Archive for July 2011
The birth of MTV many eons ago ensured that music was no longer strictly about the sense of hearing. Music became visual and artists were able to express themselves, spell their message out loud and clear. Perhaps this isn’t always a good thing. Music leaves our imagination free to carry us away, imprint our own experiences, connect with lyrics. Now artists can create a vision so strong it’s hard to conjure up anything other than what you’ve just watched on YouTube. Saying that I think it plays a huge part in how we relate to music now. A peep through a window to those that inspire, excite, create trends as much as they can ignore them.
This week has been an amazing week for new videos. I’ve watched these at every opportunity, over and over, and decided to link to them here in a very mini blog. Bjork appears like a space rave elfin courtesy of Michel Gondry. OK Go recreate the joy of childish Kaleidoscopes in human form. The Drums appear in understated hues, colours that match their nonchalant, self assured cool. Patrick Wolf released a perfect live rendition of Time Of My Life, set and performed like our decades very own Bacharach. Even if it’s just to help you get over hump day. Enjoy. ♥
This weeks mixtape turned into a challenge set by Marc via twitter. I have two standard responses to challenges. The first is to approach it with an energy & ferocity equal to Keith Moon’s drumming. The second it to approach with a slow pod, calmly confident I will get there in the end much like listening to Guy Garvey. I’ve approached this somewhere in between. I started off whizzing through it but then trying to whittle it down was a plodder.
I was to list my top 25 tracks of 2011 (so far) and although it sounds easy enough to do Marc had put his in order too. Well, painfully I’ve managed to get the list down to 25 after spending 5 days on it. As for showing favouritism, I just couldn’t do it. Every time I tried I felt guilty about placing Anna Calvi before PJ Harvey, or Black Lips over Bon Iver. So, although my list is no way near as cool as Marc’s here are the tracks that have stood out for me this year. Hope you enjoy, click on spotify to listen, the final three tracks are via YouTube.
If you have a playlist challenge for me email me at email@example.com. ♥
- Beirut – East Harlem
- Metronomy – She Wants
- PJ Harvey – The Words That Maketh Murder
- Emmy The Great – Iris
- Bon Iver – Calgary
- Lykke Li- Sadness Is A Blessing
- Wild Beasts – Bed Of Nails
- The Black Lips – Family Tree
- Friendly Fires – Hawaiian Air
- Anna Calvi – Blackout
- R.E.M. – Uberlin
- Sleigh Bells – Riot Rhythm
- Cold War Kids – Louder Than Ever
- Sparrow & The Workshop – Snakes In The Grass
- The Joy Formidable – A Heavy Abacus
- Wye Oak – Civilian
- Fleet Foxes – Someone You’d Admire
- Patrick Wolf – The City
- The Strokes – Undercover Of Darkness
- Foo Fighters – Rope
- Wu Lyf – Lyf
- The Go! Team – Buy Nothing Day
- Little Dragon – Ritual Union
- The Horrors – Still Life
- Bjork – Cosmogony
I alternate between a weary sigh and laughter when I see people launch themselves through half closed tube doors in London, shoulders being thrown out of joint and laptop bags been trapped as they’ve flailed behind. I laugh because those people who do look silly. I sigh because if you’re that late already waiting for the next [insert tube line here] train arriving in 1 minute is not going to make any difference. I don’t, won’t and never will run for public transport. I have a country pace of life instilled in me, it’s my heritage and after 7 years of living in London I don’t think I’m likely to change.
I recently took the boy down to where I’m from, The English Riviera (title of Metronomy’s 3rd & now Mercury nominated album). On a walk along a beach in Brixham I asked him if he thought the place where I grew up represented my personality. In a split second he said “Yes, you’re so patient and on a level”.
That was the moment I realised that place, that little bay, has actually had an impact on who I am, even though I never really felt like I fitted in. I grew up in a wonderful, intelligent and caring family but my school years were difficult. I was in top sets but my teenage years were tormented by terrible, crippling acne and the bullying that comes with it (as Morrissey says “I can smile about it now, but at the time it was terrible”). After school you fall into three categories in that area. You’re either pregnant as you’re sitting your GCSE’s so your life is mapped out (notoriously high levels of teen pregnancies in Torbay). Alternatively you go to University or you find a job. I took the job route and still felt like I wasn’t fitting in. My Mum once described living with me was like “living with a ghost”. It was only when I moved to London that I felt the ground beneath my feet was Mecca, home, my pilgrimage complete.
