Music to my Ears #4

I went through a bit of a music slump and then all of a sudden found myself listening to albums all over the place. So choosing 3 was actually a bit of a challenge. I stuck with 2 rather recent albums as well as a compilation album for an incredible movie (seeing as I don’t listen to compilations that often…)

 music to my ears 
1. Kintsugi by Death Cab for Cutie

I will always get excited when a new Death Cab album is released, but I never really got into their previous album and so when I listened to this the first time through and realised it was a winner I was beyond happy. To me this album sounds like the perfect development from older albums and also incorporates certain elements of The Postal Service. Its a good mix of upbeat singles and slower ballads, catchy tunes and restrained vocals, electronic and acoustic elements, and yet the album flows really nicely. Ever since the first time the OC played Lack of Colour, I fell in love with Death Cab and so falling in love with a new album was pretty darn satisfying.

Listen to: Black Sun, Little Wanderer, El Dorado and Binary Sea.

2. Darling Arithmetic by Villagers

I have Dad to thank for introducing me to the Villagers through my favourite track by them; Becoming a Jackal (which annoyingly doesn’t appear on this album), and have been immersing myself in their albums ever since. This newest album was released earlier this year, and shows a rather restrained and elegant style of theirs that I really enjoy. This album is beautifully melancholic and simple, put together in a really neat way. If you’re a fan of Kings of Convenience (which I am) then this folky acoustic album will definitely be up your alley. If not, listen to Becoming a Jackal, their debut album to hear another side of their music.

Listen to: Courage, Everything I am is Yours, Dawning on Me and The Soul Serene.

3. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty Soundtrack

Weirdly appropriate, as this time last year I was on a plane to London watching this movie for the first time. First things first, if you haven’t seen this movie, you should. Its Ben Stiller at his best, and its also a reminder of how incredible and beautiful life can be. Its fantastic, and had a pretty perfect accompanying soundtrack. This soundtrack is perfect for a Sunday morning spent pottering (which is my favourite thing to do on a Sunday). There’s a cool mix of songs from a few different artists, but most of it is Jose Gonzalez or his band Junip (I’m not complaining at all).

Listen to: Stay Alive by Jose Gonzelez, Don’t Let It Pass by Junip, and Don’t You Want Me by Bahamas and the Weather Station (such a cool cover).

Give some of these a listen and let me know what you think.

What have you been playing recently?

Music to my Ears #3

Another month nearly over, another post to share some very well-loved albums. Somehow I accidentally managed to select albums all released in 2014, which is strange for someone who is usually at least 5 years behind everyone else. They are all excellent albums worth your time, promise (or at least they were for me…but that sounds a lot less convincing).

Chet Faker: Built on Glass (2014)

Chet Faker Built on Glass

I think I discovered Chet Faker through Pandora and have been enjoying his chilled vibes ever since. His music is a real mixture of influences, with a bit of R&B, soul, jazz all wrapped up in a modern techno sound that gets better each time I listen. Each song has a different feel to it and yet it all flows together as an album really smoothly (it’s actually split into two half’s but I didn’t even realise this until today) . I love it all. Its well reviewed by most for good reason and a great album to have on for a relaxed sunday get together over a few beers. He is right up the top of artists I would travel to see live.

Listen to: Talk is Cheap, Gold, 1998 and Cigarettes & Loneliness (my favourite)

Angel Olsen: Burn Your Fire For No Witness (2014)

Tiny Ruins Brightly Painted One

You might remember Angel Olsen from my Laneway related music post where I mused over musicians I was excited to see. Well I saw Angel Olsen, and she was just as good live (and also a total babe). I have still been loving this album pretty much constantly and wanted to bring it up again in case you hadn’t taken my advice to give her a listen last time round. I love this album because it shows off two very different sides to Angel’s music. There’s the electronic folk rock side that is upbeat, energy driven and fun like in Hi-Five and Forgiven/Forgotten and then there is her other quieter, more minimal and emotional songs (that if I’m honest I connect with and adore the most) like Unfucktheworld and  White Fire. Its all good stuff and if you are into alternative rock/folk music then this could be right up your alley.

