Wednesday, 31 December 2014

What's in a year


2014 has been both uncomfortably long and stupidly short. I always find it amazing how that can happen. Certain periods seemed to last forever, like the summer wait for exam results, and yet the time up to exams seemed to go in an instant (leaving me feeling rather under prepared).

I'm kind of astounded by all the things I've done this year, and yet equally somewhat disappointed that I didn't do more, as ever. In all honesty, I don't really remember the first few months of this year, and I'm pretty sure it's because they were rubbish and so I've blocked them from my memory. I think I was bummed out with school, somewhere I've always hated, and I was also being put under far too much pressure (story of my life).



By the time we got to March, things seemed to improve a little more, and I think I began to ignore all of the people who wanted far too much from me and decided to just enjoy myself a little. March was actually the most productive month I'd had with blogging so far at that point in time, and I think that was when I kind of fell in love with it. I got to meet the lovely Pixie Lott at a single signing, I went to the zoo with a bunch of my friends, and I also saw The Wanted on their last tour. It was just a month when I actually felt quite content for a little while. I was doing things and kind of learning more about myself.



Obviously nothing can stay good forever, and by April the pressure to do well in my studies was back. I only actually had two remotely encouraging teachers in year 13; one of them was really lovely but just didn't really seem to get me and understand everything, but the other was a complete blessing and one of the nicest men I've ever met. He actually made me believe in myself a little bit, rather than constantly tearing me down and telling me I could do better. I did do a few fun things in April, like seeing McBusted (who I'm actually seeing again in 2015) and celebrating my 18th birthday, but other than that it was literally all revision. May was spent in exactly the same way, with the only good thing that happened being that the only topic I really understood came up in my history retake (woooo).


June was quite dull too, although it did mean the end of exams, which is not something to complain about. However, the end of exams meant that the two month+ wait for results began, and there was no longer anything I could do to improve my chances of getting into UoB. However, I think June was when I really started to get into music blogging; I'd done a couple of posts on music before, like gigs and talking about an album or two, but June/July was when I realised just how much I loved writing about the thing that I loved the most. I did a little post on one of my favourite bands, The Icarus Account and wrote about Ed Sheeran's x, before writing about a lot more music in July and August. It always feels so personal for me to write or talk about music, because it genuinely means the world to me and I would not function well without it, so I think initially I was kind of reluctant to post what I'd written, because it was everything. But I fell in love with writing about it in the same way I fell in love with listening to it, many, many years ago. And it just started to feel natural. Because it was.




The second half of August and most of September were kind of a blur, I got accepted into my first choice of university in the middle of August, and from then on I actually had to start getting my life together, packing and getting ready to leave home. And leaving home is probably one of the best things I've ever done, so much so that 'home' doesn't really feel all that much like home anymore, but neither does Birmingham, so I'm not really sure if I belong anywhere these days haha. I didn't really address me leaving home on my blog until I'd been gone for a month or so, because I just wasn't sure if I felt completely comfortable with it yet, but then I mentioned my change of location on here, and I think that's when it became more real to me, and I started to loosen up more and make the most of where I was and what I was doing there.



(this may well be my favourite picture ever)

The rest of the year's been me working hard and just trying to enjoy myself. And it hasn't gone too badly really. A lot of people tend to enjoy the beginning of the year the most, as they're following new years' resolutions and bettering themselves, but for me it really seems to be the opposite way around. I think it just takes me a while to get used to anything new, but I've started to learn to just embrace everything and make the most of it. And that's what I hope to do next year too:
Keep on discovering myself and everything I love.
Fall even deeper in love with the sounds that make everything worthwhile.
Make more time to read for inspiration rather than just for my course.
Work as hard as ever.
Don't let the pressures of others take over my mind again.
Remember that at the end of the day, this is my life, and I'm going to make what I want of it.

Tonight I'm going to be having fun with my friends, and then tomorrow afternoon I'll be catching up with my family to celebrate my Grandad's birthday.

I hope that everyone has a great time this evening with their loved ones, and that all your plans for the new year come together perfectly.


Until next time.


