This week’s /Tuesday Ten comes with a content warning for discussion of depression and suicide.
/Subject /Anxiety, Nervousness, Panic Attacks
/Playlists /Spotify / /YouTube
/Related /293/Weakness /327/Only Happy When It Rains /363/How to Disappear Completely
/Assistance /Suggestions/126 /Used Prior/10 /Unique Songs/112 /People Suggesting/77
/Details /Tracks this week/10 /Tracks on Spotify Playlist/10 /Duration/43:33
Something that has dominated my life for as long as I can remember is dealing with anxiety. I’m generally a confident, outgoing person – or at least that’s how I’m perceived – but if any form of stress gets applied, I’m all too often an anxious wreck.
Thanks to watching a particular music-based film (see more below) recently, it got me thinking about songs that reference such anxiety and nervousness. As usual, I opened it out to friends and got a good set of suggestions (stats above), and indeed had to drop a few songs from the final list that I otherwise would have liked to have included. Thanks, of course, to everyone who contributed.
A quick explanation for new readers (hi there!): my Tuesday Ten series has been running since March 2007, and each month features at least ten new songs you should hear – and in between those monthly posts, I feature songs on a variety of subjects, with some of the songs featured coming from suggestion threads on Facebook.
Feel free to get involved with these – the more the merrier, and the breadth of suggestions that I get continues to astound me. Otherwise, as usual, if you’ve got something you want me to hear, something I should be writing about, or even a gig I should be attending, e-mail me or drop me a line on Facebook (details below).
/Let’s See Who Goes Down First
/The Ideal Crash
I can rather blame this week’s post on this song, and specifically the inclusion of it in the excellent recent film Confessions to dEUS, where their 20th Anniversary tour of The Ideal Crash (which I attended in London) was documented, fans got the chance to talk about their lives in relation to the band, and the band talked about themselves and some of the songs. A surprisingly emotional watch, frankly, and well recommended.
Let’s See Who Goe Down First is, the film reveals, a veiled take on dealing with panic attacks. Like vocalist and lyricist Tom Barman, it appears, the first few took him by surprise, and this song gives them a character as if they are sidling up to him offering something else, before sucking him into the void. Musically, the song suddenly switches from a compressed, mono sound into a broad, rich stereo when the realisation comes as to what has happened, and Barman’s final words in the song echo my own once I got a handle on them – “I’ll be ready”. For the most part, I am, and it is often a case of dealing with the triggers for them in the first place.
/Minutes To Midnight
This was a late choice for inclusion (Numb was initially suggested in the thread last week), and having heard it a few times in Rockfit classes recently, I realised this was basically a perfect fit. One of Linkin Park’s heaviest and fastest-paced songs (that to my ears, may well have borrowed that initial riff from Burning Inside), Chester Bennington delivers what would be one of his best vocal performances, as he coldly analyses his own mental state and gives himself little chance of escaping his medicated mental nightmare. Sadly, a decade or so later, he took his own life, aged just 41.
/Age of Panic
Heitham Al-Sayed has always been a fierce rapper as one of the frontpeople of rap-rockers Senser, but in Age of Panic, he perhaps surpassed even himself. A thundering, chaotic track that charges forward at full throttle, Heitham delivers his vocal on the track at an appropriately breakneck pace as he assesses the state of the modern world, one that seems now by design to cause us anxiety and panic – in getting educated, in getting work, in finding somewhere to live, even in spending your hard-earned money. Remarkably, as this song (and album) nears thirty, it seems eerily prophetic as those concerns have only been exacerbated in the era of the internet, where confrontation and panic is now baked in.
/The Noise Inside My Head
Tom Shear has long been a master at dealing with and discussing mental health in song, with the distinct feeling that all of it comes from personal experience – and many of those songs have become beloved favourites of fans, probably because many of us can relate entirely to what he was singing about. This song – one of Shear’s greatest dancefloor-bound tracks – is absolutely one of the latter. In bad times, I’m afflicted by a brain that simply won’t shut up, crowding out useful thoughts with anxiety and panic about the future, any future – which of course shreds my sleep pattern to bits.
