“Equanimity, when confined to the fundamentals of A to B, is a concept attainable.” (A. Rolland, 2021)
I know you’ve heard it too; that passing racket from a particular cyclist, portable radio in-basket, roaming about the pave-ways projecting their track-list of choice to all about, atypical to what you would expect to hear. An example, eh… A fellow there was, well over a year ago, possibly 2, gliding (specifically) through Northern Quarter, blasting out a track by (abrupt interlude)… Rheingold, huh? A Neue Deutsche Welle group of all things, yes (Lionel Hutz nodding)… hardly what you might define as a general listen to help breeze the peddling…
(Q) So, randomly selected or a conscientious choice, hmm?
He didn’t seem the type for it, in comparison to the past-dwelling retrospectives you would normally associate with stated genre; content in mispronouncing the Teutonic-tongue, purchasing sort-after vinyl to use only as informal wallpaper and tending to plants (they own) with an overdose of H2O, the final spite towards the dreaded expense of botanical cultivation.
The light is fading, yet the cries of battle ring out to startle the non-conflicted. And by that I mean circling the Gardens of Piccadilly while listening in on a brawl, unscripted and bloody. Shout, right-hook, kick, eye-gouge… you name it, ‘tis in the manual. But what of the consequences? I couldn’t just stroll up to a policeman and say:
“What’s the happening plankton, there’s a fly-chasin’ geezer with implement! Your prompt intervention would do them benefit…”
To utter such a thing, I’d more than likely see the darkened confines of a cell than an instigation of help for a fellow citizen. After all, what an in-uniform does for them-self amounts to lonesome preservation; a distant hope of a badge shining and the casual acceptance of things being dropped gently into their unbuttoned pocket, all expenses tethered. Conversely, if I cycled into the fray with my bike-lock chain (unlocked) and swung it around as though a mace, what percussive samples could be sourced from the scattering of their teeth? Well, their diction would be lacking, that’s for sure.
If I may elaborate on the final part of the title (see above): soaring volumes and the clash of stubble-d ruffians… at this point, now irrelevant. Instead, I’m drawn into the side-road-rage of shout and retort, (sighs) the perennial tick-tac-toe. You know, the idiot walking into the cycle lane oblivious to that incoming front-wheel, or the accidental crashing into of a deliveryman (the idiot reversal?), scowling as he checks that his pizzas’ sense of shape isn’t something the late Salvador Dali would have had in mind for a sculpture, culinary in focus. RED…AMBER… GREEN… and… Vroom! Cars man, those motorised coffins sure make for a roadside contemporary I’d really… rather not encounter, however encounter… I do. The choice of stations on their ‘built-in’ stereos, in conjunction with vehicular “features” like open windows, is ever an undelight… and honestly, a missed opportunity.
*BBC Radi…* (Static)… “Uh oh…” (notices something’s wrong) *CAPITAL F…* (Static) “Stop, stop… cut TRANSMISSION!” (peddling intensifies)… *Smooooooooooooth Radio*… (look of resignation) “too late…” I sympathise in a way; a non-digital setup’s variety isn’t particularly outstanding, aye. The process of driving, with its entailments of sign-posted iconography and surveillanced ‘courtesies’… a regimented bore, no? Gated reverb, a hypnotic wonder and indeed a temptation, that much is true… but Smooth fucking Radio? Couldn’t you have just rode in silence like a good little sport, perhaps humming to a frequency only bats can hear as you lament your journey toward the 9 to 5? JUST WHO THE HELL DO YOU THINK YOU ARE!? Aside from the wanton anguish you inflict on the passengers within (that heap of welded tin!), you’re also putting yourself at risk, since… if I had another chain to spare, I’d be sure to give it a swing!
I miss shit nights out. Now I know this is a bold claim, and no, I don’t just miss being hammered. Alcohol certainly helps ease the evening along when the tunes aren’t to your taste, but I don’t think that’s the driving force behind appreciating them. Since the pubs opened on the 12th April it’s been great to have a big one at the pub, but as I sat there with my mates I couldn’t help missing the sensation of being in a crowded, crappy club with cheesy hits blasting in my ears. Still need convincing? I’ll talk you through the stages of a basic night out, all the way from loathing to loving.
