2016 ended sounding like this…

Well. It’s been a whole year, almost since I started journalling my music choices on here. In all honesty, towards the end of this year I’ve found writing this series a little laborious-so in one way I’m quite pleased that I can conclude it. The lovely part of all of this though is that I can look back on the musical choices I have made, which often reflect my emotions, and be taken back to the time I first discovered certain tracks and songs. It’s lovely to have quite a unique document of my year in that way.

In terms of November and December, you could say most of my musical choices have been quite ‘safe’-but I guess that’s kinda natural for this time of year. As we all go into semi-hibernation for the winter, what we all want is some form of comfort-and so I often enjoy the muscial equivalent of chicken soup in these months. Having said that, the list below is an eclectic mix-so I hope you can find something, new or already heard, to enjoy!

Clean Bandit, Anne-Marie, Sean Paul: Rock-a-Bye

This is song has been played everywhere and anywhere this month, and even ended up being the Christmas No.1, so no doubt you’ve heard it already. I’ve been a big Clean Bandit fan ever since ‘Rather Be’, so I’m glad to see they’re still going strong; doing innovative things with violins. I also admire them for writing a hit song about the struggles of being a single mother; you don’t see that everyday, and quite frankly we need more artists writing socially aware stuff in the current political climate. So I’m hoping that their next track is about the benefits system, or possibly Brexit, or something similar. As long as they include those lovely violins again, it’s bound to be a top hit.

Childish Gambino-Redbone

When I  e-v-e-n-t-u-a-l-l-y  pass my driving test (keep telling myself it won’t be long now), this will definitely be in the running for the first track I play whilst driving independently. It’s got a lovely driving rhythm, and Mr. Gambino has a super soothing voice that could possibly cure any potential bouts of road rage. He also constantly sings in falsetto, which is super impressive.

Alicia Keys-Blended Family

Alicia Keys is just ace, isn’t she? Politically aware, self-confident and an RnB queen. I’ve always liked her, but with the arrival of her new album, HERE, I’ve become a big fan. She knows her own sound and never tries to imitate in a world full of copycats.

Wham!-Last Christmas

This has always been, and always will be, my favourite Christmas pop song-and I’m pretty sure I would have included on in this list even if we hadn’t received the sad news of  George Michael’s passing a few days ago. The fact that this song gets stuck in my head every Christmas, and that I never get bored of it, is testament to the fantastic singer/songwriter he was, and the legacy he has left behind.

Craig David-Change my Love

I am beyond pleased that this man has made such a successful return. Back when I was in Uni, I used to do a student radio show and we literally played Craig David every week-so I’m gonna say that his big return has been somewhat down to our ongoing support during his quieter years. Oh, and the fact that he’s back writing some pretty fabby catchy tunes like this one.

Well-that’s it! I hope you have a stonkingly brilliant New Year, if I’m not back before then. I’m looking forward to lots more blog-related adventures in 2017 🙂

Love,

H xx

 

 

 

October Sounded Like This…

At the start of most of my music-related blog posts, I usually open with a romantic sounding paragraph about the nature of the month, or how I’ve been feeling in general over the course of the past 4 weeks. It’s hard for me to do this for October, because it was chaotic and difficult. I feel like I’ve experienced a whole rainbow of emotions since I last wrote on here, and trying to sum them up in a neat little paragraph wouldn’t make any sense. I will probably write about this in more detail in some point-just not today. Today’s about music-which has, as always, helped me to make sense of things at a challenging and confusing time. I’ve been listening to a right old jumble of stuff this month, but here are some songs that are (mostly!) brand new, and that I thought you might enjoy:

Emeli Sande-Highs and Lows

I’ve never really connected to Emeli Sande’s music before, despite always appreciating her talent as an artist and her amazing voice. She’s spent 3 years writing her new album ‘Long Live the Angels’ (TBR 11 November), and from the tracks that I’ve heard so far, it seems that taking some time away from the public eye to focus on her music has really paid off. I particularly love the track below, which is a lovely optimistic anthem (and possibly the perfect song to sing badly in the shower).