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Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Haaaaappy Christmas

Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even the-


Oh.

Happy Christmas everybody!

I think in a bunch of places it will already be Christmas when I'm posting this, but right now for me it's Christmas eve, and I'm sat/lying on the floor in the living room with my dog, and everything is calm and serene. My Dad and I are currently waiting for everyone else to get home so we can have our Christmas Eve Indian takeaway (probably the only tradition we actually have).


Not really entirely sure what I'd like to say here, but hopefully I'll just work it out as I go. I guess it's gonna be reflective (eh).

So, I'm not sure about anyone else, but for me I think this year's probably been the busiest of my life; because of that it feels like it's just swept past and I'm not even sure how it's December already, let alone how it will be 2015 (seriously, what the heck) in just over a week. There have been a bunch of ups and a bunch of downs through the past twelve months, but here we are. We managed another whole year. Who'd have thought huh?

This year, I turned 18, went to the zoo twice (score), met Pixie Lott (who I love so much), finished my A Levels, went to a bunch of concerts, became best friends with my mum, moved away from home, started at university, met like a billion new people, read like a hundred books, and made it through my first semester alive.

I think that's pretty impressive to be honest but whatever.

It would be cool if I could come up with other stats like: consumed one thousand trillion calories worth of chocolate. As horrified as I'd be, I'd also be so, so proud lolz.


Whereas most people think Christmas is the best time of year ever, I've not always been so convinced. Like, there's loads of great food everywhere and that's great, like really, you can't fault that at all. But I think it just reminds me of everything that I still haven't done if that makes sense, like this year's basically over and there are still a hundred things I'd like to do. Obviously there's always next year, but there's always next year every year, and at some point you are going to run out of next year's. As well as that, Christmas tends to remind me of the people who aren't here to spend the festive season with and that can make me feel quite sad sometimes.

Well that just lowered the positive tone of this post.

Also though, I have this thing where I'm ill on around 56% of Christmases (genuinely (although it's probably not actually 56%, but generally just a lot)), and so I'm looking at tomorrow with caution. Like, I want to believe it's going to be a nice day with my family, but I just can't convince myself it will be. I have a feeling it's because I always try and power through and get on with everything between September and December, and then when I finally have the chance to stop I just get sick because it all catches up with me. And that really sucks. But I was really ill at the beginning of November, and I'm kind of hoping that means I'm done with illness for this year. So fingers crossed I'll be fine and everything will be as nice as it can be.

But, there are some things that I really love about Christmas, like the fact that all my friends are around in our hometown at the moment, and it's a chance to see some of my family and catch up with them too. I'm also quite the fan of the cold weather, and long walks in my big coat. I mentioned the food already, but I think that's a really important thing that you just can't talk about enough. I just like the togetherness, even though I'm someone who quite likes being on my own. It's just a nice reminder of the great people you have around you.

(my brother's snapchat pic of us Christmas shopping the other week)

I feel like I should follow this up with a new years' resolution post, but there's nothing that I really want to change at the moment, so nahhh. Like, I think I'm doing alright, and there's nothing new that I would feel comfortable doing as of now, so I don't really see the point if that makes sense.

There are a lot of things I'm looking forward to in the coming year though; given, most of them are concerts, but hey, they're what I love most. Nothing beats live music in my eyes (and ears).

Anyway, I hope everyone has a really lovely Christmas, and I'm wishing you all the best for the new year.

What are you up to over the Christmas period? Any favourite things about the season, or anything you're not looking forward to so much? Are you making new years' resolutions? If so, be sure to let me know; maybe you can inspire me to come up with one or two of my own.

Until next time.


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Sunday, 21 December 2014

SafetySuit


So there's this band called SafetySuit and I'm in love with their music.

I heard about them through bands like The Script, Parachute and Daughtry, and oh my is their music good. They've got quite a mix of sounds, but I think generally speaking I'd refer to them as a kind of soft, alternative rock band. And their music is everything I love, and everything I've been wanting to hear recently. The lyrics are stunning and moving, and I genuinely don't think I've heard a song by them that I don't like. Doug Brown's voice is so beautiful but with this element of roughness that works undeniably well. They're an American band from Tulsa, Oklahoma, though they are now based in Nashville, Tennessee. And I love their songs. Really.

