Music: Nine Inch Nails - Hesitation Marks

Remember back in 1994 when you were screaming along to Head Like A Hole and Closer with your best friends in the park and wondering how one man could make the exact music that displayed the anger and pain that you yourself were feeling at the time? And later on in 1999 when you were singing We’re in This Together from the balcony of your apartment at 3am to the distress of that stupid neighbor who was trying to sleep with his girlfriend in one of the apartments across the street? Seeing this band perform live in 2000 during your first trip to the States, and deepening the love that you already felt was unconditional for this band, and mainly for the man behind (and in front of) it all: Trent Reznor. Sometimes when I read the journals written by my younger self I have to laugh at how many times I declare my love for Trent Reznor and Robert Smith (although I would like to say that my love for both was always equal, I do think that Robert jumps ahead a little, but that’s a whole other story). In any case, this review is not going to be in any way objective, and who cares if it is anyway? I LOVE Nine Inch Nails. Have loved them ever since I first heard Pretty Hate Machine. I don’t write on my blog to be objective – I write about music, books, movies, art that I love, rant about things that really annoy me and ramble on about things that I miss and love and care about. 

“I am whole, I am free” - Everything

I’ve been waiting for the release of a new NIN album since I read a really well written article about Trent Reznor, written by Alec Wilkinson for The New Yorker and published in the December, 17 2012 issue. Imagine my heart jumping when I read that he was planning the release of a new album in 2013! He had previously said that NIN was over (although I had kind of refused to believe that, and just thought he may need a break to work on other projects until it was time to regroup and produce another opus). Hesitation Marks is to be released next week, on September 3rd (although those lucky Australians can already buy it as it was released a week earlier there), but you can already stream it for free on iTunes and hear it for yourself. I never read anyone else’s reviews before reviewing an album myself, especially if it concerns one of my favourite bands, so I cannot say if it has been well received or not. All I can say is that I absolutely LOVE it. I honestly wasn’t as keen on the three albums released after With Teeth in 2005, or maybe just wasn’t in the frame of mind I needed to be to listen to the albums (Year Zero, Ghosts I-IV and The Slip) but for me this one marks a return to the NIN that I adore. REALLY adore.

For those of you looking for another Downward Spiral or even Pretty Hate Machine, Hesitation Marks won’t be what you are looking for. Instead it’s the creation of an evolved NIN, one where Trent is older and more mature. There is less anger, there are less pulsions towards self-destruction and self-hatred, more self-reflection and inner thought, and the music and lyrics portray that. I think Find My Way displays this feeling perfectly, a slow but powerful song, taunting at times but direct in approach: “I’m just trying to find my way”. But then you hear Came Back Haunted or All Time Low and you realize that the album goes back to sounds that made NIN so popular years ago – with a newer edge. And then songs like Satellite and Everything are entirely new and old sounds mixed together to create something completely different, but similar at the same time.  All in all I think that what makes Hesitation Marks so good is that it flows perfectly and is a creation of old and new, of evolution, of hunger and anger, of love and pain, of despair and hope. Basically a brilliant Nine Inch Nails album.

My favourite songs on the album right now are Came Back Haunted, Find My Way, Various Methods of Escape, I Would For You and Everything. But I really think that listening to the album as a whole is the best way to hear how brilliant it actually is.

And don’t worry – the world is still going to end. The last song on the album tells us that. Not everything changes, not even with age. And it feels like the perfect end to a wonderful album.
“A little more, every day, falls apart and slips away. I don't mind, I'm okay, wish it didn't, have to end this way” – While I’m Still Here

NIN - Official Website

Music: The Civil Wars

I’ve spent a lot of this past week partially day dreaming about the near future, dreaming up different lives and different places to live in. Not that I am not happy here, I certainly don’t want to leave NYC, not right now anyway, but sometimes when I am too restless to write stories about escape, I just tend to dream them up instead, usually accompanied by a specific soundtrack that drives these dreams.

I randomly downloaded The Civil Wars eponymous second album last Tuesday, just after it was released. I listened to it for the first time while I was relaxing on the beach, waves and seagulls in the distance, music right in my ears, nothing else to distract me from the melodies and the lyrics. I fell for the harmonies and the simple beauty of the songs, and the words pierced my heartstrings. Apparently The Civil Wars already have an award-winning first album called Barton Hollow (released in 2011), but I had never heard of them before this week. Not that this matter, I’m now a fan, and their first album is just as beautiful as the second.

