Launching off with a pop punk riff that makes me think of skateboards and summer, Brown’s latest single sounds more like a trailer for an American coming of age melodrama than a piece of emotional seppuku.
It’s fun, it’s vibrant; it has that slight staccato chord progression that makes me look back at my teenage years and sigh into my shoulder. But don’t be fooled, this single is entrails on the floor with a wry ‘yes, it’s your fault’ look as the last breath becomes a rattle… a fuck you, plainly put. And one that should make all those erstwhile school ‘friends’ wait nervously for the name drop.
But this isn’t a song about revenge, it’s about strength. ‘Hate Myself’, it’s quite clear; Brown is shining the light bright in her own face and casting shadows of the past that she wants kept rightfully behind her, where shadows belong. Lasting three and a half minutes, and bouncing through trauma and trouble, the song holds no punches. Especially when to the gut. It even proudly declares in its press release: ‘Hannah begins to let go of the power others previously had over the way she viewed herself, breaking the cycle that had bound her for years.’ So yeah, just in case it wasn’t clear before… fuck you.
‘Hate Myself’ continues Brown’s tradition of visceral lyrics and public therapy. But with no doom, gloom, or long sleeves in summertime to save an awkward downwards glance – this is empowerment. ‘Hate Myself’ doesn’t wallow in self-pity, it takes the bile, gives it a name, then throws it in the right direction. It’s a clarion call for the right of the righteous, as the chorus begins and ends: “I already hate myself, I don’t need anyone else… I don’t want to hate myself anymore.”
Brown is one of the more accomplished and hard working artists in the Midlands, having built her initial six string reputation into a ferocious full band sound; her material is valid and exciting. And fresh. Recent singles ‘So Should You’ and ‘Further Away’ have continued the melodic rock vibe from her awesome 2016 EP, Better for This – with melody and strong vocals leading throughout her work. And Brown’s live performances relay something so special it just can’t be recorded.
‘Hate Myself’ has been described as the single that has taken Brown ‘from folk singer songwriter to indie rocker’, and it’s certainly as radio friendly as such self-analysis is ever going to be. But hooking her work onto a genre shift doesn’t catch it for me.
What we’re witnessing, what we’re privy too, are the cracks in a chrysalis. And with this much honesty already seeping through we’re watching something of beauty start screaming to fly.
‘Hate Myself’ – Hannah Brown.
Hannah Brown releases ‘Hate Myself’ on Friday 20th September, available to stream for free via her Soundcloud page – click here. For more on Hannah Brown, including gig info and other releases, visit www.hannah-brown.co.uk
Hannah Brown is somewhat of a stalwart on the Midlands music scene, having cemented her place on the cultural landscape with her debut six track acoustic EP, The Highbury Sessions – recorded at the Kings Heath studios and released in 2015.
Brown’s 2016 follow up EP, Better for This, followed in the footsteps of her first – delivering another six track analysis into the fragility of the human endevouor, with all the raw strength and determination that you need to survive it. Stretching from strings to keys and back again, Better for This is an inspiring record – covering the visceral themes of youth and identity, with well-rounded production from Rob Derbyshire and Ben Stancombe.
Supported by BBC Introducing and a variety of music focused media, Brown started to develop the ‘full band sound’ that came through on Better than This – progressing as a songwriter and performing artist, with singles such as ‘So Should You’ and ‘My Home’ released across 2018.
Then in early 2019, Brown released ‘Further Away’ – a track of faster paced melodic rock, telling the troubles of disaffection with a confident vocal lead and lyrics such as “I’ll work ‘till I am eighty, or die when I’m not ready… I just wanna stay in.” Super stuff, Brown’s latest single is an exciting stamp of authority from an artist that has embraced their own development and shows more promise than most egos can healthily handle.
There is an album floating around too, the composite The World Still Spins – made up of cherry picked tracks from Brown’s back catalogue, alongside previously unreleased recordings of some of her more tried and tested tracks. But the music wolf still bays for blood, and you can’t release something as solid as ‘Further Away’ and not expect the howls of “ALBUM…????” to be too far behind. Have a stop, look, listen below and you’ll see (hear) where we’re coming from.
The shortest month of the year is here. Luckily it’s also the turning point, as life starts to push up through the thaw and Percy Thrower can start planning his planters. OK, bad example, but there’s a joke about daisies in the somewhere.
But luckily for us mortal coilers, the venues and promoters of this city are still packing a pretty heavy punch with February’s event calendar. If there truly is no rest for the wicked, then it seem incongruous that anyone got Christmas presents this year.
January 1st… no finer day to cross off the calendar. But as the world crawls out of bed with hangovers and resolutions, Birmingham’s events diary looks forward to a pretty vibrant January. It seems the ‘quiet month’ is not so dormant this year. Which is a good thing, right? I mean, who needs to stay in and save money? Food and heating are for quitters.
For more film, mac hosts Playback from 7th to 24th Jan – a touring and ‘interactive exhibition’ of over 200 short films from ‘krumping and parkour dance shorts, to an animated tale of teenage love that unearths our desire to be as cool as the zines we read’. Held in the arts centre’s First Floor Gallery, with free admission, Playback carries a Tubbs and Edward local angle too, as ‘some of the films were originally made in and around Birmingham, where young people based in the Midlands were given the support and funding to create a short film.’
And with Louisa Ellis (The Wilderness), Mark Walsh (Opus Restaurant), Luke Tipping and Leo Kattou (Simpsons) and Olivier Briault (The Edgbaston Boutique Hotel) all chipping in a course, it should do just that. Although, the non-fixed donation approach is gratefully received in mid January.
Now if I can just find an energy provider with the same approach…
In memoriam of her paternal auntie and namesake, Lady Gaga’s latest song, album and tour appear as personal an affair as you can offer when delivering it to millions of strangers. A curious dichotomy, but one Birmingham will get to see on stage first as the Live Nation machine sets down in our city before anywhere else in the UK. Kudos.
And with tickets being transferred from the previous dates in October 2017, it’s fair to say there may be a bit of a bun fight to get in to these gigs. No doubt it’ll be worth a few scuffed elbows though, but even if ‘I’m never going to know you now, I’m gonna love you any how’. OX Joanne.
Tickets for the originally scheduled Lada Gaga shows at the Genting Arena (12th Oct ’17) at Arena Birmingham (15th Oct ’17) can be transferred to the new dates. According to the venues’ websites, ‘if you cannot make the new date, refunds can be obtained at your point of purchase for a limited period’.**
Playback @ mac 7th to 24th Jan
For more on any of the events listed here, click on the highlighted hyperlink.
Ed King is Editor-in-Chief of Review Publishing, which issues both the Birmingham Review and Birmingham Preview titles.