Tag Archives | Music

Life goals (amended) …

Here are my life goals for the foreseeable future:

  • Get a novel length work of fiction onto the Kindle and iBooks stores for people to buy or, if they feel it warrants it, ignore!
  • Do a Science MSc degree part time with the OU.
  • Get an album of my own music onto iTunes Music Store for people to buy or ignore!

That’ll keep me busy during the Times of Austerity we are entering ๐Ÿ™‚


Album of the year contenders for 2010

Been a while since I updated this post. Luckily there has been a spate of new albums in the last while to make up for a dearth earlier in the year.

I kept a list of album of the year contenders last year and picked my favourite in December. I will be doing the same this year. As I buy new albums this year I’ll update this list and pick my favourite after Christmas. Last year was a bumper year for brilliant new music in my opinion. Arguably the best year for new albums that I liked since 1975, which is when I started buying albums with my own (pocket) money. The albums listed here will not be in any order of preference during the year.

First addition to the list is The Family Jewels from Marina & the Diamonds [Listen on Spotify. Buy on Amazon or iTunes. Follow Marina on Twitter]. I first discovered Marina via a tweet on Twitter early in 2009. The songs available then were brilliant. Tracks like I Am Not A Robot, Obsessions and Mowgli’s Road for example. I got to see Marina live at the iTunes Live Festival in July at the Roundhouse in Camden [Buy on iTunes]. She was excellent live. A brilliant voice delivering her very good songs. The new album that has just come out doesn’t disappoint. The new tracks added to the existing tracks are very good. I like Shampain and Girls especially.

Lost Where I Belong from Andreya Triana [Listen on Spotify. Buy on Amazon or iTunes. Follow Andreya on Twitter]. I first heard a track from this album when it was the free single of the week on UK iTunes Store in August. Got the album on the back of that. It’s brilliant. I like all the tracks. Andreya has a wonderful voice.


My album of the year for 2009

I listed my shortlist of 11 albums for my choice of album of the year in a previous Soapbox post. All of these albums are brilliant and are worth multiple listens. But I said I would pick 1 of them as the best of the year. My pick of the year is Blue Roses from Laura Groves.

It was close as they are all great albums.


Album of the year contenders for 2009 – Final List

UPDATE: Blue Roses was my pick. All 11 are brill though.

We are now in the last month of 2009 and this is my final list of albums that are candidates for my Album of the Year. It’s been a really good year for new music. In addition to the albums listed here there are several musicians who are breaking through but who have not released full albums yet. Plus there are several albums that just didn’t make the list. For example Kasabian, Adriane Lake, Imogen Heap, Placebo, Muse, Elin Ruth Sigvardsson, Elle Stevenson, Nerina Pallot and Tori Amos. It has been a great year for new music.

These are not in release date order. Nor are they in preference order. It’s going to be very, very hard to pick one from this list. Will listen to them all again over the Christmas holidays and pick the winner before the new year. I was going to wimp out and not pick one. But decided that would be crap ๐Ÿ™‚

If you want to pick your favourite from the list then post your choice in the comments. If enough people (more than 5) comment I’ll have a draw for an iTunes voucher code to buy an album.

Those Thousand Seas from Claire Tchaikowski [Listen on Spotify or Last FM. Buy on Amazon UK or iTunes. Follow Claire on Facebook] I can’t remember how I found this album. I think it was buy following friend links on MySpace. Irrespective of how I found it, I’m glad I did. It’s a beautiful recording. I like Undone especially.

The Duckworth Lewis Method from The Duckworth Lewis Method [Listen on Spotify. Buy onAmazon UK or iTunes. Follow on Twitter] Who said the concept album is dead? Tell most of the people you know that there is anew album about cricket and they’ll likely run a mile! But this is very good. The songs are brilliant in their own right. Well worth a listen. No need to be a fan of cricket. In fact probably better if you aren’t. Then you can concentrate on the music.

Blue Roses from Blue Roses. [Listen on Spotify. Buy on Amazon UK or iTunes. Follow Laura Groves on Twitter] This was another Twitter find. Can’t remember now how I came across it. But I’m glad I did. I love this album to bits. I have always loved piano/guitar music (witness my Queen and Kate Bush addiction!). Blue Roses has some beautiful piano tracks, and some great acoustic guitar stuff. It may be the case that the song Does Anyone Love Me Now? will be one of my favourite songs ever. I was going to list some other tracks but couldn’t separate them. They’re all good!

Lungs from Florence + The Machine [Listen on Spotify. Buy on Amazon UK or iTunes. Follow Florence on Twitter.] Several people had been cajoling me into listening to Lungs for a while. I kept promising I’d do it. I had a free hour one day last week, or the week before (cant recall now), and I listened to it on Spotify. Wow! it’s good. Florence has a really nice voice. When coupled with the music on the album the result is very good indeed. I especially like the tracks Cosmic Love and Hardest of Hearts.