Stage 1: Disbelief. I think everyone has their trigger song that kicks off this stage. Mine is ‘Come on Eileen’, a song I personally believe is a strong contender for the worst audio recording of the 20th century. Anyway, I could write a whole article about that, so let’s not get sidetracked. In the middle of the crowded dance floor, your trigger song comes on, and all you can do is stand there in awe as you foresee the night degenerating before your eyes. “I can’t fucking believe this”, you think to yourself, “the one song I didn’t need them to play was this, and now it’s on”. There you stand, helpless, as your mates drunkenly wiggle to the anthem of your waking nightmare.
Stage 2: Anger. The shock is over, now it’s time to start thinking of all the other places you could be instead. You reel through all of the cooler clubs that you could be in, all of the missed Skiddle tickets and unbooked Ubers that could’ve brought you to a dodgy industrial estate, to enter a warehouse full of overpriced Red Stripe and that specific subgenre of techno that makes you look interesting if it’s on your playlist. That’s what I should be doing, you say to yourself furiously, instead here I am listening to Since U Been Gone by Kelly Clarkson and watching my mate get off with the person they swore they never, ever would ever again. What a wasted opportunity.
Stage 3: Acceptance. Well, you’re not in the warehouse, so you might as well make the most of things. It’s at this point you realise not all is lost, that you can in fact have a good time listening to music that you don’t love. Nights out aren’t all about the tunes, they’re about being with your mates and having fun, you remind yourself. Let’s face it, you actually kind of like ‘Hips Don’t Lie’. And why wouldn’t you? It’s a banger.
Stage 4: Joy. That was an understatement- you LOVE ‘Hips Don’t Lie’, and you couldn’t care less if that makes you embarrassing. Everyone seems to be having a really great time, no one’s trying too hard to look cool- in fact the exact opposite is happening. It hits you that you’re having a better time right now in this grimey club than you’ve had at ticketed events, and that’s because nothing quite brings people together as much as a collective cringe. Bad music and bad dancing make us do something that we often aren’t allowed to, and that’s to let go and be the most unhinged versions of ourselves we can be. The best bit is – no one cares! This is precisely what you’re expected to do here, embrace the cringe. What’s the worst that could happen?
Sugarstone. The new-wave infused quartet are hot, hot, hot at the moment – and they took a moment out of their busy schedule to chat to little old me! I was fairly chuffed to say the least. Joseph O’Haire, George Miller, Brandon Calvert and Ben Wilson are aiming to change the face of the Manchester music scene one synth at a time, and by God are they going to do it. We chatted about their new single, Angel Boy, as well as the trials and tribulations of infiltrating Year 7 rock bands. Behold, the saccharine sweethearts’ wisdom, imparted…
Hello Sugarstoners, stones of sugar or sugary stones if you will. Thank you ever so much for letting me ask you some daft things. First and foremost, how long have you guys been making tunes and when did you all meet? What made you want to get into music?
(George) Joe and I have been mates for going on 7 years now, we went to school together. So I suppose it all started with that, as cliché as that may be. I actually joined the ‘Year 7 Rock Band’ without Joe’s consent, so things were a little Icey at first. But luckily we cut out the middleman (literally) and are now inseparable hehe. We started writing properly in college, then sort of hit the ground running once we all moved to Manchester. We met Ben and Brandon at college and by second year had the line-up you now know as ‘Sugarstone’.
You’re making quite the name for yourself as new-wavey synth revivalists. I feel like I’m listening to an amalgamation of all of my favourite eighties records but also with a modern, catchy indie-pop twist. Was this your intention with Sugarstone’s sound? Angel Boy is a bonafide Duran Duran-esque dream.
(Joe) Honestly it wasn’t! We aren’t all that interested in being pinned as one particular type of band. We just write music that we want to hear at a particular moment in time because we can’t find it anywhere else! With ‘Angel Boy’ I suppose it was written during the height of isolation and I wanted to just dance to some Peter Gabriel-esque pop with elements of EDM as we all love that too! Our next single which was written a month after ‘Angel Boy’ is a departure from a lot of our older stuff, but of course like anything our influences always seep into it.
I always like asking this, because I’m really nosey. Why the name Sugarstone? Where did it come from? Big into the name, I’m picturing a really, really big sugarcube – big enough for a swimming pool-sized brew even…
(George) ‘Sugarstone’ is a song by a band called ‘Peace’. One of my mum’s dearest friends was a good friend of the band and is actually mentioned in the song (or so he told us). He passed away in 2013. So I’d like to think the name is a bit of a tribute to him, he was great. But also, yeah, we thought it sounded cool. A lot cooler than some of the other options we’d come up with…trust me.
