“If you ever get lonely, just got to the record store and visit your friends.”
Six years ago in a classroom at University I set up this blog as part of an Online Journalism module I had to take. As someone who cares far too much about writing and music, I decided to keep at this for longer than I probably should have. There have been times where I am supposed to have done something “important” but decided to write about a band instead. I’ll always do that, and I don’t see anything wrong with it.
Over the past six years I have done the ridiculous (met Patti Smith) and the relatively sane (standard record reviews.) I don’t find writing about music I love exhausting, but Writer’s Block can sometimes smack me in the face leaving me feeling entirely frustrated and annoyed with my abilities, or in that case- a lack of. Everyone has something that they truly care about, something that forces them to wake up in the morning and to keep going.
I decided to keep this blog up because I was annoyed with typical Music Journalists who seem to enjoy slagging off bands in their writing. Sure I dislike boring bands such as Coldplay, Mumford & Sons and the dull sounds of that guy with the poor quiff, Bastille but I’m not going to waste my time writing a thousand words as to why I dislike them. I’d rather write about a band/singer/song/record that has truly moved me because it makes me feel like I’ve done something worthwhile I guess. My words won’t change the world, they won’t make someone else go out and buy a record and they won’t make a band I love become huge. They’re just words. Words some will skim over. Words that may not go read. Words that most won’t agree with. But seeking approval is the worst thing a person can do to themselves because they will lose sight of who they are.
Maybe I’ve got another year in this or maybe I’ll be 90 years old dribbling on the keyboard writing about “that time I saw….” I have no idea. All I know is that you cannot put a price on doing what you love. I’ve never received money for writing about a band.
I wish I could name every single band that has sent me their music, but I can’t. I’ve got a rubbish memory, but everything I’m sent gets written about.
However, I would like to specially thank the following for being exceptionally generous with their music and time:
-Soft Power Records
-Little Death Machine
-The Creeping Ivies
-The Long Wives
There’s many more, but as I’ve mentioned I don’t really have the best memory.
Any email or comment left about anything I’ve written means a hell of a lot. I remember when I posted my Warpaint interview and reading the emails I got sent-I felt proud and that maybe someone got the point I was trying to make.
Thank you! xx
The Smiths debut record came out 30 years ago. There’s no other reason really.
I had a lot of bands in mind with this, but there was one person in particular I was excited to write about here with pure respect and admiration. I read this evening that this person, The Child Of Lov had died. I’m a sentimental person, and for the most part I think it probably does more harm than good. The heart is still torn over Lou Reed’s passing; that’s something I don’t think I’ll ever get my head around. Anyway, this is dedicated t0 The Child Of Lov- with love and honesty, this one is for him.
There have been so many bands and singers that truly blew my mind this year. I don’t like to listen to one style of music, I find that to be pretty dull. I’ve never enjoyed the company of anyone who just listens to one kind of music. Yes my heart is in Punk, but I’m open to all kinds of music (aside from dance, I don’t enjoy dance music.)
I’ve attempted to shorten this to 10 bands/singers that really meant something to me this year. Some I found accidentally, and some found me. You’d have to ask them if it was an accident or not.
VIRALS- I saw them live twice this year, both times supporting Crocodiles. Shaun is an excellent frontman. He doesn’t speak much to the crowd, and I like that. I’m not one for bands talking a lot to the crowd, I’m not really sure why. Virals are a brilliant band who just have this massive thrashing feel to their sound. Their sound is the harsher side of summer. The side where you’re bored with everything and you roam the streets kicking other people’s rubbish along the way as you walk somewhere. Anywhere. So long as it is away from where you are. They were an absolute joy to watch live, one of the few bands that you just couldn’t get tired of watching.
