The MataBlog is edited by Matador Records’ co-moaner Gerard Cosloy and individual entries are the work of whoever’s name is next to them. If you enjoyed something in the MataBlog, thank you very much! If there was something you found particularly troubling, please be advised that a) maybe you should read it again and b) the contents of this blog do not necessarily represent the opinions of Matador Records, Beggars Group, the combined staff of either company, nor the Matador artist roster. Opinions are like friends — hardly anyone has one worth listening to.

Bar the Pusherman: Belle and Sebastian Announce New Compilation

It feels so good to announce any new Belle and Sebastian action. So naturally, we're thrilled to announce the August 27 US release of The Third Eye Centre on Matador - a collection of B-sides, rarities, and non-LP tracks from the last decade. The album is on CD (CD!), download (download!), and on vinyl (vinyl!) as a gatefold double LP. Special pre-order info coming next week - watch this space (and that of your neighbors).

Listen to the NEW track “Your Cover’s Blown (Miaoux Miaoux Remix)” here:

The 19 tracks are from the time around their last three albums – Dear Catastrophe Waitress (2003), The Life Pursuit (2006) and Write About Love (2010). Consider The Third Eye Centre the successor of sorts to Push Barman To Open Old Wounds (2005), which compiled earlier singles and EPs.

Track listing:

I’m A Cuckoo (Avalanches Remix)
Suicide Girl
Love On The March
Last Trip
Your Secrets
Your Cover’s Blown (Miaoux Miaoux Remix)
I Took A Long Hard Look
Heaven In The Afternoon
Long Black Scarf
The Eighth Station Of The Cross Kebab House
I Didn’t See It Coming (Richard X Mix)
(I Believe In) Travellin’ Light
Stop, Look And Listen
Passion Fruit
Desperation Made A Fool Of Me
Blue Eyes Of A Millionaire
Mr Richard
Meat And Potatoes
The Life Pursuit

Belle and Sebastian will play the following 2013 dates:

4– Quebec City Festival – Quebec
5– Montreal Jazz Festival – Montreal
6– Ottawa Bluesfest – Ottawa, Canada
7– Toronto Urban Folk Festival – Toronto
9 – Bank Of America Pavillion – Boston
10– Skyline Stage @ The Mann – Philadelphia
11– Prospect Park – NYC
12– Merriweather Post Pavillion – Wash DC
13– Stage AE – Pittsburgh
14– Bunbury Music Festival – Cincinatti
16– ACL @ The Moody Theatre – Austin
17– Santa Barbara Bowl – Santa Barbara
18– Twilight Series– Salt Lake City
20– Pitchfork Festival – Chicago
26– Open Air Festival – San Sebastian, Spain
27th July – Low Cost Festival, Spain

15– Sonorama - Spain
17– Parades de Coura - Portugal
23– Rock en Seine – Paris, France
30– Openair Festival – Zurich, Switzerland
SEP 1– End Of The Road Festival – Dorset
SEP 6– Bestival – Isle Of Wight

Visit the band here:

Who is Stuart Murdoch?

Now that we know exactly what John Ficenec is all about, we can turn our attention to the other half of the Write About Love contest equation; Mr. Stuart Murdoch of Belle and Sebastian.

While this is hardly the most comprehensive or definitive profile of Stuart, it is a quick look at the man behind the impending Belle and Sebastian song about Mr. J. Ficenec.

What is your name?:
Stuart Leopold Murdoch

Where are you from?:
Clarkston, Glasgow

How old are you?:

Of all the amazing entries, why did you pick John Ficenec's?:
It was different, it was easy to read, it was funny and I thought the advice was good!

Have you ever been to Omaha?:
No, never, but I've heard it is a nice town, with a nice zoo.

What do you plan on doing with John when you get there?
I’m going to try real hard not to embarrass him.

Buy Write About Love

Who is John Ficenec?

Earlier this week we answered the question that everyone had been asking; "Who is going to win the Belle and Sebastian 'Write About Love Contest?'"
But as questions beget questions, now everyone wants to know "Who the hell is John Ficenec?"
Well, after a short but relatively arduous search, we've located the lucky fella behind the billion dollar essay about young love (no, he doesn't get a billion dollars*. Even better. He gets to hang out with Stuart Murdoch for a day and then have a Belle and Sebastian song written about him to be released as a limited 7").
A little more about John:

Hello, John.

Where are you from?:
Omaha, Nebraska.

How old are you?:

When/where did you first hear of Belle and Sebastian?:
I heard The Boy with the Arab Strap in a skate video.

What else do you listen to?:
Animal Collective, Panda Bear, Bright Eyes, Elliott Smith, Owen Pallett, Vampire Weekend, The Pains of Being Pure at Heart.

What are your favorite new bands?:
James Blake, Smith Westerns.

Old bands?:
The Clash, The Pixies, Simon & Garfunkel, The Kinks.

Why did you decide to enter the contest?:
Just for the heck of it and for fun.

What was it like when you found out you were in the Final 5?:
Crazy. I had a free period at school and starting freaking out.

We informed you on a Thursday that you were one of the 5 but didn't tell you that you'd won until the next Tuesday. What was the wait like?:
Not that bad, just a little anxiety here and there.

What was it like when you found out that you'd won?:
Amazing. I had gotten done with gym class and checked my phone and saw a missed call and voicemail and decided to call back and found out I won. I was very ecstatic.

Do you have a record player? Will you be able to play the 7" that is YOUR SONG?:
My grandmother has one so yes.

What do you plan on showing Stuart when he comes to Omaha?:
I would like to show him around the Old Market, my neighborhood, a restaurant called Amsterdam Falafel and Kebab, and a bakery called Jones Bros Cupcakes.

What's the one thing Stuart should know about you?:
I am an avid photographer.

*Legally, I had to say that.

Buy Write About Love

Write About Love contest winners, part 3: Grand Prize

The Belle and Sebastian Write About Love contest is closed and the band has judged.


John Ficenec, of Omaha Nebraska!

