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Sunday, November 30, 2014

Mew - Silas the magic car

A couple of people have recently asked me where I get my music from.

Nowadays, it's relatively easy to hear new music. Music sites such as pandora and spotify make it possible to get unsolicited exposure to an eclectic mix of unknown artists with very little brain work. Type in an artist you like and you get fifty or so other artists that sound the same or similar. Chances are the playlist will throw up one you've never heard of that you'll love.

But, like people who prefer to bake their own bread, or grow their own lettuce, I feel there's something rewarding in putting in a bit of extra work to build up your music library. The truth is this: nothing quite beats that feeling of actively searching amongst the millions of tracks out there and finding a gem. Like searching among the millions of hearts and finding one that connects with your own, finding music that speaks to you can provide comfort that's unspeakable in its mysterious power to make things seem ok.

I listen to a lot of overseas radio and podcasts. Guy Garvey's Finest Hour usually gives me at least one new song a week that I can play on repeat 24/7 until it wears my ears out. French radio station TSF jazz is a station you can play for any dinner party. NPR in the states is also amazing.

I've recently been put in touch with another GREAT podcast. It's called 'freunde von freunden mix tapes' and it is an hour of different music put together by different Djs around the world, and published by german lifestyle magazine freunde von freunden (or FvF for the very hip).

I can't recommend it enough - it swings from Jazz to rock, to alternative pop, to soundscape and all whilst hopscotching over musical borders, introducing unknown bands and composers from Germany, Sweden, Russia, America and Asia.

Today, I was sitting in my back living room, making some coffee, and the below song by Mew came on. It sat in the room like an old friend, instantly comfortable and hauntingly comforting.

Of course, it's Danish.

Take a listen.

Monday, November 03, 2014

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Why we try

What’s lost is nothing to what’s found. And all the death that ever was, set next to life, would scarcely fill a cup.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Alt J - Hunger on the Pine

This is yummy.

I have no idea what the film clip is about. The beginning is quite beautiful. The ending is confusing. But the guy can take an arrow to the throat.

Monday, September 08, 2014

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Telling the truth - Buechner

Poor, bare, forked animal in his cassock, his preaching robe, or his business suit, with his heart in his mouth, if not yet his foot.

What can he say? What word can he speak with power enough to empower them!

But let him take heart. He is called not to be an actor or a magician in the pulpit. He is called to be himself!

He is called to tell the truth as he has experienced it. He is called to be human. (And that is calling enough for any of us.)

If he does not make real to them the human experience of what it's like to cry into the storm and receive no answer, to be sick at heart and find no healing, then he becomes the only one there who seems not to have had that experience, because most surely, under their bonnets and shawls and jackets, under their afros and pony tails, all the others there have had it, whether they talk about it or not.

As much as anything else it is their experience of the absence of God (meaning) that has brought them there, that has brought them there in search of God's (meaning's) presence.

And if the preacher does not speak of that, and to that, then he becomes like the captain of a ship, who's the only one aboard the ship who either does not know that the waves are twenty feet high and the decks awash, or will not face up to it so that anything else he tries to say by way of hope and comfort and empowering becomes suspect on the basis of that one crucial ignorance or disingenuous-ness or cowardice or reluctance to speak in love any truths but the ones that people love to hear.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

I Couldn't Agree With Me More - Episode 4

This week on I Couldn't Agree With Me More, Ray and Ray take guard on centre stump and face up to:
1. Brendan Theo - a tragic loss to rugby league
2. The Women's Rugby World Cup
3. Time for Schumacher to get back behind the wheel
4. ASADA - attacking Australia's heros
5. Ray Reviews - Fruit
6. This week in politics - erica betz, julian bishop and the turncoat

This Bitter Earth - Dinah Washington and Max Richter

Everything that needs to be said is already spoken for in the words and music of this haunting creation.

This - bitter earth
Well, What a fruit it bears
What good is love
That no one shares
And if my life - is like the dust
That hides the glow of a rose
What good am I
Heaven only knows

No, this bitter Earth
Yes, can be so cold
Today you're young
Too soon - you're old
But while a voice
Within me cries
I'm sure someone
may answer my call
And this bitter earth
May not be so bitter after all

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

My Birthday

It was very nice to be together.

Mum made my favourite carrot cake, adorned with the blue toy bike and white ‘happy birthday’ sign that’s sat upon every birthday cake I’ve ever had, and kept saying things like, ‘you stay there and talk Fiona, I’ll get the tea’.

