Ellie Goulding. Now there’s an artist I could never get into.

No, not like that. Get your mind out of the gutter.

I was just never taken by Ellie’s vocals. Her Wikipedia says it best:

Neil McComick of The Daily Telegraph described her voice as “something special”, continuing; “Her tremulous vibrato and slightly hoarse timbre have the feel of something primal and folky, her birdlike high notes conveying a childlike wonder while darker tones imply ancient depths of sorrow. She sings like she is strung out on the melody, warbling from a place of desperate emotion.

I don’t know – something about an artist’s style being “warbling” and “birdlike” that disconcerts, and combined with my not exactly being taken with her initial single releases, and the fact the hipster generation have already migrated to her…

Well, I was all ready to resign her to the box marked “Laura Marling” (remember her?) and move on.

As ever, as often I am (oh, so very often), I was proven wrong.

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While hanging up laundry (yes, it’s a rock ‘n’ roll life), an ad on television caught my attention – mostly acoustic, with a female vocal, it took me about 3 seconds to guess that it was Ellie Goulding. But unlike much of her previous work, the simpler tune and goose-bump inducing lyrics stayed with me.

And so I give you “Explosions”, from her 2012 album “Halcyon”. It’s not the most complex tune in the world; not by a long way. And yes, it’s a bit warbling and birdlike. However, at 0:51, it turns, and at 1:01, launches into one of the most beautiful choruses I’ve heard in many months.

Mostly Ellie’s voice with some piano and strings poured on top, it’s the lyrics that truly cut…

I pray that you will find peace of mind
And I’ll find you another time
I’ll love you, another time

Explosions on the day you wake up
Needing somebody and you’ve learned
It’s okay to be afraid
But it will never be the same…

A song about the moment someone realises that it’s okay to need another. When it’s too late.

A song about someone leaving you behind, and realising that they shouldn’t have.

A song about putting your love on hold so that someone else can find their way.

You trembled like you’d seen a ghost
And I gave in
I lack the things you need the most
You said where have you been
You wasted all that sweetness to run and hide
I wonder why
I remind you of the days you poured your heart into
But you never tried
I’ve fallen from grace
Took a blow to my face
I’ve loved and I’ve lost
I’ve loved and I’ve lost

Explosions on the day you wake up
Needing somebody and you’ve learned
It’s okay to be afraid
But it will never be the same
It will never be the same

You left my soul bleeding in the dark
So you could be king
The rules you set are still untold to me and I
Lost my faith in everything
The nights you could cope, your intentions were gold
But the mountains will shake
I need to know I can still make

Explosions on the day you wake up
Needing somebody and you’ve learned
It’s okay to be afraid
But it will never be the same

And as the floods move in
And your body starts to sink
I was the last thing on your mind
I know you better than you think
‘Cause it’s simple darling, I gave you a warning
Now everything you own is falling from the sky in pieces
So watch them fall with you, in slow motion
I pray that you will find peace of mind
And I’ll find you another time
I’ll love you, another time

Explosions on the day you wake up
Needing somebody and you’ve learned
It’s okay to be afraid
But it will never be the same…

Ellie Goulding – Explosions

www: Ellie’s official website; Facebook Page and Twitter.

You know those songs, don’t you?

You do.

The ones that you leave on repeat and let flow over you. The ones that match perfectly to your staring out your window on a grey, overcast and wet day. The ones that are so very simple, yet cut through the very soul of you like a knife.

Aj Lark over at Music is my First Language (who, it has to be said, beats me into submission when it comes to great music knowledge. Both knowledge of great music, and great knowledge of music. You know what I mean.), pointed me in the direction of Castle Lights a couple of weeks ago, and specifically to http://castlelightsmusic.com/keep-waiting-eleftheria/, where they made the song “Keep Waiting” free for download.

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A plucked guitar, a cello, Tyler Susuras’ lead vocals – starting off, the song sounds nice, but like a hundred, a thousand other songs I’ve come across. Albeit an insistent guitar loop.

