My music

So, hello again! It’s been a while. I kept on meaning to post but school has kept me busy. I’ve been thinking about writing this post for months, but I didn’t get round to it until the half term. It took a lot longer to write than I originally anticipated, but here it is.

It was three months and a week ago that I got Spotify, which I mentioned in my (only) post in November. Before I got Spotify, I had very little interest in music. I just didn’t get it. I found some songs catchy, and I could appreciate a song, but it didn’t click.

For the unaware, Spotify is a streaming service. In effect, rather than owning a song, it is ‘streamed’ over to me via the Internet and then played, before being sent back. There are two versions: Spotify Free and Spotify Premium ($10 a month). Spotify Free lets you listen to any song you want, but, unlike Premium, you get annoying ads that pop up every now and then. Another annoyance is that, with Spotify Free on mobile, you can only listen to songs or albums on shuffle.

Despite these annoyances, Spotify is great in that I can listen to every album I want to for free legally.* Apart from ‘1989’. :P I understand there has been a lot of furore about Spotify recently about how much money they pay artists, but it has allowed me to make my collection of music and listen to stuff I never would have been able to otherwise. It probably isn’t ideal that I’m so dependent on the service, but it’s useful.

I thought it would be interesting to go through my list of artists from when I first got Spotify to now, three months later. I’ve tried to limit myself to one song per artist in their description, but I may link to other songs that will play outside of the post if you are interested. This is kind of necessary as the whole post is about music, but I get that you might not have enough time (or bandwidth) to listen to all this or even read all the post (although bonus points if you do), so I have put stars next to my five favourite musicians/bands.

Sidenote: All the ‘genres’ listed are the first thing that popped up on the artist’s Wikipedia page. Lots of the bands are labelled ‘indie rock’, a useless term which seems like an umbrella for any vaguely rock sound that is not ‘classic rock’. I would put a more specific genre, but often albums by the same artist differ wildly, so that’s not really possible.

Sidenote 2: Being a streaming service, you don’t download songs on Spotify – you merely ‘save’ them. However I’m just going to use the word ‘download’ because it’s much more intuitive.

Pomplamoose/Nataly Dawn

Genre: Indie Pop

Albums: I have ‘Season 2’, ‘Hey It’s Pomplamoose’ and the eponymous song from Nataly Dawn’s solo album, ‘How I Knew Her’.

Pomplamoose was the first band I got into, an indie pop duo consisting of Nataly Dawn and Jack Conte. I subscribed to their YouTube channel long before I got Spotify, near the beginning of 2014, and it was probably the first band I actively liked. Their songs are whimsical and fluffy, and they both seem like lovely people, but I probably wouldn’t like the band if I heard them now. They’re still on my Spotify playlist to show how my musical tastes have changed, and all of their songs are agreeable, even if not as great as I used to think they were.

‘Hey It’s Pomplamoose’ is a short indie pop album of original work that’s cheesy at times but sort of charming. ‘Season 2’ is a change in style to a much more electronic sound, and half the songs are covers or mash-ups, but it’s still classic Pomplamoose, (whether that’s good or bad).

As for Nataly Dawn’s solo album, it’s decent, although schmaltzy. I used to have the full album, but now I only have ‘How I Knew Her’, probably the best song from the album.

Here’s one of their original pieces, ‘Get That Body Back’ (as the name would suggest, it’s cringey).

Alex Clare

Genre: Indie Rock/Dubstep

Albums: I have ‘The Lateness of the Hour’ and the single ‘War Rages On’ from ‘Three Hearts’.

I have a very like-hate relationship with Alex Clare. You probably know him for ‘Too Close‘, otherwise known as ‘that Internet Explorer ad song’. After I, browsing through YouTube, found the song again last year, I went and looked at his other songs on YouTube (‘Treading Water’ and ‘Up All Night’) and decided that I was an avid Alex Clare fan. When I got Spotify, the first thing I did was to download his first album, ‘The Lateness of the Hour’ and his recently released ‘Three Hearts’.

And then something changed. Slowly but surely, I began to hate Alex Clare. Hate hate hate. His non-singles were OK at best or infuriating at worst (*ahem* ‘Hands are Clever’). Eventually, I deleted his second album in a rage, later adding ‘War Rages On’ back in.

Recently I’ve made my peace with Alex Clare, having decided his first album is decent, although, again, not as good as I used to think it was.

‘Too Close’ is overplayed, so here’s ‘Up All Night’. Even if this isn’t to your liking, you might want to listen to ‘Treading Water’, which feels more like soul.

