By Adam Robinson
As I hammer away writing this, when I really should be doing some work, I notice my breath is steaming in front of me, my hands are turning blue, the water in the glass next to me is crystallising and the ice age has befallen the world outside. Well … not really but I didn’t particularly enjoy slipping like a lunatic on the DSU bridge on my way to a lecture. Luckily, I’m not at all clumsy when it comes to typing or being near my laptop, unlike someone I know who spilt yoghurt all over her laptop and has to scrape (yes I did say scrape) away the pro-biotic goodness off her once shiny Apple machine. Anyway, this week we’re looking at rebellions and tensions. If that doesn’t entice you I don’t know what will.
The sociologist in me could write about this music video endlessly. Then again, on the other hand, the dark humour in me couldn’t get over the fact that one of the mothers in this video has the same outfit as Brandon Rogers in his A Day with Mom online comedy sketch. Off their new album Fried Egg, this was the first song Diet Cig ever wrote. Unflinchingly angst-ridden and satirical, it’s, in essence, a glorious middle finger to performativity, pointless competition/standards and those annoying trophy football mums and dads who stand on the side of the pitch lecturing their children; who do all the hard work in whatever cold Sunday match they were forced to play in. The said parents have warmth in those oversized coats and smugly dip a biscuit in whatever ridiculously sized hot drink they have while they chat and play ‘my child is the best because…’ game with each other. You know the type.
This made me unbelievably happy as I was hurtling past Hadrian’s wall on a train to Carlisle to visit an old friend for the weekend. It’s buoyant tempo with drums and belting vocals, which cathartically release straight onto the twanging echoing guitars, sounds as if it had been recorded in an old church. But the maelstrom of sound masks the lyrics true meaning. Singing about the frustrations at the optimism of expectation coupled with the depressing outcomes of reality, Maja Milner nearly screams “Oh I burned every bridge to be burned thinking it would turn. It never does, never does…”. It is why they remind me so much of Joy Division but their jangly pop sound is reminiscent of Alvvays. The whole song is slyly deceptive and that’s why I love it. Their other songs Leda, Asleep and Something More are well worth a listen too also. If you have the spare time as well their record label Run For Cover Records has some brilliant artists signed; that is if you like that dark atmospheric style you artsy boho listener.
This song when I first heard it sounded like it belonged in a cartoon. I quickly dismissed it but when I found myself humming the tune in my head in those awkward moments before everyone has settled down for a boring seminar I realised I would have to return to it. Video game genre music I really enjoy but J-Pop I’m struggling to get into. It’s one of those things (much like anime, which unfortunately conquered me awhile back) that I know I would enjoy if I gave the proper time and attention needed to it but I know the consequence of that effort would be that you wouldn’t hear or see me for weeks on end until I stopped binging on it. The remix by Frankie Cosmos accentuates the charming and fluffy appeal the original version has: It’s unquestionably loveable and cute.
If you have never heard of Song to the Siren, then I implore you to listen to both the original version by Tim Buckley (1968) and the more well-known cover by This Mortal Coil (1983). Splendidly ethereal just like the archetypal siren so many singers have written about, Wolf Alice’s version adds to this collective treasure of a song that just keeps on inspiring. Countless people have covered it; other stunning covers are by Sinead O’Connor, John Frusciante and The Chemical Brothers. Wolf Alice’s melody, however, omits the usual reverb and distortion this song usually stirs and takes a much more stripped down approach of just using Ellie Roswell and a guitar. I think it’s equal to This Mortal Coil’s version, which is a bold compliment I assure you. Melancholic, sensuous and soulful, this song is beautifully vampiric as it entices you further and further into the ocean of noise “Sail to me, let me enfold you, Here I am, Here I am, waiting to hold you…”
I can’t decide for the life of me which one to choose for this week. Like the mushroom in Alice in Wonderland, one side will make you grow taller the other side will make you shorter (you’ll get the Wonderland reference when you make your decision and look at the lyrics of one of them). Choose ‘BUMP’ for when you’re needing something to run like a maniac to – Maximum volume required. Choose ‘SWIM’ to wind down the day and close your eyes to – Ambient volume required. Which mood do you want today? Utter rage because that deadline is coming up quicker than expected or dopey sleepy-head sensations to take a quick nap to. Take your pick.
