Ran Out Of Qs

In the UK, there has always been an abundance of magazine publications, all suited around whatever hobby or interest you could have. Model trains, cross stitching, running, photography, almost anything had a magazine. My big interest was always music. And, in the days before you had music recommendations at a click of a button on Spotify, you had music magazines, and the odd radio show.

From, when I started earning my own money, I always bought music magazines. It started off with Smash Hits, moved on to Kerrang, Rocksound, NME and Q. There then became more niche magazines, Big Cheese covered punkier stuff, then Metal Hammer got heavy metal. Magazines would often give away free tapes, then CDs, so you got a taste for the bands you were reading about. I always liked different music, so I would buy different magazines, to try and absorb as much information as possible. If you wanted to find out about music out with the Top 40, you had to work for it. Which is why magazines were so important to me when I was younger.

Unfortunately, more and more of the publications that I used to buy, are closing. With Q Magazine being the latest victim. After 34 years of publication, the magazine has published it’s final issue. And it is hard to imagine, in these days, where music seems instant, that a major way I discovered music seems to be dying away. There was a time, when pondering a career path when I was at school, that I thought about journalism, in particular, music journalism. I had never been the most accomplished writer, but I loved the idea about showing appreciation for something I loved. To shed light on bands and albums I loved. It sounded pretty magical.

These days, if you like a certain genre, or listen to certain bands, the music streaming service you listen to, will recommend new music. It’s seamless, and almost effortless to find something new. I liked reading about a band’s exploits, about their history, and understanding about the band members. I also loved reading reviews on gigs, especially if I was discovering a new band. It’s not the same anymore. Even pop music, there is no music on TV anymore. When I was younger there was Top Of The Pops, CD:UK, even Popworld. Shows that created a buzz, and added a bit of personality to the most generic bands.

I know things move on, but it makes me sad.

Not Everyone’s Pal

Anxiety has a habit of convincing a person, that everyone hates them. Or I get that anyway. That I could be the nicest person in the world, and everyone will still hate me. Over the years, it’s a feeling that has become so overwhelming that I try to make the opposite happen.

I feel like I have to be liked by everyone. I try to be friendly and helpful. I try to be the kind of person I like. Sometimes it’s like I become a Labrador, who is up in everyone’s business because they crave a pat on the head. But sometimes, I can be the nicest person in the world and someone still won’t like me.

I haven’t done anything wrong, but this other person doesn’t see eye to eye with me. And I take it really personal. Why don’t they like me? What did I do wrong? And my mind jumps to the worst conclusion, that everyone really hates me, they just don’t tell me that. It makes me become hyper aware of every little thing I do, as if I am trying to find the annoying bits.

If logic played a part in mental health, it would tell me that what I was feeling was silly. That not every person in the world is going to become friends, and that is okay. Doesn’t mean that there is anything wrong. It’s just the way life is sometimes.

Unfortunately, logic rarely has any space in my anxious wee brain.

Under The Weather

This is one of these days where I wish I had stayed in bed. I am still suffering with the end of a cold, which gives me a god awful cough, that makes me sound like a 20-a-day smoker. I’m not. I just get a bad cough when every get ‘blocked up’ with the cold. Every time, without fail. But because I do a lot of coughing, my temperature goes up, which is natural. But having an iffy temperature, whilst working in a building which is like a sauna half the time, is not a great experience. Just have to plod on, though.

Because I get so run down when I am feeling like this, I think it is important to do wee things to help make you feel better. Things that give comfort as well as relax you. So, I thought I’d give a wee list of what makes me feel better.

  • Curling up in bed. When you don’t feel so great, it is a good idea to try and find a place where the temperature is constant. Cuddling up in my duvet after a draining day, never fails to help me relax.
  • A good boxset. I am not the best at watching box-sets. I tend to watch a bit, forget to go back and watch more, and then have to start again because I forget what happens. I am currently watching Grey’s Anatomy on Amazon Prime, but it is supposed to be leaving. Something that is very easy to watch, which is what I find Grey’s Anatomy. Though it does make me cry. A lot.
  • Loud Music. Music has had a relaxing effect on me for as long as I can remember. I usually listen to different music depending on my mood. But I have been exhausted and sore the last week or so, there has been too options. Punky stuff, where they are a bit ‘f*$k the world’, as I usually feel done with everything. Or it can be something with a good beat, something that i can play loud in my headphones to drown out everything else. That is usually some metal music, like Cannibal Corpse.

