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Pale Ale, Payne and Creepy Dads

14 Jul

After a hiatus for wedding season I am back to review some recent releases. We have already bickered today about my hatred of The Smiths (I KNOW I KNOW) and the reviewing process hasn’t even begun. I like to think a bit of underlying resentment in a relationship keeps things spicy, right? We had a couple of weeks of socialising (I put ‘partying’ and then realised that was a wild exaggeration) and enjoying ourselves in other parts of the country. Obviously that caused a massive shift in the family routine that meant that our children didn’t sleep for a fortnight. Being a parent is worse than being a Catholic in the penance dept. Have one nice Saturday night out where you drink and dance like you did pre kids and they wake up at 6am the next morning and are awake then, until Wednesday. But hey! Now I am seated firmly on the sofa with a can of really unpalatable IPA from a pretentious but fashionable micro brewery in Berlin and ready to rumble.

I wrote the notes for these reviews about a month ago so who knows if they are funny or not. I’ve been sort of hiding from them because I am pretty sure that the latter is the case but I hope that what the horrible IPA lacks in deliciousness it makes up for in strength and at least if I’m pissed I will find myself funny regardless of what anyone else thinks. Strap yourself in, it’s going to be a wild ride (probably not…)

 

Howie Payne: The Brightest Star

6/10

Another bloody ambush! Stevie LOVES Howie Payne, he quite often abandons us to go and watch him play in Liverpool (I say quite often, maybe twice?) Anyway, he likes Howie Payne more than he likes hanging out at home with his exhausted wife so how am I supposed to say anything negative without causing bad feeling?

I want to like it and I don’t dislike it. It just doesn’t thrill me, it is really nice and light and bobbles along with a friendly, train like rhythm. It is sunny and mellow and the opposite of everything I hold dear. I like sarcasm and irony and scepticism so as much as it is a very jovial and easy listening piece of music, it doesn’t push my buttons. The video gave me a mild headache and I can’t imagine what you do when this is played live. Do you stand with your hands in your pockets and grin or wave them madly, but slowly above your head like you are having a religious epiphany? I wish I knew. To be totally honest, on second listen, I liked it better. However, like a mediocre outfit or kissing someone you don’t really fancy, it didn’t do much for me.

 

Songhoy Blues: Bamako

8.5/10

I didn’t know any background to this band on first listen so my thoughts were originally based on first impressions. I am into it, it has a 1970’s cop show, theme tune vibe. It is fast paced and funky and made me jig about in my seat (upset the dog) Something about it grabs me, it is raw and cool in a way that a lot of western music isn’t these days. It reminds me of hot, sweaty nights and making music because there is nothing else to do.

After first listen I learnt that the band was formed to escape war and fight back against the jihadi regime that had control of Mali and banned music. I think that, quite often, some of the best art/music/literature is created when there is uncertainty and unrest in somebody’s life (Woodie Guthrie, Bowie, Ian Curtis) Conflict, whether it is emotional or physical, breeds a need to express and escape into something beyond a harsh reality. The main lyric of the song is ‘let’s go out’ it is a call to arms, a protest song. In a place where just leaving your house or listening to a band can get you arrested or killed, the most rebellious thing you can do is enjoy yourself and some of that unbridled release of passion and anger bleeds into the song and makes it so much more than just another record. I enjoyed it twice as much the second time around.

 

The Kills: Wait

9/10

I loved this from the start, it is reminiscent of Loretta Lynn. Quite a departure from the Kills stuff I have heard before. Unfortunately it has a bit of a creepy dad essence coming from Jamie Hince. Allison Mosshart looks like his cool, indie daughter who he has persuaded to let him sing on her new record because he once shared a joint with Wings and can play ‘Stairway to Heaven’ on the guitar nearly all the way through. I imagine he tries to fist bumps people and calls everyone ‘man’. He used to be/is (???) married to Kate Moss so maybe I am totally off the mark as she is supposedly cool…but I’m not.

The song itself is a joy, it is totally traditional and effortlessly rich and textured. Mosshart’s voice is a treat. It reminds me of the first time I heard ‘Youth and Young Manhood’ and it changed my life. In reality I was at a caravan park in Lowestoft with my mum and dad but in my head I was in the deep south discovering how it felt to have my heartbroken by a man with a beard. I am sold and will probably listen to it endlessly for a month and then never listen to it again as is my way. Luckily for the rest of my family I have zero musical autonomy in my house so I have to sneak into a corner and listen to anything I like on headphones before someone finds me and makes me listen to the ‘Trolls’ soundtrack or Brian Ferry. Send help, I am a musical prisoner.

