I’m back again with another look at the songs I’ve left on repeat in the past few weeks. Here’s hoping this one, ends up happier than the previous column!
Shut Up – Stormzy
“I’m so London, I’m so South”
Ever since Kanye brought a host of grime artists on stage with him at the Brit awards in 2015, much has been written about how grime is going to have it’s big moment on the global music scene. Given the huge popularity of this freestyle, maybe all those music journalists have a point. I am hopelessly addicted to this song as a confidence booster, as it’s just three minutes of Stormzy arguing that he has worked for and therefore deserves his new found relevance and success. Also, as a South Londoner not only do I love hearing people who use slang that I actually recognise, but I love listening to amazing covers by different nationalities giving the accent a go.
Smoke – Brian Fallon
“And you never ended up coming home, you just became something like smoke that I tried too hard to hold”
I’ve previously discussed how much I love Brian Fallon’s voice; it’s rough sandpaper tone combined with his wistful lyrics and Springsteen/Tom Waits aesthetic is a brilliant thing. His debut album Painkillers is one of my favourite albums of this year, and a return to the brilliant form of earlier The Gaslight Anthem work like The ’59 Sound or American Slang. This song is yet another break up song (who hurt you Brian?) but it’s not necessarily that sad of one? It’s not a song about trying to get a lost love back, but rather a statement on it being over.
Backflip – The Front Bottoms
“And there is nothing wrong with my lifestyle, no matter how many times I tell myself to breathe in, hold it, hold it, now let it out”
When The Front Bottoms played The Joiners Arms (one of the best venues in the UK), the listings described the band as a mixture of Joni Mitchell and Green Day which is one of the best descriptions of this band I’ve ever seen. In my mind, Backflip is a song about reconciling the tension to grow up with wanting to keep living the waster lifestyle. It’s an ode to those pointless days just sitting around smoking with friends – but the song argues that these aren’t days wasted, “there’s answers here, they’re just harder to figure out”. One day you’ll look back on days like this and maybe regret them, but that’s a problem for another day and in the moment you should just sit back and enjoy it.
Hip (Eponymous) Poor Boy – Jack White
“Call me whatever you may, I ain’t stopping the train, I got a pill for the pain, hip eponymous poor boy”
Another one of those weird pseudo-breakup songs, this track is just straight up an attack on Jack’s ex-wife and bandmate Meg White. But that’s not why I’ve been listening to this song recently. It came up on shuffle whilst I was on my way towards a job interview. The line I highlighted above is why it has stuck out for me. In the past two months I have been more driven than I have ever been, but naturally there’s been many things that could have derailed me. Perhaps none more than my disability, which is why it’s nice to have a reminder to just pop a pill, deal with the pain, and keep the train barrelling on forward. It’s become my personal anthem of self-determination.
Smiling At Strangers On Trains – Frank Turner
“It was the strangest thing today, I saw new footprints in abandoned pathways”
This cover is probably one of my favourite Frank Turner songs (it’s a cover of a song he wrote, so it still counts). This is a refreshingly honest song about feeling lonely despite being surrounded by people. It manages this theme whilst somehow being upbeat. Look at the line I highlighted above – even when relationships completely break down, sometimes something stirs again later down the line. I’ve always been bad at maintaining long distance friendships, yet recently a shitty situation put me in contact with a close friend I had many moons ago. Today I officially finished university and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t terrified of saying goodbye to all my new friends. But this song makes me feel just a little bit more positive about the whole thing. Even if our relationships won’t be the same for a while, there may be footprints down an abandoned pathway sometime in the future.