Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Album of the Month: IN BETWEEN by The Feelies

In the meantime, Mark Kozelek is trying to eat us all. Piece by piece. Gruesomely. Without chewing.

The Feelies are special. I know you've probably heard this said a million times before, about a million different bands, but few would say that about The Feelies. After all, who even fucking remembers The Feelies? And who cares what they have to say now, thirty-seven years after their first album?.. 

Which is slightly odd as it would take one listen to "The Boy With The Perpetual Nervousness", in headphones or otherwise, to fall in love.

Once you do, you'll know that on occasion they do indeed sound like The Velvet Underground doing jangle-pop ("In Between (Reprise)" is not unlike "White Light/White Heat" as recorded by The Bats). But that's not what makes them special. It's what is going on underneath. 

Charismatic songwriting worthy of a band who only records albums when they have something to say (this is a band, remember, who took six full years between the debut and the follow-up). In all honesty, you have to lack not one - but both of your ears to miss the greatness of "Gone, Gone, Gone". 

A lesser band would bore you to tears with "Time Will Tell" and would probably make you pay too much attention to the "Some Kinda Love" styled guitar playing in "Pass The Time". The Feelies win you over with substance or whatever it is that makes you feel the sheer excitement of seemingly uneventful "Been Replaced" and the title song.

Album of the month, easily. After all, who would think that feedback noise could fill your heart with warmth? The closing "In Between (Reprise)" does just that.

Tuesday, 21 February 2017


Ironically, the only living being in Paterson is the bulldog. The one who's trying to shake things up by tearing apart the sacred notebook and pushing the post box slightly to the side. It's a small town you may have heard in Songs For Drella, but this one you actually see.

Adam Driver is fantastic - in fact, that's exactly how you do small-town apathy by acting it. The characters are, well, characters, and the humour comes in deadpan spurts, but what sticks out is the brilliance of the script that has such great care for the detail. 

Because Jim Jarmusch knows that style and taste are nothing without substance. And whatever little hope he gives us at the end, what with the mundane miracle elegised in 'The Line' poem and the promise of an empty page, it all comes crashing down the moment you see the frame of yet another Monday morning.

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Old Magazines

Oh the things you find in an old magazine from your parents' apartment. Those unforgettable, long-forgotten things. Your parents' apartment, where your old music magazines are scattered all over the place. Once, ten or maybe fifteen years back, you bought them all religiously in Dresden and in Gateshead and God knows where else. You memorised the lines and even entire reviews. And then you let them be, as you do with any old memory, habit or even dream, and currently there are dozens of them lying on the bathroom floor.  

You pick one up, you open it at page that is totally random, and you see a five-star review as well as an article going by the name of Crown Pretenders. Underneath, you see who this title refers to: four young Americans with defiant stares and unwieldy haircuts. They look great. It's 2003, they have just released a debut record everyone is excited about, the future's looking bright and beautiful, and the review has the effrontery to end this way:


I almost don't mind as the actual album is quite good. Not really some chain-smoking, housewife-shagging redneck classic as the reviewer claims, but the excitement is palpable. The name of the band? It's hard to believe it now but the name of the band is The Kings Of Leon. 

Yes, the very band that would in a few years transform into the worst band in the world (I'm exaggerating, but if you've heard their new album - you know exactly what I'm talking about). The band whose sleek, cheesy faces would send hideous shivers down my spine. The band whose music would walk the fine line between 'tasteless' and 'generic'. The band you would happily stuff with rock'n'roll Grammies or whatever it is that they are shooting for.     

Tragic, really. Try putting any of their current pictures against the one from an old music magazine and you will start questioning God. Because they have inflicted all the damage upon themselves or maybe (oh the destructive power of doubt!) they never had it to begin with? Because look at the bottom of the yellow page and notice the bizarre picture of hoop-wielding Patrick Wolf who also released his debut album that year

Patrick Wolf? Still bizarre. Still carrying that hoop (maybe another one, but a hoop nonetheless).

The Kings Of Leon are no more. Just a fading picture in an old magazine from your parents' apartment... Your parents' apartment. You rarely go there these days. In fact, you never do it the way that you once did - just dropping in, throwing yourself on the sofa with a bunch of magazines and memorising lines and even entire reviews. Long-forgotten yet unforgettable, and God knows what revelation a random page can bring. A dream from the past. A distant memory. A hope. Yes, that's the one. A new hope. A new hope from an old magazine.

Saturday, 11 February 2017

Ornette Coleman

Ornette Coleman opens me up. Ornette Coleman gives me ideas. Ornette Coleman allows me to look at things from a different angle. It's an odd-looking angle. It's challenging. On occasion it may look like this angle is entirely cancelled by laws of physics. I had no concept of this angle before I first heard "Lonely Woman".

To describe this effect is to imagine a brain ripped out of your skull and smashed to pieces and scattered all over the places and the people. Who are now characters, who are now settings. He might rip the heart out of your ribcage, too, but that would need a little more time.

Hooks? Well, they never stop. They are these half-thoughts flirting with your imagination.

But earlier, there was Naked Lunch. A Kafka high and the greatest film about the process of writing. Burroughs, present during the Dancing In Your Head sessions, gets "Midnight Sunrise" as a way of an homage. Back then, however, I only heard it as some ear-splitting insanity juxtaposed against the restraint of Howard Shore. 

Totally authentic, and something Ornette Coleman does to me now, regularly, somewhere along the way to Interzone decorated with bugs crawling up those white bathroom walls.

And then, even earlier, there was a short story I wrote. The short story was titled "Madeleine" and it was about a young boy who fell in love with an older woman and got trapped in her apartment. The older woman listened to jazz and I had to include a name of some kind. A jazz name. 

Naturally, there was just one name that fit the passage. Back then, I had no idea that all along - it fit the narrative, too.

Because in the end - the boy did get out.

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

travelling notes (xviii)

It's one thing to see a ghost in your home town. It's another thing to see a ghost in Vienna. Likewise, it's one thing to drink cocktails in your home town and it's quite another thing to drink cocktails in Vienna. 

One cocktail - a feeling of quiet liberation
Two cocktails - a quiet liberation of feeling
Three cocktails - God starts ignoring you
Four cocktails - Ornette Coleman starts playing "Willow Weep For Me"

Sunday, 5 February 2017