We reprint his winning essay below. John will be getting a personal visit from Belle and Sebastian singer Stuart Murdoch, and the band will then be writing a song about him, to be released this spring on Matador. (He will also receive the autographed album and Belle and Sebastian medal.)

Advice for Young Lovers: Never in ANY instance believe that you are going to marry someone you are dating/fond of before you are 18. Play the field while you are young. Don’t cheat or be a whore but see what all the fish are like so you’ll know what you like and what you don’t. Don’t dwell on past loves; they are ex’s for a reason. Don’t go out with someone if you have to keep it a secret because when it ends since no one knows you were dating there will be no one there but your actually ex to comfort you and chances are pretty good that they won’t. While you can show some public affection keep it to a minimal of holding hands or a cheek kiss. I always find myself disgusted walking by and seeing people swap tongue right in the middle of public. Yes, we get you are dating and whatnot, but really get a room. Don’t have sex without a condom. Don’t date your best friend. It may sound like a good idea at the time and even while you are going out with them but you know what when the relationship is over so is the amazing friendship. Don’t date people up to 2 years or older until you are 18. Don’t make someone your rebound. It makes them feel like shit and you feel like a monster. Talk to your significant other. Laugh with them ask them questions but DON’T interrogate them. Don’t become too jealous of anyone else. And never EVER get into the friends zone with someone you are fond of. It will scratch away at your heart and soul knowing that you will get no further than friends but that your heart wants to be more than friends.

Buy Write About Love.

Write about Love contest winners, part two: The Runners-Up

We announced the twenty-one honorable mention winners of Belle and Sebastian's Write About Love contest on Tuesday. Today we have Stuart Murdoch's top 5 selections -- from which we will be choosing one GRAND PRIZE WINNER (to be announced later this week, stand by!) We have published all five essays below. These formidable writers will each receive a Belle and Sebastian medal in addition to an autographed LP -- and one of these five finalists will win the GRAND PRIZE; a visit from Stuart and have a song written about her/him!!

Here are the winning essays:

John Ficenac, Omaha NE:

Advice for Young Lovers: Never in ANY instance believe that you are going to marry someone you are dating/fond of before you are 18. Play the field while you are young. Don't cheat or be a whore but see what all the fish are like so you'll know what you like and what you don't. Don't dwell on past loves; they are ex's for a reason. Don't go out with someone if you have to keep it a secret because when it ends since no one knows you were dating there will be no one there but your actually ex to comfort you and chances are pretty good that they won't. While you can show some public affection keep it to a minimal of holding hands or a cheek kiss. I always find myself disgusted walking by and seeing people swap tongue right in the middle of public. Yes, we get you are dating and whatnot, but really get a room. Don't have sex without a condom. Don't date your best friend. It may sound like a good idea at the time and even while you are going out with them but you know what when the relationship is over so is the amazing friendship. Don't date people up to 2 years or older until you are 18. Don't make someone your rebound. It makes them feel like shit and you feel like a monster. Talk to your significant other. Laugh with them ask them questions but DON'T interrogate them. Don't become too jealous of anyone else. And never EVER get into the friends zone with someone you are fond of. It will scratch away at your heart and soul knowing that you will get no further than friends but that your heart wants to be more than friends.

Rebecca Armendariz, Washington DC:

Clark's cancer had spread to his hip and so two months before he died he couldn't really walk. At least not without my help so I was his human crutch crushed on one side anytime he wanted his 33-year-old body moved to another spot in our apartment. After a period of decline he traded me in for a desk chair on wheels and I pushed him around scooping him up from under his armpits when we reached the bathroom. I'd use a firm but tender grip to lower his eggshell body into the tub where he'd sit for hours to make the effort worth it.He hardly left the house except for doctor's appointments. I'd finally convinced him to wear an adult diaper after too many laundry loads of soaked pants and bed sheets. The first night he slept in it I put one on too and we giggled under piles of blankets together sharing a secret before he nodded off. One spring day we let the air breeze through the front and out the back of the apartment. The buried idea of what he'd been missing was exhumed; he wanted to go outside. We drove a few blocks to a friend's where we sat in lawn chairs in a sun-soaked driveway. A snapshot of any one particular moment from that afternoon would appear unremarkable to an outsider. We gossiped and laughed. I drank a beer. After a few hours we were home refreshed by our peek at normalcy. I'd almost forgotten what it was like to see that mischievous amorous look in his eye but after helping him to the couch it disappeared. He wanted to do something for me for once. He wanted me to relax. And for the last time before he died I did.

Lia Braswell, Van Nuys CA:

I fell in love this summer. He was my first love. We spent every day together hand in hand and unaware of the people around us. Then summer came to an end as the leaves started to change colors. He moved away to Rhode Island. He never loved me back. I know he cared about me but the feeling of his subtle disappearance from my life leaves me no choice but to smile and walk away. So as of today I'm forgetting about it. I'm leaving it all behind because in this moment after hours and hours of biking around the valley I realized that the person I love most is someone who changed my life as soon as he left the world. He would have been thirty-one on October 11 2010. He has been gone for almost twelve years. That man is my brother. Still nineteen and no longer in pain. I had an epiphany that I am a musician because of his love. I am who I am because of his love. People tend to let go of loved ones who pass on but I can't seem to part ways with him. The spirituality in me says that he is still around and he's coming to life every second of the day. Even though I can't see him I can feel him. I feel him whisper in my ear “Fuck it. You can do better” and I listen with an everlasting smile. It's not that I'll never find someone to love again. I will know when the time is right and when he is capable of loving me back. I will know when it is no longer Adam whispering in my ear. Every night is different and though it is lonesome I will never be completely alone.