Mikey & The Drags- I adore Garage Rock. I love how for me, it has that same brutality and passion as Punk had. Mikey & The Drags captivate everything that Garage Rock means to me. Their sensual grooves and a bite to their sound that just makes them tower above the rest, they make you wish you were in a band. In my dreams I am, ha. For me, this band are enough to make anyone who doubts the current state of music a firm believer again. Their songs are short (think Ramones) and make you want to thrash your body about- into walls, into people, deep into the music. They’re a band that need to be played louder than most just so they can set your body free.
Frank’s Daughter- Reinforcing my love for duos, Frank’s Daughter are spectacular. They formed in Brooklyn over whisky and wine, so it is no surprise that they were destined to make gorgeous music. Frank’s Daughter make music that is full of nostalgia, but not wanting to hold onto the past. They make you recall certain life events with a small grin on your face- content with moving on in your life and as a person. It is like they are guiding you through, holding your hand through it all when everyone and everything else has turned its back on you.
Savage Sister- I think I first wrote about them this year? All I know is that I adore their ethereal sound that glows in bands such as Tamaryn and Beach House. Savage Sister are that band you play late at night with the lights off. It doesn’t matter what is floating around your head- they just make it alright. Their name may sound a bit aggressive but their sound is anything but. They calm the soul in ways nothing else has really come close to. Savage Sister make music that is the soundtrack to those pleasant dreams that you never want to end. You could live in your head if you want; that way the dreams will never end.
Ancient Times- One guy making his own kind of noise. Another exceptional talent on the exquisite Soft Power Records. This Brighton wonder-kid is truly making his own scene, leaving a trail of baffled yet mesmerised listeners in his path. I likened George’s vocals to Morrissey’s this year when I wrote about him. I guess this would put small-minded buffoons off him, but I’m sure there are more that are attracted to this, fortunately! His vulnerable voice is what did it for me. When you can hear every word sung with pure emotion, that’s when you know you have found something truly special. Again, I hope 2014 is just as good to him as 2013 has been. He really does deserve it.
Roses- Another band from LA that cause me to occasionally be bored with England are Roses. However, Roses have that 80s Manchester feel to their music. Romance mixed with cynicism, best way to be at times. Maybe most of the time. When I listen to them, I try to figure out why I love them, but I just can’t. I think that’s part of why I love them. Roses have something about them that just makes you want to keep on listening. They make you forget all the bands you are currently into, and you just cast all your attention over to them. Although they are from LA, they don’t posses a “typical” LA sound, and for me, I think is part of the attraction. Roses are a band I’m excited to hear more from next year and beyond.
Girl Tears- Again, another excellent band from the Westcoast that blew my mind this year. I said they sounded like the Ramones and The Cramps having it off with each other. I still stand by that. They smack you in the face with their rambunctious and infectious sound, whilst freaking you out at the same time. Some bands try to do this, but they seem to be lacking something. I don’t know what, I just write about music I love. I stay away from music I don’t like. There’s no point wasting thousands of words on something I don’t like. Girl Tears aren’t afraid to be different, and their sound is so natural and bold. They make you want to throw stuff about. Throw your limbs about if you want, just to be safe. Yeah they are brutal but in a way that isn’t too “shocking.” They’re just a loud band that are extremely talented. Easily one of my favourites this year, no doubt.
The #1s- Playing with a sense of urgency that makes the listeners ears prick up immediately, The #1s are an exceptional band who are just a joy to listen to. When you listen to them, you straight away pick up on just how exciting they must be to see live. Their songs are fast and punchy. Hit repeat so it never ends; creating new moments each time. You scream the words back them until you feel your throat is beaten and scratched. They make music that is easy to relate to- for all those everyday frustrations that you just need to pour out of yourself; The #1s do it for you in a way you wish you could. Maybe one day you will, but for now you’ve got bands like this doing it for you. But hey, one day we must stop being lazy with our emotions.
