Monday, 20 October 2014

The Playlist: FKA Twigs

I saw FKA Twigs live in Bristol just over a week ago (read my review here on the IAM blog) and have played her album, LP1, every day since. As I said in my review, the singer-songwriter-(dancer) is utterly incredible live and the debut album is perfection (as are her EPs, the second of which you can hear below).

Opening with an abstract and fragmented 'Preface', the album goes through progressive RnB tracks all worthy of single status. 'Lights On' is perfectly raw yet tender and 'Two Weeks' is instantly catchy with its repetitive throbbing synths. 'Video Girl' is another favourite; one that had a real impact live.

The Mercury-nominated Twigs was formally a dancer, having appeared in videos for Kylie Minogue, Ed Sheeran and Jessie J, the FKA standing for 'formally known as' and the 'Twigs' a reference to her joint-snapping dance moves. With LP1 she has constructed one of those albums that feels perfectly finished and utterly satisfying.

She has an incredible voice and writes fantastic lyrics. I can't wait to hear more from her.

Watch FKA Twigs's brand new video for Google Glass HERE. #throughglass


If you like this, why not try:

The Playlist: SBTRKT
Anna Calvi, Bath Komedia
Warpaint, O2 Academy Bristol

Saturday, 18 October 2014

One Lovely Blog

My lovely friend Laila, who contributes to the blogosphere through Tape Parade, has nominated me for a One Lovely Blog Award post. I feel honoured to be asked – thank you Laila. 

To explain, one Lovely Blog is an award shared from blogger to blogger to promote and praise up-and-coming blogs they like. The rules are very simple – award a blog that you think has lovely content and is worthy of being nominated. If you have been nominated yourself, thank your nominator and answer the questions they have asked to find out more about you. Finally, nominate any your own blogger friends – et voila! Blogging love...

So, thank you again Laila – and read her fantastic blog! Laila asked me the following questions and I set myself the challenge of answering as spontaneously and quickly as possible.

1. What is your favourite animal?
A red panda – just the other day I was sitting under a heat lamp, watching passers-by in Bristol with my best friend when we agreed on their superiority.

2. What is your favourite meal to cook?
With the winter upon us, a hearty leak and potato soup. Although, nothing beats a goats cheese and butternut squash risotto

3. Do you think the Green Party is underrepresented in current media? (UK centric, sorry)
I certainly think the Green Party is underrepresented. The cliché goes: 'They have environmental policies, but what about everything else?' Of course they have a manifesto covering broader issues; that just doesn't get publicised.

4. When is the last time you took a day off?
The last time I took a day off was for a special trip to Bath with my girlfriend.

5. What do you know about 3D printing and how excited does it make you?
Good question – I am kind of obsessed with 3D printing! I remember when I read about a designer making a 3D-printed range of shoes and later heard about clothing ranges. It got me thinking about construction – will future generations say 'What?! They used to physically build with bricks and mortar?!' I can imagine a world where the skyline is coded in and printed out. After that, I found out that a housing estate had been printed in china.

– RP –

Now I nominate: Polly BartlettThe Back Garden Tourist and Hearts and Hands.

I would love to know:

What are your five favourite albums of all time?
What is your favourite thing about the lead up to Christmas?
Wallpaper or paint?
Winter or summer – and why?
What is your most memorable trip away?

Happy blogging!

Saturday, 4 October 2014

The Playlist: SBTRKT

SBTRKT Wonder Where We Land

SBTRKT has released another album and (like any normal person should be) I was excited to listen to it as soon as I could. SBTRKT (aka Aaron Jerome) makes my absolute favourite kind of electronic music and Wonder Where We Land is another eclectic collection of great dance tracks.

Highlights for me are the title track featuring Sampha, who was on the last album, Look Away with a heavy piano and sultry vocals from Caroline Polachek, and NEW DORP. NEW YORK, with Vampire Weekend's Ezra Koenig rapping over the top. It's just cool. 

AND there is a fantastic track that features Warpaint (War Drums) – could it get any better?

Talking about his music in a Guardian interview recently, Jerome said: 'The more I grow as an artist, the more I feel I’m moving away from the speeds of how music is listened to or accepted in this day and age. I want to make something that is super-immersive and that you can find extra layers in with more plays.'

Amen to that.


If you like this, why not try:

The Playlist: John Grant
The Playlist: Trentemøller

Thursday, 18 September 2014

The Playlist: Alt-J (∆)

Alt-J's new album, All This is Yours, has landed. And – like the debut – it's fantastic.

Like An Awesome Wave, it opens with an Intro and it includes Bloodflood pt. II (a stripped-back, re-orchestrated variation on the original) and a brilliant cover of Bill Withers's Lovely Day (a bonus track).

One of the best songs has to be Every Other Freckle, if only for the lyrics (but of course the sound and melody are great too):

"I’m gonna bed into you like a cat beds into a beanbag / Turn you inside out and lick you like a crisp packet"

Arrival in Nara and Nara both have the vibe of the beloved Taro from the first album and Hunger of the Pine gives us that fantastic Alt-J sound in a great melody and understated synths.

Lead singer Joe Newman's voice is unique – Warm Foothills shows how nimbly he can jump between the low and high registers with his voice – and there is nothing else quite like Alt-J's carefully considered instrumental combinations, delicate melodies and clever lyrics.

The only thing, for me, is that the new record doesn't have a stand-out track like Tessellate from the first. With repeated listening, one will probably emerge...

Basically, this album had a lot to live up to following An Awesome Wave, one that a thousands-strong crowd loved enough to sing word-for-word and in track order at Glastonbury 2013, and the boys have nailed it.


If you like this, why not try:

The Playlist: George Ezra
The Playlist: Trentemøller
First Aid Kit: Stay Gold
The Playlist: John Grant

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Oldenburg, Lower Saxony

Regular readers of my blog will know that I am lucky enough to travel occasionally for work. Last weekend, it was a trip to the beautiful town of Oldenburg in Lower Saxony, Germany for the fantastic annual music festival there, the theme of which this year was glück –  or happiness.

In my opinion, any festival with that theme is worth checking out. I don't know about you, but the amount if negativity, snide criticism, general bitching and mundane dissatisfaction surrounding me in daily life (both online and off) seems staggering at times. So to spend some time in a stunning part of the world with fellow journos celebrating happy lifestyles and cheerful good fortune through music was more than ideal.

The opening weekend of the Niedersächische Musiktage involved a musical bike ride, a stroll around the gorgeous town with the traditional German fairytale Hans im Glück, a musical church service and an afternoon spent with brilliant band ?Schmaltz!, whose hugely entertaining brand of klezmer is genius and infectious (watch a video below). And the weekend's gala concert was stunning – a performance by Jonathan Nott and the Bamberg Symphony Orchestra of works by Ives, Schubert and Beethoven, it was one of the best concerts I have been to.

As with all my travels, I took my 1970s Pentax k1000 along with me and captured some of it in 35mm. This is how it looked...

Visit for more of my travel photography. My piece on the Niedersächische Musiktage will be published in the July 2015 issue of BBC Music Magazine

If you like this, why not try:

A weekend in Berlin
Spreepark, Berlin