I’ve found myself humming “Everything Hits At Once” by Spoon to myself more days than not lately, a funny little habit to have suddenly formed considering that I can’t even remember the last time I listened to Girls Can Tell. But that particular line has always resonated with me, and it seems to sneak its way back into my subconscious whenever I’m feeling exceptionally overwhelmed by things. I have never been a person who deals with change well, and the last few months have involved more than enough of it. Trying to put your life back together while simultaneously starting a new school program is no easy feat, especially with a few curve balls thrown in for good measure—and while I’ve had days that I felt like I would never come back from, I’m nearly halfway through the first semester and somehow, miraculously, I’m still standing.
Sometimes I question whether it is necessary for me to share these things here, but then I remember that the music I post on this blog has always directly tied in with where I’m at in my life and what I’m going through, and I want to continue on with that transparency, even if it means spilling my stupid guts out sometimes. I know that I haven’t been around these parts much in the last year or more, and at this point I honestly don’t know if that is going to change or stay the same. The need for this outlet comes and goes. But tonight I found myself sitting at home alone with a beer in my hand for the first time in such a long time, listening to an album that has brought me peace in many moments during the last month or so of absolute chaos, and I suddenly felt compelled to share it. So here we are.
Dublin’s Bell X1 is a band whose albums I consistently devour upon their release. Their latest, Chop Chop, is tamer than its predecessors, but holds up well against them (all exceptionally underrated). “Careful What You Wish For” features infectious piano and synth lines and is surely one of the album’s standout tracks, also thanks to lead singer Paul Noonan’s angelic-like vocals. His words always cut right through me, but particularly in this song. Passages like:
Is there is a time for us? Or will we just hold on quietly, White knuckles and dry tears? And play our part in this No spoiler, no reveal
Careful what you wish for Careful what you wish for ‘Cause these bulbs are the fluorescent kind And no one looks good in this light
The title refers to one of my favourite places in the world, the pier in England’s seaside town of Brighton that I visited in May this year. I spent one night completely alone sitting on the rocky beach, watching the pink sun set behind the old abandoned pier as birds (perhaps even starlings) circled above it. I remember feeling so perfectly content in that moment. I trust that I’ll be back there again soon enough.
I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately about the emotional effect that music has on us, or at least on me personally. Sometimes it makes me feel more than I want to feel, or even more than I know I am feeling—and while that can be an incredibly tough pill to swallow, I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s healthier to simply face the music, even if it breaks us down into tiny little fragments of ourselves. Without certain songs, I’m not sure that I would know how to understand or articulate many of my emotions, and it’s just interesting to think about how we might be entirely different human beings if not for these emotional outlets given to us by the songwriters who so graciously let us think of their words as our own for a few precious minutes.
With that said, here’s a new mix to take with you on your next walk through the falling autumn leaves. Go feel some damn feelings.
In just a couple of weeks, I’m flying over to Europe to visit friends and see the sights in both London and Paris. I probably couldn’t have timed things better since Europe’s version of SXSW, The Great Escape, is taking place in the seaside city of Brighton mid-month. A slew of emerging new artists will be performing at the festival, so I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to see a bunch of live music and the chance to see another part of England all at once.
For my personal convenience and for your personal enjoyment, I have created a playlist of some the sets that I plan to check out at TGE. Tons of great stuff for your ears here. I could have picked a Phosphorescent song other than “Song For Zula,” — but really, who would I be kidding? It’s still the best song of the year so far.
