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Gosh, after claiming that this time around my London life would be different; inspired by my zen travel times, where yoga and plenty of time to contemplate was a regular feature in my life… crikey have I been busy! I think it’s slightly impossible to press the pause button when living in the big smoke. Especially in the summer! I zoom off to work and when I escape into the sunshine at the end of the day, I can’t wait to take a walk by the river, or go meet friends that I’ve been missing and just really enjoy being completely plonked back into the thick of it. There’s always somewhere new to go, something nice to eat and some bubbles to be drunk. It’s so hard to say no! Those shaky reverse-culture-shock stuttery days have long passed and I’m nose-diving super speed into London living, part 2. That’s not to say it’s all been this way; on the odd night that I do come straight home, I have dissolved into a drooly sleeping mess by 8.30pm (still oh so light outside! childhood me would be outraged that this has become a desirable thing!) because I am still suffering massively from new-girl brain drain.

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When I am at home, I am so happy. It’s lovely to finally have a bit of London that is just ours! As much as we have loved previous house mates, after staying in a different hostel every night for 7 months, it was time to have some privacy. Our flat has really exceeded expectations. Sure it’s fun-size, but it still has everything we need, and plenty of sneak space for hiding junk you don’t want out on display. It’s the third floor flat in a converted terrace, so it feels a little like we are living in a treehouse. Our views are pretty much 90% sky, which is lovely, and every time a big truck or lorry passes a rattle passes through. At first I felt like I was about to topple out, but now I’ve got used to them I quite like the daily mini earthquakes! It’s strange to think this time last year I was working in Cannes, with the unknown of travelling and this mammoth life change all ahead of me.

Anyway! What has been keeping me such a busy Bee? Well one thing I have to share, is that a couple of weeks ago one of my loveliest friends Oli celebrated his birthday by inviting a gang of us to the Barbican. We took part in tour that was based around the Barbicans’ Brutalist Architecture. I confess, before rocking up, I had to do a quick Google of “what the heck is brutalist architecture” (read: am I going to have pain inflicted on me during the tour) and the quick answer is no. Brutalism was a fragmented movement in architecture that flourished from the 1950s to the mid-1970s, perhaps as a post-war reaction to some of the frivolity in the architecture of the 30s/40s. Brutalism isn’t as bleak as it sounds; it just reflects the lack of bells and whistles in the look of these buildings. They are very functional, often with a dominance of concrete and rather than hiding them; the architects express in the external elevations the functions, people-flows and general bits that are usually kept hidden. Some famous examples are Park Hill in Sheffield, Western City Gate in Belgrade and the J Edgar Hoover Building in Washington.

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We totally lucked out with the weather for our tour. It was warm enough to lig about in the cold for two hours (you definitely get your moneys worth on this excursion) and the sky treated us to pinky, golden, magic hour hues for the whole time. It was as if the Barbican was really putting on a show of just how beautiful it can be. Our tour guide was a super enthusiastic Irish academic, who wore an amazing batman cape-like coat and stomped around in big clompy heels, whilst blowing our minds with facts, figures and LOTS of secrets. The first thing she was keen to inform us, is that there is a misconception that the Barbican was created as a council housing estate (something I certainly thought was true). The architects who created the Barbican did work previously on a council estate just up the road, but the Barbican certainly wasn’t built as one. In fact, it was built to attract city-types and yuppies! As during the time it was built, there was a huge housing crisis and a demand for more professional housing close to the centre of London. That isn’t to say it didn’t serve the community though; there was a YMCA, a library, a girls school and a church within the estate.

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In my head, I wondered how much more there would be to learn, as I naively thought that in my 7 years a Londoner “I’ve been to the Barbican loads of times”. I’ve actually only really visited the Arts Centre, and briefly scuttled to and from the tube station. What I hadn’t realised what how vast the Barbican estate is. Our wise-owl tour guide told us to start thinking of it less as a building, and more as a town. It houses over 4000 people; which is actually half of the City of London’s population. We started off taking a good look at the bit EVERYONE knows about… the famous towers. They are so dizzyingly magnificent up-close; no matter how you feel about the marmite aesthetic. At the time of being built, they were the tallest building in Europe. Something I found remarkable, is that despite having slightly different heights (2 towers are 43 floors, 1 is 44 floors) they are identical in every other way. When you view them from the ground, this fact seems impossible! They all look totally different angles, directions and shapes. Our guide informed us that the architects did this on purpose, and it’s one of the most amazing feats of the architecture.

