Silver Jews – Slow Education
When God was young / He made the wind and the sun / And since then it’s been a slow education / And you’ve got that one idea again / The one about dying
I loved the Silver Jews. ‘Slow Education’ is the first song on the first album – Bright Flight (2001) – I ever heard of theirs. So enamoured of the band was I, I stuck a review of the album, which I had cut out of a music magazine, onto my bedroom wall like a soldier, posted overseas, would do to a photo of his sweetheart back home.
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This secret knowledge you have is a strength that lives only inside certain people. It is a strength that will inspire you to do wondrous things – like write stories, or draw pictures, or build rockets that fly to Mars. It will give you the courage to take on anything that the world might put in front of you. It’s a wild power that can be of untold value to the world. Your name, Ptolemy, is a warrior’s name. A boy full of inspiration with a warrior’s name! The world is waiting for you. Blow ‘em away, kid.
Red Hand Files Issue #26
I’ve been a subscriber to Nick Cave’s The Red Hand Files for a few months now, and the answers he’s given to the questions put to him have at turns been thoughtful, frank, honest, funny, cynical, optimistic and lyrical. The Red Hand Files, born out of Cave’s ‘small idea that people were in need of more thoughtful discourse’ separated from social media, is just simply a musician answering questions from people interested in him, his music, and the Bad Seeds, but it feels unique and yes, given the parlous state of communication between people currently, necessary. But overall The Red Hand Files stand as testament to the musician and artist that Nick Cave is.
Reading: Jason Molina: Riding With the Ghost, Erin Osman
Better Oblivion Community Centre – Didn’t Know What I Was in For
Apart from the music he has put out under his own name – and contrary to the label of singer-songwriter he is frequently ascribed – Conor Oberst is primarily a collaborator. All his bands – Commander Venus, Bright Eyes, Desaparecidos, Mystic Valley Band, and Monsters of Folk – have been bands. And Oberst’s latest one is the Better Oblivion Community Centre, a collaboration with Phoebe Bridgers. I haven’t heard all of their debut record, but I’ve heard some of it and I like what I’ve heard so far.
Jason Isbell – Elephant
Jason Isbell is someone who I’d heard of through his association with the Drive-By Truckers, but had never heard any music by him. Then last year I heard his song ‘Live Oak’, which led me to the album Southeastern (2013). ‘Elephant’, like ‘Live Oak’, is a good indication of Southeastern as a whole: affective, never sentimental, crafted songs, which use country music as a touchstone.
Low – Always Up
My younger self would lament the fact, but due to the way I now find out about and then listen to music, new albums take their time to filter through to me, and I’m usually a year behind in my listening. This meant, when I started thinking about what albums I most enjoyed this year, I found the majority were pre-2018.
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