And then, at 0:47, the guitar pluck turns to a strum, the cello rises, and a very faint drum tattoo is heard, and the song itself rises above the hundred, thousand others.

Alternating between the plucked and the strummed, the cello falling back and rising, the song itself is an ode to futility. How many of us have fought for something that will never be? And yet, we keep fighting; we keep struggling, in the belief it’ll all come good?

Nearly four and a half years ago, I posted the National’s “About Today”, a song about that moment when you know a relationship is over. “Keep Waiting” is the few seconds before that realisation, looping over and over.

I don’t know – maybe sometimes the fight is worth it. “Keep Waiting” makes me think someone thinks it.

And I know, at some time in the future, I’ll fight again.

Time will tell if it’s “About Today” or “Keep Waiting” that wins out.

Lying as the day is long
Fighting ’til it’s said and done
Crying as you hard your heart
Hiding ’til it’s torn apart
You’re waiting for that special sign
Waiting for it to fall in line

And we’ll keep waiting
And we’ll keep waiting for a sign
We’ll keep waiting

Running ’til the day is gone
We hit a few bumps along the way
Love had made me a bitter soul
I’ve learned to let it go
I’ll keep waiting for perfect time
When two hearts fall in line

And we’ll keep waiting
And we’ll keep waiting for perfect time
We’ll keep waiting
And we’ll keep waiting
And we’ll keep waiting for perfect time
Keep waiting

And your heart in mine will be forever home, home
And your heart in mine will be forever love, love
And your heart in mine will be forever home, home
And your heart in mine will be forever love

And we’ll keep waiting
And we’ll keep waiting for a sign
We’ll keep waiting
We’ll keep waiting for perfect time…

Castle Lights – Keep Waiting

www: Castle Light’s official website; Facebook Page and Twitter.

We all love a damaged singer, don’t we? Maybe it’s just me.

And when a singer releases an album called “Dear…”, and I read the absolutely perfect line “‘Dear…’ makes ‘For Emma…’ sound like Skrillex”, well, it must be love.

However, my admission of love might in fact scare off Keaton Henson, a 23-year-old singer from the UK. As might my posting a picture. Let’s try anyway…

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An article from the Guardian can explain this better than I:

The 24-year-old illustrator-cum-singer-songwriter, who self-released his debut Dear… through Bandcamp at the end of 2010, has never played the usual industry games. Recording in solitude in his Richmond bedroom in London, he’s amassed something of a cult following in a rarefied indie niche. But now, signed to Radiohead’s management, and having re-released Dear… through Oak Records in April, the prospect of coming face-to-face with his public is one that Henson has to confront. And it troubles him.

A series of panic attacks plagued his childhood – this much he admits, but he won’t explain why. After a series of live dates supporting the BalletBoyz at Sadler’s Wells in 2010, he went into hiding after finding he suffered from crippling stage fright. “I’ve always struggled with live music, both as a spectator and performer,” he tells me. “I used to enjoy going to live shows, but felt a strange jealousy. No part of me wanted to share the music with which I had such a profound relationship with a room full of (often drunk and chatty) strangers.”

However, as of this month, Keaton played two gigs in London – online reviews unfound to date. However, and more seriously, this latter quote of his is key – from Henson’s own website, in a section labelled “Intrude”, are a few lines which speak volumes:

Dear unknown
I hope you listen as though it were all for you
I hope she knows it was.
I hope you can forget the fact I do both
It meant more before.
The Author

So, to me, this music was never meant for us. And how can you not love a man quoted as saying:

If I can make the audience (in spite of how many of them there are) feel as lonely as I do, using the space and situation, everything makes more sense.

From Henson’s 2012 “The Lucky” EP, I give you the utterly, utterly heartbreaking “To Your Health” – nothing but plucked electric guitar and Henson’s tremulous falsetto, and a song that in anyone else’s hands, would be bitter and scathing. In Henson’s? Bitter. Scathing. And beautiful.

I’ve also included two videos for this song as well – while as powerful aurally as visually, there’s just…something…about these.

Keaton Henson wants us to feel as lonely as he does. Who are we to disagree?