The Civil Wars are Joy Williams and John Paul White who met at a songwriting session in Nashville in 2008. They must have realised their potential as a duo because this collaboration lead to a few EPs, a first album, a lot of touring, and then a second album this month. I have read that they are no longer collaborating due to some types of differences, which is quite a pity, because they really work well together. Nevertheless, I love their music. From some research that I have done they have been categorized as Country, Folk, Indie Folk and Americana – as always I don’t really like to categorise music into one simple genre, so I would say that they cover all of them. Music that focuses mainly on both Joy and John Paul’s voices which sing about relationships, love, and the good, the bad and the ugly that comes with relationships, accompanied by guitars that follow and lead the harmonies.

If you like singer-songwriter duos you definitely need to listen to The Civil Wars. Start with The One That Got Away and Eavesdrop, or just listen to the entire album. It’s worth your time. Now I am going to go back to dreaming about other places and other lives…

Let me in the wall, You've built around, We can light a match, And burn it down, Let me hold your hand, And dance 'round and 'round the flames, In front of us, Dust to dust

Music: Repo Man - All Mind in the Cat House

If you like distortion and grinding guitar riffs, splashes of crazy random saxophone sounds, punk, anger, lyrics that make you think coming from a voice that is sometimes purr, sometimes sarcasm, sometimes scream, then you need to check out Repo Man. Their debut album, All Mind In The Cat House is slated for release on September 9th on Lava Thief.

Think of a band influenced by The Fall or Swans with a touch of Bauhaus, Sonic Youth and The Birthday Party. Have you ever been to a show where you start off just standing there, on the spot, immobile, wondering what all of this is, and then automatically go into a mind space where you want to move like an insane person, pushing things, kicking things, getting something out of your system, and then immediately fall back into that immobile spot, mouth half open, words flowing into your brain, body still electric from the music, ready for more? That's exactly how Repo Man's music make me feel.

You can stream All Mind In The Cat House below for a taste of what I am trying to describe to you:

Here is also a pretty cool video that will give you another view of the band's awesomeness:

And finally - the band's own press release. Check them out, especially if you want or need to be jolted out of apathy:

Repo Man emerged in Bristol in 2011, reshaping 'rock groop' sturm-und-clang into subnormal forms, son-of-Oldham vocal slurries, oozing Free sax splatter and shards of punishing guitar bliss. If you ever freaked to The Fall, Sonic Youth, Swans or Ornette Coleman then Repo may be your ticket to oblivion. Their debut slab of un-poetics 'All Mind in the Cat House' is due for imminent release on Lava Thief.

Repo Man on Bandcamp
About Lava Thief

Music: Desert Stars - Habit Shackles

What do the words “desert stars” invoke in you? For me, they take me to a place where I am sitting on the rocky sand with a blanket over my legs, surrounded by a pure, open silence, and looking up into worlds that we only see from millions of miles away, flickering, bright, unknown worlds that we can only imagine the existence of. Imagination, beauty enveloped in silent dreams. Desert Stars album Habit Shackles evokes exactly that type of feeling in me: music that is dreamy, at times angelic, at times gentle and soft like a fuzzy cloud surrounding you, at times with an edge that teeters on the verge of dream and a nightmare plunge into something deeper and darker, pushing you somewhere that you may not be ready to go to.

There are elements of heartbreak, and sadness within the lyrics and the music that intertwines the words, as well as elements of hope and happiness. It’s the kind of album I want to listen to while lying on my bed, or the beach, or the desert, with my eyes closed, reflecting on my own life, past and future. Pure nostalgia linking every song together as a whole. Beautiful. Harmonies and soaring guitars and words that make you realize that within all of the dreaminess there is a real core that exists.

Desert Stars are Janelle Best, Carrie Ashley Hill, Eric Altesleben, Gregg Giuffré and Jane Herships, and are based in Brooklyn, NY. Their first album, Habit Shackles, was released on July 16th. See links below for more information on the band and how to purchase the album and catch one of their live shows.

My personal favourites: Normal Man, Farewell Decade and Past in the Trash and the amazing guitar sounds in How Hard You Try.

