A Musical Letter To Myself At Eleven and Three Quarters
Being eleven is a weird stage. You’ve just come out of primary school on top of the world, ruling the roost, sitting on benches, stamping your authority on other smaller kids. You have come, seen and conquered primary school. But it all changes when you start your new ‘big school’ and end up on the floor again at the front - the complete bottom of the pile in secondary school. You’re not yet a teenager, but you find everything below you too immature and everything above you too complex. It’s a odd time being stuck in the middle.
What was I like at 12?
We’re now in 2004 territory in my musical memory box. Meander back at my last post here if you haven’t been following. I was still a tomboy. I was still a nerd. I had not yet come to terms with going to a girls school. I did not like my short skirt. Avril Lavigne was my idol. My classic look was baggy jeans (complete with chains, which I put on when my mum wasn’t around) and various grungy looking tshirts. I wanted to be a grunger. I was desperate to be cool. I was an angry, angsty pre-teen.
I’ll set the scene so you can remember the world was like. Everyone in Year 7 got a coloured ipod mini for Christmas 2003 which was promptly stolen by older kids on the way home. Britney got married in Vegas for 40 something days. The Darkness and Dido were winning BRIT awards. There was uproar when Brian McFadden left Westlife. McFly become the youngest band to debut at number one. Destiny Fulfilled became an early morning staple in our Year 8 form room. Outkast’s Speakerboxxx/The Love Below wins the Grammy for Album of The Year. It really was a simpler time for Hip Hop and R&B - will.i.am was less annoying and wrote great pop songs. The charts was still a place of variety and so taste-wise, I chop and change between pop, soft rock and R&B.
As I mentioned in my previous post, I grew up and still live in a very religious household. Getting to age twelve meant that my access to music was still restricted, but my tastes were changing again and my mum was wary of this impending conflict. The Sunday afternoon radio listening had switched from Capital to Xfm. I had my first experience with Nirvana. I loved it, and I secretly longed to be allowed to listen to “the devil’s music”. I will touch on this in a later post.
So I started with small steps, trying to manoeuvre my way into becoming a part of the rock and roll dream. I was a huge Busted fan. Busted were radio friendly and mum friendly and thus I happily received their debut as a tenth birthday present. Hindsight is a beautiful thing and so I can look back now and tut and shake my head at my choice but I can honestly see why I was so fascinated by it. Average looking guys playing music that appealed to my teenage wannabe self. Busted were clearly influenced by bands like Green Day and I went looking for bootleg versions of Basket Case that I could download using our dial up.
I remember asking my mum to buy me Avril Lavigne Sk8r Boi (such terrible text spelling/faux speak, I’m actually cringing here) at a car boot sale and I held my breath as she gave the cd the once over, and handed me the 50p to pay the smiling lady. I actually re-listened to Lavigne’s Let Go album recently and I could see why she was so disappointed with its sound. It is a decent pop album, but only Losing Grip makes her metal influences more apparent - there are shades of Korn and System of A Down particularly.
Pop punk and nu metal was big business way back then. But it was a shortlived phase. Remember: OPM, Limp Bizkit, Alien Ant Farm, Puddle of Mudd, Papa Roach, Reel Big Fish, The Offspring, Slipknot, Evanescence, P.O.D, Linkin Park? Most of these bands soundtracked me playing Tony Hawk Pro Skater 2, FIFA or bus journeys home standing next to older kids. I discovered quite a few artists via playing on my PlayStation Naughty by Nature, Bad Religion, Mos Def, Korn, Fatboy Slim. They all slipped through the PlayStation music ban net.
After this run in with pop punk and nu metal, I finally discovered my first two new ‘real’ indie bands: Bloc Party and Franz Ferdinand. I read about Bloc Party in the News Shopper. I have searched in vain to find that article, it could be possible that I dreamt it but I went into school the next day and searched for Bloc Party on the Windows Media Player Song Search function (as an aside: does that still exist? I’m guessing that it doesn’t). I was supposed to be doing some sort of Excel spreadsheet or typing away on Mavis Beacon but I put my headphones on and I was greeted with the 3 minutes of sonic bliss in the form of ‘She’s Hearing Voices’. It was put on repeat for the rest of the lesson.
My mum had noted differences in my behaviour and the clothes I was wearing and kept warning me that my new found love would have to go, it was probably soundtracking my descent into hell where all the rebellious teenagers went. Despite this, I bought Franz Ferdinand’s eponymous debut album solely on the strength of hearing Take Me Out one day - and it was my first real ‘guitar’ album, the one with all the tunes that girls could dance to. During my first listen, the 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami occurred. I silently shat myself. Bad things were happening because I was secretly listening to guitar music. Realising, I couldn’t stop the forces of nature, I held my nerve with my new found lover. I bought the NME with Franz Ferdinand on the cover, and Alex Kapranos and Kele became my new musical heroes; they were angular, full of tunes and cool.
