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The Amazing Life of Ant D - Page 8

  • Top 25 Tracks of 2013

    Hi Blog fans,

    As is now typical with me, my blogs are few and far between and now seem to take the mantle of lists. This by the title you may realise is no different. So in 2013 I tried to listen to as much new music as I could because I got to the end of last year and felt that my best of lists were fairly poor. This year I cannot have the same complaint, my research was vast and here are the results;

    (Rules 1 track per artist, released either as a single or album track in 2013)

     

    25. Peace - Follow Baby

    24. The 1975 - Chocolate

    23. CHVRCHES - The Mother We Share

    22. Johnny Flynn - Bottom of the Sea Blues

    21. Frank Turner - Recovery

    20. Franz Ferdinand - Right Action

    19. Earl Sweatshirt - Chum

    18. Mesfin Bekele - Eshururu

    17. The Strokes - One Way Trigger

    16. Superfood - Melting

    15. Grouplove - Ways to Go

    14. Wolf Alice - Bros

    13. HAIM - The Wire

    12. Circa Waves - Get Away

    11. Bipolar Sunshine - Rivers

    10. MT - Alpha Romeo

    9. Kanye West - Black Skinhead

    8. Vampire Weekend - Unbelievers

    7. Daft Punk - Get Lucky

    6. M.I.A. - Come Walk With Me

    5. Bombino - Amidinine

    4. Palma Violets - Tom The Drum

    3. David Bowie - Where are we Now?

    2. Bastille - Pompeii

    1. Drenge - Bloodsports

     

    So there you have it some unusual choices and some that are fairly predictable but it is what it is, my top 25 tracks of 2013

  • My First Expedition to Africa

    So it had finally come about, the holiday that Kalistra and I had booked some ten months earlier to the beautiful city of Marrakech, Morocco. It would be fair to say that in the months prior to the trip I had been sceptical of what to expect as pretty much all I had heard from Kalistra was markets, markets, markets. Now I have nothing against Markets but I want a bit more if I'm going to be travelling nearly 2000 miles I would like a little more. Luckily there was plenty more.

     

    As usual with my holidays with Kalistra the journey starts at about 2am, waking up from about 3 hours sleep and making our way to the airport by any means possible and on this occasion it was by EasyBus. I understand that they make these things as 'efficient' as possible but really I think a five year old would have struggled to fit into those seats let alone a 6'4 bloke who could probably lose a few pounds. Despite the squeeze we made it to Gatwick North Terminal in plenty of time, checked in and even had a cheeky Weatherspoons breakfast before hotfooting it to Gate 105. The Plane journey was particularly uneventful, I tried to sleep, I couldn't. We landed at approximately 8:30am local time, my initial thoughts were the weather is hot but not as unbearable but then I took another look at the clock, 8:30am ahh.. Anyway we checked in and saw our man holding the sign for Riad Abhar, the place we were staying. We got into the car and after a few seconds his phone rang, the familiar sound of Psy's Gangnam Style, this though was the last feeling of familiarity I would have for a while. As soon as we got out of the Airport car park it was clear to see that the Moroccan's had a, lets say, different attitude towards road safety there appeared to be no road markings, no traffic lights and a clearly excessive horn usage policy. It really was a free for all as far as driving, cars and mopeds weaving in and out of each other sometimes one vehicle across, sometimes 3 or 4 depending on how fast people were deciding to travel, it was crazy. The taxi dropped us off at the Main Square known locally as Jemaa El Fna and before we had even got out of the Taxi an elderly gent with a cart was offloading our bags and beginning to walk away with them. We didn't really question and just followed this man through the increasingly narrowing streets of Marrakech's Souk (Market) district. 603648_10151583560500519_1826910603_n.jpgWe were following for about 5 minutes when the streets became empty, dark and very narrow it was a little concerning but then he stopped and knocked on a large door, as soon as it opened we saw the Riad as it looked in all the pictures.

    We had properly arrived and I could begin to enjoy my holiday. We were greeted by Abdul the Riad manager who gave us some Moroccan tea poured from a great height as is the tradition, he explained to us what was on offer, a number of tours two of which we decided to take him up on and also various massage experiences which we will go into later. We took the bags up to the room and got ourselves settled. 390986_10151583554175519_274208636_n.jpgThe room was beautiful from the 10ft tall door to the four poster bed it was magnificent. 

    We took our first excursion into the town just after 11am to take a little look around and a spot of lunch planning to return in time for our Hamam massage at 3 o'clock. At this point I should point out that my poor forward planning meant that I had not brought a map with me on this holiday and despite my best efforts I could not find one at the airport. We wandered through and almost immediately had people shouting their prices at us for their various nik-naks. Kalistra took an interest in a tea set which we decided was something to buy more towards the end of the holiday, suffice to say we never found that place again. We carried on walking eventually finding our way back to the main square where we found a nice place with a roof terrace to have our first meal of the holiday. It was nice but nothing special (luckily the food got WAY better). We looked around the square and surrounding areas a bit more before heading back towards the Riad, the question was which direction was that.. 305742_10151583554210519_235392109_n.jpgThis is why I mentioned the map, neither of us had been paying the slightest bit of attention to which direction we had come and so inevitable we became hopelessly lost within the Souks. Each narrow path way with market stalls on each side looked exactly as the last and it was probably half an hour before I gave in and we asked someone for directions. Luckily the locals were friendly and spoke superb English, unluckily they each said that there were hundreds of Riads in Marrakech and they had no idea where our particular one was. We weren't disheartened yet but it didn't take long and then one man said he knew and we followed him through areas that didn't look familiar, through the blacksmith district where people were welding in the middle of the street, the flames licking perilously close to the ankles of passers by. 935401_10151583560130519_1214888748_n.jpgIt became apparent that this man was not leading us to our Riad at all but to an entirely different place that he thought we had said. It was a wool and dye merchants. It was filled with beautiful scarves of silk and cashmere and we had an enlightening lesson on which powders made which colours (it was never the ones we guessed, red made blue, brown made green it was genuinely interesting) but it was not what we wanted. We tried explaining the man again and he apologised for his mistake and we went off following him again, picking up a number of other helpful locals along the way. This time he took us to an internet cafe and they printed out a picture of our place we knew we were getting close to the goal. We followed for a further 5 minutes before getting back to the Riad we were definitely both relieved. We gave the man a hefty tip for his help and then they were on their way and we were back at pretty much 3 o'clock on the dot, we sat down and a lady came up to us and said 'Hamam?'

    A little stressed at the events just previous I would have happily missed out on this and just chilled at the hotel for a bit but Kalistra said that she had researched this and it would be very relaxing. I believed her, I shouldn't have. We followed this woman just down the road and into a building, we sat down and waited. We were directed into separate rooms with it being a strict Muslim country there was a lot of separation with this kind of thing. I was led into a room by a short moustachioed man and prompted to remove my clothes, I hadn't had time to change into my swimming trunks so I just remained in my underwear, I tried to tie a towel around my waste but the man shook his head. I was then led into a steam room where I sat down. The man left me there and I thought fine this is nice, I will relax here for a bit.. Oh no, I didn't get away that easily, the man returned with a bucket of water and a cup. The man spoke no English so although he did say something to me I didn't understand it, he then started throwing water over me. When he stopped he pointed at the bench and prompted me to lie down, more water I thought.. Oh no, I didn't get away that easily, out of the corner of my eye I saw him putting on a dark mitt.. my heart started racing and not in a good way. The Moustachioed man then began to scrub me all over with some sort of soap, first my back and my neck, then my legs and then lifting the band of my boxer shorts gave my buttocks a scrub. He then signalled me to turn over, Oh God, I was now getting worried, he scrubbed my stomach and the front of my legs before lifting the band of my boxers again.. One quick scrub down either side of my front and there it was one of the most awkward moments of my life! The man then left the room and me lying there in a state of shock not knowing whether or not to move, after five or so minutes I sat up still confused. The man returned with two more buckets of water, my heart started racing again, What now? He got some lukewarm water and cleaned off the remaining soap before throwing the remains of the bucket of water over my head. He then took to the second bucket, splashed me with some, just enough for me to feel that it was pretty cold before he then through that over me too. It was over, he led me back to the original room where I was handed a towel and a gown. I got dressed minus my sodden underwear and went back to the lobby where I was given some tea before shortly reuniting with Kalistra who told me she'd had a similar ordeal. We thanked everyone concerned before awkwardly making our way back to the Riad nervously giggling the whole way.

