POTW (2019/28): Indie Picks

Patric Storholm has put together a solid collection of songs in his Indie Picks playlist, which is this week’s Playlist of the Week.

It’s the first time I’ve featured one of Patric’s lists, so I’ve done a little digging to find out a bit more about him. There wasn’t a lot of information available, but I did discover that Patric’s a member of Callus, a band formed last year in Stockholm, Sweden; he also manages the group, apparently.

After a couple of weeks of either snoozy or very gentle playlists on the blog, I wanted to share something a bit different. Patric’s Indie Picks playlist is a coherent, easy to listen to collection of songs largely built around guitars and tight vocal harmonies. It maintains a light and cheerful poppy atmosphere, where it wouldn’t be terribly out of place for Sufjan Stevens, Mumford & Sons or even one of the lighter, more recent Elbow tracks to crop up. (Apart from the fact that they aren’t indie artists, of course – this is a playlist for their unsigned counterparts.)

It is the sort of playlist that could cheer you along with dull housework or that you could do more applied brainwork to; although these are songs with lyrics, this is not music that is particularly intrusive or demanding.

Duration: 3h 13min, 51 songs.

Rating: PG – there are one or two songs labelled ‘explicit’. (I haven’t listened to these – the explicit filter is set on my account.)

POTW (2019/26): Long Afternoons

I’m shocked! We’re already half way through this year’s playlists. It doesn’t seem all that long ago I was writing the first few entries. Michelle Qureshi joins us again as this week’s curator, with her fantastic relaxation playlist, Long Afternoons. (You can check out her Yoga Chill playlist here.)

Almost as soon as the opening track by Stars of the Lid began, I could feel a wave of sleep catching up with me. Now I am typing this yawning my head off, about 20 minutes in. (My excuse: it’s late and it has been a busy day).

I would recommend this playlist for siestas or late night pre-sleep listening, or to accompany slow food with slow music. It would also work well in a spa or massage setting if that’s your thing.

[Pauses for sleep before resuming writing…]

With the aid of tea and toast smothered with marmalade I managed to keep awake and listening for about another hour. After that I resurfaced several times with the playlist still going next to my pillow. As a relaxation playlist it definitely works.

One stand-out track for me before I got too drowsy was the melancholically beautiful collaboration Renewal between Al Jewer, Andy Mitran and Michelle Qureshi. There was also Max Richter’s Dream 8 (Late and Soon) which was beautiful and irritating in equal measure; I couldn’t decide which side I was going to fall on. The last track that I remember noticing before I drifted away was Tiempo from Lionel Scardino, a solemnly evocative piano based piece with atmospheric synths and beats.

Duration: 3h 53min, 33 tracks.

Rating: U (suitable for all listeners).

POTW (2019/25): Adventures in Space & Time – Unsigned Artists

I recently shared Skyline Tigers’ playlist Making Waves after a long wait. Well, here’s another of hers, to make up for lost time – my choice for this week’s Playlist of the Week is her Adventures in Space and Time – Unsigned Artists collection. It’s great to see that she has a brand new single out, A Space Lullaby with DaveyHub and Nicky Havey, too.

How to describe this playlist? It’s frequently upbeat, but has a spacey feel about it. That’s not too surprising, as most of the songs are space-themed and there are a lot of synths. There are very occasional breaks from the theme, though – Superstar, GJART’s collaboration with Deggsy is a witty skewering of the search for fame, and is the most obvious departure.

A 90s Dance Influence

The mood of this list is a little trippy at times, but rarely heavy. Tracks such as Trip’s 13th Star to the Left convey a clear 90s dance influence, but the playlist also has very current-sounding pieces. There’s even some 60s style psychedelia.

Skyline Tigers hasn’t shied away from including longer tracks, which playlisters sometimes avoid to fit more in. The longest track here is still less than 10 minutes, though, and the average song length under 5 minutes; that leaves plenty of room for a lot of different unsigned artists to contribute.

Down The Wormhole

Standout pieces for me have been Daveyhub’s Prodigy and Chemical Brothers-inspired Terraforming, Bufinjer’s frenetic Down The Wormhole, a dark collaboration between Vandalamp and Craig Manga, Germ 10001, and Amphlux’s EDM piece Mercenary. There are also some lovely chilled out tracks, notably Tuuligan’s Year 4101 at Lagoon Nebula 140616 and 10 Million Days from arcaans the LightProvider.

Overall, the playlist has a good energy level; you could easily cook or clean to it – or drive for that matter. You might not want to study to this one, though: there are tracks with lyrics, and the energy level is probably a bit too frenetic at times. (But feel free to disagree!).

Duration: 3h 51min, 51 songs

Rating: I reckon this one’s a ‘PG’; some of the tracks might be a little bit scary for a very young audience!

