Sunday, 23 February 2014

Music that wont make your fellow travelers hate you... probably

So you've bought yourself one of those tiny pop-up speakers and are all set to provide the soundtrack to your travels, but what should be on your ipod? You might be into heavy metal, carnage drum & bass or the sort hip-hop with angry rappers, but unless you're already quite familiar with your room-mates these genres are unlikely to make you many new friends in a hostel. This is a guide to avoiding any awkward social situations that might arise from clashing music tastes.

I can't guarantee everyone will like these suggestions, but hopefully they wont make anyone hate you. Some of them you might not have heard of before, others you definitely should have...

I've tried to arrange them in a vaguely chronological order, but my favourites are near the end.

(I don't get any money from these links by the way)

Sunny day-times

For sunny days on the beach you really want some reggae, but it's best not to bang on Mr Marley strait away unless you are also wearing a hat in the colours of the Jamaican flag, have been cultivating your deadlocks since you were ten and are just about to light up the biggest joint anyone has ever seen... Nobody else can get away with 'One Love' in quite the same way.

Here's a couple of alternatives:

Easy Star All-Stars are best known for covering popular albums in a reggae and dub style. Here's a good example...

Laid Blak at Boomtown Fair.

Laid Blak, originating from Bristol, always seem to get the crowd going at festivals and certainly aren't a bad bet for chilling out when the sun is shining.

I've seen them perform 'It's a Pity' with a couple of different female singers. It's different every time, but always catchy.

If reggae isn't your thing, maybe John Butler will float your boat? John Butler Trio- John Butler started out by busking in Australia, was joined by a drummer and a bassist and is now so successful that it isn't uncommon to hear him referred to as the "million dollar hippie". I don't feel like he's sold out too much though and you can't argue with this guitar...

I stole this from his Soundcloud.
Fed up of acoustic sounds? Bondax are cute (like a couple of over-enthusiastic puppies cute- I've never seen anybody look so cheerful when they're DJing) and this is Justin Martin ->

What's not to love?

...or try this? It's just a little bit magical.

For road-trips 

If you're asked to choose music for a long journey, you'll want something to help the driver stay awake. Hypnotic Brass Ensemble will do the job nicely! They put on a pretty fantastic live performance too.

...or maybe a classic?

I'm sorry, but I can't choose between these two- you can't beat The Rolling Stones for road-trips.

Mike Stroud and Evan Mast, from New York, form the experimental electronic rock duo Ratatat. This song is particularly fantastic...

The 3rd time...

Evening down time

A sure winner with the majourity of laid back loungers is always going to be Bonobo. Simon Green, as his mother calls him, has been on the music scene for over a decade and now, even with five albums under his belt, is probably only just reaching the height of his influence. If you get a chance to see him live, make sure he is going to have his band with him and you're sure to be mesmerised by their clever concoctions of electronic and acoustic sounds. I've managed to see them three times now, once travelling to Amsterdam especially, and I'm still keen for a chance at a fourth.
There's Bonobo there- trying to hide in the background.

Depending how hipster you're trying to be, Bonobo may be a little too well-known these days. In that case you should try Demain...

...and enjoy the satisfaction of being able to tell your new bohemian friends that you found him through an obscure little blog and a Soundcloud link.

This video is awesome too (can you guess what it is?)...

14th at Glastonbury last year.
Maybe you'd rather test the water with some soulful female vocals?

They're still pretty small, but with Tracey Duodu's voice and Tom Barber's production, 14th have been recognised by more established artists such as Bonobo, The XX and Jakwob, so I'm hoping it's only a matter of time until they make it big-time.

To set 'the mood'

Are you trying to get laid?! Maybe this won't work so well if you are a pasty little white boy/girl, but India Arie has an amazing voice.

My friend Bryony and I are going to see Chet Faker in London soon. I can't wait! I like him even better for looking like a bit of a tramp. Apparently born 'Nicholas James Murphy', he decided he needed to play under a stage name after people came to his shows thinking he was the already established musician named Nick Murphy (any idea who that is?!). 'Chet Faker' is a tribute to the deceased jazz musician Chet Baker.

After a heavy night

Coming in from a 'wild' night out, you're going to want something gentle.

Skyphos is an up-and-coming* producer from Holland. I love most of his music, but this remix of Nils Fram's 'More & Less' is perfect for winding down before bed time. If you like some classical music, Nils Fram is certainly worth a listen on his own too.

Everything Jamie XX touches turns to gold...

I'll leave you with this. If you haven't heard of Maribou State, then you really need to watch this video.

That's it for now. Maybe I'll collect another selection for a sequel some time soon.

Thanks Bryony, Sam, Steve Edwards, Chalky and of course Dan for sharing their fantastic music taste with me over the years.


You might also like... The Street-Art of Stokes Croft, Bristol
or... Melbourne, its Street Art and why it would be cool to live there


  1. Ilike the Hypnotic Brass Ensemble tune, it's very energetic and lively! :)

  2. Love the post! I found lots of great new music, some travel-inspiring and some just awesome. :) Thanks!


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