Listen to: Unfucktheworld (the song that made me fall in love with this album), Hi-Five, and the beautiful Windows.

Tiny Ruins: Brightly Painted One (2014)Tiny Ruins Brightly Painted One

Another Laneway find, we were lucky enough to stumble across this act whilst trying to source coffee and from across a very hot carpark I was enchanted by the dreamy, delicate vocals of Hollie Fullbrook. Their album offers the same evocative and gentle sounds that are a result of her simple yet beautiful lyrics and the sparse use of instruments. The sound reminds me of things like Fleet Foxes or Kings of Convenience, and its equally as wonderful. This is the kind of album where each song asks to be replayed over and over until you finally get the image being created. Its beautiful and definitely worth a listen, especially if you need something for relaxing evening (i’m thinking bath, candles and wine…).

Listen to: Me at the Museum, You in the Winter Gardens, Carriages and Reasonable Man

Give them all a listen and let me know what you think 🙂 What have your ears been listening to?

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Review of 2015’s Laneway Festival

So it’s been just under a week since Laneway, and I figured it was probably time I shared my experience after reading quite a few others. Spoiler alert: I had an amazing day.

Overall, Laneway 2015 was organised amazingly well. It was sold out and yet the crowds didn’t bother me at all. I waited no longer than 5 minutes for the bathroom and enjoyed about 11 different acts. I’ll run you through my day:Laneway 2015 Silo Park

We made our way to Laneway pretty early, getting there for Princess Chelsea at 12.00pm and let us walk around and explore a bit before the crowds arrived. We then found a spot on the grass, in the shade of the silos, to see Princess Chelsea put on a beautifully sweet and charming show. I think one reviewer put it perfectly when they compared her to Lena Dunham hosting a kitten kissing competition. It was pretty adorable, and she played my favourite song of hers, Cigarette Duet. It was a pretty perfect start to a gorgeous day.

Laneway 2015 Princess Chelsea

Princess Chelsea in the midday sunshine

 

We then ambled over to see the last 20 minutes of Tiny Ruins, a New Zealand artist who was captivating in her soft voice and quiet hold over the crowd. We also enjoyed a delicious vietnamese cold coffee to battle the sunshine. Conan Mockasin took the stage next, and put on a show that was weird but nonetheless entertaining in its 70s psychedelic rock vibes that had everyone dancing.

Laneway 2015 Connan Mockasin

Connan doing his thing. Whatever that is.

Auckland Laneway 2015

Angel Olsen was someone I was looking forward to seeing all week, and she didn’t disappoint, playing a bunch of my favourite songs in a very effortless way. I was pretty much captivated for the entire 40 minute set and didn’t want it to end. New girl crush by the way. The moment her set ended, Courtney Barnett started on the stage next door so we grabbed a quick cold drink and then watched her take over the stage, obviously having just as much fun as all of us who were watching her.

Angel Olsen at Laneway 2015

Angel Olsen a little bit crooked. I blame all of my dancing.

Royal Blood’s rock performance was one of my favourite moments of the day, with a huge number of people all yelling out the lyrics and dancing along to their high energy tracks. I am not a dancer but I don’t think anyone stood still throughout their songs. There was a lot of head banging and I didn’t even care.

Laneway 2015 Royal Blood

British Duo, Royal Blood

After a couple of hours of dancing around in the heat our energy reserves were pretty depleted so we grabbed a delicious meal at Bird on a Wire who were selling giant bowls of their delicious salads, topped with fresh chicken or crispy tofu. It was exactly what we needed to prepare ourselves for the next few hours.Auckland Harbour Laneway 2015

Jon Hopkins played a beautiful techno/synth set in the sunshine in front of the silos, with people dancing along to his seamlessly hypnotic electronica tracks. We then made our way to see some of Angus and Julia stone, where for the first time all day I found the crowds a little overwhelming.