 

Another week, another review. The horrible ale has been drunk and now I don’t care that it tasted like a gone off Lilt, I just wish there was more of it. A bit like this review. If you like it, share it. Follow on Instagram lauren.lawless  if you enjoy self indulgent pics of my children and things I have eaten- I know I do.

 

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Cold Blood, Ants and ‘The Other Woman’

16 Jun

I have been home alone for the majority of this week as Stevie was away with work, so I am feeling a little delicate. Bear with me, this may not be the hilarious tour de force it has been previously. Once upon a time we lived at opposite ends of the country for a few months and it was slighty reminiscent of that except much less romantic and much more boring and stressful. Ireland was kind to Stevie, our children were not to me. He ate carpaccio and duck, I ate tinned ravioli and left over fish finger, singular. He slept in a king sized bed, I slept in a mass of limbs and snoring toddlers. It wasn’t all bad, I have a wicked tan from being outside all week to avoid the inevitable cabin fever that comes from zero adult interaction- single parents, I doth my cap! Here I am driven by Pinot Grigio and After Eights (God I am such a cliche) ready for review number 3.

There are already rumblings of discontent because I have expressed certain views on this weeks songs, I wait with baited breath as to whether we will still be talking in an hour or so but if not, it won’t be that different to when he was away and I got a lot of shit tele watched over the last few days so… If watching ‘Jeremy Kyle’ on catch up TV is a crime, arrest me now because I am guilty as charged.

 

Alt J: In Cold Blood

7/10

I have heard this several times on the radio, sort of in the background when I’m driving about and it never grabbed me. I am always pleased when it comes on but never pay it much attention. It has a bit of a James Bond theme tune vibe which is probably down to the brass but that isn’t very fashionable. However, the big brassy sound is unexpected and gives it depth which is much needed as it is bloody repetitive. The music seems really considered, it is multi layered and complex which kind of highlights how lazy the lyrics are, it really reminds me of the robot song from ‘Flight of the Conchords’. A Parody of a good song. BUT and it is a big but, it is so cool and nonchalant and sexy. It makes me want to be an edgier and more exciting person (it wouldn’t be hard!) I want to run away to the indie circus and teach lions to play ‘Seven Nation Army’ on a yamaha keyboard. It has a great Fargo-esque video that is probably better than the song. The fact that I don’t really have anything funny or clever to say about it usually suggests that I am into it. Shit.

 

Starcrawler: Ants

9/10

Urgh, I fucking love this.

It reminds me of a time in my life where I loved Joan Jett and Brody Armstrong. Around 2004 I used to watch P-Rock on Sky and wear a shirt and tie, fish nets and tartan mini skirt. I was doing my A Levels at a girl’s school, stuck in rural Northamptonshire, looking at the beautiful countryside and seething internally because I was so bleeding punk and it was desperately sad that I had been born into the least punk life anyone has ever had. I had been condemned to a life of privilege with nothing to be angry about except the lack of things to be angry about. I can hear Stevie snorting derisively in my head as I type this but I imagine 75% of punks are from the same background. It is quite often the pursuit of people with quite a lot of spare time and not much to be cross about.

The song is hair metal meets punk in 2017 which is a difficult concept to visualise. It is also a song entirely about ants but it’s simple and sublime. No messing, androgynous front woman with a penchant for jumpsuits and mullets, deffo totally sensational live. Everything about it is really refreshing but comfortingly familiar.

 

 

Marika Hackman: Violet

6/10

Stevie is well into a new wave of 90’s grunge inspired female singers/bands. I had heard one of her other songs being played in our house so had an idea of what to expect. Let me start with a disclaimer: I didn’t like 90’s grunge the first time around and as much as I love love love the influx of women who don’t feel the need to be ‘sexy’ to be successful I find it far from groundbreaking, musically. I also get the feeling that I am in the minority with this opinion. General consensus of this tune by everyone but me: V. Cool. I struggle to be blown away by this song and I know that Stevie loves it so I am expecting a backlash.

I want it to be interesting and there is a string section that took me by surprise but it is all so VANILLA. Yes it mixes things up a bit and I am pretty sure Kurt Cobain had the same t shirt but it is so contrived. It is girls in boys clothes singing breathy, uninspiring songs about the weather (sorry Stevie!!) It is like someone saying that they ate bacon in a hot cross bun. It sounds weird and exciting initially but gradually you realise that people have been eating pork with fruit for hundreds of years and it is just a slight variation on a tried and tested formula. Good effort, pleasant enough but I am unlikely to hand the HP over any time soon.

