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.
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.
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!
This week, we have this gem of a Trip-hop playlist by Leg Puppy for your listening pleasure. Leg Puppy are a subversive British punktronica band with a lot to say about current western culture, including smartphones, selfies and the closure of smaller music venues. (That last one might just be a UK thing?)
Leg Puppy’s superpower is nailing exactly what is wrong with the world, and not holding back from telling us how it is, whilst injecting the message with a shot of raw humour. Being rather direct, they won’t be to everyone’s taste, but, as Left Bank Mag have said, they are ‘fascinatingly entrancing’. This gift of lifting the covers on Pandora’s empty box and giving us a run down on what went wrong perhaps explains their love of the triphop genre, itself often a healthy source of social commentary. Some of Leg Puppy’s electronic tracks do lean in towards the triphop genre and probably my favourite of these, Black Light, is included here. Silence 23, their recent collaboration with Ceiling Demons, is reminiscent of some of the more menacing sounding tracks that Massive Attack and Tricky have produced over the years.
This playlist avoids the most obvious triphop choices, often picking edgier tracks that fit their own band’s sound and songs from obscurer artists. (There are exceptions: Massive Attack’s gorgeous collaboration with Hope Sandoval, The Spoils, made the cut). There’s a distinctly dystopian flavour pervading much of the selection and, as its name suggests, it has been spiked with some dub and chill, which vary the mood, helping to avoid it getting overly heavy.
Every now and again I will hear something I like that just doesn’t fit into my other chillout playlists because it’s quite folky, so I had to start a new list to gather these pieces together. A particular highlights for me on this list are the songs from Uncut Pages, a British indie outfit with a songwriter that I know from way back near the start of my songwriting efforts, who now lives in the States with his wife, whose beautiful voice you will hear.