Friday, 24 March 2017

Soundtrack to studying...

So, whilst being at University I have not just had lots of essays to write and lots of books to read, I've also been exploring new music that creates the perfect atmosphere and vibe to study. This is a hard task for me, as I find most music I listen to on a daily basis is far too distracting to have on in the background whilst cramming 3 weeks worth of reading into 1 night or writing an essay on Shakespeare, however, I find that studying with no music drives me crazy! as it may for some of you. So I have put together a compilation of 20 chilled out tracks that I have found perfect for studying. Hopefully, this chilled, mellow and vibey playlist will motivate and inspire you to put your head in a book or if not just to take a moment to chill out and relax, especially at this extremely busy period of uni life, with deadlines just around the corner and exams looming ever closer!
So take a listen!

Glass Animals - Gooey
Glass Animal's latest album titled 'How To Be A Human Being' came out in 2016. However, I have chosen a track from their previous Album 'ZABA' as I think the beat & tempo is perfect for getting your head down.

Ryan Adams - To Be Without You
Ryan Adams has always been a prominent musical figure in my life, right from his album 'Love is Hell' with probably his most listened track to date, a cover of Oasis' 'Wonderwall'. His track 'To Be Without You' is taken from his newest album 'Prisoner' released earlier this year. I chose this song as I love love love the chilled country vibe, really harping back to his roots as an alt-country artist.

The Japanese House - Face Like Thunder
I first discovered The Japanese House when she supported The 1975 at their Brixton gig last year.
The mix of bubblegum pop and electronic is just perfect to me. 

Daughter - Youth
This song has been one of my favourites for many years and Daughter have been a prominent feature in many a playlist of mine. So it is only right that this song has a place on this list. Whatever mood I am in this song calms me and is the perfect tune to break up a hectic day at uni.

Oh Wonder - Drive
I have to thank my dear friend Alice for introducing me to this duo; I can always trust Alice's music taste as it is extremely similar to mine. Oh Wonder is no exception. 

Vaults - Poison
Vaults debut album 'Caught in Still Life' came out late last year and has catapulted them into the spotlight. Every song on this album could go onto this playlist, however, I have managed to pick one track that I put on time and time again as, in my opinion, it has the perfect rhythm to study with. I can't wait for whats in store for this exciting band. 

Tame Impala - Feels Like We Only Go Backwards 
The psychedelic sounds of Tame Impala are absolutely ideal.

Friends - Francis and the Lights feat. Bon Iver
Francis and the Lights are a new band to me, however, Bon Iver is one of my favourites. So, when I saw that he was featuring in this track, I just had to give it a listen. The rest is history.

Vulfpack - Backpocket
This LA band has so much funk and classic R&B influence and I LOVE IT.

Childish Gambino - Me and Your Mama & Redbone
I was a fan of Childish Gambino back in the 'Camp' and 'because the internet' days, however his new album 'Awaken, My Love' has upped the game to a whole new level. I was Torn between Redbone and Me and Your Mama, so I have chosen both and I am not sorry.

London Grammar - Wasting my Young Years
London Grammar have similar kind of vibes to Daughter, I guess you could say I like trios! Both artists evoke such emotion through their lyrics and moody sound. With the news of their new album 'Truth is a Beautiful Thing' to be released on June 9th, we have a lot to look forward to from this trio!

Youngr - Out of my System (acoustic)
This is an acoustic version of Youngr's song 'Out of my System' released earlier this year.

Jamie XX - Loud Places
This is a solo track by Jamie XX, part of indie pop group The XX. From his solo 2011 album 'In Colour'. This song features vocals from Romy. Its a perfect mix of beats and vocals.

José Gonzalez - Heartbeats
Swedish artist José Gonzalez covers The Knife's electronic pop song 'Heartbeats' but uses his folk and indie influence to make the song almost unrecognisable. 

Kodaline - Love Like This (acoustic) 
Kodaline ditch their usual pop rock, and give us something a lot more mellow with the acoustic version of their hit 'Love Like This'. I personally prefer the stripped back sound of this acoustic version rather than the original.

