I have absolutely no idea when I’m going to finish this. Usually, I try to get it all out of the way as close to this side of Christmas as possible, but that’s not going to happen I don’t think, especially as I have a couple more things to park here & elsewhere in the meantime. Never mind, the whole point of these things is to take in the whole year, even if in this case it ends up being the fiscal one. And more importantly for me, it’s about getting it right in my own head rather than rushing to be first or making sure that the ‘right’ people get namechecked. It’s all about what feels right, and at the end of the year where such a thing seemed largely impossible on any number of fronts, it’s nice to be calm and reflective about the whole thing finally.
What a strange year this turned out to be. Leaving aside the various inconveniences and horrors that have kept me away from this place for much of 2014, it’s also been even harder for anyone to get their blogs out there thanks to the concerted efforts of the sort of places that were originally set up to be all social and sharing. Ah well, I wasn’t comfortable with tarting this place about back in 2010 and I’m not changing now.
It’s also been a really eclectic year – either in the case of the type of records that have been coming out (and also the people making them) or maybe my own shifting tastes during an uncertain, unsettled year. However they’ve come to me, I’m glad they did and the selection process ended up being a very swift affair, starting off with over eighty candidates and then a few arbitrary orderings and re-orderings before the fifty that will follow over the next few weeks settled into a bunch that feels about right, with a bit of room for things to move about a little bit as I progress. Some of the ones that didn’t quite make it should have done and some that did will probably feel out of place by the time I’ve finished, but that’s the nature of these things when they’re done as they should be; on a quixotic whim rather than like a process of accountancy that these things end up elsewhere.
And as I look back at previous years to see how I usually do these, I see that I should have started on or around the 12th of November, so whoops. I’d better get a shift on.
Cor, it’s all go here. the last few weeks have been spent moving house and sorting out all the attendant woes that go with it. I’m almost done, the internet is working, the new sofa’s being delivered on Thursday and I have a lovely new base of operations in an old mill overlooking a canal, a wood, and nothing else. It’s beautiful by day, wonderfully dark and star-strewn by night and I have yet to find more than one shop. Very strange screechy noises outside when the sun goes down too.
It’s all a bit re-energising though and I’ve pretty much already written as many things in the last 10 days than I have in the previous 6 months (either here or elsewhere – see below the fold for details), and hope to keep up to speed certainly over the next four weeks when there’s a fair old pile of stuff going on. in the meantime, thanks for still reading and thanks also for the kind words posted around the web, it’s hugely appreciated.
I could really just post the intro blurb from when I did this last year as it’s pretty much exactly the same thing…
Is anyone really that bothered about the Mercury Prize anymore? Named after oh hang on, this is the intro blurb from last year. Sorry. Nice to see the Jazzers getting back in again to this year’s list, but it’s still a bit same old same old in order to try to look a bit edgy. Then again, pickings are slim this year anyway so it was a tricky thing to pick stuff I’ve liked from what’s already been mentioned, suffice to say that I hope Anna Calvi wins it (whatever “it” is now), and congratulations to Damon/Royal Blood/East India Youth on being whoever the judges decide what mood they’re going to be in this year. It’s an increasing irrelevance now though, especially given that it’s been moved from a time specifically chosen in midsummer because nobody bought records then to a time when every publication will be publishing their Fourth Quarter results (formerly known as “our favourite records” before it became a 3-monthly thing).
But I started doing this back whenever I can’t be bothered to check, so here we go again. It’s not been a great year so far for British Music. Indeed, the most exciting thing about it so far is that after next month, it’s a distinct possibility that artists such as Teenage Fanclub, the Vaselines and the Bay City Rollers will have to be reclassified as World Music. I love you, Scotland. But I understand why you want to leave me. Still, I managed to cobble together a few records that I liked and would possibly qualify if any of them could have been bothered enough to pony up the initial 200 quid to enter this silly competition that only seems to be of interest to people biffing on about why someone wasn’t nominated.
Sometime during the last couple of months when the hinges fell of this blog (and myself), I made a bit of a discovery. I’m doing all of this wrong. What I should be doing by all accounts is to spend more time saying that I’ve written something (or, in many cases, copy/pasted a press release) rather than sitting down thinking of what to say. And if that’s the wrong way of going about things in the current climate of “look at me and give me traffic” music blogging, then I’m happy to be such a halfwit for not joining in. 6 Days From Tomorrow was never truly written in order to be read (I rarely read it myself, so I have no drive to make others do so. But thanks for reading anyway, you’re more than welcome here), it was done as what I thought would be a private thing to get my thoughts in order when other attempts failed, and it’s not doing a very good job of that either! That it’s become something else entirely from whatever I originally set out to so is a source of occasional pride, and that I’ve managed to gain such little victories without recourse to “You won’t believe what has done, it’ll blow your mind” clickbait shenanigans or paying neither Facebook nor for the privilege of spreading the word feels like quite an achievement in itself.
