Drugs influence taste, well, my taste for drugs

IMG_0536

I don’t do drugs, I am drugs.” Salvador Dali

When I was a kid, I used to look up at the sky at twilight in wonderment. It seemed to hold so many possibilities and secrets. The azure blanket sent sparks all around my brain, setting off a demented creativity. I would write weird stories, come up with silly songs; think about a future where I wouldn’t be an accountant or engineer like everyone I knew. I wanted to explore the otherness of the world around me, the flashing lights in the sky, the wrong colours of the morning, the glow around people that wasn’t from the Ready Brek commercials. I didn’t want the boring cycle of cigarettes leading to alcohol all the way to heroin. Fuck that, I thought, looking up at that blue sky, the entrance to space as I saw it. This was my gateway drug.

Back in the late eighties, early nineties, certain freedoms seemed to enfold. There was a push away from conservatism, toward activism and self-expression. The city streets were filled with identity. Goths, metallers, punks, indie types, grunge, clubbers and a fair few paisley shirts could be seen on a sunny afternoon in any park anywhere, all trying to carve out their corner of the universe. The schoolbag was your canvas and your social media account: The Pixies and the Stone Roses; The Cure and the Smiths; Metallica and Slayer. Take one look at the schoolbag and you knew roughly who this guy or girl was. Those who had nothing on their schoolbags belonged to a world that seemed to abhor creativity. I mean, fuck them. Probably got them free from their local bank.

We were the Generation X-ers. A term which I hate as it fits into the niche of the marketing rather than the human experience. We weren’t all out wandering about like we were living in the Douglas Coupland novel. Maybe we were a little more disaffected about society than the baby boomers and maybe there was a more nihilistic quality to the art that flourished in that time. However, plenty seized on the money train and those who grew up to be politicians followed the same template as those who came before them. So who were these Generation X-ers? I was a slacker by heart but a worker by necessity. When I left school it became apparent that everybody financed their weekends with the drudgery of a working week. Who was I to go against that wretched tide? The art that was created had to be worked at and refined. It was a serious business and its legacy can be seen in that all the bands from the slacker era are still gigging and producing nearly 30 years later.

Naturally, staring at the sky led me to want to see it in different ways, with a constant soundtrack running through my head usually through a skinny silver Sony walkman, an artefact which I still miss because post-punk doesn’t sound right to me on digital devices. I wanted to see that sky through different eyes, with different emotions. Identifying myself as an other meant I did exactly the same things as everyone else like me, but I considered it individual. The first hit off that cigarette waiting for the bus at 7am would give you a headrush for at least twenty minutes before you had that second cigarette upstairs on the bus, full volume Ride album smashing your eardrums as with every other sleepy soul in that foggy vehicle. My greasy long hair didn’t really work as long hair in the conventional sense but it was mine. I looked pale and like shit most of the time. This was the look I was going for. I can’t imagine that sullen fucker’s face being a profile pic in today’s vanity driven social world. My vanity was completely at odds with reality, existing in my head, a place I longed to get out of.

Everything seemed a bit more real in the 90s. There was a conscious attempt to get away from the 1980s and all its shiny accoutrements. The jet set life of Duran Duran, cocaine, models and champagne didn’t fit in well with the grim realities of unemployment, terrorism and social upheavel. You had to search out your favourite bands, getting excited if an Iron Maiden or House of Love album appeared in your tiny record shop or repeatedly harassing the owner whether he had the latest Fall or Wedding Present album. It was a cycle: save up the money, hit the shop, buy the album. Listen on repeat for two weeks then start the process again. I still know the lyrics to albums I haven’t listened to in 25 years. I kept the cassettes beside my bed which as a 12 year old provided a tiny curtain to hide the empty cans of beer behind. Experimentation is the key to creativity right? So swig a bit of Harp, realise it was disgusting, hide the can under the bed. Swig some stout. Ugh I hate this. Swig another bottle of stout. How do people drink this stuff? More and more and more…until my mother cleaned my room, pulled back the bed and found thirty empty cans. She cried and cried despite my protestations that every 12-year-old experiments and I wasn’t a raging alcoholic.

My eldest sister got me into smoking which I remind her of to this day. 1987, I was at U2, my first gig, wide eyed with wonderment. Lou Reed was there too. Who was this guy? That guy’s amazing. People were drinking cans, everyone was smoking. I was a sports nut but these people seemed cool, so this is where it was at. Sis handed me a fag and asked if I wanted a drag. I didn’t hesitate and started a lung support structure which would only end a few months shy of my 40th birthday. I know it is ridiculous, but smoking WAS cool despite what the ads said. It was. Maybe not for the non-smokers, but smokers looked at each other with a “we’re dying together” sense of community. Like the schoolbags you could tell what kind of person you were by what you smoked. I smoked Marlboro Reds from a young age because I was into all things American. The USA was cool, unlike today. The lead crackled as you dragged the smoke into your immortal body. Tarantino, Jim Jarmusch, David Lynch. Their movies formed me. Everyone smoked.

“Hair and drug-use issues notwithstanding, I’ve never thought of you as any less than professional.” ― Thomas Pynchon

My other sister and her friend introduced me to hash. I was the cool younger brother on display. I’d do anything to be cool. Being cool wasn’t a vanity thing for me. It was what seemed to be the mode d’emploie. The first hit from the joint didn’t make me cough but acted as a giant weight which sat on my soul pushing me down on to the carpet and forcing me to look up at the sky. That blue sky from earlier now looked fucking amazing, displaying an array of possibilities. This was where this fourteen-year old wanted to be. From then on, this was as important to me as the rugby team I was playing for, the writing, the friends. There were a lot of drugs out there and I wanted them and I wanted to get fucked up. It was a plan, right?