I was originally going to call this post ‘In Possible Defence of One Direction fans’ but I decided not to. Everyone is moaning that guitar music is dead but I see the problem as this: there’s no gateway drug (ie. band) to get young teens into glamourous rock and roll. Paramore are too much of a proper band, 5 Seconds of Summer (or whatever clean cut YouTube star is flavour of the week), Peace and Swim Deep are far too hipster-ish for your average eleven year old. We need Busted back. We need songs from average looking guys with guitars, singing about the future and breasts with just enough tongue in cheek to get you wondering about the world but the sort of CD that you can sneak past your mother. Artists who can lead kids down the right garden path; aspiring to the myth of teenage life in comparison to the hormone fulled, spotty, and confusing time that being a teenager truly is. This might be slightly hyperbolic but if I hadn’t bought that first Busted album who knows if I would be playing guitar right now….
This post is dedicated to my twelve year old self and to every Busted fan still in mourning.
Check out the playlist, it hopefully is a representative of what I would have been listening to around 2003-4.
#nme #one direction #nirvana #avril lavigne #grunge #xfm #capital #2004 #year 3000 #bloc party #alex kapranos #franz ferdinand #she's hearing voices #steve lamacq #five seconds of summer #busted #losing grip #tony hawks #pro skater 2 #paramore #OPM #limp bizkit #alien ant farm #the offspring #P.O.D #evanescence #mos def #bad religion #FIFA #korn
10 Albums That I’m Rather Looking Forward To… (Part 1)
10. Two Door Cinema Club - Beacon
Two Door Cinema Club delivered a promising debut but it felt like they had more to give. Something Good Can Work showed they could write a cracker of tune, one that used guitars but also had a carefree dance feel. CUE TRAILER. This trailer (thank God, it’s not cryptic at all) seems to say that more of the same will be delivered but I hope it dances towards the use of electronics that are employed usefully.
09. The Vaccines - The Vaccines Come Of Age
Considering that I was left a tiny bit cold listening to their debut, I am still looking forward to The Vaccines. There’s something rather youthful and exciting about them, maybe it’s because they’re singing about stuff I reflect upon after night outs at uni. Lyrics like “And I don’t really care about/Anybody else when I haven’t got my own life figured out” from No Hope feel slightly inviting and insightful so I hold out lots of hope for their new offering.
08. Spector - Enjoy It While It Lasts
NME made a joke the other week about it being 2004 again with Fred Macpherson spearheading an awesome band. I’m going to be honest, I may slyly have a crush on dear Fred. This guy was a part of Ox.Eagle.Lion.Man and Les Incompetents - a band that I had violent on repeat and requested in my Year 9, listening to XFM in the morning years. I still know all the words to ‘How It All Went Wrong’ - it’s a cracking song.
I’m glad that Fred carried on making music on his own. It seems in his time away, he has truly developed into an enigmatic frontman. (I’m kicking myself that I missed them at Bodega, Nottingham). I watched a video on how he wrote Never Fade Away and got Spector together and was full of love again. So I’m going to patiently await the Spector album and pray it takes me back to 2006 at least.
07. Jessie Ware - Devotion
Many a spare bored moment lately has been spent with me spazzing out to 110%. The Julio Bashmore produced track is a stroke of genius. Its sweet twinkles, dubstep beats, sparse bass arpeggi, Big Pun sample and the soulful vocal of Jessie Ware work together to produce one of my favourite tracks of 2012. Along with 110%, Running and Strangest Feeling leave me hotly anticipating her album, so much so I’m planning on buying tickets to her gig at Rescue Rooms in November (when I get paid!).
06. Frank Ocean - Channel Orange
There is no denying that Nostalgia, Ultra was one of last years best mixtapes, with mixtapes cropping up on the internet left right and centre, so I was pleased that Frank Ocean decided to focus on his debut album instead of completely re-releasing Nostalgia, Ultra. A couple of weeks ago, he dropped Pyramids. 9 minutes of excellence from Channel Orange, I’m excited to hear more.
#10 albums that i'm looking forward to #midskanking natty #10 #9 #8 #7 #6 #the vaccines #no hope #two door cinema club #beacon #something good can work #come of age #2004 #spector #fred macpherson #les incompetents #how it all went wrong #NME #XFM #ox.eagle.lion.man #never fade away #bodega #jools holland #jessie ware #devotion #julio bashmore #big pun #110% #running
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