Woman’s Hour- With all the brutal sounds I seem to enjoy listening to, I must balance it out. Woman’s Hour are another exciting band on Luv Luv Luv Records (listen to Only Real- he’s exceptional too.)Woman’s Hour are an exceptionally delicate band. They are fragile with their words and sounds. They carefully craft music that can break and mend the heart. They of course, do something to the soul too. Fiona’s voice is like Jessie Ware met Sade and went into the afterlife to bring Aaliyah back to us. Everything about them is so precious, and I think it is obvious that 2014 is going to be very good to them.
The Child Of Lov- It’s hard to write about someone who’s music really blew you away, only to find out you’ll never hear anything from them again. The Child Of Lov made music to loosen your limbs to. He had that genius quality to his music that is found in the likes of Burial, Jai Paul and Kindness. He was just a joy to listen to. It’s hard to get your head around something like this. I listen to Fly, and it’s hard to imagine that nothing like this is going to come from him again. Of course what we have is beautiful, and of course notion of what could have been does come kicking in. We’ve got the music. It may only be one record, but it was one record that truly blew my mind this year. He had an alluring mystery to his music. You were (and still are) left with a sense of wonder and thousands of questions when you listen to his music. Obviously other questions now arise, but like I said- at least we have the music. He’s at peace now, and I guess that’s something we can take comfort in.
When I was at college I was a big fan of The Cribs. I enjoyed their Garage rock sound and probably enjoyed the fact they’re from Yorkshire too. Easily swayed, but not anymore. The Cribs played fast and their sound was unlike the rest. It’s been a while since a band has pulled off that sound in the way The Cribs did. I’ve not listened to The Cribs in some time; I sort of lost interest after 2008/2009. Typical.
There’s a band from Dublin called The #1s and they remind me of The Cribs when they first started. They play fast and with fury. You can hear a clear and raw distinctive sense of urgency in the vocals. Their songs are the kind you are supposed to scream back at them at one of their shows with sweat falling freely from your face and it trickles into your mouth as you scream the words back. The morning after, you’ll have a sore body and you’ll be unable to speak. This happened when I saw Crocodiles last month, and I’m hoping it happens tonight when I go see them. Lord knows I need it.
The #1s self-released a cassette, Italia 90 and it’s my favourite thing I’ve heard by them so far. I love how every song feels like a slight punch in the gut. I think it was released a few years ago, but since then they’ve released a 7″ on Cork/Leeds based Art For Blind Records and later this year they’ll be featuring on The Big Itch Club’s 7″ which features Faux Kings and my personal favourite. September Girls. Big things are happening for The #1s and they truly deserve it.
What I love about their music is that they are capable of unleashing all the feelings that make us feel fed up. I feel fed up and disconnected from most things, which is why music is a huge help. The older I get, the less I relate to everything around me. I don’t know what kind of person this makes me, but if I think about it- I just get more annoyed at myself. Music is the one thing I’ll only ever lean on because people are not permanent. And I think to be dependent on a person sort of weakens you. It’s alright to be weak though, that I know. I’m not a tough person at all. Never will be. Music is a crutch. My point is, The #1s make music that unleashes the shit feelings we feel in a very real way. All too often bands do it but you cannot connect due to how they project it all. Or how they act. Bands like The #1s are obviously true to their words, and you connect. I’m just speaking for myself, so there’s a good chance I’m wrong. But that’s okay.
The #1s have a new song called Sharon Shouldn’t which is released 4th October. In Europe it will be released on Alien Snatch! and in America on Sorry State. The release will feature two b-sides, Boy and Girl. It is an evidential step-up from what they’ve previously released, but it is as rambunctious as their other songs. Sharon Shouldn’t is their third release; it is slightly more ferocious than their past releases but clearly shows how strong the band are. If this is the first time you’re hearing the band then I highly recommend you explore their back-catalogue. It is full of blissed-out gems that will fit any mood.
The #1s are a band anyone can relate to, and with most things in life separating ourselves from others it is good to know music is probably going to be one of the few things that bring people together.