After a decade of begging and pleading, my family finally got me to sit down and watch The West Wing.
I’ve only just started Season 3… so shhhh… but it’s amazing that a decade on, all the battles and challenges and events and story lines are just as poignant and touching and relevant today.
Haven’t we learnt anything yet?
I spent last night crying over the death of Mrs Landingham and playing and replaying that final scene where Jed strides in from the rain, faces the barrage of reporters and hands in pockets, jaw set and eyes clear, states that he is in fact going to run for a second term.
And the soundtrack to this wonderful piece of television?
These mist covered mountains
Are a home now for me
But my home is the lowlands
And always will be
Some day you’ll return to
Your valleys and your farms
And you’ll no longer burn
To be brothers in arms
Through these fields of destruction
Baptisms of fire
I’ve witnessed your suffering
As the battles raged higher
And though they hurt me so bad
In the fear and alarm
You did not desert me
My brothers in arms
There’s so many different words
So many different songs
We have just one world
But we live in different ones
Now the sun’s gone to hell
And the moon’s riding high
Let me bid you farewell
Every man has to die
But it’s written in the starlight
And every line on your palm
We’re fools to make war
On our brothers in arms
That is, as they say, the question and I’ve been pondering it this afternoon as I’ve been cleaning out my cupboards and madly searching my kitchen for minute holes in the walls because my state has been beset by mice in plague proportions this last month or so, and the little buggers are STILL finding ways to get in.
So as I threw out and rearranged and wiped and scrubbed and cursed, I wondered whether or not this post was going to be my last. I’ve hardly listened to any new music in the last couple of months, but have been flogging the same 60 track playlist since January, with a few old favourites thrown on the stereo every now and then – The National, Sigur Ros, Withered Hand, Frightened Rabbit, Mountain Goats… and I find myself without a lot to say at the moment.
Big changes are going on away from the blog, and somehow, without realising it, I’ve moved on.
I don’t think this is my last post ever, but it seems that the need to blog has left me for a while and what was once an almost daily need is now something that I don’t find myself missing at all.
I’ll still be checking in but for now, consider the blog on the back burner. Thanks for reading and commenting and for enjoying the words and music you’ve found here. I can’t tell you how wonderful it’s been.
Can’t leave you without some tunes now, can I?
Here are a few tracks that kept me company this afternoon. Enjoy.
I’ve accidentally had one of those I-can’t-be-bothered-blogging moments weeks. I don’t mean it. They just happen. So this is one of those I’m-still-alive posts where I babble on for a line or two and then chuck a couple of obligatory songs your way in order to keep the blog ticking over until I find something meaningful to say again. It will involve The National though, I promise.
Tonight it’s all about the beer and the Chinese and Tomorrow When The War Began on DVD. I absolutely adore those books and have read them countless times. I was so worried when I saw the movie, and almost didn’t see it because I was afraid they’d really stuff it up and ruin a bloody awesome story, but they actually did a halfway decent job. Except they got Robyn totally wrong – she’s nowhere near that prissy in the books.
Those obligatory songs I mentioned earlier – they’re both from the Tomorrow soundtrack and can be listened to and downloaded below.
Last Sunday night I went to see The National at The Palais in Melbourne. A post about The National’s show is still on its way, but opening band The Middle East were so wonderful that I thought they deserved to have a post in their own right, rather than just a couple of paragraphs that you lot skimmed over on the way to reading about the main event. These guys were bloody fantastic too!
The Middle East are an Aussie band from Townsville that I had virtually no knowledge of. I’d heard their name and I reckon I’d probably caught a tune or two on Triple J before but I couldn’t name a single song or tell you anything about them. The great thing about this particular type of ignorance is that you listen with no preconceived notions or expectations. There were some good signs as they emerged on stage though – heaps of mic stands and many extra instruments including a banjo, an accordion, a xylophone. Anything outside the standard four or five piece lineup is always more than fine in my book, and when I counted seven band members I figured we’d be in for a top show.
