“Can I write a piece about you now that you’ve made it?” – A review of Belle & Sebastian’s new record!

(Caitlin Moran said something once about if you want to be a writer, you must learn how to be a writer on a treadmill, lest you will die from eating biscuits. I feel the same applies to a gap year.)

A still from the band's new video, Nobody's Empire.
A still from the band’s new video, Nobody’s Empire.

Hi hello hi! I haven’t written for around 2 months, but I’m back today for a specific reason- we have had the new Belle & Sebastian album unleashed to us, and I couldn’t help but take a listen, in the same way that I can’t help but eat another biscuit. It’s called Girls in Peacetime Want to Dance, which we so do, and it’s released on Matador next week. I feel guilty, and ashamed as J pre-ordered the LP for me for Christmas, but I still couldn’t help but take a listen. In a way that a New Year often promises a feeling of fresh starts and beginnings, it seldom does compared to the excitement behind a new album, especially when it’s their ninth studio album, and the previous 8 have been highly regarded as ‘my jam.’

I saw them play in Paris, Halloween 2014, where they played some of the new material- much to the approval of myself and Ella, and these 2 or 3 European guys who we befriended for the night, quietly discussing beforehand which was our favourite B-side as we sat on the ground in our cardigans so we were near the front (we weren’t in cardigans but let’s just create the twee dream.)

The album opens with Nobody’s Empire, and although not initially loving it, I now really really rate it, especially as an opening track. I think I wasn’t listening to it at all at first, I was just playing it as background music, tossing my hair back like ‘Zzuuh, nothing will ever beat The Model, or whatever.’ But then I played it, thought about it, listening to the lyrics along with the lovely Marx-and-Engels-y piano, and decided I was into it, really hard. Essentially, an autobiographical song about the frontman of your favourite band, is the best thing ever in a fangirl sense. The song talks about Stuart’s struggle with ME, dealing with a chronic illness, lying in bed feeling all useless,

“I was like a child, I was light as straw
When my father lifted me up there
Took me to a place where they checked my body
My soul was floating in thin air”

Very cool. A great opening choice, it reminds me of Thunder Road, the notorious opener of Born to Run by Springsteen, with it’s storytelling-y, piano-y beginning, into a big sounding, life affirming sound as the song builds and builds. Also he sings, “If I had a camera I’d snap you now, cause there’s beauty in every stumble”, which makes me swoon- BECAUSE I AM ALWAYS STUMBLING, METAPHORICALLY AND PHYSICALLY.

Track 2 is called Allie, supposedly the female perspective in which Stuart writes from for this album. I can’t possibly comment on this track as it opens with Stevie, ‘ba-da-da’ing, which is too much for a fangirl. You’re just like, OMG! It’s Stevie! And he’s ba-da-ing!

Anyway. What I can disclose about this song, what I like about it, is the same old, trusted B&S formula- which is all like, ‘Angry girl gets angry about things and we sing about it with pretty 60’s melodies and instruments.’ It just works, “You made a list of all your heroes & you thought about what they went through/ It’s much harder, much darker than anything that happened to you.” I can relate to that, I’m ashamed to admit. That frustration of being a teenager and wanting anything ANYTHING to happen to you, no matter what, it’s just something that will trigger you to move out, or write a song, or get a haircut. Kind of wanting to pursue the *ahem* struggle of something to get a story, if anything, out of it- but then in reality just sitting around in your pants eating Wotsits watching Netflix. Adolescence.

Next up, The Party Line! This is the first single released from the record, so if you haven’t heard it already, you probably already have in H&M or something. (I’m not denouncing them as sell-outs, I did actually hear this in H&M, and internally squealed, bopping my head in a nervous, twitchy sort of way for 3 minutes, probably looking like I’d shoplifted something.) I totally hated this song when I first heard it, and mourned the loss of my band- before the curse of the fangirl hit and I was like- HEY!! GUYS!! CALM IT! IT’S JUST A DIFFERENT DIRECTION!’ I thought it was too repetitive and tinny-sounding, and nothing *sigh* like Judy and the Dream of Horse *sigh*, but then I got over it, and now it’s my alarm. It dances me out of bed, every day. Favourite line goes to: “Where were you when I was king in this part of town?” I love the idea of fallen popularity, the more local the better; being ‘famous’ within the teenage population of your hometown. Just for wearing a cool leather jacket, shaving your head, etc.

