The Wandering Wolf

wander

I am not a huge podcast listener. I used to listen to a couple Kevin Smith did and then stopped being able to keep up with them all, and I was addicted to Serial, along with everyone else.

Lately I have been revisiting a podcast I got about 30 episodes into a few years ago, Wandering Wolf.

I used to listen to Wandering Wolf while gardening in my old house in Newtown and I’ve recently gone back to the beginning to start over, and I listen as I drive to and from work and they’re just as good the second time around.

I can’t tell whether or not you have to be a fan of Yoni Wolf‘s music to appreciate the podcast. Maybe? It certainly helps to have some idea about his background, just for a point of reference for some of the people he talks to/about, but beyond a bit of Wikipedia crib-noting, I think you could probably just wing it and enjoy.

My favourite episodes so far include:

+ Episode 4: Andy Bothwell (Astronautalis)

+ Episode 5: Amy Miller (Super funny Portland comedian and genius behind the Sorry About Your Dad podcast)

+ Episode 8: Will Weisenfeld (Baths)

+ Episode 12: Chris Adams (HOOD, Bracken)

+ Episode 16: Kathryn Beckwith (kitty (pryde))

+ Episode 20: (Open) Mike Eagle

+ Episode 22: Stephanie Mickus (comedian, can be found on the Tweets as @smickable)

I hope you enjoy, and if you do … keep wandering!

Run For Your Life

Last year at the height of The Bad Times, there was literally one thing that made me feel good and that was walking to the train station in the warm morning sun, listening to the Ryan Adams album, Ashes & Fire.

It’s a quiet album and it made me feel peaceful and somehow it helped me compartmentalise just that one part of my day from everything else. I don’t even really have strong associations between whatever else was going on then and the songs.

Anyway, at Monday night’s guitar lesson, I played the title track. Not well, and not fast and sometimes not even in time, but I played it and that seems like a really lovely way to close out the year.

Four Fists

P.O.S and Astronautalis are Four Fists.

FOUR_FISTS_GRAHAM_TOLBERT

 

Photo by Graham Tolbert

They are hip-hop, they are smart and they are angry. For me, both have been a touchstone in the last five years on the emotional climate of people my own age, halfway across the world, whose lives are nothing like mine, but who share my concern about where things will be in the next five years or the five years after that and who have a voice and opinions on it and don’t give a fuck about the package in which they present it.

The Boss.

On Monday night, I went with some of my best ladyfriends to see Bruce Springsteen.

My journey with Bruce started about five years ago, when I bought a box-set of his greatest hits. At that stage I mostly liked the big stadium hits like ‘Born in the USA’ and ‘Dancing in the Dark’.

About two years ago, I discovered Nebraska in a big bad way and suddenly I understood his music completely differently. For me it makes me feel alone, even in a crowd, or like sitting on a porch having a cigarette late at night and everything is impossibly silent, even in the middle of the city.

He became an obsession for a lot of us, the soundtrack to the road trip I went on the the US in 2011 and when he announced a tour here a group of us made a pact to buy the best tickets we could, regardless of the price.

And then we waited months and months for the big night.

office

gang

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boots

bourbon

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I’m terrible at reviewing live music, but it was an amazing show, not perfect, but one of those ones that makes you feel like life is just beginning, and leaves you melancholic for a few days afterwards, when the carnival leaves town.

♫ 2012: The Music Edition ♫

The Shortlist:

+ We Rose From Your Bed With The Sun In Our Heads – Swans
+ G Is For Deep – Doseone
+ The Idler Wheel … – Fiona Apple
+ Freak Puke – Melvins Lite
+ Skelethon – Aesop Rock
+ The Seer – Swans
+ Yellow and Green – Baroness
+ WIXIW – Liars
+ Sun – Cat Power
+ Sod In The Seed (ep) – Why?
+ Come Home To Mama – Martha Wainwright
+ The Haunted Man – Bat For Lashes
+ No – Old Man Gloom
+ We Don’t Even Live Here – P.O.S
+ With Siinai: Heartbreaking Bravery – Moonface
+ Mumps, etc. – Why?

