Before I start dropping some beats, I feel I should explain the picture up there.
I was at a Bastille (obviously) gig in Leeds and in between a couple of the warmup acts, my friends and I were chilling out in the bar area, having a beer and a chat. You know, how normal people behave and such.
Well, I tend to look around the room a lot when I’m sat down. I’m not Jason Bourne or anything, I just like to notice things. Although, I did once binge watch The Mentalist and Lie to Me back to back and felt convinced that I could read people. I could not…
Anyway, I was looking around the room and I saw someone with their hood up near the merch stand. That, immediately, caught my radar. What if he had an ASBO or something? Not really, I saw his side profile and was convinced I recognised him… wait, there’s a bit before this.
I went to the gig with one friend and randomly bumped into a few others, whom I had no idea were attending. So when I saw someone I thought I knew, obviously I was like: “What?! Another mate? This is so wierd!”
Bear in mind, this was before Bastille were on movie soundtracks and the like. I don’t even think they’d dropped their first album, though I could be wrong.
So I keep my eye on my “friend” to see if I can figure out who it is.
Then he turned around and it struck me. He was the guy I had come to see.
I hate concerts, actually, I just hate most of the fans. I’ve seen people try to start a moshpit at David Gray. Seriously.
Anyway, I had paid money to see this guy, so I was obviously a fan. And there he was, just… chilling. So I stayed cool, gave him a curt head nod…
No I didn’t, I squealed like a small girl and did that thing where you shout whisper to your friends which is somehow louder than actual shouting. I tried to subtly point him out, at which I probably failed, and then declared I was going to talk to him.
So I rose from my seat, finished my beer in one felled gulp, straightned myself up and strode over to him like we were old friends.
And then I quitely and meekly said:
“Are you Dan Smith?”
“Yes mate, I am”
“Oh wow, we’ve come to see you!”
Looks around the room nervously, “Yeeeeah..?”
“Can we get a picture with you?”
“Oh, yeah of course”
And that is how I met Dan Smith. Lovely bloke… in the 18 seconds I actually met him. But hey, he could have said no! That’s being chalked up as a win in my book.
So, you’re here for the music. I think you know who’s going to be on it, so I’ll get them out the way at numero uno…
Don’t forget, the playlist is embedded at the bottom for your easy listening pleasure.
1. Bastille – Flaws: This was the first song of theirs that I heard and I can’t for the life of me remember where. I think it was during my phase of scouring the internet trying to find the newest… Oh God… I’ve just remembered… it was on that one episode of Made in Chelsea I watched… crap. Anyway, it’s a great song and a great way to start the playlist.
2. The Head and the Heart – Down in the Valley: This is such a lovely song. I’ve been listening to it for about 4 years. Not non-stop, this isn’t the confessions of a serial killer, on and off. It starts off so slow and gradually builds up and as soon as he sings the word “California”, if your foot isn’t tapping you’re inhuman. This is whiskey drinking music. I just want to sit on my mother’s porch as the sun sets with a glass in one hand and a flyswatter in the other, because my mother lives in the middle of the woods and that place gets infested.
3. Nathaniel Rateliff – Early Spring Till: It was my friend Matt Smith (no relation) who showed me the magic of Nathaniel Rateliff. We used to work at Pizza Hut together and had similar musical tastes. Which did lead to us being banned from playing Tom Jones… but that’s for another day. It’s Nathaniel’s voice which makes this song. It’s just so powerful. Even with the speakers on low, it bellows out at like someone throwing a waterbomb full of honey at you.
4. Obadiah Parker – Hey Ya: I don’t know how many of you have heard this one, but this is a fantastic cover. I’ve read so many times about how people singing along to Outkast don’t realise just how sad this song is. Which is understandable, I do love the irony of people meeting their partners to the song. However, there’s no way to miss the sentiment when Obadiah sings his version. Strip out all that funk and you’re like: “Well damn… this is a bummer”
5. Bastille – Of the Night: Yeah, we were going down a dark path there. Let’s come back up here where it’s bright and fun and Bastille covers classic 90’s dance tunes. Look, the sun is shining up here. I can remember the moment when I heard that Bastille had a new song and “It’s coming up next”. I think I was on the way back from another gig and when that guitar started I was intrigued, then the xylophone (or glockenspiel… come on glockenspiel!) kicks in I just thought, this is definitely Bastille.
