at the time of the release of this more recent album, Aiden were giving less and less of a shit about it all because they hated their label (Victory Records) so much, and at one point they just wanted to make enough albums to get out of their contract and just churn out any old shit. I remember reading that somewhere. But I cannot accept that that applied to this song at all. I don’t know if that even went for this album or if that was really even true. I absolutely adore the energy of this song and the weird disjointed sounding effect that is put on Will’s voice.

Song: Breathless
Album: Nightmare Anatomy 

“I’m breathless and disconnected, take me home, so far aware from here.”

Initially I liked this song the most because it was really catchy and I really enjoyed listening to it while I was walking along and it put me in a really good mood. But then it became a part of me and I loved it so much.

Song: Silent Eyes
Album: Rain in Hell

Another one which my mother regularly enjoyed pointing out was “out of tune”, “sounded awful” and “sounds like he’s walking home drunk singing it”. Who says those aren’t the notes he’s meant to be hitting? He wrote the song, who says its meant to stick to the standard keys. Well I like it anyway. When I’d sing along to it my Mum said she wouldn’t be surprised if dogs around the neighbourhood started howling along with us both. I enjoy the imperfections in his voice, I thrive off the openly exposed flaws and the refusal to apologise for those. They don’t have an inability to conform, they have absolutely no desire to. They write what they write, they do what they love and they sing it however the hell they want, it doesn’t sound perfect, but whatever they’re trying to get across, comes across. You can feel the pain in his voice, the two quick inhalations of breath towards one of the last choruses, the passion is there.

What I have so far neglected to mention is that seeing Aiden live is what really swayed me to sell my soul for them had they asked for it. After seeing Aiden live in 2006 in Brighton I fell head over heels with this energy I had never seen before. Regardless of what genre they are filed away into and however annoying it might be to some punk fans to hear me call Aiden punk, that is what their energy is. On that date in October 2006 I felt as if I’d been awakened. They all poured every inch of sweat, blood and tears into that performance (and every one I would see thereafter) and I’d never seen anything like it before. This was a band that over the years I would see tear in and out of audiences, spitting, biting, dancing and sweating their way through the crowd which would always be surging desperately to get closer to the members of the band. This energy was contagious and you’d begin to feel accepted in a raw, animalistic way for the energy and base love we all had come to the same place to express and enjoy. A ripple of acceptance wavered throughout the audience and Aiden gigs became a portal to escapism for me and there would come a point where I would spend my life looking forward to the next one, and living for those shows because nothing topped the experience of seeing this band live. You couldn’t be in that room and not get involved, and there was no way you were leaving not covered in the sweat of everybody else in that room. There everything outside those walls was irrelevant, insignificant and forgotten. I absolutely thrived off of this atmosphere and nothing in the days in between these events could compete. I would grow to appreciate other things in the same capacity but god this band were so good live.

Just to clarify, this isn’t a post I’m sharing to broaden anyone’s musical horizons or necessarily to recommend Aiden, whether you listen to them as a result is up to you and whether you like them or not is irrelevant. This is just to share a band which was vital to me for many, many years and who I believe had something different and special which connected to me personally a great deal. I think it was the lack of perfection and popularity that made them so easy to relate to for me.

To finish, here’s a couple more of the most important Aiden songs to me from their earliest album, Our Gang’s Dark Oath.

Fifteen
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ueStwSQsY4E
“We’ll stay out on the run so live fast and die young”
“We’ll cherish every moment last forever, we’ll cherish every moment now”

Looking Glass Eyes
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=faqV4Vv0y0g
“I remember times when skies were grey, innocence ran through our bones, you and I had much to say, I know you’ll take me home”
“I have found life and took the time to never fear and sing for death. I’m not the victim, you’re not the answer.”

Life I Left Behind
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qkMuVjYWZwk
“I remember when I used to wake up, I remember what I used to be.”

