Saturday, 1 March 2014
Coming back from an unexplained break is always strange, and it's always hard to get back into old habits. I'll eventually explain some of what's been happening in the last few weeks. For now, I'm trying to get back into the practise and instinct of doing and making and talking about things without thinking too much. Which is difficult in itself, because the practise of making art itself makes obsessively searching for meaning and it makes relating back to inner-questions kind of unavoidable.
So I don't know what the solution to that is, but I've definitely been trying to find it. Because I think even if you're in mega-gloomy-self-destructive mode, the need to make art - or just to make things - doesn't really go away. Whether that's just writing bad poetry in the pages of journals. Or collaging. Or getting out of bed and finding the energy to cook pasta.
This playlist is an amalgamation of a sequence that came up on "shuffle" a few weeks ago, on a Tuesday morning, and everything that trailed off from it.
Call To Arms - Beirut (x)
Back The Dogs - Eddi Reader (x)
Sleep - Imogen Heap (x)
Reunion of Friends - Harry and the Potters (x)
The Captain and the Hourglass - Laura Marling (x)
Set Fire to the Third Bar - Snow Patrol ft Martha Wainwright (x)
My Winding Wheel - Ryan Adams (x)
Adieu Mon Coeur - Martha Wainwright (x)
Will You Please Be There For Me - The Reindeer Section (x)
Silver Dive - Ed Tullett (x)
Suzanne - Leonard Cohen (x)
Flicks - Frou Frou (x)
Babylon - David Gray (x)
Shiver - Lucy Rose (x)
Hoppipolla - Sigur Ros (x)
A Sunday Smile - Beirut (x)
The Devil's Tears - Angus and Julia Stone (x)
Mexico - The Staves (x)
A surprise appearance from the Harry Potter soundtrack, probably too much Snow Patrol, Eddi Reader - my newest hero - and trusty old Imogen Heap. The perfect antidote, or accompaniment, to February winter gloom.
Monday, 30 December 2013
Friday, 22 November 2013
Country/folk/rock band Treetop Flyers have been playing together in various formats for a couple of years, and won the Glastonbury Festival Award for Emerging Talent in 2011, releasing their debut album “The Mountain Moves” earlier this year.
It's an emotional experience watching them play that night, with all these things still fresh on the mind: their live set is so tight that it's hard to believe they've recently replaced their bass player. With the Mumford hiatus going on, I'm sure it won't be long until critics are putting hype around risingly successful folk bands like this, but I'm keen to forget that and see them for what they are - clearly very close friends, smart guys, making music that is full of heart.
You can check out more of Treetop Flyers here
Photos from Rachael Farrington.
Thursday, 14 November 2013
"Without/Within" - Bear's Den
The third EP from one of the best folk bands to have emerged this year, and in my opinion it's probably their best yet. Each track is beautifully produced, from the boundlessly atmouspheric and colossal opener, "Sahara", to nostalgic heartbreaker "Sophie". I know I chime on about them a lot but they also put on a great live show, go see them if you can.
Canadian artist Hannah Georgas graced the stage at Folkgeek Magazine's first birthday party, has just put out her second album, which is self-titled. Rich and ethereal, her music reminds me a slightly edgier Feist.
"Recover" - Chvrches
Glasgow electronica band Chvrches have I'm not even sure what appeals to me so much about this song but after seeing them play at Manchester's Ritz I listened to it pretty much straight for two days entirely - it's something about the deeply tranquil "ooo's" of backing vocal during the middle eight, with the simple yet haunting conclusive lyric "I know you don't need me" falling into a minor chord.
"August and Everything After" - Counting Crows
This is clearly nothing underground or super-cool but I found this lovely 1993 album in a crate at my local market, and was filled with the nostalgia of listening to this record - folky, rootsy and a little bit unique - in my friend's father's car a few years ago. This is no doubt them at there best. And it's sad and also in some ways very lucky, how all treasure washes up in plastic crates in market halls some day.
