SAM MORRELL


ASTROPHYSICIST

What I’ve Been Listening To – December 2015

January 1, 2016   |   Reading time: ~7 mins
A view of the sunrise at the residencia at the Roque de los Muchachos Observatory on La Palma. - 20th December 2015

A view of the sunrise at the residencia at the Roque de los Muchachos Observatory on La Palma. The car park and service buildings are silhouetted against the setting Sun. Beneath the clouds you can see the Atlantic ocean stretching off into the distance. – 20th December 2015

It’s that time of month again. It’s just ticked over to 2016 in the uphill scramble away from the winter solstice. I present to you my post Christmas romp through the tunes that have been stuck in my head this month.

The Cast of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – It Must Be Believed to Be Seen

This one hold a particular relevance right now. On the last weekend before December, my Girlfriend and I took a jaunt to London to go and see this live on the Westend. The show itself was absolutely awesome; even if the fabled great glass elevator decided that it wasn’t going to rise up out of the stage. Of the tunes in the show, this was the most distinctive and gets sung just was Willy Wonka first shows his face on stage. Granted, I didn’t first hear this in December, but you can bet that I’ve been listening to the soundtrack since. The entire soundtrack is available on Spotify.

Marit Larsen – Solid Ground / This is Me, This is You

I consider one of the biggest travesties of modern pop is that Scandinavian music is not more popular. Just as with ABBA, some of the finest modern pop comes from Norway and Sweden. Most likely my all time favourite artist from that neck of the woods is Marit Larsen. When I first heard her most popular song If a Song Could Get Me You I got addicted to her songwriting, her voice and the fantastic arrangements of her music. I use the word travesty because you can’t actually buy any of her albums in this country, not even from iTunes. Also, despite being on Spotify, it looks as though they are completely inaccessible outside of Norway. In an attempt to spread her music, and because I enjoy her work so insanely much, here’s a double feature. First off we have a live performance of a recent discovery of mine, ‘Solid Ground’, from her album ‘Under the Surface’. This particular performance is stunning as it’s with a live orchestra. The second song is a long standing favourite of mine called This is Me, This is You. This one is notable because it is the other song available on Spotify; thanks to its being included on a compilation. I hope you like her as much as I do.

The Wurzels – Merry Christmas Everyone

Every year I try and work some kind of the off the wall Christmas songs into my festive listening, and this year is no exception. Normally I’d immediately reach for my trusty favourite, Barenaked for the Holidays by the Barenaked Ladies, but I thought I’d mix it up this year with a more local, manure scented act. The Wurzels, (yes, those Wurzels), did a Christmas album a few years ago and it’s actually really rather good. There’s something for everyone and it’s done in their distinctive style. I opted for this because these fine folks are (mostly) from Somerset which, for those that don’t know, is just to the east of Devon where I’m from, so compared to most acts I would feature on this post, they’re metaphorically just down the road from me. I hope you enjoy a westcountry themed romp in the festive season.

Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings – White Christmas

On a similar vein to the previous entry, another festive album that hit recently was It’s a Holiday Soul Party by Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings. Had this been about 5 years ago I really wouldn’t have much cared of the existence of this album, but with playing in a soul band I’ve actually gained an appreciation for soul music. Because of this, a Christmas themed soul album seems like a great idea. One of my personal favourite tracks from the selection is White Christmas, which acquires an expert soul reworking, while still retaining the essence of the original song.

Mat Kearney – Heartbeat

I’ve been listening to Mat Kearney’s album JUST KIDS at lot this month, so it seems only natural to include a song from it. The whole album is excellent, but there are a few standouts. Notable runners up for this title have to be Billion and Moving On, but the winner is Heartbeat. This driving pop song should get anyone up and moving.

Chris Hadfield – Feet Up

After the successful launch of the first ever British astronaut, Tim Peake, on the 15th December 2015, I remembered that Chris Hadfield, the first Canadian commander of the ISS, was due to release an album. This particular album was music that recorded while he was commander on board the space station. Much to my delight, the album, called Space Sessions: Songs From a Tin Can is in fact out. My personal favourite tune is Feet Up, and is embedded below.

The Weekend – I Can’t Feel My Face / Major Lazer & DJ Snake – Lean On (feat. MØ) (Mashup)

I apologise for the hideously long and convoluted title for this one, but it is a particularly good mashup. I watched the YouTube rewind video for this year and somewhere around 1:29 the most fantastically groovy mashup of these songs comes on. Unfortunately there is no official version, but DJ Pyromania did a sensational job of bringing a version to the world in its full, unabridged glory. Although they claim to have pulled this off before YouTube rewind, I would totally not be mad if they’d heard the combo in the video and set out to reap the glory themselves, as it’s actually really good.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e4XVY_Ez-no

Fleur East – More and More

Just before Christmas I went on an astronomy trip to La Palma. I was a little deprived of my normal listening habits during that trip, so grabbing some music on the flight back was a sweet moment indeed. I was limited to what was saved on my phone, but there was plenty. Despite my resistance to liking Fleur East, due to her song called Sax where the actual Sax playing is embedded stupidly deep in the mix, this song made me smitten and I went back to have a listen. The whole album, including Sax, is actually pretty good and well worth a listen if you’re so inclined towards 80s style pop.

(Sorry about the Spotify embed. There are currently no decent YouTube versions.)

Thanks again for joining me for my semi-festive wade through my listening habits for this month. I hope you join me again in the new year for some more musical merriment. Until then, have an excellent new year and see you in 2016.

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