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Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Album of my week: An Awesome Wave

I've got a tonne of new music to listen to at the moment, so I'm going to post my highlights over the coming weeks on here.

First up is an album that stood out on first listen - Alt-J's debut, An Awesome Wave.



It's hard to pinpoint the sound on this record - at times it sounds ethno-pop, other times plain electro-pop - but the main thing is it's one of those albums you can put on around the house or in your car and at no point feel the urge to skip a track or turn it off.

What I didn't realise before writing this entry was that their main single, Breezeblocks, had its video directed by a good friend of good friends of mine who live in New York. Crazy small world. That's the video below, so please enjoy and get the album if you're feeling generous.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Great wee read

I think a lot of people can relate to this, or at least parts of it.

Found courtesy of thoughtcatalog.com

You’re Alone All The Time
JUN. 11, 2012 By MOLLY GARD

You’re alone all the time.

That’s the well-kept secret. When they talk about living independently for the first time, it’s not about doing your own laundry or waking yourself up in the morning or paying your own utilities. Independent is a fancy word for alone, and that’s why so many capable people struggle. People who thought that they were prepared, that they would flourish under this new system because they had been functioning at such a high level for such a long time. Nobody mentioned that the challenge isn’t functioning. The challenge is doing anything other than functioning. The challenge is to transcend being and start living again.

And maybe it sounds easy because all your basic needs are still being met, and many elements of your former life are still around in one form or another. Look, there’s a soccer game over there, here’s a band you can play in, here’s where you can drink coffee, here’s a camera you can use. It’s all the same, really. What do you mean there’s nothing to take pictures of? There’s buildings and trees and people. Just point and shoot.

So you arrive, after months of waiting and longing, arrive thinking that your new life will be your old life but better, knowing that specifics from your past won’t transfer but hoping that all the important things carry over. And maybe you get lucky. Maybe some do. But maybe nothing feels like home. And that brings us back to the thesis:

You’re alone all the time. At first it’s unbearable and agonizing and physically painful, the sense that you no matter what you do, you will do it in solitude. At first you die a little more every hour on the hour, you cringe whenever something reminds you of the past, which of course happens every moment. But slowly, you adjust. Soon, it’s only the mornings that hurt, when you wake up and realize you’re still alone, and the evenings when you’re tired and you spent all day winding yourself up and you don’t have any more energy to cope. And then, soon enough, the mornings and evenings are bearable too. You learn to use any human interaction as energy to get you through the day, or you learn to survive in isolation, maybe even embrace it. You become more and more comfortable spending hours or entire days without speaking to anyone. Sometimes, when you absolutely cannot take it anymore, you call your mother, or chat with someone who suddenly means more to you than they ever did before. But you function. You make it through. You have good days and bad days, like any other person. Sometimes you laugh at a joke, and then immediately marvel at the miracle of someone making you laugh, of someone else bringing you joy again. Every once in a while, someone might hug you, and it’s the best thing, even if you don’t know why.

So that’s the plateau. Where you’re fine. Where you smile through the good days and wade your way through the bad. And sometimes you feel great, and you chastise yourself for feeling over-dramatic earlier, and your confidence in your new life swells. And sometimes you break, and you consider flying or driving home right that second because you cannot handle another hour of the emptiness gnawing inside you. Gradually, your highs get a little bit higher, and your lows get less frequent, and you start describing life as “good” instead of “fine” and you generally mean it. You’re doing well. Sometimes you even feel alive.

But then your sister comes to visit, or your boyfriend, or some pal from high school. And you remember what it’s like to not just know people but understand them, to know their habits and their preferences, to recognize their shirts, to touch them without thinking about it. You remember how good it feels not being alone, and you try to soak up every moment and absorb enough energy to last the long winter. Often it’s awkward because you have nothing in common but memories and mutual affection, so you spend a lot of time staring at each other and wishing you could think of something more interesting to do, some way to better appreciate your visitors, to better make use of your time. You don’t want to waste this. But maybe you do.

