Tuesday, 29 May 2012

If I could play you a song to make you fall in love... (Part 2)

Here's the second wave of my favourite old and cheesy love songs. Old = anything that's older than 12 years, which is funny because I'm actually really surprised about how old some songs are. Which makes me 1) think about how seriously quick time's gone by, 2) remember the boys I've met (but not the feeling!) and 3) realise how old I am. Good grief.

Anyway, here's 25-21 if you fancied a recap.

20. Dan Siegel feat. Kenny Rankin - Next To You 
Circa '91
This is on the list because 1) it's the ultimate sap song for people who are too far from people they like and b) the intro reminds me of the theme from Dougie Howser MD, and for the longest time (before he came out), I was very much in love with a genius child doctor.
In my mind, Ooh ooh, I have kissed you
And it feels like a thousand times
I'd lose track of all the hours
Dreamin' I'm next to you
This is where I belong

19. Bread - Make It With You

Circa '70
When I was young my friend and I had theories that this song had more connotations than we were allowed to think of at that age. But it simply is just an awesome declaration of desire to make things work with someone. Hard pursuit? You could learn a thing or two on reassurance with this tune.
No, you don't know me well
In every little thing only time will tell
But you believe the things that I do
And we'll see it through

18. World Party - She's The One

Circa '97
The myth: girls like bad boys. The truth: girls are attracted to boys who have swag and a bit of cheek as long as they're still decent enough to bring home to mommy. That's why Robbie William's version of this World Party original made the ladies swoon. I remember having a thing with a seemingly notorious bloke once. He played me this song and... talked. Realised that beyond the cool bad boy facade, he's just a really sensitive dude who's up for something big.
I was her, she was me
We were young, we were free
And if there's somebody calling me on
She's the one

17. Starship - Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now
Circa '87
Mannequin was one of the first movies I've seen and is possibly the first movie that made me think of love as a fairy tale. Wow, do I know better. Haha. I did warn you this playlist involves cheesy gooey stuff - but hey everyone loves an anthem. Especially when it involves a video with shoulder pads, big hair and Andrew McCarthy. =)
Let them say we're crazy
What do they know?
Put your arms around me, baby, don't ever let go
Let the world around us just fall apart
Baby, we can make it if we're heart to heart

16. Frank Sinatra - Fly Me To The Moon

Circa '64
Love is a happy, whimsical, big band swing affair. This actually isn't the original but it's the one I remember and love best (previous ones were a bit more sombre, like the Johnny Mathis version). What's better than sweeping your loved ones off their feet? Flying them to the moon!
Fill my heart with song and let me sing forever more
You are all I long for, all I worship and adore
In other words, please be true
In other words, I love you

To be continued...

Saturday, 26 May 2012

Yet another 6-track playlist

Before I bombard you with old cheesy love songs, here are a few new tunes I'm loving at the moment.

John Mayer - Whiskey, Whiskey, Whiskey
I've always loved John. Listening to his new offering, Born and Raised, felt like a therapy session except this time it feels like I'm the one taking notes and not the one lying on the couch. The songs on the record are quite confessional and it almost feels as if JM woke up, reflected on his life, had an 'I need to get my act together' moment, and recorded an album. What makes it even more interesting is how semi-stripped down it is, kinda reminiscent of folk/country, bring-your-own-harmonica tunes my Dad would play when I was little. It's still classic JM with impeccable guitar-playing, catchy enough melodies with sensitive and straight up lyrics. This may not please all crowds but you cannot fault the talent and heart it has - kinda like the man himself.

Motion City Soundtrack - Timelines
Released only a few days ago, this is the band's second single off their fifth studio album Go. With the surge of alternadance/new electro subpop, I've missed the good old sound of American new punk-rock. It almost reminds me of how high school feels like, and listening to Timelines definitely takes me back to some good memories of teenage dreaming and coming-of-age. Wouldn't be surprised if this turns up on some teen movie/series soundtrack. It's not a matter of time, it's just timing.

Best Coast - Up All Night
The band's Crazy For You album is one of my favourite perk-me-up records ever (similar to The Drums' self-titled record). The Only Place starts your surf-rock journey with the title track and you're taken to an imaginary beach when the sun's high and the waves are massive. But then Bethany Cosentino takes you to the shore gives you an ice cold beer and sings short, sweet woos about life, love and something like it. She reminds me so much of Kimi Ward. Awesome. This track is perfect for some whiney moments when you're feeling the frustrations of liking someone from a different time zone.

