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How discovering music equates to rediscovering joy.
Published: 27/04/2020   Author: Yazz James
Photo: Composite, courtesy of Luke Stackpoole, Szabo Viktor
We’re in incredibly tricky, stressful and somewhat colourless times. With no university and currently being unemployed, I’m not too sure what to with myself. In my (very privileged) case, this pandemic has forced my return to the UK. Everything happened pretty fast which means I could only come back with hand luggage. Therefore, my hi-fi, favourite records and cassettes are in another country and so I’ve been moping about, feeling like I’ve abandoned my own children.  

What I have found this period of uncertainty to be very good for, however, is discovering and rediscovering music. On a normal home-day, I probably spend a good 8-12hrs listening, but this is different. Right now I feel like I did when I was fifteen. I was going to gigs almost weekly, had just started exploring current British Indie bands (eg. Swim Deep, Peace, Wolf Alice etc.) and I was absolutely obsessed with David Bowie – although not much has changed there. That being said, those mid-teenage years are where I started to understand what I really enjoyed and connected with, as opposed to stuff that just sounded alright. Present Day Yazz definitely has things in common with Fourteen Year-Old Yazz; again I’m feeling lost and desperate to bury myself in other people’s creations as a source of comfort and creative inspiration. Having so much time has given me the opportunity to do some deep dives and explore artists, soundtracks, covers and albums – as well as the chance improve on my own musical abilities too. I’ve ordered four records in the past two weeks – some to ensure that I’m able to return to my favourite Brighton store, and others to make this feel like home again after my time away.

New Discoveries

Photo: Summertime Video – Orville Peck (2020)
Orville Peck

I’m a little bit in love with this man, which a shame because he’s not interested in women and he’s probably too old for me. Nonetheless, his music, his style and something else I can’t quite put my finger on has me checking his social media every day to see what’s going on. I’d heard a couple of Peck’s songs and had seen him on my timeline, but I was properly introduced to him through his guest appearance in a video with Brad Leone on ‘Bon Appetit’.

I’ve had ‘Dead of Night’ and ‘Roses Are Falling’ playing out of my speakers most evenings, but the mysterious, masked cowboy’s latest track ‘Summertime’ has me desperate to get out of the house. His melancholic pining, reminds me that I’m not the only one longing for sunnier days.  

Thanks to Speedy Wundergound…

The latter half of 2019 saw ‘Speedy Wunderground’ become my first point of reference for finding new music. As a fan of black midi, Squid and Black Country, New Road – I have an idea of what to expect; going to ‘Speedy’ is a way for me to play it safe and save time. My slightly deeper dive into the label has seen me discover bands PVA and Pynch and introduced me to Sinead O’Brien.

‘Divine Intervention’ by PVA has quickly become one of my go-to dancing tunes, I’m a sucker for synth and so was set from the get-go. I feel like it’s the kind of song that Rob from the recent, ‘High Fidelity’ TV show would play in the store.

Pynch’s ‘Disco Lights’ is a song I’ve been listening to almost every day. It’s as vibrant and fun as the title suggests and there’s something nostalgic about it; for me, it conjures up fond memories of sixth form parties and early morning chip shop visits. (‘Orla Carey’s Pynch Your Lights Out Dub’ is also a good time).

Sinead O’ Brien is an Irish poet and don’t her lyrics show it! ‘Taking on Time’ pushes me forward and if I had anything I actually needed to do, it would probably get me out of bed in the morning. She’s such an exciting and unique artist, and her latest release, ‘Fall With Me’ has made me desperate to see her as soon as I can.


Probably an unusual one to have on my discoveries list, but I’d never listened to much of Bread’s music before this month. As mentioned, my favourite records are stuck in another country, but I still have a number of them at my family’s home. Last week, I sat down and took the time to properly assess my collection and came across ‘The Sound of Bread’, a record my mum had encouraged me to buy a few years ago. People may criticise me for going to “Their 20 finest songs”, but if I’m going to discover a band, what better place to start than their supposed ‘finest’ creations?

Reading the back of the LP taught me that they formed due to their jobs as studio musicians; David Gates, Robb Royer and James Griffin wanted to record their own albums. As simple as it sounds, taking the time to sit and look at the cover of a record I’d otherwise very rarely put on, made me appreciate the ritual of record collecting and playing again.

I loved ‘Aubrey’ prior to playing the record and it probably remains my favourite, but I certainly found a new appreciation for ‘Everything I Own’. It’s a song everybody knows, but it’s popularity sadly means I’m not sure I’ve ever paid it much attention. There’s a reason it’s so famous and that’s because it really is a beautiful song. In terms of new discoveries, ‘Look What You’ve Done’ and ‘London Bridge’ are winners for me.