The Bestest of This Bunch:

Fiona Apple has always been a grower for me. I buy her albums and then shelve them, only to rediscover them and fall in love with them years later. It’s easier to do these days, when I don’t read much music press and have little external influences which bind music to any particular period of time; however, when it came to The Idler Wheel …  I loved it from first listen. My favourite track is ‘Werewolf’ because because it felt so familiar.

I love every single song on every single Bat For Lashes album and that never happens for me. Everything about the music and the art direction and the videos she makes for her music appeals to me. I think she’s a dark personality, and she’s unafraid to live in a less-than-concrete reality. This album is far more upbeat than the last two, and it’s all dirty synth and layered vocals and glitter sparkles in the gutter at night.

P.O.S is pretty much the best thing in modern hip-hop and he sells squat when it comes to sales figures, which is a huge shame. His last album, Never Better is, in my very humble opinion, the my intriguing hip-hop album I’ve ever heard and the only album I’ve ever owned that hasn’t lost it’s magic after I’ve compulsively listened to it. We Don’t Even Live Here is more straightforward, musically, but much more angry lyrically, like whatever was simmering in Never Better finally exploded as America sank further and further into economic trouble. He’s a smart man, P.O.S and I hope he makes a million more albums.

Yoni Wolf is the best lyricist alive, hands down, no question. I find something new in every Why? song each time I hear them and in 2013 I want to buy all their albums on vinyl and listen to them in the dark and be amazed by how perfectly he captures all the inconsequentials and shines light on how they shaped him.

Gigs:

I didn’t see a whole heap of live music this year, but my highlights were:

+ Mondo Cane at the State Theatre;
+ PJ Harvey at the State Theatre;
+ Atmosphere at the HiFi Bar;
+ Zoë Keating at the Clarendon Guesthouse;
+ Shellac at the Metro;
+ Radiohead at the Entertainment Centre.

Radiohead & My Summer of Metal

On Monday I went to see Radiohead. I can’t write about music, I lack the talent in a big way and I’m also slightly terrified that if I discuss Radiohead on the Internet, Shaun Prescott with attack me like a clown while I sleep, so all I am going to say is that I did not use social media at all during the gig (if you know me, this is a huge indicator of the level of my enjoyment) and the stage and lighting design was without question the best I have ever seen. I should have prefaced this by saying that I am very old and don’t go out much and rather than seeing live music and studying the stage and lighting design, most nights I am to be found in bed, mouth-breathing while I “F5” my Twitter feed so I am by no means an expert.

I will say this: they closed with ‘Idioteque’ and when I realised, I screamed and grabbed the knee of the person to my right because ‘Idioteque’ is my favourite Radiohead song.

Since turning 30 a month or so ago, I have slowly started to crumble physically. My knee gave out and then when bending over in the shower (!!!) I put my back out. I am also halfway to deciding what to do with my hair, so it’s part purple, part green where the purple is fading and white, where all my white hair is coming through. In other words: I am stunning, all the boys love me.

I am going away on my first ever hens weekend this weekend, after which I am going to embark on a Very Serious Exercise Regime not for the usual reasons of increased health and weight loss, but because my February 2013 is looking like this:

13th: Swans – Manning Bar, Sydney

15th: Old Man Gloom – Billboard, Melbourne

16th & 17th: All Tomorrow’s Parties – Melbourne

26th: Puscifer – Enmore Theatre, Sydney

Unless I change something drastically, I will spend all of March crying and rubbing Deep Heat into my ailing limbs, thinking fondly of the days when I had enough endurance to stand in sweltering heat while a stranger urinated on the back of my legs, all for the pleasure of watching up close as PJ Harvey play a 45 minute set at the Big Day Out. Or the days when I almost got crushed watching Celebrity Skin era Hole and realised Courtney Love was no longer my idol as I sailed over the barrier and into the arms of a security guard as she exposed her breasts in some kind of self-proclaimed feminist protest against Korn. Or the days when I fainted the first time I saw ISIS and remained standing due to the crush of the crowd and the fact that my feet were glued to the beer-soaked carpet of the Annandale.