Ray BLK (feat. Stormzy)-My Hood

I’m a little bit in love  with Ray BLK’s music. She’s another Jools Holland discovery (I have a lot of those these days!), and there’s something about her that reminds me of young 90s female RnB artist like Brandy (expect British). Having said that, her voice is also contemporary and fresh, and I can’t think of anyone else out there quite like her right now. This particular song is brilliant-it’s basically a love song her part of London (kind of like a gritter version of Adele’s ‘Hometown Glory’). Also, the chicken shop references make me hungry.

Glass Animals-Season 2 Episode 3

I’m pretty sure that I’ve featured Glass Animals on here before-and the reason for this is that their music is like liquid for the ears. They’re also unshamedly weird and difficult to categorise, and I like that! This particular song is a great one to relax to-you can just let it wash over you, like a nice (if slightly odd tasting) glass of fruit juice.

Dodie-Sick of Losing Soulmates

For those of you who don’t know-Dodie Clark’s a YouTuber with a very dedicated fanbase. She creates lovely catchy tunes using her piano and ukelele, which often manage to be quirky, funny and moving all at once. She’s releasing her first EP soon (which I believe you can pre-order now!), and this first track’s a lovely taster of what’s to come.

The Flirtations-Nothing but a Heartache

Let’s end on a slightly old-school note! I’ve developed a real appreciation of Funk, Soul and Motown over the past year or so, and if I’m having a particularly bad day then this track often pops into my head. It’s weird, because the lyrics aren’t exactly uplifting, but the melody is and that itself it often enough to cheer me up-or at least help me to smile through the difficult bits.

That’s it for today! As always, let me know what you’ve been listening to-I’ll happily listen to any recommendations.

H xx

August sounded like this…

‘Cool’ is not a word I often associate with myself for so many reasons-I prefer cheesy musicals to Danish noir, meals out to nights out and I’ll take a nice cup of tea over a jagerbomb anyday  (if that’s even what the kids are drinking these days). I’ve long accepted this fact and at 23, I can  even say that I wear my squareness with pride. However, something slightly astounding has happened this month-my August playlist is actually pretty cool (IMHO, which probably doesn’t account for much!). Upon first meeting me, people often assume that my music taste won’t stretch much further than a Disney playlist and a few sporadic chart hits. It’s always nice to prove them a little wrong, and a playlist like this demonstrates that I am, in fact, a woman of depth and taste (Yes, I am being tongue-in-cheek and only 14% serious. And that is fine).

XamVolo-Down

Firstly, I would like to point out that this man is obviously super-cool as his name (or stagename, at least) starts with an X. Not many of us can say that, and not many of us can create music like this either. I’ve had this heady mix of Jazz and RnB on repeat all month, and I’m not bored of it yet. Somehow, this track manages to mix retro with a thoroughly modern sound to create one of the most listenable tracks of the year so far.

Father John Misty-Real Love Baby

In the past, I’ve never known quite what I think about Father John Misty-he often hides behind a persona and I’ve never warmed to the good deal of sarcasm/irony in his songwriting. This track however feels more genuine, whilst also sounding like the themetune to a Californian roadtrip. Too cool.

Francis and the Lights-Friends (feat. Bon Iver & Kanye West)

Is anyone else a bit of a sucker for an autotuned voice? I personally blame all the Cher I listened to as a child. This track makes brilliant use of some highly synthetic harmonised vocals though, and somehow manages to feature two of the music world’s seemingly most incompatible artists and create something lovely. Impressed.

Blossoms-Charlemagne

Indie-style music seems to be making a little bit of a resurgence recently, which the 13 year old part of me is rather happy about. This is a catchy little number, and it’s been really nice to hear some jingly-jangly guitar on the radio again.

Britney Spears-Make me…(feat. G-Eazy)

OK-so I could only keep up the pretence of being mighty cool for so long! But this is honestly Britney’s best single since Toxic in 2003, so it deserved to be mentioned. You may think that’s a bold statement-but just give it a listen and you might be surprised. Plus, everyone loves a Britney-a-thon from time to time-no matter how cool you may pretend to be.

