Speaking of songs about death and loss: Stage Four by Touché Amoré. What a perfectly sad and heartwrenching record. Shortly after its release in 2016 I had saved it to my Spotify albums, but never took the time to listen to it. Then a few months ago I read that it was about Jeremy Bolm’s mum dying of cancer and immediately pressed play to take part in his pain. Need I say I loved the songs from the very first second? On the second track, New Halloween, Jeremy sings “I haven’t found the courage to listen to your last message to me”. Then on the last track, Skyscraper, the mother’s last message to her son is included. Something trivial about going to the pharmacy, because life is unfair like that. Your last message is never a wise one because you have no idea you won’t have another chance to say something. My mum’s last text message to me was just something about her and dad having arrived at their home after we’d all been on a daytrip together. I wrote “thanks for today!” She died three days later. I can’t recall whether I spoke to her on the phone between the text message and seeing her lying dead on the bed or not.
Touché Amoré – Flowers and You
Touché Amoré – Rapture
The day before I got engaged, Avicii died. My girlfriend (now fiancée) and I were in Copenhagen over the weekend in order to celebrate our ninth anniversary by getting engaged. We both took Tim Bergling’s passing surprisingly hard. I’ve never listened to his stuff much. I mean, I’ve heard his songs on the radio and I’ve certainly enjoyed most of his stuff – I vividly remember hearing Levels for the first time and being blown away by the loop as well as the vocal sampling – but that’s about it. Nonetheless, my sadness over this stranger’s death was present the whole weekend; a constant contrast to the happiness and love that also filled me. When we got home to Stockholm we watched the documentary Avicii: True Stories, which was a very painful experience. My heart is aching the way it did when I had watched Amy.
Scenes that have stuck with me: Tim’s in a bus talking to some guy about how he’s realized that he’s introvert and that this discovery is a key in understanding himself. The guy asks no questions (!) about this and just looks like he wants the boring conversation to end as quickly as possible; a day after being treated in the hospital, Tim’s in a car with his tour manager. While Tim has the exhausted expression of someone who’s about to collapse any second, his tour manager asks him to do a couple of phone interviews in two hours to let people know he’s “back on track”; Tim trying to postpone entering the stage for his last show by constantly bringing up new subjects to talk about backstage; how there are hardly any women present in this documentary; the final, peaceful scene where Tim’s playing the guitar on the beach.
Tim Bergling was born in 1989, just like me and my girlfriend. I believe this is why his death affected us so much. Someone exactly my age who should experience all the things life still holds for us but now won’t. Someone’s parents who won’t see their kid become an adult like my dad will see me. Someone who just wanted people to listen and understand.
For the first time, I’ve actively listened to Avicii’s music this past week. I like it much more now that he’s gone, sadly. It holds a deeper meaning now, the way music tends to do after the musician’s passing. I wish we could turn back time to when it was just “some DJ stuff” to me. I wish Tim would create new songs that I would hear on the radio every now and then and that would be it. Most of all I wish men in general weren’t afraid to talk about feelings and actually knew how to handle a friend who brings up a difficult subject. But here we are. Present time. I’m sorry if you felt like this was the best way to find peace, Tim. You will be missed by many.
Photo: Emma-Sofia Olsson
Jens Lekman and Annika Norlin have started a new project together called Correspondence. Each month throughout 2018 they will “publish their communication through songs” as they described it here. Some of Jens Lekman’s earlier projects have included Postcards and Ghostwriting, and these inspired him to launch Correspondence:
“As a natural follow up to these projects I came up with the idea to do a similar thing as a correspondence with another songwriter, where the storytelling is central and each song is an answer to or somehow inspired by the last song, a pile of letters building on top of each other to form a picture of the year 2018. I went to the library to do research on correspondence in literature and was struck by how you had to be dead and declared a genius for your correspondence to be published. That’s sad, I thought. I talked to Annika about the idea and we decided this would be great to do together while we were still alive and before we were declared geniuses.” (Quote from Jens Lekman.)
I find this project very interesting as I adore Annika Norlin and I am a big fan of letters as well as unconventional ways of creating music.
You can follow Correspondence on the official website or through Spotify.