Bombay Bicycle Club *

Genre: Indie rock

Albums: I have ‘I Had The Blues But I Shook Them Loose’, ‘Flaws’, ‘A Different Kind of Fix’ and ‘So Long, See You Tomorrow’.

Bombay Bicycle Club (named after an Indian restaurant chain) is the earliest band I added to my Spotify playlist that I still love today. I first heard of them through my older sister; then after playing ‘Lights Out, Words Gone’ on repeat for a while, I downloaded their third album, then their fourth, then their first, and most recently their second.

Their style of music differs wildly from album to album: the first album, ‘I Had The Blues But I Shook Them Loose’ is calm but energetic (if that makes sense) indie rock; ‘Flaws’ is acoustic and laid back; their third album, ‘A Different Kind Of Fix’ goes back to the production values of the first album, while keeping the calm overtones; and their fourth album, ‘So Long, See You Tomorrow’ is beautiful and melodic indie pop. The fourth and first albums are probably my favourites for being the most energetic, but the others grow on you.

Though not their most upbeat song, ‘Lights Out, Words Gone’ is the one that got me into them, so here it is. Also, though I’m generally not a fan of music videos, this song has an adorable one.

Jake Bugg

Genre: Indie Rock

Albums: I have the songs ‘Two Fingers’ and ‘Lightning Bolt’ off his debut album ‘Jake Bugg’.

Jake Bugg is a singer/guitarist from Nottingham. After hearing the song ‘Two Fingers’, I thought I would download Jake Bugg’s acoustic first album ‘Jake Bugg’. It was OK, but some of the songs drove me crazy, so I deleted all the songs save ‘Two Fingers’ and ‘Lightning Bolt’, which are stupidly catchy. He’s polarising, but you might as well listen to his first album.

Here’s ‘Two Fingers’.

SebastiAn

Genre: Electro house

Albums: I have the songs ‘Embody’ and ‘Total’ from his most recent album ‘Total’.

SebastiAn is a French electronic musician and DJ. One of the first singles I downloaded was his song ‘Embody’; after coming back to that song recently, I thought I would look at the album ‘Total’ that the song ‘Embody’ came from, to see if I liked his other stuff. While the album wasn’t to my liking, the eponymous track was head-bangingly good, so I downloaded that too. I haven’t looked at his earlier albums, but I’m open to listening to them.

The Killers

Genre: Indie rock

Albums: I have ‘Hot Fuss’, ‘Sam’s Town’, ‘Sawdust’, ‘Day and Age’, ‘Battle Born’ and the song ‘Shot at the Night’.

The Killers was my first favourite band. Up until I listened to their debut album ‘Hot Fuss’, I had never been into music, but it’s sublime if your taste in music is inclined that way – listening to it for the first time was magical. It’s an English sounding indie rock album from the American band (in contrast to their later albums) which produced two of their most famous songs, ‘Mr. Brightside’ and ‘Somebody Told Me’. Those might not ring any bells, but you’ve probably heard at least one of the two – one of my friends knew ‘Mr. Brightside’ as his ‘favourite intense song’ before I told him the name (even though ‘Mr. Brightside’ really isn’t that intense). ‘Midnight Show‘ is also brilliant.

‘Sam’s Town’, their second album, is much more American sounding indie rock. It’s not as anthemic as ‘Hot Fuss’ but people have said it’s more consistent (though I don’t see it). Either way it’s an addictive album – the most famous song off of it would be ‘When You Were Young’, but my personal favourite is ‘Uncle Johnny’, which is probably as ‘intense’ as the Killers get.

‘Sawdust’ is a compilation album of various B-sides, covers, live sessions, a remix and a new song – all of which sounds like it would be terrible, but it’s pleasant on the ears. However, the live sessions leave something to be desired and there’s some something about the album as a whole that irritates me a little.

I hated ‘Day and Age’, their third *proper* album, for a while after I heard it. It’s a very different style to their first two albums (it’s much more dance-rock than indie rock) which is probably why it was a shock at first, but in the months since I downloaded it, it’s grown on me. ‘Human’ is the best known song from the album (the one Killers song that most people in my year know) but the best song is probably ‘A Crippling Blow’.

‘Battle Born’ is another change in style to American soft rock. Though I haven’t liked the little traditional rock I’ve heard, Battle Born is a return to form for the Killers. It’s cheesy at times (that’s come with age), but all the songs are stadium-worthy. ‘Shot at the Night’, the latest thing I have by the Killers, is another catchy soft rock song, but I downloaded it separately from the Killer’s ‘Greatest Hits’ album as I didn’t want to have repeats of my songs.

I’m not sure I would call the Killers my favourite band anymore, or even in my top five, but they hold a special place in this list for essentially getting me into music.