August’s playlist is below! Enjoy, and let me know what your ears have been loving recently 🙂

H xx

June sounded like this…

Summer is such a busy time, which is why this post is a little late. But it’s also a time when music plays an important role-whether you’re listening to new releases, or old classics which deserve to be listened to again and again. This June was unlike any other I have known-a time of great political turmoil and uncertainty. In such times, I think music becomes even more important-a way to enrich us and reconnect us to what’s important, and to make sense out of chaos. So, I’ve listened to even more music than usual this month- which is why my playlist is twice as long as usual! Here’s a brief summary of what I’ve been listening to:

Alicia Keys-In Common: I’m so glad Alicia’s back-and with a sultry, sensual new sound to boot. You’ll have this song in your head for days.

Christine & The Queens-Tilted: She’s my new French discovery-and I’m so glad I found her and her brand of cool, understated pop! Watch a video of her with her dancers if you can-they’re amazing to watch.

Viola Beach-Boys That Sing: A bittersweet song to listen to, due to the fact that the band lost their lives when involved in a tragic car accident earlier this year. Their sound reminds me of everything I used to listen to when I was a teenager though-and I love it. It’s perfect for summer, too (hence why Coldplay covered this during their Glastonbury set).

The 1975-Somebody Else: This is a cracking tune, written by one of the bands of the moment. This song is taken from their new album ‘I like it when you sleep, for you are so beautiful yet so unaware of it’-a title which sounds like a love song in itself.

Curtis Mayfield-Move on Up: Such an uplifting track, which the perfect pick-me-up on slightly gloomy summer’s day. Despite the fact it’s nearly 50 years old, it will never age.

Bendith-Danybanc: Bendith is a collaborative project featuring members of  two Welsh bands-‘Colorama’ and ‘Plu’. This is a gorgeous song about home, and remembering the past whilst looking out to the future-a great message in these times of change.

Chrvrches feat. Hayley Williams-Bury it: Scottish electro-rock + American Pop-Punk superstar=a match made in heaven.

Honne, Izzy Bizu-Someone That Loves You: Duets seem to be ‘The Thing’ at the moment. I approve when they’re as catchy as this.

Tom Misch-Crazy Dream: Ideal sunbathing music from an up-and-coming British singer-songwriter.

DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince-Summertime: One of my tracks of the summer, every summer. ‘Nuff said.

Have a listen here:

Hope that you enjoy at least some of the songs on this playlist-and that they help  ease you through the rainy, difficult days as well as the breezy, easy ones.

H xx

May sounded like this…

This month, I’ve realised that I’m definitely not a teenager anymore. Okay, so there’s already been several markers of this in my life for a while now-I pay taxes, I do yoga, I prefer a nice glass of red to a Blue WKD (although I mainly just pretended to like those in the first place, bleugh). But something more monumental has happened-I turn on Radio 1 these days and it’s all starting to sound the same to me. Rather than liking almost every song I hear, I only like one or two. And, on one occasion this month, I actually found myself shouting at the singer on the radio-“Open your mouth! The ability to annunciate never hurt anyone.” Which instantly made me feel as though I had suddenly skipped 50 years of life and turned 73.

What I’m trying to get at, I guess, is that I’m not nearly as interested in the mainstream music scene as I was a few years ago. This is probably because I’m reaching the top of its demographic now, so there’s less to appeal to me. And whilst that makes it a little bit more tricky to make new music discoveries, it does make me feel like I’m maturing in a nice way. Whilst I’m not particularly looking forward to paying taxes for the next 20 years, I am looking forward to listening to a bit more 6 Music. You win some, you lose some in life.

So, without further ado here’s my playlist for May. It’s a right old mixture.

James Blake feat. Bon Iver-I Need a Forest Fire

James Blake is back, just in time for Festival season, with a brand new album. His sound has definitely matured a bit, which obviously suits me fine as my eardrums are clearly bona fide adults now. This track is a lovely collaboration with Bon Iver, and contains plenty of gorgeous harmonies and repetitive beats. I can definitely imagining listening to it in a field somewhere, cider in hand.

Izzy Bizu-White Tiger

I’m not sure where I first heard this track. I feel like it’s been used as the backing music for pretty much every summer fashion advert out there, so it’s been following me around a bit. Despite this, I actually really like it-there’s something about it that just sounds like being on holiday. I’m also a sucker for any upbeat pop song that features lots of piano for some reason.

