I have emerged from the wilderness.  A metaphorical wilderness, of course, though with the metaphor representing over two and a half years in the Occupied Palestinian Territories it does refer to something of a real world wilderness as well, in geopolitical terms at least.  Anyway, for once, I’m not keen to talk politics.  Or economics, or football.  It’s that other great passion of mine that has motivated me to log in to this almost forgotten bastion of bad ideas and unchecked typos for the first time in too long.  Let’s talk music.

The thing about my life in the West Bank was that I didn’t have access to new music.  I didn’t have access to live gigs, to spotify, to an internet connection reliable enough to stream.  I didn’t have access to my wonderful friends and their varied and often beautiful set of recommendations that make some of the exciting words in my audiophile history “Hey, Ben, have you ever heard of…”.  But back I wandered to England; out of the wilderness, back to reality and thirsty for new sounds to shove into my eager ear holes.

This summer I’ve been catching up on things I’ve missed.  I’ve been discovering new things, quenching my aforementioned musical thirst and gorging myself on previously unheard delights of the aural variety.

Here I have listed some of these with a brief description in the hope that one of the six and a half people who eventually read this accidentally stumbles upon some song, band or artist that I’ve recommended here and falls in blissful, melodic love the way I have.  Unlike the jealous, irrational love of the romantic variety, musical love begs you to share it and rewards you when you do so.  With that in mind I decided to pass it around.

Some of these musicians will doubtless be familiar to anyone who’s been within spitting distance of a radio in the last two and a half years.  Some will be a little more obscure.  Some will cause the modern, tuned on, hipster to remark scornfully that, far from being new, this lot have been around long enough to be a bloody cliché.  But luckily there won’t be too many of those types around because they were all reading my blog years ago, before I sold out and when I still “had some, like, edge, yah, some grit, something , like, real – like a South Honduran coffee bean or a vegan dog treat”.

Anyway, without even further meaningless prose let’s get into it.  Here is a list of things that I DEMAND YOU LISTEN TO:


Alice Jemima 

Earlier this summer while waiting around at a festival, pleasantly enjoying the summer sun and waiting for the life-changingly amazing hypnotic folk of the Moulettes (who are not included here as I first listened to them some time ago but who probably deserve some praise bordering on worship nonetheless) when I looked up to the nearby outdoor stage to see a young woman with a guitar approach the microphone.  “I’ll give this a listen” I thought to myself and that turned out to be an amazing decision.

Alice Jemima is a singer-songwriter whose sound seems somehow bigger than just her and her guitar.  Simple yet stunningly enchanting, the melodies kind of loop around your head and drag you into a beautiful new world where only this songstress and her beautifully crafted and delivered lyrics exist.  Her songs, I can attest, stand up to the “I’ve hit repeat a bunch of times and this is still awesome” challenge.  My only criticism is that there simply aren’t enough of them.  Having purchased the 4 track EP on iTunes I find myself craving more and hoping that one day soon there’s an album to consume.

Molotov Jukebox

“We need your help” screams the disgustingly handsome and talented Sam from the stage of both Molotov Jukebox gigs I’ve seen this summer.  It seems the band have embraced crowdsourcing, a uniquely 21st century way of raising money for their new album.  They’re asking 8 quid an album – it’s a fucking bargain.

Molotov Jukebox are a high energy, big volume electro-ska-swing band of epic proportions.  They produce a noise that would force the limbless to dance and they do it all with smiles that suggest they love making the music as much as you love listening to it.  Which you will.  Go and listen to them now.

And yeah, the lead singer’s on the telly.  Who cares?  They rock.


OK so apparently I’m not exactly creating a new wave of Zeitgeist by recommending these guys but I’ve only just discovered them so they make my list.

Bastille are, on the face of it, a kind of indie-pop-rock by numbers type of thing.  But they’re not.  I just don’t know why.  Drum heavy at times and letting their songs take fun, if sometimes predictable, routes they create anthem after anthem.

I want to sing their songs all the time.  They work themselves so cleverly and efficiently into your psyche you find yourself humming them when you least expect it.  “Oooh” you think to yourself, “that’s a nice pair of shoes, I wonder if they have them in my…Icarus is flyyyyyying too close to the sun…Bloody hell, Bastille, how did you end up there?”


Once you’ve got past the initial frustration of the spelling of their name and overcome your desire to rant about it on social media only to be put in your linguistic place by a reminder that there is actually some history to the interchange of u and v you can really get into these guys.  Or maybe you’re not me and it never bothered you, either way once you get down to the music, it’s good.  Very good.

I almost don’t want to like this band, with their super clean sound and retro-pop-music-with-a-modern-twist sensibilities.  I feel like to be into chvrches you should probably wear a flat cap ironically, work for a start up and punctuate each sentence by asking if “you know what I mean, yeah?”  But I do like them, I love them, and their album is flawless.  From start to end, each song is a unique emotional journey and if it’s annoying to think of how certain they are to become absolutely massive it is at least comforting to think of them as one of the few groups who will probably deserve their success.



Published by: chubbywordsmith

32 year old nerd. Areas of nerdery: Global Development, International Relations (especially MENA, South and South east Asia), Political Economy/Macroeconomics. Lived/Worked in Palestine, Libya amongst other places. Works for an INGO focussing on peacebuilding and conflict issues. Loves Manchester United more than is healthy. @anarchasm

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