So make mine a pain in the neck
Here’s to you, you old wreck
And mine is a thorn in the side
Drink up, so we can both finally die

And I’ll have a bright yellow boat
With nothing to row
With nothing to row

So make mine an all out of luck
Here’s to you, you miserable fuck
And why did you finally leave?
’cause all you think of is me
’cause all you think of is me

To your health
To your health

So make mine a pain in the neck
Here’s to you, you old wreck

Keaton Henson – To Your Health

www: Keaton’s official website; the only existing Facebook Page, run by fans; his Vimeo page, and that’s about it, to be honest.

If you’re an aficionado of live music, you must know that moment. You know, THAT moment.

I’ve posted about THAT moment before, when seeing Tom McRae live a couple of years ago, and at the time, said:

I had one revelationary moment. I love music – completely and utterly – but sometimes, it goes beyond a passion, and hurts. Actually, physically, hurts. And as Tom played “American Spirit”, I stopped moving. Stopped breathing. My chest hurt – hurt more than it had in a long time. And for five and a half minutes, I loved every agonising second.

Well, Ben Howard, March 2012, did the same thing to me. I went to see him at a little venue called the Academy here in Dublin, and for his first song, he caused me actual hurt.

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The song, “Depth Over Distance”, isn’t even on his album “Every Kingdom”. Instead, it’s the b-side (yes, I know what those are) to the single release of “Keep Your Head Up”.

As I watched, live, Ben sat on a high stool, his guitar across his lap, strings facing upwards, and he strummed and drummed on it, as he sang this utterly, utterly haunting song. And then…and then…and then…

In the song, it’s 3:22. Live, 4:16 in the video below.

Ben shows the true meaning of control in a singing voice – and left nearly everyone in the Academy feeling like they had been punched hard in the gut. It was hard to breathe. It was hard to feel anything but like screaming along in catharsis.

A song of realising that, although you might be in too deep, you’re willing to go ever deeper – whatever might come of it. And of asking someone else to come with you.

Depth over distance every time, my dear,
And this tree of ours may grow tall in the woods,
But it’s the roots that will bind us here,
To the ground

Depth over distance was all I asked of you
And I may be foolish to fall as I do
Still there’s strength in the blindness you fear
If you’re coming too
If you’re coming too

Hold on, wait until that lone sun
Breaks from the arms of the Lord
Hold on, though we may be too young
To know this ride we’re on

Depth over distance was all I asked of you
And everybody round here’s acting like a stone
Still there’s things I’d do, darling, I’d go blind for you
If you let go sometimes, let go sometimes, let it go
Just let it go sometimes

Hold on, wait until that lone sun
Breaks from the arms of the Lord
Hold on, though we may be too young
To know this ride we’re on
Hold on, wait though we may be too young
To know this ride we’re on

Depth over distance every time, my dear,
And I may be foolish to fall as I do
Still there’s strength in the blindness you fear
If you’re coming too
If you’re coming too

Hold on, wait until that lone sun
Breaks from the arms of the Lord
Hold on, though we may be too young
To know this ride we’re on
To know this ride
To know this ride we’re on

Ben Howard – Depth Over Distance

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

Over the coming months, I’ll be posting my favourite songs of all time – the one’s that made me fall in love with music all over again the first time I heard them, and cause me to fall a little deeper each time I hear them now.

Firstly, the goose-bump-inducing “This Woman’s Work” by Kate Bush, and it’s accompanying video.

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This is one of those songs where the video plays a key role in understanding the song – a man sits alone in a waiting room, impatient, upset, while a woman’s spirit tries to console him; tries to get close to him; but he pulls away again and again. He slips into a reverie where the spirit, his wife, wraps a jacket around him, and we see their love. A nurse pulls him from his reverie, checking on him in the waiting room.

A meal. The wife collapses, and he rushes her to hospital, his last touch of her arm one as she’s rushed away by gurney. Finally, we’re back in the waiting room; the nurse reappears; and she looks positive. She says something to the man, and he sits, in shock, but what seems like relief.

This song will stay with me for the rest of my life.

