Wednesday, 6 July 2016

THE BEST POST-BREXIT (SUMMER 2016) SONGS

SHE VOTED BREXIT, NOW SHE REGRETS IT...
Eyewear, the blog, loves to recommend new songs for you, our loyal and scattered readers, residing in various places across this wondrous globe. Erm, anyway, it has been a shit few weeks (again) in terms of the Year 2016 - a crap rubbish low year, which is killing more beloved celebrity musicians, film-makers, writers, boxers, actors, etc, than ever before.

Someone should call time on 2016 - can we vote again for 2015? Anyway, the musical year is top notch - I cannot recall when more major artists brought out new material in such proximity - and it keeps coming (Radiohead, Tegan and Sara, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Drake, Rihanna, etc).

Perversely, as always, these are not on the list below, which is actually simply songs that currently form what we in our office would call Earworm Brexitania.

These are songs we turn to, in this awful dire chaos of the sun, and listen to a lot, because they are cool, and we like them. The tracks below, in alphabetic order of artist, are not the best, the smartest, or the finest, works of popular music out there in the ethereal void NOW, maybe, but they arguably could be darn close to that , also... enjoy! All are on Spotify.

1. A$AP Ferg, Missy Elliott - 'Strive'
In this Post-Brexit climate, no song out at the moment is more haunting, with its refrain of "you're missing opportunities, I know you're rich in opportunities" - this is a beautiful, complex hip hop work.

2. Anohni - '4 Degrees'
If you wanted to be reminded that there is something more important than having rubbish plebiscites, here comes the most stunningly bleak, poignant and ironically-intense song in years. Sung with the sort of passionate operatic tones we associate with Philip Glass musical works, and shockingly claiming to want to see lots of helpless animals burning and gasping etc, as the world heats up, this is the ultimate global warming work. "I want to burn them, I want to burn them" is a great refrain - "I want to see the animals die in the trees" is the lyric of the year.

3. Blossoms - 'Getaway'
This British boy band type rock group has managed to compose a quick succession of pop tracks OF ULTIMATE catchiness. They have the melodic gifts of The Archies, with just the slightest edge of Bryan Adams. You could sneer for hours at how this is cheap artifice, but actually, let its shallow vibes indecently sweep you along. It is great within its remit.

4. Bob Mould - 'The End of Things'
No one on this list has superior indie-alt cred to Bob Mould. And no other song is more potently aligned to the mournful post-Brexit moment we find ourselves in. As driving, relentless, and effective as his best Hüsker Dü work.

5. Clarke:Hartnoll - 'Do-a-Bong'
The synth pop genius of Ex-Depeche Vince Clarke here aligns with the genius of part of Orbital, and manages to establish the zaniest, catchiest, dancefloor joy of the summer, in true acid-jazz retro style.

6. Fat White Family - 'Whitest Boy on the Beach'
No other band in this list so exemplifies, or skewers, the ugly underbelly of rancid White Britain - shall we call them the 52%? This band, political, superlatively arch, angry, and smart, is like mainlining Fad Gadget and Sex Pistols bootlegs. Perversely catchy, this weird song is such an attack on the privileged status of Leave UK and its stupid pomp (from low to high) it reeks of the age; and, better still, it borrows The Munsters surf rock tune.



 





Sunday, 3 July 2016

HAPPY BIRTHDAY EDWIN SMET

Eyewear has always been a proudly British company, since its founding in the Olympic year of 2012.  But from the start, it had the backing and support of a small group of Dutch poets, artists and eccentrics.  Every one of the Eyewear pamphlets (over 30 so far); our over 40 poetry collections; and our key prose titles, has been typeset and/or designed by one person - the Dutch poet-artist Edwin Smet.

Smet's clean, stylish, modernist, and retro book cover designs have, over the past four years, rightly made Eyewear one of the most iconic and best-loved indie poetry presses of the new century. But his talents are deeper than his commitment to our small press.

Smet, who is a melancholy, handsome, witty, and wry man, enjoys privacy, and long walks in the midnight streets; his art works have won him admirers at many exhibitions and galleries; and he is a good poet, worth seeking out. Now today is his birthday, and we doff our hat and raise a toast to this most talented of 21st century persons - the excellent Smet!

Saturday, 2 July 2016

A WEEK IS A LONG TIME IN POLITICS

The Eyewear blog is no stranger to hyperbole - I can go over many of our past posts, as editor and chief writer, and see claims of looming disaster, downfall, or war, that never quite materialised; crisis is the loom on which a poet spins his best writing.