The Power of Three is lovely, and Sarah is singing. The Cat With the Cream has some lovely, beautiful melodies with some sacred sounding strings. Enter Sylvia Plath is a total mess, and sounds like the Pet Shop Boys, but hey, I’ll probably love it by next week. The Everlasting Muse is a fantastic load of fun, with a Greek sounding chorus, a sound favoured by me and my friends, who happily danced to Zorba the Greek and Dominick the Donkey, on repeat for a long time on New Year’s Eve. Before I get quoted on that, it doesn’t sound remotely like Zorba the Greek, but hey, I am not equipped to write serious, proper album reviews. It just reminded me of NYE. This is a first listen, OK, guys.

Perfect Couples has the perfect (lol) Sympathy for the Devil sounding introduction, before it explodes into BASICALLY THE BEST PARTY SONG OF 2015. Maybe not a party party song, but the song to play as you set out the cheese before the party. It could so be in a musical. Oh, a Belle & Sebastian musical. They played this in Paris to a background montage of a very stylish, very choreographed scene of a living room party. It was all just très cool, bèbè.

The next song, Ever Had a Little Faith?, was so perfect for today, and is good, old fashioned B&S, with lyrics so perfect for rainy bus journeys, “Something good will happen, wait and see/ Do you spend your days second guessing fate?” & “Drop your sad pretence/ You’ll be doing fine, you will flourish like a rose in June.”

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Aural proof new albums provide more hope than a new year ever could. (The last 3 tracks also exist for you to stream, along with all the above tracks I’ve spoken about, but I have a to-do list the length of my leg. Also, with my ideal album at 35 minutes, the running time of just over an hour is too much for my ears and their poor stamina)

Stream it here:

In other news, I’m glad Christmas is over, spent 4 nights  in 2 different hotels in the past 7 days, was in Dublin last week, am in London twice this week and in Cambridge at the weekend to see First Aid Kit, again. Things could be worse.

Thanks for staying with me, if you did (which if you’re reading this- you did! So like, uh, thanks!)

T.A.L x

 

~ How I adore you *camera Obscura* I’ll turn you up to eleven ~

TAGLINE: ~A really really half-hearted unworthy post about Camera Obscura’s wonderful new release, ‘Desire Lines’~

camera-obscura1I haven’t post for a week or whatever, because I’ve been busy trying to perfect my puttanesca sauce, learning lines for this ol’ play I’m in, and listening to Camera Obscura’s new album Desire Lines.

Since pasta is carb-y therefore not particularly stylish, Shakespeare is old therefore not so rad, I guess Camera Obscura are hip enough to write about (by hip I mean really fucking good, as in- I can’t listen to anything else until I’ve learnt at least all of the lyrics to the first side.)

OKAY: I can’t remember where I first heard Obscura, but I presume it was as a recommendation I read when scouring Belle & Sebastian fan pages for days and days when I was 15 (I pretend I’m no longer like that, but I sort of am)

With most pieces about bands, it’s nice to read what the first album the writer heard was because usually it’s kind of accessible and a good place for the ever faithful reader to begin

‘Let’s Get out of this Country’, released in 2006 is perfection, every song is wonderful, AND REALLY EASY TO PLAY ON GUITAR, but I’m tired and it’s Sunday and my brain is coping with two hangovers so just shut up and listen:

‘Dory Previn’

‘Razzle Dazzle Rose’

‘voir tout en rose’

But of more importance, let’s talk about Desire Lines- because I’ve overplayed it to such an extent that I can’t properly write anything of value about their former stuff.

Let’s talk about ‘New Years Resolution’

New Year’s Resoultion to write something of value

A new year’s resolution to write something would be fine

&

You offer a friendship I cannot reciprocate

So don’t beg me in a garden for it not to end this way

&

I’ve been cool with you

I’ve been cool with you

I’ve been cool with you

Which is so wonderful and perfect, ‘I’ve been cool with you’

It seems older and her vocals stronger than aforementioned ‘Lets get out of this Country’ and it has come and SUCH a relevant time in my life, (which I can’t really talk about on here being the internet and really not private etc.) All for which makes a really bad, bad, post.

Still I love you all. And I’ll keep coming back to WordPress, I promise. For now though, please go and buy it. Walk to a shop and buy it. It’s really worth your wages.

