Music is my boyfriend, music’s my imaginary friend…

Anyone close to me knows that music is a huge part of my life, and it dawned on me the other day that it’s something I hardly ever write about.  Once in a while I might have a little rant about the state of popular music today *waves cane* but otherwise, I’ve noticed I tend to refrain from exclaiming over the joys of whatever happens to be filling my ears.  I think that’s probably because I’ve stayed faithful to the homeland – my days are filled with BBC radio, NME recommendations, and anything sung by anybody from Wales.  Sadly, this hardly makes for relatable conversation – but I felt it was about time I indulged and wrote about one of the things I love most in this world, and hopefully got some feedback (or better, recommendations!).

There were a number of albums over the last couple of years I’d heard a few tracks from, and then promptly pre-ordered from overseas, feeling like an excitable child on Christmas morning when they arrived in the post, jumping around and rushing to put them in the DVD player.  (Surprisingly, I don’t own a stereo.)  One of them happened to be an eagerly anticipated release from my favourite band in the whole world, Muse (who by horrible misfortune happen to be coming to every other place in Canada but Winnipeg – Leanne, Sean, Amber, Hillary… I’m looking at you for vicarious living opportunities!).

I’d discovered them by mistake six or seven years ago when I happened to be dating a radio DJ who got lots of sample CDs in the mail to potentially play on his show. He’d been sent a Vanessa Carlton CD, which obviously wasn’t going on the air, but we pulled it out one evening for a laugh, and it just so happened to be completely the wrong disc inside – instead, it was a copy of Time Is Running Out.  We gave it a listen, and then put it right back on again.  Wavering falsettos, smart lyrics, an incredibly funky bassline and a totally anthemic chorus reminiscent of early Radiohead had us hooked – so I promptly bought (my) first Muse album, AbsolutionReleases over the next six years were consistently brilliant, though their penultimate-to-date verged into new territory – and to be honest, I felt like I did when Radiohead pulled out Hail to the Thief.  But after seeing them live at Wembley in the most heart-stopping performance (to a crowd of >70,000) I’ve ever seen, I was still excited about The Resistance.  And it just so happened to be their best and most impressive record yet.  It’s a pow­er­ful, political, intelligent, and overall stunning epic, and I struggle to find another band even close to being in the same league in terms of creativity, boldness and sheer imagination.  And the first single sounded like the Dr. Who theme, which in my opinion, only means bonus points.

Another incredible album 2009 brought to my door was the wonderful Sigh No More by Mumford and Sons (take a listen!), a small English band who I’m flying out to Toronto to see in February (!), but who, puzzlingly, have seemingly failed to make north American frequencies.  I’m not one for folky, country-type stuff at all – I’m a total indie kid with a love of anything Brit-rock or new wave – but this was unlike anything I’d ever heard.   It’s a perfect balance of heart-wrenching, goosebump-inducing, earnest longing with a heavy dose of bluegrass and roots, dominated by thumping kick drums and a killer banjo (yes, really) that had me cranking my speakers and jumping around the living room. It’s an extraordinary debut; a stunning combination of the expertly crafted upbeats and raw, emotionally ripping passion, each song fully able to stand alone as a fabulously crafted masterpiece.

Toward the end of the year, through lucky chance and impeccable timing, two relatively new artists were brought to my ears.  Patrick Wolf’s Damaris played on national radio, prompting me to find a copy of the album, The Bachelor, immediately.  It wasn’t too long before I did, and it’s quite honestly the strangest and most wonderfully artistic thing I’ve heard in a very long time.  It’s the only place I’ve ever found such abundant strings and choirs juxtaposed with electronic beats and a voice that is at the same time as much ‘80s new wave as it is medieval minstrel.  For a girl who studied medieval history and English literature, and who loves nothing more than to play old Human League EPs on vinyl, it was the stuff dreams were made of.  It’s epic, intelligent, dark and beautiful, and its disjointed, individually ill-fitting tracks coalesce to craft an unexpectedly fluid, and altogether elegant whole.  This man is an artistic genius – and I can’t wait for part two of this release to  hit shops later this year.

