Friday, 27 December 2013

The Playlist: London Grammar

A nice bit of end-of-year listening for me has been London Grammar's stunning debut album, If You Wait.

All the right people have been talking about the their new brand of soulful trip hop all year and I have been falling in love with the tracks as they filtered into my playlists. I thought they would be a nice band to feature in my final post of 2013.

Plus, my parents very kindly granted my wish for a record player this Christmas, and If You Wait is at the top of my list for building my collection of vinyl.

This album is such a treat. Hannah Reid's vocals are deep, sultry and beautiful. The music is melancholic and spacious, with no shortage of tracks to have a little dance to. Among my favourite tracks are Wasting My Young Years and Help Me Lose My Mind, the collaboration with Disclosure. Lovely stuff.

With that I am off to eat a bit too much (again) and spend as much time with my family as I can before returning to Bristol and getting ready to fly out to Jersey to welcome in the New Year.

– HAPPY NEW YEAR and thanks for reading. R x

London Grammar | Photo: Julian Broad

Sunday, 22 December 2013

The Golden Age of Burberry: How Angela Ahrendts and Christopher Bailey saved a great British Brand

Cara Delevigne walks in Burberry Prorsum, spring/summer 2014

In the summer 2013, when Angela Ahrendts was announced as the first ever female to be the highest paid executive in Britain, I was commissioned to write an extended piece on how she had worked magic to transform the iconic British fashion house Burberry into what it is today.

Originally intended for the first ever issue of De Facto magazine, an aspirational student lifestyle publication, the article has yet to be published due to the magazine's launch deadline being extended. 

However, I have been granted permission to publish it on my own blog and would like to thank editor Dominic McInerney and his team for laying the article out.

Read how Burberry became a case study in the difference one individual can make.
NB: Social media statistics correct at time of writing (August 2013)


Sunday, 15 December 2013

The Playlist: Agnes Obel

When Agnes Obel's second album Aventine came out at the end of September, it was a widely praised and celebrated follow up to the stunning debut record. The Danish singer has been keeping me company recently with her dreamy soft voice, shimmering piano melodies and enchanting lyrics. 

Dorian is a beautiful song and the title track Aventine truly charming. The classically-trained singer and pianist makes exquisite arrangements, many on this record calling on cello and violin to accompany her vocals and idiosyncratic piano passages.

I loved the debut album as well. Philharmonics from 2010 includes the gorgeous Riverside and Louretta, notable for its music box-style sound. Such gorgeous stuff – understated, considered and wonderfully delicate.

Agnes Obel | Photo: Kate Malcolmson


Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Sugar Blind: Marika Hackman

Marika Hackman | Photo: promotional

The second EP from Marika Hackman was released yesterday (9th December) on Dirty Hit Records. Entitled 'Sugar Blind', the brilliant lyrics that Hackman can be relied on for are wholly present throughout. As are the enchanting melodies and beautifully delicate harmonies. 

This record adds a new layer of sensuality to the kind of material we saw in her debut, 'The Iron Taste'. Take the first track Cinnamon. How can the opening lyrics 'Honeybee / fill me with that sticky stuff / golden in the light / disc of sweet delight I'm sugar blind' be described as anything but deliciously sensual and seductive? It is a striking and affecting song that gets under your skin.

The second track Itchy Teeth contains characteristic Hackman-esque darkness in its heart-wrenching melodies and – at times – disturbingly visceral lyrics. The singer is bold with the space she takes and melancholy she allows into the music. This is powerful stuff and Hackman at her best.

I've been left to lick my wounds for too long / I'm down to bone / calloused tongue / itchy teeth

The third track Wolf also taps into the darkness that the 21-year old singer never seems afraid to show us. With reference to love, pain, suicide and destructive relationships the song contains the experience of ages and again has gorgeous melodies.

You're taking me down / with every crease in your frown / The folding of your skin is making me feel queazy 

The forth track is a cover of Joanna Newsom's 81. Hackman has made a lovely new version of it, but I think I would have preferred more of her own stunning original lyrics to end the record.

All in all, as with the rest of her music, Hackman is utterly unafraid in her use of harmony, melody and abstract lyrics in this EP. I never fail to be utterly astounded by the songs the young artist comes up with. She is definitely one of the best things to have happened in British Folk music recently.

Now all I have left to say is that I can't wait for the first full-length album.


Friday, 6 December 2013

The Playlist: S O H N

I recently discovered producer/singer/songwriter, S O H N. Based in Vienna (via London), he produces all his own vocals and music singlehandedly. It is melancholic stuff, heartfelt and moving with great synth melodies and soulful beats. You could compare him to James Blake, but his voice is softer and the music less fragmented than Blake's. Think sweeping lines rather than glitchy beats. And I don't think he is as edgy and distinctive as Blake.

Contract Killer Prose / Calmly walks away as blood flows/ Open, the wound grows / Melts away the water froze – S O H N, Bloodflows

But it's reflective stuff, good for a contemplative mood. It's suiting me very well whilst I write away in my cosy flat, looking out over icy rooftops. This is music that encapsulates wide spaces, so take it travelling.

Sohn | Photo: Christian Pitschl


Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Freeze Festival, 2013

I have just spent the weekend at Freeze Festival on Clapham Common, sampling the very best in hot cider, alpine cheese sauce, national ski competitions, deep house beats and a perfectly splendid indulgence in 'The Christmas Jumper'.

For the sixth year running Relentless brought us Freeze, a winter festival in the middle of our mild-climated capital, complete with après ski and a good dollop of snow for those competing on the ice. This year was special for several reasons, not least because Freeze broke a world record in – wait for it... having the most Christmas jumpers in one place at one time. Brilliant.

One highlight was the opportunity to clad ourselves in the finest of ski-wear from the 1980s and groove to retro beats at Krazy Kangeroo. Another was catching Eton Messy at The Metro Lodge.

And there I was thinking that outdoor festivals were a summer pursuit and that I had been to plenty already this year! What a fantastic weekend spent with good friends, good music and good après ski.

A competitor takes a tumble on the bars | Photo: Rosie Pentreath

Clean Bandit on the main stage |  Photo: Rosie Pentreath

Après ski |  Photo: Rosie Pentreath 
BMX, Sunday |  Photo: Rosie Pentreath 
 Photo: Rosie Pentreath

 Photo: Rosie Pentreath

 Photo: Rosie Pentreath

 Photo: Rosie Pentreath

The bobble hat reigned. The brighter, the better |  Photo: Rosie Pentreath

We stayed at the Crown hostel where I found this gorgeous typewriter |  Photo: Rosie Pentreath 
The Crown |  Photo: Rosie Pentreath

Instagram calls |  Photo: Rosie Pentreath 
Photo: Samuel Stokes 
 Photo: Rosie Pentreath

 Photo: Rosie Pentreath 
The band stand, Clapham Common |  Photo: Rosie Pentreath

A casual 'up-date' |  Photo: Rosie Pentreath

 The dusky Sunday at Freeze 2013 | Photo: Rosie Pentreath