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Posts Tagged: 2009

When Your Money’s Gone And You’re Drunk As Hell – 2009 Part II

Friday 1st January 2010

Well I covered January to June in the previous post, so now I’m going to jump right into the second half of the year.

July
A continuation of the Garden State theme from June here… The soundtrack has 2 songs by The Shins, so I also Spotify’d their stuff. Wincing The Night Away is the only one of their albums on there (and it’s my favourite), and I think at some point I mentioned them to one of my housemates who promptly retrieved three of their albums from the wretched hive of scum and villainy that he lovingly refers to as his bedroom.

I said at the start of this entry that the music I mention would be stuff I listened to a lot or that I associate with certain memories, and this falls into both camps. Wincing the Night Away was pretty much constantly on in my car during July, because it was the perfect soundtrack to my summer. I remember driving with the windows open, enjoying the fresh air rushing into the car and singing along (really badly!) to the music as I drove. It seemed perfect to me for those summer evenings, when the air has that weird, charged, “summertime” feeling and it takes ages to get dark, and the sky at dusk looks stunning.

August
This was the month of V Festival, so theres quite a lot to mention. Obviously I saw a fair few bands and artists there – Oasis, The Killers, a bit of Athlete, Ocean Colour Scene, Bjorn Again (hahaha), Fatboy Slim, and so on. The standouts for me though were Lily Allen, Snow Patrol and – weirdly enough because I’m not actually a great fan of their music – Pendulum. Oddly enough though, the music that sticks in my memory for August is actually not someone I saw at V. There are two reasons this sticks in my mind; firstly that it’s a stunningly good album, and secondly because it reminds me of driving back to Cardiff after V. I stayed at home for a family meal before I left for Cardiff, so I don’t think I left home until about 11pm and it’s a 2 hour drive to Cardiff. I was incredibly weary and just wanted to get back, and I remember driving through the night whilst listening to this album. For some reason it was one of those really nice moments I get sometimes whilst driving. It wasn’t a particularly fun drive, but it was one of those moments of clarity where I find myself completely focussing on the moment and forgetting about anything else. I seem to readily associate music with driving. I suppose that makes sense; the music provides a soundtrack to the drive and when those two fit each other, it sticks in my memories.

Anyway, the album is For Emma, Forever Ago by Bon Iver. I actually first heard of Bon Iver from the Glastonbury coverage on the BBC earlier in the year and I listened quite a bit in July, but I didn’t listen to the album properly for a while. If you haven’t heard it, go on Spotify now and listen to it because it’s an absolute treat. In my opinion, For Emma and Skinny Love in particular are songs which are absolutely perfect in every way. Yum.

And I told you to be patient
And I told you to be fine
And I told you to be balanced
And I told you to be kind
And now all your love is wasted
And then who the hell was I?
And I’m breaking at the britches
And at the end of all your lines

September
Two choices this month. First, Radiohead. I’ve liked Radiohead for a while but I’d sort of forgotten about them, if that makes sense? I watched their set at Reading this year on iPlayer though and was blown away by how awesome they were. I ended up re-listening to OK Computer all the way through after that and I pretty much fell in love with it again. I travelled by train into Birmingham a few times to meet up with friends, and that album (as well as Kid A) kept me company as I travelled.

Second choice is Muse, mostly because thats when they released their new album. Which I thought was OK, but it also made me re-listen to some of their older work as well, and someone bought me a couple of their albums for my birthday. I vaguely remember ranting on Messenger about how good the earlier ones are to the person who bought them for me, whilst I was very drunk after a night drinking cider (which I don’t usually drink)…

October
At some point in October, one of my housemates recommended that I listen to the Stone Roses on Spotify. I did so and became slightly addicted. Actually I think we both were for a while, so it was funny coming out of my room listening to an album and hearing the same music coming out of his room…

This was the first month back at Uni since Spring 2008, so the memories are the typical student stuff. Lectures, work, socialising, sleep, lectures, work, socialising, sleep, lectures…. It stays like that until now really, so you can see why I’ve been so fed up of it. Pretty much all the people who took a year out to work feel the same, which I find fairly interesting. University is just boring!

November
We come to November and the first real mention of Formula 1! Jenson Button took the championship with a stunning drive at the Brazilian Grand Prix in the middle of October, and he was also on form at the first Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, on the first weekend in November. For the most part, the race wasn’t great. Hamilton looked imperious all weekend, but a problem with his brakes at the start of the race meant that, despite starting on pole, he didn’t manage to pull away in the manner that most people predicted. That meant that the race got more interesting for a while, because it was shaping up to be a good fight for the victory between him and Sebastian Vettel. Sadly, Lewis retired after his first stop (iirc) after his brake issues got worse. So mostly an average race, except for the last few laps. Webber and Button had a cracking battle for 2nd place – reminiscnant of the famous clash between Villeneuve and Arnoux at Dijon in 1979 – which made the last few laps of the 2009 F1 season pretty excing.

