Music


There have been many great things about moving to NZ but one of the biggest things that I miss is the music scene.  Or the lack of it.  Ok, so I’m going to say it: the music scene in NZ sucks.  What the fuck is up with the adoration of dub/reggae and piss poor European house?  Seriously.  Ok, it’s said.

So the other big issue is that not only do very few bands come and play here but if they do they invariably skip Christchurch (apparently crossing the Tasman is ridiculously expensive).  Then even if they do come here the chance of finding out about the gig is pretty small as promotion is often non-existent (when I found out I’d missed Dan Deacon last year I was not a happy bunny).

As time has passed I’ve realised it’s not quite as bad as I first thought (I really was spoiled living in Brighton before all this).  In months to come we have Animal Collective, Dirty Projectors, The Pixies, Yo La Tengo, Camera Obscura, Pavement, Neko Case, Mono, Wilco.

And now they’ve announced Joanna Newsom with Jens Lekman no less.  In Christchurch.  While I’m on nights.  The same nights that cover my birthday none the less.

See, to go to any of these (as none of them bar the lovely Ms Newsom are playing CHCH) I have to try and book 2 days off work a few months in advance (a process which can take up to a month to confirm sometimes), get flights and accommodation in Wellington or Auckland and all the other little expenses that go along with it.  It makes it very difficult and expensive plus it’s eating into my annual leave.  I miss the day I could lean out of K’s window and listen to Isobel Campbell and Mark Lanegan playing across the road in St George’s church.

So I make my choices.  I chose Pavement over Pixies.  I’m losing the rest of the week to be in Auckland for Dirty Projectors 2 days later.  Mono I’ve seen before.  Neko Case I’m still deciding.  Wilco I will make happen.  I will also see JN even if I have to miss the end of her set (or be late for work which is more likely).  Tomorrow I’m off to see Jarvis Cocker in Wellington all by my lonesome.

A plea: if you are coming to New Zealand to play, please extend the tour to CHCH.  You’ve already spent all that money and time flying here in the first place so what’s a little bit more to come a bit further south.  I’ll come pick you up myself if it will help.

Now I just need to figure out how I’m ever going to see Mogwai ever again.  Fuji Rock 2010 anyone..?

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You said “send me stationary to make me horny”
So I always write you letters in multicolours
Decorating envelopes for foreplay
Damn extended metaphors, I get carried away

On the back of a natural disaster, fixed with parcel tape and with kids sticking plasters
Nothing says “I miss you” quite like war poetry you carved in your door with a Stanley knife

I know this was from a few years ago now but I was listening to it yesterday and the geeky lyrics still get me every time.  It’s built to appeal.

It’s bad enough you ever use the word as an adjective
But to suggest we do it in heels is really quite crass
And frankly, we’re reasonably practical
And we know the benefits of always doing these things in flats

Who can argue with the sense of that?  Plus my all time favourite:

If you catch me with my hands in the till
I promise, sugar, I wasn’t trying to steal
I’m just swimming in copper
to smell and pretend like a robot

Will I won’t I shall I shan’t I?  Write?  Well.  I’m unwell.  A long felt awareness of continually running at sub-par always seems to manifest whenever I take some time off.  Maybe the energy and stresses of work allowing my immune system to keep trucking on, keeping a low profile from the distracted awareness of my brain, crash and burn when I stop.  When the long weekend and relaxation kicked in it translated into rapid sinus congestion, sore throat and muzzy head.

Reasons to write?  One being the fun weekend we all had in Akaroa.  Got monumentally drunk Friday night with good friends and to my immense sense of self satisfaction I managed to play the entirety of Tarot Sport to a room full of people in a party type situation.  And only 2 people asked me to turn it off (cunningly by this point of the evening attention spans had been tequilaed down to bare seconds so I just ignored their pleas for musical leniency).  I actually played Street Horrrsing too but there was only one other left drinking and awake by that point so not sure I can claim that one.

Our sortie on Saturday for a bit of a ramble was scuppered when we arrived on the desolate beach to find a freaked out surfer who pointed us out to his 2 mates who were being swept out by the rip.  Our mate jumped in his kayak and went out to help the swept away guy (the other one made it to the rocks) while we went to call the coast guard.

One helicopter later, lots of standing around for us (plus a fuck load of paddling our mate) and all 3 were safe.  Good result and they were sheepishly nonplussed once it was all over.  Surfers are stupid.  We on the other hand went sea kayaking the following day and didn’t need helicopter rescue.  We did need burgers though.

Then we all got to see this:

And finally, perhaps the most joyous thing of all is that someone has posted the boot of the Royal Albert Hall gig by Mogwai from 2006.  In the 7 times I’ve seen them this was and still is the best they’ve ever been and I’ve been hoping for a copy ever since.  Everything about that night was perfect.  The venue was immense; the crowd were real fans, committed and politely quiet; the sound was enormous, it filled and decimated everything else in the hall, you could feel it through every inch of your body (I thought the bass on 2 rights was going to rupture my sternum); the version of 2 rights was the best I’ve ever heard live, the welcome return of Tracy and the second surprise encore (which I almost missed thinking they had gone) of a monumental and righteous MFMK was perfect.  I was there with a sweet Jewish San Franciscan girl I was sort of dating at the time at the end of a brief summer of letting go; she jumped a mile out of her seat at the noise mid way through fear satan and half way through MFMK said, ‘wait, this is…’

Yes it is; with a smile.  It felt better sharing it with someone and I was elated for days.  The recording’s pretty good so please download, listen and share it with me.