Cold December
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G92V-GUodqY
I will never trust, and label death as my only defence, I will never love again”
“I still remember that cold december”

World by Storm
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tr7n2G7ypQw

Sometimes when fear strikes home

we hit back hard now with a 
vengence all our own
The slate has been wiped clean
My eyes have been opened up
I feel the pride pushed away
and bad feelings stop I know now
I feel it comingHere we go
Standing side by side 
right through the door
World by storm
They’ll syndicate and 
complicate this war
World by storm
We’re standing side by side 
right through theDissintegrate-Follow me
Now I see 
Now I see the truth
Dissintegrate-Follow me
Now I see
Now I see it’s you

The bridges burned 
have been swept away
The past has been erased
our minds feel awake I know
The slate has been wiped clean
I wont pretend to 
let the world pass by
and there’s kids in the world 
who’s dreams will die I know now
I feel it coming

Here we go
Standing side by side 
right through the door
World by storm
They’ll syndicate and 
complicate this war
World by storm
We’re standing side by side 
right through the

1-2-1-2-1-2-3-4

The world By storm

It’s in our heads 
It’s in our hearts 
The world by storm
It’s in our heads 
It’s in our hearts 
The world by storm
It’s in our heads 
It’s in our hearts 
The world by storm
It’s in our heads 
It’s in our hearts 
The world by storm
It’s in our heads 
It’s in our hearts 
The world by storm
It’s in our heads 
It’s in our hearts 
The world by storm
It’s in our heads 
It’s in our hearts 
The world by storm
It’s in our heads 
It’s in our hearts 
The world by storm
It’s in our heads 
It’s in our hearts”

Blood Loss – The Horrible Crowes. Actually every song ever written by Horrible Crowes. But specifically focusing on Blood Loss on this occasion.

IMG_9062-645x430 IMG_9420 copy

We have reached a problem. I say that as if this is the first time I have arrived at a point where I simply don’t know how to handle how much I love The Horrible Crowes. They have an abundance of lyrics which I consider verbal perfection, which makes the ever increasingly difficult task I seem insistent in setting for myself, to define which are the most incredible moments of their music, hardly worth it. But I can’t just leave it alone. They inspire so much from within me that I have to vent it somewhere, I have to put pen to paper (or fingers to keys) to at least attempt to describe what they evoke in me, I can’t be satisfied with just enjoying it myself, I feel like everyone should know this feeling. If not from Horrible Crowes, then from something.

Okay so I’m going to start here by posting the lyrics to Blood Loss, because tonight that is the song that has hit me like a ton of bricks, knocked the air from my lungs and forced me to WordPress to document the event. Sometimes lyrics by themselves are enough, like poetry, and sometimes they seem so tightly woven into the sound that ordinarily accompanies them that it seems essential to listen to them rather than just read what I’ve pasted below. So, lucky for you, I’ve included a link to a Blood Loss performance from one of the two live shows The Horrible Crowes have ever done, and here is the studio version which is equally powerful. I’m going to annotate the lyrics because although that seems like a very English lesson thing to do, I want to point out the specific moments where a lyric inspired a thought.

