Heavy Rotation – April 2017

 An occasional look at what media and music I have on heavy rotation. See previous editions here.

Spring. Time for new music and media – here’s a selection of what should be on your listening list this month.

All album links in here will take you to Spotify. Let me know what I should be listening to in the comments.

Heavy Rotation – March 2017

An occasional look at what media and music I have on heavy rotation. See previous editions here.

January is typically a poor month for new music, but I have found a few decent albums to keep me warm through the greyest of days.

  • Marlon Williams / Make way for Love – Kiwi singer songwriter who continues to stun, with a modern twist on vintage country.  Love his voice and songwriting.  Was due to see him live in March, but snowmageddon meant the gig was postponed to April.
  • Hans Zimmer / Bladerunner 2049 – Watched the movie during March, and was blown away by the soundtrack. Listening to the album on its own is also great, an epic, sweeping soundscape that is perfectly set for the time of the movie.
  • Franz Ferdinand / Always Ascending – Really enjoying the sixth studio album from these guys. Decent pop songs with a nice art-rock groove. Always like their stuff, and have played this a lot since its release.
  • Tracey Thorn / Record – A long time, but not a long way from the music she did with Everything but the Girl, one of the finest voices in modern pop returns with a great selection of tunes.

All album links in here will take you to Spotify. Let me know what I should be listening to in the comments.

Heavy Rotation – February 2017

An occasional look at what media and music I have on heavy rotation. See previous editions here.

January is typically a poor month for new music, but I have found a few decent albums to keep me warm through the greyest of days.

  • Glen Hansard / Between Two Shores – This isn’t my favourite album from the former Frames frontman (this is), but these melancholy songs are still excellently written and performed. Looking forward to seeing him live next week.
  • Nils Frahm / All Melody – Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful.  From a purpose built studio in Berlin emerges this stunner. Intricate, electronic, organic and all about the melody.
  • Jonny Greenwood / Phantom Thread (O.S.T) – I haven’t seen the film, but this soundtrack is amazing. Puts me in mind of a 1940’s romance, swelling strings and an orchestra just behind the curtain.
  • Carter Burwell / Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri (O.S.T) – Great film, bound to win tons of awards, this reflective and gentle soundtrack is a great way to recall the mood of the movie.
  • Turin Brakes / Invisible Storm – Eighth studio album for one of my favourite duos, nothing groundbreaking but a decent album with some slightly different styled tunes to their usual.

All album links in here will take you to Spotify. Let me know what I should be listening to in the comments.

What it feels like to be alive in the UK right now

Johnny Marr and Maxine Peak have collaborated on a music & spoken word project, around the theme of ‘What it feels like to be alive in the UK right now’.

The first release is a sobering start, featuring Molly Windsor who I last saw in the BBC’s Three Girls.  The words are taken from a diary kept by Joe Gallagher who spent time on the streets in Edinburgh.

The music is excellent, and would easily standalone without the spoken word, but it is the narrative that provides a dose of realism and edge to the track. I’m looking forward to more releases from this project in 2018.

For further information, there is a great interview over on the Guardian site. 

Watch The Priest now:

Brain Diet – November 2017

Inspired by Kottke – here’s a snapshot of the media that is currently feeding me:

  • Watch: Tin Star (Sky Atlantic) – Binge watched this great series about a British cop played excellently by Tim Roth, who moves with his family to Canada for a quiet life. When tragedy strikes, his life takes an all too familiar path.
  • Listen: Charlotte Gainsbourg / Rest (Spotify) – Fantastically lush electronica to support some great songwriting and vocal performances. Beautiful album.
  • Read : Satya Nadella / Hit Refresh (Amazon) – Easy reading from the CEO of Microsoft, part biography, part business book, part manifesto on the future of technology.
  • Watch: Mindhunter (Netflix) – Another binge watch, set in the early 70’s as the FBI begin research into serial killers.  Features some great scenes as the team interview some of the most notorious names from the American crime psyche.
  • Listen: Baxter Dury / Prince of Tears (Spotify) – Louche beats, laid back spoken vocals and a guest appearance from Justin Williamson (Sleaford Mods) make this a must listen album for the end of 2017.
  • Read: Working Out Loud / John Stepper (Amazon) – Excellent book with some easy to read, practical advice on building better relationships that can benefit your career or any other area of life.  Supported by an interesting blog here.
  • Watch: The Deuce (Sky Atlantic) – Set around Time Square / 42nd Street in New York (known locally as The Deuce), this is a great series focusing on the prostitutes and pimps that inhabit the area in the early seventies.  Starring James Franco in two roles, and Maggie Gyllenhaal as a prostitute turned pornographer.

Brain Diet – October 2017

Inspired by Kottke – here’s a snapshot of the media that is currently feeding me:

  • Four Tet / New Energy (Listen : Spotify) – eclectic, worldly electronica that is simultaneously soothing and twitchy.  Highlight, Two Thousand and Seventeen.
  • Halt and Catch Fire (Watch : Amazon TV) – I loved series 1 and 2,  am now catching up on Series 3 where the characters are busy inventing the internet.  Possibly the best thing on TV since Mad Men.
  • Olivia Belli / Max Richter: Piano Works (Listen : Spotify) – simple piano versions of Richters works. Minimal, beautiful and spacious music. 
  • Jeanne Bliss / Chief Customer Officer 2.0 (Read : Amazon) – great read with some excellent insights into the customer office role.  Five solid principles to bring the customer life in your organisation.
  • Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross / The Vietnam War Original Score (Listen : Spotify) – I haven’t seen this PBS series yet (on the BBC iplayer), but if the OST is anything to go by, it should be excellent. 
  • Electric Dreams (Watch : Channel 4 TV) – Ten part series of short films inspired by Philip K Dick, great cast and some excellent screenwriting make this a good weekly watch.
  • Matt Watkinson / The Grid (Read: Amazon) – interesting approach to thinking about how a business runs, the moving parts that impact each other and help you make decisions.
  • Adam Buxton Podcast (Listen : Web) – always a funny, and interesting listen. Recent highlight is the Johnny Marr edition with great insights into the creative process.

 

Heavy Rotation – Sept 2017

Inspired by Kottke, I thought I’d share a few things in my current rotation on Spotify:

Top 10 of 2016 – Music

Whilst 2016 wasn’t a great year for many things, there was some amazing music about.

Here are my top ten albums of the year, in no specific order:

 

  • Radiohead – A Moon Shaped Pool
  • Lisa Hannigan – At Swim
  • Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Skeleton Tree
  • Kate Tempest – Let them eat chaos
  • Joep Beving – Solipsism
  • Keaton Henson – Kindly Now
  • Olafur Arnalds – Island Songs
  • James Blake – The Colour in Anything
  • Rokkurro – I Annan Heim
  • Tricky – Skilled Mechanics

Memories

I was listening to some music yesterday which reminded me heavily of listening to electronic music back in my early teen bedroom at home.  I had an Alba music system, and a small stack of vinyl.  I was in a transition from the ‘pop’ music of my childhood, into discovering something new.  Gary Numan, John Foxx and Kraftwerk were becoming the music of choice for this teenager from the suburbs of London.

I tried to remember what came before. Further back than the music I chose.

I remember strangely silent Sunday afternoons, when my parents might sleep in front of the TV. A heavy silence that seemed to last forever until early evening TV took over.  I remember the music from an 8-track player in my Dads car.  Stevie Wonder, ELO and maybe Abba.  I remember the noise of a house party at home with family and friends dancing around the hi-fi system we had, Carl Douglas and Motown.

So many influences. So many memories.