How NOT to write about music – 162. Slum Of Legs vs Porridge Radio

Brighton_Pier_at_dusk

Two bands have dominated my musical existence (community? taste? listening?) since my return from Brisbane five years ago. Both are from Brighton. Both have/are releasing albums (one their second, the other their debut) right now. One is going slightly above the parapet and is being written about in effusive fashion in a variety of places – Pitchfork, NME, The Quietus, the regulars. One isn’t – or not so much. Both should be everywhere, all the time. I do not love both bands equally because that would be insane, see patronising. Equal but differently.

I want to use this moment to record that my brain is currently imploding from the sheer musical wonderment of it all, especially as I got sent both albums the week I discovered the debut Roxy Music album 45 years on. I simply cannot process all this magik all at once. Give me space! Give me space. It is enough for me to know that others are taking note, others are feeling as enthused and confused and wired and charged as I have been by this splurge of music and awkwardness and humanity and passion over the last five years. This is music that is not just my heartland but that which defines me. I cannot imagine life without either, and it makes no sense to engage with…

When you’re sad, you’re invisible
A flicker at the edge of an eyeball
When you’re sad, you’re invisible
A flicker at the edge of the disco
At least we are not a painted
Macabre French
Sensation
Benetint & Malevolence 06:49

Collectively, I have written about the two bands on at least 20 occasions… and NONE of those for the mainstream (or even alternative mainstream) press… and yet I am not listening to either album from either band, just revelling in the knowledge they exist and they exist and they exist… this behaviour is similar to the way I way I reacted in the early 1980s when I never actually listened to the first two Birthday Party albums or UT on vinyl because I DID NOT NEED TO, I had the wonderful unpredictable charged unfocused focused live experiences to buoy me, to charge me, even (with Slum of Legs) if it’s been several years now.

My musical memories have never been at fault.
It’s just everything else.

GO DIY GO DIY GO DIY GO DIY GO DIY GO DIY
GO DIY GO DIY GO DIY GO DIY GO DIY GO DIY
GO DIY GO DIY GO DIY GO DIY GO DIY GO DIY
GO DIY GO DIY GO DIY GO DIY GO DIY GO DIY

My mum says that I look like a nervous wreck
Because I bite my nails right down to the flesh
And sometimes, I am just a child, writing letters to myself
Wishing out loud you were dead, and then taking it back
And I used to be ashamed until I learned I love the game
And I slowly move away from everything I knew about you
And my mum gave me this pen, she said it lights up when you press it
And you are still so depressed, and I like that you need me
You will like me when you meet me
You will like me when you meet me
You will like me when you meet me
You might even fall in love
Sweet 03:44

Members of both bands have given me support at crucial moments: and I want to thank them now because I know I ain’t always so good at communicating away from my Other Self.

GO DIY GO DIY GO DIY GO DIY GO DIY GO DIY
GO DIY GO DIY GO DIY GO DIY GO DIY GO DIY
GO DIY GO DIY GO DIY GO DIY GO DIY GO DIY
GO DIY GO DIY GO DIY GO DIY GO DIY GO DIY

Someone commented recently, “do you know how hard it is to keep the same group of six people together for five years?”

GO DIY GO DIY GO DIY GO DIY GO DIY GO DIY
GO DIY GO DIY GO DIY GO DIY GO DIY GO DIY
GO DIY GO DIY GO DIY GO DIY GO DIY GO DIY
GO DIY GO DIY GO DIY GO DIY GO DIY GO DIY

Now, I am cross with myself. How dare I devalue one band by mentioning the other? There are links: some obvious, some not: but that is not the point. Listen to this. Listen to this. I just want to say this to you.

