Songs of the week – 20th September 2020

A quick summary of shame’s One Rizla.

Turns out for this week, it’s song of the week. I actually listened to a fair bit of music this week, but not a huge amount grabbed me, though I did find a few interesting albums. Therefore, a short update this week, but still worthy of noting and, perhaps for myself, trying to regularly write. A playlist for the Songs of the Week is posted in the sidebar for people who use Spotify.

One Rizla – shame

So admittedly this isn’t a new track, but shame (seemingly their stylisation, not my inability to hit the shift key) have a relatively new single in preparation for what one presumes will be the follow up to their debut, 2018’s Songs of Praise. This track comes from that album, and arrives with a clarion call of guitars. It’s a big, goofy, riff, but it brandishes all the hallmarks of a stadium rock song, though perhaps with less polish.

shame seem to be equally reviled and revered by critics. Perhaps the divide is that in their home land they’re seen as the saviour of rock/punk, along with contemporaries like Idles. In the US, though, there is a) less love for British rock and b) no need to have rock saved by someone that isn’t from the US. Not that rock needs saving.

Either way, the songs rock out. Critics will say they come from a contrived, well worn rut of ‘young white male anguish’, but every generation has and needs a call for the disenfranchised. Is it punk? I don’t know and in fact, don’t really care. Sure the lyrics are posturing, but, that seems to be their shtick. Is it a hell of a lot of fun to listen to? You bet.

It will be interesting to see how the new album lands. The first track is decent, and it will be worth a listen.

Finally, accordingly to the interwebs, Rizla is a French brand tobacco (and others) rolling papers. It’s also apparently a bar in Canberra. I’m presuming they’re singing about the former…

Songs of the week – 13th September 2020

Technically it’s more of a song of the fortnight, but, as we all know, life sometimes gets in the way. Still, I will try and capture some songs that really stand out and talk about them a little bit here. They won’t always be ‘newish’ releases, but more-so, new songs to me, and maybe an old favourite here and there that has been rediscovered.

Hummer – Fruit Bats

This is in some way an old song re-imagined. The song, Hummer, comes from the 1993 (The) Smashing Pumpkins album, Siamese Dream, and is part of a Sounds Delicious music club, which sees artists re-imagining albums for exclusive release.

The lighter touch that Fruit Bats inevitably bring to this song allows it to breathe in a way that differs from the original. Rather than drowned in 90s hazy reverb and grunge aesthetic, the mostly acoustic number has an almost tropical feel, not unlike much of Fruit Bats’ output. It’s a fun take, and highlights the precision of the original songcraft, and was a great trigger to revisit one of the finest albums of the 90s.

Alapathy – Fenne Lily

I had first heard Alapathy on NPR’s All Songs Considered and thought the back story of the title was a little hokey, though it’s actually something I can relate to. The word is something the artist thought was genuine a word, but on closer review, it turned out not to be the case. It is instead a portmanteau of apathy and allopathic (i.e. modern medicine), referring to Western medicine’s focus on symptoms, rather than causes, especially in mental health.

I too find myself occasionally using a word that I don’t actually know to be real, or that just popped into my, but later find it weaves its way into my internal monologue. The song is an urgent guitar jam and Lily’s vocals pack a warming melodicism to them. A new album, Breach, is due later in September and it will be interesting to hear the whole package.

Plum – Widowspeak

Look, if you open a song with a rambling, Pavementesque, Range Life era guitar line, I’m probably 90% of the way there. The delicate, breathy lyrics of Molly Hamilton lilt across a major/minor chord progression that is basically my favourite song trope. It’s a delightful 4+ minutes of melancholic, late afternoon soundtracking. And has two gentle solos.

Impossible Weight – Deep Sea Diver and Sharon Van Etten

This song doesn’t know if it’s in the 80s or 2020s, but it’s just so good at either, or, it doesn’t really matter. Two strong vocalists deliver sequential versus and come together for one of the catchiest choruses I’ve heard all year. The main riff, delivered by ex Shins guitarist and Deep Sea Diver lead singer, Jessica Dobson, will get wedged in your head. The song is precise in its execution and magnifies the collaborator’s strengths. Clocking in at a little over three minutes, the track commands your attention the whole way through and leaves you wanting more.

Same Old Brick – Josiah Johnson

Same Old Brick comes from the debut solo album from Josiah Johnson, Every Feeling On a Loop, who was also lead signer of The Head and the Heart, who I don’t claim to know much about. The album is very strong, and something I can see myself listening to quite a bit. There are a few standout tracks, but this one has sat with me this week. A song of lamenting having not moved on, and still ‘fucking around’ after ’20 years’, it rises without a chorus to the admission:

It’s a good sign that we’re talkin’ at all,

It’s a good time, c’mon! Give me a call!

Let’s have a good fight, put my back to the wall,

‘Cause on a good night, I don’t miss you at all

The album is worth sinking some time into as each song is nuanced, and has Sufjan Stevens like orchestration, though perhaps with less synthesisers and aliens. Perhaps 50 state era Soof. Lots of horns too. 2020s could do with more horns, we’ve already got guitar solos back.

And that wraps up the Song of the Week for this week. It’s Sunday, so, time to start a new week of listening!

Returning to writing

For much of this year I’ve been thinking about writing and creating again. I commenced, briefly, at the start of the year, in a simplified bullet point form, which was aimed at summarising thoughts. It sort of served its purpose, but petered out mainly because I find my day to day fairly routine and occasionally mundane. For the most part, I wake up, eat breakfast, go to work, work, come home, noodle about, and go to bed, at least during the week.

That is not overly interesting. Sure, facets of it can be, but, certainly not enough to be writing about it each day or even every other day. And certainly not as a global pandemic strikes and the routine becomes even more, well, routine. I also don’t need an outlet for catharsis like I once did, which was the original form this blog took.

That said, I like writing. I do it for a job, more or less. I create stories, I inspire people, be it in chats, emails, or in longer form communications. I like to take my thoughts and crystalise them. I like to make worlds, even if they’re only scientifically constrained definitions.

Therefore, it becomes less contained and more interesting when it’s about something outside of that construct. The things that I do for enjoyment, for entertainment, for experiencing. Further to that, I often find myself wanting to talk at length about certain things, like how I relate to an album, or how a certain place makes me feel and well, most people don’t always share my enthusiasm. They have their own priorities. I get that. I still have the want to express, though.

Thus the return to the blog. For me. And whoever wants to read. I’ll write about what I’m enjoying, a lot of music, old and new, wines, beers, coffee, trips, some photos, and anything else that takes my fancy.

I live in Perth, in Western Australia, and despite what people claim, it’s not the most isolated city in the world (though it’s not far from it). It’s a wonderful place to live, with a balance of nature, beauty, and safety that is unlike almost anywhere else I’ve travelled. I’m afforded a lifestyle that allows me to travel fairly regularly (well, within the state for now), and to explore things that I like with a little more depth and passion.

I like to take trips to wineries and get to know the process. I like to try all of the beers, and am just getting more deeply into coffee. Music has always been a part of my life and in the last year or so I’ve renewed my interest in exploring music, like I did in the days before streaming services and the like. I like to hike, take the road less traveled, and explore.

I hope to record for myself and share all of these things, some of my passions, through this vehicle.

And so we’re done with the first post.