Musical revelations of 2014

Two more weeks until the end of the year. Time for looking back.

These are the artists I have been listening to a lot this last year. I do realize a lot of these artists may have had their major breakthroughs longer ago, but I’m a bit slow with these things sometimes… So here it goes, my musical reminiscence list!

James Blake

Love the slightly eerie atmosphere he brings and the sweet balance between electronic sounds and chilled out beats. I have to admit I can’t always handle him though. Sometimes the laid backness makes me impatient and I get these urges to kick him up the ass, but most days: Mmmmmm.

First Aid Kit

Ah, these ladies with their pagan songs; so moody and haunting. They’re not of this world, not of this time.

Rachel Sermanni

Aaand, we’re off to Scotland. This following song is similar to the one above, in the sense that it has this fairy tale feel. We’re still in the woods, we’re still in folkytown and it’s still lovely and poetic.


Back in Northern Europe, with Icelandic singer-songwriter Asgeir. I didn’t realize it until now, but there seems to be a pagan, folk-tale kind of theme in my musical preference of late. Vague figures prowling around in the shadows, pretty girls in dresses huddling together, foggy woods and people singing songs by the fire… Or in the words of Asgeir:

Glistening nighttime dew, and she is walking with me.
From the house of red, I hear a child crying.
Foxes heading home, their prey hangs from their jaws.
And the forest knows, but it won’t share the secret.


A song about self critique, sung by someone with a touch of irony: You don’t wanna hurt yourself, hurt yourself by looking too closely. He’s singing it to himself, me thinks…

The Civil Wars

This duo has been going at it for years, apparently, but I only started listening to them a little over a year ago. I did know Joy Williams, from one of my all time favorite songs, “Speaking a Dead Language“. I was always a bit disappointed there were no other songs in her repertoire like that one song, but luckily I couldn’t have been more wrong. There’s so much melancholy in this couple it fills my heart with agony almost as much as it fills me with delight. The fact they were breaking up while making this last album does explain a lot… and they’re called the Civil Wars, for crying out loud! Listen and weep for Joy (pun intended!).


Kind of a brusque transition after the previous soft folk melodies above, but it’s time to rock it out a bit. Simple melodies, real instruments, rocking guitars and encouraging lyrics. Hurray for the Kongos!

Imagine Dragons

These guys just get me every time. They’ve unlocked some sort of sing-a-long key in my brain, because I can’t listen to them without my lips moving along. It’s what I want to scream along to when I’m in the car. I really hope they have more of this for me in years to come!

Chef Special

Time to represent my home country. Yes yes yes, these be Dutchies!


Another home grown band with a lot of promise in its sound. Home is definitely the most catchy tune thus far but if you have the time, do check their other songs out too.

And that’s all I’ve got! I mean, no, not true at all. There’s a lot more, but it looks kind of coherent now and I think it’s best if I leave it that way. And I’ve been told a new year is on its way, so that means new opportunities to check out new music around here and make more lists when the mood is right.



Twenty minutes of wisdom

Undiluted. Uncensored. Unapolagetic. And sadly, unsubtitled.

José Mujica’s speech hit me like a strong tidal wave, when I heard it today. He spoke for less than twenty minutes at the Unión de Naciones Suramericanas (UNASUR)- meeting last week. I turned the video on, thinking I would listen to it while unpacking the groceries I had just carried in, but I was mesmerized instantaneously and didn’t move until he was done. My groceries are still unpacked. I had to share it first. My heart is full and I wish more people would listen. I wish I would listen. And I AM!

It is one of those speeches that should be viewed in history classes in years to come. I would like to say it is his “I have a dream” moment, but with this man it is just one of his many inspiring appearances.

You can watch the whole speech in Spanish, if you are hispanohablante. The full transcript can also be found here.

A few quick quotes I translated (and trust me, there is so much more in there):

Some of us have been taught lessons in a world that is a valley of tears, so you can go to a paradise afterwards, but I will not take you there. This is the paradise or this is your condemnation. It is this life that you must fight for, so that the people may live their lives in a better way. There is no compromise.


After having been born you can give [your life] content or not. You can alienate yourself from life, let the market buy you, go through life buying cards or buying rides and move forward. And then at the end, when you are old like me, full of rheumatism, you are found naked… and what did you do for the world?

But if you had a dream and fought for hope and tried to transmit it to the rest, their might be a small breathe of you that lingers on in the hills, in the seas. A faint memory that is worth more than a monument, than a book, than a hymn, than a poem; it is the human hope that is established in the new generations.

Friends, nothing is worth more than life. Fight for happiness! And happiness is giving life content and direction and not letting anyone steal it from you. There is no recipe for this. It is in the consciousness that you get when you use the marvelous opportunity of having been born.

I am going to unpack my groceries now, but I will be back later on to translate this speech to English and see if I can share it with all of you.