Fever Ray from Fever Ray [Listen on Spotify. Buy on Amazon UK or iTunes. Follow Fever Ray on Twitter.] Fever Ray is a new solo project by Karin Dreijer Andersson who is a member of The Knife. She has a brilliant voice. I reckon Karin could pass the Kate Bush Test by singing names from the phone book and make it sound wonderful.

The Fame from Lady Gaga [Listen on Spotify. Buy on Amazon UK or iTunes. Follow Lady Gaga on Twitter.] This actually came out originally in 2008, but it was re-released in November as The Fame Monster. It was well into 2009 before I heard Poker Face on the radio though. This was the song that hooked me. The whole album is brilliant. She has been getting a lot of press recently. Even made the cover of the current issue of Rolling Stone. Richly deserved. Lady Gaga is the genuine article. Not a manufactured artist.

Wild Young Hearts from The Noisettes [Listen on Spotify. Buy on Amazon UK or iTunes. Follow The Noisettes on Twitter.] When I first heard a track from this album, Don’t Upset The Rhythm, I thought it was a new Lady Gaga song. The whole album is simply brilliant. Only one track is like Lady Gaga. They have their own sound. And a very good sound it is too. The singer, Shingai Shoniwa, has a very powerful, beautiful voice. The song Atticus is now one of my favourite tracks ever, from anyone.

Two Suns from Bat For Lashes [Listen on Spotify. Buy on Amazon UK or iTunes. Follow Natasha on Twitter. ] This was first recommended to me on Twitter. Good call that was. The songs Sleep Alone and Daniel are superb. The others are good as well. Liked this so much I extended my stay at Apple WWDC to go see them in San Francisco ๐Ÿ™‚

Hardships! from Jenny Wilson [Listen on Spotify. Buy on iTunes. Follow Jenny on Twitter.] I wasn’t going to include this when I was thinking about writing this post. I loved Jenny Wilson’s first album Love & Youth. The follow up is less easily accessible. However it is definitely a grower. I’m liking it more and more. So it has to be on the list as it may be my favourite in 7 months ๐Ÿ™‚

If you follow my ramblings on Twitter you’ll not be surprised to see that I’m adding Spinnerette by Spinnerette to this list! [Listen on Spotify. Buy on Amazon UK or iTunes. Follow Spinnerette on Twitter]. Another band that I discovered in a posting to Twitter, which is rapidly becoming the place where I discover new music. I’ve been playing this a lot since I got it. This might be one of the best albums I’ve heard in a long while. I’ll hold judgement until the newness novelty has worn off. I’m going to see them live in London on 16th July. Fabulous ๐Ÿ™‚

Polly Scattergood from Polly Scattergood. I listened to this because Polly was playing in The Roundhouse at the iTunes Live Festival the same night as Bat For Lashes. It’s a very good album. I love several tracks from this such as Bunny Club, Nitrogen Pink and Untitled 27 [Listen on Spotify. Buy on Amazon UK or iTunes. Follow Polly on Twitter ]


Queen and synthesisers…

When Queen started using synthesisers I liked the results. Hot Space [Spotify & Last FM] is one of my favourite albums. I loved it from the moment I heard it. Unlike many of my peers at the time who reacted as if the band was using pitchfotks to load babies into a furnace!

But a synthesiser is just another instrument. You either use it well or you don’t. Queen did in my opinion. Interestingly several of the most vocal critics in my peer group, in the 1980’s when this was happening, have since admitted to liking Hot Space and The Game [Spotify & Last FM] a lot. No shame in that. They are brilliant albums.

I think the fact that I grew up liking 3 groups, 2 of whom used synthesisers, had an influence on me not throwing the teddies out of the pram when that Oberheim OB-X appeared in the sleeve notes of The Game. The other 2 groups I liked a lot in the 1970’s where Hawkwind [Spotify & Last FM] and Kate Bush [Spotify & Last FM]. Both of them used electronics and synthesisers a lot. So it didn’t worry me that my other favourite band did as well.

Bringing this up to date, there are some good synthesiser using musicians about at present. For example Adriane Lake [Last FM]. Check out her album Morning Glow. Then buy it on iTunes. You can also follow Adriane on Twitter.


Going to go walkabout…

I’m planning on going Walkabout for 6 months or a year in 2011 into 2012. I’m hoping to spend several months in the USA and Canada moving about via train and bus. Maybe live for a few months in New York and drive around New England, then go to Toronto for a bit, then across Canada to Vancouver. Then down the west coast via Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Los Angeles to San Diego. Then across the interior by train over the Rockies and Colorado via train to Chicago in Illinois. Then back to New York and Europe.