I should probably show you ‘Mr. Brightside’, ‘Human’, or ‘When You Were Young’, but here’s ‘Somebody Told Me’ from ‘Hot Fuss’.

L’Orchestra Cinematique

Genre: Theme tunes

Albums: I have the ‘Sherlock’ theme tune, the ‘Doctor Who’ theme tune and the ‘Merlin’ theme tune from ‘The Complete TV Boxset Collection’ and the ‘How I Met Your Mother’ theme from ‘The Greatest TV Comedy Themes’.

From ‘L’Orchestra Cinematique’, I have a few of the theme tunes from my favourite shows.  These are more novelty songs than ones I genuinely like, but they make me smile when I listen to them.

Cassius

Genre: Electro house

Albums: I have the album ‘1999’ and the song ‘I <3 U So’.

Following on from SebastiAn, Cassius is more French electro house. One of the first things I did when I got Spotify was get their song ‘I <3 U So’ (not that great, but I’m keeping it for the memories) because my sister had kept singing it in her spare time. Their first album, ‘1999’, is much better, but bafflingly the songs are unplayable on Spotify (the songs are there, but when I try and play them it won’t function). It’s also been taken off YouTube, where I first heard it in early 2014.

I’ve downloaded the album anyway, even though its songs are unplayable, mainly because the cover looks pretty. :P The only song from ‘1999’ I could find with a music video was the title track, ‘1999’, so here it is.

Vampire Weekend

Genre: Indie rock

Albums: I have ‘Vampire Weekend’, ’Contra’, ‘Modern Vampires of the City’.

*Another* band I found through my older sister. I don’t like them as much as Bombay Bicycle Club, but nonetheless they’re swell.

Their first self-titled album (which I only downloaded a few weeks ago) is a lot less energetic than their later albums, but it has a lot of heart and it’s grown on me a lot.

‘Contra’, their second album, is catchy indie rock, with ‘California English’ being a favourite, although the production can be weird at times (there were a few random xylophone solos in ‘Horchata’ which felt odd). It also has one of the best covers I’ve seen in a while.

‘Modern Vampires of the City’ is in the same style as their first two albums, but without some of the odd production and more mature lyrically (at least two of the songs deal with religion or lack of while still being enjoyable, which is tough).

Their lyrics are satisfyingly intricitate, if a little unusual. For instance, one verse of ‘A-Punk’ (from their first album) is ‘Honor drove southward seeking exotica/ Down to the Pueblo huts of New Mexico/Cut his teeth on turquoise harmonicas/ Oh-oh-oh’. However they all kind of make sense if you think about it, and it’s clever songwriting.

I wasn’t entirely sure which song to show here, but seeing as it’s their most successful song (and a quality one), ‘A-Punk’ is probably the best to get a newcomer into the band, though the video doesn’t have the production values of their most recent ones as this is from 2008-era Vampire Weekend.

Arctic Monkeys *

Genre: Indie rock

Albums: I have ‘Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not’, ‘Favourite Worst Nightmare’, ‘Humbug’, ‘Suck it and See’ and ‘AM’.

I’d known about Arctic Monkeys for a while before I got Spotify, but I had never listened to any of their songs apart from ‘I Bet That You’d Look Good On The Dancefloor’. I didn’t believe the hype, but when I saw some of my friends listening to ‘AM’, I thought I would look them up.

The first time I listened to their debut, ‘Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not’, I was genuinely worried because, despite all the raving, I didn’t like it at all. So I listened to it again… and really liked it?! I’m not entirely sure how this works, but it happens.

The lyrics in particular were top notch, something that’s true for most Arctic Monkeys songs – not intricate and almost nonsensical, but intricate and understandable. The words would sound natural if Alex Turner was to simply speak them in conversation.

‘Favourite Worst Nightmare’ is my favourite Arctic Monkeys album. It’s the same sort of style as the first, but it’s so much better. I can’t exactly say why, but the songs on ‘FWN’ are generally faster and even more stupidly catchy than the songs on  their debut. There are some lovely slow songs on the album too, like ‘505’, and my favourite Arctic Monkeys song, ‘Teddy Picker’ (see below).

‘Humbug’ is a lot slower and a lot darker. Generally you either love it or you hate it. Most of the songs, such as ‘Crying Lightning’ and ‘Pretty Visitors’ are brilliant, though a few of the others aren’t to my liking. I’d rank it above ‘Whatever People Say I Am’, but I’d still say ‘FWN’ is superior.

