2019: Album by Album (July)

In terms of listening to things I hadn’t heard before, July was quite a slow month. My health hasn’t been too kind to me, so I mostly stuck to things I was familiar with for comfort, and what I did listen to for the first time this year I drew from my collection. So, to make this a more worthy blog post, as well as those albums I listened to for the first time this year, I’ve also included all the repeat listens I made, and have included a new highlight track to check out.

If you have Spotify, you can follow my 2019 playlist here, where I’m continually adding a track from every album I’ve enjoyed this year (the ones I can find on Spotify, at least), as well as the individual songs I’ve liked.

    Albums I hadn’t listened to this yet this year:


Outer Spaces, ‘Gazing Globe’
– Dreamy singer-songwriter style indie rock. Definitely one of the best albums to come out this year. Highlight: ‘I See Her Face’.

Friends, ‘Manifest’ – Hook-laden pop music. Fun, playful, summery, and indulgent. Highlight: ‘A Thing Like This’.

Arctic Monkeys, ‘Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino’ – When I heard the cosmic lounge rock of this record last year, it quickly became my favourite AM release. I love how much grows on you with every listen, and how off the beaten Arctic Monkeys track the band went with this one. Highlight: ‘American Sports’.

Semifinalists, ‘Semifinalists’ – Indie rock/pop that draws heavily on 70s and 80s influences, joyous and undeniably catchy. This band were way too underrated and everybody needs to hear them. Highlight: ‘You Said’.

David Bowie, ‘The Next Day’ – The first album of new material Bowie put out in ten years and deserved all the praise it got on release. Highlight: ‘The Next Day’.

Last Days of April, ‘Might As Well Live’ – On this album LDOA bring a more slightly more saccharine flavour to the indie-emo table they’ve laid for fans in the past. This album is second to none, as you’d expect. Highlight: ‘Melbourne’.

British Sea Power, ‘Do You Like Rock Music?’ – It took me years to start listening to British Sea Power, purely because I didn’t like their name. As soon as my friend played this to me I was sold. It’s rich, climatic, and lifts you off your feet. Highlight: ‘No Lucifer’.

The Kinison, ‘What Are You Listening To?’ – A post hardcore/punk band that exist somewhere between the brashness of The Blood Brothers and the kookiness of Les Savy Fav. Coming up during the Myspace explosion, they were unfortunately overlooked. Highlight: ‘You’ll Never Guess Who Died’.

    Albums I’d already listened to this year:

Pedro the Lion, ‘Phoenix’ – Emotional steady-rocking indie. Highlight: ‘Powerful Taboo’.

Sun Kil Moon, ‘I Also Want to Die in New Orleans’ – I listened to this again whilst in the bath dying with the flu. I’ve been getting more and more into this. Highlight: ‘Day in America’.

Parquet Courts, ‘Wide Awake’ – Bridging the gap between punk and indie. My highlight this time around is appropriately one of their more tender tracks. Highlight: ‘Tenderness’.

Haim, ‘Days Are Gone’ – Pop rock to not feel guilty about. My daughter loves this album at the moment, so it’s been played a lot this month. Highlight: ‘If I Could Change Your Mind’.

The Appleseed Cast, ‘The Fleeting Light of Impermanence’ – Another fine album by one of the finest bands going. Blending post rock, emo, indie, and experimental. Highlight: ‘Last Words and Final Celebrations’.

Settlefish, ‘The Plural of the Choir’ – Italian indie-emo with plenty of art rock and continental influence. Highlight: ‘The Marriage Funeral Man’.

Forth Wanderers, ‘Forth Wanderers’ – Slacker indie with vocals that soar over the top of the instrumentation. Highlight: ‘Temporary’.

Sunny Day Real Estate, ‘How It Feels To Be Something On’ – 90s emo. A must-hear album. Highlight: ‘Guitar And Video Games’.

The Appleseed Cast, ‘Sagarmatha’ – This album grows on me more the more I listen to it. I feel it’s underrated amidst their incredible discography. Highlight: ‘Raise the Sails’.

    Individual songs I hadn’t heard before:

Land of Talk, ‘Heartcore’ – Luscious. The vocal melodies here are pure pop brilliance. My mate pointed out a similarity to Fleetwood Mac which I can’t stop hearing now he’s said it.

Gemma Hayes, ‘Out Of Our Hands’ – More great pop music.

Tennis System, ‘Turn’ – They’ve been touring the US with The Appleseed Cast, so I thought I should check them out. A three piece rock band with a huge sound, and touches of post-punk and shoegaze.

Penelope Isles, ‘Leipzig’ – Indie rock. A really nice song.

Maricka Hackman, ‘the one’ – Funky indie with a hint of Blondie peeking through.

Metronomy, ‘Walking In The Dark’, ‘Salted Caramel Ice Cream’, ‘Lately’ – Based on these three playful and summery singles, the new Metronomy album is shaping up to be a good one. The videos are worth a watch on their own merit too.

2019: Album by Album (June)

June was a great month for new music because the new Appleseed Cast record came out at the end of the month, and so that automatically tops everything. I also checked out a full album by Red Animal War which instantly became one of my favourite albums ever. How has it taken me so long to listen a full album by that band?

I’ve been doing a lot of listening on my itunes recently, so there was a lot of listening to albums that I hadn’t heard in a while, whilst the rest of my listening was generally taken up with checking out some new releases from this year.

If you’re curious to know what else I’ve listened to so far this year, you can scroll through my previous posts. Otherwise, here’s everything I listened to in June which I haven’t already blogged about.

    Albums and EPs

The War On Drugs, ‘Lost In The Dream’ – Somewhere between Dylan, Springsteen, and the syncopation of krautrock stands The War on Drugs with a euphoric infectiousness that will make you laugh and cry at the same time. Highlight: ‘An Ocean Between the Waves’.

Connan Mockasin and Devonte Hynes, ‘Myths 001’ – As part of a recording residency at Marfa Myths festival, Mexican Summer have been putting a couple of artists together each time to record a limited edition EP. This one fuses the pair’s individual influences of R&B, funk, soul, indie, psychadelic pop, post punk, and more to produce three varied tracks that just begs for them to produce a full length together. Highlight: ‘La Fat Fur’.

Woahnows, ‘Young and Cool’ – A whirlwind of indie, punk, and pop. As with previous albums, there’s a lot of fun to be had on this 2019 release. Highlight: ‘I Know I Knooow’.

Sun Kil Moon, ‘I Also Want to Die in New Orleans’ – Mark Kozelek’s trajectory seems to be about making his lengthy, talky Americana more and more inaccessible. Thankfully, this doesn’t apply to everyone, and this album currently stands at No. 10 in my top ten of 2019 releases. Against the odds, ‘Couch Potato’ manages to be one of his catchiest songs since his ‘Benji’ output. Highlight: ‘Couch Potato’.

The White Octave, ‘Style No. 6312’ – Amidst leaving Cursive, going to law school, and starting Criteria, Steve Pedersen founded The White Octave, playing ballsy emo that cried out for a place on the Deep Elm roster. Highlight: ‘Appeals for Insertion’.

J. Robbins, ‘Un-Becoming’ – The debut solo album from ex Jawbox and Burning Airlines frontman is punchy and full of hooks. Highlight: ‘Un-Becoming’.

Owls, ‘Two’ – Their second album, some thirteen years after their debut, brings the same scatty math rock to the table, as if they had never the left, with the only acception of these songs being a little more focused and polished. Highlight: ‘Ancient Star Seed…’.