Santigold - Disparate Youth
I love the repetitiveness of this track. A bit like Creator, but not as aggressive, I think it's absolutely perfect for lazing out and going rebellious against the sun's UV rays in the parks at summertime. Santigold's laidback vocals and no nonsense chant is always a pleasure when you just want to be all chilled out. Nothing disparate about this track. Nothing at all.

Aiden Grimshaw - Is This Love
Aiden's probably my favourite X-Factor contestant ever because when he performed, he was in his own little world and despite all the commercial people saying he had to connect with the audience more, I was taken to his world too. His version of Cannonball was intense, and his version of Mad World sealed it for me. Saying that, I didn't see him going down this road, although admittedly it fits so well. There's something delicious about this track, it's actually my current wake-me-up song.

Vampire Weekend - White Sky (Cecile remix)
Old tune, old remix new connotations and all that. It's summertime and the percussion just makes me want to groove into daybreak. With no shoes on.

Saturday, 19 May 2012

The 10-year-old habit.

I first had coffee when I was 8. Day after Christmas, my mother was making a pot of fresh brew (a gift from a family friend). She added some powdered cream and three teaspoons of sugar and the aroma was insanely delicious. She took a sip whilst reading the papers looking all chic, cool and grown up. I want to look like that, I thought, so I asked for a cup and she said I was too young, that I should have some cocoa instead. I begged. And begged. And begged until she said I was allowed to have a sip from her cup. I finished half of its contents. And fell ill for the rest of the week until New Year's Eve. I stayed clear of coffee since then.

I started drinking again when I went to UP. At first it was seriously to keep me up whilst studying. Long group study/planning sessions would then be arranged at cafés near uni. And then it became more of a networking/social thing - 'Hey, let's catch up over coffee!' or 'Let's go out on a date... over coffee!' or 'Let's do coffee to discuss business... and sports.' I don't think I've ever gone a day without coffee since I was 17. I really don't. 

I became dependent on the stuff when I went to Bournemouth and my taste buds evolved from three teaspoons of sugar to syrupy pretentious sounding coffee to just plain black fresh brew. Preferably Italian or Colombian, dark roast. Strong and bitter, please. I used to drink a big cup in the morning and a big cup in the afternoon. That eventually changed to 3 cups in the morning, 2 cups in the arvo and a cup after dinner. I'd eventually go on days without much sleep, semi-crashing in the morning only to depend on coffee again for a boost. Long story short, I was consuming way too much than I should and I wasn't really drinking enough water (at times I wasn't even drinking any) to kind of dilute it at all. I needed to stop before I ODed on caffeine. 

30 days ago I decided to go cold turkey. It was surprisingly easier than I thought. And the benefits have been amazing:

  • I am now able to sleep, at least 5 hours straight. I've always had a sporadic sleep pattern but now I actually feel sleepy at a decent hour.
  • My skin feels a lot better. Possibly because I get more sleep.
  • I drink healthier stuff - fresh fruit smoothies/juice, green tea, water!
  • I have my appetite back. Admittedly, I'm still working on eating on time.
  • I am actually more keen to exercise. 
  • I do not feel like crashing on random hours of the day and my body clock has adjusted well.

Do I miss coffee? I miss the taste, and the smell of freshly brewed coffee with a hint of cinnamon bread is still one of my favourite scents. I miss the buzz and the boost I get from it. However, there are a lot of alternatives that give me better benefits. I'm sure I'll have coffee again eventually but I'd like to see how far I can go without. And when I do, I'm pretty sure I can drink it, finally, moderately. Everything in moderation, even moderation. 

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

The Chancery: where Sally almost met Harry

I heard The Chancery has a new chef - Mladen Vidaković. Chef Joe, as he's fondly called, has worked with Michelin-starred chefs such as Chris & Jeff Galvin, the great Marco Pierre White and Garry Hollihead. He's headed impressive kitchens including Hollihead's Embassy London and Embassy Abu Dhabi, White's Wheelers Restaurant and recently Guernsey's own Bella Luce. Restaurateur Zak Jones definitely has a surefire hit for his little gem of a restaurant in the heart of London's highly legal street.

But then I've always liked The Chancery, for the mere fact that it's good for dates. Har har. Tucked in a corner down Cursitor Street, it's discreet enough for a get-to-know and delicious enough for a good meal out.