    We did little else that evening, partly though fear, partly through exhaustion from starting the day at 2am. We had a lovely chicken tagine dinner in the hotel which was far superior to the meal we'd had at lunch and then we retired to our room for the night.

  • International Women's Day

    Hey, I haven't blogged in a while and its International Women's Day this shouts out to me that I should be writing a piece on my favourite women in music both old and new! If you don't agree then I would ask you to go elsewhere. 

    I was going to try and do a list of 10 singers/groups, a mixture of both old and new but that felt a bit constricted so I have decided to go for 15, they cover a variety of genres and eras but then that really does show a cross section of my musical taste.

    Regina+Spektor+p13lg_.jpg1. Regina Spektor - Born in Moscow in 1980, Spektor has been present on the world music scene since the early 2000's. To date she has released 5 studio albums the most recent being 2012's 'What we saw from the Cheap Seats'. Her most successful album to date though and the one which saw her become one of the most recognisable female voices in world music was the 2006 record 'Begin to Hope'. I really can't fault that album at all and that is why I would possibly regard her as my favourite all time female vocalist.. Big statement I know!

    CocknBullKid.jpg

    2. CocknBullKid - North London's finest Anita Blay, born to Ghanaian parents, she has been active in the music biz since 2010 and already she has gone under a complete style shift. Before 2011 she was know as  theCocknBullKid and although dropping the 'the' seems trivial it saw her music shift from a very lo-fi electro sound to the pop masterpiece that was 2011's 'Adulthood'. I like both eras of Blay's work which unfortunately seems to have dried up of late but hopefully she will be back.

     

    Noisettes+Shingai+Shoniwa.jpg3. Noisettes - Although a 3 piece consisting of 2 men and a woman, Shingai Shoniwa is the member that really stands out and so justifies Noisettes place on this list. Noisettes first album, 2006's 'What's the time Mr. Wolf?' was a raucous Rock'n'Roll work which I was forced into purchasing after seeing the band at the 'Electric Gardens' festival in 2007. Despite this being what I regard as their best album the band did not find commercial success until 2009's 'Wild Young Hearts' which was good but like CocknBullKid saw them take on more of a Pop image. Last year the band released their 3rd studio album 'Contact' which was a bit of a dip in form but nevertheless worth a listen.



    Haim.png

    4. HAIM - The next big thing in 2013 as described by the BBC and many others, HAIM are the most hyped band
     around despite only having 3 singles to their name so far. The band consists of 3 sisters from Los Angeles who used to tour with their parents in a family band but have since gained independence and a lot more credibility. The Single 'Don't Save Me' released at the tail end of 2012 was an instant classic and their Debut full length is eagerly anticipated by me and many others.

     

    The+Pipettes.jpg5. The Pipettes - This mid naughties 3 piece were everything that was good about pop music, dressed in 1950s attire and fun songs the epitome of which was their 2006 album 'We Are the Pipettes'. After this album unfortunately the 3 piece became a 2 and since then their music has suffered and although they did release a follow up album in 2010 it really was nothing to shout about and the band have faded into obscurity although theoretically they haven't broken up the band.

     

    Nina+Simone.jpg6. Nina Simone - A singer you wouldn't necessarily assume to be in a 25 year-old English blokes collection but after hearing her take on 'Feeling Good' I had to hear more of her work. Simone was much more than just a talented musician, she was also an ardent Civil Rights activist in her native USA. Simone passed away in 2003 but her music will forever be a lasting legacy of an incredible woman.

