Monday, July 04, 2016

The map has been redrawn.

When I last wrote, just over two weeks ago, I suppose that I was doing one of those most-British-of-things that is hoping-for-the-best and that everything would work out fine. 

It didn't and it is all our own fault. All of us - not just the 52% that voted leave - for sleepwalking to this point over a period of approximately twenty-five years.

Reading now what I posted then only serves to make me think that, five days before the referendum, I had more grave reservations about the outcome than I was prepared to admit, even to myself. This isn't a blog about politics it is one about music, but conveniently the two are inextricably linked.
A new journey is starting and nobody can tell how it will play out or where it will lead...
The Leave campaign used the slogan...  'I Want My Country Back!' ...whatever that actually means. I just want to share my country with whoever from wherever can see the tolerance, diversity and virtues that it really has.

The UK has long been at the cross-roads of music; absorbing, assimilating, creating and exporting with the whole work-piece on repeat-play. I'm pretty sure that this situation isn't about to change at all. Indeed the sense of fracture and of political upheaval may well spawn new creative directions. Music, whether making or consuming, is a good use of anger and disaffection.
The question right here is what music do I choose to illuminate this and where to start?
It is US Independence Day, which event we didn't much like at the time, so that was one possibility. I'll return to that but have decided to start by looking across an narrower stretch of water to a country that we have screwed-over more times than any other. It's almost certain that, in ignorance, we've just done so once again.
About this time last summer I became aware of a couple of acts from Ireland that prompted me to pay more attention to what has been developing there over the last couple of years. This is where I shall start.

September Girls - Age Of Indignation (Fortuna Pop!, 15 April 2016).

This is the second LP from the Dublin five-piece, and the sequel to 2014 LP 'Cursing The Sea'. Their music combines a range of trends from 1980s guitar and synth rock to 1960s girl bands. It is on this album that they find their own recipe for that cocktail, musically and also in the subject matter of the songs. It concerns a number of the ills that have affected, or in some cases have simply continued to afflict, their home country since the financial meltdown of 2008. It isn't about "Brexit" or what might happen in coming months and years.

It may possibly prove to be something of a template. Either way it is a mighty fine piece of work and this is a band that is currently very near the top of my "need-to-see-live" list.

On the other hand we now have some very stark home-grown divisions within the UK, and not just between its constituent parts. I have wondered for the last ten days or so what new music might be being worked up in response to all of this. Whatever it is I'm looking forward to hearing it...

I am well aware that I am writing from the seat of my pants here, and that I might tweak a few raw nerves in so-doing but, after almost ten years and 1200 published posts, I feel that if I don't let go and air my thoughts right now then I probably never will. I may regret doing so; but the alternative is far worse.
This next LP is one that is about the rather numerous parts of England that are far less beautiful or glamorous than the paeans to cultural tourism such as Stonehenge, Stratford on Avon and York. Some of them are just as interesting, in so far as concerns the wider cultural situation, as well as being a whole lot more authentic and edgy.

Kate Jackson - British Road Movies (Hoo Ha Records, 20 May 2016).

Kate Jackson was once the lead vocalist of The Long Blondes, a Sheffield five-piece whose members had all attended university in that city. She is originally from Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk. This LP has been a very long time in the making - Jackson and Bernard Butler (he plays guitar and co-produces) have been working on this sporadically since late 2008. It's time might be now.

I rather think that I should have started with the next track 'The End Of Reason' instead.

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