Desert Stars Facebook
Desert Stars Website
Desert Stars Bandcamp

Music: Savages - Silence Yourself

I haven’t written a music post in a while, and this one should have been written ages ago, since their first album came out a few months ago (May 6th to be exact) and I have been listening to it ever since.
Some days I complain to myself that all I listen to is “old” music, and that the only albums I buy are new albums from “old” bands, and that there is not much “new” music that makes me feel the same way my “old” favourites make me feel. You get the drift… And then all of a sudden, out of the blue, a new band will release an album and I will be blown away by it. Completely blown away. And this makes me feel that things are somewhat right in the world again (well from a music standpoint, because outside of that I doubt anything will be ever completely right again). Maybe I need to rephrase: Savages made me feel like everything was right in my music world again.

Seriously. Here we have another band that I want to kick myself for not taking the night off work back in October of last year to see them play live at the Mercury Lounge, because there is no way that they will ever be playing a small venue like that again in this city. In fact, they are playing a sold out show at Webster Hall tomorrow night (Thursday July 11th), and if there is any way you can get in you definitely should. I wish I could, but I really can’t afford a night off work this week… Ah well. Next time. At least I can continue to listen to the album on repeat without getting tired of it!

Savages create music that makes you forget everything around you, let you lose yourself in a whirlwind of sound and emotion, and makes you dance like no one is watching, whether they are or not. Formed in 2011 in London, this all female band released their first album, Silence Yourself, this year. For me they seem to be timeless, and although they have been labeled as “post punk revival”, probably because they mainly fit right in with the sounds of The Cure, Bauhaus, Siouxsie and the Banshees and Joy Division to name a few, for me they are a band I would have loved at 10, at 16, at 25 and now. Timeless. It’s not even about influences, as I honestly don’t listen to or even like every band influenced by The Cure or Nick Cave, it’s more about a perfect match of sound with lyrics that takes me to another place. And being in another place always makes me happy. My happy music, as my sister would call it. Dark, dreamy, raw, powerful and dark. Listening to Silence Yourself makes me feel the same way as I do whenever I listen to Faith.

With powerful vocals (think PJ Harveyesque) and raw lyrics that you can emphasize with, Savages are definitely my new favourites for this year, and I really can’t get enough of them.

Listen to Shut Up, and especially Waiting for a Sign – I have had this one on repeat for a while now. Beautiful song which evokes so many emotions as well as a feeling of power and loss of all power at the same time. Sometimes I feel like they have taken the words that run around my brain all the time and created songs out of them.

No Face -
"Repeat every word I say, Miming another boring day, I have better things to do, Now you’re here I must get rid of you”

Album Review: Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - Push The Sky Away

Anyone who knows me, or even anyone who doesn’t really know me but reads this blog has to understand how much I absolutely love and adore Nick Cave. Nick Cave the musician, the writer, the actor, the poet, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, Grinderman, The Birthday Party… I feel like I have spent most of my life listening to Nick Cave, reading Nick Cave, seeing Nick Cave in concert and so forth. I literally wait for every new album with baited breath, knowing full well that I will never be disappointed. Granted, there are a few albums that I listen to less than others, but I’ve never disliked anything that he and the Bad Seeds have ever produced.

February 18th, 2013 has been outlined in red on my calendar ever since the release date of the 15th studio album, Push the Sky Away was published. My Christmas gift from my brother last year was a pre-order of the limited edition deluxe version of the album (that I hope will arrive tomorrow). I had already previewed the album when it was streaming on NPR Radio last week, but I spent this morning in bed listening to it and taking notes, not wanting to leave the universe that the Bad Seeds had yet again created for me. Listening to this album brings me right back to the same emotions and feelings I had when I first listened to No More Shall We Part back in 2001 (emotions that I still feel every time I listen to it). Happiness, sadness, laughter, pain, intensity, lightness, heartbreak, love; an emotional turmoil that doesn’t leave you until well after the album is over, one that you want to revisit as many times as possible.

If you watch the short making of video that comes with the album download you learn that for this album the band took a different direction than they were used to taking. Instead of creating the songs in the usual Bad Seeds manner, this time Nick Cave would write the lyrics without any type of chords or music in mind, and would bring them to the band to create songs with. On the first listen you can tell that the make-up and creation process was a lot different, and there is an element of surprise (good surprise), but then it feels normal, like an organic process in the band, a new era in the Bad Seeds life, one that works excellently. This is yet another reason why I love this band so much – they never use what has always worked for them in the past and continue along the same route in order to sell records. Instead they surprise themselves and their audience and never give up on enhancing their creation process and the quality of their art. That said, the album may sound different, but it definitely still has that Bad Seeds sound that I love so much.