I drifted toward people who looked like they would get me what I wanted. There was very little weed around when I was a teenager, so hash was the only option. Leb or Soapbar. Soap always was a happy fun time drug, making music immersive and the world a bit brighter. We were knee-deep in the grunge phase and drugs formed part of the miserabilism (except it was fun). These days at school discos, the girls are dressed like Kardashians, whereas in the 90s it was plaid shirts, big jumpers, big pants and wooly hats. Well, apart from the line dancers. Nothing prepares you for the shock of finding out that people you knew all your life donned cowboy shirts and formation danced, all fuelled by a combination of Budweiser and vodka. Being stoned in that scene did bad things for your karma. I drank as much as I could find too. There was no point where I found real life acceptable. Everything had to have an edge. An evening would be for getting wasted. The daytime could be more pleasurable with a small amount of acid.

I found hash led me to my more indie tastes. As Linklater’s “Slacker” came out, a movie about people in Austen, Texas just hanging around, I decided to work hard at doing nothing, but well. With the lazy ramshackle music of Pavement and Mudhoney and then the darker Nick Cave stuff, I formed an identity (mostly hidden) but recognised by my own type. It was almost masonic. You are like me, we are not like them. I slouched from here to there. Got some of my more conservative friends to start taking stuff. Like a dick, I pressurised them. They agreed but I had to be careful how far I pushed my druggy agenda, because not everyone is mentally capable of this world. Later, I would include myself in this category. Working hard at being a slacker was generally exhausting.

Soon, you began to notice the styles around you. We were drifting into acid, while others were heading straight to ecstasy. Being misanthropic, the Tolkienesque world of blue skies, nature and walking around for 12 hours in tie-dyed t-shirts appealed to me more than the dayglo t-shirts and fiver in the wallet mentality of clubbers. However, dance music  invaded my world, not so much through the house music crowd, but the grimy, weirdo intelligent dance music, Aphex Twin side of it. The clubs were dirtier, purposefully. The drugs were dirtier. People danced in t-shirts that should have been thrown out years ago. There was an nihilistic spirit to the whole enterprise. Whereas the loved up crowd would want to hug everyone, the underlying sinister vibes of the places I went added to the excitement. The trip was all that mattered. Something had to be constantly happening.

What I did notice the more I made drugs my existence was the commonplace situation of being in a dealer’s flat. The grim, shitty pretence of having to like this person to get them a) not to rip you off and b) shut up long enough that you could get your stuff and get the fuck out of there. Friends decided that the dealer was their friend and that hanging out there was the ultimate experience. People from well-off backgrounds were suddenly spouting urban patois. Also, individual identities changed. Colour drained out of my friends. Their clothes became, well, just like everybody else’s. There was no style. These drugs opened their minds but the culture closed them rapidly. I got sick of these dealers and found my own way of getting stuff.

Whether you sniff it smoke it eat it or shove it up your ass the result is the same: addiction.”  ― William Burroughs

Grunge ended after Cobain died. Music got darker and so did I. Drugs became a crutch. Industrial music invaded my world and I shaved most of my hair off, leaving a floppy mess on top, and started dressing in black. When I get dark, I actually get dark. I was smoking constantly, drinking constantly with the aid of my little wraps of dirty speed. My friends and I would take a load of speed, hit the pub, drink hysterical amounts of alcohol, run out of speed and all get blind drunk instantly before last orders. It was a fun game, except you had to be an accountant to factor in the cost of the speed with all the booze. The upside of all this was that you were hilarious, the down side was that you were hilarious and completely unattractive to most women. I was hardly a catch with a smudge of greasy hair, my over worn Pigface t-shirt and my speed-driven gum rolling. I once went on a date where both of us realised we were on speed by our last drink. Despite having a great evening, she looked at me and I at her and we both thought, “You lied to me!”

Around the time I started messing with cocaine, my drug use had become cliched, and I also started to suffer anxiety. I had a tendency to fly from rooms and friends got really annoyed because they thought I was just being an asshole. I would throw them out of my place because I could feel the adrenaline rushing and needed to be alone. I didn’t know what was happening to me, so naturally, of course, I assumed I was dying. One night after a particularly heavy session, I had a full on panic attack. Thinking it was my heart, I crawled down to my parents’ room and forced them to bring me to the hospital. My dad, pissed off, drove fast and at one point turned and asked, “Do you have a pain in your chest?” I said, “No.” And he went, “You’re not having a heart attack so.”

The Junior Doctor forced to deal with me turned out to be a beautiful girl who I kinda knew from across the road. My anxiety had gone and the horrible sensation of realising where I was at in my life kicked in. She tried to not feel contempt for me. I mean she really tried. A few weeks later I tried to cure a panic attack with a line of cocaine. Don’t recommend it. This was smack bang the end of my drug adventures. It was done, over, kaput. I had overdone it. I had become boring and the people who I used to have so much fun with were boring druggies too. I suffered with anxiety for a number of years before I started to turn around. I was caught in a hinterland where I had lost a fair few friends, my taste in clothes was functional and I had shaved my head because I had no more imagination. I had started a new career and needed to become that guy, a working stiff. Something which I have never quite recovered from.

Years later, I was sitting in a bar chatting to my best friend feeling sorry for myself about where I was at in my life and career and wishing maybe I had cooled it a bit back in my youth and concentrated more on becoming a doctor or whatever. I knew stupid people who had passed me by. I received invitations to school events, but didn’t want to see those people. I complained about my stupidity. He was getting pissed off at me and eventually cracked, grabbed me by the shoulders and loudly said,

“Shut the fuck up. I was there. I saw you. You had a fucking great time. Even at the end when things started getting shitty, you were still having a better fucking time than some of the rest of us. You did it to yourself. No-one else. You. And you had a ball.”