Pray God you can cope.
I stand outside this woman’s work, this woman’s world.
Ooh, it’s hard on the man, now his part is over.
Now starts the craft of the father.

I know you have a little life in you yet.
I know you have a lot of strength left.
I know you have a little life in you yet.
I know you have a lot of strength left.

I should be crying, but I just can’t let it show.
I should be hoping, but I can’t stop thinking…

…Of all the things I should’ve said, that I never said.
All the things we should’ve done, that we never did.
All the things I should’ve given, But I didn’t.

Oh, darling, make it go, make it go away.

Give me these moments back.
Give them back to me.
Give me that little kiss.
Give me your hand.

Kate Bush – This Woman’s Work

www: Kate Bush

I’ve put off putting up this particular song on the site since I first began. Why? I hear you scream (Well, I don’t, but you get the idea).

I adore Matthew Good. Ever since I got my hands on “White Light Rock & Roll Review” (still one of my favourite albums of all time – maybe even my favourite….), I’ve passionately got my hands on nearly everything he’s released – either as part of the Matthew Good Band, or on his own.

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One thing I noticed very quickly on playing any of his music to others was their immediate reaction of discomfort. After this happened a number of times, I finally challenged someone on it, who admitted, “Well, it’s just that it’s…a bit too heavy. It’s really intense. And long.”

Well, I can’t argue with the intense part. Or the long – Matthew doesn’t really “do” many songs under 6 minutes.

From that day, I adored Matthew a little more.

And I know from my friends faces that this particular track, “While We Were Hunting Rabbits”, holds two awards – being my favourite MG song of all time, and being the song that makes most of my friends the most uncomfortable.

Buy in, it’ll shut you up. Try it, it should shut you up. We’ve brought someone in to shut you up. It’s a life’s work

And I dance. And I sing. And I am a monkey in a long line of kings. We dance. We sing. And we’re all monkeys in a long line, long line. I’m just a boat on the ocean, I’m just a ship lost at sea.

7 minutes 59 seconds of guitars, strange lyrics, and big bells (listen carefully – I do love that bit).

7 minutes 59 seconds of one of the most unsettling videos ever created. (Well, 6 minutes 12 seconds, but it ruins my cool riff here), found here.

7 minutes 59 seconds of my personal music perfection.

Matthew Good – While We Were Hunting Rabbits

www: Matthew Good

But all I know is
I’m not ready yet
For the light to dim
Got a suitcase, got regrets
But I’m hopeful yet
And I’ll raise this glass of wine
And I’ll say your name

While randomly flicking through the many dreadful music channels now in existence, I was completely side-swiped by a song that cropped up on late-night MTV2 (where the really weird music comes out to play…)

Cary Brothers is one of Zach Braff’s favourite singers, which basically means you can catch his music on anything Zach stars in – Scrubs, Garden State, The Last Kiss.

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Now, I like Cary. He’s a singular, not a plural – there are no brothers Cary. I loved his first EP, “All The Rage”. I enjoyed his album from last year, “Who Are You”. He’s a good singer-songwriter – he’ll churn out the catchy tunes and he’ll make a great career selling his music to Scrubs/Grey’s Anatomy/One Tree Hill/Zach Braff’s next film. But thanks to DJ Tiesto, I have to say, I am impressed.

Tiesto, a Dutch DJ, has taken Brother’s “Ride”, and turned it into a dance-floor hit. And you know what? I hate most dance music. But I love this. In fact, I love it more than the original. For some reason, the dance beat makes the song more lonely for me…

You are everything I wanted. The scars of all I’ll ever know. If I told you you were right, would you take my hand tonight? If I told you the reasons why, would you leave your life and ride? And ride…”

I’ve included both versions below – the original, and the dance remix. What do you think?

Cary Brothers – Ride

Tiesto & Cary Brothers – Ride


thenational

I’ve posted a live video of the National singing “About Today” before, but I recently came across this extended version, with a truly hair-raising last couple of minutes.

The greatest song about the moment a relationship is truly over, by the greatest band on the planet at the moment.