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Something that was instantly noticeable on the tour was the quiet. Sitting smack in the centre of London, surrounded by chaotic rush hour hustle and bustle, at most parts of the Barbican all there was to hear was peace and tranquillity. This is another feat of design; with the architects focussing on sound-proofing the Barbican by building it raised high above the streets and noise. This also gives more opportunity for light and views to trickle in to every bit of the estate. We trailed around the nooks and crannies of the residential areas, and peered enviously at the secret gardens and secluded jungle-like patches that are nestled between the buildings. These are private so we couldn’t go in (I need to make friends with a Barbican resident stat) but our guide assured us that they are so sprawling that once inside, you feel like you could be in the middle of Hampstead heath!

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This is an original map from when the Barbican was first built, and it lists the Museum of London as “building in progress”! I think the map is an example of one of the key perks of paying for a guided tour, as this is something you could so easily march past without paying the slightest bit of attention to. I have previously thought the rather dingy subway style tunnels around the Barbican were quite intimidating, but our tour guide laughed that off, claiming there has never been a street-crime on the Barbican estate so it’s safer than basically anywhere else in London. I need to remember to head there next time I’m drunkenly staggering about after a night out. (What am I saying, I am 30 now, and definitely don’t partake in those shenanigans anymore!) Something I found quite sad as we walked around this incredible chunk of London history; is over half of the flats look un-lived in. Curtains closed, blank window faces, ghost town exterior (I think we saw 2 residents, max). Don’t get me wrong, they aren’t empty and up for grabs – sadly – they are just second homes. They are city crash pads or a novelty piece of real estate. I guess that’s actually in-line with the market they were initially aimed at, but I found it quite sad that they don’t get sold to the tenants who’d love every second of the experience but aren’t necessarily the wealthiest.

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I’m sure the question on your lips is… Is the Barbican Brutalist (!) and the answer is well, no, not exactly. See that photo above? After using concrete on the whole estate, which is dead easy, the nuts architects then decided they wanted to add the texture that you can see in this close-up. So, they created that texture using a hand held machine. Yup, on every millimetre (even the high bits!) of this sprawling monster of a creation. Pretty fiddly really, and not quite in line with the anti-ornate simplicity of Brutalism. And now you know! At the end of the tour, raring for more and not wanting to leave, we were snuck into a very secret plant room. This was the most exciting bit, as we headed deeper into the Barbican underbelly. Down in the dank dingy darkness, we could see a patch of wall where the architects sampled different looks for the finish of the building. Fun fact: they gave serious thought to covering the whole lot in white marble! You can still see the sample of it there today.

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I can’t recommend this tour highly enough. Versions of this tour run on a pretty regular basis all year round; you can book your tickets here.

And now for something completely different! Saturday 7th June had been a date engrained on my brain for a pretty long time. Whilst I was travelling, someone I missed horrifically was my gal pal and bridesmaid extraordinare Kate aka Kasia Basia. Epic emails were exchanged, attempted Skype calls melted into frustrating pixels and darth vadar voices, and we generally pined a lot for each other. When Craig came over to meet us in Guatemala he bought me a letter from Kate, and inside was a IOU note saying she had bought us tickets for Arcade Fire in June. At the time, sat in a sticky sweaty Guatemalan hostel and off the back of 5 months of living in the wild, my brain could barely process the information. Gigs? Was that something I did? I was so disconnected from my “old life” and found the whole thing almost impossible to imagine. All I remember thinking was “I’ll have to travel up to Brighton for that” (when in reality I had a 20 min tube journey home). Anyway home we came and the date rolled around, and it had extra special meaning given that it was so loaded with travel memories and was a really special celebration of being back together. So special, I had to wear my new Twin Peaks nerd dream tee-shirt.

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The gig had a whole other layer of nostalgia, as it was at Earls Court which is due for demolition in the probably not too distant future. Gigs there tend to be a bit pricey, so realistically Arcade Fire is the last time I’ll step foot in there. Emotions were riding high! The support was stellar; Lorde and a DJ set by 2 Many DJs, who were joined on stage by an amazing human mirror ball man.