Christina from Ridgewood NY:

One day my best friend and I went to a guitar shop in midtown Manhattan. I was and always have been a musical dope unable to read music or remember where to put my fingers. My childhood piano teacher gave up on me. My friend Lo was quite talented with violin and guitar. A lanky young man with long hair covering his face assisted us showing us acoustic and electric Fender and Gibson. I'm certain neither Lo or I remembered anything he showed us because every time he put his fingers on the frets he flashed us a tattoo on his wrist. It was a big red heart and inside the heart in beautiful script was the word “Nervous Nervous Heart.” Afterwards Lo and I talked about how it was the best tattoo we'd ever seen that the young man seemed such a gentle shy soul it fit him well. We wondered if we wore our heart on our wrist what would it say about us “Bold Skittish Free” I think back on this moment from time to time how we were and how we are. I still cannot play music but I can sing and Lo owns a trendy consignment shop. She lives far away to the North with her husband and child their marriage on the rocks. I still live in NYC with my husband and child going strong surviving disasters and laughing. What would our tattoo hearts say now “Brave Adapting Fractured”.

Daniel Montano, Pittsburgh PA:

I could not contain the Great Love I had inside my Heart. So I went around the city on a bike to Write about Love. I wrote on the walls along the traint racks the rivers and the bridges. In abandoned buildings and on fancy storefronts in the busy shopping area. To express my Love for the Beauty of the World. To reflect the Light of The Sun Moon and Stars. To honor and pay tribute to the simple Beauty of my beloveds face. To place value on feelings of the Heart over the material world. To cover the bricks with precious kisses and sorrowful tears so they too could experience Love. To wake up the sleeping people of the world with Bold Statements of Love. And the people said that my Love was prolific and would go down in History. And they displayed my Love all over the evening news. And when they showed the policeman taking me away even he would say that my Love was profound. And the Judge said so too at my trial when he sentenced me to five years. But my Love was so strong that I took it with me to prison. My love was so determined that it would not diminish but always grow. So in my cell I wrote about Love...I wrote about Love at all costs for it is the noblest cause on Earth and is valued accordingly by God in Heaven. So I got on my knees and prayed I would purify my Love so it wouldn't cause harm. So the World may receive it. God answered my Prayers when a young girl sent me a letter in prison: “I enjoyed reading your Poetry all over the city walls. Please write them in a book so they will last.”

Winners: we will be in touch with you shortly to get you your prizes. (If you haven't heard from us in the next day or so, please email Mike V.)

Buy the Write About Love album.

Write About Love contest winners, part one: Honorable Mentions

As you may have read over on the Belle and Sebastian site, Stuart has chosen the shortlist of winners for the Write About Love contest. We are pleased to announce our Part One winners, the Honorable Mentions, today:

Ann Orsini - Carrboro, NC
Paul Sotrop - Maplewood, NJ
Brett Hall - Lawrence, KS
Michele Muller - Brooklyn, NY
Mike Janzen - Spruce Grove, Alberta (Canada)
Michael Henriksen - Salt Lake City, UT
Blake Gibson - Cincinnati, OH
Ryan Johnson - Ludington, MI
Brian Pfeiffer - Oakland, CA
Tyler Ring - Columbia, TN
Keith Kuramoto - Glendale, CA
Megan Helstone - Bellflower, CA
Chad Johnston - Lawrence, KS
Evan Minsker - Dexter, MI
Joshua Cagan - Los Angeles, CA
Camille Akers - Omaha, NE
Joanna Blauer - Ypsilanti, MI
Nicholas Burica - Tinley Park, IL
Daryan Reay Farrell - Urbandale, IA
Trudy Haley - Scandinavia, WI
Andrew Weber - Bloomington, IN

Honorable Mention winners will receive autographed LPs of Write About Love. (If your name is on the list above and you haven't heard from us, keep checking your email - you should be contacted shortly. If you still haven't heard, please email Mike V and ask him what's up.)

Keep checking back here this week to see Part 2 and Part 3 announcements: the Runner Ups and the Grand Prize - a get-to-know-you meeting with Stuart himself followed by a Belle and Sebastian song written about the winner.

"And it's fun, thinking of you like a movie star"

I don’t really know what it means to be in love, and as they say, write what you know.  Since I am to write about love, I will focus on something I love to have and am very well acquainted with: Crushes.

These are pictures of the three-ring binder I had in 7th grade.  I saw “Speed” in the summer of 1994 just after graduating from elementary school, and became absolutely smitten with Keanu Reeves.  I spent that summer daydreaming about how I was going to marry Keanu when I was 24 (only after I had retired from modeling, of course).  Did you know that Keanu was born in Beirut, Lebanon and that the name means "cool breeze over the mountain" in Hawaiian (thanks for the education, Bop Magazine!)?  Anyway, I thought about the trips my future husband and I would take, made sketches of the types of dresses I planned to don at future red carpet events, and imagined how great it would someday be to hobnob with celebrities like Sandra Bullock, Jeff Daniels and Dennis Hopper (12 year-old me imagined the cast of "Speed" to be the best of friends, I would later become aware of things like press junkets).

This intense “love” lasted a grand total of 6 months, until a viewing of “Newsies” ushered in a new era where Christian Bale reigned supreme over my 13 year-old heart.  Well, along with Ethan Hawke, Brad Pitt, Brad Renfo (RIP) and Jared Leto, who were also, like, really, really cute and stuff.

1996 (age 14) was the year I had my first boyfriend, kiss, drink, joint etc. and things like celebrity crushes temporarily fell by the wayside.  I watched "Dazed and Confused" all the time, read Siddhartha, and made my dad stand in line to get me tickets to see the Sex Pistols during their Filthy Lucre reunion tour, cus I was, like, into punk rock and stuff, but like, had to rehearse for my 8th grade graduation, right, and I was, like, afraid it would sell out if I went after school.  It was all very Lindsay Weir in "Freaks and Geeks," I even started wearing an army jacket and had the same haircut!

Ah, speaking of "Freaks and Geeks," my current celebrity crush is James Franco.  Actually… strike the first statement of this blog post from the record – I added "Eat Pray Love" to my Netflix queue.  That’s LOVE.

About Love

Before I start I should acknowledge that my photo heavy and link-tastic post is directly inspired from noted blogger Ira Kaplan.