Every Bad Seeds album has its own underlying theme and Push The Sky Away is no different. A lot of the stories that each song is composed of are based in Brighton (which also happens to be where Nick Cave resides nowadays). I can conjure up images of the seaside in the winter and summer, grey skies and bright sun, and via the recurring water metaphors that can be found in most songs I feel both at peace but also thrown around and churned up by rising swells.  At first glance the entire album sounds stripped down, especially if compared to the previous release, Dig, Lazurus, Dig!!!, but that is quite deceptive. Each song is a story backed by intricate string loops, bass lines, drum beats and background vocals. I feel that at times Warren Ellis creates an element of fear with his strings, but other times the sounds are comforting and warm, at times creating a dissonance with the lyrics, at other times matching the mood entirely.

“The past is the past and it’s here to stay” – We Real Cool

I have no favourite song as of right now, I am still letting the entire album create its permanent imprint on my brain and heart, but a few stand out after the first few listens. Jubilee Street exists in every town and city and everyone can relate to the lyrics and to the sadness the music evokes. The video is stunning too, dark and blurry and probing. 

“You wave and wave with wide lovely eyes, Distant waves and waves of distant love, You wave and say goodbye” Wide Lovely Eyes

Often I feel like I am sitting in a room with Nick Cave and all of the Bad Seeds, and a few other people, drinking wine, smoking cigarettes and listening to him tell us about the dream he had last night, embellishing it with metaphors and images of water, of human nature, of death and decay and ultimately of beauty. Higgs Boson Blues seems to encapsulate the entire feeling of the album in words. The song creates a web of folklore, word play, gloomy, gory stories punctured through-out with mentions of culture, pop culture, history, religion and anti-religion. I love how this song just builds up and makes you feel uncomfortable but completely at ease at the same time. 

“Rainy days always make me sad”  - Higgs Boson Blues

The final song on the album, Push The Sky Away resonates with hope within despair, an image of survival . This song makes me cry, just because it’s so true: “You've got to just, Keep on pushing, Keep on pushing, Push the sky away”. It’s the perfect ending to the album, lifting you up with the beautifully eerie violin sounds, and leaving you feeling elated and ready to take on another day. 

There are really no other words that can evoke the beauty of this entire album, the only way to really experience it is to listen to it and let it take you wherever you need it to take you. My love for Nick Cave will never dwindle, especially as he continues to make me feel this way through his music, and never fails to do anything else. I know I am not alone in thinking this… An ongoing inspiration in my life.

Music: Muse, The 2nd Law and the rest

(This was supposed to be a review of the new Muse album, but I ended up just getting really Muse-nostalgic, so it is what it is…)

Back in what must have been 1999 one of my oldest friends in England, and as obsessed with music as I am, asked me if I had heard of this new band called Muse, because he thought that I would like them. Seeing as everything took a million years to get to France at the time he sent me a couple of EPs and their first studio album, Showbiz. He was SO right, for the next few months I was so obsessed with the album that I would play it over and over again, making all my friends fall in love with them too. There was one epic moment that I will always remember, going up to Chamrousse for the day to ski, 6 of us squashed in the car, driving back down to Grenoble on the (scary) roads right as the snow started to fall, listening to the album full blast and singing along to it, not knowing if we were going to stay on the road or plunge into the darkness down the side of a mountain. Once their second album, Origin of Symmetry, came out (which I bought immediately, including all the CD singles that came out with it), I think it was played in my apartment at least once a day, if not more, especially when we had parties and everyone demanded to listen to it once we were all drunk and/or stoned.

