Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Music Picks for the moment

Haven't done one in a while, so you know what it means, don't you? It's time to search around for stuff I've never heard of and preview them on Spotify!

Here's my picks for the moment. Note that some of these are not new, which is why these are called 'Picks', not 'chart entrants'.

#1. White Rabbits - Percussion Gun
I challenge you to listen to this track without being all fidgety and pumped. It's been ringing in my ears, and yet I'm still not sick of it. That's how you know we have a chart-topper. Well, in my charts, anyway. 5/5

#2. Ingrid Michaelson - Everybody
Thanks to Sandra & Holly for recommending this track to me. It's a fun, simple tune you could sing along to. You could say it's just clichés in it, but you know what? It doesn't matter, does it? "Everybody, Everybody wants to love, Everybody, Everybody wants to be loved" - such sweet lyrics should put a smile on your face. On top of that, Ingrid's voice is like candy to the ears. 4.6/5

#3. Train - Hey, Soul Sister
Thanks to and the US Charts for recommending this track. As with many US exports, I am unfamiliar to them at first. I still am, when it comes to this band. But what I do know is that this track has the vibes of another brilliant feel-good track - "I'm Yours" by Jason Mraz. And we all know where that went. So, I'm sure this track will cross the Atlantic and Pacific. 4.5/5

#4. The Script - Breakeven
I know I'll look outdated with this pick. But who cares. Some of you might have heard this track before, didn't know the title/artiste, and after you google/spotify this band and hear the track, you'll now know what the band is. That's why I put it in the list. It's a nice track. 4.4/5

#5. Keane and K'naan' - Stop For A Minute
One of my favourite bands, Keane, has been in the studios. Following their last album, Perfect Symmetry, they'll be releasing "Night Train" on 10 May 2010 - I'll hopefully remember to review that when it's out. Meanwhile, we have a single to listen to. Call me biased, but it seems that whatever Keane does, I will still like it. And you know what? The same applies here. 4.3/5

#6 Miike Snow - Animal
If you are fine with imperfect vocals - think Empire of the Sun, MGMT - and you like abstract lyrics - again, think Empire of the Sun, MGMT - then this you might like. I've listened to "Black and Blue", another one of Miike's tracks, played on the radio far too often on Juice Brighton, and after looking up this guy's other tracks, I kinda like his/their tracks. 4.2/5

Alright, I'm running out of time, so here's a quick rundown on the rest of the list.

#7 Mika feat. RedOne - Kick A** (We Are Young)
Soundtrack from the movie Kick-A**. (I know it's not that bad a cuss word, but hey, this is a family-friendly blog.) 4.1/5

#8 Jack Johnson - You and Your Heart
I smell an album coming. (In June, perhaps?) 4.0/5

#9 Diana Vickers - Once
Yes, she's number one on the UK charts. Doesn't mean she's number one on mine. 3.95/5

#10 Kate Nash - Do-Wah-Doo
Again, yet another radio hit. 3.9/5

Well, there you go. My Music Picks for the moment. Hope you enjoy them as much as I do!

Oh, side-track. I've tried listening to Anberlin. The only track that I like so far is "The Unwinding Cable Car". Maybe Anberlin and I are just not meant to be. In the same way that Marmite and Kiwifruits aren't meant for each other. Heh.

Sunday, 18 April 2010

On Music...

If you haven't seen my post on my room decor (probably because the images are taking years to upload), then I do recommend you check that out.

Because if you do/did, then you'd probably seen some of the stuff I've been listening to and enjoying.

I bought a CD (GASP!). The first time I heard this band, it was in a free single off of iTunes - Two Door Cinema Club is the band I'm talking about here. But once I heard the single (and iTunes rarely gives free singles that I enjoy/stick to), I thought "Hey, this is a good track. Let's see what else they have". And because the album was going for cheap at Resident, the record store in the North Laines, I bought it on Record Store Day. It's indie rock with a hint of electronica (they're not really electronica, but I sense a bit of the vibes that I normally get from an electronica track, if you get what I mean). Very similar to Phoenix, I'd say. Really enjoying the album, Tourist History. 4.5/5

Must Download: 
Something Good Can Work 
Eat That Up, It's Good For You
Come Back Home

Next up: Vampire Weekend, with Contra. Again, someone else could probably write a better description/biography of them than I can, but I'll tell it the way I hear their tracks. It's playful music. The first track, Horchata, opens up with a beat that reminds you of the Calypso. Then you have Holiday, which makes you feel you're enjoying a nice day at the beach. Oh, and of course, Giving Up The Gun (which has been charting in the UK) always puts a smile to my face everytime I hear it. Which is why it took over to become the song I first hear when I get up. I normally don't like playful, but for once, I actually love the beats these guys are throwing down. 4/5

Must Download:
Giving Up The Gun
Diplomat's Son

This one's been out for some time, but apparently, I haven't reviewed it yet. So, let's talk Mumford And Sons, which should not be mistaken for a small business run by Mr Mumford. They're a slightly more folksy band - in their album, Sigh No More, you'll hear banjos, violins and the double bass, occasionally the piano and guitar, but otherwise, they're a very "stripped-down" musical group. Organic music, if you'd like to call it. Nothing wrong with that - I like how it sounds, especially on a lazy, sunny weekend. Sigh No More gets a 3.8/5.