I was originally going to write about one of my true loves:  record stores.  I met my wife in a record store and my life still revolves around them, but this year there was a bigger theme than records in my life.

Going places and being with the people you love.

My wife’s family is from Butler, PA and we spent two weeks there this summer doing a whole lot of nothing. It was great.  We went to a Bluesox game, we went to the drive in (Photo from noted Bulter native CongoEels flickr.)  We went to Moraine state park to ride bikes, swim and have a picnic.  It all ruled.

Some other places I went:

Columbus, Ohio.  I finally saw the Gibson Bros and it was fantastic.

The Adirondacks

I love a good wedding and this was one of the best in recent memory, must have something to do with the day.  The whole weekend was all so beautiful.  We went swimming in this lake.

It was cold and awesome.

Scituate, MA

I grew up nowhere near the ocean so a clambake was nothing more than an Elvis joke.  In real life it is so much more

The Lost Weekend

I’d never been to Las Vegas, I’m far to scared to actually gamble (too many records I want to buy with that money.) Everything related to the weekend wasz fantastic, but I never expected to be so taken with the surroundings.

My final trip of the year is going to be the best one yet, but it is supposed to be a surprise so if you see my parents don’t tell them.

Red Red Wine I Love You Right From The Start...

I suddenly became very aware of my surroundings. My favorite white strapless dress with the lace overlay suddenly started to itch and I was overwhelmed with this feeling of insecurity. Should I have worn this dress and not the purple A line with the big bow? My hair has completely fallen from dancing and is now getting in my face. My foot is slipping out of my kitten heels every step we take. I died them bright white to match my favorite dress, which I'm now seriously reconsidering. I think my stockings are starting to fall.

I felt his hand brush against my arm as it slowly made it's way in to my hand. I was relieved to feel it was moist, he must be nervous too. He stopped. Turned to face me. I could feel his eyes on me. I was too scared to look at him. The carpet was a dark green with a pretty flower pattern. How long can I avoid his eyes? Is the carpet really that entertaining? If I look at him will he read my thoughts? Will he know everything I'm thinking. He'll know how I feel about him. Then everyone will know. He moved closer to me. He smelled sweet. There was a faint smell of the cologne he had put on earlier that night, mixed with the chocolate cake they served for dessert and the clean smell of fabric softener. His hand tightened around mine and I knew. It was time to face my fate. I looked up from the floor and caught his gaze. He smiled. It was that same smile that brought me away to this hallway, away from my parents, away from my friends, and away from the party. It was that smile that made me question myself, intensely wish he'd like me and daydream about this very moment. He started to lean towards me. I watched him close his eyes. I did the same. I felt his warm breath get closer and his lips gently rest upon mine. It was over in moments. It went so quickly. So perfectly. I wish I hadn't been so scared. Why was I so scared?

I followed him back in to the banquet hall, giddy and slightly embarrassed. They all knew. They had to know. I was lost, completely in love. Thankfully, we managed to make it back in time for UB40s "Red, Red Wine." The night was nearing to an end. Just thinking about waiting to see him again at school on Monday already seemed like an eternity.

My mom called my name and instantly I snapped out of my daze.

It was so many years ago now but I remember it like it was yesterday. My first kiss. It was the beginning of my first love. Everything was so innocent. We had no idea about consequence, about pain, about a heart broken! I just loved for the sake of loving and it was incredible.

Crazy For Loving You.....

Like most people here, I pondered what to write about love.  In the end I decided to write about my mum and some of her lovers...

My mum, Liz, grew up in a crowded family (nine brothers and sisters), She was adventurous and funny and did crazy things, like legally changing her name to ‘Countess DeVitoria’ because she wanted to have a ‘title’.  She loved cigarettes, strong instant coffee, alcohol, Patsy Cline, Country & Western nights, adult education, dogs, leather pants, drama (as in life, not theatre) and of

Growing up my mum had a quite a few boyfriends, some memorable, some not, some I didn’t know about until years later, like Lou Adler (yes the Lou Adler), and one which wasn’t her boyfriend even though she thought he was at the time but really he was her rich, gay friend. I was quite young and only remember that he had a white car (apparently a Jaguar) with a white leather interior and a white CAR PHONE!!  At the time (1977) this was some Space Age/James Bond kind of stuff.  He was always super nice to my mum and she thought he was just being polite, but really he was gay.

Ian was her young fisherman boyfriend, I remember him mainly because he looked like Gary Glitter.  They would spend most Saturday afternoons in bed, which I didn’t get at all. I couldn’t understand why they wouldn’t want to be outside.

Once Ian took us all fishing. We sailed in his little boat from Porthleven to Mullion and back again.  The return journey was really scary, not because the boat was practically vertical and none of us could swim (except Ian), but because my mum couldn’t light her cigarette due to the waves crashing over us and she was absolutely furious (she kept trying though).  Ian wanted to marry my mum, but his family disapproved because of the age difference so they split up.

My mum moved to London and started dating Leon. I don’t remember too much about Leon except he was a jeweler and there was a squirrel in his back garden that we could hand-feed.  He gave my mum lots of gold jewelry; later in life she advised me to "make sure to always get gold jewelry from your boyfriends, Helen”. Maybe that’s why I remember Leon.  He wanted to marry her, but his mum said no due to religious differences.

She met Mr. Davidson (I never knew his first name) on the subway platform and he asked her on a date. He was much older and a widower. We all went to live in his enormous Elizabethan house outside of London. It was really amazing and the garden was huge, surrounded by a big wall.  It was really beautiful. Mr. Davidson wanted to marry my mum.  She loved him, but thought he was a little too old, also he wasn’t so keen on children (!!) and my sister and I were at that age where we had to fight about everything. Finally they broke up, he gave my mum an awesome car and we drove away. Six years later he died.