“All I do is play the Spaceball Ricochet”- a love letter to Marc Bolan

“Your diamond hands will be stacked with roses/And wind and cars and people of the past”

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A couple of days ago, I wrote about post about Belle & Sebastian’s Tigermilk. Scroll down. The record blu-tacked next to it on my wall, however, possibly means a little more to me- (hence the central position of it.)

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T.Rex, like The Beatles, were a band I came to know through going to see a tribute band with my papa- and both have been groups who’ve pretty much been at the forefront of everything I’ve ever listened to, since I’ve been able to actively make choices in what to listen to (apart from Steps, who really were the first band if I’m honest, but for the sake of the post- let’s be cool and pretend that wasn’t the case.)

An extract from my diary from the day I devoted the rest of my life to The Beatles, reads:

I HAD TO write, I have just realised the most important thing in the life. The People. Imagine the world without shit like WAR?!! There will be a feeling among the world like the time in the room with the Bootleg Beatles playing All you need is LURVE when everyone stood UP and drifted into their own world full of daises and rabbits and lollipops. I am going TO SPREAD SOME LOVE AND PEACE AND TRY TO SAVE THE PEOPLE ON THIS EARTH! peace. I just hope that a peace resolution will START so I can live in a world of harmony and tranquility.

I wish I could say that I made that up, but unfortunately I actually wrote that once.

But for now, let’s think about T. Rex.

Marc-Bolan-graham lowe

I watched the tribute T.Rextasy- and, of course- being an impressionable 10 year old, surrounded by 40-somethings all singing along to Hot Love (na na na na na na na) I peered about and thought, HEY! This band must be good! There are all these paunchy middle aged people really having a good time! And, although I didn’t know it at the time, I was doomed, as now I would love the music that our Dads listen to, at the age of ten. I was a 10 year old paunchy middle aged man.

Alas, the glittery, shimmering frontman that is Marc Bolan doesn’t make you feel like that. Bolan has the power to take you out of your frumpy little self, and place you into a world where you can do anything, be anything, say anything. His lyrical style is simple, and often nonsensical with favourites such as these:

  • I could never see/The cosmic sea/Was like a bumblebee
  • Me I funk/But I don’t care/I ain’t no square with my corkscrew hair
  • I have never never kissed a car before/It’s like a door

But I still love him. I love him cause of the flamboyance and the ability to make anything sound sexy and wonderful in its own right. Amongst the ‘silly’ lyrics, he really wrote some stuff that tugs at my old and battered heartstrings including one that inspired the name for this blog.

  • You diamond browned hag/You’re a gutter gaunt gangster
  • Book after book/I get hooked everytime/The writer talks to me like a friend

Oh, Marc. *breathes as he does towards the end of Get it On*

Bolan is often compared to Bowie, they’re both similar- yet I can appreciate them in their own ways. Bowie had more of an artistic vision, whereas baby Marc wanted to be famous. And he got really, really famous. The rise of T.rex is often likened to the early stages of Beatlemania, and well- OBVIOUSLY, because have you seen this guy work a stage? REALLY THOUGH? REALLY MARC, YOU’RE KILLING ME

T.rex will ALWAYS remind me of being in my early teens, it’s theatrical and fun and sexy and really, really good music to get ready for a party to, (and then go to the party and still play it all night, slut-dancing with your friends to ‘Well you can bump and grind, if it’s good for your mind’)

However, The Slider as an album means more than the CD of hits, because it sounds so complete, so right, and most of the songs were single releases anyway, so one’s thirst for glam-pop is satisfied.

I would happily travel everywhere listening to this album on a loop, and Ballrooms of Mars maybe is one of the best songs I will ever hear. Oozing with drama (and glitter)

The BEST thing I ever found one day when trying to rearrange LPs is this:

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Dad’s graphic/calligraphic artwork on ‘Ride a White Swan’ was drawn when he was 12, which we always joke about as we pretty much heard their music at the same time, so in that respect this band means a lot to me too.

The Slider was all I had to listen to for a while, it was so playable and interesting I only needed that (before I started to listen to Electric Warrior more a few years after- which, is- hjdfkadjh) Like Springsteen’s Born To Run, sometimes you only need one album to listen to- because it just does everything. 100% pleasure.

