Garbage – Garbage – The Album Review.

Good Friday!

I’m just going to crack on with the album review today as I had to change my injection day to yesterday which means Friday’s are now my official ‘feel like shit’ day. Never let it be said that fighting MS isn’t fun.

I was going to review Gorillaz when I got to G wasn’t I but then I found what was probably the sickest track of 2014 earlier this week by Garbage feat Brody Dalle which lead me into a spiral of Garbage consumption. Therefore I think it is only fitting for a Garbage review.

Garbage are one of those seminal 90’s bands that I grew up with. When I was a kid, back when we would tape the top 40 on our cassette players, we had very few strong women with attitude on our radios. The only female fronted strong ladyfaces I can recall from my childhood are Skunk Anansie, Garbage and I shit you not The Spice Girls.

Two of those bands remain with me now. The other one I keep in a box and occasionally take out to secretly blast ‘Say you’ll be there’ out at full volume. Don’t fucking judge me, I know you do too!

Shirley Manson is one of my earliest examples of a role model. I fucking loved her. I remember being at primary school and singing the lyrics to a Garbage track and a boy teasing ‘errr you like that ginger!’ pronounced ging – er and so was born my obsession with red heads. The fact that this kid thought there was something wrong with being ginger made it automatically fucking cool to me. The fact that she was a woman never really affected me when I was a kid, it’s only in hindsight that I can see the importance of that. At the time it was all about this red headed ladyface rocking up top of the pops.

As I got older I invested in some albums and discovered the drummer was legendary producer  Butch Vig, who is absolutely one of my heroes. Responsible for some of my ultimate life changing albums such as L7’s Bricks are Heavy, Nirvana’s Nevermind and Against Me’s New wave and White Crosses. The guy is a freaking genius.

The first Garbage album I bought was their debut album the self titled Garbage which is what I will be reviewing for you today so without further ado here is that review for you.

Supervixen – Inspired by the film of the same name by Russ Meyers, it’s ultimately a song about control and dominance which coming from a female fronted band I guess at the time fueled many a teenage boys (and girls) wet dream. Vig has stated that although it’s controlling undertones are meant to be tongue and cheek it had become a very real radiance from Manson during live performances.

Queer – This is one of my absolute favorite words. I’m from the west country so my family use it a lot to describe things or people that are odd. I get called ‘queer’ or a ‘queerie’ on a regular basis by my family not because I’m a raging bull dyke but because it’s an affectionate word we use to call each other out on being a bit odd or awkward. This is one of my absolute favorite Garbage tracks because it is honestly the best word I know. The song was inspired by a novel Vig read about a father who hires a lady of the night to make a man of his son who is also sexing the father, which sounds like a wonderful bedtime story for father/son bonding.

Only Happy When it Rains – This was supposed to be a parody of themselves for exploring darker themes in music but ended up being one of their most successful singles to date. This is another great example of those happy sad songs. The lyrics are pretty dire but set to an upbeat pop track which brings us once again to that pessimistically optimistic area of music. This isn’t one of my favorite tracks by Garbage. I’m not sure why exactly? Perhaps due to radio overkill. All I know is it’s a  persistent victim to my skip button therefore earns least awesome track.

As Heaven is Wide – This has always seemed to me to be a song about betrayal. This week has been Garbage obsession week and upon reading various things about the band, I discovered that Manson is an atheist who grew up in a religious household. So now I wonder if it is a song about the betrayal of being taught a religion as a child that you later grow up to question? I think unless you grow up in an atheist or agnostic setting this happens to all of us who question religion. I am a firm agnostic with an interest in Buddhism and Spirituality but I grew up in a house where my Mum would tell me off for taking the lords name in vane and still does even though she never goes to church and doesn’t identify as a christian. In fact I tried to lend her a self help book recently that uses Christianity as  a model for forgiveness which I found really helpful but she refused to read it because it was ‘too religious’. She forgets that I am a bible bashing lunatic…I think secretly she’s actually just really enjoying The Hollows Series by Kim Harrison. Parents ey? Who’d ave em!

Not My Idea – Firstly I am not a psychopath. I read a book on the subject recently and discovered I have way too much empathy for that shit, so much empathy in fact that it is actually consuming me whole. Anyway I state to you dear reader that I am not a psychopath in order to excuse what I am about to relate this to. This always reminds me of societies conforms of the idea of what fun entails. I have sat at many a social gathering whilst repeating the lyrics ‘this is not my idea of a good time’ on a loop in my internal monologue, in fact even sneaking it onto the party playlist. It’s always met with a chorus of ‘FUCKING GARBAGE ARE AWESOME!’ then it get’s to the line ‘Now I’m here and I’m burning down your house’ and I am overwhelmed by guilt for bringing matches and petrol. You see far too much empathy to be a psychopath.

A Stroke of Luck – And the winner is….This is my favorite track on the album. It’s dark, it’s moody it’s fucking poetic and it really speaks volumes about the depths of hell a person can experience over arguably trivial matters such as who to love.

Vow – Allegedly inspired by a domestic abuse newspaper article which is arguably obvious as you listen and explore the songs themes. It’s a kick ass choice for a debut single, it was given a lot of radio airplay in the UK after Steve Lamacq and John Peel broadcast it on Radio 1 a station which has gone significantly downhill during the evolution of pop music. It was one of those word of mouth records and the UK record stores were overwhelmed with requests for a track that didn’t actually exist.

Stupid Girl – I think this was the first single I heard from Garbage, so it was probably this one I was singing when the horrid boyface told me I couldn’t like gingers. Manson is a self confessed feminist! Fuck yes she is and so am I! I don’t remember the impact it had at the time because I was like 8. In hindsight I imagine it was a very empowering song mirroring the riotgrrl message that was happening in the states at the time which we never really got over here. We got ‘Girl power’ not feminism. So this (in hindsight mind you, I was not aware of it at the time) was a super huge feminist anthem for a generation with way more weight than ‘Wannabe’ but maybe not quite as catchy. Look I like The Spice Girls OK.

Dog New Tricks – I think I prefer the album tracks now. I’m not saying the singles weren’t good, they were but I think the magic has worn off through radio overkill. When the album tracks stand up to the singles you know you have a great album and that’s what this is. I love this track it reminds me of someone I know and makes me feel a bit better that there are songs out there to soundtrack the experience of dealing with dick heads.

My Lover’s Box – We all know what it feels like to be lonely do we not? I guess unless you’re a psychopath? Do Psychopaths get lonely or do they just get bored? Psychopaths holler at me! Actually don’t. I’m good, not sure we’d get on with your lack of empathy and my overloading of the stuff. I imagine you would just exploit me and I would be like an annoying emotional leech, it’ll be clingy and messy. I just don’t think it would work. This is a great song to wallow to if you’re lonesome tonight. Stick this on and dream yourself up an imaginary perfect partner who feeds you chocolates whilst providing you with oral pleasure.

Fix Me Now – This has a great PJ Harvey vibe in places but is undeniably Garbage. You can’t fix people they can only fix themselves, you can however fix your bicycle, so you should go do that. This is a great song though, another great wallow in the happy/sad sound and you know I like it there.

Milk – This is a beautiful song and one of my favorites. Manson has stated that this is her favorite track on the album because it get’s written off as a pretty love ballad when in actual fact it’s probably the bleakest song on the album and fuck yeah that summarizes it perfectly.

Garbage is a phenomenal debut album by an exceptional rock band. It was recorded in 94′ 95′ at Smart Studios which I guess cuts down the costs if you own the recording studio. It was released in 1995 when I was 8 years old.

Although I was familiar with the album I actually only bought it quite recently in 2010 after getting back into the band in a major way after hearing an acoustic version of Medication and being terrified by Manson’s performance in The Sara Connor Chronicles.

It peaked highest at number one in the New Zealand charts but did pretty well globally hitting 2 x platinum in the USA, UK, NZ, Oz and Canadia.

I think it’s a pretty important album of the 90’s. I loved the 90’s, it was a seriously fucking cool decade to grow up and one of those reasons was the Spice Girls, another was Garbage.

Thanks so much for reading.

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@cowardlycomics

Fleetwood Mac – Rumours Album Review.

Good Friday!

Argh allergies!

Updates ya’ll! I am busy cracking on with projects and may add an episode guide to Buffy at some point.

