Sunday, 30 December 2012

Jack Kerouac: On The Road (The Original Scroll)

Last night I (finally!) finished reading Jack Kerouac's cult classic, On The Road. Now, I'm not going to be naive about this and assume no-one has head of On The Road. It's one of the pillars of the "Beat Generation", and with the recent making of the film, I'm pretty sure it's been thrown back into the public eye this year. However, after taking a good, long while to read this, there is one little recommendation I would make for anyone looking to read this book, or try something new with 2013 just round the corner: read The Original Scroll version.

As you get sucked into maddened trail of Jack Kerouac's adventures hitch-hiking across the North American continent, there's something so pure, and holy (!), about reading the story in its original form. As if still smudgy with the ink from his typewriter, the dense text never lets up, and its consuming style adds to the fact that the characters haven't yet been given their fictional aliases yet. No matter how sad I was to get to the end of his excited, messy first draft, it was a pleasure to read it in its naked form.

Friday, 28 December 2012

Charlotte Carpenter: Love Songs

As time has gone on, I have found myself growing a little more sceptical towards girl-and-guitar acts, because, let's face it, there are many girls who own guitars (ahem, me!), but have no idea how to write songs or play the guitar in the first place. 

However, Charlotte Carpenter is a mean guitarist and cute-as-a-button songstress that I was fortunate enough to stumble across supporting Boat to Row a month or so ago. With Charlotte, I was hooked from the first chorus of her first song. She's bold on stage, and with the added kick of a drum pedal (or something like that, I couldn't quite see from where I stood!) her songs really hammer home while her guitar prowess and sweet voice create a mixture not quite seen or heard even from the likes of Alessi's Ark (probably the closest comparable artist).

And for a few coins jingling at the bottom of your purses/wallets, you can own her latest EP entitled Let It Go, featuring the above track and a few other sterling songs. Go to to find out more.

Thursday, 27 December 2012

December Deluge

So, I took a short break over the December period - what with balancing the two jobs, university course, magazine editor-ing and of course, prepping for Christmas - and instead I put together some jottings for upcoming blogposts. There's so many new finds to tell you about!

However, sitting here scanning through the lovely gifts I received and after a tiresome couple of days, I've got the blogging bug back - most probably due to a combination of missing it, and also reading through January's Company magazine, chiefly featuring some inspiring bloggers and blogesses. So here's a short post-Boxing Day update for you all, and to let you know that there'll be a whirlwind of posts on here over the coming few days.

- Besma x

Monday, 26 November 2012

Annie Dressner: Strangers Who Knew Each Other's Names

Annie Dressner recently got in touch with me to see if I could have a listen to her new album, Strangers Who Knew Each Other's Names. With its ditsy-pop feel and her sugary-sweet voice, much like Zooey Deschanel's in She & Him, I felt more than happy to oblige.

Throughout the record, the happy guitar strums and melodies conjure up imagery of cycling in the springtime or picnics in the park, despite the lyrics often dipping into a pool of sadness, such as "I smoked a cigarette so I could taste you on my breath" and "I'll look for you in me". For me, this is really what makes the album listenable and loveable however - there's a journey to be had when listening through the album.

So, if you like Alessi's Ark or Jenny Lewis, you'll probably like Annie Dressner too. And if you're missing the sun's yellow rays coming in your windows, at least you can pop this record on and have it flow out of your headphones instead!

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Matt Corby, Bear's Den and Lucy Mason: Live

(Clockwise: Lucy Mason, Bear's Den and Matt Corby)
On Friday night I went to see Matt Corby live at HMV Institute Birmingham. It might have been a cold, cruel night outside but inside The Temple, the top-floor room in the venue, it was a night filled with awe-inspiring, goose-bump-inducing music.

Lucy Mason was a lovely start to the evening, with a sweet voice and pretty dress (I want it!), and Bear's Den then followed. After spending most of their set wondering why I recognised the lead singer's voice, they played one of their older songs - Don't Let the Sun Steal You Away - and I had an epiphany; realising they're a more mature, more talented form of Cherbourg, with a new name to match. I'm putting their EP on my Christmas wish-list as we speak!

Last up was the headliner himself, Matt Corby. I now realise in my first post on Matt, I may have only revealed the tip of the iceberg; Matt's music is a lot more than simply another Bon Iver/James Vincent McMorrow-alike, demonstrated professionally through his style variations: from the soft, sweet intro onto the stage to the face-melting, stadium-worthy songs, he's a man of many talents. That, plus his band, and his swapping of guitar to piano to vocals and the use of looper pedals means he's one to definitely see live if you can. However, as a jet-setting Australian, you might have to wait a little longer than usual!

Monday, 19 November 2012

Izzi Dunn: Visions

Recently I was sent a copy of Izzi Dunn's upcoming E.P. "Visions"; a compilation of four soulful, heart-wrenching and yet surprisingly slick songs. A wonderful cellist, and softly-sung artist too, the stripped-back mini-album may be raising the sophisticated side of my musical palate a little, but I'm really enjoying it. Take a listen to the above track, and make sure to put her EP on your late Christmas wishlists; it doesn't come out until 21st January 2013.

