NaBloPoMo Day 2: Ten Songs

Day two of this thing and I didn’t know what to write about. I had a couple of goes, but ended up ditching them after two sentences. It was then I thought that I would go to that old standby, the playlist. And so I have created a playlist of songs on Spotify called “Ten Songs” (because that’s how many are on it. Original huh?). They are all songs that I like including one or two I haven’t heard for years and/or I didn’t even know were on Spotify. Have a listen, if you like:

Isn’t it annoying when a song gets stuck in your head?

Isn’t it even more annoying when several songs get stuck in your head?

This happens fairly frequently with me and while I tend not to mind as much when it’s a song (or songs) I like it can be a bit annoying when you’re trying to do something. Like writing blog posts, for instance. It’s difficult to come up with something interesting when your cranial jukebox is stuck on repeat.

Anyway, these songs have been in my head a lot in the last week so I thought I would share them with you. They are all pretty decent tunes, but that’s my opinion.

A few notes on…Everything Everything’s new album, Arc

My signed copy of Arc. (Sorry for pic quality)
My signed copy of Arc. (Sorry for pic quality)

Arc is the new album by Manchester based four piece Everything Everything and is the follow-up to their debut Man Alive, which earned them a Mercury Prize nomination. At the time of writing, it had entered the album charts at number five. For those unfamiliar with their music, they are often labelled as being “indie pop” or “art-rock”, however to me, they are pretty much in a league of their own in terms of their sound. What you’ll note is their fondness for intelligent, witty lyrics that even their most ardent fans will scratch their heads at thinking “great song, but what on earth are you on about?”, and the distinctive falsetto of Jonathan Higgs.

I first got into the band about three years ago, when I stumbled upon the video for their track Photoshop Handsome, which someone I follow on twitter had posted the link to. I was hooked the moment I first listened to them, their sound was nothing like I’d heard before. I loved Man Alive and was hugely looking forward to Arc from the moment I first heard Cough Cough (the first single from the album). This album is much like its predecessor except it’s stronger, more assured and less frantic in pace.

Everything Everything are not to be confused with Everything Everywhere (EE), the mobile and broadband network formerly known as T-Mobile and Orange that has Kevin Bacon in its adverts. It really isn’t worth tweeting the band moaning about how you’re having problems with your 3G signal. (Tbf, it probably isn’t worth tweeting the company’s account either, but anyway).


Favourite tracks from the album – Cough Cough, Kemosabe, Duet, Undrowned, Torso of the Week, Feet For Hands, Radiant, Don’t Try – it’s probably predictable that I have picked the two singles among my highlights of the album, but who cares? Both were brilliant choices and in Cough Cough, you have one of the best opening tracks of any album I’ve heard in some time. Out of the others I’ve mentioned, I feel that Duet in particular must be a single, as I believe it has “massive hit” written all over it.

Tracks I’m not as keen on: The House Is Dust, Armourland – it’s not that I particularly dislike these tracks, it’s just that I haven’t really got into them as much as I have the other songs yet. The former is looking like the one I’m more likely to skip at the moment, but it’s probably going to take a couple more listens before I make up my mind on them.

Overall, Arc is a brilliant album that is surely set to send Everything Everything into the big league of British bands. Album of the year already? Too early to say, but don’t be surprised to see it in a few “albums of 2013” lists by the time the year is out.

N.B. This blog post relates to the standard edition of Arc. There is also a deluxe edition available on iTunes which has six more tracks including an alternative version of Duet (which is just as good as the original) and a remix of Don’t Try plus a short film, Sequence_01, that shows behind the scenes footage of them recording the album.

My favourite songs of 2011

I’m not one for doing all these “review of the year” type blog posts that normally show up in abundance, as often I’d normally prefer to look forward rather than back at stuff. However, I thought that I would use this post to share some of the music that I have enjoyed in 2011. Initially, I made it as a Spotify playlist like I did with the Christmas playlist I put in my last post, but then I decided to make a YouTube playlist, seeing as a few of the songs I wanted to put in it are not available on Spotify (and possibly never will be).  I was going to share the list at some point, so how about here? And with some notes on here about how and why I chose them?  Sounds like a good idea to me.