POTW (2019/24): Eclectic Female Fusion – Indie Collection

It’s been quite a while since I featured one of Susan Moss aka Moondreams Music’s playlists, and she’s been doing great things in the meantime. She’s been creating and growing a bunch of new playlists, such as her successful Billboard Top Hits and Indie list, which has nearly 400 subscribers. I thought I would focus in on another, brand new list for this week’s Playlist of the Week, however. I’ve selected Eclectic Female Fusion – Indie Collection, a hand-picked set of her favourite female indie artists’ songs.

With a list featuring some of my indie favourites like Tracy Colletto and Luna Keller, I knew I was in for a treat, before I’d hit the play button. The list kicks off with Autumn Dawn Leader’s wonderful new single, Lament for the Living, and goes on to Duffy and Bird’s 50 Paranoid Thoughts with its tight pop-folk harmonies and honest lyrics. As if that wasn’t a strong enough start, we then get Jakals’ offering Porcelain, a punchy post-rock anthem sung with real conviction. Other highlights are Sophia Garvey’s Ink, which reminds me of Paolo Nutini’s vocal style, and Lyia Meta’s rich voice on She’s Searching.

I’ve heard a few female indie artists for the first time through this list and discovered some new songs from artists I already know. I could go on, but why should you waste time reading a long article when you could be listening to the playlist for yourself?

Duration: 1h 19min, 21 songs

Rating: U – All listeners.

POTW (2019/23): Anima 33 Summer Chill

I had something completely different lined up for this week’s Playlist Of The Week. But then this mainly instrumental music playlist from RE Junesworth popped into my inbox and I couldn’t resist! I was quite excited, remembering how much I liked the last playlist of theirs that I covered. So I played it almost straight away, as background music to updating my CV and applying for a project contract that should hopefully help keep me afloat this autumn.

Instrumental music playlist

The playlist’s full title is Anima 33: Summer Chill / Psychedelic / Lo-Fi / Downtempo / Electronica / Guitar / Dub / World. It’s a long, but fair description! The range of music in this collection goes from chilled out dubby cool to lyrical to quirky lofi to eastern meditative or ambient sounding pieces. It’s mostly an instrumental music playlist, but there are some samples with lyrics in some of the pieces and several full songs.

The Bones

Several artists form the backbone of this playlist, with multiple appearances. These are most notably Rone, Nonkeen and, to a lesser extent, Loop Guru. Pink Floyd also get the occasional look-in. Nonkeen is a German trio of Nils Frahm and two of his childhood friends and longstanding musical collaborators who make Krautrock and jazz inspired experimental music. Rone is Parisian Erwan Castex’s cinematic electronica. And, completing the tour of major European capitals, Loop Guru are an experimental duo that formed in the London club scene around an interest in tape loops and world music.

The curator’s own musical project, Flugundi, is a notable absence again on this playlist. But if you enjoy Anima 33: Summer Chill, you are almost guaranteed to find their tracks of interest as well.

Duration: 8h 52min (93 tracks)

Rating: U – none of the tracks is labeled ‘explicit’, as you might expect from an almost entirely instrumental playlist.

POTW (2019/22): Instrumental imaginaries and Atmospheric Architects

This week’s playlist of the week is Instrumental imaginaries and Atmospheric Architects. It’s a wonderfully varied relaxing playlist that journeys across genres and is all instrumental, as the title indicates. It takes in classic rock, disco, funk, classical, folk, psychedelic, epic and ambient styles – amongst others! A constant is the high quality of the tracks selected and how they conjure up images in your imagination. Artists featured range from household names like Jamiroquai and Jean-Michel Jarre to the relatively obscure and label-free.

Mat Champney of The Mighty Fallen is the curator; he also curated another recent POTW: Silent River. (There’s a little about the band in that article, and you can also hear one of their tracks in this playlist).

I found this particular playlist rather immersive. It’s one you might prefer to actively listen to, without attempting to concentrate on something else at the same time. (It works quite well for that, too, though.) I did find myself just disappearing into the music at times and floating off somewhere remote in my mind.

Duration: 3h 56min ; 57 songs

Rating: U, fit for all listeners. Whilst I wouldn’t expect that to change, this being a relaxing instrumental playlist and all, if you are at all concerned about explicit content, put the filter on. Then you won’t need to worry about dubious lyrics appearing while eg your mum is within earshot!

POTW (2019/21): Electronic Independent

Electronic Independent, this week’s Playlist of the Week, is more upbeat than what I’ve brought you the last couple of times. It’s another playlist that features independent artists, but it has a different focus. This one centres around tracks with pumping beats for the gym or the dancefloor (without ending up in hardcore EDM territory). It could help keep you alert on a long drive, or motivate you to keep going while cleaning the house. (I’m thinking of a few jobs I should be doing).

