Monday 6 December 2010

Passion #5: Music

It seems a good time to talk about another passion of mine, since Saturday night I headed up to Wembley arena with my brother, sister-in-law and nephew to watch the immense Biffy Clyro. I had already seen them this year in February (at Portsmouth Guildhall - a *much* smaller venue) and was intrigued to see how they managed the jump to an arena tour. I'm happy to report that they were EPIC - unbelievably good. If you get the chance, go see this band. It was my nephew's first gig, and I think he's been bitten by the bug!

So, this passions post will be mostly listing my favourite bands, and possibly sharing a couple of YouTube clips with you *grin*. Would be interested to see if other folk out there share my taste in music!

I have to say - I'm very much a live and let live sort of person when it comes to music. We all have different tastes and different passions where this is concerned, and no one person is right or wrong. I don't understand those people who get angry with me because I also happen to watch and listen to X Factor, and denounce it as killing music. Despite my music passion being very much of the rock variety, I still love a massive amount of pop music - including a lot of the songs being sung on X Factor. I appreciate seeing them being done a different way, and I absolutely adore the over-blown nature of the shows.

Anyway, after that little aside, here is a rundown of some of my favourite bands - in no particular order!

1) Biffy Clyro

It amuses me that when I first heard this band - way back in 2002 - I didn't think much of what I heard. One of my mates told me I *had* to listen to them, but I dismissed it almost immediately. What a fool I was. Puzzle changed everything. I played that album over and over again, and became a complete fangirl. I had an almighty crush on Simon (the lead singer) - still do, if I'm honest. Since then I've been to as many of their live shows as I can manage and loved the fact that they're getting the recognition they deserve. Since Puzzle, I have revisited their earlier music and now appreciate it just as much as the later stuff. As mentioned above, this band are simply brilliant live. Just outstanding. Seen them three times and each performance has been superlative. My favourite song is Machines, off the puzzle album. Getting really personal here, when I first heard it I was suffering from clinical depression and very, very low. These lyrics spoke to me:

Crazy as it sounds you wont feel as low as you feel right now
At least that’s what I've been told by everyone.

These, too, from The Conversation Is...

Are pills the only way to make myself complete again
They become the only way to a wonderful life with a happy ending

It was the first moment I'd realised that maybe I wasn't alone in the depths of my depression.

2) Iron Maiden

My parents tell me I've had a love affair with this band pretty much since birth. My dad was playing their debut album in the car when I was brought home from hospital *grin*. At four years of age I would beg my dad to put on Run to the Hills and dance around to it. I was HEARTBROKEN when Bruce Dickinson left the band and they brought in a new singer. When he returned, I decided there and then I would see them every opportunity I had. I was lucky enough to be at Brixton Academy when the band played free to raise money for the Clive Burr MS Trust Fund - this was an amazingly intimate gig for a band accustomed to playing stadia, and I had the most fun.

I love their music because it is bombastic, technically excellent and quintessentially British. There was talk that Iron Maiden should play at the opening ceremony of the 2012 Olympic Games - I can get behind that initiative!

My favourite album is Number of the Beast - I've been listening to that one for all but two of my thirty years of life. Trying not to sound too weird, but those songs are a part of me. Hallowed Be Thy Name is a moment of pure brilliance.

3) Rush

Prog rock! This is another band that has been a part of my life since birth. My dad is a massive fan of this band, and I soon picked up on the songs. On one memorable trip to the South of France - driving from Germany - my dad made up a cassette where one side was Power Windows by Rush and the other was Perfect Strangers by Deep Purple. To this day, I am word perfect on all the songs from these two albums. On another holiday Rush had just released Hold Your Fire and we played it to death!

This band are amazing. They have been releasing music since 1974, and are bringing out their 20th studio album next year. The music is intricate, the lyrics are beautiful. And their drummer, Neil Peart, is an absolute virtuoso. One of the highlights of their live shows is his drum solo. Yep, drum solo. Not something you'd expect to be that interesting... At the two live shows I've been to he received a standing ovation for it. I also greatly admire Neil Peart - in the space of ten months, he lost both his daughter and his wife (the former to a car accident, the latter to cancer), and essentially retired from the band. When he came back to play after an extensive mourning period, there was extra poignancy to the lyrics he wrote. He is commonly said to be one of the greatest rock drummers of all time.

