Set The Record Straight: June

Music of Mourning

In November, I received the devastating news that I had lost my best friend. Throughout our entire relationship music had been at the core. Whether it was hip-hop or psychedelic indie-rock – we could talk about it all, and in fact: I think we probably did. This was a thing common between myself and most of his other friends in the room at his funeral, music was central to his core. These songs (alongside a number of others) have soundtracked the months that followed his death, and have helped to remember and to mourn his death.

The Beatles – Here Comes The Sun

Music had always been a central part of our relationship, but for a long while – I was the only one of the two of us that had an interest in playing anything. That changed when one Christmas, my friend got his first guitar. I’m yet to meet someone who was as big of a Beatles nerd as my best friend, so where better to start learning guitar than with this absolute classic? At the funeral, plenty of people referenced hearing him try and learn the song – at the time I would laugh at his efforts, but to this day I still struggle. Fair play, man, fair play.

LCD Soundsystem – Someone Great

The first time I heard this song after the untimely news, I immediately attached the emotions in the lyrics, the fact that “someone great is gone”, to what had happened. The weird thing was, I thought about the song’s origins I 100% was under the impression it was about a breakup. One of the first things I said to my friend’s dad was that “I love your son, I’m just not sure whether I love him more like a brother or a boyfriend”, so I was off the hook.  Then I found out that the song was actually about the passing of Murphy’s therapist, something of a role that my friend played in my life. A girl I used to be very close to once described the role my friend had as helping to “make sense and explain” my mind to her. I didn’t realise I was that complex, but I guess now – without my friend/therapist – I sort of really do see that.

Bob Seger – Night Moves

Before we could legally drink, we wouldn’t know what to do with our evenings. On weekends, we could drink at my house or at whatever house party was going on, but during those boring Cheshire weekdays – we had nothing. Well, we had nothing but each other. What we would do is walk around, aimlessly, for hours on end either talking the big talk or talking about nothing at all. We would call these long, completely fucking freezing adventures our “Night Moves” a name that I borrowed from this song. I will always crack a smile when I hear that acoustic guitar kick in.

Joanna Newsom – The Sprout and the Bean

It should come as no surprise that when two complete music nerds come together – they just try and constantly provide the other with recommendations, and we certainly did a lot of that. The last time we got to do that was last summer. I remember recommending him Conor Oberst, Elliott Smith, and Bonnie Prince Billy repeatedly as I was convinced that he never actually went away and listened to any of them. However, the recommendation of his that really stuck with me was Joanna Newsom – particularly Emily and this song. I was blown away by the beauty of her voice and the delicateness of the soft harp sounds. In fact, I fell in love with her so much that I drunkenly sent her PR rep an email the other week, but that’s my fault. It’s his fault that I have been playing this song on a regular basis.

 Sparklehorse – Wish You Were Here

The song title is pretty much how I feel. There must be very few people who are as big of a fan of everything Thom Yorke as my best friend was, so this version of the song featuring my favourite person’s favourite person is one that always remains present with me.

I absolutely do wish you were here, pal. I love and miss you. Whether it’s through tears, or through smiles – with these songs I can always enjoy a little slice of my best friend, and carry him with me in my heart and in my ears through every day.

Oscar Goes Wild: Philadelphia

Having made my way successfully down the West Coast, and heading back to my dad’s in New Jersey (via Austin of course) there were very few places left to visit as far as I was concerned. In fact, if it wasn’t for flights being significantly cheaper to Philly, I would’ve flown straight back to Newark – but seeing as the flight was booked, I may as well make the most of my time here and book a night in a hostel. With my flight arriving fairly late back on the East Coast, I got into Philadelphia and made my way to the hostel. In truth, I didn’t expect much from the place – and having got off the public transport in Chinatown, I was pleasantly surprised to see a Chinatown authentic enough to match that in San Francisco, if not reduced in size a little. But making my way over to the hostel, I found myself enamoured with the site of Independence Hall at night – a site that, alongside the Liberty Bell, I had no interest in seeing before I arrived in Philly. However, the beauty of the crisp white under-lighting effect meant I couldn’t help but stop for a moment.

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Oscar Goes Wild: Austin

Having done the west coast, it was time for me to expand my horizons a little and make my way over to Texas, namely the hipster capital of Texas – Austin. When I told someone of my travel plans they joked that I was simply visiting a list of the most liberal and bohemian places in America, which given my political allegiances I didn’t take particularly offensively and would much rather do than end up getting called out for being English.

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Oscar Goes Wild: Los Angeles

Having left San Francisco, my newfound travel companions and I headed down the iconic Pacific Coastal Highway down to Los Angeles. On the way there, we stopped to take in the sunset at the coastal town of Pescadero where we met a local girl at the beach. Full of good views, but hungry for good food we asked the girl for recommendations for places to eat and she gladly gave us some tips. We headed into town where we enjoyed fish tacos at a gas station (they were incredible, and I don’t even like fish!), followed by some Irish coffees and a slice of olallieberry pie at a tavern. Pescadero was a multi-sensory sensation, but I wasn’t about to give up the quest for Hollywood for this beautiful little town.

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Set The Record Straight: May

This week I celebrated my 22nd birthday. So as I enter the 23rd year of a life soundtracked by a wide variety of music. Some phases have lasted a couple of months and others a lifetime, but regardless of length – the diversity of the music that I have listened to has been incredible. Although I was going to go for just out-and-out celebration music, I think I should probably also celebrate some of the questionable decisions in my musical past. Fortunately for my feelings of embarrassment, any songs I have recorded with a variety of bands, I no longer have available so I don’t need to show you those questionable decisions. Anyway, enjoy laughing at me and maybe even a little boogie in the process.

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Oscar Goes Wild: San Francisco

Because everything is a lie, I didn’t complete my road trip completely using the roads of America. I did, in fact, fly from Portland to San Francisco, however, you’d be stupid not to trade an 18-hour bus journey for a couple of hours on a plane and a couple of pints at an airport beforehand. Onto a winner here methinks. Regardless of my method of travelling, I made my way from lovely Portland to San Francisco. San Francisco is a city I’d seen in films and skate videos and read about in On the Road, so I had some idea of what to expect from this place – and it’s safe to say I expected quite a bit.

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Oscar Goes Wild: Portland

Portland, the next big thing in the Pacific North West after visiting Seattle. Was I excited? I wasn’t 100% sure what to expect from the place, in all honesty, something that I found exciting if not a little scary also. I had seen the beautiful scenery (which due to the restrictions of my travel plans I feared I would not actually get to experience), but that was pretty much all I knew of the place. That, and the fact it was where both Poler (the camping brand) and Elliott Smith (not a camping brand) were from originally.

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