Music

Culturedallroundman Playlists via YouTube

Following what was effectively the birth of my YouTube channel last week – at youtube.com/culturedarm, upon the upload of my first video/podcast discussing the nineteenth-century Russian poet Fyodor Tyutchev and his poem ‘Silentium!’ – I have made public an initial batch of playlists. These are based on my ‘Songs of the Month’ for February; my list of the ‘Fifteen Best Albums…

Culturedarm’s Songs of the Month (February 2015)

Let us go then, with a new series capturing some of my most listened to music of the past month. Listening lots does = endorsement. Joanna Newsom – ‘Only Skin’ (Live at BAM, 1 February, 2008) At almost seventeen minutes, ‘Only Skin’ is the longest composition on Ys; and it is densest piece on the album, not in terms of…

Drake – If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late

Drake – If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late

The surprise release of Drake’s If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late came, a couple of weeks ago, precisely on the eve of the sixth anniversary of 2009’s So Far Gone, the mixtape that established his credentials as one of this generation’s preeminent rappers. So Far Gone led to Drake signing with Young Money Entertainment, an imprint of Cash Money headed by Lil…

On Kanye, Beyoncé, Beck, and Artistry

When Kanye West momentarily took to the stage as Beck was handed the award for Album of the Year at the 57th Annual Grammys, his quick grin and ready departure suggested that this was but a joke: a lighthearted reference to his infamous interruption of Taylor Swift at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards, upon Swift being selected for Best Female…

Björk – Vulnicura

While some of her collaborators were already known, it was only last Wednesday that Björk confirmed the impending release of her eighth studio album proper. Announcing the album’s name as Vulnicura, and providing a list of song titles, her announcement – published via Facebook and Twitter – stated that the album would be out in March. Having apparently leaked over the…

Culturedarm’s Albums of the Year 2014

Album of the Year Jolie Holland – Wine Dark Sea After the tightly drawn compositions of 2011’s Pint of Blood, Wine Dark Sea is no less composed, but its pieces rumble, scuzzy and searing, in wave upon wave with Holland’s voice cohering at the centre. Songs shift seamlessly between the genres of blues, jazz, folk, and soul. There’s thick feedback played through multiple…

Christmas Music: Five Popular Songs & Five Alternative Albums

Elvis Presley leers atop my list of the five best popular Christmas recordings. ‘Blue Christmas’, written in 1948 by Billy Hayes and Jay W. Johnson, is ostensibly a rejoinder to ‘White Christmas’, with its lines ‘You’ll be doing all right, with your Christmas of white / But I’ll have a blue, blue, blue, blue Christmas’ – even though the Irving Berlin-penned song, first…

How To Dress Well @ St Philip’s Church Salford

How To Dress Well @ St Philip’s Church Salford

Following the release of his third album What Is This Heart? in June – the youngest of the twenty-one albums I listed last month when considering the best music of the decade so far – and a tour throughout the United States which took from late August until the end of September, last week How To Dress Well began a series of dates…

Behind the Song: Leonore Overture, ‘Farewell Amanda’, ‘One Night’

Behind the Song: Leonore Overture, ‘Farewell Amanda’, ‘One Night’

Ludwig van Beethoven – Leonore Overture No. 1, Op. 138 The Leonore Overture No. 1 is the last of Beethoven’s compositions by opus number, one of three pieces published and given an opus number posthumously. Despite the title of the piece, it was in fact the third overture composed by Beethoven for his only opera, Fidelio, Op. 72, which premiered in…