Crowds at Laneway 2015

Crowding in beside the Silos to catch a glimpse of Banks

The crowds packed in for Banks, who despite some technical issues, had everyone enthralled with her quiet, shy demeanour but her beautiful voice and big beats. It took a bit of work making our way up close so with Little Dragon up next we decided to hold our ground amongst the pulsing crowd who were crammed into the small space. Probably the most memorable moment of the whole 11 hour day was watching the sun set over Auckland harbour during the Little Dragon set. It was spell binding. Dancing along with hundreds of other fans to some of their best songs made me forget about the heat and my sore legs and the crowds and just enjoy the moment.

Little Dragon at Laneway 2015

Little Dragon putting on one hell of a show as the sun goes down

After an hour of full on dancing, I needed a bit of a rest before St Vincent took the stage dressed up like some kind of gorgeous alien model. I wasn’t even sure if I was going to watch much of her but once she had started I was hooked on her quirky synth sounds and awkward dance moves. St Vincent was one of the best performers of the day, with her crowd in the palm of her hand hanging on to each and every sound that came out of her mouth.

St Vincent Laneway 2015

Before heading home, slightly sunburnt and totally exhausted, I wanted to see some of Flying Lotus who was finishing off the evening with his amazing 3D show. I only knew two of his songs so once I had heard them both, my weary legs demanded I take them home. As a small sidenote, Silo Park looked just as beautiful in the dark, lit up spectacularly, as it did in the gorgeous summer sunlight. What a beautifully charming venue to spend the day in. Sunset over Auckland Laneway 2015

I know some people complained about Laneway; the crowds, the long lines for the drinks/bathrooms etc. etc. I had a totally different experience and so I think this is up to the individual. We decided not to bother with alcohol because I paid a fair bit for my ticket and wanted to get my music’s worth out of it. After drinking at Big Day Out last year, I found that I had more fun this year, danced just as much and didn’t need anything extra as I was pretty giddy just on the experience of the whole day. The heat was at times pretty unbearable but there was free water all over the place and spots of shade to cool down. The clashes were minimal (for me) and the only act I missed was Belle and Sebastian. We went in wanting to make the most of our day, and got way more than we bargained for.

Auckland Laneway 2015

If you made it to the end of all that congrats, your reward is my 5 lessons learnt at Laneway 2015:

  1. If you are wanting to see lots of new amazing acts, get there early. More space, more relaxed atmosphere and heaps of wonderful music.
  2. Listen to a few of the acts before hand to help plan out who you would like to see and make the most of your time
  3. If you want to get drunk, go to a bar. The more you drink, the more time spent in lines, less spent experiencing great music.
  4. Reapply sunblock. Turns out that 1 application at 11am does not prevent you looking like a lobster at work on Monday.
  5. Take advantage of the free water and stay hydrated.

What was your experience at Laneway 2015?

Music | Loving for Laneway

Its summer and summer wouldn’t be summer without a music festival. Last year it was Big Day Out, this year it’s Laneway and I couldn’t be much more excited.Laneway Festival 2015

Even if you don’t happen to be going along, there are a few faces who I had no clue about prior to excitedly spending my pay on a ticket. So I thought I should share a few new favourites. (I’ll be honest, I knew about 3 acts at the time I bought my ticket, fools rush in?)

1. Courteney Barnett

Courtney is an Australian singer with rambling lyrics that are hilarious and weirdly witty, as well as a unique style of dead pan story telling singing that reminds me of Kimya Dawson. Listen to Avant Gardener (ever wanted a song about having a panic attack during a heat wave in public) and Pickles in a Jar.

Courteney Barnett Laneway 2015

2. Jon Hopkins

I never thought I would be keen to see a sonic technician live but this guys arrangements hook me and apparently he is quite the live performer (I’m curious to see more than anything else). His synth/keyboard tunes are smooth and easy to relax into, I find them oddly hypnotic. Some may seem familiar as he has done a bucketload of collaborations. And I had never heard is name until a couple of weeks ago. Win. Might not be for everyone but take a listen to Breathe This Air and a familiar sounding Light Through the Veins (if you have 9 minutes free).