R.I.P my marriage. We have weathered many a storm like the time I threw a tea bag and hit him in the eye, twice. We have survived my hatred of boxing and the fact that I will categorically never go to Las Vegas. We are still together even though I am a hypocrite by my own admission and he hates ‘The Real Housewives of Cheshire’. We did so well until ‘Marika Hackman gate’. If that isn’t irreconcilable differences then I don’t know what is.

Share this review. I need all the help I can get.

 

Blondie, Big Thief and Bad Reggae.

4 Jun

I am back, like a lingering smell the review has returned! Is it good. Is it bad? It’s hard to tell. Like a ripe Brie, some people love it and others are repulsed. Anyway, plenty of smell analogies there to be going on with so we will move on.

Last week and this week have all been music that Stevie has mixed opinions on which makes for an exciting (in the scheme of a stay at home mum, exciting) Mr and Mrs style competition. Will we like the same songs? Who will be offended first/the most? It is a risky Russian roulette of music reviews and marriage that could end in death or passive aggressive muttering and I am not sure which is worse. Next week is all music that he genuinely loves and as I have already stealthily acquired a chicken coop against his wishes, I may well find myself on the end of a particularly barbed comment about which way up I leave the spoons on the drying rack, if we don’t agree.

Hopefully this week I am safe and our family will remain intact…for now.

 

1. Blondie: Long Time

5/10

I LOVE Debbie Harry, she is and was so fit and cool. Those pins, that hair and the attitude! Sadly this is not reflected in the latest release (sorry to pull the rug). It starts with the promise of original, true to form Blondie. I was pretty excited and the video uses sunglasses as a clever way to disguise that anyone has aged since 1985, because God forbid celebrities should succumb to the ravages of time. Opening reminds me of that Christmas song ‘Christmas Rapping’ without the ‘clever’ pun. It is fun and lighthearted and then we trail off into a damp squib of a chorus- massive let down.

It’s not very edgy. It is mum-friendly, but not me mum-friendly, my mum mum-friendly. I saw a video of a load of middle aged women, dancing to a tribute band in their white cropped trousers and nice blouses the other day. They had been at a wine tasting and I thought how much they would love this song. They would be kicking off their mules and really letting loose to this one.

I was disappointed and maybe I expected too much as it is a good effort but ‘I can make everybody want to be your friend’ sounds like Debbie is singing to an over indulged toddler and I get enough of that in my day job.

 

2. Big Thief: Sharksmile

9/10

This is superb. It has so many delicious, guilty pleasure influences. It has hints of Journey and Dolly Parton with a splash of Lana Del Ray minus the excessive pouting and remains totally current and gloriously understated (deffo been watching too much Masterchef) Also reminds me a bit of early First Aid Kit which is a firm favourite in our house.

It is really hard to put your finger on why some songs speak to you in a way others don’t. At the risk of being cliche I can imagine listening to it on my way to a dive bar, with the roof down, late at night in America. It is all the angst and excitement that I imagine you get when you might meet you soul mate over a bottle of Corona (I am busking here). It is hard to picture anything more extravagant than that after several months of being in bed by 11 pm and driving an SUV crossover with the ‘Trolls’ soundtrack played on a loop for eternity but escapism is what makes any amazing song such a treat. We will be free again one day…right?

 

 

 

3. Wrongtom, The Ragga Twins: Woah.

4/10

Oh God, it is so not for me. I feel bad for even saying that because I get the feeling that in it’s field people probably really rate it. Unfortunately I don’t get it at all. It is repetitive and lacks any of the warmth or charm I associate with Reggae and Ska. It has a sexy, 80’s sax vibe going on in the background which jars with the pounding juggernaut that is the the melody. I sort of wonder when the appropriate time is to listen to this? Stevie likes to walk home to this which isn’t totally ridiculous.

Potentially it would be a really great tune to listen to when you have taken a load of speed and want to walk to Brighton to see a mate you knew 3 years ago. It would definitely keep you going for a while but even in that scenario, eventually you would begin to feel like you are being hit over the head and the crushing realisation that Brighton is 150 miles away and you never liked that lad anyway would set in. You’d be left just standing, listening to a really aggressive song that you don’t know any of the words to.

So, yeah, that.

 

 

 

 

If you like this then share it! I am beginning to find that I like writing the negative reviews a lot more than the positive ones which sort of sums me up as a person.

