29 July 2015

Uncharted Waters

When it comes to charts, I'm about as tuned in as Radio 4 in a nightclub. I try, I really do. I've downloaded Eminem - if that's not perseverance I don't know what is - and have a skill for making up my own lyrics on nights out. No one need ever know.

It simply isn't me though, and I'm finally learning that's okay. Not everyone knows the words to I Really Really Really Like You (although if you don't know the chorus, I would be slightly concerned). I know I have about as many edges as a circle, but I am much more of a folk/indie listener than Pop. Give me sea bass over Beats and Bass any day, and sidetrack that other Bass altogether (see Dear Meghan Trainor vlog).

In terms of finding music off charted waters, Genius Recommends is my Dori. Around 90% of my downloads in 2015 have come from artists such as  Birdy, Gabrielle Aplin, Luke Sital-Singh and Ed Sheeran. It can become a bit of a Youtube video situation, where the "recommends" list takes you a dozen degrees of separation from the start! Yet just like a dancing dog video, artists such as Daughter have found a place in my heart. Sorry Lil' Mix.


If you haven't listened to this band, go go go find them. The only artist I can possibly relate them to is Snow Patrol, which is a bit bizarre considering their sound is so different. Yet the link is a rare one in music today - they tell a story. Their songs are as good as any poem; my beloved Plath and Thomas have competition.    

photo credit: interviewmagazine.com
If I had to pick a favourite, it's Medicine - this song gives me goosebumps every time and has been played a grand total of 126 times since I bought it 3 weeks ago. Elena Tonra's voice is mesmerising - she could make the phone book sound like Austen Rowling. That's not something I can say of Cheryl Cole. She's more EL James division.
Medicine *      * Shallows *


Rae Morris is best known for her song Love Again, which I like but wouldn't go as far as to play it on repeat. Nonetheless, when I heard her solo version of the Clean Bandit collaboration Up Again, I was hooked. The original version didn't do anything for me, yet on her own the song is stripped back and all the better for it. Again, sea bass over Beats and Bass. 

photo credit: redbrick.me
From Rihanna Pt. III to Beyonce Pt. XXVIII, I tend to prefer the 'after version' of collaborative songs anyway. So, trusting the Apple Gods that be (story of my life) I gave the song a listen… and I fell in love. On her own, Rae Morris is free from the beats and other effects that dominate Clean Bandit's music. 

She reminds me a bit of Gabrielle Aplin, not just in terms of melodic similarities but also that I prefer their slower tempo - and often lesser known - songs. The good thing, however, is that both artists have great variety. I loved Rae's voice when I first heard it, so it's wonderful to have songs I love to go with it!

* My God *       Up Again *


In many ways this band is similar to daughter. Both are in the folk-indie genre, have a (memorable) female vocalist and male musicians. Yet the greatest similarity is really quite simple: they are both iPod essentials. They have been around for over half a decade, so I am feeling a bit regretful that I have only found them now - play count wise I am making up for lost time though!

photo credit: amazon.co.uk
I actually have two copies of Same Mistakes on iTunes, after downloading from two different albums - not complaining though, just means double the odds of it coming up on shuffle! Reviewing the band way back in 2011 - wow that makes me feel old - Paul Kerr surmised it pretty perfectly: "Paper Aeroplanes are an oasis of gravity in a cultural desert of frivolity". The musical  desert of 2015 makes 2011 look positively tidal (Jay-Z you missed the boat), so I would be intrigued to see Mr Kerr's response today…

Their latest album, Joy, is good, but as with Rae Morris I am a bit wistful that it comprises mostly of upbeat songs. Maybe my music tastes are just too melancholic for my own good? Lead singer Sarah Howell's voice has been enough to convert me on quite a few songs though! It actually reminds me a bit of Rae Morris, as well as Bo Bruce - another name to search, the one saving grace of TV Talent Shows! 

Yet if I still needed any other reason to love Paper Aeroplanes, this article sealed the deal. Great music and coffee go together like Ross and Rachel, or Dan and Blair - yes, I went there.

* Same Mistakes *     * Multiple Love *

* * *

In short, I'm over the charts - not that I was ever under them, let's be honest, with the exception of Taylor Swift and the odd Take That hit. Once a 90s kid always a 90s kid… My music in a nutshell:

  1. Lyrics matter - they are no different from poetry. 
  2. The best melodies wouldn't be out of place in a film trailer; that moment you hear a song (Current obsession is Christina Perri in Pan) and it tells the story on its own.  
  3. There are voices beyond autotune. Now this one isn't directed at Little Mix; to be fair they can sing! But it is as common as photoshop in fashion today. Whatever happened to a bit of authenticity?   


What music do you listen to outside of the charts? 


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