A winter weekend and a winter playlist

Bethan
Everyone is fully aware of the fact that January and February well and truly suck. The days are short and miserable and Christmas is no longer there to provide us with even a bit of cheer. I can no longer stuff my face with mince pie after mince pie under the safety of my fairy lights and I actually have to think about doing some work. I often wake up and feel as if the only thing that I am truly capable of doing is cocooning myself further into my duvet and attempting to stay in hibernation until Spring comes around. I often feel that life would've been so much easier if I had been born a bear. The idea of getting a seven month hibernation break each year sounds like the exact remedy to my winter fatigue.

All of these January blues often lead me to spend my weekends in bed with the company of Sims 4 and a packet of dried fruit. What a life I lead. However, this past weekend I found my usual schedule of emerging, blank faced and bed headed, from my slumber at midday was scrapped. I was downstairs, weary eyed but ready to face the day, at as early as eight AM last Saturday. I still can't quite believe it myself.

After having spent these past months doing very little, it was odd to find that last weekend I spent not just one but two days at the beach. Despite the fact that it's not exactly the weather for it, the wind didn't even stop me kicking off my shoes and socks and going for a bit of a dip. I had Paolo Nutini playing out from my phone in my coat pocket and Mollie and I spent a good fifteen minutes running in and out with the tide. We emerged numb footed with sodden jeans but the best part of it was in those fifteen minutes life completely passed me by. It sounds strange, but it was almost as if I had forgotten everything other than the feeling of the water beneath me. Sometimes, a bit of good music and the company of friends is more that enough to make you forget any worries or woes (the deluxe banana milkshake and chocolate orange brownie that Bethan and I completely demolished also helped)!

I'm going to do something that I haven't done in almost a year and share a link to my Spotify playlist again today. The following songs have been getting me through both my aforementioned January blues and also endless college breaks when I find myself struck down by boredom. Looking back at old playlists is something that I used to find funny due to my apparent inability to understand what good music actually was. The songs I would listen to would be so random and all over the place meaning that there was no calling as to what I would be into next. However, across the last few years, I've really found some super artists that really do it for me and now my music taste actually rarely falters. These are just a few of my favourites.


Candy - Paolo Nutini
To The Sea - Jack Johnson
The World Is Waiting - The Crookes
Heart Beats Slow - Angus & Julia Stone
From Eden - Hozier
I Think It's Going To Rain Today - Tom Odell
Great American Novel - Max Jury
Drumming Song - Florence + The Machine
Loving You - Paolo Nutini
Live Forever - Oasis
Soapbox - The Crookes
Not Nineteen Forever (Live at Castlefield Bowl) - The Courteeners

You may have heard of them, but have you really listened?

Max Jury live in Swansea - OCTOBER 2015 - Photo by Bethan Challice (my best pal)
The music industry is a weird and wonderful place that is constantly expanding with so many new creators that I often wonder if there is possibly room for anymore. However, the fact that the world is full of people wanting to make it to the top means, in the same way as it does in any industry, people get left behind on the way up. You would think that in a world full of 7 billion people there must be enough ears to go round but unfortunately many budding musicians are stuck singing in the streets outside stadiums and often these artists can be even better than the ones playing inside them.

At any social gathering I attend, I know my place. I stay well away from the aux cord purely because I know that my music library will be greeted with blank stares and an awkward shifting of feet. I’m happy to admit that I’m a massive fan of the smaller, lesser known musicians around nowadays. There is something a lot more intimate with listening to someone that your peers are yet to discover. There’s a weird feeling that comes alongside it; as if your ears are the first to hear this music preceding their explosion into the top 100. The biggest perk of this for sure is the concerts you get to attend, in arenas so small that you can practically strum a band member’s guitar for yourself.


I’m going to share with you a selection of underrated musicians that I believe deserve more publicity. As much as I have loved the intimate stage keeping their songs to myself, there is only so long that this can go on for. It’s the same as keeping a secret, you can only go a certain amount of time before blurting it out to someone.