David Bowie is my favourite artist of all time and the only person I have ever held high enough to be an idol. I recently wrote about him for a paper, and found myself consumed by everything even remotely Bowie-related for a couple of weeks. During this time, I sat and ranked my fifty favourite Bowie songs – there was a lot of swapping and even more feeling bad for the ones that didn’t make the cut. I can’t really explain my ranking and so won’t focus on it too much, but I think it’s worth noting that ‘Sound and Vision’ (which holds the number one spot) was also my favourite at the time of his passing. For the a few years afterwards, I thought it had changed, but when I really sit and listen, it just has to take first place.

Slightly further down is ‘Changes’ which I know I predominantly love for its lyrics – “…these children that you spit on, as they try to change their worlds, are immune to your consultations, they’re quite aware what they’re going through…”. With there being so much to feel down about at the moment, it is really difficult to be optimistic. I’m sure everyone felt like it in their late teens/early twenties, but it’s becoming more and more clear to me that almost the only people preparing to fight for real change are young people. It’s a lot of pressure – especially when it seems like everyone else is against us – but looking to my peers for inspiration and encouragement, helps me to keep a little fight in me.

The triumphant repetition of “We should be on by now” in Bowie’s bittersweet, ‘Time’ is what gets it 6th place. The way the final section builds with Mick Ronson’s unbelievable guitar solo and the instrumentation becoming less and less refined – it feels like some kind of rebirth! (The only other song that makes me feel anything like this Pink Floyd’s ‘The Great Gig in the Sky’).

‘The Man Who Sold the World’ – Bowie, Album Art (1970)

Although I intended to take it to the Netherlands, I accidentally left ‘The Man Who Sold the World’ behind, which has proven to be a good thing; I have become obsessed with the album artwork. The only cover I’d ever known for the album was the photographed cover. However, reading around led me to find out that there was a “less controversial” illustrated cover which was used for the U.S. release. The Americans missed out, if you ask me; I think the U.K. release has a much more interesting design. My LP cover has Bowie in a satin, Michael Fish dress with golden, Pre-Raphaelite style waves. His pose parodies that of Canova’s statue of Venus emphasising femininity, with the cards depicting him as playful. My favourite thing about this album art is that, despite all of these feminine characteristics, it’s still titled ‘The Man Who Sold the World’ – Bowie shows how fluid gender truly is.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower Soundtrack

Hear me out! This was my favourite book and favourite film for the majority of my teenage years and this soundtrack is what got me to really explore The Smiths and David Bowie in the first place. Last week, some friends and I re-watched it (over Netflix Party) and by the finale, Gracie and I had ordered the LP. It’s an impressive soundtrack and I will not let myself be embarrassed by owning it at twenty! Galaxie 500, New Order, Sonic Youth… it’s unbelievable. It arrived this morning, and I’m currently on my third listen now. There’s a sincerity in this soundtrack that I’d argue is a rarity, and this is proven by Stephen Chbosky’s letter printed on the jacket. The way he speaks of these songs really sounds like he’s gifting them to everyone who saw ‘Perks’ or listened to its music. At one point, he quotes Charlie (his own writing), “…in the palm of my hand, there was this one mix that had all of these memories and feelings and great joy and sadness”. It’s clear that, for Chbosky, the music was just as important as the writing and direction of the film; I think that’s why the soundtrack resonates with so many viewers – each song was chosen thoughtfully, with his own history in mind.


Most people give me a, “What about George?!” when I tell them Paul McCartney is my favourite Beatle. Don’t get me wrong, George is great, but Paul tops it for me. There’s a certain warmth and tenderness to his song-writing that I rarely find in anyone else’s music – although funnily enough, Paul Simon’s music also gives me this feeling. Neither of my parents are big fans of The Beatles, which means that I had to start from scratch when diving into each member’s other projects.

The first Wings song I remember hearing is ‘Silly Love Songs’ when it was used in Baz Luhrmann’s ‘Moulin Rouge’. I knew I recognised it, but I didn’t know where the original came from, until I heard it on the radio one day. After finding Wings’ version, I could not stop listening to it. It now holds very vivid memories of my first year at university; I’d dance around my little room, singing it as loudly as I could – hopefully without annoying my flatmates. I’m ashamed to say that my Wings exploration didn’t go much further than a few songs during that time, but now, I can’t stop listening to them.

In a weird way, it feels like I’ve had no choice but to get into the band’s music properly. McCartney’s voice is incredibly distinctive and whenever I hear it, I have to look up the name of the song. This happened a couple of times recently with both of them being Wings’ songs, so I decided to give the group more of my time and spend a good few days listening to them.