Anyway, BBC Sport ended their coverage with this montage of the season, which introduced me to Florence + The Machine. I listened to Lungs a fair bit after I heard that song on the F1 coverage, and I reckon it’s pretty good.

December
I think that I’ve partially covered this before, but there are a few extra things to add. Towards the start of the month, I discovered the latest Eels album, Hombre Lobo. I’ve liked Eels for a while, so I’m disappointed that it took me 6 months to listen to the latest album. Anyhow, it’s all pretty damn good, but I keep finding myself being drawn to the last 4 songs… The second thing is Mumford and Sons, and I listened  to their album a couple of weeks ago. One of my brothers needed to go to Cardiff for the day so I said I’d drive him down, which meant that I had a day down there with time to kill. I decided to look this album up on Spotify and I enjoyed it. I still enjoy it, although I realised the other day that the album is basically about religion, which sort of lets it down a bit in my book.

So there, some of the music I’ve listened to in 2009, and some of the memories that go along with that music. Mostly for my own entertainment, I’ve put together a Spotify playlist with some of the music mentioned here, but here’s the link for anyone who wants to listen.  With the exception of the last few months (because of Uni), 2009 has been pretty damn good. I’ve got 6 months of University to get through in 2010 and once it’s over I really have very little idea what I’m going to do with myself. I’m not sure where I’ll be or what I’ll be doing, which is both exciting and unnerving. A year of opportunity, hopefully.

Happy New Year :-)

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In The Waiting Line – 2009 Part I

Thursday 31st December 2009

I thought I’d do a sort of “review of the year”, but I’ve decided to come at it from a slightly odd angle. I was bored the other night so started looking through my Last.fm profile, particularly the charts bit. It’s not completely accurate because there were periods when I didn’t have scrobbling set up properly and because obviously I don’t scrobble from the car or my mp3 player, but it still shows the trends from a good proportion of my listening, which I found quite interesting. The music I listen to sometimes reflects events or life at the time, so it’s quite a nice walk down memory lane in some respects. With that in mind, this is a review of the music I’ve listened to over the year, and why I’ve listened to it. It’s not necessarily all stuff that’s been released this year, just what I’ve listened to. I’ve tried to filter out some things, lke the bands that I listen to pretty much all the time anyway (Pink Floyd, Dire Straits, Bob Dylan etc), so it’s mostly the stuff that I’ve “discovered” or really gotten into during the past 12 months.

Also I’ve not written about music for a while, so it makes a nice change.

For each month, I’m gonna pick an artist which I “associate” with it. It might be because I listened to them a lot, or because I have certain memories from that time which are related to a song or something. I’ll also sum up some of the other things I listened to, and more than likely I’ll go off on tangents at regular intervals because, well, why the hell not? I shall also use Spotify links throughout (or YouTube links if the song isn’t on Spotify), for anyone who wants to listen to the songs I’m referring to.

January
First month in and already I’m going to break my rules by picking two bands!

I basically had most of January off, so I filled some of the time by playing games. One that I played a lot was Darwinia, and as I was playing that I used to put music on in the background. A band that I particularly liked putting on whilst doing that is múm, an icelandic group. Their earlier stuff is pretty electronicy and fit really well with Darwinia, but I also listened a lot to Go Go Smear the Poison Ivy, their (at the time) newest album, which has a very different feel.

Funny story. For those who don’t know me, I’m fairly lax about getting my hair cut. My hair is blonde and curly, so when I’ve left it for a few months it turns into the most ridiculous looking afro you’ve ever seen. Actually there’s more than a passing resemblance to Art Garfunkel, and a year or so ago I went to see him at the Symphony Hall in Birmingham (he was very good btw). I was sat near the front and my hair was a reasonable length at the time. Anyway, during an instrumental part of one of the songs, he looked pretty much directly at me and started grinning. I dunno if he thought I was taking the piss with my hair or something, trying to imitate him. I wasn’t, I’m just really lazy, but there ya go. Was quite a weird moment really…

Anyway, at the end of January I bought the Simon and Garfunkel box set, and got pretty into that. I’d heard Bridge Over Troubled Water before, because I bought that album a while back, but it was the first time I properly listened to their other albums and I enjoyed them very much, so that’s my second January association.

