New Year, new me.
That’s how every January begins, a justification for the preceding weeks and months of indulgences or unsavoury behaviour. It’s a vague acknowledgement that you feel the need to change the traffic of your body and mind. But, how can everyone be expected to synchronise to reprogram themselves as they enter into a new year?
This year, however, there has been a universal renouncement of resolutions. Over the last two weeks I have read so many pieces and spoken to people about how they will no longer subscribe to this (mostly) short lived period of cutting out gluten, going to the gym twelve times a week and going ‘dry’ for January. There are the convictions to be charitable, take up a hobby and that this will be the year you meet the significant other of your dreams. Projecting these ideals is dangerous because when you’re having a drink with friends after a particularly glutenous and glutinous dinner you’re going to feel bad, like a failure. When really you haven’t doe anything wrong, you’ve simply done what you wanted to do. No one should put unnecessary pressure on themselves, that’s far more damaging to one’s self-esteem than the guilt of a biscuit. Reflection is an instinctual feeling to have at this time of the year but it shouldn’t thrust you into making uncharted changes, especially if you aren’t ready to make those changes. People are constantly changing, and a lot of that happens subconsciously without the catalyst of resolutions.
I’ve never been one for making resolutions. I know I cannot stick to them and I don’t see the benefit of denying myself of something that brings me enjoyment, no matter how fleeting it is. Instead, this January I made a list of movies and books that I want to complete. The list will be there and I can visit it whenever I want but I won’t be limited to the titles on it, either. It’s merely a reminder. There’s a song called, ‘Be Not So Fearful’, which is lyrically perfect if you are feeling pressured to do as everyone expects you to. Written by English musician Bill Fay in the 1970s, his albums were not a commercial success upon release and he was subsequently dropped by his label. Expectations were not met and taunts of failure were projected onto Fay whom would hide away for two decades as he felt no one was interested in his music, until a revival of his music in the 1990s when his albums were reissued. In 2010, Richard Swift and Damien Jurado covered the song for their collaborative album, Other People’s Songs Volume One. The first two verses of the song have become engrained in my brain over the last two weeks and knowing that they’re nestled somewhere up there makes me feel mentally equipped for a year of uncertainty.
“Be not so nervous, be not so frail.
Someone watches you, you will not fail.
Be not so nervous, be not so frail.
Be not so nervous, be not so frail.
Be not so sorry for what you’ve done
You must forget them now, it’s done.
And when you wake up you will find that you can run
Be not so sorry for what you’ve done.
Be not so sorry for what you’ve done.”
David Bowie – ‘No Plan’ (Columbia)
The video for ‘No Plan’ was released a few days shy of the first anniversary of David Bowie’s death. A beautiful softness in the musicality and Bowie’s voice in the song make it so easy to listen to on repeat. The simplicity of the video manages to subtly pay homage to the impact he had and continues to have on those that find themselves guided by his music, and that it has an ability to bring people -strangers, even- together.
Molly Burch – ‘Try’ (Captured Tracks)
The pain in the arse that is unrequited love is the subject of this song. It’s not brooding night time despair though; it’s a pleading, daytime ache. It’s upbeat and light. She isn’t hurting so much as wanting. Really wanting. Burch grew up with influences like Nina Simone and Patsy Cline. She sees ‘Try’ as lounge music, and it shares a dividing wall with a Latin lounge siren barely restraining all that wasted passion. “You know I … I would wait a million years for this.” Her expansive voice glides from emergent purr to deep rumbling. And as lyrical hope lurches from maybe, to no chance, the video jumps from black and white to colour. The desert is the backdrop. Not just arid and scrubby, also handsome and natural, like this love would be if it was given a chance.
The Molochs – ‘Charlie’s Lips’ (Innovative Leisure)
Like all the best 60’s nostalgia ‘Charlie’s Lips’ lies on a bed of swirling Hammond organ, punctuated with tumbling drum fills straight out of Beatles B-Side ‘Rain’. The Brian Jonestown Massacre echoes heavily as perfect beat-group pop is put through the lo-fi ringer. The same approach is taken with the video, a love child of late night 90’s infomercial and tedious staff-training video. Turtle necks, typewriters and a hero named Charlie, sometimes it’s the simple things.
Foxygen – ‘On Lankershim’ (Jagjaguwar)
Imagine an orgy. An orgy where the participants, perpetrators and prodders are cultural references. You’re half way to grasping the gist of ‘On Lankershim’. After a sped up, demented vaudeville, carnival intro we’ll call the awkward handshake phase, the senses are visually assaulted by a bastardised version of Kevin Arnold’s super-eight ‘Wonder Years’ home movies. The piano intro to Elton John’s ‘Tiny Dancer’ morphs into drive-time Eagles before crescendo builds to a dramatic, Ziggy-era, Bowiesque finale. There’s a lot going on, you recognised most of it, but you’re not sure where to look.
Cate Le Bon – ‘Rock Pool’ (Drag City)
After a busy year following the release of her fourth album, touring and writing more music, Cate Le Bon follows on the Crab Day aesthetic with kaleidoscopic colours that reflect the non-constrained flow of her guitar riffs and endearing Welsh affectation to her singing. ‘Rock Pool’ gives us a glimpse into the EP of the same title which is due to come out at the end of the month. The sparse landscape and the filter of various bright hues of the video cannot but make you think of David Bowie’s ‘Ashes To Ashes’ video maintaining the relevance and modernity of his creative output thirty-seven years ago.