The playlist I created can be found here:

http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLF3F2EFF1AB17F4AC&feature=mh_lolz

DISCLAIMER: One or two of the songs I have chosen may not have actually been first released in 2011. It was just that this year was when I got into them and the artist who made them. I have also in some cases included more than one track from an artist. I don’t see it as a problem although I know sometimes people try to restrict lists like these to one track per artist. I’ve tried to create a mix that doesn’t have one or two artists  dominating it even so. Oh and they’re also not in any particular order.

The track listing is as follows:

1. Matt Cardle – Letters:  As I’ve mentioned in earlier posts, I have never been one to be interested in an X Factor contestant, winner or otherwise, enough to actually buy their music, but  Matt’s debut album, (of which this is the title track), is a pretty decent one.  I’ve chosen a live performance for the playlist as I think that while the recorded version is very good, the live versions that I’ve heard are fantastic, especially the one I’ve picked for this.

2. Foster The People – Pumped Up Kicks: Their album “Torches” was the soundtrack to most of my summer. This song in particular was on repeat on my iPod a lot long after summer had ended.

3. Florence + The Machine – Shake It Out: What can I say, I love Florence and this is brilliant.

4.  Coldplay – Every Teardrop Is A Waterfall: I confess, I didn’t like this at first (I speak as someone who has loved Coldplay from the moment they first heard Shiver). But gradually, it grew on me. Now, this is one song from the new album I am really looking forward to hearing live (I’m seeing them on the 9th June. Long way off, I know)

5. Adele – Rolling In The Deep: I’m not the biggest fan of Adele in the world but I can’t deny that she is an outstanding talent. This song is my favourite of hers.

6. The Special Ks – Get Down: First found out about this band on twitter. Checked out their music on YouTube, instantly fell in love with it. Their mini album “BOA” is well worth a download.

7. Clare Maguire – The Shield And The Sword: Not usually my kind of music but this is a great song. And Clare has an amazing voice. Her other song “The Last Dance” is also brilliant (it is only now I realise I should have added that one too).

8. Metronomy – The Bay : Another song that I heard a lot during the summer. I’ve been meaning to get their album “The English Riviera” for a while. I will get round to it at some point. An excellent track, and I love the video to it.

9. Lana Del Rey – Video Games : When I first heard this,  I thought it sounded like something that belonged on the soundtrack of an arty 60s American film. Then I realised it couldn’t be seeing as the song title referenced a relatively recent invention (ok, a 30+ year old invention, but still).

10.  Ed Sheeran – The A Team : Beautiful, end of.

11. The Feeling feat. Roisin Murphy  – Dance For The Lights : For me, one of the highlights of their album “Together We Were Made”.  No proper video for this, so picked one of those “lyric videos” that get made with Windows Movie Maker or similar software for the list.

12. Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds – AKA…What A Life! – Was never a massive fan of Oasis (got bored with them after their first two albums), but love Noel’s solo material. This is a tune.

13. The Wombats  – Anti – D : The best (if only) song I’ve heard that mentions citalopram.

14. Birdy – Skinny Love: Yes I know that it is a cover of a Bon Iver track, and I did know the original before I heard this. But this version is beautiful.

15. The Hoosiers – Squeeze: My favourite out of the bonus tracks from the trio’s “Bumpy Ride” album (which was a revamped version of their second album “The Illusion Of Safety”).

16. BOXES – Silent Alarm: The side project of Athlete bassist Carey Willets, this is a great piece of indie electro-pop.  WARNING: The video to the track has “Parental Advisory” in its description for a reason, so you may not want to view it if you have youngsters around or if you happen to be sensitive to the visual content. If the themes of the video don’t bother you, or you even like it, the uncut version is on Vimeo (link on its Youtube page).

17. Kaiser Chiefs – Little Shocks: For me, one of the comeback singles of the year. Pretty different from their previous material, but better for it.