In any case, whenever I listen to Showbiz and Origin, even today, years later, it reminds me of my room in the apartment I shared in Grenoble with Maud, going to classes when we felt like it, writing papers and eventually that thesis, having parties in the apartment with copious amounts of beer and cigarettes and “vin chaud” that we would make on the stove with the cheapest red wine we could find (I still don’t know how we even drank the stuff, the fact that it was warm must have made it more bearable…). I can walk around the streets of New York listening to the songs and place myself right back there, with the same people, the same emotions and the same feelings. It’s always incredible how music never fails to be able to do that. I still play their cover of Feeling Good over and over again (the same song Nina Simone beautifully covered decades ago) when I’m feeling down and need something to remind me of happy times and places. And then I kind of lost interest when they released Absolution. I listened to it many times, but it never gave me the same feelings as the first two albums. When Black Holes and Revelations came out in 2006 I didn’t even bother to buy it, but the first single from the album, Supermassive Black Hole, seemed to follow me all around my 2 week tour of France and Italy, and I couldn’t help falling in love with it. They appeared to be making changes to their style, becoming louder and more on the progressive side of rock than just regular indie rock, creating music that should be seen performed in huge outdoor stadiums rather than mid-size venues. But to be honest, I don’t think I gave the album much time because I can’t really remember listening to it very often.

And then The Resistance was released in 2009. I listened to it over and over again on my ipod, walking to meet my friends for dinner, on the subway to work. More rock opera than anything, it just sounds SO good when you listen to it all in one go, especially when you are walking around the streets of New York. Uplifting and somewhat depressing at the same time, depending on the colour of the sky and the temperature of the wind hitting you. But I honestly can’t reconcile the Muse from 1999 with the Muse of today – they are like two different entities in my mind. Two different bands from different times. 

I was a little wary when I downloaded the most recent release, The 2nd Law. There was no way they were going to strip back again and go back to a less ambitious, sometimes over-the-top style (although that could be a good idea for a next album?). I was worried that it would be even more over-the-top than the predecessor, and on the first listen I realised I was right. Standing on the subway platform, waiting for the train, it hit me that I was either going to admit I loved it, or delete the download after the first listen because I was actually embarrassed about listening to it. I went with the former.

It’s SO over-the-top. But it actually works for some reason I can’t really explain. It’s definitely a follow on from The Resistance in both style and lyrics – while the previous album was all about rising up and taking back our lands and laws, The 2nd Law is about entering a new era post-revolution and surviving it. At times they sound like Queen, at times like Laibach (especially Survival), sometimes like Marillion, sometimes like the other Muse from before, sometimes like something else with a lot of classical opera influences. But in the end it all comes together as a whole and just works. I just don’t see how they can play each song separately live – I can only see the album as a whole rather than a set of separate songs that can be played between other songs from other albums. I guess that just comes from the whole thing feeling like a rock opera based on the ideas of utopia and dystopia and human nature and progress and downfall. It would be a great soundtrack to that book I recently read and wrote about here, America Pacifica.

I still haven’t seen them live, which I regret and don’t at the same time. Maybe this year… I’m a little obsessed with this album right now, I just can’t stop listening to it.

Music: Smashing Pumpkins - Oceania

 Siamese Dream will always remind me first of myself at 16, sitting, actually more lying, on the couch in our living room in Sassenage, France, and listening to the whole album full blast and wishing I could make music like that. Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness will always bring me back to myself at 17, working in a supermarket in England just after , and wishing I were back home in France. It’s funny because for the first year I only really listened to the first CD, and then slowly got to love the second one too, when I finally gave it more time. Adore reminds me of going to Lyon from Grenoble on a day trip with my friend Daphne and buying the album on the day of its French release there, just because I had to have it as soon as it came out. Gish and Siamese Dream are confusion and revelation; Mellon Collie is anger and love and Adore is change and some kind of twisted hope. And then… Nothing. To be honest, I don’t think I have ever listened to Machina/The Machines of God. I certainly didn’t rush out to buy it when it was released, and I remember promising a friend at university I would give it a try, but I never did. This doesn’t mean I stopped listening to the Smashing Pumpkins, just that in my mind they had already broken up. It's just that the Pumpkins are completely nostalgia music for me. And then they came back again, released Zeitgeist, which isn’t a bad album to be honest, and I finally got to see them live, with my sister in Atlantic City in 2008 (I think?!). The show was amazing, even if only 2 of the original members were still in the band.

In the same way that Courtney Love just irritates me nowadays, Billy Corgan makes me want to sigh in exasperation. The guy’s ego is larger than life and he just never seems to know when to shut up. I’m not interested in hearing his jabs at other musicians and music (Radiohead? Really? What have Radiohead ever done to merit Billy Corgan’s loathing?). I listened to Zeitgeist quite a few times in 2008, but to be honest, I don’t know any of the songs off by heart, not like I do with the first 4 albums. So when I heard that the Pumpkins were reforming once again (with only Billy from the original line-up remaining), I kind of just smirked and then forgot about it. That said, while I was waiting to board my flight to California last week I was reading through some blogs I follow on a regular basis, and came across this very positive review of a recent SP show on Fucking Nostalgic. The first sentence of the review caught my attention (especially coming from someone who has never hidden his dislike for Billy Corgan), and made me actually want to listen to the new album, Oceania, to see if it really was all that.

