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What I’m listening to…

6 January 2017

Follow my Spotify playlist to keep up with what I’ve been listening to. I’ll post about some of the new additions on here too…
ADDED 20 JAN 2017
David Byrne – Who
The Talking Heads have been a constant soundtrack in my life. David Byrne is one of those artists, like Bowie, who continues to make compelling music into his later years. I love the deeply philosophical tone of the lyrics and the jarring and surprising twists in the chords.
Marvin Gaye – Flyin’ High (In The Friendly Sky)
It’s really hard to write music that makes a social commentary without being pious or self-serving. What’s Going On is one of those albums that manages it in spades. I think the reason is because it’s delivered with such love and soul, connecting on a profound level with what most of us would like to see for mankind.
ADDED 6 JAN 2017
Robyn – With Every Heartbeat
This song often found its way onto my playlist when partying at home…a surefire winner if you wanted to get everyone up and dancing around the sitting room! I love the hypnotic feel of the music, while the melody and lyrics slowly grow and develop over the course of the song.
Van Morrison – Cyprus Avenue
I recently heard a Radio 4 documentary that explored this song in real detail. It’s a beautiful evocation of his time growing up in Belfast, full of love and nostalgia. He performed a homecoming gig on the actual street in 2015! When Keane released Strangeland we were desperate to do a hometown show in Battle because our song Sovereign Light Café depicted so many of the places in and an around the town. Maybe one day!!
ADDED 14 DEC 2016
Rufus Wainwright – 11:11
There were many songs written in the aftermath of 9/11 and this is one of my absolute favourites. Rufus captured that sense of frozen disbelief and that feeling that somehow time went into a sort of surreal slow motion. It takes a truly great lyricist to articulate these hugely significant moments in our times – there’s even a place for his dark sense of humour (albeit heavy-hearted): “seems as if everything really does happen in Manhattan”.
Matt Maltese – Even If It’s A Lie
Matt supported me on my UK Tour in the autumn. Armed with just a piano and his silky vocals, he wowed the crowd every night. He has such a great grasp of melody which, when combined with such beautifully crafted lyrics, makes for truly beguiling music.
ADDED 30 NOV 2016
The Weeknd – Starboy
I love the sound of this record. Everything that Daft Punk (who produced it) touch seems to turn to gold. Even though The Weeknd explores tales of drug use and bragging that can make me feel a little uncomfortable, it’s pop music at its darkest and best.
Laurie Anderson – Let X=X
I heard this song on 6Music the other day. I love the wit and originality of the lyrics. That sense of originality is reflected in a wealth of great ideas in the production.
ADDED 18 NOV 2016
MØ – Final Song
I tried to go and see MØ at Glastonbury this year. She was on the John Peel stage, which is in a far flung corner of the site. Given that it was the muddiest year on record I trudged through the madness and managed to get there as she finished her last song. Listening to the reaction of the crowd made me realise (to my infuriation) that I’d just missed one of those special festival moments. At least I can listen to this record…which is great.
Ainslee Wills – Drive
Ainslee Wills is supporting me on my UK Tour in May. What a treat I’m in for! I love everything about this song – there’s a sense of real darkness and urgency in the chords, production and lyrics. It’s been an honour to share the stage with many great artists over the years – I’m sure this will be another such occasion.
ADDED 26 OCT 2016
The Divine Comedy – Charmed Life
No playlist of mine is complete without a Divine Comedy song. Neil Hannon is a national treasure: many, many records of profound beauty and wit. This song resonates so much with me personally – I wish I’d written it myself.
Radiohead – Decks Dark
This song is off Radiohead’s latest record, which I think is the best thing that they’ve done since OK Computer. As ever, there’s a spellbinding musical palette, but what really makes it special for me is the emotional directness in the songs. Thom Yorke has recently split from his wife and it’s clear that this song is about that experience.
ADDED 11 OCT 2016
East India Youth – Heaven, How Long
At Glastonbury a few years ago, I trudged through heavy mud to find East India Youth. This slow burner was one of the moments where I became completely immersed in the moment, to the point of transcendence. And no, I wasn’t on drugs at the time.
ADDED 27 SEPT 2016
Future Islands – A Song For Our Grandfathers
I stumbled across Future Islands after seeing their infamous Jools Holland performance. I thought Samuel T. Herring’s dancing was mesmerising, particularly coupled with such great music. This is my favourite song off their album “Singles”.
ADDED 12 SEPT 2016
Cherry Ghost – Clear Skies Ever Closer
If you love beautifully crafted songwriting, then you’d be hard-pressed to find something more rewarding than Cherry Ghost. Criminally underrated, he’s now packed it in, but his three albums are a wonderful legacy. This song, about slowly finding resolution, is one of many favourites.
Damon Albarn – Everyday Robots
Damon Albarn has an amazing knack of making insightful social commentaries without sounding pious. This little snapshot of urban life is just that.
The Blue Nile – Tinseltown In The Rain
Only four albums in 30 years and once you know them you desperately wish there had been more. This is the opening song of their Walk Across The Rooftops, which is a complete masterpiece. This is an impressionistic ode to Glasgow.
David Bowie – Sweet Thing
Diamond Dogs was a record I hadn’t got into until recently. As ever, it’s jam-packed with great songs. I love this rock’n’roll throwback love song.
alt-J – Bloodflood, Pt. II
alt-J’s debut album ended up on constant rotation for me. This song (off album 2) is a nod back to the first record. Quirky production that chimes perfectly with their abstracted lyrics.
Jonsi – Sinking Friendships
When I was making my solo record, Matt Hales (my producer) recommend Jonsi. This is a fabulous slow-burning hymnal ballad. Very beautiful.

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