Tag Archives: instrumental

Music to work to

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I like working when there’s music. Spending loads of time writing, studying and making things for work is great but if there’s one thing that makes me restless it’s silence.  The right soundtrack is a delicate thing: lyrics are distracting, for real concentration I have to veto any kind of radio and tracks that are too upbeat set the rhythm all wrong (sorry Motown, I’ll see you later). Here’s where I got to: the finest instrumental alt-rock and acoustic albums to help lift productivity – along with mood and general life happiness.

Yo La Tengo 

American’s Yo La Tengo are an insanely good band. Last year they released some shimmering pop in Fade, my top album for sitting studiously is 2008’s They Shoot, We Score.

Mogwai 

When it comes to Mogwai the only thing to say is their an incredible, continually evolving band. My favourite album to work to is A Wrenched Virile Love, all too often I have ‘Rano Pano’ on repeat. 

Explosions in the Sky 

Stylistic bedfellows of another act I revere, Godspeed You Black Emperor! Explosions in the Sky’s music a swirling pool of instrumental joy. Back-catalogue wise Take Care, Take Care, Take Care is a solid shout.

Remember Remember 

When Remember Remember released their 2011 album The Quickening I slid right into it. Think Mogwai with a xylophone and jingle bells after they’ve eaten too much sugar.

William Tyler 

Tyler’s music is a hypnotic haven: what one man can achieve with an acoustic guitar the stuff that spurs dreams.

-What’s that I hear you cry?

-A Spotify playlist would be insanely handy?

-Good job I made one

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Haiku Salut Play…Detektivbyrån

haikusalut

Haiku Salut are a musical trio from Derbyshire making dreamy instrumental/baroque pop music counting Múm and Yann Tiersen amongst it’s influences. See the bottom of this post for more and their tunes! Gemma Barkerwood from the band – and her pooch – share some love of another inspiration, Swedish electronic band Detektivbyrån.

Haiku Salut

Haiku Salut Play…Detektivbyrån

Since first hearing Detektivbyrån five years ago my music taste has changed. A lot. Before this I was listening to a lot of straightforward indie music. Detektivbyrån soon put a stop to that by providing the perfect answer to a question I didn’t realise I’d asked. This Swedish three piece used accordion, piano, organ, glockenspiel, percussion plus numerous other instruments to make beautiful (if sometimes a little cheesy) classical epics. The sound they create is calm and simplistic, the way in which they perform it chaotic and full of energy. I first heard them on a friend’s myspace page, the track was called Nattoppet from the EP Hemvägen and is glorious from start to finish. It uses a clock as the rhythm and plays glockenspiel with drumsticks. It blew my little mind.

They’ve release two albums since: E18 (consisting of Hemvägen plus a few extras) and Wermland. You should listen to them both, it’s perfect summer music! Unfortunately they’ve split up and I never got to see them live but I think in a strange way that makes me like it even more.

Detektivbyrån opened the floodgates to weird instrumental music. Along with Jon Brion and Yann Tiersen, it changed the way I listen to and also the way in which I write music. I’ve always preferred playing classical music though I love the atmosphere of proper gigs. It’s given me the perfect pocket to climb into so thanks pals!

 Music box stuff indeed, I imagine twirling around dreamily at a fairground. a black and white photo montage, a band who – if they didn’t – should have featured on the Amelie soundtrack. You can check out Detektivbyrån’s star scattered website for more!

Check out Haiku Salut‘s pretty and surreal new video for ‘Los Elefantes’ and the effervescent ‘Glockenbar’ below. Both tracks are from debut LP Tricolore, a swirling, twinkling journey I’m just halfway through it comes with an adorable illustrated booklet.

Songs for Your Soul

As we hurtle towards the end of the year I’ve been getting returning to listen to things I really loved over the last twelve months. It’s not quite a best of list as I find it hard to narrow things down that far, rather just a rundown of great songs…Merry Christmas Eve!