Sundara Karma - Watching from Great Heights
Sundara Karma have sky rocketed in popularity in the last year. They have supported bands such as The Wombats and Two Door Cinema Club, as well as having an almost completely sold-out headline tour. The album 'Youth is Only Ever Fun in Retrospect' has multiple hit tracks, including 'She Said' and 'Flame' however I have chose the moodier track 'Watching from Great Heights' for the purpose of this list.

Fickle Friends - Swim
Fickle Friends are a relatively new & fresh indie pop band from Brighton. They have released multiple singles since 2013 including this track 'Swim' which was released last year. 

Thundercat - Show You the Way
This album 'Drunk' came out earlier this year. Thundercat has collaborations with the likes of Kendrick Lamar, Wiz Khalifa, Pharrell Williams and on this track 'Show You the Way' Michael McDonald and Kenny Loggins. This track has heavy groove and funk influences.

Laura Marling - Wild Fire
Laura Marling emerged into the limelight of the indie singer/songwriter scene at the age of just 16, 10 years later she has just released her latest album 'Semper Femina'. This track is taken off of this album.

Tired Pony - I'm Begging You Not To Go
Tired Pony is a project supergroup formed by Snow Patrol's frontman Gary Lightbody, taking country and indie influences to create a mellow, alt country sound. This track is my favourite from the album 'The Ghost of the Mountain' released in 2013.

Friday, 2 December 2016

My experience of music in Liverpool so far and Xander and The Peace Pirates

Since being in Liverpool I have been introduced to a whole new music scene and so far I am loving it! I have been able to interview Liverpool bands such as Idle Frets and Xander and The Peace Pirates for LSRadio and also been to a whole array of gigs such as Heaven 17, Ministry of Sound and many more that I wouldn't have had the opportunity to if it wasn't for being at University in Liverpool and being part of LSRadio. One band in particular that I have been introduced to and emerged in is the guitar band Xander and The Peace Pirates.

(Here I am joined by two members of the band Idle Frets)

I had the pleasure of interviewing these talanted lads for LSRadio a few weeks before their album launch show at The Cavern Club. I spoke to Keith who plays the guitar and lead vocals, Stu who plays guitar and Mike who plays slide guitar and co-produced the album. The band spoke to me about their album '11:11' (which was released on the 11/11/2016), about the early days of their band and what spiralled them to be where they are now, as well as speaking about some of the inspiration behind their music and their musical influences. 

(A photo taken during my interview with Xander and The Peace Pirates)

Keith stated that the main inspiration behind the creation of the album was to become 'more conscious of our actions' and to 'become more balanced'. Keith went on to say musically they are are inspired by lots of American music such as Derek Trucks, Prince, Lenny Kravitz, Doyle Bramhall, Stevie Ray Vaughn etc. But what I really got from the interview was the band's aim to challenge the idea of war and peace through their music. Keith and Stu both talked passionately about how peace is something you find within yourself rather than on a battlefield. This message stood out to me the most and is really shown best through their music; especially the track titled 'Dancing with the Devil'. 
I look forward to really exploring their new album and following the band through their future ventures.

(Keith Xander during their album launch)

I attended the album launch for Xander and The Peace Pirates, I was one person in a very eagerly awaiting crowd. The band is made up of Keith Xander on vocals and lead guitar, with Stu Xander playing acoustic guitar, Mike Gay on slide guitar, Joel Goldberg on bass and Adam Goldberg on drums. The atmosphere of the Cavern Club showed that the crowd had obviously been waiting anxiously for the release of this album, and that many dedicated fans had all come together to support this Liverpool-based band. It is very obvious that the band is influenced by artists such as Prince, Lenny Kravitz and Stevie Ray Vaughn, mainly through the heavy focus on guitar in their music. Xander and the Peace Pirates were a resident band at the Cavern Club for many years, making it the perfect venue for their album’s launch, The Cavern Club is such an iconic venue in music history. 