 

 

SO it begins…

26 May

This is a new endeavour so let me set the scene a little. Stevie, my husband, plays me songs on a regular basis, he is well into discovering new music. This usually happens when I am blindly scrolling through Instagram, feeling sorry for myself because I am not a 19 year old, Italian millionaire. He plays a song on the tele or whatever and then we get on with our lives; either worrying about our small, sleepless children or discussing the whereabouts of the box of nails which has been missing for several days now. The coat rack has fallen down and we have no way to reattach it, it is a complex and difficult issue.

It came about that I was moaning (an unlikely tale, I know!) about not writing enough at the moment and he suggested I write a review of 3 new songs from a variety of people he chooses. There is a formula and a set schedule which is gruelling and exhausting so I won’t go into it but all in all I am excited.

So here are my first three reviews. Bear in mind that I have no musical knowledge, I am just dead keen on the sound of my own voice/typing.

 

1. Snoop Dogg: Mt. Kushmore

8/10 (I drew a smiley face in my notes!)

I liked this. As a middle class, middle of the road, nearly middle aged, midlander I wonder if I am cool enough for Snoop. I feel like, potentially I am the opposite of everything he stands for but hey, is that not what life is all about?

It has a 90’s hip hop vibe, kind of retro and current at the same time. I spent a lot of time wondering if weed is still cool these days? It was cool when I was 16 when getting out of your tree on literally ANY substance made you the king. Weed was the holy grail because it was illegal but not actually scary enough to do you any physical harm. You could appear dangerous and gangster without being either of those things. Snoop is still pushing blunt culture and loving it, it would seem!

It makes me want to do really unattractive mum dancing. The kind of thing I see all the popular you-tubers doing but definitely couldn’t and shouldn’t pull off. It’s a dancer, anyway and to be honest, I wish I cared enough not to throw some embarrassing shapes. So does Stevie who gets to watch the videos I send him of my dancing when he is at work.

I didn’t appreciate “I slip my dick in yer daughter” but overall I’m a fan. Better than ‘What’s on yer plate’ from Cbeebies which is what I usually have stuck in my head. A welcome relief.

 

2. Kasabian: You’re In Love With a Psycho

6/10

 My initial thoughts are that Kasabian are a bit shit/smug. That is definitely my preconception. Originally I gave this 4/10 because I agreed with my original assumptions but actually, on subsequent listens, I was kind of into it. I mean, deffo a bit smug but the song itself sticks in your head and it is pretty light-hearted and entertaining. There are some big names in the video which makes me hate them a bit for trotting out their celeb mates to add gravitas to a song that doesn’t have or require any complexity. “You’re in love with a psycho and there is nothing you can do about it” ain’t winning an Ivor Novello anytime soon and no amount of Stephen Graham will change that.

I can’t remember any Kasabian songs to compare it to and I wondered if that is because they are a bit beige but then I found the milk on the bookcase the other day so this would suggest that it is more a case of my brain being slowly destroyed by 3 years of parenting on zero sleep or nearly 30 years of wine binges. Neither of which are Kasabian’s fault as far as I remember…

Stevie used to get mistaken for Serge from Kasabian so maybe that’s why he likes it but for me it was only alright. I sort of ran out of stuff to say about this one because my feelings are pretty mediocre about it all. It isn’t groundbreaking but I didn’t loathe it. High praise indeed!

 

3. Aldous Harding: Imagining My Man

9/10

I whole heartedly love this. She is exactly the sort of woman that Stevie would leave me for; dark, ethereal, strong-featured, bit weird, all his top qualities and she is musical. You would imagine that this would make me hate her, so it is testament to her talent that I adore it.

This song reminded me of all the female singers I liked circa 2006 when I had just got into Joni Mitchell and Martha Wainwright. I am totally into the amazing lilting voice and how effortless it seems. There is a lot of conflicting ideas and maybe that is why it is so hypnotic. The vulnerability coming from a woman who appears to be very strong, it is very feminine from someone who is quite androgynous. I put down my social media and pay attention when this song comes on which is impressive. Normally someone or something has to be on fire or the one year old has to be at least 4 steps up the slide ladder before I am roused from the brain sapping powers of celebrity Twitter spats.

1 point off because I have never been the sort of person to peak too soon, unless it involves a buffet.

 

There you have it, my thoughts on music that nobody asked for but everybody got. I have posted this before Stevie has seen any of it so I hope it doesn’t end in divorce or there won’t be one next week, which would be a shame.

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