The band were actually originally called 'Crew', but had to change the name due to legal reasons, and honestly, I think SafetySuit suits them so much better, and really, I don't know, it feels like the name speaks well in indicating their sound. But I really like some of the songs that they released under their original name, so I would recommend looking them up. The band have released two full albums as SafetySuit, called, 'Life Left to Go' and 'These Times', and they're believed to currently be working on material for their third.


I have a few favourite songs by them. One of those is, I believe, the first song I ever heard by them, which is called 'You Don't See Me' and it's the saddest, but most beautiful acoustic song I can think of. I always find it so tragic how something so beautiful has to be so sad, but it just seems to be the way most of the time. The lyrics are very moving and I feel a lot of people would be able to really relate to them; I can safely say I do, sigh. It's just so heartfelt and wonderful but equally kind of soul destroying at the same time. It's kind of perfect (listen here).

Another favourite is called 'Stay' and I seem to have a thing with songs with this name, as I love Mayday Parade, Lewis Watson and The Icarus Account's songs of this same name. I love the initial strings as like a pre-introduction and then the guitar comes in and it just sounds so good. So. Good. Again, I suppose the lyrics are quite sad, by no means as sad as YDSM, but still sad. It's like the perfect rock ballad and I would listen to it all the time if I didn't know it would make me really miserable after a while haha (listen here).


'Anywhere But Here' is another gorgeous song. The lyrics are stunning and so's the instrumentation, and the two fit together perfectly. This one isn't so sad, but it still has a twang of melancholy; but the gloom is kind of clouded over with this little glimmer of hope, and I think it's beautiful. There's also an orchestral version of this, which is incredible, and you can find that here, but I really do adore the original, so I think I'd have to say I prefer that (listen here).

I also really love 'Something I Said'. It's got this real rock vibe to it, but it's not so overpowering that the words lose any meaning, which is really important to me in this kind of music. The chorus is almost definitely my favourite part, and I kind of really just want to sing it until my lungs collapse lol. The instrumentation in the middle eight is just out of this world though, I looooove it (listen here).


I'd have to say SafetySuit have been one of my favourite bands to listen to this year, and so I thought this would be a nice post as we approach the end of 2014. Hearing them live is a new aim of mine, as I can't even begin to imagine how much better they could sound in the flesh. Gaaaaaaa. Pleeeeeease. But yeah, if you get the chance I'd definitely recommend checking them out, as they are more than worth the time (although I wouldn't start with You Don't See Me if you're feeling at all sad as it might kind of wreck you).

Until next time.


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Thursday, 18 December 2014

Song of the week #9


I can't think of a single Christmas cover that I love as much as Lawson playing Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.

It's so beautiful.

Last year I'm pretty sure I started listening to this in October, and I've done the same thing again this year. It's just such a stunning acoustic version of the song, and it has such a mellow, warm feel to it.

They recorded the song in 2012, and I think it was done live at Capital FM, if I remember correctly; I'm sure I listened to it live, sigh, the memories. Haven't seen Lawson live in over a year now, so I'm really looking forward to their new music, which is coming out very, very soon now, thank goodness (and hopefully will mean a lot more live shows coming up).


You should definitely check Lawson out if you haven't heard of them or listened to them before, as they've got the most gorgeous pop/rock/bit of country sound, and it's greaaaat.

There's a link to the video for Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas here; sigh, they're so wonderful.

Until next time.


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Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Favourite Christmas songs

Tis the season and all, so I thought I'd share some of my favourite Christmas music with you. Some of it's old, some of it's new, but ultimately, I like it all.