The past week in Britain - to be dramatic, in British history - has been different.  It rendered me speechless. While there were some facebook declarations, I could not face this blog, or gain the strength to compose lines on this debacle. I have been profoundly hurt by this nasty decision. It has all been said, and at least as well by others. I think the Downfall video meme, featuring Boris Johnson, may be the best, but Jonathan Freedland, Polly Toynbee, AC Grayling, and others, have also done a good job of sketching out the horrors ahead, and the horrific causes of them. But the past week has just been plain bad for England, the UK, the world - and me personally, too.

Since last Thursday I have lost my 12 week old kitten Woody; and seen two great poets die, Sir Geoffrey Hill and Yves Bonnefoy; almost comically, the English football team lost to Iceland in a majour tournament; racism unleashed itself like the rabid pitbull it is; meanwhile the Labour party is tearing itself to pieces; and the UK's barely supported cynical plebiscite has ushered in remarkable chaos, economic, social, and political. Now the far-right in Austria and France look set to gain from a dark momentum. As poet George Szirtes reminds us, this is all very 1932.

Speaking to the eminent historian, Dr Green, recently at the London Review Bookshop, I gathered that this is the worst crisis since the 1930s in Great Britain; with more to come if as seems likely Scotland votes to leave; and rage over border and identity issues returns to the North of Ireland.

It is nonsense to feel shackled to this so-called "will of the people", as if the whistle had been blown and we now had to rush over the top to our Somme fate. There is a peculiar madness in English conservative thinking, that abides by the rules of even rigged or pernicious games.  And the tragedy for us all is that the Tories who masterminded this referendum (with the help of the mendacious mountebank Farage) did see this as a game; we know this now, now that freakish Gove, loyal Iago to Boris, body-stabbed his friend; and now that we see how ill-prepared bumbling Boris was to lead his troops over the top, when the whistle went; he was an officer AWOL from his own jolly war.

A few Etonians played a game with the UK, to propel their own careers - each wanted to be prime minister, or close to the top seat. In a playbook too often compared to House of Cards, they sacrificed too many for an outcome they only marginally expected or even wished for. The result is perhaps no longer debatable  - but how to proceed sure is.

The good 48% of voters who wanted to Remain have a mandate to defend a very sizeable majority of the educated youth of Britain, and the rest of us to boot: no vote that excluded majorities in NI, Scotland or London reflects a genuine UK consensus. Instead, the English heartland - mostly white, often bigoted, clearly angry, and let down by 30 years of Thatcherism and Blairism, revolted. Their explosion of disdain for reality (expertise) has led them off a cliff. Everything the Leave voters were told to expect they will now not get, not: money for the NHS, control, less immigration.  It is a nightmare of bad thinking and very bad faith that only Mr Orwell could really do justice to.

This is a civil war - it may only be an Interregnum before sanity returns to the land. But Gove was our weird Cromwell, and he is every inch as cruel and driven; he is also set to fail. Soon we will have icy PM May, a Tory Remainer who is set on following this threadbare result to its unravelling extreme conclusions, like a moron in a broken funhouse. What should be done is legal: only the parliament can vote to trigger the now infamous Article 50 (rarely if ever mentioned during the referendum debates), and it need not do so, since the referendum was never binding.

Often in the West big referendums require 60% of the popular vote for major decisions; and also, when a kingdom has four nations, it might be wise, politic and polite to have a nation lock - two of the four (NI and Scotland) do not want to leave the EU - why should they have to? If Eyewear believed that a genuinely reflective, considered, informed and balanced cross-section of the entire kingdom had voted to leave the EU, despite the knife-wounds to the tapestry of our lands that would be self-inflicted, I would consent to be governed by this Tory poll.

But instead, without the liar Boris, some nasty newspapers owned by wicked billionaires whipping up jingoism and race-hate, and more lies than a lifetime of politics usually sees, this result would not have occurred; it just edged over, and even now, many Leavers admit they are mistaken. This is not a resounding, definitive call for change; it was a blunder; a one-night stand with thrilling iconoclastic punkish rebellion; a prank. England was dreaming.

Some MPs, including the Lib Dem leader, want to resist Brexit. And there is time.  The UK and its people require sober, brave and strong leadership now to resist their own ruination. It is a test of character that few of our current or looming leaders seem to have. Resist Brexit. Save the UK. Empower parliament to reject Article 50's trigger.  We can salvage from the wreck something almost resembling what we had... a week ago.

THE WINNER OF THE 9TH FORTNIGHT POETRY PRIZE IS...

Kierstin Bridger! Congratulations, she wins publication of her poem on this blog, and £140 to be paid immediately via PayPal. ...