I was in college at 19, halfway through my degree, wondering what the world would hold for me.

I wasn’t producing music like that of Gabrielle Aplin, an English singer-songwriter who has produced a song which I’m officially putting forward as One Of The Most Affecting Songs Of 2010™.

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From her 2010 Acoustic EP (an EP on which all the songs are acoustic – see what I did there? Witty, eh?), I give you “Ghosts” – and again, a friend shout-out to Vanessa, who pointed me in the direction of Miss Aplin (and many others, including Kina Grannis, who still hasn’t agreed to marry me. I know you like to be updated on this “will-they, won’t-they” situation).

A plucked guitar joined by a tremulous female vocal, with a truly wonderful change at 0:37, with the addition of a beautiful piano line and that voice growing in strength and intensity, and a bass line and drums underneath, coming to the fore at 0:52, before fading again.

An anthem that ebbs and flows, with one of the most impactful endings I’ve heard in a long time, with a repeated refrain which will crawl under your skin…

I’m pulling pictures off the wall watching smiles as they fall

A desperately sad song of fear, of being left alone by people you thought meant something to you, and your revenge against those people…

I’m sick and tired of hanging out my window,
I’ve learnt from past experience rain can’t make flowers grow
And friends don’t stick around
They go which way the wind goes
You’re never safe and sound until all the doors are closed
Doors are closed
Doors are closed, yeah

When you’re awake on your own
Shadows turn into ghosts

When you’re awake on your own
Shadows turn into ghosts

Soon it will fall apart
And their roads will have no way
And you’ll be the one laughing
As their fences fade away
And instead of being left there, feeling all alone
Break down the house you made of matchsticks
And set fire to their throne
To the throne
To the throne

When you’re awake on your own
Shadows turn into ghosts

When you’re awake on your own
Shadows turn into ghosts

Home becomes what you’re scared of the most
Home becomes what you’re scared of the most
When shadows turn into ghosts
It’s what you’re scared of the most

I’m pulling pictures off the wall watching smiles as they fall
I’m pulling pictures off the wall watching smiles as they fall
I’m pulling pictures off the wall watching smiles as they fall
Pulling pictures off the wall
I’m pulling pictures off the wall watching smiles as they fall

When you’re awake on your own
Shadows turn into ghosts

When you’re awake on your own
Shadows turn into ghosts

Home becomes what you’re scared of the most
Home becomes what you’re scared of the most
When shadows turn into ghosts
It’s what you’re scared of the most

Gabrielle Aplin – Ghosts

www: Gabrielle’s official website, Facebook Page, and MySpace.

After the profanity-filled rant of my last post (I do apologise to those of a gentler disposition than myself), I’m afraid it’s necessary for me to profane againm with my second-ever post on the wonderful Startled Bunny, from Scotland.

Sorry, Frightened Rabbit.

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I posted about Frightened Rabbit three years ago (three years? Jebus…), and on this special night in Scotland (Robbie Burns Night, for those of you who didn’t know – and if you didn’t, for shame! For shame! (No, I didn’t know until told today either…)), I give you one of Scotland’s greatest bands, accompanied by Tracyanne Campbell, from Camera Obscura.

“Fuck This Place” is from a recently-released Frightened Rabbit three-song EP sold on their most recent tour, and it a wonderful ballad of complete sadness – a male and female call-and-response lament of desperation that builds and builds over four-odd minutes of military-tattoo drums and electric guitars.

A ballad of being empty; of a life not fulfilled; of pleading another to fill a gap inside, when maybe it’s not their place to.

An itch
My eye
Twitched like a memory of forgotten bars
One of those cities
One of those nights
Everyone’s darling
Everyone’s sweetheart

Just this drink to hold my hand
One glass of anything
Anything cheap
And I’m here just because
Everyone else has come just to be seen

Oh I don’t know these buildings
I think I’m lost

In the perfumed armpit of time
Develop a debt now, these people are bricks
Six feet stones, wrapped up in bow
Such disappointment when the paper is ripped
So I stand still boring and bored
Fetching my eye again
Against the wall

At the end
At the close
Would you be good enough to take me home
‘Cause I don’t know these buildings, I think I am lost
‘Cause I don’t know these buildings, I think I am lost

Would you
Would you
Would you be good enough to take me home?
Would you
Would you
would you be good enough to take me home?
Would you
Would you
would you be good enough to take me home?
Would you
Would you
would you be good enough to take me home?