Nick Pride and the Pimptones-Everything’s Better in the Summertime

I woke up to this song the other day and it instantly put me in a good mood-it’s a super upbeat, jazzy soul track that’s the perfect soundtrack to these lovely sunny days we’ve been lucky enough to have recently. You can also have a sing along to it as the lady singing annunciates PERFECTLY. And there’s a fabulous sax solo-what’s not to love?

Beach Boys-God Only Knows

I had to include this-not just because I always put some Beach Boys on when it’s sunny, but because this year marks 50 years since ‘Pet Sounds’ was produced-which is pretty amazing really. The songs on it are still brilliant and timeless, and you can  hear the influence they’ve had on so many artists since then. I chose this song in particular as it has the added bonus of reminding me of the airport scenes in Love Actually-which is never a bad thing.

Beyonce-Hold Up

Okay, so I know I said at the start of this post that my ears are going off mainstream music-but luckily they’ve made an exception to Beyonce. So much has been written about her new album Lemonade that it’s kinda difficult to know where to start with this song-should I mention Becky with the good hair?  Black female empowerment? The fact that the melodies aren’t up to much? Well they’ve all had a mention now, so that’s that covered. Whatever else you might think about Beyonce’s new music, it’s hard to deny that this song’s an absolute earworm. I also like that it’s really lo-fi and lets Bey’s voice do the work-let’s face it, she doesn’t need a lot else.

(Soz for the lack of clip-Bey’s new songs are only available on Tidal or CD right now).

That’s it for May! Let me know what you’re listening to if ya fancy-I’m in need of recommendations!

Bye for now,

H xx

 

 

April sounded like this…

My April was pretty busy-and consequently I only had time to steal a quick song here, and snatch a tune or two there. Shazam comes in handy at times like these, so I’ve spent my spare moments putting my phone in front of speakers this past month or so. I’ve managed to catch a few really great new releases, and indulge in a bit of nostalgia too. Here’s what I’ve heard over the past 30 days…

Shura-Touch

I feel like Shura’s been around for a while, but hasn’t really come into her own until now. This song’s really silky and smooth (kinda like a chocolate bar for the ears!), and when I listen to it I can actually pretend that I’m quite cool. I feel like she could do big things this year, and that we may well be seeing a lot more of her.

Barns Courtney-Glitter and Gold

If Shura makes me feel a bit cool, then Barns & Courtney balance things out. This song kinda sounds like something you might here at a barn dance, and would enjoy a bit of a hoedown to. It’s been on an advert recently I think, so you may well already know it. It’s also super catchy and will be in your head for days.

 

Mura Masa-What If I Go?

This is a cracking song to play on sunnier days, now that the weather’s getting a little better. Mura Masa sound a little bit like Kygo, and are another band that help me pretend that I’m quite cool when I’m listening to them. They were placed 5th on the Sound of 2016 BBC poll at the start of the year-so it’s good to see them doing well.

Prince-Purple Rain

It’s been really sad to see another music legend pass away this month. Prince has always fascinated me as an artist-particularly in terms of his complete individuality, and the way he seemed to be at least 2o steps in front of everyone else around him. There were several tracks of his that I could have included in this list, but I’ve gone for Purple Rain because I feel like it was his masterpiece. I heard someone say in a eulogy to Prince that this song sounds a little bit like having your heart broken and falling in love at the same time-and although that seems unlikely,  I know exactly what they mean.

 

Thanks for reading (and listening)-I’ll be back soon!

H xx

 

March Sounded like this…

When I think about it, March is probably one of my favourite months. It’s when we start to shake off the chills of Winter, and see the odd sunny day. There’s trees budding, lambs bouncing, and it feels like the natural world is starting to wake up. Perhaps even more importantly, there’s an excuse to eat a Welsh Cake or 12 thanks to St David’s Day-and an early Easter this year means that we could end the month with a sweet treat or two as well. Perhaps what I like best about March is how varied it can be-and that’s definitely been reflected in my favourite tracks this month. I don’t think I could have made this list more eclectic if I tried! Hopefully however, that means they’ll be something for you to enjoy listening to.

The Last Shadow Puppets-Aviation

In the same way that March can be a bit varied, my feelings about The Last Shadow Puppets are mixed. On the one hand, I firmly believe that you can never have too much of Alex Turner in your life-but on the other, I’ve never been a fan of Miles Kane. On the whole, I tend to enjoy their music, but so far neither of their albums has even come close to Arctic Monkey standards. I’ve listened to a few songs on their new album, and the sound reminds me a bit of Humbug – my least favourite Arctics album. Having said that, I do like this track. It’s got a really strong rhythm driving it along-and (if I could drive) I could definitely imagine driving along to it in the rain on a particularly dreary Thursday.

 

Stevie Wonder-Higher Ground

From a moody indie track to an upbeat classic (I warned ya that this month’s list is varied!). Stevie Wonder’s songs never fail to make me happy, and this one is no exception. The signature catchy bassline and motivational lyrics have kept me going on our rainier days this month. Thank goodness I heard it on the radio one morning in early March, or I never would have added it to my music collection. I can tell I’m gonna be bouncing along to it for some time to come!

Meghan Trainor-NO

Ah, Meghan Trainor. When  All About The Bass came onto the scene last year (or possibly the year before??), I resoundedly wasn’t a fan. Not only was the song too sugar-pop-sickly-sweet for my liking, the lyrics essentially body shamed the more petite lady, rather than striving for an inclusive message relating to body image. She then went on to release a really sexist song about all the things she’ll do for her future husband -‘I’ll be the perfect wife/Buying groceries/Buy-buying what you need’. Pur-lease. Luckily, someone on her management team realised that this wasn’t a great route for her to keep going down-and see’s come back with a very different single and a feisty new attitude. ‘NO’ sounds a bit like a Destiny’s Child song, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Beyonce rejected it as an album track at some point. It’s RnB Pop, and it’s ridiculously catchy. If there’s any more tracks like this in the pipeline, then one day I may even consider myself to be a Meghan Trainor fan.

Courtney Barnett-Elevator Operator

Talking of feisty women-Courtney Barnett definitely fits into this category. I don’t a great deal about her, but I do know that she’s a rock chick from Australia with a really unique sound. BBC Radio 6 Music absolutely love her, and have played this song so much recently that it’s definitely become my most listened-to track in March; quite literally the soundtrack to my month. I’m not complaining, as this is a fab song with a great storyline, that even manages to protude a sense of humour. Pretty rare for a rock song.

Max Jury-Numb

The only way to describe Max Jury’s music is by saying that it’s lovely. This track features great vocals, a piano and a gospel choir (but not in a cheesy X Factor-style way), and I would say that it’s pretty perfect for a Sunday afternoon . If it was biologically possible for Jamie Cullum and Paolo Nutini to make a music child, I reckon he’d sound a bit like Max Jury. He’s also very pretty, so I wouldn’t mind seeing him live sometime. Anyone wanna take me?

That’s it for now-I’ll be back again soon.

Happy April!

H xx

February Sounds Like This…

So. My February began rather quietly, and has slowly got busier and as it’s gone along. I’ve started a new job this month, (which has been a brilliant learning curve so far!) and I’ve also felt myself settle into this year; feeling enthused by its prospects and the possibilities that may unfold. For that reason, music hasn’t really been my focus; but it has been there, a constant presence in my life as always. In times of change, I tend to listen to more uplifting music. Its familiarity seems to help somehow-and in my moodier moments, it always manages to cheer me up. So-get ready quite an interesting February playlist! Here we go:

LION BABE-Where Do We Go

LION BABE (who love capital letters) have been around for a year or so now; and at the time when I first heard them, I remember thinking how new and unusual their sound was. Since then, numerous others have emerged with a similar sound (i.e Major Lazer) and they’ve stopped appearing to be quite as unique. Having said this, I still really like their music. This latest track from them is rather mainstream disco (which is by no means a bad thing!) and is great for a Friday evening, when all ya wanna do is have a little boogie.

 

Laura Mvula-Overcome

Since the word go, this lady has always been completely captivating. She’s just one of those people with natural gravitas, and I never fail to enjoy watching her perform. While I’m not quite so fond of this track as some of her previous work, this is still a great song-and I’m so glad she’s collaborated with Nile Rogers! Literally a match made in heaven.