So, whenever I write something, I park it on the 6dft Facebook Page and the 6dft Twitter thing (although I have to say that this is a very underused feed and my personal one is much sillier), and I park it there once. I tried the “ICYMI” thing last week that everyone else does (which some proper sites do several times a day) and felt such an absolute wretched tart for doing so that this will never happen again. This doesn’t mean that I am averse to Likes, Shares, Favourites Retweets and other such word of mouth if someone gets to read any of this and feels strongly enough to do so, and in fact it remains a thrill to me whenever someone takes the time to do so, but I’m not doing any of this cobblers in order to be at all popular. I’m doing it to keep my own ducks in a row.
Things are going a bit slow here at the moment, largely because things are far too full-on elsewhere. There’s a definite disparity in the work-life balance here, and that can never be seen to be right. So while I try to address that, this week shall be mostly comprised of EPs and quiet things as that’s all my attention span can cope with while all else goes mad around me. This whatever also reflects the lunacy of the past couple of weeks, but I’m sure it’s nothing to worry about and nothing that a bit of a sleep can’t remedy.
Hope you like the new look of the place! There’s still much tinkering to be done as I had to put in a whole new theme at very short notice when it turned out that the one I’ve been using for the last four years didn’t want to play, and I’m not 100% sure about the one I chose in a moment of “that’ll do for now” late on Friday night, but it’s certainly something to build on over the next few weeks or so.
What I am 100% sure on is the new logo and banner. Nick Rhodes at Switchopen has produced some beautiful art for the likes of Mark Lanegan, Soulsavers, Ed Harcourt, Queens of the Stone Age and so many others, and now his work adorns the top of this page. I can’t begin to tell you how thrilled I am that this happened at all and how happy I am with the result, especially after it puts a happier hat on the end of a rather sad few weeks.
…maybe one more though.
Somewhere around the 20th of March 2010, I was at a very low ebb. To be honest, I can’t remember what gave me the dumb notion that trying to order my thoughts through other people’s words and music was a good idea, and I have even less memory of why I thought it would be sensible to make those thoughts public. I think it was only supposed to last a week.
Well, crikey. This is the second of these, which technically makes it a series or something. Woo. It’s something I should make more of an effort with though as I am very fond of singles, relegated as they largely are to novelty items instead of the towering make-or-break powerhouses they once were. And now that the UK charts are going to factor in streaming media when compiling the charts, these little chunks of music are under even greater threat than ever. Pretty soon if we’re not careful, Record Store Day will be the only place that we will be able to purchase singles in graspable form, and we all know how bloody expensive that gets…
It’s not all doom and gloom though as the below doingses illustrate – and I’m happy to report that I am having to be on the lookout for another 7″ box because mine is full to overflowing (and there’s nothing at all funny about that statement), so there’s plenty of people still willing to give it a bit of a go. And it has to be said there’s more than a couple of digital noteables as well out there.
Just a quick break in proceedings (thanks to the current vagaries of an overstretched and underpopulated vinyl-pressing industry) to mention that I wrote a short thing for another music site recently, and they were very kind enough to publish my thoughts.
The very nice people at Echoes and Dust are currently running a series promoting the discussion of Mental Health and Music, as the two are rather inextricably linked in a variety of complicated manners. My piece concerns how, just as listening to beautiful and inspiring music can send the spirit upwards, listening to troubled music or musicians (and there’s a lot of them, especially in this house) can both cause and soothe my own troubled times. It’s complicated, it does look as though sometimes I push myself into dark corners where I’m going to suffer somewhat (because I do), but it does make an odd sort of sense to me and even getting those notions and explanations out of my head and onto the screen brightened the fog I was experiencing that evening.
Anyway, it’s there if you wish to read it by (in theory, not tried it yet) clicking the image below. Thanks to Hannah and everyone else at Echoes and Dust for the opportunity. And, as it’s a related thing, the Mark Linkous/Sparklehorse tribute Last Box Of Sparklers, raising money for Mental Health charities, is currently at the Mastering stage so should be available soon.