There’s an article on NME about what Craig David thinks of the Spice Girls reuniting. Surprisingly enough, this male human being would rather these female human beings weren’t a group creating anything together at all.
Allow me to vomit.
It won’t be authentic? It’s not necessary? Just shut the fuck up, already. I’m sorry, but whenever guys have opinions about what girl power means and doesn’t mean – that disgusts me. So Craig David has decided that women older than 30 are incapable of spreading the message of girl power? Well yes, obviously these “old” women should just stay where they belong – in the shadow – and let grown men continue to own the music scene creating crappy songs that we all wish we’d never had to hear. Who is Craig David to say that music has to be necessary? It’s no secret his latest work is the definition of an embarrassing dad trying to be down with the twenty-somethings. If that’s not pointless, then I don’t know what is.
I’ve never been to therapy after my mum’s death. Or before, for that matter. She’d had cancer for more than 10 years when she passed away at 57. I was 22. It’s been five and a half years. People were telling me I should “go see someone” while my mum was sick as well as after she had died. It’s just always felt more right for me to process everything on my own; in high school I spent many nights playing video games because I couldn’t sleep and risk dreaming of my mum dying; I’ve spent countless hours writing both in my diary and in a notebook I later published on the internet (it’s in Swedish, though) and also writing songs; I’ve done my best to ask myself all the questions I’ve felt an urge to reflect upon or those I’ve thought a therapist would’ve asked me had I gone to see one. Some ways better and more effective than others, obviously. But talking to a stranger has just never been my thing.
Reading about similar situations has also helped, of course. Many times in the form of novels. Other times in magazines. Surely I’ve seen some films on the subject. But most of all: music. Listening to music about death and loss and basically being the one standing beside, watching someone you love fade away has helped me in ways I can’t even describe. This is still what does most for me when it comes to dealing with the void after my mum. Music has a special way of feeding me new thoughts and evoking new questions I need to contemplate. I’m terrified of what happens if I ever stop actively searching for these new perspectives. Pianos Become the Teeth’s music has helped me more than any other when it comes to this. In the most heartbreaking way, Kyle Durfey’s lyrics often deal with his father’s death. Kyle is always one step ahead of me. When Pianos released The Lack Long After I dreaded the day that I would fully be able to relate to all those songs about losing a parent (I once wrote a letter to Kyle about this); on their latest release Wait for Love the song Blue describes the duality of utmost happiness on one hand and deepest sorrow on the other. The happy part: Kyle now has a child. The sad part: Kyle’s dad will never meet Kyle’s child and vice versa. Finding a way of handling the fact that I’m currently happier with myself and my life than I’ve ever been but that I’ll never share this with my mum occupies most of my brain activity these days. If or when I have a kid… I can’t even think of that. It’s one of those new thoughts brought to me, and now I’m going to spend a lot of time reflecting upon how I might handle that situation. Thanks, Kyle. I’m forever grateful for all you’ve written.
On the topic of death, loss and moving on carrying your experiences: I recently found a record that would turn out to be one of my favorites of all time. I am already sure of this. It was basically written for my emo soul. This I wasn’t ready for on my way to work the other morning when I listened to it for the first time, because I never would’ve chosen that time to consume it had I known. The record is A Crow Looked at Me by Mount Eerie and every song intimately describes Phil Elverum’s undying love of his dead wife. On Real Death, the first track, Phil sings about when he opened a package sent to his dead wife containing a backpack she had bought for their daughter. The following track, Seaweed, begins with “Our daughter is one and a half / You’ve been dead eleven days”. Need I say my heart was punctured by this record? The lyrics and melodies combined perfectly depict the mood I was in and what I experienced after my mum had passed: the everyday chores as a constant in times of chaos, how the presence of death froze all creativity, the quiet melodies because anything else is too much to handle, how meaningless it is trying to find meaning in death because it is truly meaningless, the absurdity in situations such as the one with Phil and the backpack – or like in my case, when I called to cancel mum’s appointments or cleaned out her office or when her phone received a message from someone who had no idea she had died and my family and I had to decide whether to reply or not. Phil has said that the album is “barely music”. Much like being alive shortly after someone you love has died is barely life, I guess.