So, as aforementioned. Tell us about Angel Boy. What’s it about? Talk me through the writing process…
(George) ‘Angel Boy’ is about the urge to look after someone, even if they don’t need/want it. Joe sent me over the music, and I wrote the lyrics that evening. We basically had the song you now hear pretty much straight away, with a couple of amendment made in the studio. But yeah, it’s lyrically laced with sarcasm, while at the same time being a very personal account of how I was feeling at the time. We love to ride that satirical wave, if you know what I mean
What would you say your favourite of your releases so far has been? I love Angel Boy but I’ve got a bit of a soft spot for I Wanna Be Famous. I think it’s because I wanna be.
(George) I think it would be rude (and bad marketing) to not say Angel Boy. It’s the start of a very exciting chapter for us as a band and we can’t wait to build on it when we release the next one. Although saying that, I do love ‘Tiger, Reach Out!’, its unapologetically intense and I like that.
Who are your biggest influences? Not just musically, but in your fashion too please. You guys have got a really distinctive, snazzy look. It’s NEW New Romantic chic. I like it.
(Joe) Aw thank you! In regards to music our influences are vast and ever changing. But of course I would have to mention Duran Duran as I was bombarded with them as a child thanks to Mum. Some more contemporary influences would have to be artists such as Panther Modern from LA, De Staat from Holland, Queens Of The Stone Age and Grimes! But the list goes on and on! I would have to also mention the TV show ‘Twin Peaks’ as that has influenced me in so many ways to delve into sonic soundscapes within the music. To be honest, we don’t think about fashion all too much but we do like to match our aesthetics with the music we are releasing or making at that particular time. For instance with the release of ‘Tiger, Reach Out!’ We styled ourselves as flamboyant New Romantics and with the release of ‘Angel Boy’ we went for a kind of olden days school boy look with a hint of children’s tv presenters like Mr Maker hahah!
Onto gigging. What have we got planned for the future of Sugarstone? Will we be able to catch you lovely lot on tour any time (fairly) soon?
(George) The future of Sugarstone is extremely bright! We’re rehearsing a lot, back in the studio next week and yeah, got some very exciting live gigs in the pipeline for once the apocalypse is over (or nearly over).
Where do you rate the best gig you’ve ever played is?
(Ben) There are a fair few that come to mind when you ask a question like that. I think most of our fondest memories belong to The Ferret, because that’s where we really grew into the band we are now. I’ve got to give my number one spot to when we played Band On The Wall, though. We were having a string of really good gigs at the time and it was just the icing on the cake. There’s a huge stand to dance around on, the lightings great, i think they even had a smoke machine. It’s just a great setup. The crowd was what made it though, everyone was singing and dancing, I remember it being fairly full and everyone came down. That’s definitely right up there.
You’re another cracking Manchester band. We love to uplift talent based in, FACTUALLY speaking of course, the greatest city in the world. Favourite local artists?
(George) I tell you what we’ll give you one band each, so no-one feels left out. I’m going to go with SLAPRASH. Two of our closest mates, and they make great music too. Joe’s going for Kashmere. Great lads and we’ve played some great gigs along side them. Ben’s pick is The Blinders. Not technically a ‘Manchester Band’, but too good not to mention. And finally Brandon’s pick is Working Men’s Club.
And finally, because I am the height of professional interviewer, I’m going to end with a Snog, Marry, Avoid – this time with New Romantic legends because I can somehow see you all having a bev with the likes of Visage’s Steve Strange. SNOG, MARRY, AVOID – Boy George, Simon Le Bon, the one really fit Kemp brother from Spandau Ballet. Think it’s Martin.
(Joe) Hahahah not had to answer one of these since those early school days where you had to choose this very carefully and seriously.
SNOG – Boy George
MARRY – Simon Le Bon
AVOID – Martin Kemp
‘Angel Boy’ by Sugarstone is available on all good streaming platforms. Listen here:
Oi! Did you see the drink token on the ground? Did you? Did… you? Well??? Good, you’ll need it. The quartet we are seeing, or outfit as I will come to overuse throughout, BOAST influences stretching from the disparate corners of both proto and… post, with a sound so indie… it will compel you to go full circle and undergo a frontal lobotomy… for real autonomy is but a shroud.
