Song of the Week – Further Away

Further Away – Ben Howard

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The news I’ve been waiting for for oh so long came through today. Ben Howard is coming to New Zealand to play one Auckland concert in August off the back of an appearance at Splendour in the Grass. I thought since my excitement is immense that it was only fitting to make this weeks song of the week my favourite track by the talented Brit.

Ben Howard is a self-made musical genius. His mind-blowing guitar playing, his sultry voice and his delicate song writing are a dream combination. Each and every one of his songs has its unique qualities while remaining distinctly Ben Howard.

Further Away is a magical soft acoustic tune which showcases Howard’s brilliance on the guitar and reinforces his power as a performer who isn’t reliant on a strong backing band but instead is pure, raw talent. It has one of the best guitar riffs I’ve ever heard. It brings an element to the song you never quite saw coming.

Howard’s voice is perfect in its gentleness. It’s not a roaring powerhouse voice but that is in no way a weakness. He uses it the best way possible with soft, low pitch melodys and gentle falsettos.

It’s rare to find an artist these days who can produce such light and shade in their music with what seems like such little effort. I admire this man and can’t wait to see him live in concert and highly recommend you listen carefully to his work and try and get tickets too, (as long as you don’t beat me to them), as this isn’t a gig to miss.

 

 

Song of the Week – I Can’t Make You Love Me

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I Can’t Make You Love Me – Bonnie Raitt

Today I stumbled across a video of Kiwi artists Ginny Blackmore and Stan Walker performing a cover of I Can’t Make You Love Me. The link flashed up on my Twitter feed and a moment of panic ran through me as I clicked play on the video – what if it’s not any good? This is easily one of my most favourite songs ever, I love it with a passion and I am terrified by the thought of someone butchering it. But actually, this Kiwi duo did a superb job. Blackmore’s voice is pitch perfect, soft but strong on the important notes, and well controlled. As for Walker, his falsetto is unreal. His performance in this song showcases a new side of him as a muscian for me. Despite a few too many trills for my liking, I think he sings this song with the passion and poise it deserves. A round of applause for the pair!

Check out their cover here: http://www.maifm.co.nz/VIDEOGAMES/GinnyBlackmoreStanWalkerExclusive.aspx

Then I started thinking about another special cover of this song. It gets me every time. In February 2012 Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon and Sean Carey did a live recording of five songs at AIR Studios Lyndhurst Hall. As a big fan of the group I was first in line to check out the new video. It’s a spectacular performance of their hits Wash, Hinnom, TX and Beth/Rest (well worth a watch in its entirety on YouTube if you have a spare 25minutes). But the most exciting part about it was when I saw I Can’t Make You Love Me on the playlist.

The pair bring this song to life in such a different way. It’s a very personalised, unique version but in no way does it lose the heart of Raitt’s song. Sean Carey and Justin Vernon each play a beatuiful Steinway and Sons open-top grand piano and the sound quality is chilling. Carey takes the first verse and chorus of the song and performs it in a higher key than Raitt would, complimenting his voice and giving the song an entirely different sound while still maintaining it’s unique slow pace and haunting piano.

Then in comes Vernon. Prepare yourself for the spine tingles, he blows it out of the park. In his classic falsetto he takes the song up a notch and as Carey joins him on the piano the song continues to build and build. The tune is perfectly Bon Iver-ised. It’s impossible not to love.

Watch their AIR Studios performance here (Skip to approx 8 minutes for I Can’t Make You Love Me) :

But of course nothing tops the original, ever! Bonnie Raitt is a true legend for writing such a beautiful song and singing it with such powerful elegance. This song will forever be a favourite and I’m sure many more people will cover it in years to come. I just hope they do it as much justice as the lot above because it don’t get much better than this!

The original: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nW9Cu6GYqxo

Song of the Week – Love Like This

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Love Like This – Kodaline

It seems I missed the boat a bit on these guys but thanks to a bit of Glastonbury research I’ve discovered the wonderful Irish band Kodaline.

Their music is quality stuff, it’s got a lovely mix of rock and folk sounds, giving it a distinctively Irish element while also incorporating the perfect amount of mainstream sound needed to capture a wide audience.

To me the band has a similar sound to Coldplay and Travis. Much like these two bands traditionally do, Love Like This builds steadily with enthusiasm to a climatic one note finish which I love.

The whistling throughout the song adds a beautiful element and the harmonica – wow! It really is a magnificent instrument and the way it is used in this track is chilling, magical even.