The Great Escape 2013
The Griswolds - Mississippi
Royal Canoe - Caught in a Loop
Eliza and the Bear - Brother’s Boat
Kodaline - All I Want
To Kill A King - Bloody Shirt
Tom Odell - Another Love
Unknown Mortal Orchestra - So Good At Being in Trouble
London Grammar - Hey Now
How to Dress Well - & It Was U
Dan Croll - Home
Bastille - Flaws
Houndmouth - Houston Train
Del Barber - Running On A Wire
Charlie Straight (feat. Marketa Irglova) - I Sleep Alone
Wolf Alice - Bros
The Elwins - Forgetful Assistance
Andy Shauf - Tap My Toes
The 1975 - You
Blaudzun - Solar
Wall - Left to Wonder
Little Green Cars - Harper Lee
Luke Sital-Singh - Fail For you
Phosphorescent - Song For Zula
Nick Mulvey - Venus
Dancing Years - I’m Here
On An On - Panic
Ewert and the Two Dragons - Sailor Man
Hounds Below - You Light Me Up in the Dark
Chloe Howl - I Wish I Could Tell You
Deep Sea Arcade - Steam
The Black Atlantic - Darkling, I Listen
Balthazar - Do Not Claim Them Anymore
Caitlin Park - Baby Teeth
We Were Evergreen - Leeway
Lord Huron - She Lit A Fire
Cloud Boat - Drean
Bear’s Den - Fickle Love (demo)
Story Books - Simple Kids
The Veils - Train With No Name
Joe Banfi - Guts and Bones
Cub Scouts - Hands
Thumpers - Dancing’s Done
This place looks alright, no?
Any readers I may have who are planning to be at The Great Escape should definitely get in touch — would love to catch a show with you!
It feels as though there has been an overwhelming amount of good music finding its way into my headphones already this year — so much so that I’m struggling to keep up and post on a regular basis (or ever, honestly). Here are some of the songs that I found myself returning to time and time again over the past month.
There are a few things that I love unconditionally: folk songs, sing-alongs, strings, horns, and guys with British accents. This spectacular video has all of the aforementioned things. Watch London-based band To Kill A King perform a joyous rendition of their song “Choices” with help from Bastille, Emily Wood, We Were Evergreen, Title Sequence, Professor Penguin, and a few others. I dare you to try watching this without smiling as big as Dan Smith from Bastille (the guy with the fantastic hair in the striped shirt and jean jacket) when things really get going about four minutes in.
In an attempt to apologize for the lack of posting lately, here is a collection of some songs that I’ve been helplessly stuck on this month. Who knows — perhaps this could become a regular thing. You will surely recognize some names, while other names will likely be new. Happy listening.
Bear’s Den - Agape
Sleepy Tea - Make Believe
Tim Noyes - Saturday
Kate Earl - One Woman Army
Wild Cub - Thunder Clatter
Night Beds - Lost Springs
Foals - Milk & Black Spiders
On An On - Every Song
Local Natives - Mt. Washington
Professor Penguin - Pirate
Josh Weller - Lose You
Shout Out Louds - Illusions
The Veils - Through the Deep, Dark Wood
Indians - I Am Haunted
Frightened Rabbit - The Woodpile
Hey Marseilles - Heart Beats
Tyler Lyle - Medusa
Dave Gerard and the Watchmen - 16 Stables (live acoustic)
There are certain songs that you can go long stretches of time without listening to, and yet when you do eventually return to them, whether it be many months or many years later, it is almost as if you spent no time apart.
The recording “1983” by The Incredible Moses Leroy (former California teacher Ron Fountenberry) falls into this category for me. A favourite go-to-tune circa 2006, I probably hadn’t listened to it in a couple of years until it suddenly came to mind the other day when searching for a pick-me-up song for a friend. It still sounded just as irresistible as I remembered it being — one of those songs that makes it absolutely impossible not to bop your head and smile as it plays. It is also entirely impossible not to hit repeat at the end of the four minutes.
This nostalgic moment led me to revisiting Fountenberry’s equally enjoyable other project, Softlightes, a band that released one adorable album in 2006 and then seemed to suddenly disappear. A quick Google search revealed that Softlightes quietly self-released a sophomore album entitled Captain Brokenheart Fights the Infinite Summer back in 2011. After a promising deal with a record label fell through, the band was left feeling discouraged and ready to part ways. As a final farewell to their fans, they made the entire record and its b-sides available for free for download.