‘Suck It and See’ is another change in style. The Guardian said it was ‘wistful pop’, which sums it up nicely. It’s much easier listening, and is probably a lot more accessible than their first three albums, but the light airy feel can be grating, especially in ‘The Hellcat Spangled Shalalala’ – however overall, it’s quite entertaining.

‘AM’ is their best known album, but despite its mainstream success, it’s not as satisfying as their earlier LPs. Because all the songs are in the same key, a few of them do sound a tad similar – if I’m not paying attention to the lyrics, sometimes I accidentally sing ‘R U Mine?’ to ‘Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High?’. Even still, it’s a great album. Apart from the obvious hits, the opening to ‘Fireside’ is gorgeous.

Below is ‘Teddy Picker’, maybe my favourite worst Arctic Monkeys song (I’M SO SORRY).

Clean Bandit

Genre: Electronic

Albums: I have ‘New Eyes’.

Like with Pomplamoose and Alex Clare, I have a somewhat like/hate relationship with Clean Bandit. I like ‘Mozart’s House’, ‘A+E’ and ‘Rather Be’ (their most famous single), but the others songs are infuriating, like. The lyrics aren’t that great either.  It’s not that I don’t like electronic music or anything with a hip hop feel (see ‘Alt-J’ and ‘Gorillaz’), it just doesn’t do it for me. ‘New Eyes’ is still downloaded, as I’m hoping it will grow on me, but its end may be nigh.

Here’s one of their better songs, ‘Mozart’s House’.

Gorillaz *

Genre: Alternative rock

Albums: I have ‘Gorillaz’, ‘G-Sides’, ‘Demon Days’, ‘D-Sides’, ‘Plastic Beach’ and ‘The Fall’.

Gorillaz is an alternative rock band composed of 2D (the singer), Murdoc (the bassist), Noodle (the guitarist), and Russel Hobbs (the drummer) – the thing is that none of its members actually exist in real life. It’s actually just Damon Albarn from Blur and anyone who will work with him. Jamie Hewlett, while not contributing to the music, draws the band members in their music videos and maybe also writes their scarily intricate backstories. This will take some time to get your head around, but you’ll get used to the idea eventually. I’m not explaining this very well, so here’s their Wikipedia page if you’re confused.

I found out about ‘them’ from some of my friends, and then immediately downloaded their first two albums, ‘Gorillaz’ and ‘Demon Days’. This whole virtual band concept makes it sound like they would be some fringe indie band, but they’re actually incredibly popular, with both albums selling more than 15 million copies in total.

‘Gorillaz’, is a mish-mash of rock, hip-hop, and a little rap as well. I don’t particularly like hip-hop or rap, but in ‘Gorillaz’ all the elements are blended together so well. To single out a few, ‘Clint Eastwood’, ‘Rock the House’ and ‘M1 A1’ are all brilliant.

Though ‘Gorillaz’ was a fantastic debut, ‘Demon Days’ is much more satisfying. It’s dark at times (like in ‘Fire Coming Out of the Monkey’s Head’) but infinitely dance-able. ‘Feel Good Inc.’, ‘Dirty Harry’, ‘White Light’ and ‘DARE’ in particular are fantastic.

After I had got into their first two albums, I downloaded their third, ‘Plastic Beach’, and almost instantly hated it. The whole album has a tropical, laidback feel to it which meant on first listen it all mushed together. However, after repeated listens, it has grown on me considerably. The first few tracks still aren’t great, but from ‘Rhinestone Eyes’ onward it’s much more enjoyable, with ‘Rhinestone Eyes’, ‘Stylo’, ‘Empire Ants’ and ‘Some Kind of Nature’ being favourites. I feel the middle of the album is the strongest part; the beginning is a little too rap-focused, and the end, despite being musically sound, is too mellow for my tastes. It’s not as easily lovable as ‘Demon Days’, but I would still highly recommend it if you like their first two albums.

While normally there are breaks of five or six years between Gorillaz albums, their fourth, ‘The Fall’, was released only a year after ‘Plastic Beach’. Made on Damon Albarn’s iPad while he was touring with Gorillaz in America, it’s more of a mini-project for Gorillaz. Its production values are nowhere near ‘Plastic Beach’, and it occasionally features some dubious synthetic voices (like in the really, really odd ‘Speak It Mountains’) along with Albarn’s singing, but if you’ve already downloaded and enjoyed their first three albums, you’ll might as well try it. It’s much more electronic than previous albums, but it has the same Gorillaz touch.

If you’re now a fully-fledged fan, you’ll probably want to download ‘G-Sides’, a collection of B-sides, unreleased material, remixes and demos from ‘Gorillaz’, and ‘D-Sides’, a collection of miscellaneous material from ‘Demon Days’. They’re a bit oddball, but worth it if you’re already hooked.