The vocals from Steve Garrigan sound effortless but effective, he has a lovely voice with a great range showcased with beautiful falsettos. Of course he’s helped along with impressive and important backing harmonies from band members Mark Prendergast, Vinny May and Jason Boland. Without their back up the song wouldn’t build in the same way, they really are a vital part of the its success.

I love at the end of the chorus when Garrigan’s Irish accent shines through in the spoken line “I don’t really mind at all”.

It’s so awesome and rare these days to hear a song which works because it’s uses a great combination of instruments, has great lyrics and a lovely melody all put together without the use of too much computerization. Love Like This is a great example of how well a simple song can work.

Song of the Week – Concrete Schoolyard

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Concrete Schoolyard – Jurassic 5

In recognition of how ecstatic I am that Jurassic 5 will be playing at Glastonbury I figured this weeks Song of the Week simply had to be one of their tunes and there’s no real competition for me when it comes to my favourite song of theirs. Concrete Schoolyard is a timeless song. I can’t remember the last time I made a music playlist that didn’t feature this song on it. It’s just bloody fantastic. Released on the hip-hop groups first album in 1998 this tune was one to catch the attention of global record companies and sparked the beginning of what is one of the best musical groups we’ve ever seen.

These boys know how to rap without hate and that’s what I love most about this song, it is such a fun song to listen to, it always gets people out of their chairs to dance and rap along and it makes people happy (unlike a lot of rap music which is majorly depressing).

“I’m not trying to say my style is better than yours
I’m just on some other shit
I’m all about the beats and the lyrics
So when you hear it you can feel it
The vibe is energized by the presence of my spirit”

I don’t think this song needs much explaining, it just needs listening. So click on the link below and enjoy this awesome song if you don’t already know it, and if you do – crank it up like you used to, and remember how brilliant these boys can be.

The acts I can’t wait to see at Glastonbury 2014

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Yesterday the line up for Glastonbury 2014 was released. I’ve been waiting for this day for months. When we some how managed to get tickets in October it seemed to good to be true. We were excited enough about just going to England and going to the festival but we knew the day the line up was released our elation would reach new heights – and sure enough, it did just that.

Of course there are so many good acts named it’s hard to know where to start but there are three clear favourites for me on the bill that I can’t wait to see.

Here’s who and why:

1. Jurassic 5

I have been waiting to see these guys live for as long as I can remember. They are the epitome of what hip-hop music should be in my eyes. Not your average rappers, these guys don’t feel the need to swear through every song, rap about shooting people or rap about race. Their songs are about life, and life as a catchy tune. Each and every album they’ve released is jam packed with melodic hip-hop beats which I never tire of listening to. Their rhymes are unique and fun-loving and I hear their stage show is much the same. This is one act at Glastonbury I will not miss a second of, my joy that I’m finally going to get to see them play is unreal.

Songs I’ll be hanging out for: Concrete Schoolyard, What’s Golden

2. Arcade Fire

I’ve already seen these guys play twice and both times they have well and truly lived up to their reputation as a top live act. Their energy is like no other, their voices are perfect, their music is like no other and has an unreal effect on one when heard live. It’s obvious to me why these guys are the main Glastonbury act – in 2014 no other band really compares.

Seeing this video from Lollapalooza, in which Julian Casablancas gate crashes their set, has certainly helped to grow my eagerness to see this rockin’ band once again. They just know how to put on a fantastic show and I feel confident no two sets will ever be the same. God I can’t wait to see things like this happen at Glasto.

Songs I’ll be hanging out for: No Cars Go, Porno, Rebellion

3. James Blake

This man is the genius of electronica music. His songs are spine-tingling. Each track from his album Overgrown is a favourite on my iPod. I can’t wait to see these hauntingly beautiful songs brought to life on stage. I know it’ll be the kind of set which has a base line which you can feel thumping through your chest, the songs will build up to glorious heights and the vocals will be mind-blowing. This is one act everybody will be lining up for and I’ll be front of the queue.

Songs I’ll be hanging out for: Retrograde, Limit to your Love

Other acts I’ve never seen live before that aren’t far behind on the list are Jack White, Ed Sheeran, Robert Plant, Jake Bugg, Massive Attack, Jamie XX, Foster the People, Blondie and Lana Del Rey. 

Other acts I’ve seen and can’t wait to see again include the Black Keys, Kasabian, Lily Allen, the 1975 and Chromeo.