18. Matt Cardle – Starlight : A catchy little number about the end of the world. Again, I’ve chosen a live performance of the song for the playlist.

19. Foster The People – Call It What You Want: Another highlight of their album. And like the previously mentioned “Pumped Up Kicks”, will stick in your head for days and have you shuffling in your seat (the type of shuffling you do when it’s not appropriate, or you’re too awkward to get up and dance).

20. Rizzle Kicks – Down With The Trumpets : Again, not the sort of music that I normally listen to but who cares? It is a great song. There is something rather charming about this duo too.

21. Josh Doyle – I Figured The World Out: At the start of the 21st Century, Josh was the lead singer of British pop punk trio The Dum Dums. Nowadays, he is a singer-songwriter living in America. If  you like this (and want to support an independent artist ), then you can find more on his website and Youtube channel. His EPs are also well worth downloading.

22. Coldplay – Paradise : At the time of writing, my favourite song from Mylo Xyloto.

23.  The Hoosiers  – Bumpy Ride: Deserves its place on the playlist for the Hangover- esque video alone. But I would still include it even if the video wasn’t so awesome.

24. Little Comets – Waiting In The Shadows In The Dead Of Night: I first got into Little Comets after hearing them on a playlist someone had made on Spotify. I suppose they are a bit like an English Vampire Weekend, with a lot of Northern grit. This track is from the recently released “Worry” EP, which I highly recommend.

25. Ivyrise – Line Up The Stars: I have been a fan of this band ever since I first came across them on MySpace a few years back (they were one of the first bands I became friends with on there, in fact). An awesome song.

26. Adam Parker – Smart Man: An artist that I invested in on the My Major Company website – the label that incidentally, Ivyrise are also part of. I invested in him after hearing this song. Hopefully, he will be successful in raising the £100,000 needed to fund his album like his labelmates were, as his music deserves to be heard by more people.

27.  Darwin Deez – Up In The Clouds: I heard and liked this song before it got used in an advert for New Look. I still love it.

28.  Little Comets – Isles: The song that first got me into this band. A commentary on modern Britain, the lyrics to this seemed to resonate more during this year’s riots. And the video to the song fitted it perfectly, as you will see.

29.  Elbow – Lippy Kids: Watching Elbow’s Glastonbury set on TV was one of my favourite moments this year. Indeed, watching it made me wish that I was there. The video on the playlist is not from the Glastonbury set  but it is still a brilliant performance.

30. Snow Patrol – Called Out In The Dark: Again, another awesome comeback song.

So there you have it. I know there are probably far more songs that I could include here, but 30 is enough. I’m surprised that I managed to write something for each of them (I am writing these quite late in the evening, so apologies if they look a bit rambling or like I can’t be arsed to write much/edit what I have written).

 

Music polls and snobbish fools.

If there is one thing I hate, it’s snobbery. I’m pretty much against all kinds, but one form that really gets me going is musical snobbery. There’s nothing I despise more than people who look down at artists who they don’t regard as “cool”, regularly put down the music tastes of others and try to tell people what they should be listening to. So when something happens in the music world that really pisses off the jumped up critics, cool types and the self-proclaimed “guardians of taste” that make up a huge chunk of music journalism, I punch the air and laugh at how pathetic they are.

Today, the Guardian, that oh so liberal and pretentious broadsheet, announced the results of their reader’s poll for the best album and single of 2011. The winner of both polls was..wait for it…Matt Cardle, for his album Letters and the track Starlight respectively. You can imagine the look of sheer horror on the faces of their pop hacks when they counted the votes and realised that their pollsters had voted an X Factor winner as their favourite of the year. You can imagine how bitter the person writing the article result must have felt towards the voters, as well as their thoughts: “Oh why couldn’t they have voted for The Vaccines, or some dubstep act that nobody’s ever heard of?!” How I’d have loved to have seen them squirm.

