About a year ago, British singer/producer Ghostpoet put out a Mercury Prize-nominated album called Peanut Butter Blues and Melancholy Jam; it’s low key and usually sorta sleepy-sounding, consisting mostly of songs about being down on your luck, but with a hint of optimism. “Cash and Carry Me Home” is about a hangover (and in the bigger picture, asking for help when you’ve hit a low place in your life): “Morning’s approached and I wrestle with a headache/ That was spawned in hell by the devil himself,” he says. And if you follow his Twitter, you’ll learn that he sometimes lets wine get the best of him. (Hey, don’t we all?)
A good hangover cure requires protein (and therefore energy), so I made a smoothie inspired by the album name, with peanut butter and berries (instead of jam, because I think that’d be even weirder than this already sounds). I think blackberries are fitting for the “melancholy” part, since I usually have to pick through the sour to find the sweet. And uh, I have to be honest, the flavor of peanut butter and jelly in liquid(ish) form tastes about as strange as it sounds — but then again, if you’re trying to shake off a massive hangover, is anything really going to taste good?
Peach-blackberry-ginger popsicles (recipe here)
It isn’t super often that I totally fall in love with a new band; mostly because I hear so much music every week that a lot of it starts to sound the same (my friend Amanda summed that feeling up rather perfectly on Pitchfork this week; I’m not quite at that point of jadedness or whatever you want to call it, but you get the idea). But for some reason when my boss recommended listening to Brooklyn band We Are Augustines (who essentially used to be the band Pela), something clicked and I’ve been listening to their album Rise Ye Sunken Ships more than anything else in the past couple weeks. I can’t even really explain why it gets to me more than a lot of other rock bands, but parts of the album remind me of the National and Against Me! (I know, kind of a weird combination).
The story behind Rise Ye Sunken Ships is pretty heartbreaking; you can read it all on the band’s website, but in short, much of the album is based around singer/guitarist Billy McCarthy’s brother James, who was diagnosed as schizophrenic and committed suicide while the band was recording what was originally going to be a new Pela record. Apparently (at least, according to Wikipedia), the band was named in part for the month of August; the month of two bandmembers’ birthdays, as well as McCarthy’s brother James.
Popsicles perhaps sound a bit too sunny to represent an album with so much pain behind it, but with the pain came a lot of healing. In the song “Augustine,” McCarthy sings, “Keep you head up kid, I know you can swim, but you gotta move your legs.” Ginger and honey are known for their healing powers, while peaches and blackberries are perfectly in season in August (and I got what I used for these at the Greenmarket in Union Square). Anyway, check out the album; it’s pretty great.