“Reach for the clogs, but don’t TAKETH THESE POGS!” Kudos, kudos… certainly some witty lyrics from the aforementioned outfit right there, which I will now refer to as lyricism. I mean, tacking on a suffix or two just makes everything better DOESISH IT NOTISM? Like gifting a 10 pound note-superimposed rubber to a homeless person… camera at the ready! Let’s hope the flash doesn’t make his retinas glow… for that would spoil my op, warrant a mop (upon seeing the jaundice prevalent), and thereby render the whole thing a… box-office flop?
Actually, that was boring… recall the token? Well, time to put it to use, after all, only a Stanley Standard would queue up to buy a pint full-price, wasting what little dosh they… and probably you have, unlike I. What is it you’ve chosen? A Newcastle Brown Ale, is it not? A quench repulsive, you’d agree?A Salford Quay swig it is! *Smashes the glass on the ground* You ought to try Thatchers, it replicates the taste of Devon just enough for you to (genuinely) believe you’re a peak-cap certifiable! And accent wise, non-rhotic galore! Wowee, the outfit’s lyricism strikes once more unto, “Fuck this infernal crisp, for now I have… THE ETERNAL LISP!” clearly, the syntactical nuances of Anglo-Saxon are strong with this one; I’d wager 2:1 in Lit, 79% ENTJ and a gold star for P.K.Q (Pub Knowledge Questioning)… defferinos, for I do so believe…
Oh no! It looks like someone split their head open on the rafters while crowd surfing, ouchy. Now then, back to your drink of choice. Why, oh why… the Weiss Sturm, over the sacramental K, good sir? Sheet metals are hazardous to the sole, desecrate the greenery (like our Platt Fields) and makes you look like the non-toothed tramp we earlier encountered. By comparison; K is an offering smooth on the grip, caustic on the cracked-o-lip, elevates your social standing in the smoking area to about the rank of ‘hip’, and… In terms of the red-on-black branding… you can plonk it on top of your wardrobe as though a trophy, making your room, as they say: less a tip. Aho, the sonic-outfit-extraordinaire(s) have yet more food-for-thought to offer, “If I happened to be in possession of an accom FOB, I’d be sure to give it a hefty LOB, at that ersatz journo KNOB, known to most as Prince… JOHN ROBB!” Rivets and bolts man, rivets and bolts! Whether evoking the LYRICISM of the late Tom Weights or simply a cough from the Clever Clarence influenza… it matters not, the deified OUTFIT have cracked the code on this vault and placed the lid (right) on the genie, just as the horoscope prophesied!!!! If only a PR budget, un-prohibitive, were theirs to spend… Hey, let’s go backstage and steal shit from their rider!
London’s up-and-coming alt-rock quartet, Legss, are Ned Green (Vocals), Max Oliver (Guitar), Jake Martin (Bass) and Louis Grace (Drums). The post-punk experimenters are two EP’s deep and are set to release accompanying visuals for the title track of their sophomore offering. Directed by the band and Luke Kulukundis and filmed by Rory Edmonds and Mollie Gallagher, the video is set to be an exciting accomplishment, adding to their resume of delightful musical creations.
Ambitious, ageless and authentic, ‘Doomswayers’ takes us on an alt-rock sonic journey through London, following a poignant protagonist with utter potency and incredibly ability. The lyrics and unwavering vocals exacerbate the dark side of post-punk with a certain edge that takes their music to a next level.
Speaking on the video, frontman Ned Green informs: “The video for Doomswayers is the concluding statement from our EP. A sprawling, epic, emotionally-charged, scatty, nauseating, vitriolic visual accompaniment, set in a 17th Century, modern, time-warped LondWinium-by-Sea, to a three-part throwaway Violin Concerto in D Major, found in a tip and then transcribed into the six-minute title-track EP-closer that you can all love, listen, and now watch today.”
‘Doomswayers’ is teeming with jagged riffs and tongue-in-cheek lyrics that tackle themes of modern-day urban life of crowded streets and intense volatility that come along with the 21st century. The opening monologue sets the scene for razor-sharped observations and critical orations that is present throughout. The track lends a unique view into the inner workings of a bustling city, dark undertones and volatility alike.
Legss have the mesmerising ability to produce off-kilter tracks which is blindingly brilliant, they’re poets that just happen to have a penchant for searing instrumentation.