And lastly, an artist whose album is as of yet unreleased – Marina and the Diamonds.  I caught one of her (their?) tracks while listening to the BBC a few weeks ago, and instantly thought of Kate Bush.  From what I know, she’s a 50% Greek, 50% Welsh, and 100% very cool singer-songwriter armed with keyboards, retro auras and bucketloads of talent.  The tracks I’ve heard so far – ‘I Am Not a Robot’, ‘Seventeen’ and the wonderful Mowgli’s Road’ (do it…) are unlike anything else being produced in the world of pop music today.   They’re catchy enough to be on mainstream radio, but are edgy, slightly bizarre, and as evocative of early Kate Bush enough to hook the indiest of indie kids.  The album’s supposedly out in a couple of months – and I can’t wait.

Hope you didn’t mind my sharing – but these guys are the best thing to hit my radar in the last little while, and I think they deserve a bit of praise spread across the internet, and I hope you enjoy them as much as I am!

Who’s rocking your world these days?

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59 comments

  1. I am always so impressed by people who have a real, deep love for and enjoyment of music of any kind. For me, it’s always something in the background that secondary to the task at hand (driving, socializing, working, etc.). I wish I had the patience to sit and really listen to music, which is ironic given I played the piano for 15 years.

    1. That is funny! Although my boy is the same way – he was in a band for years and still plays the drums but he doesn’t really care what’s on in the background!

  2. I LOVE ALL OF THESE. Seriously. You need to send me more music love. I have a hard time figuring out what I’m REALLY into (it’s all so random, and not necessarily “good” music — see anything 80s/early 90s) but Brit-rock and a bit of electronic stuff always gets me dancing.

    Also, you should totally come to Edmonton to see Muse. You could bring Sweet and crash at my place and we could ALL GO TOGETHER.

    1. YAY!! I have to make you a mix CD! It sounds like we have the EXACT same taste in music!

      And I almost cried when you tempted me…. seriously we would totally be there if we weren’t already going to TO to see Mumford & Sons. I found out about Muse after we’d booked it and we really can’t afford another trip, we’re already going on three this year and we’re getting married in Dec. so funds are pretty low lol.

      You should go anyway! They put on an INCREDIBLE show (I have a video from the Wembley gig somewhere… sooooo amazing live!) And then go hunt down Matt Bellamy and get his autograph for me 🙂

  3. Rocking my world right now are in no particular order except the first place, are Stereophonics, particularly ‘Keep calm & Carry on’ but loving all their stuff… Paramore ‘Brand new eyes’, Kasbian, Jack Penate, Florence and the Machine, Kaiser Chiefs… OMG soooo much…

    I’ve been umming and ahhing over Muses new album, but if it comes highly recommended by one such as yourself I will defo be cramming it on the Ipod!

    I’ve really come out of my ‘safety net’ of Bon Jovi the last few months… I guess it was something in my life that I knew was going to be the same everyday, but now i’m free of the shackles of my old life and i’m loving the whole world of music out there!!!

    If there is anything you recommend i’d love to hear about it 😀 a music buff such as yourself to give an opinion is always a good thing !!

  4. Oooh! I love music. For a long time (I was homeschooled…that’s another story!) I was really sheltered from a lot of “outside world” stuff, including music. I spent my early teen years listening to obscure Christian rock bands, and blinking my eyes blankly when anyone mentioned any band that didn’t fall into those categories.

    So, I’ve spent my early adult years falling in love with music. Sometimes I feel silly, getting all excited about bands that have been around forever, but for me it’s just all so new and everyone’s like, um, duh, Lisa. Hahaha. But I’d just never realized how wonderful and magical it is! You’ve definitely inspired me to check out these bands.

    Some bands rocking my world right now (and I’m sure would rock yours if you checked them out!) are:

    *Pinback – hands down, my favorite band of all time. They’re one of those bands where every single song is just GOOD.
    *Deathcab for Cutie
    *Modest Mouse
    *Animal Collective – their latest album. Totally different and wonderful.
    *The Cure (specifically their album “Galore,” it’s stunning! And yeah, I’m aware that they aren’t a new band or anything, haha. I’m just recently discovering how great they are!)
    *Band of Horses
    *Team Sleep
    *Portishead – specifically their album “Third” but they’re all good
    *Peter Bjorn and John – their album “Writer’s Block”
    She & Him – Zooey Deschanel’s band! I love it. 🙂

    And those are my top loves right now. 😛 Sorry for getting a bit carried away! Can’t wait to check out your recommendations. ❤

    1. Oh gosh no! Thank you for the list!! I LOVE Band of Horses, they’re absolutely wonderful – kind of like the Shins almost but I think I enjoy them more! I have one Modest Mouse CD and one Death Cab as well (Plans) – I really liked that album but I didn’t like their more generic radio-friendly stuff of recent years 😦 I had no idea Zooey Deschanel had a band! I JUST watched (500) Days of Summer and I loved the soundtrack so much I went and got it right after we finished the movie lol. I was surprised they didn’t have any She & Him songs in the movie!

      1. With Deathcab I mainly just like Plans & Transatlanticism (they are pretty similar)…their more recent album was kind of a dud I thought as well, too radio-ey! Haha.

        And She & Him is really cool, it’s all her vocals and his guitar, and just really organic. Reminds me of the 20’s or something, haha. Actually a lot of the female vocal music in (500) Days of Summer really reminded me of She & Him, so it’s a similar style to the movie soundtrack–which, I really want too, by the way! 🙂

        And I just really love that song “The Funeral” by Band of Horses.

        Ok…getting carried away again! Haha.

  5. Haha yay Shareen!! Every time I ever heard Bon Jovi I thought of you 🙂 Thank you!! I love Kasabian too – Fire is such a good song!! The Stereophonics were my favourite band in the late 90s – I listened to Performance and Cocktails the other day in the car and I still think it’s one of the best albums ever. After they released some stuff in the mid 2000’s I *really* didn’t like it any more… they went in a completely different direction. Have they got some new stuff out? I like a couple of Florence’s songs but I really don’t like her cover of You’ve Got the Love… sorry (eep)! I’ll have to bring you a mix cd too when I come back and visit in August 🙂

    1. for sure….I love ‘Kiss with a Fist’ i don’t like the cover either so don’t worry about that !

      Stereophonics have released a compilation, I don’t know how old it is though, ‘Decade in the sun’ I think its 2008, ‘keep calm and carry on’ was released begining of November 2009 I think and ‘Pull the Pin’ was June 08… i’m no good with dates… I just love Kellys voice… I’d marry that voice if i could!!! But I still love ‘Word gets around’ and there was also the live release ‘Live from Dakota’

      I love ‘Fast Fuse’ from Kasabian, but ‘Fire’ is a wicked song…also loving ‘Underdog’ and ‘Where did all the love go.’.. I don’t really get ‘Swarfiga’ though… or is that just me??

      1. Underdog’s great too, and did you ever see the music video for Shoot the Runner? One of the best video’s I’ve ever seen!! Word Gets Around is another great album, unfortunately I’ve had it over ten years now (god I sound old!) and it’s all scratched up so there’s a couple of songs that won’t play 😦 you’re right though he has the most amazing voice ever!!

  6. Lady!! We are so meant to be friends. MUSE is one of my ALL time favorite bands. I’ve doodled them, they’ve been my song of the day and I’ve posted about them more than once!! ah they sing to my soul and they couldn’t make me happier!! I’m sorry to hear they aren’t coming to your area. I about peed my pants when I found out they were coming to Utah in April and I booked tickets a few hours after they started to sell! Totally worth it. I’ll be sure to post about it and you can enjoy the beauty of it through me 🙂

    Thanks for all your sweet comments! Sorry I’ve been so MIA.. this job has me super busy and nooo time for blogging!

    Much love- Chels

  7. Mumford and Sons are rocking my world hard too! Also rediscovering Bowie these days. I heard the intro for “Changes” on a pub quiz and didn’t get it. Inexcusable, eh?

    p.s. Frequency talk! What kind of assignments are they giving you these days? Since I said I didn’t really mind any genre, for the last couple they’ve been saddling me with country!

    p.p.s. I completely second Lisa’s shout out to She & Him, and only PARTIALLY because I’m smitten with Zooey. They actually had a S&H (thank goodness I spelt that right) cover in the film,and also made this

    Give it a go, it’s the best song off their album and actually better than the official video.

    p.p.p.s. You are just too cool, I can hardly bear it.

    1. Aww you’re too sweet! I never actually heard Bowie until Life On Mars ’cause my parents had never played him growing up I suppose, but I LOVED the series so much (and Ashes!) I downloaded lots of his stuff and realised I knew loads of it already. Star Man is probably my favourite 🙂

      I’m hoping that since apparently nobody this side of the pond knows about Mumford & Sons and they’re playing at a REALLY small venue that we might actually be able to go up and say hello and get something signed! (A girl can dream, right?)

      Frequency… they assigned me a folky sort of thing for Jan. but they’d assigned me the latest John Mayer CD which I had to revise because apparently I was a little too harsh in my first attempt lol so that might be going up soon. I told them I didn’t really like generic adult contemporary stuff though lol so hopefully that’ll be the last of that. Good luck with the country, rather you than me!! 🙂 & I’m going to watch the vid when I get home 🙂

  8. Ah, a good music rant!

    I actually listened to Muse backwards — well, the first album I listened to was the latest, at my friend’s urging, and then I went back to the start and did the whole lot in one sitting.

    I have to say… it didn’t impress me. But what you said is funny — when I listened to The Resistance, I basically hear 10+ other bands. I don’t hear Muse particularly, just copycatting of sounds mastered by other successful artists.

    Then when I went back to the start, it was just like listening to Radiohead with a repetitive piano/bass riff.

    I dunno. I hear they’re great live, which might be their saving grace, but I wasn’t particularly impressed by their discography 🙂

    1. You’re right – the latest album *is* heavily influenced by other big artists – Radiohead, Queen, even the BBC orchestra lol – but I think what they’ve done is extremely adventurous, intelligent, and absolutely rocks. To even write a 3-part “Exogenesis Symphony” – who else would do that?! Black Holes wasn’t my favourite album at all but Absolution and Showbiz were great – tonnes great instrumentation, clever lyrics, and power anthems that all make for great listening and even greater live shows. I may be biased in that I’m a big sci-fi geek, though, and they tend to write a lot of songs about space 🙂

      1. Hah… Yeah, I’m a nerd too! But I don’t ‘do’ lyrics (it’s a problem, I know). So it’s just music for me, and in that sense… it’s just not very deep and involving for me. A bit simple.

        The symphony was definitely quite cool, I’ll give them that!

        Showbiz was my favourite. Probably because they hadn’t got stuck into the whole piano-riff-bass-riff-whine-a-bit routine.

    1. I have a friend from California that visits once a year and he always makes me a mix CD and there’s definitely been a few Weepies tracks on them!! I do like them 🙂 I will have to check into Patrick Watson!

  9. Thanks so much for this. I love music, but I’m really bad about listening to anything new. I always reach for what’s familiar instead. I have been on the verge of getting into Muse for a year and still haven’t taken the plunge. Sounds like a good January project!

  10. I really like Mumford and Sons! I have never heard of them before this post. They will be great to see in concert. The Avett Brothers – is what is completely rocking my world right now…completely. Check out “I and Love and You”!

  11. wow, so, i’m back to say that i reallllly like mumford and sons and i’m so sad they aren’t playing anywhere near here and i’m so jealous that you’re seeing them in toronto!

    1. Haha yaaaaaaaay!! That whole album is amazing – that one song might be my favourite but “Roll Away Your Stone” and “White Blank Page” are other favourites too if you get a chance to listen 🙂 SOOOO good!! I’ll definitely check out the Avett Brothers, I haven’t heard of them!

  12. I wish I was cool like you and liked all these indie artists…and knew about them. Lol…instead, I just like beyonce 🙂

    sorry…don’t hate my musically uneducated self!

  13. I listen to just about anything — country, folk, indie, pop, oldies, rock. It just depends on what mood I am in. I almost always have music on, in the background, in my car, at home. One of my favorite things is going out to hear some new band, live. Nothing beats live music.

  14. I absolutely love Muse. I discovered them back near the time when I met my husband. He’s a drummer and one of this favorite songs to play is one of theirs. 🙂

  15. oh, i ❤ you for titling this off of a CSS song! 😀

    my friend who always has good music tastes and that i trust the most in music got me really into goldfrapp and sleater-kinney years ago who are still favorites of mine. i tend to like girl artists/ bands i guess and singer/songwriters. sigur ros, bjork, tori amos, radiohead, m.i.a etc. etc. and yes, love mogwai!