(A photo of me with a statue of the iconic John Lennon, outside the Cavern Club)

Xander and the Peace Pirates are set to take Liverpool and the rest of the world by storm. One thing is certain, I can't wait for Xander and The Peace Pirates to return to Liverpool. The same goes for their support act Boston Shakers who mix electronic music with rap to create a very individual and new sound. I also can't wait for more musical adventures in Liverpool, be thats gigs, interviews or reviews. I have had the best few months exploring music in Liverpool and surrounding cities like Manchester. I imagine it can only get better from here onwards.
My review for the Xander and The Peace Pirates album launch at the Cavern Club
My interview with Xander and The Peace Pirates

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Welcome to Liverpool!

The time has come and I have moved city to study English and Communication & Media at The University Of Liverpool. These past few weeks have been full of emotions from excitement and happiness to sadness and heartache - hence why I haven't written to you in a long time. I am excited to start this new chapter of my life and interested in learning new things, having new experiences, opportunities and meeting lots of new people! However I knew that leaving home would be intertwined with deep feelings of sadness, with leaving the most important people in my life back at home: my parents, all my family and friends. It is also a weird feeling knowing that I am completely responsible for myself and have to make every decision on my own judgement. Things such as cooking for myself and doing my own washing as well as making decisions and having way more control over my academic and career path. 

My first day involved moving into my halls of residence, I am living in University accommodation and so far I absolutely love it! I love my flatmates, my room, the area and convenience of it being right in the centre of the University.

I have printed lots of photos (as you can see below) to remind me of friends and family and to make the transition a little easier!

I have gone for a grey and white theme with my room mainly through bedding and accessories.

In terms of Liverpool as a city, I absolutely LOVE it. Liverpool offers so much in terms of culture, shopping, food and so much more. 

I took a visit to Tate Gallery and had a wander round the Albert Docks and generally just explored more of Liverpool.


There are many interesting pieces of art in the Tate. However, I do find it hard to really understand what they represent and the meaning of all of the pieces.
This piece of art was is essentially rubbish in a pile on the floor, which supposedly represents traces of everyday life. However, after having a conversation with my Dad about what I had experienced during my visit to the Tate I realised that to me art should not be as simple as the everyday but is a way of exploring the supernatural and sublime elements of our imaginations and creating something that is completely new and different. Which for me pieces of art made from rubbish or that are simply  conventional items like an unmade bed, are not creating something unimaginable or unique.

I also got a chance to explore the cavern quarter which was very exciting for me being the massive Beatles fan I am. Liverpool is bursting at the seems with history and culture; accordingly being a former culture capital.

I look forward to continuing my journey of music, knowledge, education and in general growing up in this fabulous city that I have already fallen in love with!

Friday, 26 August 2016

So ferry 'cross the Mersey and always take me there, the place I love...

So as you may or may not know it was recently A-Level Results day, all across the country A-Level students awaiting to be told their fate; where they will be living and studying for the next 3/4 years of their life. For me it was a day of excitement and celebration, I had worked hard all year and in the end I secured a place at my first choice uni; The University of Liverpool!

Taken in Liverpool during my visit earlier this year

So with a few weeks until I leave to move up North and start the next adventure in my life in the 'The City of Pop', I feel it is only fitting to explore the amazing artists and musical exports originating from Liverpool. Artists include Gerry and the Pacemakers, The La's, Frankie Goes to Hollywood, The Wombats, Cilla Black and probably most famously The Beatles. 

Me walking across the famous Abbey Road zebra crossing in London

The Sixties was the beginning of the Merseybeat style of music and arguably when the music scene in Liverpool was at its peak. During the Sixties numerous number ones came from Liverpool. Gerry and the Pacemaker's 'How do you do it?' and 'You'll Never Walk Alone' were both number ones in 1963. Whilst 1964 saw The Beatles' hits 'A Hard Days Night' and 'I Feel Fine' reach number one. As well as Cilla Black's 'Anyone who had a heart' (a personal favourite of mine) and 'You're my World'. The Sixties also popularised the Cavern Club, one of the most famous music venues in history. The Cavern club has seen the likes of The Beatles, Cilla Black, Status Quo and Queen. The Cavern Club is an iconic music venue in Liverpool and throughout the world.