I was thinking of a compromise
When I saw the beauty in your eyes
It heightened something in me so I’ll say so

Now I just want to say this to you
Listen to this, listen to this,
I want to say this to you
You never know, oh oh
(Here we go)
I love you, I love you
I love you, and it’s true and it’s true and it’s true

Listen to This – Dexys Midnight Runners

With its looming ferris wheel and wooden pier, Margolin notes that Coney Island loosely resembles Brighton, the college town on England’s south coast where she met her bandmates and formed Porridge Radio in 2015. What began as Margolin’s lo-fi solo project has evolved into a fierce wrecking crew fueled by unvarnished angst. On the group’s lurching new album, Every Bad—their first release for esteemed indie imprint Secretly Canadian—Margolin is a snarling antisocial who’s constantly at war with her body and mind.
(Pitchfork)

Since emerging with a three-song tape in 2013, Brighton’s Slum Of Legs have maintained the same six-strong lineup, and do you have any idea how hard that is? (In this specific instance, neither do I, but statistically speaking one expects a limb or two to drop off now and then.) Their self-titled debut album, on Nottingham/Bristol label Spurge, is their first release since 2015, but Slum Of Legs’ component parts circa singles ‘Doll Like’ and ‘Begin To Dissolve’ – Krauty/proggy discord, post punk jags, indie pop froth, feminist rhetoric equally exaltatory and condemnatory – remain in place on these ten numbers.
(The Quietus)

Somewhere, I think this fits. Awkwardly. Don’t force it.

They’re loud, they’re smart and they want us to be better people. Porridge Radio are about to conquer the planet with their breakthrough album ‘Every Bad’, a record of art-rock mantras that betrays their towering ambition and cocksure spirit. Matthew Neale talks to singer Dana Margolin about being hailed by Nirvana’s best mate, the dread of being branded a political band and why it’s important to make a difference.
(NME)

 

How NOT to write about music – 158. Slum Of Legs

Slum_of_Legs

Here’s the deal. Other pundits will give you more considered, nuanced takes on Brighton’s Slum Of Legs – whose debut self-titled album has just been released, four or five years later than some of us might have hoped. They will use words like “post punk jags” and “indie pop froth” and draw comparisons to names such as Mary Timony, The Ex and… oh just go and read the bloody thing, why don’t you? That’s all fine and good. That’s what decent critics do. Contemporise, extemporise, cheer lead. Shake those fluffy pom-poms. Look serious. Make relevant contextual (social, political, cultural) connections so the reader can understand without listening.

Me? I just say, have a fucking listen.

Me? I say, have a listen.

Critics do what critics must. I long ago gave up such trappings.

Me? Slum Of Legs inspired me to plagiarise a much-loved children’s book.

I view myself as a fangirl, camping out for days before the event in the hope of touching the hem of the anointed garment, throwing away marriages and happiness in a futile quest to put across my adoration for music.

Case study one.

I’m gone. Solid. Stuck here, thinking. Stuck here, thinking that Tamsin can articulate loneliness and hope and the thrill of the dance floor much better than I ever could. Stuck here, entertained thoroughly by all the shenanigans going on on stage. Stuck like glue. Stuck here. Of course it is sadder not to dance at all than to dance alone. Of course we all – kindred souls us; the trans folk, the gentile hipsters, the students, the old and weary – are stuck on the edge of a dance floor, not allowed in except for brief brilliant bursts of crimson. Of course my head is bobbing. Stuck, caught in a trance. Paralysed. Doll-like. The difference between Slum Of Legs and most anyone else is that if Slum Of Legs don’t get me, they’d tell me to my face. (Not Brisbane at all, then.)

Check the title of the blog entry again. I agree, with the benefit of years of isolation. that it is open to misinterpretation. At the time, all I wanted was to communicate was my passion for the music. And that was it. As I wrote in July 2015, “For 35 brief minutes I have found my home again. I leave just as Tamsin is pulling down the keyboard-player on top of her, and catch my bus with two minutes to spare”.

NOTE: the pull quote above is referring to the song in the YouTube clip.

Let the other critics do what critics must: validate, disseminate,  converse, add layers of understanding and enjoyment. It has been five years now, and I am still not quite ready to listen to the new Slum Of Legs album. Let me savour the anticipation (“Anticipation is so much better” – Delta 5) for a bit longer. Please. I will get back in contact when I have: some moments are too important to rush.

Me? I cannot do any of that. Right now, I want to savour the memory of when I saw Slum Of Legs perform for the first time – a mere month after our return from Brisbane – and felt that yes, there may be a place for me here after all. Let me savour the memory of a time when I had a home and friends and I was in love with Brighton and music and Slum Of Legs once more.

I walked down to the venue, savouring the warm summer evening. I caught the bus back home, with two minutes to spare.