Len was my favorite of my mums’ boyfriends. He was an American with big shaggy hair, t-shirt and flared jeans. They met in a bookstore because she thought he was an employee but he wasn’t and instead asked her on a date.  I never knew what he did for a living, but my mum once told me that when they would go to the American Embassy everyone would salute him.  He introduced my sister and I to tortilla chips and the word ‘candy’. He didn’t want to marry my mum, and she was cool with that, she just really loved him.

Len asked my mum if she wanted to go on a motorbike trip with him across the Middle East. It was going to be a long trip and my mum really wanted to go.  She asked my Grandma if she would look after me and my sister but, she said no, not because she didn’t want to look after us, but because being an Irish Catholic meant most things were pretty sinful and my mum on a motorbike with a single man in the Middle East was certainly up there on the ‘Sin Scale’. My mum didn’t go and they split up but remained friends for the rest of her life.

Eventually my mum became the housekeeper of an old dairy farmer called John and ended up marrying him. She stayed with John on and off until she died, occasionally leaving him for some lover or another, but she always ended up back there. They were companions of a sort.

It was kind of surreal living on the farm, not just because of the bright purple painted 300 year old beams or the purple and white wallpaper with flowers that were at least a foot across adorning my bedroom or the crazy twin sister who would come and visit, unknowingly chop down a tree in the orchard then come in for a cup of tea.  Needless to say my mum was a frequent topic of conversation/gossip in the village and that’s all I’ll say.

I could not conceive of how much I would miss my mum, miss talking to her, miss telling her I love her, miss her craziness...  My mum was a real character, one you could never forget, especially mine and my sisters boyfriends who she would warn to treat us well otherwise she would come back and haunt them after she was dead...current suitors beware...

My mum died October 15th 2009.

I Love

I love my parents. We have a pretty tight family, my two brothers and them.  Grandma is in the mix too of course.  My folks used to drive 3 hours just to have lunch with me when I was in school, then drive the 3 back.  Now they fly three hours out to new york for the weekend every other month or so.  That's some love.  Mom cries when I or my brothers are upset and every single phone conversation with my dad ends with, "Love ya man, don't die." I'm very lucky and don't take it for granted. The times I have with my brothers are hard to beat, nearly impossible.  love those dudes. Linds and I have something amazing.  I've loved her since I met her...well, as much you can be in love in fourth grade.  I remember the day we met vividly, I was amazed at how small her little fingers were. I asked her out in fifth grade, she said no.  I got her though, I love her. I love my friends, old and new. Don't really have any foes...what for? I think I'll reserve love for just family and friends.  A dog or two might inch their way in too later down the line. I can't bring myself to accept 'love' of an insanely good basketball team (beak 'em) or 'love' of a tasty medium rare cheeseburger w/ cheddar, caramelized onion, lettuce and delicious sauces or 'love' of the rare front to back great record to be equal to that of my family.  I hope, if i do have little blakes, that i can show them the same love, affection and dedication my parents have showed me every day of my life.  It is all that matters.

ich liebe das welt,


I like this album

I Write About Love; Belle and Sebastian, my guide; competition high.

I’ve mixed feelings about being on the tail end of the Write About Love timeline. On one hand, I theoretically had extra time to get my act together and pen something poetic, prosaic, or purposeful; on the other hand, I now need attempt to live up to some of the wondrous wordsmithery of my colleagues. Obviously, I didn’t take advantage of the former, and as regards the latter, I clearly don’t have the literary chops to match the outstanding opening salvo of Nils Bernstein, Dean Bein’s worship of wax (and perhaps ode to newly-found freedom), the familial fondness of Matt Harmon, Patrick Amory’s soul-baring recollections, or even somehow find a way to pair the seemingly disparate concepts of love and the Zip Code Rapists like my partner-in-radio-crime, Hector Montes. What could I do to standout, to not just wade in the quagmire of common composition? As I listened to the Belle and Sebastian catalog on shuffle for inspiration, “I’m A Cuckoo” and its mention of Harajuku slammed my brain out of neutral and in a rare moment of mental acuity, I had my answer: haiku. What follows is my attempt to showcase some of what I love in a mere 17 syllables per paean.

Jennifer, my wife,
brilliant, patient, gorgeous, kind.
my rock and best friend

At an early age,
sitting, reading gatefold art.
Addicted for life.

Premier League leaders.
Oh, Manchester United.
Please don’t choke this year

Fresh fish, crazy rolls
Kamakura for sushi
Bay Area choice

Same town rules drinks, too:
both Rosenblum, Hangar One

A’s, Niners, Spurs, Sharks
each season, heartbreak ensues
though, support I do.

Of my culled music
The Stone Roses’ first record
remains atop heap

London in the fog
pub, gigs, football, culture, food.
Best city on Earth.

In San Diego
El Zarape is a must.
Combo number three

Bad drafts, injuries
fantasy sports, you kill me.
Yet, I play each year.

Friends and family
Time fleeting, miles apart
Still, I miss you all.

Zip Code Rapists Write And Play About Love.

It's one thing to write about love; it's another to demonstrate it. On a live Mountain Goats recording from 1998, John Darnielle introduces a cover he’s about to play by admitting that he doesn’t actually know all the words to the song but he loves it so much that he’s going to play it anyway. He then dives into “Two-Headed Boy,” now a canonized classic of indie rock but at the time just the fourth song on that new Neutral Milk Hotel record. Darnielle does fuck up, multiple times, but he nails the song anyway because of the imperfections, rather than in spite of them. Every time Darnielle flubs a lyric and keeps powering through, it underlines that he loves this goddamned song and is going to share that love with you no matter what.

A similar spirit permeates the Sing And Play The Matador Records Catalog 7” by San Francisco’s Zip Code Rapists. Released in 1993 on short-lived but obviously 100% real label Ecstatic Piss, Sing And Play sees the duo of Gregg Turkington (later of Faxed Head and now much better known by the name "Neil Hamburger") and John Singer (lately packing arenas under the nom de guerre “Lady Gaga”) taking on songs by then-current Matador artists Pavement, Liz Phair, Bettie Serveert, and Thinking Fellers Union Local 282. ZCR’s reinventions of these songs are unpolished to say the least, but their love for the source material shines through nonetheless. Witness the way that Turkington out-slackers slacker godhead Stephen Malkmus by omitting whole lines from an unexpectedly poignant deconstruction of “Cut Your Hair,” or the unhinged screams that turn the playful defiance of Phair’s “Never Said” into real, disturbing menace (reminiscent of The Residents’ version of “Satisfaction,” or, more recently, Feist’s near-psychotic take on the Dwarves’ “Fuck You Up and Get High”).