“Unlike some men, I had never drunk for boldness or charm or wit; I had used alcohol for precisely what it was, a depressant to check the mental exhilaration produced by extended sobriety.”  ― Frederick Exley

Meet (be me) Manifesto

loungeact

Somedays you wake up and realise what a mess you are so here’s how to become that mess. God is dead as Hawkes Chesney once said. The following is simply my munki guide of things that I won’t do and behaviours I can’t tolerate. Let your own guide be equally as long and pointless. Like life, see?

“For success is dying in a way that doesn’t cause mucho bothers to others. Kapiche?”
Gene Simmons from Kiss

  1. Do not wear flip-flops for fuck sake
    It seems like such a practical item until you realise they were invented by Belphegor who was not only a prince of hell who encouraged men with promises of wealth; he also found time to push the boundaries of flip-flops by making them widely available in the world outside of swimming pools. It is impossible to walk quickly in flip-flops or get anything useful done.
  2. Do not wear a t-shirt with a pocket
    Hmm. How do I make a perfectly plain t-shirt more exciting to please my boss and I’m on deadline and I have a hangover and my girlfriend left me and I hate everyone and if it wasn’t that my mother was proud of me I would end it all. What’s the pocket for Bob? Em…Tea bags. Cool.
  3. Do not wear slip-ons
    In other countries this may be a done thing, but in Irlanda of the 80s, slip-ons were accompanied by white socks and usually a black flag and occasional balaclava to y’know, accessorise.
  4. Do not wear slip-ons with designs
    Terrorist!
  5. Do not wear the band’s t-shirt when going to their gig unless it is a metal band, then it is acceptable enough.

    s-l300

    This Chris de Burgh fan was raptured as he entered Chris de Burgh

  6. Shoes with no socks is like fucking a dead person.
    Again, it works in other countries where people are basically attractive, but in Irlanda it is a red flag for sweaty feet, verucas, fungal infections or that drunk who lost his socks but will be commended for managing to get his shoes on. Also known to take off trousers over shoes. Y’know that guy. He’s a survivor.

    aa-Cover-8m1j3lqtht5n85fhd265j7st26-20180419144454.Medi

    How’ye lads? Yahweh, is it? Satzenbrau please.

  7. Men+ white trousers=Hades this way lies. Q.E.D
    Unless you’re Johnny Logan, you’re not going to pull it off. That’s what Johnny Logan says…
  8. Shades in Irlanda
    It’s presumably obvious that if you drive and Audi or BMW you will wear shades even at night because the last thing you want to do is not conform to a stereotype. Some people can get away with it, but until recently in Irlanda it hasn’t been THAT bright. I mean not since 1976: the last time an outbreak of happiness and bad water management hit the country. Also the Irlandese will look like pall-bearers at an IRA funeral.
  9. Do not wear a shirt or t-shirt with a designer logo, unless that logo is the picture of the poor child that has caught its head in a weaving machine, then you’re just being a dick deliberately, so minor kudos.
    Or if you’re Chevy Chase.
  10. An alligator on a shirt is a kick in the genitals to a poor orphan child. It really, really is.
  11. A man bun should not be worn over the age of 20
    There are better ways to start your midlife crises than an unimpressive ponytail. (Write me for better ways. Done ’em all)
  12. Grow a beard. No it’s cool. You’ll be the only fucking one, honest.
    If Karl Marx only knew the trend he started he would be spinning in his pauper’s grave (Irish education right there).
  13. One selfie at most per year and try for fuck sake to at least be ironic about it.
    It’s easy to take a selfie at face value, until you become objective about it and realise what process weirdness is going on in the scenario. This will lead you to believe the person is going through some kind of crisis but…Oh, look 96 likes.
  14. Just coz Nick Cave does it doesn’t mean everyone should walk around a crowd like they’re fucking Jesus or Nick Cave.
  15. Try centrist politics America or just give up.
    The coincidence that your entire political system sits nicely within the parameters of Twitter is unfortunate. The inability to distinguish yourself as a human being with the ability to have a whole range of ideas and communicate them to other people is frankly un-fucking-evolved. Greatest country in your hoop more like.
  16. Boycott ‘Nuala Carey” She ruined TellyBingo for me.
    I will not repeat her name but she is essentially William H. Macy in “The Cooler.” I used to win loads of money on TellyBingo and then she presented and now I owe fucking TellyBingo money. How does this happen? Fuck you Arcade Fire. Come back Shirley.
  17. Saying ‘End of’ at the end of a rant pretty much explains what a fuck-gannet you were with all the preceding words.
    Why do people think with such certainty that they know everything? They don’t. It’s impossible. Also include “I’ll think you’ll find that” and “I’m sorry but..” Usually will have an alligator on chest for leisure wear. Something for the weekend, sir?
  18. Don’t lionise politicians just because they do one good fucking thing.
    Leo Varadkar and Simon Harris got a lot of kudos for the result in the recent referendum for the amazing hard work done by loads of women throughout history, whose innards politicians were playing Russian roulette with. Still, that Leo blooper reel. Laugh? I did not.
  19. Don’t use ‘my missus’ or ‘my bird’ or ‘her indoors.’ Not only does it suggest you have time-travelled from the 1970s series “On the Buses” but is also suggests you are in some kind of control. You are not.
    “Ah, but Jaysus, the lads down the pub say it and dey are the greatest like and dey talk about de burds and de tits and, and, and bleedin Halawa and peeeeeedoes and Billy said the blacks are taking over he did and, and, and, and, and food stamps and the gays. Ah, Jaysus.”
  20. Don’t drink and drive. You’re only fooling the dead child under your front wheel.
    Again, you are not in control of anything while sober. What makes you think that this changes with alcohol? Maybe sit home and read some philosophy or build a birdhouse. Write a novel or crochet a blanket. Just don’t drive a Ford Mondeo over the faces of some poor suspecting humans because you wanted that one more pint of not very good lager.
  21. If you absolutely have to use the demeaning-to-women word ‘cunt,’ direct it at office stationary only.
    Keyboards and mouses especially.
  22. Look up at the sky sometimes. It helps.
    Especially if you’re feeling grim or are trapped in a hole ready to be killed by a 1990s horror character with a name that will never be as good as “The Hitcher” so why did they even bother?
  23. Saying ‘I’m not racist but’ leads to everyone thinking that you would never say that to another race.
    You ARE racist. You are racist against races that haven’t been discovered by you yet.
  24. ‘I’m too long in the tooth’ actually means you are just a lazy prick and the company should stop paying you.
    You will not learn anything new and may as well just die on the spot. Stop ruining my day with your, your vibes.
  25. Michael McIntyre’s jokes are probably not Michael McIntyre’s jokes.
  26. Having an alter-ego over 30 is pathetic. Committing to it means you are probably mentally ill. Call Bressie immediately.

