My Top Ten Albums from 2014

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If you pressed me for an answer I’d have to say it’s probably a fight between John Hiatt, Kate Tempest and St. Paul & The Broken Bones for my favourite album of the year…  here’s my top ten though. Tell us what new music from 2014 you have loved?

The New Pornographers
St Paul & The Broken Bones
Kate Tempest
John Hiatt
First Aid Kit Damon Albarn Alt-JBeck

Other albums that just miss out here which got played loads in our office in 2014 were by Ryan Adams, Ray LaMontagne, Sam Smith, Stephen Steinbrink, Todd Terje, Young Fathers, Hozier, Watsky, Pharrell Williams, Roadkill Ghost Choir, James Vincent McMorrow, The Cadillac Three, Passenger and U2… that’s a few anyway.

Next year we aim to track this a bit better on Spotify so if you use it, come follow and share your favourite music with us.

Yup, we just make jeans

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Design / Hiut / Style

We make jeans. That’s it. Nothing else. No distractions. Nothing to steal our focus. No kidding ourselves that we can be good at everything. No trying to conquer the whole world. We just do our best to conquer our bit of it. So each day we come in and make the best jeans we know how. Use the best quality denims. Cut them with an expert eye. And then let our ‘Grand Masters’ behind the sewing machines do the rest.

There is a great deal of satisfaction to be gained from making something well, of such superior quality that you know it is going to stand the test of time. It makes the hard work and the obsessing over each and every detail worth all the effort. That’s our reward. That’s why we stick to just making jeans. Yup, we just make jeans. That’s all folks.

Soundtrack of My Life

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Life / Music

Soundtrack of my life by The Guardian Music inspired this idea… and actually, I’ve found it to be quite therapeutic and good for remembering points throughout life that hold memories. Memories are often attached to music for many of us so hopefully you can relate to this.

Here’s a brief explanation of the list..

[1] My dad has always been interested in military history, especially World War Two and, as a child I remember military marches on record/vinyl around our house but, specifically German military marches. The sound of my first track reminded me of this even though I’m not sure if Petersburger Marsch was among the tracks I would have heard growing up.

[2] We also had a few old Buck Owens records at home and Act Naturally was probably the first Beatles related song I’d heard. I had no idea then that they had recorded it, it wasn’t until years later that I heard anything by them which is odd for children born in the seventies I’m told.

[3] Probably the most played and re-played record I remember as a child was a Simon & Garfunkel Greatest Hits album. I could have picked various songs but America has always been such an interesting story in a song that never gets boring, even after all these years.

[4] In the first half of the eighties, the Sony Walkman was a bit of a must-have item for the music lover. I don’t think I know anyone who had one! We all had a similar styled cassette player, made by another brand to be less expensive. Mine was from Boots! This christmas gift came with a cassette tape that my parents had picked because obviously I needed something to listen to. The cassette was an Elton John Best of Compilation. As with other artists on this list, I could have picked a few songs by Elton but Goodbye Yellow Brick Road was [I think] the first track on the cassette.

[5] I loved a-ha. I still do. They were a real high point in the eighties and as a boy it seemed odd that they were Norwegian and we were listening to them sing in English. It would have been too obvious to put Take on Me on this list and to be honest, I grew tired of that song quickly. They have so many other amazing songs and sounds from their first three records. The title track of any artists debut album isn’t always as memorable as The Sun Always Shines on T.V. was.

[6] Graceland by Paul Simon was the first ever album I purchased with my own money, on cassette, in 1986. I’m also pretty sure this record was the first time I’d really noticed the bass guitar and not just because of that solo on You Can Call me Al. The musicianship on this album is quite special and the story around how Paul Simon recorded the album was as much a part of why we loved it all those years ago as the music itself… maybe.

[7] In 1991, regardless of all of the fantastic music that I listened to, one record stands out for me as it probably does for millions of people. I was fourteen and, I had never encountered rock music that sounded like this. The album didn’t grip me at track one, it was In Bloom that really made me pay attention. It sounds polished now but then it was gritty and edgy and melodic… I still love the grinding chord changes… plus everyone was listening to it in 91!

[8] I chose The Rolling Stones next because I didn’t really give them too much time until well after I’d investigated The Beatles, Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin… and so on but, when I did I was hooked. By the time I was really paying attention to them, I was aware of Martin Scorsese’s use of their music in many of his films. Those tenuous links to Marty and Bobby D and men in shiny suits string together the what’s and why’s of the first real conversation I had with my wife before she was my wife. I’ve chosen Gimme Shelter mostly for Charlie’s drumming. In a lot of ways I love The Rolling Stones more than any of the other mentioned artists… I love the rebellion in their best music.

[9] Time after Time was played on piano as Cherith walked down the aisle at our wedding… I’m not sure that needs more explanation.

[10] I’ve ended the list with The National because there probably isn’t a current band around that we have listened to more in the past ten years. They just get better and better. Lucky You is on Sad Songs for Dirty Lovers which I didn’t hear until after I’d heard Alligator and Boxer and, until after they began to really get a wider audience. This song has me imagining them right on the crest of a wave but completely unaware of how great they can or will be. I could have picked twenty songs by them though!

If you are a Spotify user, you can listen to the tracks on my playlist entitled Soundtrack of my Life

Who’s using Spotify socially?

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Life / Music

Earlier today a post I’d written about Spotify was published on Ballymena.Today here.

I feel like I’m stating the bleeding obvious when I talk about the social aspect of Spotify, as if people aren’t already aware that you can tell others about what music you are listening to online. I’ve found it to be a bit of a hit or miss activity. I imagine people rolling their eyes and wishing I’d shut up when I announce that I’m listening to the first a-ha album and remembering the glorious eighties etc. etc.

Then again, sometimes it’s really cool to see a band or an album mentioned that is new or is maybe a reminder of your past or a past event. Music does that, it connects you to me and past to present and so on and so forth…


I’ve still not figured out how to have the most fun with this social side of Spotify. I have ideas… If I still worked in retail every day and had background music to decide upon, I would be using Spotify…

Here’s what I said in the Ballymena.Today post

coffee shops and other retailers could be engaging socially with their customers using Spotify, by sharing music, using playlists created by customers and having themed music days/events. The possibilities are endless.

Everyone loves good music and now there is no excuse for your business having the same cd/playlist on repeat for weeks, months and years.

Something to consider maybe…