The two less familiar songs on the 7” are played relatively straight but are equally moving in their profound affection for the artists and songs being covered. Turkington and Singer actually improve upon TFUL 282’s “Hurricane,” going past the original’s hazy proto-chillwave into an almost narcotic state, stripping it down to just two acoustic guitars and Turkington’s barely-there vocals. Likewise, Bettie Serveert’s “Tom Boy” uses Turkington’s bizarre delivery and the lack of any instrumentation besides the twin guitars (electric this time) to allow Zip Code Rapists to really focus on the song’s emotional core, resulting in a much more resonant version than that found on Palomine.

In the blog era, it’s easy -- almost necessary, really -- to be cynical about the ways in which bands use covers, remixes and collaborations to position themselves on the musical landscape or enhance their personal brands. Perhaps it’s simply that these songs were recorded in a different, more innocent time, or perhaps the sincerity on display here is simply timeless. One way or the other, Zip Code Rapists cut through the careerist bullshit on Sing And Play The Matador Records Catalog; moreover, they did so with insight, empathy, and the kind of love that, by dint of its very existence, begets more love, for both the performers and the songs they perform.

Writing About Love

Saying you love someone or something is pretty easy, right. It's always kinda rolled off the tongue without a second thought. There are lots of things that you "love" or you think you love, well... until you don't anymore. The whole thing might just fade away. It can be pretty fleeting.

I've got a long list of things I "love" (certainly much long than this)...

I love yellow corn grits with parmesan cheese and maple syrup.
I love condiments of all kinds (but dijon mustard most of all).
I love everything bagels with cream cheese and lox from Murray's Bagels.
I love pork chops.
I love the color brown.
I love mid-century modern design.
I love releasing music by people who I respect.
I love Neil Young, Belle & Sebastian, Bert Jansch, Unwound, Grouper, Lungfish, Polvo, Pentangle, Sun Ra and some others.
I love living on the east coast because the beach is only a short drive away.
I love my parents for giving me the freedom to become exactly who I wanted to be even when they knew I was probably making some wrong decisions at the time.
I love my wife for her never-ending patience and support. She's also lots of fun to spend time with.
I love my sisters even though I don't see either of them as much as I'd like.
I love New York. Growing up here was amazing and I love that we're raising our kids here too.
I love visiting New Mexico because of how quiet it is and how big the sky is and how great the food is.

As I've matured I realize that 'feeling love' goes well beyond just being able to assign a some words to people and things. In the last five years it's taken on meanings that I never really considered. It has more to do with feelings that are much harder to define, that are latent and perhaps unmeasurable. It's a feeling that creeps up on you, reveals itself and even surprises you. You feel it deeply in your chest or it just keeps you awake at night.

I love my friends but I didn't realize how much until they moved 5,000 miles away. New York has become an infinitely lonelier place without them.
I love my wife but certainly never felt it the way I did after watching her give birth to the two single most incredible dudes in the world. She's also an amazing mother.
I love eating out but so much more when the whole family goes out to dinner and finds a dark, cozy corner to enjoy being with each other.
I love sleeping but never the way I do when one of my little guys climbs into bed with us and falls asleep on my back.
I love watching Oliver play games but much more when he loses and with a big smile he congratulates the person that just beat him.

These instances just keep multiplying for me. This kind of love just continues to grow. It creeps into every pore. It's hard to run away from. The best few words that I could find to describe it has already been called out in @jjuuddggee's post and comes from the title of most recent Arthur Russell album "Love is Overtaking Me".  I think what illustrates it best for me is when I look into my guys' room and see them playing together quietly. They are slowly passing toys back and forth, coloring on the same piece of paper, the older one showing the younger how something works, helping to turn something on or open it the right way. They are sharing a series of moments. Looking in on them I see them falling in love with each other.  It's that simple. They don't know it yet but it's growing. Love is overtaking them too. Love is overtaking us all.

Write About Love

It's November 29th and the long holiday weekend we traditionally spend with people we love has just ended, it's cyber Monday in the world of sales and it's my assigned day to Write About Love. Like many of my co-workers I am not sure where to begin with such a huge subject. Certainly I could write about people I love, places I love , music I love, the love I share with Matador employees for Belle And Sebastian,  Scotland, potatoes, Mogwai, Bordeaux and a love of dogs.  The love a dog is one particular type of love that I've been lucky enough to experience at various points in my life since childhood . At this point in time it's this adorable pup.

Like the other dogs I've known, he loves unconditionally with an unwavering loyalty and devotion. His seemingly boundless happiness enhances a good mood and erases a bad one. His desire to please and retrieve is insatiable, his intelligence and intuition remarkable and his sense of the absurd completely uproarious.  Coming home to a welcoming dog never loses it's appeal, sitting by a fire with a dog at your feet listening to Belle And Sebastian feels like a perfect moment,  driving through the countryside with your dog while loudly singing along to If You're Feeling Sinister feels like another.  I love all these moments with my dog and better still he does too! Dogs rule and loving them is easy.

All knowledge, the totality of all questions and all answers is contained in the dog." - Kafka

Love Is Overtaking Me

There's Too Much Love.

Like most of the Matador employees that have written about love over the past couple of weeks, I've really struggled to know what to write here.  At first, as miserable as it sounds, I couldn't think of anything to write.  What is love?! Then I suddenly had too much.  There are of course the people I love, places I love and many 'things' that I love, but sitting down and thinking about it all was far more of an emotional journey that I had anticipated.  I nearly wrote about Potatoes, as recommended by Mr Braithwaite, but I hope this is a more sincere interpretation of the subject and a better read than my love of mash and roasties.