Legss are set to support the eccentric Pom Poko on their upcoming tour: HOME | pom poko.
Warning: This is by no means a ‘professional’ article. It reads more like a personal essay. Die-hard avid Alanis fanclub members, please do tolerate my ramblings, there are some glimmers of Ms Morrissette in here, and not just my diary, honestly…
Recently, I revisited an album that I hadn’t listened to in eons. Do you ever have a record that you once played cover to cover, and you just one day abandoned, never really to be returned to again? Musical maturity seems to dictate that we don’t return to old favourites, that we seek the new, bold and exciting. This of course is completely fine – it’s what we’re all about on this blog, of course. But the nostalgia that ensued from my sitting down and relistening to this record in full was more blissful than even the most sparkling epiphany one experiences at new discoveries. The moment that I shuffled this on Spotify and let it flood gratefully into my auditory nerves, illuminating my ear canals with glorious rainbows and celestial seas…God, I’m even drifting off dreamily into this sentence as Mary Jane plays from my battered soundsystem. I can’t even tell you the incredible contentedness that en-swathed me. I had, within about ten minutes, opened up Ebay, purchased a vinyl copy of this record, and in another tab opened up Google Docs to pen this very article you are currently privy to. The sense of urgency that this rediscovery inspired in me was remarkable. I suppose it is because it is an album that is nothing short of remarkable. This is an album that resonated with me in my youth. An album that, at that juncture of my life, seemed to mainly appeal to my general teenage angst, but upon relisten has touched me in a totally different. That album is of course, Jagged Little Pill, by the imitable Alanis Morrissette. I’m going to link it below. I want you to shuffle it, or at the very least start from the start. Press play, now. I’m hoping I can express my feelings about this record successfully enough that you will begin to see what I mean.
I was putting together a radio show, a show that focused on the year of 1995 (you can listen to it here, for contextual purposes in relation to this article and not for reasons of self-promotion, of course). Having to favour the cleaner-cut side of ’95, my hip-hop choices were slim to none due to the cursed claws of censorship, and I didn’t want to rely solely on Britpop offerings (I am a musical Mancunian cliche, but not that much, honest). I decided to delve more into alt-rock, and then I had that realisation – of course! Alanis! How could I forget her? She was once a dear companion of mine.
When I was about 14, I went through a slightly difficult part of my life. My friends became sparse and few and far between all of a sudden. I had to work myself out a lot. It’s a strangely formative age, being 14. You’re a teenager, certainly, but not quite old enough to do daring things you’d seen the teenagers in Hollyoaks do. I longed for the normal things all 14 year olds do, really. To be pretty (I struggled with this a lot, I wish I could give little me a big squeeze). To kiss a boy (turns out it’s not all it’s hyped up to be). To have legions of loving mates (this eventually sort of happened, but it took me some time, trust me). I was a lanky emo with braces and cripplingly low self-esteem. I was sweet, though. Naive, but sweet. I was finding figuring myself out a little more difficult than I’d initially anticipated. How did I want to present myself? What kind of people did I want to surround myself with? It’s all well and good having an incredibly loving and supporting family who adore you unconditionally, but trying to navigate high school where nobody has to like you and in fact, not many people do? It’s a whole different ball park. I had a real journey of independence to embark on, and by God, was I going to do it. It was either succumb to shyness and self-doubt, or come out of my shell, and be who I had long-romanticised myself to be. I decided to throw myself into creative endeavours and hope that somehow, the world would maybe start working out in my favour – and that perhaps the girls in the P.E queue for rounders bats would stop kicking the back of my legs and verbally pondering my sexuality. They never quite got it right. I wonder what guess they would hazard now.
