Those who follow me on twitter/have bothered to ask me will know I’m not having the greatest time at the moment for various reasons, most of those in my head. So I’m not really in the right head space to be writing anything proper as it will just turn into a long diatribe entitled “why I feel rubbish”. So instead I am going to list the bands I am listening to lots at the moment, and hopefully introduce people to some different music, although nothing I listen to is especially groundbreaking.
6. Those Dancing Days
I am really, really late to the party when it comes to Those Dancing Days, given they went on hiatus back in 2011, and I only really got into them this week, but I think they are great. There are not enough female bands in the world, especially not ones that are as cool as this lot. They formed at school in Sweden and make some of the nicest indie pop with some of the happiest videos. They’ve certainly been cheering me up recently. Most bands on Wichita Recordings are pretty awesome, but I may just have a bit of a thing for Swedish bands which aren’t Abba (who are, of course, in a league of their own). As a feminist I feel it’s so important to include female lead music in my listening repertoire, so I am so pleased this lot popped into my consciousness.
See also: Peter, Bjorn and John (also on Wichita Recordings and so much more than Young Folks) and Billie the Vision and The Dancers (also Swedish, twee as you can possibly get without being sick making).
5. Kimya Dawson
I’m sorry for the video. Even I can’t really stomach interpretive dance (sorry interpretive dancers!). Anyway, I recently got back into Kimya Dawson having been completely obsessed with her after discovering the soundtrack to Juno. I’m not going to pretend I was all cool and heard of Kimya before Juno, but I’m forever grateful to that film for introducing me to such an amazing female singer, songwriter. OK, so she only seems to know about 3 guitar chords, but her music seems to transcend that completely (in a different way to Status Quo too). Her lyrics are beautiful and powerful, and they make you think. I Like Giants is a good example of this, making a story a friend told her into a song about weight issues, giants and why we should all feel small in the best possible way, and it’s ok to be terrified by that. Actually, just listen to the song, she explains it better than I ever will.
I saw Kimya Dawson once at the Union Chapel in Islington and she was really amazing, singing us her simple songs, telling us stories and just looking like the most approachable person you’ve ever met. She spreads a lot of love through her music, and that inspires me to do the same through my writing.
See also: The Moldy Peaches (Kimya Dawson and Adam Green’s old band. So different to Kimya’s solo stuff, but just oddly fantastic. Just don’t put Steak for Chicken on during private moments. Trust me on that one.)
4. Art Brut
Art Brut are another band I recently got back into in a big way, having read about them in the NME and seeing them at Glastonbury one hungover Saturday(?) morning in 2009. They’re pretentious, they’re art schooled, they’re wonderfully self-aware and I am in no way ashamed to love them. Eddie Argos explains his talk singing in “Formed a Band” as his way of “talking to the kids”, but it really adds to them as a band, with their un-embarrassed songs about getting excited in art galleries, still being in love with your girlfriend from when you were 15 (Emily Kane) and how much they love using public transport (The Passenger). It’s worth seeing them live for the stories behind the songs and just the energy of their performances.
I chose Modern Art because I just love the idea of going to an art gallery and acting as though you’re at a concert. I have to admit, and I am very sorry if you had higher ideas of me, that I actually really like modern art. The Tate Modern is one of my favourite places, I like working out the meanings behind things, and the nihilism of art which has no meaning. I know I’m pretentious, I know I’m a cliché, but that’s kind of why I love this band so much.
See also: Oh god, this is difficult. Wikipedia tells me The Rakes and Franz Ferdinand are part of the same “art rock” movement, so maybe given them a listen.
3. Frank Turner
I love Frank Turner’s music more than I love most things, except perhaps my cats. For all his terrible politics (he’s an ex-“anarchist” turned Libertarian Party UK member, which is quite the turn around) he makes some of the most relatable, shout along-able music I’ve heard. Going to a Frank Turner gig is a really special experience, everyone sings along, everyone smiles at each other, and when he headlined Wembley Arena he got a tattoo on stage. Fabulous.
