Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Best Albums of 2013

We're already in 2014. And just when you thought you had enough 'best of' and next big thing' here is my belated end of year round-up. These are my four favourite albums of 2013. If you haven't already listened to them, then do it now. If you have listened to them let me know what you think. I'd love to hear if you agree or disagree. It's a pretty narrow list, mostly due to me being a closed-minded hermit. But if you'd like to see what else I listen to visit my last.fm listening profile.

The Wonder Years – The Greatest Generation

I've been aware of these modern pop-punk greats for a while, but I only gave them a proper listen after they were billed for Slam Dunk festival last year. As it transpired I was too busy skanking to King Prawn and The Skints to catch see them live. What a mistake that was! This latest album by them is far and away my favourite album of 2013. As described on the band's twitter, it is realist pop-punk. It has everything you'd expect in a pop-punk masterpiece; anthemic choruses and killer riffs abound. What sets this apart though are the lyrics. Masterfully crafted, they tackle those issues that you rarely hear in popular music, never mind other pop-punk. This is an opera of suburban life from a mature perspective. Growing up, starting a family, being a parent, family history, home and death. These are familiar themes but they are dealt from a unique perspective and delivered with an authenticity and honesty which really reaches the soul and gives me those rare shivers up the neck.

Monday, 4 March 2013


Another poem for you. You might notice a theme emerging!

by Patrick Shortall

Arrived at the end of the day
My life feels vaguely empty
I don't know what's missing
but I don't want to sleep

Of everything that's provided for me
How can I not have enough?
Poor in every way
except the ones that show

Educated, Satisfied, Warm, Popular,
Everything I need.
Organised, not stressed
Even comfortably tired.

Like the force pushing back,
The problems shift ahead.
I now know how to wake up
But I can't get to bed.

The gentle buzz of the laptop
The busy train outside
The blaring light above me
I'm cocooned in here to hide

Fall asleep without going to bed.

Thursday, 14 February 2013

The Romantic Megamix

Happy Valentine's day to you! To mark the occasion I'd like to share a playlist that I created a few years ago. It's full of romantic love songs to set the perfect mood for a date. Originally a simple idea, it quickly turned into and unwieldy project to find the perfect mix. So it is embarrassingly well researched. Although, having got caught up with the music side of it, the romantic function was somewhat forgotten and I never used it for its intended purpose. But hopefully I can pass it on and somebody might find something useful in it. 

It consists of a balance between ultra cheesy classics, some great lesser-known songs and a few personal favourites, plus some smooth jazz and instrumentals thrown in for good measure. It's probably not to hard to guess which is which, if you know anything about my music taste. The mix is divided into three 'discs', each providing more than enough background music for an evening. Each disc has a slightly different theme. They represent different levels of a relationship, increasing from first date to committed. Withing each mix there is a mix of low and high energy and also a progression from chilled out and chilled out to more... 'frisky'.

So feel free to use them in making your own romantic playlist. I would have been grateful for a list like this when I started the project. I think I've weeded out the worst of the cheesy love songs and there are a few less conventional songs that can still get people in the mood for love. And even if you don't really get the whole point of valentine's day, like me, at least you can appreciate some good music. And like love itself, sometimes we all just need a little cheese!