On the bus home the other evening I voluntarily checked out mentally by switching on to the lives of others via social media. It was a visual journey I instantly regretted. Detailed close ups of faces describing the need to get their eyebrows tended to, or showcasing an array of designer handbags and captioning it with something completely unrelated to the image alludes to the mindless compulsion — not to mention a self-importance complex —amongst the public figures that are supposedly influencing future generations to share these banalities and indulgences. The vacuous content Was so infuriating on this particular bus journey because these bloggers and influencers, as they are known, are being praised despite the fact of not actually doing anything interesting or original. Today, you can make a career from sharing content that is by no means imaginative or socially enriching. In fact, when you compare them you will notice that they are clones wearing the same off the shoulder tops and promoting lip injections not because it’s the latest thing to have, but because it’s empowering, apparently. All you need is the drive to buy clothes and spend an insurmountable amount of time in front of a mirror to perfect your image and not worry about the asset that makes you a unique person; your brain. It’s terrifying to see so many young people relying upon possession to define their existence and quantify their social worth. It was a simpler and purer time before this online takeover, people used to be passionate and inspiring.
On Friday, Leonard Cohen released You Want It Darker, his fourteenth studio album (that number does not include the eight live albums and eight compilation albums that broaden his discography). Throughout the album, the eighty-two year old Cohen confronts his inevitable mortality. His ability to use language with vivid abandon is just as effective now as when he was a younger man writing lustily about relationships and sex. His music has always been a sincere medium of self-expression which always felt like he was writing because it was meaningful to him and not for notoriety or money. But, instead to capture a moment or a person in a song. Next year will mark the fiftieth anniversary of his debut, Songs of Leonard Cohen. One of the most revered love songs, ‘So Long, Marianne’ is on that album and last July Marianne Ihlen, the inspiration for the song passed away. Cohen wrote to his former lover shortly before she died. In his goodbye he said, “Well Marianne, it’s come to this time when we are really so old and our bodies are falling apart and I think I will follow you very soon. Know that I am so close behind you that if you stretch out your hand, I think you can reach mine.” In a wonderfully poetic way, this parting of lives is mirrored in the lyrics written five decades before, “Your letters they all say that you’re beside me now. Then why do I feel alone?” Thinking about Leonard Cohen in this way caused me great sadness, because I was struck by the enormity of loss that 2016 will be remembered for. The deaths of David Bowie, Prince, Harper Lee and Terry Wogan illuminate that we are rapidly losing the great innovators and people of a generation that cared tremendously about their craft and made their audiences so incredibly happy. It’s sad to think that we don’t have so many figures like that today and that the incentive to reach out on a widespread platform has shifted from creative sincerity to unimaginative self obsession driven by image and money.
I Have A Tribe – ‘Cuckoo’ (Grönland Records)
Dubliner, Patrick O’Laoghaire writes music that will enchant you with the pangs of nostalgia that characterise the songs he composes under the moniker, I Have A Tribe. This is perfectly captured in the video for his latest single, ‘Cuckoo’, filmed in Berlin on a gloriously golden end-of-summer evening. O’Laoghaire performs the song in a studio adorned with eye-catching drawings and paintings and a gathering of friends enjoying the band play the song. Watching the video it’s hard not to catch yourself getting lost in the memories of the months that have just passed with the same golden tint to the picture show happening in your mind. There is a line in the song that goes, “Long is the night time, long is the day.” This is particularly true now when the warmth of the sunshine on bare skin is replaced by hastened footsteps to lessen momentary shivers that winter brings. Once you have gorgeous songs to listen to, it makes time and those seemingly fleeting moments more enjoyable, ones that will become memories.
Andy Shauf – ‘Quite Like You’ (Anti Records)
Andy Shauf’s fourth studio album The Party features songs that tell stories of different characters and scenarios we encounter at almost every social gathering that involves a house, friends, strangers and alcohol. ‘Quite Like You’ depicts the age old conundrum; boy is stoned and playing video games while the girl is wistful and bleary eyed in a corner when another guy approaches her, giving her the comfort and attention he feels she deserves. A brightly animated video with extra terrestrial creatures at the party accompanies Shauf’s current single, which is both light hearted but uncomfortably accurate.
Porches – ‘Shaver’ (Domino)
In the extremely lo-fi video for Porches’ video for ‘Shaver’ there is a lampshade of a bum that makes you immediately think of Tina Belcher from Bob’s Burgers. If ever there was a piece of home furnishing that you wish you could present to someone as an act of goodwill it would be that very piece in Aaron Maine’s latest visual offering. Aside from that, the 80s style to Porches’ music is effortlessly embodied with improvisational dancing by Rebecca Warzer, who co-directed the video with Maya Laner. While it isn’t a contender for video of the year, it certainly warrants its inclusion as a pick for one of the better videos to come out of this week.
Action Bronson – ‘Durag vs Headband’ (Atlantic Recording Corporation)
Big Body Bes on a white horse, a collection of oversized eggs, a reference to Wayne’s World, a pram full of explosives and blood flowing down the bonnet of a BMW. It could only be the latest music video by former chef-turned-rapper, Action Bronson.
Notable Mention…. R.I.P. to Music, A Scare Before Halloween.
blink-182 – ‘She’s Out Of Her Mind’
(Viking Wizard Eyes)
We’re currently swimming against the tide of new music from washed out bands that need to evaluate why they continue to release music when the flame of passion has been extinguished. Everything about ‘She’s Out of Control’ by blink-182 may just be the most baffling and horrendous musical effort of 2016. Let us not forget that Kaiser Chiefs, Kings of Leon and Green Day also felt the need to unleash and burn our ears with records this year. Words fail me. If only Tom Delonge was still on board with blink instead of working with the American government on other worldly activity then we may have been saved from this unidentifiable failure overload.