I wasn’t wrong. I can’t tell you the names of most of the songs, but their sound spanned from slow burning alt-country type numbers with big guitars and thumping drums and beats made for stomping, to dreamy acoustic songs featuring gorgeous boy/girl harmonies. The drummer was wonderful, right into it, and one highlight included every member of the band turning to him and playing to him like he was some kind of king or tribal chief or something. Seriously good stuff.
I don’t know any of the band member’s names I’m afraid because their website is a bit sketchy, but I was also very taken with the bearded gentleman who seemed to be in charge of playing all the extra percussion instruments, including one of those bottle cap stick things that he thumped up and down on the stage like a mad thing. He was also responsible for all the accordion action and I think he may have been playing a horn of some description at one point as well. These talented people really make you sick, don’t they?
The crowd was fairly thin when they came on stage – many seats were empty, with loads of people partaking in the bar upstairs, and I’m sure many other empty spots belonged to people who are just weird and don’t bother coming for the support act which is something I can never wrap my head around. You come along early, and if the support band is dodgy, then fine, nick off for a drink if you need to, but give them a chance! By the time they’d performed their first couple of songs though, people gradually started to realise that this lot were a bit of alright and that perhaps they were worth a listen after all. By the time they launched into ‘Blood’, which I realised about halfway through was a song that I’d actually heard before, the crowd was very loud in their appreciation and I was stoked to look around the theatre and see that everybody else seemed to have enjoyed them as much as I had.
Now, speaking of the song ‘Blood’ you really really must have a listen to it now, and I recommend checking out the lyrics while you do because it is a seriously gorgeous song, sad and moving and beautifully written. Love it.
Older brother, restless soul, lie down,
lie for a while with your ear against the earth,
and you hear your sister sleep talking,
say your hair is long but is not long enough,
home to me.
But your beard,
some day might be,
and she woke up in a cold sweat on the floor,
next to a family portrait drawn when you were four,
and beside jar of two cent coins that are no good no more,
she lay aside
Older father, weary soul, you’ll drive
back to the home you made on the mountain side.
With that only terrible thing,
those papers for divorce,
and a lonely ring,
a lonely ring,
sit on your porch,
and pluck your strings.
and you’ll find somebody you can blame
and you’ll follow the creek that runs out into the sea
and you’ll find a piece of the Lord.
Grandfather, gentle soul, you’ll fly
over your life once more before you die
since our grandma passed you’ve waited for forever and a day,
just to die,
and some day soon,
you will die.
but the only woman you ever loved,
that got burnt by the sun too often when she was young,
and the cancer spread already to her body and her blood,
and there’s nothing you can do about it now.
The Middle East currently have only one recording available for purchase, the 2009 self-titled EP available for $5 download on their website. Go and get it. Now.
Yes. I’m a bit late with this one. Last week the blog ticked over into its third year. Thanks to those of you who visit and comment regularly, making this blog something more than me just prattling on to myself. Here’s to another year of fantastic music and a heap more prattle and chatter!
Some time in the next few days I’ll have a review of The National’s show last Sunday night at The Palais in Melbourne. I haven’t been able to find the words yet I’m afraid.
I will leave you with a little Iron & Wine. Because I can.
I used to go out with this guy who, at the time, was everything. Whether or not he should’ve been, or deserved to be everything is another matter entirely, but he was.
We started going out in the summer. We were working together on the night shift and I was living with my sister and her boyfriend during the uni break and things were simple. I went to work at 3 or 4 in the afternoon, leaving at midnight or later. I’d drive home with the windows open, music pumping and stay up til 2 or 3 in the morning, eating cheese on toast and watching whatever shows my sister had taped for me while I was gone. I’d sleep til 11 or 12 and get up in time to head back into work again.