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I last saw Arcade Fire on the Neon Bible tour in 2007, the gig was at Alexandra Palace, it was pouring with rain and I trecked all the way there from Streatham. I knew they were fantastic, and liked them enough, but in the past 7 years they really have taken on a pretty iconic position in my favourite-music charts. Every album so perfectly encapsulates the time of my life it was released. I was so happy to be there with Kate who I know feels exactly the same. I had been apprehensive about the gig for two reasons. The first was that it was in such a mega dega venue, and we’d be sharing the gig with over thousands upon thousands of other people. I quite like to be near the front and in the heart of the action at gigs, but I knew that wouldn’t be an option here (as we were too busy tucking into pizza and chugging wine and nattering to bother queuing for early entry). I also thought I might get a bit irritated by annoying crowd etiquette ignorers and hooligans. Secondly; (shhh) I don’t exactly love the new album. In fact, I pretty much don’t like. So there was that…

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Luckily, my fears were unfounded. From the first beat of the first track, Kate and I were completely in our own world of Arcade Fire joy. We carved out a decent sized dance floor, marked it with our empty pint glasses (top gig tip) and then bounced about madly, arms slung around each other and crooning along every lyric. It’s such an exhilarating experience when you see a band you truly love. The memories attached to each song seemed so much stronger and more powerful live, than when I listen to them on my commute or during a bedroom private disco (everyone has those, right?). Neighborhood #3 (Power Out) reminds me of Lol so much. I was lucky enough to have a best friend who worked at Virgin Megastore (RIP) and therefore we got into every weird, eclectic and obscure band that came along thanks to her work discount and impeccable taste. Before Arcade Fire had really got out, I can remember really clearly going to an indie night at Stylus (Leeds Uni student union) and the DJ playing it early on in the night. Lol and I raced onto the dance floor, which is sunken below the bar and therefore everyone was looking down on us as we danced completely alone and like absolute idiots! Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels) reminds me of my uni boyfriend, who lived on the other side of Hyde Park to me and was on my course, so our pretty short relationship was a constant haze of walking to campus or walking to and from each others houses. I don’t know why but I have such a strong memory of walking through the park one time, wading in inches of thick snow, and stupidly wearing converse with no socks (my teen brain had somehow decided socks were not sexy? I guess?) and I was listening to this song. So my feet basically half froze off, and even now I still get chill-blanes every winter and it’s all because of that one fateful day. This is the weird way my brain works, and every time I hear Tunnels I think about him and Hyde Park and snow and frosty feet.

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When they played Ready To Start Kate and I held clammy hands, and spun around, and generally existed in a shiny twinkly perfect world of me-and-her for those 3 minutes. The good part was that even when they played the new songs that I’m not so keen on, there was incredible stage production and dancers and light shows and it made it all fit seamlessly in with the older stuff. It was hot in there, so hot that you could basically see the steam rising off the writhing dancey bodies around us. When they ended on Crown of Love (of course) the room exploded into a burst of glitter ticker tape. Which was as magical as you’d expect! Look at beautiful Kate’s happy-face-happy-place.

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All in all, it was one of the best gigs of my life. Thanks so much to my Kate date, for making it the best London night since I moved back. It really reminded me just how on top of the world and super human a good gig can make you feel. I definitely need to stop being scared off by the cost and eat beans on toast in order to go to a few more shows this year. That’s just a taste of the new news for now, I still need to write a double whammy about Craig and I’s 30th celebrations which involve life size emojis, wobble chops (!) and Nick dressing as the goblin king from Labyrinth. Yup…

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In January I finally hit the zone with my fitness regime which felt really good. What doesn’t feel good is the daily brain strain of working out what I need to pack for pilates or swimming or running. Add into the mix nights spent sleeping at Nick’s, spanish class, my work mac, my personal laptop and I am starting to resemble Where’s Wally or Buckaroo; laden with bags and bits and bobs hanging off every limb. So it’s probably no surprise that my (very uncool) Quicksilver backpack that I have had since my GCSE year finally sprung some holes and broke, sick of being zip-strainingly crammed full. I don’t know why I haven’t thought about buying a new rucksack  (do you call it a rucksack or a backpack? Is there an official definition for the difference?) sooner considering this one was never very comfortable and wildly out of fashion, but now I had the opportunity to embark in a new one I didn’t take it lightly.

