You know when you listen so intensely to certain music – be it bands, albums or individual songs – for a compressed period of time, such that the contextual associations become so strong that re-listening to that same music brings you directly back to the relevant period – sounds, smells, sights and all?
Mew’s Snow Brigade from their debut Frengers was on constant repeat on my now antique, 200 NOK mp3-player the winter of 2003/2004. And by “constant”, I mean that I barely listened to any other music than that track for an entire month. Whenever I listen to it now, I am instantly brought back to my daily morning walk to school in the middle of winter: pitch black sky, -20 degrees, the ground so slippery I spent 40 minutes on a walk that would normally take 20 minutes, and icy and cold air filling my lungs. Placebo’s Meds equals 2006, my virgin voyage to the Roskilde Festival, 16 and innocent on the front row, soaked in Brian Molko’s holy perspiration, and the entire rest of the summer with that album as my background reading music on our porch.
The start of a new academic year in London is traditionally a time of concert bookings. And, being the meticulous person that I am, I will spend the next weeks and months going thoroughly through the discographies of every band and artist for which I have a ticket to see.
These will be the sounds marking my autumn of 2011:
My relationship to these guys is not particularly close nor does it go a long way back. To me, they play that kind of unoriginal Britrock we have all heard countless times before, but which I enjoy having as a background buzz I can relax to anyway. Really amazing music throws me completely out of focus, to the extent that I am unable to do anything but marvel at how much better than sex it is – and that type of music, my friends, is not always desirable in every situation.
Makes me lykkelig (Norwegian for “joyful”) and slightly lesbian. Youth Novels defines the year I lived in student halls, with the murky smells, confusing but exciting assignments and equally confusing but exciting social life. Her Wounded Rhymes is, I daresay, even more magnificent than her debut. While Youth Novels was quirky and subdued, Wounded Rhymes is this explosion of power, yet still maintains her characteristic fragility. I cannot wait till I get to see her live for the first time.
The Naked & Famous
These New Zealanders have already been heavily indulged in, but that does not prevent them from making their mark on the months to come. My friend introduced them to me last spring, i.e. just in time for me to listen to them non-stop during my exam revision weeks. I am instantly thrown back to the countless all-nighters in the poorly ventilated 2x2m computer cubicles in the Psychology Department; coffee cup number 25 for the night at 5am while all of London sleeps except the occasional police or ambulance siren (that is a given); and cramps in my hand from writing notes on the anterior intraparietal lobe all night. The Naked & Famous is the kind of band I wish were around when I was 15: they remind me of Kill Hannah, one of my countless I-am-a-lost-teenager-seeking-comfort-from-musicians-who-understand-me bands, only more sophisticated, a little less despairing and a lot more hopeful. They just radiate young passion and dreamy optimism, something which comes in handy from time to time in a cold realist like myself.
Part II comes later. But not today. Today is my graduation day.