''And in the end the love you take is equal to the love you make''

Paul McCartney

The Beatles have been one of my favourite bands since the age of about 3; most probably down to the influence of my older brother and Dad. Each of The Beatles' albums brings something brilliant and different, to me no artist will ever be as inventive or revolutionary as The Beatles. The Beatles moved through Skiffle Beat, 50s Rock and Roll, Psychedelic and even fused classical into their music with the help of George Martin. I am eager to discover more about The Beatles whilst living in their hometown and the place their musical career really began.

Moving onto to more modern artists, Liverpool has given us some amazing artists in the 80s, 90s and 2000s. One of my personal favourite bands The Wombats originate from Liverpool, as well as The La's who sing the opening track in one of my favourite movies 'So I married an axe murderer' titled 'There She Goes'. 

Pictures taken during The Wombat's gig in Rock City Nottingham

Music has always been and will continue to be a prominent feature of Liverpudlian culture, there is no argument that some of the worlds most celebrated artists come from Liverpool and the city is the perfect place for someone like me; who is passionate about music, to explore and better yet live!

I look forward to finding out more about Liverpool and the history of music in Liverpool as I start the next chapter of my life in the European Capital of Culture - LIVERPOOL!

(all photos are my own)

Thursday, 11 August 2016

A few of the most influential artists of all time...(in my opinion)

David Bowie
David Robert Jones aka David Bowie has been arguably one of the most influential artists in the world of music for over 50 years. Bowie swayed through genres of music from Glam rock to Pop to Electronic. But for me the one thing I love about Bowie is that he never failed to deliver a surprising and fresh take on everything he did, forever pushing boundaries and making it cool to be different. Bowie was influenced from an early age by Beat Literature and Rock music. Bowie's first hit song was 'Space Oddity' in 1969, a product of Bowie watching Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey. Bowie stated: "I went stoned out of my mind to see the movie and it really freaked me out, especially the trip passage." It is important to note that Bowie was not only hugely influential within the music industry but as a style\fashion icon going from Ziggy Stardust to Aladdin Sane to Thin White Duke. As well, Bowie shifted people's mindset on what it means to be an artist and a performer and has definitely inspired many artists after him and will continue to do so.

''I feel like an actor on stage, rather than a rock artist.''

When one thinks of `Blondie' what pops into mind is the unique vocals, the iconic image and subtle and sensitive lyrics of Debby Harry. However, 'Blondie' is much more than Debby Harry. 'Blondie' showcases the talent of Chris Stein, keyboardist/composer Jimmy Destri, Clement Burke; Drummer and Gary Valentine; bassist. Together these five individuals shook up the punk scene, by encompassing the sounds of garage, disco, hip-hop, rock and many other genres of music into their albums and creating something distinctively 'Blondie'. 

Blondie released their self titled first album in 1976, however the album that really threw them in to the spot light was 'Parallel Lines' released in 1978. This album included the hits 'Hanging on the Telephone' and 'Heart of Glass' my personal favourite 'Blondie' song.

One pivotal moment in 'Blondie''s career was the release of 'Rapture' from their fifth studio album 'Autoamerican' in 1980. 'Rapture' was the first No. 1 song in the American chart to feature rap. 'Blondie' did something no one would have predicted and this side of 'Blondie'; the unpredictable, is what makes me love them the most. 'Blondie' went on to release 5 more studio albums after 'Autoamericn' of which 'No Exit' peaked at No.3 in the UK charts. For me 'Blondie''s iconic style and sound, and their legendary status are what have given them a place on this list and makes them one of the most influential artists of all time.