Then he starts singing. As soon as he said that first word I was instantly transported to being about 10 years old in my dad’s car. He loves old school (skool?) dance music. Even the original version (by Corona, in case you were wondering) was amazing.
There is a tendency nowadays, when people cover an old tune (especially a dance song) they either do it the exact same or make a ridiculous EDM version (looking at you every single version of Fast Car…). Bastille did something else. It was more than a song in that moment. It was like being in two places at once. Child me and that me united in one gloriously 90’s moment.
6. Phoenix – Consolation Prizes: Sweet Lord, this is 10 years old! That’s insane! I am becoming old as Hell. Ok, I’m going to put this existensial crisis down and get back to the point. Do you remember that summer when indie was all about fun? I do. Phoenix, they remember. This whole album is just full of tunes like this. Carefree, house party music, before house parties were corrupted by Skins and became another name for drug fueled orgies. Damn you Skins.
7. Gil Scott-Heron & Jamie XX – I’ll Take Care of You: Maybe not as upbeat, but still not as low as those other two. This is just a fantastic song. The rawness of Gil Scott-Heron mixed by Jamie XX so that it becomes another part of the melody on top of his vocals. It somehow manages to sound like the 70’s, 80’s, 90’s and today without sounding too busy. There’s even an early 00’s beach house break. It’s got everything. It’s 5 years old and you could drop this now and everyone would still lose their minds.
8. Sylvan Esso – H.S.K.T: Those initials right there, back a few words. They stand for Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes. So, there’s that. I can’t explain why I love this song so much. It’s got that nouveau electro/indie vibe to it. The kind you find pumping out the bars you’re turned away from in Paris because you’re “Not on the list”. It’s a really brilliant song, the vocals are cursive, the beat is staccato and the melodies are frenetic. It all just piles on top of one another and still sounds like a very stylish outfit.
9. Javeon – Intoxicated: These next 2 songs were my party tracks. Anytime someone was foolish to hand me the iPod and say “put a couple of songs on”, you can guarantee you would be listening to these.
The first, Intoxicated, is such a smooth dance track. With a heavy R’n’B influence, it’s one of those songs you see in films whenever they want to show how cool someones beachhouse is. You know what I mean, they want to show how nonchalantly cool the owner is and how blase the guests are about sipping Martinis while they dance and try not to spill a drop. It’s just so fricken’ cool.
10. Tyson – After You’re Gone: Oh boy, are you in for a funky time right now. If there’s anyone with a nervous disposition near you, turn the speakers down. This song is so 80’s it… I’ve got no reference here. I was born in ’88. My only knowledge of the 80’s is from film, various pop culture references and GTA Vice City. Something, something… cocaine and pastel suits. There we go. Now you get it. Synthesizers, really over the top empassioned singing and a repetitive robotic beat… I am not making it sound as amazing as it is.
11. Chromeo – Fancy Footwork: The first time I heard Chromeo, I was working in cocktail bar in Newcastle (not as a waitress, before you ask) and the DJ was playing a mixture of genres. A bit of disco here, some trance over there. Then this uber trendy kid walked up and asked if he had any Chromeo. At first, I scoffed. I thought it was going to either be some experimental music or like Deutch Haus. God was I please when this song came on. How do you not dance to this song? I can’t even dance and I was pirouetting all over the shop. It’s so catchy.
12. Sam Cooke – (What A) Wonderful World: Let’s end on this lovely little ditty. If you haven’t already heard this song, give yourself 2 minutes and just let these sounds wash over you. This is a love song back when it wasn’t overtly about getting into their pants. There was always a sly wink to it but it was like the jokes in a Disney film. The level of lewdness you get from it entirely depends on your own. Just take 2 minutes and have a wonderful time in a wonderful world.
13. Bastille – Good Grief: Change of plan. Let’s finish with this one.