I chose I Am Disappeared here as its a very underrated song of his, and also probably my favourite ever. The lyrics take us on a journey through the dreams of two people, the drudgery of daily life, how we all long to get away when it all gets on top of us. Of not communicating well in a relationship, of just one day taking off. And of hitch hiking and being picked up by Bob Dylan. But it’s just gorgeous. I take great pleasure in singing along to it, and somehow it always makes me feel a little less alone in feeling “like life weighs 10,000 tonnes” as the song goes.
I could have picked loads of songs here, I recommend the whole of England Keep My Bones, all of Love, Ire and Song (especially Substitute, Photosynthesis and Long Live the Queen) and from his other albums The Ballad of Me and My friends, The Road and A Decent Cup of Tea. Hell, just listen to him.
See also: Beans on Toast (He crowd surfed across the whole of Wembley Arena, what a dude) and Million Dead (Back when Frank was an anarchist)
2. Arcade Fire
I really hope you’re already familiar with Arcade Fire. They are, in my opinion of course, one of the best bands of the 21st Century, with their big indie rock sound comprised of more instruments than you can name in a minute and band members who can all play several each. They are another great band to watch live, with real energy and stage presence and just amazing music. I admit, than when I am home alone I sometimes like to pretend I am Regine Chaussagne. Who wouldn’t want to be, she’s married to Win Butler, can play loads of instruments and gets to go on stage and be her own, quirky self in pretty dresses.
I chose Neighbourhood #2 (Laika) because I think its great. I don’t think its their best song, that accolade would have to go to Wake Up or No Cars Go, but there’s just something about the shouted vocals, the story of the difficult sibling who’s problems lead him to leave his family that just gets to me. There’s a lot of historical and cultural references: “Alexander”, almost definitely Alexander the Great, and “Laika”, the first dog in space. It’s more intelligent than your average indie song, and I enjoy intelligence in my music as much as I enjoy it in other aspects of life.
If you’re new to Arcade Fire, let funeral alternately lift and break your heart. Get angry with religion with Neon Bible, restore your utmost faith in the band and feel the suffocation of suburbia with The Suburbs. You won’t regret it.
See also: Yeah, I can’t.
1. Belle and Sebastian
I’ve been obsessed by Belle and Sebastian for a couple of years now, they are another band Juno introduced me to, but I think I was always destined to like them. Hailing from Scotland they have a song for any occasion you could think of, any thought or feeling, and they just feel like a lazy Sunday. Their music is all in the same vein, it’s twee indie pop at the end of day, but it’s also fairly wide ranging, from the upbeat, happiness of I’m a Cuckoo and Another Sunny Day to the more reflective Get Me Away From Here I’m Dying and Sleep the Clock Around.
It was really hard for me to choose a song to put here, I just love so many that they’ve done and change favourite albums on a weekly basis (this week it’s probably The Boy With the Arab Strap). They have put out some slightly dodgy albums (yes Fold Your Hands Child You Walk Like a Peasant, I’m looking at you), but there are just so many gems on so many of their other albums that it is completely made up for. I ended up with Asleep On a Sunbeam because it’s January and we all need a summery boost of campfires and bare feet on grass in these dark times.
If you’re new to Belle and Sebastian, then please start with Tigermilk, it is an utterly beautiful album from start to finish, and then go where the mood takes you through the rest of their back catalogue. If you’re like me, you will fall in love with The Life Pursuit and then play it to death. When I first started listening to Belle and Sebastian someone told me they were jealous because I had so many happy times ahead of me. They were so right.
See also: Arab Strap (Yes the band from song mentioned in 500 Days of Summer)
That’s probably enough to be getting on with for the moment, I may do a folk and a ska one of these one day because I don’t just enjoy indie bands, twee or otherwise. I’d like it if I bought some new people to this music, but as I say, this is probably nothing new. These bands are helping me feel better, I can only hope they make someone else feel the same.