Sunday, 30 September 2012

Keep Calm and Think Random Happy Thoughts

We're down to the last quarter of the year and I can't believe 2012 is flying by so quickly. The past few weeks have been slightly, er, trying and I'm feeling all sorts of exhaustion. That said, keeping a positive frame of mind is always the key to get by. Along with some random bits and bobs.

1. That warm cosy feeling
I like hugs. They give you a warm feeling with no words necessary. There's definitely been a drop in temperature and as fall waddles its way through the city, sometimes all I want to do is hug someone after a long day. As my hugging options are limited, the instinct to layer up is the next best thing. A good sweater gives you that warm cosy feeling and it makes you feel good, too. I'm currently obsessing on jumpers, cardigans, cable knit sweaters. I've been doing some retail therapy (told you it's been a trying month!) and I've bought four in two weeks. I feel like hugging myself.

Jumpers Sept 12 by thegirlnextshore 

2.  Things We Forget
I love this site. Most of the time when we're focusing too much on the tangible means of survival, we tend to forget the (not so) little things that help us get to where we are/where we want to be. We forget how determined we can be when we're hopeful; how things are put in perspective when we stop worrying so much; how good it feels to just be good; and, at times when we've attained a certain level of success, how humility has driven us there. It's nice to be reminded through nuggets of wisdom. Via post-its.

3. Lucy Rose - Like I Used To
So Lucy Rose, who's been featured in a few Bombay Bicycle Club tracks, finally comes up with a debut album. Admittedly, it comes across as something you've not not heard before: a collection of love songs about a girl's experiences, written by a girl and sung by a girl with a guitar and a folky voice. That said, the album fell into my lap at the right time and it really got me in a productive zone. Tracks I like: Middle of The BedShiver, Watch Over and Scars (see below). Have a listen/buy the album here.

4. Tuesday Dinner Club
So the housemates and I have been doing some sort of Tuesday Dinner Club. We've only done two so far but it's been successful. I've hosted the first one, an American diner theme with burgers and chips and M hosted Italian night. This is going to be a regular thing for us now and it's awesome because it makes our house of randoms feel more like a home for friends. =)

5. FaceTime and Skype
Ahhh. The power of technology! When you're far away from the people you love and care about and you just really want to share stuff and stories with them, Skype and FaceTime makes it all better!

6. Spotify Premium
Finally bought a Premium account, because I think £9.99 a month is a small price to pay for something I'm way too passionate about.

Tomorrow is the beginning of my birthday month and I'm aiming to shift gears, hoping for a decent, productive drama-free run.

Ah, think happy thoughts.

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Ithaca mashups

Yesterday, the housemates and I spent a good amount of time on YouTube watching random funnies and tunes. One of my favourite videos of the night was a mashup by Ithaca Audio, a Brighton-based music production company who creates audio for adverts, film and telly. I’m not really a fan of mashups, but the ones by Ithaca are pretty good. Have a look for yourself and see whether you can identify the clips on each video!

I loved how atmospheric this was.

Shaft and Star Wars! =)

Adele is just unstoppable

I think all tracks could've had better endings but overall they're just brill. Kudos to Ithaca for a job well done! Genius, don't you think so?  

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

East Street: where it's better the second time around

Some say life is about taking chances and that some things are better the second time around. So to celebrate life and second chances, A & I went back to East Street. A scored a deal via Groupon: £17 for a 3-course meal each. We only had to pay for drinks and sides. Bargain!

While waiting for our starters I got a bit peckish so I decided to grab some spicy prawn crackers (£2.20). I hate those normal white prawn crackers you get from Chinese restaurants because they taste like cardboard. These were nice, though. Probably the same ones they serve at Mango Tree.

I was craving for dumplings so I ordered gyoza for starters (normally £5.25). I rarely order gyoza because I find them boring. East Street's mini bites were fairly decent though. The minced pork and prawn filling was pretty tasty; I didn't need the dipping sauce to pack more flavour.

My entree was the bu loc lac (Vietnamese shaking beef, £8.95). Presentation-wise it charmingly looked homemade, like something one would make to impress a date at home. It tasted homemade meal too, like something comforting your angels would have prepped for you after a long day. It's good. The rump steak was tender, cooked beautifully and infused in a sauce seemingly made of the triumvirate of Asian cooking.

For dessert, I thought of getting the khaw niaow mamuang (Thai sticky rice pudding) but decided to stick to the Vietnamese theme and got the chuoi ran (£4.95) instead. Similar to the Philippines' turon (deep fried bananas in spring roll wrapper), it's made with fried bananas coated in nuts and breadcrumbs. East Street served it with some sort of caramel sauce and cinnamon ice cream. This was definitely a treat.

A & I were comfortably full after but definitely happier than when we first visited. Our choices were heaps better than the first visit (A got goi con for starters, pad thai for mains and the same for dessert). The servers were more attentive and eager to serve, so much so that we had five different ones come to our table through the night. The atmosphere seemed livelier and I think that's what East Street is really about. The food is still 'just okay' but it's fast and it's quick and it's cheap. Why not.