Jon Hopkins

3. St Vincent

I’m sure everyone other than me is already aware of St Vincent, sometimes I think I go through life without acknowledging anything new. St Vincent (Annie Clark) is someone quite unusual, in a great way, with some twisted indie pop melodies and haunting but playful vocals I don’t really have anything to compare her to. If you haven’t already, try out Cruel and Cheerleader, a couple of new favourites. I can already imagine how incredible she will be live. Dreamlike techno? I’m just going to stop trying.

St Vincent

4. Angel Olsen

I saved my favourite for last. I have fallen fast for Angel Olsen’s retro style of music, playing her songs on repeat since discovering her just 4 days ago. She is now probably the act I am most excited to see. This is one example of where I listen to one song and become instantly attached to a musician. Her LP, Burn Your Fire For No Witness is already going to be one of my favourite albums of 2015. Her style ranges from heart wrenching folk, like my favourite track unf*cktheworld and Windows, to experimental electric rock and more upbeat tracks like Hi-5. Her music is dreamy and intense. I would pay to go to Laneway for her set alone.

Angel Olsen

These 4 are all new to my ears, there are also the old favourites who I have wanted to see for a while like Banks, Belle and Sebastian and Little Dragon! And with a timetable of minimum clashes I am pretty hopeful at catching all of them. Bring on Monday 😀

Let me know if you are going and who you are excited for (not that I can squeeze much more into my day)!

xx

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Music to my Ears #2

So my music tastes range from standard middle of the road to down right random, but my favourite word to describe my musical orientation (as well as myself in general) is eclectic. Its a nice word, weird to say but pretty to look at and tricky to attempt to spell. And I like to think I identify with it, although I’m sure most of the time I come across as the most average/boring person.

I love music and I enjoy talking about it with others, so Music to my Ears is making a comeback, so get ready.

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Banks: Goddess

Banks is a bit of  a wonderful mystery to me, but the more I listen to her album the more it wins me over. First listen through I wasn’t sold, but I was intrigued by her captivating vocals and trance like beats. Now that I am more familiar with her style I can’t get enough. If you haven’t listened to her yet (go do it), imagine something along the lines of Aaliyah/The XX/Lorde kind of style. I’m probably describing it all wrong but that’s the best I can do. This makes the perfect lazy weekend album to have on in the background while you waste the day pretending to do housework.

Listen to: Brain (my favourite track of the album), You Should Know Where I’m Coming From, and the popular Fuck ‘Em Only We Know

Ben Howard: I Forget Where We Were

I am not sure how I managed to avoid getting in to Ben Howard’s music before the past month or so. His soft acoustics and soulful lyrics are right up my alley (okay so I have a lot of alleys, but his music is right up one of them). This album is his more recent one, released this year, and I love the quiet intensity of his moodier tracks. Its a great album, easy to listen to and a bit of a crowd pleaser. Now just please stand aside while I weep into pillow with regret for missing his August concert. At the time I barely recognised his name. Ah, regret, you old friend.

Listen to: Small Things, I Forget Where We Were, End of the Affair

Alt J: This is all yours

I saved my favourite for last and anyone who is unlucky enough to spend much time with me will know that this album has been almost exclusively played over and over until i had to force myself to ration it out (once a day maximum, no more than 4 times a week). Alt-J are one of the very few performers I would travel large distances to go and see, which is a pretty big deal considering I am normally too lazy to go to concerts in the city where I live.

This is their second album (I raved about their first album over here) and for me its the best music they have produced, but I can also see some people preferring their more mainstream (if you could ever classify alt-J as mainstream) first album. This is all yours is a unique series of tracks, that in my opinion are best played as a set. I won’t try and review them any more than to say that the album is very different. Its a bit weird, a little creepy at times (see the lyrics of Every Other Freckle, one of my favourite tracks) but incredibly interesting and evocative to listen to. I find their album creates a experience that I get absolutely drawn into, with soft melodies, haunting vocals and the odd punch of upbeat rock. It won’t be everyone’s cup of tea but I think Alt-J are doing something very different and if I had to listen to one album for all of 2014 it would have been this.

