Saturday, 30 March 2013

Inferior Playlist #1:

As you may have gathered by now, if you've spent some time on my blog, I'm a huge music fan (but who isn't, really?).  My commute every day takes about 45 minutes each way by bus, and is only made bearable by music.  For most of my life I've been a serial 'shuffler', by which I mean that I'll just stick the contents of my whole iPod on shuffle and listen to whatever it decides I should.  However, I've started to realise that in shuffle mode my iPod plays favourites with some tracks and never deigns to let me listen to others.  In the past, this has meant that I'll put whole albums on there and only end up hearing a few songs from a perfectly enjoyable full record.

Source: here

Constantly listening to the same songs on shuffle has (sadly, but inevitably) made me hate the songs that my iPod seems to be overly attached to.  As a result of this, I suppose, my listening habits have changed quite drastically over the last couple of months.  I now listen to full albums.  From the beginning to the end.  A few times.  Then I pass judgement.  Crazy, right?

I thought I would celebrate by starting a new monthly blog feature!  So, as you will already have read, this is my first Inferior Playlist for the month of March:

The Favourite:
Neon Bible by Arcade Fire (2007)
Source: here
As I mentioned in this post a while ago, I've only recently started listening to Arcade Fire, but I'm so glad that I did.  I really enjoyed their first album, Funeral, but I've been obsessed with listening to Neon Bible this month (and most of last month too!).  Almost every song is great, but my favourite stand out tracks are Black Mirror, Ocean of Noise and My Body Is a Cage.  I love this album's moody feel, and the big organ sounds on lots of the songs never fail to send shivers down my spine.

The Old Favourite:
Pedestrian Verse by Frightened Rabbit (2013)
Source: here
I wrote a whole post on seeing Frightened Rabbit live (read it here) very recently at the Barrowlands in Glasgow.  They are one of my all time favourite bands, and I pre-ordered a copy of the new album but (in true Alex style) didn't get around to listening to it properly until a few days before the gig.  Since then, so many of the songs have been stuck in my head and it's been played most mornings on the bus.  My favourites are Late March Death March, Nitrous Gas and Dead Now, but all of the songs grow on me every time I listen to them.  I'd say this album is grungier than Frightened Rabbit's earlier albums, but with the same sometimes painfully honest and heartwrenching lyrics.

The Newcomer:
Read Music/Speak Spanish by Desaparecidos (2002)
Source: here
Although I've been a huge fan of the band Bright Eyes and its frontman, Conor Oberst, for many years, I'd never listened to his other band Desaparecidos before buying tickets to see them live.  As Oberst is one of my favourite musicians (and hands down my favourite lyricist) I was pretty sure that the band's music wouldn't disappoint, and it didn't!  Although I haven't listened to Read Music/Speak Spanish as thoroughly as I would like to, it's an excellent album and I look forward to spending more time on it.  Greater Omaha, Man and Wife, The Latter (Damaged Goods) and The Happiest Place On Earth are my favourite tracks so far, and the band's sound is a great combination of angry punk and thought provoking lyrics.

The Wildcard:
Thrift Shop by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis (featuring Wanz) (2012)
Source: here
At the risk of making myself sound like an old lady, I probably won't be including chart music on my monthly playlists very often.  This isn't even an album, just a single, but it's damn catchy.  Lyrics are usually the main factor that attract me to a song, so I find myself enjoying a surprising amount of rap, and the more tongue in cheek the better.  (I know more Lonely Island songs off by heart than I'd like to admit.)  Listen to Thrift Shop here and make your own mind up (but be warned there are a lot of swear words!).  Sorry, Mum.

What have you been listening to lately?  Please feel free to leave me ideas for what I should listen to in April, all suggestions welcome!

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Winter blues:

Chilly out, isn't it?  I'm still channelling winter with this all-blue ensemble that includes a woolly jumper, but that might have something to do with the fact that it's snowing in March...

Jumper: Primark (£7 in sale)
Jeans: H&M (old)
Shoes: Primark (£6 in sale)

I haven't really found much to buy in Primark lately, but while Craig was looking in their men's department I spied this anchor jumper, reduced to £7.  I picked one up in extra small and it fits like a cosy dream!  I have a feeling I'll get at least a few wears out of it before the weather warms up again.

These slip ons will probably have to wait for better weather before they get a proper outing, but they were another half price bargain (please excuse my veiny feet!).  I love the colour, and I thought they were a fun take on the studded/spiked slipper trend.  Although I probably wouldn't have shelled out £12 for them, I was happy to take a pair home for £6!

I thought I would include two of my favourite outfit photos that didn't make the cut for your enjoyment.  Not exactly model material, but at least I can laugh at myself...

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Vanilla Ink update:

If you read my post about Vanilla Ink a couple of weeks ago (find it here) then, like me, you will be pleased to hear that the group reached their Kickstarter target within their time limit and will be attending the International Jewellery London trade fair in September.  Hooray!