Fairytale of New York - The Pogues and Kirsty MacColl: listen here

 

Cold December Night - Michael Buble: listen here


I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday - Wizzard: listen here


Merry Xmas Everybody - Slade: listen here


Christmas is All Around - Billy Mack (I love Love Actually sigh): listen here


Last Christmas - Wham!: listen here


Wonderful Christmastime - Paul McCartney: listen here


Snow in California - Ariana Grande: listen here


Merry Christmas Everyone - Shakin' Stevens: listen here


Step Into Christmas - Elton John: listen here


Don't Shoot Me Santa - The Killers: listen here


Stop the Cavalry - Jona Lewie: listen here


Driving Home for Christmas - Chris Rea: listen here


Winter Wonderland - Darlene Love: listen here


Do They Know It's Christmas - Band Aid (1984): listen here


White Christmas - Bing Crosby: listen here


Happy Xmas (War is Over) - John Lennon: listen here


Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas - Lawson (song of the week coming very soon): listen here



Hope you like some of these too. Let me know what some of your favourite Christmas songs are :)

Until next time.


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Monday, 8 December 2014

Song of the week #8


After listening to Jessie J's most recent album, Sweet Talker, released 13th October, I was immediately drawn to one song in particular, called You Don't Really Know Me, which is the final song on the deluxe version. It's always a bit of a love/hate scenario when you can really relate to a song, but at the moment I am really loving this song.

It's a very simplistic ballad, limiting the instrumentation to just the acoustic guitar, which is one of my favourite kinds of song to listen to. I really like it when a song with meaningful lyrics only has one or two instruments to accompany the vocals, as it always eeks them out more and allows you to really hear what an artist is trying to say.

The lyrics basically describe the way a person always acts and what they say, and oppose it completely with what they really want and really feel. And I get this so much. Like, as much as I want to tell everyone how I really feel about everything etc, I just don't feel comfortable with it a lot of the time. The lines 'the girl who always says yes, wants to say no; takes over everyone's stress, and ignores her own', 'the girl who starts all the jokes, just make her laugh' and 'smiles when they guess who she's loving, what they say makes her mad' are probably some of the ones that stand out the most for me.

I just get this song, in every sense of it. And sometimes that's a really comforting thing, but equally it can make you think about it a little bit too much.

I think this song is beautiful, and a very simplistic, meaningful one; would definitely recommend checking it out. Hopefully Jessie will sing this one when she's on tour in the new year, as I'm going to see her in January with Charlie and her sister, Billie, and I would love to hear it live (but it's on the deluxe album so unfortunately it's probable that she won't, sigh).

You can find the song on iTunes here and youtube here.

Until next time.


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Monday, 1 December 2014

November Favourites

Haven't done a monthly favourites since August, because I wasn't really overly into anything new, but now there are some new things (and some old ones that are just very important to me (I'm talking about the crackers)) so I thought I'd share them, woop.


Song: Long Way Home (acoustic) - 5 Seconds of Summer


This is the prettiest thing I've heard in a while. It's well established that I've got the biggest weak spot for anything acoustic, especially when the guitar's at the heart of it. And I loved this song already, as you'll know if you've read my 5sos album review (plug), so it's just the ultimate version of it really. So impressed with this, definitely check it out if you haven't. It's on the ep for Good Girls which you can find on iTunes here. If you listen to nothing else today, listen to this; I don't know how you could regret it. So. Pretty.


Album: FOUR - One Direction


Lolz, I freaking love this album. So many boys and bands going on this month, lord help me. I always think, surely 1d have got to do some really, really bad songs at some point, but they just don't seem to???? This album is so good, I can't sing its praises enough (bar one song that I'm not into, but that isn't important). I did a review of the album here if you'd like to see just how much I like it, and it's on iTunes here. Cool.


Film: Cruel Intentions


After reading Laclos' Les Liaisons Dangereuses, I watched the film Cruel Intentions, which is based on the book. It's actually a fairly good, modernised interpretation of the text, so I was quite impressed when considering them in relation. Also it's got some really good actors in it, including Reese Witherspoon, Sarah Michelle Gellar and Ryan Phillippe. If you ever have to study the book, I'd definitely recommend watching the film, as although a lot of the characters are given different names and the plot is changed to an extent, it's definitely useful in understanding the text as a whole.