Listen to: Nara, Hunger of the Pine (keep an eye out for a weirdly perfect Miley Cyrus ??), Warm Foothills (this makes my heart feel all warm and happy) and The Gospel of John Hurt. Just listen to the album, several times in a row. You won’t regret it (You might but I didn’t).

What has been playing for you recently?

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Music to my Ears #1

Hey All!

So if any of you have been reading my blog for a while you may remember when I used to do an albums of the month (semi) regularly. I stopped after a while because the pressure of finding new albums I liked every month when sometimes I just wanted to listen to the same song on repeat was getting a bit frustrating.

So here it is..back and better because it won’t be every month but just whenever I have a few new albums that I want to share as being favourites at the time. Less pressure, less often and more genuine in that I have actually been listening to the albums for more than 10 seconds. A win-win I say. Ready to jump in? I hope you have a cup of tea cause this isn’t short..

11. The Best of Joy Division

A little bit of context here: I have been a big fan of Joy Division since I was around 15 and my Dad introduced me their post-punk sound and tragic back story. Then at the beginning of this month Edd and I finally got around to watching the very popular black and white film “Control” which focuses around Ian Curtis, the lead singer, and the story behind the music. The film was incredible and I definitely recommend you go watch it regardless of whether you have listened to the music or not. I could do a whole post on the film but I’ll stick to just using it to explain why this month I couldn’t resist getting back into listening to all of my favourite tracks.

The style of music is a combination of post-punk and new wave. They were pretty inventive for the period in which they started and their heavy base line along with Ian Curtis’ characteristically deep, monotonous vocals are still unique and not really comparable to any thing else that I have listened to. The pulsating music is a perfect back drop for Ian’s tormented lyrics which are a big part of what I love about Joy Division.

Two words: Haunting & Rythmic

Songs you should listen to: All 14 preferably but my personal favourites range from he high energy tracks such as “Disorder” and “Transmission” to the more sombre and haunting tracks like “Atmosphere” and the depressing but poetic track of “New Dawn Fades” (which also features my favourite lyric).

2.The  Foals Holy Fire

Moving on to something a little more recent, lately I have been loving the fun new album by The Foals. I have heard that this album isn’t the best of theirs but it is the first I have listened to so with a lack of comparison I rather love it. Confident and manicured you can tell this is their third album and although at times it does sound a bit commercial, the majority of the tracks are alternative and upbeat and make the perfect songs to blast in the car when I can sing along at the top of my voice. There is enough variety to keep the album interesting and their style of energetic, alternative rock keeps me coming back for more.

Two words: Dynamic and Catchy

Songs you should listen to: There is the strong, upbeat track “My Number” which you probably already know (and it is always stuck in my head) but other good tracks include “Everytime”, “Out of the Woods” and the slower, captivating “Moon”.

3. Daft Punk Random Access Memories

Another popular album that I should of gotten into ages ago and yet after the first listen I decided I didn’t like and ignored for months afterwards (please tell me other people make this mistake). Recently, a colleague was listening to this and I started to realize that I was enjoying it way more than I anticipated. Now it is a favourite for when I want something techno, energetic and just a little bit random. I don’t know Daft Punk well but this album is such an eclectic mix of jazz tracks, techno beats, passionate opera vocals and so much more. Somehow this weird and wonderful mix creates an album like nothing I have listened to before, something creative and surprising and all round kind of wonderful.

Two words: Eclectic and Tactile

Songs you should listen to: Another album where it’s hard to choose favourites, mainly because all the songs are so different, but I can’t go past the song everyone knows and has heard 8 billion times “Get Lucky” (honestly, I could listen to that song on repeat for hours and not get bored of Pharrell’s charming vocals and the extremely catchy tune). As well as this I also love the robotic and rather hypnotic track “Doin’ It Right” and as the strange yet captivating Opera track “Touch” featuring Paul Williams. An eclectic mix of sounds and beats, I am glad to say I finally understand the well deserved hype.