That summer I had just discovered The Darkness and I remember driving to work one afternoon, later than usual, the sunlight slanting through the trees, the car half in and half out of the shadows on the road. This song was playing and I can’t hear it today without remembering the big stupid grin I had on my face. Everything felt new. Anything was possible.
We’d spend our days off hanging out listening to music (always his, never mine – this should’ve been a sign) or going for long drives in the bush. We’d go fishing, rarely catching anything, and camp by the river and drink beer and watch for shooting stars. One night the sky was so clear that we counted seventeen – a record by anybody’s standards.
Everything was good for a while but gradually things turned sour, the way things often do when two perfectly nice but very different people get together, realise things aren’t working and are too kind or too scared to wound or too afraid of being alone to call it off when they know they should. We dragged it out over a year longer than we should have, we reconciled when we shouldn’t have, we said things we didn’t mean and meant things we didn’t say. We tried to be friends and when that didn’t work we suddenly stopped speaking entirely.
So I was driving home from work today, a completely different place of work in a completely different town, down a road surrounded completely by the bush and huge brown paddocks and something about the sunlight reminded me of that first summer and our drives and my ipod (which I swear can sense my mood sometimes) suddenly threw on that Darkness track, and then followed it up with this:
I downloaded this song from who knows where almost exactly a year ago and I don’t remember ever hearing it until now but it sounded hopeless and nostalgic and as I hopped out of the car to take this quick snap it just felt like the perfect song to come on at that particular moment.
There are walls and words and towns and time between us now, and today I remembered him fondly for the first time in a long time. But it’s time to move on now. Way past time, frankly. It’s time to stop hiding away. It’s time to start driving again.
Happy new year etc. I wasn’t planning on posting today, but I like the symmetry of today’s date and wanted to mark it somehow. I hope you and yours did or didn’t have a top New Year’s Eve, depending on how you do or don’t celebrate that happy event.
Now that’s out of the way, tell me what comes to your mind when you hear the band name Gayngs? First time I came across it I had nothing but images of bad hip hop rapster type business and just thought UGH! Somehow along the way though I was convinced to download a couple of sample songs and there is no way that I was expecting to hear anything at all like this:
Then I read this bit in Wikipedia and this article in Paste Magazine and bearing in mind that this song and this interview is literally the only information that I have, tell me, is the band a pisstake or not? I don’t know.
Paste: How faithful did the album end up being to your original vision for it?
Coulter: What we planned at first was making a record that was soft-rock—that was the term we were throwing around the most. I think once the songs began to take form, though, people instinctually weren’t trying to stick to a script as much as they were just trying to play great parts, only maybe in a mindset where slap bass is OK, or where cheesier sounds are OK. We would go through this keyboard that Ryan had called a Triton, and we used these sounds that normally wouldn’t work, like a synth flute or a bad synth trumpet, but I think the way we mixed and edited them together, we were able to take some of these quintessentially cheesy sounds and put them in a context where they actually work. I think that’s half the fun, experimenting with all these sounds people tell you not to use, and trying to change their minds by putting them in a new context.
Paste: Has the response to the album been what you expected? Critics seem divided as to whether the album is intended to be taken seriously or as a joke.
Olson: It’s interesting that people have any opinion on it. It’s not a Weird Al album. It’s not a joke. If critics want to use the album to write a dissertation on hipster irony, though, they can go to town. It’s pointless for me to tell them any more plainly than the album itself what it’s about. It is interesting to see how people get fired up about it, though. I think some people are afraid that the album is an inside joke that they’re not in on. Like, if you like it, you’re being made fun of. That’s not the intention. There are definitely some quasi-guilty pleasures on the album, but we’re referencing them for a reason.
So are you just learning about them now, like I am? Do you think they’re good or bad or just a bit of a joke? I’m interested to hear what you reckon.
Need to hear more? Download the whole Daytrotter session here and you can also download a couple more free tracks at the website.
And I was going to use the cover art from their November release Relayted but I’m afraid it crept me out too much.