Gorillaz have been inactive for a while, but recently news broke that they’re planning to release a new album in 2016 – Jamie Hewlett even posted some new artwork. Needless to say, I am very excited.

Here’s the classic ‘Feel Good Inc.’. If you’re not already a fan, maybe this will convert you.

Joy Division

Genre: Post-punk

Albums: I have ‘Unknown Pleasures’ and ‘Closer’.

Joy Division used to be a British band in the late 1970s; however, they only released two main albums as their singer, Ian Curtis, committed suicide just before ‘Closer’ was released.

After realising that the song ‘Shadowplay’ on the Killers ‘Sawdust’ album was a cover of the same song by Joy Division, I thought I would download their first album, ‘Unknown Pleasures’ (the last thing I downloaded in 2014). It was OK, but also dreary and monotonous. In fact, I was about to delete the album when I heard one of their songs again and I realised it had grown on me.

Because of my initial hesitation, I didn’t download ‘Closer’ until this year. It’s in the same vein as the first album, but a lot more entrancing (though no less depressing).

They aren’t for everyone, but listen to a few of their songs and see what you think.

Interlude

Ages ago, my older sister made me sync some of her albums onto my laptop, presumably to try and kickstart my musical growth. These albums were largely unlistened to until the end of 2014, when I couldn’t access Spotify.

I went to Kerala, India over the Christmas holidays to see extended family and it was lovely (hopefully more on this later). However, though I had my laptop, I had no Internet connection for most of the time, so most of my music was unavailable to me for two weeks. Even when I did have a connection, it wasn’t unlimited, so I couldn’t use Spotify without wasting my uncle’s limited broadband. Such are the disadvantages of relying on an Internet-based streaming service.

Bored, I turned to the albums I had synced onto iTunes. Two of them I had already listened to on Spotify, (‘I Had the Blues But I Shook Them Loose’ and ‘Modern Vampires of the City’), but three others (‘An Awesome Wave’ by Alt-J, ‘Bad Blood’ by Bastille, and ‘Total Life Forever’ by Foals) were mostly unheard, although I had heard a few Bastille songs before. There was also another album, ‘Bon Iver’ by Bon Iver, which I had heard indirectly, since my younger sister used to play it to get to sleep at night.

Over the holidays, I listened to all the albums save ‘Bad Blood’ and ‘Bon Iver’ (it was just a little too laidback for me, though I might give it another go). This is how I found ‘Foals’ and ‘Alt-J’.

Foals *

Genre: Indie rock

Albums: I have ‘Antidotes’, ‘Total Life Forever’ and ‘Holy Fire’

Foals are an indie rock band from Oxford who have made three wildly varying albums, and they’re all fantastic.

The first album I listened to was their second, ‘Total Life Forever’, when I was in India. At first I thought it was slow and mellow, too slow and mellow; apart from ‘Miami’, it’s melancholy stuff. However, after listening to it again, it becomes really emotionally fulfilling as well as kind of… beautiful? Pretty? Listen to Spanish Sahara a few times and you’ll see what I mean.

The second album I listened to was their debut, ‘Antidotes’. Though I enjoy all albums by Foals, ‘Antidotes’ has the catchiest and most memorable songs. Significantly different from their second album, ‘Antidotes’ is uptempo, infectious and, at times, aggressively happy. There’s not really any standout track, but if pressed, I’d just say listen to their singles, which are ‘The French Open’, ‘Cassius’, ‘Balloons’ and ‘Red Socks Pugie’.

The first time I heard their third album, ‘Holy Fire’, I strongly disliked it – not because it was a bad album, but because it was very different from the first two albums. It’s not as slow as their second or fast as their first, but somewhere in the middle; it’s also rawer than both of them, more… epic. This didn’t sit well with me. On first listen, I also didn’t find some of the songs very memorable.

Now I consider it equal to the other Foals albums, although there are still a few songs which fail to stick in my head. If you’re from the UK, you’ll probably have heard ‘My Number’ by now, but personal highlights are ‘Inhaler’, which is such fun to sing along to, and ‘Providence’, which has one of the best build-ups in all my songs. The prelude is also a great opener to the album.

Here’s ‘Miami’, one of the first Foals songs I enjoyed from their second album. The song actually has a music video to go with it, but it’s a little too weird even for this blog. Of course now I’ve said that you’ll want to see it, so here it is. However I would recommend you listen to the song on its own first, as the music video will taint your perception of it. :P

Alt-J

Genre: Indie rock

Albums: I have ‘An Awesome Wave’ and ‘This Is All Yours’.