    IMG_3240-600x480

    Porrberacee

  27. Instagramming pictures of your breakfast is fine. Do not do it if your breakfast is tragic.
    It may also make you mentally ill. It’s food. It’s your food. You are not aesthetic at all. Food makes you shit. Sometimes quicker than at other times. Add coffee. Doesn’t matter how pretty it is, you’re going to shit. That’s what I think when I see breakfast on Instagram. That person will soon take a shit.
  28. Echoing David Cross’s sentiment, does anyone have a solid shit after 30?
    Do they?
  29. Office politics are pointless.
    Whenever it happens. Take a step back, then take a deep breath and then take another step back straight into the elevator, then out the front door and never go back. Never ever go back.
  30. Don’t try to be like your parents. They watched Glenroe; you watched the Wire. They saw Kennedy; you saw Trump. Alternate realities.
    You have nothing in common. Just leave it.
  31. It is easy to avoid reality television by not watching it or reading about it or knowing anyone who knows anything about it
  32. Crisps become very important over the age of 30. Go with it. It can replace religion in your life.
    Shove that shit in your face while quaffing wine. Do it. Go for a run the next morning, whatever. The pleasure of shoving crisps in between your fillings may be the meaning of life. The taste, the artificial pleasure, the…the… Oh my. (With that I am raptured)
  33. Fighting people on Twitter is the equivalent of getting into an argument with a family member. There will never be a winner. This is America…boom boom
    Dogs sniffing each other’s asses have more dignity than twitter warriors.
  34. Stop going to festivals. You’re only encouraging them.
    Go to a gig in a pub or at your local venue. Go somewhere with just music and a bar. No gourmet burgers or fucking wraps. Just a shitty band at a shitty venue. It’s good for the soul.
  35. Do not do the fucking sheet trick with dogs. Leave them alone. Why confuse an already confused slave animal.
    It’s not for their benefit. You could theoretically do the same thing to the elderly in a home. Also these animals adore you unequivocally and look to you for guidance. What happens when you fall down a well? Your retriever will be thinking, “Ha, fuck you. You’re not going to get me with that one again. Wanker. Oh look, a butt.”
  36. Waistcoats: I mean c’mon?
    Maybe, just maybe it’s acceptable in a period drama. Or if you’re Michael Flatley, because I doubt if he has any other clothes.
  37. Bow ties: STOP, like. Unless you’re this guy.  The brother wears what the brother wants.
    cq5dam.web.1200.675
    Very few adults can get away with wearing a dickie bow and not looking like they are making their first Communion. Very few.
  38. Do not buy an expensive car for social status, buy a small car with a fuck-off engine and see if them pricks will catch you. (Except a Golf. Don’t be that person)
    Or get a dickie bow.
  39. Cleanliness is close to Godliness. Do not lie with pigs, I think.
  40. Do not read reviews if you have your own personal taste on things. Why disagree with someone whose taste you don’t give a shit about in the first place?
  41. Something was good. It’s not good anymore, but it was good. Still better than your sorry excuse for a life.
    No one will remember you.
  42. Having one really good friend is better than having a thousand, unless your one really good friend is the reason you haven’t got a thousand friends. Fuck you, George.
    I want as few people as possible at my funeral because the awkwardness of being at funerals of people you don’t really know should be taken into account when you’re sticking a body in the ground. This applies to weddings too when you’re sticking a body in the ground.
  43. I am not impressed by your sexual prowess as I am not impressed with your saxophone skills. I don’t care who you fucked or that you can play “Blue Train.” Fair fucks but you are making me feel inadequate, thanks.
  44. As an atheist, do not tell your child that he has no soul. Tell other people’s children instead.
    Then they’ll tell their friends who will tell your kid and it’ll all be sorted.

    It’s the circle of life
    And it moves us all
    Through despair and hope
    Through faith and love
    God is dead

  45. NAZI PUNKS FUCK OFF
  46. Smoke ’em if you got ’em.
    Then quit and wish you had some. (Every fucking day)
  47. Keep on keeping on or until the logical magical conclusion.
  48. Power is always ruined by one clever cynical prick in the corner of the office. Absolute power is ruined by a bunch of cynical pricks in the corner of the office.
  49. Got tattoos? Well, so do grannies on your local beach. Not so underground now are ya, punk?
  50. Borderline psychosis leads to mlogging. Be careful…everyone else.
    Go back 49 paces to item 1 and repeat Ad infinitum.

Stretchpants of the year Part one (Or how did jennifer Lawrence get outacted by a dying French woman and a six-year-old Bayou child and still win an Oscar?)

Miley's year boomed when she had her tongue replaced by that of a Black lab.

Miley’s year boomed when she had her tongue replaced by that of a Black lab.

Stretchy New Year with a barrel of brown acid and Steppenwolf’s trippy oncoming to you.

In a lost year when the only thing that seemed to happen was that thinking man’s crash test dummy Miley Cyrus became increasingly uncomfortable to look at. Irlanda leader Enda Kenny surprised the Irlandese by exclaiming that we were all going to be okay, when in fact it was only he and his friends who were going to be okay. A lot of great music came out, mostly from bands that are really old in Miley’s tonguey head.