Like anywhere you reminisce over I have an appreciation for it now I don’t live there. Joe Mount paints a pretty picture of The English Riviera, sending up the area in the video to The Bay making it look like you’re in Cannes with scantily clad girls spreading their legs. It’s not far from the truth even though it’s tongue in cheek. It really is a beautiful, breathtaking area (where women use bronzing balls to enhance their cleavage), “Those endless beaches that go on and on….” sings Mount.
Hearing the sea gulls eerily echo as it opens, the picture painted of domestic violence in Corinne by someone in the forces is a picture I can sadly say is true of practically every friend I had in Torquay (yes, listen closely to the upbeat song & you’ll hear it has a dark undertone), the fairground organ used in The Look conjuring up images of shabby Paignton pier. I remember when Muse revealed they were from Teignmouth and I was ranting to my Dad how I couldn’t believe they were from sleepy Devon, he didn’t look up from his paper as he said “Everyone has to come from somewhere”. So yes, why not from Torbay, The English Riviera. Where my parents met, where they eventually wed & raised four children. Where I lost my virginity, got caught shoplifting as a teen, wanted to escape from, learned to swim, whistle, took ballet classes… you get the picture.
Hearing a whole album based on an area you know so intimately tugs at my heart strings, I feel a connection to it. It’s my album, it makes me think of home and makes me think of everything I am now. I even have a nod to lyrics from She Wants permanently etched onto my foot. It get’s my vote for the Mercury Album prize, and I’m not sure anything will rival it for my personal album of the year. In love. ♥
Listen to Metronomy – The English Riviera on Spotify
This weekend I promised my body a well deserved break, my liver has been bearing up remarkably, my feet have been trudging through fields & my eyes have stayed open when weary.
But I got horribly drunk on Friday. I was running an event for my company so was up at 5am and finally got a well deserved drink at around 3pm. By then I was so sick of explaining to an idiot what a canape was and it was indeed edible (he’d only ever heard of canopies and was questioning why I was insisting it was food) that I hit the wine, sambuca, some grassy vodka shot, rum and cider pretty stupidly hard! Even what I thought was a well thought out escape route through the back of one pub accidentally led me straight into the back door of another and I found myself in front of an amazing burlesque show so I stayed put (If Carlsberg done escape from dull colleagues it would probably be the best escape from dull colleagues in the world).
The feeling I woke up with was not the glowing picture of health I had aspired to. I have been positively saintly the rest of the weekend though, all those chores I’ve been putting off eventually whizzed through. Now sitting here trying to keep Monday night blues at bay, never an easy thing! Enjoy your week. ♥
- Bjork – Crystalline (OBSESSED with this song… & her)
- Blondie – Union City Blue
- Sly & The Family Stone – Sing A Simple Song
- Prefab Sprout – Moving The River
- Greg Brown – Someday House
- Guillemots – I Must Be A Lover
- Elbow – Lippy Kids
- Gene – Sleep Well Tonight (Dedicated to someone inspiring)
- Sam Cooke – Bring It On Home To Me
- Otis Redding – I’ve Been Loving You Too Long
According to Twitter (which is basically the forum where opinions matter most now if the past weeks news is anything to go by) a lot of people had a dire start to the week yesterday. If it wasn’t three hour long equality & diversity meetings it was flying ants. If it wasn’t flying ants it was power cuts. I myself am one hand down after taking a tumble at the weekend, I felt miserable at work, I came home to no hot water, I had moaned constantly & wholeheartedly… about sweet FA really.
Someone was having a brilliant day however.
Since I started working in East London countless people have told me to avoid the subways at Aldgate unless I wanted to end up on one of those bright yellow Police incident boards. I’m forever ignoring sensible suggestions and have been merrily skipping down one particular route as quite frankly it’s safer than London drivers & cyclists.
Because of this route I’ve become acquainted with a chap there living rough, he has lived their two years in total. I call him chap as that’s what he told me to call him the first time we spoke, he calls me smiler. Over the months when I’ve passed by I’ve often dropped in a cup of tea and sandwich. He is always in high spirits and keeps his little, desolate corner tidier than I keep my flat. I’ve never seen him drink or take drugs. He is always coherent, articulate, polite and witty. More so than my colleagues in fact.