4) Jewel

Moving away from the rock music briefly... *grin* This singer-songwriter has the voice of an angel. When I went to university I picked up the album Pieces of You on an impulse - boy, am I glad I did! She is quirky, original and breathtaking. Her lyrics are mysterious, beautiful and meaningful. I absolutely adore her work, and my only regret is that so far I haven't managed to catch her live show.

My favourite album is This Way, but my favourite song is Foolish Games from Pieces of You. Seriously, her voice is glorious! More recently she has been producing more country and western inspired music, which isn't so much to my taste, but I'll always have a fondness for her middle career albums.

Here is a clip of Jewel in performance:

5) Jimmy Eat World

Oh, Jimmy Eat World! They are an American band from Arizona, and play... alternative rock, I guess. It's certainly not hard rock. At one point they got lumped in with other "emo" bands, but they're far from that. Their music is assured, accomplished and, as they've grown up, reflects the attitudes of 30-something men. I love that I've grown up with them and one of their lyrics from Big Casino particularly resonates with me:

And I'll tell you something else that you ain't dying enough to know
There's still some living left when your prime comes and goes

Their songs have seen me through relationship break-ups, good times and, as with Biffy, depression. I love them to pieces and, whenever I feel down, I play this particular song to remind me that haters will hate, but all I have to do is stay true to myself:

There are many more bands that I love (including AFI, Slipknot, Reel Big Fish and Counting Crows) so I might well do a follow up post at some stage.

Tell me the music that you love! Tell me songs that have got you through good times and bad!


  1. Hi! I love music a lot. It helps me everywhere. In fact, music, songs in English, helped me to learn English. From your interesting list of music you love I recognised Jewel. I really love her as the singer and I love her song Foolish game. I remember I couldn't find/get the lyrics so I had to listen to the song carefully to catch every single word. My English at that time was very poor. But I managed to hear out the words. It was really good and enjoyable English practice. Many thanks for your blog, it is very interesting!

  2. I really like Jewel, too, and my girls absolutely LOVE her lullaby album. Like you, I'm not so crazy about her country/western style, but I really admire the fact that she can cover so any different styles and sound authentic in each.

    I'm not terribly into rock - but the singers I like, I'm not entirely sure what category they all fit into. Regina Spektor, Marina and the Diamonds, Imogen Heap, Barenaked Ladies, Making April ... mostly I like whatever's off the beaten track, I guess!

  3. Interesting mix there! Music is a big part of my life. Apart from collecting it, I've been in a variety of bands back in New Zealand, one of which at least enjoyed some moderate success.

    Anyway my favourite six artists are:

    1. The Cure
    I've been a Cure fan for more than half my life (!), and while they've had their ups and downs I'll stick with them until I die :) I used to have a huge collection of 7" and 12" singles until I sold them all. *sob*

    I prefer their early albums. I guess all Cure fans say that. Hell, even Robert Smith says it.

    2. Pixies
    Another longstanding obsession as I discovered them at the same time as The Cure (a friend left a tape of both at a part in 1991). My novels are littered with Pixies references too :)

    3. The Dandy Warhols
    Turns out lots of my favourite bands are from Oregon for some reason. I've also met these guys twice, and their recent gig at Koko in London was about the best gig I've ever been to. Their track Bohemian Like You will be familar to many as Vodafone used it for an ad campaign a few years ago.

    4. Sleater-Kinney
    Possibly an acquired taste. Sleater-Kinney came out of the Riot Grrl movement and only split up a couple of years ago.

    5. Arcade Fire
    If you like Canadian bands with 9+ members, Arcade Fire fit the bill admirably. Off to see them next week too :)

    6. The Warlocks
    I'm a latecomer to The Warlocks, but I find they're excellent writing music as a lot of it droney psychaedelia - the more repetition, the less distracting I find.