I’m not saying that listening to records such as Wait for Love and A Crow Looked at Me is better than a therapy session. I wouldn’t know. All I know is that I like spending time with myself and my thoughts and that these albums offer about 40 minutes each of just that.
Filed under indie, post rock
Thank. You. Mighty. Power.
This cover of Pedro the Lion’s Bad Things to Such Good People is perfect.
Spent my Sunday morning listening to Don’t Take Our Filth Away by Duck. Little Brother, Duck! A very solid, fun record full of energy. Everybody Loves Screamo is a good start if you’ve never heard this band before:
If you like what you hear, you can listen to Duck. Little Brother, Duck! on Spotify or grab some free music here and here.
Duck. Little Brother, Duck! currently have 5 738 listeners on Last.fm.
A band I really miss is Meleeh. Their 2007 release Heartland is one of those favorite records where I find something new every time I listen to it. It also holds one of my favorite lines: “From nothingness I will slowly perish” (from Black Blizzard).
If you are in the mood for some melodic, Swedish hardcore music:
Listen to Meleeh on Spotify.
Meleeh currently have 5 503 listeners on Last.fm. Depressingly undiscovered.
25: A song that reminds you of a former friend
Good Charlotte – The Anthem
When I first heard Good Charlotte my life changed. I know it sounds big – exaggerated even – but it’s true. First of all, they were the first “alternative” band I became obsessed with like I had previously been obsessed with Aaron Carter or the Backstreet Boys. A lot of people think of “obsessed” as something negative, but that has never been the case for me. I was unconditionally dedicated. Second of all, this was the first time I had someone to share my love with. What is nowadays a former friend was my most important friend back then. We spent countless hours discussing and listening to pop punk, alternative rock and punk rock. We learned to play guitar just because we wanted to play the songs we loved. We sat in front of the TV waiting for music videos such as The Anthem in order to record them on VHS and view them over and over again. Learning every single shot by heart. Every afternoon and evening we would scan every single homepage and forum we knew thoroughly in order to find out more about our favorite bands, especially Good Charlotte. Saving all pictures we could find and sorting them into folders on our computers. As often as possible we took the train to Stockholm and spent all our money on imported pop and rock magazines and of course any band merch we could find. The alternative music scene in general was the glue that kept us together for a long time. I will forever cherish the memories I have from my youth that was preoccupied by fan culture more than anything else. And those years wouldn’t have been half as fun without my friend. We never speak anymore, but whenever I hear a song by a band we loved I’m filled with happy thoughts.
I was in desperate need of something new. Music I hadn’t heard thousands of times before. An album where I had no idea where the next track would be taking me. I love that feeling. I’m in the passenger seat and have no control whatsoever. Luckily, I decided to check out Sarah Klang’s debut Love in the Milky Way and now she has taken me on a trip to space. Yes. Listening to the album literally feels like being an astronaut floating all alone in space. The lack of gravity. The weirdness. The absolute silence outside the helmet where these songs are playing. It is wonderful.
Love in the Milky Way is groundbreaking and impossible not to love.
Sarah Klang – Strangers
Sarah Klang – Left Me on Fire
Listen to Sarah Klang on Spotify.
Sarah Klang currently has 5 579 listeners on Last.fm. She’s a total hype in Sweden right now, though.
24: A cover song.
This is one of my absolute favorites when it comes to covers:
Anna Ternheim – Shoreline
And this is the original song:
Broder Daniel – Shoreline. This is an iconic song in Sweden.
I have a Spotify playlist for covers, in case you are interested. Click here to listen and follow!
Sure, 2017 held a lot of great new music, but to me it mostly stands out as a year of two great disappointments. Sadly. As I wrote in this post from November 2016, blink-182 were supposed to visit Sweden in 2017 to play their first full show here in 17 years. With just three weeks to go they canceled the show with no decent explanation. I am well aware that blink-182 do not owe me an explanation in any way, but after having looked forward to this intensely for more than six months (and, well, basically for the more part of my life) it was a huge let down to say the least. After the news that they weren’t coming I lost the inspiration and lust to attend concerts in general. A weird feeling to me, who is used to going to shows regularly. Up until then, live music had been one of my most important contexts and showing interest in shows had sort of been a way of identifying myself. Writing this post now I feel quite ridiculous; a band has canceled a concert, god damnit; stop with the silliness reserved for the privileged who have nothing more important to worry about. But still, this has affected my year and still affects me somehow. During my vacation that summer I only went to one concert and this fall I don’t think I’ve attended more than three shows and one festival (to compare: last fall I went to twelve shows and one festival). Okay, I should stop writing about this. It sounds dumb now that I see it on print. I should let it go and move on with my life. So, here’s the final closure on this matter: fuck you, blink, and I still love you to pieces.