Although her website doesn't seem to be up and running, you can find out more at her MySpace here.

Sunday, 4 November 2012

The Voluntary Butler Scheme: Brain Freeze

They may be a brand-new discovery to me, but after seeing them live last week, I've found their pretty successful back-catalogue too! Their latest release, Brain Freeze, is as colourful as the rest, and with an amazing array of instruments (and of course, talented players), they're worth giving some of your time to. Especially when most of the Top 40's music is made by computers and auto-tune (not a cynic or anything). Listen to more at their website here or head on over to my YouTube channel, I went on a little Voluntary Butler Scheme favouriting spree...

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Matt Corby: Brother

After being sent this beautiful, beautiful single at the Magazine HQ (ahoo-hah, excuse me if I make it sound a little more posh than it is...), I couldn't help featuring it on my personal music blogosphere too. The whole husky roar of his voice really qualifies the emotions in the song! I can't stop playing it. So here it is for all you folk too.
For more on the Australian wonder that is Matt Corby, head to his website:

... And for more on the magazine I run, (a shameless plug, but worth it none the less), head to:

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Dear James Acaster

Dear James Acaster,

Your audience tonight at our Student's Union may have not been your kindest, but I have to admit I was shaking with silent laughter the whole way through. Perhaps not the best thing for a stand-up comedian, but you were great.

I would love to shrive with you sometime (and unashamedly eat a socially-unacceptable amount of pancakes instead of crepes). Though Twister is off the menu. As is rock pooling, and asking for your autograph on my neck.


Besma x

Monday, 1 October 2012

Rae Morris: Grow

Like a beautiful, curly-haired cross between Daughter's melancholia and Lucy Rose's cuteness, Rae Morris is a tiny, shy and amazingly talented young singer who deserves everyone's attention (although perhaps not all at once, for reasons I will elaborate). To have been present at her first sell-out gig, and to have run half-a-mile just to see her play one song, I feel like vying to be her number one fan, and yet I also want her to be kept out of the limelight a little longer so that those who discover her music - voice, piano and all - will really feel like they have stumbled upon rare treasure. Good luck, lovely Rae.

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Lucy Rose: Lines

It's been around a little while, but I seem to have had a Lucy Rose-shaped hole on my radar. Apart from becoming startlingly skinny (please, lovely, eat something!), developments are mainly underway to unveil her debut album, Like I Used To. The above single, which came out this week, is getting the ball rolling. And despite the slightly over-powering studio sounds (rather than stripped-back acoustics that I prefer), I'm really looking forward to it. Make sure to put 24th September down in your diaries!

Monday, 23 July 2012

To Kill A King: Word of Mouth EP

You can't find this video by searching for it - it finds you. That's the game! Word of mouth only! Keeping to the rules of their EP's new title, To Kill a King are putting "the grapevine" to the test with a hidden video of their new single, Rays, and have other games to come, such as hiding their CDs in unusual places. I love the concept so much! So of course I'm going to play along and pop this video on here, along with a link to their new Word of Mouth EP's page, where you can download the full six tracks for free. Pass it on!

Monday, 16 July 2012

First Peek! Mumford and Sons: Babel

It might be old news for some, but I've only just found out about Mumford & Sons' new, second album, Babel. And I'm super duper excited!

If their new songs, such as Lover of The Light, are anything to go by, the album is going to be just as beautiful as before, but with that much needed step-forward that many bands struggle with in a second album.

Even the cover goes the extra mile: featuring the album title's "babel" - a scene of noisy confusion - behind the boys, in a ye-olde-English-styled courtyard - as well as its reference to their songs' ties to religion. Genius!

Monday, 9 July 2012

Boat to Row: Grassmarket

Another little treat of a band that I've found over the past year is Boat to Row. A lovely local band, even their video shows that they're not exactly rock stars (though I do doubt they all work at a supermarket... well, maybe they do. Do they?!). I picked up their EP, Grassmarket, at a gig a while back, and if you have ever even nodded your head along to Stornoway, then you're going to instantly like Boat to Row. Give 'em a try. They deserve it.

(Plus, you can download some old tracks for free, and get their two new songs for only a quid!)

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Arbor Lights: Arbor Lights

Instrumentals: for the tone-deaf musicians of the world? I think that may be what Arbor Lights are going for. At least, their music sounds like a savvy frontman could write a few good lyrics over the top of it and it wouldn't sound out of place. However, it's nice to see some talent from the city I now call home, and after stumbling onto their Bandcamp page I thought I should feature them on here. And considering I would place them among many other fully-fledged alternative bands thanks to the almost cold, empty feeling created by the riffing guitars, long fades and sprinkles of xylophone like snowflakes on hot skin, it's a thumbs up from me.

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Willy Mason: Restless Fugitive

I've had Willy Mason stuck in my head all day, and it might well have been a sign as it led to a little free download discovery, which is always nice. Willy Mason, the sharply-dressed music maestro from Massachusetts is (I'd say, and I know others may argue) our-generation's answer to a better-spoken Bob Dylan. Better-spoken in the fact that he doesn't mumble as much. With that in mind, he's worth a quick checking out, go to his website to get the free track here, or his bandcamp here - try listening to Oxygen or Save Myself; most people seem to know them but they don't ever know where from! And if you ever do get to see him live, it's always fun to shout "I love Willy!"