Alt-J is an English arty indie rock band, but they also sound a bit electronic. Their first album, ‘An Awesome Wave’ is quiet but satisfying. There are few loud moments, apart from in ‘Fitzpleasure’, but that doesn’t stop it being superb. My favourite songs from it are probably ‘Tesselate’ and ‘Breezeblocks’, but the interludes are great as well.

‘This Is All Yours’ doesn’t have the same… prettiness as ‘An Awesome Wave’, but it’s much more confident, while still being recognisably Alt-J. There are still plenty of calmer tracks, but also ones like ‘Left Hand Free’. Some of the songs irk me a little, but ‘Leaving Nara’ is delightful and ‘Bloodflood Pt. II’ (near the end of the album) is a nice nod back at the first album.

Below is ’Breezeblocks’, from their first album. The video for this is fun to puzzle over.

Kaiser Chiefs

Genre: Indie rock

Albums: I have ‘Employment’ and ‘Yours Truly, Angry Mob’.

While I was still enamoured by the Killers, I searched them up on Google and instead found an interview of Kaiser Chiefs by Gigwise which I found interesting. Looking them up, I found they had written a number of extremely catchy songs that I had heard throughout my childhood without knowing who they were by, like ‘I Predict A Riot’ and ‘Ruby’, so I downloaded their first two albums. If you live in the UK, you may also know their singer, Ricky Wilson, as ‘that judge from The Voice’.

Their first album, ‘Employment’, didn’t have great lyrics and seemed gimmicky but it was also maddeningly catchy. The second album was slower but benefited because of that, and it was less infuriating than their debut.

Though at first I dismissed them as catchy but shallow, I’ve grown to appreciate them more, and now I hold their first two albums in good esteem. I’m not sure whether or not to get their later albums, as they’ve supposedly gotten worse over time, but I’m considering it. Here’s their best known song, ‘Ruby’.

Slint *

Genre: Post-rock

Albums: I have ‘Tweez’ and ‘Spiderland’.

After hearing that Foals was ‘math rock’, I looked up the genre on Wikipedia. It turns out that the term ‘math rock’ comes from ‘the complex, atypical rhythmic structures (including irregular stopping and starting), counterpoint, odd time signatures, angular melodies, and extended, often dissonant, chords’, which some people thought sounded ‘mathematical’, hence the name. On a YouTube page, I saw it described as ‘complicated stuff that sounds good’.

I was about to click away from the page when I saw that ‘Slint’ was listed on the page as a prominent math rock band and, intrigued, I downloaded their second album, ‘Spiderland’.

I had never heard of it before, but ‘Spiderland’ has classic status, and for obvious reasons. I wasn’t entirely sure what I was going into when I listened to it, but, first of all, it’s nothing like Foals in any way. ‘Spiderland’ is bleak and gripping and intense. As in really, really intense. Even more intense than ‘Mr. Brightside’. Either the lyrics are being screamed down the microphone or they’re being whispered, almost mumbled. And the whole thing is fantastic. Startling, and hard to ‘get’, but after the second listen, I was dumbfounded. It’s not a happy album, but it’s beautiful.

‘Tweez’, their first album, is nowhere as haunting as ‘Spiderland’, but I have it anyway. While also math rock, it feels more amateurish; however some of the songs are decent, and you can see some features from ‘Spiderland’, like the occasional screaming. As a standalone album it isn’t great, but, if you already have ‘Spiderland’, it’s a nice addition.

This is their most famous song, ‘Good Morning, Captain’, as it was on the soundtrack of Kids (1995). As a warning, it gets super intense near the end, but that’s all I’ll say.

Two Door Cinema Club

Genre: Indie rock

Albums: I have ‘Tourist History’, ‘Beacon’.

Two Door Cinema Club is a Northern Irish indie rock band which I found *again* through my older sister.

Their first album, ‘Tourist History’, is energetic indie rock. Though (as far as I know) there aren’t any real drums in their songs, all the songs are still crazy uptempo. EDIT: None of the permanent band members play drums, but they use drums in their songs.  Some of the songs sound similar, and none of it is groundbreaking, but it’s so much fun to listen to.

‘Beacon’ is not as infectious as their first album, but it’s slower and more mature. I haven’t really had a chance to listen to it yet, but it’s growing on me. Of the songs I’ve listened to, ‘Sun’ is the catchiest, but the others are good too.

Here’s ‘What You Know’, their most famous song and possibly their catchiest.

Blur

Genre: Britpop/alternative rock

Albums: I have ‘Parklife’.

