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 – 32. Big Joanie

Big-Joanie-2

I am not on one side or another here.

I hear something, I like it, I want to share it and, if I can help promote it and perhaps validate it along the way (not that these ladies need my validation, for sure) then that is a looked-for bonus. Incurious, I flick through Facebook and note that a couple of friends (ones whose taste I rate) are thinking of checking out London feminist punk band Big Joanie when they play at The Albert in Brighton in a couple of weeks time. Nice, nice, nice. Been meaning to listen to the ladies again for a while now, so I listen…

Nice nice nice.

Note, while I’m reading up on stuff, that the ladies have an album out The Quietus likes (something about reclamation of space and silence, a cursory comparison to The Breeders, stripped-back sound and a variety of apposite socio-political references). Note that, as ever, The Quietus reviewer is determined to go on for at least 300 words too long but the review does make me decide to listen to Big Joanie’s new songs.

Nice nice nice, but decide I fractionally prefer the production on the old songs more. Prefer them (a little) more when the guitar sound reminds me of The Petticoats. I do like the way the YouTube algorithms take me immediately on to Hole (first time), Solange (second time), Beyoncé (third time) and Skinny Girl Diet (fourth time) following this song.

Nice, nice nice. Resolve to go out to the Brighton show especially as they have a very interesting support act – and then note the day of the Brighton show. Monday. Damn it. The one evening I cannot make. Damn. Resolve instead that I should mention this show and this band on this blog and then wonder if I’ve done enough.

Well, have I?