Now to the second disappointment. In August I was out of my mind because Brand New had released a record that I claimed to be pure genius. From the very first seconds of Science Fiction I knew I was going to love it deeply. Honestly, just looking at the album art before even listening to it made me positive. Incredibly dreamy. It was literally impossible for me to stop listening to the record because it had everything I could ever wish for when it comes to Brand New and, well, music overall. I was a Care Bear with colorful hearts shooting out of my stomach. In November that would all change in a second when the headline “Woman Accuses Jesse Lacey of Soliciting Nude Photos From Her at 15” came across my screen. From that moment, I had lost Brand New – one of my all time favorite bands – forever. Don’t get me wrong; I think the world of these women who have come forward to tell the truth about someone I’ve admired and idolized for so long. It makes me sick and disgusted that someone who has brought me so much joy throughout the years has caused others anxiety and pain. Realizing this about Jesse Lacey has been exhausting. I know that’s nothing compared to the victims and of course I am not at all important in this, but that doesn’t change the fact that the news about Jesse had an impact on my life. Finding other music to listen to instead of Brand New won’t be difficult – the world is full of smashing songs – but it’s still sad that those songs that I cherished are dead to me now. I haven’t listened to Brand New since I found out about Jesse but I’m quite sure that I will do so one last time later on. Closure, in some way. I’ll listen to their discography once again, and since my brain is the same I’ll undoubtedly still like the melodies and the vocals but I imagine none of it will bring me any joy anymore. All meaning will be lost. It will be sad, but okay. I will always be grateful for what Brand New’s music has meant to me in the past; it has helped me discover more great tunes and genres, it has inspired my own songwriting more than any other music, it has been part of creating awesome memories and starting discussions about music and production and fandom and worship. But while my past cannot be changed, in my present and my future there’s no room for Jesse Lacey, his disgusting actions or Brand New’s tainted legacy. I wish the victims my best and I hope they are well despite all. If you are interested, you can read about the abuse here and here. One of the victims’ stories can be read here. I also recommend reading “The End Of An Emo Era Is Breaking My Teenage Heart” by Shannon Keating, “The Specific Betrayal Of Brand New” by Zoe Camp and “Unraveling The Sexism Of Emo’s Third Wave” by Jenn Pelly. Thoughtful pieces.
With the above I simply wanted to state that 2017 was a stormy year. And from that I’ll move on to the yearly stats, captured from my Last.fm profile:
Tiny Moving Parts released a new video and I like it very much.
Filed under emo, math rock
When I read the headline “Liam Gallagher’s solo album is being promoted with posters of his best tweets” over at NME, I immediately knew everything about that article was going to be flawless.
(Picture borrowed from NME.)
This is brilliant, brilliant, brilliant.
23: A song that reminds you of your parents.
Benny Anderssons orkester and Tommy Körberg – Fait Accompli
MUM: This was one of my mum’s favorite songs. She would turn up the volume every time she heard it. I especially remember one time when we were in the car on the Swedish country roads and Fait Accompli came on the radio. The saxophone in the intro started playing and mum was all “I LOVE this one!” and sang along with Tommy Körberg throughout the song. I’ve loved it too since that very moment.
Gipsy Kings – Djobi, Djoba
DAD: Friday nights meant cooking a nice dinner and listening to music when I was a kid. Just hanging out together, basically. We would listen to anything from mum and dad’s record collection, but a handful of those records were the ones we constantly returned to, year after year. During my early years I remember dad would often pick Gipsy King’s Greatest Hits record for these nights. To me, it became very associated with weekends and a special feeling of being home (safe and happy). As I grew older I found myself picking the very same record more often than many others.