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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