Every Record I Own: Shipbuilding – Robert Wyatt

Every Record I Own: Shipbuilding – Robert Wyatt

Robert Wyatt was another significant artist of 2022 for me. Robert Wyatt was a drummer in a progressive rock bands in the 60s and 70s, but had an accident and was paralysed from the waist down. He then made experimental pop/jazz/indie/psychedelic music for the next 30 or so years. A lot of his work feels like what would be made in a bedroom now from someone playing with synths and drum machines and doing layers of percussion and multi tracked vocals, but it felt he was doing it way ahead of his time.

Early in the year I discovered his song The Age of Self on a playlist and I became obsessed with him. His mid-80s period where he was making weirdo political pop on synthesizers and drum machines was my favourite era.

This 7″ came up for sale when someone I follow on Instagram was leaving the country and selling all their records. Shipbuilding hadn’t been one of the songs that had stuck with me, but Robert Wyatt records don’t come up very often so I thought I’d buy it anyway. I didn’t realise until after I bought it but this is a cover of and Elvis Costello song, but this version has become known as the essential version.

Since buying the record this has become one of my favourite Robert Wyatt songs. Its the type of music that really benefits from a nice stereo. The piano is so full sounding and even though Robert Wyatt doesn’t have a classically amazing voice, his falsetto shines through.

I am not really an expert on protest music by any means. But what I love about Robert Wyatt’s protest music is how specific it is. Age of Self is about how the idea of the working class has been destroyed by changing our identities to consumers rather than workers, Pigs…in there is about factory farming. Shipbuilding is about how much responsibility do workers hold for the work they do? When they’re acting as agents of British imperialism.

This 7″ has been sitting next to my stereo for months. I often put it on in the morning or when I pop into the kitchen to make some toast or something. It’s really a perfect song. The B-side kind of sucks though.

Every Record I Own: John Carpenter – Anthology

Every Record I Own: John Carpenter – Anthology

It was John Carpenters 75th Birthday the other day and if I realised that in advance I may have written this for that occasion, but instead here it is now.

My fave guy, Tom Breihan, who I have already mentioned once in this blog and will come up again. Used to write a column for the AV Club called A History of Violence, where he wrote about the best action film of each year from 1968 (Bullit) to 2021 (F9). And John Carpenter’s Assault on Precinct 13 is 1976’s best Action film.

Before reading this column, the only John Carpenter film I had seen was Halloween. I was aware that he made the soundtrack to most of his films and people were really into them, but I’d never really explored that. Now a couple of years on, I have still not watched any more John Carpenter films, but I have gotten very into his music.

It has become regular writing/study/working music for me. It’s the right mix of atmospheric which still propulsive. It can sit in the background or come to the center of my attention and it feels like it makes my brain think differently.

It has also been quite influential in my own music making. I have a musical instrument called a Deluge, which is a sequencer/synthesizer/drum machine/sampler which feels like it was made to make John Carpenter-esque music.

Here’s a track I made for Josiah Morgan’s Show Ponies performance in Dunedin which was pretty heavily influenced by John Carpenter.

This is one of my most recent records. I bought it over summer from the Flying Out sale. This anthology is rerecorded versions of his tracks by his current band. Sometimes I feel like it’s really well done and effective and other times it feels a bit overproduced. The synths are a bit cleaner and the drums sound much more highly produced, which leaves me missing the cheaper drum machine sounds of the originals. However it does make the album as a whole a lot more cohesive, which works when you’re listening to the record.

My new goal of 2023 is to watch Assault on Precinct 13.

Fave tracks: The Fog, Assault on Precinct 13, Halloween.

Every Record I Own: Pup – The Dream is Over

Every Record I Own: Pup – The Dream is Over

Put this on when I was making dinner and then when it was over i put it on again cos I wasn’t done.

I first listened to Pup after seeing the boy from Stranger Things in a music video of theirs, which was about pets dying. It is a great video and an even better song. Then I listened to the rest of the album and I couldn’t stop listening. This album spent months on near constant rotation on streaming. It’s probably one of my all time fave albums.