The Mountain Goats, ‘In League With Dragons’ – I’d heard the Mountain Goats mentioned a lot, so thought I’d check them out but I really don’t get it. This album was inspired by Dungeons and Dragons apparently. I can’t find a highlight as such, but this song is the closest to going anywhere: ‘Cadaver Sniffing Dog’.

Everything In Waves, ‘Echoes’ – ‘Emotronic’. I didn’t like it. No highlights, but here’s a taster: ‘Looper’.

Red Animal War, ‘Black Phantom Crusades’ – I loved the few RAW songs I heard on Deep Elm compilations back in the day. I am so upset with myself that I slept on this incredible album for so long. Every song’s a hit. Highlight: ‘Mouse’.

Astronoid, ‘Astronoid’ – Post-metal enthused with dream pop, with beautiful, ethereal vocals. Highlight: ‘I Dream in Lines’.

Old Solar, ‘SEE’ – Everything you want from a instrumental post rock record. Highlight: ‘Summer Solstice: Dancing Days in the Garden Well-Watered’.

American Football, ‘LP2’ – Coming seventeen years after their debut, LP2 brings a more mature bite to the twinkly emo that built them a cult following after splitting up. Highlight: ‘My Instincts Are The Enemy’.

Modest Mouse, ‘Strangers to Ourselves’ – Increasingly criticised with every album by OG fans for straying from their more lo-fi roots, personally I love both eras of Modest Mouse, and this album is no exception. Highlight: ‘The Best Room’.

Fresh, ‘Withdraw’ – I really enjoyed the title track on this indie-punk record, but the rest didn’t do it for me. Highlight: ‘Withdraw’.

Dark Blue, ‘Pure Reality’ – I thought I’d check this out based on the one track I’d heard. They’ve got a really cool post punk sound, but theirs not enough dynamics between the songs to really tell them apart. Highlight: ‘Never Afraid / Never Alone’.

Youth Pictures of Florence Henderson, ‘Youth Pictures of Florence Henderson’ – Delicate and dreamy post-rock from Norway that’s not afraid to go into bolder territory when needed. I really liked this. Highlight: ‘Puzzle: I’d Rather Listen to Weston’.

Haim, ‘Days Are Gone’ – Unabashed pop rock with an undeniable penchant for a great pop hook. Highlight: ‘Don’t Save Me’.

The Appleseed Cast, ‘The Fleeting Light of Impermanence’ – On their new synth-heavy record, there’s elements of their previous albums ‘Two Conversations’, ‘Sagarmartha’, and ‘Peregrine’ all wrapped into one. Clearly a contender for album of the year. Highlight: ‘Reaching the Forest’.

Coheed and Cambria, ‘Good Apollo, I’m Burning Star IV, Volume One: From Fear Through the Eyes of Madness’ – A few years ago I realised that I still love the first few Coheed records and only owned one of them, so I bought the other two. Prog rock for pop fans/pop for prog rock fans. Highlight: ‘The Willing Well III: Apollo II: The Telling Truth’.

A Classic Education, ‘Hey There, Stranger’ – 3/5s of Settlefish went on to form this more chilled indie band, still retaining a continental and organic influence. Highlight: ‘Devilish Coast Sway’.

    Individual songs I hadn’t heard before

Brandtson, ‘Nobody Dances Anymore’ – Nobody told me Brandtson did dance punk.

Viagra Boys, ‘Sports’ – I enjoyed the novelty of this, but not sure I’d listen to a full album.

Ada Lea, ‘Mercury’ – Very cool, brooding indie rock.

Pixies, ‘On Graveyard Hill’ – Picking up from where ‘Head Carrier’ left off, with a touch of goth on this one.

Lightspeed Champion, ‘Waiting Game’ – As someone who was sure he’d heard every Lightspeed Champion song, I’m not sure how this one eluded me for so long.

The 1975, ‘Love It If We Made It’ – Sometimes you just have to scratch that itch for some pop jams.

The 1975, ‘I Like America & America Likes Me’ – And again.

Black Midi, ‘Talking Heads’ – Insane post punk put through an odd pop blender.

Blink 182, ‘Generational Divide’ – Frantic, and I was going to say relentless, but it ends after 50 seconds.

Phoenix – ‘Entertainment’ – Great indie pop song with Japanese vibes. Need to listen to more of this band.

2019: Album by Album (May)

The spectrum was broad for May’s listening and there were a lot cool albums that I hadn’t before. It included a bunch of new releases too. 2019 is shaping up to be an impressive year for new music. If you’re inclined, you can check out what I listened to in January, February, March and April. Otherwise, here’s everything that I listened to in May (excluding the albums that I’ve already blogged).

Christie Front Drive, ‘S/T’ – Subtle, driving second wave emo. Highlight: Radio.

Heartscape Landbreak, ‘The Remedy’ – Pummeling, chaotic, visceral, experimental rock with an underlying pop fluidity. Highlight: ‘Now When It Rains’.

Theophilus London, ‘Vibes’ – Less immediate and more chilled than his debut, which I checked out in April. Some great songs here nonetheless. Highlight: ‘Neu Law’.

Hot Chip, ‘Coming On Strong’ – Playful, electronic indie packed with hooks and a summery vibe. Highlight: ‘Beach Party’.

Unwed Sailor, ‘Heavy Age’ – Instrumental post-rock packed with emotion and a pace that carries you through the album. Highlight: ‘Moon Coin’.

Vampire Weekend, ‘Father of the Bride’ – An epic pop album for modern times, with a very Paul Simon feel. Highlight: ‘Sunflower (feat. Steve Lacy)’ and ‘Flower Moon (feat. Steve Lacy)’ (I can’t decide between them).

Tim Kinsella Sings the Songs of Marvin Tate By Leroy Bach Featuring Angel Olsen – A unique project in which the aforementioned translate the poems and stories of Marvin Tate into minimal, playful and cheery singalong-style tunes. Highlght: ‘The Crossing Gaurd’.

The Appleseed Cast, ‘Low Level Owl, Vol. 2’ – The second installment in their seminal opus that bridges the gap between second wave emo and space rock. Highlight: ‘Rooms and Gardens’.

Yamantaka // Sonic Titan, ‘Dirt’ – A mix of noise and metal with aspects of J-pop and C-pop, and much more. I heard a snippet of the chorus in ‘Yandere’ and was compelled to check out the whole album as something that’s generally out of my comfort zone. Can’t say I got into the rest of it. Highlight: ‘Yandere’.

Cursive, ‘The Ugly Organ’ – An unrelenting and hard-hitting canivalesque commentary on the writer, their audience, and their industry. Highlight: ‘Some Red-Handed Sleight of Hand’.

The Get Up Kids, ‘Problems’ – Their recent ‘return’ with their EP ‘Kicker’ suggested this new album was going to be something to get excited about. It hadn’t dissapointed. All killer no filler. Highlight: ‘Common Ground’.

Prawn, ‘Run’ – Upbeat, melodic, catchy revival-era emo. Highlight: Greyhound (but I had that in February’s blog post), so here’s ‘Hunter’.

Les Savy Fav, ‘Inches’ – A collection of songs previously only released on vinyl, fusing their usual rainbow of post punk, art rock, post hardcore, and indie. Oodles of fun. Highlight: ‘Fading Vibes’.

The Fire Theft, ‘The Fire Theft’ – When Sunny Day Real Estate split up, 3/4 of the band formed The Fire Theft, drawing on prog and classic rock to expand upon their emo roots. Highlight: ‘Waste Time’.

Ox.Eagle.Lion.Man, ‘The Lay of the Land; the Turn of the Tide’ – Having not heard of this band before, when I saw them as openers on Lightspeed Champion’s 2008 (?) tour, I was expecting some sort of indie pop fare and wasn’t that excited. Instead, I got this, a mix of prog and goth with indie sensibilities. They were hypnotic to watch and I went straight out and bought this EP off the back of that show. Highlight: ‘Where Dead Voices Gather’.

