MIXTAPE III: ‘EFFED’ UP
I wrote and re-wrote this month’s article over and over. I changed themes, approached it from different angles but I just couldn’t seem to complete a thought.
It’s not music that’s the problem you see, there’s music for every mood, every feeling – even the ones you can’t comprehend have their own soundtrack – but my problem this month has been trying to channel a particular mood or feeling long enough to be constructive.
I’ve discovered recently that I’m in the middle of a serious learning curve in my life, the kind that makes you wonder if the universe is having a joke at your expense. I have to question myself daily to find out if the emotional rollercoaster I seem to be on is something I can choose to get off after a single loop, or if I have to stick it out until I’ve used up all of my tickets.
I find myself having ‘Bukowski-esque’ monologues in my head trying to gain some perspective and remind myself to get my shit together and try and see the humour in my situation. Then I remember that Bukowski was an alcoholic and being drunk the majority of the time probably improved his outlook. Nevertheless, I’m adamant that “this too shall pass” and I’ll be back to my usual mildly cynical yet oh-so-endearing self in the not too distant future.
In the meantime however, I’ve laid out a playlist (my latest top 10) for you to follow me on my current journey of nauseating, indulgent self-pity.
1. Close Your Eyes (And Count to Fuck) – Run The Jewels feat. Zack De La Rocha
I didn’t think it was possible but the second album from hip-hop duo Run The Jewels is even better than the first. This track is a classic example of their lyrical prowess with a cameo from Rage Against the Machine frontman Zack De La Rocha to keep you amped when you need it most. Play it loud and piss off everyone around you, just because you can.
2. What Doesn’t Kill You – Jake Bugg
Each time I hear any of Bugg’s more up-tempo songs, for whatever reason I’m reminded of Bob Dylan’s Subterranean Homesick Blues (the comparison is obviously complimentary). The title of this song in my current state pretty much says it all
3. When My Train Pulls In – Gary Clark Jr.
This has all the makings of an archetypal blues song: imagery, struggle and hope. Clark’s soulful voice is reminiscent of the great blues musicians of the past, as is the subject matter. The lesson I learnt from this song: if things aren’t working, keep on moving.
4. Heavenly Father – Bon Iver
This is hands down my favourite Bon Iver song. I have no idea how or why but the combination of Justin Vernon’s unique voice and seemingly simplistic soundscape give the illusion of an incredible vastness that is humbling to listen to. It makes you feel real and deeply human, which is comforting especially if you’ve been behaving anything but.
5. Tessellate – alt-J
When things get difficult in life and you’re anything like me, playful distractions are necessary. That blue-eyed troublemaker you’d never considered before suddenly becomes more attractive than you ever thought possible and our dreams are filled with crooked smiles and sideways glances that burn into your soul. My favourite lyric? “You will still haunt me…” Indeed you will.
6. Lead Me Home – Jamie N Commons
Unfortunately, the market for any type of gospel music in Australia in virtually non-existent, unless of course you belong to a Pentecostal church congregation but then you’re only choices are watered-down Christian “rock” or “pop” – neither of which is an adequate option if you grew up listening to Johnny Cash’s religious lamentations. Fortunately, British singer/songwriter Jamie N Commons does more than his fair share to help fill the void left by Cash, leading sinners from darkness to light with his reverent lyrics and husky voice.
7. i – Kendrick Lamar
I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that I thoroughly enjoy listening to this song. Yes, I know it’s a departure from Lamar’s usual sound both lyrically and musically but honestly, I find it genuinely uplifting. There are far too many hip-hop songs with negative messages and although I like my fair share of those too, this song about self-love and self-confidence came into my life at just the right time. Dig it.
8. Bad Habit – The Kooks
This is my favourite song off the new Kooks album Listen. It’s basically bangers for your bedroom: put on your headphones and dance around to it like the crazy kid that you are; tambourine optional.
9. You Know You’re Right – Nirvana
Apparently misery loves company, and no one is better company when you feel like shit than Kurt Cobain. It’s been a decade since his passing but hearing his signature wail today sounds as refreshingly raw as it did in the 90s.
10. Dust Bowl Dance – Mumford & Sons
Generally, I can only handle Mumford & Sons in small doses. I assume it’s because I have a natural aversion to any song with a banjo, which is why I was surprised (and mildly horrified) when I heard this song and loved it. I later discovered that it was inspired by a John Steinbeck novel which explains the vengeful tone of the lyrics and my immediate attraction to it. To his credit, Marcus Mumford delivers every word with perfect ferocity and the entire band project an enviable amount of energy in their performance. In a word: impressive.