I also usually gorge myself on crisps and such, but I that is something I am trying to stop. I want to get healthier. Hopefully eating better food, will help my immunity and mean less colds and coughs. Hopefully.

Heavy

There isn’t very much to say today. In the last half hour or so I learnt the news that Chester Bennington, from Linkin Park, killed himself. I rarely get super upset over famous people dying, but this seems to hit home really hard.

Linkin Park were a bit like Blink 182, where they opened a door to other music. I have memories of having my personal CD player in my school bag with Hybrid Theory in it. Complaining that it jumped when I tried to walk anywhere. I bought every album by Linkin Park. Throughout their 7 studio albums, the band became chameleons, doing the music that made them happy. A big part of the music I now listen to, and the kind of person I am comes from Linkin Park. Chester was a hero to millions around the world, but that doesn’t stop mental health problems.

If you feel alone, or just a bit lost, please speak to someone. I write this blog as a way to get my issues out of my head, but I have also relied on others. I find it hard speaking to friends, so services came into mind. There is always someone willing to listen, you are not alone.

Service that helped me was the Samaritans.

UK & Ireland: The Samaritans call free on 116 123

(If anyone reading this has services which helped them in their country, please comment below and I’ll add to this post.)

Distraction

After a crappy few days, there is nothing better than focusing yourself on a task to help calm any bad feeling you may have. It is one of those things that seems impossible to do at times. I guess the important thing is not to force yourself to do something, especially if it is something that you may enjoy. Because forcing yourself on something you actually like, may take the joy away. It is supposed to be a respite for you, not simply another thing to give you anxiety.

I know, with myself, when I have a ‘bad turn’, I usually have to ride it out. I always try to do something, but if I am not in the right frame of mind, then nothing will help. I can easily sit and stare at the same page of a book for an hour, or zone out and miss 2/3 episodes of a TV show. These things that are normally relaxing for me, don’t seem to have the desired effect. There was a time, when I was younger, I actually thought my ‘zoning out’ was simply another thing that made me broken. Because for a long time, that is what I thought of myself. An unfuctioning, broken person. It has taken years of work to realise that I needed to give myself a bit of a break. Being harsh on yourself for having shit mental health, just makes your mental health worse. It is a vicious circle.

When I realised this, I started giving myself a time scale. For example, still staring at the same book page after 15 minutes, close the book and give it a rest. It became a rule that I followed, something I had to train myself to do. Because, if I didn’t, I would do nothing, and then feel bad because I had done nothing. I think that is the hardest thing about trying to self-manage your mental health. You should be strict enough with yourself that you push yourself forward, but you don’t want to be too strict and send yourself backwards. It is hard, and something it has taken me many years to try and get better at. But, I am getting there slowly.

What can be a distraction? Well, anything really. Here is a wee list of things that I use to help me feel a bit better.

Go for a walk- This could be anywhere. Luckily we have a lot of coastal walks around where I live, and I find the smell of the sea air quite relaxing. No matter where it is, a walk is something that gives you the good feeling of exercise. You may go to the park, walk to the shops, walk to a friends or even just walk round the block. I love walking, as it always has the ability of helping me de-stress.

Listen to music- Music can be great. It is a good way to block the world out, which is good if that is what is giving you anxiety. I have a variety of music tastes, and one day I’ll be listening to Pantera, the next Steps, and then some Faithless. Because different things can trigger my anxiety, different music can ease it. Unfortunately, I have a habit of leaving my iPod (with my full music collection) at home, but that is where iTunes, Spotify or Amazon Music come in handy. Every few weeks I make a new playlist. I pick a range of songs, from all different genres. It means, I can have the playlist saved to my phone, have music that is for my mood (whatever that may be), and it doesn’t take up all my phone’s memory.

