10 Songs I Became Obsessed With In 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!)

WARPAINT. Brixton Academy. 30th October 2013.

 

For the past few years I had been waiting to write this. It’s pretty obvious how much Warpaint mean to me. I wouldn’t just have any band’s logo tattooed on me!

The bands/singer supporting Warpaint last night were incredible. Martina Topley-Bird set the tone for what was a night that felt like one massive escapism of the mind. Her vocal skills (with questionable sounding from the soundmen) are excellent. Her songs are short, but feel like you are wavering in and out of a fairytale; like you’ve reached the dark side. She’s brilliant, of course she is though. She was on Tricky’s debut record.

Secondly, Manchester’s finest, PINS are on (I’m ignoring the DJs because I don’t think you can really review a DJ set and I wasn’t really paying attention.) PINS are fucking AMAZING. Girls Like Us is a ritualistic listen for me. I play it most days as I make the delightful Met Line journey into work. Faith is one of the best front-women around, she stalks the stage and glares like a panther, and sings with real purpose. I’d been waiting for some time to see PINS live, and to see them supporting Warpaint was an honour.  I was pretty happy to have seen LUVU4LYF live. I bloody adore that song. It fueled my love for them last year. They played as if they were headlining Brixton Academy. I’m pretty sure by the Summer of next year they will be. Anna, Lois, Sophie and Faith all play with this intensity that is missing in a lot of bands. On record you can hear hints of certain eras in music, but when you see them live all of these lame comparisons that (lazy) music journalists lob about just fade away immediately.

You cannot compare PINS to anyone else. When you see them live it is like they are the soundtrack to a reoccuring nightmare that you really don’t mind having; there’s some form of security in Faith’s delicate voice. As I was watching PINS, I started to hate the fact that I have NO musical talent. Oh and let it be known that the best drummers’ names begin with an S; Stella Mozgawa (Warpaint) Sandy Vu (Dum Dum Girls) and Sophie from PINS. There are some bands you could quite happily watch live over and over, PINS are easily one of them. I cannot wait to see them with Dum Dum Girls in December.

I must add that before Martina Topley-Bird came on stage, over the PA they were playing Velvet Underground’s debut record. Without that record, a lot of bands that we love never would have formed. Martina dedicated a song to Lou. He lives on in those that love, respect and admire him. Music can never die.

Warpaint walk on to the stage. I feel as if I’m going to throw up. I’ve waited years for this moment. I’m right at the front. It’s happening.

They open with new song, Keep It Healthy. They play some new songs from their second record, which is self-titled. Love Is To Die sounds divine live. Theresa’s vocals live sound stronger than they do on record, and the way she and Emily merge their vocals is just stunning. There is a bond between all of them that makes you want to start your own band. They make you want to ignore the world you are forced to live in, and to go create something else. They create this magical and mysterious world with their music. Of course it is Undertow which sees the crowd make a loud and questionable sound. The jam at the end just reinforces your love for them and your desire to go start your own band.

On record, Warpaint have been the band I’ve used when I cannot sleep or when I’m on the train and all I can see outside is streetlights. They are comfort and they are hope. Witnessing it all live was just as perfect as I hoped it would be. I closed my eyes, I swayed, I sang, I felt like a human being again. I felt as if no one else was in the room. My love for Warpaint has grown, and I’m really not sure how it could. It’s not just their music that makes you love them, it’s the way they are on stage with each other. Jenny and Stella are at the back like two disruptive kids in school. One look from either can make the other erupt into a fit of giggles. This is chemistry at its best. This is how a band should be. Warpaint make you wish you were in their band.

Warpaint aren’t a band that you just listen to in the background or go see live once. They become everything because their music just frees you in the most gentle way possible. They guide you delicately into a world where nothing matters apart from the moments their music creates. Certain parts in songs just set you off, and everything you feel is heightened. Watching them play Majesty live was beautiful. I remember interviewing Theresa three years ago, and I spoke to her about that song. There was something about that song, at that point that just meant a lot. Seeing it live fortunately brought nothing back. If anything, I just appreciated the song even more. Elephants was a riot in the mind. It felt like a catharsis in the purest form seeing it live. But for me, my highlight was Emily coming back on stage on her own to sing Baby. For the most part, their songs feel as if you are floating on water in a dream, a daze. But there is something about Baby that doesn’t distant you from real life. It feels like it is really happening, and the connection is different. It’s a very open and vulnerable song, and that’s probably why I love it. She also sang a bit of Patti Smith/Bruce Springsteen’s Because The Night during it.

As the evening came to a close, I started to think about everything Warpaint mean to me. I had finally seen the band live, after waiting for so long. The wait was made up of frustration and the need to just see them live because live music can give you something that just sitting and listening through headphones can’t.