My main issue with most rucksacks is the way the straps meet in-between your shoulder blades. This puts such a strain on your neck and shoulders, they also give the bag a narrow top which means my beast-macbook barely crams in and the zip won’t shut, which in London is basically a pickpocket open invite. So I decided what I really needed was a rectangle shaped bag with wide straps in a nice colour that goes with everything. Then I saw a girl wearing a Kanken and it ticked every box and the rest is history.

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Where to start with WHY I love my bag so much? Firstly it fits everything my heart desires in easily. It’s laptop-shaped-shape means books, folders and my mac happily stack in, then I can pad the rest out with gym kit and trainers and it doesn’t look cumbersome and bulky. It has three strap combinations so you can carry it by hand rather than shoulder if you want. It’s waterproof. It makes even the heaviest load feel as light as a feather because the straps are properly positioned to even the weight. Oh and of course, it has a cute winky fox on it… everywhere on it.

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I know these bags are quickly being identified as the ultimate hipster item and as if to prove this point I walked to the tube today behind three hipster boys all with a different shade of Kanken on (and rolled up jeans and too-high bobble hats) but don’t let the fadness of it put you off. Hipsters get sore backs too. Although I did have a colleague point out the other night that my bag collection next to my desk was a hipster handbag haven: Kanken – check! Obscure brewery bar tote – check! School satchel – check! Ruh roh.

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You can find Kanken’s at ilovemykanken, and mine is a classic. I was worried classic would be too small, as they do a larger ‘laptop’ and ‘maxi’ option, but it’s perfect. It’s so dreamy in fact that I am really tempted to pick up a peach-pink one too. Can I really go from one prehistoric rucksack, to two shiny new ones? Is this what being a full-time working professional grown-up is all about?! It’s sort of like the Superga of the bag world, once you have one you become obsessed with the million other colour-ways available. Here is my Kanken getting to see the word at large and accompanying me on a trek in Morocco. It still proudly carries some Sahara sand dust strains now it’s back to the confines of my commute and gym locker.

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This isn’t a sponsored post by the way, I just really love this addition to my life and want to share the happy-back wealth.

What else am I happy about? I’m foaming at the mouth over the fact that my favourite band The National have a new album out in May AND a documentary. It’s like they know it’s my birthday..! Unfortunately though they haven’t released a single UK tour date and that makes me UNhappy. Despite adoring them for most of my adult life I have never seen them live. I have had tickets to see them live THREE times too, and various transport/life meltdown/illness has prevents me getting to be in the crowd. I would travel to anywhere in the UK to see them, so I just really hope they sneak one show in somewhere. It’s got  to a point where I would probably have to go see them alone and wear no mascara, because their music has been such an emotional crutch for me that seeing it live would just turn me into a mess, especially now I’ve waited so long.

To soften the blow, I got tickets for Nick & I to go to Planetarium at the BAM in New York. He’s coming to visit for the last weekend of my work-trip and to escort me home (although we are on the same flight home and I’m in Business, he’s in Economy!) What a Saturday night NY adventure! It’s a performance by Sufjan Stevens and Bryce Dessner (of The National) with a full orchestra journeying through every planet in the solar system through music and visuals and I think it will be pretty nifty.

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There are certain times you hear a song for the first time and you know that the moment will be forever engrained on your memory, no matter if that artist/band turns into a flitting one hit wonder interest, or a firm forever favourite. In the middle of October last year there was a bizarre week in London which I refer to as fake-summer. Despite crinkly autumn leaves skittering around the place and the fact I already had to huddle into my faux fur coat, suddenly the sun shone and the temperatures soared and scorched in the late twenties. It was one of these days that I was lazing around in my (at the time) shiny-new boyfriend’s bedroom, and it was stuffy and sticky and a song came on his shuffle. It made me sit up and get that rare tingly twinkly feeling on the back of your neck that is physically impossible to recreate on demand. A combination of the singers voice, the urgent melody and the lyrics (Everybody wants to see all the lovers in the streets, I don’t know why, And everywhere we go leaving trails in the snow, I don’t know why we long to be…)

I was still in the stage where I didn’t want to look uncool (!) so really ummed and ahhed about whether I should ask him who the singer was, feeling sure it must be someone hugely massively popular that in my real-summer of hermit living I had somehow missed. As the song finished I took the plunge and asked, because I knew I couldn’t cope without being able to hear it again very very soon and download it for myself. I was really shocked with he told me that it was in fact his little brother singing, otherwise known as Chime Hours. Shocked, but also pleased, because now we have become friends and I get to say that I knew him before he was a huge, famous rock star. Alright! To recreate my spine tingly first listen, you can check it out here.

