These Are My Friends

I’ve been meaning to write about music for so long, but my listening has been too scattered and unfocused for the writing of reviews per se. Still, it’s been making me very happy.

I got Sonic Nurse and Aw Cmon/No You Cmon a couple of weeks ago. After spending three years on Django Music’s notify list for President Yo La Tengo/New Wave Hot Dogs, I finally got my bite at the cherry, and the album arrived today, hooray! Of course, I never only buy one album from Django at a time, so Black Heart Procession’s 2, Low’s Long Division and The Frames’ For The Birds are on their way too.

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Sometimes music on record store sound systems can grip me with an unexpected intensity. I think it’s because my experience of music most of the time is so utterly solitary that hearing something in a setting that isn’t my bedroom feels strangely special, like a sudden realization that yes, this music is real, it exists for other people too, it’s not just some beautiful dream of mine that will fade into oblivion even as I struggle to remember everything.

The last time I was in London, I hit Berwick Street like a commando, determined to get through my favourite shops within the short amount of time I had. As I riffled steely-eyed through huge handfuls of CD sleeves, Will Oldham’s Viva Last Blues on the Reckless Records speakers steadily seeped through every chink in my fierce concentration it could find. Finally, I couldn’t continue with my browsing until I’d found out what it was and how much it would cost me. (A little too much, it turns out. But it’s on my Django notify list now, and as usual my patience will probably be rewarded in time.)

On the second floor of HMV the other day, they were playing Adem’s Homesongs (finally available in Singapore! But, as always, at a price I can’t afford). At some point I decided I’d finished looking at what they had on the floor, and wanted to head to the third level to look in the dance section, but then These Are Your Friends started, and I just couldn’t leave. I was slowly going mad with joy and trying my best to keep looking normal, walking around aimlessly, pawing a CD every now and then but I wasn’t seeing or registering anything. All I knew was that cracked, earnest voice, that querulous guitar, the way everything in the song has fragility and conviction at the same time like the tensile strength of spiders’ silk, and as the song’s mantra “Everybody needs some help sometimes” built and built I felt like bursting into a wild run down the aisles like a kid pretending to be an aeroplane.

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