 Scottish & Sublime

Meursault – Dull Spark/Flittin’

These tracks are both from Neil Pennycook’s alternative folk band Meursault’s stunning 2012 album Something For the Weakened. Amongst a number of accolades it’s received it just topped the Scottish BAMS, an award set up by the great Peenko blog and voted for by Scottish bloggers including me, you can read the full list of winners here.

 

Lament For a Teenage Millionaire

 

Adam StaffordVanishing Tanks/Russian Glass 

Both of the these tracks from Falkirk musician Adam Stafford’s spilt single, released on independent label Gerry Loves Records are so well crafted I’ve listened to them many times.

 

Human Don’t Be Angry –  1985 

I bought Malcolm Middleton’s first Human Don’t Be Angry album on CD in Inverness, because it was playing in the shop and even though I had it on download it sounded too good not to own. Stunning instrumental guitar…

 

Three Blind Wolves – Sound of The Storm 

Having first seen Glasgow four piece Three Blind Wolves live in May, I then listened to their joyous, country rooted album ‘Sound of the Storm’ on repeat for many weeks after.

Dream A Little Dream Pop For Me

Tennis – It All Feels The Same 

Husband and wife duo Alaina Moore and Patrick Riley released ‘Young and Old’ in February, blissful sugar pop to make you happy.

Beach House – Myth

The first track which was released from the band’s album Bloom, it’s a beauty.

New American Idols

Sharon Van Etten – Leonard

An album which is amongst the best releases of the year (and has indeed appeared near the top of many tastemaker album lists) US singer-songwriter Van Etten’s Tramp is sublime. This is the video for ‘Leonard’…get to listening!

Loch LomondWhite Dresses

The most poignant and unusual kind of chamber folk from the Oregon ensemble Loch Lomond, this is the title track from a European EP produced exclusively for Chemikal Underground. It’s a tearjerker.

 

Father John MistyHollywood Forever Cemetery Sings

For ex Fleet Foxes drummer Josh Tilman his 2012 album ‘Fear Fun’ is likely to define the point where people had begun to listen to his solo work. This is the first track I heard from it…

Damien Jurado – Maraqopa

Watch this video and I’d defy you not fall in love with Damien Jurado’s latest record.

 Magical Music

The Dirty Three – Towards The Low Sun

Australian prog-instrumental rock trio The Dirty Three just seem to get better and more distinctive, their quivering instruments conjuring a rugged, turbulent landscape.

 

The Tallest Man  on Earth – There’s No Leaving Now

If you like properly old fashioned song writing, this release from Swedish singer-songwriter Kristian Matsson is just plain good.

 

Francois Atlas & The Mountains – Gold Mountain (Slow Club Cover)

Two excellent bands, one reworked song.

Discovered Discoveries

For non regular readers Play a Song For Me is mostly about asking musicians and people involved in music for their suggestions on something which is great, new or rare. Of all the great submissions I’ve had this year there were a couple which really stuck out for me, I hope if you haven’t heard them already please click on the link!

John Knox Sex Club: Submitted by The Last Battle

Six track ‘album’ Raise Ravens came out from the Glasgow folk-rockers in September, check it out….

Tommy Johnson: Submitted by Adam Stafford 

Blues legend Tommy Johnson, whose songs are timeless.

Miss Irenie Rose: Submitted by Rachel Sermanni 

A young, supremely talented Scottish singer

If you listen to one thing this week…Make it Remember Remember

Hello August!

I saw Remember Remember live for the first time at Thistly Fest last Saturday and sat contentedly silent for the whole set…here’s why I love the Graeme Ronald’s instrumental ensemble:

              Because they’re not afraid of the xylophone             

              Because they have a great drummer   

              Because of the spacey samples

              Because of the really pretty video for ‘Scottish Widows’

              Because their album The Quickening was remixed by Phantom Band and Errors

              Because when you start listening to them you forget where you are

              Because their music is downright magical

Phantom Band remix of Unclean Powers taken from the remix record The Mixening (The Quickening Remixed):

The aforementioned pretty video for Scottish Widows: