Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Andrew Bird.

So I know I missed last week's post but I was kidnapped (by myself) and forced (not really) to watch (binge on) a few episodes (seasons) of New Girl. Don't judge me. It wasn't my fault (it really was). But anywhoosies, today's Music Wednesday is going to be about Andrew Bird. You know in 2014, I've discovered more new musicians than any other year. I'm so glad I made the effort to push myself out of the comfort zone of my music library. I'm normally content (and lazy) when it comes to my library. I'd only add a handful of songs to it each year. But as I've mentioned before something about studying for my final year at uni really drove me into albums and musicians I'd never heard of or listened to, and this whole journey of musical discovery kept me sane through coursework and exams but also made me fall in love over and over again.

It was late winter/early spring when I first heard an Andrew Bird song/album. I can't remember which album of his it was that I listened to first but it hooked me enough that I went and listened to his whole discography. The reason why I love Bird is because he marries two of my favourite things: Instrumentation/musicianship and folk music/storytelling. In fact he reminds me a bit of a super super folk version of Sufjan Stevens. See when I say I love music, I'm not really talking about a vocal over a beat. I mean that's great and all but my love really stems for a deep seated appreciation for the craft and art of music and musicianship. That's why I love classical music so much. Or even artists like Bird and Stevens. I'm the type of person that can get lost in a 20 minute song and not feel a second of that time pass. Then I listen to it again to get completely caught up in whatever story is being told or I visualise the colours that the different notes sound like and behind my closed eyes I can see this masterpiece painted by the instruments, filled with texture and layers and themes and dynamics and...

I don't know. I just love music lol. In ways I can't describe. And so I thought I'd share this song with you.

Until next time x

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Musings: 21 Up New Generation

Today is Wednesday which means Blogday at Without the 'Ay' headquarters, aka my room. Today's post is going to be about something called 21 Up New Generation. I've been trying to get my head around how to write about this for exactly nine days and have come up with nada. Zilch. Naught. Diddly-squat. You get my drift. It's been a whole lot of nothingness each time I've reached towards my keyboard in an attempt to communicate my thoughts. So I'm just going to try and capture parts of what's going on in my head and hope that somehow you get it.

Here goes.


So 21 Up New Generation was on the other night. Exactly nine days ago. On BBC One. I was on it.
Not only was I on this one, but I was on the last one 7 years back. Oh and I was on the one before that. And I'm probably going to be on the next one 7 years from now. And so on. And so forth. For some reason I now have that guy from 'The King and I' in my head going "Etceteraaa Etcerteraaa". But I digress.

For some reason being a part of the show is completely natural and normal to me. What isn't normal to me is people knowing I'm on the show. Why is that so strange to me? Every time a new episode of the series airs, people that know me but don't know me always ask why I didn't tell them that I was on it before, I'm like why would I? I've been a part of this spectacular thing now for longer than I haven't. I see it as both a big deal and not a big deal at all. Every seven years a handful of people, some that I know and some that I dont, come and hang out with me for a couple of days. We joke around, we're serious, we talk about life, love, education, religion, successes, failures, expectations, disappointments, hopes dreams, realities, difficulties, and everything else that Julian can think of. And then they're gone. A year later the rest of the world/ anybody who tunes into BBC One when it airs, are provided a glimpse into those conversations and then six years later it all happens again.

But see the reason I don't wear my Up-ness on a t-shirt is because between each show, life happens. A whole lot of life happens. And while that life is happening, I don't sit around and ponder my Up-ness, I'm taking part in life. Every now and again, maybe once or twice a year i'll think about the series. I'll be walking down the street and randomly stop and marvel at the fact that there are these people that I am connected to. This makeshift, circumstantial family, with the 'Uppers' being the siblings and Mel and Julian (the producer and director respectively) being the parents. Then I continue walking down the street. And up till now, that was my experience being part of the show.

Something was different this time round though. Because this time round there was the internet. Sure, the internet was around when 14 Up aired, but not like this. It wasn't this living breathing intrinsic part of life that it is now. And that changed things for me a bit. This time round I was able to read people's reactions on Twitter. There were people who have watched all of the installments, people who are discovering the series for the first time. And I got to see it all. So it's like my experience changed from just me, the other 'Uppers' and the team that ties us all together, to us and well- the internet lol. See, logically, in previous shows I knew that people watched it, but this time it was more tangible, which made my participation in 21 Up feel more tangible as well.

 I don't know what else to say, I mean I have a whole bunch of thoughts but they're completely unintelligible, even to me. But I mean, despite being used to the Up Series. It's still a brilliant thing to be a part of. Well, it's a brilliant thing period.

So yeah, until next Blogday,

Rella x

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

The Evita Soundtrack

You know, I had been planning to write about Feist today. I've been meaning to for weeks, I even mentioned it in the Kings of Convenience post. But earlier today I was watching a marathon of a random 1 season American cop drama and out of nowhere, I started singing Don't Cry For Me Argentina, beginning to end, word for word at the top of my lungs. I turned to my sister and said, "You know Evita is my favourite musical right?". To which she replied, "Duh!" And then, I thought to myself: 'nobody would know that'. Seriously, very very few people know that Evita is my favourite musical. Ever. And it is largely because the soundtrack is freaking awesome. And I watched it when I was really young, and have watched it a dozen times since, so it's literally embedded in my existence. So since today is #musicwednesdays I'm here to discuss four of my favourite songs off the movie soundtrack.

1. Another Suitcase, Another Hall

This song traumatised me as a child. "So what happens now, where am I going to?" was like the most heartbreaking thing I'd ever heard and Eva seemed so despondent and helpless, it just crushed me. And since then, if I see something particularly heartbreaking or sad in a movie or show, my head will automatically sing "So what happens now, where am I going to?"

2. A New Argentina

Because this song is awesome. Because one day a few years back, I was working at my old job and this randomly came on the work iPod, and my manager and I randomly broke into song and dance. Because of the "Don't think I don't think like you, I often get those nightmares too, they often take some, swallowing" section which is just musically brilliant. 

3. I'd Be Surprisingly Good For You

I think as a kid I didn't love this song. I only began to appreciate it when I was rediscovering the movie and soundtrack as a teenager. And now it's one of my favourites. 

4. Eva's Final Broadcast/Don't Cry For Me Argentina

Again with the sadness, and again with perfectly portraying that sadness in that song. Because of "Have I said too much? There's nothing more I can think of to say to you". For years, I've found myself randomly singing that line while pretending I'm on that balcony, cracking my voice in all the right places to make me seem both strong and breaking at the same time lol. "I'm Argentina and always will be".

Honorable mention: Eva and Magaldi. Because again- awesomeness. Because of the rhythm of the lyrics.

Have you watched Evita? If so what are your favourite songs? Do you have a favourite musical that is unexpected to those that know you?

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Kings Of Convenience, chocolate cake and serendipity

I've been keeping secrets from you...

It wasn't on purpose, and my intent wasn't malicious, so while my chocolate cake bakes in the oven I'm going to come clean.

A few months ago, I believe it was March, I was working in the library of my University. I was on the second floor using the computers by the windows to write an essay on antibiotics. I had about a million tabs open on Chrome but while the majority of them held research papers, one solitary tab was designated for the one thing able to get me through the hours spent in that library. This tab, that will now be known as Lifesaver, was open to YouTube and sweet joy-giving music was travelling from Lifesaver, through my headphones, and into my ears to deliver the sustenance that only music can provide.

I fail to remember what I was listening to at the time, but it had come to an end. I was at a loss as to what to listen to next because I had grown a bit tired of my music library. But randomly I clicked on one of the YouTube suggestions listed and found something I didn't even know I was looking for. Kings Of Convenience. I listened to Declaration of Dependence from beginning to end and fell in love. It just filled a void for kind of up(ish)beat music that was still kinda quiet and beautiful and didn't kill my brain cells.

It's funny that though Declaration of Dependence was the album that hooked me, it's not my favourite of theirs. After listening to DoD about 27 times front to back, I went and listened to their whole history of music. As is my habit with musicians that I love. So here goes, in no particular order, my 5 most favourite songs of Kings of Convenience.