Solange, ‘A Seat At The Table’ – Easily one of the best albums of 2016. This record combines neo soul, funk, and R&B to discuss experiences of black culture and identity, independence, despair, and empowerment. Highlight: ‘Don’t You
Wait’
.

Weyes Blood, ‘Titanic Rising’ – I wasn’t sure on the first listen. It all felt a bit dreary. On my second listen it grew on me slightly and I could appreciate the ephemeral nature of it a little more. Highlight: ‘Something to Believe’.

Solange, ‘When I Get Home’ – Given how much I enjoyed her last album and EP, I really wanted to like this one, and there are some great moments, but overall its heavy focus on repetition and the general uneasiness of the vocals and instrumentation grated on me. Highlight: ‘Way to the Show’.

Mac Demarco, ‘Here Comes the Cowboy’ – For someone who essentially writes pop songs, here Mac gives the listener way more work to do than necessary. After a few listens, a few songs begin to stand out, but there’s also a good handful that are just filler (I’m looking at you ‘Choo Choo’) and this feels so far from the quality of his previous work (sigh). Highlight: ‘Heart to Heart’.

Homeshake, ‘Helium’ – The fourth album Mac Demarco’s ex band mate Peter Sagar, and it offers exactly the slice of chilled, lo-fi, R&B enthused bedroom pop you’ve come to expect from him. Highlight: ‘Anything at All’.

Sun Kil Moon, ‘Universal Themes’ – Not as well received as his previous record ‘Benji’ but in my opinion, another really great album that deserves just as much attention. Mark Kozelek’s matter-of-fact ramblings over ever-shifting backdrops of Americana, folk, and slowcore, all hit the mark again. Highlight: ‘This is My First Day and I’m Indian and I Work at a Gas Station’.

Foals, ‘Antidotes’ – The kinetic jerk-pop of the debut album, for me, still holds up as their best album. Understandably, they couldn’t repeat this formula for future albums to come without it growing it old quick, and as it stands I never tire of going back to this one. Highlight: ‘Electric Bloom’.

The Appleseed Cast, ‘Illumination Ritual’ – Euphoric, heady, experimental. Underrated Appleseed Cast. Highlight: ‘Barrier Islands (Do We Remain).

    Individual songs I hadn’t heard before

The Appleseed Cast, ‘Time The Destroyer’ – I cannot emphasise enough how excited I am for the new Appleseed Cast record. This is hands down the best song to come out in 2019 so far.

Modest Mouse, ‘Poison the Well’ – This new Modest Mouse track is punchy, to the point, and leans slightly towards the punkier end of the scale. I love it.

Modest Mouse, ‘I’m Still Here’ – Another punchy new track, this one’s not quite so in-your-face, but clocking in at a whopping 1min 33seconds.

Sky Ferreira, ‘Downhill Lullaby’ – An imminent, brooding, and dramatic new song. Definitely a grower.

The Get Up Kids, ‘Close to Me’ – A great cover of a great song by a great band…by a great band.

+/-, ‘Megalomaniac’ – A nice, steady-rolling indie rock song. I enjoyed the instruments more than I did the singing.

Pet Fox, ‘How to Quit’ – The lead guitar on this indie rock track is such an earworm.

2019: Album by Album (April)

April’s listening covered every decade from the 70s, and included stuff I’ve loved for a long time, stuff that I hadn’t checked out in full before now by bands that I love, and stuff that I’d never come across before (thanks for those recommendations!), and it had been a very strong month in terms what I liked – near enough all of it.

If you know of an album, EP, or song that you think I might like, please leave your suggestion in the comments and I will check it out when I can, and follow my blog to stay updated. Here’s what I listened to in April (not including what I’ve already listened to this year – check out January, February, and March’s blog posts for more). Click through to check out my highlights.

    Albums and EPs

The World is a Beautiful Place & I am No Longer Afraid to Die, ‘Whenever, If Ever’ – Probably the biggest sound to come out of the emo revival scene. A powerful album and my favourite of theirs. Highlight: ‘Heartbeat in the Brain’.

The World is a Beautiful Place & I am No Longer Afraid to Die, ‘Harmlessness’ – Bigger in it’s scope, but well worth sitting with. Highlight: ‘Rage Against the Dying of the Light’.

The World is a Beautiful Place & I am No Longer Afraid to Die, ‘Always Foreign’ – This one gives me a more sunshine-y vibe than the others. Not my favourite of their albums, but great none the less. Highlight: ‘Hilltopper’.

Patti Smith Group, ‘Wave’ – Full of hooks, and still retaining her unique punk poet approach to songwriting. Highlight: ‘Frederick’

John Vanderslice, ‘Romanian Names’ – Beautiful, chilled, experimental indie. Highlight: ‘Too Much Time’

Narco Debut, ‘Garden Dreams’ – Polished post hardcore with vocals not dissimilar to Claudio Sanchez of Coheed and Cambria. Highlight: ‘Governor Switch’.

Theophilus London, ‘Timez Are Weird These Days’ – Slick hip hop with indie sensibilities. I’d heard half of these songs years ago. Regret sleeping on the full album for so long. Highlight: ‘Why Even Try (feat. Sara Quin)’.

Turbolens, ‘Tro, Håb & Kærlighed’ – Ex Mew guitarist teams up with a bunch of kids to make dreamy indie/avant garde pop (if there is such a thing). Highlight: ‘Rastløse Bevægelser’.

The Human League, ‘Dare!’ – Syncopated synth pop from 1981. Highlight: ‘Seconds’.

Shut Your Eyes And You’ll Burst Into Flames, ‘Drop the Decade’ – Two dance punk songs that sound like the amalgamation of Les Savy Fav, Test Icicles, and The Blood Brothers. Highlight: ‘Drop the Decade’.

Jets To Brazil, ‘Orange Rhyming Dictionary’ – Grainy, gritty indie/emo. Highlight: ‘Starry Configurations’.

ELO, ‘Greatest Hits’ – Each song is an irresistible slice of pop rock. Highlight: ‘Sweet Talkin’ Woman’.

Battles, ‘Mirrored’ – My daughter has a penchant for the album ‘Painting With’ by Animal Collective. She asked me to put something on that was just as, if not more, ‘crazy’. I picked Battles. Emmy’s highlight: ‘Atlas’. My highlight: ‘Race: In’.

Strange Ranger, ‘Daymoon’ – Indie rock with slacker sensibilities. Highlight: ‘House Show’, but I had that in February’s blog post, so here’s ‘Everything All at Once’.

Owls, ‘Owls’ – Wonky math rock from 4/5 of Cap’n Jazz. Highlight: ‘Everyone Is My Friend’.

Cursive, ‘Happy Hollow’ – Loud, anthemic, and taking no prisoners. Highlight: ‘Big Bang’.

Henryk Górecki, ‘Symphony No. 3’ Performed by the Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra – A melancholic piece that tells the story of a mother and son separated by the war. Highlight (I can’t really separate the movements of this one, so here’s the whole thing): ‘Symphony No. 3’.

Pixies, ‘Indie Cindy’ – Packed with hooks from start to finish. I really enjoyed this and it’s hard to pick a favourite track. Highlight: ‘What Goes Boom’.

Pixies, ‘Head Carrier’ – I listened a few times, and apart from the odd song, it fell flat and failed to take off for me. I’m hoping it’s a grower. Highlight: ‘Head Carrier’.

PUP, ‘Morbid Stuff’ – Very hook-laden punk rock with an indie tinge. Highlight: ‘Free at Last’.