Max Jury.
After seeing singer Jack Savoretti live last October, I was struck by support act Max Jury. It’s not often that a support act really attracts my attention yet the words and keyboard skills of Max had enough magic carried through them to capture both my head and my heart. He is still yet to release a full length album so I find myself in a position where I have played the five or six songs on his Spotify inside out and it has left me longing for more. Everything about his voice is hypnotic and subsequently leaves you in a sort of trance for quite some time after. Not only does he have some great songs to his name, but he also happens to be a genuinely awesome person. After discovering that his gig in Bristol that I hoped to attend was an 18+, he personally messaged me after spotting my distressed tweet on Twitter and promised that he would contact his management in the hope that I could attend. Unfortunately, the venue he was playing at was strictly 18 and over, but in commiserations Max offered to play a free show for me and ten friends in a local coffee shop in the day before the show! I was devastated at the fact that I was unable to do this due to having college to attend and it being exam month so I couldn't confirm whether or not I happened to have an exam, but the whole thing ended in him following me on both Twitter and Instagram. I already loved the fact that he has crafted some truly enchanting tunes but the fact that he is such a top guy on top of that just makes me enjoy his music even more than I thought was possible.



TOP TRACKS

  1. Change Your Mind For Me
  2. Black Metal
  3. Great American Novel
  4. Home


The Last Shadow Puppets.
After being introduced to the Arctic Monkeys thanks to hearing  older, much cooler, family members talk about them I soon became captivated by their world of sunglasses, leather jackets and cigarettes despite only ever owning the first of the three. I would sit on the bus drumming along to my favourite Arctic Monkey’s songs that were pulsating rhythmically from my headphones at such a volume that they could be heard by anyone around me with ease. In a sense I was just providing a soundtrack for everyone who had chosen to take the same mode of transport. I soon discovered that Alex Turner, Arctic Monkeys front man and vocalist, had another band to his name. The Last Shadow Puppets. Here he paired up with Miles Kane to create music that was even grittier than the Arctic Monkeys.  The Last Shadow Puppets are definitely the most popular of the bands I’m covering due to having more well-known members than the rest, however I still believe they deserve even more recognition than they have. It pains me to say that only two of my friends know of their existence. After coming across the band, an instant click of a button found their first ever CD on my doorstep in a matter of days. Despite the CD having been released in 2008, it only appeared on my radar by 2012 and it’s still played regularly now. Following the birth of some monkey babies, the Arctic Monkeys disappeared off scene slightly and nothing was heard from The Last Shadow Puppets until the back end of 2015. Before anyone had time to digest what was going on, they were back with a new album in the works as a gift to start of the New Year. Cue many more hours of drum time on my bus journeys.


TOP TRACKS

  1. In The Heat Of The Morning
  2. Meeting Place
  3. Standing Next To Me 
  4. Calm Like You



The Crookes.
The Crookes are another band that have sat happily in just my music library for far too long. I won’t lie, I did expect them to blow up. Everyone loves a good indie rock band but seemingly the only other person aware of them is my brother due to my persistent raving about them since the very beginning of 2013. The best thing about The Crookes is that, unlike many bands, I feel that they literally don't have a single bad or even weak song. This means that the fact that I don't own a premium account on Spotify is not a problem because there is not one song that I would skip. They have such a distinct sound but no two songs are the same and I absolutely love that. I know now that when I go on to pick my four top tracks it'll probably end up exceeding the number because picking a favourite is one of the hardest decisions ever. They all have the potential to be crowned and claim the top spot. Despite having listened to them for three years, I am only now getting to see them live this February; with my brother in tow. They are another example of how a small band means only one thing- intimate gigs. Googling the venue in Cardiff, the main thing that struck me was that it was not much bigger than my bedroom. Now, granted, I do have a big bedroom as bedrooms go, but as gig venues go this is quite possibly the smallest I’ve seen to date. I am honestly so excited but really we all know that over-excited should have been my middle name.