This was a massive struggle to write because I feel as if I should have written more, or gone into more detail. All I know is that this was one of the best shows I’ve been to. There’s a private feeling that cannot be put into words when describing what seeing Warpaint live is like. I think those who have seen them live and TRULY feel their music will know exactly what I mean.

PINS-Girls Like Us.

 

 

Next Monday (30th September) sees the release of quite possibly one of the best debut records of the year. It is also one of the best records of the year. It is nothing short of perfect, and if you think Haim’s debut is the one you should be fawning over- then you are wrong.

Girls Like Us by PINS is not for those who are seeking lyrics full of “I love you’s” or soppy sentimental songs. They are dark,  they are mystical creatures who are coming for your souls. Aside from Savages, no other band is really doing it. PINS are from Manchester, and everyone knows Manchester after New York is THE most important place in the world. Manchester gave us The Smiths and The Fall. New York gave us Punk. Does anything else really matter? No, not really. PINS are the backbone for cowards. PINS aren’t afraid to throw a middle finger to those who wish to sound like everything and everyone else. PINS are going to blow your mind and eardrums.

As I listen to Girls Like Us, I realise very early on what this record reminds me of. I’m always seeking music that makes me feel like I’m discovering The Jesus And Mary Chain all over again. PINS do exactly that. They remind of The Birthday Party mixed with Captain Beefheart with a slight hint of Siouxsie. In a dream world, PINS would be supporting Dum Dum Girls in December in London. If either band see this, please make it happen. They have this incredible sound that makes you want to grab stuff and throw it. I sadly can’t do that because I’d get into trouble. Maybe I’ll throw some bread out of the window later, at least a bird will eat it.

The bass on I Want It All is INSANE. It is so brooding and captivating. It has a stalker vibe to it; like someone is following you and just will not leave you be. That nagging thought in the back of your head that creeps to the front of your head, and will not leave you alone until it consumes you. Girls Like Us is a record that will consume you; it has to. It is also a record that makes you want to move to Manchester. I miss the North of England. I miss its dull skies and glorious architecture. I miss Northern accents. One day, I’ll go back.

PINS to me aren’t just a band, they are a silent movement- for now. When I wear my PINS shirt (I pretty much live in it) I feel like I’m wearing a shield. A form of protection. If someone was to stop me and ask what my shirt was about, I’d just tell them it was a movement about to happen. PINS aren’t a band that are going to be played to death on commercial radio; they are a band that are going to last for years and years with a cult following. They have that tight-knit feel about them. The band seem to have a gang mentality to their sound, but that doesn’t make the listener feel excluded. As if they are on the outside looking in. If you truly get it, you feel part of it. The band become a huge part of you straight away. How many bands recently have done this? Not that many.

They are effortlessly bold with their sounds. They don’t pull ridiculous faces when they place, their words mean something, their sound is distinctive and brave. They are not like everything you have been force-fed. I feel PINS have created a record that so many have been searching for. They have a mixture of 60s girl group and Nick Cave about them. I have no idea what people are saying about PINS and their debut record, but I doubt anyone will be saying anything negative about them, how could they!

For me, Girls Like Us is a record that will be regarded as a fantastic debut in years to come. There is something about it that stands out above the rest. Nothing about Girls Like Us sounds like it’s an act. It is entirely pure and perfect. As I listen to Faith’s vocals, I cannot help but feel grateful that a band like this exist. Her voice is powerful and assertive like Patti Smith and Shirley Manson but on some tracks there is a hint of vulnerability there. When a singer does this, I have one always in mind- Courtney Love. Faith pretty much nails it. The band is tough and expose feelings you are probably told to press down on and ignore.

Girls Like Us feels likes a fight. The record ends on The Darkest Day, and this sounds like the aftermath of a fight when you’ve calmed down. Staring at your bloody knuckles and your bruised face- squirming at what you see, but proud you stood up for yourself (I’ve never punched anyone by the way.) Girls Like Us is a unifying record which will hopefully push female musicians to get out there and be heard. We really need more strong female musicians. Being strong isn’t wearing stupid outfits with fire shooting out of your bra. That isn’t empowering, that is downright stupid. Pick up an instrument, be loud and do everything with all the heart you have. Play with fury and do not compromise you or your beliefs. That is what you get when you listen to Girls Like Us. You’re no longer afraid; the passion will drive you on.

When I listened to Savages debut record, I felt like someone had pushed me up against a wall and punched me repeatedly. Confusion took over because I wasn’t sure what was going on. I felt sore and destroyed after I listened to it; it conjured up raw feelings that is lacking in most. That is what I want from music. That is what should come from music. Thankfully PINS do exactly that.

Their debut record isn’t even out yet, but I am so excited for what else is to come from PINS. They are evidently, here to stay.