POTW (2019/32): There’s Another Train

With There’s Another Train, we have another first time curator on the blog this week: Songmistress, aka Autumn Dawn Leader. She’s an independent singer-songwriter from Leicestershire who has a growing following around the world. It’s lovely to be covering a playlist made by another artist from my local East Midlands area! Plus, after last week’s marathon, this is a refreshingly short selection.

Autumn Dawn Leader

Autumn Dawn Leader’s Twitter bio says that if Nick Drake and Sandy Denny had a lovechild, it would be her. That’s a bold claim, but not too far off! She has a real depth to her songwriting, which falls somewhere in the folk/folk-pop and gothic domain. Leader also has another project with Chris Chambers: a prog-folk duo named The Secret Magpies. You’ll get a taste of both when you listen to this week’s list.

There’s Another Train is uncharacteristically ‘nearly positive’ for Songmistress’s playlists, by her own admission. Typically, her song selections are slightly melancholy or creepy, maybe even a little dark, but always deeply thoughtful. I’ll be featuring another of her playlists soon, so you’ll get a better idea. This playlist, while slightly lighter in mood, maintains her characteristic thoughtfulness. She is an excellent lyricist herself, and this tends to be reflected in her song choices across all her playlists.

Looking Up (From Life’s Struggles)

The playlist kicks off with Arcade Fire’s Women of a Certain Age. This is a cheerful, slightly celtic, reggae piece, with lyrics that are potentially darker than the tune might suggest. (It depends on what you read into them.) This ambiguity of mood continues as the playlist progresses. Lyrically, we are looking up, but from a place of struggle. Marillion’s song Beautiful, a lament on how humans treat each other with encouragement to ignore the naysayers gave me goosebumps. There are a few classic singer-songwriter tracks here, too, such as Sandy Denny singing Solo, and Carole King’s Tapestry. Independent artists get a look in, too, notably Tracy Colletto, with Victory.

And then there is the jolly Mocha – Reimagined from Lucy, Racquel and Me. This track tells us a lot about the current state of the music industry in the internet age. The three performers in the group have never met and live on three different continents, but are making great music. Introverts of the world, unite!

The last track, There’s Another Train, which lends the playlist its name, is from the Poozies. They also have a Leicestershire connection through singer Sally Barker. Barker is a founding member and was a runner up in The Voice UK talent competition in 2014. She is now pursuing a solo career, but you can hear her on this track from around 20 years earlier.

Duration: 1h 25min, 22 songs.

Rating: This one gets a U. I didn’t notice anything offensive and nothing is labelled ‘explicit’, so it ought to be suitable for all ages.

Ideal For: Sitting and just listening to the lyrics. This playlist would also work to accompany painting or drawing or other quiet activities where you can actively listen.

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 (2019/21): 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 (2019/19): 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 (2019/5): Yoga Chill by Michelle Qureshi

This week’s playlist of the week is Yoga Chill, from Michelle Qureshi, and brings together a selection of beautiful pieces in the chill out, new age, ambient and acoustic genres. You don’t need to be doing yoga to enjoy this playlist – it makes great background music for reading, studying or other non-physical activities, which is great if you’re an unbendy couch-potato like me.

Michelle Qureshi is an acoustic artist in her own right, writing and recording almost classical style new age and ambient pieces, often guitar based. She has several tracks in the playlist, so you can get a feel for her style. (She’s also included a couple of tracks by Andy Salvanos, who I’ve mentioned before in the blog.) Michelle brings a great deal of feeling to everything I’ve heard her do, and pieces like Never Odd Or Even can leave you floating off into some imaginary sunset, so I think you’ll really enjoy listening.

Playlist of the Week (2018/42)

Stoneygate's Playlist of the Week No 42, 2018

This week’s playlist is from ENILSounds, aka Line Munch-Petersen, a “one-woman-band” from Copenhagen, Denmark, whose Traffic Jam List 2018 playlist I featured back in August. Line says about her work, “I make music because I have an urge to. I would love to be able to make a living out of it, but it is not my main goal. That is to be happy while I am doing it.” Line considers her style to be soft-synth electronic pop music, with lyrics about life, love and loss, but says some would label it New Age. In any case, listeners have said her music reminds them of Enya, but with a Joni Mitchell style vocal.

In case it’s not obvious from the title, this playlist is part of a series Line has been curating, to show off the most popular tracks that are trending by independent artists, plus a few from mainstream artists that fit with her vibe. She’s been faithfully creating  new lists of artists’ most popular music since early this year; This is October’s – enjoy!




Playlist of the Week (2018/41)

POTW No 41: Soulful Fox's Chill-out Downtempo Dance Music

This week’s POTW is the fantastic Chillout Downtempo Dance Music, by Soulful Fox, an independent music producer and performer from Liverpool who makes uplifting electronica music that leans towards house, downtempo and liquid drum and bass.