/A Visit From Foxcunt
The marvellously sweary London punks Foxcunt have lots of sloganeering, but behind that, there are some more nuanced tracks – including one that takes a similar subject to A23 above, but from a different perspective. Ally’s excellent lead vocal on Anxiety Dream is one of those, where Ally fights back against her brain’s weird flights of fancy in the night, as she dreams of exams she hasn’t studied, nuclear war, not speaking German while in Berlin… At the end of the song, the main takeaway is that this band are still great, and my own dreams (when I remember them) maybe aren’t so odd after all…
/Nervous Breakdown EP
The first release by this seminal US punk/hardcore band, Nervous Breakdown perhaps doesn’t have the sharper edge that Rollins and the “classic” early-eighties line-up had, but it certainly still has some power to it, as Keith Morris snarls his way through two minutes where he might just blow up. There’s unlikely to be violence, but he is likely to go crazy, as his nerves and mental state suggest a dangerous case of instability. Morris was invited back by Rollins to reprise the song – in a much tighter, searing take – on the peerless Rise Above: 24 Black Flag Songs to Benefit the West Memphis Three compilation some twenty years ago.
Amid the colourful, joyous retro dance of the Justice debut album, there was one track that stood out like an ominous monolith. That was Stress, a track that to me sounded like a panic attack in real-time. Heavy beats and deep, ominous synth chords are accompanied by screaming, screeching electronics that are disconcerting and dizzying, for me reflecting the complete loss of control that a panic attack can be (at least for me). The controversial video, too – where a group of youths from the banlieue cause violent havoc across Paris while many onlookers do nothing more than watch, the latter bit feeling like the element that really wasn’t liked – is full of shock and overwhelming noise, as well as one tiny bit of humour, where the teenagers in the video kick in a car stereo playing D.A.N.C.E.
I’ve written an awful lot about this band over the years (and they’ve also been the subject of /The Rearview Mirror/003), but somehow, I’ve never featured this song in my /Tuesday Ten series. This is odd, really, seeing as it was the inspiration for my website domain name, and also that this song has got me through innumerable tough mental health spots over the years.
Bic Hayes performs something of a high wire act over an immense, echo-chamber dub rhythm, painting scratchy guitar licks like neon in the darkness while pleading with a partner to walk away and gain some semblance of control before he takes them both down into the abyss. Oh, I’ve been there. Thankfully not for a long time, at least to that depth.
any of a class of drugs which prevent the stimulation of the adrenergic receptors responsible for increased cardiac action, used to control heart rhythm, treat angina, and reduce high blood pressure.
In addition, they also are used to block the action of adrenaline – i.e. they can help reduce stress levels, hence they get prescribed a lot for people with anxiety and depression. Seeing as one of the main symptoms for me of an impending panic attack was my heart rate going through the roof, it was perhaps only a matter of time before I was prescribed them, and so it was around 2014 or so when I was struggling badly with a toxic work environment – and frankly, beta-blockers were the reason I managed to survive that period in my job (and sertraline later, too, but that’s another story).
Anyway, Sean Payne of Cyanotic has often been unusually open about his struggles with mental health, and how he medicated through it, and this rampaging, chaotic track, off the first album Transhuman, is full of thundering drum’n’bass, guitars and a mass of vocal samples before the medication kicks in and there is a moment of relative calm.
/I Can’t Breathe
Pure was part of the period where Numan managed to reassert his position in music, where he was – at last – acknowledged as a primary influence for many of the alternative/industrial artists in the late-nineties, and frankly, he began to release some of the best material he has recorded since his initial breakthrough in the late-seventies/early-eighties. Pure, too, was something of a springboard for Rob Holliday and Monti of Sulpher, whose striking debut would follow a year or two later, and listening back, their imprint is to be found here. The closing track on this album strips away other considerations for Numan focussing on his terror of the nighttime with just his own thoughts for company, his mind inventing frights in every shadow whether awake or asleep. The song brings savage, brooding guitars for company.