     

    Cur+de+Pirate+Screenshot20110912at95048AM.png7. Cœur de Pirate - English translation Pirate Heart is the stage name of Canadian singer songwriter Beatrice Matin. Despite my meagre knowledge of the French language and the fact that majority of the singer's back catalogue is sung in the language hasn't stopped me enjoying her piano led indie-pop works. To date she has released two studio albums 2009's self titled 'Cœur de Pirate' and 2011's 'Blonde'. Neither have been officially released in the UK but can be found if you look hard enough.


    Kimya+Dawson.jpg8. Kimya Dawson - Originally one half of the cult favourites 'The Moldy Peaches' she is known mostly for her work on the 'Juno' film soundtrack. Dawson though has released a large number of stripped back acoustic albums filled with extremely quirky, occasionally crude but always heart warming tracks  both before and since the film. Her most recent album 'Thunder Thighs'  was released very quietly in 2012, it is extremely honest and open and definitely something that I would recommend listening to.


    MIA.jpg9. M.I.A. - This list definitely would not be complete without Maya Arulpragasam, like the majority of people I only became familiar with her work after the 2008 single 'Paper Planes' but since I have gone back and listened to her previous works and enjoyed them thoroughly. It is hard to place M.I.A. into a genre, she fits somewhere between Indie, Hip-Hop and authentic Asian music which is what makes her truly unique. Her latest studio Album MAYA wasn't up to the standard of the previous two but she has since released the 'Vicki Leekx' mixtape which showed a resounding return to form.


    Grimes.jpg10. Grimes - Canadian Electronic Wizz-Kid Clare Boucher has been recording self produced records for years but only came to prominence in 2012 with her album 'Visions'. I wasn't overly enthralled by her live show but on record I do enjoy the chopping and changing beats and rhythms she produces and I was not on my own as Visions made its way to the higher end of a lot of 2012 Best of lists.


    Corinne+Bailey+Rae.jpg11. Corinne Bailey Rae - I was addicted to her debut, self-titled album when it came out in 2006 with tracks such as 'Put Your Records On' and 'Like a Star' having that ability to just make you smile when listening to them. Unfortunately since that record was released she suffered a staggering chain of personal problems which meant that her music took a back seat, she has released a full length and an EP since but nothing in comparison to her debut.


    Azealia+Banks+ABanks.png12. Azealia Banks - If you are easily offended look away now, this New York rapper knows how to shock people with her lyrics just listen to her debut single '212' if you don't believe me. She created a massive hype around her in 2012 despite only having released a few mixtapes, but the hysteria has died down somewhat as we are now well into 2013 and we still haven't received her debut album. Her influence is still very strong though with numerous copycat female rappers coming to prominence after her success.


    Stealing+Sheep+Stealing_Sheep.jpg13. Stealing Sheep - This Scouse 3 piece have released 2 studio albums although only gained recognition after last years 'Into the Diamond Sun'. Their sound has been described as lo-fi psych pop which I suppose does them justice with lots of swirling guitar and synthesisers. This band were one of my finds of 2012 and I look forward to hearing more from them.


    Patti+Smith+__.jpg14. Patti Smith - The Original Punk rock female, her raspy vocals really broke the mould of what was expected of female singers. I will be the first to admit I haven't listened to nearly enough of her vast back catalogue but she deserves a place on this list purely due to her brilliant debut album 'Horses'.


    The+Skints+tumblr_m2xrxx7emf1qjfm75o1_500.jpg15. The Skints - It was touch and go whether or not I would allow this female fronted Ska/Reggae band into this list as 3/4 of the band are men but I think Marcia Richards deserves it. She is an extremely talented multi-instrumentalist and singer and without her I believe the bands 2 albums to date would be far worse. The latest release 2012's 'Part & Parcel' gained the band a cult following across the UK and also a place on my personal best of 2012 albums list.


    So there you go, in no particular order a list of my favourite female artists! Happy International Women's Day everybody