Makeup: Urban Decay Naked Palette


Having had the Naked 3 palette since it came out, I was keen to try some of the older Urban Decay eye shadows, and fell completely head over heels with the original Naked palette when I was in Selfridges last month and just couldn't leave it behind. The 3 is great, don't get me wrong, but I struggle to make use of a lot of the pink toned shades, as they don't really work overly well with my irritatingly green eyes. But the original would work perfectly for anyone. The shades are all gorgeous and the same high quality as all of Urban Decay's other shadows. Sidecar and Naked are my favourite of all of them. Would definitely recommend the palette, and although it's fairly expensive, it's well worth the money (just left lusting after the Naked 2 now ahhhh).


Nail varnish: Barry M Gelly Hi-shine in Blackberry


Swear I literally hardly ever use any other brand of nail varnish.
I've taken a brief step away from black this month (what????), and gone with a deep blue instead; I know, it's not exactly much different, but at least it breaks up all the black and grey I wear with a dull glimmer of colour. Lolz. I really like this colour; I've always thought blue nail varnish wouldn't work for me, like, it just felt wrong, but it's actually very right. I'm a big fan. Navy's a great nail colour. And of course, all of the Barry M Gelly nail varnishes apply well and last a good week. And they're really inexpensive, so well worth the purchase.


Skincare: No7 Beautiful Skin Night Cream (Normal/Oily)


I feel about thirty years older for using it, but wowza does it make my skin feel nice. It's so creamy and feels so nice on my face. You literally just have to use a little dabs worth on each cheek and that'll do your whole face. Seriously, it feels so good. When I don't use it I really notice the difference. Definitely one worth trying if you haven't. And all the No7 stuff is hypoallergenic so it works well with pretty much all types of skin.


Food: Crackers


Crackers are great. They've always been great and they're something I've always eaten but I've liked them especially throughout November. There was a stressful few days towards the middle of the month where I ran out and just didn't have any time to go and buy any more, but as it was a matter of urgency, I pulled some strings so I could get down to Sainsburys. Jacobs' Savours are some of my favourite (they make me feel as happy as chocolate).


Health: Benylin Dry Coughs Original


This stuff saves lives. Well, maybe not quite, but practically. I was so ill for the first few weeks of this month and this is the stuff that's kept me from coughing thirty times a minute, twenty-four hours a day. To be fair, it has faults: I did wake up coughing in the night numerous times, but obviously it has to wear off (sadly). It's meant to make you drowsy, but I can't say I noticed (I'm always tired, let's be real). But if you've got a crappy cough, ask a pharmacist about this and see if it could work for you.

Another somewhat odd favourite is the lighting in my kitchen; it's really great for blog pictures and I've only just realised.

Anyway.

What are some of your favourite things this month? Have you tried out anything new that's worth talking about? Let me know, as I'd love to hear what you've been loving recently. If you've done a favourites post of your own then send me a link :)

Until next time.


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Friday, 28 November 2014

How I save a bad day from ending badly


Bad days happen.

To some people, unfortunately they're very frequent, and to others they come on occasion, but regardless of when or how often they happen, they suck.

So I thought I'd share how I usually try to save a bad day from ending badly.


I like to try and find some way to be productive. Whether that means getting on with whatever work I need to do that's bringing me down, or doing a heap of reading and getting ahead. I feel good when I feel accomplished. So I generally just try and get everything on my to-do list done plus a load more.

Let's talk food/drink. Hot chocolate is a life-saver for me; like, it tastes amazing and it makes me feel warm inside (well duh), but it just makes me feel happier. I love that stuff. Sometimes I will turn to the junk food and just be like if I don't consume some form of chocolate (could be hot chocolate to be fair) right now then I will have a breakdown. But usually I just eat fruit. There's something about fruit that I just find quite comforting, so whereas a lot of people's comfort foods can often make them feel worse, mine usually picks me up. Fruit salad is good because I actually have to prepare it and I find the chopping up stuff part quite relaxing somehow.

