Recent Musical Crushes

10469747_726495844094220_303981805998312128_nI am a big soundcloud enthusiast. This has nothing to do with actual adeptness at using it; I just consider it a sort of eternal source of happiness. One of the simpler reasons that springs to mind is that it runs on, and on; it makes me feel like I have a relatively good taste in music without having to go looking for the actually good music (like you’re half-way forced to do on spotify). And of course, I can avoid any form of fad. And listen to weird, unpopular acoustic covers and bemoan how truly unappreciated some of these people are compared to the likes of Katy Perry (am I the only one who cringes at the mere thought of her voice?). So here are today’s musical crushes: Anabel Englund’s cover of Howling (her new release isn’t half as good as this stuff) and LA-based Annaliese’s CASHMERE

My second crush of the day (but more appropriately, probably Crush of the Year) is Stephanie Fraser, who I by complete coincidence happened to walk in on performing at the University of Reading’s Coffee House Sesh. I was innocently off to have some post-seminar hot chocolate around this exact time last year, attempting a quick catch-up with my close friend Jennie. What happened was this: we weren’t really paying attention, and then the strumming began. And we instantly became Steph’s biggest fans. Afterwards she came over to our table and we had a hearty chat about uni life, went and grabbed a drink, got given free EPs, and got impromptu invited to a London house party. We left campus with an unsettling sense of wonder. As soon as I got home, I fed the EP into my itunes and had a listen; I had especially liked her cover of Bruce Springsteen’s Dancing in the Dark and the heart-wrenching Trying to ResistSteph’s recently been featured on Tenterhook’s flagship track London Heart, on which I was hoping I’d hear a little more of her own singing (although the song is perfectly gorgeous just the way it is). She’s got one of those voices you could possibly listen to forever, and it doesn’t hurt that she happens to be one of the coolest kids on the block.

I’m Yours

This is certainly no music blog (and I harbour no greater knowledge in the area in order to pretend it is one). However, one of my oldest childhood friends, the wonderful Alexandra Berglöf, released her first song this summer (with accompanying youtube video) called I’m Yours – and it’s tremendously catchy. She has, more importantly, got a wonderful jazzy voice going for her. Alex has recently decided to pursue music full-time, after graduating from the University of Edinburgh. I wish her all the success in the world, and add a soundcloud track she’s featured on.

You can find a little promo site for her here, and here’s her facebook page, too.

I Forgot Where I Was

Ben-Howard-I-forget-Where-We-WereThe summer of 2013 was, in search of better words, possibly the best summer ever. 2014 came close, but there was a kind of recycled effect to it; and of course, there is the fact that in ’13 I got to spend a good four months in Cycladic recovery. I cannot immediately think of anything better than basking away a fourth of my whole year, basically forgetting what the urbanized world looks like; waking up to the glittering Aegean, hiking through obstinate shrubbery, eating local fruit and refusing to join my parents for ‘just a fast morning swim’. Dirt roads, salt hair, clear water. Falcons gliding through the afternoon skies, crickets chirping, sheep’s bells chiming from the distant mountainsides. Fig picking, beach fires, jeeps, and far too many wine bottles. My best friend Natalie took the ferry out from Athens; I hadn’t seen her in person since the end of seventh grade, when she moved away (and I cried rivers).

Of course, summers that stand so very still and mythical in the memory need an above-average soundtrack. Coincidentally, I had bought my mother Ben Howard’s debut album, Every Kingdom (released in 2011), among a small stack of suitable CDs a previous Christmas. Given Antiparos is a pretty rural place (no big hotels, no taxis, two baby-faced youths in police regalia), things get pretty primitive; CDs are heavily relied on in the rattling car, contemporary technological advance is shamed by the endurance of my mother’s enormous, outdated portable stereo, and nobody ends up caring where the noise is coming from, as long as it’s there. And so, by a stroke of luck, Ben Howard sung our lives for a good four months, shaped it with his camp-fire-beach-sand lyrics, plinking away into the Greek summer nights.

It so happens that the 20th of October, his second album was released; I Forget Where We Were. It also happens that in my excitement, I had unknowingly listened plenty to the title track’s live version, released on youtube a while before the actual release date. I’d also listened to End of the Affair, a harrowingly beautiful affair that had little in common which my Mediterranean summer vibes.

At least I know what I’m getting my mum for Christmas. Don’t get me wrong; I love everything the man makes, this including the EPs, the covers, and probably anything else that could ever spring from his wondrous vocal chords. But I Forget Where We Were is no summer album. It’s an autumn album, and as much as I love it, I can’t smell the sea or dream my way back to Antiparos on a whim. Instead it reminds me of 7 Bottles and London, tracks that contain a form of displaced pain, something I am thankfully not currently feeling (having done my own share of moving to the concrete jungle). There’s a lot of beauty in it, oceans of skill, and even an electric guitar; but Every Kingdom, 2013, was my summer. I swoon just to think of it. I swoon just listening to the album. It’s obviously not Ben’s fault.