As with most playlists, there is the odd curveball; you might notice an 80s-style throwback with a busy, funky bass-line (e.g. Toy Shoulders’ Eternull), or a blues-swing jazz track (Hey Buffalo!’s Duele). Generally, the sound is fairly chart-orientated, though.

Electronica Independent features several tracks from Ce Ce Hemmings, the playlist’s curator, a.k.a. Hemmingway, who I’ve mentioned before. There’s also an abundance of energetic tracks from other fab electronic artists like Lyia Meta, Fans of Jimmy Century, Bufinjer, etc. And Flavolous, who I had the pleasure of meeting and hearing live at Sonophilia last year, is also present with Favela Flair.

Duration: 4h 12min / 61 songs

NB: I listen to Spotify with ‘explicit’ songs filtered out. There is one such track on this list at the time of writing, and I haven’t heard it! If you think this may be an issue, please apply the filter on your account before listening.

POTW (2019/20): Soft Calm

This week, we have Soft Calm, curated by singer-songwriter Barry McLoughlin as our Playlist of the Week. I’ve featured two of Barry’s playlists before – his Acoustic Treasures and Winter Wanderer playlists, and there’s a bit more about him in the first of those two articles.

Soft calm is a collection of songs that are gentle on the ears. Moving between jazzy, cool, spacey and just plain beautiful sounds, this is a really lovely relaxing listening experience that can just as easily be used as background music for all-day work, creativity or reading.

Duration: 11h / 179 songs.

NB: I listen with Spotify’s ‘explicit’ song filter switched on. There are a few tracks labelled explicit on this list, but I haven’t heard them! If those tracks are likely to bother you, please make sure you have the filter switched on in your own account before listening.

POTW (2019/19): Making Waves

This week’s playlist of the week is Making Waves, courtesy of Skyline Tigers, a fab singer, songwriter and producer who also features in the playlist. Making Waves has been on my schedule of playlists to review for quite a while – I must have first heard it late last year.

A moody, grey sea and a grey-blue sky. Waves are crashing towards you, one of the Farne Islands is in the distance behind the last wave.

POTW is a few days late this week as I got ‘kidnapped’ to some beautiful places on the Northumbria coast by some lovely people from my church for the Bank Holiday weekend. I returned to a backlog of stuff-to-do, some of it related to taking excessive numbers of photos while away. (Also see my post on Overwhelm – I still haven’t got anywhere near being through everything I was trying to do that week!). Yeah, I know, excuses, excuses. Will try to do better next week.

Anyway, the playlist has been my companion today for a serious clear-up of my kitchen (it needed it, believe you me). The tone is chilled, but not the sleepy kind, as there are driving beats at times, and there are songs peppered throughout, which provide more focus. There are 80s overtones at times, but not overdone. A couple of favourite tracks from today’s listen: Skyway Meadows from Nicky Havey, a drum and bass piece that’s gentle for the genre, and Skyline Tigers’ own track Home (Wane of Summer Remix). Or her track Moonlight Sea, which has hip hop tendencies, eastern overtones and almost demands you start dancing around in time to it. (Or is that just me? The comments section is there for a reason…)

Do please show Skyline Tigers lots of love as she’s been going through a rough time lately with a major illness and is now recovering. She was still supporting other indie artists while she was in the thick of it, which is pretty hardcore in my book. Major respect!

POTW (2019/18): Instrumental Chill Out Gems

This week, our Playlist of the Week is Jon Magnusson’s Instrumental Chill Out Gems.

I’ve featured some of Jon Magnusson’s playlists in the past, as he is the artist who started the ‘Monster Thread’ movement which started with The Monster Thread playlist and developed into a platform for indie artists to support each other, collaborate and share knowledge of the industry so we can all benefit from each other’s experience. (For more about Jon, read post on The Monster Thread).

This is another playlist that does what it says. Instrumental Chill Out Gems starts out with Chet Atkins’s Maybelle, a folky guitar piece with a hill-billy ragtime flavour, then moves into modern classical piano territory with Yiruma’s River Flows in You, before featuring independent artists like Tommy Berre, Kip LaVie and some of Jon Magnusson’s own guitar-based pieces.

This collection of pieces frequently features solo acoustic guitars and pianos, and would be perfect for waiting rooms or reading, as it is very calm, without being particularly sleep-inducing. (It’s probably still too calm for playing behind the wheel, though). There are also laid back rock pieces, jazz, downtempo electronica and ambient tracks, plus an occasional foray into epic orchestral music.

Duration: 87 songs, 5h 10min. (Subject to change, of course).

Rating: PG. I would have rated this as U, were it not for the inclusion of Alessandros Kilias’s piece ‘My Idea’, which has some spoken samples from the film The Indestructible Man, including the threat ‘I’m going to kill you’, which I imagine may not be suitable for very small children.