I probably can’t sum up Chime Hours any more accurately than his own official bio, which says “Chime Hours (aka Philip Horton) weaves tales of love and loss around a distinct combination of guitar, vocal loops, drum machine and anything else that makes a noise” but reasons for adoring certain music is always subjective so I have to add my two pence worth. I think the thing Chime Hours does that really strikes a cord (and is a running theme in most of my favourite artists) is that his lyrics are beautiful. I know beautiful is a totally overused word and if I could create a new word to describe how haunting and goosebump-inducing they are, then I would. Each song creates an entirely new world or character or emotion, that sucks you in from the first to last beat.

Chime Hours repertoire is completely varied too. I think this is aided by his extraordinary vocal range where he can seemingly switch from heights even a tiny dog probably couldn’t reach (well definitely not in such a graceful and tuneful manner) back to bottom bass that vibrates through you. Listening to a few songs in a row is a bit of an emotional rollercoaster as they can go from making you feel gut wrenchingly sad to smiley head-boppy in swift succession. To experience this first hand I recommend you plug some earphones in and head over to…

Chime Hours Sound Cloud

& listen to the other three songs there. Wanton will leave you a bit meloncholy and breathless, The Waiting List will make you feel nostaligc and a bit lost, and Ha Woo will make you want to put the song on a tape and sing along in your car with the windows down! (Do cars still have cassette tape decks? I haven’t driven for six years but I really really hope so)

Even better, if you are a London-er  (particularly South of the river) trot down to Streatham on Friday and catch Chime Hours live at the The White Lion on the High Rd. He is on around 7.30pm and entry is the best price – FREE.

Please go show a lil’ love and follow & like too.

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Everyone likes to be able to say they discovered someone before everyone else and I would place a hefty bet that this will be the case in pretty soon judging the hype so far.. But yknow,  feel free to buy me a drink at the gig on Friday in advance to thank me.

 

 

 

 

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Back in April last year I wrote a post all about my latest greatest musical discovery Paper Aeroplanes (click here!). They quickly became a regular contender in my itunes top 25 most played list and The Day We Ran Into The Sea will always remind me of 2010 for ever more. I was really flattered when Sarah from Paper Aeroplanes contacted me firstly to say she’d read the review and then about a month ago, to see if I’d like a super special advanced preview of their new album We Are Ghosts. Getting to hear one of my favourite new bands before anyone else? Yes please!

After agreeing to take an early listen, I then started to get the fear. When you’ve loved an album by an artist it can be with shakey fingers that you press play on a new one in case for some reason it lets you down! After one listen the whole way through with baited breath I am relieved to reveal, this was definitely NOT the case with Paper Aeroplanes.

The extra good thing is that they have matured and grown their sound, but not so far from their first release  to make it unrelatable or wildly different to what they do best (like so many other great bands do; Interpol & MGMT I’m looking at you!). This album feels slightly more melancholic and retrospective; which is an emotional state I tend to find myself in rather regularly, as do most of my friends! I think it’s a symptom of being a 20-something, stood with your feet over the edge of what feels like forever (the scary future) and looking back at what you have done, where you have been and who you have loved so far.

I think they key to any great musical artist is when it feels like they put your own thoughts and feelings into songs which you can then ponder and empathise with. This album certainly does this. Every track is evocative and really heart wrenching, but most importantly relatable.  This is down to a heady combination of beautifully honest lyrics, infectious melodies and Sarahs absolutely phenomenal voice. It’s strong and smooth and SO pleasant on the ears.