Every single part of this band is catchy. Every riff, every drum fill, all the shouts. The songs have a bit of a formula but over the course of the album it feels like there is movement through the album where the songs grow in complexity and emotionally (but not completely linearly)

I soundtracked my life with this record for years. My Life is Over and I Couldn’t be Happier was the intro song to my 2018 Comedy Festival show Dignity. Can’t Win had a prime spot in my emotions 2019 playlist. Sleep in the Heat was my most played song in 2017. It’s all sort of self loathing but not in a bad way, in a fun way which was perfect for me.

I don’t listen to this band anywhere near as much as I used to. But every time I do I wonder why I don’t listen much. Feels so cathartic listening to it loudly. I can’t shout but pretending to shout along feels so good. I love owning this record because it means I will keep coming back to it and I’ll keep having this rediscovery.

Reading Log: Boy Friends by Michael Pedersen

Reading Log: Boy Friends by Michael Pedersen

I have a bit of a masculine allergy to sentimentality. It’s a bit shameful. But luckily the current trend in the contemporary fiction I find myself reading leans towards cold characters, repressed emotions and flat prose. That’s not to say it isn’t emotional or reflective, but in tone it lets me avoid sentimentality in almost all my reading.

Michael Pedersen has no intention of writing in that style. This is a very sentimental book. It’s about friendship, and about loss. Specifically about Michael Pedersen’s friendship with Scott Hutchison, and the loss felt after his suicide.

About three quarters of the way through I realised that I didn’t like it. For a long time I was looking to like it, because it’s about a topic I’m also trying and struggling to write about and it’s strengths are my weaknesses in writing. I’m currently trying to write a project which is about male friendship and friendship intimacy, and even a bit of sentimentality.

Michael Pedersen’s voice is so strong I came through it not really having any idea about the personalities of any of the men he talks about. Their voices are completely lost. I know what him and Scott did together, I know how Scott made him feel, I know how much he misses him and what reminds him of him. But I don’t know who he was at all.

And by doing this it weakens the purpose of writing about friendship. Michael Pedersen’s friends never became fully realised characters themselves. They were essentially objects that caused feeling in Michael Pedersen

There’s a certain bravado about how comfortable Michael Pedersen is with intimacy. Talking about how his friendships always include crying and being naked around one another and hugging and telling each other how much they care. A sort of blurred line between romantic and platonic, that is rare between male friends.

And the biggest problem is, they just didn’t seem fun. I’m sure they were but that didn’t come across at all in the book. Even the things that were joyful; sharing wine, going on holiday, performing together, only ever felt beautiful, never enjoyable.

It seems unfair to be so critical of a book about grief written in the first year of grieving. This book doesn’t try to be about Scott Hutchison as a person, and it would be a massive and unfair ask for a best friend to write that the year after his death, but I currently have no more clues to his personality as I did when I started and after 200 pages I feel like I should.

The best bit of this book was him talking about a childhood pen pal, who he met through a football fan group, who broke up with him because he never talked about football. That was quite funny.

The book is full of beautiful, sentimental, romantic sentences, which I’m sure reflect moments and relationships that were incredible to live through, but gave me nothing to read.

Alex G – Trick

Alex G – Trick

I unsubscribed from Spotify in January, so I didn’t get the 2022 wrapped. Tidal does a monthly thing but not yearly and I haven’t added them up together, but I’m fairly sure Alex G would have been my top artist for 2022.

I got quite obsessed with the early singles for God Saves the Animals which sent me on a massive Alex G binge. I don’t think I have been as excited for a new album since Mitski’s Be The Cowboy. Anyway I don’t own God Save the Animals. It’s always been sold out or too expensive when I’ve looked for it.

But the Alex G binge sent me back to his earlier releases. I have owned DSU for many years, and it’s remained on pretty high rotation, but I haven’t got into any of his other albums quite in the same way. Sometimes I’ll go through a House of Sugar or Rocket phase, but hadn’t listened to Trick much. But it ended up being a fave, so was happy when I stumbled across a reissue for sale on his bandcamp.