1. The Build Up
Because it is awesome. And beautiful. And has Feist in it (who deserves a post on her own). And because it has that quiet brilliance that I love so much. And is slightly sad in feel which I also love. And because I have listened to it over a hundred times and it still manages to make me stop and pay attention.

2. The Passenger
Because it is also awesome. Because of that guitar riff at the end. Because of the entire guitar part that is so familiar and comforting to me. Because of the simplicity of the melody that manages to be so effective. Because the album was on and I was playing cards on my phone when I first heard this, and I paused the game to go to my music player to make sure I remembered the name of the track because it just spoke to me. Again, because of that riff at the end; I could feel every strum in my aural heart.

3. I'd Rather Dance With You
Because it is the song responsible for ridding me of all negative feelings towards anything of a pop-ish nature. Because this became my soundtrack for the last few weeks of uni. Because I would dance to this when I had to go to the lab at six o'clock in the morning. Because I would dance to this when I left the lab twelve hours later and it would make me feel happy and alive.

4. Scars on Land
Because it is the last song on DoD and every time I hear it, my heart is reminded of the feeling I had when I first listened to the album beginning to end. Profound sadness that it was over, deep gratitude for having discovered it, and a brilliant joy because I could press play and hear it all over again. Because it was such an awesome end to the album.

5. Know How
Because of the outro. Because this is another example of when an outro makes me love the song more that I normally would. Because it has Feist in it- are you recognising a pattern here? Seriously, it's all because of Feist and the outro. And Kings of Convenience of course, but mainly the outro. And Feist.

So there it is. I found Kings of Convenience by pure serendipity and fell in love. Since my chocolate cake is almost done, I'm going to leave it there. See you next Wednesday.

Rella x

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Timeless by Dwele and Tina Marie

You know it's funny, I was planning on writing about something completely different today. But see, I was watching some YouTube videos this morning and somebody in the video mentioned the word 'timeless' in passing. That made me think of this song, Timeless by Dwele and Tina Marie, and how I haven't heard it in ages, and how much it just... It's like my musical resting heart beat. Like what my heart beat would sound like, when I'm completely calm, if it was music.

I remember I had this song on repeat for a whole fortnight last November. And it's a perfect example of why I love Dwele. Next to Musiq Soulchild, he's my favourite male R&B artist. His groove, tone and overall vibe and approach just resonate with me. I pretty much spent six months, when I was seventeen, engrossed in his discography. I love him. But I don't think I'll ever forgive him for teasing me with the greatness found in these one and a half minutes of aural heaven. How you gonna do that Dwele? So yeah, this post is as short as the song but I just wanted to share.

Until next time.
And by next time, I mean next Wednesday.
So really...until next Wednesday

Rella x

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

P!nk- Waiting For Love

I first heard this song a few months ago. During the time I spent studying for exams, I took the time to listen to a tonne of random albums. Whatever/whoever crossed my mind, I'd go and listen to it/them. One day in the middle of a study session I was like "I've never listened to a P!nk album before" so off I went and pulled up Try This on Grooveshark. See the thing is I love P!nk's voice, but I'm not the biggest fan of pop music. But since I was expanding my listening parameters during this study period, I pressed play and got back to studying.

So the album starts and I'm enjoying it because as I said, I love her voice. But nothing really made me pause and then this song starts. I don't think I was paying that close attention at first. About forty seconds in though, I pull up my Grooveshark tab so I can make note of the song and then go back to studying. And then the chorus happens and my head starts rocking and then my musical brain is whispering for me to indulge but my studying brain was maintaining dominance.

But see three minutes and thirty seconds ish starts to build up and then a minute later it calms right and then P!nk just rips the whole song up with her vocal so by this point my books are thrown across the room (metaphorically of course) and P!nk's got my full attention, and that song goes on repeat. After seven listens back to back, my musical brain was somewhat satiated, my studying brain was finally able to gain back some ground and thus back to studying I went.


Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Outro, How I Love Thee...

