Mixtape Mondays | Piano Tapes

Monday, August 29, 2016 0 Comments A+ a-

When I heard Tom Odell's second album I had mixed feelings. My first thought was "where's the piano?". However, after a second listen I could eventually spot - between very complex arrangements - the moments of brilliance which made me fall in love with Long Way Down. But it was hard work.

Seeing him live a couple of months ago confirmed it. The material was once more outstanding and he was indeed careful to pick a band big enough for it. But I was no more in love with him. His debut album had me at the simplicity of his piano and at how I could hear emotion resonating from its strings, but Wrong Crowd did not have the same effect on me. Well, that was until East 1st Street Piano Tapes was released earlier this month. I can't stress enough how over the moon I am this was made available. It is perfection. And it is there to remind us great music can only benefit from the rawness of stripped back versions.  

Do listen to the full East 1st Street Piano Tapes by Tom Odell, I cannot fault it. Stunning record of a record in the making

These demos inspired me so much I thought of putting together a playlist with some of my favourite piano tracks and a few recently found gems. It includes Sinking Ship, I dare say my favourite Seafret song - which did not make the album, but it is available as part of Oceans EP - and Dan Owen's latest release Made To Love You, which I could not in a million years foresee becoming a piano led arrangement. 

They are followed by two of my favourite female vocals, Regina Spektor and Russian Red, here represented by Samson and The Memory is Cruel, both beautiful and sad tunes I've once could not stop playing on repeat. The same could be said to Damien Rice's albums O and 9, but how not to fall in love with not only the piano, but the violin and vocals in 9 Crimes?

On the new found front we have the likes of Lancashire duo Aquilo with a live version of Almost Over, an acoustic take of I Found by the Nottingham lads of Amber Run and Cambridge born Kyan's stunning Sometimes

From Tom Odell's first album we've Heal, followed by London Grammar's Help and some cheeky almost classics. Who doesn't remember Alicia Key's live performance of Empire State of Mind - it takes me back to good old times of MTV unplugged albums although it was definitely released a decade later than most of those. And in the sequence there is still space for Nina Simone, Coldplay - every so often I remember something they did worth a mention - Sam Smith with an acoustic version of Latch, Faith No More because when we think piano Easy needs to feature, a version of Rihanna's Stay by Thirty Second To Mars which you may have heard in this blog before and two of my favourites famous for making indie piano driven records, Keane and Kate Nash.

Mixtape Mondays | Haven't Listened To In Forever

Monday, August 15, 2016 0 Comments A+ a-

Hi folks, first of all apologies for missing a playlist last week. I want to say my work is currently taking most of my time, but the truth is, it is taking ALL of my time. It should get better by mid September - one can only hope... But so it happens I put together this playlist last week, just didn't have a chance to write about it. 

I am not alone when I say The Libertines second album marked a generation, who never danced to Can't Stand Me Now hasn't lived, right?

It came into being following a recent series of events which made me think about quite a few of the bands here and it culminated with me opening good old iTunes on my once forgotten desktop and suddenly coming across music I didn't even remember I had. I mean, it is not like I did not remember these bands, but I simply haven't played them in such a long time! At least considering how much I used to listen to them a few years ago. So I thought of compiling a selection and, why not, to share it here with you. 

Mixtape Mondays | Haven't Listened To In Forever

Starting with The Bravery, a band I came across on - brace yourselves! - MySpace. I am not sure about how well known they were in the UK but I though them worth a mention. And so is Franz Ferdinand. Their self titled debut album and You Could Have It So Much Better were played back to back and on repeat one too many times. They're followed by The Coral, a band I had completely forgotten about until I saw them last month at T in the Park. Ironically, something very similar had happened with Razorlight a few years ago, when it wasn't until I was en route to V Festival, where they were due to play, that I remembered how much I used to listen to them. 

By that way, V Festival 2009 must have been one of the best line-ups in history, I still can't believe how good it was! And it was also simply the stage to Oasis' last ever live performance. On that note, also playing that year were Snow Patrol, The Killers and Pete Doherty, all represented in this mixtape. And to close the selection, a triple bill of London bands, starting with The Rakes. I remember being obsessed with their album Ten New Messages. Despite their somewhat short career (2003-2009), they've marked my early 20s. And so did Klaxons and Bush - the least British sounding band of the lot, but who regained my respect after putting up a good gig in 2013 during British Summer Time

Mixtape Mondays | Awesome Covers vol.4

Monday, August 01, 2016 0 Comments A+ a-

I can't believe it was March when I last published an Awesome Covers mixtape! So often I come across great versions of classics or simply interesting interpretations of the latest pop chewing gum sticky like track. I hope I've made it worth the wait 

Because I've been really struggling with time over the last few weeks - and until mid September I don't see it getting any easier - I will keep this short and sweet. This week's playlist stands out to me in many ways, but first and foremost I think it contains a fair few versions which I dare say sound better than their originals. I guess the best example I can throw out there is London Grammar's take on Nightcall, originally a track by French artist Kavinsky.   

Really wondering when London Grammar's second album may come out... It is been 3 years since If You Wait

I think credit needs to be given to any cover which allows you to pay attention to a lyric for the first time - and actually catch yourself thinking "this is surprisingly quite clever". Perhaps it is down to the the stripped back factor, but it was the case for me with Stitches, Hey Ya and - brace yourself! - Wrecking Ball. Fun fact for one's amusement, it took actually 6 people to write the latter! 

If you think I had exhausted the pop factor in the last paragraph, you know nothing Jon Snow. From Myley Cyrus to Rihanna & Beyoncé. This playlist brings you yet a Thirty Seconds To Mars version of Stay - I blame last week's Shortlist Jared Leto cover for it - and Halo by Norwegian musicians Ane Brun and Linnea Olsson

Some other great tracks worth a mention are AURORA's beautiful interpretation of Oasis' Half The World Away, Birdy's version of Fleet Foxes White Winter Hymnal, Velvet Underground's Sunday Morning in a collaboration between BØRNS and French artist Petite Meller and, last but not least, Radiohead's High and Dry in the lovely harmonies of US duo Colin & Caroline. Have I mentioned I've managed to include No Diggity here? We've Chet Faker to thank for it though. Hope you enjoy it!