Stay tuned.

End of updates.

This weeks album review is the fantabulous Fleetwood Mac and their seminal album Rumours. I realized that this whole alphabetical review system was getting a bit testosterone heavy so I thought I would transition into some equal territory with a mixed bag of genders and talent.

Fleetwood Mac are one of my childhood hero bands. I used to dance to them in my nappies, them and Phil Collins…?

Another band I don’t remember discovering, they have always for me existed in the realms of awesome music and I have my Mother again to thank for that.

Fleetwood Mac are one of my absolute favorites. I can’t really rank them but they are definitely in my top ten favorite bands, probably in my top 5. OKAY they are my second favorite band if you’re going to push me on it…geez!

I am lucky enough to have seen them live as you will undoubtedly know if you have read this blog before. It was the second best gig I have ever been to. Oooh Fleetwood Mac, a consistent second. You can read up about that experience here.

The reason this might be such an amazing album is because everyone was heartbroken and mad at each other. The McVies were divorcing, Stevie and Lindsey were calling things a day and Mick had just found out his wife was cheating on him with his BFF! So the media were having a field day, this was enough gossip to quench the appetite of a very hungry caterpillar. This is how the album title ‘Rumours’ was born.

It was a rough album but damn was it worth it.

Without further ado here’s a review of the best album to have ever been recorded…ever! Yeah that’s right they come first sometimes too!

Second Hand News – So the fun thing about reviewing a band like FM is that there are three songwriters and three separate singers so there’s an added element of variation and competition. I actually think Stevie Nicks is the biggest talent of the band but when it comes to this album, I really believe McVie and Buckingham have it in the bag. This is one of those happy-sad songs, the music is upbeat and exciting but the lyrics are dark and harrowing. The band apparently thought this was the best way to kick off such an emotionally charged album as it would lure the listener into an optimistically pessimistic state. Buckingham has also stated that he wanted to make it a super upbeat song to mask the hurt in the lyrics which is a common coping mechanism it would seem for him in his songwriting. It’s a bit strange that the backing vocals are from Stevie Nicks on this track considering she was the subject matter…awkward.

Dreams – I find it hard to believe that this was Fleetwood Mac’s only number one single in the USA. It was their only number one hit anywhere in the entire music listening universe, like seriously WTF? It’s a great song but it’s by no means their only great hit single. Would you say this is even their most famous track? I’m not sure I would agree, what about Man of the World or Albatross or The Chain or Rhiannon or Tusk or Go Your Own Way or Landslide or Big Love or Songbird or Never Going Back Again or Don’t Stop or You Make Loving Fun or Sara…You get my point

Never Going Back Again – I’ve been playing this a lot over the past couple of years, my obsession started when I had a nasty break up but it grew when I realized I had completely fallen in love all over again with this track from when I had first heard it. Another break up track from Buckingham but one that is rather more obviously bitter. This has one of my favorite guitar solos of all time of which I saw live but then because Buckingham is a rather showy genius blew my mind straight after by shredding out ‘Big Love’ solos which kind of kick the shit even out of this masterpiece. Buckingham I believe is an underrated guitar player, he is up there with giants such as Hendrix and Page. Don’t believe me? Eat me!

Don’t Stop – This was the second single to be released peaking at #3 in the USA. A Christine McVie song sung by both McVie and Buckingham. It was originally written for Mrs McVie’s then husband Mr McVie whilst they were in the midst of a separation…dramarama. It’s one of the less angsty break up on the album, in fact if you didn’t know otherwise you might just think it was an inspirational track about never giving up on your bid for democratic leadership…*AHEM! Bill Clinton AHEM*

Go Your Own Way – This peaked at #10 are you freaking kidding me? Although it did reach #1 in the Netherlands so apparently all of what I said for the Dreams commentary is complete bullshit and you should disregard everything I have said ever…damn you Wikipedia! More back up vocals from Nicks as well as McVie. I’m surprised any of the members survived the recording of this album. It musta been hella awkward.

Songbird – And the winner is. It’s my absolute favorite track on Rumours. Covered by the likes of Eva Cassidy and er Glee. It has become one of the worlds most beloved love songs. It’s interesting then to hear that Christine McVie who wrote and sung the song beautifully has described it as a song about ‘nobody and everybody’.  I think that’s a rather beautiful and selfless way to describe such a beautiful song.

The Chain – This was a group effort with Nicks writing the lyrics and the rest of the band contributing the music. It’s kind of the Fleetwood Mac anthem, the song that keeps them bonded, it keeps them chained together forever in affinity. That’s really sweet and all but it always just reminds me of Formula One . I don’t even watch F1. It’s the same with Albatross always being associated with Marks and Sparks. Great bass from John McVie, one of the best uses of bass in rock and roll, if not the best. Tell me a bass solo as great or as recognizable as this?

You Make Loving Fun – Oh Mrs McVie you adulterer! This is allegedly about Christine McVie’s affair with the bands lighting director, so very incestuous were this bands affairs. It’s a nice upbeat track though and I think the lady McVie is one of the best love song writers of all time. I think she’s the underrated songwriter in Fleetwood Mac and for me she wins the songwriting contest on Rumours hands down so start appreciating the lady McVie.

I Don’t Want to Know – This is the Stevie Nicks song that replaced Silver Springs on the album. I personally think that was a good choice. It’s an upbeat happy song to add to such an conflicting album. It suffers from being a little forgettable and in all honesty it is my least favorite track on Rumors.

Oh Daddy – This is a great track but it really creeps me out when people sing about their ‘Daddy’s’ in a sexual or romantic way. This ultimately makes me cringe whenever anyone uses this terminology, which is why I can never fully enjoy this track which is a shame because everything else about the track is phenomenal.

Gold Dust Woman – I think this is Stevie’s best track on the album. I like Dreams but it’s been played to death. It’s a shame when the world ruins music like that via advertising or being covered over and over or getting supreme air play. Dreams for me has been murdered and I’ll listen to it and I feel mildly meh about it which is a shame. Gold Dust Woman is dark, scary and witchy which is where Nicks shines brightest. Whilst recording this track Nicks wrapped her head up in a scarf to block all of her senses, I’m not sure how much that helped but there we go.

Rumours is one of the most iconic best selling albums of all time. It did it’s best in the USA earning 13 x platinum…which is like a lot, something like 19 million and that’s just in the USA. It is one of 7 albums to have sold over 40 million records. It was recorded all over the place in 1976.

If you are ever going to invest in an album it should be this one. It is phenomenal, it takes you on the journey of heartbreak and hope which is a very emotional process, this album can soundtrack those feelings almost perfectly.

Thanks so much for reading.

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@cowardlycomics

 

 

 

Eels – Beautiful Freak – The Album Review.

Good Friday!

Apologies for being M.I.A over the past few weeks. Just to update you, I am working on stuff so the blog may be put on the back burner until everything is ready to rock and roll.

I will continue the album reviews in the meantime. I’m hoping the web comic will come to fruition shortly so please check back with me on Friday’s to learn more about the best musicians that rock the planet and what the hell it is that I’m doing.

I will be uploading the webcomic onto the free word press platform for the initial debut but also building a website to host it on as well. I am also studying the shit out of my degree whilst having Multiple Sclerosis whack me over the head intermittently so bear with me folks.

This week’s album review is Eels’ Beautiful Freak.

I’ve stopped taking pictures of album art because I think that might be illegal…so shush don’t tell anyone.

I first discovered The Eels when one of my good friends kept playing ‘Fresh Feeling’ over and over again. Every time he played it he would relay the same story about how the band’s lead singer was the son of some big shot scientist which quickly became annoying so I smacked him over the head and told him to ‘SHUT THE HELL UP!’. Oh sure it’s an interesting story right? Yeah sure the first time.

I liked the song though so I picked up ‘Beautiful Freak’ from a charity shop a few months later and upon listening I was made aware that I knew a lot of these songs. They were big iconic songs, how the hell hadn’t I heard of these guys before my annoying friend introduced me to ‘Fresh Feeling’?

So you know his Dad’s a scientist right? Yeah he invented the ‘Many worlds interpretation’ of quantum theory. Google it!

I became a big Eels fan after that. (After I heard ‘Beautiful Freak’ not after discovering his Dad was a Physicist.)

So this is my track by track run down of the ‘Many worlds interpretation’ ‘Beautiful Freak’.

Novacane for the Soul – For those of us who have no idea what novacane is I have googled us an answer, it’s an anesthetic in white powder form. Is that an American thing? I’m pretty sure I hadn’t heard of it before Eels came along. I like the crackle, violin and key intro to this track. Eels have a brilliant uplifting sound to their music but the content is pretty dark and dire. I love music like this, it’s good to mend to this kind of music because it will uplift you but at the same time allows you to wallow.

Susan’s House – Susan is an old girlfriend of the lead singer E, no she isn’t a physicist. Fun fact the girl who has the big bug eyes on the album cover got the job because she reminded E of a younger Susan. The piano intro is sampled from ‘Love find’s it’s own way’ by Gladys Knight and The Pips. The song was not unsurprisingly inspired by the walk from E’s house to her’s back in the day. They had been split for a few years before he had recorded the song.

Rags to Rags – OK so if there was a spider crawling over my reflection’s right eye I would shit my pants! I like the imagery; of staring at yourself in the mirror not of shitting my pants . Who hasn’t stared deeply in their own reflection and wondered who the hell was staring back at you?

Beautiful Freak – This song is also apparently about Susan, she sounds like I nice girl. I think every little weirdo in love with other little weirdo’s have this as ‘their’ song but I doubt many have it as their first dance because it’s not cool to admit to others that you’re a freak. I might have it as my first dance or I would if I was in love with a little weirdo, she’s little but annoyingly rather normal. I am enough freak for the both of us.

Not Ready Yet – Here lies my favorite track of the album, yes yes I am a little ‘emo womb’ face I don’t deny it.  It’s a fabulous song to listen to if you’ve had a bit of a knock recently. It takes a while to get back on that horse, you know that horse we call life. It’s a lot heavier than the other happier sounding tracks which allows for some deep routed wallowing.

My Beloved Monster – Another iconic little weird people love song and you can’t have this song as ‘your’ song either because it’s Shrek and Fiona’s. ‘Beautiful Freak’ was the first album released on DreamWorks record label who are also the film production company responsible for ‘Shrek’ but they didn’t last long as a record company, selling to Universal in 2005.

Flower – I like the choir sound with the Ukulele intro that continues subtlety throughout the song. Don’t you just hate it when everyone is trying to bum you out? We all try to turn our heads towards the Sun, to rise above all the other flowers but someone will always come along and step on you and completely miss that knob head over there who’s a 10ft tall fucking ruler supreme sunflower now and what are you? Little more than a shitting weed.

Guest List – An anthem for the normal folk. I think no matter how much you turn your nose up at the life of the rich and famous everyone envies them a little but it would appear that money and recognition don’t complete a person. I am not going to sit here and write you out the secret to being happy or in the least content because I honestly don’t know what it is. If I were to hazard a guess I’d say 42. This is a great little track because of the truth in it, we all envy the beautiful people, we just have to remember I guess that everyone is beautiful to someone or will be one day if only fleetingly.

Mental – There is a great running theme of mental illness throughout this album and as someone who has problems in that area it’s a great outlet for those mental health blues, as a matter of fact the whole album is. It has a bitter and sarcastic tone for us bitter and sarcastic listeners to cuddle up with and stare at ourselves in the mirror to.

Spunky – So E has a wonderful storytelling element to his lyrics and I really feel like I know who Spunky is, she’s kind of every middle aged woman who had big dreams but got stuck in a dead end job instead or that is at least my interpretation. I could be dead wrong and this song could be about a pet mouse.

Your Lucky Day in Hell – Scream is by far my favorite Horror film franchise which is where I found this song. It does have a creepy vibe considering it’s light hearted airiness. This was the third single released from the debut album but it didn’t do as well as Novacane for the Soul or Susan’s House. I’m surprised ‘Beautiful Freak’ and ‘My Beloved Monster’ weren’t released as singles as they seem to me to be much catchier tracks.

Manchild – This induces cringe worthy associations of my BFF and his constant shoulder I have to cry on. I really must be a drag but he never complains. We all need a friend like that but we should lest forget that they may need shoulders to sodden with tears on the odd occasion too.

Beautiful Freak was recorded and released in 1996. It was mostly work that E had created on his lonesome but instead of releasing it with all of his other solo work, he started a band. He called his band Eels so that it would be somewhere closely located to his solo work as ‘E’. E is the son of famous physicist Hugh Everett the third. Beautiful Freak peaked at number 5 in the UK which is where it did best worldwide. There’s not actually much information for me to steal from the internet and rehash out to you to make me seem smart so this will be a very short summary.

This is a really brilliant album and Eels are a really brilliant band. E is a very interesting individual and he did a documentary with the BBC on the work of his father that you can watch here. In all seriousness it’s actually quite interesting, hence the link. I’m not even kidding.

Thanks so much for reading.

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@cowardlycomics

 

Ten Books to Read Before You Hit 20.

Good Monday!

When I was a teenager I read a lot of high brow literature for my age. I read most of the classics you still have on your to read pile before I hit 16. This wasn’t necessarily because I was a smart kid but I was smart enough to realize that having a good knowledge of literature would get me far in life.

In fact I failed school. I hardly ever attended and when I did they would put me in isolation away from the other kids just in case I distracted them with my ‘bad attitude’.

The best teacher I ever had was literature. It taught me how to spell and structure sentences. It has taught me to think outside the box, how to be creative and how to be imaginative. It has provided me with an insight into politics and social systems. It has allowed me to learn about historical events and how to cope with being a weird little grebo girl who wasn’t allowed into class because I had attitude problems.

It also taught me manners and that being a dick isn’t necessarily going to get me far in life. It has taught me to be kind, polite, calm and patient. It has saved my life in so many ways. If I didn’t have literature I doubt I would have ever bothered to be a better person than that weird little rude grebo girl. Obviously that little rude grebo girl is still in me somewhere I’m just a little more than just that these days.

This top ten is going to list all of the books that have saved my life during my teens. They were probably the most important books I have ever read as they shaped and molded me into the ladyface I am today and you know what? I quite like her.

So without further ado here is Monday’s top ten.

10) The Diary of a Young Girl –  Anne Frank – The greatest thing about this diary is that Anne is just a teenage girl who is really just like you, she fancies boys and likes ice cream. Anne is a teenage girl who is easily and instantly identifiable. She provides you with a journey into the looking glass to explore a very important historical event. Through Anne’s eyes we feel it and we live it. For me, as a 14 year old girl born in the latter part of the same century, almost 60 years on, it was an eye opening, world expanding read that I never finished. I actually became so upset with Anne’s story that I couldn’t finish the last few entries and it remains the only book I never did finish. All the same it haunted me for days, weeks and then years. It made me ask why? Why did that horrific genocide happen? This motivated me to find an answer to that question which I am still trying to find but in searching for the answer I have found out so many interesting things about this tragic time in history. Mostly what I have learned about is the capacity for human kindness. Despite all the evil there were heroes, some silent heroes that rescued children from concentration camps or hid them in their cellars. Men and women died to defend themselves against tyranny. So even though Anne Frank’s story is a sad one with a tragic end her legacy provides us with an entry into a personalized historical insight of humanity and it’s ability to be horrifically evil or to be unselfishly brave and kind. Anne Frank is and always will be one of my personal heroes.

9) The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath – This is every troubled teenage girls bible. I think it is important for sad young girls to have someone to get lost in and use as a bad role model. I have mentioned in previous posts about my unhealthy 14 year old obsession with dead pin ups. I needed them to understand the darkness that crept up on me at a very early age. I used them to understand it and if they weren’t there, tried and tested maybe I would have had a harder time than I did. I was about 16 years old when I read The Bell Jar and I was just starting to work, earn and experience what the real world was like, turns out not much different from the school yard. I worked with bitchy women who were old enough to be my grandmother but acted like complete teenage dirtbags. I remember one encounter I had with one of my seniors on the topic of books that went like this ME: So what’s your favorite genre of books? HER: My favorite what? Genre? What is a genre? That’s not even a word! HA HA fucking HA!. Going back to The Bell Jar, we get to see a young woman fall apart as she sets off into the ‘real’ world of adulthood and you know what she discovers? Life; it’s not what it’s cracked up to be. In response to this realization she goes insane and they put her in the ‘Bell Jar’ where she receives electric shock therapy. This is an important read not just for teens but for adults. If you have ever suffered with any mental health issues or you are presently, why not go on a journey with Sylvia Plath as she provides an accurate, emotional, sincere insight on the descent into madness. If you are presently suffering from mental health issues, which is common, it’s statistically more probable that you are a little bat shit crazy like me, go see your GP, they can help. I read this at exactly the right time and it provided me with a philosophy that I hold dear to this very day which is it’s OK to lose your mind as long as you can find it again. Sometimes we just need to wallow, that’s why we put ‘Brick’ by Ben Folds Five on repeat. When we’re young sad girls sometimes we need to wallow in a book and this is the one to wallow in. Sylvia Plath is one of my favorite poets for exactly the same reason, wallowing; it’s good for the soul.

