Today I spent a lot of time getting new music for myself. It’s not like I need any more, given that I have hundreds of albums I still haven’t listend to fully. But in my wanderings, I found a number of great websites catering to my tastes, and on one of these, Matthew Ryan.

A couple of years ago, I got my hands on an album called Concussion, by the aforementioned Mister Ryan. It was difficult to listen to for any length of time – harsh, sparce, desolate. His voice was dry and hoarse, and the songs themselves got under your skin and left you red raw.

Today, I discovered even more Matthew Ryan. I’ll be putting some of it up here for your aural pleasure. Be warned – his other work, while not as cut-back and downright depressed as “Concussion”, is still pretty heavy going, even for a melancholist. But it’s worth every effort you put into it. After a single listen of the song “Chrome”, I knew, just knew, it had to be put up here.

It’s not the things that I can’t change, that bother me. It’s not the things that I don’t know, that undermine me. It’s not the thing that I can’t hold or the balancing wire that broke, that throws me. It’s not the fact that you walked out, that bewilders me. It’s not the sleep that I can’t steal, that wires me. It’s not the coffee or the pills, it’s not this space that I can’t fill that kills me. Well in case you didn’t know, I’ve got a heart made of chrome. It’s been bent ’til it was twisted. And in case you didn’t know, I’ve got a heart made of chrome. It’s been burned, but it’s still willing to try, and shine.

Matthew Ryan – Chrome

When I played this song for a non-melancholist, and their reaction was “Oh, that’s really nice”, I knew I was on to a good thing.

I wanna be a huge star, that hangs out in hotel bars. I wanna wake up at noon, in somebody else’s room. I wanna shine so bright it hurts

What would you be willing to pay for fame? And how might it change you?

I wanna be high strung, make people wonder what they’ve done. No one will talk back, cause you’ll never know when I might snap…

Teddy Thompson – Shine So Bright

Yes, you’re right, for the first 47 seconds of this song, you’re listening to “Joy to the World”.

And then….and then….

Believe me when I say I love you, dear. Believe me when I tell you not to fear. That Autumn morning, everything was clear. Believe me when I tell you not to fear…./A dollar for an afternoon with you. I know I’ve seen my best days; you’ve seen them too….

And after one of the most beautiful songs I’ve posted for quite some time, bells ring for a further five minutes or so.

It’s at times like this I wonder: “Hey There Delilah” by the Plain White Tees gets national airplay worldwide. The band gain plaudits, and momentum. Gigs fall out of the sky and into every great venue in every city. And “Eulogy” remains an impossible-to-find gem, and not even its lyrics are available online. Again, I find myself saddened at the state of the music business today – there is so much choice, so much talent, and so much waiting to be discovered, but it’s all struggling to swim in a sea of crap. Hopefully, this blog can play a very tiny role in changing things.

The Hereafter – Eulogy

It’s a strange thing to say, but watching Scrubs, Grey’s Anatomy, and various other random television shows has proved to me that television now has better music than radio.

Well, not really – much of what’s featured on the shows, while excellent, is quite derivative. Listening to any one of the latest sad songs on an episode of Scrubs, you can almost guarantee that:

(1) It sounds like all the other sad songs of Scrubs, and;
(2) It will be featured in one of the other television shows when they need a sad song, and will sound like all the other sad songs on those television shows.

However, I’ve found Scrubs in particular to be a rich source of great music, and it has taught me to listen to background music in all television shows, and (often after a lengthy scramble for paper and a pen) take note of the lyrics of songs, and track down songs and artists regularly. I’ve also recently discovered HeardonTV.com, and often find myself meandering around the complete track listing of every single episode of Scrubs and the official Grey’s Anatomy listings.

So, this is Acres – a very typical Scrubs Anatomy song. Catchy, pretty, affecting, and forgettable.

Acres – Walking Next To You

There you are – a high-flying video director. You get a phone call – it’s America’s best band, asking YOU to create their new video. You! SO you run home, and think, and think, and think. You create storyboard after storyboard. Hundreds, no, thousands of sheets of paper are used in your quest for this – your biggest break. This could make your career. You may never need to work again!

After weeks, weeks of hard work, you sit down with the band, and you unveil your idea – the greatest idea you’ve ever had. The greatest video that will ever be made.

It’s a group of people at a party. They start to move to the music. And then they dance. The end.

The band stare at you – are they going to throw you out on your ear? Or are they going to take a chance?

Rasmus Kellerman – the man known as Tiger Lou. Writing every word, playing every instrument, singing every song, he’s the definition of a one-man-band. However, when he’s on the road touring, he has a full band with him. What an irrelevant piece of information. So, let’s jump to the fact: this song, this one song, got under my skin when I listened to it for the first time, and continues to do so. Two lines above all else haunt….