After studying for a music degree, she took a detour and started a career in banking, but  decided it wasn’t for her. She subsequently went into music teaching, which she loved and which also gave her the opportunity to learn music production, using Logic  software. You can find some of her excellent work via this playlist, or at her CD Baby or Soundcloud pages.


What a Week!

I can’t believe it’s Friday already (yeah, I know I keep saying that, but seriously, they go really lightning-fast at the moment).

So, in place of my cancelled Tune-A-Day June, I went for an 8 Day Sync Songwriting Challenge, organised by one of the agencies that deals directly with the film, TV and advertising industries, Catch the Moon Music, based in Los Angeles. Getting my work placed in visual media has been very much on my radar for a while, and it’s only a few days since I did a very useful seminar by another songwriter who does a lot of this.  8 days sounds so much more doable than 30 days at the moment!

The challenge is led by Cathy Heller, who started the Catch the Moon Music agency; I’ve been following her podcast for over a year already, because I’d heard about her success getting her own songs into sync placements, so when I saw the challenge, I jumped on the opportunity.  Monday was Day 1, so we’re already half way through.

Unlike the 30 day challenge, where I was trying to get one piece of music together every day, the 8 day challenge is all about getting one song written and ready to pitch for licensing in the timeframe, including research, songwriting, arrangements, recording, mixing and mastering. (They will listen to demo quality pieces at the end, but the full scale challenge task is to get something finished that is ready to use).

It’s taken me a few days to really get into the swing of the course and overcome the unexpected niggles that come with being a whole 8 hours ahead of LA, with course instructions for the day arriving based on LA time.* Once the research phase was done, I had a pretty good idea of where I was heading, though, so I had a bit of a catch up day yesterday where I more or less finished the songwriting part and got started on production and arranging. My submission will be a somewhat upbeat song about having been close to death (yes, really!) –  so it’s new territory in a lot of ways for me. I’ve taken a lot of the inspiration for the song from what happened to Dad last year.

One of the really great things about doing the challenge is the Facebook live videos Cathy has been doing, which give an industry insider perspective and are incredibly inspiring.  Sometimes that’s in a very-gentle-kick-up-the-backside kind of way, to challenge us out of any negative mindset we may be hampering ourselves with, because it’s so easy to slip into ‘I’m not good enough’ mode as a perfectionist musician.

In other news this week, Dad & I had a useful meeting with his PhD supervisor to work out how we go forward, as he is coming to the end of his leave of absence, and I’ve been preparing for him to come and stay for a week as soon as the songwriting challenge is finished. Plus, the Sleepwalker CDs I designed a couple of weeks back have arrived (and been checked) along with my first batch of Survival CDs, in time for my gig at Lincoln’s Sonophilia Festival on 14th October.

Next week, when Dad and I aren’t attacking a few of the smaller jobs that need doing around the house, I’ll be getting my Sonophilia gig ready. Plus, I have to finish the 8 day challenge and readjust my body-clock to UK time! But before that, the challenge’s ‘Monday evening’ live feedback session starts 2am on Tuesday for me. That’s the scary and important session where they tell you what they thought of your song, if you’re one of the lucky ones that get feedback, so it’s worth showing up for if I possibly can.


Playlist of the Week (2018/35)

Award winning choreographer Laura Kriefman's 'Star_Gazing' playlist is this week's POTW.

This week’s POTW is Star_Gazing by Laura Kriefman. It’s a crowd-sourced collection of songs about stars, space and the sky. I thought it would be an appropriate playlist for sitting outside after sundown, staring into space after a busy day in the heat of summer*.

Laura is an award winning choreographer, and founder of Hellion Trace, a Bristol-based company which specialises in ‘augmented dance’, bringing movement and technology together. A great example of their work was the Crane Dance in Bristol, where the group animated three cranes to music, captivating a live audience of 10,000 people – and a further 4 million online. Other creations have included a LED Dress that reacts to live sound, wearable controllers and a collection of street-installed constellations made of interactive lights that you have to step on to illuminate.


*If the weather isn’t behaving, please listen indoors – we don’t want you or your headphones to get wet!

Playlist of the Week (2018/33)

Playlist of the Week (2018/33): ENILSounds' Traffic Jam List 2018

This week’s POTW is the fantastic Traffic Jam List 2018 from ENILSounds, aka Line Munch-Petersen, an indie musician from Copenhagen, Denmark. Line produces mainly electronic pop with a “sprechstimme” (simultaneously sung and spoken) style vocal delivery, but her collaboration with ZODALITT (Lise Jonsson) has taken her into some quite different musical territory with overtones of 1930s music halls, where her vocal performance style sounds very much at home.

Line’s Traffic Jam list focusses in on songs about travelling and journeys, both physical and metaphorical.