Dad read out his latest musing about the importance of time spent together as the single blue candle flickered down to the wick.

Fiona was fresh out of a course at tafe that she’s doing to become a counsellor.  Perhaps most importantly, her presence allowed me to sit and watch and listen, and that’s my preferred position.

And with the allotted slices of carrot cake eaten, it was Fiona who turned up the volume on Midnight Train to Georgia so that we could dance and sing along to Gladys Knight and the Pips.

Every bit of it a familiar tradition. It was in its familiarity that we sat, and watched each other.

Long Distance I and II by Tony Harrison

Long distance I

Your bed's got two wrong sides. You life's all grouse.
I let your phone-call take its dismal course:
Ah can't stand it no more, this empty house!
Carrots choke us wi'out your mam's white sauce!

Them sweets you brought me, you can have 'em back.
Ah'm diabetic now. Got all the facts.

(The diabetes comes hard on the track
of two coronaries and cataracts.)

Ah've allus liked things sweet! But now ah push
food down mi throat! Ah'd sooner do wi'out.
And t'only reason now for beer 's to flush
(so t'dietician said) mi kidneys out.

When I come round, they'll be laid out, the sweets,
Lifesavers, my father's New World treats,
still in the big brown bag, and only bought
rushing through JFK as a last thought.

Long distance II  

Though my mother was already two years dead
Dad kept her slippers warming by the gas,
put hot water bottles her side of the bed
and still went to renew her transport pass.

You couldn't just drop in. You had to phone.
He'd put you off an hour to give him time
to clear away her things and look alone
as though his still raw love were such a crime.

He couldn't risk my blight of disbelief
though sure that very soon he'd hear her key
scrape in the rusted lock and end his grief.
He knew she'd just popped out to get the tea.

I believe life ends with death, and that is all.
You haven't both gone shopping; just the same,
in my new black leather phone book there's your name
and the disconnected number I still call.

Monday, August 11, 2014

I Couldn't Agree With Me More - Episode 3

This week on I Couldn't Agree With Me More, Ray and Ray tackle:

1. The Tah Tahs
2. Anthony Mini-Cello retires
3. Alan Border and those Brisbane Heat
4. AFL - The Coward Elbow
5. Israel and Gaza solved!
6. Ray Regrets - The Cyclist
7. This Week in Politics - Scotty Morrison and Pyne-O-Clean
8. Ray Reads - Nelson Mandela's (very) Long (and frankly a bit boring) Walk to Freedom

Damien Jurado - Rachel & Cali


Thursday, July 31, 2014

I Couldn't Agree With Me More - Episode 2

Episode 2 of 'I Couldn't Agree With Me More' now up.

This week, Ray and Ray get stuck into:

1. The Empire Games
2. The Lawn Bowls
3. Trouble In Tigerland
4. Shithouse Rugby Union
5. Coward Punching Eddie
6. Ray Reads - Les Mise-Rab-Les
7. Ray Regrets - Mudgee Country Women's Society

Monday, July 28, 2014

Gonzales - Gentle Threat


Lights off. 


And this:

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

How cultures around the world think of parenting

Interesting ideas on parenting from different cultures.…

I like the dutch: Ii you teach your children to read before they get to school, they won’t have any friends.

Thanks Holland. 

Kabhi Kabhie

This is strangely haunting.

The songs is from a 1976 Bollywood movie called Kabhi Kabhie. In the film, a poet, Amit, presents his first book of verse titled ‘Kabhi Kabhie’ to his beloved Pooja as a wedding gift after she tells him that her parents have decided to marry her off to an industrialist's son. Ironically, Amit turns out to be Pooja's husband-to-be's favourite poet and he recites this song to her on their wedding night, oblivious to the fact that its writer is the man who still holds his bride's heart.

This song is about unrequited love and I think you can hear that in the performances of Lata Mangeshkar and Mukesh. The people you see in the video below are the actors from the film. In Bollywood, it's commmon for songs in films to be dubbed by what are known as 'playback singers'. Lata Mangeshkar and Mukesh are two of Bollywood's most well known playback singers. I can't help but feel that subject of the song, unrequited love, is appropriate for these singers who's voices are allowed to sweep through India's cinemas and lounge rooms, but who's faces remain unseen.