Let's go back to one of my memorable dates there. We had a really early table (6pm!) and arrived just as they opened. We were the first punters around, which was quite embarrassing because we had the whole 70-cover restaurant to ourselves. The servers were nice enough to be polite about our slight discomfort. We were led to a quiet corner table by the windows which gave us a bit of pseudo-privacy before others arrived. It didn't exactly feel romantic (but what do you expect when you're on Chancery Lane) but it definitely felt cosy (which was unexpected as we were on Chancery Lane!)

We were offered the wine list straight away. I wanted something white and aromatic because I wanted seafood. My date and I are fans of German riesling but as they didn't have any, we opted for an Australian one (Duckbill) which was actually good. We only shared a bottle, but secretly I think we were just being polite and could have easily downed one each.

Our amuse bouche was some sort of arancini, except it had some sort of mushroom and tartare sauce instead of traditional ragu. It definitely did the trick, our palates were teased and we wanted more.

For entrées, my date went safe with foie gras whilst I opted for an Anglo-Indian inspired plate of scallops and aubergine bhaji. The scallops (came with creamed spinach) were seared nicely and were very sweet and juicy. The bhaji (served with raita, chili jam, and mango chutney) had a great kick and wasn't too doughy nor too oily like the pakoras you get in typical Indian restaurants.

My date went on a proper meat fest for his main (points!): roast lamb with ravioli of confit shoulder. I had a few forkfuls off his plate and I had to stop myself before I finished the entire thing. The lamb was SO tender and perfect with the jus (even though it had hint of marsala wine, which I usually dislike). I'm not a fan of confit anything but the ravioli was actually my favourite thing on the plate. It was a really decent, bold, masculine dish with just the right amount of sweetness to lift it. Just like I like my men.

My dish was a bit lighter - I went for hake served on a potage of mussels and squid. I was reluctant when I saw the red pesto on top of my fish as I really don't like sauce on fish. However, I had my first bite and was totes blown away. The fish, meaty as it was, melted in my mouth and swam straight to my happy belly. The stew had more mussels than squid but it was really delicious, divinely creamy and had just about the right thickness. It was a glorious plate of seafood.

We were served some sort of passionfruit jelly pot as a palate cleanser; mine was a wee bit tangy for my liking but well, my palate was cleansed and I was ready for dessert.

My date chose the dulce de leche cheesecake with buttermilk ice cream whilst I opted for the perpetual favourite: warm chocolate cake and vanilla ice cream. Talk about indulging. The cheesecake was really good; you could smother it with delectable praises but mine was absolutely out of this world. The cake was perfect, perfect, perfect. It was rich, moist, nutty, perfectly bittersweet and absolutely light. I almost forgot about the vanilla ice cream, but perhaps that was a good thing, because somehow it took on a hint of the mint on top of it. Now I had some sort of chocolate-mint-vanilla concoction. De.li.cious.

It was a truly pleasurable dinner. The place was already packed by the time we finished our starters, yet everything (but the service) felt relaxed. The servers were knowledgeable about their stuff and were eager to suggest without being too pushy/intrusive. My date and I got to talk between meals and though the restaurant felt quaint, we were both at ease and didn't feel like our next-table-neighbours were eavesdropping at all. But then we had serious moments when we weren't exactly talking. Our plates seemed to scream things we wanted to say and we were actually throwing approvingly orgasmic oohs and ahhs from across the table (food-related, of course). Seriously. We were closing up on Meg Ryan's infamous diner scene because it was that good and I actually had to concentrate on making small talk before I blew my head off.

Anyway if you must know: he didn't end up being my Harry. Almost, but not quite. Then again, this Sally ended up with a happy belly. So all's fair.

You should definitely go. Bring a date. Or bring me. Or bring a date and bring me. They have a new spring menu which I'm excited to try.

The Chancery 
No. 9 Cursitor Street, London EC4A | +44 (0)20 7831 4000
Ave spend pp: £40 for a 3 course meal, wine starts at £17/bottle

Sunday, 6 May 2012

If I could play you a song to make you fall in love...(Part 1)

I've not heard a new make-me-melt, sweep-me-off-my-feet, can't-eat-can't-sleep love song in ages. The kind that has the same impact no matter how many times you hear to it because you will always remember the first time you really listen to it; like how you will always remember the first time you meet the person you will marry.

Growing up, my dad would play songs from the '50s-'90s in full blast at home. I'd insist on playing current/Top40 tracks but he would argue that listening to his tunes would de-stress him after long working days and that they're gold. He would say, 'These songs bear more meaning than the ones on the radio now so listen. You'll get it one day...' I would sulk about this before but I actually understood when I felt absolute devastation at 12.

