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depressing albums i loved in 2014.

I'm not gonna sugarcoat it - 2014 has mostly been crap. Many good things happened, sure, but the missing planes, sinking ferry, massacred children, floods, and my never-ending existentialism outweigh whatever was right in the world.

So here's a list of five depressing albums (and a couple of angau anthems) I loved this year. None of them seem to have made it to any one else's "Greatest Albums of 2014" list, but I hope they make you cry, question the choices you have made in life and somehow still get you through the tough times.



1. I Am An Island by Fatherson


While not inherently depressing, this Scottish delight has its own share of theatrical buildups and heartstring tugging. Sometimes it makes you think of things that could have been and other times, it lulls you to sleep.

To me, however, it's a catchy reminder of how I'm going to die alone. Which makes sense, if you think about it. After all, the title of the album issss I Am An Island. I discovered the album by chance a couple of days after doing something incredibly stupid and then frantically scrambling around trying to fix things. (So much for second chances, folks.) I ended up listening to the record on loop and a month and now it means too much to me.



My favourite songs on it are: I Like Not Knowing, Cat Stevens, and I Am (Hidden Track).




2. All The Luck In The World by All The Luck In The World


I first heard the song Never by All The Luck In The World in my friend Julian's car while we were on the way back from Malacca. This was back in 2013, I think. The car broke down or had a flat or something like that, and we had to wait on the side of the highway to wait for a tow truck. I was just really anxious to get back to civilisation (i.e. places with data reception) so that I could look the song up.



The full LP was finally released in 2014 and, much like their fellow Irishman Damien Rice (more on his sappiness later), All The Luck In World sing sentimental songs over elegantly simple chords. There must be something in the water there that gives lost lovers the powers to write beautifully honest folk tunes. Maybe it's time to pay a visit.

My favourite songs on it are: Fight, in the Oaks, Dark Eyes, and of course, Never.




3. Keep You by Pianos Become The Teeth

Pianos started off as your average screamo post-hardcore band back in the mid 2000s but somehow, their music has evolved into this deep smorgasbord of bleak emotions. It's as if sadness, desperation, anxiety and some other malignant indescribable feeling were blended into one.



Actually, the more I think about it, the more it feels like Pianos is just a more depressed version of The Dangerous Summer.



My favourite songs on it are: Say Nothing, Repine and Old Jaw.




4. Still Life by Dawn Golden


Like witchcraft, Dexter Tortoriello can string lonely nights into solemn tunes.
That is all that needs to be said.




When I first heard All I Want, I thought it sounded like the chanting music they play at temples. Funnily enough, the video for the song Snow In Newark (his recent collaboration with Ryan Hemsworth) shows Hemsworth on a spiritual retreat. 


Snow In Newark is probably my favourite song of 2014. I played it on loop the entire time I was on holiday, I play it in my car, I play it for people when they sit in my car, and I often catch myself singing it out loud (and out of tune, obviously). The only reason Ryan Hemsworth's album Alone For The First Time didn't make it to this list is because it isn't depressing enough.

My favourite songs on it are: All I Want, Last Train and Swing.




5. My Favourite Faded Fantasy by Damien Rice


Anyone who has listened to Damien Rice knows that he is the king of "slit-wrist music". (That phrase was originally coined by my friend Simon Lee when describing Trance music, but I suppose it's applicable here.) My Favourite Faded Fantasy is just as depressing as O, and like all other Damien Rice albums, almost every track is glazed with the regret of unrequited love. What makes it even more depressing is perhaps the fact that, after his 8-year hiatus, Mr Rice has aged considerably - making it look as if he really will die alone.


I used to always romanticise the pain and longing - I thought if Damien Rice could turn his loneliness into something that beautiful, surely pain and longing must be somewhat positive. But, no. After listening to My Favourite Faded Fantasy and doing that incredibly stupid thing I mentioned earlier (when talking about Fatherson), I have realised that I will never aspire to be Damien Rice, no matter how brilliant I think he is. I'd still like to meet him though - I want to ask him how he copes with life, whether or not he sleeps at night, and to give him a big warm hug.

My favourite songs on it are: My Favourite Faded Fantasy, Long Long Way and The Greatest Bastard.




Notable Angau Anthems of 2014:

Nothing At All by Taking Back Sunday


I was lucky enough to listen to the album before it was released (media privileges, yeah!) and started sobbing when I heard Nothing At All. I'm an emotional sap - that you must know. I was on the bus on the way to Singapore to catch TBS live and heard Nothing At All while staring into the darkness. Shortly after, I witnessed a forrest fire for the first time in my life.



Hard As Hello by Kimberly Anne


Don't be fooled by the chirpy beats in Hard As Hello, It's a sad song disguised as a happy one! Okay, I exaggerate. But it reminds me of all the times another girl has been picked over me and it makes me feel good to know that I'm not the only one in the world who sometimes feels that way.