The 90’s are back. Get your chokers, yellow tartan skirts, ripped denim and combat boots on for the millionth time as the 90’s seem to be a popular theme now for student parties. Stone Temple Pilots were a big name two decades ago in the grunge scene but also experimented with classic rock and psychedelia. They’ve had a pretty rocky history and multiple band members over the years. In 2013 the recently departed Chester Bennington joined them but departed, later on, to focus more on Linkin Park. The song ‘Sex Type Thing’ was one of their most successful songs and shares the same space with Nirvana’s ‘Rape Me’ in terms of commentary on the abuse of power and control. Both songs were also highly controversial because of their subject matter and use of the first-person. However, Meadow, on the other hand, is the complete opposite of that and reminds me of the kind of song that would be playing when people get on top of a bar dancing with a bottle of whiskey in their hand and screaming unintelligible noises that they think are actually the lyrics. The kind of things you would see in Coyote Ugly for example.
- Serenade for String Orchestra in C Major Op. 48, Pezzo in forma di sonatina – Pytor Tchaikovsky & The Berliner Philharmoniker
It’s fitting I place this song as number seven because it takes only seven notes for Tchaikovsky, just seven simple notes of a strong orchestra to reach deep down to where your heart is and to rip it out and throw it across the floor. 20 seconds and you’re undone. Now classical music has a reputation for being snobbish, elitist and only for highbrow listeners. Well, that’s rubbish. For starters, you don’t need a masters or years of being in a musical academy/orchestra to understand why this is a brilliant song. It’s got drama and complexity to last you a lifetime. It is this quality which is probably why the new The Evil Within horror video game uses it repeatedly for its blood-thirsty, megalomaniac, photography obsessed serial killer. This song may come in handy when you and your family are watching University Challenge over Christmas. Jeremey Paxman will lean seductively over the question card and announce the next question is a listening one. You absentmindedly will ignore this one because your fidgeting third cousin, as usual, will peacock their orchestral knowledge in front of everybody and your little contributions beforehand will have been for nought. Ah but thanks to this playlist you have right here in front of you, you can finally feel victorious as you get the answer right and recline back in absolute smugness to the open mouthed faces of your family. They’ll be so shocked your grandmother won’t notice she’s dropped her digestive in her tea. You are welcome. Or you can just google the answer under the sofa pillow – Whatever.
Prince is God. Now that’s out of the way, I can talk about what I really wanted to talk to you about. I may or may not have binge-watched She’s Gotta Have It this week. The new series on Netflix has made an exhilarating debut exploring the life of a wild, free, pansexual, sex-positive, African-American woman living in an increasingly gentrified Brooklyn NY: Miss Nola Darling. I won’t tell you too much so you can watch the trailer, which explains her situation in a much better way than I ever could. Spike Lee’s cinematography in it is really refreshing too: He interjects random scenes with different music and uses the album cover for a still frame. In fact, this series could be a playlist in itself as the soundtrack is that good (seriously); it has the likes of Solange, ABRA, The Roots and The Oliver Nelson Orchestra plus many more! It is a romantic comedy but like all great comedies, it masterfully uses melodrama and meaningful activist issues (like #BlackLivesMatter) in different narratives vividly, without it appearing as some lazy marketised plot-hole-filler. AND if that doesn’t tempt you! It also breaks the 4th wall which is an added bonus for us cinephiles if you’re wanting to watch something that might have more TV series on the way than a certain other programme in light of recent events *cough* House of Cards *cough*. Oh you’re asking me why I’ve put Raspberry Beret on here? Spoilers. (It becomes much clearer in the series finale, trust me)
Illustration: Katie Butler