Slowly, it worked, and my confidence built up. Though I no longer play and lost interest in the craft with age, I played guitar at this time. I didn’t reckon myself to be very good, but I enjoyed it. My dad taught me bar chords and songs that I liked, while I did scales and boring paint-by-numbers Classical Guitar at school. My guitar teacher at school was a bit dull to say the least, and didn’t really want me to tackle more contemporary stuff. But the one thing he did bring me, the one pivotal album he taught me pretty much in full? Jagged Little Pill. This guy was obsessed with Alanis. I’m talking borderline Stan and Slim Shady level. I’ve been lucky to have had the most fortunate of musical educations and upbringings, and yet I didn’t even know who she was before our lessons. My guitar teacher had a specific songbook for the album, and he lent it to me. I’ve always been one for words. I remember poring over the lyrics, marvelling in how this woman that I hadn’t even known existed was somehow opening my mind to experiences and opinions that I either already had, or would go on to have as I grew. The way that she responded to things that I struggled with intrigued me. She was defiant, she was boisterous, she was angry. Her self-worth and respect are evident throughout the record, not just in the way that men treat her, but in the way that society does. A young woman with such a grasp and perspective on herself was, to a lost young lady such as myself, so revolutionary and a breath of fresh air. I had previously aligned myself with musicians who were wracked with self loathing. I guess that’s the allure of being an emo when you’re that age, a strange sense of community. But Alanis immediately made me want to break away from these negative notions I’d long harboured about myself. Within a month or so, my mum had bought me the CD and I had played it until it was adorned with sparkling scratches. I had officially become entangled in the Canadian songstress’ web, and she had become entangled in mine, without ever knowing.
You know that old chestnut, where people say to [insert fairly run-of-the-mill mediocre musician] – “your music saved me”. I finally understood this sentiment. Sure, it can seem silly, cringe or even trite to the more cynical among us. But if words and melodies inspire you, if they offer you support when you’re a bit lonely and don’t really have the comfort of anything else, and really if they spur you to positively grow and adapt? Well, I don’t think it’s a bad assessment to make at all. I don’t think it’s unrealistic, either. Who are we to criticise someone’s bond and personal connection with an artist, even if nobody else really understands it? It’s a plight I empathise with hugely, because I truly do maintain that this album did save me. I slowly but surely came out of my shell. I think on reflection that school and the strange ideals young women are pressured into from a young age really instilled a strange toxic dislike of other girls in me, almost an ugly resentment of girls that I felt were prettier than me and more popular than me. I didn’t understand that we could all be pretty and popular, duh. It’s not a competition. I also think I maybe associated the validation of having a boyfriend with loving yourself and appreciating your quirks far too much, be this from (again) the influence of wider pop culture or just a socialisation thing. I think what I didn’t understand most of all that really, I didn’t need to fully work out my personality just yet to be happy. Everyone has multiple facets of themselves, some parts you will dislike, and some parts that you will love. It’s all about working out a balance that makes you happy. I think Hand In My Pocket really reinforced that for me –
I’m broke, but I’m happy I’m poor, but I’m kind I’m short, but I’m healthy, yeah I’m high, but I’m grounded I’m sane, but I’m overwhelmed I’m lost, but I’m hopeful, baby.
She acknowledged the good and the bad and accepted all of it and everything in between. Because as she said:
What it all boils down to / is that no one’s really got it figured out just yet.
And that’s exactly it. Why should I, a literal child, have panicked and agonised that I hadn’t worked myself out yet? Why was that a thing? It’s messed up how that’s a thing. Alanis taught me to be care-free, to not worry so much what other people thought of me, and most of all to be happy in myself. That summer, soundtracked by my faithful iPod Nano with JLP loaded onto it, I started to connect with people that really made me feel good about myself. I found a bravery that hadn’t really existed before. It goes hand in hand with a heightened self-worth, that. I made one lovely friend in particular who I would listen to Jagged Little Pill with in her attic, feet against the bedframe with our long tangled hair splayed across the carpet with Ironic blasting. I started acting properly, something I’d always felt too scared to do. And it was the strangest thing. As my confidence blossomed and I started making decisions that were truly for my own self-preservation and not out of fear of fitting in, my jealousy, resentment and bitterness against other girls in my class started to dissipate. That’s the thing about Alanis. Her plight for self-love is never at the expense of others. It’s never about tearing peers or other women down, not even when she’s angry like in You Oughta Know. Her feminism was different to the ‘feminism’ I had prescribed to from young-adult gossip magazines – the “hey, hey, you, you, I don’t like your girlfriend” rhetoric (sorry Avril). With my new found friends and self-assured nature, I slowly stopped being bullied and stopped using music as the heavy, heavy emotional crutch I had used it for in those difficult times. I traded it instead for merely a tool for enjoyment now and then. Alanis was pushed to the back of my memory, and I moved on in my musical journey, eating up new artists and interests with every year that passed. But I never forgot the impact that she had on me, or the way that I saw things at that point in my life. You don’t ever truly forget something like that.