    Individual songs I hadn’t heard before

Outer Spaces, ‘Teapot #1’ – Singer songwriter indie with hypnotic vocals.

Sissy Bar, ‘Gin & Juice’ – A lo-fi indie-pop of the Snoop Dogg classic. Not really sure what I make of this. It makes me smile though.

Troubled Minds, ‘Birdie’ – Twinkly pop punk with some really nice guitar work.

The Chemical Brothers, ‘Free Me’ – When I found out Diane di Prima’s great, chant-notic ‘Revolutionary Letter #49’ had been sampled here, I had to check it out. I wish they’d sample so much more of it though.

dust from 1000 yrs, ‘order from chaos’ – Experimental, distorted indie-folk track with a bluesy vocal line.

dust from 1000 yrs, ‘bad shit’ – More of the above, but this one goes a little bit harder.

2019: Album by Album (March)

Continuing on with logging every album, EP, and song I’d not heard before that I listen to this year, here’s what I listened to in March (not including stuff that I’d listened to previously this year – check January and February’s blog posts for more). It’s been quite an eclectic month with music ranging from math rock, to hypnogoric pop, to glam, to folk, to classical, and dating back as far as 1937. Click through to check out my highlights. If you have any suggestions for an album or song you think I might enjoy, leave a comment and I’ll add it to my ever-growing list of stuff to listen to.

Albums

Long Hallways, ‘Close Your Eyes to Travel’ – Epic, jazzy post rock. Highlight: ‘January’.

Prince, ‘Purple Rain’ – I’ve seen the film. I thought it was about time I listened to the album. Highlight (other than the title track): ‘When Doves Cry’.

Prince, ‘1999’ – More Prince. This one’s a lot heavier on the synths and programmed drums. Highlight (other than the title track): ‘Little Red Corvette’.

R.E.M, ‘Out Of Time’ – Jangly and poppy, occasionally veering into darker waters. Highlight: ‘Low’.

Holger Czukay, ‘Movies’ – Highly entertaining avant garde from the ex-Can bassist. Highlight: ‘Cool in the Pool’.

Emmy The Great, ‘Second Love’ – A departure from her folk roots for an alt pop record about love in the technology age. Highlight: ‘Swimming Pool’.

Blondie, ‘Parallel Lines’ – The iconic new wave album. Highlight: ‘Heart of Glass’.

Second Monday, ‘If It Calls Out To You’ – Their insanely tight debut EP (they were only 15/16 when they made this). Highlight: ‘Without Answers’.

Lightspeed Champion, ‘Falling Off The Lavender Bridge’ – Indie pop meets country music and some of the best vocal melodies going. Highlight: ‘No Surprise (For Wendela) / Midnight Surprise’.

Settlefish, ‘The Plural of the Choir’ – A perfect album by a perfect band. Highlight: ‘Oh Well’.

Heavy Vegetable, ‘Frisbie’ – More fun, kinetic odd rock from Rob Crow. Highlight: ‘Cotton Swab’.

Suede, ‘The Blue Hour’ – Dramatic, moody brit rock. Highlight ‘Flytipping’.

Life Without Buildings, ‘Any Other City’ – Infectious, catchy, punky art rock. Highlight: ‘Juno’.

Neutral Milk Hotel, ‘In the Aeroplane Over the Sea’ – Beautifully shambolic folk rock. Highlights: ‘King of Carrot Flowers Pt. 1’ and ‘King of Carrot Flowers Pts. 2 & 3’.

Sparks, ‘Kimono My House’ – They took ‘glam rock’ and ran it through a contorted banshee zoo. Highlight: ‘Hasta Manana, Monsieur’.

Telling The Bees, ‘Untie the Wind’ – ‘Darkly crafted folk’. Highlight: ‘The Worship of Trees’.

Deerhoof, ‘La Isla Bonita’ – Experimental, noisy, and off kilter indie rock. Highlight: ‘Last Fad’.

Lewis, ‘Even So’ – Incredibly moving indie-emo. I love this album so much. Highlight: ‘Bitter Days’.

Steve Strong, ‘Turbo Island’ – Until you see Steve Strong live, you couldn’t guess that he’s a one man post-rock looping and drumming beast. This album is full-bodied and seamless. Highlight: ‘Mirapid’.

Shostakovich, ‘Symphony No. 5 in D Minor, Op. 47’ Performed by The State Symphony Orchestra of the USSR – Under brutal Stalanism came Shostakovich’s response, ‘…a Soviet artist’s creative response to justified criticism.’ Highlight: ‘Symphony No. 5 in D Minor, Op. 47, IV’.

Mayday, ‘Bushido Karaoke’ – Gritty, gutsy, gothic Americana from the Saddle Creek camp. Highlight: ‘Continental Grift’.

Queen, ‘A Night At The Opera’ – Epic and operatic as the name suggests. Highlight: ‘I’m In Love With My Car’.

The Fiery Furnaces, ‘EP’ – Playful, experimental indie rock. Highlight: ‘Tropical Island’.

American Football, ‘American Football’ (or ‘LP3’) – Their third album brings a Steve Reich influence to the table sounds like the like the sun coming up on a winter morning (like the cover implies). Highlight: ‘Every Wave To Ever Rise (ft. Elizabeth Powell)’.

Axes, ‘Glory’ – More math rock madness, and the title ‘Glory’ really captures the triumphant sound of this album. Highlight: ‘Chun Fai Pang’.

Foals, ‘Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost – Part 1’ – With it’s more funky approach, this feels like the closest they’ve got to the sound of their jerk-pop debut. Highlight: ‘On the Luna’, but I posted that in February, so here’s another highlight: ‘Syrups’.

La Dispute, ‘Panorama’ – A more progressive approach to their spoken-word-post hardcore prowess. Not as immediate as ‘Rooms of the House’. Highlight: ‘VIEW FROM OUR BEDROOM WINDOW’.

Individual songs I listened to

Duck, Little Brother, Duck!, ‘732 Seconds’ – A slow and weary number that bursts open into blast of noisy post hardcore.

Youth Pictures of Florence Henderson, ‘All I Remember is Punk Rock’ – A transcendent blend of indie and post rock from Norway.

Joie De Vivre, ‘April, 2009’ – More glorious emo revival fare from Joie De Vivre. They’re becoming regulars here.

Weezer, I’m Just Being Honest’ – Curiosity and hopefulness keeps getting the better of me, but apart from ‘High As A Kite’, the ‘Black’ album keeps disappointing.

R.E.M, ‘#9 Dream’ – A pretty cool cover of my favourite John Lennon song.

Morrissey, ‘The Boy Racer (Unreleased Demo)’ – An early acoustic version of one of the best songs on ‘Southpaw Grammar’.

The Get Up Kids, ‘Satellite’ – If this lead single is anything to go by, the upcoming album will be awesome.

The World is a Beautiful Place and I am No Longer Afraid to Die, ‘January 10th, 2014’ – A euphoric track with some great male/female vocals going back and forth. Emo revival at its most progressive.

Matrix Metals, ‘Flamingo Breeze, part 1’ – A summery slice of hypnogoric pop.

Jack Stauber, ‘Cooking with Abigail’, ‘Good Morning Blondie’, ‘Lima Bean Man’, and ‘ring ring’, ‘Deploy’ – Surreal micropop to put a smile on your face and make you question life. The videos are great too.

Watterson, ‘Talking Shit About A Pretty Sunset (Modest Mouse cover)’ – Noisy indie version of my favourite Modest Mouse song.

Armando Martins, ‘Dirty Fingernails (Modest Mouse cover)’ – Cool, minimal version of this classic MM song, some nice added piano.