New York, I Love You But You're Bringing Me Down.

I love some pretty obvious stuff.  I love New York City. I love my battered brogues that I can't bring myself to throw away.  I love sleeping.  I love record stores and the excitement in the pit of my stomach when I find something I've been searching for.  I love ATP. I love sushi an unhealthy amount.  I love my job and some of the insane situations I've found myself in with the three ridiculous men I refer to as my bosses.

I love Hardcore Boys, I love Boys Hardcore.

I love Gary Numan. I love Arthur Russell. I love The Jesus Lizard. I love Belle and Sebastian and I can still remember exactly where I was when I first heard the late, great John Peel play The Boy With The Arab Strap on his late night radio show, aged 15.  I love Fugazi and I pray that one day I might get to see them live.  I love the British Summer and the mud-soaked festivals.

The Power of Love.

But that is all one type of love.  Then there's being IN LOVE (or at least thinking you are), but the less said about that the better.  Then there's the love that you don't realise is so strong until it's out of your life.

Love Will Tear Us Apart.

I didn't think it was possible to not realise how much you love someone until they're gone.  But I found that out the hard way earlier this year.  That is real love and it will stick with you forever.

Terrible Love.

I really do love mashed potatoes.


Writing about love

Its a pretty weighty subject to be handed for all the mata-world to see, and there's a lot of things I love, but I decided to try and just stick to one subject - the humble mixtape.

Sure, it’s often seen as a sign of love or affection itself, but the creation and/or dissection of a mixtape is the thing I love the most. The early days consisted of planning cassette tape mixes based on song length (written by pencil on paper, of course), plotting the running order and fitting as much music as possible to each side of a 90 minute cassette, then programming the triple (!) disc CD player in my bedroom and over-analysing the finished product. These days all that’s been replaced by the itunes mix CD and now mp3 playlists, which sadly loses the design and tactile elements, but the best thing about these mixes is of course the music. Because of that I thought I’d share some videos of the songs that have featured on mix tapes that I’ve received or created over the years.

Menomena - "Wet and Rusting"

- A brilliant opening lyric for the surprise mix CD, when the recipient hasn’t a clue they were receiving a mix, or as to what lies ahead.

Belle & Sebastian - "I'm A Cuckoo"

- This was actually the first Belle & Sebastian song I heard, and what a great introduction it was.

John Legend - "Number One"

- It’s the variation which you just don’t get anywhere else that makes these mixes so great, I never thought I’d ever be sent anything like this, or have to try and work out what someone’s trying to tell me (or not) through song, but that’s all a part of it I suppose.

Life Without Buildings – “The Leanover”

- Some songs have appeared again and again, and again in mixes sent to me

Das Oath - "Awesome Rape"

- Sometimes it’s just about capturing someone’s attention for a minute (and 30 seconds)

The Steal - "Bright Grey"

- Or sharing 44 seconds of a band someone might have never heard before otherwise

Final Fantasy - "Peach Plum Pear"

- and my own (old) golden rule – each good mixtape has to have a good cover song.

In the spirit of the modern take on the mixtape, I also made a Spotify playlist, for those of you who have access (sorry non-European folk!).

Track listing:

Archers Of Loaf – Web In Front

Hot Snakes – LAX

Colossal – The Serious Kind

Fucked Up – I Hate Summer

These Arms Are Snakes – The Blue Rose

Final Fantasy – The CN Tower Belongs To The Dead

Adem – These Are Your Friends

Paul Baribeau – I Miss That Band

Maps & Atlases – If This Is

Envy – Dreams Come To An End

Factory Floor – Lying

Dilated Peoples – Worst Comes To Worst

Superchunk – Digging For Something

Tall Firs – Hairdo

Eddy Current Suppression Ring – Wrapped Up

American Football – Never Meant



What We Talk About When We Talk About (Courtney) Love

Sincere apologies to Raymond Carver for the headline. Man, if I had a dollar for every time someone has asked me, "what's the deal with that Courtney polaroid?", well, I wouldn't have enough money for a Torchy's Taco.  So imagine my surprise when Nils told me I'd been assigned to write an essay on the subject!  To be perfectly frank, I'm not sure what would've possessed Courtney to deface the walls of a perfectly good Seattle home, but keep in mind, she also agreed to appear in "200 Cigarettes".  So her judgment hasn't always been super sharp.

All kidding aside, there have been a handful of collisions w/ Ms. Love and myself during Matador's storied history.  The above snapshot --- culled from a photo session for Newsweek -- was probably provoked by any number of nasty comments I probably composed in the pages of Conflict, CMJ or the New England Journal of Medicine.  Shortly after Courtney left a rather profane rant on our answering machine (she seemed to take great exception to Chris Lombardi's outgoing message --- our fearless founder shouting the praises of "Matador recording artists, U2" while "I Will Follow" blared away in the background) we were introduced on a Los Angeles sidewalk by a rock biz colleague. She mentioned something about our forming our own personal branch of MENSA, which I took to be a huge compliment --- until I later learned she'd used the same line on Evan Dando, Wings Hauser, former Raiders QB Todd Marinovich and most distressingly, newsman Irving R. Levine.

The name calling and rancor eventually came to a halt -- mostly because Scott Weiland provided so much easy copy over the years.  But this exercise has proven rather instructive for me.  Just what exactly do I have against a very wealthy multi-talented woman with whom I have so very much in common?  Our similarities are uncanny ; we each survived marriages to far more successful, talented musicians.  Both parties' "loose cannon" reputations stand in the way of major Hollywood parts.  Courtney's made the transition from rock icon to fashion blogger...and so have I! So in the spirit of the impending holiday season, I'm declaring a moratorium on the Courtney-bashing.  From this moment onwards, if you want to take a shot at her, you'll have to get thru me first. Wayne Gretzky had Dave Semenko, Michael Jordan had Charles Oakley, George W. Bush had Karl Rove. Since none of those gentlemen are available to assist Courtney Love, now she's got me.