Stretch looked at Pitchfork’s top one million albums for inspiration and realised he’d forgotten to write a promised Trainspotting article. Stretch dinnae know half that shit, ken. Stretch thought to hisel. Nae be relevant man na more. ‘s the fuckin skeetles. Ah bah, wha I do knaa es that not a caboodle u that Pitchfawk shite will be anybut fuckin relevant this time next year. Tennants ya!

So, methinks like a rabid munki, I should throw out a few suggestions as to what was nice last year and there’ll be a Stretchcast out on the day whenever the fuck I finish this reportage. Like mah pissant granddaddy before me, I couldn’t but give the peoples what they wanted, especially when they hadn’t asked for it and even more so that they don’t really want it. It’s enough to make ‘mad as a box of potatoes’ Sinead O’Connor’s face tattoos cry.

Jennifer Lawrence though. What the fuck? Right?

Bonobo-Cyriak-_Cirrus-_001_E-e13591831967201

Bonobo: The North Borders

This is definitely not the best Bonobo album, but The North Borders provided a warmth of sound and beautiful sonic sound scape that fits perfectly with Simon Green’s back catalogue. The first song “First Fires” features strings and the mellow (nasal) voice of the brilliant Grey Reverend. From then on your mind is dropped into the album, with the snappy, choppy beats and what sounds like the hand rails of the lifts in my place of employ. In fact everyday I use that lift, I tap out the beat to Cirrus and wonder how Green managed to get into the locked down building and record without the annoyance of our marketing department. For reference, they appear as a beautiful line drawing beside the words “whatevs” and “pointless” in most modern dictionaries. There are odd sounds on this album that make my mind queasy, but end up adding to the general tone.

The soundscape makes you feel like you are wandering through a dense forest while aggressively awesome chipmunks tap out rhythms on hollowed out logs, causing the park ranger to lose her shit and give birth to some horrific synthetic baby. This feeling dies down after a while and once you get hold of yourself, the great but annoying on twitter Erykah Badu appears and starts going “ayaayahayaayahayaayahayaayah” over and over a-fucking-gain. This leaves you feeling spent and harps fly about and you feel downbeat in an upbeat kind of way.

In fact The North Borders is a perfect companion piece to Black Sands and his production values have gone stratospheric. It does take a few listens to get totally immersed and doesn’t work as background music. The album also feels like something an established super-artist would use as a backing track for a dreadful rap or ridiculously over the top gurgle-singing fest. But no pretensions exist in this music and the heady basslines that punctuate songs pull you out of your dark slumber and make you feel all sticky, but y’know sticky in a nice way.

At the end the beautiful Pieces” sung by Cornelia brings you right back down and you exit the album feeling utterly spent, but y’know in a nice way.Listen to it and then buy it.

les+alleyway

Mogwai: Les Revenants Soundtrack

This summer, a weird town in France inhabited by creepy dead people (are there any other kind?) and creepy cigarette smoking French peoples (are there any other kind?) became staple viewing for many. We wondered what the fuck was going on and why that kid was so fucking expressionless. Bleedin Victor wha? As Dubalinese people are fond of saying far too much. Unfortunately a great show was let down by a less than satisfactory ending due to it being a lead up to a second series. However, the title sequence is one of the best of any show and the amazing song “Hungry Face” is an instant red pill.

Anyways, the beauty of the show was the music, written by Glaswegian balding men, Mogwai. The music was a character in the story, according to producers , and it made sense. The band started writing the music after hearing a synopsis of the show and the music was played on set to give that eerie feel.  You were alerted to a scene getting batshit weird by a simple piano or eerie guitar lick. The malevolent, slow-moving cello told you something odd was going to happen and if you stayed behind the couch, well motherfucker, you were just going to miss it. The oddest and nicest song on the album is the almost country “What are they doing in heaven today?” which makes you feel really happy and doesn’t unnerve you like the rest of the album, even though they still are singing about dead people, wha?. Sorry.

Even now, when I listen to Les Revenants on the car stereo, it pulls you into that world and out of the corner of your eye, you expect fog, mad yokes and fucking Victor. I will put on record that I believe that John Carpenter’s The Fog is the only other foggy movie I have seen that has an equally creepy soundtrack for a foggy based situation. This I believe to be true. Ain’t no doubt. Even without seeing the show, this is a cracker of an album.

images

Kid Congo and the Pink Monkey Birds: Haunted Head

Kid Congo Powers is a 54-year old man whose CV includes the Cramps, the Gun Club, and Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. Having to go up against Blixa Bargeld on Tender Prey must have been a true life experience. He seems to exist solely in a world where it is always rockabilly/psychobilly Halloween and the expectation that cast members from the Rocky Horror Picture Show would wander into the seedy club where he tends bar. Donning his leather cap he smiles and just makes everyone feel better about themselves. A true hero. I wish I was him, only that he is closer to death than I am, and that is not good.

In this bar, everyone and everybody is weird, kooky and far out, and the mad eyes of Danny Glover will make the music stop when he puts the moves on you. The only way to stop him is to slowly zip up your dress and say you have to go do a conference call. He may not believe this, so be prepared to be sodomised by that angry man throwing his arms in the air and shouting “I’m too old for this shit.” You will painfully exclaim, “Yeah, well this shit is too old for you, bustah!”

The vibe of this album follows on from Gorilla Rose and Dracula Boots, a joyous ode to the Cramps and all bluesy rockabilly done with a smile as you will see from the live show at a French folk festival below. The kind of gig you just wish you could wander into once in a while. A joyous human being. Kudos dudo.