Much to my surprise, these recordings included a new version of “1983,” (a ten-year-old song at that point) featuring New Order-esque guitar riffs and bass lines, something that I can almost never resist. It’s one thing to fall in love with a song all over again, but it’s another thing to discover an entirely new version that you can fall in love with, almost as if it is for the very first time.
For your listening pleasure, here is collection of songs that I’ve had on repeat of late. With promising new albums on the way from Donovan Woods, Night Beds, Phosphorescent, Josh Ritter, Local Natives, and Junip (amongst many others), 2013 is already shaping up to be a pretty stellar year for music. Get ready to feel some feels.
Beat Radio - Dreaming Wide Awake
Donovan Woods - Put on, Cologne
Waterdeep - Time and Time Again
Ron Sexsmith - Nowhere to Go
Bear’s Den - Pompeii
The Lighthouse and the Whaler - Little Vessels
Jim James - A New Life
Night Beds - Ramona
Phosphorescent - Song For Zula
Josh Ritter - New Lover
Matt Pond - Starlet
Local Natives - Heavy Feet
Among Savages - Start at the Beginning
Junip - Line of Fire
Dominique Fricot - Seashore
Widower - Thoroughbred
Tyler Heath - It Will Not Always Be Raining (Simple Version)
When I started up this little blog more than three years ago, I never anticipated the unexpected places that it would take me or the irreplaceable friends that it would allow me to make. Last summer’s Doe Bay Fest was the perfect culmination of such things; I left that island feeling not only re-inspired about music and its place in my life, but also blessed to have made instantly strong connections with so many wonderful, like-minded folks. We created such perfect memories together that August weekend that we decided we needed to find each other again this winter, despite all the miles and borders between us. A mini reunion in Colorado the week of New Year’s Eve was what we agreed upon, and getting on that plane to land in the Mile-High City was easily one of the best things I’ve ever done.
After staying up until 4am listening to records on the first night, the following afternoon was spent sitting in the pews of an empty church watching Colorado Springs native (but now Nashville resident) Winston Yellen, better known as Night Beds, perform songs for an upcoming Fuel/Friends chapel session. That experience alone would have made the trip worthwhile (that voice reverberating off those old church walls—are you kidding me?), but then we ended up spending the next few days hanging out with Winston. One night, we drove up the side of a mountain with him in search of the haunted tunnels of Colorado Springs… and then this happened:
Night Beds’ full-length album, Country Sleep, is set for release on February 5 via Dead Oceans. It’s a stunning piece of work from start to finish, kicking off with yet another acapella track (“Faithful Heights”) which then segues into the one-two punch of “Ramona” and “Even If We Try”. These gutting songs are just a brief glimpse into a deeply personal album that is destined to resonate with a lot of people this year. Get ready to fall in love. You can pre-order the record here.
As absolutely heartbreaking as Country Sleep is, it will forever transport me back to that week in Colorado spent listening to records, dorking out about music, attending private concerts in chapels and houses, witnessing impromptu performances in eerie red rocks tunnels, dancing and stargazing until the wee hours of the morning, and constantly laughing until our entire bodies hurt. It was a dream world of sorts, and while that high has been incredibly difficult to come down from, just knowing that I have friends in far-off places to share those memories with is more than enough.
With less than two weeks until Christmas, winter is nearly officially upon us. There are few things I love more than the brisk winter walks through this city, and such things just wouldn’t feel right without a customized mix for company. Here are some songs that I’ve been listening to of late that bring snow and snuggles beside a warm fire to mind. Stream the playlist above or download the whole thing at the bottom.
Among Savages - Cold Wind
Patrick James - All About to Change
Mike Edel - Our Growing Past
Reuben and the Dark - Broken Cheek
Of Monsters and Men - Yellow Light (Cillo Remix)
Wool on Wolves - Medicine Shows
Portage - Columns
Donovan Woods - Car Won’t Start
The Oh Hellos - Cold Is the Night
Fionn Regan - Snowy Atlas Mountains
Sam Pinkerton ft. Chase Lawrence - I Will Never Fall in Love With You