Blur was one of the primary Britpop bands of the 1990s. I had heard of Blur before, so when I saw that Gorillaz-guy Damon Albarn had been the singer in Blur, I thought I would listen to their third and most famous album, ‘Parklife’.

If you’re American, you probably know Blur as the ‘woo-hoo’ guys (not a euphemism). If you’re British (and were a teenager in the 1990s) you’ve probably heard ‘Parklife’. At first I was kind of wary about it because of the ‘pop’ at the end of ‘Britpop’, but I shouldn’t have been. It’s a fun album, but not hyperactive ADD fun – in fact, some of the songs are relatively slow. The sheer Britishness of it brings it all together. Besides, even if the album was terrible, Damon Albarn has a really distinctive singing voice that would make it fun to listen to anyway.

EDIT: New Blur album is on the way! I’ll have to listen to their other albums quickly!

Cage the Elephant

Genre: Alternative rock

Albums: I have ‘Melophobia’

‘Cage the Elephant’ is an American alternative rock band.  I found out about them when one of my friends (who has similar taste in music to me) said it was his favourite band, and promptly downloaded their third album. I had listened to one of their songs more than a year ago, but I couldn’t remember anything about them.

‘Melophobia’ has an interesting story. Supposedly the band isolated themselves from music while they were writing songs for the album, so they could form their own unique sound – hence ‘Melophobia’, or ‘fear of music’. They’ve managed to do that and keep the album fun, so well done. There are a few ballads among the faster songs, but they all sound glorious – the only song on the album that gets on my nerves is ‘It’s Just Forever’, but that’s only because of the collaborator’s vocals.

Matt Shultz (the singer) has an interesting singing voice that I hated at first – however, now I’ve gotten used to it, it sounds pleasant.

The first two albums are meant to be very different, but I’m definitely going to download them when I have some spare time.

Here’s ‘Spiderhead’, my favourite song off ‘Melophobia’.

St. Vincent

Genre: Art rock

Albums: I have ‘St. Vincent’.

St. Vincent is an American art rock musician. After I saw that she had won a Grammy for best alternative music album with ‘St. Vincent’ (beating off Alt-J and Cage the Elephant) I thought I would download it and see if it was up to the hype. It wasn’t what I was used to, but after a week of it being on my songs, it has grown on me a lot. It’s probably more indie pop than rock, but most of the songs are super catchy and the instrumentals are intriguing. Wikipedia says that it’s art rock, which I can understand – it can get arty at times. However most of the time, it isn’t so arty as to be pretentious.

Everything Everything

Genre: Progressive rock

Albums: I have ‘Man Alive’ and ‘Arc’

My older sister once said that ‘Everything Everything’ was one of her favourite bands, but I’d never actually heard of them, so, last Friday, I downloaded their debut, ‘Man Alive’, and their most recent album, ‘Arc’.

Supposedly the band is prog rock, but I can’t say exactly what that is as I’m not well acquainted with the genre, although I think it has a bad reputation. Funnily enough, as I was listening to Everything Everything, an advert came up on Spotify, which advocated unlimited skipping on mobile with Spotify Premium. It did this by listing different types of skippable music… one of which was prog rock. Spotify can be aggravating at times.*

As you’re listening to it, ‘Man Alive’ is brilliant – full of falsetto vocals and interesting arrangements. After hearing it once, I couldn’t remember many of the songs apart from ‘My Kz, Ur BF’ and ‘Photoshop Handsome’ – however after repeated listens they all stick in your head. I kept hearing ‘Suffragette Suffragette’ in my head this evening. You should give it a listen, even especially if you consider ‘prog rock’ a bad thing.

Their second album, ‘Arc’ is much more memorable, as well as being more accessible. The hooks are catchier, and the songs are more inventive. My favourite songs from it would be ‘Cough Cough’, ‘Kemosabe’, ‘Torso of the Week’, and ‘Don’t Try’, although I’ve had the album for less than a week so I haven’t had too many chances to listen to it.

The beginning of ‘Cough Cough’ may irritate some, but even if you don’t like the first thirty seconds, listen to the whole thing and it all unfolds beautifully.

MGMT

Genre: Psychedelic rock

Albums: I have ‘Oracular Spectacular’.

MGMT (short for Management) is a psychedelic rock duo from America. I downloaded their first album, ‘Oracular Spectacular’, two days ago, and I can already see it’s brilliant. Not what I’m used to, and some of the songs are a bit too weird for my taste, but ‘Kids’ and ‘Time To Pretend’ have brilliant riffs. If not already curious, some people say they sound like David Bowie.

BONUS!

