How NOT to write about music – 122. Hurtling

Here is what you should know about me.

  1. I don’t listen to music these days.
  2. I don’t communicate with people these days, outside of work.
  3. I suffer from depression, loneliness.

I know that on the rare occasions I listen to music (now, for instance) it immediately serves to lift my mood. It affords me a high – artificial, temporary or authentic WHO GIVES A SHIT, what matters is the feeling. You may query why I do not listen to music constantly when I am alone (outside work) to counter the effects of 2) and 3).  That is a reasonable question. The answer lies in the very nature of 2) and 3). Plus, I am still beating myself up 18 months after my divorce. (Do I think I am a bad person? Probably.) There is a circle happening. It is vicious. If I could get 1) happening then 2) might not happen and 3) could be reversed, possibly. But because 3) happens, 2) happens and thus 1) happens because overwhelmingly I have come to realise how much music has served to bring community and friendship into my life. Last night, I did not see Tropical Fuck Storm play live in London. The night before, I did not see Tropical Fuck Storm play live in Brighton. I had plenty of notice for both, and could easily have managed the journey. In all probability, this means less than nothing to you, dear imaginary reader. To me, however… even in the depths of my despair in Brisbane I would have made the show. They’re my fucking favourite Australian rock band for fucking fuck’s sake, brilliant. Inspired. Life-affirming.

See 1), 2) and 3).

You nay have noticed that on this blog I increasingly write about pop music, Top 40 stuff. (My god, how great is that title track from the new Charlie’s Angels movie?) The reason for this is straightforward enough: I no longer immerse myself in music (or I do very rarely, which amounts to the same thing). So I need the quick fix, the easy buzz. Ariana cooing about how she wants a new boyfriend? Blam! Lizzo reliving glory moments of the 70s? Blam. Listening to music on the train does not cut it. Too many distractions, and also the music is there to serve another purpose – to block the outside world, the stifling grey, the braying laughter.

So here is what you should also know about me.

I haven’t completely given up. Not yet. The faint echoes of “I’m Everett True, bitch” come back to haunt me, mockingly. Occasionally, the stars will align, the mood will be right. I will turn on the music. And you know the fuck what? The music so rarely lets me down. This evening, I finally got round to listening to this London band Hurtling. I’ve been meaning to, for a couple of weeks now. Don’t know the first thing about them, but here’s why.

  1. The dude at their record company sent me their CD.
  2. Neil Kulkarni gave them a shout-out on Facebook.

More than enough reason. I’d have taken it off, 10 seconds in, if I hadn’t liked the way it sounded: waver-y and woozy, lots of loud-soft loud-soft dynamics and fuzzed-out distorted guitars and a female vocal that burns and connects to sweetly with my heightened frightened senses that I spend half the time thinking, wow man Madder Rose were such an underrated band of the 90s man, and half the time thinking, god damn god fucking damn Throwing Muses really were the fucking greatest band of the late 80s, 90s , 00s and whatever decade you deign to name and I am such a dotard retard for not ALWAYS acknowledging this, and then another half the time thinking that this music – and fuck the comparisons – is making me feel so high, so alive, so ready to take on anyfuckingthing again and fuck 1), 2) and 3). I have no idea why the dude from their record company did send me the CD but… thanks.

Good job I didn’t read the press release before I wrote any of this, or I wouldn’t have even bothered playing the album. Yes, it does mention Smashing Pumpkins. I did think that occasionally I heard a little Veruca Salt but.. no man no. No fucking way.

The press release also calls it alt. rock but this if this is alt. rock then it is alt. rock from those wonderful five seconds when alt. rock was not a dirty word. In places, this is Bitch Magnet good.

Listen to this one, and hey fuck yeah. I’m still Everett True bitch and I ain’t dead yet.


How NOT to write about music – 118. Madder Rose

Madder Rose

It’s cold and grey here. I’m ill.

It’s cold and grey here. I’m ill – under the weather, at least. I would much rather be in at work: there’s people there, people and warmth. I am typing this blog entry on my laptop because I am currently waiting for an electrician to show up to fix my power which keeps cutting in and out. No power, no heat. No power, no hot water. No power, no fun. So, because I am typing up this entry on my laptop and because my fingers are numb with cold, I keep missing the keyboard and having to go back over my words and re-enter them. No power, no fun.

This is not a good moment to talk about the return of my early 1990s New York sweethearts, Madder Rose. I associate their music with laughter; laughter, hope and expectation; laughter, alcohol and spontaneous performances in the Midwest somewhere; laughter and long van rides and Adamsville TN sheriff Buford Pusser; late nights that never ended and melancholy harmonies and cascading arpeggios of abrasion; the final episode of Cheers – or was it Friends – and fast friendships that felt like they’d last for years, and isolation, and pulsating New York nightclubs and missed chances. Another inch, they – and I – could have been so big. Still. They headlined the second stage at the Reading Festival (1994 – not a good year for me). Their first two albums (bruised beauties each) sold 100,000 copies apiece. But they (and I) could have been so much bigger. Big enough so we might have something to tell our children about on cold grey days in Haywards Heath with no electricity and little warmth.

The past is a foreign country. They do things exactly the same there, fucked by the oligarchy and the system and the ever-declining health system and growing older and… I told you this isn’t a good moment to be writing about the return of my early 1990s New York sweethearts, Madder Rose.

They had songs that matched any.

Their songs held fragile, sparking beauty at the heart of the tumult. Songs, like the rain when it’s gorgeous teeming rain transforming the streets of Seattle and Brisbane and New York City, but also the rain when it’s miserable and grinding away at your well-being. Rain. Melancholy. Beauty. A voice and a searing guitar and a killer rhythm section and some gorgeous songs to give your life away for. The Velvet Underground, Shop Assistants, Mazzy Star, Madder Rose. Is there anything better?

I ask that question today and I already know the answer.

Your arms in a wild rotation. Your arms in a wild rotation.

I am so pleased they have returned.


There is an interview here, if you are interested in finding out more.

You can buy the new album here. If you love Madder Rose (or any of the bands I mention here) there is no way you’re not going to love this.

I Lost the War: I wrote this in my head while on a trip to NYC. My girlfriend and I were down to see the Bowie exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum, and we ran into Matt Verta-Ray on Rivington Street. Matt and I talked about doing some songs together, just the two of us, and I tried to write one that might be suitable. I quickly realized that we should include it on the Madder Rose record, instead. A lot of relationships feel like war these days – not just romantic ones, but work and spiritual and financial and political and sexual ones, too. How did everyone get so angry? I’m not sure. Maybe they should listen to this song – surely that will help. Rick had been pointedly suggesting that I put more guitar on the record, so there are nine tracks of it on here. No comment from Rick, as yet. Guess I shoulda’ put ten. Matt on bass – this sounds a lot like we used to, back when we were young and new, when Melody Maker would send Everett True across the sea to ride around with us in our van.
(from the sleeve notes)