''I do know the effect that music still has on me - I'm completely vulnerable to it. I'm seduced by it.''

Kate Bush
Probably my favourite pick of the bunch has to be Kate Bush. Her eclecticism and ethereal vocals for me make some of the best music of all time. Whilst watching the documentary 'Kate Bush: A Sensual World' I discovered that she was more than the diaphanous voice, she was really a creator of art - Bush creates the concepts of her music videos as well as directing them and staring in them herself. Bush trained in interpretive dance and mime with Lindsay Kemp, this theatrical training is definitely a huge part of her performances.

Bush's first album 'The Kick Inside' was released in 1978 when Bush was just 19! To me this is incredible, Bush really showed what she had to give and foreshadowed just how amazing her following albums would be. At just 19 she was releasing songs such as 'Wuthering Heights' and 'The Man with the Child in his Eyes' that have the emotion and experience expected of an artist twice her age. All ten of Bush's studio album's reached the Top 10 in the UK album charts and she was also the first ever female British solo artist to top the album charts. Bush has so much under her belt and is a respected artist, for me she is so deserving of her place on this list and is and also will be a massive, massive icon to me and I will forever listen to her songs like 'This Woman's Work' and 'Running up that Hill' with respect and admiration for Bush as an artist, creator and performer.

''I don't aim for perfection. But I do want to try and come up with something interesting.'' 

Smokey Robinson
Smokey Robinson earns his place on this list for his singing, song writing and producing. Smokey met Berry Gordy after a failed audition for Brunswick Records, Smokey Robinson and The Miracles were with Berry Gordy; the founder of Motown, before the creation of Motown, making Smokey a founding member of Motown and a massive influence on all of the Motown artists that came after him.

Smokey's passion for music started in high school and has said his interest in music was sparked after listening to Nolan Strong & The Diablos and Barrett Strong. These influences would go on to spur Smokey to create hit songs such as 'Tracks of my Tears' and 'Tears of a Clown'. Smokey has lead the way for hits like 'Here I come' By Fergie, which uses a sample of 'Get Ready' written by Smokey Robinson for The Temptations. As well as songs like 'Happy' by Michael Jackson.

Smokey Robinson is undoubtedly one of the biggest names to come from Motown and in general a titan of the music industry.

''Motown will always be a heavy-duty part of my life because those are my roots.''

The Beach Boys
The Beach Boys were the most commercially successful band of the 1960's. They came from Hawthorne California, and the beach atmosphere of their hometown was prominent in a large number of their early works. Their biggest hit was the album 'Pet Sounds' released in 1966, this album was the first album where Brian Wilson had fully taken control of their recording career. Brian Wilson essentially created this album by himself whilst the other members of the band were on tour. This resulted in hits such as 'God Only Knows' and 'I Just Wasn't Made for These Times'. The Beach Boys music is undeniably distinctive and unique. I have to say however I have a very high opinion of Brian Wilson in particular having struggled with mentall health issues and addiction, he said ''I felt I had no choice. I was run down mentally and emotionally because I was running around, jumping on jets from one city to another on one-night stands, also producing, writing, arranging, singing, planning, teaching—to the point where I had no peace of mind and no chance to actually sit down and think or even rest." This was the time period when he created 'Pet Sounds'. After having researched in detail about Wilson's struggle with mental health issues and his unethical treatment by Eugene Landy, it gave me more respect for Wilson as an artist and as a person.

The Beach Boy's music and in particular the album 'Pet Sounds' will always remain for me one of my favourite albums of all time and The Beach Boys one of my favourite bands.

''There will always be a Beach Boys. Being a Beach Boy is like being in love.''

These amazing artists are only five of many that I could have picked, artists such as Fleetwood Mac, The Beatles, The Stone Roses, Paul Weller, Diana Ross and soooo many more would be included if I could of had an infinite list. I picked 5 artists who were interesting to research, who I love listening to and who have inspired me in one way or another in some aspect of my life.

Thanks for reading :-)

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