‘Wings At The Speed of Sound’ has to be my favourite album; with ‘Let ‘Em In’, ‘She’s My Baby’, ‘Silly Love Songs’ and my favourite Wings song, ‘Must Do Something About It’, it’s a tough one to beat. It seems ironic that I’d fall in love with ‘Must Do Something About It’ considering the circumstances; “I’ve just seen another sunset on my own, all day long I’ve been alone…”, but I think it comforts me in some way too.

If I need my spirits lifted, I turn to ‘With A Little Luck’ which somehow just sounds so Paul-ish; despite it being on a ’78 album, I think it’s one of Wings’ songs that’s closer to The Beatles. At times it can sound a little cartoonish and that might be why it makes me so happy. If you are one of those people that skips songs halfway through, I really urge you to hold on until the end of this one, the ending is what makes it. The final song I need to rave about is ‘Arrow Through Me’. I think it’s impossible to dislike a song this playful; funky synth-bass, lively horn sections and the sweet sound of Mr. McCartney yearning – what more can you ask for?

Young MC

Another artist I discovered through film is Young MC. When Edgar Wright wrote ‘Baby Driver’, he supposedly already had his soundtrack in mind. This included the Grammy-winning, ‘Know How’ which quickly became a track I couldn’t get enough of. I feel guilty for saying it, but I neglected the rapper until last month. Rap and Hip Hop are some of the areas where I have the least musical knowledge and so I’ve been trying to delve into the genres more. ‘Bust A Move’ is obviously Young MC’s most famous song (this too won a Grammy), but ‘Got More Rhymes’ takes the top spot for me. It’s more laid back than his most famous hits, but that doesn’t make his talent any less impressive.  

On Repeat

LPs – Jeffery Lewis

In this song, Lewis sings of his love for music collecting. It begins with him getting into the hobby of record collecting and how it’s become really expensive recently. Two of my favourite parts of ‘LPs’ is how he says he’s never regretted a purchase and will go for whatever people don’t want. Quite often, if I can’t afford the specific record I’m after, I’ll just get whatever is super cheap – it’s a nice way to discover new artists, and I have never regretted it either. His song encourages people to give the lesser known stuff a chance; it’s a nice thing to remember.

I’ll Come Too – James Blake

I listened to this song twenty-four times in two days and I think that says plenty. I’m a very visual person and have a list titled ‘songs I can see’ for the tracks that really get to me; one listen and ‘I’ll Come Too’ went straight on it. James Blake tells the story so well it made me cry. My love for this song is also what got me back on the piano for the first time in months. I’ve never been able to play properly, but I’ve had a few years of messing around and teaching myself – at one point I was quite good! I’m really grateful that this song made me feel deeply enough to have the “I need to learn this” feeling again. I’ve been singing it all the time – along as I play, alone in my room and I’ve even woken up with it in my head.

‘Titanic Rising’– Weyes Blood, Album Art (2019)

Titanic Rising – Weyes Blood

This is an album with cover art that looks exactly how it sounds – soft and dreamy, but something woeful still. My first introduction to Weyes Blood was through Drugdealer’s ‘Suddenly’. There’s something about her songs that seem so wise to me; like she’s an older sister or that cool girl, a few years above, who you looked up to at school. It feels like she’s telling me stories about her early-twenties, warning me of what’s to come. My favourite track from the album would have to be ‘A Lot’s Gonna Change’. I’m a very nostalgic person and it hits hard. Before I know it, the four and a half minutes are over and I’m left longing to go back to being thirteen.

Everybody Wants to Love You – Japanese Breakfast

If I ever get to curate a soundtrack for a coming of age film, this is one of the first songs I’ll consider. ‘Everybody Wants to Love You’ oozes nostalgia and sounds exactly like a hot summer night; it’s got an angsty feel to it!

The Weather – Pond

I play this album to death every time it gets a bit warmer, and this spring is no exception. Kevin Parker’s production is impeccable as always and, although, the majority of it is, instrumentally, rather uplifting, every time I listen to ‘30,000 Megatons’ I just get into a zone of reflecting our impact on the planet – a bit bleak, I know. Luckily, I’m swiftly brought back to life again by the following tracks, ‘Sweep Me Off My Feet’ and ‘Paint Me Silver’; these two always remind me of afternoons at the local pool in my childhood town.

Saddest Summer – The Drums

Ironic considering the circumstances, I know, but despite it being called ‘Saddest Summer’, this tune from The Drums is really upbeat. It’s upbeat and can help me to get out of a lower mood – it serves as a reminder to make the most of the time we have.