Watch a TV show- This is hit and miss with me. I don’t have a lot of patience to sit and watch a TV show a lot of the time. But when I am in the mood, I can sit for several hours with the same program. The main services I use are Netflix and Crunchyroll. Again, I have a variety of shows that I am working through. So I can put on The Big Bang Theory when I need background noise, Pretty Little Liars when I want to sit and focus on something longer than 25 minutes or Naruto because I LOVE NARUTO. This again, is because my mood is never the same 2 days in a row, so I like variety.

Watch Youtube- I am addicted to youtube. It is the app I go on to when I am getting ready for bed. I love the variety. I love the variety of content that I can find on there. Watching some daily vlogs do inspire me sometimes, by seeing how motivated other people are, it kind of motivates me. I also like retro gaming, tech stuff (mostly mobiles and computers) and anime (Naruto) commentaries. The good thing is with youtube, especially on the most frequent app updates, you can click one video, and it will automatically set a playlist with similar videos, that it plays automatically. It never fails to cheer me up.

Draw something- I used to be better at this, than what I am now. Nothing I do, ever, compares to how drawing and painting makes me feel. Because of the lack of practice I do, the quality is kind of crappy, but that doesn’t even really matter to me. Whether the cat I drew, looks like a cat, doesn’t matter. I have bought myself these colouring books (the colouring for grown-ups, ones), and as much as I do enjoy them, they aren’t the same as doodling my own wee pattern, and colouring that in. My sketchbook is a mess, but it is mine, and sometimes I can look back and see progress in myself, in how I feel. Which is nice.

As I have said before though, you can do almost anything to distract yourself if you are struggling with mental health. But, do remember not to force yourself to do anything, give it a go, but if you can’t focus, stop. These things are usually so good at being distractions, because you enjoy doing them.

__________

Mental health is hard. If you are really struggling, you can visit your GP for help. I have found both Breathing Space  and Samaritans to be very helpful. You are never alone as what you feel, and there are so many people out there to help. 

Playlister

This sound really sad, but I like making music playlists. It is on a similar track of thought which states that organising things can actually relax a person. I have always made playlists, because I like to listen to a mixture of music. The love started from making mixtapes as a kid, taping songs off the radio or from albums I had at home. There was quite a bit of joy involved, when a person who you gave your mixtape too, liked it, and would maybe get into new bands.

Last month I made a playlist on Spotify, so that I could listen to a variety of songs I liked when I was making my way anywhere. If I am out and about, I usually listen to music on my mobile phone, purely because it’s portability. But, I never just want to listen to just one band or one genre. So, by making a playlist of different songs I like, I can listen to a wee variety, and not lose all the memory on my phone.

Because I have listened to the playlist a lot, I thought I’d make a new one for April. It might be something that I’ll try every month. The songs, that I selected this month are below.

Rancid- Timebomb

Good Charlotte- I Just Wanna Live

Emma Blackery- Nothing Without You

Tessa Violet- Not Over You

CKY- Escape From Hellview

Jimmy Eat World- The Middle

Waterparks- Stupid For You

Linkin Park- Breaking The Habit

Iron Maiden- 2 Minutes To Midnight

Mötley Crew- Kickstart My Heart

Skid Row- Wasted Time

The Stone Roses- She Bangs The Drums

The Strokes- Last Night

The Libertines- Can’t Stand Me Now

The Proclaimers- Sunshine On Leith

Skids- Into The Valley

The Clash- I Fought The Law

Stiff Little Fingers- Alternative Ulster

Dead Kennedys- Holiday In Cambodia

Minor Threat- Straight Edge

MC5- Kick Out The Jams

Fugazi- Bad Mouth

T.S.O.L- Code Blue

X-Ray Spex- Oh Bondage! Up Yours!