FuckButtons3

Fuck Buttons: Slow Focus

I was very excited about hearing this album. The powerful drums of “Brainfreeze” kick in and the world in which the two guys from Fuck Buttons  exist snaps into view. I used to think that Amon Tobin was going to be the soundtrack to the apocalypse, but maybe, just maybe these guys will be ringing in your ears as toads enter your oesophagus while your ear burns in tandem with your bellybutton fluff.

I know there is a lot of great electronica, but nothing matches the power of this. Sometimes it feels like a Michael Mann movie put through a blender; other times it seems to fit perfectly into the stratosphere of David Cronenberg’s early work. Everything is insistent and Slow Focus demands you plug it into your ears which for my munki ears after years of abuse, probably can’t even register every sound Andrew Hung and Benjamin John Power are trying to force-feed my aural cavity. (Almost like an audio version of Danny Glover).

My favourite song of the year “Stalker,” is something I dream about. A slow build up and a trip through space at screaming speed until you are washed up in a melty galaxy that is trying to choke you. I know that doesn’t sound like the best situation to be haunting your dreams, but it’s thrilling. Sometimes it feels like that point in an acid trip when your brain can’t take anymore and fucks off, exits the room, leaving you unable to be happy, scared or just ready to piss yourself. Then your brain flips back and you say something mundane like, “Whoa horsey,” and then everything is just alllllllllllllright.

The album finishes with “Hidden XS,” a song that Stretch sings lyrics to. It demands these maudlin lyrics I have created. You hear me, Fuck Buttons. Shit, they’re not listening. Answer you phones!

660x400-031212101550_305674_10151173691498034_813419498_n

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds: Push the Sky Away

Since I was a teenage munki, Nick Cave has always been God to me. Granted, some of the Kylie and Nocturama stuff left me cold, but for a man who always sounds like himself, no album sounds like anything else he has ever done. That make sense?

After the thrilling noise-fest of the Grinderman albums, Push the Sky Away was like an antidote. Quieter, subtler, but never feeling overly melancholic like “God is in the House” or funky fun like Dig! Lazarus Dig!.

No, this is probably the most complete and tight album Cave has ever done. Not the best album, but it’s a gem. The backing vocals are both grimy and desperate. The Bad Seeds are very hairy and wear cool shirts and slacks, the kind of clothes that would make most of us look like bums. They always wear shades, because fuck it, they are cool and probably don’t see much light through the smoky nite-clubs they call home. Probably my favourite thing at Glastonbury was seeing these guys playing their set before a Mumford and Sons crowd. The fear in the Mumford children’s eyes and the nervous shuffling of their parents as Cave leered and screamed over them was hypnotic. It would be a hard thing to explain on the car journey home.

“Daddy, why was that man so angry and scary?”

“Well Felix, it’s because he is the devil incarnate and he will kill us in our beds if we don’t get home quick.”

“Mummy, what do you think of the foul-mouth devil that will have me seeing therapists until I can figure out why that bad man sang to my face, ‘I’m a bad motherfucker, don’t you know, And I’ll crawl over fifty good pussies just to get one fat boy’s asshole.’? Mummy, mummy?”

“He’s kinda hot though in those pants.”

“MARJORIE!”

Anybut, the rolling “Jubilee Street” about prostitution in London is almost cinematic and the slow burning “Higgs Boson Blues” is quietly epic. It includes this perfect verse,

“Hannah Montana does the African Savannah
As the simulated rainy season begins
She curses the queue at the Zulus
And moves on to Amazonia
And cries with the dolphins
Mama ate the pygmy
The pygmy ate the monkey
The monkey has a gift that he is sending back to you
Look here comes the missionary
With his smallpox and flu
He’s saving them savages
With his Higgs Boson Blues”

I mean, that really explains it all, doesn’t it? What more do you want? I once worked in an office where mention of Nick Cave seemed to cause apoplexy. They said people who listened to him were probably off their meds or their happy pills. They said it in a really obvious, cheesy way. So much so, I was mouthing their words back at them as they were talking. They wouldn’t shut up and kept banging on about Today FM DJ Ray fucking Foley. Ray Foley, Ray Foley, Ray Foley, Ray Foley, Ray Foley in the morning, Ray Foley,Ray Foley,Ray Foley, Ray Foley in the evening, Ray Foley,Ray Foley,Ray Foley…..

That very clean modern room was covered in blood by the time I left…

Mazzy-Star

Mazzy Star: Seasons of your Day

When I was a spotty, greasy haired, paisley shirt wearing teenager, covered in weird and wonderful stains, I was madly in love with Hope Sandoval. I listened to She Hangs Brightly incessantly while I was in love with another girl, thinking, hey, she might be into hanging out and listening to Mazzy Star while smoking hash. Unfortunately, she was into fucking Take That and the Backstreet Boys and all the important emotions that music like that brings. Huh!

Anyway, I retreated to my room and all that that gave me and threw back on aul Mazzy. It still reinforced my belief that Hope was the damn hot woman for me. This floated me through that beautiful summer and particularly while walking slowly (baked) on the beach (baked), skimming stones (baked) and looking off into the distance with meaning (totally baked).

My love for Hope ended when I saw her being interviewed on some weird rock show. I tried and tried and tried and tried and tried and tried and tried and tried, but eventually pulled clumps of greasy hair off my head and screamed,

“Get  out of your own fucking ass, Sandoval!”

Gawd, she was hard to take. Bullet dodged, says me, wha? Sorry.

So, like waiting for a My Bloody Valentine album, Mazzy Star kicked back into action this year and released Seasons of Your Day. Sandoval’s solo stuff was nice, but uninspiring, so Stretch was very surprised to hear how good this was. It is a really good Mazzy Star album and although she seems a bit scraggy in places, David Roback’s simple bluesy guitar work and MBV’s Colm O Ciosóig’s bass blows every song into the realms of beautiousness, as Will Oldham do be saying.