Must Download:
The Cave
Winter Winds
Little Lion Man

From an older album to a newer album. Here's Jonsí with Go. Let's face it. This album's a bit eccentric in its arrangement. Personally, I'm not digging the sounds - maybe because I'm starting to get irritated by the falsettos. Putting my personal grudges aside, I think people who like MGMT (I'll get on to it later) and Sigur Ros will like this album. Heck, if you're a fan of Jonsi and all he's been doing, from Jonsi&Alex to Sigur Ros, then you would have probably bought this album. But personally, I'm really sorry to give it: 2/5

Must Download:
Go Do

Here's a quick one: MGMT, with Congratulations. Maybe it's just me, but I don't like it. 1/5.

Must Download:

Here's a longer one to round up the review post - Miike Snow's latest own-name album. I've been hearing their songs being played regularly over the radio whenever I work at BHF (the charity shop where I'm volunteering). Love their stuff. It's a louder version of The xx, in a sense. Along the lines of Passion Pit. In a subjective way, I love this band. Nuff' said. 4.5/5

Must Download:
Black or Blue
A Horse Is Not A Home

There you go! 6 album reviews in a short space of time. Enjoy!

On SA vs ACS

There's tons of stuff I wanted to get off my mind. So, here's the first blog post for the night...

On SA vs ACS...

I haven't said much on this, mainly because I thought I shouldn't, since I didn't understand what happened. But now that things are a bit clearer, I'm breaking the silence.

Don't get me wrong - I love my alma mater. But can we be a bit more objective about this whole SA-AC debacle, and set our differences aside? What happened on the pitch shouldn't have happened. Since it has happened, we should try to resolve it, not to let the single spark burn down the whole forest on both sides of the border. The way Stomp reports the incident is not very helpful, for one. Clearly, the "Stomper" that gave the tip-off to this story (or, more likely, the editor) has never been to a Rugby Finals Match, because it has been a tradition for students from the victorious school to run to the pitch after the final whistle has been blown, as a form of celebration. Then, everyone will gather around the centre stand - many of the students will be on the field at this time, too. This hasn't been a big deal since, oh, way before I reached Secondary school (I've graduated, if you are asking). It's only in 2010 that the press is horrified to learn about the "traditions" of the Inter-schools Rugby Finals.

I'm really glad to see some positive responses to this incident from various parties - I've heard the principals of both schools have arranged the teams to meet. That's a positive first step. And I've seen some alumni and students trying to ease the situation with Facebook groups and discouraging inflammatory comments/feelings. And I've seen a more neutral commentary on [Link].

We have to deal with this situation in a matured fashion.

This aggressive behaviour is not acceptable. But given the circumstances, I can understand why it has happened. Think about it - these rugby players have been working at trying to clinch the title for months. They've worked their guts out, they've sacrificed quite a lot, and at the end of the day, they are still students. They've been through a lot, only to realise that their effort was only enough for 2nd, not first. And add to that the score margin line of 1 point. That was probably the last straw for that student who snapped.

We are all capable of being violent and aggressive. That's what Phillip Zimbardo and Stanley Milgram both proved in each of their studies. We are all capable of making mistakes. We all are. We're only human, after all. Let's just make amends and carry on. Lesson learnt, no inflammatory comments necessary.


Ok, I take back what I said about Stomp. My criticism of them might have been a bit harsh. To be fair, the person who wrote up the story was probably relying on a 3rd-party account of the incident. Would have been unreliable, but hey, that's how Stomp works, with its contribution and citizen journalism methods, isn't it? It's not perfect, but it gets the word out on what happened.

On my room...

A lot of you have been asking about my room...

I wished people asked more about my room.
Well, let's pretend you care about it as much as I do, and talk home decor.

Welcome to my room!

From L-R:
•"Swim" 7" (Surfer Blood) on the Toilet door,
•"Contra" Poster (Vampire Weekend) opposite the mirror, so that whenever I look in the mirror for too long, I get reminded by the disgusted girl in the album art that I should get a move on.
•An Installation Work that I'm working on in my room - trying to make a tree-structure using spare / dead earphones. (Yes, I still need more. Do donate them if you have any you can give, and if you're in Brighton).
•"The XX" Poster (The xx) on the right of the mirror. Over it, there's a brochure which I took from the Manchester Art Museum, which says "Welcome".