I’m doing the typical thing I do with any new album which is changing my mind about my favourite track on an hourly basis! Which is a very good sign. I think the stand out tracks for me are…

  • Days We Made “and then he came to rescue me, he wrapped me up and set me free, we made a treehouse in the leaves” (an addictive story about returning to a huge love)
  • We Are Ghosts “so lets take a train to the coast, and write postcards we’ll never post, and catch a breeze until we make believe we are ghosts.” (a haunting – ah pun! -track wanting to pretend for just a day that nothing else matters; who doesn’t daydream about this every now and again?)
  • My First Love “and he would call 3 times a day, when there were no more words and nothing left to say” (an upbeat, uptempo ditty about a heroic first love and where/who he is now).

My absolute favourite track however is Safe Hands which is lucky as it’s their first single to be released. Check it out here!

The thing I really like about Paper Aeroplanes as a band is how interactive and engaged with their fans they are. They are constantly communicating via Facebook, Twitter and their awesome blog. And now, they are piloting a really cool scheme which has been reported here by The Guardian where exclusive copies of a CD with four-tracks on will be given away at independent cafes with food purhcases. As if I need any further excuse to go and buy brownies at a cute coffee shop?

So, all in all, double thumbs up for the new Paper Aeroplanes release We Are Ghosts and I look forward to it becoming another regaular contributor to my 2011 soundtrack. Keep your eyes peeled here for release dates/more information!

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I have never been to Sonar before. I have actually never been to a music festival outside of Britain before, but after 10 years of soggy camping, over-priced van food and harrowing when-weather-goes-bad experiences I had enough of hearing myself inevitabley bleat with the amount I’ve spent at 3 days of festival going in the UK, I could have paid for a holiday abroad! and decided to put it to the test.

There were alot of things that appealed to me about Sonar 2010. The fact it was in Barcelona – a city I had only visited briefly when I was 14 and well below Sangria slurping age or the age to really appreciate anything other than the fact I was away from home for the first time with boys from the YEAR ABOVE shocker! Also the fact Sonar is a non-camping festival which means you hook yourself up with a nifty little appartment and have somewhere nice to wake up, BATHE and prance around in pretty dresses (speaking as someone whos favourite teadress got washed away in the Bestival 2008 monsoon, this is of upmost importance!) It also means you can buy the amazingly cheap local Cava (two euros fifty a bottle) and freeload it in your appartment before leaving to start partyng at night; thus avoiding buying the not-amazingly cheap beer at Sonar – 3 euros for HALF a pint. Oucho.

I went to Sonar with a gaggle of 3 girls and we rented an adorable appartment in the El Born region. The appartment had teacup tiles on the wall and a roof terrace that we could spy over Barcelona from and laze around in the sun, munching food from the local food market like jamon, queso and la sandía. We arrived a day before Sonar kicked off, so we could have a beach bum day and get cracking into some Estrella daytime drinking whilst getting our bearings.

 

 

Sonar is great because it runs Day and Night. Sonar by Day is held at MACBA which is an amazing venue, packed with exhibitons – the key one being all about robotsa! and two stages. My favourite was Sonar Village, which is covered in faux grass (think butchers windows) and had a constant flurry of DJs playing amazing tunes. One of the absolute highpoints was when Lemonade did a DJ set on the Friday afternoon at about 5pm. We danced, beers in hand, sun beating down as they played amazing reggae and summery tracks. We danced until our calves hurt and when they dropped in All That She Wants by Ace of Base we witnessed a stampede as everyone around us hurtled towards the stage to dance too. I’ve never seen so many happy smiley faces, I guess Ace of Base really are internationally adored and so uncool they are cool or something?

 

 

After a midnight rooftop party, we knew we had to get in some serious siesta in order to last a night of raging. We also had learnt that teeny tiny tapas is no stomach-lining material and this lead me to discovering Maoz for the first time. Or should I say MMmmaoz! Super cheap falafal pittas stuffed with salad and hummous with all-you-can-eat access to a buffet bar of extra toppings including giant sundried tomatoes, fried cauliflower and jalapenos. My pitta was actually bigger than my entire head and probably one of the nicest things I’ve ever eaten. Luckily I found out they have a chain in London, phew, who wants to go?