I had a home.

How NOT to write about music – 128. Porridge Radio

porridge-radio-lilac-secretly-canadian-press-photo

The problem here is the bar.

The bar is insanely high, No, not for them you dunderhead. For me.

I do not know. Honestly, I do not know where I can go from here. Never known. That remains consistent, but… no. I do not k

now. Ever since those heady few months after my/our return from Brisbane and it felt that momentarily life was going to be OK and new friends were announcing themselves  and I was able to speak to people and I wasn’t stuck, I wasn’t uncomfortable and I wasn’t stuck. I knew how to make you feel better, so it seemed. In fact, I was buzzing and I was flying and for the first time in years it felt like I could still achieve anything and I saw 40 seconds of the greatest band

And then it stopped.

Not right then. But that was…

…and that was FOUR YEARS AGO fuck has my life gone into reverse, not just decline reverse and for 22 months now I have been stuck. A quagmire. A deluge. A sticking point.  (And sat here, typing these words, this is the 1%… you do not get to see below the surface. It is not possible.) I have been stuck.

And I honestly do not know what to say. The culmination of those 40 seconds of madness, of calamity, of tragedy, was that I formed a book company and for a few weeks I was not stuck, I was not stuck, we did get better, we did get kinder, we did get better, we did manage to…

not be stuck.

And the culmination of those months of horror of never-dawning realisation (now, it is not real: now, I do not need to interact with anyone so I can pretend is is not real: now, I can have breakdowns and crying jags and floor collapses and public/private fantasies because no one FUCKING NO ONE pays attention) was that I ended up playing a series of shows with some incredible people, musicians who encapsulate everythi

ng I believe to be pure and true and troubled about live music – and especially Maria and Dana, and now here they are together and I really do not know what to say.

wow.

fucking wow.

What bothers me most about Dana’s music is the way she uncannily seems to sum up, emody, articulate my stuck emotions but in a way that others can relate to, swo

on over, appreciate. Oh wait. 1) of course, prolific and always examining, always moving along. 2) the uncanniness. And now here she is with Maria on violin. Wow. This is what…

yeah, I remember those heights.

how could i forget

I had to hide my real feelings last time I reported on Dana playing live – and man, it feels that her band is near the ONLY band that have existed for me in – what? – four fucking years.

“I want us to be kinder to ourselves/and to each other/I don’t want to get bitter/I want us to get fitter/I want us to become good to ourselves and each other” she laments over and over again on this, the greatest song you will ever hear whether you live to be 21 or 203…

….and I had to hide my feelings because I was totally spooked by her performance because not only did it feel like every song she hiccuped and waisailled her way through that night was aimed at me AND ME FUCKING ALONE, OK? even though I k

new that clearly could not be true but it also felt like I was the one up there on stage not her singing those half made-up all incredible songs, me in my glitter size 10 high heels, placing the song on repeat, repeat, constant repeat.

I am stuck. I am stuck. And I have no idea what to fucking write.

I have written many times already

and now ace U.S. label Secretly Canadian

have signed them and there is no disconnect, it is still the same people – still bruised and hurtling and caring and musical and inventive and challenging – and Maria is there as well. O

ne of the fiercest rows I had before the divorce was connected with a review I wrote of Maria and her band: and all I was attempting to do in my own humble haphazard hubris way was to express how passionate how alive how full of wonder the music made me fe

e

l.

I can understand now if it was open to misinterpretation but really, that was not

.

And now? Now? You know what. I really would go fucking out snaps fingers to see this band play anxiety and depression or no. I avoided watching them last year or whenever it was because they made me feel totally inadequate, impotent – but listening to t

his song over and over in my glitter high heels, I realise that – as ever – it is me who has missed the point. You know the greatest thing about Porridge Radio in December 2019? For a few glorious minutes, they make me feel adequate again… and that is the greatest magic of all.

I am.

My body’s so uncomfortable.

So talented. So aware.

So smitten. Is it OK that I finally type the words “I have a crush on the singer with Porridge Radio”? I am only talking music here. I AM ONLY TALKING ABOUT MUSIC HERE. Fuck’s sake.

Everything.

#EveryfuckingthingthatIfuckingcherishandloveandadoreaboutmusic