FONTAINES D.C. : A Hero’s Death.

30 07 2020
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In a few small hours, the world will be able to finally hear the new record by Fontaines D.C. I don’t say this lightly when I say it is truly one of the most heartfelt, heartbreaking and brutally honest records of the year. There will be no comparisons to their debut, Dogrel. The only fair comparison is that both records are phenomenal and show us exactly why they are one of the most exciting and exhilarating bands around. If you’re looking for a record that soaks up all of your anger, insecurities, fear, lust and all that goes in between, then this is the record for you. Treasure it.

Fontaines D.C. are quite frankly the best at what they do. We can all agree on that, right? With so much uncertainty in the world it’s hard to find any good in anything or in anyone. It’s totally okay to have a meltdown. It’s okay to feel like shit and not have the words to describe why. You can be as happy as a pig in shit one minute, then be a bawling mess the next. I get it. More than I wish I did. One of the few things that can get me out of a rut is music. Certain bands can drag me out when I can’t. We all look for a crutch in conventional and unconventional things. What they have done on A Hero’s Death is something that goes beyond words. It’s the record you’ve been needing for so long. You’ve been so desperate for this record. You will cling to it- day and night. It will be all you have at 3am when the world goes quiet, but your mind doesn’t.

Vocally, Grian has excelled himself. His voice on this record is that of someone who isn’t afraid to be vulnerable with their words and share them with you in a way you didn’t know someone could. Without being too personal, I’ve struggled since last August when my Gran died to find any joy in music. I didn’t want to hear anything new. I didn’t want to hear anything old. I got in this phase of just playing certain songs over and over. To the point where I didn’t want to listen to music. I cried myself to sleep many times listening to The Murder Capital. I blocked out bits of grief to Fontaines D.C. I was finding ways to cope. Nearly a year on, I’m still there. I’ve made peace with grief, fully not accepting she is gone at times. The poetry on A Hero’s Death is beautifully crafted, a sheer romantic record in all ways possible. The typical to the not so typical. One thing that is constantly constant is the greatness and honesty on the record.

A Lucid Dream is my number one obsession right now; I love the ferocious energy it has, and I cannot wait to see them perform this live (May cannot com quick enough.) There is something about the way it musically sounds like The Birthday Party but vocally, it goes beyond. I love everything about this song. You can just imagine it being played live, with the lights as dim as possible with the smoke machine going on overdrive, and everyone in the room just loses their mind to it. Heavenly. God, I miss going to gigs.

You Said is a gentle number, vocally. But don’t let that fool you. It is a monster of a song and the way A Lucid Dream flows right into it is just divine. I love how the songs flow into each other. The order of the songs on A Hero’s Death is sublime, and you cannot help but fall in love with this record within seconds. Their second record comes just around 18 months or so (a little less) than their debut. You can hear the growth and power in what they do. I’m all for music sometimes keeping me on edge/making me feel a little uncomfortable but A Hero’s Death is a safety net. It is such a comforting record that just soothes your soul. One of my favourite moments on the record is Carlos and Conor’s guitar on You Said. It is so gentle, but it is so powerful. Mix this with Tom’s ethereal drumming and Conor’s slick bass- you’ve got the most beautifully created song imaginable.

There is so much poetic imagery on this record, and songs like Oh Such a Spring feel like a lullaby and all of a sudden you are smacked in the chops again with the title track. It’s an effortlessly brilliant move, and the way Grian chants “Life ain’t always empty” just makes you feel less alone. The song is a mantra for those who are unsure or are struggling. It’s alright. It’ll be alright.

The last song on the record is just over 5 minutes long and I urge you to play No on your own, through headphones. The whole record should be played like this, but this song in particular just makes you feel like you need to go outside and find a place quiet/sacred and listen to it through headphones with no interruptions. Make this song yours. It is one of the most beautiful songs I’ve heard in a long time. I read somewhere that bands like Suicide and Beach House played an influential role to this record. As someone who adores both bands, I can definitely hear a nod to Beach House on this one. It is the most perfect ending to such a perfect record. I’m in awe of every single song.