I listened to “In the Kingdom” and said “Oh” quietly, “this is a really good” to nobody in particular. Then the minor chords of “California” kick in and you realise this is a proper fucking album. So for a while I fell in love with aul Hope again. I was fifteen again, not the bald munki I am now. I was skimming stones (not baked), waving at ducks and swans (not baked) and generally feeling moist. Then I saw a new interview with Mazzy Star…

For fuck sake, 24 years later and she’s still up her own arse. For the love of Jaysus and all his tiny bagel babies!

So, that’s the first part of my ridiculously late music review of 2013. The next installment will come in the next few days, if I’m lucky.

Remember, living in Europe might just make you incontinent!

DOWN with the kids

gfnobody-thumb-510x287-41652

Sometimes I look in the mirror and see Henry Hill in the final scene of Goodfellas. That moment when he realises the mundane future,  that expression of weariness stares back at me. I’m not old or young: I’m in the middle, the horrible middle youth. Too young to retire and give up, too old to join a band. Too exhausted even to bother with a mid-life crisis. The span between 30 and 50 is as demanding mentally as the hormonal mess of teen years, filled with the same ‘what the fuck?’ moments every morning when you open your eyes. Is this middle youth? Or something else?

Now, I’m a professional something, with a wife, child, mortgage, car loan, two dogs and a non-stick pan. I’m also an uncool, balding, cynical, wrecked shell of a human, who has finally lost control of the handlebars, looking at music reviews, wondering at what point I started missing all the new bands.  My interests aren’t represented in the media, I am unlikely to harass Joe Duffy of an afternoon, am Irish but not that Irish kind of Irish. Demographically speaking I’m from that group who drink heavily, mangle the guitar, play playstation, write, work in a demanding job and worry about money all the time. If that is a demographic.

FASHIONLESS FREAK FASHION BITCH

My dressing room of disaffection contains black t-shirts, black jeans, black boots, pretty much the same uniform since I was eight, but I was cooler then. The use of branding or logos is prohibited by a demented code I developed as a teen. Colour is always the enemy, as is self-help. I am Max Schumacher in an Anthrax t-shirt.

Why? There is nothing that irritates my soul more than when I see people with GAP or FITCH illuminating their chests. Why be a walking billboard? People are conditioned to wear clothes from the many outlet stores that have popped up because they are on special offer and some weird set of unwritten fashion dogma tells them that a little alligator on their shirt will make their peers sit up and demand to know who this fantastic character is. If you’re not going to bother then don’t. Or else become a hipster, but then again I don’t really know what a hipster is. Someone with skinny jeans, no defined muscle mass and cardigan buttons in their earlobes, right?

I do not react well to that market which feeds us. Maybe I’m William Gibson’s Cayce Pollard, who had a pathological sensitivity to logos and brands. Yet, I’m also that loser who wears band t-shirts at age 37, ha! I met a guy in the lift in work a few years back who commented on my Front 242 t-shirt, sarcastically pointing out that he used to wear such t-shirts before he stopped being angry at the world. I stared at this chinless, overweight shit and resisted the urge to punch him. Who is not angry at this world? Oh.

MUSIC HAS THE RIGHT TO PARENTS

It all comes down to my teenage obsession with music and how certain people remain consumed throughout their lives. Others choose to drop these childhood things and wear ties and jodphurs and place Dido on their stereos as it is unlikely to offend anyone. People like myself, whose religion changed after hearing Nick Cave’s “Tender Prey,” feel heartache that the underground we loved is now sponsored by mobile phone companies. We grew up with American or British punk, metal, indie, goth and dance music, not because we didn’t love our country, but because the rare Irish gems faded quickly. We listened to those influential groups long before their recent wallet-filling comeback tours. These days I can’t even listen to the amazing Pixies without a sick feeling in my stomach.

I wonder how weird will it be bringing my son to a Metallica gig when he’s old enough? A guilty pleasure since the age of 11, the thrash metal behemoth stopped being any good after 1988, yet like Fall gigs you go to see them live just in case it’s the last chance you get. The anxiety-ridden metallers are not an underground band from the Bay Area anymore, but a corporation in their own right. During their set, a few years back, I stood happily drunk and watched a man with his son on his shoulders. They were both in awe at the spectacle. Ah, one day, yes, one day, I will force my son to see Metallica and demand that he sit on my shoulders regardless of his age.  Later that night I high-fived the kid a few times until the father got uncomfortable and moved position.

Growing up we watched everything that was new and cool, tried to race ahead of hungry marketeers who needed to commodify everything that we loved and ultimately destroyed any feeling we had for it. The music marketplace annihilated itself because of arrogant executives who didn’t believe in the power of the internet. The tools of production and the ability for music to be uploaded to sites means anyone can be a musician and exist outside of the limitation of record companies.

Oddly this has meant that us middle-youthers get to experience the thrill of our youth for a second time, because the bands of my youth are either starting up again or never stopped. They know that they will make more in this era’s consumer model than in the days when they were popular and influential. This isn’t brilliant news for the current generation. Thousands of new groups fall by the wayside: burning brightly and fading away, all in the space of six months. There are too many old bands releasing event albums and headlining festivals, filling the space young acts should.  Look around now, every festival is headlined by forty or fifty-something rebels with mortgages but no cause other than the derivative output of their generation. How many new bands will be plying their trade in 20 years? They’ll be gone, but there will probably be a new Iggy album.

THE MEATMARKET TURNED VEGGIE

Depressingly evil waking moment: Apple computers have control of my body! My fingers, eyes, ears and lumpy arse have been borrowed at a price by this corporation that constantly bangs me over the head telling me, “No, we’re not a corporation, but your friend. Look how well designed our products are, look how good they go with any room in your house. Doesn’t your dog look cooler standing beside the MacBook Pro? Quick take a pic with your iPhone. Hey is that Gun Club on your iPod?”