Frightened Rabbit – Fuck This Place

www: Frightened Rabbit’s official website, Facebook Page, and MySpace.

And it’s happened again. A couple of weeks ago, I was at work, when one of my friends, Niall, decided to message me about an upcoming gig.

“Dude, have you heard Ben Howard? He’s AMAZING, and he’s playing in the Academy in March. Listen to this, and wanna go?”

Well, Niall isn’t an American surfer-type, so the conversation didn’t in fact go like the above. However, he did send me “Old Pine”, a song by an artist called Ben Howard, and asked about the upcoming gig.

So I played the song…

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And fuck. Now, those of you who read the blog regularly (coming back again and again, hoping, praying I’ll update the damn thing) will know I don’t swear on here lightly. But fuck. FUCK.

My exact thoughts were:

Nice picked string start. Oh, nice vocal work. Not bad. Not bad at all.

Hmmm, his voice isn’t quite like I expected. Oh. Oh. Oh, that’s good. Those lyrics are excellent. And that’s a rather nice vocal twist.

This is good. Oh, really gorgeous entry of the drums.

This is building nicely. Very nicely. All he needs now is…and there’s the anthemic part. Wow, this is a little hair-raising.

Holy crap, this is stunning.

So, I give you Ben Howard, with “Old Pine”, from “Every Kingdom”, released last year. Ben is 23 years old, and making melodic rootsy folk music, with somewhat dark lyrics. (What? Wikipedia told me. I don’t produce any new material myself. Don’t you people know this yet? Soon, I’ll just be copy-pasting entire Wikipedia entries.)

But “Old Pine” isn’t dark – it’s a wonderful ode to getting older, and to the role good memories and friends play as you do so. And about, yes, being happy as time passes.

Hopefully your thoughts will follow mine, and like me, you’ll end up playing this song on repeat for days, and weeks, to come.

And say it with me, one last time.

FUCK.

Hot sand on toes, cold sand in sleeping bags,
I’ve come to know that memories
Were the best things you ever had
The summer shone beat down on bony backs
So far from home where the ocean stood
Down dust and pine cone tracks

We slept like dogs down by the fire side
Awoke to the fog where all around us
The bloom of summertime

We stood
Steady as the stars in the woods
So happy-hearted
And the warmth rang true inside these bones
As the old pine fell we sang
Just to bless the morning

Hot sand on toes, cold sand in sleeping bags,
I’ve come to know the friends around you
Are all you’ll always have
Smoke in my lungs, the echoed stone
Careless and young, free as the birds that fly
With weightless souls now

We stood
Steady as the stars in the woods
So happy-hearted
And the warmth rang true inside these bones
We stood
Steady as the stars in the woods
So happy-hearted
And the warmth rang true inside these bones
As the old pine fell we sang
Just to bless the morning

We grow, grow, steady as the morning
We grow, grow, older still
We grow, grow, happy as a new dawn
We grow, grow, older still
We grow, grow, steady as the flowers
We grow, grow, older still
We grow, grow, happy as a new dawn
We grow, grow, older still

Ben Howard – Old Pine

www: Ben’s official website, Facebook Page, and MySpace.

I came across a wonderful song recently – 5 people playing a song on a single guitar…

Once the novelty wore off (no, no it still hasn’t, to be honest…), I tracked down the original song to an artist called Gotye (pronounced “Gore-ti-yeah”). And found, to quote from a comment on YouTube on one of his videos, a modern day Peter Gabriel.

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Gotye, or to give him his full name, Wouter “Wally” De Backer, is a Belgian-Australian multi-instrumental musician and singer-songwriter. And WHAT a Belgian-Australian multi-instrumental musician and singer-songwriter!

His 2011 album “Making Mirrors” is an utterly stunning piece of work, which is (stealing from his Facebook Page)…

pop at its most precise, but also electronic music at its most emotional. The record delves into dub, Detroit-era Motown soul, stadium-size politipop, synth-folk and world music on glorious, sprawling, huge-hearted songs.

And from that album, I give you two opposites. For the first time, I’ve also included the videos for both, as they are truly stunning pieces of work.