2019 saw the band probably work harder more than most. Touring was relentless and their music was (and of course, still is) vital. A Hero’s Death is one of the few positive things to happen this year, and my god it is such a powerful and important record. It is one of those records that you hope some kid in a tiny village hears, and they scribble their thoughts in a notebook. They find like-minded pals and form a band which allows them to speak their truth and what they see/feel. It is such an inspiring record, and I honestly don’t think anything is going to top this record. I love the sense of community the band give off. You can feel it on the Facebook group, you can feel it intensely at their live shows. They are a band that just make everyone feel every single word, every note, every beat. Every single detail is felt right in your soul. And you cling to it.

With 11 songs coming in just over 45 minutes, Fontaines D.C. have given us something to treat as our reflection. Something that pulls things out of us that we may be afraid of. It’s comforting but it is also THE most exciting record of the year. My words don’t do this record justice. It’s out tomorrow- BUY IT!





AMYL AND THE SNIFFERS: Self-titled

28 05 2019

 

Everything I’m going to write about the best Punk band around has probably been said before. I’ve probably said it before, but when a band is THIS GREAT, it is totally okay to just keep on repeating yourself. Maybe others will catch on and see how amazing they are.

A couple months back I finally saw Amyl and The Sniffers live. The show left me a bit deaf, and emotionally charged. They’ve got the real and raw essence of Punk in them, and I honestly feel like this is how people felt when they first heard the Ramones when they came out. There is something about Amyl and The Sniffers that just gives you this indescribable energy. Part of you wants to smash shit up, the other part wants you to have someone smack you in the chops.

 

 

The new record is 11 songs that need to be played loud. Really, really loud. It’s the record you play when your neighbours are pissing you off, and you need something really powerful to shut them out. Every song on this record was made to be blasted out, and to give you this kick that you need.

Bryce is one of the most fascinating drummers around, and for me it’s the song  GFY that show us just how effortlessly brilliant he is. The speed of his drumming is equally, and perfectly matched with Dec. Angel sees Gus show us what he’s made of, and it also shows us a tender side of the band. You can really hear the hurt in Amy’s voice, but still leaves you fully aware that she is someone that you don’t fuck with.

When there is hype around a band/record, it is easy to be jaded about it and not expect a thing. But, with Amyl and The Sniffers- hype or no hype, they are just one of the greatest bands out there who leave you amazed that they are still so early in their career. The absolute urgency that is in their songs is perfect, and it hypes you up for their live shows. If you’ve seen them live, you’ll know what I mean.

Gacked on Anger is one of my favourites- especially lyrically. You can really feel the lyrics. Especially if you’re someone who has nothing, but still wants to help out. Control also has this real vulnerability to it also. That’s part of my love for the band. Sure the sound is rowdy, but there is this vulnerability in the lyrics and I guess that’s why the music hits you a bit harder than most.

There’s this beautiful youth within the songs, and it’s something that when you pick up on it- you cannot help but treasure it. It’s obvious on songs like Got You. Songs like Shake Ya are there for you to turn up a little louder than the others, and just totally lose your shit to. Punisha is also there is melt your face and blow you away. This just a phenomenal record. If you’re someone who looks for things wrong with a record because you find it too perfect, then sorry- you will not find a damn thing wrong with this record. Their bold and ferocious sound is so strong on their debut record, and they make you feel like they are right in front of you blasting out these songs.

 

 

As far as debut records go, you can put this right against some of the most influential and best records of all time. It’s a masterpiece, and an absolute joy to listen to. I am so excited to see what’s next for Amyl and The Sniffers because they really do deserve every ounce of praise that comes their way. The most exciting band around, for sure.

 

 





THE SMITHS: The Queen Is Dead.

16 06 2016

 

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“Frankly, Mr Shankly, I’m a sickening wreck,
I’ve got the 21st century breathing down my neck.”

There are some records after one listen stick with you for the rest of your life. These are the records that become your life, save your life, ARE your life. The records you turn to when there isn’t a soul around. A certain is your crutch, and whenever you hear it a bout of strength comes over you. Feelings come in waves, in odd numbers, in even numbers, on a Tuesday afternoon when gazing out of a 4th floor window. It hits you when you start to forget who you are, what you are and how tough you are.

