Playlist, Uncategorized

Events Calendar: January 2017 Playlist

Every month, I write out an (insanely long and detailed) Events Calendar with things happening in Jozi. I always add what songs I’m listening to in the listings. To revive this site, I have decided to do a monthly playlist to accompany the Events Calendar. And use this site for the write up. Makes sense now hey? If you want in on the Events Calendar, drop me a mail!

A lot has changed since 2012. I just can’t tell you what these changes are. Well, except for the headphone jack. That is a major change. We need to talk about that at some point.

Oh Wonder are a phenomenal band that came out of nowhere. Oddly, their approach to stardom was much like the formidable South African band Zebra and Giraffe. Record your album and then hit the road for a sold out tour. Except Z&G were a product of non-streaming media in 2008 which meant your physical album needed to be the key to success.

In their own words, Oh Wonder are “Two songwriters who write about love, loneliness, London, community, gentrification, and gambling.” They also set out to record one single every month and upload it onto the internet. This started in September 2014 and they just blew up and properly sold out locations all over the world. All without doing a single gig. And until all the songs were completed, without an album!

“Without You” was the last song they wrote for this project. If they decided on a 14 track album, it would have never been made and my life would be oh so different. This track has been on repeat since around October. I play it virtually every morning when I get to work. The piano haunts. The video thrills. The lyrics grab. And the melody makes this unforgettable. It’s made its way into one of my all-time favourite song list and it’s going to be a while before it’s displaced.

Jamie xx is, well, from The xx. I never got into the band. Mostly because I just knew they existed and didn’t invest the time to listen. And then I came across “Loud Place.” Those dreamy opening lyrics “I got to loud places, to search for someone, to be quiet with,” which harks back to the early 2000s persona I grew into. I guess I still do that. And then the song builds and Idris Muhammed’s BANGING tune “Could Heaven Be Like This” is sampled. I cringed the first time I heard the sample as it felt so out of place. But it grew on me. It grew and yeeeeeeeeeeeeeek, this song is CLASS! There seems to be a Sandy Rivera sample in there as well. I’m definitely featuring more of Sandy next month. Who is Idris Muhammed? I will admit that I did not know of this legendary Jazz drummer but everyone knows his samples (sampling THIS song!!!!!!!) in songs by Drake, Jamiroquai, J Cole, and of course (for you music nuts) Chrome Sparks “Marijuana.” The 1977 album that this tune is from is ‘Turn This Mutha Out’ which I am searching for on vinyl. This is a pretty impossible task but I am up for it. I foresee many hours of listening to his other albums. I am looking forward to this prospect.

Real Lies “North Circular” took 2000 plays before it was given the go ahead. The North Circular is the attempted ring road around London. Which reminds me – these first three songs have videos with these breath taking urban scenes. Man I need more cities in my life. The stand out line in this song is “How many late nights does it take you to change?”  Which again, speaks to that angst I alluded to above. Those Trainspotting 2 teasers kinda of show this and I wonder if this movie is going to tackle this topic in relation to modern life. I wait.

How do I miss a band like Real Lies? Eish

The voice of Elena Tonra of Daughter is impassioned. It deeply searches within you to find that emotion and intimacy that these essays are written about. And the drums come in. And then the drums stop. And she sings, “most of our feelings are dead,” and then WHAT MUST YOU DO! I DO NOT KNOW WHAT TO DO! And these kids are kids! Highly passionate kids. Eish, it’s great.

The Seafret video has Arya Stark in it. This is why it’s made the list. It’s a good video so please watch it. It’s also a good song. And people fell in love with Seafret after this song. I really should have done more research before writing about them.

My love for Bonobo (not the primate, the twisty fiddler music person) is immense and when I heard that the new album ‘Migration’ was dropping, I felt like making sounds like that entity in “Terrapin.” That might be weird. The song is subtly complex. Listen deeply and you will realise there are just too many beats in each bar. But not all the time. “Kerala” is a truly magical state in India with magical people, magical landscapes, and a magical feel that makes you feel like magic. This time last year, I was bravely anticipating a week away in this paradise. Yes, that is such a cliché but really guys: paradise. I can’t really imagine listening to this tune while sitting on that ferry which cruised down the backwaters for 8 hours. You don’t get many 8 hour long songs which are a pleasure to listen to so that also might be the problem.

Satellite Stories have the thickest British accent since The Kooks. Except they’re from Finland or something. Imagine if we had real miracles. Their sound is South African. The style is highly visible in many South African bands that do the same thing they do. Think about it.

Hibou sound like a South Africanism. But it’s not. You do not explain their name in disbelief. I guess this song signals a devolving (wrong word) into the deepest underbellies of the modern indie scene. You expect to hear these sounds whilst staring out a bay window in a house built in the 70s. If that is what they were going for with this song, they have successfully achieved it. No doubt.

Caribou are the remnants of a forgotten past of mine. They’re still around.

I feel like I have inadvertently gone into to this deep and dark realm of what really goes on in my head.

That playlist dug deep into my soul, The Caribou song is seriously light on its own. The emotions that Daughter dug into followed by the intensivity of Bonobo send you down into the realist realm of your existence. And that is why music has this power. It takes you on this journey by using the power of the other. Unrelated songs create a world and you enter that world and are perplexed at this reality.

Snap out of it now.

The Spokes song is an old South African standard. It is made of quality so intense. Wow. I discovered this song through a vinyl record being played at a vinyl session. On a Tuesday. That’s how you find music! MMMMmmmmmmmmmph tasty nice.

Fat White Family have the oddest band name in a while. Their music sounds like its pure indie from the past 20 years. It’s an indie that has not seen the light of day in many moons. They make you think of the Lightning Seeds. And others. And there is that grip that came along with that music from year yore. This is good. It is so good. It’s an expert use of sound available to make this track most epic. This music has been missing for years. Welcome back.

And with this intensity we stop for January. This is music right? This is the journey music wants to take you. I love that it still does this. I’m satisfied. Baby, I am satisfied. Till February…

Song Listing

  1. Oh Wonder – Without You
  2. Jamie XX – Loud Places
  3. Real Lies – North Circular
  4. Daughter – Youth
  5. Seafret – Oceans
  6. Bonobo – Kerala
  7. Satellite Stories – Miracle
  8. Hibou – When The Season Ends
  9. Caribou – Can’t Do Without You
  10. Spokes Mashiyane – Banana ba Rustenburg
  11. Idris Muhammed – Could Heaven Ever Be Like This
  12. Fat White Family – Whitest Boy On The Beach

REM – It’s the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)

No real surprise with this song. Today, the world ends. Which is why I’ve not actually lined up any songs for next week! That, and I’m on holiday so I decided to take a little break from this.

This song is probably the most famous REM song partly due to so many loons predicting the end of the world. It ends up being played year after year whenever there is some catastrophe predicted. Or natural disaster. I think many people played it when Justin Bieber announced his tour to South Africa. Oddly enough, Justin Bieber’s cover of the song is going to be played today on the show ‘The High School Life.” Yes, the world truly is ending when he gets hold of such a classic song.

They sadly did not play this song at the Durban concert in 2005 although they did play “Find the River” at that concert which was pretty damn awesome. That does prove huge ass signs with the song name on it sometimes works.

Chart wise, this song did not do well at all even though it is such an epic piece of music. It reached its peak of #39 in the UK and it didn’t fare much better in on the Billboard Charts. I find that odd. I wonder if Michael Stipe was influenced by the whole rap phenomenon with his rather fast singing style. He did sound better than most rappers of the time…

I do suspect a surge in downloads of this song this week so it might cause a surprise and chart higher in the UK. That would be quite cool.


Dirty Vegas – Days Go By

I’ve always been critical of the American taste in dance/EDM music. It’s always lagged behind Europe with the quality and what they actually listen to. Actually, the USA has a weird music taste – full stop. How people can stomach country and western is beyond me. And don’t get me started on bluegrass. The genre with the coolest name in the world has to possess the worst type of music ever made! But I digress.

It would be funny if I develop a taste for country in the next few years.

As the years have gone by, this has changed and there is much more parity between what is universally enjoyed in the USA and what is enjoyed on the other side of the Atlantic. Podcasts have definitely helped with really great quality music being easily available. Americans can now listen in awe and praise to what’s great in the boxes of Gareth Emery, Sander Van Doorn, Paul Van Dyk and Armin Van Buuren. The amount of shows these guys are playing in the USA is astounding and makes me slightly jealous. My to-do list includes going to a huge EDM party in the USA at some point in life.

Anyway, I mention this as Dirty Vegas won the Grammy Award for Best Dance Recording in 2003 for this song. Don’t get me wrong, its an awesome song. This Grammy is a bit of a joke as Janet Jackson won it in 2002 and Kylie Minogue won it in 2004. Progress has meant that the 2013 Grammy should actually go to someone that classifies themselves as a dance act although the songs nominated are completely and utterly pop songs. But hey, progress is progress.

The reason this song was huge in the USA was due to it being in an ad for the Mitsubishi Eclipse. In one version of the music video, the Eclipse is actually included. That’s the one here. The video is absolutely fantastic and I was very impressed when I first saw it. That bassline is so imposing. The song itself charted quite well and reached #14 on the Billboard Chart in 2002 which is quite an achievement for a dance song. It reached #16 in the UK.

EDM, Indie, South Africa

St. Lucia – September

This is definitely one of the best songs I’ve heard this year.

South Africa is blessed to be home to the Drakensberg Boys Choir. They’ve travelled the world leaving audiences in awe every where they go. Jean Grobler is a recent alumni of the school and the face behind St. Lucia. Being a Jozi boy, you KNOW he picked the name because of iSimangaliso Wetland Park which was known as St. Lucia even though he probably tells a different story to the American music press. I find this pretty cool.

Apart from probably the best classical training one could ask for at the school, he left South Africa to study music in Liverpool. After being there, I definitely recommend it as a great place to find inspiration. He then moved to New York and released this KILLER track from his self-titled debut album. I really need to get a copy of this.

The sound harks back to heavy 80s electro. The modern electronics sound like a HUGE trance tune by Armin Van Buurin and John ‘o Callaghan. Then the lyrics hit all I could think of is Depeche Mode, just better. The vocal acrobatics are exciting. The power of the song is immense. I want more and more of his music! Take a listen and see what South Africa can actually produce…

Folk, Indie

Alexi Murdoch – All My Days

Today’s post was supposed to be a guest post but that has been delayed. I had not lined up a song so I was in a bit of a pickle! So the methodology I used today was to go to my Facebook Timeline and use the first song that popped up.

I’ve never heard this track before but its really quite nice. I am a big fan of folk music and this fits right in. It is from 2006 which was a year with quite a lot of indie gems. I’ve not actually looked up this dude but if you like him, maybe you should…

The Beatles

The Beatles – Norwegian Wood (This Bird has Flown)

Last week, the legendary sitarist Ravi Shankar passed away at the age of 92. It was a great innings. His music inspired many and his daughters keep inspiring so many. At the beginnings of their hippy phase, a lot of eastern influenced music started making its way around all the places that provided artists with inspiration. George Harrison was quite taken and got hold of a Ravi Shankar album and, well, the first song to feature a sitar was this one.

And what a song it is. John wrote this as an ode to the affairs he had in his life. The lyrics are some of the best you could ask for in a song. This laid-back tune regularly graces “Top 100 of All-Time” lists. That sitar does add something special to the song. The riff and John’s voice intertwine so well with the sitar and just makes this song feel so great.


Covers Week: Dolly Parton/Whitney Houston – I Will Always Love You

When it comes to the “theme” of this blog, this choice seems quite a controversial  choice seeing that it is the epitome of pop – both versions. But that is not why this is a controversial choice. This is because both of these songs are unbelievably good versions and picking a better version is actually very difficult. The Dolly Parton version is so good that only Whitney could pull off what she did.

Dolly’s song hit #1 on the Country chart twice in 1974 and in 1982! She wrote the song during the professional parting of ways between her and Porter Wagoner. There’s so much heart and emotion poured into the song. Coupled with her huge voice, this song is beautiful. I really do HATE country music but I make an exception for this version.

Whitney is just Whitney and delivers one of the greatest soul ballads of all time. This song stayed on top of the US Billboard Charts for 14 weeks. No matter what genre of music you are partial too, the talent that Whitney has and portrays through this song makes your spine tingle while making you truly believe in the power of music. I love how the songs starts all unassuming with an a cappella verse then builds to that enormous climax. I remember being bombarded by this tune in 1992 as it was played EVERY WEEK on Pick a Tune on Fridays at 20:00. I don’t think I particularly loved the song back then. It’s very different now when you listen to it critically. You really are left breathless after it – it really is that good. It was a great loss to the world of music when she passed away earlier this year.