And finally, my favourite ever quote ever said by anyone, which I apply to my day to day life:

“Rock n roll is a bitch, and you’ve got to come on that bitch” Marc Bolan

Change the words Rock n roll to ‘life’ and you’re guaranteed to have a good time.

Rock on

T X

~Drop a pill and then say hello~ A boring and serious review of Belle & Sebastian’s debut album, TIGERMILK.

Some things I have done today:

  1. Fixed the punctures on my bike. Dad was like you won’t be able to see the puncture, you’ll have to pump it up, put it in water…AND THEN WE SEE A PUNCTURE THE SIZE OF A 50P PIECE. I know how to fuck shit UP!
  2. Bought Ziggy Stardust and Aladdin Sane on CD. (The Bowie post will come soon I promise.)
  3. Listened to Tigermilk- Belle & Sebastian 3 TIMES.

This is kind of a specialist post, so I’ll try and keep it succinct.

The debut album of Scottish twee group Belle & Sebastian, written in 1996 (my birth year, so it basically is the same as me)- with some of their best moments as a group of musicians ever.

Look here: I own it, twice! (The picture of the wall is just the record stuck up, which is a great, cheap way to decorate)

 

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I even drew my eyebrows on today. (EDIT: scary panda)

The album opens with ‘The State I am In’ with baby Stuart quietly whispering to all lonely girl (and boy) listeners everywhere. There is something in listening to the first track of an album, if it’s something really significant you’ll like the band/artist for ever and ever and ever. (See: Thunder Road/Bruce Springsteen/Born to Run;;;;;;Gloria/Patti Smith/Horses etc)

In truth, the first B&S album I heard was Dear Catastrophe Waitress, with the stellar opening track, “Step into my Office Baby” I remember first listening to it really late in bed, saying, “I will listen to the first track and then go to bed.” Unfortunately this song got me so excited that I had to listen to the entire thing, one time and a HALF (then i did fall asleep. I blame Asleep on a Sunbeam for being so calming.

Oh, Tigermilk.

In the sleeve notes, it reads, Sebastian (aka Stuart) wrote all of his best songs in 1995. In fact, most of his best songs have the words “Nineteen Ninety-Five in them”. What would happen in 1996?”

I think this is beautiful. It’s not horrendously dramatic, it simply is all like, Oh wait! I’m having quite a  good time right now, but how soon will it all end? You can easily hear that Stuart was influenced by The Smiths and the lyrics of Morrissey, but it isn’t quite so heart-wrenching, so maximal.

Where Morrissey is all like: “what a terrible mess I’ve made of my life”, Stuart is: “You know my bip-bopping days are over, I hung my boots up and then retired from the disco floor”

It’s a little more playful, and the stories are endless. B&S create so many characters, and yes- you can probably relate! That’s the joy. One of the lovely moments in my life was lying on some bed with some guy ~mysterious and not naming names and weird and bookish~ when suddenly, and for some reason I thought of the lyric,

“We lay on the bed there, kissing just for practice”

And I was instantly comforted by the fact things like this happen all the time, in bedrooms everywhere with boys and girls (and girls and girls and boys and boys too)

It’s just a bit of fun, we’re enjoying being young that’s all (that is what this band says to me.)

Also: THIS ALBUM: GREAT WALKING MUSIC. If it’s your kind of preferred pastime, buy or download the CD, and next time you’re in school walking past some absolutely fucking morons, play Track 9 ‘I don’t love anyone’ and walk in time past them, to

“Out on the street today/the kids are out playing having fun/I pass ’em by I’m not a kid, no/I don’t love anyone”

That’s how I deal with people anyway

And then, of course, there is Track 5- Electronic Renaissance. Which is perfection, as it sounds so different and it works so well. It is so well placed, with them ~synth vibes~, ugh I love it. Do you get that I love it? Have I fulfilled the purpose of this crazy fan post?

I think I’ve said what I’ve wanted to.  For further reading, I’d recommend The Celestial Cafe, by the man himself. It’s a really great read, but, hey, you’re so rad you’ve probably read it already.

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“You know the world was made for men/And not us” – We Rule The School, Track 7

Oh. He’s a feminist too. Hey.

Go out and buy it!!!!

Stay in and download it!!!

Or, most importantly, be all like, “Fuck you! Fucking bitch telling me what to do and to like, fucking Belle and shit” You’re the best kind of person.

(Meanwhile fans come at me and we can chat!)

Until next time!X