Monday, 21 October 2013
"WILD LOVE" - Gossling
Melbourne singer-songwriter Helen Croome is "Gossling", who hasn't really reached us here in the UK yet but is a increasingly successful back in Australia - her new album is released over there on the first of November, and single "Wild Love" was the eighteenth most played song on Triple J last year.
Croome's prim and very distinctive vocals are the most remarkable thing about her music; she sounds very similar to Julia Stone and maybe even Lauren Mayberry. Until the album's released, I guess it's hard to get a good idea of what Gossling's sound is really like, and it's definitely too early to make sweeping genre generalisations, but I'm really excited to watch her grow.
Tuesday, 8 October 2013
There's so many folky singer-song writer types around nowadays, but Nick Mulvey, who supported Laura Marling on her UK tour last month, is truly something to do it. He's an exceptional guitarist, his lyrics are pure poetry and he puts on a great live show. "Cucurucu" my favourite of his, and he's definitely one to watch.
"Tiderays" - Volcano Choir
"Reprave", the second album from Justin Vernon's new project is completely beautiful, it's a lot more accessible and little less ambient and abstract than the first album (personally, I think this the new album is a lot more Bon Iver than the last). "Tiderays", the opening track, swells from the softest opening of dainty guitar riffs to a refrain bouncing with heart pounding percussion and piano. Utterly serene and perfect.
"The Artist Is Present"
A documentary about Marina Abramovic, one of the most famous performance artists in the world - I don't exactly know what I thought of this, and whether it inspired or upset me, but I know that it made me think a lot about human interaction and communication. "The Artist Is Present" is the name of one of Abramovic's most famous projects, during which she took a seat in the Museum of Modern Art in New York every day for several months, inviting visitors to sit across a table from her, for however long they wanted, and look into her eyes.
"Home Again" - Michael Kiwanuka
I finally picked up a physical copy of this 2012 album, and it's been one of my favourites for long train journeys recently, I think Michael Kiwanuka's one of the best R&B artists to emerge in a long time.
"Nothing Compares 2 U" (cover) - Capital Cities
I'm not even sure I really like this but it's a really interesting cover and definitely demands a listen, the use of horns is really interesting. Their track "Hair" is so much fun, as well.
Thursday, 3 October 2013
It was when she compared her to being "made into a prostitute", that got me.
And if you've been hiding in a box for weeks, the video in question:
"WRECKING BALL" - Miley Cyrus
I've been actively avoiding blogging about Miley Cyrus to be honest, for two basic reasons - the first, is that lots of other people are much better articulating all these important points about slut-shaming and women in the media but I'm pretty fucking sick of being quiet about it at this point.
A friend of mine wrote this piece about Cherie Bebe's Burlesque Revue in Manchester recently, which I saw, and it really got me thinking about burlesque, and displays of sexuality - the thing that the music industry sees as so cheap and desperate as, in fact, an art in itself.
My take on it is pretty much this:
When someone makes bad (normally pop) music, we'll be quick to call them out on it. Rebecca Black's "Friday" is a prime example of it: an international laughing stock. But the object of attack wasn't music, was it? We weren't demonising and criticising the act of making music, it was the fact that it was an awful song.
But with Miley Cyrus' displays of sexuality, it's how dare a woman display her sexuality, and how dare she take her clothes off. I don't know if this is to do with our association that a naked woman is shameful, or an object, and that that's wrong. Because sexuality can totally be art, that's something we can embrace and be okay with - what's problematic isn't the way Miley Cyrus uses it, but the oversimplification and objectification of women in "Blurred Lines". It's almost like "don't hate the sin, hate the sinner". Except... not. Don't hate displays of sexuality. Hate demoralising ones, hate ones that objectify. And try to understand them. And try to think about why they're wrong.
The only problem I really have with what Miley Cyrus is doing is that, I hope it isn't out of fear. Or an effort to be controversial. Or, as Sinead O'Connor very explicitly assumes in her letter that she is vulnerable or nervous about exposing her body. And as long as that isn't valid, and she's comfortable as an artist expressing herself in that way, the problem isn't Miley's but belongs to us - as the media, as an audience.