8) Girl Interrupted – Susanna Kaysen – Pretty much ‘The Bell Jar’ with a more comical edge. It’s fun to laugh at things, if you don’t laugh you’ll cry. Girl Interrupted manages to cover the same ground as Sylvia Plath’s Bell Jar but it doesn’t weigh you down as much. You shouldn’t mistake that statment to mean that this is a nice light hearted story about mental illness, this certainly is not the case. There are parts of this story that will grab you by the tits and make you feel very uncomfortable. The difference between ‘The Bell Jar’ and ‘Girl Interrupted’ is dark and slightly less dark. The film is in my top five of all time and again is a must watch for any teenager.The teenage years are hard, all the books I read back then were female protagonists dealing with mental health. There are books out there that could relate more to teenage boys, for instance ‘The Perks of Being a Wallflower’ which doesn’t fit the criteria for this list because I read it when I was 21 but it provides a great insight into mental health during the teenage years from the viewpoint of a teenage boy. Girl Interrupted is a fun, deep, thought provoking read. It is an ideal read for the youth even if they don’t have mental health issues. That’s the idea of learning via literature, it takes you to worlds you never really imagined yourself in. It puts you in someone else’s shoes. ‘Seeing death, really seeing it, makes fantasizing about seem really fucking ridiculous.’

7) Brave New World – Aldous Huxley –  Everyone should read this. I read it when I was 15 after my grandma put it in my hands and commanded me to absorb it’s pages. I did and I transformed into a paranoid recluse for the next six months. Why am I recommending it? Well firstly it made me more aware. Secondly it triggered my social anxiety. Thirdly it opened my eyes. The world was no longer a safe place for me. It was a world that was slowly transforming into this dystopian nightmare that Huxley had foretold in this book. So I am being dramatic but it was kind of like someone flicked on a switch and suddenly I got it. What was it? I couldn’t tell you but it was definitely ground breaking in me becoming who I am. Huxley is a great social commentator, I highly recommend ‘Point Counter Point’ for a great insight into the mentality of the’rah rah’ middle to upper classes.

6) Hitchikers Guide to The Galaxy – Douglas Adams – Let’s lighten things up a bit. Reading this book is your introduction into geekery. You can’t earn your stripes until you understand the significance of the number 42. I read this in my late teens, perhaps around 18 or 19 and it opened up a world of silliness and comical genius. Until then I was obsessed with literature that had meaning and significance. It had to be deadly serious for me to consider it a great. Then I read this and realized I was an idiot. Which is an epiphany every teenager will have at some point. Life can be fun. Life can be an adventure. Life can be ridiculously stupid and unpredictable. We need this sci-fi comical romp for us to realize just how fucking stupid everything is and it’s OK to laugh at the absurdity. Life’s a messy adventure but DON’T PANIC bring a towel and we’ll all be just fine.

5) 1984 – George Orwell – Is this the ultimate must read before you die book? I think so. If you’re going to use terms like ‘Big brother’, ‘thought crime’ or ‘room 101′ then please, please, please read the book so you know what the hell you’re talking about. Read it in your teens and outsmart every other motherhugger in the room. It’s a smart book. It will make you a smart person. George is my ultimate idol, he rules above them all and any of his works will improve your person but 1984 is the seminal, prophesying piece. Orwell was a smart and brave man, he fought in a war that didn’t affect him for the liberation of others. He was so smart he coined the term ‘Cold War’ for the tensions between the USA and Russia before there was even a whiff of bad shit between them. The man was just a really smart bad ass and ‘1984’ like ‘Brave New World’ will undoubtedly expand your world view. I am still at odds with myself for the realization that I probably could not room 101 it for anyone, not my girlfriend, my best friend, my mother and probably not even my nephew or future children…that realization can fuck you up, so read with caution.

4) Fahrenheit 451 – Ray Bradbury – I think I have included the big three dystopian prophesying pieces that have inspired an increased awareness of what is going on around us. It is an important lesson to learn at the earliest age that it is possible to comprehend. Now I am not saying we all need to go get tin foil helmets and lock ourselves away in a shed in the woods but we have to be aware of the nanny state. It is easy to imagine the world we live in now evolving into a cold dark place where we can’t enjoy art or read books because it’s dangerous to a government to be a free thinker. You think this is fiction? Then you’re stupid. This is another eye opening piece for the coming of age liberal thinker. I controversially think this is the better of the three, it’s a bit of an underdog but I think Bradbury is a more engaging writer and illustrates similar messages much more visually.

3) Go Ask Alice – Anonymous – The first time I read this. It was like the floor fell away from me. I finished the last page with an overwhelming feeling of hope and admiration for the protagonist. I then turned the page and my heart leaped to my throat. This poor damaged girl had lost her battle when we thought she had won. It actually broke my heart and I burst into tears. This was really inconvenient because I was working a really slow bar at the time and had to sort myself out before a customer strayed away from the crowd looking for alcohol. This is the diary of a teenage drug addict. Tempted by peer pressure she falls into a downward spiral of tragedy. There is no happy ending. It is a brutal lesson in the use of drugs and the ‘cool’ culture of the drug scene. It does not glamorize the scene. It shows you the dirty cracks, the grimey streets, the wound, the infection, it’s savage. I have never had a drug addiction and thankfully after reading this I never intend to acquire one.

2) The Well of Lonliness – Radclyffe Hall – I hated this book. Another one of my Grandma’s recommendations. She also hated this book but it was a banned book and when she managed to get her eager little hands on it she was disappointed to find that it was a terrible representation of two women in love. Yes, yes it is but sadly it was loosely based on Hall’s own life and after publication it was instantly denied to the public. It almost completely destroyed her literary career. 1928 is very early for someone to be making such a bold statement as ‘hey lesbians are a thing’ but she did. That’s why this is such an important book to read. It’s the start of a social revolution, it got people talking about gays and luckily for me attitudes changed because of people like Hall making a stand. The story isn’t a great one, again not a happy ending but it’s written well and allows an insight into the LGBT scene in the early 20th century which is pretty spectacular. It’s the first gay book I ever read, so for me although I didn’t like it’s message it holds a lot of my identity in it. I read this when I was 17 and just coming to terms with my sexuality. It was the most important LGBT based book I have had the displeasure to read. It’s an important part of LGBT history. If you’re a gay don’t be too disheartened after reading. It’s unlikely the love of your life will leave you for a man who intended to marry you…unlikely but not impossible.

1) To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee – My all time favorite. It’s just perfect. Go on read it tell me I’m wrong. A beautiful story exploring the loss of innocence in childhood. A child is born without prejudice, it is something learned. A moral any angsty teenager would be wise to adopt. This is the only book I have ever read more than once, I have a stance that all the time I spend on re-reading good books could be delaying my finding the next great masterpiece. To Kill a Mockingbird is so good it’s my exception to the rule. A rule that I may need to change soon because those books I read when I was 15 are becoming a little bit rusty in ye olde memory box. ‘All lawyers I suppose were children once’.

I honestly recommend reading these before you hit 20 because they shaped who I am and I am really fucking cool.

Worry not older readers, if you’re over the hill there’s still some good stuff in these books and it doesn’t matter how old you are there are still lessons to be learned and ultimately lessons to be taught.

Good teachers need great inspiration.

Thanks so much for reading.

Let me know in the comments or tweet me whether you agree with me or think I’m full of shit.

@cowardlycomics

 

 

The Album Review – The Doors – Self Titled.

Good Friday!