My desk - a bit messy.
My Installation work - Work-in-progress. Pictured with Two Door Cinema Club's latest album.
Mirror - Get the 'disgusted girl' idea now?

Close-up of my desk.
Clockwise from Top-L:
Shelf of books and files - nothing interesting there.
Blackboard - Top Gear Calendar, Bits of paper, lanyards, post-its, my Bose QC15s (an extension of my installation work - the cable merely dangles on other earpieces, so I can grab the headphones and keep the work intact.)
On the desk - cups/bottles, empty tissue box meant for receipts for accounting purposes, Sunjar, notepad with Magic Mouse, my plot of grass, two light sources - one has a tissue roll above it. And of course, my beloved gadgets - MBP, iPhone, JBL speakers.

My bed and cupboard.
Never-closed cupboard door for hanging jackets,
"Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust" (Sigur Ros) 12"
An array of photos, including images of my laptop screen (hidden away, but available on Flickr), The donut near Brighton pier, two of Hove beach side-by-side, interrupted by The XX (The xx) 12", then an image of the Spinnaker at Portsmouth, and another of a brick-and-mortar building in Birmingham (all are available in the "UK" set on my Flickr page).

Below the images: a row of CDs that I got from the textbooks that I bought, visually connected by a spoilt cable that used to be for my Bose QC15s (don't worry, I got a free replacement from Bose). The first disc has a post-it note.

Oh, and if you look closely, you might see that the vinyl case has something stuck at the middle of the white "X". It's my pitch-pipe - the one with the overly-sharp High F. These things make good indicators for how I'm leaning, in terms of an array of options. You see, 3 of the 4 CDs had post-it notes written on them, detailing my options for University. Speaking of which...

The Post-it Note.
For weeks, the pitch pipe has been pointing towards this Post-it (or an 'E', if you want to know the note). By process of elimination, it seems like that's how I'm choosing for my UCAS...

Friday, 16 April 2010

Music to wake up with...

I've been using this Alarm Clock App on my Mac (yes, my Mac, not my iPhone. Link: ) to wake me up recently. Really lightweight, and it lets you choose a playlist, rather than just a 30s clip as it is on the iPhone, to rock you and keep you dancing as you get out of bed. Just remember to turn up the speaker volume and unplug your earphones/plug in your speakers!

Anyway, thanks to this app, I can now have an excuse to blog again - to make a playlist of tunes to get you out of bed!

1. Take That - Greatest Day
What's better than waking up to hear someone sing to you "Today, this could be the greatest day of our lives"?

2. Angels and Airwaves - The Adventure
Set iTunes to start playing 23 seconds in, and you'll be awaken by a build-up, from the softer percussion instruments, to the electric guitars looming in the background, followed by the cymbals clash and at the end of the build-up, the climax. It's all about the build-up.

3. Sigur Ros - Inní mér syngur vitleysingur
If you speak Icelandic, well I hope this option makes sense. To the rest of us, it has colourful, cheerful, and chirpy qualities. What's not to like?

4. The Wombats - Let's Dance to Joy Division
Nothing like a song that wants to make you jump out of bed and just move about energetically, no matter how foul your mood may be.

5. Black Eyed Peas - Rock That Body
Of course, yet another track to get you looking lively in a minute.

6. - It's a New Day
Though this song was meant to mark the Obama campaign and eventual election victory, its title can be taken literally, and what you get is an optimistic track to get the day started right.

7. Jonsí - Go Do
The title is apt - urging you to 'Go Do' whatever it is you should be doing, other than lying in bed. But since the lyrics is hard to comprehend, let's go on the merits of the music itself. It's uplifting, and it contrasts the pumping staccatos of the percussions and the flute with the legato of Jonsí's bright falsetto vocals.

8. McFly - Star Girl
I know this seems like a random choice, but Chris Moyles, the morning breakfast show DJ on BBC Radio 1, has been playing this song every Friday, calling it "McFly-day". No idea how or why, but this song feels appropriate for the occasion - it gets you all prepared for the last working day of the week. Do sing along with the 'Oo-oo-oo-oohhh..." bits to warm up your vocal chords in the morning (especially in the shower!).

So there you go. 8 choice tracks to get you out of bed and into your nice clothes!

Friday, 9 April 2010

Using Maths and Logic.

I'm back in Brighton from my trip to Birmingham and Manchester.

Right now, I have 25 days to decide where I want to go for my University studies (due 4 May 2010).

Been thinking real hard, but I'm having problems deciding, especially after visiting the universities. I really like Warwick, and I'm undivided when it comes to Manchester and Exeter. The good thing about this is that I know what one of my option will be - Warwick. Also, I don't want Manchester to be my firm, since their offer is the lowest of the 3. So, that The bad news? Well, there's 3 options in my mind to choose from -

Scenario 1:
Firm Exeter, Insurance Warwick.