  16. YAY!! I had no idea if anyone would get the title lol but big pat on the back for you!! 🙂 I only know a couple of Goldfrapp songs but I really like them, and I LOVE Sigur Ros (the last album was incredible!!), Tori Amos (her cover of Smells Like Teen Spirit is to die for) and of course Radiohead. High five missy! 🙂

  17. Coldplay!!!! Coldplay has been rocking my world since 2001 – always have, always will. I always buy their albums the day they come out. And I never get disappointed. Their concerts are brilliant and I can’t wait to see them again (the last time was in 2005).

    I am excited to tell my grand-kids in 40 years from now that i grew up with Coldplay and I wonder what they will think of their music then.

    1. Yes!! I REALLY wanted to see them when they came here last year but they sold out like hotcakes and I was too late. They’re definitely going to be one of those bands that go down in history of our generation, I’m sure of it!

      1. I wanted to see them too last year. I asked a friend of mine to come with me as soon as the tickets went on sale. Well, needless to say, by the time my friend said yes, the tickets were sold out.

    1. YES!! I’m always so happy to hear somebody else loves Mumford, they’re ridiculously good!! I LOVE Bat for Lashes – esp. the last album; ‘Moon and Moon’ was one of the most beautiful songs I heard all year

  18. I kinda dig this Patrick Wolf guy you showed us. He’s a bit scandalous, isn’t he? And although you’re not a fan of Top 40, I’d love to see him do a duet with Lady Gaga. haha. It would be GREAT.

    Also, although you read a GAZILLION blogs already, I have a link for another blog you may like, simply because she’s a badass british chick like you. hehe. Here it is: http://jaxiesblog.pocketses.net/

    1. He is! I’m just working on a review of his album – I could listen to it over and over again forever. He did part of his show with Florence (of the ‘Machine’) at his last show, which I imagine must’ve been incredible. I saw some pics and it looked just huge – full orchestras, choirs, rock band… wonderful stuff!! I imagine he and Lady Gaga would put on quite the show!!

      I’ll have to go check out that blog – and I’m not sure if anybody’s ever called me “badass” before, LOL 🙂

  19. Muse, Muse, Muse… Sigh…

    So, after being MIA I’m back! (I went all the way back home for a 10-day holiday) And I wanted to thank you for your truly inspiring note about not being afraid. I wanted to thank you sooner but family time sucks the life out of me. 😉

    So thank you, Miss Emily. You made me heart smile. 🙂

  20. I’ll have to give these Mumford and Sons a listen, but lately Lifehouse has been on repeat in the mornings, and Michael Buble at night. Oh and then there’s Five for Fighting, but they’re always on repeat.

    Feel free to tell me I listen to bad music.

  21. It’s so funny that you mention Muse and how you came to know of them. I used to love them before they became “big time.” In fact, I was a huge fan of their Supermassive Black Hole song years before it was on the Twilight soundtrack, and that pretty much ruined it for me. The Resistance is undeniably great (I reviewed it as sounding a lot like Queen) but it ran out of steam too quickly for me because I heard the album everywhere I went.

    Mumford & Sons, thank you again for that reco. Probably one of my favorite albums of the year. Unfortunately “Little Lion Man,” MY SONG (lol), is the official release now, and it’s being played on VH1, so it’s everyone’s song now. Sad day.

    Patrick Wolf, also good. He’s part of my “fuchsiag” playlist lol.

    Are you familiar with Birds of Tokyo?

    1. I love that you’re a big Mumford fan now too! 🙂 I’m still eagerly awaiting the second half of Patrick Wolf’s double release… I hope it’s every bit as epic as The Bachelor. Never heard of that band – Tokyo Police Club, yes, Birds of Toyko, no… however I am going to look into them right away!

  22. I simply want to say I am just newbie to blogging and definitely enjoyed your blog. Probably I’m going to bookmark your website . You absolutely come with fabulous stories. Thanks a lot for sharing with us your web site.

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