The other day I uttered some of the most idiotic words to the BFF. I said and I quote ‘L.A Woman is the best Doors album’ he went onto mumble something about ‘roadhouses’ but I was down deep in my rabbit hole of self appreciation to even slightly comprehend what he was saying. I’m pretty proud of my awesome knowledge of music and there is no convincing me that my opinion on the subject isn’t the epitome of musical critique. Then sometimes I say stupid things like I did the other day and I doubt myself.

What the fuck was I thinking? The seminal album by The Doors is hands down their debut.

I can’t remember discovering this band, it’s almost as though I was born into a world where The Doors had always existed along with other such greats as Queen and The Beatles. Jim Morrison was a major player in my 13 year old obsessive shrine plastered walls of dead pin ups.

So here is my track by track rundown.

Break on Through (To the Other side) – This was a bit of an unsuccessful debut single, only reaching 126 in the US of A. Ironic really considering the cultural impact that  this song later had. Up until 1990 all recordings of this song had the ‘high’ part of the line ‘she get’s…’ edited out by those censorship clowns. This seems a bit discriminatory considering the content of other bands at the time, for instance; The Beatles were singing about skies and diamonds, T-Rex were riding white swans and Pink Floyd were introducing us to the dark side of the moon. It seems pretty PG compared to a lot of other Doors tracks.

Soul Kitchen – Allegedly inspired by a restaurant Morrison used to frequent in his early 20’s. That’s a really good name for a food establishment.This is a great track both lyrically and musically. Some great use of that old devil of an instrument that we call the organ. Why is it called an organ? My theory is that you have to pump air into it like a lung? You know The Doors are the only band I can think of that use it as a staple in their music. It really brings a darkness to the psychedelic feel. I wonder if it is so associated with The Doors that other bands don’t want to overuse it as to not be accused as ripping them off?

Crystal Ship – This is the the ultimate example of Jim Morrison being the sexiest man to front a band to ever have existed, sure he’s a good looking chap but that voice is pure hypnotic velvet.

Twentieth Century Fox – This is not a song about the film production company but surprise, surprise a smoking hawt ladyface. I do however suspect that the line ‘she’s got the world locked up in a plastic box’ is a slight indication that this ladyface was a woman of the silver screen.

Alabama Song (Whisky Bar) – This is pure comical genius. It was originally a 1927 poem by Bertolt Brecht adapted to music by Kurt Weill and then covered and changed by The Doors then later covered again uniquely by Bowie. The fairground jig of the track makes use of the sinister organ to make this an uberly upbeat albeit spooky little number.

Light My Fire – I think this song can be written off by elitists down to it probably being their signature tune but it’s a great song. I remember when Will Young covered it and as much as Will Young is a beautiful man version of Tigger; it sent me into weeks of despair and depression at the state of mainstream pop music. Which seems to be slowly recovering because there are some great musicians in the charts right now.

Back Door Man – This is a cover of Howlin’ Wolf. Doors drummer John Densmore said the reason the band loved it so much was down to it being so damn sexual so I think the innuendo is intended folks.

I looked at You – I think this is the only track on this album that sounds as if it would be popular at the time other than ‘Light my fire’. It’s a very catchy little track with a lovely false ending middle.

End of the Night – OK so I know I keep harping on about that organ but would you listen to that organ! It’s so ominous and I think it’s half of what makes The Doors so damn sexy and kind of creepy…that’s sexy right?

Take it as it Comes – If you’re going to take any Doors track and adopt it as a life philosophy I recommend this one. It’s just a nice rock and roll track about taking things easy.

The End – This song will forever be entangled with the Vietnam war even if that was never it’s intended meaning, it’s use in the opening scenes of Apocalypse Now was genius, such a profound illustration of how fucked up that war was with the drug use and exploitation of both soldiers and civilians. ‘Kill the father, fuck the mother’ brings a Freudian creepiness to the track even if it was never intended. I think if I am honest this is my favorite Doors track, not just on the album but spanning the whole catalog. You have to be in the right mood but if you are this song is probably better than ‘Stairway to Heaven’. DANG! ‘Oh no she din’t’.

Don’t forget I’m an idiot.

The Doors was recorded in 1966 at Sunset Sound Recorders in Hollywood with a running time off 44 minutes 48 seconds.It was most successful in both France and the USA hitting 5 times platinum.

There are some controversial alleged claims that Morrison got frustrated whilst recording ‘The End’ as people felt uncomfortable with the whole ‘Kill the father’, ‘fuck the mother’ lines. According to some claims this tension hit a boiling point resulting in Morrison throwing a TV at the control window, he was then evicted from the premises. Later in the middle of the night he returned, breaking in, removing his clothes and taking a fire extinguisher to the studio. Apparently he was found naked writhing around in fire extinguisher foam. If that is true, that is the sexiest rock and roll story ever!

Thanks so much for reading.

@cowardlycomics

 

Top Ten Musical Adventures.

Good Monday!

Glastonbury has been and gone. I love the festival but I would much rather watch the highlights on the tellybox because as much as I revel in the atmosphere of hundreds of thousands of pretentious hipsters swanning around in their own filth, I would rather go to an intimate one off concert, have a really good night and then go home to my own bed.

So in honor of the undeniably brilliant music event that is probably the UK’s finest or at least most famous festival I decided to base this weeks top 10 on my greatest experiences at live music performances.

10) The Wurzels – Heytesbury 2008 – No kidding, this was one of the most fun nights out I’ve had. So much cider and a hog roast topped off with some great songs about tractors. I was born and bred in the west country so The Wurzels are pretty much our iconic musical staple. I sincerely recommend going to see these guys whilst they are still touring which is frequently around the South West. If this list was accumulated out of the most fun had at live performances this would win hands down. The Wurzels are complete gentlemen who stuck around after the show to talk to the fans and sign beer cans and handkerchiefs.

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9) Tegan & Sara – London The Troxy 2013 - I have seen them twice but this was my favorite show out of the two because of the fan response to ‘Call it  Off’. I imagine if you are a musician it must be the most accomplished magical feeling to hear your lyrics sung back to you by hundreds of people, it was pretty darn special for me as a fan. It wasn’t the best show on a personal level as there was a lot of lesbian drama at the lesbian show but it was worth it all the same for such an awesome performance. The encore also included a mash up of all the old songs that they don’t play anymore which was the biggest treat as a long term fan. Everything was awesome!

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8) Rise Against – Bristol 02 Academy 2011 – Rise Against are one of my all time favorites and I had missed them every time they had toured the UK which wasn’t very often so this was super special. The second awesome thing about this gig was that the support act was Tom Morello AKA The Nightwatchman who I am a little bit in love with so I got double the fun for the price of one. Hearing ‘Swing Life Away’ live brought all those good butterflies swarming into my chest and I had goosebumps. I met the band after the show for signings and pictures they were lovely. Tim Mcilrath is a real gentleman and recorded a birthday message for a fan’s girlfriend who couldn’t make the show.

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7) Reel Big Fish – Bristol o2 Academy – 2011 – Reel Big Fish are contenders to be the band I have seen the most times. They play a lot and usually quite locally. One time they played in Frome god knows why their tour manager thought that was a good idea. 2011 was the first time I saw them play and they were brilliant, a lot of fun and a lot of skanking to be enjoyed by all. This performance cemented them as a must see band every time they tour.

Trumpets are cool.

6) Stiff Little Fingers – Brighton Concorde 2009 – This is the other contender for most seen band with both SLF & RBF on three a piece. I had a bloody awesome time at this show. I was young enough and healthy enough back then to really let loose and handle myself at the front of a punk rock show. It was a brilliant experience for which I am now too old and too broken to enjoy again, ah the memories. SLF attract a lot of the older punk generation and that crowd is probably one of the nicest bunch of people to share a gig atmosphere with.

Up close & personal.

5) Spinnerette – Islington o2 Academy 2009 – I have mentioned, I am sure many a time how much of an inspiration Brody Dalle has been to me but The Distillers disbanded before I was old enough to get my gig on. I thought I had kinda missed out until Spinnerette came along. Spinnerette were a great band. I’m not exactly sure why they existed now that BD has gone solo but it was a phenomenal album and out of that came a terrific live performance. The best part of this gig was BD jumping the crowd and landing on top of me…it was all very rock and roll.

Moody blues.

4) Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Glastonbury Festival 2009 – This was by far the highlight of Glastonbury for me. It was the last day on a Sunny Sunday afternoon and I was done. I just wanted to go home but then Karen O came out and just enthralled the audience. Their performance of Maps induced what was probably the most romantic atmosphere I had been a part of which made me feel incredibly lonely. The section of the song where she mimics slitting her throat with the microphone wire is one of the most unnerving moments of any performance I have ever seen.

So much cheaper in 2009

3) Dropkick Murphys – Dublin Vicar Street 2012 – This was a blast. The only concert I have been to outside of the UK. My BFF and I packed up our bags and buggered off for a weekend of Irish enriched punk rock. Dublin is a great city and it was the perfect place to go see these guys. Ken Casey is another perfect gentleman sticking around after the show to sign things and take pictures. Highlight of the show was singing along to ‘The Dirty Glass’ and ‘Kiss Me I’m Shitfaced’ but I was too shy to get on the stage with all the other girls.

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2) Fleetwood Mac – London Wembley Arena 2009 – I can almost guarantee that my BFF is better than yours! This was my Christmas present that year and yeah hands down nothing is going to beat the experience of seeing one of your favorite childhood bands. The only thing that could top this is perhaps Tom Petty or perhaps Fleetwood Mac with Christine McVie as she was not touring with them at the time. *Hint Hint if you’re reading this Tom*

1) Foo Fighters – London Hyde Park 2006 – It’s always your first that you don’t forget. This was the first gig I ever went to and I honestly cannot describe to you the feelings I felt when I saw that stage and heard the voices of Juliette and The Licks, Queens of the Stone Age, Motorhead and finally the wonderful and magical Foo Fighters. I don’t think any musical experience is ever going to top this. It’s my first, my favorite and the memories of this day will forever be with me. It gave me the bug and now I am consumed by chasing the next musical high at the next musical show.

18 year old FF fan.

What are your all time favorite gigs?

Thanks so much for reading this trip down memory lane. I am now equipped with everything to kick off this webcomic and the blog should be back to normal from this week onward.

@cowardlycomics

 

The Album Review – Counting Crows – This Desert Life.

Good Friday!

Another album review gah so darn predictable.

This week I am dissecting the wonderful ‘This Desert Life’ by the fabulous Counting Crows. I first discovered this band through the film Cruel Intentions, a film that had a killer soundtrack which featured a very beautiful song called ‘Colorblind’ that also resides here on this record.

Colorblind was the only track I really knew by these guys until I met my ex-girlfriend who had a massive boy crush on Adam Duritz and was adamant that Counting Crows were the best thing music had to offer. Through her love of this band and her constantly exposing me to their sound I began to fall in love with them a little myself.

Thou shall have a fishy.

Thou shall have a fishy.

Here’s my track by track rundown.

Hanginaround – There is nothing worse than getting stuck in your rut and trapped in your shitty little hometown. Whenever I go home I feel claustrophobic. A couple of years ago I had come to terms with that town being where I settled and man that was probably the most depressed I have ever been. Luckily there are songs like this that come along and give you the pick up that you need…don’t ever settle guys, get the fuck up and hurrah!

Mrs. Potter’s Lullaby – Allegedly inspired after Duritz watched Monica Potter in Patch Adams. I especially love the lyric ‘If dreams are like movies then memories are films about ghosts’.  This whole album has the potential to bum you out really; it’s definitely deep thinking music. Duritz is a great storyteller, he has the ability to take you on a very visual and emotional journey even if your as happy as Larry you will leave this album feeling like you have had a dozen epiphanies.

Fish Face!

Fish Face!

Amy Hit the Atmosphere – This is my absolute favorite Counting Crows track. I think the common theme of this album is managing to overcome the chains that tie you down and ultimately escaping that poor excuse of a life for something better. Arguably it’s a song about a girl called Amy who had a drug addiction who hit the highs of the atmosphere. Whether she goes on to kick the habit and escape that life via living or dying is pretty ambiguous but either way it’s a hard visual image to stomach.

Four Days – I actually quite like long distance relationships. They just kinda work for me. You get to travel somewhere different to see someone you’re falling for and then you miss them when you can’t see them. I think missing someone is a great way to put a measure on how you feel about a person. My girlfriend and I lived about an hour and a half away from each other for nearly a year before living together and whilst it was sometimes annoying it was really quite romantic and reassuring that we (mainly she) made the effort. This song is about the ‘missing someone’ part of dating. It’s very sweet and worth a listen if you’re pining after your other half.

                                       Just you know...

Just you know…

All My Friends – Adam Duritz gets a lot of ladies. He has ‘allegedly’ dated Courtney Cox, Jenifer Aniston, Emmy Rossum and Mary Louise Parker and I get it he’s a deep and talented guy who writes some great songs about failed relationships including this one. ‘All my friends and lovers leave me behind, I’m still looking for a girl’. That’s the alluring ‘Duritz’ trait. Could you be that girl? Maybe I could be that girl, damn I think I have been twitterpated by the ‘Duritz’ allure.

High Life – The rise and fall of the violins in this track is beautiful. The subtle genius of this song is understated. An easily forgettable track on the album until it pops up and catches you by surprise because you forgot how lovely this little number is.

Where's the head?

Where’s the head?

Colorblind – I lost the most part of my vision in my right eye a couple of years ago and became color blind in that eye. It was during a rough time of being an un-diagnosed Multiple Sclerosis embracer and it was fucking scary. I went from better than 20/20 to being partially sighted and there was no evidence of anything wrong with me until a year later when the lesions appeared on my brain…I know serious stuff right. It really was the most scared a person could probably be…you know unless you are fighting an angry swarm of spiders the size of tigers SPIGERS. That time of my life was so fucked up, other stuff made it seem like a Hollywood sob fest. I used to sit and listen to this song and mourn for my right eye…no seriously this is my right eye’s elegy. R.I.P right eye.

I Wish I Was a Girl – Yeah me too. ‘For all the things your losing you might as well resign yourself to try and make a change.’ As depressing as this album can be at times it does have that Eeyore factor of being pessimistically optimistic. It allows you to feel sad and wallow but by the end you’re ready to get up and take on the world which is why good music is a great emotional outlet for it’s listeners.

Cone Head!

Cone Head!

Speedway - Sometimes it’s really hard to express yourself and get the right words out of your confuddled brain. That old theme of escape is back again and if you’re feeling trapped then finding this kind of musical outlet is really important so I recommend a listen.

St Robinson in his Cadillac Dream – ‘I may not go to heaven, I hope you go to hell’ are some pretty harsh lyrics. I don’t think I’ve ever hated anyone that much to feel where those words come from. Duritz has said at live shows ‘that this is a song about what happens when Tom Sawyer grows up and realizes he’s completely fucked up his life’.

Kid Things – I don’t really like this track it’s a bit funkabilly for my liking and completely out of place on such a downer of an album. In mah opinion it should have ended on the previous track but they stuck this on as a secret song. I’m not really sure if it counts but here’s a commentary anyway…rubbish secret track.

Chips and Fiiish?

Chips and Fiiish?

This Desert Life is a brilliant sob fest of an album that any proper ‘emo’ kid like me should own. It was recorded in someones house in California 1998 and peaked it’s highest in the USA and Canadian billboard charts at number 8. It was released on Geffen records in 1999 just in time for the delayed digital apocalypse but we’re still waiting.

The album art is by Dave McKean and the cover is lifted from work he did for a children’s book by Neil Gaiman called ‘The Day I Swapped My Dad For Two Goldfish’.

I have only mentioned the talents of Adam Duritz but there is phenomenal musicianship from Dave Bryson, Charlie Gillingham, David Immergluck, Matt Malley, Ben Mize and Dan Vickrey.  Apologies guys sometimes when your frontman is so damn sexy it’s difficult to notice that there are other people in the band, you guys are all awesome regardless.

Thanks so much for reading and if you listened to the album because of this and now you feel sad it’s all cool just remember at least you’re not fighting the SPIGERS!

@cowardlycomics

 

 

The Album Review – Blur – Parklife.

Good Friday!

Blur are a band I thought I liked. They were the only B I could find in the bargain bin at the local supermarket yesterday during a mad dash to find an album to review, however I am now prepared I hope for the foreseeable future (or the next two weeks) with content to nitpick and throw words together about.