 

Telepopmusik-Breathe

This song’s been around for ages, but I’ve been listening to it again this month as it reminds me, quite literally, to breathe and be calm in the stressful moments. Its gentle riff is immediately relaxing, and manages to transport me to a better, calmer headspace when I most need to.

Lorde-Team

Again, this isn’t exactly new this month, but Lorde’s been around doing fabulous things such as paying tribute to David Bowie at the BRITS this week-so it seems like a fitting time to revisit her first album. I’m a big fan of her music-as was Bowie (and we all know they’re the only two opinions that really matter!)-so let’s hope she keeps doing well. This tracks a particular favourite of mine.

David Bowie-Rebel Rebel

Talking of Bowie, I realised this month that his music, thankfully, isn’t going away any time soon. The tributes on our television screens have been pretty endless (and varying in quality!), but its his music that continues to ring out; loudly, clearly, and beautifully. This particular track isn’t very emotionally significant for me, but it is good to headbop to. And sometimes, that’s all you want.

 

That’s it for now! Let me know what your February has sounded like if ya fancy.

Much Love,

H xx

My January Sounded Like this…

(Note before starting: I actually wrote this post a while ago, but WordPress has been a bit funny with me so I’ve only just managed to publish it properly. Apologies that it’s very slightly dated, but I hope you still enjoy it!)
I have a lot of issues with January as a month-and I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one who feels this way. In Wales at least, it’s almost always wet, windy and feels a long way away from summer, or anything notably fun. However, it does have its perks-and one of those is an abundance of new and interesting music. I’m always particularly grateful for this, as it acts as the pick-me-up I need when everything seems a bit grey. And it also erases the 20 Christmas songs we play on loop thoughout December for another year!
This year, due to both expected and unexpected events, my January ears have been treated even more kindly than usual. Here are the 5 most notable tracks of my past month:
Jack Garratt-Worry

This little man’s been floating around for a while, but he was lucky enough placed top of this year’s BBC Sound of 2016 poll and is now getting the attention he really deserves. His sound holds some similarity to other alternative male artists such as James Blake and Raleigh Ritchie, but the production on this is tight and seems to take it to the next level. Here’s hoping he does as well as previously hotly tipped artists.
99 Souls (feat. Destiny’s Child, Brandy & Monica)-The Girl is Mine

I know very little about 99 Souls, but I do know that he must have done this remix especially for me (0r the likes of me, at least). My slightly cringey confession of the day is that I genuine love for 90s/early 00s RnB- and here 99 Souls is, remixing fab and fesity tracks into something wonderful. When listening to this I like to pretend I’m Beyonce, and sing all her bits (which is most of the song, naturally).

Protoje, Chronixx-Who Knows

Question: Who doesn’t love a bit of reggae in January? Answer: No-one! I stumbled across this track quite by accident, but I genuinely can’t get the catchy chorus out of my head. And if I close my eyes and turn the radiator up full blast, I can even pretend that I’m actually in the West Indies for a second or two.
Arctic Monkeys-A Certain Romance
Thanks to the NME, I found out that this month marks the 10 year anniversary of the band’s first album-Whatever People Say I am, That’s what I’m Not ( or WPSIATWIN if you like really bad acronyms). They’re my absolute favourites of all time, and I could probably bore you for hours about how much I love their music and Alex Turner’s sultry Sheffield tones; but instead I’ll just implore you to give this track a listen. It’s the last song on the album and, in my humble opinion, it sums up living in an unimaginative British town in the most perfect, melodious way. The rest of the albums not too shabby, either.
David Bowie-Life on Mars?
So I had to put a Bowie song on this list-although choosing just one was a big struggle, and definitely doesn’t do justice to his amazing collection of work. I chose this one because I’ve listened to it more than any of his other tracks over the past month; largely because it’s always fascinated me as a song (as it makes no sense at all, and yet all the sense in the world at the same time). Losing a musical icon like Bowie is always sad and strange, but at least it can make us treasure their music even more deeply. I know I’ll keep playing this track for years to come.
That’s it for now-I’d like to make this type of post a regular thing, so look out for my February tracks in a month’s time!
Write Soon,
Hope xx