I woke up hours ago.
Like as in before the sun rose. I got up and did stuff, so it wasn't fake awake, it was real: I'm-about-to-start-my-day awake. So you could imagine my surprise when a few minutes ago I found myself reopening my eyes! I feel groggy as heck, but I'm committed to blogging again now that uni is over (YAYYY!!!), and thus here I am with heavy eyelids, listening to Feist-The Reminder and devouring a frozen kiwi and pineapple smoothie in an effort to feel more awake.

I feels good to be back in this delicious musical space that was kept quiet while uni was controlling my life. Not as strange or foreign as I thought it might feel but that might have something to do with the soundtrack. Anywhosies before I get onto the topic at hand I just thought you'd like to know that every Wednesday, or every other Wednesday, you can expect a post from me. It all depends on which side of me, the procrastinating or the committed, is stronger/louder that day.

Ok outros. I have a special place in my heart for outros that are distinct from the rest of the song. This automatically increases the play-on-repeatability of the song which makes that obsessive habit that I have with a lot of music, much less boring.

I remember the first time I fell in love with an outro. In my early secondary school years I was obsessed with the Coldplay album A Rush Of Blood to the Head. I would play it on repeat and never get bored, ever. This obvs was helped by the fact that the first song is very different to the last track. So would that make it like a Macro-outro? I dunno, I just woke up. But the real outro I'm talking about can be found in A Warning Sign, one of my favourite songs to this day. I remember hearing it, falling in love and then falling even deeper when the outro hit... "I'll crawl back into your open arms" And then a few days later when the buzz wore of and I stopped listening to it on repeat, I noticed the outro on the song Amsterdam (another favourite) that pretty much is responsible for the whole Macro-outro-ness that I mentioned earlier. Now, over ten years later, this outro is my favourite on the album. As well as one of my favourite lyrics "Stood on an edge, tied to a noose, you came along, and you cut me loose".

There are different kinds of outros though. When I say I love something, you should know by now that the attachment is multifaceted. See there are outros that should be their own song like the one in Don't look Back by Miguel. I FREAKING LOVE THAT OUTRO. Miguel how you gonna tease us like that? With those 30 odd seconds of awesomeness?? That's just mean. But then also there are outros like the one in From the Mouth of Gabriel by Sufjan Stevens. Oh my gosh, when I first heard that song, I couldn't stand it. My brain just couldn't process it. At. All. But then the outro happened, and I liked the outro. I liked it so much that I would listen to the whole song just to hear the outro and how it bleed into the next song The Owl and the Tanager (a song I love), and now I like the whole song. All because of the outro. Finally there are outros that take a good song and make it an experience. You know who's good at that, Musiq Soulchild. He never disappoints on the outro front. I remember I was on a twenty minute bus ride one day and You Be Alright came on on my iPod, it was the first time I'd heard it. I was enjoying it but then the outro started and just took the whole experience of the song miles above what it was before. And of course, that song was played on repeat for the whole journey.

So that's it. I loves me some outros. Now my question to you is, are there any outros that really stick out in your mind? If so, why? Let me know!

Until next time x

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Scott Matthews, Sorbet and Rain

Click here to hear the song...

Its raining right now. It has been raining for days. I just finished a tub of raspberry sorbet so I can't feel my tongue. I should be doing a million things. I should be baking bread to freeze and writing about five essays. I was just writing one of those essays while eating the sorbet but in the background I had this song on repeat and all of a sudden I had to stop.

You should know by now, if you've been here for a while, that sometimes I hear something and it just makes me pause. This song perfectly matches the heartbeat of my day. The past few days actually. It pretty much embodies the tone of my mood and since it's kinda been my soundtrack as of late I thought I'd share.

I should tell you that the album, Elsewhere, is just frickin perfect. It hurts my feelings how perfect it is. This is the last song on the album and the first time I heard it, I played it all the way through. Start to finish. My heart broke a little when this song ended because it meant the album was over. And every time this song finishes my heart beats a bit faster in slight panic and so I have to hear it again and again and again. And it just sounds like home.

Hope you enjoy