It is. It all fits together perfectly – in essence a matured version of Siamese Dream and Mellon Collie if they had been released as one album. All about love, love lost, nature, divinity and higher powers. A release of some sort, soaring music that picks up and goes on and on, clashing, jarring guitars, flowing back together to create melody from noise. The signature Pumpkins sound is definitely still there (even without hearing Corgan’s voice you know right away that it’s them), but there is something else I can’t completely put my finger on just yet. Maybe it’s just that Corgan has finally found a line-up that works for him, and he’s actually letting them bring their own sounds to his own. In any case, that’s what it sounds like, and I wouldn’t want to analyse Billy Corgan’s thought process too much to find out the real reason. Despite everything I think about him, he still is super talented. He was a big part of the success of Hole’s Celebrity Skin album (which I still love, however polished it may happen to be), and however big his ego seems to have grown over the past decade, he has still managed to release an excellent album that I will probably be listening to all summer. It’s OK, you can still despise the artist and love what he/she produces. I just wish he would let his music speak for itself instead of opening his gob to talk bullshit about other very talented musicians that he was probably inspired by at some point.

You can listen to Oceania for yourself on Spotify HERE. Enjoy.

Music: Garbage - Not Your Kind Of People

 While I am still kicking myself and seething over the fact that I totally missed the fact that Garbage were playing Webster Hall this week, and therefore didn't got to see them, I should at least write about the new album that I've been playing over and over again for the past week. It's funny because when I heard the first single, Blood For Poppies, from the album Not Your Kind Of People a while ago I felt a little let down. I don't know what I was exactly expecting, but I didn't immediately like it for some reason. Now that I have been listening to the whole album multiple times, I actually REALLY like it. Funny how that happens sometimes - maybe I just needed to hear it in conjunction with the rest of the album. In my opinion this album is pure, classic Garbage, the same Garbage I fell in love with back in 1995 when they released their first, eponymous album. In that I don't mean that this new album sounds like the first album, just that it contains the same atmosphere and energy. It sounds like Garbage, but Garbage with a renewed sense of existence and vigour.

We are not your kind of people.
You seem kind of phoney.
Everything's a lie.
We are not your kind of people.
Something in your makeup.
Don't see eye to eye.
Garbage - Not Your Kind of People

When Garbage came out in 1995 it seemed like perfect timing: an album that would work in both a pop and rock setting, catering to pretty much anyone who appreciated good music, especially to those unhappy, uncomfortable and angry teenagers like myself who were already huge Nirvana, Nine Inch Nails and Hole fans.I saved up for that CD with the pretty pink feather artwork and spent many a day and night listening to it with my sister, dancing and singing along to it. What girl hasn't dedicated Stupid Girl to another girl(s) in her life at some point in time? It's one of those eternal anthems that everyone can relate to. And whoever I dedicated it to (I still remember) totally deserved it. For some reason I didn't love the second album, Version 2.0, as much. It's a good album, and I still own it, along with all of the singles (purchased at the little corner shop/cafe on the Main Road in Oakham with money earnt from my shifts at the pub). The release of Beautiful Garbage in 2001 pretty much coincided with me finally seeing them on stage - with The Distillers and No Doubt at what used to be Arco Arena in Sacramento, CA. Garbage definitely stole the show - Shirley is both fragile and powerful on stage, and her voice sounded amazing. For some reason I had always thought that Gwen Stefani's voice would be better live than Shirley Manson's, but it was exactly the opposite. My sister and I managed to get right near the front for Garbage and had a blast. I think I listened to that album over and over again all summer, but then never really went back to it. Fast forward a few years and Bleed Like Me came out, while I was living in London, just before I moved to New York. It became one of those albums, just like the first one, that naturally fit in with a big change in my life, and whenever I listen to it today it reminds me of both leaving behind a city I had never felt at home in and discovering this new city I had already fallen in love with. I had the song Bleed Like Me as my ringtone on my first American cell phone, and kept it for months. The album seemed both dark and light, in equal measures, and it felt like the band had gained a new maturity, especially after the more bubbly pop sound of the previous album. I still like to walk around the city in the rain, listening to this album on my ipod and thinking about the past, the present and the future...