These two mash ups, the first of ‘Feel Good Inc.’ by Gorillaz and ‘Somebody Told Me’ by The Killers, and the second of ‘When The Sun Goes Down’ by Arctic Monkeys and ‘Somebody Told Me’ (again). Both are gorgeous, but I prefer the first one.

Where next?

First I’ll probably get albums from those I only have a songs by – I could get the first three albums by St. Vincent, the first two of Cage the Elephant, the six other Blur albums… there is lots of potential for stuff there.

There are all the other usual indie rock bands, like The Black Keys, The Strokes, Radiohead, the Smiths and Nirvana, that I have yet to check out, or calmer indie rock, bands like Bombay Bicycle Club ‘Classic’ rock (like the Who, Led Zeppelin, Foo Fighters or Velvet Underground) is another option. Following on from Slint, I could look at other post-rock bands like Godspeed You! Black Emperor or Mogwai. More Britpop like Oasis (although Liam Gallagher looks annoying).  Or I could switch genres completely and look at electronic music, like Little Dragon (who I have come to know from their work on ‘Plastic Beach’). What I don’t want to do is listen exclusively to the famous indie rock bands – at the moment I have a wide variety of songs, and it would be nice to keep that individuality.

I wrote this post to recommend musicians to you and also to have you recommend stuff to me. Hopefully I’ve given you some ideas if you want to look at any new bands. As for me, I feel like my music collection is pitifully small at the moment. I only have 44 albums, so if anyone has any suggestions, please tell! Like I said, I don’t want to get pigeonholed into classic ‘indie rock’, so recommend whatever you like.

I also wrote this post to see if anyone has similar taste. If so that’s kind of reassuring, but also takes me off my pedestal. Sometimes it’s easy to get smug about how I like ‘indie’ rock, but then I realise millions and millions of people have the same taste in music as I do and I am not a special snowflake when it comes to music (in a good way).

I might come back to this post in the future to see how my taste has changed, perhaps even do a follow up post in a few months (although this was a nightmare to format). If you slogged through all of this, I am impressed. I would offer you something material, like a cookie, but that’s not really possible via the Internet. :P

I’ll see if I can get back into blogging in 2015, but I’m making no promises. This post took so much longer than I thought it would, but I’m proud of it, so I hope you enjoyed reading it. See you next time (whenever that is).

Joe.

*Spotify’s ads are generally annoying. Some of the really passive-aggressive ones, with slogans like ‘THIS COULD BE THE LAST AD YOU EVER SEE’, even make me think about turning to the dark side of illegally downloading music. :P I jest… for now.

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11 thoughts on “My music

  1. I CAN COMMENT HERE!!!
    I’m just behind happy how Kaiser Chiefs made the list. Nobody seems to have heard of them. And I’m all, come on, ruby?!!
    And blur! AND AM!
    Just the whole shebam is great :)

    • The songs are so well known, just not the band. XD

      If you like Blur, I really recommend Gorillaz. Still Damon Albarn, just a little different. ‘Demon Days’ is probably on YouTube somewhere.

      • Agreed! It kind of reminds me of FIFA tracks, in a way. So many great songs. Just a little unknown.

        Ah Gorillaz! Yes yes! Fear not, I’ve already heard of them :) though I prefer blur, hearing Damon Albarn in something else is always nice! Haven’t heard much; but favourite song would be Clint Eastwood.

      • I don’t play FIFA, but so many comments under YouTube videos of bands I like are ‘came here from FIFA 20–‘, so I think FIFA have good taste in music.

        At least you’ve listened to them, although I would definitely recommend you explore a bit more. Clint Eastwood is great, so I approve of your choice. :D

        Speaking of Albarn, did you hear the new Blur song that came out recently?

        I would recommend some more bands, but I would basically be repeating the post. :P

      • Yup! It’s a bit like WWE (I don’t watch it no more…my brother completely wrecked it all by revealing that it’s staged. Though now I’m older, looking back, THANK GOD ITs staged!!) but WWE didn’t have much though. Like, it was where I heard my first green day song (know your enemy) and that’s kinda it.
        I shall! I shall!

        OMG THERES BEEN A NEW ONE WAAAA!!!
        The post was fab :)

      • Hmmm that’s a very good question. I think for me the second one, but that could be because I have had the first one from shortly after the release date so it’s been well listened too, where as the new one is still relatively fresh. I was worried their second album would not match the first, but it totally did.

    • Haha, it took me ages to work out how to sync the few songs I have on my desktop iTunes onto my phone. I picked up on Spotify pretty quickly though. Like any of the bands I’ve listed?

  2. Pingback: Here We Go Again! | I Prefer Deep Blues and Sea Foam Greens

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