Unraveler, ‘Polar Opposites (Modest Mouse cover)’ – Lo fi acoustic cover with some nice female backing vocals.

Jumping Ship For Comfort, ‘Bukowski (Modest Mouse cover)’ – A stripped down version, nice but not bringing anything different to the table.

Prom Kids, ‘Trailer Trash (Modest Mouse cover)’ – Fun midi cover but the vocals are way too high in the mix and over-egged, spoiling it.

Festiva, Dramamine (Modest Mouse cover) – Psychadelic indie pop cover, a pretty fun listen.

Turing Cops, ‘Custom Concern (Modest Mouse cover)’ – A subdued cover that gets old quick.

Jeff Rosenstock, ‘Festival Song’ – Fun-filled indie punk rock.

Logic, ‘Probably Gonna Rock Your World’ – The rapper, with the aid of Mac Demarco’s production, opts for a chilled out R&B/bedroom pop jam with this one.

Shipping News, ‘Untitled w/Drums’ – Tender, moving post rock.

‘You Said I Can Nurtue’ in Bold + Italic

My poem ‘You Said I Can Nurture’, taken from my book ‘Zygote Poems’ appears as one of two featured poems about forthcoming parenthood alongside Jamie Houghton in issue 3 of Bold + Italic.

Jamie’s poem tackles the subject of not feeling adequate enough as a mother to home a baby in the womb, and trying to get things just right for her (I know it’s a ‘her’ as said baby has now been before).

Mine tackles the subject of becoming a father with what I considers inadequacies and fears of not being a good enough human myself to raise another.

Check out our poems and read more about what each of us were trying to convey, and then check out the other poems, prose and artwork selected for this great issue:

Jamie Houghton – Ants are Pickier than You
Richard Thomas – You Said I Can Nurture

2019: Album by Album (February)

February’s listening involved less ‘new’ albums as I spent a lot of time going back and listening to the albums I liked from January’s blog post. However, I still managed to check out a considerable amount (for me, at least) of albums and songs that I hadn’t heard before, as well as digging into my own collection. Here’s what I listened to (not including repeat listens for the year). Click through to check out the highlight tracks, and if you have an album or song that you think I should check out, leave your suggestion in the comments.

Albums

David Bowie, ‘Changesonebowie’ – Great compiliation of hits. Highlight: ‘Golden Years’

Pedro The Lion, ‘Phoenix’ – Awesome comeback record that doesn’t drop the pace. Highlight: ‘The Quietest Friend’.

Bearcubbin’!, ‘Girls With Fun Haircuts’ – Infectiously joyous math rock. Why have I only just discovered this? Highlight: ‘High School Field Trip to Murder Island’.

Sunny Day Real Estate, ‘The Rising Tide’ – Euphoric and beautiful. Highlight: ‘Tearing In My Heart’.

Sunny Day Real Estate, ‘How It Feels To Be Something On’ – Their third album. So good, as expected. Highlight: ‘Every Shining Time You Arrive’.

Perspective, a lovely hand to hold, ‘Autonomy’ – Some cool emo revival moments, but gets too poppy every other 30 seconds. Highlight: ‘Lost Opportunities’.

Totorro, ‘Come to Mexico’ – Infectious math rock. Highlight: ‘Yaaaago’

Jimmy Eat World, ‘Bleed American’ – I love half of these songs, the others might be growers. Highlight: ‘Get It Faster’.

Tubelord, ‘Pop Songs For Rock Kids’ – A collection of old songs and demos from the arty post hardcore wizards. Highlight – ‘Dun Dun Dun, Scissor, Rocks and Tonne’.

Metronomy, ‘Nights Out (10th Anniversary Edition)’ – Their breakthrough album with added remixes and rarities. Highlight: ‘A Thing For Me (Breakbot Remix)’.

Hop Along, ‘Get Disowned’ – The second album of this new discovery for me this year. They’re rankng well. Highlight: ‘Tibetan Pop Stars’.

Blanco Niño,’EP’ – Upbeat, melodic, and catchy revival-esque emo. Highlight: ‘KANPAI!!!’.

As In We, ‘As It Should Be’ – Fun, epic math rock with impressive song lengths. Highlight: ‘Three For All’.

Lingua Nada, ‘Snuff’ – Crazy experimental noise rock. Buckle up. Highlight: ‘LVL 100’.

David Bowie, ‘Hunky Dory’ – Eclectic fourth album from the master of art pop. Highlight: ‘Andy Warhol’.

Morrissey, ‘Your Arsenal’ – A very strong third album from the godfather of mope. Highlight: ‘Tomorrow’.

The Appleseed Cast, ‘Mare Vitalis’ – Their second album is themed on the sea, and it’s beautiful. Highlights (they go hand in hand): ‘Fishing The Sky’ and ‘Forever Longing The Golden Sunsets’.

The Natural 20s, ‘Everyone Will Fall’ – Dramatic, climactic emo, swinging between tough and tender. Highlight: ‘Cobainication’.

Pandora’s Box, ‘Original Sin’ – Epic 80s pop concept album. Highlight: ‘My Little Red Book’.

Settlefish, ‘The Quiet Choir’ – A more mellow accompaniment to the idiosyncratic indie-emo of their second album ‘Plural of the Choir’. Highlight: ‘The Second Week of Summer’.

Neil Young, ‘Chrome Dreams II’ – Swinging back and forth between the mellow country vibes of Harvest-era Young and the crunchy rock jams of Crazy Horse. Highlight: ‘Beautiful Bluebird’.

Built To Spill, ‘You In Reverse’ – Off-kilter indie rock. Loved this. Highlight: ‘Goin’ Against Your Mind’.

Individual songs I hadn’t heard before

Hot Rod Circuit, ‘Safely’ – Strong and steady indie/emo rock.

The Rocking Horse Winner, ‘Orange Blossom’ – Poppy indie rock. Not for me.

Hometown losers, ‘Divine’ – Radio-friendly post hardcore fare.

Cabana Wear, ‘Bother You’ – Indie rock. More on the rock side.

Into It. Over It., ‘Summerville, SC’ – Post hardcore with pop punk vibes.

Funeral Diner, ‘Borne Upon My Shield’ – Screamo. It had its moments.

Unwed Sailor, ‘Heavy Age’ – A new track packed with post rock glory.

Calm., ‘Trinkets & Tokens’ – Sweet twinkly emo with some nice jazzy bits for good measure.

The Invisible Opera Company of Tibet, ‘Lilith’ – A soothing space rock jam.

Hacked Nudes, ‘Maybe Milwaukee Misses You’ – Gruff punk rock in the vein of Latterman, Hot Water Music, et al.

Singapore Strategy, ‘Build Me An Unsinkable Ship And We’ll Sail The World’ – Very rocking instrumental math rock. I like this a lot.

Empire! Empire! (I Was A Lonely Estate), ‘What Had Taken Years To Put Together Was Destroyed In One Moment’ – More of this excellent emo rival band.

A Bunny’s Caravan, ‘Resolving The Static’ – Indie with a post rock edge.

The Berries, ‘Salvation’ – Pretty tame indie track.

La Dispute, ‘Rose Quartz/Fulton Street I’ – Dramatic, new post hardcore track/s from La Dispute.

Foals, ‘On the Luna’ – Another new Foals tune. This one’s pretty catchy.

Prawn, ‘Greyhound (Live)’ – Really good emo revival with a twist of post rock.

Jimmy Eat World, ‘Get Right (Acoustic)’ – I’m not sure what the electric version is like, but this is pretty nice.

Jeremy Enigk, ‘Empty Row’ – Apparently his old, fellow Sunny Day Real Estate bandmate wrote the lyrics to this, about how he feels about Jeremy (unaware at the time of recording it).