Source: Vanilla Ink's Kickstarter

As you can see, the Vanilla Inkers ended up raising over £1,000 over their goal amount with time to spare, which is both amazing and inspiring!

Source: Vanilla Ink's Storify

The group retrospectively recorded their journey to success (via social media) using Storify, and I am honoured to be included!  Seeing this small yet determined collective reach their fairly hefty goal has restored my faith in humanity a little bit, and made me proud that the internet can be used for good as well as evil, productivity as well as lolcats and time wasting.

You can still support Vanilla Ink by visiting their website (here) and seeing what they're all about.  They are also on Facebook (here) and Twitter (here), and, thanks to everyone who helped them on their way to £6,800 plus, they've got a good chance of going far.  Good luck, Vanilla Inkers!

Monday, 18 March 2013

You've been framed:

(Sincere apologies for the dreadful title choice, not my best work by any means...)

I've slowly been adding to two different photo frame collages since we moved into the flat, one in our bedroom and one in the living room.  The ceilings are so high here (and the walls so very, very white) that there was no way I was going to stick to the rules and not hang anything on them.  And once you've started hanging frames, well...

I get the feeling that we'll still add to this collage, and probably move things about as we go, but at least we've filled up those big, blank spaces!

The living room collage resides on one of the biggest and emptiest walls in the flat, and I'm hoping to add to it as much as possible for as long as we're still living here.  I have an endless amount of photos I love, so that shouldn't be a problem!

(Craig tried to straighten the frames up for you all, but it's a bit of an endless and unrewarding task, I'm afraid.)

Saturday, 16 March 2013

What's in my bag?

I am jumping on quite a strange bandwagon with this post, but I can assure you that it's not just me.  For some reason, women everywhere are filming YouTube videos and writing blog posts about the contents of their handbags.  And, I'll admit it, they are oddly fascinating to watch and read.

Source: YouTube

I'm the first to admit that I am a hugely nosey person, and love blog posts and YouTube videos that give me an insight into the lives of other people.  So, if I'm interested to see what's in  your bag, you're probably at least a little curious about what's in mine, right?

Here is my current pride and joy in handbag form, a 2012 Christmas present from my lovely parents.  Weirdly, I get my love of bags (or 'luggage', as he would say) from my Dad, not my Mum.  She can often be found rolling our eyes at our shared father and daughter excitement for a really good bag.  The beauty pictured above is from Topshop, but of course I can't find it (or anything similar) on their website.  eBay, perhaps?

I like big bags, and my current one is no exception, meaning that is full of a whole load of rubbish.  Enjoy!

Only in Scotland would I need mittens, earmuffs AND sunglasses on a regular basis.  And only someone who's as blind as a bat would need two different pairs of prescription glasses on them at all times.

What's in your bag?  Do you feel the need to carry a suitcase sized handbag, or do you prefer to travel light?

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Resolutions review #1:

When I originally posted about my New Year's resolutions for 2013, I mentioned that (like the majority of people I know) I've never been very good at keeping resolutions in the past.  Maybe it's because this year I published them on the internet, but for some reason I actually feel like I'm doing okay so far!

1. Write:
I've surprised myself by actually dedicating a couple of full days to my own creative writing (not just blog posts) in the past month or so.  Once I get going, I usually become so absorbed in writing that I can spend a whole day happily tapping away at my keyboard.  (This usually results in me still sitting on the sofa in my pyjamas and dressing gown at 4pm...)  Hopefully I can continue to spend more time writing, and maybe even finish a piece in the near future.  Unheard of!

2. Read:
Okay, I'll admit that I actually haven't done so well with reading more so far this year...  However, at the moment I'm working my way (slowly but surely) through The Lost Continent: Travels In Small-Town America by Bill Bryson.  It's the chronological first in many Bill Bryson books that my sister gave my for Christmas, so I'd better get a move on and get it finished!  What are you reading at the moment?

3. Blog:
So far in 2013 I've updated the look of my blog, attended a Scottish Bloggers meet up (you can read more about that here) and continued with fairly regular updates.  Hooray!

4. Decorate:
Yes, yes, unfortunately there are still boxes piled up in the spare room, and the sofa still hasn't been covered.  Our spare bedroom/music room/office/laundry room/gym is high up on my list of rooms to sort out once and for all.  I've already managed to create my own little desk area (see here) and brighten up the room's vanity/sink unit (here), but things tend to pile up and get forgotten about in there, as we don't use the room as much as the rest of the flat.  I'll definitely be working on it in the near future and chronicling my progress here.  If only I had more time to dedicate to organising and decorating!

5. Save:
Believe it or not (I'm looking at you here, Dad) I have managed to save some money on every pay day so far this year.  I know there have only been two pay days in 2013, but it's the thought that counts...

