Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Album & Video of the Month | Tom Odell | Jay Woodward

Another month - another album. Tom Odell's "Long Way Down" is certainly not a new arrival - it's been on the shelves for a while but it has been one that I have rediscovered of late. The 24 year old Chichester native has gone on to many brilliant and bright ventures already. Lily Allen was the gal to set him on his way after, by chance, seeing him live. Not even a 0/10 review from NME magazine was going to hinder this angel face. He nabbed a Brit Award some time later, say whaaat?

The fact of the matter is; his music seems to depict a character that you either love, or not so much. He is not everyone's cup of tea but he definitely is mine - like a Barry's Cuppa, just right. His music is different, but electric - nothing like I've heard before. His lyrics are relate-able, and the melodies are re-memorable. His voice at times, is jagged - rough around the edge, but it's raw, and it's real. Auto-tuned-to the-absolute-nines albums are all we are listened to nowadays. 

His handy-work on the piano is like a part of his identity, it's a part of the whole jam. And it works. 

Is he melancholic? I wouldn't say so, I would say; human, real and talented. 

My favourite songs from the album are I Know, Til I l Lost, Sirens and Supposed To Be. If you do anything worthwhile today, you will listen to these tracks in the Spotify widget below and on the right-hand-side. Overall, it's more of an experience than anything else.

Videos are not a regular feature on my blog, but I was delighted to see some more cracking work from my friend, Jay Woodward. Jay is a singer/songwriter currently based in Calafornia and taps into into indie and alternative genres. Last year his album, Letters We Told was featured as an album of the month where you can read more about the talented gent. 

"Howl" was brilliantly shot. If you are a fan of landscape and the outdoors, this is a video you should be watching before the day is out. There is no other way to describe it, other than the fact I feel at home watching this video. This is the second video Woodward has released from his debut album, following the recent listener driven explosion for the single, Howl. The video for Howl, shot in Big Bear, CA by Leslie Chou, showcases the purist side of Woodward's Ginsberg inspired song.

Saturday, 27 June 2015

9 Small Things To Improve Your Mood

At some stage in our lives, or even in a given week we can find ourselves stuck in a rut with one thing or another. It's inevitable, we are human, and we have feelings so we feel stuff. Some issues can be resolved fairly snappy - but others can't be nipped in the bud the way we like, or sometimes there is no rhyme or reason why we're suddenly going down the passive aggressiveness route when someone puts the biscuits at the very top shelf.

While the packet of Rich Tea mightn't be in your grasp (like me) there are things, small things that we can do to improve our mood a bit. I practice a lot of these fairly regularly - if not daily to help keep the ship afloat.

The great thing about walking is, it doesn't require a six-pack to get from A-B, pick a scenic route if you can - you would be surprised how much decant views can help keep you going. Take a hike up a bray to walk out the stress, one step up a hill is several steps down. There's something about seeing my neighbours along the way and giving the salute on the side of the road that results in a more content version of myself.

You'll be delighted with yourself on the way back when you see how far you went, win-win is it not?

 And how could I say no to these views?

If you are a teenager living in the digital age, a certain level of insomnia in the summer months is unavoidable, unfortunately. A couple of weeks ago - I was awake til 5 o'clock in the little hours, (I know, terrible - but I'm getting better!) went to the bathroom and decided on my way back I would head to the sitting room and watch the sun make an appearance.

I've been living in my own home my whole life, and I've never seen the view quite like I did that night. There was something in seeing it that completely relaxed me and sort of made whatever problems I had the day previous to seem less significant. I'm going to make an effort to get up earlier over the summer, because the view is too good to miss for another eighteen years.

I take the point that not everyone has a way with words, or a pencil - I can't draw a straight line to save my life so feeling artistically inadequate is something I can sympathise with completely. I find - in my own way, my head is at its clearest at times when I'm writing regularly. A lot of the things I scribble down in my notebook never get seen by another pair of eyes, and that's okay. It's my way of figuring my way out of things and it does the job fairly well. Get a pen and paper and you'd be surprised what you could come out with!