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So yeah I thought I liked Blur. They are an iconic britpop band from the 90’s what’s not to love? Well apparently there’s a lot not to love , ranging from the annoying repetitiveness of both musical and lyrical hook to the whiny pop punk throwback vocals that channel The Shit Sex Pistols.

That said there’s a lot of nostalgia here for a child of the 90’s and I know there are some super wicked Blur tracks but apparently few of them reside here on this album.

I hate giving bad reviews. I will always try and be fair. It’s all in good humor and the artists that I choose to review are those that have made an impression on me some how…also they are rich and successful as all hell because the majority of people disagree with me.

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Gorillaz are awesome!

Here is my review of Parklife.

1) Girls & Boys – When this came on I got all excited because I thought it was a tune back in the day, now with time and matured tastes I think it’s just bloody awful! I like the whole satirical meaning behind the song and the equal opportunity hook ups but it’s just not as good a song as I remember. It was an anthem for a generation though so what the hell do I know…Surprisingly never made it to number one on any global music chart.

2) Tracy Jacks – Oh dear, this really isn’t my cup of tea at all. I do however like Blur’s commentary on the everyday lives of the working class and I think this is the sound of a musical movement. It’s just not a movement I feel very strongly towards. I’m pretty sure the music is a parody of the type of people that really love this stuff so perhaps it’s actually quite genius.

3) End of a Century – I think I was too young to appreciate the millennium, I was too interested in boys and looking cool to give a shit about another year passing into a new era. In hindsight I kind of wish I cared a little more. This track describes perfectly how I felt about that era at that time and I am really ashamed of that now that I am myself getting closer to thirty. I actually really like this track. I actually really like Blur. I’m just not a fan of Parklife as a whole it would seem.

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4) Parklife – Another iconic hit from the 90’s and Blur have a few, this is apparently a song illustrating the Americanization of the UK. I’m actually studying the whole concept of Americanization and it’s all pretty much unfounded media sensationalism bullshit!

5) Bank Holiday – Short and sweet britpop noise…again not my bag of chips but an excellent social commentary of 90’s leisure culture and I do like bank holidays.

6) Bad Head – A bit of a whinge anthem I guess meh.

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7) Debt Collector – This is a nice fun brass band instrumental which I must confess lightens the disenchanted tone of the album.

8) Far Out – I really like the futuristic feel and the day dream surrealism unleashed on this track but it’s not very long and feels a bit like filler. The vocals are by bassist Alex James and although Blur are famous for Damon Alburn’s cockney twang I quite like this change of pace for the band. I really like Alburn’s vocals once they evolve past that boyish whining stage but they are stuck there for the majority of this album.

9) To the End – Oh dear this is hard on the ears. It would be a magical track to end the album on but apparently I have seven more songs to endure. I’m really disappointed that a band I kinda like who has a front man who created one of the best musical projects of the noughties in Gorillaz came from a background of terribly annoying Britpop. *Sad smiley face*

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10) London Loves – I don’t like London much. It’s a great city to visit once in a while but I think the people who live there must be mutants because whenever I leave that place the contents of my nose are jet black. My Mum is a big blur fan, she went to see them play back in the 90’s apparently they were loud and she couldn’t see anything so that was the last show she ever went to.

11) Trouble in the Message Center – We have established I made a mistake reviewing this right. La La La La LA LA LA LA LA LA LA LA!

12) Clover Over Dover – Here’s another song about Dover. When reviewing Alice Cooper I mentioned that Dover is covered a lot within music and here is another example albeit not a very good one but evidence all the same. When we get to G I’m going to review the shit out of a project that really shows off Alburn’s talents because I don’t think I’m going to revisit Blur for a while even if their Self titled album is phenomenal.

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13) Magic America - America is pretty magical it has Disney World. You know that the people in the USA actually think England is a magical world where dreams of national healthcare exist with good comedy shows like ‘Allo, Allo’  they call themselves Anglophiles…the perverts.

14) Jubilee – I guess being a teenager is hard, weirdly I got spotty and started wearing the wrong clothes post puberty…I guess that makes me cool as fuck!

15) This is a Low – I really like the shipping forecasts on radio 4, they always seem so deadly serious and have absolutely no meaning to me whatsoever. I actually quite like this track as it’s a bit more evolved than the rest of the album.

16) Lot 105 -  And with a jolly little instrumental we can finally move onto other things that don’t suck.

I was mean. I feel bad.

Parklife was recorded at the end of 1993 and the beginning of 1994 in various London recording studios including RAK and St Johns Wood. It was released on Food and SBK records and charted highest in the UK peaking at number 3. It later became a 4 times platinum selling album in the UK, Gold in Canada and Platinum in America.

The album art is considered a classic and was featured on a release of a classic album collection of stamps by Royal Mail.

I didn’t like it. I’m sorry if that causes offence but  if you’re a super fan why the hell did you read my review?

Thanks anyway

@cowardlycomics

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AFI’s Answer That and Stay Fashionable – An Album Review.

Good Friday!

So the album review is up for a chop and change. In fact there should be a few changes coming up to my blog as I’m pretty sure the comic is close to making it’s debut. I will be continuing to use the free edition of wordpress until I can afford to build my own site, so bare with me on the layout of the comic as it appears. As previously promised my artistic abilities are meager but I love telling stories and I hope this will be an outlet for that.

Anyway back to the album review. So I am going to purchase or already own the albums up for review and seeing how I haven’t had the opportunity  to go to the record store’s this week I am going to start off this process with an album I have previously owned. Starting with the A’s we will be looking at AFI’s Answer That and Stay Fashionable. The great thing about reviewing physical copies of albums is that I can show you the artwork and break up the review with pictures that will hopefully distract you from the big block of words that sometimes people cannot be bothered to read because you know TL;DR. Just so you know if you ever use that txt speak bullshit abbreviation you’re a fucking idiot.

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A Fire Inside are a band that I have loved unconditionally since I was 13 all throughout their evolution or devolution (as some fans might argue) from punk rock to emo punk rock. I just love them, partly for nostalgia’s sake and partly because they make some pretty great records. Answer That and Stay Fashionable was the first album I purchased of theirs after using Napster to steal individual tracks, I was 13 don’t judge me! It was a really heavy thrash punk sound with elements of humor in the lyrics and I instantly fell in love. As a 13 year old girl I crushed super hard on Davey Havok, he was and is such a beautiful creature and it was good for me to have a crush on a male singer who wasn’t dead…apparently it’s not healthy for a 13 year old girl to plaster her walls with pin ups of dead icons.

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The artwork for this album cover is actually quite interesting as it is a parody of the film Reservoir Dogs and the title of the album is lifted from a quote in a British TV show called ‘The Comic Strip Presents’. Which whilst mentioning I will take the opportunity to bid a fond farewell to comedy genius Rik Mayall who sadly died this week.

So without further ado here is my track by track rundown of Answer That and Stay Fashionable by AFI.

Two of a Kind – Anyone have a stalker? If so and you’ve had enough maybe play this full blast in their face. A bit of a shunning of the clingy, needy types. There is nothing worse than being in a relationship where you are suffocating because you have merged into the same person and unless you’re an egotistical douche who wants to have their wicked way with their wicked selves it’s a bloody nightmare.

Half Empty Bottle - When you’re an angry 13 year old girl and you want smash things up you just do it be damned the consequences BUT when you’re a nearly 27 year old woman you might want to smash things up but you know that vase cost you £8.99. I really like the lyric ‘I’ve got the cure when passive protest just won’t do, just flick my bic as I hold it to the fuse’ Now I know bics are lighters and I may be reading too much into this but they are also pens and I like to interpret it as igniting revolution via writing words because I’m romantic like that.

Yurf Rendenmein – The title is definitely not German, if you say it super quick out loud you should get it. Don’t you hate all those poser scenester kidz. If you’re a disco diva trying to be a punk because it’s the latest trend you have just taken your first step into uncool-ville. You got to be who you are! Start your own trends and the flocks will gather. I claim grunge, I totally started that, don’t copy me.

I Wanna Get a Mohawk (But Mom Won’t Let me Get One) – If my 10 year old wants a mohawk they can have a damn mohawk, why are parents so suffocating? I think if a kid wants to express themselves they should totally be able to do that. Obviously I would draw the line at piercings and tattoos until they were old enough but hair is hair, it grows back and if it offends anyone good, they’re a douche for being offended in the first place. I don’t think I wanted a mohawk at 10, I think I wanted to be a boy…things change, I grew up to love my gender. A great tongue in cheek angsty youth track.