Dr. Dog – ‘Heart It Races (Architecture in Helsinki’ cover)’ – Nice indie-folk-pop cover of the original nice, but more manic, experimental indie-pop song.

Weezer, ‘Zombie Bastards’ – Fun, poppy Weezer track from the upcoming Black album. I don’t dislike it but not completely okay with it either.

Weezer, ‘High As A Kite’ – This is awesome. Some Barclay James Harvest vibes here. Why can’t the rest of the Black album sound like this?

Strange Ranger, ‘House Show’ – Nice, steady indie rock song.

2019: Album by Album (January)

I’ve been keeping a record of all the albums and EPs I listen to in 2019 as I thought it would be cool look back on, so I figured that I might as well blog them whilst I’m at it. It also seemed a good way of actively discovering albums that I might not have got around to listening to otherwise, whether it’s bands that I have loved for years, but for one reason or another, have yet to sit down and listen to an album of theirs in full, or bands that I’ve been meaning to check out but have yet to do so, completely new discoveries too, and albums I have already heard/own as well.

I’m also recording standalone tracks that I actively listen to (hearing something in a shop, for example, doesn’t count). So that could be new singles released in 2019, or songs that pop up in Spotify’s recommendations, or that YouTube throws me to. This could become hard to keep track of though, so we’ll see how long it lasts.

Without further ado, here are the albums, EPs, and songs I listened to in January. Click through on the links to check them out. If you have any recommendations for an album or song I should check out based on the kind of stuff I seem to be listening to, post your suggestion in the comments and I’ll do my best to check it out.


Albums

Joan of Arc, ‘1984’ – Chicago’s art rockers with Melina on lead vocals this time. Luscious. Highlight: ‘Punk Kid’.

Blood Orange, ‘Negro Swan’ – His most ‘difficult’ album yet, in my opinion. With a little patience, there’s some gems on here though. Highlight: ‘Charcoal Baby’.

mewithoutYou, ‘Untitled’ – One of my albums of the year, picking up from where Pale Horses left off. Highlight: ‘Another Head for Hydra’.

Modest Mouse, ‘This is a Long Drive Home for Someone with Nothing to Think About’ – Beautifully wonky as you’d expect. Highlight: ‘Talking Shit About a Pretty Sunset’.

Maps & Atlases, ‘Lightlessness Is Nothing New’ – another album of the year 2018 for me. Their most direct and accessible album yet. Highlight: ‘4/25’.

The Front Bottoms, ‘Talon of the Hawk’ – a funloving mix of folk, pop punk, indie, and revival-era emo. Many earworms. Highlight: ‘Santa Monica’.

awakebutstillinbed, ‘what people call self-esteem is really just seeing yourself the way that other people see you’ – frantic and noisy, fragile and delicate, with a lot of urgency. Highlight: ‘Life’.

Black Foxxes, ‘Reidi’ – Not shy of dramatic shifts between loud and quiet, light and dark. A solid rock record. Highlight: ‘Joy’.

Told Slant, ‘Going By’ – This record is so sad it makes me laugh when I listen to it (that’s a compliment). Highlight: ‘Sweater’.

The Get Up Kids, ‘Kicker’ – Their first release in seven years and marks a solid return from the pioneers of synth-lead emo. Highlight: ‘Maybe’.

Tangled Hair, ‘Two EPs’ – Fun, catchy, playful math rock. Highlight: ‘Trains Are Broken’.

Snail Mail, ‘Lush’ – Slacker pop, weed emo, fifth wave emo, whatever you want to call it, it’s dreamy and lush. Highlight: ‘Heat Wave’.

Young Fathers, ‘Cocoa Sugar’ – Not my usual listening, but there’s some cool moments here. Highlight: ‘Toy’.

Pink Floyd, ‘The Final Cut’ – An epic concept album about the Falklands, musically not too unlike ‘The Wall’. Highlight: ‘Not Now John’.

Brightside, ‘Now and Loud’ – Super fun and catchy indie rock. Highlight: ‘Stellar!!!’.

The Drink, ‘Capital’ – Idiosyncratic and slightly unnerving indie (if anything). This band is underrated. Highlight: ‘Roller’.

The Promise Ring, ‘Nothing Feels Good’ – Classic 90s emo from arguably the hookiest band on the scene. Highlight: ‘Red & Blue Jeans’.

Pinegrove, ‘Skylight’ – Emo revival meets ‘Harvest’-era country. Highlight: ‘Rings’.

Iceage, ‘Beyondless’ – Post punk full of fervour and vigour. Highlight: ‘Pain Killer’.

Bibio, ‘A Mineral Love’ – Given how much I loved the lead single ‘Light Up The Sky’, I thought this electronic album was going to be a shoe in. Unfortunately, not so. Highlight: ‘Light Up The Sky’.

Count Your Lucky Stars Sampler #4 – A great way to get a taste of the emo, post hardcore, math rock, and post rock that lays the groundwork for this label. Highlight: ‘Moving Mountains, ‘Cover the Roots / Lower the Stems’.

Hop Along, ‘Bark Your Head Off, Dog’ – Another amazing album to come out of 2018. No idea how to describe this band. But they’re so so clever. Highlight ‘Somewhere a Judge’.

Itch, ‘Well, Well, Well, Three Holes In The Ground’ – Angular post hardcore from a UK band who should have been much bigger. Hightlight: ‘Tables Turned’.

Surrounded, ‘The Nautilus Years’ – Space rock. Much atmosphere. Much emotion. Highlight: ’21st Century Paradise Traveller’.

MGMT, ‘Little Dark Age’ – I loved ‘Oracular Spectacular’ and ‘Congratulations’, and really wanted to love this too…there’s a few good tracks. Highlight ‘She Works Out Too Much’.

The Sky Corvair, ‘Unsafe at Any Speed’ – Shambolic post hardcore, featuring Tim Kinsella, Bob Nanna, and members of Guage. Highlight ‘St. December’.

Axes, ‘Axes’ – Fun and frantic math rock instrumentals you can sing along to and make you want to grin madly. Highlight: ‘Let Me Tell You Something About Pepe’.

mewithoutYou, ‘It’s All Crazy! It’s All False! It’s All A Dream! It’s Alright’ – for all it’s criticism, if you go into this knowing it’s a folk album, it’s a really great folk album. Highlight: ‘A Stick, A Carrot & String’.

Camera Obscura, ‘My Maudlin Career’ – I loved ‘French Navy’ and was hoping the album would be more of the same, but it bored me. Highlight ‘French Navy’.

Owen, ‘King of Whys’ – Mike Kinsella makes beautiful, earnest folk songs. Highlight: ‘A Burning Soul’.

Jeremy Enigk, ‘Return of the Frog Queen’ – A colourful folk album. His voice is ethereal. Highlight: ‘Return of the Frog Queen’.

Empire! Empire! (I Was A Lonely Estate), ‘You Will Eventually Be Forgotten’ – Emo revival full of twinkles and a voice that is saccharine. Highlight: ‘We Are People Here. We Are Not Numbers’.

Joie De Vivre, ‘We’re All Better Than This’ – Emo revival with a post rock nod, short songs that climb up and up. Highlight: ‘I Was Sixteen Ten Years Ago’.

Big Scary Monsters, ‘The Six Machine’ – Great compilation of post rock, math rock, post hardcore, and folk. Highlight: Caesura – ‘Weight And Carriage’.

Japanese Breakfast, ‘Psychopomp’ – ‘The Woman That Loves You’ is a song I often have on repeat. I really wanted to like this album. Highlight: ‘The Woman That Loves You’.