6. Travel:
That hard earned and saved cash will most likely be going towards the trip that Craig and I are taking to Paris in April.  I'm extremely excited about it!  We're only going for four days (and three nights) but we'll definitely pack in as much sightseeing and fun as we possibly can in that time.  After Paris, my sights will be firmly set on organising and saving for a trip to America (something I've been meaning to do since I turned 21...).

7. Waste less time:
Umm, I'll get back to you on this one...  In my defence, I have recently joined the gym (and not even at gunpoint) so that's one or two evenings less a week spent sitting on the sofa.  The internet is still a black hole that sucks up a huge amount of my free time, but I'm hoping that once spring and then summer eventually get here I'll have more energy to get out and about more.

How have your resolutions been going so far?  Inspiring success stories welcome!

Friday, 8 March 2013

Instagram #8:

1. Desaparecidos at The Arches, Glasgow  2. Conor Oberst (of Bright Eyes and Desaparecidos) - the musical love of my life  3. Steven with his signed Desaparecidos ticket

4. Treats from Paris, thanks to my lovely big sister!  5. Sometimes Ruaridh leaves presents for me in my microwave  6. Mine and Craig's combined Valentine's Day haul!

7. Prosecco in my onesie on Valentine's Day night (apologies for my face, I have little to no control over it...)  8. Craigo snoozing  9. A suspicious looking funpark in Portobello...

10. I was dead chuffed with my cup and saucer at the amazing Lovecrumbs  11. A rare breed of teacup Craig  12. Revisiting an amazing film that Emily and I loved dearly in our early teens

13. My rad new business cards  14. Some delicious froyo (which, admittedly, looks horrible in this photo...)  15. My commemorative Frightened Rabbit tea towel.  Needs a wee bit of an iron!

16. One of Scott Hutchison's beard drawings that I was lucky enough to take home (I mentioned a little bit more about it in my last post)  17. I love this old archway in Stockbridge!  18. Some pleasantly colour coded macaroons in a Stockbridge bakery window

Leave me your Instagram username in a comment, I love to be nosey! :)

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Frightened Rabbit at the Barrowlands, 28th February 2013:

Frightened Rabbit are a band incredibly close to my heart.  Their second studio album, Midnight Organ Fight, is one of my absolute favourites, so much so that I used to force it into the hands of unsuspecting customers when I worked at Fopp.  You'd be surprised by the number of people who bought it on my recommendation without question (and hopefully they weren't disappointed!).  A week ago, the band played the final gig of their UK tour at the famous Barrowlands in Glasgow, and I was there with bells on.

Three Blind Wolves (above and below) kicked off the night with a short but sweet set.  I've seen them live a few times now, and they are an amazingly talented and energetic band.  Craig is a huge fan, and had fun singing every word down at the front.

I was slightly gutted that Three Blind Wolves didn't play their usual closer of choice (Echo On The Night Train) as it's easily my favourite song of theirs, but they are headlining their own tour in May.  I would definitely recommend that you have a listen to their music and check them out if they play a gig near you.  They are definitely a must-see live act!

Wintersleep (above) also played a set before Frightened Rabbit.  They are a Canadian band who I hadn't heard much about, but they went down well with the crowd.  Their sound almost reminded me of The Postal Service (lots of electronic synth sounds, and similar sounding vocals) but obviously the band have their own unique style.

By the time Frightened Rabbit came on stage, we were all extremely excited.  The crowd got pretty rowdy where we were originally standing (in the middle of the room, near the stage) and after getting elbowed in the face a few times and stood on repeatedly, I graciously moved over to the side a bit.  Okay, Mum, you were right all along, I should have worn sensible shoes...  Still, I can't get too upset about the energetic crowd, because Frightened Rabbit played a great set that deserved to be danced to!

It was obviously a very emotional gig for the band, and I think we may even have moved some (if not all) of the guys to tears with our chanting and not so in tune singing along.  The highlight for me had to be hearing tracks from their new album, Pedestrian Verse, played live for the first time, but you can't beat the old favourites.

After the gig, I picked up a commemorative Frightened Rabbit tea towel (of course), and I was also lucky enough to get my hands on a one of a kind drawing by the band's singer, Scott Hutchison.  The proceeds for the collection of 'beard' drawings all went to Cystinosis UK.  It was nice to be able to donate something to a good cause, and now I have an amazing piece of original art to keep forever!

Needless to say, I had a great time seeing some great Scottish (and Canadian!) live music!  I also saw Lianne at the gig, one of the lovely bloggers who hosted the Scottish Bloggers Valentine's Party.  Hi, Lianne!  Have you been to any great gigs lately?  Were you possibly at this gig?  Let me know!

I will leave you all with some footage I got of the Barrowlands crowd singing Frightened Rabbit out at the end of their final song, The Loneliness and the Scream.  I've seen this happen twice now, and there's not much more powerful than 2,000 people singing their hearts out together for a band they love.  Ah woh-oh oh ohhhhhhhh!