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Moonrise Kingdom

I never thought I'd feature Bruce Willis or Edward Norton on my blog, but here goes: Moonrise Kingdom is a combination of big big names and a small small story. And Wes Anderson does it beautifully, blending sugary-sweet scenery, props and music with a dreamy, if not a grown-up, storyline. Based around two twelve year-olds, Sam and Suzy, running away from home/scout-camp, their journey takes them through the forests and fields of the little island of New Penzance and throws them into fights against Scouts, storms and Social Services, in order to prove their love for each other, and for the little beach they call Moonrise Kingdom. It's a humorous, heart-wrenching and overly-pretty film that everyone should see, at least once. If only for the little guy in red (Bob Balaban).

Visit Moonrise Kingdom's website here, or you click here to watch the official trailer.

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Christof: Honey Tears EP

I was rifling through my music library, and realised I never took the time to tell you about some of the artists I wrote about as Music Editor for my university's magazine. One such artist is Christof, who performed before The Staves when I went to see them. I'm going to be honest now, and say I enjoyed Christof wholeheartedly more (along with his tales of sausage sandwiches and accidentally naming his website "Christ of Music"), and afterwards picked up a copy of his EP, Honey Tears (which is also the name of the track below). So here's a snippet for you all, one of his best tracks, and a link to his website here if you fancy listening to some more...

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Thank You, Communion Records

Humble but brilliant beginnings led to humble but brilliant achievements: I thought a quick pause to ponder over the wonder that is Communion Records was in order, so I decided to write a little blog on them. Thank you, Communion, for finding (and being founded by) some of the loveliest artists around and just being one of the loveliest record companies around too! I especially like your weekly newsletters, and the free downloads from some of the nicest artists (Daughter, Pete Roe, etc.).

~ If you haven't been there already, I'd suggest you head down to their website and have a look here.

Slow Club: Beginners

Beginners, perhaps of a rise in popularity, thanks to the humble fan Daniel Radcliffe's performance in their new single's video? I certainly hope so. The only real way of communicating my appreciation for Slow Club is to parade around their streets playing their albums over a loud-speaker; their music speaks for itself. So go snap it up quick, download it, put it on your record player and love it.  (For starters, you can pop over to their website here).

Dog is Dead: Glockenspiel Song (New Video)

Dog is Dead are re-releasing one of their oldest but best songs, Glockenspiel Song. Put the date down in your diaries: 22nd July 2012! (I'll update the video whenever it comes out, but you can also be a part of it if you're quick - visit to find out more).

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

My First Tooth: Orchards

If I haven't gone on about My First Tooth before, I've done them a mis-service. They're a cute little band that do a good job of cheering me up on rainy days, and probably will do the same for you readers too. They really are a little thing that deserves to be big! So I'm hoping you'll join me in helping them a tiny bit - by supporting them in the race to be a part of Green Man Festival's Unsigned acts. Basically, click the "Like" button here. Not only will this benefit a beautiful band, but I will also get to dance around to them in (hopefully) lovely Welsh sunshine this summer. Thanks!

Monday, 18 June 2012

Howler: This One's Different

Ironically, this one is nowhere near different. Like a reblogged, re-owned Tumblr picture, it's a shoddy attempt at being The Drums in a lower octave. And what is with the fake blood/gloopy red paint? I'm afraid Twinkle Dwivedi has beaten you to it, dearest Howler frontman, Jordan Gatesmith.

It's a shame really as I was a little bit in love with another song of theirs, Back of Your Neck. With a stroke of luck, however, you can get it for free on their website (by subscribing to their newsletter). Click here to have a look, and if in fact you do like them despite my pitying review, a listen too.

Friday, 8 June 2012

Dog is Dead: All Our Favourite Stories

Dog is Dead are releasing an album! Finally! After so many indie-pop, happiness-filled EPs, it's about time they gave their bandwagon of fans an album full of their trademark chant-along songs. All Our Favourite Stories will be out in the ambiguously named "autumn", but if you can't wait that long, pop over to their website where you can sign up to their mailing list and grab yourself a copy of their Talent Show EP for free!

Rae Morris: Blueprint Demos

Rae Morris seems to be following in the lovely Lucy Rose's footsteps; a quick succession from popular videos to sell-out performances, she's slowly becoming more and more well-known - and rightly so! With such a wholesome voice, down-to-earth manner and a talent for piano, she's one of my favourite artists that I have seen live (even if it was only a song and a half!)

I'd definitely recommend having a listen to some of her music, and if you're quick she's also offering a free download of "Blueprint Demos" on her website right now. Click here to go have a listen!

Thursday, 7 June 2012

To Kill A King: Howling

To Kill A King are a great band that have been scoping around just under the radar for a little while now, making songs with deep lyrics and phenomenal guitar solos. They're releasing another EP soon called Word of Mouth and are giving us all a sneak peak and free download too! How nice. Click here to have a listen and download, or go straight to their official website here.