TOP TRACKS
  1. Marcy
  2. Backstreet Lovers
  3. Maybe In The Dark
  4. By The Seine
  5. Sofie
  6. I Remember Moonlight
  7. Play Dumb
(I thought narrowing it down to four would be a problem. Turns out narrowing it down to seven was just as hard.)


Slow Club.

Finally, the duo that call themselves Slow Club are the magic behind one of the first CD’s I ever bought with my own money. Probably the most anomalous of my selection, Charles Watson and Rebecca Taylor create so many weird and wonderful sounds that will tease me for as long as I shall live. With music stretching from indie pop to folk rock and everything in between, they are definitely a band that can only be described as a lucky dip. You can’t possibly predict what they are going to bring out next and that is purely the fun of it. For me, Slow Club songs are the biggest trigger of memories. I've had so many good times that happened to coincide with playing their music and as soon as one of their songs comes on shuffle I am almost automatically whisked back to a time where I felt superior. Due to them both being
multi-instrumentalists, there is no stopping Slow Club when it comes to pushing the boundaries. They also win my award for being the first band to produce a song for me to set as my alarm in the mornings without me growing to hate the song. Waking up at 6am and still feeling like you want to get up and twirl around the room isn’t something to be taken for granted.


TOP TRACKS
  1. Giving Up On Love
  2. Half Drunk
  3. Beginners
  4. The Pieces
  5. Our Most Brilliant Friends
  6. Tears Of Joy
(The only thing you've probably learnt from this post is that I suck at making decisions. Especially when it comes to music.)

two years on

A photograph taken by my Grandad in 1973
January 19th, two days from now, marks the day that I made the decision two years ago to publish my first ever post here. Two years seems like an awfully long time to be consecutively stringing together the same twenty six letters in various formations for more my own entertainment than anyone else's. I started this wanting to get somewhere from it but now, I don't really feel like this  anymore. I don't want it to take me anywhere because, ultimately, I'm more than happy with where I am now. When it comes down to it, that's really what this has been about.

The idea of having my own portfolio of work was cool. I wanted somewhere to share what I hoped I had to offer. But now I feel like this is more than that. Sometimes I feel like I rely on this way of conveying my life experiences and feelings as another way to keep me sane. More than anything, I also use it to relive the moments where I felt both invincible and happy. Really happy. It's somewhere that I can bundle my happiness, sadness, love and disappointments into one place and understand why I feel like it at the same time.

I really like to question myself on just how much I have changed in the last year. When I muse at this exact moment twelve months ago I can't really be sure of the exact thoughts that had entered my head as I went about thanking everyone for the last three hundred and sixty five days. On the other hand, all I can seem to think about now is just how weird the concept of measuring time actually is. I've been pulling sentences together for seven hundred and thirty days. When it actually comes down to it I've been writing here for the same amount of time as it takes for the earth to fully orbit the sun twice; which is an odd way to think about it I'm sure. But whether or not I am on day one or day one thousand the point I'm trying to make is that I'm still yet to give it all up. I might feel different to how I was last year but the truth is I've not changed as much as I seem to think. I still worship Tom Odell's voice as if it was it's own religion, I still love spending every living moment surrounded by friends and I still drink enough of Lipton's Ice Tea to quench the thirst of a family of ten. On top of all this, I still write. Whether it's here, in a journal, in the notes section of my phone or on the back of a receipt I am still using my words and that is really the most important thing about being here for two years. I've found my voice.

The main reason I love to do this is for my Grandad in the hope that he would be proud of me if he was still here to read this. I adore the fact that he documented his life through the means of endless photographs and this is exactly why I like to do the same. I just like to share my words alongside my pictures as a way of capturing and bottling up my years of living into a small space like this. One day I look forward to looking back over years of, well, life. But for now, I have a lot more living to do.