Welsh Crush Wednesday: Pop Edition

Some of my favorite albums that have come out this year are by Welsh artists, and I feel it’s my duty to tell you about them. Here’s the first few, which are all loosely psych/folk/outsider pop (ps- this is an excellent article on Welsh pop within this same vein that I highly recommend):

In the Pink of Condition by H. Hawkline. H. Hawkline are a spiritual successor to Super Furry Animals and Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci. It’s more consistently cohesive, poppy and danceable than much of these aforementioned Welsh weirdos, and the influence of producer Cate le Bon is noticeable.

The Boombox Ballads by Sweet Baboo. This is like a mix of Belle and Sebastian, Chad Vaangalen, and Sujfan Stevens if nothing bad had ever happened to them. It dances around freak folk but it’s also very late-60s-loungey— vaguely melancholy, distinctly odd, and yet with sweet lyrics; like a chill and folksy version of Bonzo Dog Doodah Band.

Y Dydd Olaf by Gwenno- Blonde Redhead meets Yo La Tengo with a little bit of Serge Gainsbourg.

I also liked recent releases by The School (Wasting Away and Wondering), Keys (Ring the Changes), Richard James (All New Highways), Eugene Capper (Human Muzak), Iwan Rheon (Dinard), Yuctaan (Uwch Gopa’r Mynydd), Jodie Marie (Trouble in Mind), Palenco (S/T), and Shoebox Orchestra (The Colour of Two).

the un-vaguening

I am here. I am not feeling well. I am trying to rest as much as possible so I can feel better. I feel like I must be incredibly boring.

I always have trouble talking about my health. And because of that, most of my life is pretty off limits. That means I don’t really know how to talk about myself. Do I tell people everything that’s going on? That seems awful. It’s not that there’s anything scandalous, it’s just that everything is a lot of little, dull, complicated things.

I’ve been pretty hard on myself about this. I tell myself, how can you try to be a writer, if you can’t write anything remotely personal without freezing up and bailing? How can I meet new people or maintain friendships if I can’t be open and honest? You’ve been sick since you’ve been 11, shouldn’t you be better at this by now? I think that asking these questions are probably not helpful.

I try to talk about other things, but sometimes it’s unavoidable. Sometimes it comes up in conversation, sometimes my life is just so taken over by health problems that there’s nothing more I can talk about. There’s just no easy way to say “I don’t work and I really do much because I have several difficult to explain diseases and conditions”. There’s no fun way to tell people “Yup, still sick, same stuff, some stuff is better, some stuff is worse”. I usually take that as a sign I shouldn’t really tell people either, but I’m pretty sure that instinct is bad and wrong.

I don’t know where I’m going with this. I don’t really know if writing this helps at all. I don’t think I even talked about myself much, I just talked about how I don’t like talking about myself. Oh well. It’s… progress?

In other news, I’ve been listening to the new Close Lobsters reissue/remaster? and I thought the second line of this song was “a poop disorder, an ostrich” so I can’t really think or write about anything else at the moment, I know you understand.

Thursday’s almost over. I hope you have a nice weekend. I might go to a park and listen to punk music, or I might just stay home and rest, maybe go get a Redbox or two. I might do none of these things.

the bathroom: raindrops, hooker sticks and silicone

It’s funny (ok, it’s probably just mildly “huh”-inducing), the only room in our house that has been remodeled is the one room in our house that we’ve actually modified since moving in. Why is that the case? I think it’s partially because the projects were easy to tackle, and partially because the room was “remodeled” in a way that was slapdash and sloppy. The caulk was peeling away, the paint was bubbly and many areas were left bare for unknown reasons. Also, the drain was non-functional and grody. The first thing we tackled was the caulk, because I’m a practical panda and I have a problem with really gross things surrounding me while bathing. I am truly unique and special. And a panda. Don’t forget that.

So, continuing my quest to remove gross things from my shower, I bought one of these things (which I forgot to photograph while it was still in the packaging, whoooops):

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This thing is amazing and I had never heard of anything like it before! I found out about it in a very roundabout way. I was marathoning Ask This Old House one Sunday, as you do, and they were talking about snaking drains. We often have to go out and buy those weird hooker sticks to clear clogs, especially after giving Moon a bath, and I am sure for the price of that, we could have bought a drain snake. I’ve heard from plumbers, though, that those can damage the drain, but then, This Old House was telling me it was cool. While I had a tiny little existential crisis of TOH possibly being wrong about a thing, I thought the best course of action was to just buy a drain cover that would catch hair.

Then, the magic: there is a product that is both a new drain stopper that has a hair catcher built in and you can install it over an existing drain with silicone. WHAT. This solves all of my bath drain problems in one fell swoop. MAGIC.

After waffling a bit on finishes and styles, I did a ship to store from Home Depot and we were ready to go. The installation was really simple. Just spread the silicone that is included, wait a few hours, and we can put our dingy drain days behind us. And months later, it’s working just fine, I think. It really stops all the hair, so you have to clean it out before each shower. That’s my one complaint, I guess, that it works too well? But maybe if somehow they could increase the number of drainage holes, that would mean I could maybe go a day without touching soggy hair.

So, yeah! I’m happy with this. It’s a little thing, but I think it makes a big difference. Here’s the before:

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And the after:

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Repainting our bathroom is pretty low on the priority list at the moment because time is precious and I am a wuss when it comes to paint fumes, but I wanted to do something else to really make the room seem put together and maybe distract from all the flaws. I liked our old shower curtain enough to keep it for about eight years, but it just didn’t gel with the other colors in the room. I had a coupon at Target for shower curtains, and after two trips to the store to try to find it, we brought home this guy:
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It really brightens up the room and I like how well it works with the tile insert and the wall. The colors and watercolor look remind me of Jon Klassen artwork. You know, the “I Want My Hat Back” guy? So I think the next thing I want to do is order a print of his, maybe this one or this one or this one.