Schmulz-ometer - 11/10
Haunt-ometer - 9/10

kabhii kabhii mere dil me.n khayaal aata haiSometimes the thought crosses my mind
ki jaise tujhko banaaya gaya hai mere li'ethat you've been made just for me.
tuu ab se pahale sitaaro.n me.n bas rahii thii kahii.n Before this, you were dwelling somewhere in the stars;
tujhe zamiin pe bulaaya gaya hai mere li' were summoned to earth just for me...
kabhii kabhii mere dil me.n khayaal aata hai...Sometimes the thought crosses my mind
ki yeh badan ye nigaahe.n merii amaanat hai.n... that this body and these eyes are kept in trust for me...
ye gesuu'o.n kii ghanii chha.nv hai.n merii khaatirthat the dark shadows of your hair are for my sake alone,
ye ho.nTH aur ye baahe.n merii amaanat hai.n...that these lips and these arms are charged to my care...
kabhii kabhii mere dil me.n khayaal aata haiSometimes the thought crosses my mind
ki jaise bajtii hai shahanaa'iyaa.n sii raaho.n me.n...just as the shehnaii sounds on the roads...
suhaag raat hai ghuu.nghaT uTHaa rahaa huu.n mai.n...that it is my wedding night, and I am lifting your veil...
simaT rahii hai tuu sharmaake merii baaho.n me.n...You're shrinking for shame, blushing in my arms...
kabhii kabhii mere dil me.n khayaal aata haiSometimes the thought crosses my mind
ki jaise tuu mujhe chaahegii umra bhar yuu.n hiithat you'll love me like this our whole lives through,
uTHegii merii taraf pyaar kii nazar yuu.n hiithat you'll always lift a loving gaze to me like this.
mai.n jaanta huu.n ki tuu gair hai magar yuu.n hiiI know you're a stranger, but even so,
kabhii kabhii mere dil me.n khayaal aata hai...sometimes the thought crosses my mind,

Thursday, July 03, 2014

Bon Iver - I hate you

For years now I have tried to express it.

I've written it down on scraps of paper since I was 16.  I've tried to talk it out with my father on the back porch of our house in South Turramurra.  I've submitted pieces to various magazines searching for it.

The push and pull of it. Catching glimpses of understanding from the wind, and feeling - just for a moment - warmed.  Only for the next gust to bring with it more questions, and the cold confusion returns.

Well. Bon Iver just wrote it all out of him. In 4 minutes, and 197 words.

ever since i heard the howling wind
i didn’t need to go where a bible went
but then you know your gifts seemed heaven sent
just lead me to a choler, dad, thats the thing

i don’t know how you house the sin
but you’re free now
i was never sure how much of you i could let in
am i free now
won’t you settle down baby here your love has been
heavenly father
it’s defiantly lava
why you don’t carry other names

heard about a day where it dropped the Know
to go another day as we learn to close
cause I’m a known coward in a coward wind
but you’re free now
you turn around now and you count to 10
to see you go now
well i know now honey that i can’t pretend
heavenly father
is whose brought to his autumn
and love is left in end

i just been up here for god damn years
can you see now?
filling up hulls with god damn fears
i am free now
i know about it darling i been standing here
heavenly father
is all that he offers
a safety in the end

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Friday, June 20, 2014

Number one dads releases new album

Big Scary frontman Tom Iansek will release his second solo album, About Face, in August.
About Face is the followup 2011’s Man Of Leisure– which Iansek released under the name Dads.

The album’s lead single ‘Return To’ is a collaboration with singer Tom Snowdon of Melbourne indie crew Lowlakes.

Put it in your brain. Yum.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

If ye love me - Thomas Thallis

Even if...

Even if this is all Tallis did with his life. Even if this was all we had to judge him by. From a lifetime; these 2 mesmeric minutes of bliss. I would not but conclude that it was, all of it, worthwhile.

If ye love me
Keep my commandments
And I will pray the father
And He shall give you another Comforter
That he may abide with you forever
Even the spirit of Truth

Monday, June 16, 2014

Stillways - Steve Bisley


There were other fires in other years. People died in them.

One family, new to the district, were overcome and incinerated in their house. They were found all in one room in a charred huddle. The mother and baby had melted together to be forever as one. The father, at the top of the pyre, had tried to protect them all with a wide embrace that would last for eternity. We all went to look, to lean what sadness meant.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The Milk Carton Kids - Michigan

That chorus...

Keinen Zentimeter - Clueso

German pop - what the? Yeah, I know, I know. Give it a listen though. It is tres 90s and damn catchy.

Sing along, you know the words: Ich will keinen zentimeter mehr zwischene uns...

