Soundtracking #10 Waxahatchee

Waxahatchee, perfect for days when you need your aching sadness accompanied by indie folk and a comforting drawl. Stripped down to the basics of six strings and a single heartbreaking, cracked vocal, Catfish is the saddest song I’ve heard in a long while. This is singer-songwriter Katie Crutchfield at her most raw. Other musical offerings from Waxahatchee are more cheerful and I’d recommend checking out both LP’s Cerulean Salt and American Weekend. For now though, here’s Catfish.

“You’re a ghost and I can’t breathe”

Enid

They met when they were teenagers.

On fire watch, when incendiary bombs rained flames over the school roof, they spent the nights playing games and eating black market biscuits.

That was in the war. Back then she was graceful and quick witted. Back then he was sharp and handsome.

“She was a looker even then,” he said. “I fancied her but we weren’t courtin’.”

National service and nursing training meant separate ways for a while. A few years later they met again. At a dance, down Roker, he saw her. He was with his mates, and a girl called Robson on his arm.
“I saw her. She was dancing with this lad, he was a hunch back mind but he could dance. I got me mates all lined round the room and every time he went to ask her they buzzed him off.”
“Buzzed him off?”
“Aye, you know, cut in,” He explained. “So in the end she had to dance with me. She was a good dancer too.”
They danced ‘til the band finished playing. He walked her home, across the river, five mile out the wrong way. That was the start of it. They courted and eventually married. He never said what happened to Robson.

He taught me to dance as a child; foxtrot, waltz, quickstep. I don’t remember her dancing at all. I barely remember her walking or moving from her sitting room chair. I wish I’d known them both before age, illness and the inevitable grind of life shrunk them down. An impossible wish.

Old memories are patchy, misleadingly highlighted with photographs and over-told exaggerated tales. An unreliable slide show of family mythology. Mostly I am left to wonder.

I imagine her as a young woman; smart, athletic, stylish. Her hair perfectly arranged in her trademark coiffure. Her waist was, as she said frequently, a mere 21 inches then. Wearing a beautifully tailored dress which spun out as he twirled her around the dance floor. She would have laughed at his charming and ever-so-silly stories. One marriage, four children, seven grandchildren and a great grandchild later, he still tells those stories. I’ll never know if they are true or not.

They had a long run, a whole lifetime of stories, and some are now lost forever. Theirs is story of a boy and a girl in the blackout, and of dancing and family and love.

A team of two for seventy four years.
Married for most of it.
Argued for some of it.
Loved for all of it.

It’s unimaginable to have one without the other.

Soundtracking #9 – Kate Tempest

In honour of her appearance at Glastonbury this weekend (a full live set in The Rum Shack), here’s the brilliant Kate Tempest.

Tempest first made her name as a spoken word artist and poet, though according to her label she would describe herself as a rapper who writes. She’s pretty big in the poetry world, winning the prestigious Ted Hughes Prize for her play, Brand New Ancients, and generally being the poster girl for young British poetry. She’s released a single on Greco-Roman and been featured on numerous tracks with people like Bastille and Sinead O’Connor. After a few years of treading the edges of the mainstream, Tempest cemented her cross-over by signing to hip hop label Big Dada and releasing a full length album, Everybody Down, in May this year.

And it’s bloody good.

Blunt, witty lines race over hip hop beats as her stories of everyday people and London lives unfold. There’s little in the way of melodic vocal hooks, this is rap…with a lot of bass. Each of the twelve tracks on the album is a chapter, another story, with a mosaic of fully grown characters and rich drama.  
Here’s your gateway track – The Beigeness.

Soundtracking #8 – Sharon Van Etten

This one came via The Editor who suggested Van Etten’s music would be a sweet balm for my woes. He was right.

The indie rock singer-songwriter manages to imbue almost every line and riff with intense emotion. Her four album back catalogue is filled with stark stories of relationships and wonderfully drawling yet velvety vocals. This is one of my favourite tracks.

Oh and she’s doing a UK mini tour in November 2014, tickets went on sale today. Road trip anyone?

Soundtracking #7 – Amanda Palmer’s Ukulele Anthem

Please take 5 minutes out of your day to rejoice in the amusing and faintly ridiculous Ukulele Anthem as played on a 4 string joy-bringer by Amanda Palmer. You have to respect a song writer who manages to get the words rosary, vibrator and fruitloops into the same song. It’s even more epic than The Darkness squeezing ‘extracurricular activities’ into Friday Night.

Soundtracking #6 – Real Estate

A recently discovered love, courtesy of Sister Ray of Soho, Real Estate’s third studio album is a perfect accompaniment to the dusky end of a beach barbeque. Atlas provides easy going, melodic guitars and melancholic vocals in a New Jersey surf rock style. If you’re looking for loud, Real Estate are not your final destination but it is rather soothing for the ears. Here’s a live version of the album’s opening track, setting the tone for the record.