After that, I will call it quits on this water closet until we’re ready to repaint. The next big project we have planned is to call an electrician to see what can be done with our hodgepodge outlets, our dryer that’s always trippin’, our outdated wiring, and to put in some outlets outside and a whole house surge protector. It’s a little daunting, all the work that needs to be done, but I think I’ll keep doing little projects like I’ve done in the bathroom because it feels like I’m making progress, even if I’m kinda really not that much.

it’s a scientific fact

The 70s have been back in a big way (I’m talking crocheted jumpsuit culottes big) and frankly, aforementioned culottes notwithstanding, I am SO IN. Especially now that it’s Summer and there are long drives to be made, because there’s just something about music from this era that suits road trips like none other. There have been a number of bands that have released AM 70s tinged albums that have been in heavy rotation for me, but sometimes you need the real thing and lots of it. And when a room in your parents’ house looks like this

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you can’t just find an As Seen on TV quality compilation. So, I’ve been using this:

spotify:user:sterlewine:playlist:1IR9dOdGfkPQa8WELUpSQx

Steve Thomas Erlewine is a music critic and an editor for All Music, my all time favorite music site. So when I stumbled onto his public Spotify playlists and saw he had extensive playlists for a number of years in the 70s, the section of my brain lit up that agrees with Homer here:

and there was no turning back. He’s got tracks from every genre and doesn’t shy away from novelty songs, one hit wonders, and pure cheese, which were what really made the decade what it was. I’m going to link to the rest of his 70s playlists below, so enjoy!

Read More »

x2

bees1

What’s more terrifying that a first blog post? A second blog post. Hence, the five month (really?) gap between these posts. I have no one to apologize to for neglecting this blog though, thanks past Erin for not telling anyone about this, good call.

So, weirdness acknowledged, let’s carry on, okay?

I could do a long recap of the past few months, detailing the various mundanities that have consumed my life, but I’m bored just thinking about it. Instead, I thought I’d spice things up with the most exciting form of text known to man: a list! Yeah, that’s right. I pulled the big guns out for post number two.

Since a little (hush) over half a year has gone by so far, I thought I’d post some of the very important life lessons I’ve gathered in 2015.

  • If your garbage disposal isn’t working, get a hex wrench (the kind you get with IKEA furniture that you somehow lose halfway into building a LACK table) and feel underneath your disposal. Find a little hole in the middle, stick the wrench in and turn clockwise a few times. Then find the reset button underneath, press it, and you should be good to go.
  • The Instagram of Caitlin Rose (a wonderful artist out of Nashville whose album The Stand In was fantastic and I need another one like now please?) is chock full of poetry and is a must follow imo.
  • Don’t buy dryer sheets in bulk, even if they’re Mrs. Meyers and even if they’re on clearance with a coupon because eventually you’ll get sick of the smell. At least change up the scents, because yes I know basil is the best one but sometimes you need a little lemon verbena in the mix to make life interesting.
  • You really don’t have the wherewithal to take care of hanging plants. It doesn’t matter if they’re succulents or petunias (which should be impossible to kill) you will forget about them and they will die.
  • There isn’t a budget software that automatically inputs your purchases and makes all your financial planning decisions for you, so don’t stress if you’re not great at using one. Also, it’s a lot of work, and you’re not getting paid for it, and time is money so you’re actually saving money by not using it. It’s not your fault, it’s theirs for not making sentient programming that gives you free money.
  • It’s okay to not love podcasts. You can just listen to a few episodes here and there. You don’t have to join some sort of cult. I know, I’m shocked, too.
  • Even though you are too much of a wuss to listen to the majority of albums they stock, Holy Mountain is the best record store in Tulsa.
  • If you see something you love (especially if it features bears and Neko Case) buy it because it can go away forever and you’ll miss it every day and how could you ever regret buying it? There are bears on it. Impossible.
  • You don’t know what to do with bookends.
  • Investing in good skincare isn’t Important but it’s nice, and when nice is hard to come by it’s money well spent. See also: pedicures.
  • Don’t feed your dog Oregon blueberries. She’ll get hooked and you don’t want to share those little blue globs of heaven.

intro with bees

I am here, after months of waffling, and fighting a lot of my instincts to do otherwise, to present to you a blog I will be writing in. Intro posts are boring, and better kept short, so I’m just going to answer a couple of questions no one has been able to ask real quick.

First, what kind of blog is this, Erin? Well, it’s… don’t worry about it. I will be writing about things that interest me, and I’m arguable interested in way too many things, so I doubt I even know what will be going on here. I’m definitely probably going to write about my house, music, pop culture, and what it’s like to try to enjoy all those things and more when you’re in an almost permanent state of pain and exhaustion. I guess just think about it like a lifestyle blog, but of someone who is chronically ill, unemployed, and kind of ridiculous. Or, don’t think of it at all yet, that would be the right thing to think, as there isn’t really anything here to think about yet.

Second, what kind of name of a blog is this, Erin? It’s the name of a blog that was made in the year 2015 when most of the names of blogs are taken and the medium is all but played out, is the slightly shorter answer. The longer answer is that Neko Case is everything to me, and the song “Outro With Bees” has been my life motto since about the time I heard it. I wanted to convey a vibe of realizing the difficulties in life, the constant flux of things, the exhaustion of trying to make sense of it, but also rising above it because you kind of have to, and also because you’re pretty dang good it. I think this works for that. It’s also an excuse to make people listen to Neko Case, which is something I am wont to do, so be prepared.

So, yeah! Here I go, I guess!