Firstly, “Somebody That I Used To Know”, a song of utter anger and frustration, about the breakup of a relationship which then deteriorates even further:

So when we found that we could not make sense
Well you said that we would still be friends
But I’ll admit that I was glad that it was over

But you didn’t have to cut me off
Make out like it never happened
And that we were nothing
And I don’t even need your love
But you treat me like a stranger
And that feels so rough
You didn’t have to stoop so low
Have your friends collect your records
And then change your number
I guess that I don’t need that though
Now you’re just somebody that I used to know

With Gotye’s passionate voice, truly reminiscent of Peter Gabriel, a plucked guitar line, many instruments I can’t even name, and not one but two wonderful vocal changes – Gotye’s himself at 1:34, and the entrance of a female vocalist, Kimbra, at 2:33, with another change at 2:48, to counter Gotye for the remainder of the song, this song will crawl deeply under your skin and stay there for months if not years. A song of anger, of pain, of hatred, of passion gone so wrong.

Now and then I think of when we were together
Like when you said you felt so happy you could die
Told myself that you were right for me
But felt so lonely in your company
But that was love and it’s an ache I still remember

You can get addicted to a certain kind of sadness
Like resignation to the end
Always the end
So when we found that we could not make sense
Well you said that we would still be friends
But I’ll admit that I was glad that it was over

But you didn’t have to cut me off
Make out like it never happened
And that we were nothing
And I don’t even need your love
But you treat me like a stranger
And that feels so rough
You didn’t have to stoop so low
Have your friends collect your records
And then change your number
I guess that I don’t need that though
Now you’re just somebody that I used to know

Now and then I think of all the times you screwed me over
But had me believing it was always something that I’d done
And I don’t wanna live that way
Reading into every word you say
You said that you could let it go
And I wouldn’t catch you hung up on somebody that you used to know…

But you didn’t have to cut me off
Make out like it never happened
And that we were nothing
And I don’t even need your love
But you treat me like a stranger
And that feels so rough
You didn’t have to stoop so low
Have your friends collect your records
And then change your number
I guess that I don’t need that though
Now you’re just somebody that I used to know

Somebody
(I used to know)
Somebody
(Now you’re just somebody that I used to know)
Somebody
(I used to know)
Somebody
(Now you’re just somebody that I used to know)

I used to know
That I used to know
I used to know
Somebody

And it’s exact opposite is “Bronte”, a song of complete loss, but of staying with another even though you know you’re losing them. A song of pain as you lose someone (to death, as apparently the song was written by Gotye for the death of a family friend’s dog), and of being there with the other to the very end.

A heavy drum backing, an almost choral-like feel, a slowly building anthem, and THAT voice again – a wonderful falsetto balancing the pressure of the music itself. Turn this one loud and let those small hairs raise all over.

Now your bowl is empty
And your feet are cold
And your body cannot stop rocking
I know
It hurts to let go

Since the day we found you
You have been our friend
And your voice still
Echoes in the hallway of this house
But now
It’s the end

We will be with you
When you’re leaving
We will be with you
When you go
We will be with you
And hold you till you’re quiet
It hurts to let you go

We will be with you
We will be with you
We will be with you
You will stay with us

Gotye – Somebody That I Used To Know (feat. Kimbra)

Gotye – Bronte

www: Gotye’s official website, Facebook Page, MySpace, and Youtube channel.

And if you want more about the band playing the cover, check out Walk Off The Earth’s official website, Facebook Page and MySpace.

I’ve posted about Kina Grannis before, proposing marriage. Which she didn’t accept, sadly. I know you all want to know these things.

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Tonight, it’s a simple post. I give you Kina’s “Stay Just A Little” . A little piano, a little plucked guitar, THAT voice, with just a hint of backing vocals, telling a tale of love ending, and the quiet desperation that goes with it – what do you say to the other half of you when they say they have to leave?

Do you beg for a moment more, knowing that the pain of losing is simply postponed?

Do you let them go, knowing you’ve already lost them?

I heard it in your voice
When your love died
On a telephone connection
Stretching miles and miles of wire

You said it was over
And then cried and cried
You were gone before I said, “Goodbye.”

Would you stay just a little, my love?
Would you sway just a little, my love?
‘Cause the hole in the middle of my heart needs filling up
If you stay just a little that’s enough

It kills me as I lay awake at night
Remembering the last kiss that we shared doesn’t feel right
Is it impossible for me to win this fight?
Keep you a little longer in my life

Would you stay just a little, my love?
Would you sway just a little, my love?
‘Cause the hole in the middle of my heart needs filling up
If you stay just a little that’s enough

Oh oh
Oh oh oh oh oh

‘Cause the hole the hole in the middle of my heart needs filling up
If you stay just a little
If you stay just a little
That’s enough

Kina Grannis – Stay Just A Little

www: Kina’s official website, Facebook Page, MySpace, and Youtube channel.