Music and Festival Fun To Come

Its almost summer festival time. This year we’re going to Poland for the Opener festival again. Gabriel, Kaz and I went in in 2009, met up with some Polish friends, enjoyed the weather, vodka, beer and music. Basement Jaxx, Prodigy, The Roots and Arctic Monkeys rocked it up. Coldplay headed one night but we skipped that and the Kings Of Leon put on a good show abeit showcasing a fairly shit album. And that’s what the summer is often about for bands. Showing the world their new albums, selling it over summer before they return in November to encourage the Christmas sales.

This year at Opener the acts are even better and far more tailored to my wishes (Thanks Opener!). Nick Cave, Queens of the Stone Age, The National, Tame Impala, Animal Collective, Devendra Banhart , Modest Mouse, Blur, Crystal Fighters and Castles etc etc. For the price 120 pounds for 4 days, its a bargain. Added to the cheap price of booze and life in Poland, we’ll be happy. I say we because right now 4/5 of us are going plus I’ll catch up with Ola for the first time since Jerusalem in 2010!

So to the albums. These are by no means all but some of what’s been occupying my ears, mind and feet over these last few, hot months.

Queens of the Stone Age – …Like Clockwork 7/10

Its good, catchy, less rocky, gentler and more heartfelt than before. Maybe Josh is getting older!

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds 5.5/10

Slightly more morose than his more recent albums, more akin to his older albums in the mid-90s, Cave is still a great storyteller and his songs imbue into your bones.

Foals 6/10

Its good but I have heard all this before from British indie rock despite a great depth

Daft Punk – Random Access Memories 8.5/10

This is a long album and full of highlights, middle lights and some tunes you flick by. Its incredibly slick and feel-good and the last few tracks are a real rousing finale. Giorgio by Moroder is absolutely fantastic.

Vampire Weekend – Modern Vampires of the City 9/10

I really like this album. It’s instantly loveable, deeper than the previous efforts. The sound is still diverse, ecletic and booming while the band’s themes are more grown up. Ya Hey is an immense tune.

Kurt Vile – Walking on a Pretty Daze 8.5/10

Ahhh this album puts anyone in a confused or irritated mood take a step back and just relax. Vile’s lyrics contain pearls of wisdom. His languid guitar solos are destressers of the highest order. 9 minute songs fly by. Its perfect for city centre walks here. Vile really takes you into his world.

John Grant – Pale Green Ghosts 8/10

I am a late discoverer of John Grant. My mate Matty raved about him but only this year have I listened. Grant is a serious musician with real talent, direct amusing lyrics writing his sad story with pathos, arrogance and some great one liners.

Primal Scream – More Light 6.5/10

A new album and the first one I’ve wanted to listen to repeatedly since….ahh I dunno….15 years. The opener tells the story. Bobby is a rant over post-modernity. His targets are usually fellow artists who’ve failed to politicise their art, preferring to take the cash and mooch around Shoreditch. Alas while his aim is good, his solutions fal at the door of excess.

The National – Trouble Will Find Me 8/10

Matt’s voice got light and smokier (ironically as smokes less) but his alcoholism and melodic narrative of personal doom continues. Its a more restrained album musically, reminding me of Alligator which is no step back. The drums come to the fore again. The themes are often criticised by non-lovers as samey but in reality like Camera Obscura, this consistency is their strength. Its the nuance that’s important. Heavenfaced is beautiful (along with many others).

Disclosure – Settle 6/10

If anything is samey, its electronic music but while Disclosure maintain their sound in general, they add extra texture with guest vocals and a diverse range of themes. Its a long album. Too long. But while you can stand it, or as background to preparing to go out, its good accompaniment.

Johnny Marr – 5/10

I can’t remember the name of this album. I can’t remember any the songs or any of the riffs. But yet I don’t feel I wasted my time. After each of my three listenings, 20 minutes I couldn’t recall any of the songs but I still felt good about the album. I suppose its catchy, pleasant, then forgettable indie rock. I liked it even if I can’t remember.

Grownass Man – The Shouting Matches 7.5/10

Bon Iver sits in the studio with his two old friends and pulls out some funny, loose country bar rock. Damn its good even if it does feel like a session played in front of friends and family and some approving locals in the middle of Minnesota.

I’d write about more albums but I need another listen. More soon


Red Dawning Night

The sky was red tonight. Dramatically so. I know that because I could see it. The clouds have gone away. Spring has arrived, they exclaim. The whole country has lifted out of some communism-era stereotype of pervasive greyness. I don’t know where the¬†somber¬†clouds have gone but I need to know. I don’t want to see them again. Soon maybe I won’t expect to. But it’s too early for such recklessness.

My upcoming weekend is adding to the joyful revival. Tom Lavin, an old mate from Uni and fellow Japanite is heading to Krakow where I will meet him. Joe is coming in from Dublin to join the fro. This will be the seventh country Joe and I have met in (Argentina, Brazil, Netherlands, Ireland, Spain, England and Poland in chronological order). That’s quite impressive. Tom and I have also been to countries together (Japan, Korea, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Spain and Poland). I could add England but it seems stingy.

The weekend should be a fair one. Plenty of beers and vodka, talk and wandering around. I miss certain people to talk to here. The people who know me. Those opinions or brains I can fruitfully pick. And those conversations and laughs always go very smoothly with Tom and Joe around.

Wisla Plock

I went to a handball game yesterday with a teacher called Piotr. They love it here. Orlen sponsors the national champions and they are in the semis right now. Pretty good atmosphere, full of chanting, flag waving, drums and fiery emotion. It’s a mix of basketball and football. Football goals, smaller ball. Basketball passing and tricking. Have to bounce it to run with the ball. No time-clock limit, ice hockey power plays and suicidal goalkeepers like Gaelic football. Very physical and fast-paced game. Score was something like 32-25.

I felt like Kevin Spacey in American Beauty at times. The handball game had a troupe of cheerleaders, all aged about 16 I’d guess. I didn’t know where to look. But don’t worry, I collected myself and leered.

That said, I doubt I’ll go back unless they get to the final maybe. Wasn’t my cuppa green tea.

>How’s Dan doing? Well…

Hey guys and girls,

Just thought I’d give a heads up. All well here and I am back at home. Just looking for jobs and getting everything back in a routine of exercising, planning, studying and eating better and drinking less. I am hoping to do the DELTA this summer in Poland, as well as the Japanese exams in December. Before that, I am heading to Amsterdam for a few days to hook up with Jeroen and Daphne after a few years of missed meetings. It’s the Queens Birthday in the Netherlands so it’ll be a huge party on a boat on the canals.

But before all that I have to earn some cash to get me back in the black. I’ll be at mate’s gigs and the cinema for the rest of the month, observing life rather than drinking through it. I am keeping my weekends quiet right now (that is until an old mate calls up and offers a beer). There are a few stories that need to be written this year too before they become a relic of a lost need. Reading some great books too right now. Lolita, Waiting for Godot, Dante Inferno, and Gravity’s Rainbow. Should be enough to inspire me.

I will also post about my recent trip. I have started the post. It’s entitled Me and my Boys. During my days memories burst over me, leaving me looking an escaped mental patient as I smile through the Spring days. I will be looking to hook up with various people soon who I met on this most friendly of jaunts. I enjoyed it immensely.

PS – Good to see that the folks, LP and Sarina had a cool time together. I think LP worked the charm on my old dear as I did on his!!