Photo: ‘Love Song for the Haters’ Video – Fleece (2020)
Love Song for the Haters – Fleece

If you want a song to tuck you in at night, give you a little peck on the forehead and stroke your hair until you doze off, this is it. Admittedly, the song has made me cried, but it’s actually  incredibly dreamy and sweet – two moods that are only emphasised even more by the music video. As quirky as always, Fleece’s latest video features Matt Rogers in flower headwear and some kind of ex-lover character in a bee costume, but it’s still visually stunning. I have followed these musicians throughout my late teens and this now continues into my early-twenties; I consider them to be one of my favourite bands of all time. The wait for new music made me somewhat nervous when I heard of the new release, but ‘Love Song for the Haters’ is confirmation that I had no need to be.

Head Over Heels – Japanese Breakfast

‘Head Over Heels’ by Tears For Fears is a well-loved song; always on the playlist at family parties and used in the opening of ‘Donnie Darko’, it’s a risky one to cover. Michelle Zauner, ‘Japanese Breakfast’, rendition of the 1985 classic is better suited to a lonely evening than it is a reunion, but that’s part of the reason I love it. I still get to hear one of my favourite songs and not feel the pressure to get up and dance – I can just sit and take it in.

Songs For…

Stress Relief

Being cooped up for days on end can be agitating and I’ve found myself turning to music as a way of relieving some of my stress too. These recommendations are predominantly fast and loud – an excuse for you bounce around and release your pent up anger. They’ve been good songs to play when I take go for walks and can imagine they’d be even better for a run. High energy and with a big dose of OOMPH! I’d say they’ve also helped fill the void of cancelled gigs. I’m yet to try a one-woman mosh-pit, but if I do it’ll be to one of these tracks.

Lick the Bag – Viagra Boys
Banana Peel – The Garden
Body Movin’ – Beastie Boys
bmbmbm – black midi
Stress – Talk Show
Magic of Meghan – Dry Cleaning
Concrete – Shame


I spent my first two weeks of isolation focused on getting my assignments handed in on time, which meant I needed enough music to study to that I wouldn’t get too used to – once you know every inch of a score you start singing it in your head – and that wouldn’t be too distracting. With that said, I offer these albums, scores, soundtracks and one livestream option!

Sufjan Stevens’ latest album is honestly transcendental and had me feeling like the levitating man meme. It’s somewhere in between a sci-fi score and ambient Aphex Twin. Isabelle Waller-Bridge’s talents as a composer are incredible and listening to the music for ‘Emma.’ non-stop had her in my top artists with 97 plays – it’s a lovely score. The scores for ‘If Beale Street Could Talk’ and ‘Twin Peaks’ are two of my favourites and although they may get a little intense at times, I find them too enjoyable to turn off. ‘Oncle Jazz’ was easily my favourite album of 2019, with Men I Trust being another of my favourite bands. It has a mix of lyrical tracks and instrumentals, but is mellow the whole way through – very easy listening. Possibly a controversial suggestion, but I’ve enjoyed having Boiler Room’s livestreams on too. They’ve had a range of people streaming from their homes etc. with donation options open. I’ve mainly kept up with this through Facebook, but you can watch on their YouTube as well.

Aporia – Sufjan Stevens
Emma.  – Isabelle Waller-Bridge
If Beale Street Could Talk – Nicholas Britell
Twin Peaks – Angelo Badalamenti
Oncle Jazz – Men I Trust
Boiler Room: ‘Streaming from Isolation’

When You Miss the Outdoors

I find comfort in these songs through escapism. If I listen to the following tracks with my eyes closed, I’m no longer cooped up in my bedroom, but instead, I picture myself lounging in Brighton’s Pavilion Gardens; my body stretched out on an old picnic blanket, a book on my front and the sunlight that floods the grass patch almost all day. Most are soulful love-songs from the sixties which probably means their probably aided by their romantic lyrics and sweeping harmonies. ‘I Wish You Love’ is especially heartfelt! There are, however, two tracks from films that I’ve included too; Phantom Thread’s ‘House of Woodcock’ composed by Jonny Greenwood and ‘Delphine’s Song’ from Les Demoiselles de Rochefort by Michel Legrand. These two make me feel like I’m in the Before Trilogy, wandering around European cities, not going anywhere in particular.  

Forever – Little Dippers
Watch What Happens – Chris Montez
I Wish You Love – Sam Cooke
I’ll Look Around – Billie Holiday
All I Wanna Do – The Beach Boys
House of Woodcock – Jonny Greenwood
Delphine’s Song – Michel Legrand

All songs discussed can be found here.



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