I'm just after leaving a three hour visit with the fab Kate, sure who else? Having a laugh and the banter is so important to keep the spirits high. I know of people who have a phobia of making plans - or even phone calls, where I'm a bit the opposite. Making the time out of your week to just live with people is something we should be doing. Life gets in the way and it's easy to put it on the long finger - but with everything else, you'll feel a better version of you for it. Similarly, two-hour phone calls are my absolute favourite - it puts me in great form and I'm able to sleep easy that night, so be dialing those digits!

If you're working from home, blogging or even studying from home, the last thing you need is to be cooped up in a corner. I recently made a simple change to my work space; I swapped the furniture around by placing my desk facing the window. In doing this, I'm taking full advantage of the natural light. And I have to say, it's making me more inclined to actually sit down and get a bit of work done. 

Will I ever get too old to fall in love with clean bed linen? Nope. Will I ever get tired of using all Soap & Glory products a couple of days a week? Absolutely not. For the pamper banter to take full effect - clean sheets will enhance the experience. Throw in those fancy bath bombs you've been saving since Christmas, use them all. Throw in all the oils, use everything. You will regret absolutely nothing.

There's a portion of all of our wardrobes that screams *I bought these on sale in New Look, but sure where am I going? I'll save them for when I'm galavanting* The truth is, you're not always going to be galavanting, we'd hope we would be able to do a lot of that, but is it worth letting the clothes creep in retirement before they've ever been worn? Put on the new threads, spritz a bit of that expensive perfume you bought in the duty-free and watch your own head turn. Strut your stuff down the hall at work or the streets of Athlone, the glamour shouldn't have to be limited to your surroundings. 

Saying yes to everything is impossible, we are not super-human, I definitely am not anyway. Are you holding yourself back for the sake of what your classmates might think about you? I don't believe in that excuse anymore. Enter that cooking competition, write that essay, tag along to that last minute concert you were invited to, and host a come-down-with-me-esque evening with your pals. Even if you're a terrible cook they won't care because your company is more important. Don't be afraid to give the green light on these things.

No one can do you better than you can. Let loose, tie-away the temporary worries, let your hair down, watch a Channing Tatum film in an oversized hoodie with your slippers. Don't be conscious when you laugh down the phone, or don't be afraid to laugh at all, because laughing is probably one of the best sounds there is out there. Surround yourself with good people, make memories, take pictures - but don't be the one constantly behind the camera - you want to able to remember just how snap-happy you were.

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

10 Of My Favourite Lyrics

Whether you are a self-acclaimed music fanatic, or just prefer to jam to whatever is on the radio - we all have our favourite tunes. We like how a particular part towards the end of a song changes, the bridge or the chorus. Some of the lyrics that accompany these songs affect us in different ways, how they sound or how we can relate to them. I thought it would be a good idea to put together some of my favourite lyrics over the last few years - I've included a Spotify playlist where you can listen to all of the songs mentioned. Enjoy!


Sunday, 14 June 2015

Why Are Writers So Hard On Themselves?

"It isn't a finished piece"

"It probably isn't any good"

"Open to critique"

"I'm still working on it"

How many times have you heard a blogger/writer say this? What I can't understand is how far some people go to put themselves down. I find that this is particularly associated with the Irish; we are modest people and seem unable to successfully accept a compliment or admit that we are good at something. It's a true shame, because I feel that this instilled fear has held back some potentially amazing writers that haven't put forward their work to anyone at all.

I've been aware of this side to writing for a long time now, and have told myself - even from a young age, to not let my own writing intimidate me. I will make mistakes, not every piece I write will be a masterpiece, John may like Piece A better where Mary will prefer Piece C. Our brains all wire to a different frequency, we should not put someone else down just because they groove to a different wave length and approach things in a different way.

The notion of going through 20 drafts for one piece is something that really baffles me, I cannot make myself do that, the fun would be gone out of it for me. Whereas it's absolutely essential for other people, and if it works for them, it works for them. Personally, if a piece is written within 4 sittings - it is usually finished. That's just how I tick. I'm an honest person, even with myself. If I'm pleased with a piece, I will admit it in my own head - if I would rather never clap eyes on a particular set of lines again, I'm confident enough to say that too. 

The fact that being creative, stringing together words from your life, eyes and ears is something that should be celebrated and encouraged, not compared and shamed. While a little bit of constructive criticism is needed by most people at some stage - even the world's finest writers - we don't need a bulldozer thank you. 

