Blog on the Tracks

Writer/reviewer Simon Sweetman covers music for The Dominion Post and North And South. He cares far too much about music, and the list of bands he loves is far longer than the list of groups he has shown no love.

Guest Blog: The upside of down

10:15pm 16 Nov 2014

SIMON SWEETMAN

This week the inmates are running the asylum - it's another round of Right This Blog! And here's Sludgie with The upside of down -  is trying to understand why depressing music is sometimes just the right tonic.

I have often wondered why I am drawn to sad, and some would even say depressing songs and music.  I know I am not the only one as there are so many such songs to choose from.  In fact if I am in a real funk I will reach for something with a title like Looking Up (for the next thing that brings me down) rather than Walking on Sunshine. The latter while a great song would never cheer me up - I would only ever play it at a party.  Many people are drawn to country, soul and the blues and if the music is so depressing why does listening to them not lead to rafts of suicide?Sad Records

There is of course the myth around Gloomy Sunday, the Hungarian Suicide Song - that if you listened to the song you would commit suicide.  This even spawned a movie of the same name that became Christchurch's longest running movie.  I have never been quite sure what that tells us about the people of Christchurch.

In this blog I am going to try and explore the phenomena I experience, how alone I am in it and then share some of my favourite downer songs in the hope of cheering you all up.

To get started I headed down to the local Google library and let my fingers do the walking to some more research. Then Simon also posted a link on Facebook so I was able to follow a new trail and get some more insights. 

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Guest Blog: Things I've learnt from reading Blog on the Tracks

01:23am 14 Nov 2014

SIMON SWEETMAN

This week the inmates are running the asylum - it's another round of Right This Blog! We end the week with Dave (not Doug) discussing - in no particular order - the things he's learnt from reading Blog On The Tracks. 

Not everyone agrees with all of Simon Sweetman's opinions.  Sometimes, indignation levels soar into the EXTREME zone and punters can get quite emotional (in a Vinnie Jones kind of way) when responding.  So these culled from the extensive SS Fan Club collection at Blog On The Tracks on Facebook, ranging from the commendably restrained to the bulging-vein-on-forehead:

"I do not care for your blogs."

"This is what an idiot and a computer can accomplish."

Monkey Magic

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Guest Blog: Folk is now a four-letter word

06:49am 13 Nov 2014

SIMON SWEETMAN

This week the inmates are running the asylum - it's another round of Right This Blog! Today it's Sue Egypt with Folk Is Now A Four-Letter Word.

I blame Simon. (Way to start). He mentioned/recommended this band (Of Horses) - the straw that broke the camel's back. And I'm listening to their big hit, No One's Gonna Love You, thinking, this title and chorus is actually a reject from Justin Bieber or One Direction, it's that rote and asinine. And then the verse kicks in - language worth quoting here - "When things start splitting at the seams and now/ The whole thing's tumbling down" - that is not even fourth form poetry, that is standard four poetry (year 6). And then I was thinking, John Denver would be ashamed of this stuff.John Denver

Which is actually quite to the point because this whole slew of nu-folk, new folk, alt country - all the slow lane drivers - is really just our version of Bread, James Taylor, John Denver and Seals and Crofts; timid, conservative, safe, selfish.  And anyone who honestly tried to listen to the last ten or so Iron and Wine albums knows this is true. So why has this tame music become so popular?

The reason is pretty obvious - so people grown old before their time can listen to something bland over a glass of wine while pretending they're into something relevant and hip. Something that won't raise their heart rate too much. Something authentic. Something like a contemporary Seals and Crofts.

And they've proliferated everywhere - Jose Gonzalez, Joanna Newsome, Vic Chesnutt, Bon Iver, Kings of Convenience, Pete Molinari, Mumford and Sons et al (there are now 247,562 folk/alt country artists on the official register) and their local ilk are appearing at any musical establishment near you (they're actually mandated by bylaw in South Island towns).

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Guest Blog: Horses' heads in people's beds

01:58pm 11 Nov 2014

SIMON SWEETMAN

This week the inmates are running the asylum - it's another round of Right This Blog! Today we welcome Rohcna with a post about Cerys Matthews.

Well, what a honour being selected to share with my fellow blog readers. I was, and depending on how the rest of this goes, tempted to say this is why Cerys Matthews is better than fellow Welsh people Tom Jones and Manic Street Preacher's James Dean Bradfield (love Motorcycle Emptiness BTW) but I would like to focus solely on the beauty that is Cerys Matthews' voice.

I will not argue the point, merely explain why this is my opinion. It was tempting to say, just grab some of Cerys' music and listen, if you don't agree then you're dumb.

But I thought I'd better not.

Remember if everyone's music tastes were the same, what a boring world we would live in, especially boring if those tastes were U2 or Coldplay, and definitely Susan Boyle.

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Guest Blog: Old Fart at Play

12:16pm 10 Nov 2014

SIMON SWEETMAN

This week the inmates are running the asylum - it's another round of Right This Blog! Welcome Waldo Jeffers with his post about  John Peel and the curse of being middle-aged.

"I'm genuinely sorry if you've not liked some of the records I've played you this afternoon, but the idea is really that amongst other things I should play you the odd tune you've not heard in the hope that you will get to like it, I suppose" - John Peel on air in 1993 on a rare occasion when he was covering for an absent daytime radio DJ.a peel

The other weekend marked the 10th anniversary of the passing of the late, great BBC DJ John Peel - a hero of my mine right from the first time I tuned into his evening shows sometime in the mid-1980s.

Sure, the names he had given a helping hand read like a nomination list for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame - T-Rex, The Faces, David Bowie, Roxy Music, The White Stripes (to name just a few) - but it was the unusual, the uncommercial and the totally unfashionable sounds that he spun every day (when he got the turntable speed right) that made his show essential listening when I was growing up...and beyond.

Despite getting closer to being a granddad to many of his typical listeners in his final years and regardless of management-approved playlists, he continued to champion grime artists or quirky Japanese pop whilst playing anything else he'd fancied that day (usually Trout Mask Replica).

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