February,
February was my first month working on-site, so was pretty exciting if more than a little daunting. The really big adjustment was living away from home during the week, although I was lucky in that one of my colleagues was staying in the same hotel as me so I at least had someone interesting to talk to over dinner and beers (paid for by the company!). During that time I think I read a review of Spotify on The Register during one of my lunch breaks, so I installed it to kill some time and see what it was all about. I quickly became addicted and one of the first artists I looked up was Bob Dylan (quite a bias on the week I installed Spotify!). OK so I know I said I wouldn’t include stuff that I listen to anyway, and I know I that even mentioned Bob Dylan, but back in the day Spotify had all of his back catalogue on there. If you’re not familiar with Bob Dylan, firstly whyever not?! And secondly, he has a massive back catalogue and it’s all pretty varied in sound. Some is awesome and some is, well, awful. SoI took the opportunity to listen to some of the stuff that I’d not heard before and found some absolutely great music there. Two things stick out in my memory. The first is I’m Not There (the one the film is named after), which I think is fantastic. I love the way it’s understated and sort of builds up gently, and I think that some of the lyrics are stunning:

Yes she’s gone like the rainbow that was shining yesterday
But now she’s home beside me, and I’d like her here to stay
She’s a lone forsaken beauty and it’s ‘Don’t trust anyone’
I wish I was beside her, but I’m not there I’m gone

The second thing to stick out was the album World Gone Wrong. It’s a bunch of covers of folk standards (recorded, I think, in his garage…) and I think it’s a vastly underrated album. I particularly love the title song.

March
So this was always going to happen at some point in this thing; I can’t think of anything in particular to say about March. This isn’t helped by the fact that my Last.fm history is patchy because I wasnt scrobbling all the time, but also I suppose it was the time when I was getting settled into work, still learning the ropes but gaining confidence, and generally getting stuck into the weekly cycle. Looking at Last.fm, there’s the occasional unusual thing but really nothing sticks in my mind as such, so I shall move swiftly on.

April
My choice for April is easy, although it’s a band that I first heard back in 2008: Death Cab for Cutie. Someone recommended them to me back then and I thought that they were OK, not bad but also not exactly brilliant. With the exception of I Will Possess Your Heart (I actually like the long intro), nothing really grabbed me that much. At some point I must’ve looked them up on Spotify (probably to listen to that song) and ended up listening to more and really enjoying it. I remember after what must’ve been a pretty tired day, lying on the bed in my hotel room listening to Narrow Stairs.  I remember the first few songs, then the next thing I knew I was listening to the album credits which are on Spotify for that album. Made me late for dinner! Anyway, I bought a couple of albums shortly after and I think I played them fairly regularly in the car through most of April, so there we go.

May
Yet another Spotify find! I’m a big fan of old blues and country recordings, and I was searching for a particular song, I Got Mine by Frank Stokes. I really like this song and there are lots of versions on Spotify, so I (accidentally, I think) listened to the version by Mississippi John Hurt, and instantly fell in love with it. This was whilst I was sat in a hotel room with plenty of time to kill, so I listened to some of his other music and really liked that too. It was May, the weather was starting to get better, it was coming towards the end of my time on a particular site. I have a really nice memory of chilling out listening to this music, killing time before going for another agreeable (and free) meal with a couple of pints with the other guy from work who stayed in the hotel, and of all being right with the world.

June
At the start of June, I saw Garden State for the first time. Actually I heard the soundtrack before I saw the film because one of my brothers put it on in the car on the way to Cardiff. This was during my “between-site” stage when I spent 2 weeks mostly working in Birmingham, but I went down to site in Cardiff for 2 days to do some preliminary setting-out. I remember the first day being boiling hot and the second day I sneezed a lot because they’d cut the grass at some point, which had the bonus effect of erasing a lot of the line marker I’d put down the day before. Someone really should’ve told the groundkeepers not to do that area, because a couple of weeks later we cut the grass rather more drastically by excavating it all. Nevermind eh? Anyway, the soundtrack to Garden State is very good and one of the songs on it is In The Waiting Line by Zero 7, which I became slightly addicted to. When I listened to some of their albums on Spotify I became even more addicted, before I finally bought a couple. I remember being bored rigid in the office in Birmingham, listening to that song over YouTube on my phone, whilst watching the text commentary on Friday practice for the British Grand Prix from the BBC website.

So, thats the first half of the year. Those first few months onsite seemed to last forever, but really it was only about four-and-a-bit months that I was there. I was always meant to be going somewhere else “soon”, so I guess the fact that I was constantly waiting for that exaggerated that feeling. I suppose looking back at this, I get the impression of being stuck into the grind, the same cycle over and over again. And I guess that was true (although certainly less so than at university!). But I did enjoy it and I learned a lot, which set me up nicely for the rest of the year…

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