I need to do this. It’ll mean leaving my job, but I want to do that anyway! I’m going to go indy and be an IT contractor working for myself after the North American trip. I’ve been working for 28 years. It’ll be 30 years in 2011. I left school at age 17 to get a job to buy a motorbike and stuff. I’ve been working full time ever since. Except for holidays and 7 weeks off when I got sick. I know everyone else is in the same boat with work. Still, I’ve had it for a while and am going to pack it in and go walkabout.

I’ll also sell my house before heading off. I’ll buy somewhere else near the sea when I get back to Northern Ireland. If I come back of course. I probably will as I love Belfast. I’ll also spend some time in Scandinavia I think. Given the brilliant music that comes out of Sweden. I’ll keep a journal of the travels and thoughts. Maybe I’ll get a book out of it.


Lyric – Serial Killer

Another lyric. WIP.

Serial Killer

He walks this fearful city
Looking victims for his blade
Unknown and unpredictable
Is he on some evil crusade?

(Serial killer) – is on the loose
(Serial killer) – fear in his wake
(Serial killer) – if he comes down your street
(Serial killer) – death will be your fate

Closing in on you now
Thereโ€™s no place left to hide
The stench of fear it clouds you
Youโ€™re about to lose your mind

(Serial killer) – you know he’s there
(Serial killer) – but you can’t say where
(Serial killer) – cause you smell his breath
(Serial killer) – and you hear his step, yeah

The darkness is your enemy
Hides this hunter from your eyes
A whisper of sound behind you
Now it’s time to say goodbye

(Serial killer) – he got you
(Serial killer) – another notch on his knife
(Serial killer) – just five seconds of violence
(Serial killer) – is all it took to end your life

He got you.
He got you.
He got you.
He got you, yeah!

ยฉIan Robinson 2009

Lyric – Be Happy

Here is a lyric I’ve been working on for a while. I think this is close to something I can stop tinkering with. Lyrics are never finished, you just have to stop tinkering at some point!. Anyway, thoughts (including negative) welcome.

Be happy

You’ll never find me searching when youโ€™re not there
I’ll never waste my time hoping that you care
You’ll never find me looking for a love thatโ€™s died
I’ll just make do with the love I can find

Be happy with the world
Smile at passers by
Be happy all your life
Lift your face up to the sky

Be happy with the world
Smile at passers by
Be happy all your life
Lift your face up to the sky

You don’t need to be melancholy in any way
Just grin and bear it from day to day
You only get one shot at a happy life
Just don’t go wasting it on religion and strife

Be happy with the world
Smile at passers by
Be happy all your life
Lift your face up to the sky

ยฉIan Robinson 2009

Gigs aplenty…

I went through a mini gigfest recently. Saw Marina and The Diamonds, Fever Ray and Spinnerette in the space of 7 days. It was fab ๐Ÿ™‚

First up was Marina and The Diamonds in London at the iTunes Live Festival. You can buy some of the set she played on iTunes. It was great. Marina is going to be huge. What a voice! You can follow Marina on Twitter. This gig was on a Friday night in Camden. Paulo Nutini was headlining that night. I left after couple of his songs to get food and a beer ๐Ÿ™‚ I was there to see The Diamond One!

Next up was Fever Ray in Bristol the following Monday. I love Fever Ray as a casual reading of this site, and its posts about The Knife and Fever Ray, will show. The gig was very dark, lasery and good. I was a wee bit drunk. Next time I go to see them or The Knife I’ll be less drunk I think. Fever Ray are on my Album of the Year contenders list. I was there with Kyle Thompson whom I’d managed to talk into going via Twitter! Follow him and Fever Ray on Twitter.

The last gig of the ‘week’ was Spinnerette in Camden on the next Thursday night. Just down the road from The Roundhouse, at The Electric Ballroom. This was good as well. I love the Spinnerette album (which my Twitter followers may have noticed me mention ๐Ÿ˜‰ ). It’s also on the Album of the year list. Spinnerette and were really tight live. Great rhythm section from the bass and drums. Follow Spinnerette on Twitter .

So a fun, but tiring week was had. Lots of travel (Belfast-London-Belfast-Bristol-London-Belfast), too much beer, and some IT work to fill the gaps ๐Ÿ˜‰

The only downside? No bloody encores!


Is the encore a dying phenomenon?

What’s happening to the encore at concerts? In the last 3 concerts I’ve been at none of the bands did an encore? ๐Ÿ™ Is this the impact of the festival culture? At festivals, unless you’re on last in the day I expect, you have a set time to do your set and that’s it. No extensions. Is this now carrying over into non festival gigs? Bands just play their set then bugger off.

I will miss the encore if it dies out.


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