The Bell and The Hammer – ‘To Set Things Right’ – Saddle Creek-esque husband and wife folk duo. Highlight: ‘Here It Is’.

Toe, ‘Hear You’ – Chilled Japanese math rock. Highlight: ‘Song Silly’.

Team Me, ‘Blind as Night’ – Norwegian indie pop. Often epic. Highlight: ‘Riding My Bicycle (From Feddersensgate 5A to Mollerveien 31)’.

Parquet Courts, ‘Wide Awake!’ – If The Velvet Underground covered Fugazi songs, or vice versa. Highlight ‘Total Football’.

Sky Ferreira, ‘Night Time, My Time’ – A brooding pop album. I enjoyed a handful of the songs. Highlight: ‘Omanko’.

The Appleseed Cast, ‘Sagarmartha’ – The best post rock/emo band out there and this album only adds to my very biased view. Highlight: ‘As The Little Things Go’.

Starmarket, ‘Abandon Time’ – Swedish indie/emo with a punky rhythm section. Highlight: ‘Cologne’.

Second Monday, ‘Alvorada’ – Turning it up a notch or five and heading in a more post hardcore direction on their second album. Highlight: ‘Stereoscope’.

Patti Smith, ‘Live in Italy’ – A nice acoustic set. Highlight: ‘My Blakean Year’ (video not from the Italy gig).

Better Oblivion Community Center, ‘Better Oblivion Community Centre’ – Debut album from Conor Oberst and Phoebe Bridge’s new collaboration. Highlight: ‘Didn’t Know What I Was in For’.

Rob Crow’s Gloomy Place, ‘You’re Doomed. Be Nice.’ – Rob Crow’s doing his own thing again and it’s good. Highlight: ‘What We’ve Been Up to While You’ve Been Away’.

Forth Wanderers, ‘FW’ – Dreamy, hazy slacker indie. Highlight: ‘Taste’.

Friend/Enemy, ’10 Songs’ – Weird mathy, shambolic, folk-punk from Tim Kinsella and friends. Highlight: ‘Thax Douglas’.

David Bowie, ‘Low’ – His artiest record. Very Eno. Worth the deep dive. Highlight: ‘Be My Wife’.

David Bowie, ‘Scary Monsters’ – It sounds like electric sparks are flying off this thing. Highlight: ‘It’s No Game (Part 1)’.

Empire! Empire! (I Was A Lonely Estate) – Yep, more of this band, can’t get enough. Highlight: ‘Keep What You Have Built Up Here’.

Individual songs I hadn’t heard before

Drug Church, ‘Grubby’ – Hardcore punk. Not for me.

Mineral, ‘Your Body Is The World’ – Another beautiful comeback track, bringing 90s emo into 2018/19.

Brightside, ‘Dreams (Fleetwood Mac Cover)’ – A cool indie cover of that Fleetwood Mac song.

Real Estate, ‘Darling’ – Bright, ‘trickly’ indie. Pleasant enough but nothing to write home about.

TV on the Radio, ‘Young Liars’ – Succulent art rock.

Pedro the Lion, ‘Quietest Friend’ – Stunning lo-fi emo/indie. Another great 90s/00s comeback for 2019.

Pedro the Lion, ‘Rapture’ – This one’s from his 2002 release and goes a bit harder.

Jets to Brazil, ‘Chinatown’ – There’s a nice plodding motion to this 90s emo classic – and more of that lo-fi vibe.

As Friends Rust, ‘Perfect Stranglers’ – Hardcore punk. I wasn’t really into it.

Warren Franklin and The Founding Fathers, ‘See Him Again’ – An unrelenting indie rock track.

Reggie and the Full Effect, ‘Congratulations Smack + Katy’ – Interesting title. Emo/pop punk with a lot of synths. Not for me.

Jeremy Enigk, ‘Sacred Fire’ – A beautiful atmospheric rock song, harking back to his earlier band The Fire Theft.

Pohgoh, ‘Friend X’ – Jangly and uplifting second wave emo.

Vedera, ‘Desire on Repeat’ – I liked the first 30 seconds or so.

Chinese Football, ‘Blind Men and an Elephant’ – Chinese mathy emo. Much twinkles.

Joie De Vivre, ‘Summer in New London’, ‘Salt’, ‘Sundays’ – I can’t wait to listen to ‘The North End’ in full, which these songs are taken from.

Parquet Courts, ‘Captive of the Sun (Feat. Bun B)’ – My favourite track on ‘Human Performance’, now with added rap. Pretty cool.

Tigers Jaw, ‘Guardian’ – Too polished for my taste.

Foals, ‘Exits’ – First single from their forthcoming album. It was okay, maybe it will grow on me.

American Football, ‘Uncomfortably Numb (ft. Hayley Williams)’ – The kings of twinkles with another beautiful song from their forthcoming ‘LP3’.

Circa Survive, ‘Bad Heart’ – Chilled experimental rock track.

Tears for Fears, ‘My Girls’ (Animal Collective cover) – Pretty standard cover, not quite as energetic and passionate as the original.

Tears for Fears, ‘Ready to Start’ (Arcade Fire cover) – As above.

Woahnows, ‘Dipping Out’ – Indie-punk has never been so catchy. Props to that cowbell.

Woahnows, ‘Skin Peels’ – More ear candy. It’s brevity leaves you wanting more.

The Most, ‘Orange’ – Fun, jazzy math rock.

Sweet Toothe, ‘Black Smoke’ – Finger-tapping math rock. The vocals are an acquired taste.

Delta Sleep, ‘Daniel Craig David’ – More math rock, this one’s a little more earthy.

‘Bearcubbin’!’, ‘Solid Gold Monster Truck’ – First I’d heard of this band, and I’ll be going back for more. Awesome fun-times math rock.

itoldyouiwouldeatyou, ‘Letters’ – Mathy indie rock. A bit too much on the poppy side.

Yvette Young, ‘A Map, A String, A Light’ – Mathy folk. I got bored.

Earthholder, ‘The Castle, The Tower, I Am’ – Post rock/metal. Not for me.

Toe, ‘Can’t Hear Mosquitone Any More #2’ – Vibrant, acoustic math rock.

Rain Still Falls, ‘Beginner Swimmer’ – Ballsy emo track.

Jejune, ‘Hialeah’ – Emo track with cool quiet/loud dynamics.

Triple Fast Action, ‘I Want To Know’ – Fun, punky emo song.

Red Level, ‘Turn It On’ – More emo. Sensing a theme here?

Only Airplanes Count, ‘Kings Do Not Have Watches’ – This song sounds like it’s going to fall apart at any moment.

Bay Faction, ‘Are You In The Mood?’ – Indie, emo, alt rock, with moody vibes.

Brain Tumour Poems

These two poems come from a sequence I’m working on about having a brain tumour, and were first published in Tears in the Fence (I can’t find the issue number, so will update when I do!).