Oh, there was some sort of evidence that we really enjoyed it this time around, but you've got to be friends with me on the social networks for that ;)

East Street Restaurant
3-5 Rathbone Place London W1T 1HJ | +44(0)20 7323 0860
Ave spend pp £20 for three courses, sides and drinks
East Street Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Sunday, 9 September 2012

6 tracks for sunny September

September's been sunny and super amazing and we're only on the first week. It'll be a few days/weeks left before we succumb to a crisp cool autumn but hey, I'm not complaining!

As usual, six tracks I'm loving at the mo.  

Listening to the band's EPs remind me of steady chilled festivals. Their take on Miike Snow's Animal is a pretty good cover. This song makes me feel like dancing barefoot in a field with people (kinda like the Beirut mass dance at Field Day). 

Hey Ocean! - Big Blue Wave
My current happy song. I'm in a long distance relationship (more on this later, maybe) and yes this has been my go-to song when I'm feeling a bit... uh... kilig. It's perky, cheesy and even a bit poppy (gasp) but hey, everyone gets a bit perkycheesypoppy when they're... uh... kilig. 

Alpine - Gasoline
The band's debut A is for Alpine is a dreamy concoction of breezy songs. The vocals are so ethereal, so nonchalant, so European. Which is surprising as the band is actually from Melbourne. How smooth is this? It's reminds me of some sort of deconstructed Royksopp track. Think: cocktails + river cruise + all white party + sundown.

Of Monsters and Men - Slow and Steady
OMAM is hailed as the new Arcade Fire and is Iceland's answer to indie-folk-ternative. Their debut, My Head Is An Animal, is a delight to listen to. This is one of the 'tender' tracks in the album which is perfect for post-work contemplative walks in the fall (when the sun's still out and the breeze is just right).

You Me At Six - Little Bit Of Truth
I've been trying to look for this song for ages! YMAS is one of the Brit bands I like because they remind me of rock/alternative bands from the late 90's and early noughties. The surge of electro-poprock and indie-folk tunes have made me miss tracks with heavier and faster drum beats. That said, this is actually one of the 'tender' tracks in their 2011 album, Sinners Never Sleep.

Jhameel - Let's Run Away
Here's a pop artist I like! Jhameel's take on Broken Social Scene's Anthems of a Seventeen Year Old was pretty cool and his T-Pain cover for Buy You A Drink was interesting. I love his flamboyant voice and his intriguing character. He reminds me so much of Prince. And MJ.

I hope the sun stays out for a while. I'm not ready to say goodbye to summer yet!

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Cover Pop

I love a good cover especially when it surpasses expectations of being just as good as the original. It's great when you hear artists on shows like BBC Live Lounge and AOL Sessions put their own twist to songs you either love or hate. I'm not much of a pop fan but I do appreciate a good cover when I hear one.

Here are a few tracks by pop artists/covered by pop artists that I quite like.

The Fray - Maps
Original - The Yeah Yeah Yeahs
This is one of my favourite songs of the noughties and I'm not surprised it's been covered heaps. Some did an okay job whilst some kinda butchered it. Perhaps I'm biased towards the original but I really didn't think it would ever suit anyone other than Karen O and her quirky attitude. So when The Fray came up with their cutesy version I was surprised to enjoy it as much.

Ben Howard - Call Me Maybe
Original by Carly Rae Jepsen.
This song deserves Last Song Syndrome of the Year award. I thought it was just a typical catchy pop tune with possibly a few weeks worth of airplay. How wrong was I when I heard it again. And again. And again. It drove me nuts but here comes Ben Howard to the rescue with an awesome version. It does have a different vibe - a little more adult, a little less cheesy; a little more NME, a little less TeenBop. Gotta confess, I actually like this song now.

Lee Ryan - Best Of You
Original by Foo Fighters
'I've got another confession to make...' ahh, how apt. This is an old favourite from the BBC Live Lounge series. Blue's Lee Ryan taking on a Foo Fighters song to me is like pouring chocolate on jalapeno peppers. It's just odd, but interesting enough. Lee plays to his strength and gives the song a pop vibe than rock, and the percussion makes it pretty much kick-ass too.

Nada Surf - Enjoy the Silence
Original - Depeche Mode
This song's been covered a number of times and as an unashamed Depeche Mode fan, it's been pretty strange hearing versions of this classic childhood favourite. My favourite cover has to be Nada Surf's 2009 offering, probably because it makes the song a little less dark and somber. Another good 80's hit cover by the band.

Committed - Pretty Wings
Original - Maxwell
When Committed performed this amazing rendition of One Republic's Apologize on The Sing Off I thought they were pretty special, kinda like a new age Boyz II Men. When they came out with an album after winning, I thought they'd include the track there. They didn't, but I was equally pleased they had this song, which is one of my favourites from the amazing Maxwell's BLACKsummers'night album.

Christina Aguilera - Mother
Original by John Lennon
Undoubtedly, Christina has an amazing voice and she can definitely belt it out, but I can only stand her growls for too long. That said, her take on John Lennon's Mother calls for those growly bits and I think she actually does the song justice.

Any pop covers you like?