Drown by Bring Me The Horizon


It doesn't really bother me that BMTH are becoming increasingly mainstream - they deserve to make more money, I feel. But this song speaks to me. A friend of mine told me that you shouldn't try shrooms if you can't deal with your inner demons and like this song, I know I can't actually save me from myself. And that is why, kids, I don't do drugs.


Happy 2015, folks!

Her + Neil Gaiman + Sam & Ruby



Her was beautiful, in every way imaginable. 

You know how sometimes people tell you a movie is RIDICULOUSLY AWESOME and your expectations break through the roof and you watch it and you think well, yeah, it was aiiiight but it wasn't amazing or anything? *ahem* Silver Linings Playbook *cough*

No. Not Her

Her made forget the world for two hours (which I suppose is what the movie experience is supposed to do, except that it almost never happens to me). Her made me want to live in that fictitious city - summoning words out of thin air instead of having to write every punctuation mark. Her made me want to wear my pants a little too high and sleep in a bed of snow.

Her made me wish I could live in a sunset. I know that defies physics and logic but if a man can have a romantic relationship with an operating system, I can live in a sunset. I think I might need to change the name of my blog.


And the script! Oh, the script.

The script made me feel like a terrible writer and dream of becoming a writer all at the same time! I know that barely makes sense considering I now actually get paid to write (not this blog, of course. I don't think anyone would pay me for the sort of rubbish I put here) but the script tugged at my heartstrings like no script has done before.

Behold:

"Sometimes I write something and I'm my favourite writer that day."

"The past is just a story we tell ourselves."

"The heart is not like a box you can fill up - it expands in size the more you love."

"Sometimes I think I have felt everything I'm ever gonna feel, and from here on out, I'm not gonna feel anything new - just lesser versions of what I've already felt."

"It's like I'm reading a book, and it's a book I deeply love. But I'm reading it slowly now, so the words are really far apart and the spaces between the words are almost infinite."

There are many more, of course, but I'm going to let you watch the movie for yourself. Unless you've already seen it - in which case, I'm going to imagine you saying "I KNOW RIGHT??!" to me right now.

Of course not everything moves us in the same way. Perhaps reading those quotes will never be nearly as powerful as watching them being said on screen. Maybe those quotes resonate with me because I can relate to them and you can't. You don't actually need to agree with me.

On that note, I was meaning to write this super long-winded post on what Valentines means to me (spoiler: nothing, yet so much at the same time because I'm too introspective for my own good) but I figured that would be too clich├ęd and because I fear my opinions might be misconstrued and found offensive - not because I'm worried about receiving hate mail or anything, but because I'm too tired to deal with the drama (which was what I would have said about relationships, had I actually written the post).

So instead of making Valentines plans or splurging on comfort food, I bought a David Mack print of a Neil Gaiman poem!


I probably don't have the right to repost this picture, but I'll worry about that
(and squeal like a shameless fan girl) when David Mack/Neil Gaiman contact me to take it down.

It made me a tiny bit sad on the inside, considering I only ever
started reading Neil Gaiman because he asked me to.

Ah, but c'est la vie.

Someday I will find someone that I love who loves me enough to say

"you're the book I love the best"

and I will read him slowly so the words are really far apart
and the spaces between the words are almost infinite. 




JDx

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty & The Alchemist.

"Beautiful things don't ask for attention."

After days of nagging (and bouts of begging), I managed to persuade a friend to watch The Secret Life of Walter Mitty with me. First of all, the movie promotional posters were great:



and secondly, everyone was saying good things about it!

So why not, right? I hadn't seen a movie in months, and after being harassed and laughed at by the staff at MBO Subang Parade (it's a long story, but the gist of it is that I went to watch Monsters University, at 1:30 p.m. on a weekday in broad freaking daylight and some staff member decided it would be appropriate to try and spook me from behind and ask a million and one questions DURING the movie and then some other staff member laughed at me TO MY FACE when I asked to see the manager to make a complaint), I wasn't going to risk watching a movie alone again.

Now the thing about TSLOWM is that there isn't one great climax where so many things all happen at once. It's not one of those movies where the hero saves the planet and wins the girl of his dreams. The whole vibe of the movie is...steady - but in a good way.

And somehow old Ben Stiller is way hotter than young Ben Stiller was.



A few people on my social media timelines said they cried while watching the movie and I honestly didn't think the movie was all that moving. That, or perhaps everyone's rave reviews got my expectations up too high.

But as someone who perpetually suffers an existential crisis, I suppose I can see where they're coming from.

I reckon it's this whole thing about not actually achieving what we should (although, apparently most young people already feel that way) and that we probably don't perceive ourselves to be the way we truly are.

That said, TSLOWM also reminded me a lot of Paulo Coelho's The Alchemist! Where the lesson is (SPOILER ALERT!) that often what we seek was where we were to begin with - we just needed to go on a journey to figure that out.