If I've had a bad day then I will either want to be left completely alone or I'll crave company of some kind, whether that be spending time with people or just talking on the phone with my mum for a while. Unfortunately there's no in between so sometimes if I'm with people I will just have to leave and get out of wherever I am. And that's an okay thing to do. But sometimes I will want to just be with people, even if we're not talking, just because it can be quite comforting to know that there are people there.

Walking is something that always calms my mood. If I'm really stressed about something, or if I'm feeling really rubbish, the best thing for me to do is drop everything I'm doing and go for a walk for a couple of hours. Sure, when I get back everything I need to do is still there, but I feel like I'm in a much better state to put my mind to it and get it done.

To be honest, the main thing is music. If I'm sad, or in a bad mood, or just feeling down for some reason (equally if I'm happy/in a good mood/feeling good), then I will turn to music, because it is kind of the thing that holds my whole life together (sometimes I wish that was an over-exaggeration but it's just not). A lot of times I listen to songs that will make me feel worse in some way, just because it means when I stop listening I'll go back to the level of bad I was feeling before but it'll feel like it's not quite so bad. I don't know, it seems kind of dumb and backward but it just helps sometimes.


I think that's probably it to be honest.

Although also if it's your sister's birthday so you know there will be cake when you finally get home for the weekend, that'll always leave your day on a high note too (that's today for me, yay).

Is there anything you like to do when you've had a bad day? Or do you go to some of the same things as me?

Until next time.


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Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Nickelback: No Fixed Address - album review


I love this album.

I just love Nickelback, I don't get why there aren't more people who like them, they're great okay. So I thought I'd write a brief review of their new album.

After I first listened to it I just listened to it again straight away. I really love the sound and how the band have stayed very true to their own style of music but equally incorporated other ideas with what could be considered more modern influences.

I really like the album title, 'No Fixed Address.' It just creates this nomadic idea of people who are always on the move, which the band were when they recorded the album, so it all fits together very nicely.

Million Miles an Hour sets the album off in a strong rock style, with the vocals slightly synthesised at points, creating a somewhat futuristic sound, which in a sense introduces the new music in a relevant fashion. 'Insanity is setting in, reality is getting thin' is my favourite line. I've always loved how Chad's voice is so unique and yet you can still hear each word clearly, which is somewhere a lot of artists go wrong and leave you not being able to understand a word they're saying. Great work.

Edge of a Revolution just sounds like such a classic Nickelback song. It's heavy on the electric guitar, with a very strong rhythm section, which is something I love to hear. I really love what they've done with the music video as well, and how it's pretty much a visual representation of the song. They seem to be making a political statement with this song as well, which is something that you probably wouldn't ever expect, but it works really well.

Was listening to What Are You Waiting For? when I was waiting for my train earlier and it was delayed by half an hour, so it felt kind of relevant, because I really was waiting for something (it was really cold too sigh). I really like this song, and I feel like it's got a good message, like, stop waiting and just do what you want. 'Believe in every dream that you've got' and 'don't you wanna spread your wings and fly, don't you really wanna live your life' are my favourite phrases. I think it's such a feel good song about striving for more and believing in yourself enough to do what you want to and get to where you want to be. The instrumentation and choice of rhythms and whatnot all give the song this really determined drive and it fits perfectly with the lyrics.

I think Satellite has to be my favourite song on the album; it's gorgeous and pretty much an example of everything that I love in a song. It's the perfect soft rock ballad and it is so beautiful, I could listen to it all day. I love the piano intro, it's something you wouldn't necessarily expect from Nickelback, and shows how their style has changed a little bit in a few songs, but it does remind me of some of their older ballads, so it's not completely different. I just love it.

Miss You is another great song, the intro makes it sound almost like what most would class as a pop song, but I think it progresses really nicely, building up a bit more in the verses with the drums and whatnot; you feel the beat so well in this one. I like how the vocals are a bit softer in this song, like there are a lot of people who think Chad's voice is a bit rough and aggressive, but you don't really hear that so much in this one; it's a little more mellow.

You can listen to the album on youtube here and if you're into rock or alternative music then you should definitely check it out. Also, you can find it on iTunes here. Wanna see them live so bad ughhhh.

Until next time.


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