Friday, 14 November 2008

Genius. Truly, genius.

Having just finished a steaming bowl of fresh, chunky, tomato & basil soup (with freshly baked warm bread & thick real butter - perfect for a whitesky winter day with the leaves laying thick in the garden), I was in the mood for a particular type of music - but wasnt entirely sure 'what'. So, having had it recommended to me by various people, I sat at the mac and turned on iTunes *Genius!* mode which, for the uninitiated of you, professes to create playlists for you based on the 'mood' of a song you choose, and also recommends new music based on your existing iTunes catalogue. 

I highlighted Jesca Hoop's 'Love and Love Again', which seemed like an appropriate song for the moment, clicked the spincycle icon, and this is the playlist that *Genius!* created for me:

JESCA HOOP - Love and Love Again
FLEET FOXES - Tiger Mountain Peasant Song
FEIST - The Water
KT TUNSTALL - Someday Soon
BON IVER - Blindsided
THE CORAL - Put The Sun Back
JOE LEAN & THE JING JANG JONG - Lucio Starts Fires
MIDLAKE - It Covers the Hillside
JAMES MORRISON - Call The Police
ELBOW - Grounds For Divorce
WE ARE SCIENTISTS - The Great Escape
LAURA MARLING - Cross Your Fingers
RADIOHEAD - House of Cards

is that not the coolest list of music you've ever seen?! Yes, it comes from music I already have, but we all know how hard it is to actually find the right music for the right moment even from our own existing collections. But now, I shall never falter again!! Ahhhhhh this is just the absolutely perfect mix of music. Genius, you might say.

So that was all really, I just wanted to share my enthusiasm of this wonderful new gizmo that actually lives up to it's rather important name. It's just about made my day :)

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

As the days draw in

Winter nights call for good company, spicy wines, steaming stews (crowded with colourful roots and dark meats), hot chilli chocolate and plenty of new music. All of this quickly takes the mind off the cold and turns it's frozen attention to more inspiring, cog-turning matters.

Last night, we accomplished most of the above. We invited four of our very good friends round the kitchen table, fed by a spanish stew of chicken thighs, chorizo and chick peas roasted in a bath of dry sherry, drank good spanish wine, finished off with a homemade chocolate amaretto mouse and having an accompanying playlist of Feist, Richard Hawley and Elbow to name a few. With a couple of big candles to finish off the already-warming atmosphere in the house, we had a superb night that made us forget what decade we were in, let alone what season.

With rarely returning to the radio in the past year, I've had little access to the promo discs that would light a fire in my musichungryass every sunday night and in turn, have me shouting and laughing and screaming about Fantastic Exciting New Artists to anyone who was listening; I'm proud to admit that over the six years I presented my lidl show, I was ahead of the game with artists like Franz Ferdinand, The Darkness, Imogen Heap, Anthony and the Johnsons, Jason Mraz, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Jack Johnson, The Coral and many more; now without this avenue, I've found myself slowly 'winding down' on the music front.

But sometimes, I'll have a week/day/hour/few minutes where I'll find the time to investigate music again. This past week was one of them, and as I don't have the radio show any more to bleat about the fab musical finds, I thought I'd share some of them with you here.

Some of you will have already heard of these names, which is great, but if you haven't, take a few minutes to investigate them - you might find something that makes you smile as much as it has me...

Johnny Flynn - finally, this brilliant Brit's album arrived on my doorstep. have been waiting for it for a long time, having only had the occasional download/myspace songs to keep me going. it's everything I hoped...poetic, ramshackle, dark, jaunty, accomplished, shabby, uplifting, beautiful... yep, it's hard to describe. if you've heard Noah and the Whale, it's in a similar vein - but less commercial and more 'real'.

Jesca Hoop - wow. happened across this gal reading Music Week; it's been a while since music has excited and 'fit' me quite this well. she's making me rethink my own music too (dern it! ;) just GO LISTEN to her, I'd be surprised if you were disappointed. course, she looks incredibly cool too - love the Burtonesque style!

Miss Emily Brown - quirky, pretty, clever, lovely.

Mumford and Sons - heard these guys in session on Radcliffe and Maconie and had to stop the car to pay closer attention. i suppose they could be a cross between the aforementioned Noah & The Whale, Beach Boys and Fleet Foxes...bootiful.

Speaking of Fleet Foxes, I cannot stop listening to them! Or Laura Marling come to think of it. And when I'm not listening to either of those, I seem to have Devon Sproule in my head. Or the fabulously uplifting Silver Seas. Or Scott Matthews (yes, still...) So I guess I would recommend all of the above, too.

I've also just received my DVD copies of the latest superb 1 Giant Leap project - Jamie Cato's global music undertaking. The latest series/album - and follow up to the self titled disc from a couple of years ago that featured Tricky, Robbie Williams and Neneh Cherry among others, is called 'What About Me?' This one features stunning vocals by KD Lang & drumming by Stuart Copeland among others, peppered with interviews/insights from people as diverse and brilliant as Noam Chomsky & Stephen Fry; I'd recommend you take five minutes to visit their website to see how inspired - and inspiring - the project is: Then go buy both albums and DVDs ;)

Ok, that's plenty of (winter) food for (warming) thought! I now need to sleep - but perhaps after I find an extra blanket for the bed, and make myself a chilli chocolate drink...