When I passed by yesterday he was packing up his sparse belongings. He was whistling the song I’ve attached to this post, a song I’ve always adored that now takes on a whole new meaning. When he saw me he gave me the biggest grin I’ve ever seen anyone give and announced that as of today (that terrible Monday everyone, including I was moaning about) he is no longer living on the streets. Chap had been accepted into a housing scheme, and he proudly announced that immediately he would find a job, any job, as long as it helped him get back on his feet. His enthusiasm and happiness was catching, I joined in whistling the song with him and wished him all the luck the world could send his way.
Good luck Chap! I am sending karma your way. ♥
UPDATE 13/07. I walked past where Chap had been sleeping rough today. He had a pride about it even when packing away it seems. Could you imagine living here for two years?
Happy Sunday Evening Music Lovers!
I am a WRECK today. It was Lolita’s birthday bash yesterday, tons of us all crammed on to his Mum’s wonderful, magical house boat in fancy dress. I honestly can’t remember seeing anyone without a drink in their hand, especially my flat mate and Lolita’s mum who seemed to egg one another on to some huge gin-fest! The boy looked very happy, which is the main thing.
I took a chalk board and, in secret, asked everyone there to write one word that sprang to mind when they think of him. Then took their portrait with my new kick-ass wide-angle lens. Super fun project and well received when he finally saw the album I put together today. Feel free to plagiarise for your loved ones when the occasion arises.
Perhaps my favourite moment was rowing out on the Grand Union Canal at midnight in a little boat with the flatmate & partner. Why anyone in their sane mind thought that was a great idea I don’t know, but after passing a ‘rave boat’ playing 90’s techno we dedicated our row to singing 90’s songs. All the stars were out, bats were skimming over the water ahead of us as we sang Seal – Kiss From A Rose (is the song I remember most vividly). I love that level of drunk where any rhyme or reason leaves you open to special and random moments.
I don’t love the level of drunk where you hit the decks LITERALLY. I am typing this one-handed so it’s taking me a while. It’s always me that is the casualty, drunk or sober. Six years ago I broke my wrist quite spectacularly & horrendously at a roller disco (again in fancy dress) and have had to be very careful with it since. Last night I slipped on the decking and as a result gave it a bashing again like the idiot I am (that could be my DJ name. Idiot.I.Am). As the night progressed it got worse… and worse…and worse. I was shaking all over like I had a fever, Lolita had passed out way past his bedtime. In my head trying to get back from the middle of nowhere to my flat just for strong painkillers & a wrist support seemed my best option. Except I couldn’t quite dress myself so ended up stumbling out in a mickey-mouse t-shirt he’d put on me for bed, my tights & a blanket wrapped around me. I remember thinking that my Mum would be very disappointed at how dirty my shoes were, nevermind the lack of bottoms. It all felt very Crimewatch reconstruction at 4am this morning.
But I battled on, made it home to bring you a mixtape that will be a bunch of random choices again, the last three tracks are for the birthday boy. Click on Spotify to play it. From my sickbed. Enjoy! ♥
- SBTRKT – Wildfire
- Cut Copy – Where I’m Going
- Yuck – Get Away
- All Saints – Pure Shores
- Pulp – Pink Glove
- Grinderman – Palaces Of Montezuma
- Oh Land – Wof & I
- Foals – Spanish Sahara
- Nick Drake – At The Chime Of A City Clock
- Cat Stevens – If You Want To Sing Out, Sing Out
I see the flowers at Aldgate station every day. Left by the families and friends who lost loved ones six years ago today. Subconsciously something in me started giving a little nod to the shrine each time I pass in recognition, remembrance. It’s a daily reminder that life is so very precious.
This morning a lady stood there arranging her bouquet amongst the increased numbers of blooms marking todays anniversary. As I walked past she was blotting tears away, quietly and with dignity. Part of me wanted to reach out to her, but there is something in strangers grief that is so private and unshareable.
Instead I wondered what pain she was feeling, who she had lost, what her story was.
It was this woman, standing there alone that really made me look around me today. People giving up their seats and holding doors open for others. People darting through traffic just to pick up groceries, deodorant, washing powder. A woman feeding the pigeons off Oxford St laughing as they flew up around her, a cooing frenzy. People slamming down their phones with the raging hump, people saying “I Love You” before hanging up calmly. People looking lonely, happy, at ease, harassed. People wearing inappropriate footwear in torrential rain, and people wearing too many layers when the sun came out. People getting their dream jobs, people stoically putting up with ones they don’t like. People running for their trains to get home to the TV and a meal for one or to a house full of people dear to them.
Everyone all over London today just plodding along with their lives, it really made me think. We’re really quite wonderful aren’t we. Human Beings. ♥