Typical though, I am such an old hypocrite, railing against the MAN for all these years, and it turns out the MAN is a geeky fucking hipster who sees even a mess of a human like me as an integral part of his marketing strategy. Apple have since the early nineties forced their oh-so-cool products on a wanton sector of society, the ‘we didn’t have that shit when we were young’ crowd. The age profile for the highest consumers of iPhone and iPad? 30-50, my age-group.

We are willing computer and internet junkies. We don’t see the little adverts flashing through our heads. Every site we go to has a shopping basket, ‘inviting’ us to exist in a global department store. We are the ‘cooler than our kids’ generation and being hooked up to the net, it is mournful for us because we remember the time before. The time before we lost our ideals, that golden time when we ran around fields and wished we had something to stop us from running around fields. Here’s an iPhone! Look! With this app, you can not only control your bowel movements, you can control other people’s too! That’ll be 99c, please.

STUCK IN THE MEDIA OF A SHITSTORM

We are always being informed by the media that we have a unique culture. Do the people who leave comments on the Journal have culture? Those poor bastards can barely raise their knuckles off the floor to actively miss the point. Yet, these are the people who engage with media, my compatriots.

Culture can be video games; gigs; sport; Hello magazine; drinking yourself to sleep after a hard day’s work; the occasional night out surrounded by massive televisions showing footballers at actual size in bars that used to be nice; hoping you will stay alive long enough to finish the many boxsets you are watching and hating Ryan Tubridy because, y’know, he’s Ryan Tubridy.

However, the Irish Times weekend magazine seems to think that the nation is full of upper middle class people who knit their children’s clothes, then wonder why the poor itchy fuckers get bullied at school. Do these things relate to my generation? ‘What to wear when killing foxes. How to stop people killing foxes. Are foxes spreading diseases and killing livestock? Are we too quick to dismiss the ways of the countryside even if it even means the odd fox will get ripped to pieces? How to make fox risotto, with cranberries and chestnuts, YES! CHESTNUTS!’

On the other hand, I am supposed to care about Georgia Salpa, Kate Middleton, Rosanna Davison, John Terry, David Beckham, Tom Cruise, Adele, Susan Boyle, Una Healy, Gerard Kean and Simon Cowell? The question is: would Michael Collins have made this country better or if he lived would he be just another big wanker? Look what happened to Bono.

HERE’S YOUR CHRISTMAS PRESENT SON. NO, THERE WAS NO CELLOPHANE WHEN I GOT IT

While some people are out on their mountain bikes, orienteering their fit bodies around grim mountains, others are spending large sums of money in restaurants to eat chips that just don’t fit in your mouth. A few still sit around and pray to gods who have nothing better to do on a Sunday morning. But then there are those who can tell key events of their lives based on what version of FIFA football they had at the time. Alternatively they are racking up bodycounts so impressive that their Level 50 status brings them to the attention of various military dictatorships, leading to their dream job: John Cusack’s character in Grosse Pointe Blank. The only downside being the eventual marriage to Minnie Driver’s enormous head.

Teenagers of 2013 have more problems than they realise. Not only are they dealing with the adolescent nightmares of peer pressure, alcohol/drug abuse, fraping, and pus all over their visages, now they’ll have to fight for control of their own game consoles from a growing population of aging gamers who remember playing Sonic and Mario and are damned if they’re going to miss out on the latest gems on the gaming market.

Adults my age play computer games. My Dad didn’t. Your Dad didn’t! The supposedly productive hours in our lives racked up in gaming universes mean that to ignore the incredible new games and game engines wouldn’t be fair on us.  These worlds are so advanced that they transcend the divide between traditional adult entertainment of movies and television. The ability of some games like the Call of Duty series to sell more units than any traditional media is pushing them into a prominent area. Pong is gone. The games developers know that their audience are not just kids, but stressed out adults with disposable income who demand quality and the ability to shoot someone in the face.

Alan Moore, the comic artist who created Watchmen and V for Vendetta, has talked about my generation’s retreat to infancy, pointing out that we didn’t really want to take the responsibility of being an adult in the world we live in, since it’s a pretty shitty world. Middle youthers, although that label is redundant, exist in some horrific Judd Apatow version of reality – minus the misogyny. We are immature, yet have mortgages. We don’t sacrifice our enjoyment of the world in order to survive. We vote the lesser of two evils then vote them out when they become all scaly monster. The church didn’t own us like it did our parents so the guilt isn’t really there. But middle age is real, it is coming and it will be interesting to see how the market is preparing for our generation’s needs. What games will we need? Which bands will still be touring? How will we fill our days? Is it wrong to read the New Yorker on the toilet? The country is a mess, but the market is depending on us not to grow up for a little longer

ABOUT THE AUTHOR (ALL YOU REALLY NEED TO KNOW)

Who ever met anyone like Sean Sherlock, the Minister of State for Research and Innovation (Ministry of made up ministries)? Where did he come from? Why does he represent my interests in this internet age? He is three years older than me, looks twenty years younger and smiles like he’s telling you to fuck off. I have never met anyone like him. Maybe I could befriend Sherlock, force-feed him brandy and digestive biscuits and while holding his hair over the toilet bowl as he vomits, demand to know why he is representing me. I might just get an answer. More likely, through the tears and snot he will tell me that he has no idea why at our age I am wearing a Cramps t-shirt, smelling of rum and covered in his sick.

182870_527665477279926_395253768_nThis bunch of words I did wrote was published in the summer issue of CULT magazine 2013.

 

overandoverandover

How many times is it til it’s ovah?

lullllaaaaagoodbye

Stretch say being a freak is hard work. Tired now. Need loullaby. Shit, that sounds creepy. Probably is.

Tomorrow I will ride a bike to the top of a mountain and scream, just scream! MAIS je ave no bike…

and another song to soothe yourself to sleep. Creepy tooooooo. Definite theme here.