I'm not really going to go on and on about what I think about The Alchemist because I read it years ago and this stupid blog post is beginning to bore me (yet I'm the one still writing it).

Just remember:

"When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.” 

and

"It's the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting.” 

but

"There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.” 

Also,

“If you start by promising what you don't even have yet, you'll lose your desire to work towards getting it.” 

Thank you, Paulo Coelho. Please know that I love you and don't ever think of you as a creepy old man, even when you hang out with Dita.


JDx

big dreams, big dreams.

My friend Simon is mean. He's also a brilliant engineer and a DJ with a Dutch record deal but he's mostly mean. 


Simon is so mean that he calls a giant engineer we know Tiny. Sometimes he calls him The Kraken.  Simon is so mean that he calls an even gianter engineer that we know Tinier.

Simon is so mean that even his dreams are mean.



Simon is so mean that he bought me a bright red Thomas The Tank shirt. I went to the hospital once and a bunch of kids thought I was wall art so they brought all their little friends and siblings to point and stare at my shirt.

Simon is mean because he bought me that shirt because he thinks I am a small child.


But I have a terrifyingly big dream and Simon,
with all his experience and worldly knowledge
said that it doesn't sound too far fetched

and that makes me feel like I can do anything.

Everybody deserves to have a friend like Simon
and I'm just lucky that I already do.

*cue emotional tears of friendship*

<3




"Fair play to those who dare to dream."

JDx

Reuben Wu - Cross Country

I read a few different posts on Reuben Wu where bloggers/webzine writers described what they felt about his art and about what he does and I reckon all you need to know is that he plays in the band Ladytron and is also a brilliant photographer.

If you haven't got the time to check out all his photographs, you should at least take a moment to appreciate the ones he took on his 6000 mile road trip of the USA. The full set is on his Behance page but here are the ones I couldn't wait to share with you:

 Badlands

 Grand Canyon

 Grand Prismatic Spring

 Nevada

 New Mexico

South Dakota Badlands

Indiana Dunes

Dante's View, Death Valley

JDx

Nick Hornby - High Fidelity



People worry about kids playing with guns, and teenagers watching violent videos;
we are scared that some sort of culture of violence will take them over.
Nobody worries about kids listening to thousands - literally
thousands - of songs about broken hearts and rejection
and pain and misery and loss.
Nick Hornby


I don't care if High Fidelity was published in 1995 and I don't think it matters that I only read it in 2008 (in that cover you see up there) - that line struck a chord in me then and I still believe it to be true today.

Reading articles on depression in Malaysia made me depressed. Apparently, in 2006 (don't they have updated rates?), 11 in every 100 Malaysians were depressed. That's 11% (why couldn't they have just said that instead of saying 11 out of 100?) of the population. That just means, if you think of ten friends, 1.1 of them is depressed!!!! Does that mean, each one of your friends is 0.11% sad on the inside??! (That was a bad joke - just in case you couldn't tell).

But that's not really the point I'm trying to make here. 

I think High Fidelity is brilliant. I could be biased because I think Nick Hornby could do no wrong, but High Fidelity! It even had a movie with John Cusack in it!

I could go on and on about the book and the movie but chances are, you've probably already read/seen it and if you haven't, you can read/watch it yourself. 

So this is a little diary-ish entry about how I once had a friend who said that all John Cusack movies are awesome, "because John Cusack is awesome! John Cusack is bad ass!" so I told him that Martian Child was sappy and sentimental and it involved a small child - far from being 'bad ass', in my opinion. He said he'd never heard of it and went on with his preachy 'John Cusack is awesome' rant.


Then there was this other time where I professed my love of all things Nick Hornby and he said "I've never read any Nick Hornby, but I hate it". Yes, I once had a friend who said he hated Nick Hornby despite having never read any of his books. I'm obviously not very good at choosing the company I keep.

So Mr John-Cusack-is-awesome continues to tell me about how Nick Hornby stories are depressing and someone always dies and I tell him that he is wrong wrong wrong. But my friend doesn't listen to me, and we end up talking about something else.

I hope you see where this is going. Spoiler alert: this is the part where I win.

It suddenly hit me! John Cusack starred in High Fidelity! Which is a Nick Hornby book! So if all John Cusack films are awesome, and High Fidelity is a John Cusack movie, then Nick Hornby is awesome by default! It is officially irrefutable!

Of course my friend tried to cheat by talking about how Lauren's father dies and they end up having sex in her car (was that where I was supposed to put an actual spoiler alert?) but it obviously didn't work.

I started to gloat and he put on this grin that children make after they get caught red-handed for doing something they know they aren't supposed to do but are proud of anyway.

That was a couple of years ago. We aren't actually friends anymore.

As I am writing this, I realise that he used to (and most likely still does) talk the way Nick Hornby writes. Or perhaps he talks the way John Cusack does in High Fidelity when he looks to the camera and presents his monologue? Either way, it's ironic.

I think I might need a moment to think about this for a bit.

JDx