(I was given a bandcamp voucher when I left Good Books, which was a really nice present, but because of some sort of currency and technology thing, you’re only able to spend bandcamp vouchers on certain currencies, not including NZD. I generally only buy things from NZ on bandcamp, especially physical releases which cost a lot to ship, so was very annoyed but ended up with two cool Alex G records so wasn’t all bad.)

His first 4-5 albums stick to the same formula pretty closely, similar guitar sounds. The melodies aren’t too different. All sort of mid tempo. Very similar bedroom production. But the songs are just really good. There are so many incredible moments in this album which capture my attention no matter what I’m doing at the time.

This version comes with a 7″ with both Adam and Sarah on it, which are not on the album proper but are some of his most popular songs, so counting them with this one.

Fave Tracks: Adam, Sarah, Mary, Animals

Mitski – Puberty 2

Mitski – Puberty 2

Mitski was such a huge part of my life from 2016-2019ish. In the editing of my Masters (which became my book) I listened to this album non stop on the university computers on bandcamp. Soon after that I bought the record. In my spotify end of decade wrap up Mitski was my number one artist (I think I only got Spotify in 2017).

When I did my reading of 2000ft Above Worry Level in the 2018 Fringe Festival I used a Mitski song as the closer (Townie). Mitksi has an incredible gift for making music which feels personal to every person listening, which has contributed to a really creepy response from her fans who seem to think Mitski’s experiences belong to them. They don’t. They belong to me 2016-2018. I haven’t listened to Mitski much in the past few years and now when I do it takes me back to the feelings from those years, which feel a bit foreign to me now. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to separate this record from that era of my life, which in some ways is good for nostalgia purposes but also makes me not really able to appreciate it without bringing up all this other stuff.

Mitski released a new album last year and I just couldn’t get into it. I’m sure it’s just as good as everything she’s done but I guess my Mitski era is over.

On a side note, this is maybe one of the worst pressings of records I own. I can’t start the record properly, it always slips as it’s starting a few seconds in, and it also slides into the label at the end of side 1. It also feels like it has less dynamics than the digital version and quite a lot of noise. Looking at the discogs page for the pressing it seems like there are quite commonly a lot of faults with it.

Fave tracks: A Loving Feeling, Happy

Sinead O’Connor – The Lion and the Cobra

Sinead O’Connor – The Lion and the Cobra

Sinead O’Connor has spent most of my life being a joke. I didn’t remember any of the controversy first hand, only from cultural references to her. I never really questioned whether or not she deserved it. Eventually it felt like she was reevalutated and (in the media I was consuming) it was accepted that she was incredibly unfairly treated. She was right about the catholic church and had her career and name destroyed and we just let it happen and turned her into a joke.

Even when I read about all the terrible things that happened to her I didn’t once consider to listen to her music.

The first time I actually listened to her was when I read The Number Ones column about Nothing Compares 2 U. I was kind of aware of the song and had probably heard it but had never actually considered listening to it as if it could be good. Anyway that song rules. I found the CD of I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got at an op shop and listened to it quite a bit, but it wasn’t until I found a copy of The Lion and The Cobra at an opshop that I really got into her.

Anyway this album is incredible. Big studio sounds and uses the pop sounds of the era, but uses them to make music that doesn’t fit neatly into pop music. It feels really angry without losing control or beauty.

Listening to this is what I love about records. I doubt that if I hadn’t picked this up I would have properly given it the time of day. I might have put it on streaming in the background while I browsed the internet but after that was done it would just get lost in a sea of things I had listened to. It also really benefits from being played through a stereo and taking up the room rather than headphones.

Fave tracks: Just Call Me Joe, Mandinka, Drink Before the War

Every Record I own

Every Record I own

A few years ago on instagram I took a photo of every record I owned as I listened to them. I wasn’t allowed to relisten to any records until I had listened to them all. As I listened I made a playlist of one song from each record (as it was available on spotify). After the project was done I deleted the whole thing because there were a lot of unflattering photos of me.

I’m going to try and repeat that on this blog now and write something about each record. I probably have twice as many records now. I will allow relistens this time, but will try to prioritise different records and will try to write something most days.