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Brownie Bottom Sundae – This actually gives you a glimpse into AFI’s dark side which will in later albums consume the raw punk side that made me fall for this band so damn hard. I like the gothic stuff just not as much as the raw punk stuff. Falling into despairing depression I guess is a lot like tucking into a Brownie Bottom Sundae huh?

The Checkered Demon – Va te faire foutre! Mental illness is a bitch if you suffer with anxiety or depression or any variant of the two this ones for you. I can’t really say much about the music because it’s all very rah rah rah guitar, there really isn’t much melody and I guess that’s the great thing about the evolution of this band because they do get some great riffs and beats in future albums but this is purely 4 chord punk rock and sometimes that’s just what you want to hear.

Cereal Wars - OK so this is straight up a song about breakfast cereals and why the hell not?

The Mother in me – A great track that’s open to interpretation but for me it influences thoughts of not being able to unsee bad events, how we keep them deep inside ourselves and how this ultimately shapes and warps us into the people we are. Seriously these songs are no longer than a couple of minutes a piece and they have inspired me with more meaning than any other album I have reviewed. Punk rock is for winners!

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Rizzo in a Box – One inevitable fact of life is that people change, hopefully we can all change together and fit into each others lives but sometimes we can’t because some people change into boring assholes. This track does have a killer bass line intro so can I get a woo for musical talent right here.

Kung-Fu Devil – This kicks off with an audio clip from the Reservoir Dogs scene where Mr White takes Joe’s address book from him which is a nice little nod to the album art.  That film was obviously a big inspiration to the band during this era as it was and is to many a human being and dogs including myself…woof.

Your Name Here – I really like the title as it implies that this song can apply to anyone even you. Everyone is a dick at some point in their lives. Dickery is unfortunately inevitable.

Ny-Quil – Who hasn’t spent whole days in bed, not talking to anyone and sipping cough mixture? I prefer Covonia to Ny-Quil, that is some heavy shit.

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Don’t Make me Ill – So this kicks off with an audio clip from The Comic Strip Presents which I have never seen but I recognize the unmistakable voice of Ade Edmonson quoting the title of the album ‘Answer that and stay fashionable’. I imagine that alternative style of comedy was very influential on the punk scene of the 90’s.

Open Your Eyes – This has and always will be my favorite track and it’s a cover…oops. I don’t know the original though and for me this is an AFI song so apologies to The Circus Tents. It’s such a great little angry song, for me it justifies my anger and it’s exactly how I feel about people who don’t want to talk or acknowledge things like overpopulation, social welfare or exploitation of children in poorer countries because it’s easier to close your pretty little eyelids and think of what you might spend your next wage packet on.

Highschool Football Hero – I had the luxury of not going to an American High School, now don’t get me wrong my school life was fucking atrocious but I don’t think I would have survived the social structure of an American school system.  As I understand it most jocks are assholes and that’s what this track is highlighting in a very whimsical way.  A great note to end on but wait there’s more…a secret track…nope just a mash up of more audio clips one of which quite humorously states ‘This band is a pile of shit’ way to be self deprecating guys.

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So that’s my album review of Answer That and Stay Fashionable which was recorded in 1995 at Andy Ernst’s studio who produced some records by the likes of Greenday and Tsunami Bomb. The record was also produced by Tim Armstrong and Brett Reed from Rancid and was released on Nitro Records which was owned at the time by The Offspring’s Dexter Holland, so there are a lot of big names in punk attached to this album.

In mah opinionz this is a great pioneering punk rock album by a band who have changed and adapted to darker genres of music much better than other bands of the same time period.

I don’t know what I’m reviewing next week because I still haven’t gone to the record store. It will be something beginning with B.

Thanks so much for reading.

Follow me on Twitter

@cowardlycomics

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An Album Review of Silversun Pickups Pikul.

Good Friday!

So before embarking on this weeks review of the Silversun Pickups Pickul, I was familiar with just the one song that my BFF had put on a mix for me circa 2011. I really like the song which was ‘Kissing Families’ which features first on this album but considering how much I dug the track I never actually checked out any of their other work…until now. I guess that was my motivation for reviewing this album. 

They are a band with a great sound. The singer Brian Aubert’s vocals remind me of a mashup between Billy Corgan and Brian Molko but perhaps not as annoying as both of those can be sometimes. I like that the bassist Nikki Monninger gets a go on vocals during one of the tracks as it breaks up the album quite nicely midway through. 

This is apparently an EP but it plays for a full 35 minutes with seven separate tracks to enjoy so it’s of album quality and length so it’s definitely worth a listen. 

Here’s my track by track rundown.

1) Kissing Families – The part of this song when Aubert’s voice breaks into a bit of a frustrated screaming of the lyrics actually brings tears to my eyes. It’s a really emotion inducing track. I actually put on a mystery mix the other day in my girlfriends van and this came on. I hadn’t heard it for a while and it just hit me right in the gut. It transported me back to when I played this song a lot. It wasn’t an overly happy time but re-hearing this song gave me a glimpse into how things used to feel and it was really quite heartwarming just to know that I don’t feel like that anymore. I think music that soundtracks those moments in your life are really special because of their magical ability to essentially time travel. Music has always been an emotional connection rather than a technical one for me. I couldn’t tell you why ‘Stairway to Heaven’ is musically brilliant but I can tell you how it transports you into a magical fairy tale via it’s lyrical imagery and how that makes me feel.

2) Comeback Kid – This has a very angsty emo vibe to it and that for me isn’t a bad thing. I guess we have all been in the position of being at our darkest hour and then kicking some ass and making a comeback to normality. I really like the drumming on this track by Christopher Guanlao, it’s a very heavy beat adding much more dread to the overall angsty feel of the track. 

3) Booksmart Devil – As much as I like the song title this wasn’t one of my favorites of the EP. It’s mostly none offensive repetitive filler. I’d quite happily listen to it if it was playing but it’s not a track I would have to hunt down. This is fine because not every track on an album will grab you by the tits but when reviewing single tracks and you find one like this it makes for very difficult commentary. 

4) The Fuzz – I don’t think this is a derogatory directive aimed at the police instead I think it is actually just a song that demonstrates confusion. It perfectly describes a headache and the piercing noises at the intro exhibits a white noise effect that is mentioned in the lyrics. This is a really great track to mope about to, the whole EP is one big mope fest but in a good way, sometimes you just need a good mope.

5) Creation Lake – So I think after ‘Kissing Families’ this is my favorite track of the album, it’s just such a nice change of pace. It breaks up the album nicely by inserting a little bit of light into a very dark album. The vocals on this track are by the bassist Nikki Monninger and I think she has a beautiful delicate voice to contrast Brian Aubert’s rough whaling one. This is actually a cover of a band called ‘The Movies’ whose original is actually pretty lovely.

6)…All the Go Inbetweens – This is a bit of a weird one. A great track but it’s lyrically a bit weird and ambiguous but there are some really beautiful lines in this one, such as ‘Son your still young but your mind has grown old it seems’ followed by the weird hook ‘Now go tell your sister to show me her new magazines’ WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?

7) Sci-Fi Lullaby – I don’t know how this is Science Fiction related because to me it just seems like a very laid back mellow break up track. I guess it could be interpreted as having dystopian themes but they aren’t at all obvious. This track has a very dream pop vibe which is a fun diversion from the moody angst throughout. 

All in all this is a beautiful EP consisting mostly of track after track of awesome and when it’s not awesome it’s pretty damn OK. The title of this EP Pikul is actually dedicated to a friend of the band who sadly passed away, Pikul being the nick name of said friend which I think is a lovely way to immortalize a pal. That’s it for Pikul, go have a little listen if your sleepy.

I have decided to do things a little bit differently regarding Album reviews. We have a really cool second hand music store powered by Oxfam in Southampton that I think I’d like to utilize. SO once a week on a Tuesday I will pop in and pick up an album starting with the letter A through to Z and back through again. 

 I am sorry for the lack of detail in this one, I feel a bit crappy due to fighting a bear last night, that asshole played dirty.

Thanks so much for reading.

@cowardlycomics

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