    Having said that, their song Just Like Surgery is wonderful. I could listen to it on endless loop:

    Plus band with two drummers get bonus points.

  4. Christ, someone else who has not only heard of but *likes* AFI. And Jimmy Eat World! Excellent choice, lady :)

    I have an extremely long-standing relationship with Rammstein (I met my best friend & son's godmother at a Rammstein event) and for big scary German goth, you can't beat ASP. My obscure medieval needs are met by Corvus Corax and for something a tad more modern I love Pendulm - especially the In Silico album. This is also my little boy's favourite. He's nearly 3.

    In terms of music that's been *important*, as well as being my two favourite bands, you're looking at Linkin Park & My Chemical Romance. The former really have soundtracked the biggest events of my life, as their first album came out 10 years ago - and My Chem in all their guises, be they angry & disaffected, emo or as they are now: bright and shiny, like an aural comic, are very special to me indeed.

  5. @WWB - what a great use of music! I'm really impressed that you used it to improve your English skills :-)

    @Elouise - I've heard a little Marina and the Diamonds and have liked what I've heard. I know my list is a little rock biased but that is what I seem to get on with best.

    @Adam - nice list of bands, some familiar and some definitely not. Will be checking out those links :-)

    @Lou - ah, there are a few people I know who like AFI. I believe James from Spec Horizons is a fan, although don't quote me on that :-). Oh, My Chemical Romance are another band I love! I've picked up all their albums so far, and really appreciate the different styles. I probably liked the punky second album best :-)

  6. Amanda, you will have to stop freaking me out with similar stuffs! I had this whole music thing going when I was clinically depressed too, only me was Gavin DeGraw - I don't wanna be:
    also, Maroon5 - She will be Loved

    I love anything P!nk, I just adore her :D

    Another one is a Dutch singer. Her name is Caro Emerald and she sounds a little Fifties:

    This song was just released her in The Netherlands and I really like this guy, Jonathan Jeremiah (btw clip is from my fav radio show too lol):

    I also have a huge Britpoppy thing: Blur, Oasis, Snow Patrol, Suede, Pulp, Keane etc. When I was a teenager I listened to Blur and Oasis obsessively ;D

  7. Songs and movies really help in learning languages! Very useful practice to perceive a language by hearing. Also, it is relaxing and enjoyable learning way especially after long time of grammar time. :)

  8. Music and books go hand in hand in my world, I can remember reading and listening to tapes late at night when I was a kid. Lord of the Rings and Adam and the Ant's Kings of the Wild Frontier are intertwined for me.

    Musically it has to have a mood to it for me to really like it. Bowie, Eno, Radiohead, The Smiths, Nick Cave, Cocteau Twins, Kate Bush, Portishead...

  9. Big Rush fan here. I have kids in their 20s who recently went to see them with their dad. They thought it was one of the best concerts they had ever seen. They are great entertainers.

  10. Massive music lover over here and have huge jealous face that you went to see biffy clyro (next time when i can afford tickets i shall be there)

    Most recent gigs were Pearl Jam and Foo fighters but i do love me a bit of Prog and recommend Tinyfish and Porcupine Tree for your enjoyment

  11. @Magemanda- you were/are an Iron Maiden fan?!?!??!.. Not only do I have a new found respect for you, I also don't feel as old as I did before. LOL!!!

  12. The Xfactor is a nasty thing to have ever happened to us. The Sky version produced some rather mare interesting performers. Never watched it, kind of wish I had.

    The Winner here.

  13. Amanda .....Amanda. Its Pete here from The Warhamer forum. You painted me a lovely Menoth Jack. Which I still have on my shelf. I have been a long time lurker on your wonderful blog.

    But I had to write, while reading your favorite bands. I saw Biffy a few days ago, here in Aberdeen. I too got into them after Puzzle. I'm a huge fan. Then we come to Iron Maiden and Rush!! I have recently become single after a very amicable divorce...........are you single? I think we should marry and have many children together.
    If you like those bands, try early Pink Floyd and Idlewild.
    Love the blog and hope to meet up at a 40k event sometime soon.......your future hubby Pete :)