4. London Grammar If You Wait

So to finish off, this album has been one I have been obsessed with for months now. How could I not be with the breathtaking vocals of Hannah Reid that are perfectly paired with the restrained and yet emotionally nuanced music. I think of them in the same way as The xx in comparing the careful composition of urgent vocals and delicate, seemingly simple songs. Although some of the songs are almost too composed and sound a little too manicured for the majority of the album there is a juxtaposition of  melancholic introspection and emotional climaxes. The debut of this English trio blows my mind in how sad and yet uplifting the tracks can be. The balance isn’t perfect 100% of the time but when it works, it’s graceful and subtle and all other sorts of wonderful things.

Two words: Beautiful and Captivating

Songs you should listen to:  “Hey Now” as well as “Wasting My Young Years” which both exemplify the balance between the composure and the urgency that Reid’s vocals convey all within the one song,  “Strong” which is my personal favorite to sing to as it the vocals are deep one moment and soaring the next, and then the unexpected but wonderfully crafted “Interlude” which is one of the rare times where the vocals become almost secondary to the haunting piano and instrumentation. Lastly, a special mention for “Nightcall” which is a wonderfully emotional cover of a Kavinsky track (also very awesome, go check out the original first).

I feel like that was one monster of a music post but trying to sum up an album in a few words is tricky when you have no knowledge of music technology.

What music has been occupying your time lately?

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Albums of the month for May!

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Hi All,

I have just spent the day in bed feeling rather rotten but am hoping tomorrow I will feel well enough to crawl into work and answer phones for 8 hours (not easy to do with a massive head cold and a whole load of mucus, too much info, sorry). However I thought I would drag myself away from watching back to back Amazing Race episodes (reality tv is my drug, it could be worse) to bring you 3 albums from snother good music month with some cool new additions to the music scene.

1. Lorde: The Love Club EP

A short 5 song album from this stunning 16 year old Aucklander! I would be jealous if I wasn’t so overwhelmed by her rather special take on indie-pop that has launched her as an international sensation (the things I was doing when I was 16 were no where near as interesting, in fact not much has changed HA). It’s rather hard to believe the voice and talent of these 5 songs has been written and performed by such a young newcomer to the music world, in fact it leaves you kind of dumb struck. All 5 songs on the EP have something unique to offer but my favorites would have to be Bravado and The Love Club.

2. Deep Sea Arcade: Outlands

My next favorite of the months was this great LP by a relatively new Australian band which was featured on 95bfm and one song left me wanting more (in a good way). The album is a pretty varied mix of british indie/brit pop, pychodelic 60s rock and new wave (think a modern version of the monkees…) with other influences that seem to still be being sorted through and organized as I suppose would be common for most LPs. I feel like this album still has a characteristic Australian indie rock feel to it that I associate with other great Australian bands like The Shins. There is a great mix of quiet, thoughtful synth tunes and more upbeat rock tracks yet the album as a whole is a great listen and a new favorite for long car rides (especially as the Husband likes it too, our musical tastes don’t always overlap!). A few of my favorite tracks include Seen No Right, Granite City, Steam and Ride.

3. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds: Push the Sky Away

My absolute favorite of the month was this melancholic, subdued stunner of an album from Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. I should preface anything further by saying that I have never listened to anything else by Nick Cave other than a song he did with Kylie Minogue once upon a time (thanks to singstar 90s) so I have no idea what any of his previous albums are like. Having said that this is one of my favorite albums of the year, maybe even the last five years or decade. I heard the last song on the album played on 95bfm (the best Auckland radio station in my opinion) and was hooked by its sombre simplicity and yet a hauting emotional intensity that really characterizes every song on the album. Every time I listen to this album I hear and feel brand new things. It’s a creative masterpiece that can come across as simple or laid back but is layered with so much complexity and feeling that I don’t even know where to begin. There are also some rather weird lyrics (Hannah Montanna and the African Savannah come up once or twice…) but I kind of like that, especially as they are being sung in Cave’s amazing baritone that reminds me of classic Leonard Cohen, just a bit stranger and more intense. The songs I can’t get enough of are Jubilee Street, Higgs Boson Street (a weird but wonderful song) and Push the Sky Away, which started this whole love affair.

See you soon with some more favorites!

Xx