 

 

I can’t possibly list all the incredible things and reasons why this festival was the best five days of my year, possibly life! Sonar at Night is held at an old aircraft hanger type set up, sprawling and with plenty of space for dancing crowds. The stages are inside and outside and it’s so warm you don’t realise when you are walking between one and the other. Dancing to Hot Chip under twinkling stars, dancing to LCD Soundsysem as slices of sun start to crack through the night sky at 5am. Bare leg weather through the night. Branded plastic beer beakers. Ghost balloons. Even loving crazed Dizzee Rascal (I challenge anyone not to shake a leg to Bonkers!) Dodgems. Twirling around our kitchen eating crisp feasts and making lemon fanta shandies. Singing so loudly (ahem, badly) to A Little Respect in the that taxi the driver almost turned around and took us home. 7am trip to A&E after my festival buddy fell during a poorly executed flying-high-five and tore her ankle ligaments (true story!) Bocadillo vending machines.

Sunday was a sad day, and even the beautiful care bear clouds on the flight home and being treated like P Diddy on arrival at Gatwick because of Susies broken foot (private lift and mini bus arriving to the plane to whisk us off and through security in .5 seconds!) can’t shake my back to work blues.  I would recommend. Heck I would BEG anyone with a foreign festival itch to scratch it next year and head to Sonar next year. I’m already counting down the days.

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Paper Aeroplanes

About five years ago now, a friend made me a mix CD. And somewhere lurking at the very end was a track called Linen by a band called Halflight. It was the most beautiful song I had heard for years, and it quickly became #1 on my itunes most played list. It carried me through lonely Leeds winters and was like a hidden gem, shared and whispered between friends and family that I made future mix CDs for and always put this track first. I never really investigated anymore about the haunting voice behind the song and it just existed like a single perfect entity. And then something happened. My prehistoric desktop computer died after five years of moving house more often than getting a hair cut and being dropped in puddles on numerous occasions in the process (!) and with it my entire itunes and my music folder vanished.

Now it is 2010 and I am a different girl in a different place, and when lurking in the ailes of Rough Trade my eyes glinted at the site of the record artwork above. The photography was so breath-taking that I just had to know more (& I know, I know… never judge a book by it’s cover etc). A few clicks of spotify later and Paper Aeroplanes were lilting out of my monster headphones. After a couple of tracks I began to get that hot itchy feeling of recognising something but not knowing where from. Cogs in my brain whirred and the frustration nagged at me until I had the ! moment when I finally dredged the information from the back of my brain. The voice was the same as the one I had been completely enchanted by on the track Linen. From the very little information I could surf on the net, I could confirm that Paper Aeroplanes are indeed Halflight, with a fantastic new name!

It just seemed so odd that this band have suddenly made a comeback into my life, and through such a random discovery of just completely adoring the artwork on a random sleeve. I think this band are my soulmate? Or something! Even down to the fact that spiffy singer Sarah Howells wearing a dress on the cover that I used to own in bottle green but ripped beyond repair on a deserted-building break in (in the name of photography, not robbery. Honest guv)

Paper Aeroplanes are the most exciting musical discovery I have made this year. It makes it even sweeter that they are UK based and therefore hopefully easily enough to track down and see live sharpish! They have quickly become the soundtrack to my summer, my age and everything that is happening right now. Anyway luckily for me, aside from some amazing EPs and bits and pieces floating around, they have just released a whole entire new album called The Day We Ran Into The Sea which I have been gorging on. My favourite tracks are Lifelight and Newport Beach. Coming from Wales means the themes in the music are beaches, and love, and they are relatable. It makes a change from the American and Australian domination in my playlists. And my ultimate favourite track is Dance All Night which I cannot imagine ever tiring of. Although it is an up-tempo, chirpy number that will have you swaying your hips, the lyrics so accurately describe that heartbreak of clashing and grating against someone you love and it’s just unbearable. Sarah’s voice is just so absolutely sincere and everytime I hear this track, my heart cracks a little bit.

But I’d go dancing every night, if it made everything alright

Do you think that we’d still fight? When we’re dancing, dancing.

Because everything’s not black and white, when we’re dancing every night.

Maybe we’d forget to fight,? When we’re dancing, dancing.

I can’t wait to own a physical copy of this CD as soon as I have some pennies in the bank. The lack of information about them on the internet makes me frown and worry they aren’t getting the hype or recognition they deserve? Which would be tragic.

You can listen here
You can buy here

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