These things all took energy, energy I no longer have!

When I am jogging at the gym and eating black bean wraps for the 76th night in a row, I will motivate myself by remembering it will all be worth it when I’m packed in with a bunch of strangers, drinking warm beer in the evening while Michael Gira wails about what it’s like to be heaven’s darkest god.

The Black Keys

Here is a list of things I don’t know about The Black Keys: I don’t know where they come from, the names of the band members, indeed even how many band members there are. I don’t know the name of any of their albums or singles. I don’t even know what they look like, so sitting in the nosebleed section without my glasses, I decided they probably look like Kings of Leon.

All I know is that they’ve written a handful of really catchy songs I’ve only ever heard in the bathroom of my ex-boyfriend’s apartment where he listens to most of his music to kill time because he insists on drying each one of his toes individually.

To say I had no expectations of seeing The Black Keys would be a lie. I hoped they would be more entertaining than watching wet toes being dried.

The Entertainment Centre is a bloated monolith in the middle of one of Sydney’s many misutilised tourist ‘hoods, a place best known for its pleather designer bag knock-offs, fake Von Dutch caps and a bulk-billing medical office where I get what may or may not be legal CAT scans. The building itself has never lived up to what must’ve been grand plans at some stage. It’s a atmosphere-less place, looking graceless with age, staffed by ushers who are already thinking about the post-show cleanup while they’re showing you to your seats.

It would be easy to be cynical about The Black Keys, they are a band with obvious influences, blues-based rock that smacks of Led Zeppelin and Free and I doubt they would deny it, ‘Little Black Submarine’ basically is ‘Stairway to Heaven’ after all.

However, watching a crowd solidly enjoying themselves, kids on dates and couples two or three generations older enjoying a throwback to music of their teens and 20s, it felt like cynicism would be obvious and lazy. The gig was about waving your arms loosely in the air, about laughing as more people pulled out iPhones than cigarette lighters during the slower songs and smiling as conspicuous clouds of pot smoke rose from the crowd. The night was about not thinking about Gillard and Abbott, about pay day or feeding the cat, about the work meeting the next morning.

The night was about having a fucking good time and not questioning why.

Whether they are your cup of English Breakfast tea or not, there is no doubt The Black Keys do what they do well and I enjoyed relaxing and not being invested in the reasons why.

Fiona Apple

One of the more interesting aspects of this year has been a change in my relationship with music. I’ve always been a fairly compulsive music listener, but mostly I tend to listen to specific genres or new albums over and over.

This year, I unwittingly started to listen to particular musicians almost exclusively. For months I couldn’t stomach anything that wasn’t Ryan Adams and in recent weeks I’ve only been listening to Fiona Apple.

It’s like certain musicians nourish certain ways I’m feeling and only their songs can move me from place to place until I am where I need to be. Ryan Adams helped me get used to being alone again and quiet. Fiona Apple is about accepting that and making ugly things beautiful.

She is stunning, but she is difficult and talented and funny and emotional in public and unapologetic and too apologetic and she is all these things in front of everybody and there’s so little hidden or guarded and it forces her audience to be uncomfortable and hopefully realise that that’s how sanitised culture works: real things are dirty and abstract and contradictory and difficult and ugly and all of these things can be wonderful.

I also love that she can have a song as raw as ‘Sullen Girl’:

and also strip Zach Galifianakis down to his underwear in another clip:

I just think she’s incredibly special and that people like her a shots of colour in what can be a pretty grey world.