Now playing// Soundtrack to a grey sky summer

Beats, Blog

pexels-photoWhen summer arrives, I’m never usually completely satisfied. I have romantic visions of sunny parks brimming with flowers, barbecues and pimms. FRISBEE. The sickly sweet smell of suncream. Maybe even the chance to venture outside without a coat on.

I forget the reality. Skin prickled with goosebumps, the sun staying stubbornly tucked under a cloud. The feeling of water splashing up your legs as you plunge a sandled foot into a muddy puddle.

Constant never-ending DRIZZLY rain.

THIS MISERY WILL NOT DO.

The grey weather is no excuse to be glum, merely a reason to get snug. I’ll pop on a chunky cardigan, make a coffee, light a candle, stay inside and peep at the grey clouds from behind glass.

A soundtrack to sombre skies:

  1. First Aid Kit – America
  2. Hozier – Cherry Wine
  3. Kings of Leon – Pyro
  4. Fleet Foxes – Mykonos
  5. America – A Horse With No Name
  6. Kygo, Maty Noyes – Stay
  7. DJ Snake, Bipolar Sunshine – Middle
  8. TV On The Radio – Happy Idiot
  9. Rusted Root – Send Me On My Way
  10. First Aid Kit – Stay Gold
  11. Half Moon Run – Call Me In The Afternoon
  12. Tom Odell – Wrong Crowd
  13. MisterWives – Riptide
  14. Maroon 5 – Misery (acoustic)
  15. Father John Misty – Hollywood Forever Cemetry Sings

Lemonade by Beyoncé. A lesson in getting people to listen.

Beats, Blog

Like most human beings, this week I’ve been listening to, watching and loving Lemonade, the new visual album by Beyoncé.

beyonce-lemonade

In a world where humans have shorter attention spans than the famously absent-minded goldfish, it’s easy to listen to music without really LISTENING to it. It’s on in the background, while you read or work or make dinner. Music is never your main focus, because nothing is. We have multiple browser windows open in our minds at all time. Our attention is perpetually divided.

Lemonade is Beyoncé snapping her fingers and asking you to look at her when she’s speaking to you. She’s asking for – no COMMANDING – your full attention.

Beyonce lemonade screenshot.jpg

Lemonade isn’t just for the ears, it’s an immersive, full sensory experience. You can feel the warmth of the fire she sets and the iciness of her voice as she whispers “I can wear her skin over mine.” You can see the vindication in her face as she smashes the windscreen with the baseball bat. You can even taste it – the word lemonade is so evocative you can almost feel the bitter sweetness of the sugary lemons on your tongue.

Beyonce fire Lemonade2

I’m listening to Lemonade differently to the way that I normally listen to music.

When I was younger, I’d always listen to the whole album. I’d listen to Side A from start to finish then I’d turn the cassette over and listen all the way to the end. I knew the words to every song, even ones I didn’t like so much.

Now, when served an album, I don’t treat it like a full meal I treat it like it’s a buffet.  I pick one or two tracks and I add them to a playlist or I listen to them on their own. I see the album as 12 separate pieces gathered together that I can easily break apart. I don’t enjoy the album for what it is, a carefully crafted whole.

Lemonade makes you listen to it all in one go. It asks you not to take it apart. It’s been carefully put together.

Lemonade says stop what you’re doing. Put down your phone. Look at me. Listen to what I am saying. And don’t leave until I’m finished.

Watch/listen to Lemonade on Tidal or download it on iTunes.

Now playing// A perfect April Fools’ Day playlist

Beats, Blog
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Rifle Paper Co. Honey Bee Wall Calendar

April Fools’ Day. A wonderful, weird day where for centuries, little rascals across the world have been playing sneaky tricks on each other.

My favourite ever April Fools’ Day stunt took place when I was about eight years old.

Early one Sunday morning I  crept downstairs, went through my parents’ filing cabinet and took out their holiday booking confirmation. This was in the days when paper was a thing – remember that stuff?

I used my dad’s work line to call the house phone and in my best Irish accent (which I had been perfecting for weeks) told my poor parents that their holiday had been cancelled.

Somehow, I managed to convince my mother that I was indeed Theresa from Thomas Cook. It was only once she had passed the phone over to my Dad that they realised it was a Sunday, an odd day for Theresa to be working…

I won’t be trying to play any pranks on my unsuspecting family or friends this year. Instead, I have compiled an April Fool’s Day playlist in order to mark this weird/great day. Basically, it’s a selection of unrelated songs, tenuously linked by the word FOOL. Enjoy!

1. Fools Gold by The Stone Roses

2. Love Foolosophy by Jamiroquai

3. Lovefool by The Cardigans

4. Foolish by Tyler James

5. I’m a Fool to Want You by Billie Holiday

6. Trick me by Kelis

I’m from a long line of survivors…

Beats, Blog

I have been listening to Elbow’s triumphant album Leaders of the Free World this morning and I love this line from My Very Best.

“I’m from a long line of survivors…”

Being here today, existing, in the year 2016 on planet earth is a miraculous and unlikely thing. When you consider the history of the world, the sheer quantity of possible people that could have been born and weren’t, and the vast expanse of things that could have happened that would result in me never existing, I feel very happy to be here.

Our tenacious ancestors, persisting and surviving, one by one, two by two, like animals on the ark. Good for you guys, thanks a lot. We exist because you survived.

Wonderful autumn

Beats, Blog

Squash

Bonfire night, crispy orange leaves, pumpkin soup, the smell of log fires and burning wood, opaque tights, feeling snug, hot drinks, puddles.

It doesn’t disappoint you, autumn. In Britain, the summer will inevitably never live up to the expectations we have for it. When the rain comes in the autumn, we are ready for it. We are happy to stay inside with a mug of something hot, and sometimes spicy, and watch the rain drizzling down the window, or land in puddles illuminated by a streetlight or the moon. Or we’ll hop from puddle to puddle, in boots that can withstand the water, and won’t let any of it leak in.

We do autumn well.

The soundtrack to autumn should therefore match. Songs should sound like the wind whoosing around a building or a leaf wafting to the ground or the snap, crackle, pop of a real fire.

My list of autumn listening is here. I hope it sounds like autumn to you too.

Top five autumn tracks

  1. I’ll Be Gone By Winter, by C. Duncan
  2. Blown Rose, by Blossoms
  3. Courting the Squall, by Guy Garvey
  4. Ocean of Night, by Editors
  5. Drapeau Blanc, by Coeur de Pirate