Another bee in my bonnet I have is the lack of support there is right now in the overall media for young writers. Yes there are workshops that even I have been lucky to participate in, and they are a great way to give you that boost as well as meeting other like-minded people. But when it comes to publications - I just want to run and hide in a corner for the rest of time. While many people will always encounter more rejections than publications and it is not exclusive to young people, the whole farce has a rather aristocratic vibe does it not?

You will hear people on the news, politicians and others who will say that Ireland has produced some of the best writers in the world. While that is very true, what about the ones living today, young and old? You're big news when you come out with a best selling book, but in the meantime you're just an Ordinary Joe Soap. A lot of this is derived from cuts in the Arts Council, but until then, I really believe there could be a lot more done. Money seems to be the root problem of many of our headaches, which is an unfortunate way to portray it - but it's always the answer I seem to be handed down with.

Do not let this dishearten you. If you've a knack for writing, art or anything, please keep going with it. For so long we wonder should be even bother, will it get us anywhere - but you really never know until you give it a go. The best advice I can offer that has been passed to me is; keep writing. Any other words of wisdom that I don't even fully possess would be damaging, I'm still learning too. If you have belief in yourself, and belief in your work, that is far more important that one single rejection from someone sitting in an office wearing fancy rimmed glasses holding an expensive red Parker pen. 

Let me know on what you think about this fisasco in the comments below.


Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Nostalgia At It's Finest

The summer is out, there is the fine stretch in the evenings, the sun is finally starting to clear out my skin and for once the ice cubes in my freezer are getting used. What does all that lead to? Nostalgia. We are on a slippery (but enjoyable) slope to a young, fearless and brazing Catherine. Back to a time when exams weren't on the agenda, it was socially acceptable to have dodgy looking teeth and singing and dancing in front of your family was an absolute necessity at any gathering.

Those were the days.

There are some parts of my memory of my childhood that stick out more than others, the things I enjoyed and wanted to playback and relive. I remember quite a great deal, as a friend recently pointed out to me, "like every other woman", but the detail of some memories I can still recall really rather frightens me. So it's probably not advised to insult me at 9.38 pm on a Sunday on a drive home from having a cheeky Nando's because I WILL remember. A lot of these things are small, even minute, but collectively - they are things I would hope my younger cousins, nieces and nephews and any other child to experience, kind of.

I distinctively remember picking daisies with my cousin, Kate in our front garden, lulling over some new boy on the scene that was knocking around the corners on his holidays. Things were obviously getting a bit shaky if I was reverting to a plant to account for my troubles. I was eight years old probably, and no actual words were exchanged, but it was definitely getting serious, of course it was?

Evidence of an enjoyable day at the beach was always prevalent if there was a trail of sand behind you coming in the door. Although an inconvenience, the more sand, the more fun you had. 

My confidence, as a four year old - was at an all-time peak when I decided to make it my duty to introduce myself to a young couple en route back from collecting a drink at the till. I am sure they could have been spared my glamorous, 2 ft self - but I thought otherwise. They were surprisingly very lovely and were interested in seeing the progress I was making with a colouring book. I trotted back every few minutes to show them because that was just the thing you did.

If you asked me to say hellohowareyougettingon nowadays to a John from God knows where in my local pub - not a chance. I am still trying to figure out where I acquired that amount of sheer self-belief.

I was kindly gifted many colours and crayons and general arts and crafts (although people never picked up that I can't draw a straight line to save my life), and of course these had to be used up. I drew mainly square houses, with 4 square windows, a grey path, a triangular sun beside clouds that could have passed for sheep. Well, I felt I was the next the next Picasso and tried to sell my pictures at 50c a piece.

My own sister wouldn't even invest in my business, as a nine year old I had no assets to my name, banks wouldn't lend and I had to think long and hard. C Gallagher Art ended up in liquidation in 2005, and following further discussions with legal and financial advisers, finally ended up winding down in 2006. It was a sad day for the parish.

Our bins have nearly always been collected and emptied on a Friday afternoon. Once upon a time I could nearly time to the second the lorry was coming over the hill. As soon as I would hear the chugging hum of the engine, I would race outside to the front of the house to simply wave at them. I can't tell you if they thought I was completely deranged or extremely considerate for my age, I would like to think they chose the latter theory. If I was ever cycling around the house I would pedal as fast as my feet could take me to the front door to give my salute. Majority of the time they seemed to appreciate it and would give a toot or a wave back.

