What have you been listening to?

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Since buying a DAB radio to replace using my iPhone as an alarm clock next to our bed, and placing a Cambridge Audio Air 100 in our dining room, where we spend a lot of time, I’ve been listening to more and more quality radio programmes and even listening to more music at home.

I’ve always been someone who is constantly on the look out for new music, I get excited about interesting finds in music, almost to the point of obsession, but a healthy one.   I often get snowed under, particularly on a Friday, when most albums seem to come out, and with the constant, and instant access through streaming services, its become so easy to hear new music, although sometimes more difficult to listen.   At any given point, I have around 30 – 40 albums that I want to devote a couple of hours to sift through and decide one way or another, which pile folder it goes in. 

So, I’ve decided i’m going to make a monthly playlist of things that i’ve enjoyed listening to and I’d like to pass on.   How many of your friends ask you, “What have you been listening to?”  I get asked it all the time, and often I’m stuck for an answer because i listen to so much.   This month I’ve put the playlist out through a fantastic service called Soundsgood and if you’re interested, have a listen, you may hear someone you’ve never heard, or you may hear something you’d forgotten about.

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Sneaking Out The Back Door

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Well I never been good at goodbyes
I’m gonna sneak out the back door
Nobody can say that I didn’t try
Gonna sneak out the back door
Let it ride, let the whole thing slide
Drift far from the shore
Don’t wanna be missed
Didn’t even exist
I’m gonna sneak out
Sneak out the back door

And when my life is over
I’m gonna sneak out the back door
Before the mood turns sober
I’m gonna sneak out the back door
Hadn’t much of a “Midas Touch”
No luck to be sure
Would you give my regards to the people in charge
While I sneak out
Sneak out the back door

A perfect goodbye to an old family friend.   Everyone has that family friend that you can call your ‘uncle’ or ‘aunt’ even though they are not related by blood, they are always there, and always great fun to be around.   This was Jim, he was uncle Jim and Aunt Marilyn (and Bob, Mitzi, Jura and Jess – the four legged friends).

The memories I have of my younger days of being up in Aviemore will always be a part of me until the day I sneak out the back door.   We often stayed with them in Glenmore in the summer as children and young adults, we watched movies with them, we went walks with the dogs, we travelled throughout the highlands, we enjoyed the holiday photographs on the large projector, we were captivated by the long conversations about live and recorded music.

Only recently after having Amélie and Leo I saw a different side to Jim, I saw a more fatherly side to him that I had never noticed with the dogs.   He was caring and held my children with so much love.   Perhaps he knew he wouldn’t be around for ever, and so had to take these times as precious as we all should remember to.    I’m so glad my children were able to meet with Jim, Amélie was so sad at the funeral, she was very fond of him and “He made her laugh”.   She’ll miss him dearly as will we all.

I am glad and honoured to have known Jim, the gigs I attended with him were always excellent and they always remained the best gig he had ever been to, until the next one.

We were lucky enough to catch many gigs throughout Celtic Connections as well Oh Susanna, Neal Casal, Josh Rouse, Hazy Malaze, Slaid Cleaves, Tom Russell, Ravi Coltrane, and many many more. . .  So, now its time to say Goodbye to an old friend, I’ll always take his memory to gigs he would’ve been at, and I’ll always cherish the times we shared.

See ye up the road ya rascal mccaskill!

Discover and Stream

How we discover new music is changing.   Finding new artists is becoming easier and a quicker process, we share our taste in music freely on social networking sites, and now even the services that we use to listen to music can give us recommendations on what we will like next.

I’m a fan of Spotify, I have been since I was a free user when it first arrived on the scene.   I am now a fully paid subscriber and more than happy to pay £14.99 per month for my family account.    They have just launched their new ‘Discover Weekly’ playlist feature that provides you with a playlist of recommended music that you ‘may’ like every Monday.   So far, I’ve been impressed.

As well as Spotify as a means to discover new music, I listen to Gilles Peterson’s BBC6Music show, normally on catchup on the iPlayer app (which you can now save offline finally).   This is an excellent collection on new music that join the dots between hiphop, soul, funk, disco, world, house and electronic music.   I highly recommend it.

Lastly, I still use the mailing lists from Boomkat, Bleep, and Spotimy (a site that gives a list of all the new releases on Spotify that week).

That said, I’m currently reading, “How Music Got Free” by Stephen Witt.   Highly Recommended also.

Access to Digital Music

Just returned from a trip to Riga, Latvia on Sunday night.  We were there for a European Music Council Forum on Access to Digital Music.  We arrived on the Thursday, and with a few hours to spare before registration, we managed to get around the city and find our bearings.    Throughout the forum it was great to meet some new faces from the world of music throughout Europe, and also catch up with some of the old ones.   Some photographs on the Flickr from the trip here.

2014 // The Year of the Ice Bucket Challenge

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As usual I like to write a summary of the year, the things that inspired, the music, the books, and other things that I enjoyed throughout the year.    Its a good way to keep track of things and mark the time so it will all make sense when we look back over.    In all honesty, its been a difficult year.   Ups and Downs obviously, but we’ve been at too many very emotional funerals, had to fork out for too many household items and the dreaded ‘terrible twos’ etc etc . . and what was that Ice Bucket Challenge all about?

However, there has been wonderful things too,

We had a fun trip to the Peak District for L’Eroica Britannia.

A trip to Prague,

We also had another fun trip to Kefalos, Kos.

Did artwork for Findlay Napier and Chris Sherburn album

Won a TokyoBike

Started listening to Vinyl (after buying Joni a record player).

Voted YES in the Independence Referendum

The album I played guitar, piano, mandolin on came out  (Home:Handover – Eric La Casa)

Went to visit The Kelpies.

Grew a beard.

Took part in the Edinburgh Harris Tweed Ride.

Went to loads of gigs during the Commonwealth Festival (including some at the Kelvingrove Bandstand)

Went to Belladrum Festival

Cycled an electric bike and a cargo bike, and also drove a van.

Learned how to play a ukelele

MUSIC / 2014

And, in no particular order. . . . . . . .

Fatherson – I Am an Island

Blue Rose Code – The Ballads of Peckham Rye

Douglas Dare – Whelm

Bombay Bicycle Club – So Long, See You Tomorrow

Ben Howard – I Forget Where We Were

The Twilight Sad – Nobody Wants To Be Here and Nobody Wants To Leave

Counting Crows – Somewhere Under Wonderland

Peter Gregson – Lights In The Sky

Paulo Nutini – Caustic Love

First Aid Kit – Stay Gold

BOOKS / 2014

Yeah Yeah Yeah – Bob Stanley

The People’s Songs – Stuart Maconie

Crosstown Traffic – Charles Shaar Murray

FILM / 2014


Gone Girl

300: Rise of an Empire

All Is By My Side

Get On Up


House of Cards


Orange is the New Black




Sonic Highways (Dave Grohl Documentary)

Anyway, lots of cool photos from the year on here and also here on my Blipfoto. 

and this happened. . .