Procedure for Disposal - Clive James

It may not come to this, but if I should
Fail to survive this year of feebleness
Which irks me so and may have killed for good
Whatever gift I had for quick success -
For I could talk an hour alone on stage
And mostly make it up along the way,
But now when I compose a single page
Of double-spaced it takes me half the day -
If I, that is, should finally succumb
To these infirmities I'm slow to learn
The names of lest my brain be rendered numb
With boredom even as I toss and turn,
Then send my ashes home, where they can fall
In their own sweet time from the harbour wall.

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Richard Hawley - Baby you're my light

I definitely want to play this at my wedding. Pete on lead guitar. Andrew on bass. Hugh on egg shaker. Fie on Cello. Luke on drums. It's all planned. But who plays slide guitar?

Sunday, March 02, 2014

Thursday, February 20, 2014

To Cover or not to Cover

Sometimes covers are better than originals. Sometimes they completely ruin them. Sometimes they're not bad, but the strip the original of the magic it was written with.

Any thoughts on which one this is?

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

The National - About Today

I went and saw The National on Saturday night. They were performing at the Sydney Opera House forecourt as part of the Opera House's contemporary music program Music At The House. (check out their website - they have a cool graphic designer)

It was a pretty special night, with the Opera House and the Bridge lit up in lapis lazuli blue, the Sydney sandstone a warm yellow and the gentle eucalypts a swaying calm green in the warm summer breeze.   

I've seen The National before, and while this was not their best gig ever, they were solid.  This song was the highlight for me. Mainly because of the Aaron Dessner's gentle guitar riff and the simplicity of the lyrics.

Hey, are you awake
Yeah I'm right here
Well can I ask you
About today

How close am I
To losing you

Images by Vincent Moon, JM Goett, Gaspar Claus
Edit by Vincent Moon
Produced by Beggars Banquet

Paris, Guinguette Pirate, december 2005

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

laura veirs - the sleeper in the valley

And amazing song by Laura Viers - so gentle, so delicately layered. The words a translated from a well-known French poem by Arthur Rimbaud called Le Dormeur du Val:

C'est un trou de verdure où chante une rivière,
Accrochant follement aux herbes des haillons
D'argent ; où le soleil, de la montagne fière,
Luit : c'est un petit val qui mousse de rayons.

Un soldat jeune, bouche ouverte, tête nue,
Et la nuque baignant dans le frais cresson bleu,
Dort ; il est étendu dans l'herbe, sous la nue,
Pâle dans son lit vert où la lumière pleut.

Les pieds dans les glaïeuls, il dort. Souriant comme
Sourirait un enfant malade, il fait un somme :
Nature, berce-le chaudement : il a froid.

Les parfums ne font pas frissonner sa narine ;
Il dort dans le soleil, la main sur sa poitrine,
Tranquille. Il a deux trous rouges au côté droit.

Veir's English translation is not wholly loyal to the original, but it is just as moving:

In a green hollow where the river sings,
Tiny valley, bluebells ring.

There's a young soldier under the clouds,
His mouth is open, and the light rains down.

And the light rains down,
And the crows come round,
To the two red holes in his right side, oh
In his right side, oh.

Sleeping in the sun, hand on his breast
The nape of his neck bathed in
Blue watercress
He's just a kid and he never knew,
He would would be a sleeper in the valley so soon.

So soon, So soon,
And the crows, they swoon,
At the two red holes in his right side, oh

So soon, so soon,
And the crows, they swoon,
At the two red holes in his right side, oh
In his right side, oh.

As a side note - Rimbaud wrote this poem at the tender age of 17. By the time he turned 18, Rimbaud had moved to Paris where he'd lived a absynthe-fuelled existence with fellow french poet Paul Verlaine; lived in abject squalor in London, relying on the free heating, lighting, pens and ink of the British Museum to write; and survived being shot in the wrist by Verlaine in Brussels.  All of Rimbaud's poetry was written as a teenager and he gave up creative writing completely before he turned 20.  He travelled extensively for the remainder of his life, working as a stone quarry forman in Cyprus, and member of the Dutch Colonial Army in Indonesia and as an exporter of coffee and weapons from Yemen, before dying of cancer at the age of 37.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Elbow back at it - Fly Boy Blue and Lunette

Elbow have released two songs off their new album, The Take Off and Landing of Everything.

I have posted this song primarily just for the way he sings the following phrase:

But there isn't words yet for the comfort I get from the gentle lunette of the top of the nape of your neck that I wake to.  And where are the words for the leap in my chest.