Let It Bleed

I gave my heart to music when I was 7 years old in San Jose, California. My family had just arrived in America from Russia. Our first home was a one-bedroom apartment across from the projects on Cherry Street. I still remember my mom unpacking the box of records she'd brought from Russia and setting up our JCC-provided turntable. Some of the records were children's stories, some were classical music but it was the state-issued bootlegs of rock & roll that caught my attention. I'd listen to those Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney and Aquarium (Russian rock band) albums and feel this new bubbling joy. I'd roll around on the floor laughing hysterically just from being so overwhelmed by feeling. My mom gave me the Definitive Illustrated Encyclopedia of Rock for my 10th birthday. I pored over its pages, memorizing the artists, drawing stories from their photos and imagining the significance of the song titles found in their singles charts. I loved that book, and I loved every song I could track down from it. To top it off, I didn't have to fear loving these songs. They wouldn't leave, they wouldn't make me feel hurt, alien, lost or confused. Every time I listened they would give more than they had before, unpacking stories and feelings, an endless amount of gifts that rewarded commitment. You could pass this love along, a song played for a friend, a shared experience could bond you.  Even as I got older and continued to be afraid of committing to loving and trusting people, I knew I could at least share love with them through music, we could experience a fearless love together by cherishing something that was beyond ourselves. We could find ourselves and our feelings for each other in our love for a song.

"I was feeling so sad alone then I found a friend in this song I was singing. I  was feeling like a nothing inside then I found it all in a song."  -Girls "Darling"

Before really knowing what love was, I learned the language of love songs. For better or worse, every loving relationship I've had has used those songs as a watermark. Does spending time with this person feel like the lyrics to "Ring of Fire"? Is that good or bad!? Is this feeling of watching my girlfriend sleep what Curtis Mayfield felt in "I'm So Proud"? And to summon Curtis again, does the breakup summon the same fire as "7 Years"? I don't really cook, I can't sing, write songs or poems, can't paint, I express my emotions with the hyperbole laden maturity of a 10 year old, honestly. The only certain way I could find to say what I meant to someone or understand it myself, was in sharing a song. No fumbling words, no uncertainty or compromise. What is there in our world that's harder to express than love? Hate, fear, joy and anxiety are easy. But love is all those things and more. It's so massive, so powerful. My sister who is one of the people I love most in this world recently turned 10 and got her own email account and we now send songs and itunes links back and forth to each other. Her fearless love of the people and world around her, despite experiences that would've crippled another child inspire me every day. Sure on one hand the exchanges are pedagogical, but I like to think there is something else at play. That in sharing the songs that speak to us we're building a common language to understand our familial love for each other.  I guess that impulse runs in our blood. Anyhow, it's more effective than emoticons.

"Love, by its very nature, is unworldly, and it is for this reason rather than its rarity that it is not only apolitical but anti-political, perhaps the most powerful of all anti-political human forces."" -Hannah Arendt

Love is not democratic. Reflexively, the job of the love song is not to build communities. Morality has no place in a love song. The love song's purpose is to give two people the tools they need to understand this fearsome thing they have between them, being in love puts you in conflict with the world outside of that relationship- all the elements that challenge and disrupt that already destabilizing bond. Aristotle said that love is a "single soul dwelling in two bodies". The perfect love song helps us understand this alien inhabitant that bonds us together with another/disrupts our lives.

I've often tried to understand why despite being such a sap I've been so drawn to angry music and its various political & social structures. In times in my life, as with a lot of young peoples lives to a certain extent, when love fails to show up, lets you down or leaves you behind, there's a certain comfort in building ad-hoc communities based around rejection and disillusionment. It's ironic that Belle & Sebastian are the inspiration for this way too long ramble then. Because in high school, at the apex of submersion into hardcore and punk, I found a band that spoke to our need to love. That despite being a little strange and frustrated teenager love wasn't something to fear. It carried riches and experiences that were invisible to those who push love away. It hurts, dies, comes back, changes heats up and cools down but the moments that it burns inside of us define our lives. Life is hard. People you love, family members, friends and other loved one screw you over, betray you and lie. But succumbing to fear and letting your past pain block your ability to embrace love is giving up life's greatest treasure. I'm eternally grateful to B&S for reminding me of that.

My heart belongs to music because it's the best way I've found to process the love that has come and gone in my life, and the best vessel i've found for sharing it. It binds my family together, and reminds me to stay open to love that comes in the future. Music is my lifelong bleeding-heart companion, and every day I feel grateful that my life is based around sharing and treasuring its bounty.  Maybe it's not the most sophisticated way to live, but at age 28, it might be a little too late to change. Oh well...LET IT BLEED!

Writing About Love: A Day For The Ages

Why is today such a great day to Write About Love?  We'll get to that in a minute.

I certainly love my wife.  I love my two kids more than I ever thought possible to love anything.   I love my parents.  I love my two brothers.  (This could go on like a thank you speech, sorry if i've left you out... you know who you are.)

I also "love" burritos from La Taqueria on Mission and 25th.  But let's be honest, that's not the same as that prehistoric jolt of adrenalin that probably evolved into "love".   (Though I'd be bummed if I left La Taq's carne asada burrito alone to fend for itself on the dusted plains of the serengeti.)

But that's love, man.

It's all the gradations in a color wheel.  Love is inclusive like that which fuels a damned Matador Records contest.

So what kind of love am I writing about?

It's all love, man.

Today is November 22 and a poke around Wikipedia shows that either this isn't a great day in history for most forms of love or that anyone editing Wikipedia doesn't hold much reverence for celebrating love.

I choose the latter, but just to be sure....

As you clickthrough to Wikipedia, for at least a brief time.... today is now officially "International Write About Love Day".  (UPDATE:  The birkenstocks and socks legion of Wikipedia editors has since killed this holiday.)

Like all good things, let's hope it catches on, @BellesGlasgow!

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