And then they leave, and you break again, and your “good” drops to “fine” and then to “okay, I guess.” But soon enough you trick yourself into forgetting how it feels to see love in someone’s eyes, and you adjust back to solitude.

And that’s as far as I’ve gotten. I’m assuming it gets better. I keep reading the same Bukowski poem, the one that goes:

There are worse things than
being alone
but it often takes decades
to realize this
and most often
when you do
it’s too late
and there’s nothing worse
than
too late.

I try to believe him, but it’s hard when you’re alone all the time.

Friday, June 8, 2012

This gets me pretty excited...



Wouldn't mind hearing more actual music, but by the looks of the trailer, this will be a big album....in every way. I can't wait.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Germany - pointing the way?

I found my recent visit to Germany very interesting in a quite unexpected way. Yeah, I expected to be taken in by the music, culture and rich history, but I didn't think I would be affected by its government's vision and policies.

Now, I'm not an overly political or environmentally-conscious person - I take a keen interest but am in no way an activist - but the way Germany is going about planning its future in a world of scarce resources seems particularly admirable, especially to a citizen of a supposedly "clean and green" country.

While taking a train from Berlin to Hamburg, through the country's heartland, I noticed numerous windfarms and fields painted bright yellow with flowers. They were everywhere and upon talking with locals I discovered why. Germany, it turns out, is one of the most progressive countries in the world when it comes to developing both sustainable and alternative energy. The windfarms are part of a wider plan to have 35 per cent of the country's electricity come from a renewable source by 2020While the flowers belong to a plant called Rapeseed which is subsidised to grow and helps contribute to a huge biofuel industry. Through exploiting wind, the sun and water Germany is one of the most innovative renewable-energy creators in the world and this policy is tied to another which plans to eliminate nuclear power production by 2022.

With this brought to my attention, it made it confusing for me to find that in my home country, a country apparently proud of being innovative and environmentally-conscious, there seems to be a distinct imbalance between renewable and non-renewable energy development. While there is a definite need for some traditional forms of energy production - coal, oil, gas - I don't believe we should be taking huge risks for their development and there really doesn't seem to be enough emphasis on the future of our country's energy, especially when compared to a place like Germany.

Now, I'm not even close to being an expert on this topic, so I'll stop there and state that this is an impression more than anything else, but one that was imprinted pretty strongly on me, so I felt compelled enough to write it down.

Now for some Michael Jackson.





Friday, June 1, 2012

Opossum

Last night had the unexpected pleasure of going along to see Opossum play in Newmarket, Auckland.

I hadn't planned on going along to the show as I've arrived back in Auckland completely out of the loop of social events - but a good friend had a spare ticket and invited me along with him. Now I'm glad I said yes.

I had only heard a few songs from Kody Neilson's (Mint Chicks) new project before the show and I was pretty open-minded about what to expect.

What came at me, in a room only capable of holding around 60 people, was a groove-ridden, rock 'n' soul sound full of great tunes and beats.

Kody began the show on keys, while Bic Runga held down the drums - they swapped after a few songs and Bic played the last few on guitar...yeah, they're great musicians and inspiring to watch from my point of view. The standout in the group's sound is rhythm - the drum work and, especially, the bass grooves and tone from Michael Logie were perfect - and this creates what is an interesting and captivating bed of sound to base pop melodies and harmonies around.

Needless to say, I bought the album right after the show and absorbed it on the drive home - it's an inch too fuzzed-out for my own personal sensibilities, but it's a great set of songs that really come alive when brought to a venue and played loud.



Definitely check out the songs and a live show soon if you can!

I want

I know it's winter, but there are no clouds and I need these sunnies!


Jonathan Calugi is a graphic designer from Pistoia, Italy. Despite no formal training Jonathan has worked with international heavy weights such as Nike, Sony and Delonghi, utilising a combination of raw talent, enthusiasm and a tongue in his cheek. 

His 8 1/2 sunglasses are "created shades for the twighlight sun on the seas of a Lego Timbuctu City".