CSNY, Folk

Covers Week: Joni Mitchell/Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young – Woodstock

The one song that epitomised Woodstock was just inspired by the festival and was not based on a first hand account. Back in those days, they didn’t even have cell phones so it wasn’t even possible for Graham Nash, then boyfriend of Joni Mitchell, to call her and scream “Yaaaaaaaaa! Woodstock!” and then send her a video of Jimi Hendrix’s rendition of “Star Spangled Banner” which would actually be a video of a guy videoing Jimi with his iPad. Yes, festivals were different in those days…

The story goes that Joni’s manager thought that appearing on the The Dick Cavett Show  on 19 August 1969 (a day after Woodstock) would be better for her career than to perform at the festival. Oddly enough, David Crosby and Stephen Stills came straight from the festival to the show for the recording. Her manager did have a bit of a point as Jimi Hendrix  was scheduled to appear on the show but couldn’t due to the delay of his set. Anyway, because of some major FOMO, she penned the song based on the images broadcast on TV and descriptions retold by Graham Nash presumably whilst they were lying in bed after he had five showers to get rid of the stench. Speaking of which, many of the audience members on the show came straight from Woodstock. Man, that set must have had a rather pungent odour!

Maybe its just my imagination or bias but in this acoustic rendition (which is how she first envisaged the song) you can hear that she really hated that she missed the concert. How beautiful is her voice? Seriously?

On 31 October 1970, the song hit #1 in the UK and stayed there for three weeks until Jimi Hendrix “Voodoo Child” kicked it off. But this time it was done by the band Matthews Southern Comfort. This was their only real big hit. It does sound like a stoner hippy song. The video is a pretty cool vignette of shots from Woodstock. Think of this as a bonus video for the day.

Anyway, Crosby, Stills, Nash (and Young) took the song and made it into the modern classic that we all know and love. Starting with the heroic guitar riff of Stephen Stills into the melodic intertwining that they excelled at. Its a song that makes you feel you went to Woodstock. You feel the peace and love. It’s all so beautiful. I personally think its one of the greatest songs ever sung.

Female Vocal, Folk, Pop

Covers Week: Fleetwood Mac/The Corrs – Dreams

I really like Fleetwood Mac. They’re not the most palatable classic band with many equating them to pop groups that existed with them but there is just something extraordinary about them. Their album Rumours is hauntingly beautiful. The album was written and recorded during breakups (even within the group itself.) A few months ago, I was lucky enough to come across the album in a second hand vinyl store. The album was unopened. I don’t think you understand how excited I was at that moment in time. Their recorded version  of :”Dreams” is amazing. Heartfelt, honest and filled to the brim with their musical genius.

The Corrs are one of my favourite bands (to watch on TV!) I remember coming across them when the UK were going gaga over them. So much so that there was a point when the album Talk on Corners  charted at #1 while their older album, Forgiven not Forgotten was at #2.

This success started with this video, I mean this song. The band was invited by Fleetwood Mac to cover “Dreams” for a tribute album to the band. In 1998, the song and video came to prominence and charted at #6. The song is a total rework with the soothing violins, Andrea’s extraordinary voice and an understanding by The Corrs that they were taking ownership of the song.  The Todd Terry remix added that subtle electronic vibe which propelled the song into something just amazing. I remember being completely in love with this song from the first time I heard it. It never did heavy rotation on MTV but it was played a lot on VH1 especially during the Album Chart Show (seeing that Talk on Corners stayed on it FOREVER!) As much as I love Fleetwood Mac, I really believe The Corrs do a better version.

As much as The Corrs will be remembered as a pop band (after all, can you really call “Breathless” a great piece of music? If you say yes, I will judge you severely) but Talk on Corners was really a milestone album. If you feel like broadening your discerning music taste, take a listen to it with an open mind and see what you think. Even though their later albums are forgetable, I am really glad they released this album – the world is a better place because of it.

The imagery in the video is stunning and really worth watching. However, you are going to watch the video because they are SO hot! You shouldn’t lie to yourself that you’re watching it for any other reason.