When you live in a privileged white world of security, comfort and safety sometimes the instinct in the face of crisis is to turn away. Not because you can’t help but because it’s easier to turn off your TV than it is to actually look, listen and hear the pain of others less fortunate than yourself. Continue reading “On Watching Aretha’s ‘Amazing Grace’ During A Time of Crisis”
Last week musical platform Bandcamp waived fees on their site, allowing artists the entire profit of sales from downloads, physical music and merchandise. In the face of the worldwide collapse of the live music industry and the closure of record stores this was a way to directly support artists and contribute something to the economy of the music industry in a positive way – if you could afford it that is.
As I logged onto my social media feed and saw the infinite number of tweets asking people to buy music I felt more than a little overwhelmed. Consumerism and the demands to constantly buy, buy, buy is one aspect of the music industry which can be difficult to deal with at the best of times, let alone during a global pandemic. Continue reading “On Music & Materialism”
A while ago I had an idea for a short story set in a post-apocalyptic world where recorded music was lost and live music was banned. Two sisters, with voices from heaven, travelled the country secretly playing shows for people despite the fact that a deadly airborne disease could strike them all down at any moment. Every night people risked their lives just to hear the music.
Unfortunately I never ended up writing that story because it seemed kind of far-fetched and I couldn’t think of an ending. Now a few weeks into this pandemic I am wondering if such depressing dystopian visions were closer to reality than we could ever have imagined.
Despite some artists optimistically rebooking shows for later in the year, I think we all have to consider the possibility that there will be no live music concerts for a very long time. At the very least it will be months not weeks, and some form of social distancing may need to be in place right up until the end of this outbreak, which could be over a year. I sincerely hope I’m wrong. But right now it just doesn’t seem plausible that travel and mass gatherings will happen when there is still such a potential risk to lives. Continue reading “How to Survive in a World Without Live Music”
During a break between songs at her recent Celtic Connections show, Iris DeMent marvelled at the silence of the crowd. You could hear a pin drop through the whole set, the audience and artist locked together in an exchange of mutual respect and attention. “Not even the best teacher in the world gets that,” she said and the crowd laughed in agreement. As a teacher myself her comment got me thinking about that hush and how rare and elusive it is for performers, and teachers alike. Continue reading “Waiting for the Hush: On Talking At Gigs”
As we all trudge back to work this week, the hopefulness of the new year is already becoming a faint memory for most. But fear not music fans, we have much to look forward to in 2020. What’s an even sweeter thought is that you might not yet even know the artist who will be your favourite this time next year. With open ears and hearts we can’t lose.
Read on to find out more about the music I’m most looking forward to in 2020.
January is one of my favourite times of the year in the blogosphere. Firstly new releases are slow, so there’s actually time to breathe, as well as look back and think about the future in positive ways. I have a tendency towards cynical pessimism (well I’m Scottish – it’s in our DNA) and for me the new year helps me rise above that and brings hope in the possibilities of renewal, letting go and starting over. Resolutions don’t have to be about hating who you are or regretting what you’ve become – they can be about tiny changes and trying to achieve the things in life you want. Fail again, fail better. Continue reading “2020 Blog Resolutions”
End of year list season always feels so overwhelming for even the most ardent music fan like myself and that feeling was even worse this year with the stream of ‘end of the decade’ lists adding to the the deluge.
Yet as a nerdy fan I was intrigued to assess the last decade and what new music has resonated with me, how my music listening has changed over time and how the decade has shaped my current tastes. I didn’t want to just write a list and thanks to my use of Last Fm I was able to look back and reflect on my decade year by year. I am mainly writing this for myself, to try and understand how I ended up here writing this blog but if this post resonates with you then let me know your own thoughts about how the decade has shaped you as a music fan in the comments or on social media. Continue reading “Reflections on a Decade of Music Listening”
In 2019 I have reviewed nearly sixty albums and listened to many more. The albums I have chosen to review have all connected with me on some level so picking a favourites list feels almost cruel to those I have left out. This year I was also aware of how overwhelming such lists can be for fans too so I have written a more general albums of the year recommendation post for those searching for some musical self-care instead. Despite this I still think a ranking list is also a satisfying way to reflect on the year in music, as a writer and a fan.
In the end I have chosen twenty favourite albums of the year. I have based this list on a combination of gut instinct, critical perspective and how often I listened to the album but my mood changes so much that anything beyond the number one album might have changed order if I wrote this tomorrow.
This list only includes albums I have reviewed so obviously I don’t include any male artists and there are a few other albums I’ve enjoyed that I haven’t reviewed for various reasons but overall this is an accurate reflection of what I’ve enjoyed over the year. This list includes links to my original album reviews, rather than risk repeating myself. Let me know your favourites in the comments or on social media.
How a song goes from a casual listen to becoming part of your musical lifeblood is one of the mysteries and magic of being a music fan. Some achieve this status by being daily companions on the walk to work or in the evenings, others are tied to places, times, memories, emotions so much so that they feel like old friends you’ve known all your life.
Across the span of a year and hours of music listening certain songs just rise up and catch your attention with undeniable force. A few stand apart from the album they were released, others are linked to the wider collection of songs they come from. Therefore artists that rate highly on this list may be in lower places on my album list and vice versa.
So without further ado, here are the twenty songs that have laid claim to my heart in 2019. Continue reading “Songs of the Year 2019”