Linkin Park (feat Stormzy and Pusha T)- Good Goodbye

Alice Deejay- Better Off Alone

Darude- Sandstorm

Paolo Nutini- Caledonia

Anti-Flag-  Die For Your Govenment

The Bouncing Souls- Lean On Sheena

Propaganghi- Failed States

Lagwagon- The Cog In The Machine

Belle & Sebastian- Expectations

Lady Sovereign- Pretty Vacant

The Casualties- Tomorrow Belongs To Us

The Unseen- Paint It Black

Time Again- The Stories Are True

Choking Victim- 500 channels

Sonic Boom Six- Monkey See, Monkey Do

The Pietasters- Out All Night

If you want to listen to this playlist, please visit here. This is until i actually figure out how to post a playlist on here.

Sing a Happy Happy Song

I am totally back into being all happy and in love with art again. Which, for the record, makes me happier than anything.
I feel so lucky to be able to work all my frustrations out by drawing or painting. It is a great feeling.

I still do get my good and bad days, where all I want to do is sit in my bed and cry, but I have my coping mechanism. A lot of people don’t have anything as a release.

Another thing I obviously have as a release is music, I love music. It inspires me so much, but on days like today, I left my headphones at home. So no music home on the bus. It is so frustrating, as it kind means I can sometimes be wound up by work by the time I get home. Music takes that away.

Tuning In

Music is a constant in my life, and it is probably the same with anyone reading this. Of course, you may not actively seek out to listen to music, but it is still there. It is in the shops you visit, it accompanies your favourite TV shows and is on the radio station you listen to in your car. It is everywhere. Music is that one think that helps give everything rhythm.

A lot has changed in how we get music, to purposefully listen to.When I was wee, people taped songs off the radio. Something that was a bit of an art-form, if I were to be honest. Trying to get as much of a song as possible, without the voice of the station DJ. I remember swapping my tapes with friends, as everyone had different mixes. It was fun, and I could see myself listening to the Pepsi Chart show, spending the large portion of my Sunday, waiting for my favourite songs. I was young and daft, but weren’t we all

As soon as I had my own money, I would by music magazines and any album (at that point CDs) I could afford. The thrill of new music, and getting to read the liner notes made me feel like I was getting a snippet at a band I liked. It wasn’t long after that things changed forever. The internet came into public use, and friends I knew started using services like Napster and Limewire to download songs. It was the first time, for many, that they could access an artist’s entire back-catalogue with a few clicks, and it didn’t cost a penny. I, myself, tried Limewire, but a virus and incorrectly labelled music files, caused me to opt put of that option. I still liked my CDs.

Eventually things progressed. The torrent sites were forced offline or became unreliable, and online digital music stores like iTunes, reaped the benefit. However, with today’s faster internet speeds, people are opting into streaming content. To the stage, where most radio stations stream live content from their websites. It means that you can now pay a monthly fee, if you want to, and stream your favourite artists to your games console, smart TV, mobile, or almost every device that can get an internet connection. It is getting to the stage, where a lot of people who consume music, don’t even need to purchase it anymore. I find that sad.

I use streaming services,  like Spotify and Amazon Music, but I use them for either ‘music-on-the-go’ or to find new music to listen to. The last few albums I purchased, was for artists that were on my recommended playlist on Spotify. These services are smart, they know what artists you listen to most, and give you new music based on that. It’s very intuitive.

I am friends with a lot of musicians, all of which make the most money when someone buys an album or some other merchandise. So, as a result, I have always bought music.I like to try and get the physical CD, or even vinyl record, to put money back into an artist I enjoy. I think that is only fair. Unfortunately, not everyone thinks the same. For every legitimate streaming site, there are 3 or 4 illegal streaming services. Now sites like Putlocker maybe are more about movies and TV shows, but the point still stands. Is it really fair to enjoy something, but not pay for it?

Maybe it is because I have been stung by people wanting things for free, myself. A few years back, when I was on my last year/ just left college, I tried to get a graphic design business up and running. It was actually the main reason this very blog was started, to promote the development of my new company. Unfortunately, it didn’t take off quite like I expected. I struggled getting clients, because I was on my own, and had no experience. But I would get interest from people, mostly from established local companies, requesting some work to be done. Unfortunately, these people wanted everything done for free. I kind of excepted this was going to be part of starting up myself. I had a part-time job, but stepped up to full time, to pay for bills and things. The people, who wanted the free labour, would send me emails when they knew I was working (I gave every perspective client my work rota, so they knew when I’d be available). I would finish working a long day in a call center, and would have several emails from people, all sent during that day, asking why I was ignoring them. I was working, my phone was off, and I couldn’t access my private emails, something I had already explained. I would get dog’s abuse off these people, who said that they were doing me a favour. But I worked on, and sent them the final work and they refused to acknowledge me.  They had previously said that the publicity would be good for me, so they shouldn’t have to pay. It was horrible. I lost all confidence, and to-date, I kind of put everything on hold.