So, fast forward to now. Fast forward to the moment that I sat down, pressed play on JLP and felt a swell in my chest and tears prick at my eyes. God, I sound lame. I’d like to blame this sudden serge of emotion on lockdown, I’d like to blame it on the current difficulties in my personal life and mental health. But really, I think it was more just the shock of it. I’ve been in a slump as of late. Low in self-esteem, low in validation, let down by failed romantic endeavours and friends who frittered away. I’ve almost felt in a similar state to how I did all those years ago, but with more pals, better hair and less eyeliner. To be really honest with you, dear readers, I’m worried that I’m losing my confidence and crumbling away. I don’t feel a particular warmth or love for myself that I possessed as recently as a few weeks ago. That’s the thing with self-love, it fluctuates. And you sometimes need a nudge to get you back on track with it. When I let her words wash over me just now, I heard exactly what I needed to hear. Not The Doctor. It’s strange to have lyrics resonate with you in a completely different way than they did when you first heard them. Alanis wrote this record when she was 20/21 (which in itself is baffling). As a 22 year old young woman, I’m now finding that the lyrics are more relatable than ever. Back when I was 14, I modelled myself on Alanis certainly, but I was yet to experience many of the things that she sings about particularly relationship-wise. But now that I’m at exactly the point that she was at, with many a failed relationship under my belt, I empathise and relate with her lyrics and musings moreso. I use Not The Doctor as a key example of this because it is almost exactly how I would summarise my opinions on recent relationships. There’s a plethora of songs about love and heartbreak out there. But for me, this song is different. This is a song that, were I a gifted Bernie Taupin type, I would write myself now.
I don’t wanna be adored for what I merely represent to you. I often battle with this sensation. That men merely romanticise me, and the moment that they realise that I’m actually just a mess of multiple facets of a personality rather than an idea they disappear.
I don’t wanna be your mother / I didn’t carry you in my womb for nine months. I’ve dated many a man who I have babied, and admittedly lost myself completely in because of this bizarre maternal sense I feel in caring for them.
And I don’t wanna be your other half / I believe that one and one make two. That’s my dilemna now. Trying to rebuild myself without this structure of essentially being ‘part’ of someone else. It’s difficult. It’s weird. I can’t help but feel I shouldn’t even have to relocate myself in the first place.
I could go on analysing all day. I just find it incredible, how so many different feelings and attachments to this record have been inspired in me upon listening with a more mature ear. I understand things I never did. I first listened to this record as a little mouse of a girl. I listen to it now as a strong, self-assured woman going through a rough patch. I feel proud of the journey that Alanis and this album have helped me to embark upon and how far we’ve come together.
Enough about the personal connection, though. Factually speaking, this record is genius. It dabbles in a myriad of genres, spanning post-grunge, alternative rock, folk, indie. Vocally, she more than impresses, with a voice that beggars belief that it is coming out of such a young woman. It’s cohesive, and virtually no track is skippable. She explores addiction, heartbreak, It was nominated for NINE, yes, NINE Grammy Awards. And once again, I reiterate – TWENTY-ONE YEARS OF AGE! I grilled a pizza this evening by putting the oven on the wrong setting. It’s funny how usefully others can utilise their short time on this Earth, isn’t it? It’s even been adapted into a Broadway musical that’s been nominated for FIFTEEN Tony Awards. You don’t need to do the maths. Jagged Little Pill is something special. Her exploration of emotions and truths that she realises throughout the tracks reminds me of the songcraft of artists like Carole King. Her emotional maturity and sensibility helped me and has probably helped countless other little girls in the world. I feel privleged to have had her be so pivotal in my own personal growth. Even young starlets who would grow to be some of the biggest artists in the world felt that inspiration, too – Katy Perry said of the record that “Jagged Little Pill was the most perfect female record ever made.” She said that she related to every track. “They’re still so timeless.” Perry has hit the nail on the head there. Timeless. For a record to have this profound effect on me so many years on confirms one thing clearly to me – this record will always be everpresent in my life. No matter how long I leave her unplayed, she’s something special, and she’ll always be waiting for when I need her.
Alanis Morrissette thank you for your honest lyrics and always being the most wonderful role model. Here’s one thing You Oughta Know – Jagged Little Pill changed my life, babe. I hope you know how many other young girls’ lives you changed too. If I ever have a daughter, this will be the first album I’ll ever play for her, rest assured.