In my absence my blog seems to have been slowly ticking over and I’ve had over 5000 visits.  I don’t have much need for this any more though so not sure where to go.  I crave the anonymity and selective exposure of my earlier blog.  The ability to write absolutely anything and not worry about people you know reading it.  Writing to strangers.  There is something in the desire to publish and put out those intimate thoughts and events to be read by random unknowns, to be followed and supported, yet to be kept hidden.  A paper journal holds not the same appeal, the outrage of finding someone you know has peered within the sacred confines of a personal diary does not translate to the internet.  It also highlights the reality of what you’re doing when you sit, pen in hand and detail those troublesome thoughts to the page.  I am tempted to just hit that delete button for this and my past outlet.  Or perhaps reappear somewhere new with no fanfare.

Common joy seems to have lapsed into something sweeter.  This has been a fortnight characterised by a heap of new people and the discovery and rapture of a new muse (most fitting to Aoide); the associated back-tumble to the stages of my life that fling themselves into stark contrast with how things have been and how they can be no longer; and a god awful hangover that eventually lapsed into vague sickness.

There is (despite the runny nose and generally foggy head of the last few days) a smile on my face, a whimsy of the body and a desire to create.

On a somewhat related note I recently bought a new fountain pen.  Haven’t owned one for many a year but decided writing for me had become a chore, an act of work.  I wanted to take back the enjoyment.  Currently it’s been sent to Australia to fit a finer nib but once it returns I shall use it.  If anyone would like a letter drop me a line and address.

So it comes that time when we all compile pointless lists of what we enjoyed throughout the year.  And I’m feeling it this time so make no exception.  So some top lists (in alphabetical order):

Movies:

  • Cloverfield
  • The Dark Knight
  • Iron Man
  • No country for old men
  • Son of Rambow
  • Wall-E

A quiet year for movies on reflection.  If I had to choose only one it would be Wall-E.  As much as The Dark Knight is perfectly accomplished and astonishing in its brilliance and Iron Man is just brilliantly entertaining, Wall-E is just a wonderful combination of stunning visuals, gorgeous sound design and heartbreakingly staged story.  I love it.

Albums:

  • Crystal Castles
  • Elbow – The Seldom Seen Kid
  • Foals – Antidotes
  • Fuck Buttons – Street Horrrsing
  • Los Campesinos! – Hold on now, youngster
  • Lykke Li – Youth Novel
  • Metronomy – Nights out
  • Mogwai – The Hawk is Howling
  • Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Did, Lazarus, Dig!
  • Remember Remember
  • Vampire Weekend

Picking a favourite from these is extremely difficult.  Or very easy, as since The Hawk is Howling was released I’ve listened to very little else.  It’s a truly stunning Mogwai album and feels fully formed, like it’s existed for years.  And I love it.  However, choosing Mogwai as my favourite of the year is kind of cheating as they’re my favourite band.  So before that was released it was Fuck Buttons – Street Horrrsing.  I’ve been listening to this all year and still love it.  Powerful and compelling.  Regardless, all  the above have been on constant repeat since release and are well worth listening to.  Interestingly, my favourite album of last year: Low – Drums and Guns is still on heavy rotation.

Songs:

  • Black Francis – The Seus
  • CSS – Rat is dead (Rage)
  • David Byrne & Brian Eno – Strange overtones
  • Elbow – One day like this; Weather to fly
  • Fleet Foxes – Blue ridge mountains
  • Fuck Buttons – Sweet love for Planet earth
  • Gotye – Hearts a mess
  • Ladyhawke – Paris is burning
  • Lambchop – Sharing a Gibson with Martin Luther King Jr.
  • Lykke Li – I’m good, I’m gone
  • Metronomy – Heartbreaker
  • Mogwai – Scotland’s Shame; Devil Rides
  • Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds – More news from nowhere
  • Noah and the Whale – 5 years
  • Pete and the Pirates – Mr Understanding
  • Remember Remember – Fountain Mountain
  • Santogold – You’ll find a way
  • Those Dancing Days – Hitten

Rather an indiepop-tastic selection this year (getting old?) but fuck it.  My favourite?  Hmmmm.  Fountain Mountain probably (the original version rather than the split version that appeared on the album).

Books:

I managed to get through an impressive 53 books this year (not including comics) and out of those my favourites were:

  • We need to talk about Kevin – Lionel Shriver
  • The Murder of Roger Akroyd – Agatha Christie
  • I am Legend – Richard Matheson
  • Regeneration – Pat Barker

My favourite was ‘We need to talk about Kevin’ – an incredibly powerful and compelling story.  Plus this was the year I discovered Agatha Christie and more importantly, Poirot.  The full list is at my Goodreads site on the right.

So, that’s it for the lists.  Not a bad year all in all.

K left the country yesterday for New Zealand (via LA) which is sad but exciting.  Sad as we don’t get to see each other for the next 3 months but exciting as it’s the start of a new life.  Exciting also because I got my job in Christchurch so now can buy my plane ticket.  Add to my ticket to Nepal I bought last week and life is very exciting.  Well, apart from today which is just ok.

Paid in a check, bought some books, then fought a massive desire to just read my book rather than do anything ‘constructive’.  Meh.  Plus the weather is switching from baking sun to pounding rain and back again at the touch of a random button.

———————————-

An interesting video for the new Mogwai single Batcat has been released.  It’s an odd tune, very metal.  I need to hear this album as a whole as none of the recent tunes seem to fit together.  Watch it here.

We saw The Dark Knight again the other day at the IMAX – it really does look great on such a huge screen and is worth the journey.

Not sure why I’m posting this now – just been listening to Drums and Guns again (my favourite album of last year).  These are the videos that came from the album plus the great version of Murderer I posted right at the start of this blog.

Belarus
 
Breaker
 
Breaker (Animated version)
 
 
Hatchet (Optimimi version)
 
In Silence
 
 
Murderer (Live)
 
 

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