1986. The year of many great records. And for better or for worse, the year I entered the world 6 weeks before my due date. Quite possibly the only time I’ve ever been early. Prior to my birth several months before, The Smiths released the wonderful (and equally wonderfully titled) The Queen Is Dead. Their highly influential third record. Many fans of the band do regard this as their best work, and you really cannot find any faults within this record. Everything about it is remarkable and ahead of its time. The lyrics show Morrissey at his best (whilst in The Smiths) and are full of words that will make you smirk, laugh, cry, think- anything and everything.

Of course I’ve been one of those who leaned on I Know It’s Over when I first had my heart torn out. I found so much comfort in this song, and having your heart broken is a very isolated feeling- which is why music is such a vital part of the healing process. This song just has this honesty to it that shows what it is like to be part of something that is no longer there, but you cling to it. Every word is brutally open and I think it might be one of the easiest songs in the world to relate to. There are so many lines in this song  make you feel weak at the knees because of how they hit you in the gut. “It takes guts to be gentle and kind.” Easily one of my favourite lyrics of all time. It’s also one I want tattooed on me. In time, I probably will.

Then you have the genius and wit in songs like The Queen Is Dead and Frankly, Mr Shankly. The Queen Is Dead has so much humour, and one line that really shows this is: “She said: “Eh, I know you, and you cannot sing” I said: “that’s nothing – you should hear me play piano.” As someone who cannot sing nor play piano, I can identify with this. I also haven’t broken into the Palace with a sponge and rusty spanner.

Bigmouth Strikes Again is also another that shows how brilliant Morrissey’s songwriting was then (and obviously still is.) And I do suppose it is one of those you can play, and think of someone who gets on your last nerve, but you wouldn’t wish any harm upon them. Aside from the humour, The Boy With The Thorn In His Side shows this captivating sensitivity within Morrissey’s words, and the way he sings it is with such care, longing and slight caution. I just think the last part of the song, “And when you want to live, how do you start? Where do you go?” This is line that I remember floating in my head every single time I tried to leave home but it didn’t quite work out. As luck would have it, today is exactly 3 years since I left home for good. I’ve had some great times, some really awful times but I’ve made some brilliant friends in doing so. I wouldn’t change a thing, well maybe one or two. Or three. Everything happens because it must, and it works out- for the most part.

I can’t talk about this record without mentioning of their most famous songs and one of the greatest songs of all time. I’m a HUGE fan of The Smiths and Morrissey, and sometimes I feel like a lesser fan by claiming There Is A Light That Never Goes Out as my favourite song. But hear me out, if you can tolerate any more of my words. There Is A Light was a song I used to play on repeat in my room most evenings, before I went to sleep and when I woke up as I had to face the torment of secondary school. The words embodied escaping. The only way I could escape was through songs. Through Morrissey’s words. Through his words I found a world that made me feel okay with being out of place, a misfit, an outsider. His words were and still are everything to me. We always need someone on our side, and he’s on mine. I’m on his. This song for me just embodies hope. For those who claim he’s miserable, I urge them to play The Queen Is Dead- take the words in. There are songs there to make you laugh. His humour is something else. Especially on this record.

For me, I know that without this record a lot of bands I love would not have ever formed. The influence that The Queen Is Dead has on so many bands, even 30 years on is just astonishing and beautiful to see, and hear. I can’t imagine my life without this record. I don’t know what I would have and would do without it. It’s got everything you’d need from a best friend in it- it feels like home. I know I’ve mainly touched on Morrissey’s lyrics here, but for me lyrics are everything. I know how brilliant this record and how they all created something truly inspiring on it. I know how important each note played and how each word sung is on this record. I know. I know. A band/singer will always find you when you are lost, for me it is obvious it was The Smiths/Morrissey. I’m going to be the same age as one of my favourite records soon. Suddenly hitting 30 doesn’t seem so bad.