Forty Five Ways of Looking at a Brain Tumour

Cerebellar pilocytic astrocytoma means
intruder of the long night, means
barnacle on the sea-churned rock, means
slab of uncooked chicken, means
secret cavern-dweller rubbing its hands, means
sloth hugging the soggy tree trunk, means
fat man stood under an umbrella, means
lychee on an overcast day, means
sea anemone lapping up an eel, means
ghost hiding out in the bushes, means
fist wrapped up in cellophane, means
naked burglar caught in the pantry, means
lava lamp bubble sucked and wedged, means
ugly pearl that’s not a pearl, means
cloud clogging the motorway, means
marble stuck in the mouse hole, means
bubble blown upwards and inwards, means
ogre with its head between its legs, means
potato shot through the Milky Way, means
cocooned maudlin nerve-threatener, means
polystyrene growing and over-packaging, means
slobbered golf ball tucked in the rough, means
duff piece of popcorn ever expanding, means
invasion of blob and legs like roots, means
goblet filled with a residue that thickens, means
finicky siren spinning at intense proximity, means
raider of the lost bark of the lost tree, means
chewing gum stuck to a lightsaber, means
inflated leech sucking on a maraca, means
iceberg bursting the ship’s bottom, means
lily sunk deep in a tarred pond, means
unbelievable soup-bound clove of garlic, means
shrub clubbing itself on a piece of rhubarb, means
head of a lollipop slurped by a jellyfish, means
hot air balloon flapping against a pine tree, means
egg timer flung through the fire, means
meteor buried in the neck of the Earth, means
oil lamp flaring in a cluttered passage, means
great exploding alarm clock, means
cork about to blow from the melting port bottle, means
back of the spoon nudging the jam jar, means
pinball stuck in a pocket of the machine, means
mould blossoming on a glass plate, means
canon drawing back to pound out a ball, means
carillon swinging against the tower, means
submarine shoving and warping the water, means
cerebellar pilocytic astrocytoma.

 

From a Brain Surgeon’s Records

Edema/build-up of fluid in
interstitium undergoes relief via
steroids. Hydrocephalus present:

shunt placed in ventricle of
brain, threaded under skin to
abdomen draining cerebrospinal
fluid. Excess fluid carried from

brain – absorbed in abdomen.
Image guidance prior to operation
to produce 3D image of brain/skull
as guide to tumour location – incision

on scalp to be as small as
possible. General anaesthetic given,
area of scalp shaved, incision
made. Craniotomy: section of skull cut

out as flap to reveal brain/tumour
underneath. Nurse sent with progress
updates to patient’s family at
regular intervals. Tumour located inside

brain stem, pushing up against brain,
effectively shrouding itself. Removed
as much of tumour as possible given

difficult position. Began very gently
scraping it from brain stem to avoid
radiotherapy. Took late lunch, stood behind

glass screen, eyes fixed on patient at
all times. Ham sandwich, apple, coffee (milk,
no sugar). Effectively the motorway of the

brain, brain stem carries all signals to
body via nervous system. Vital to be
extra careful/meticulous in scraping
away remainder of tumour. More

general anaesthetic given: repaired
skull bone and stitched up skin. Patient
moved to recovery area, one-to-one
attention given until awake. Left

patient, a young boy, with nurses briefly to
invite parents to see their son, unconscious, to
alleviate the wait a little. A personal
touch, flecks of blood still on my shoe covers.

I Read 37 Books in 2017

books

At the beginning of 2017, I set out to read fifty two books. Due to ill health, I didn’t quite make the whole fifty two, but I did read thirty seven in total, which is vastly more than I’ve read in a long time.

In reading so much I found some new favourites: J.D Salinger, Cormac McCarthy, Hubert Selby, Jr, Rupert Brooke, and Michael Horovitz, to name a few. I read some books by writers I already enjoyed: Allen Ginsberg, William Burroughs, and James Franco. I also learnt a lot, whether that was about interesting personalities in the biographies and autobiographies I read, about the craft of writing, or just in soaking up the knowledge that these stories, poems, and one play offered.

I’m not sure I would try and read a book a week like this again. Not because I didn’t enjoy it while it lasted, but because for me personally, I found it took over and I lost time to do other things, like work on my own writing. Plus, although I read a lot generally, I’m not the fastest reader, so it may have been more time consuming for me than others to ensure I completed a book a week.

Over the course of twelve months, I read eighteen novels, one book of short fiction, six books of non fiction, eleven books of poetry, and one play. Here’s what I read, starting with a list of the novels in order of enjoyment.

Novels

1. ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’ by Ken Kesey

It’s one of my favourite films, and I feel like I’ve let Kesey down a bit by not reading his novel first. A book that never lets up.

2. ‘Catcher in the Rye’ by J.D. Salinger

Concerned more with conveying a feeling than being heavy on plot. I’m not sure why it’s taken me so long to read this. I love Salinger’s understated style.

3. ‘The Road’ by Cormac McCarthy

Beautifully stark and brutal, like a post-apocalyptic Hemmingway novel.

4. ‘Requiem for a Dream’ by Hubert Selby, Jr

An intense and desperate bullet train of a novel.

5. ‘Fight Club’ by Chuck Palahniuk

A unique story told with cut throat minimalism.

6. ‘The Great Gatsby’ by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Decadence that becomes harder to put down the further it builds up to the tragic nature of excess.

7. ‘A Clockwork Orange’ by Anthony Burgess

A twisted fable of good and evil, with plenty of ultra-violence thrown in.

8. ‘Franny and Zooey’ – J.D. Salinger

A novel about depression comprised of a short story and a novella.

9. ‘Brave New World’ – Aldous Huxley

As relevant to our world today, controlled by media, celebrity, and sex, as it was in 1932.

10. ‘Life of Pi’ – Yann Martel

A page turner of fantasy and flight, which would be higher in my list if it wasn’t for those pesky anti-climaxes.

11. ‘Animal Farm’ – George Orwell

A fun read, and a clever introduction to the goings-on of the Russian Revolution.

12. ‘Lord of the Flies’ – William Golding

A war of egos, worth reading more for the plot than the clunky writing style it’s written in.

13. ‘Frankenstein’ – Mary Shelley

Well worth reading to realise the actual story of Frankenstein’s monster.

14. ‘Cry, The Beloved Country’ – Alan Paton (not pictured above)

An eye-opening book about the social, economic, and political conditions of 1940’s South Africa.

15. ‘The Place of Dead Roads’ – William Burroughs

The dreamlike imagery is amazing, but cut-up technique aside, this books feels really in-cohesive, and as a Burroughs fan, I hoped it would be better.

16. ‘The War of the Worlds’ – H.G. Wells

I’m not really sure what happened in this book. At least I can say I’ve read it.

17. ‘The Quiet American’ – Graham Greene

Everybody seems to love this book, but I found it a pain in the rear to read. Oh, how bored I was.

18. ‘Money’ – Martin Amis

Some of this book was clever, and even enjoyable. But for the most part it was filled with so much unjustified misogyny, that the more I reflect on it, the more I can’t stand it.

Short Fiction

‘Over to You’ – Roald Dahl

Poetry (in no particular order)

‘Selected Poems’ – Rupert Browne
‘Love Opens the Hands’ – Bill Wolak
‘Burn Site in Bloom’ – Jamie Houghton (Buy it here)
‘Poems’ – Pier Paulo Pasolini
‘The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam’ – Edward Fitzgerald
‘New York Insomnia’ – Philip Callow
‘Love Poems’ – Michael Horowitz
‘Better Than God’ – Peter Porter
‘Wait Til I’m Dead, Poems Uncollected’ – Allen Ginsberg
‘Straight James/Gay James’ – James Franco
’77 Dream Songs’ – John Berryman

Non Fiction (in no particular order)

‘Waging Heavy Peace’ – Neil Young
‘Anger is an Energy’ – John Lydon
‘Waiting for the Man’ – Jeremy Reed
‘Parsnips, Buttered’ – Joe Lycett
‘Oscar Wilde, The Story of An Unhappy Friendship’ – Robert H. Sherard
‘The Cube’ – Annie Gotlieb

Plays

‘Sarpedon’ – Gregory Corso

You can read my more in-depth thoughts on most of these books by scrolling down through my blog.

If you’re looking for something to read yourself, and fancy some poetry about being a father, please click here and reward yourself with that which you desire. Read a sample poem here. You can also read an article I wrote about my book on The Huffington Post.