The first guy I (thought I) fell in love with had to leave and I found myself humming Barry Manilow's Somewhere Down The Road. My young heart really and truly felt we had the right love at the wrong time but that letting go was just another way to say 'I'll always love you so.' I lived and loved the song so much that I recorded a tape with it on loop. Such a sappy thing to do, I know, but when I finally moved on from the shock and the heartbreak, I spent the rest of the summer rummaging through the family's collection of cassette tapes, vinyl records & CDs and created albums of (mostly old) love songs thinking (and again, taking inspiration from Barry) that 'maybe the old songs will bring back the old times'. Oh, Barry.

I fell deeply in love that summer, with music. It's the kind of love that toed lines between all things platonic, all things fueled by passion, and all things innocent. I'd create soundtracks and playlists for everything and anything: for sick days and happy days and year-defining moments, for adventures with friends and even blog layouts. I'd convey opinions through song titles and converse with fellow music lovers through lyrics. Sunday mornings are spent in bed with the radio on. When I hear a song I like in shops or on TV, I'd jot the words and Google them. I'd associate people I know with songs (which I'd sometimes remember first before their names). My personal world revolved around it, everything and anything involved it. Whether my heart soared or sank, I got by with a little help from my friends and my tunes.

I like all sorts of genres but I do get into phases of preference. In the past months, I've been playing a lot of dubstep, surf rock, 90's-early '00s alternative. These days, I've been playing a lot of the same old love songs I've teased my father about. He was right about how meaningful they can be. Old love songs may have simple (albeit cheesy on occasion) melodies and lyrics but that probably is key to the purpose of their existence - you don't need to be all cryptic and highfalutin when you're professing your love or when you're trying to make someone fall in love with you, right? A good song need no further explanation because it just is, like how you sometimes can't answer why you love someone because you just do.

Anyway. A friend has asked if I could suggest some songs for a roadtrip he was going on with his 'lady' who's into her tunes and sings in a jazz band. I happily obliged and a week later he happily reported that they were officially together. =) BOOM BOOM BOOM! So in an attempt to spread the love I've decided to share it here, in parts. There's a big fat warning of ultimate cheese and sap although ironically, (and fortunately for you) Barry doesn't quite make the cut.

How to win a heart in 25 (old-ish) love songs
(a.k.a. - the 'If I were to make you ligaw' playlist)

25. The Temptations - My Girl
Circa '64
You've got to start the sound trip with this one. Come on. If the first two bars do not make you smile and feel like hopping on a bike date with an ice cream sundae on your hand, then you must be a seriously tough nut to crack. 
I've got sunshine on a cloudy day
When it's cold outside I've got the month of May
I guess you'd say what can make me feel this way?
My girl

24. Alanis Morissette - Head Over Feet
Circa '96 (And yes, this is now considered old!)
The defining song of 6th grade when I started feeling gooey about aforementioned boy, whom I've also punched in the stomach in 3rd grade. Possibly an anthem for most rehabilitated alphas/cynics of the world. 
I've never felt this healthy before
I've never wanted something rational
I am aware now... I am aware now
You've already won me over in spite of me

23. James Taylor - If I Keep My Heart Out Of Sight
Circa '77
When I hear this song, I think of a bumbling dork who messes up on a first date with his dream girl due to nerves, because he wants to make everything seem perfect. There's actually something quite adorable about that.
If I keep on talking now
I'll only start repeating myself
and all I can say is I love you
I love you, I love you, I love you

22. Deftones - Be Quiet and Drive (Far Away) 
Circa '98 
There's something magical about being stuck in a car with someone you like, grabbing a map and choosing a destination over rock-paper-scissors/darts. Sets out the 'we are young and free' vibe. Chino Moreno's voice in this acoustic version is perfect.
It feels good to know you're mine
Now drive me far away 
Away, away, far away
I don't care where just far away

21. Peter Frampton - Baby I Love Your Way 
Circa '75
I've always found this song dreamy, hazy, honeymoon-y (possibly because of the Big Mountain cover). Makes me want to grab a partner and just dance the night away under a big fat moon.
Sidenote: Does anyone remember Mig Ayesa singing this on Rockstar:INXS, making Dave Navarro all emo? Dave said 'All I could think about was how much I love my wife' after. That was sweet. Shame they divorced years later.
I can see the sunset in your eyes
Brown and gray, blue besides
Clouds are stalking islands in the sun
I wish I could buy one out of season
Don't hesitate 'cause your love won't wait

To be continued...