Anyway, as always, I get caught up in nostalgia and dwell on the past more than the actual object of this post, being the present release of Garbage's new album. I really didn't think the band would get back together again, even if they had never actually said they had split up. In my opinion a hiatus is pretty much usually a split so I was super excited to hear that they were working on new material. There are the dancey songs, the slower songs, the heartbreak songs, the empowerment songs, the darker songs, the poppy songs and the rock songs. All of that mixed together; sometimes one song can be dark, empowering, and dancey at the same time, or slow, dark and dancey, if you get my drift. Like when Shirley sings "I hate love" in a pretty, ephemeral voice against a dance beat in the background. I'm sure I will be listening to this album all summer and in a few years will be telling everyone how it reminds me of walking around in the spring rain in Brooklyn, working three different jobs and being generally in love with life as it was at the time. If, when, you buy the album (unless you already have it), make sure you get the deluxe version because the 4 extra songs are worth the couple of extra dollars you need to pay for it. So yes, Garbage still rule my world. And I'm still completely pissed off with myself for not seeing them live this time round. Maybe I will get lucky and they will do another show here at some point this year. One can always hope ;-).

I was like a volcano
Just waiting to explode
But I have been resurrected, reborn
And I have been transformed
I was a green eyed monster
Could you tell I was afraid?
I sat myself down and shot my fear in the face 
Garbage, Man on a Wire

Not as good as the real thing, but nearly:

Music: Spiritualized - Sweet Heart Sweet Light

I make no secret about my love for Spiritualized, so I am of course overjoyed by the fact that the new album is currently streaming on NPR HERE, and will be officially released on April 17th (next Tuesday!! I cannot wait to listen to it over and over and over again on my ipod, at work, at home, walking down the streets, basically everywhere).

I had always liked Spiritualized a lot, but it wasn’t until I saw them live for the first time that I actually fell completely and utterly in love with the music, the lyrics and just the entire performance. Since that time I have seen them live quite a few times, cumulating in the epic performance of Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space at Radio City Music Hall a few years ago (yes, epic epic epic). They are one band I really cannot miss when they come into town, and I won’t be missing them this year either, thanks to my lovely friend Meg who bought me a ticket for my birthday. They are playing Terminal 5 on May 7th (see the official site for more US and world dates) and I intend to get there as early as possible in order to actually get a good spot.

Anyway, I’ve been listening to Sweet Heart Sweet Light over and over again this week and I can’t get enough of it. I don’t know how Jason Pierce actually does it, but he produces amazing lyrics that are actually quite simple at a first glance but astonishingly profound, moving and powerful, and then moulds them together with music to create soaring anthemic songs. I’m not going to stop myself from gushing about this album because it has really made me so happy this week. I think I can just always count on Spiritualized to produce songs that say exactly what I feel inside. I know I’m prone to hyperbole, but I’m really not exaggerating here. Listen and see for yourself.

On the whole I found Sweet Heart Sweet Light to be uplifting. While Songs in A&E had a more fragile feel to it (if you know Jason Pierce’s history it’s easy to understand why), this new album feels stronger and in general happier (if that is really possible, I’m kind of struggling to find the right words here). There is the real rock song Hey Jane, the stripped bare song Freedom, the distorted drug song Heading For The Top and the anthemic Too Late. My absolute favourite is Little Girl, just because the lyrics speak to me so much “Sometimes I wish that I was dead cos only living can feel the pain, sometimes I wish I could fly, you get so grounded and life will pass you by”. The Jesus/God metaphors in Life is a Problem are really smart. I always feel like Jason Pierce’s mentions of God/Jesus/religion are more of a comfort than an actual belief, more like the idea that there is something bigger than oneself out there in the world, rather than an actual belief in God. I could, of course, be wrong, but that’s what it feels like. Like I can’t save myself, but this bigger entity can help me. Make sense? Probably not.

Sweet Heart, Sweet Light is such a beautiful album. I’m just going to listen to it on a loop again all day until I have to go back to work. If you get a chance to see them live, don’t miss it as there really isn’t anything like it!