I never do this, but I’ve written this for my mum. The person who is responsible for my love for The Smiths, Morrissey and music. The person who I love more than anything in the world and the person who, when I grow up- I hope I’m just like. The only person I’ll go to a Morrissey show with. There’s something quite special about watching your hero on stage whilst hugging your heroine next to you, at the same time. I love you, and thank you for everything. You’re my light that never goes out x

 





Crocodiles: Rough Trade. The Wait And Beyond.

13 09 2012

“I can piss away my cash, my time I can’t get back.”

My love for Crocodiles is on a par with my love for The Cure, Morrissey and hugs. Since 2009 they’ve been a solid source of comfort, and an outlet for any frustration I may encounter. Last Tuesday they played a free gig at Rough Trade. I extended my trip in England basically so I could see them. During that week some amazing things happened. Seeing Crocodiles and another thing (it’s personal, so shush) was basically my highlight and improved this year.

I don’t want to talk about the free gig, I want to talk about how when you wait for something for so long- that moment when it is finally yours, well no one can take it from you. Nothing can reach you. You feel invincible and as if you can take on the world. The music is your cape, cloak the world with your power.

I’ve already written about how my love for Crocodiles started, and how they dragged me through what I thought at the time-was a really bad patch. Turns out, I’ve gone through worse and I’m still here (sorry to those who hate that.) Their music for me goes beyond anything else. When I saw them last week, I just felt an explosion of being content with everything. I guess I had to because I spent £5 on a Jameson & coke in a bar beforehand and it cost me £5. London, sort out your whiskey prices please. I love you, but this is going to cause tension.

This year, after waiting since 2005 to see them- I saw The Horrors. After waiting 3 years, I finally saw Crocodiles. I guess this year, for all the things I have waited for- they finally happened. Music is pretty much the centre of my tiny universe. It keeps me going. It gives me what I need to carry on. My love for Crocodiles is something I cannot put into words. I chickened out of going up to Brandon and Charles to tell them how much it meant to me to see them. I suppose I didn’t want to seem like some creepy fool. I’m nearly 26, not 14- but I had a bit of fear. I guess when you’ve been in awe of a band for so long, it is a bit daunting. However, they’re not assholes so I guess if I blurted out “YOUR MUSIC KEEPS ME SANE” I’m pretty sure they’d be okay with that. But anyway. Next time. Hopefully.

For me it was hearing All My Hate And My Hexes Are For You and No Black Clouds For Dee Dee that just made me insanely happy. They are two songs right now that mean the world to me. I obviously have a lot of love for I Wanna Kill, and the first verse of that song means more to me than I can get my head around. To see them play to about 30 people (there may have been more, I wasn’t really paying the crowd attention) was just perfect. It may not have been a full set, but I didn’t care. For those 45 minutes or so, I got to see one of my favourite bands ever.

When you wait for something, no matter what it is and you finally have it. Whether it be seeing a band, a record finally coming out, being with that one person who doesn’t make you feel every kind of ugly-anything. When you have that moment, no matter how long or short it is- you cling onto it for the rest of your time here. That moment just stays with you, and when you are alone- it makes the time pass quicker. You remember parts of it, and you carry on; carrying the memory with you.

Music has the power to change everything. To be everything. Last Tuesday, I felt that more than ever. I closed my eyes, sang along and swayed. It was like I was the only person in the room with Crocodiles. Every so often I caught a glimpse of the crowd and didn’t see many people singing, but I say a few sway their bodies. Truly feeling the music in their bones.

If by some strange stroke of luck they see this; Brandon and Charles, thank you. Not just for last Tuesday but for the music. For always, and forever. Thank you is all I’ve got.





The Smiths-The Smiths.

20 02 2012

“Reel around the fountain. Slap me on the patio, I’ll take it now…”

Manchester, Manchester- you beautiful city. Look at what you have given us. John Cooper Clarke, The Fall and of course The Smiths. On a damp and dreary (I’m going to assume it was, I was born just under 3 years later) an album by one of the world’s most influential bands was released. A debut record is a record critics will thrive off picking about and throwing away. That didn’t happen with The Smiths debut first record. If I have it in me, I’m going to attempt to put my all into writing this. Expect sentences that ooze frustration because I cannot say what I want to say. I’d like to mention I am writing this drinking tea out of a Morrissey mug.

