Last week I went to the incredibly beautiful Isle of Skye. A six hour journey just to get there, we drove over 600 miles in total over four days – the island itself being bigger than we’d bargained for. As you can imagine we were in need of driving music. My pal’s wee fiesta plays CDs only and it was mostly older albums we chose – Peter Bjorn and John, The Beatles, The Shins, The New Pornographers. Then we put on Belle & Sebastian. Listening to a mix of tracks made me think about how much of my life had been coloured by their music – lyrics that would always seem so wry and funny and booming choruses. Their voice – although it wasn’t ours – was superbly young and Scottish, paying as much attention to the mundane, comical and memorable details of life here as we were.
My friend pointed out they formed when we were twelve – a fact which blew my mind. I can’t remember when I started listening to them, their songs seemed to travel to me by osmosis – the radio, American films, a purchase in FOPP and beer-swilling house parties. They’ve also travelled the world with me, in Madrid a bartender played Boy with the Arab Strap as soon as he found out I was Scottish, I went to see them play live for the first time in Brooklyn, Write about Love came out at the exact time I was becoming disaffected with my office job.
Stringbean Jean and Lazy Line Painter Jane are now songs I’ll remember from driving on Skye and I know I’ll love them because of it.
Cycling 1100 miles in 12 days? Aye right. Why would anyone of non- Olympian pedigree take that on?
I’m talking about this May’s Great Big Cycle, where ten amateur cyclists, including Grant Hutchison of Frightened Rabbit fame, covering of the UK and Ireland. They’ll visit five capitals over 12 days and cycle about 100 miles a day. The reason? A really important cause.
Grant’s brother and lead cyclist Neil’s three year old daughter, Morven, suffers from a rare genetic condition called cystinosis that can cause growth impairment and kidney problems. At the moment there is no cure. The cycle will aim to raise a mighty £100,000 for Cystinosis Foundation UK, a charity who research the disease and how it might be treated in future. Ahead of the cycle Grant shared the power tracks on his playlist. Read about the reasons below while listening to the Spotify playlist…
You can also suggest a song to add to the playlist and spur them on by leaving a comment here or on Facebook!
Grant’s Great Big Playlist
Lorde –TeamWhen you’re on the bike for a few hours it’s important to have a collection of melodies that don’t really get tired and this something that Lorde does pretty well on Pure Heroine. It’s also great if they’re fairly simple otherwise you’ll have one line going round the whole time because you can’t remember anything else! This track is probably my favourite because of the harmonies and the beat but I’m a fan of them all so they’ll all be going round my head a fair amount.Katy Perry– Roar and FireworkPure unadulterated pop that gives me great motivation. The classic breakdown and finale is something that will never get old and the lift created by it is incomparable. Roar is Eye Of The Tiger for the tween generation but has just as much of an affect on me!!Placebo – Pure MorningEverything about this track is just so menacing and whenever I want to feel like a hardman(which is not often I should add) I’ll stick this on and get my swagger going!! I was a huge fan of Placebo growing up and again the simplicity and repetitive nature of this track makes it perfect for the ride. It’s so rhythmic too which is obviously important for turning the pedals hour after hour, day after day.Frightened Rabbit – Late March Death MarchOnly because it is Morven’s favourite song and will act as a reminder for the whole reason for doing this when times get dark on the bikeRoger and The Gypsies– Pass The HatchetThis is all about the drum beat in this song. Once again the rhythmic nature of it is great and I just love how happy the vocals sound. It creates a great image of that time of dance halls and making music for people to get up and move to which is something you see less and less these days especially with live bands.London Bridge Is Falling DownNo idea why but it regularly pops into my head when I’m on my bike.The Felice Brothers – Run Chicken Run
I love the ramshackle sound The Felice Brothers are so good at creating. This song is just so frantic and it moves in such a great way that just makes it impossible to stay still when it’s on. It has a great feeling of community too. Like the whole band are just in the one room playing along and shouting out harmonies that come in to their head and that’s something that will be important on the ride too. There are 10 of us taking part for the duration and we’ll have to work together a whole lot and really help each other through it and I expect we’ll become a very tight knit group.Wintersleep– Archeologists
I just bloody love these guys. When we toured with them it was like we’d known them forever and I remember those tours with such fondness that to not have them in here would just be a travesty. They are all absolute dicks though!
It’s Friday and instead of doing anything practical or useful I decided to make a list of songs I have on rotation for you. Kidding, this is probably the most practical and useful thing I could do with my time! Enjoy some great tracks, freebies and the beginning of your weekend.
Sparrow and The Workshop – Shock Shock
The first single from Sparrow and the Workshop’s upcoming album Muderopolis, out on Song, By Toad this May. You can download entirely for free via the Glasgow band’s sound cloud link. It’s really very good.
The Twilight Sad – Tell Me When We’re Having Fun
There’s something about The Twilight Sad, they’ve been around for the a decade and although I’m not a fanatic there are moments when sinking in to their semi-dark, progressive Scottish rock is incredible. This tune is another one you can get for free, via the band’s label Fatcat
Low – So Blue
I like Minnesota’s Low. Their stunning new album The Invisible Way will be released literally in days from now, you can listen to it in advance via NPR and in the meantime check out this heartily beautiful new track So Blue.
The Postal Service – Tattered Line of String
Perhaps the appeal of the new Postal Service track is that it reminds the more mature amongst us of listening to them the first time around? Thoughts on a postcard please.
I started listening to Blues maestro Howlin’ Wolf by accident this week, and have since been working my way through his back catalogue. A new animated video of ‘Evil’ and live performance for your eyes and ears.
It’s so nice when you listen to something new which is genuinely brilliant. Discovered these guys, The Babies, through Brooklyn Vegan and listened to their new album Our House on a Hill, which you can stream in full at Spin. They’re made up of ex-Vivian Girls and Woods members plus bassist Brian Schleyer and the guitar on the track below, Get Lost, is insane.
Having a down day, or in need of some instrumental listening…these Canadian progressive-rock stalwarts are an excellent remedy.
Do Say Make Think
Of the same Canadian rock ilk as Godspeed, couldn’t not share.
M83 – Teen Angst
TUNE. Of the popular electronic variety.
RNDM – Walking Through New York
Another chance discovery, ‘Random’ is a new collaboration between Pearl Jam bassist Jeff Ament, singer-songwriter Joseph Arthur and drummer Richard Stuverud. I found this track via One Little Indian Records and believe it to be great.