My first love was an arsonist (I love thinking about what this comparison)
Black eyes, deep set and avarice
Red lips built like a tomb (I specifically enjoy this simile because lips are kind of the shape of a tomb and I’d have never made that connection and I love hearing a way of looking at things that wouldn’t have initially occurred to me)
You’ll never get out of this (some day I’ll see to this)
And moonlight I found would bow
To her slender hand stretched out
Fingers inside your heart and your mind (the idea of someone poking, prodding and mixing around in my mind is the sort of imagery I get from this and I love it, Its an unnerving notion, but that’s what appeals to me. It makes me think of a restless mind and heart that can’t feel settled or comfortably alone)
You’ll never get out of this (some day I’ll see to this)
Boy…And I’ll tell you when it’s over
I’ll tell you when you can leave
I’ll tell you when you cried long enough
Til your blood fills my cup
And my footsteps, they hung in your hallways enough
For you to be truly haunted (baby, by me) (well that entire verse is the selection of lines that initially made me sit up and think, “hang on a minute…what did he say then?!” I rewound it time and time again, I love the phrasing of it all. Like he’s taking back some control over this relationship that has troubled him, and haunted him, and there’s a bitterness driving him to turn the tables and inflict the pain on the other person and make them feel what he’s been feeling. Which is a generic enough concept for a song, but the way he puts it really makes me fall in love with it.)My first love was a murderer
Before I ever got to her
Tongue so sharp and serpentine
Waltz to remember her (I’ll call you later)
And I heard a curse being born
Forming each finger and forming each thorn
Til I became like a stone
Things never got better (but I’ll call you later)
And practicing lies to drip like red wine off her lipsAnd I’ll tell you when it’s over
I’ll tell you when you can leave
I’ll tell you when you cried long enough
Til your blood fills my cup
My footsteps, they hung in your hallways enough
For you to be truly haunted

(When your blood starts counting losses)
When your blood counts its losses
(When your blood starts counting losses)
When your blood counts its losses
(When your blood starts counting losses)
When your blood counts its losses

Sirens they come and the sirens they leave
Sirens they come and the sirens they leave
Sirens they come and the sirens they leave
Sirens they come and the sirens they leave

 Its mainly the imagery throughout this song that I think is amazing. Brian Fallon has a real knack for conjuring visions in the listener’s mind, showing them his thoughts through a metaphorical world. That chorus, I feel, is basically an alternatively worded “fuck you”. The subject of this song was apparently hurtful and some might even say…a bitch. In fact I’ve heard Fallon say in interviews that this album was about failed romances with awful women from his younger years that he needed to get out of his system. That chorus just feels so empowering to me. Especially when you’re playing the song and he takes it up a notch from his quiet, haunted yet soothing voice to a gritty, louder projection. That rise in sound gives me goosebumps every time. And the ending, it rounds it off so well, after all this pain his heart has gone through, after the jaded need to inflict revenge, he has concluded that these women will come, and they will leave, and I get the feeling that he knows that life goes on afterwards whereas in an earlier part of a song, he refers to his love being a “murderer” and an “arsonist”, implying that she has the power and intention to wipe out any signs of hope or life. Its not an altogether hopeful ending, but it makes me think he is at peace with the situation which originally haunted him, and he’s accepted it, which I know is what this album was intended for.

I just love how poetic and passionate this song is, its as though I can feel every inch of his soul pouring into the lyrics and the sound, I feel enveloped in it. Its like it lulls you in with the initial guitar, dream-like and gentle, and similar imagery with “moonlight I found would bow to her slender hand stretched out”, but then the more sinister element steps up and it builds and builds and then settles again at the end. I feel like I have been on a journey with this song. And I’ll tell you the exact moment it elevates for me, and I appreciate every ounce of this song, of this record, actually, but this moment just overpowers me.You are there with him in this reflection of depression and nostalgia and then his gruff voice comes streaming in, drowning out that sadness and regaining his power, “I’ll tell you when its over, I’ll tell you when you can leave, I’ll tell you when you’ve cried long enough that your blood fills my cup and my footsteps have hung in your hallway enough for you to be truly haunted, baby by me” At 1.54, the atmosphere shifts.

It is quite possible that another person will listen to this and wonder what on earth I’m on about and find this to be a really basic song, but that’s what I love most about music. One song can draw out an overwhelming adoration from one person and nothing in the next. And when you have conversations about what does it for you, then you can find so much more in another song that you would have never even batted an eye lid at before before somebody else has detected something incredible and beautiful, and you can see it through their eyes. Its like art, paintings, photography. Its the difference between individuals and perception and its one of the few things I’ll admit I like about the human race.

The Horrible Crowes, Elsie.

The Horrible Crowes, Elsie.