I'd be lying if I said I still don't do it from time to time if I happen to be out and about, sure it's nice to be nice?

I have learnt, from a  young age, no matter how long you have a conversation with your grandmother at any given time of the day, you are guaranteed to be enlightened on something new. Whether it's a good run-down on the family tree; "He's a relation of your grandfather, he worked in England all his life and only came home recently. He was second cousins with your great grandfather. It's still distant, but still like - you need to know who your people are!" Or a prediction on the weather, a health bulletin on the neighbouring fellow villagers or a good thrash-out debate on how old someone is. They are just as entertaining as they are informative, my granny has always supplied comprehensive synopsis' on more than one occasion 

I do not endorse prank-calling, it can get you into a lot of bother. But if you're very young and with your partners in crime, you're smart enough to figure out how to hide your Caller ID and you have credit in your phone, it's very hard to resist. Everyone has done it, it's just one of those things you have to do. Myself and my cousins would prepare a story and run with it, and join in on the conversation if the other was starting to get a fit of the giggles.

Some of the things we came out with you just couldn't string together in any context.

"Hallo? This is Chantelle from McDonalds in Limerick. Ya ya, how ARE you? Ya, listen I'm ringing to let you know that you left your runners (sneakers) behind, they're in the lost and found. Ya, ya you did. They're the ones with lights and wings on the side? They're not yours? I think they are matey, it has your name and number stitched on the side. Yes yes I'm serious. Do you mind calling down for them?"

For anyone that was graced with our humour, you are most certainly welcome.


Monday, 8 June 2015

A Poem | "Zero Notifications"

This is my first time sharing a poem on my blog, and I'll admit - it's taken me about 2 whole weeks or more to decide will I throw it up. I have always said that I am more comfortable with pros pieces, but from time to time I do write things that start on the left margin that doesn't find it's way all the way to the right. 

I'm not as comfortable with sharing poems, as they are shorter, every line and nearly every word is read into more in depth. Why did she pick that word on that line? Could she have phrased that a bit differently? What's that about? What happened? Tell us tell us tell us!

This piece, whether it's good, bad or indifferent is easier to put out there because it's something a lot of other bloggers may be able to relate to; the battle of aesthetics. I love blogging and writing on here, as you may be able to pick up through my past posts, but it's hard to deny there are shadowed areas that hardly gets talked about. 

I don't own white furniture, I have no idea how to make pretty backdrops, hell I don't even have a fancy camera (I've a pretty decant one on my phone, so I get by), I'm not a vegan and I don't follow diets I'm constantly being told on the interweb I should give a go and I don't (currently) suffer from wanderlust.

So take this for what you will, and let me know what you think. 

A wire dings, and a buzz to evaluate my self worth,
It's broken, the lot of it - a fake facade.
"You have no new notifications",
Can a figure on a screen make your day?

Contrast low, with the exposure high -
Did you not see the latest trend?
"VSCO cam is a godsend" they say,
"Facetune is great for the imperfections" another.
Buzz, buzz, buzz,
3 hearts martyr together in the end.

I don't lead that aesthetically inclined
Instagram lifestyle,
I don't own a rose-gold watch or fairy lights,
My books don't form the neat, strict structure
You'd want them to.
And I don't drink hot lemon water in the morning.

The delicate little squares 
Don't ask anything, but demand
Everything from many.
They stand strong, unified like soldiers,
Prepared for the ambush of any 
Semi-viral occasion.
Is the smile real? Is there life behind the eyes?
7 thumbs seem to agree.

A truth can no longer be ignored;
That status, update or check-in
Cannot convey, hopes, dreams, talent and joy very well.
The only messages I wish to see from one
Single contact are a 
"Good morning" and

Until such time, I will lounge in my
Night time attire (Christmas-themed of course)
And have a cuppa with Barry* and a Rich Tea, love.
That's something you won't see 
On any Pinterest board.

I am (not) Cather_i_ne from
The platforms amongst the clouds,
I'm Catherine, first and foremost.

*Barry: I have a particular fixation with
Barry's Tea bags...

