Monday, 28 June 2010

Dirt Tan

My chum and future flatmate Zoey (author of 'A Bit of Space' on the list of blogs I follow), once told me she was at a festival, thought she'd acquired a great tan and was very disappointed to realise it was just dirt. I laughed a lot at the time, but sadly the same thing happened to my (alabaster and probably in dire need of a tan) self when I went to Glastonbury this year. I just came out of my (amazing) first shower back, got into some fresh clothes and realised that lovely brown glow I'd been sporting all weekend was largely dust.

However, rather than commiserate my lack of hue, I thought I'd blog my exciting Glastonbury adventure. Not only was it the 40th anniversary of the festival, but it was scorching hot sun all weekend. This occasionally made for some discomfort, as I missed Bombay Bicycle Club due to a half an hour nap in the shade. However, for the most part it was mint vodka (has to be tried to be believed), cider, music and inside jokes ('You just rip the flap off!'). To make you Glasto attendees reminisce and to rub it in the faces of non-attendees, here are my top five favourite acts:
5. Faithless

The penultimate band on the Pyramid stage last night, Faithless just beat out other favourites Chromeo for pure atmosphere. There really is nothing more life-affirming than bouncing up and down on a balmy summer's evening with loved ones, shrieking 'I can't get no sleep!'. I could make some lame extended metaphor using the song 'God is a DJ' to describe the experience, but for your general sanity I won't.

Best track: 'We Come One', the set closer. Maxi Jazz made everyone shout the word 'One' and point one finger in the air, truly a sight to be beheld.

4. Broken Bells

I heard of Broken Bells a couple of months ago, when lastFM assured me that if I loved The Shins, I would like Broken Bells too, being made up of the unlikely duo of James Mercer (frontman of The Shins) and Danger Mouse (the non-singing half of Gnarls Barkley). I did indeed like them, but having not heard very much, they weren't a top priority of mine for Glastonbury. However, I ended up going along to The Park stage on Friday with some friends and was blown away. Accurately described by my friend Jen as 'the best album of 1968', Broken Bells, whilst being a new outfit, encapsulate the unifying peace and love aspect bands like Jefferson Airplane built. Definitely one to keep your ears open for.

Best track: 'The High Road', being the first track I ever heard by them, was wonderful to hear live. Check it out here:

3. The National

'High Violet', The National's fifth album release, not only made its way quite easily into my favourite albums of 2010, but is rapidly making its way into my favourite albums of all time. Therefore, it was lovely to hear the bulk of it squashed in with some older tracks on Saturday. Frontman Matt Berninger ran into the crowd once, which would probably have been enough for anyone, but then stood on the barrier for 'Mr. November'. Such energy was unbelievable, particularly when most of Glastonbury's populace were sprawled out like dead bumblebees with heatstroke.

Best track: 'Mr. November', mainly for aforementioned barrier-hanging, but also because it's just a really good song.

2. Laura Marling

I can literally waffle about Laura Marling until the cows come home, but had never seen her live until Saturday night. I am glad to say I have been totally right to waffle. As the sun setted over The Park, Laura's intensely felt songs both fitted the mood and elevated it. One man even proposed to his girlfriend during the gig! You could tell Laura herself was very surprised by the reception she and her band got and such gratitude is always endearing in a band.

Best track: I could pretty much say any track, they were all that good, but one particular highlight was 'Night Terror', where instead of the usual violin solo, Laura got the entire audience to whistle instead.

1. Stevie Wonder

Truly the perfect way to end Glastonbury, Motown legend Stevie Wonder played a ninety minute set that had the crowd dancing into the wee small hours. One thing that truly struck me was how involved he made the crowd, such as splitting them off into male and female sections for backing vocals. With such achievements under his belt, it would have been very easy to just play what he had to and go home. However, the set was both incredible in terms of musical talent and entertainment factor - the perfect way to round off Glastonbury 2010.

Best track: Stevie getting Michael Eavis onstage to sing 'Happy Birthday' was pretty special (especially since our friend would be celebrating his birthday in half an hour), but another highlight was 'I Just Called to Say I Love You', where complete strangers joined our 'swaying line' for the chorus.

Other bands that failed to make the top five but deserve a mention were Chromeo, The Joy Formidable, Rolf Harris, Beach House and Mumford and Sons. Also, for a bit of fun, I have decided to compile a Top 3 Glastonbury Hotties list:
3. Marcus Mumford

I don't normally fancy him, but anyone who can dress so dapper, bag Laura Marling, cry at the warm reception at his Glastonbury set (aww!) and sing like that gets points from me.

2. Jamie XX

Okay, his surname isn't XX (it's Smith, I prefer XX), but The XX frontman Jamie (far left in the photo) is so pretty, especially at 11 at night on The Park stage. Mmm...

1. My boyfriend

Partially because he'll read this and get in a huff, but mainly because he looks good with stubble, a tan and a vest. A very refreshing change from the beer-bellied British sunburn brigade.

Sunday, 20 June 2010

Every cloud...

And I was your silver lining,
As the story goes.

I was your silver lining,
But now I'm gold.
Rilo Kiley - 'Silver Lining'

So BP have been stuffing its oil spill with everything from rubbish to your mum's old curtains, Nick Clegg has shafted Sheffield for his deal with the devil and England are probably going to miss out on progressing past the group stages. Normally, this would all make for a very unhappy Mo, but you know what? I'm not, I'm actually really happy.

Maybe it's because I've finally moved out of the joke that was my Uni house, maybe it's because Glastonbury is in a few days, maybe it's because Gemma Ward is using the new 'Pirates of the Caribbean' to make a comeback. It's probably a combination of all of these things, but whatever it is, it's bloody good. Here are some songs by female singers that I'm enjoying at the moment:

Laura Marling - 'Hope In The Air'
After the critically acclaimed 'Alas I Cannot Swim', young Laura had a lot to live up to. With her spring release, 'I Speak Because I Can', she has in fact surpassed expectations. Personal favourite, 'Hope In The Air' shows a newer, almost world-weary Marling and the song builds to an alarmingly beautiful crescendo.
Favourite lyric: 'I forgave you your shortcomings/And ignored your childish behavior/Laid a kiss on your head/And before I left said,/"Stay away from fleeting favour"
Scary Mansion - 'Go To Hell'
There's something so wonderfully bleak about this song, despite its somewhat inflammatory song title. Scary Mansion (real name Leah Hayes) is a bit like what you'd get if Cat Power just completely gave up and 'Go To Hell' the anthem for this. Her voice certainly can't compare to Cat Power's, but her fragile, cracked delivery is actually what makes this so interesting.
Favourite lyric: 'If only the company of others/Was as quiet as this friend scarecrow/Then you can imagine it saying to you,/"I will hold you eventually."/And you can imagine it saying/"Go to hell."'

Tanita Tikaram - 'Twist In My Sobriety'
This song isn't really new, or even recent. It is, however, very very good. I have a thing for female singers with deep rich voices and Tanita's vocals remind me of if Nico were technically a better singer. 'Twist In My Sobriety' is, according to Tanita herself, about a one night stand, but the lyrics are so cryptic (the opening line is the title of a Maya Angelou novel), that you're often left searching for something more.
Favourite lyric: 'All God's children need travelling shoes/Drive your problems from here/All good people read good books/Now your conscience is clear/I hear you talk girl/Now your conscience is clear'