Scenario 2:
Firm Warwick, Insurance Exeter.

Scenario 3:
Firm Warwick, Insurance Manchester.

Basically, my dilemma lies with the requirement for Econs, assuming I drop Psychology A2 - Exeter would want an A, while the other two would take B. If I take Psychology A2, Exeter would also accept an A in that.

My concern is that my Econs Jan exam results weren't what I'd call 'bullish' - I thought I did alright after the paper, and the result came out to be B, instead of the A that I needed. And that was just Unit 2. Now that I'll be taking all 4 units, and seeing how Unit 3 is being covered so quickly, I have doubts over my ability to get an A in Econs.

Psychology is not a good fall-back safe harbour either - the essay mark schemes in A2 are vague, and our teacher (bless her, she tries her best, but she) isn't very helpful in terms of being explicit on the requirements of a good, credit-worthy essay in the new syllabus. Come to think of it, the AQA board's marking methods are as specific as the Labour & Tory Parties' description on how they'll cut spending. Efficiency Savings - what does that even mean? And what counts as evaluation? Does a description of a study which contradicts another person's theory = evaluation or description?

E.g.: for a question on describing and evaluating the role of hormones on gender role: Troche et al. (2007) vs Rommsayer & Troche (2007) on the correlation between 2D:4DR ratios and an individual's sex role. The former showed no correlation, but the latter indicated significant results in males by suggesting that masculinity may be linked to pre-natal exposure to androgens and oestrogens. So, does the mention of a contradicting study count as evaluation? After all, of the 25 marks for an essay, only 9 goes to description, and 16 to evaluation.

This brings me to my next question: should I drop Psychology A2 (yes, I know it's late, but better late than never), so that I can take one slab of burden off of me and focus more on Econs? Or should I just keep diving deeper into this 'mess', as I chose (well, sort-of) to do with HCL at O Level?

Don't get me wrong - I really like Psychology as an area of academia, in the same way I like Biology. It's deeply thought-provoking, fascinating, and impressive to learn so much about human behaviour, only to discover there's so much we don't know. But I don't think knowledge in these areas are what I need to be tested on at this stage, nor in this way. Not when there's loads still left to be covered for Econs in just one month!

---too tired to edit/continue with this post. If you read my FB statuses, you'd know why.---

Friday, 2 April 2010


Phew! What a day!

Yes, I finally moved all my stuff from the place that I've been living in for the past year to the College Residence. Every single thing in my possession, as far as I can tell. To be honest, I can't quite understand how I managed to squeeze all that in one taxi, but there you go!

Anyway, really, really, big thanks to Holly for helping me load, unload and move my stuff, and to Steffie for letting me leave my stuff in her room while I was keyless. Oh, and helping me with my first go at the washing machine & dryer.

Enough talk about moving - it's quite a nightmare today, thanks to the absence of clear direction as to how I should acquire my room keys and new Student Card / Security Pass (which I still don't have). That's the problem with holidays, I guess.

Seriously, let's move on to a new topic. Music.

No pun intended, but I think my music taste is moving, too.

Not quite sure why, but I'm now hooked on Scottish singer/songwriter Amy Macdonald. I only own one of her tracks (thanks to the iTunes Student Giveaway on Facebook 2 years ago). But after Spotifying (I'll trademark that!) her new album "A Curious Thing", I think she's comparable to KT Tunstall, only darker, less euphemisms, and more emotionally expressive. Maybe it's just me, but I kinda like her stuff now, especially the newer ones.

Oh, if you were surprised by that, hold on. I actually like "Plastic Beach", the Gorillaz album. A bit.

To be honest, when I first heard "Stylo" (the first single off the album, so I used this track as a barometer of how the album will 'peak'), I thought to myself: "This is just cheesy synth mixing. I'm not going to like this album". But when I listened to the rest of the album (again, on Spotify), I had to retract the statement. Well, part of it, anyway.

It is cheesy. Don't tell me it isn't. You hear disco clips here and there across the album, and that is cheesy.

But that hasn't stopped me from getting hooked on a few of the tracks. "Some Kind Of Nature" reminds me of The XX - gentle, hushed sounds with almost whispery vocals. And I guess I loved the song even more because of the whole half-rap-over-a-staccato-background action. I also like Rhinestone Eyes and Empire Ants.

To be honest, I think I don't mind hearing this album at a restaurant or pub, or even a radio station. It feels quite laid back and 'relaxing'. Probably makes good muzak (Check the definition of the word 'muzak' if you think that sentence didn't make sense. You might be thankful.).

I've also been listening to Vampire Weekend.

Oh, and I'm also forcing myself to hear more of Anberlin. Because I keep hearing this band name left and right. Let's see how I get on...

K. off to bed.