I want to delve right into the very core of the album’s opening track, and one of my favourite songs by the band EVER. I want to go into detail about how gloriously sexually charged the lyrics are. Thing is, Morrissey’s lyrics have always had this wonderfully subtle sexual connotations that click with certain kinds of people. The shy ones, like myself who lack charm and anything to offer another (Moz has the charm, we all know that.) The Smiths made the outsider feel part of something. They made you feel as if you had found a home, a safety haven. All your desires and longing came true in this band. They also voiced them because you couldn’t do it. Can you do it now? I know I can’t. If only it was okay to say to someone you liked, “I like you but I cannot sum it up..so listen to this song by The Smiths.” Reel Around The Fountain has a verse that I just adore. It makes me want to cuddle that young, shy Morrissey and say, “It’s okay lad, you’re better than everyone anyway.”

“I dreamt about you last night. And I fell out of bed twice.  You can pin and mount me like a butterfly.  But “take me to the haven of your bed.” Was something that you never said.”

I, like most fans of the band can relate to nearly EVERY lyric and this is just utterly divine and accurate. Moz says the things I seem to have on the tip of my tongue, no exceptions.

Not a band to shy away from negative criticism from the press and anyone in-between, The Smiths felt the brunt of their open music when Suffer Little Children was placed as the B-Side to Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now. I love The Smiths more than I can put into words, but this one song that I’ve only listened to..not even a handful of times. It is far too painful and to the core. Personally, I don’t find it distasteful so for certain shops to pull the record from the shelves was too much. If anything, it was a tribute to the victims of one of the most horrendous and brutal crimes ever committed. It was also one of the first songs that Morrissey and Johnny Marr wrote together.

You really do not need someone like myself to tell you just how important this record is. From the lyrics to the music to the excellent production that is present on this record. Anything and everything The Smiths ever did was nothing short of perfection. Even the imperfections and glitches were beautiful. Sometimes I am asked “The Smiths or Morrissey?” And, I usually do say Morrissey for many many reasons. I guess I can relate more to his solo work, but this debut record is just one of the greatest records ever made. Of course being released through Rough Trade wasn’t a bad thing either.

The debut record is exquisitely honest and vulnerable. Morrissey just pours out all the frustrations you can possibly handle. 28 years on since its release, and it undoubtedly still is as important and apt as ever.

I cannot write this in a way that reads as something critical. I’m just throwing these words out as a fan, that’s all I can do. The first song I remember hearing by The Smiths was Hand In Glove. I just loved the sounds I was hearing, I was far too young to understand the lyrics but as I hit my teens..I paid full attention to the lyrics. The Smiths and Morrissey didn’t only just put out music that saved my life, they BECAME my life.

It angers me when people say “Oh they HAVE to get back together.” They don’t. They really bloody don’t. When a band splits, that should be it. It’s like getting back with an ex isn’t it? Royally pointless and a dumb thing to do. The Smiths will always be one of the most influential and best bands ever. The music and the memories we have are more than enough. It all started 28 years ago today with this record. I’ve loved them for so long, and I couldn’t imagine my life and record collection without them. It’d be awful and dull (both my life and music.)

Listening to this record again, to write this- there is always one line that has forever stuck out for me. A line that I constantly have flailing around my heads causing me to probably overthink :

“Does the body rule the mind or does the mind rule the body? I dunno…”

It has been many many years since I first heard this record, and I am still trying to work out what rules what. Maybe it is just safer to say that the heart rules everything, but at the same time probably cocks everything up. There is a song on this record for every point in one’s life. Miserable Lie will help you get our something or someone. Hand In Glove will help with acceptance. What Difference Does It Make will help you see that people are sometimes, not worth the hassle. Reel Around The Fountain will make you pine for that person you cannot get out of your head. It described life for so many 28 years ago, and it still does the same now.

It is obvious just how vital this record is, and what it for music. Time may drag and drain us all, but with records like this, it makes the whole process less painful.