The Guardian obviously felt embarrassed by the result, so much so that in the article announcing it the writer ridiculously claimed Matt’s victory was down to his fanbase “hijacking” the poll and “block voting” to ensure he won. For one, most people, except Guardian readers and visitors to its website, did not know that the paper was running such a poll. Two, you could only vote in the poll once as you had to register your email address when you voted – a tactic designed to stop block voting. Not even the most obsessive fan of an artist would have the time or energy to register 100+ email addresses just to vote in what is, for the most part, a not entirely important contest. Not even Directioners would do it, however they would give it a bloody good try (they’re very dedicated, those One Direction fans).

Seeing them try to deny the result was amusing, but at the same time so indicative of the attitude a lot of music journalists have towards people like us – the ones who actually buy records and pay to see the bands they love live. If you are going to ask members of the public what their favourites are, you must be prepared if the answer they give you isn’t necessarily what you expect or want. You don’t dismiss what the people tell you and you certainly don’t go implying that the winner won because of what you believe to be suspicious voting activity. Truth is, there are a lot of people out there who like Matt Cardle. Just as there are loads of people who love Coldplay, Keane, the soon to split Westlife, Stereophonics, James Blunt, Justin Bieber, and many other artists that are popular with the public yet often get stick from sections of the media.  There are a lot of bands and singers I don’t like, and some whose popularity I will never understand, but I would never put them or their fans down.  All music, whatever genre it is, whoever it is by, means something to somebody.  For someone to knock my taste in music would be like knocking my memories, the things that have happened in my life, both good and bad. And as for telling me what I should and shouldn’t like, well I don’t tell you to stop being a pretentious twat, no matter how much I would like to.

I admit, I have Letters on my iPod. I downloaded it as soon as it came out, and  I think it is a good album. Sure it is a little too slick and over produced in places, but it is still better than a lot of the rubbish that has been in the charts this year. It’s not cool, but then I don’t listen to music for that reason.  I listen to it because I like it. The people who voted for it in the Guardian poll did so because they liked it too. And whether the snooty journalists at the Grauniad like it or not, it won fair and square. Fuck da haters, as they say.

 

It’s gonna be a bumpy ride…

Every now and again I like to use my blog to promote other people’s stuff.  I do this as I like to help other people out, draw attention to things that I like that those who make up my über tiny readership may also like (or not, as the case may be) and because I am nice like that.  It also usually occurs when I haven’t really got anything else to write about.

On this occasion, I would like to use this blog to promote a rather good song by The Hoosiers, a band that if you read this regularly and/or stalk my twitter feed, you’ll know I have  a bit of a fondness for.  It’s called Bumpy Ride, and is available for download as of today. For 59p, you can buy the track on its own,  or you can get the EP for £1.79 on iTunes, which includes alternative versions of Bumpy Ride and album track Made to Measure as well as two remixes of Unlikely Hero (the song that was originally going to be released after their comeback single Choices).

It is the first single that the band are releasing as independent artists, on their own imprint, after having been  dropped from their label RCA, after the release of their second  album The Illusion Of Safety. At this point, I could go on about how unfair it was that this happened to them and moan about how many major labels are more interested in making money than supporting and developing the artists they have, but I’d rather refer to this interesting article from the Guardian that you can read  here.

Because I am nice, I have posted the video for the single here:

 

I will even give you the link to get the song (if you like it of course) here

In other news, I have rediscovered Rainbow Drops.  Sure they are essentially puffed up pieces of rice dyed with food colouring, but they are still as yummy as ever.

 

 


 

The Soundtrack Of My (Twitter) Life.

A few weeks ago I decided to make a spotify playlist of every song I tweeted with the #nowplaying hashtag over a set period that was yet to be decided. Eventually I decided that I would keep adding songs to it until the end of October or until I got to thirty songs – whichever came first.

Last Friday, I hit the thirty song mark.  So now, for your possible enjoyment, here’s the link to it:

Hear the soundtrack of my (twitter) life here.

In other news, I’ve just spent my first day back at work after having a stomach virus that kept me off for most of last week. For those who care, yes I’m much better now, thank you – however I am still not able to face certain foods just yet.  I can’t remember the last time I went this long without eating any chocolate.