Faking sleep to avoid a conversation, with the lady sitting next to me. I say i’m sorry to hear about your husband, now would you please leave me be? She turns her head and starts to cry, I apologise and gently rub her hand. An hour passes, we read our books, buckle up and get ready to land.

I really don’t know completely why, but this song really affects me. I think it’s the reality of it: the simple, unassuming lyrics of wanting, and being willing, to trying again. It could be the return to the woman he loves. It could be the return to the city he once was in. Whatever meaning to derive from this song is up to you – I’ll just be happy you’ve listened to it, and hope it gets under your skin like it did mine.

Get my bags board the train, next stop london second time around. I say a silent prayer to the lord above, I made it through and i’m still alive and sound. I know we’ve had our differences, but our love just never seems to fade, and when the good times come around, it’s worth the lot on this I won’t be swayed. Thinking about the things I left and the life I could’ve had, but then your kiss reminds of that the life I live ain’t all that bad….Everything is easier the second time around

Tiger Lou – Second Time Around

Sigur Rós are a strange, strange band. Strange with a capital S. With a single band member (the keyboardist) with musical training, and many songs (and a full album!) sung in “Vonlenska” (or “Hopelandic” in English), a completely fake language with no consistent grammar structure, word meaning, or indeed words, and instead composed of meaningless syllables, it’d be easy to ignore them as eccentric. However, when you’re faced with songs like “Njósnavélin” – a song of absolute etheral beauty – it’s very hard to keep thinking that way.

Have a listen. Sing along. It’s not as if you’ll get the words wrong…

Sigur Rós – Njósnavélin

I warned you: not everything here is going to be soul-touchingly, gut-wrenchingly, tear-inducingly, superlative-spoutingly sad. So here’s a song with 5 lines, and the ability to make you bounce, bounce, bounce around the room. Some people think this song is about the hardships of being a rock star. Some people think this song is about, uhm, well, a holiday. And driving.

I dare you not to sing along….”I found out long ago, oooohhhh It’s a long way down the holiday road, oooohhhh holiday road, holiday road….”

Lindsey Buckingham – Holiday Road

Sometimes little things happen that really do make me think that predestination exists.

Years ago, I heard a song that has stayed with me. An organ begins, and muted lyrics flow underneath….”Don’t i hold you like you want to be held, and don’t i treat you like you want,and don’t i love you like you want to be loved”

You can barely make out the words, but the feeling overpowers. The emotion seeps through every part. And you strain. And you strain. And you strain – trying to make out every worth.

Eventually, I tracked down the band & song names – a very obscure band named Wheat, and “Don’t I Hold You”. For months and months, I looked for more – for the song itself. For the album it came from, “Hope and Adams”. But nothing. Not a sniff anywhere. Then, in 2003, I came across Wheat’s new album – and on that album, “Don’t I Hold you”. I pressed play on Winamp, my music player of choice, but couldn’t quite believe my ears. No muted lyrics; No overpowering organ. I could hear every word, and I could hear the other instruments. What was this? Ah….a remake, released on the soundtrack of the film Elizabethtown.

And very disappointing.

The months passed. My search continued. And then, a few days ago, I stumbled across thisiswheat.com – where Wheat’s debut album “Medeiros”, and “Hope and Adams”, were available. For free. At CD quality. What? What? Yes – “July 22, 2006: Medeiros and Hope and Adams have both been added to the site with kind permission of the band.”

An overpowering organ. Muted lyrics. Hope you love this one as much as I do.

Wheat – Don’t I Hold You

I’ve had this song in my CD collection for a few years now,and it’s always, always on my mind.I’ve often deleted it off my MP3 player, but within a couple of months, it’s back on there again.

I find it one of the most haunting songs I’ve ever come across – something profoundly moving about the lyrics: something a little sad, a little scary. Something that sends a shiver down my spine every time.

“Allison is crazy, in grace amazing, she’s a dreamer never came to. She’s walking on my street, through the glass in her bare feet. / You come up from a subway just before the new day, wake me to ask if I’m awake. You think I oughta lose first, to find out what love’s worth, don’t you think I know the way the earth can shake.”

That single line is the one that affects me most of all – “wake me to ask if I’m awake”. This is a man who loves a woman who cannot quite deal with the world the way the rest of us can, and so she finds her own way. Crazy might be the right word, or might not.

But no matter where she wanders, no matter where her mind or body takes her, and no matter the damage inflicted on her, by either herself or others, he’s trying to follow….

“I’m just trying to get on back to you, Allison I’m crazy for you.”

Devotion. Dedication. Love.

Steve Tannen – Allison Is Crazy