And that is why, I don’t think I could sleep at night, knowing that I was taking in the work of other creatives for nothing. So no Kodi boxes for me, you can keep your ‘chipped’ Sky systems, and I’ll pay for what I can afford. And I will appreciate it all.

 

Going Underground

Music is something that has helped me get through my life. I like, that how music can be a journey of discovery. That different songs can make you think about different things, and can even change your outlook on things. It is very strange, when you think about it.

People often talk about music taste, like it is something static. Like, how you find one genre of music, and that is what you will stick with for the rest of their life. But, that isn’t how it really works, music is more like a journey. A journey where you might tip your toes into a particular type of music, and depending on your experience, you could venture deeper into that particular journey, or you could wonder off to something a bit different.

I was a Pop fan for much of my childhood. Music was there, but it wasn’t anything too crazy to obsess about. I liked songs, but no artists in particularly. I fell in love with Hanson, then B*Witched, followed by a1. It sounds like a list of guilty pleasures, but those bands kind of got me into music. I started to notice that certain songs made me feel different, I would get meaning in the lyrics and it became something of an addiction. I would buy albums and read the lyrics on the inserts. I did find, that as I started reading into song means more, I got bored of what was on the radio. I wasn’t interested in getting a boyfriend, I just wanted to read books and draw, so I gradually turned away from the chart music.

This was the time, where I would start frequenting my local library, to use their internet. I didn’t have it at home, so when you want to discover new music, that wasn’t on the radio, you went online. I started to become a fan of music with a rockier sound, the angst and anger matched how I felt in life.

The music that I felt most connect to was old punk stuff, mostly from before I was born. I bought this compilation CD from a charity shop one day after school, and it had The Clash, The Ramones, X Ray Spex and like 40 other bands from the late 70s/ early 80s. It felt like there was a fire in my belly, when I listened to those songs. And the first song on the compilation was Going Underground by The Jam (see know I would get back to the prompt), which actually became a favourite song of mine.

Since I started listening to punk, my taste developed, I started to listen to metal, thrash, emo, grunge, alt rock, just about anything. In fact, the more I listened to, the more I began to appreciate music, in general. The phase that I had, where I turned my back on my poppy roots, was over. I listened to old albums, and realised that those songs still meant a lot to me. Favourite things, become our favourites for a reason.

So put on that played out album from your teens, and have a party. Relish in the memories that those songs have for you, and realise they are more than just words and a tune.

via Daily Prompt: Underground

The Manky Hoors: Fuck Everything EP

It is still the early part of the working week, and your energy may be draining already. You are maybe stuck in a minimum wage job, or just sick of hearing about the ‘powers that be’ abusing their power. Life is a bit of a bastard sometimes and the only thing that can help you work through your anger, is a wee bit of loud music. And The Manky Hoors are perfect for that.

The Manky Hoors are a Scottish punk band, hailing from Rosyth, Fife. Having spent the last several years gigging around the East Coast of Scotland, Fuck Everything is their brand new EP. If you like your punk rock full of fast tunes and sharp lyrics, think of NOFX, Good Riddance or The Vandals, this is the band for you.

The songs are proper fist pumping, scream at the top of your lungs, anthems. Songs that urge the listener to fight against the authority created to keep the normal person in their place. That kind of music is a bit of an antidote for the realities of modern life. Something that there is not nearly enough of in the local music scene in Fife. So, rather than listen to another band that sounds like Oasis stuck in a time warp, try something a bit different. Listen to the full EP below.

Check in with the Manky Hoors on Facebook and become pals. And if you like, share, because that is what the decent thing to do if you like some music.