Saturday, 6 June 2015

Album of the Month #6 | All The Luck In The World

You probably know the deal by now, I am no music expert - I'm an amateur, but I know when something sounds great. I haven't talked about a particular album for quite some time because in all honesty, I haven't found anything major since February worth a rave about.

Til now of course.

You are going to love it.

The cherry on top? They're Irish.

They are an alternative 3 piece band that seem to flawlessly orchestrate guitar, with percussion and vocals. The only way I can describe it is; if Declan O'Rourke, Kodaline, Ryan O'Shaughnessy and James Bay came together and managed to produce something - this would be it. Some of their songs featured in my April Playlist.

How did I find these guys? With many great music I've found, it started with an ad, a Trivago advertisement. The music in the background was too good to ignore it, so I threw up Soundhound on the phone and I tracked them down, and I've been listening to them for the last 2 months.

It starts off with a beautiful instrumental to showcase their strings that follows smoothly into the following track "Conquer". There isn't one song that I don't like but I do particularly love "Haven", "Never" (Of course) and "Away".

It's your lazy morning-getting-ready music, it's your (perfect) study and work music, and it's there to lull you to sleep. The vocals are soothing and easy on the ear, there isn't a single fault I can find with the record. 

The one thing I do love with this, is certain songs with the actual music you can tell there's an Irish twinge in there somewhere, it's lovely to pick up on it if you can recognise it. My only problem? These guys should be getting far more credibility than they're getting, they're absolutely fantastic.

So should you listen to it? Are you even asking that after everything I've said? Of course you should, and the Spotify widget is right there, no excuses!

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

You Know You're Home When.. | Irish Edition | #IRISHBLOGCOLLAB

Well lads and lassies, as the man says - it's the last round up of this series. Week 9 of the stint has come upon us. I have really enjoyed being a part of this group with other fellow (and fabulous) Irish bloggers. It started off as a small idea about 3 months ago and as a group I reckon we have gelled together quite well. It's been great fun!

The last week's topic is an interesting one. Whether you're coming up from Australia after a year on the trot, a weekend away or even a hospital trip - that's when the cookie crumbles and you find out what makes your home your little abode. As much as I can be on the gander in Dublin or Galway from time to time, and as much as I like to embrace my inner city bug, I'm a home bird at heart and I really relish my familiar comforts. Home is where the heart is they say? Home (to me) is where there's all of the things listed below come into play.

If I was ever able to cook as well as my mother, I would be content with life forever more. She is hands-down one of the finest cooks going, and is always willing to dish up a plate for any random poor aul' soul that wanders into our kitchen. The food from home just doesn't compare with any other respectable outlet. 

And her home-made scones and brown bread? Out of this world.

You would think that tea should come under "Home-Cooked Food". If you are trying to insult my intelligence, you would know tea is a fundamental and integral part of Irish life, It's a welcoming, a peacemaker and conversation flower. It's the "Welcome home from your travels", the "I'm sorry I left the immersion on over the weekend" and it's the "You were looking fairly shook on it yesterday at mass, are ya alright?"

Why is tea so far more superior than anywhere else? You have your own teabags, your preference of milk (I'm a bit fussy on that one, I'll admit) and the sugar is never hidden on you. 

It breaks my heart when people decide to put the sugar on the top shelf. Don't be one of those households, bare a thought for your under 5 footer folk.

The 6 words that every Irish woman wants to hear:

What beats a good, warm open fire?


Do I need to say any more on this one?

"Well I HEARD ye were galavanting lately, tell me ALL about it now."

If you want to escape a mob of questions and "hellohowareyedoin's" then your local supermarket is not the place to be. On the flip side, it's lovely to go in and be fairly sure you will say hello to at least 10 different people. A litany of hard-hitting subjects gets discussed on the shop floor, you would be surprised!

There aren't many beds, I am sure, that can compare to your own. You know what side of it is the most comfortable (or if you're like me and you plonk right in the middle), you know what time the sun peeks through at which angle and how to block out all civilisation while it's doing so. You might have your electric blanket, particular pillow or traps and gadgets on your locker. It's a given, there are certain things like this that help you sleep better and there's no point in being proud and denying it!

That's it, sin é! I hoped you enjoyed this one, and a big thank you to the other bloggers that have stuck with this series for the past 9 weeks.