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:

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).


How to fail at NaNoWriMo

So in my last post, I mentioned how I had signed up for NaNoWrimo and was challenging myself to write a 50,000 word novel in a month. I thought it would be a good idea to write a post telling you my progress on it, seeing as there isn’t really anything else I can think of to blog on here at the minute.

So far it is well into the second week of the challenge, and it’s got to be said, I am finding it a lot harder than I thought it would be. Not that I never thought that writing a novel in thirty days would be an easy task, I just thought that once I got into it the ideas and the words would just come out. Suffice to say the amount of words and ideas that has come out from writing for it hasn’t been a waterfall as much as it has been a drip leaking slowly from a tap.  At my last count, I had just under 1000 words, which is pretty much under what you would be expected to have at this point in the challenge. A bad thing? Some might say that, but it is more words than I had at the start of the month, thus I am sort of pleased that I have managed to do anything at all. Plus, I can’t be the only person in this position.

My progress on my novel (or lack of it, in some ways), can be attributed to a number of reasons – lack of time, lack of ideas and that good old friend of ours, procrastination. I am in full-time employment, and depending on what kind of mood I’m in I don’t always feel like getting stuck into story writing when I get home. I’d rather watch TV, browse the web, listen to music, post nonsense on Twitter or indulge in my Tumblr obsessions. Sometimes, even just sleep.  I intend to catch up on it at the weekends, but then I end up doing something else during the day, so I put it off until later on, and not get far with it.  I don’t intend to procrastinate, it just happens, which is still kind of worrying.  I know that at the end of the day, this is just a bit of fun but you know…

One way that I thought I could beat the writers’ block was by starting a blog on Tumblr in which I have attempted to write posts as the main character of the story. By doing this, I have been able to bring up some character traits, come up with other characters, locations and identified one or two bits that could be useful to the actual storyline.  These have probably contributed most to my word count, as I haven’t been able to put together any proper chapters yet, as much has I have tried to.  I suppose if the novel-writing turns into a total fail then there is still a blog that can come out of it, albeit a fictional one.

If there is one thing that I have learned from the whole nanowrimo experience so far, is that it is probably not a good idea to make an iTunes playlist for it – or not to have certain songs on that playlist at least. I created one prior to starting the challenge as I thought it would (a) motivate me a bit and (b) provide a sort of soundtrack to the whole experience. Word of warning: putting a song like Pumped Up Kicks on a playlist you designed to help you write something is asking for trouble. In fact, just avoid putting anything from Foster The People on it –  their songs will stick in your head and have you mentally singing along. Or out loud, which would be incredibly embarrassing. Seriously, save listening to them when you’re not coming up with your next amazing plot twist.